U.S. oil prices rocketed almost two dollars Wednesday on word that Saudi Arabia would
reduce February crude sales by five percent despite U.S. appeals to the OPEC cartel not to cut oil output too sharply, Reuters reported. February crude futures oil on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) closed at $29.50, up $1.86 a barrel or some seven percent. This takes gains over the last eight trading sessions to more than $3.50 dollars a barrel.
Saudi Arabia, which produced about 8.6 million barrels per day (bpd) or 11 percent of worldwide production in December has already said it will back a total OPEC output cut of 1.5 million bpd or around five percent when the cartel meets Jan. 17 in Vienna.
U.S. energy secretary Bill Richardson said Wednesday he will travel to the Middle East in an attempt to convince key oil producers not to cut oil supply too drastically.