By OGJ editors
HOUSTON, Feb. 1 -- Crude oil futures prices on the New York Mercantile Exchange fell Jan. 31 on news that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries left its production quota unchanged.
Iranian Oil Minister Kazem Vaziri Hamaneh told reporters that there was no relationship between oil and Iran's dispute with the West about his country's nuclear program.
He assured reporters and other OPEC members that Iran has no intention of halting oil exports. The assurance calmed jittery traders, but analysts noted that concerns about Iran's nuclear program still could raise oil prices this year.
Meanwhile, the United Nations Security Council on Jan. 31 called on the International Atomic Energy Agency to transfer the Iranian dossier to the Security Council.
The March contract for benchmark US sweet, light crudes declined 43¢ to $67.92/bbl Jan. 31 on NYMEX. The April contract dropped by 36¢ to $68.74/bbl. Gasoline for February delivery fell by 4.91¢ to $1.73/gal on NYMEX. Heating oil for the same month was down 3.19¢ to $1.80/gal. On the US spot market, West Texas Intermediate at Cushing, Okla., was down by 43¢ to $67.93/bbl.
The March natural gas contract dipped by 7.3¢ to $9.316/MMbtu. But gas prices are expected to strengthen soon in response to forecasts of New York City temperatures dipping below normal in mid-February, said Enerfax Daily analysts.
In London, the March contract for North Sea Brent crude declined by 60¢ to $65.99/bbl on the International Petroleum Exchange. Gas oil for February gained $2.50 to $560.50/tonne.
The average price for OPEC's basket of 11 benchmark crudes was up by 1¢ to $60.40/bbl on Jan. 31.