By OGJ editors
HOUSTON, July 1 -- Energy futures prices generally continued to improve Friday, in the wake of last week's decision by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to extend their reduced production quotas through September.
Although traders had long expected that decision, it still was viewed as a somewhat bullish factor, said analysts.
Oman officials said this week that they back OPEC's decision. However, reports by the OPEC news agency did not say specifically that Oman plans to extend the 40,000 b/d reduction of its production that it pledged last December in cooperation with OPEC's decision to reduce its production by 1.5 million b/d during the first 6 months of 2002.
Mexico said last week it would keep its production at 1.66 million b/d during the next quarter to support OPEC's efforts to put a floor under crude prices. However, Norway and Russia refused to continue their cutbacks of 150.000 b/d each.
The August contract for benchmark US light, sweet crude was unchanged at $26.86/bbl Friday on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while the September contract gained 12¢ to $26.71/bbl. However, both positions dipped in after-hours electronic trading to $26.73/bbl for August and $26.70/bbl for September.
Heating oil for August delivery increased by 0.67¢ to 67.96¢/gal during regular NYMEX trade Friday. Unleaded gasoline for the same month inched up 0.01¢to 79.38¢/gal. The August contract rose 0.9¢ to $3.25/Mcf.
In London, futures prices for North Sea Brent oil were little changed during quiet trading on the International Petroleum Exchange. Prices seemed to be consolidating around $25.50/bbl, but brokers said the rally could be short-lived if non-OPEC production increases significantly, OPEC members exceed their production quotas, or US demand for gasoline proves disappointing.
The August contract for Brent added 13¢ to $25.58/bbl Friday on the IPE. The new near-month August natural gas contract jumped by 5.3¢ to the equivalent of $2.17/Mcf, benefiting partially from the rising value of the British pound against the US dollar in recent weeks.
The average price for OPEC's basket of seven crudes was up 11¢ Friday to $24.82/bbl. For the whole week, however, the price averaged $24.55/bbl, up 59¢ from the previous week.
So far this year, the OPEC basket price has averaged $22.15/bbl, compared with $23.12/bbl for all of 2001.