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Oil steady as Irma heads for Florida, Saudi Arabia cuts supply

September 11/2017

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Oil prices steadied on Friday after almost a week of sharp rises as Hurricane Irma, one of the most powerful storms in a century, drove towards Florida after tearing through the Caribbean, reported Reuters.

Irma is the second major hurricane to approach the United States in two weeks and has already killed 14, flattening whole islands. Its predecessor, Harvey, shut a quarter of US refineries and 8% of US oil production.

"Hurricanes can have a lasting effect on refinery and industry demand," said Eugen Weinberg, head of commodities research at Commerzbank in Frankfurt. "The impact of the forces of nature on US oil production should not be overestimated - nor should their impact on demand be underestimated."

Brent crude was up 16 cents at USD54.65/bbl by 1145 GMT, after earlier reaching its highest level since April at USD54.80. US light crude oil was 14 cents lower at USD48.95/bbl.

Brent found some support from news that Saudi Arabia will cut oil supply allocations to its customers worldwide in October by 350,000 bpd.

US crude prices fell as a result of low refining activity following Harvey, which sharply reduced demand for oil to process, traders said.

Harvey's impact was also felt in oil production. US oil output fell by almost 8%, from 9.5 MMbpd to 8.8 MMbpd, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

But the slowdown in refining and output should be temporary.

"Most refineries are restarting and we expect a near-full recovery by month-end," US investment bank Jefferies said.

Port and refinery closures along the Gulf coast and harsh sea conditions in the Caribbean have also affected shipping.

"Imports (of oil) to the US Gulf Coast fell to levels not seen since the 1990s," ANZ bank said.

It will take weeks for the US petroleum industry to return to full capacity, analysts say.

Hurricane Irma hit the Dominican Republic and Haiti on Friday, heading for Cuba and the Bahamas. It was predicted to reach Florida by Sunday.

The US National Hurricane Center (NHC) said that Irma was a Category 5 hurricane, with wind speeds of 160 mph-185 mph.

As MRC informed previously, Hurricane Harvey, which had killed more than 40 people and brought record flooding to the oil heartland of Texas, paralyzed a quarter of the US refining industry. Harvey, downgraded to a tropical storm and losing steam as it moved inland, shut at least 4.4 MMbpd of refining capacity in the USA.
Author:Margaret Volkova
Tags:crude and gaz condensate, petrochemistry, USA.
Category:General News
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