Oil Prices Slip as Market Eyes Iraq, US Supplies

(AP) -

The price of oil fell Tuesday, as fears over the prospect of disruption to Iraq’s crude supplies subsided a bit and traders awaited the latest report on U.S. supplies.

Benchmark U.S crude for July delivery dropped 54 cents to $106.36 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, a benchmark used to price international oils, gained 51 cents to $113.45 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

Up to 275 U.S. soldiers are being positioned in and around Iraq to protect the U.S. Embassy and other American interests as President Barack Obama weighs options for dealing with the al-Qaida-inspired militants who have captured a vast swath of the country’s north.

Iraq’s crude-oil exports have thus far not been disrupted, but the conflict raises concern about whether the country can rebuild its oil infrastructure and meet global demand.

The International Energy Agency, which acts as a consultancy to developed economies, said that its members’ oil reserves were at a “comfortable level” and that the agency was ready to respond quickly to any supply disruptions caused by the turmoil in Iraq.

“At this moment, not a single barrel of oil has been displaced compared to a week ago,” IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven said after the release of the agency’s medium-term oil-market report.

On Wednesday, the market gets the latest reading on U.S. supplies. Analysts expect oil supplies to have fallen 1.4 million barrels in the week ended June 13, according to a survey by Platts.

In other energy-futures trading:

– Wholesale gasoline added 2 cents to $3.09 a gallon.

– Natural gas was flat at $4.71 per 1,000 cubic feet.

– Heating oil rose 2 cents to $3.02 a gallon.