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Oil prices climb above 117 dollars on Hurricane Gustav

by Staff Writers
London (AFP) Aug 27, 2008
World oil prices rallied Wednesday on the back of concerns that Hurricane Gustav may head for the Gulf of Mexico where many US energy installations are located, analysts said.

The market was meanwhile on tenterhooks ahead of the traditional weekly update on US crude inventories.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in October, gained 1.41 dollars to 117.68 dollars per barrel in electronic deals, after Hurricane Gustav had slammed into Haiti on Tuesday.

London's Brent North Sea crude for October won 1.15 dollars to 115.78.

"Oil markets are keeping a nervous eye on Hurricane Gustav, with forecasts showing it may move into the Gulf of Mexico," said David Moore, a Sydney-based commodity analyst with Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

Traders were also awaiting data on the health of US energy stockpiles in the United States, the world's biggest consumer of oil. Analysts are predicting that crude stockpiles had shot higher in the week ended August 22, while they forecast a drop in motor fuel inventories.

Hurricane Gustav slammed into Haiti on Tuesday, killing at least five as it lashed the desperately poor Caribbean nation with powerful winds and heavy rain, just days behind deadly Tropical Storm Fay.

Gustav, a Category One hurricane -- the lowest on the five-level Saffir-Simpson scale -- was headed next toward Jamaica and Cuba, then into the Gulf of Mexico on the weekend, where it could threaten offshore oil rigs.

"The latest forecast ... reveals the storm is heading northwest and is expected to be off the Louisiana coast by Sunday evening by which time it may have strengthened into a more powerful storm," added analysts at consultancy John Hall Associates.

At least five people died and seven were injured in southeast Haiti as roofs flew off houses and electricity pylons were ripped away by violent winds, authorities said late Tuesday.

Anglo-Dutch energy giant Royal Dutch Shell said it was planning to evacuate some staff from its Gulf facilities because of Gustav.

Prices were also supported Wednesday by the possibility of heightened tensions between Russia and the West after Moscow recognised the Georgian separatist regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent.

Traders were meanwhile monitoring fresh violence in key crude producer Nigeria.

Unidentified gunmen kidnapped an Israeli from his residence in Nigeria's oil hub of Port Harcourt, police said Wednesday.

"An Israeli national was abducted in the city yesterday (Tuesday). We are still checking the details of the incident," Rivers state police spokeswoman Rita Abbey told AFP.

She said no group had claimed responsibility for the abduction, the latest to hit the restive oil region in recent months.


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Oil prices rise as Hurricane Gustav strengthens
New York (AFP) Aug 26, 2008
Oil prices rebounded Tuesday on concerns that a strengthened Hurricane Gustav could damage energy facilities in the Gulf of Mexico.

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