LONDON: Oil prices fell towards $61 a barrel on Monday, giving away some of last week’s gains, ahead of Opec’s meeting in Vienna, where the group was widely expected to agree not to cut oil output further.
US crude futures for July delivery fell 63 cents to $61.04 a barrel by 1:45pm.
London Brent crude fell 70 cents to $60.08.
US markets are closed on Monday for the Memorial Day holiday. NYMEX floor trading resumes on Tuesday.
Oil prices rallied around 9.5% last week, boosted by a spate of US refinery problems and unrest in major oil exporter Nigeria, and are nearly double their lows hit in December on speculation the economic recession is easing and demand for energy will revive.
Nigeria’s main militant group said on Monday it had attacked major oil pipelines in the Niger Delta to prevent five flow stations feeding a facility operated by US Chevron from operating, but there was no independent confirmation.
Ministers from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) were expected to make no change to oil supply when they meet in Vienna on Thursday as higher prices helped mitigate their concerns about overflowing fuel inventories and dwindling demand.
Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said Opec would “probably stay the course” as he forecast a pick-up in demand and prices eventually rising towards $75 a barrel.
Algeria’s oil minister said Opec was unlikely to cut output at its meeting next week amid a weak global economy, warning compliance with previous supply cuts had slipped in April and needed to be tightened first.