US Benchmark Oil Price Down Five Dollars for Jan. Delivery

The price of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude, as assessed by Platts, decreased $5.10 cents for January delivery to $43.98-44.00 per barrel. Platts is the global energy information division of The McGraw-Hill Companies.

Light Louisiana Sweet crude (LLS), produced onshore in Louisiana and in the shallow waters off the state's coast, dropped $5.11 to an average of $43.77-$43.81 per barrel.

Wyoming Sweet, the benchmark crude in the Rocky Mountains, dropped $6.40 to $40.85-40.93 per barrel, while Line 63, a key grade in California, dropped $5.62 to $34.41-$34.44.

"It's important to note that these declines took place as refiners are looking to buy crude oil to process in January," said John Kingston, director of oil at Platts. "Although heating-related demand is obviously a big factor in the market, the fact remains that the fourth quarter is traditionally the heaviest period for demand, and that's behind us. So January demand looks to be sliding, and the market has plenty of crude to process, hence the drop in crude prices."

Platts' monthly averages for WTI and related grades are calculated on the basis of the 26th through the 25th, reflecting actual trading activities for a given month. Monthly trading in US crudes delivered on pipelines closes on the 25th or the business day closest to it. For example, March crude trading ends on February 25, when all shipments on US crude pipelines must be arranged with pipeline operators. By contrast, crude trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange for a particular month closes three business days prior to that scheduling deadline.

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