Oil bottom? Mid-$50s should do it: Ex-Gulf Oil CEO

U.S. crude hit 5 ½-year lows early Monday with signs that oil prices may have just about bottomed, said Joe Petrowski, former CEO of Gulf Oil.

WTI crude dropped to $56.25 a barrel in early trading, its lowest price since May 2009, but stabilized later in the morning. Meanwhile, Brent crude also clawed its way back a bit after falling to $60.28, its lowest since July 2009. For all of last week WTI fell 12.2 percent, while Brent decline 10.5 percent.

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"I do believe we've bottomed out on oil prices in the mid-$50s. There are lots of signs in the market that we're going to stabilize here and move higher over the next 60 days," Petrowski said in a "Squawk Box" interview.

Some of those signs, according to Petrowski, include increasing U.S. oil demand amid a slowdown in the solar and wind energy sector and a narrowing of the crude-natural gas price spread.

"There's nothing better" than lower oil prices for the stock market and the U.S. economy, he added. "I think we're about to go into a golden period not unlike the 1940s and 1950s when energy prices to GDP were similar and we had rapid growth and a rapid appreciation in equity prices."

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As for the consumer, Petrowski said, "We've only seen the consumer benefit just briefly with retail sales last week."

He calculates that average Americans use 500 gallons of gasoline over the course of the year, and residents in colder parts of the country use 1,200 gallons of heating oil over 90 days in the winter months. "Now you're just starting see the benefit on the consumers' wallet of the lower heating oil bills."

But Petrowski did acknowledge that many energy companies are feeling the bite of lower oil prices, and those in real trouble could find themselves takeover targets. "There is going to be a lot of merger activity."

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