The price of a barrel of crude oil could soar to nearly $150 by summer, according to Joe Petrowski, CEO of Gulf Oil and the Cumberland Gulf Group. Petrowski made the statement on a CNBC program on Dec. 23.
“If we’re not producing it domestically, because we’re trying to achieve administratively what we don’t seem to want to pass legislatively, and our imports are going down and demand’s up, it sets the stages,” he told CNBC.
“I think we’ll be at $100 in the first quarter, and there’s a one-in-four chance we’ll take out the $147 highs before Memorial Day,” Petrowski added.
In the week before Christmas, oil prices rose to more than $90 a barrel, reaching a two-year high for a second day in a row on Dec. 23 and 24. Some industry analysts believe a run at $100 is coming soon.
Very cold weather over the US Midwest and Northeast reached into the Deep South on Dec. 26, which meant stockpiles were being depleted at a faster-than-normal rate. As energy traders see prices soar, they are looking toward the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to increase production, which would serve to keep prices level globally with severe winter weather also a major factor in much of Europe.
However, an OPEC official who spoke to the Reuters news agency appeared to show little sympathy for Western consumers, who have seen crude oil prices rise more than 20% in the past three months as market fundamentals turn more positive and investors appear to see an improved economic outlook for 2011.
“It’s fair to say it (the price) is about right, but still I think that it needs to improve a little bit more,” said Libya’s National Oil Corp. Chairman Shokri Ghanem, a member of OPEC. “About $100 would be a fair price for the time being.” Ghanem spoke to Reuters just before a meeting of Arab oil exporting countries in Cairo.