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Storms in Gulf of Mexico Upending Oil Industry


After AccuWeather, a private forecasting service, predicted Hurricane Rita would veer south, away from the area's major refineries, crude prices eased from more than $67 dollars a barrel.

Dealers had feared a further setback to the U.S. energy industry once Tropical Storm, now Hurricane, Rita, hit shore.

On Tuesday, OPEC agreed to make two million extra barrels of oil a day available, in an effort to reassure markets nervous about supplies for the winter and storms along the U.S. Gulf Coast.

OPEC President Sheik Ahmed Fahd Al Ahmed Al Sabah said OPEC will do what it can to help the market.

"We believe that the two million, what we have, this is our whole extra capacity until December,” said the sheik. “We know this will increase because there is a lot of investment on-stream, but at least what we have now is ready to be in the market and I hope this will affect the prices positive(ly)."

What could affect them negatively is a direct hit by Rita on the Galveston and Houston, Texas area. The extent of the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina to offshore oil platforms has become clear in the past few days. A preliminary count found 140 damaged platforms in the Gulf, more than 40 beyond repair. Oil production in the region is already off by 24 million barrels.

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