Three companies have reduced fuel prices in Hong Kong after the price of imported oil returned to below the US$50 per barrel mark last week. Petrol and diesel prices have been cut by 12 cents and 10 cents, respectively. ExxonMobil Hong Kong cut premium unleaded fuel from $12.90 to 12.78 per litre and unleaded fuel from $12.12 to $12 per litre at fuel stations across Hong Kong. Its ultra-low-sulfur diesel now costs $7.27 per litre, compared with the previous $7.37. Shell reduced unleaded fuel from $12.11 to $11.99 per litre and premium unleaded from $12.89 to $12.77 per litre. Its diesel is now also cheaper, costing $7.25 per litre compared with $7.35 previously. Caltex yesterday said its premium unleaded and unleaded fuel would be reduced to $12.71 and $11.99 per litre, respectively, after midnight. CRC also said its environmentally friendly diesel would be cut by 10 cents to $7.24 per litre. The price of US light sweet crude oil for December delivery had surged to a peak of US$55.67 on October 25. But international crude oil prices have fallen from that level to US$49 in the past week. Shell general manager for retail Wilson Li said: 'The price reductions reflect the recent lowering of import prices ... so [we] pass on the benefits of lower import costs to consumers in a timely manner.' The 11.5 per cent slip in the price of crude oil from its high of 10 days ago came to a halt on Friday. Brent North Sea crude oil futures contracts rose 41 cents to US$46.42 at one stage. Analysts blamed renewed fears of terrorist attacks and worries about Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's critical illness. A harsher-than-expected northern hemisphere winter, a major terrorist strike and political unrest in key oil-producing nations would be the necessary pre-conditions that would propel prices to the US$60 per barrel mark, one analyst said. Despite these concerns, he expected prices to be hovering around US$40 a barrel rather than US$50 by the first quarter of next year because of increasing supplies. World oil prices have risen by two-thirds this year.