Oil briefs from Venezuela, Alaska, and Congress

| 4/12/2002

Stayed tuned next week for the official U.S. government word on diesel prices - but consider two somewhat stabilizing factors: No other OPEC nation joined Iraq's 30-day boycott; and the rebellion in Venezuela this week is expected to result in increased oil production.

Crude oil prices fell Friday and speculation is that Venezuela would increase oil production under the new regime. Former President Hugo Chavez resigned last week after political unrest and strikes at the state-owned oil company.

Meanwhile, Republican supporters of drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) proposed Friday using royalties from the ANWR lease to pay pension benefits for steel workers.

The tactic would make it hard for some anti-drilling Democrats to vote against helping their constituents, the reasoning goes.

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) said the effort amounted to a "desperation move." Even if drilling in ANWR is defeated in the Senate, it's part of the House-passed energy bill last year and will be considered during House-Senate negotiations.