September 15, 2008

Oil prices fall below $96

Oil prices fell decisively under $100 US a barrel today after hurricane Ike inflicted minimal damage to oil installations on the Texas coast.

The oil market was also hit by turbulence in the U.S. financial sector, which aggravated expectations that the American Recession and global economic slowdown will suppress demand. Investors are now concerned falling oil demand in the United States, Europe and Japan as the recession threatens to undermine consumer spending.

Light sweet crude for October delivery was down $5.39 at $95.79 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, after going as low as $94.13 overnight. The contract had settled Friday at $101.18 after dipping to $99.99 — the first time Nymex crude had traded below the $100 mark since April 2.

Federal officials said the storm destroyed at least 10 oil and gas platforms and damaged pipelines in the Gulf of Mexico — a small proportion of the 3,800 production platforms in the Gulf. Three years ago, back-to-back hurricanes knocked out more than 100 platforms.

Oil fell despite reports that militants launched another attack on Nigeria’s oil infrastructure in a third day of violence. The Nigerian military in the southern oil delta region said militants in speedboats attacked troops at a Royal Dutch Shell PLC oil-pumping station early Monday. The fighters arrived in about 10 boats and detonated dynamite and other explosives during the battle.

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