Recent Data on OPEC Production Suggests Stabilization at End of 2009

Last week, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) released its latest update to the International Petroleum Monthly, which included data through November 2009 on crude oil production in countries belonging to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). OPEC coordinates as a group to set a target production volume for each member country's crude oil production (excluding lease condensate) at times when it judges the market to be oversupplied. Total crude oil production across all of OPEC is an important data point in understanding global oil markets.

OPEC

The chart above shows that monthly OPEC crude oil production (excluding lease condensate) dropped at the end of 2008 and the beginning of 2009, in the wake of production cuts agreed to by OPEC members at their meetings in October and December 2008, before rebounding slightly in mid-2009. The latest data indicate that OPEC crude oil production has stabilized in recent months at a level slightly above 29 million barrels per day. EIA has discussed the impacts of these decisions in previous editions of This Week In Petroleum (e.g., August 12, 2009 and March 25, 2009 ). To keep current with EIA's estimates of OPEC crude oil production, analysts might be interested in bookmarking a link to EIA's

International Petroleum Monthly and to the  Short-Term Energy Outlook, which includes the latest data as well as a monthly forecast through the following calendar year.

Prices for Gasoline and Diesel Fuel Move Up
Jumping nearly a nickel to hit $2.66 per gallon, the U.S. average price for regular gasoline rose for the first time since January 11. The price was $0.75 above last year at this time. The averages on the East Coast and in the Rocky Mountains each increased about two cents to $2.66 per gallon and $2.62 per gallon, respectively. In the Midwest, the average price surged over ten cents to $2.61 per gallon. Rising a nickel, the price on the Gulf Coast settled at $2.53 per gallon. The West Coast average moved fractionally higher to $2.87 per gallon. The price in California dipped nearly a penny to $2.92 per gallon.

After five weeks of decline, the U.S. average price for diesel fuel shot up about eight cents to settle at $2.83 per gallon. The average is $0.70 above a year ago. Diesel prices rose in all regions of the country. The average on the East Coast jumped about seven cents to $2.88 per gallon. The largest increase took place in the Midwest where the average soared almost nine cents to $2.79 per gallon. The price on the Gulf Coast climbed about eight cents, also reaching $2.79 per gallon. With a rise of a nickel to $2.83 per gallon, the Rocky Mountains had the smallest increase of any major region. The average on the West Coast increased seven cents to $2.92 per gallon, while the California price moved up eight cents to $2.98 per gallon.

Propane Inventories Continue to Decline
Winter weather continued to whittle away at U.S. inventories of propane with a stock draw that measured almost 2.3 million barrels, leaving total stocks at 27.4 million barrels and further below the lower limit of the average range. The largest decline was in the Midwest region with a 1.6 million barrel draw. The East Coast regional stocks fell by 1.0 million barrels, while the Rocky Mountain/West Coast region declined by 0.3 million barrels. The Gulf Coast region added 0.6 million barrels of inventory. Propylene non-fuel use inventories increased their share of total propane/propylene stocks from 8.7 percent to 10.0 percent, a level last seen in March 2007.

Residential Heating Oil Prices Increase
Residential heating oil prices increased during the week ending February 22, 2010. The average residential heating oil price gained 4.9 cents per gallon to reach 290.4 cents per gallon, 67.1 cents per gallon higher than the same time last year. Wholesale heating oil prices jumped 15.0 cents per gallon to reach 215.8 cents per gallon, 85.8 cents per gallon higher than at this time last year.

The average residential propane price fell 0.8 cent per gallon to reach 268.3 cents per gallon. This was an increase of 39.1 cents per gallon compared to the same period last year. Wholesale propane prices dropped 0.6 cent per gallon to reach 138.0 cents per gallon. This was an increase of 60.9 cents per gallon when compared to the February 23, 2009 price of 77.1 cents per gallon.

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