Oil Sells Off in Late Action While Gasoline Rallies into Close

U.S. crude oil futures ended lower on Monday, sliding late in a choppy session that saw May RBOB gasoline futures up sharply ahead of its contract expiration, reaching an 11-month high at one point, amid refinery snags and supply concerns.

May RBOB futures pared its rise late in Monday's open outcry session, after hitting its highest price since May 2006 during the day.

"There's no stopping momentum right now in RBOB," said Mike Fitzpatrick, vice president at Man Financial. He pointed to the recent U.S. gasoline inventory drain, "at a time when we normally see inventory builds."

Fitzpatrick said crude had slipped after failing to push past Friday's high trade and then found support in the $65.50 area.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, June crude settled down 75 cents, or 1.1%, at $65.71 a barrel, trading from $65.53 to $66.65 . For the month of April oil fell 0.2%.

The session high of $66.65, reached in early electronic trading, was just 5 cents under Friday's high trade.

In London, June Brent crude was down, trading from $67.45 to $68.44 .

NYMEX May RBOB gasoline surged 7.92 cents or 3.4% to settle at at $2.4405 a gallon, trading from $2.3565 to $2.4550. It was the highest settle for RBOB since May 11, 2006.

U.S. gasoline inventories have fallen for 11 straight weeks and as of April 20 were down almost 15% since the start of February, the lowest level since the week of Oct. 7, 2005.

NYMEX May heating oil settled unchanged at at $1.9135 a gallon in choppy trading between $1.8907 and $1.9250. Heating oil rose 3.41 cents or 1.8% during April.

Gary-Williams Energy said it had begun the restart process at its 50,000-barrel-per-day refinery in Wynnewood, Oklahoma, after fires in two storage tanks. The company did not know when the refinery would be at full rates.

The Wynnewood refinery, like Valero Energy'sMcKee refinery in Sunray, Texas, takes crude oil from the Cushing, Oklahoma, oil hub, the NYMEX delivery point for West Texas Intermediate. The Valero refinery restarted in mid-April at reduced rates.

Citgo Petroleum cut feed to the delayed coking unit at its 156,000-bpd Corpus Christi, Texas, refinery late Thursday night after an upset in the unit, according to a notice regulatory filing. pollution regulation agency.

The incident lasted until early Friday morning, the regulatory notice said.

ConocoPhillips shut a hydrotreater at its 247,000 bpd refinery in Sweeny, Texas, on Friday for two weeks of maintenance work, according to a regulatory filing. The work is slated to end May 11, the filing said.

Valero Energy on Monday restarted a 90,000-bpd crude unit at its Texas City, Texas, refinery, the company said in a regulatory filing.

Sinclair Oil said on Monday that its 66,000-bpd Tulsa, Oklahoma, refinery was running normally after restarting a fluid catalytic cracking unit shut last week.

Recent refinery glitches in the midst of seasonal maintenance, which have refinery capacity use below 90%, have combined to support products futures.

Crude futures had rallied on Friday, ahead of the weekend, after Saudi Arabia said it prevented an al Qaeda-linked plot to attack oil facilities, military bases and public figures, arresting Islamist militants.

Saudi Arabia said on Saturday the arrest of 172 suspected militants did not end the al Qaeda threat in the country.

Iran on Sunday dismissed any suggestion it might agree to partially suspend its uranium enrichment activities as a way toward ending an international standoff with the West over
Tehran's nuclear program.

U.S. consumer spending grew at its slowest rate in five months during March, despite rising incomes, as higher costs eroded purchasing power, a Commerce Department report showed.