Mexico to increase gasoline prices
State-owned Pemex plans to increase the price of gasoline and diesel next year, El Universal reported.
These increases are part of the company's annual price updates, though this time they coincide with fiscal reform.
The proposed increases are slightly lower than the ones that the National Action Party proposed in the form of a 5.5 percent surcharge for automotive fuels on top of the Special Tax on Production and Services, the report said.
Pemex says it has good news for consumers on the natural gas and the electric power sectors, as it calls for reducing its price by 33 cents on the dollar. Natural gas will be priced at $6.55 per million Btu, while liquid petroleum gas, which is used by 70 percent of Mexican homes, would increase 5.9 percent.
The budget puts the average price of Mexico's oil mix, which includes the Altamira, Maya, Olmeca, and Istmo varieties, at $46.30 a barrel, down $8.32 from the current average of $54.62.
Crude oil exports could bring in $28.441 billion in foreign exchange in 2008, $6 billion less than 2007. The Pemex draft budget for 2008, which was made available to the Finance Secretariat in the first week of August, argues for a conservative management of public finances this year, since Pemex's financial contribution will be smaller.
The proposed budget estimates that average crude oil production in 2008 will be 3.14 million barrels a day, down 0.6 percent as the current production is 3.162 million barrels, or 22,000 barrels a day more.
Venezuela, Russia in venture talks
Officials from Venezuela and Russia will hold talks in Moscow to discuss strengthening economic cooperation and joint energy projects.
Venezuelan Vice President Jorge Rodriguez and Russian acting Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Zhukov co-chaired the bilateral intergovernmental commission and participated in the work of the business council, which is expected to focus on cooperation between LUKoil and PDVSA in developing the Junin-3 field in the Orinoco River oil belt, Itar-Tass reported.
Miguel Perez Abad, industry federation president, and LUKoil Vice President Andrei Kuzyaev co-chaired the Russia-Venezuela council of entrepreneurs.
The two sides said the Moscow meeting will focus on joint projects and investments into the fuel and energy complex, petrochemical industry, industrial and civilian construction, infrastructure development, agro-industrial complex, telecommunications and tourism.
LUKoil said, “The contract has been finalized and is waiting to be signed." It calls for a joint venture to develop the major oil field.
LUKoil and PDVSA are jointly assessing the reserves at Junin-3. Preliminary estimates show the Orinoco oil belt has a total of 235 billion barrels of heavy and super heavy crude oil.
Nigerian navy arrests 236 ships in illegal oil activities
The Nigerian navy said this week it had arrested more than 236 vessels engaged in crude oil theft, illegal bunkering and other acts on the high seas that led to about 80 percent reduction in crude oil theft within the last three years, Africa News reported.
Its navy had increased patrols and presence on the high seas over the past year that allowed the government to make progress on reducing crude oil theft.
Capt. Henry Babalola, director of Naval Information, said in a statement: “Without these depot ships, crude oil theft becomes unattractive as barges and canoes cannot make hazardous voyage to the high seas and receiving countries. It also reduces the rate of attack and death of Naval personnel who are often most vulnerable within the vicinity of the depot ships.”
He said: “Crude oil theft is perpetuated by powerful and ruthless cartels assisted by notorious ship owners and corrupt government officials that benefit immensely from the illicit trade. The cartel is waiting for the release of one of the depot ships MT FRANCIS, before using the same method to release over 45 of these depot ships for more crude oil theft and gun-running to destabilize Nigeria since the nefarious trade thrives more when there is chaos."
On controversy surrounding the non-release of some of the ships, Babalola said, "The Nigerian Navy only arrest vessels when there are reasonable grounds for their arrest. MT Francis for instance, was arrested off Sombreiro River (a notorious and dangerous haven of crude oil theft and other vices). At the time of arrest, the ship was laden with 500 metric tons of crude oil suspected to have been stolen since the ship at the time was not nominated by NNPC to load, discharge or export crude oil."
Closing oil prices, Sept. 20, 3 p.m. London
Brent crude oil: $78.03
West Texas Intermediate crude oil: $81.77