MARKET WATCH
Energy futures prices lose ground in trading on NYMEX

By OGJ editors
HOUSTON, Dec. 13 -- Energy futures prices lost ground in trading Dec. 10 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices fell despite a Dec. 10 announcement that members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries would try to lower oil production by 1 million b/d.

Analysts said OPEC's decision was a widely expected move that the market had accommodated in the week prior to OPEC's meeting in Cairo.

Analysts also cited resumed crude oil exports through Iraq's northern pipeline to Turkey as a factor in the price decline. Sabotage suspended deliveries through the line for nearly 12 days.

Algerian Energy and Mines Minister Chakib Khelil said OPEC's agreement to rein in production was "most suitable" for the time being. In comments to the Algerian Press Service, Khelil noted that the organization's accord, effective Jan. 1, would be favorable for both OPEC and the oil market.

Energy prices
Benchmark US light, sweet crude for January delivery pulled back by $1.82 Dec. 10 on the New York Mercantile Exchange to finish at $40.71/bbl. The February contract fell by $1.61 to $41.36/bbl.

Heating oil for January delivery fell by 7.44¢ to $1.23/gal Thursday on NYMEX. Unleaded gasoline for the same month fell by 3.14¢ to $1.08/gal.

On the US spot market, West Texas Intermediate crude at Cushing, Okla., lost $1.82 to $40.71/bbl.

The January natural gas contract declined 5¢ to $6.84/MMbtu "pressured by a sharp, late slide in crude oil prices, but colder Northeast and Midwest weather forecasts for this week helped temper the selling at the close," said analysts Dec. 13 at Enerfax Daily.

The price of the OPEC basket of seven crudes stood at $33.92/bbl Dec. 10, compared with $34.29/bbl the previous day.

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