MARKET WATCH: Oil prices down on uncertain market, Middle East concerns

Oil prices fell on New York and London markets on Aug. 30 as the market remained volatile amid concerns that a possible US military strike on Syria could disrupt world oil supplies coming from the Middle East.

During the US Labor Day holiday weekend, President Barack Obama decided to seek congressional authorization before taking action against Syria. The US administration maintains Syria President Bashar al-Assad allegedly used chemical weapons in an August attack against civilians around Damascus.

Obama said Sept. 3 he believed Congress will authorize targeted air strikes against Syria. Meanwhile on the same day, Israel said it tested a new version of its Sparrow target missile over the Mediterranean Sea in an unannounced launch.

Production from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries fell during August because protests temporarily halted operations at some many of Libya’s key oil exporting ports. Libya’s Deputy Oil Minister Omar Shakmak has told the Wall Street Journal that output from the country stood at 320,000 b/d in late August.

Energy prices

The futures market in New York was closed Sept. 2 for the US Labor Day holiday. The October contract for benchmark US light, sweet crudes on the New York Mercantile Exchange decreased $1.15, closing at $107.65/bbl on Aug. 30. The November crude contract fell $1.07 to $107.08/bbl.

Heating oil for October delivery fell by 5¢ to settle at $3.136/gal on NYMEX. Reformulated gasoline stock for oxygenate blending for September dropped 4.78¢ to $3.0186/gal. The October natural gas contract was down by 3.7¢, closing at $3.58/MMbtu on NYMEX. On the US spot market, gas prices at Henry Hub, La., rose by 1¢ to $3.57/MMbtu.

In London, the October IPE contract for North Sea Brent crude dropped $1.15 to $114.01/bbl. The September contract for gas oil settled at $969.50/tonne, down $9.25 from the previous session.

OPEC reported its basket of 12 benchmark crudes was down $1.20 on Sept. 2, closing at $110.35/bbl.

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