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Oil prices and supplies - Nov 11

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Tempests, truckers and tribesmen - another week in the oil market

Andrew Clark, Guardian
Even veteran traders have been taken aback by the surge towards $100 barrels
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As the price of oil ticks closer to the magic number of $100 a barrel, the din of yelling voices and the relentless hand signals on the floor of New York's mercantile exchange become ever more frenzied.

In a cavernous hall on the edge of Manhattan's financial district, every shout, thrust or scribbled note affects the cost of petrol at the pump for millions of motorists around the world. In six months, benchmark prices have surged by 45% - an upward march that has left veteran traders shaking their heads.

Ray Carbone, president of Paramount Options, has been trading on the floor of Nymex for 20 years. He has rarely seen anything like it: "The markets over the last few days have been probably as jumpy and jittery as I've ever seen them - and I've been here through two Gulf wars, a Russian coup and Hurricane Katrina." The stakes, says the 48-year-old New Yorker, have never been higher: "Because of the high price, there is such nervousness about what could happen - a complete wash-out or continuing strength?"
(10 November 2007)


Brazil hopes huge oil discovery will propel it into big league

Tom Phillips, The Guardian
· Field may yield up to 8bn barrels of light crude
· Find may not immediately solve energy crisis
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Brazil was celebrating one of the world's biggest oil discoveries of recent years yesterday, a huge deposit off the coastline of Rio de Janeiro, which officials claim will take it into the major league of the world's biggest energy powers.

The find at the Tupi field, about 155 miles off Rio, could yield a total of 8bn barrels of light crude and represent 40% of the oil ever found in Brazil.
(10 November 2007)


Opec under pressure as $100 barrel creates oil panic in the West

Tim Webb, The Observer
The cartel is being asked to spend billions on doubling production over the next 25 years, but are energy demand forecasts right?
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... decades after the West swore never again to be held to ransom by Middle East producers, we have never been more dependent on Opec. Last week, the International Energy Agency said there was enough oil to go around - provided the cartel could almost double production over the next 25 years.

In its annual global outlook - which gets gloomier by the year - the IEA said that if Opec stumps up the cash, its production will grow from 36mbpd (million barrels per day) last year to 46mbpd in 2015, and 61mbpd by 2030. This would see the cartel's share of global production jump from 42 per cent now to 52 per cent by 2030. Analysts forecast that supply from non-Opec countries will remain steady over the next 20 years at just under 50mbpd, with small increases coming from non-conventional oil such as biofuels. This puts the onus on Opec to meet almost the entire forecast 37 per cent, or 32mbpd, increase in demand by 2030.

But there is no guarantee that this extra production will come on stream as predicted.

...In some ways you can't blame Opec for procrastinating. Prices may seem to be on a relentless march upwards, but in the late 1990s they were in the low teens. If the cartel invests billions in raising capacity just as the world goes into recession and demand falls off a cliff, it could bankrupt its members.

...Julian Lee from the Centre for Global Energy Studies says that in Europe, high oil prices fit governments' environmental agendas, while the US is trying to develop its own alternatives to oil such as biofuels.

'What has surprised me is the lack of real political pressure. Governments are quietly not unhappy to see prices go up, so long as that doesn't have a detrimental impact on their economies.'
(11 November 2007)

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