New York: Oil and gas prices plunged to their lowest levels of the year on Thursday after the US government reported that supplies grew more than expected.
The Energy Information Administration said that the
United States` oil supply swelled by 3.7 million barrels last
week, well above the average for this time of year. Gasoline
supplies grew by 3.8 million barrels.
The country`s demand for petroleum products also fell by
nearly 1 percentage point from last year, showing the country
has an even smaller appetite for energy now than when it was
Prices tumbled shortly after the report.
Benchmark crude for February delivery gave up USD 1.48 to
USD 79.31 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Crude
fell as low as USD 78.37 earlier in the day.
Oil prices had been surging all month, rising to a
15-month high near USD 84 a barrel as a bitter chill swept
across parts of the US, Europe and Asia.
The rally in crude has tugged retail gas prices higher
every day since Christmas. Pump prices increased again
overnight by less than a penny to a new national average of
USD 2.757 a gallon, according to auto club AAA, Wright Express
and Oil Price Information Service.
A gallon of regular unleaded is nearly one dollar more
expensive than a year ago.
In other Nymex trading in February contracts, heating oil
fell 5.15 cents to USD 2.0803 a gallon and gasoline dropped
4.44 cents to USD 2.0534 a gallon. Natural gas futures lost
5.2 cents to USD 5.539 per 1,000 cubic feet.