NEW YORK (AP) - Oil prices retreated Monday after their recent surge, as government and industry officials reported that Libya is still exporting at least some crude although strongman Moammar Gadhafi has lost control of the country's oil fields.
Last week's jump above $100 per barrel continues to send ripples through global pipelines. Gasoline prices shot up by more than 13 cents per gallon last week, and they continued to rise over the weekend. A gallon of regular hit a national average of $3.37 per gallon on Monday, according to AAA, Wright Express and Oil Price Information Service. That is 26.7 cents more than a month ago and 66.4 cents higher than the same time last year.
On Monday oil dropped with reports that a tanker bound for China was loading oil in the Libyan port of Tobruk and Saudi Arabia was boosting exports. Benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude for April delivery lost 23 cents at $97.65 per barrel at midday on the New York Mercantile Exchange. In London, Brent crude fell 30 cents at $111.84 per barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.
Traders said they had booked a "fear premium" of about $15 to $20 per barrel to account for further disruptions in oil shipments as pro-reform movements swept through North Africa and the Middle East. Oil prices should slide as the situation in Libya stabilizes, analysts said.
However, energy markets are so rattled right now that continued unrest in other major oil producers, including Algeria and Oman, could keep prices extremely volatile this week.
"The market is going to be on a hair trigger," PFGBest analyst Phil Flynn said. "If something else happens, get ready for prices to shoot back up."