Oil steadies as U.S. Gulf braces for Hurricane Laura
Oil prices steadied on Thursday as a hurricane hit the United States’ key oil production facilities in the Gulf of Mexico, forcing oil rigs and refineries to close down production in the region.
Brent crude futures for October delivery climbed 0.3%, or 13 cents, at $45.77 per barrel, while the November contract rose 10 cents to $46.26 per barrel.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures were up 1 cent to $43.40 per barrel.
Hurricane Laura’s threat to oil production lifted the market this week. However, the storm is unlikely to impact supplies much amid production cuts due to weak fuel demand.
U.S. crude stockpiles stood at 507.8 million barrels in the week ended Aug. 21 despite the bigger-than-expected drop of 4.7 million barrels.
Hurricane Laura may be the most powerful storm to hit the U.S. Gulf when it makes landfall on Thursday, with forecasters calling it an “unsurvivable storm surge.”
Oil producers closed 1.56 million bpd of crude output, which makes up for 84% of the Gulf’s production. Workers have also been evacuated from 310 offshore facilities in the region.
Nine refineries that convert 2.9 million bpd of oil into fuel, making up for 15% of U.S. processing capacity, were also closed down.