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HELL YEA! I hope Russia totally does the opposite of what OPEC wants those greedy terrorist breeding sand ni**er bastards. GO RUSSIA! Here's the article:




Russia helping Americans at the pump

By RYAN ALESSI

If oil and gasoline prices stay down, Americans might have Russia to thank.

Just a year ago, a barrel of oil was selling for its highest price since the Gulf War. Subsequently, gasoline prices seemed destined for $2 a gallon.

Now most Americans are filling up for barely more than a $1 a gallon. And industry observers say the U.S. oil and gas market will see only a gradual rise followed by stable prices this year, largely because of Russian willingness to ignore the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

As oil prices started to drop from sky-high levels last summer, OPEC moved to trim back global supply. It asked member countries to scale back three times, with cutbacks totaling about 3.5 million barrels a day.

Russia, which is not an OPEC member but is the second-leading oil producer in the world behind Saudi Arabia, did not listen.

Russia steadily has been leaning on its oil industry to buoy the nation's still-floundering economy. Last year, it defied OPEC by not following through with requested production cuts. So instead of the price of a barrel of oil leveling out as OPEC had hoped, prices plummeted in the last half of 2001, settling in at around $20 a barrel for the last four months.

"I think what Russia did last year was good for American consumers," said Robert Ebel, director of energy programs at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank in Washington. "But Russia's not worried about American consumers. They need the hard currency. And they don't have much to offer besides oil and natural gas."

When OPEC decided to slash supply by another 1.5 million barrels a day starting Jan. 1, 2002, the world turned a skeptical eye toward the Kremlin. Russia has since said it would comply and cut back by 150,000 barrels a day.

"(But) I just question whether they'll live up to the promised cut," Ebel said. "For Russia, we will need to pay attention to what they do rather than what they say."

In February, the Kremlin will reduce Russia's export tax on certain petroleum products and crude oil, giving the country's burgeoning oil industry more of an incentive to keep production steady, Ebel said.

So far, even investors and buyers for refineries haven't flinched because of OPEC's announced cuts. A barrel of oil is still trading on the spot market for about $19.50.

"The stock market is telling you that OPEC can't get it to the mid-$20s where OPEC thinks it belongs," said Jack Plunkett, CEO of the market research firm Plunkett Research Ltd. in Houston.

Even if oil prices rise slightly, as expected, over the next two months, Plunkett says Russia could still keep prices from reaching OPEC's goal of $26 a barrel.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration, which tracks energy prices and production data, predicts OPEC's cut in production will slightly raise the price of a barrel of oil from its current $19-$21 range. A barrel of West Texas Intermediate - the benchmark type of crude oil - "which stood at $19.40 per barrel in December, is expected to move to about the $25-$26 range by the end of 2002 and remain at about that level through 2003," the administration's two-year outlook predicts.

In terms of gasoline, the nation's average gasoline price was 35 cents higher this time last year. So far in 2002, refineries are producing more than half a million more barrels of gasoline per week than they were last winter, according to American Petroleum Institute data.

The institute will release its complete 2001 gasoline production statistics on Wednesday.


On the Net:

www.eia.doe.gov

www.opec.org



(Contact Ryan Alessi at AlessiR(at)shns.com or online at http://www.shns.com)

January 15, 2002
 
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