JEDDAH/NEW YORK/LONDON — The year 2012 was a bumper year for the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec). The organization, led by Saudi Arabia, will pocket a record of more than $1 trillion in net oil revenues in 2012 as the annual average price for Brent, the benchmark, heads to an all-time high in spite of weak economic growth.
On Monday, Brent crude’s premium to Middle East benchmark Dubai grade rose to the highest level in more than two weeks. Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA) bought a cargo of Oman crude through the Platts pricing window.
The February Brent-Dubai exchange for swaps, which measures the European oil’s premium to Mideast crude, gained for a fourth day, advancing 4 cents to $5.12 a barrel, the highest since Dec. 14, according to data from PVM Oil Associates Ltd., a London- based broker. The front-month spread has widened $1.47 this year. The March EFS lost 5 cents to $4.37.
Shell bought a 475,000 barrel Oman shipment for February after purchasing at least 19 Dubai partial cargoes in the Platts window in December from Phibro LLC, a unit of Occidental Petroleum Corp. (OXY), according to a Bloomberg News survey of people who monitor the trades.
Physical demand for oil was not the most important factor behind this year’s price rise since global economic growth was weak throughout the industrialized world. The main factor was political over concern that Iran’s nuclear ambitions might trigger wider conflagration in the Middle East threatening oil supplies.
Brent oil prices are on the point of seeing an average for the year of about $111.5 a barrel, higher than the previous all-time high set in 2011 of $110.9.
The benchmark closed at or above $100 every trading day in 2012, bar 24 in June and early July.
In January of 2012, Saudi Oil Minister Ali Naimi said that the Kingdom aimed to keep oil prices at the triple-digit level throughout 2012.
“If we are able as producers and consumers to average $100 I think the world economy would be in better shape,” he told CNN at the time.
The record run of $100-plus oil prices, coupled with strong production in the first half of the year, lifted Opec’s net oil export revenues to a peak of $1.052 trillion in nominal terms, up 2.5 percent from last year, according to the US Energy Information Administration, the statistical arm of the US Department of Energy. A decade ago, Opec countries made just under $200 billion selling their oil.
In real terms, adjusted for inflation, Opec’s revenues in 2012 were also the highest ever, surpassing the peaks set during the oil crises of 1973-74 and 1979-81.
In 2011, Opec raked in more than $1 trillion in net oil export revenues for the first time ($1.03 trillion), the US Energy Department said.
As a consequence, Americans will pay the highest average price ever for gasoline this year. The US average for a gallon of regular gasoline in 2012 will be $3.63 a gallon.
The 2012 average breaks the old record, set last year, of $3.53 a gallon.
OPEC will have to tighten its collective belt a bit in 2013, when it will earn a projected $955 billion.
US oil production is set to average 6.4 million barrels a day in 2012 as the nation continues to reduce its dependence on foreign crude.
The US oil production boom is being driven by states like North Dakota and Texas.
In 2013, the Energy Department predicts that US oil production will increase to 7.1 million barrels a day, which would be the highest level since 1992. — SG/Agencies