UPI Energy Watch

Sept. 2, 2008 at 10:20 AM
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Oil and gas prices settle following Gustav

Hurricane Gustav hit oil production in the Gulf of Mexico over the weekend and temporarily suspended all oil production, accounting for about 12 percent of the total U.S. production, USA Today reported.

Energy prices rose almost daily last week as concern mounted over Gustav's effects; however, with minimal damage, prices recovered Monday.

Analysts said that although storm concerns can impact the market, the strengthening U.S. dollar, recession fears and energy conservation will keep prices declining, at least for now. There are two other tropical storms brewing off the coast of the United States.

The effect Gustav had on the market was minimal compared with past storms, especially Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

The Louisiana Offshore Oil Port and its underwater pipeline, which has not been evaluated for damage yet, could still push up prices if it needs to be shut down for repairs. The LOOP transports about 10 percent of the nation's imported oil.

Major oil companies including ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, BP, Chevron and Royal Dutch Shell are waiting on the hurricane to pass before sending workers out to inspect the damage.

China, Turkmenistan work on energy

Chinese President Hu Jintao and his Turkmen counterpart Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov agreed to strengthen their collaboration on security and energy.

Berdimuhamedov said China is Turkmenistan's "most important and reliable" partner in the energy, transportation and telecommunications sectors, and he added that energy cooperation constitutes an important part of bilateral cooperation, Xinhua and China Daily reported.

The two governments have launched a joint 6,200-mile gas pipeline project. The pipeline starts from Turkmenistan's Amu Darya River region and passes through Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan before entering China's central, eastern and southern regions.

The pipeline is expected to have a 30 billion cubic meter capacity and is projected to last for about 30 years.

Both countries said that they will create favorable conditions to expedite contracted projects and make sure the Sino-Turkmen natural gas pipeline goes into service as scheduled next year.

New Zealand Oil and Gas set to explore offshore

NZOG raised more capital than expected over the summer and is deciding whether it will invest in the offshore Tui oil fields.

The oil and gas exploration major said that it released a number of its offshore government contracts because of their small scale or long-term development. Chief Executive David Salisbury said NZOG walked away from a number of possible projects, National Business Review reported.

"We're keen to grow, but it needs to be value creating," Salisbury said.

Salisbury said the company wants larger offshore parcels, and if they are offered up by the government, NZOG would likely bid.

NZOG reported a cash balance of $256 million at the end of June and $285 million at the end of August, so the firm is well positioned to pursue new investment opportunities.


Closing oil prices, Sept. 2, 3 p.m. London

Brent crude oil: $114.94

West Texas Intermediate crude oil: $116.55


(e-mail: energy@upi.com)

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