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Coal set to overtake oil as top fuel

Dec 18 2012 15:51 Sapa-AFP
Oil barrel

Oil barrel (Picture:

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London - Oil prices rose on Tuesday as hopes grew of a US deal to avert a "fiscal cliff" of tax hikes and spending cuts in the United States, the world's biggest consumer of crude, analysts said.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in January, increased by 49 cents to $87.69 a barrel.

Brent North Sea crude for February advanced 58 cents to $108.22 per barrel in London midday deals.

"Crude oil prices rebounded on Tuesday amid hopes about the US budget details after the meeting between US President (Barack) Obama and House Speaker John Boehner provided some optimistic signs about the US economy, showing potential for a rebound in the US oil demand," said Sucden brokers analyst Myrto Sokou.

Obama hosted top Republican lawmaker John Boehner in the White House for 45 minutes on Monday in the latest effort to keep the US economy from going over the fiscal cliff.

The meeting follows news that Boehner had changed his position on not allowing any more taxes, saying at the weekend that he would agree to some hikes for people earning more than $1m.

Originally Obama insisted higher taxes kick in for households earning more than $250 000, but has since offered to increase the threshold to $400 000.

Analysts say the development shows the outline of a tentative deal is being formed.

Elsewhere on Tuesday, a report said coal was set to surpass oil as the world's top fuel within a decade, driven by growth in emerging market giants China and India, with even Europe finding it hard to cut use despite pollution concerns.

"Thanks to abundant supplies and insatiable demand for power from emerging markets, coal met nearly half of the rise in global energy demand during the first decade of the 21st century," said Maria van der Hoeven, head of the International Energy Agency.

Economic growth is expected to push up further coal's share of the global energy mix, "and if no changes are made to current policies, coal will catch oil within a decade", she said in a statement.

The latest IEA projections see coal consumption nearly matching oil consumption in four years time, rising to 4.32 billion tonnes of oil equivalent in 2017 against 4.4 billion tonnes for oil.

That has consequences for climate change as coal produces far more carbon emissions responsible for global warming than other fuels.

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barack obama  |  fiscal cliff  |  coal  |  oil
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