West Texas Intermediate opened a bit higher this morning, popping north of $88.00 a barrel, while Brent jumped higher to $109.67 and Nymex natural gas started the day at $3.31/mmBtu.

This time of year fuel prices are usually a mix of short-term weather-driven trading while the broader sector looks at forecasts for capital spending in 2013 (see one bank’s estimate of the global oil sector’s outlook here). Granular company level guidance for the coming year won’t arrive in a meaningful way until full year 2012 results come out at the end of next month, but in the meantime conference meeting rooms will be filled with rumors and chatter about how those big budgets are getting set.

Paraguay explores its oil prospects (Financial Times)
A UK oil company wants to plug what Jude Webber amusingly calls the “gaping hole” at the center of South America’s hydrocarbons map.

BP set to join shale drilling rush in Eastern Ohio (Columbus Business Journal)
Not that they aren’t already exposed to it, but BP has 84,000 acres leased in Trumbull county for oil and gas production.

Saudi Arabia’s oil policy: the challenges ahead (Al Arabiya News)
China is already their largest customer, and Dr Naser Al-Tamimi reviews some of the “internal and external challenges will could have a huge impact on its statute as a leader in the global energy market.”

Check out Breaking Energy Buzz for other top stories from around the web here.