World oil prices hit new record highs Tuesday but then eased lower.
Crude oil for future delivery was selling for as much as $54.45 a barrel in New York, but declined to $52.50 at the close of trading for the day.
Analysts say worries about the supply of oil pushed prices upward.
Those concerns include labor unrest in Nigeria, a political and tax dispute that affects a major Russian oil producer, and hurricane damage to U.S. producers.
Oil prices jumped 66 percent this year as the strongest demand growth in two decades caught producers by surprise. That left a tightly-stretched global supply system with little slack to deal with supply problems.