USA crude slips 57 cents, retreating from mid-2015 highs

WTI Crude Oil

Citgo Petroleum Corp., the USA refining arm of Venezuela's state oil company, was indicted for benzene emissions at a refinery and for failing to protect migratory birds that became coated in oil at a storage facility.

USA drillers reduced the number of oil rigs operating by five in the week to January 5, the first decline in three weeks, according to a report by energy services firm Baker Hughes on Friday. Prices at the pump are higher than they were almost all of last summer, mainly because oil prices remain high and due to the extreme cold weather that caused some snafus at refineries.

Futures advanced 0.5 percent on Monday, settling near $62-a-barrel in NY.

Only Russia and Saudi Arabia produce more.

Oil had its strongest opening week for any year since 2013 last week as USA stockpiles continued to shrink and amid output curbs by the the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) and its allies.

"The US oil price is now into a range that is anticipated to attract increased shale oil production", said Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets in Sydney. "How the market handles this may set the tone for the near term trend".

Brent Crude Oil
Weekly March Brent Crude Oil

West Texas Intermediate for February delivery added 23 cents to $61.67 a barrel at 10:09 a.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Total volume traded was about 37% below the 100-day average. Front-month prices rose about 1.1 percent last week.

States where prices moved most last week were: IN and MI (down seven cents); OH (down five cents); Minnesota and CT (up four cents); Alabama, California and Idaho (up three cents); and IL and Kentucky (down three cents). The price differential (spread) between WTI and Brent crude narrowed by almost a dime to $6.10 a barrel week over week.

In the US, drillers are seeking to do more with less in a bid to boost profits.

Money managers cut their WTI net-long position - the difference between bets on a price increase and wagers on a drop - by 3.8% to 396 381 futures and options in the week ended January 2, according to data from the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission on Friday.

Yet, surging US production could offset some of the cuts from OPEC producers, as USA production rose to 9.78 million barrels a day (MMBPD) in the latest week, according to last Wednesday's report. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

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