Prices are almost $8 more than this month's low

Crude prices ended higher for the week that ended on Friday, 15 February, 2008. Prices ended higher by $3.7 (4%). Price rose and fell initially earlier in the week but the movement was restricted to one dollar or a little more than that.

Prices rose during the week due to a couple of factors. In the earlier part of the week, threat by Venezuelan President to cut off oil supplies to US and shutdown of a refinery by Valero Energy were the major reasons for this rise. Venezuela is South America's second largest oil producer and one of the world's top exporters to the U.S.

In the second half of the week, price rose after EIA's weekly inventory report showed that crude stockpiles for last week rose less than expected.

For the week ending Friday, 08 February, crude-oil futures for light sweet crude for February delivery closed at $95.5/barrel (higher by $0.5) on the New York Mercantile Exchange for the day. Prices fell to $93.29 during intra day trading. Earlier in February, prices slipped to $87/barrel.

As per the weekly inventory report by EIA on Wednesday, U.S. crude inventories rose for a fifth week, up 1.1 million barrels to 301.1 million barrels in the week ending 8 February. Market was expecting a rise of 2 million barrels. U.S. crude imports averaged 9.7 million barrels per day last week, down 777,000 barrels per day from the previous week. U.S. refineries operated at 85.1% of their operable capacity last week, up from the previous week's 84.3%.

In a monthly report released this week, EIA said the world oil market is poised to ease over the next two years with production increases offsetting moderate growth in oil demand.

Last week, two ministers of Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) hinted that the cartel might go for a production cut in its next meeting at March, 2008. At its 1 February meeting at Vienna, OPEC members decided to keep current output levels unchanged.