20 September 2005

Fear of another Gulf storm sparks record jump in oil price

This is how resilient, well-planned and enduring the infrastructure our entire society and culture depends on is? We are disconcertingly sleepwalking into the future, folks. Two well-placed storms could knock out over 25% of the U.S. extraction and refining capacity. Scary.

Crude oil futures surged more than US$4 -- the biggest one-day price jump ever -- amid worries that tropical storm Rita strengthening off the Bahamas could hit US oil facilities in the Gulf of Mexico later this week, striking another blow at an industry struggling to recover from hurricane Katrina. The swells in crude, heating oil and gasoline futures came as OPEC ministers met to discuss how to relieve price pressures in the oil market and expressed concern that Rita would bear down on the hurricane-ravaged US Gulf of Mexico coast. "The main driver today is tropical storm Rita. We really can't afford to lose more production," said Phil Flynn, analyst at Alaron Trading Corp. in Chicago. Long-range forecasts showed the system moving into the Gulf of Mexico late in the week as a hurricane, then possibly approaching Mexico or Texas. But forecasters warned those across the US southern coast, which is still recovering from the impact of hurricane Katrina, that long-term predictions are subject to large errors. If Rita strikes Texas, the biggest oil refiner in the United States, it could spell serious disruption to the industry. Texas has 26 petroleum refineries, most of which are located along the coast, with the capacity to pump 4.6 million barrels a day. That's more than a quarter of the US total refining capacity, according to the US Department of Energy. Chevron and Shell began evacuating workers from offshore oil and gas platforms and drilling rigs in the Gulf on Monday. A total of five rigs were evacuated Monday, up from two last week.
(Vancouver Sun 050920)

No comments: