Originally created 05/25/04

Oil price settles at new high of $41.72 per barrel



WASHINGTON -- The price of oil reached a new high Monday, settling at $41.72 per barrel as traders shrugged off Saudi Arabia's latest pledge to boost production one week ahead of the busy summer driving season.

Light crude oil for July delivery rose $1.79 a barrel, or 4 percent, on the New York Mercantile Exchange, exceeding the previous record of $41.55 set a week ago.

Meantime, the retail price of gasoline is averaging more than $2 per gallon nationwide.

Analysts said the fundamentals of supply and demand are not as bad as current oil and gasoline prices would suggest.

Nevertheless, the combination of tight refining capacity in the United States, strong demand from China and fears that terror attacks could disrupt the global oil supply chain have given traders and speculators plenty of fodder to push prices higher.

"We believe fundamentals support prices in the low $30 range," said Lawrence Goldstein, president of the Petroleum Industry Research Foundation in New York.

Over the weekend, Saudi Arabia said it was willing to add another 2 million barrels of oil per day to the market in order to keep the global economy on track. The world's leading oil producer, Saudi Arabia is already committed to producing some 9 million barrels per day.