UPI Energy Watch

Jan. 15, 2009 at 12:02 PM
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Oil prices rise on cuts and cold weather

For the second day in a row, global oil prices increased slightly. In the United States and Europe, bitter cold weather has increased demand, albeit temporarily. As a result, consumption of heating oil and natural gas has increased over the last few days.

In addition, members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries are discussing the possibility of further oil production cuts, with or without the support of the cartel, the Arab Times reports.

One of the world's largest oil exporters, Saudi Arabia, said it made the cuts ordered by OPEC in December and will make additional cuts in order to boost the price of oil. OPEC Secretary-General Abdalla Salem El-Badri said there may be further reductions in oil production made at the cartel's planned March meeting.

Oil-producing nations in the Middle East have called for $70-per-barrel oil in order to maintain their budgets.

The recent increase in oil prices is not expected to continue, because even as cold weather boosted demand, stockpiles continue to increase and demand predictions for the year are down.

Analysts have said OPEC's production cuts have failed to impact prices, but the cartel is confident it will make a difference.

"All in all, we will not know the full effect of the latest 2.2 million barrel a day reduction and the degree to which member countries have adhered to it, until Feb. 15," El-Badri said.

Qatar may buy Petronet LNG stake

Qatar is considering buying a 10 percent stake in India's Petronet LNG, Qatar's Energy and Industry Minister Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiyah said.

The deal, if it moves forward, would be officiated by the Qatar Investment Board, Attiyah said.

Petronet LNG's shares jumped nearly 15 percent on the news of the possible deal. Petronet LNG is India's largest importer of liquefied natural gas, India's Business Standard reports.

Petronet is in a 25-year contract with Qatar's Ras Laffan LNG and imports 5 million tons of LNG. Petronet also has increased LNG capacity at its terminal at Dahej in the state of Gujarat to 10 million tons per year.

"Given that the two companies have a long-term commitment to each other, such a move will benefit both," a Qatari official said.

Oil found in Egyptian wells

British exploration firm Circle Oil Plc. announced it has had success at one of its wells in Egypt.

The appraisal well performed at 5,785 barrels of oil per day, AME Info reports. However, there is no estimate of reserves yet.

The well is southeast of Cairo in a partially unexplored area of the Gulf of Suez Basin.

Circle Oil's contract includes a 20-year license that could be extended if a commercial discovery is made. Its partners on the well are Vegas Oil and Gas with a 50 percent interest and Premier Oil with a 10 percent interest. Circle Oil holds a 40 percent interest.

"This successful appraisal well is yet more excellent news for Circle Oil. We can be justifiably very happy with the results of our ongoing drilling program, as we have discovered commercial hydrocarbons in five of the last six wells drilled," said Circle Chief Executive Officer David Hough.

Closing oil prices, Jan. 15, 3 p.m., London

Brent Crude oil: $46.49

West Texas Intermediate crude oil: $39.22


(e-mail: energy@upi.com)

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