After hitting a three-month high on Thursday, brent crude oil fell to around $114 on Friday after the US revealed it was considering the release of oil reserves to dampen prices. At the same time, the US revealed its oil imports from Saudi Arabia had increased by more than 20% this year, reversing an earlier trend to decrease dependence on Saudi oil.
After some up-and-down trading, natural-gas futures ended lower on Thursday, despite a bullish inventory report released earlier in the morning stating that 20 billion cubic feet of gas had been added to storage last week. Natural gas for September delivery settled at $2.724 per million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange, down 2.4 cents, or 0.8%.
Prices aside, in a public relations coup for the fossil fuels industry, US officials said that cheap and plentiful natural gas, which has facilitated a switch from dirty coal, has resulted in the lowest levels of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere in the US in two decades. The clincher: This is the result of the market doing its magic rather than direct action against carbon dioxide, so say the pundits.
Focusing on African energy this week, South Africa is in a tenuous state of peace after police opened fire with automatic weapons on striking miners, killing 30 people in what local media is calling a “blood bath” that recalls the Apartheid days. Some 3,000 miners, most of them drill operators, armed themselves with machetes and sticks and began a violent strike, according to police.
Elsewhere in Africa, oil exploration saw increased momentum this week. Malawi and Tanzania have taken steps to resolve a territorial dispute over Lake Malawi as oil exploration gets underway, vowing to fast-track a diplomatic solution to unlock the area’s oil potential. Oil exploration in the Indian Ocean off East Africa is also picking up momentum, as the US-based Apache Corporation announced this week that it will have reached its targeted depth of 3,250 meters offshore of Kenya’s Lamu Basin within 60 days. Kenya has initiated the ambitious Lamu Port project, which is part of the larger regional Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia Transit Corridor (LAPSSET) project. Earlier this month, Kenya announced the tenders for the construction of the first three berths of the massive Lamu port, and plans are proceeding apace.
Stateside, as US presidential elections close in, wind and coal this week remained the key energy issues as far as campaigning is concerned. This week saw Obama and Romney descend on the Midwest to push their respective causes, but the tone of both campaigns has been more frivolous than substantive, with neither offering a viable plan for simultaneously ensuring affordable energy and promoting a shift to renewable energy.
By. Oilprice.com Analysts