drivers this summer could see another round of high pump prices
because of political tensions elsewhere in the world, The Boston
violence in Nigeria has cut production of high-grade crude oil used
for fuel in the United States by 40 percent, forcing refineries
on the East Coast in particular to scramble for replacement stocks
and bidding up prices in the process. Meantime, Venezuela's state-owned
petroleum industry, which still hasn't fully recovered from the
civil strife begun in December, is in such poor condition that some
analysts warn it may see a drop in output.
developments come when stocks in the United States are so low that
the U.S. Energy Information Administration March 26 said ''it will
likely take many more weeks, or months, before U.S. petroleum inventories
return to normal levels.''
a recent surge of imports, the agency said gasoline stocks were
declining when suppliers should be reloading ahead of the peak summer
driving season. Meanwhile, analysts said the system was so tightly
stretched that even small, unanticipated developments could push
prices up further.
looming worry: a possible oil worker strike in Colombia, which sends
its crude to American states located on the Gulf of Mexico for refining.
If Colombia ''went down, clearly we would be looking at a very tight
situation for the U.S. Gulf for gasoline production,'' said David
Fyfe, an oil analyst for the International Energy Agency in Paris.
the war with Iraq is the wild card in all of this global turmoil.
For example, if the war takes longer than expected, and the United
States is not able to return idle Iraqi oil fields to production
anytime soon, crude prices could rise again.