Gains in crude prices ahead of Ike, OPEC meeting

Storm fears send oil prices higherCrude oil prices were slightly higher in New York Monday but fell in London as the dollar strengthened, as investors waited to see what Hurricane Ike would do, and on comments from some member nations of the Organization for Petroleum Exporting Countries that indicated they favor cutting OPEC production quotas.

Iran Libya argued Monday, ahead of a meeting of OPEC oil ministers slated to begin tomorrow in Vienna, that the cartel should cut production because there is too much oil on the market.

In addition, almost 80 percent of US oil production and 65 percent of natural gas production in the Gulf of Mexico remained closed after its shutdown more than a week ago in preparation for Hurricane Gustav.

Some oil companies are reluctant to restart production after forecasts that Hurricane Ike, which weakened a bit as it hit Cuba, will strengthen again and could make landfall near the Texas-Louisiana border over the weekend.

West Texas Intermediate crude for October delivery added 11 cents to $105.86 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while Brent Crude was down 77 cents to $103.32 per barrel in earlier trade on the ICE Futures Europe exchange in London.

Nymex October gasoline added 6 cents to $2.75 per gallon and October heating oil was 3 cents higher to $3.01 per gallon and Nymex natural gas gained nearly 8 cents to $7.52 per million British thermal units.

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