UPI Energy Watch

Feb. 4, 2009 at 3:35 PM
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Global oil prices rise on OPEC threats

Oil prices increased for the second day in a row Wednesday after the president of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries suggested the cartel may cut its production a third time.

Angolan Petroleum Minister and OPEC President Jose Maria Botelho de Vasconcelos said the organization will take "new measures" if the current production cuts do not push oil prices higher, Macauhub reports.

Member countries are still not all in compliance with the last cut, made in December, of 4.2 million barrels per day. Once all members are in compliance, however, Vasconcelos said, "we will look at it again and, based on the assessment made, other measures will be taken."

He was optimistic that the last round of cuts made could still make a difference in oil prices in the next few months once they are fully realized and their impact reaches the market.

"The organization has been following the progress of prices. The first month has gone by, the second is under way, and I believe that the positive signs, which could give us some comfort, could start to show in the second quarter," Vasconcelos said.

In order to maintain their budgets, many OPEC member nations, including Angola, said the price of oil needs to be around $75 per barrel, instead of $40 per barrel.

Angola's average production is about 1.9 million bpd, and the country has cut its production by around 250,000 bpd.

Russia and Serbia have expanded their energy cooperation

Russia and Serbia signed an agreement to give Russia's Gazprom Neft a controlling stake in Serbia's Naftna Industrija Srbije.

The $514 million deal gives Russia a 51 percent stake in Serbia's state-owned oil and gas company, ITAR-TASS reports.

In addition to the $514 million, Gazprom Neft also agreed to invest $703 million in new development by the end of 2012 and to build Serbia's section of the South Stream gas pipeline and an underground gas storage facility at Banatski Dvor.

NIS is one of the biggest oil companies in Central Europe, producing about 7.3 million barrels of crude oil per day, and it owns refineries and filling stations.

"Gazprom Neft's acquisition of 51 percent of NIS is part and parcel of wider agreements between Serbia and Russia in the field of energy. For Gazprom Neft, control of a stake in NIS will be a natural basis for business development in Southeastern Europe," Gazprom Neft Chief Executive Officer Alexander Dyukov said.

Norway's oil production down in December, January

Oil production on Norway's continental shelf decreased in December and January despite newfound fields and major investments.

Average production dropped from 2.3 million barrels per day in December 2007 to 2.2 million bpd in December 2008, according to the latest release from the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate.

Also produced were 273,000 barrels of natural gas liquids and about 89,000 barrels of condensate, all down from the same time the previous year.

The government suggests one of the reasons for the decrease was the unplanned closing of the Kvitebjorn field. The reduction in production at the Visund field, due to a leaky gas pipe, also played a role in the lost production.

Preliminary production numbers for January suggest an average daily production of about 2.1 million bpd, down even from December.

The Kvitebjorn field restarted production Jan. 27, however, so oil production for February could get a boost.


Closing oil prices, Feb. 4, 3 p.m., London

Brent Crude oil: $44.46

West Texas Intermediate crude oil: $40.41


(e-mail: energy@upi.com)

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