Oil Prices March 20th 2012

The London AP reports that oil prices fell to near $107 a barrel Tuesday in Europe. Bent crude for May delivery was reported to be down $1.34. The Energy Department’s report on oil stocks is due out Wednesday.

Survey analyst data by Platts is expected to show a build of 2.1 million barrels in crude oil stocks in data for the week ending March 16.

Prices have dropped to $3 a barrel shortly after Reuters reported that Britain was going to agree with the US decision to tap into 700 million barrels of crude oil held in four Gulf Coast salt caverns later this year.

Germany and France are in opposition to the emergency oil stock release, Reuter reports.
“France has no desire to take part in operations that aim to tame prices,” states a French source.

Most of the press releases on the subject believe U.S. President Barack Obama will plan to release the Government-owned emergency crude in the salt caverns in time for voters to see him favorably for reelection next November.

Fuel prices in France have risen sharply in the past few months to record setting levels.

Previous stock releases have been coordinated by the 28 member International Energy Agency, based in Paris. Under IEA rules, member countries are required to have emergency stocks of oil available.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia pledges to pump more oil to cover supply shortages, the New York AP reports. The Saudi Government said it aims “to provide adequate supplies of petroleum, stabilize oil markets and return oil prices at fair levels for producers, consumers and the oil industry.”

The Kuwaiti ruler was quoted on Tuesday as saying that Iran has assured its neighbors that it will not block the vital waterway, the state agency reported.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the Libya crisis of last year has already squeezed the global oil supply and there are growing tensions between West and Iran that could make prices go even higher. Oil prices have risen about 17% so far this year, the report states.