Oil on 2-week slide even with Mideast turmoil

AP Energy WriterJuly 9, 2014 

NEW YORK -- The price of oil fell for the ninth straight day Wednesday as global supplies continue to flow despite unrest in the world's most important oil-producing region.

The prolonged drop could lead to lower gasoline prices for U.S. drivers in the weeks ahead.

In the Middle East, the insurgency in Iraq is far from resolved but hasn't halted oil exports. The fighting now seems unlikely to spread to Iraq's major oil fields. Tensions between Israel and Hamas have escalated in the past week, but aren't threatening any major oil production.

On the supply side, Libyan crude exports appear poised to surge after an agreement between the government and local militias cleared the way for export terminals to open. And U.S. production continues to soar.

Fueling up for vacations

At the same time, refiners have already made much of the gasoline needed to fuel road trips for summer vacationers, so crude demand will begin to ebb over the next couple of months. Meanwhile, the nation's oil supply as of July 4 was 382.6 million barrels, up 2.3 percent from this time a year ago.

"We in the U.S are sitting on a ton of crude oil," says energy analyst Stephen Schork of the Schork Group. "We're at the point in the season we have a lot of supply and demand is about to fall."

U.S. benchmark crude fell $1.11 Wednesday to close at $102.29 in New York. That's slightly lower than the price on June 6, before insurgents seized the Iraqi city of Mosul, and 5 percent below the ten-month high of $107.26 reached June 20 at the height of concerns over the insurgency. Schork expects to see oil fall further, to under $100 per barrel, in the coming weeks.

Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, fell 59 cents to $108.47 in London.

The violence in Iraq led to an increase in U.S. retail gasoline prices between Memorial Day and July 4, a time when they usually fall. That is now starting to reverse.

Experts predict lower prices

The national average price of a gallon of gasoline is $3.65, according to AAA, OPIS and Wright Express. That's 3 cents cheaper than the June high of $3.68 per gallon and experts forecast the pace of declines will pick up.

Patrick DeHann, senior petroleum analyst at GasBuddy.com, predicts a drop of 10 to 20 cents per gallon in many U.S. regions over the next two weeks.

On Wednesday, the Energy Department reported that U.S. crude oil supplies fell by 2.4 million barrels last week as refiners ramped up production, but it was less than the 3 million barrel decline that analysts had expected.

Supplies are above the upper limit of their average for this time of year. Gasoline supplies rose, and demand for gasoline fell slightly compared with the same period last year.

The Sun Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service