) -- Crude futures were slumping before the opening bell on Wednesday, following a path laid out by selloffs on many of the

world's stock markets.

During electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange this morning, benchmark crude slipped 54 cents to trade at $68.65 a barrel. On Tuesday, the contract settled at $69.19 after putting on $2.44.

Late Tuesday, the American Petroleum Institute said crude inventories fell by 6.1 million barrels the week prior. Later this morning, the Energy Department will release its own oil reserve figures, with many expecting the Energy Information Administration to report a build of 1.1 million barrels according to a survey from Platts.

Ahead of a meeting by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries next month, Kuwait's oil minister also gave oil watchers something to digest. Sheik Ahmed Al Abdullah Al Sabah told reporters that present oil prices were "not bad, not bad at all" according to

The Associated Press

, fueling speculation in reports that OPEC will be less inclined to cut output.

On Tuesday, shares of


(CVX) - Get Report



(COP) - Get Report

gained 0.5% each.

Marathon Oil

(MRO) - Get Report

joined them in positive territory, adding 43 cents at $30.09.

American Depositary Shares for


(TOT) - Get Report



(BP) - Get Report


Royal Dutch Shell


also tallied gains yesterday, finishing up 1.9%, 1.8% and 0.8%, respectively.


(HES) - Get Report

, one of the biggest winners among the majors, put on $1.27, or 2.6%, at $50.62.

Exxon Mobil

(XOM) - Get Report

, was largely flat, though still lost 6 cents at $66.49 by the closing bell.

-- Written by David Moss in New York

Copyright 2009 Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The AP contributed to this report.