Petroleum futures prices fell Monday on the New York Mercantile Exchange amid concern that dissaray is developing within the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
"The fact that OPEC moved its meeting up to June 20 from July 22 was considered an ominous development," said Nauman Barakat, a petroleum analyst in New York with Smith Barney, Harris Upham & Co. He said OPEC might be ready to drop its benchmark prices "substantially" to prevent a disruption to the entire market, Barakat said.
Saudi Arabia also has threatened to quit holding down production to defend the benchmark price if other members violate the cartel's production and price agreements.
Heating oil was under additional pressure because the spot price on wholesale markets has fallen beneath 70 cents a gallon for the first time in five years, Barakat said.
"There seem to be considerable negative feelings permeating the market," he said.
Crude oil settled 11 cents to 35 cents lower with the contract for delivery in July at $26.81 a barrel; heating oil settled .33 cent to 1.55 cents lower with July at 67.68 a gallon.