By the OGJ Online Staff
HOUSTON, Oct. 23 -- Oil futures prices declined on international markets Monday as traders worried what the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries might do at a meeting of member ministers next week.
OPEC members will meet in Vienna next Monday with representatives from non-OPEC producers Russia, Mexico, Oman, and Kazakhstan to discuss means of stopping the recent fall in oil prices. Observers say OPEC faces a tough dilemma -- it could cut production in an effort to drive prices up, but several non-OPEC producers could then increase production to steal market shares from the cartel.
Since Sept. 24, the average price for OPEC's basket of seven crudes has remained below the group's targeted price range of $22-$28/bbl. That basket price rose 35¢ to $19.26/bbl Monday, registering gains in two consecutive days of trading.
The expiring November contract for benchmark US light, sweet crudes dipped 7¢ to $21.76/bbl on the New York Mercantile Exchange with the December contract unchanged at $22.26/bbl during Monday's trading session. But in after-hours electronic trading, the new front-month December contract slipped to $22.22/bbl, with the January position at $22.40/bbl.
Home heating oil for November delivery inched down by 0.01¢ to 62.62¢/gal on the NYMEX. But unleaded gasoline for the same month gained 0.27¢ to 59.79¢/gal. The November natural gas contract regained another 12.6¢ to $2.80/Mcf.
In London, the December contract for North Sea Brent crude lost 30¢ to $21.05/bbl on the International Petroleum Exchange. The November natural gas contract dropped 7.6¢ to the equivalent of $3/Mcf on the IPE.