Oil prices dip after ‘positive’ Iran nuclear talks

SINGAPORE: Oil prices slid in Asian trade Monday after nuclear talks over the weekend between major crude producer Iran and world powers eased concerns over Middle East supplies, analysts said.

New York’s main contract, West Texas Intermediate crude for delivery in May, was down 66 cents to $102.17 per barrel while Brent North Sea crude for June shed $1.38 to $119.83 in the afternoon.

“Oil has slipped after ‘constructive’ talks between Iran and six of the world’s biggest economic superpowers,” said Justin Harper, market strategist at

IG Markets Singapore in a note.

“This has helped take some of the ‘war premium’ out of energy prices,” he added.

Saturday’s nuclear talks between officials from Iran and diplomats from the so-called P5+1 group comprising the United States, Russia, China, Britain,

France and Germany have largely been described as “positive” by both sides.

However Western officials have stressed that a great deal was expected of the Islamic republic at the next meeting in Baghdad on May 23.

The talks were aimed at persuading Tehran — the second largest crude producer in OPEC — to halt its controversial nuclear programme, which much of the international community believes is geared towards building an atomic weapon.

Iran has so far insisted that it is enriching uranium for peaceful purposes including cancer treatment.

Several rounds of financial sanctions by the UN Security Council, the United States and the European Union have so far been ineffective in pressuring Iran to cease its nuclear activities.

The Islamic republic has previously threatened to shut the strategic Strait of Hormuz — a major passageway for a fifth of the world’s global oil supply — if it faced further sanctions.

Meanwhile, a decline in the euro against other major currencies on renewed concerns about the eurozone’s fiscal problems was also weighing on the crude market, analysts said.

A weaker euro makes dollar-priced oil more expensive, dampening demand and pushing prices lower.