Oil prices dropped in New York, after a sudden rise in initial jobless claims in the US raised concern that fuel demand may slow in the country, Bloomberg reported.

Crude oil for October 2009 delivery declined as much as 45¢, or 0.6%, to $72.46 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It was at $72.61 a barrel at 10.30am Singapore time.

The Energy Department said that US crude oil inventories were at 343.6 million barrels, above the upper boundary of the average range for this time of year.

The September 2009 contract expired on 20 August 2009 at $72.54 a barrel, up 12¢.

The amount of petroleum products supplied by US refiners over the past four week average 18.9 million barrels a day, down 6.1%, compared with the same time last year, the Energy Department said.

OPEC will ship the same amount of oil in the four weeks to 5 September 2009 as in July 2009, according to consultant Oil Movements.

OPEC will export 22.59 million barrels a day by sea during the period, the same as in the four weeks to 8 August 2009.

The brent crude oil for October 2009 settlement dropped as much as 35¢, or 0.5%, to $72.98 a barrel, on the London- based ICE Futures Europe exchange. It was traded at $73.12 a barrel at 10.19am Singapore time. The contract on 20 August 2009 dropped $1.26, or 1.7%, to $73.33 a barrel.