High Pump Prices Oil Demand and Supply Factors

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In a recent Reuters article by Richard Valdmanis (2007), it is noted that crude price has risen by $0.23. With this, equilibrium price of crude, the primary raw material for gasoline, has increased to $58.16 per barrel this week. As the fundamental supply and demand balance remains the key determinant of the new equilibrium price and quantity in the petroleum market, the price increase could be better explained by Graph 1 below.


The upward shift in the demand curve (D1 to D2) results from the increase in crude demand due to seasonal factors. As cited in the article, February is commonly slated for refinery maintenance. As such, decline in gasoline stockpiles occurs with refinery production slowing down. Ceteris paribus, a higher equilibrium point E2 is seen.
The above graph also exhibits no shift in the supply curve S. This assumption is derived from the advisory of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), a powerful cartel of major oil producers, that they would keep current output restrictions in place. In this regard, no additional supply may be expected to offset the increase in demand, thus, increasing crude price.
Another case of supply and demand schedules interesting to analyze is the declining oil prices in the world market at the onset of 2007 (Ghatous 2007). Last year, oil price hovered at around $60-65 per barrel. With OPEC aiming to maximize its earnings, the cartel decided to reduce supply. However, oil price continued to slide despite the supply cut. This could be explained using Graph 2 below.
Assuming an initial equilibrium price and quantity of $60 per barrel and 52 million barrels, respectively, an upward shift of the supply curve (from S1 to S2) due ...
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