Forexpros - Crude oil futures traded in a tight range on Monday, fluctuating between small gains and losses following comments from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, while most U.S. east coast oil refineries escaped major damage from Hurricane Irene.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, light, sweet crude futures for delivery in October traded at USD85.53 a barrel during European morning trade, easing up 0.08%.
The crude contract traded between a range of USD85.14, the daily low and USD85.92, the daily high and the highest since August 25.
Speaking at the Fed's annual gathering in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Bernanke said Friday that the U.S. economy was recovering and the Fed still had a "range of tools" it can use to bolster growth.
Bernanke also announced that the Fed's September policy-setting meeting would be extended to two days from one, in order to "allow a fuller discussion" on the economy.
But crude's gains were limited after Hurricane Irene was downgraded from a Category 1 hurricane to a tropical storm before hitting the U.S. Northeast region, home to many U.S. oil refineries and terminals.
The third largest U.S. oil producer ConocoPhillips said it planned to restart its 238,000 barrel-a-day refinery in Linden, New Jersey on Monday, while PBF Energy Company said it ran its New Jersey and Delaware plants "all through the storm."
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, seven refineries with a total of 1.23 million barrels per day production capacity, nearly 73% of the 1.7 million barrels of daily output in the US Northeast, were in the storm's projected path.
Elsewhere, on the ICE Futures Exchange, Brent oil futures for October delivery added 0.18% to trade at USD111.30 a barrel. The spread between the two contracts widened to USD25.77, re-approaching the record high of USD26.42 it hit on August 19.
Nouri Balroin, the head of Libya's National Transitional Council's oil production unit, said some lost output will start within three weeks, while adding that he expected total oil production capacity to return to pre-war levels "within 15 months".