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After being in the news for much of the year because of high levels, oil prices are now garnering attention after slipping measurably in the last couple of months. On Nov. 17, the futures price for the December contract for West Texas Intermediate crude on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) hit a low for 2006 at $55.81/bbl. Somewhat paradoxically, the January contract for WTI settled that same day at $58.97/bbl, up 40 cents. The steep difference between the immediate and second-month prices is a sign of a well-supplied crude market in the short term, said analysts. However, while the market is showing weakness now, these same analysts expect it to tighten up as the year comes to an end. They point out that once refiners come out of maintenance projects and increase runs, the drawdown on crude will firm up prices. Furthermore, any worsening of weather will also provoke...
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