Crude oil prices tumbled in frenzied trading Wednesday as dealers worried that continued overproduction from OPEC members would result in a worldwide oil glut.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, the July contract for West Texas Intermediate, the benchmark grade of U.S. crude oil, slipped 78 cents to settle at $18.14 a 42-gallon barrel, after falling as low as $17.95 at one point Wednesday. Other contract months also fell sharply.
The June contract for West Texas Intermediate, which expired Tuesday, had declined 58 cents in that session.
Peter Beutel, an energy analyst at Elders Futures Inc., said signs of a possible oil glut already are emerging, making oil traders nervous.
He noted that northwestern Europe is being flooded with crude from Iran, and that the Trans-Panama pipeline has run out of storage space for crude.
In addition, a report released late Tuesday by the American Petroleum Institute said crude oil stocks had reached a larger-than-expected 4.4-million-barrel buildup at the end of last week.