We’re very happy today to get referenced in a Yahoo Finance post about the winners and losers in the run up on gas prices:
The efficiency complex. When push comes to shove, Americans are really good at figuring out how to do more with less, and how to get more for their money — and then turning those ideas into businesses. When oil soars, websites such as Gasbuddy.com, which points users to cheap gas in the area, experience a surge in traffic. And firms like Propelit, whose software enables trucking fleet managers to monitor the driving habits of employees (and provide incentives for them to drive more efficiently), or FuelClinic.com, which coaches consumers on ways to drive more efficiently, find that their sales pitches go over much better.
We are in the “winners” camp, apparently members of the “efficiency complex”… I’m not sure I renewed membership this year, what with the fuel prices driving up my transportation costs and all.
None the less, very happy to be of service, coaching consumers on ways to drive more efficiently.
What to expect over the next few months… rising food prices that will lag behind fuel prices by a month or two, as most of our food is transported more than 1,500 miles from farm to your local market. Super-commuters will be hit hard, as just getting to work will become more and more expensive.
Will we hit $6.00 per gallon as some predict… what do you think?
Back to back bad news about fuel prices in the New Year.
It’s “certainly possible” that the price of a barrel of oil will push above $100 a barrel, Daryl Guppy, CEO of Guppytraders.com, told CNBC Thursday. “Once you move above $100, then $110 is just clear freeway straight to that level,” Guppy added.
The former president of Shell Oil, John Hofmeister, says Americans could be paying $5 for a gallon of gasoline by 2012.
In an interview with Platt’s Energy Week television, Hofmeister predicted gasoline prices will spike as the global demand for oil increases.
“I’m predicting actually the worst outcome over the next two years which takes us to 2012 with higher gasoline prices,” he said.
Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst with Oil Price Information Service says Americans will see gasoline prices hit the $5 a gallon mark in the next decade, but not by 2012.
“That wolf is out there and it’s going to be at the door…I agree with him that we’ll see those numbers at some point this decade but not yet.” Kloza said.
Gasoline prices have been steadily rising. Last week, gas prices crossed the $3 mark for the first time since October 2008. According to AAA figures, prices are up 4% from a month ago and 16% from the $2.585 average a year ago.
ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Heating and squishing microalgae in a pressure-cooker can fast-forward the crude-oil-making process from millennia to minutes.
University of Michigan professors are working to understand and improve this procedure in an effort to speed up development of affordable biofuels that could replace fossil fuels and power today’s engines.
They are also examining the possibility of other new fuel sources such as E. coli bacteria that would feed on waste products from previous bio-oil batches.
“The vision is that nothing would leave the refinery except oil. Everything would get reused. That’s one of the things that makes this project novel. It’s an integrated process. We’re combining hydrothermal, catalytic and biological approaches,” said Phillip Savage, an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor in the U-M Department of Chemical Engineering and principal investigator on the $2-million National Science Foundation grant that supports this project. The grant is funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
“This research could play a major role in the nation’s transition toward energy independence and reduced carbon dioxide emissions from the energy sector,” Savage said.
The Great Geopolitical Battle Over Energy Transit Routes
by Philip H. de Leon
As we all live in the present, it is very hard to fully assess the future implications of decisions supported or made by political and business leaders. An extraordinary game of geo-strategy is under way to lock in long-term agreements, notably in the energy sector. At a global level, the transit routes of future oil & gas pipelines become the object of a power struggle involving not only the suppliers and end-users but also the transit countries. Intensive courtships are under way where a ménage à trois, or more, may be the best option to prevent any country from being in a dominating position to rule a region and exercise political or economic pressure.
Let’s take a practical example and look at some of the dynamics behind the Nabucco pipeline and at the different interests involved.
The Untapped Energy Riches of Uzbekistan
by John C.K. Daly
While many Western investors remain fixated on somehow acquiring a slice of Turkmenistan’s natural gas riches, despite a recent scandal over the country’s actual reserves, there is another country further east whose energy and mineralogical reserves have been overlooked – Uzbekistan.
While a number of factors are responsible for this oversight, including relative geographical isolation (Uzbekistan, along with Liechtenstein, is one of the world’s doubly landlocked nations, requiring crossing two other nations to gain access to the oceans), which currently limits energy exports available for the global market, there are a number of pluses that the country has for investors willing to “think outside the box.”
With a population of 27 million, Uzbekistan is Central Asia’s most populous and dominant power. A conservative fiscal policy since 1991, including inconvertibility of the national currency, the som, has shielded its citizens from the hyperinflation that ravaged other former Soviet republics, but the policy previously diminished potential foreign investment.
Since the global recession that began a year ago, however, Uzbekistan’s fiscal conservatism, previously dismissed by the foreign investment community, has looked more and more like a pragmatic policy that isolated the country from the worst aspects of the recession in stark contrast to other post-Soviet states that fervently embraced free market capitalism like Lithuania, whose economy contracted 18.1% this year and is expected to shrink further by 3.9% in 2010. In a move certain to be welcomed by foreign investor Uzbekistan is slowly moving towards making its currency convertible but whenever it happens, for the present the country offers a fiscal stability unmatched by many of its more free-market neighbors.
Back in June I took a first look at a new movie called “Houston We Have a Problem” – now there is an updated theatrical trailer (see below) and some recent screenings in select cities and film festivals (right now at the Austin Film Festival).
Houston We Have A Problem is about America’s ferocious appetite for oil from the insider’s perspective of the Energy Capital of the World – Houston Texas. The film explores our dangerous addiction to oil through candid insights from the Barons, Wildcatters, CEO’s and Roughnecks that comprise the world of Big Oil. Oilmen on oil addiction.
Has anyone been able to see the film? What did you think?
Mexican drug cartels are skimming oil from the government owned pipelines an selling it to several U.S. refineries.
In a surprising public acknowledgment, Mexican President Felipe Calderon said last week that drug cartels have extended their operations into the theft of oil, Mexico’s leading source of foreign income which finances about 40 percent of the national budget.
At least one U.S. oil executive has pleaded guilty to a conspiracy that involved what prosecutors said was about $2 million in stolen Mexican oil, U.S. Justice Department officials confirmed to The Associated Press.
Here’s a first look at the trailer for a new film Houston We Have a Problem – a feature documentary about America’s ferocious appetite for oil from the insider’s perspective.
Exploring our dangerous addiction to oil through candid insights from the Barons, Wildcatters, CEO’s and Roughnecks that comprise the world of Big Oil. This film is an inside look into the culture of oil that explores the history of our dependency that has led us to our current ENERGY CRISIS.
We learn how the perceived perpetrators of this critical American problem understand its complexities better than anybody. These seasoned professionals and New Wildcatters are presenting innovative strategies with a systemic shift to renewable, sustainable energy sources.
For too long, the energy policy of this country has been dictated by lobbyists and knee-jerk political decisions but now, politicians and business are finally joining together for a solution
The film premiered at the AFI Dallas International Film Festival earlier this year. Unfortunately, I wasn’t lucky enough to be there. There is, however, an interesting interview from the festival with director Nicole Torre and producer Eric Mofford where they talk about how the motivation for the film developed out of a conversation where two people, representing two distinctly different political and social perspectives, were able to overcome the obvious obstacles and discuss real solutions to the shared crisis.
I talked briefly with the film’s director Nicole Torre yesterday who told me they are still shopping it around for national theatrical distribution, and the screening schedule and DVD release date is not yet available.
There’s an outstanding report from American Petroleum Institute (API) called Energizing America. I’m going to cherry pick some of the best and most informative info-graphs from this report and highlight them over the next few weeks. You can download a free copy of their report from their website.
Click image to enlarge.
The API report wants to emphasis that oil companies only make a 5.5% margin on each drop of oil the buy, refine, and transport to your local filling station.
More interesting are the taxes; nearly a quarter of the money consumers spend at the pump gets fed back to local, state, and federal governments. Any idea why every administration since the 1970′s oil crisis has so far failed to solve our oil addiction? Anyone?
Fuelishness! Feed: Oil firms above $60; Venezuela builds oil rig with China; The end of the gas guzzler; Will transform US auto fleet; Safety could suffer
- Oil firms above $60 – Oil prices have been on an upward trend since mid-April on equity-led rallies. They have recovered from below $33 in December after a plunge from record highs above $147 in July.
- Venezuela set to build first oil rig with China – China buys 300,000 barrels of Venezuelan crude every day, and is eager for more from the Latin American country as part of its global quest for a diverse range of energy supplies.
- The end of the great American gas guzzler – President Barack Obama will unveil new fuel efficiency standards today in an effort to limit the release of greenhouse gases by cars and trucks.
- Obama’s new rules will transform US auto fleet – The new rules would bring new cars and trucks sold in the United States to an average of 35.5 miles per gallon, about 10 mpg more than today’s standards. Passenger cars will be required to get 39 mpg, light trucks 30 mpg.
- Safety could suffer if we boost mileage by making cars smaller - The National Academy of Sciences, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Congressional Budget Office and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have separately concluded in multiple studies dating back about 20 years that fuel-economy standards force automakers to build more small cars, which has led to thousands more deaths in crashes annually.
For a while, when the price at the pump was around $1.59 a gallon in the Iowa Quad-Cities, the refining margin on gasoline was negative, MacIntyre said.
“Refiners were losing money in that they were selling the gasoline to wholesalers for less than what they were paying for the crude oil that goes into the refining,” MacIntyre said.
However, they were making money on other products such as diesel and jet fuel, he added.
The price of gasoline is not set by the refiners, MacIntyre said. Gasoline prices, as well as the prices of all the other products refineries make from oil, are set by the market.
There are a lot of partial explanations. It’s partly due to some refineries cutting production, both to increase profit by reducing supply and to make repairs, at least in California. It’s partly due to the crude oil market being in contango, the term for when “the current month’s (Feb.) future price is trading lower than the futures price for the following month”—which means there’s a lot of oil being bought and stored in tankers for future sale. (The problem: we don’t know how this contango directly translates to higher prices at the pump. Does it create a shortage? Can anyone educate us in laymen’s terms?) Oh, it might also partly be due to the temporary spike in crude prices back at the end of 2008, because often pump prices lag crude prices.
Gas prices continue upward spiral – AAA says for the third consecutive week crude oil prices have declined and retail gasoline prices drifted higher. Consumer demand remains weak and supply is so ample that offshore oil tankers are carrying millions of barrels of crude oil and going nowhere.
Why Do Gas Prices Rise As Oil Prices Fall? – Alvarez has one theory that speculators are behind the increase, betting the crude oil will rise in the coming days. Alvarez does stress, however, that gas station owners have the final say on how they price their gas.
I’ve written several times, bout OPEC cuts, and crude oil stowed at sea… is this having an effect? What do you think?
Today as a mass of “global-warming-denying” arctic weather shuts in much of the country with punishing and historic low temperatures; crude oil prices slip again – this time to under $34 – leaving oil companies to float their stock at sea in the bellies of supertankers.
From the Indian Ocean to the South Atlantic to the Gulf of Mexico, giant supertankers brimming with oil are resting at anchor or slowly tracing racetrack patterns through the sea, heading nowhere.
The ships are marking time, serving as floating oil-storage tanks. The companies and countries leasing them for that purpose have made a simple calculation: the price of oil has fallen so far that it is due for a rise.
Some producing countries are trying to force that rise by using the tankers to withhold oil from the market, while traders are trying to profit by buying cheap oil now to store and sell at a higher price later. Oil storage has become so popular that onshore tank capacity is becoming scarce.
The crude oil markets are none-to-worried about the “unrest” in the middle east either, it seems. Normally a war (or threat of a war) in that area results in a spike in the price of crude, as futures traders bet on a resulting shortage resulting from direct action or political punishment. But not this time. There was a blip last week, just a hint of warming… but it didn’t last long.
OPEC lowered its energy demand forecast for 2009, with investors already shrugging off production cuts of 4.2 million barrels a day by member countries. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries said in its January report that it expects world demand for crude will fall 180,000 barrels per day in 2009, compared with the previous year.
Is Gaia herself giving us a glimpse into our financial future? Do the record low temperatures foretell the continued glacerialization of world economies, the freezing of credit, and the icing-over of hope?
Even Hugo Chavez can’t believe his eyes, or the bottom line. He’s busy eating a little crow at the moment, hoping to court western oil companies to help bail him out of the mess he’s created in his oil-rich but cash-starved
President Hugo Chávez, buffeted by falling oil prices that threaten to damage his efforts to establish a Socialist-inspired state, is quietly courting Western oil companies once again.
Until recently, Chávez had pushed foreign oil companies here into a corner by nationalizing their oil fields, raiding their offices with tax authorities and imposing a series of royalties increases.
But faced with the plunge in prices and a decline in domestic production, senior officials here have begun soliciting bids from some of the largest Western oil companies in recent weeks — including Chevron, Royal Dutch/Shell and Total of France — promising them access to some of the world’s largest petroleum reserves, according to energy executives and industry consultants here.
This economic slowdown, recession, adjustment (whatever you’d like to call it) seems bigger than currently imagined.
Meanwhile, U.S. oil inventories have been rising for months, suggesting that the recession severely cut into energy demand. The Energy Information Administration said Wednesday that crude inventories grew by 1.2 million barrels for the week ended Friday after jumping 6.7 million barrels the previous week…
Refineries are cutting back production because profit margins are next to nil.
Flynn said any existing storage facilities could be flooded with crude as the February contract comes to a close Tuesday, leaving little excess capacity.
“We’re running out of places to put it,” he said. “There’s more oil out there now than we’ve had in a long time.”
From our conservative friends up north at SDA:
It turns out 2008 was the second-best year ever for Saskatchewan in terms of actual drilling with 4,045 oil and gas wells created. Most of that attention is focused on the Bakken oil play and the Weyburn-Estevan area.
Part of the reason that sector has exploded in recent years is the advent of horizontal drilling. Once an experimental technique it’s become common-place in our province, accounting for nearly half of total oil production.
Apparently as world oil prices fall the smaller oil drilling companies are increasingly competitive with the bigger companies, thanks to their lower overhead costs and high demand for the sweeter oil they are pumping that requires less refining.
Today and tomorrow I’m in Chicago attending the Energy Freedom Summit,Â organized by the Set America Free Coalition. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this summit, not knowing much about the organization until just two months ago.
Â My first impression after today’s panels; I’m impressed with the knowledge, experience, focus and pace of this organization – they have a laser-lock on what they intend to do, and are efficient in getting the message out as powerfully as possible.
The panels are impressive leaders in their fields, from geo-political security experts to plug-in hybrid magazine editors. I’m taking many notes.
The attendees are an ambitious and eclectic group of people from a variety of backgrounds who are interested in understanding andÂ solving the current energy crisis. Authors, government officials past and present, entrepreneurs, concerned citizens fill the conference hall – about 150 in all.
I’veÂ met several authors, a frog farmer,Â a history professor, a few lawyers,Â andÂ several “regular joes” who are attendingÂ in an effort toÂ ”do something” about this problem.Â
I’m not yet sure where I fit in here, but I keep talking to people, and am learning quite a lot.
(Update 10/27/08 – I’m home from Chicago, with enough new information to fill this blog for weeks. I’m currently writing a few entries, and will begin posting themÂ as they are completed.)
Â Youâ€™ve probably noticed oil and gas prices are the lowest theyâ€™ve been all year. Demand has slipped not just here at home, but around the world. Even Chinaâ€™s demand is showing signs of cooling.
At the beginning of the year, OPEC producers felt confident that strong economic growth and tight supplies would keep oil prices high. When oil crossed the $100-a-barrel threshold in February, the cartelâ€™s president blamed speculators and said there was not much OPEC couldÂ do.
But now, panic is gripping producers as prices drop. Oil is down by half since July, and the speed of the decline has stunned oil-rich governments that have become dependent on highÂ prices.
OPEC is worried that prices are going to slip too far. This, of course is great news for consumers, who have been suffering for months paying balooning prices at the pump. Itâ€™s also a confirmation that basic rules of supply and demand still workÂ to determine the cost ofÂ commodities like fuel. Of course lower fuel prices would be even more welcome if not for the globalÂ economic downturn.
Were fuel prices a contributor to the economic crisis -Â a perfect storm of the housing creditÂ and oil bubbles? Iâ€™m sure that high fuel prices helped push consumer confidence down. How can you be optimistic about weathering your other economic problems when every day the price of fuel rises, and never seems to fall.Â High fuel costsÂ may have pushed us over the economic edge we have be teetering at for the last few years.
Early in the year there were numerous reports fromÂ government transportation agencies and commercial groups like AAA thatÂ AmericansÂ were curtailing driving, driving less that they had the year before,Â indicating the first decrease in driving inÂ decades.Â In any case, the oil market is finally reacting to months of run-ups, where weÂ found ourselves paying over $140 for a barrel of oil just a few short months ago.Â We stopped buying as much, and the price slips.
Now OPEC,Â the largestÂ oil cartel,Â may attempt to flex its muscleÂ to prop up falling oil prices and protect their profits, byÂ purposely reducing oil supply.Â
IsÂ it possible to demonstrate more clearly the need to find alternative supplies for energyÂ than this? Is it possible to demonstrate more clearly the effect ofÂ energy conservation than this? We all participated inÂ the grandest supply and demand experiment of modern history.
Conservation works – and works quickly, without any new technology required. Finding alternative sources of energy, or just stating the intention of finding alternative sources of oil, also works to reduceÂ prices. It doesnâ€™t take years, as predicted by politicians from each side. Speculators and cartelsÂ are discouraged when they hear the largest customer has decided to shop around a little.Â Sellers tend to sweeten the deal in order toÂ keep the customer.Â Itâ€™s less about actual drops of oil, and more about managing human greed. Letâ€™s not be lulled back into old habits by lower prices.
Letâ€™s also remember that relatively small changes in demand led to fairly substantial changes in price. Itâ€™s true that Americans are driving less than last year – but itâ€™s only by a small percentage.Â Look around, there are cars everywhere – moving around all hours of the day. Americanâ€™s havenâ€™t abandoned their cars, they are just using them a little less, or using them a little more efficiently. Iâ€™d like to think we contributed, however slightly.
A day after plunging as much as $5 a barrel in a dramatic sell-off, crude continued its downward trend Tuesday as traders sold oil contracts on the belief that prices are still too high in relation to demand and have further room to fall.
Is the Option to Drill enough to stop sky-rocketing gas prices?Â
(For the record, politics stink. Oil is now a hugely political issue, and I try very hard to avoidÂ ”politics” on this blog and website. It’s truely meant to be a resource for everyone, without aÂ personal politicalÂ axe to grind. SometimesÂ politics areÂ unavoidable. When the facts speak one way or another, and it coincides with a certain political bent,Â I’ll do my very best toÂ indicate why you should at least consider the points being made by “the other team”.)Â
Some say we “can’t drill our way out of high oil prices” and that “it will take 10 years to see a result” of renewed off-shore drilling here in the United States. Apparently, however, our government can do a little paperwork and revoke drilling moratorium restrictions – creating an “Option of Drilling” – and immediatelyÂ see a “correction” to the price of oil – without anyÂ actual drilling.
- Since George Bush rescinded the federal moratorium on off-shore drilling and since demand for higher domestic production has increased in the face of $5 per gallon gasoline, the price of crude has dropped over $20 a barrel in less than two weeks.Â
- The correction for oil prices has lasted two weeks with Brent down 16.3 per cent since hitting a record $147.50 on July 11 while WTI has sunk 16.8 per cent since reaching an all-time high of $147.27 on the same day.
- Technically, the $128/bbl support on WTI did not hold very long, and crude is pushed down further to test how strong the $122/bbl support can be. If $122/bbl does not hold, then we would face another accelerating wave to the next significant support level at $110/bbl.
There is another ban on off-shore drilling – a Congressional ban. Lifting this ban wouldÂ indicateÂ a strong intention and commitment to the “Option to Drill” – and help continue the “correction” of oil prices.Â To lift the ban requires a vote. But, Congress being the mess that it is, there are people who’d just rather not vote one way or another on this right now…
- WHY NOT have a vote on offshore drilling? There’s a serious debate to be had over whether Congress should lift the ban on drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf that has been in place since 1981.
The “correction”Â has certainly had some help form the currentÂ high prices. “Pain at the pump” has changed the habits of many drivers. Demand has reduced 2.4% from this time last year. Many people are driving less. It’s not hard to imagine why, when the cost of a fuel stop can easilyÂ approach $100 for a full sized pickup or SUV.
- â€œPeople have changed their driving habits, and theyâ€™re not going to change back anytime soon,â€Â said James Cordier, president of Tampa, Fla.-based trading firms Liberty Trading Group.
- Gasoline price changes typically lag behind oil prices. The price of oil has risen more than 72% over the last 12 months. But as the high cost of fuel cut into demand, crude prices have shed more than $23 a barrel since hitting a record high on July 11.Â Â
Without options, America’s economy can be held hostage by the greed of others. FuelClinic is obviously a stong proponet of consumer education, fuel conservation, new fuel technologies, electric cars, and other alternatives to help wean human civilization from the giant oil tit. At the same time, we do not need to needlessly (or stubbornly) slow the world economy by refusing to recognize the power of markets to correct themselves when artificial constraints are removed.
A report on fuel theft trends and techniques.
Americans drove around 4.5 billion fewer miles in April compared with the same month last year, marking the lowest mileage clocked on US roads for the month since 2003, a report showed Thursday. The Federal Highway Administration (FHA) said in its monthly report that the number of vehicle miles driven in the United States fell by 1.8 percent, to 245.9 billion, based on preliminary data from the state highway authorities across the United States.The number of miles traveled in April 2003 was 239.7 billion, FHA data show.The miles traveled on US roads rose from 132.7 billion miles in 1983 to a peak of 250.9 billion miles in 2004, according to the data on the FHA website. Read more
â€œAnd guess what this member* would be all about? This member would be all about socializing â€” er, uh. [Pauses for several moments] â€¦. would be about â€¦ [pause] â€¦ basically â€¦ taking over, and the government running all of your companies.â€
Found At: Hot Air
It’llÂ never happen in America, but it has happened all over the world in recent years:Â
Soaring energy prices are fueling a global wave of natural-resource nationalization that is souring the investment landscape for international oil companies and reshaping energy politics for years to come.
While it is anyoneâ€™s guess as to which energy-rich developing nation will be next to assert greater state control over its oil or natural gas assets, analysts say it is only a matter of time before the actions of Russiaâ€™s Vladimir Putin, Venezuelaâ€™s Hugo Chavez and Boliviaâ€™s Evo Morales inspire a copycat.
More about Chavez of Venezuela in particular:
2007 On May 1, 2007, Venezuela stripped the world’s biggest oil companies of operational control over massive Orinoco Belt crude projects, a controversial component in President Hugo Chavez‘s nationalization drive.
America is sitting on top of a super massive 200 billion barrel Oil Field that could potentially make America Energy Independent and until now has largely gone unnoticed. Thanks to new technology the Bakken Formation in North Dakota could boost Americaâ€™s Oil reserves by an incredible 10 times, giving western economies the trump card against OPECâ€™s short squeeze on oil supply and making Iranian and Venezuelan threats of disrupted supply irrelevant.
In the next 30 days the USGS (U.S. Geological Survey) will release a new report giving an accurate resource assessment of the Bakken Oil Formation that covers North Dakota and portions of South Dakota and Montana. With new horizontal drilling technology it is believed that from 175 to 500 billion barrels of recoverable oil are held in this 200,000 square mile reserve that was initially discovered in 1951. The USGS did an initial study back in 1999 that estimated 400 billion recoverable barrels were present but with prices bottoming out at $10 a barrel back then the report was dismissed because of the higher cost of horizontal drilling techniques that would be needed, estimated at $20-$40 a barrel…
Fuel or folly?
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
In the pantheon of well-intentioned governmental policies gone awry, massive ethanol biofuel production may go down as one of the biggest blunders in history. An unholy alliance of environmentalists, agribusiness, biofuel corporations and politicians has been touting ethanol as the cure to all our environmental ills, when in fact it may be doing more harm than good. An array of unintended consequences is wreaking havoc on the economy, food production and, perhaps most ironically, the environment.
VIENNA, Austria (AP) — Oil prices held near $90 a barrel Friday, a barrier crossed for the first time in after-hours trading in New York on speculative buying.Investors are being drawn to energy futures as a hedge against the weakening U.S. dollar. That, plus worries over tensions between Turkey and Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq, has lifted crude oil prices to new records for five straight days.Light, sweet crude for November delivery rose to $90.02 a barrel in Thursday evening electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. By midday Friday in Europe, the contract was trading at $89.92 a barrel, up 45 cents from Thursday’s close.In London, December Brent crude rose $1.47 to settle at $84.60 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange. By midday Friday, it had fallen back 25 cents to $84.34 a barrel.
While oil prices have risen sharply in recent days, the weak U.S. dollar is seen as somewhat moderating the impact of high oil prices in other currencies. The dollar had regularly been setting new lows against the euro and has also sagged against the yen.
Analysts said investors were also buying more oil to hedge further losses in the currency.
“The main way the weak U.S. dollar is actually relevant to oil and possibly other commodities such as gold, is that you may have seen some investment in those commodities as a hedge against U.S. dollar weakness and that has pushed up their price,” said David Moore, commodity strategist at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia in Sydney.
Vienna’s PVM Oil Associates said the surge “cannot be fully explained by market fundamentals, as the related factors are generally more bearish than bullish.”
Data released in recent weeks shows speculative buying of oil futures is on the rise.
“While oil markets are tight, there is a question as to whether the current price is sustainable,” Moore said.
In Thursday’s Nymex floor session, the November contract rose $2.07 to a record close of $89.47 a barrel.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Energy Department reported that oil and gasoline supplies rose more than expected last week, countering suggestions that supplies are tight. However, crude supplies at the closely watched Nymex delivery point of Cushing, Oklahoma, fell last week. And several reports in recent days have predicted oil supplies will tighten in the fourth quarter.
Thursday was the fifth day in a row crude prices have set new records. The new record has taken the price of oil nearer, but still below, inflation-adjusted highs hit in early 1980. Depending on the adjustment, a $38 barrel of oil in 1980 would be worth $96 to $101 or more today.
Nymex gasoline futures dropped 0.21 cent to $2.183 a gallon (3.8 liters) while heating oil prices added 0.35 cent to $2.3528 a gallon.
November natural gas futures fell 3.2 cents to $7.341 per 1,000 cubic feet as investors shrugged off an Energy Department report that inventories rose by 39 billion cubic feet last week, less than analysts had expected. Supplies are high by historical standards.