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Archive for Tuesday, August 22, 2000

Crude oil prices surge as supply concerns persist

August 22, 2000

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— Crude oil prices hit $33 a barrel for the first time in more than two months Monday, as concerns persisted that major producers would not increase output amid low stockpiles.

In closing trade on the New York Mercantile Exchange, crude for delivery in September was up 48 cents at $32.47 a barrel, while on London's International Petroleum Exchange, October Brent crude was up 18 cents at $30.62. NYMEX September gasoline ended up 140 points at 95.70 cents per gallon, while September heating oil rose 249 points to 92.40 cents a gallon, after hitting a seven-month high at 93.10.

Prices were bolstered Monday by comments from Kuwait indicating that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) would not increase production again unless the price for its basket of crude oil remained above $28 for at least 20 trading days.

"There will be no hike in crude output except through the OPEC's price band mechanism upon which all member states have agreed," Sheikh Saud said.

The OPEC price-band mechanism, agreed at the cartel's March meeting, provides for an automatic output increase if the price of a basket of OPEC crudes remains above $28 or below $22 a barrel for 20 consecutive working days.

The OPEC basket of seven crudes, which typically is at $1.50 to $2.50 discount to NYMEX benchmark West Texas Intermediate, was at $29.51 on Friday.

OPEC members meet Sept. 10 to consider increasing output for a third time this year.

Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest producer, last month called on OPEC to raise production before the meeting while Venezuela, Iran and Kuwait opposed an increase.

Inventories of crude oil in the United States are down 10 percent from a year ago.

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