Oil futures, which have more than tripled in price in four years, closed at US$95.10 a barrel in New York on Friday. As oil prices hover around US$95 a barrel, without majorly affecting global demand, OPEC members are reaping record revenues, as the world economy seems capable of sustaining record high oil prices. However, fears are rising among the OPEC members that high oil prices will push back the global economy into recession. OPEC's 12 member group that includes Libya, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and the latest member, Angola, account for about 40% of the world's oil exports and 80% of its proven reserves. OPEC countries have indeed benefited immensely from the surge in oil prices. The 12 members are expected to receive US$658 bln in revenue this year, estimated to rise to US$762 bln. Most members of the cartel are annoyed by their inability to rein in an oil market heavily influenced by financial operators, like hedge funds and pension funds.
At the same time, the price of everything from drilling rigs to multibillion-dollar processing plants for oil or natural gas has double or tripled, and caused project delays or cancellations. In Kuwait, a plan for a new refinery was shelved after the expected construction cost jumped to US$14 billion from US$7 billion.