SINGAPORE, Apr 24 (AFP): Oil prices slipped off record highs above 75 dollars in Asian trade today on profit- taking after the market's unprecedented advance last week, dealers said.
However, ongoing concerns over Iran's controversial nuclear programme will keep crude prices above 70 dollars until the issue is resolved, they said.
The market's slight cooling came after global finance chiefs called for action against runaway oil prices and OPEC member Kuwait proposed reactivating standby capacity in an effort to prevent further increases.
At 11:14 am (0314 GMT), New York's main contract, light sweet crude for June delivery, was at 74.85 dollars a barrel compared with its record close of 75.17 dollars in the United States Friday.
Oil prices are about 80 per cent higher than in January 2005 and more than three times the level of four years ago, fuelled also by strong demand from China and India, whose economies are booming.
Iran insisted Sunday it would continue sensitive nuclear fuel cycle work despite the UN Security Council's deadline this week for it to freeze uranium enrichment.
The market is concerned crude supplies from Iran would be severely disrupted in the event of any military action by Washington. The Islamic state exports about 2.7 million barrels of crude per day.
Aside from Iran, the market is concerned with tight gasoline supplies in the United States and the situation in Nigeria where 20 per cent of its crude output remains offline following recent rebel attacks on the country's energy installations in the Niger Delta. Nigeria is Africa's biggest crude producer.
The powerful 11-member OPEC cartel was to hold informal talks Monday on the sidelines of a major energy forum. The meeting opened in Qatar Sunday as Kuwait proposed reactivating a standby oil output of two million barrels per day in a bid to ease record high petrol (gas) prices.