Export basket ends year at US$71.46/b

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Monday, January 4, 2010

Venezuela's average oil export basket price in the final week of 2009 from December 28-31 increased US$3.79 from the previous week to US$71.46/b, the energy and oil ministry (Menpet) reported.

The average price for 2009 was US$57.82/b versus US$86.49/b in 2008 and US$64.74/b in 2007.

Crude prices on world markets rose during the week because of decreasing inventories and cold weather in the US, Menpet said.

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By comparison, the OPEC basket rose US$3.61 to US$75.53/b, WTI increased US$4.20 to US$78.74/b and North Sea Brent was up US$3.42 to US$77.33/b.

PDVSA COULD STILL FACE CHALLENGES

Venezuela's state oil company PDVSA, meanwhile, could still face challenges despite the recent uptick in oil prices.

"There's no doubt that the current rally in crude oil prices is welcome news for producers including PDVSA. I don't think market fundamentals currently support an US$80/b crude price," Gianna Bern, president of US-based registered investment advisory firm Brookshire Advisory and Research, told BNamericas.

"However, crude prices have certainly stabilized in the US$70/b to US$80/b per range enabling PDVSA and the rest of the energy value chain to continue investment programs," Bern added. "The biggest challenge PDVSA faces is competing demands on its cash flow and its staggering social spending. The crude oil price rally may not be sufficient for PDVSA, but current prices will definitely help repair some balance sheets and prop up near-term cash flow in the industry."