Economy

Oil slips closer to $93 ahead of new Iran talks

The price of oil slipped closer to $93 a barrel on Monday, ahead of the resumption of negotiations in Geneva meant to curb Iran's nuclear program.

By early afternoon in Europe, benchmark U.S. crude for December delivery was down 54 cents to $93.30 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 8 cents to close at $93.84 on Friday.

Oil has traded between $93 and $96 a barrel over the past two weeks, and is down from nearly $110 a barrel in early October. Iran will resume talks this week in Geneva with six world powers — the U.S., Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany — aimed at resolving a decade-long standoff over Iran's nuclear program.

Last week's negotiations failed to reach an agreement but the U.S. administration is hopeful that an initial deal with Iran can be reached in this next round of talks. The countries worry that Tehran is trying to assemble an atomic weapons arsenal. Iran insists it has a right to pursue a nuclear program solely for peaceful energy production and medical research.

On Monday, a statement from the Kremlin said Russian President Vladimir Putin thought there was a "real chance" to end the standoff over the Iranian nuclear program. The powers are offering a gradual rollback of sanctions that have crippled Iran's economy, raising concerns of an influx of Iranian oil into world markets at a time of already abundant supplies.

Two U.S. administrative officials however, said last week that Iran would get only limited and temporary relief from economic sanctions. Abundant crude exports from Saudi Arabia also weighed on prices, reinforcing the view that there are ample supplies on global markets.

"Saudi Arabia exported 7.84 million barrels of crude oil per day in September, which is the country's highest export figure for nearly eight years," analysts from Commerzbank in Frankfurt said in a note to clients. "The additional oil from Saudi Arabia is increasing the plentiful supply on the world market and is driving prices down."

Brent crude, the benchmark for an international variety of crude, was down 45 cents to $108.05 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London. In other energy futures trading on Nymex: — Wholesale gasoline fell 2.45 cents to $2.6144 a gallon.

— Heating oil was down 1.59 cents to $2.925 a gallon. — Natural gas rose 3.5 cents to $3.695 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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