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Oil prices and supplies - March 23

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Double-digit oil price is history: R S Sharma of ONGC, big India oil company

R S Sharma, India Times
Oilonomics has gone haywire. The rise in oil prices has now started to hurt. Crude oil price increased five-fold in five years (from $22 per barrel in 2003); doubling in just fourteen months (from $54 per barrel in January 2007 to $110 per barrel in March 2008).

The fundamentals behind the spectacular price increase are the booming energy demand, shrinking conventional resources and consequent shift in demand-supply axis. However, not all of the increase in the past few years has been due to the fundamentals; associated dynamics like a weakening dollar, speculative activities and fear of supply disruptions from unstable resource centres have played a significant role.

OPEC signals the long-term floor benchmark to be around $90 per barrel. But the charged oil market, with its historical complexities, cannot offer anything except a further flaring in the price. I strongly believe double-digit oil price is already history. Oil addicted economies, the world over, will have to reconcile to this fact and work out suitable solutions to insulate development from the oil price curve. India, one of the fastest growing economies with an ever-growing appetite for all forms of energy, is not an exception.

(The author is chairman, ONGC)
(24 March 2008)
ONGC (Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited) is India's leading oil & gas exploration company. ONGC profile.


Lukoil Won't Send Oil to German Refiners in April, Reuters Says

Greg Walters, Bloomberg
OAO Lukoil doesn't plan to send pipeline oil shipments to Germany in April, Reuters reported, citing unidentified oil traders.

Russian crude producer Lukoil previously supplied oil to Germany through the Druzhba pipeline, which crosses Poland and Belarus from Russia. The company suspended pipeline exports to increase pressure on oil trader Sunimex, which handles the company's German business, Reuters said.
(19 March 2008)
Contributor Jeffrey J. Brown writes:
Like Saudi Arabia's "voluntary" reduction in net oil exports, from 9.1 mbpd (total liquids) in 2005 to around 8.0 mbpd in 2007, Lukoil is saying that the continuing cutoff of crude oil exports to Germany is also voluntary.


Cheney and Saudis: No short-term fix for oil prices

Mark Silva, Baltimore Sun (journalist blog)
With gasoline pushing $4 a gallon and oil already topping $100 per barrel, the only word of relief today coming out of Vice President Dick Cheney’s meetings with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia is an agreement that “longer-term’’ solutions are necessary.

... A senior administration official said no breakthroughs on short-term relief for tight energy markets had come out of Cheney’s meetings with Abdullah.

“There was a lot of commonality in their assessment about the structural problems confronted by the global energy market now, and some discussion of probably the way forward, how we work together to try and stabilize the market and what can be done, what could be done shorter term," the official said, "but probably more about what's necessary to do over the medium to longer term."

Those longer-term solutions include more investment in new oil production,, as Saudi Arabia has been doing. Asked about the longer-term solutions, the official said: “I’m sure they mentioned the kinds of commitments the king made” when he met with the vice president in Dallas in 2005.

Then, the Saudis had laid out a five to six program near fulfillment, the official said, including “billions of dollars in Saudi investment into increasing capacity.”

“The U.S. believes there ought to be a lot more investment in our own production capabilities,’’ this official said - pointing to places such as the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge, as well as offshore along the east, west and Gulf coasts.
(22 March 2008)


Oil market: Things are beyond OPEC’s control

Kazinform (Kazakhstan National Information Agency)
What an exceptional week it has been! With Bulls continuing to reign and crude for the first time in history crossing the $110 mark, this has been an unprecedented and turbulent week in many, many ways.

Fears of a third oil shock are being expressed all around. Talks of stagflation, first heard in the 80s, are in currency once again. The worst economic recession since the Great Depression seems just round the corner.

Markets are setting new records. Having broken through the $100 psychological barrier, oil prices continue to soar and show little sign of slowing their upward march. Already at the beginning of the year, aggregate global oil inventories were at an all time low in terms of forward demand cover.

OPEC is rightly concerned, finding itself in a tight spot-under focus, yet feels it can’t do much. The London-based Center of Global Energy Studies in its March report underlines there are concerns within the producers’ group that any over-supply in a weakening market will undermine prices. However, there are others on the other side of the table who continue to argue that under-supply will continue to push prices to levels that will hasten the weakening of the market and erode demand.

OPEC thus has been arguing for some time that the supply side of the global crude balance cannot be blamed for the current woes of the market. Analysts agree that the size of oil supplies is just one factor, among others, that determine the crude market price.
(21 March 2008)


Oil Falls on Economy Worries

John Wilen, AP
Oil futures extended their declines Thursday as concerns about the economy and demand for oil grew and the dollar strengthened.

Retail gas prices, meanwhile, fell further below their recent records, while diesel rose to a new record above $4 a gallon.

For a second day, the oil market appeared focused on the economy and oil's underlying supply and demand fundamentals - factors it ignored in recent weeks while rocketing to a series of new records. However, some analysts said oil's price swoon may not last for long; most investors expect the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates several more times this year, moves that are sure to put new pressure on the dollar.
(20 March 2008)


Crude Oil May Fall as Dollar Rises, Demand Wanes, Survey Shows

Margot Habiby, Bloomberg
Crude oil prices may fall next week as the dollar rebounds and the slowing U.S. economy curbs consumption of fuels.

Twenty-nine of 34 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News, or 85 percent, said prices will drop through March 27. Four of the respondents, or 12 percent, said futures will rise and one forecast that prices will be little changed. Last week, 43 percent said oil would decline.
(21 March 2008)

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