Even if the price of crude oil fell after last week’s earthquake in Japan, the final price may rise as refineries here try to make up for some of the losses to Japan’s refining capacity.
That damage and Japan’s shattered economy are reducing the need for oil in that country – a chief reason oil prices remained stable Monday, analysts said. But, there is a but – the loss of power from shutdown nuclear power plants will have to be made up eventually with more oil.
Japan consumes about 4.4 million barrels of oil per day, most of it imported. Only the U.S. and China consume more.
Analysts said Monday that once Japan begins to rebuild, it will boost imports of coal, natural gas, diesel and other refined fuels.
“There will be some increase in LNG demand from Japan,” Jonathan Stern, director of gas research at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, said today at a conference in Doha, Qatar. Japan may import 10 million metric tons of the fuel because of the earthquake than would otherwise have been the case, Stern said.
And refined crude in the form of gasoline or diesel likely will fuel the machinery of recovery.
U.S. benchmark crude rose 3 cents Monday to settle at $101.19 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, after dropping below $99 earlier in the day. Natural gas settled up 2.5 cents at $3.91 per million British thermal units. Oil peaked at $145 a barrel in July 2008.
Gasoline prices in Massachusetts are averaging $3.47 a gallon for regular, according to AAA Southern New England’s weekly survey conducted Monday.
The highest prices nationwide are in California, with some averages topping $4 a gallon, according to GasBuddy.com, a website that tracks the average price of unleaded gasoline in cities around the country.
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