Oil prices ease after hitting record 140 dollars

SINGAPORE, June 27, 2008 (AFP) – Oil prices eased in Asia on Friday after reaching 140 dollars for the first time following the OPEC president’s forecast that prices could soon surge as high as 170 dollars a barrel. New York’s main oil futures contract, light sweet crude for August delivery, dropped 18 cents to 139.46 dollars.

The contract finished 5.29 dollars higher at a record close of 139.64 dollars a barrel on Thursday at the New York Mercantile Exchange, after reaching an all-time intraday peak of 140.39 dollars.

Brent North Sea crude for August delivery fell 38 cents to 139.45 dollars a barrel. In London on Thursday the contract jumped 5.50 dollars to settle at an all-time closing peak of 139.83 dollars after striking an intraday record 140.56 dollars in frenzied trading.

“I predict probably prices of 150 to 170 dollars this summer. It (the market) will probably fall a bit towards the end of the year,” the president of OPEC, Algerian Energy Minister Chakib Khelil said in an interview with the France 24 television channel.

If there were real demand for extra oil, the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) cartel would do what was needed to satisfy it, he said, affirming tha