Concern over Europe offsets OPEC’s decreased output, crude oil prices retain leads

Crude oil prices fluctuated heavily in early trading today, swinging between losses and gains as traders expressed old concerns that the euro zone would be unable to rein in the rapidly spiralling debt crisis that has been affecting the region over the past two years. Perpetual anxiety surrounding Europe and its deteriorating debt situation offset the support crude oil price charts received from the planned production cuts within the ranks of OPEC. The group’s officials have been working on scaling back its output in order to integrate Libya back into its ranks seamlessly.

Crude futures changed little despite fluctuating wildly. Europe’s newly struck fiscal union is now focused on expanding the region’s bailout fund and tightening excessive spending. One of the primary goals of the union, which excludes Britain as the sole holdout, will be adding more than 200 billion euros to Europe’s rapidly dwindling war chest.

Investors and economists have expressed hope that West Texas Intermediate crude oil prices could potentially climb back up over the notoriously resistant $100 per barrel mark and reach as high as $102 before the end of 2011. Both groups have stated however that despite the immediate enthusiasm that Europe’s new debt resolution plans have stirred on the market, implementation and effectiveness could prove less than possible.

WTI crude oil prices for delivery in January fell 10 cents to $99.31 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The American benchmark’s last week showings on the crude oil price charts was a favourable one, with the fuel gaining more than $1.07 on Friday to end the week on a positive note.

Brent crude oil futures for January settlement dropped a nominal 2 cents to settle at $108.60 per barrel on the ICE Futures Exchange in London. The spread between the two contracts is still lingering around $10 per barrel.