UPI Energy Watch

Jan. 22, 2009 at 4:00 PM
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Speculation drives oil prices up slightly

Thinking oil prices may have hit their bottom and that U.S. President Barack Obama's spending plan could increase demand for oil, analysts and investors helped push oil prices up and stabilize them at above $43 per barrel.

Oil prices have risen more than 20 percent since Jan. 15, because the reasons behind the recent record-low oil prices are being questioned, The Australian reports.

Members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries have cut their oil production twice and will likely cut it again; however, demand has continued to fall faster than supply.

Analysts are predicting, however, that three or four weeks from now the impact of OPEC's production cuts will be felt.

"What OPEC is doing might help a little, but ... it takes them a while," said Adam Sieminski, Deutsche Bank's chief energy economist. "In a sense, OPEC is chasing the economy down."

ExxonMobil finds oil in Brazil

U.S.-based energy giant ExxonMobil announced it has discovered oil in a pre-salt layer exploration field in the Santos Basin off Brazil's southeastern coast.

The British National Petroleum Agency confirmed the find, Xinhua reports.

The field, BM-S-22, also called Azulao, could turn out to be one of the most profitable oil fields in the Santos Basin.

Azulao is located near the large Tupi field, which is being explored by Brazil's state-owned Petrobras. Tupi has an estimated 5 billion to 8 billion barrels of recoverable oil equivalent.

ExxonMobil did not report an estimate of the oil volume it expects to recover from the Azulao field.

Along with ExxonMobil, the Azulao field is being explored and developed by U.S. Hess Oil with 40 percent and Petrobras with 20 percent.

CNPC plans flat oil investments

China National Petroleum Corp. has said it plans to invest $44 billion in oil and natural gas projects this year.

The investment is the same as last year, China Business News reports.

All non-production-related projects will be put on hold indefinitely. A number of production projects, however, will get funding, including adding 30 million tons of capacity at the Changqing field, beginning gas exploration at fields in the southwest and constructing the second phase of the Sino-Kazakhstan oil pipeline and the Central Asia gas pipeline.

CNPC's profits reportedly declined last year and will not allow for an increase in investments this year.

Tax increases took about 62.42 percent of CNPC's pre-tax profit in 2008.


Closing oil prices, Jan. 22, 3 p.m., London

Brent Crude oil: $41.57

West Texas Intermediate crude oil: $40.58


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