Oil investments: A week’s overview

Crude oil prices dipped below $98 per barrel at the end of Friday’s trading session, capping off a week punctuated by high volatility, swinging highs and sudden declines. Oil investments flourished midway through the week on optimistic reports stemming from the U.S., yet ever-lingering debt crisis in Europe forced the oil commodity prices down, as traders grew more and more anxious over the region’s sluggish resolution efforts.

By early afternoon on Friday, West Texas Intermediate crude oil prices sank more than $2, settling at $96.93 per barrel, while Brent posted nominal gains to remain slightly above $108 per barrel. Oil investments in the European contract benefited from the safety cushion of the ongoing political turmoil in the Middle East.

WTI crude now looks to be where it started when the week took off. The benchmark commodity oil kicked off Monday at $98 per barrel, surged above $100 by Wednesday, hitting the resistant threshold for the first time in five months, then plunged more than 4% and continued its slow decline until Friday evening.

The boost crude oil futures and oil investments received by Tuesday came from the new pipeline project being arranged by Canada and the U.S. that promises to provide the latter’s main storage hub in Cushing, Oklahoma with easy access to transport crude into refineries along the Gulf Coast. Once news of the pipeline hit the commodities market, crude oil saw its prices shoot up on speculation that the bountiful stockpiles in Cushing would finally receive an endpoint. Yet the pipeline will not generate viable results until the second quarter of 2012, and once the first wave of excitement around the project abated, so did crude oil prices on the charts.

Then, the focus of investors shifted back onto Europe and its continued struggle to contain its debt crisis.