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September 20, 2006

Oil: Still Falling

Brent Crude Spot (immediate delivery, I think that means) below $60.

Meanwhile, futures are slightly higher. From that Daily Kos diary I linked yesterday, I got my new word "contango," which just means that spot prices are lower than futures, an inversion of the usual situation which indicates a glut.

But while future deliveries are slightly higher than spot deliveries, future prices keep falling too, so there doesn't seem to be any reason to think that prices are going to jump up before the election.

Futures Prices Just Fell... Another ten cents per barrel since I wrote this post, two minutes ago.

The Saudis usually trim production around this time, but they're not doing so now:

Venz and Iran have issues now with big, poor populations. They want revenue NOW. They wanted to cut quotas this meeting. Saudi said no.

For whatever reason -- perhaps to stall conservation efforts or big investments in new energy source development, or simply to avoid a worldwide recession that will force a drop in both price and volume of oil sold -- the Saudis want the price of oil down closer to $50 per barrel. All from this dKos diary.

They may be a little late. The Air Force has been trying to devolop a blend of petroleum (kerosene) and synthetic fuel for its planes, as they're the service most affected by increases in oil price. They just tested a 50/50 blend of typical jet fuel and "FT" fuel (some kind of proprietary alternate fuel) in two of the eight engines of a B52, and the fuel worked just fine.

They believe they can start making this fuel from coal. Texas Rainmaker's piece also notes a $3.5 million dollar investment in a new clean coal plant, which would convert coal to gas and burn without much by way of pollutants.

Blogs for Bush also notes these developments, and how they could lead to a vastly decreased dependency on Chavez', the Sheiks', and Ahmadinejad's oil, under the headline "Suck It."

Add in the big new oil reserves found in the Gulf, and opening up ANWR for oil exploration, and maybe we've got a little somethin'-somethin' goin' on.

Whoops: Futures back up the $0.10 they just dropped.

Guess I shouldn't just keep refreshing trying to extrapolate a trend from very short-term moves.

The Conspiracy Theory That Makes Sense: Bush has one way to reduce the cost of oil, and only one. (Well, two: he could sell a lot of the oil in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, but he doesn't want to do that, and that would be seen as nakedly political... precisely how it wasn't seen when Clinton did it.)

A big part of the price of oil is an "instability premium" paid for fears of future disruptions. Bush can reduce this instability premium by calming the global situation... at least until after the election.

The markets seem to like the fact that the French and Russians and Chinese will block any sanctions, or any actions whatsoever, against Iran. And in all likelihood the Lebanese ceasefire removed a big chunk of the instability tax, too.

So it could be that Bush forced a ceasefire on Israel, and is willing to take a go-slow approach on Iran for now, in order to calm the markets and drop the price of oil. Which was, in fact, killing him.

Conservatives might be pissy about such a sell-out of foreign policy principle for political gain; but then, you can't have airstrikes on Iran in any event if the Democratically-controlled Congress has paralyzed you through perpetual impeachment investigations. And you can't defeat Hezbollah's patron if a change in Congress prevents you from taking any action against Iran whatsoever.

Lefties can't bring this conspiracy up, really, because it involves Bush doing what they want him to do.

If only for the moment.

But I guess when Bush gets serious about Iran after the elections, they can question the timing. For once they might not be crazy to do so.

Then again, wars don't have to be fought on the left's schedule, do they?

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posted by Ace at 11:20 AM

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