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Oil prices retreat as hurricane fears fade

(AFP) / 17 September 2004

LONDON - World oil prices turned lower yesterday as Hurricane Ivan looked set to leave major coastal refineries in the US unscathed, comforting traders nervous about supply disruptions.

The price of Brent North Sea crude oil for delivery in November, the new benchmark contract, reversed early gains to lose 26 cents to 40.09 dollars in late afternoon trading in London. New York’s light sweet crude for October delivery dropped 53 cents to 43.05 dollars in early deals.

“The worry previously was that the hurricane might hit landfall at Louisiana or Texas and therefore disrupt production of refineries in that area,” said Prudential Bache broker Tony Machacek.

Prices have risen in recent days after thousands of workers were evacuated from oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico because of the hurricane, which also prompted fears of damage to coastal refineries.

According to the latest report from the US Minerals Management Service, workers on 575 platforms and 69 rigs had been evacuated from the Gulf of Mexico.

About 78 per cent of the 1.7 million barrels-per-day of oil production and 49 per cent of gas output in the Gulf was affected.

The biggest US oil import terminal, the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port, stopped unloading tankers on Monday. Traders were concerned that the hurricane would lead to another drop in US crude oil inventories. 

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