UPI Energy Watch

May 21, 2008 at 1:08 PM
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OPEC still insists its supply is not the cause of record oil prices.

The rising cost of oil has led many Western countries to ask the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to increase its production. Some officials believe a shortage of oil has led to the rise in oil prices.

While Saudi Arabia, at the renewed urging of U.S. President George Bush, agreed to slightly increase its output, the other OPEC members have not.

Venezuelan Energy and Petroleum Minister Rafael Ramirez and Abdullah al-Badri, the OPEC secretary-general, continued to insist yesterday that the global oil market is well supplied, even as leaders in Washington overcame a significant obstacle yesterday in their attempt to sue OPEC for acting as an oil cartel and artificially keeping the price of fuel high, the London Times reported.

As oil prices hover just below $129 per barrel, the cost of food, all fuels and many other necessities has been pushed up as well.

Now the U.S. House of Representatives has approved legislation to bring a lawsuit against OPEC members who are accused of setting the price of oil and limiting supplies.

Critics of the measure say it likely will cause retaliation among OPEC members, and OPEC leaders continue to say the prices are not related to a shortage but to the weakness of the U.S. dollar and financial speculators.

Ever-increasing profits from rising oil prices could help reopen oil fields in Canada.

Industry analysts are saying that there is a murmur of confidence growing louder among small and intermediate producers in the western Canadian oil patch.

Many producers have increased their capital spending plans by between 10 percent and 20 percent in 2008. Those plans originally were written last fall when gas prices were half what they are now, the Calgary Herald reported.

Greg Stringham, vice president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, said higher revenue outlooks from lending banks and large firms like British Petroleum and Royal Dutch Shell are leading the wave of confidence.

"So it looks like some of these companies will be able to raise some capital, which was turned off for two years," Stringham said. "But this kind of information is just starting to trickle in, and I wouldn't say it's back to where it was -- at all."

Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan have agreed to energy cooperation.

During a recent meeting between leaders of both countries, the two agreed to jointly develop the hydrocarbon resources of the Caspian Sea.

Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov said that in the course of talks in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, both sides focused on partnership in the fuel and energy sector that is a basic necessity in order for the economies of both countries to earn the status of world energy power.

"We have a single view that this area will become the strategic direction of further interstate partnership. In order to study opportunities of cooperation thoroughly and present them for the world, we have agreed to conduct a conference, 'Oil & Gas of Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan,' in Baku this September," Berdymukhamedov said.

Despite all the talk, no formal agreements were signed by either party, Trend News Agency reported.

"Creation of the Turkmen-Azerbaijan Intergovernmental Commission also testifies of aspiration of our two countries to attach a more fruitful and constructive character to traditional cooperation," Berdymukhamedov said.

Following his visit, Berdymukhamedov said the $44.8 million paid by Azerbaijan for its natural gas debt would go to development of the country's educational system.


Closing oil prices, May 21, 3 p.m. London

Brent crude oil: $123.14

West Texas Intermediate crude oil: $126.14


(e-mail: energy@upi.com)

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