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December 7, 2006    

Natural gas prices fall on record inventories

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by Elaine Frei

Crude oil prices were mixed on Thursday after Nigerian militants attacked another oil facility in the Niger Delta and kidnapped several Italian oil workers. Reports were that the shipping terminal’s operations were unaffected by the attack. In addition, analysts remain convinced that OPEC will call for more production cuts when the cartel meets later in the month. According to at least one analyst, the new cuts will come if for no other reason than to allow for cheating on the lower quotas, introduced in November, by some OPEC members. It has been questioned whether the OPEC countries already having trouble making their quotas would be willing to make the November cuts.

Brent crude January contracts were 43 cents lower to $62.64 per barrel in London, while January deliveries of West Texas Intermediate crude added 9 cents to $62.28 per barrel. Nymex Henry Hub natural gas for January delivery dropped nearly 13 cents to $7.600 per million British thermal units after US stockpiles fell by only 11 billion cubic feet last week, rather than by the predicted 15 billion cubic feet. Last week’s drop in inventories left a record 3,406 billion cubic feet of natural gas in storage.

Prices on precious metals dropped Thursday. Platinum was 0.4 percent lower to $1,116 per troy ounce, while gold fell 0.9 percent to $628.70 per troy ounce. Base metals prices also dropped ahead of Friday’s latest US employment data. Tin fell 0.5 percent to $10,700 per tonne on uncertainties relating to supplies. Copper dropped 1 percent to $6,920 per tonne, while nickel was 1.6 percent lower to $33,700 per tonne and zinc fell 3.5 percent to $4,275 per tonne.

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