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Oil prices soften as market assesses hurricane damage

31 August 2017, 01:44 | Melanie Burgess

Shale oil boom softens the energy blow from Harvey

Oil Prices Set To Rise as Supply-Demand Gap Closes Up

More than 18 percent of oil production in the Gulf of Mexico was shut down, the U.S. Department of the Interior's Bureau of Safety Environmental Enforcement said.

Although there have been weeks upon weeks of crude oil inventory draws as of late, oil prices have still failed to climb with any significant meaning-a fact which has not deterred oil production in the U.S., which stood at 9.528 million bpd for the week ending August 18, well on its way toward the most recent 2018 daily average proposed by the EIA's Short Term Energy Outlook of 9.91 million barrels.

Brent for October delivery is down 0.077% and WTI futures for the same month are down 0.151% at $46.50 a barrel.

The Energy Information Administration reported a bigger-than-expected weekly drop in US crude supplies, but gasoline stockpiles were flat and traders expect next week's government report to reveal the impact of Hurricane Harvey-related crude production and refinery shutdowns.

According to Goldman Sachs, refining production declined by 4.1 million barrels per day (bpd) in the USA as of 29 August, representing 23% of the total refining production.

USA gasoline futures jumped 4 percent to settle at 1.7833, the highest in more than two years. The contract's peak was $1.7888, the highest for NYMEX gasoline since July 2015.

Preparing for more rain and floods, Total cut production to 53% of capacity at its 225,500 bpd Port Arthur refinery, reported a leading research agency.

Refinery closures has shifted gasoline futures higher however, as it makes the product harder to come by and thus priced higher.

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"They're not spiking as much as they would have had we not had the backdrop of plentiful inventories", said Smith, noting gasoline supplies sit at a five year high for this time of year.

The biggest refinery in the United States is Exxon's Beaumont facility and it's now completely shut down.

The storm has set a rainfall record for tropical cyclones in Texas, the National Weather Service said.

Harvey made landfall on Friday as the most powerful hurricane to hit Texas in more than 50 years, resulting in the death of at least 17 people.

After settlement, industry group the American Petroleum Institute said its data showed that last week US crude stocks fell, while gasoline inventories increased and distillate stocks drew.

Crude markets were also eyeing disruptions in Libya and Colombia.

Despite this, crude remains in ample supply, resulting in low prices.

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