Oil prices stay above $130 as US inventories drop

29 May 2008
Oil prices fell from historic highs but stayed above the $130 mark as official US data released on 29 May showed a drop of 8.8 million barrels in its crude oil stocks, the largest weekly fall in almost four years.

West Texas Intermediate crude was trading at $131.69 a barrel in late morning trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange on 29 May, after hitting a new record of $135.09 a week earlier.

Much of the continued price pressure is driven by concerns over supply from key markets. A rebel group is threatening attacks on Nigerian oil installations this week to mark the one-year anniversary of the president’s inauguration.

The UAE said it would be prepared to follow Saudi Arabia’s lead by increasing its own production, but declined to say whether output would rise in June. Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said earlier this month that Riyadh’s output would rise by 300,000-barrels-a-day (b/d) to hit 9.45 million b/d in June.

Meanwhile the US, the largest crude consumer in the world, is to push for greater private sector investment in the Middle East’s oil industry this week.

US treasury secretary Henry Paulson will use a visit to Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE to argue that government policies should be more open to international investment which could lead to the development of additional oil production capacity.

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