Market watch: War and other market factors spur energy futures prices

Oct. 22, 2001
News of US Special Forces troops on the ground in Afghanistan prompted a surge in energy futures prices on international markets Friday, amid worries that increased military activity could eventually lead to disruptions of Middle East oil supplies.

By the OGJ Online Staff

HOUSTON, Oct. 22 -- News of US special forces troops on the ground in Afghanistan prompted a surge in energy futures prices on international markets Friday.

That prompted worries among some traders that increased military activity could eventually disrupt oil supplies from the Middle East.

Analysts also said that the decline in world demand for oil might not be as steep as previously projected. The subsequent sharp decline in oil prices and an economic stimulus package being discussed in the US Congress could rejuvenate the US economy, some said.

The market also was stimulated by predictions of a moderate US winter.

Meanwhile, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries is meeting with some major non-OPEC producers Oct. 29 in Vienna to discuss ways to shore up falling oil prices.

Amer Mohammed Rasheed, Iraq's oil minister, has called for an immediate cut of 1 million b/d in OPEC production, the OPEC news agency reported Monday.

The November contract for benchmark US light, sweet crudes gained 52¢ to $21.83/bbl Friday on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while the December contract jumped 71¢ to $22.26/bbl. Both contracts continued to gain in after-hours electronic trading to $21.98/bbl and $22.40/bbl, respectively.

Unleaded gasoline for November delivery surged by 2.79¢ to 59.52¢/gal on the NYMEX. Home heating oil also increased by 1.54¢ to 62.63¢/gal. The November natural gas contract gained 18.9¢ to $2.68/Mcf.

In London, the December contract for North Sea Brent crude jumped 73¢ to $21.35/bbl on the International Petroleum Exchange. Brokers said that market had been looking for bullish news to justify a rally after slumping to $20.50/bbl.

However, the November natural gas contract lost 1.9¢ to the equivalent of $3.09/Mcf on the IPE.

The average price for OPEC's basket of seven crudes gained 37¢ to $18.91/bbl Friday.

For the week, OPEC's basket price averaged $19.31/bbl, down from $19.95/bbl the previous week.

So far this year, the OPEC price has averaged $24.36/bbl, compared to $27.60/bbl during 2000 as a whole.