Oil falls to near US$76 on hopes over fuel supplies

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 July, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 July, 2007, 12:00am

Oil prices fell for a third day yesterday to near US$76 a barrel on expectations of rising fuel stockpiles in the United States and reassurances from the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries that it would pump more crude if necessary.

London Brent crude, seen as more representative of the world market, eased 71 US cents to US$76.15 a barrel in morning trade, after falling 78 US cents on Monday.

US crude slid 75 US cents to US$74.14.

US crude stocks were expected to have dropped last week as refinery usage increased sharply, with refiners increasing output to offset fears of summer fuel supplies, a preliminary poll of analysts showed.

Distillate fuel stocks are seen rising 800,000 barrels and petrol by 300,000 barrels in US Energy Information Administration (EIA) data.

'The market was instantly down by Opec concerns and now it is being pressured as US refiners are expected to increase refinery usage ahead of the EIA data,' said Koo Ja-kyon, an analyst at Korea National Oil Corp.

Opec president Mohammed al-Hamli said the cartel was willing to produce more oil if needed and he was concerned that high oil prices might hurt the world economy.

Brent hit US$78.40 last week, just off its peak of US$78.65 last August.

A high-ranking official from Opec's research division also said a fair price for both oil producers and consumers for a barrel of oil would be about US$60 to US$65 a barrel.

Consumer governments have called repeatedly on Opec to boost output to ease high prices. However, Opec has resisted so far and said oil supplies were more than ample.