Oil prices fell on Wednesday as the market awaited energy inventory data for clues of demand in the United States, the world\'s biggest oil consuming nation. New York\'s main contract, West Texas Intermediate crude for delivery in March, dropped 57 cents to $98.38 a barrel in the afternoon. Brent North Sea crude for March slipped 28 cents to $109.75 in London midday deals. Traders were awaiting data from the US Department of Energy due at 1530 GMT that is expected to reveal that crude stockpiles rose last week in the United States. The market was also tracking tensions between major oil producer Iran and the West. Tehran on Tuesday summoned the Danish envoy, whose nation currently holds the rotating presidency of the EU, to protest against the 27-nation bloc\'s embargo on Iranian oil exports over the Islamic producer\'s nuclear programme. According to official media, the Iranian deputy foreign minister in charge of Europe and American affairs, Ali Asghar Khaji, expressed Tehran\'s \"strong protest to this illogical decision\" in his meeting with the Danish diplomat. The Islamic republic, which is already under four rounds of UN sanctions, vehemently denies its nuclear programme masks an atomic weapons drive as the West alleges, and insists it is for civilian purposes only. Crude producer Iran had previously threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz -- a chokepoint for one-fifth of the world\'s traded oil -- in the event of a military strike or sanctions from the West over its nuclear programme.