The oil price fell in markets around the world on Thursday, from London to New York and Tokyo, after the US-led war against Iraq started.
In off-hours trading on London's International Petroleum Exchange, May Brent crude futures fell 85 cents to US$25.90 a barrel.
Front-month NYMEX April crude , which expires later on Thursday, was down US$1.16 to a three-month low at US$28.72 a barrel in electronic ACCESS trading.
The May contract was down US$1.03 at US$28.33 a barrel. Trading volumes for May were heavy, with 5,395 lots changing hands.
The losses added to a fall of US$8 a barrel, or 21 percent, in the past five days on expectations that a war on Iraq would be short-lived, and oil disruptions limited.
"I think we are seeing a lot of long liquidation. This comes from traders' experience at the time of the (1990/91) Gulf War when prices plunged after the United States invaded Kuwait," said Katsunori Watanabe, a trader at Japanese brokerage house Nihon Unicom Corp.
"Traders are convinced that their view is correct and the war will be over fairly quickly."
Explosions rocked Baghdad at dawn on Thursday and in Washington, US President George W. Bush said the attack on Iraq had begun.
On the Tokyo Commodity Exchange (TOCOM), benchmark August crude was at 17,740 yen per kilolitre, down 1000 yen.
Oil products prices, such as gasoline and diesel, also fell sharply.
In products trade, NYMEX April gasoline was at 91.40 cents a gallon, down 2.85 cents, while NYMEX April heating oil was at 81.60 cents a gallon, down 2.01 cents.
The TOCOM said on Thursday it would suspend afternoon gasoline futures trading due to a system glitch. September kerosene was at 27,550 yen, down 1,050 yen.
US President George Bush on Monday gave Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein 48 hours to leave Iraq or face a US-led invasion. Washington's deadline expired just after 0100 GMT on Thursday.
Iraq has repeatedly denied US allegations that it has stockpiled biological, chemical or nuclear weapons.
(Xinhua News Agency March 20, 2003)