Market watch: Energy futures prices decline with oversupply worries

By the OGJ Online Staff

HOUSTON, Dec. 21 -- Futures prices for oil and refined products dipped Thursday as traders worried about the resolve of oil producers to curb production.

Oman said Thursday it is now willing to reduce its oil production by 40,000 b/d starting Jan. 1, instead of the 25,000 b/d it originally pledged. Oil supply reductions pledged by Norway, Russia, Mexico, and Oman now total 440,000 b/d, or 88% of the 500,000 b/d demanded by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries as a prerequisite for cutting its oil production quotas by 1.5 million b/d in January.

OPEC ministers are scheduled to meet Dec. 28 in Cairo to discuss the oil market situation.

The February contract for benchmark US light, sweet crudes lost 52¢ Thursday to $19.28/bbl on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The March position also declined 48¢ to $19.57/bbl. However, both increased in after-hours electronic trading to $19.36/bbl and $19.65/bbl, respectively.

Home heating oil for January delivery fell 1.64¢ to 54.49¢/gal Thursday on the NYMEX. Unleaded gasoline for the same month lost 0.78¢ to 55.03¢/gal. However, the January natural gas contract gained 7¢ to $2.69/Mcf.

In London, the February contract for North Sea Brent crude lost 34¢ to $19.13/bbl on the International Petroleum Exchange.

The January natural gas contract dipped 3.4¢ to the equivalent of $4.10/Mcf on the IPE.

The average price for OPEC's basket of seven crudes lost 9¢ to $17.71/bbl Thursday.

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