The price of oil fell to near $103 a barrel Tuesday ahead of talks aimed at defusing tensions between the West and Russia over Ukraine.
By early afternoon in Europe, benchmark U.S. crude for May delivery was down 92 cents to $103.13 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Monday, the Nymex contract rose 31 cents.
Brent crude, a benchmark used for international varieties of oil, was down 68 cents to $108.39 on the ICE Futures exchange in London after hitting a six-week high.
Officials from the U.S., Russia, Ukraine and the European Union are set to meet in Geneva on Thursday for negotiations aimed at persuading Russia to back off in Ukraine following its annexation of Crimea.
Failing that, EU leaders could meet as early as next week to decide on tighter sanctions on Russia, a major producer of oil and gas that has been accused of fomenting unrest in eastern Ukraine. On Tuesday, Ukrainian tanks were seen within 70 kilometers (43 miles) of one city controlled by pro-Moscow gunmen after Ukraine’s acting president, Oleksandr Turchynov, announced an “anti-terrorist operation” to root out the “separatists.”
Expectations of rising U.S. crude oil stockpiles also weighed on prices.