General Interest news briefs, Aug. 18


India�s oil import bill during the current fiscal year is expected to increase 100% over the 1999-2000 bill. The continued increase in international crude prices this year has put an unprecedented strain on the country's oil budget, with the oil import bill threatening to touch $19 billion if oil prices continue near $33/bbl for the rest of the financial year. This estimate is based on the premise that the total demand for crude oil in the country during the current fiscal year will be around 112.83 million tons. Of this, indigenous production will be around 30 million tons, leaving a balance of around 83 million tons of crude to be imported. Last fiscal year�s import bill was $9.6 billion.

Alaska's Department of Natural Resources said it has scheduled a Sept. 7 competitive sale of the state's royalty oil for the term of 1 year�Jan. 1, 2001-Dec. 31, 2001. Alaska intends to execute a contract for about 35,000 b/d of North Slope oil. First delivery of royalty oil is scheduled for Jan. 1, 2001.

Zimbabwe has raised fuel prices by up to 26% as the country grapples with a fuel shortage that has forced some public transport operators to take their vehicles off the road. State oil importer National Oil Co. of Zimbabwe (NOCZIM) said domestic outlets were selling petroleum products at prices 30-40% below the cost of procurement. NOCZIM raised petrol by 25.6% to the equivalent of 72�/l., while diesel increased by 19% to the equivalent of 62�/l. It was the third hike in fuel prices this year.

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