Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

U.S. Oil Imports Hit 10-Year High; Oil Prices Top $19

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

U.S. Oil Imports Hit 10-Year High; Oil Prices Top $19

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON - U.S. oil imports in 1988 jumped to the highest level since 1979 as consumption rose and domestic production hit a 12-year low, the American Petroleum Institute said Wednesday.

In addition, energy futures market surged ahead Wednesday, with crude oil prices breaking the psychologically important $19-a-barrel level and reaching 14-month highs.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, the February contract for West Texas Intermediate, the benchmark grade of U.S. crude oil, settled at $19.26 a barrel, up 31 cents from Tuesday, when it gained 7 cents.

Wednesday's close was the highest since Nov. 3, 1987, when the near-term contract settled on the exchange at $19.49 a barrel. At that time, there were concerns that the Iran-Iraq war could seriously disrupt shipments of crude from the Persian Gulf.

The American Petroleum Institute, representing the major oil producers and refiners, said U.S. oil production fell to 8.1 million barrels a day, a nearly 3 percent drop from 1987.

The rate was the lowest since 1976, the year before production began at the giant Prudhoe Bay oil field on the North Slope of Alaska.

Oil production in the 48 contiguous states last year was the lowest since 1950, the group said.

Imports of oil surged to a rate of 7.2 million barrels a day, a nearly 9 percent increase over 1987, according to the association. The record peak for oil imports was 8.8 million barrels a day in 1977, two years before the Iranian revolution sparked the second oil crisis of the decade.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration, the official keeper of the records, has average daily crude oil imports at 6.9 million barrels through the first nine months of 1988, slightly higher than the average for all of 1980.

Oil production, according to the administration, averaged 8.2 million barrels daily through the first nine months. The institute estimates "a rapid acceleration of the decline" in the fourth quarter, averaging 7. …

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