Storm fears send oil prices higher

Storm fears send oil prices higherCrude oil prices were higher again Wednesday on fears that Tropical Storm Gustav, which weakened as it hit Haiti, will return to hurricane strength and threaten oil facilities in the Gulf of Mexico.

Some forecasts have Gustav heading for landfall in Louisiana after passing through the greatest concentration of offshore oil and gas platforms in the Gulf, the same region devastated by Hurricane Katrina three years ago, possibly at similar strength to Katrina.

Several companies have already begun to evacuate their offshore facilities.

Prices also rose after the US Energy Information Administration released its weekly report on US inventories, in which it said that crude oil stockpiles fell by 100,000 barrels in the week ending 22 August while gasoline inventories were down by 1.2 million barrels and distillates stockpiles remained steady.

October contracts for West Texas Intermediate crude added $1.88 to $118.15 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange while Brent crude for October delivery gained $1.58 to $116.12 per barrel on the ICE Futures Europe exchange in London.

In afternoon trade, Nymex September gasoline futures added 11 cents to $3.08 per gallon while October heating oil was up 5 cents to $3.29 per gallon and October natural gas gained 13 cents to $8.52 per million British thermal units.

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