Oil prices decline on Hurricane Irma

Crude Oil Price Attempts Sharp Recovery Faces $50-Level and 200 DMA

Irma, the second major hurricane to approach the United States in two weeks, has already killed 14 and destroyed islands in the Caribbean. And yet again, the energy sector is responding.

Hurricane Harvey hit the U.S. Gulf coast two weeks ago, knocking as much as a quarter of the country's huge refinery industry, as a result of which demand for crude oil - refining's lifeblood - fell sharply.

Hurricane Harvey hit the U.S. Gulf coast two weeks ago, and crude prices initially slumped because nearly a quarter of the country´s huge refinery industry was knocked out by the storm, cutting demand for crude oil, refining´s lifeblood. Brent crude was down 67 cents or 1.2 percent to $53.82 a barrel after reaching its highest level since April at $54.80.

Oil prices were little changed on Friday as the global petroleum industry remains in the grip of Caribbean hurricanes which have pummelled the region for the last two weeks.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, U.S. weekly crude stocks increased 4.6 million barrels the week-ending September 1, topping analysts' forecast for a 4.0-million-barrel build in a Reuters poll.

"Hurricanes can have a lasting effect on refinery and industry demand", said Eugen Weinberg, head of commodities research at Commerzbank in Frankfurt.

Hurricane Irma, which has become one of the biggest storms ever measured - picking up the Twitter hashtag #irmageddon - early on Friday was over the Dominican Republic and Haiti, heading for Cuba and the Bahamas.

U.S. Gulf Coast utilization rates dropped to 63.4 percent, the lowest rates since the EIA began collecting the data in 2010.

Additionally, in response to the impact of Harvey which hit the Gulf Coast of Texas on August 25, the EIA said USA oil refinery utilization rates slumped 16.9 percentage points to 79.7 percent last week, the lowest rate since 2010.

A Canadian nurse now living in Florida is bracing for a busy next few days of caring for the sick and wounded as Hurricane Irma bears down on the US coast.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said Irma was a Category 5 hurricane, with wind speeds of 160-185 miles per hours.

After cutting seven rigs in August, the first monthly reduction since May 2016, drillers cut three oil rigs in the week to September 8, bringing the total count down to 756, energy services firm Baker Hughes energy services firm said.

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