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Rita Spares US Gulf Oil Industry, Focuses Attention on Tight Supply


Oil refineries, drilling platforms and pipelines largely escaped damage from Hurricane Rita, sending prices down to about $64 a barrel in Monday morning trading.

The falling prices were unlike the dramatic spike that followed Hurricane Katrina, but that has not eased worries among industry analysts and politicians about the tight oil supply.

Nearly all the major refineries along the Gulf of Mexico were shut down before or during Hurricane Rita, cutting total U.S. oil production by nearly 30 percent.

With little excess refining capacity, analysts say oil prices remain vulnerable to even minor disruptions in the global supply.

The U.S. Energy Department Monday will brief President Bush on damage to Gulf oil facilities and the status of the nation's energy industry.

Some information for this report provided by AP and AFP.