MARKET WATCH: Crude oil futures prices decline while Kerry visits Baghdad

Crude oil futures prices declined on both the New York and London markets on June 22 while analysts noted Iraq's oil production, concentrated in southern Iraq, has been unchanged by militant attacks on cities in northern Iraq.

US Sec. of State John Kerry visited with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and other Iraqi officials in Baghdad on June 22. Kerry said he received pledges from top Iraqi politicians to start forming a new Iraqi national government by July 1.

Meanwhile, Sunni extremists fighting for the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS, attacked a police convoy 20 miles from Baghdad, leaving at least about 80 people dead.

Harry Tchilinguirian, director of BNP Paribas SA commodity strategy, told the Wall Street Journal that the biggest danger to Iraq's oil production is that continued uncertainty will cause international oil companies to leave Iraq, lowering future oil production growth.

"At this juncture, there's no particular reason for oil prices to move that much higher or that much lower from the gains they've already made," Tchilinguirian said. "You would need a new event to provoke that kind of change."

Energy prices

The New York Mercantile Exchange August crude oil contract price dropped 66¢ on June 23 to close at $106.17/bbl. The July contract expired with the end of the June 20 trading session. The September contract fell 55¢ to $105.42/bbl.

The natural gas contract for July fell 8.5¢ to a rounded $4.45/MMbtu. On the US cash market, gas at Henry Hub, La., was $4.48/MMbtu, down 3¢.

Heating oil for July delivery declined by 1.9¢ to a rounded $3.03/gal. Reformulated gasoline stock for oxygenate blending for July delivery also fell, dropping 2¢ to settle at a rounded $3.11/gal.

The August ICE contract for Brent crude delivery dropped 69¢, closing at $114.12/bbl. The September contract declined 52¢ to $113.72/bbl. The ICE gas oil contract for July decreased $6.50 to $928.75/tonne.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ basket of 12 benchmark crudes for June 23 was $110.30, down 18¢.

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.

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