Refinery fears in US, France pump up oil prices

30th September 2005, Comments 0 comments

LONDON, Sept 30, 2005 (AFP) - World oil prices firmed Friday ahead of the weekend as traders fretted over refinery shutdowns in both the United States and France.

LONDON, Sept 30, 2005 (AFP) - World oil prices firmed Friday ahead of the weekend as traders fretted over refinery shutdowns in both the United States and France.

The oil-producing US Gulf Coast was still reeling from the impact of hurricanes Katrina and Rita that battered the region within weeks of each other, shutting down refineries and damaging offshore production platforms.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in November, won 21 cents to US $67 per barrel in electronic trading.

In London, the price of Brent North Sea crude for November delivery firmed one cent to US $63.85 per barrel.

"Some pressure came off the products on expectations that several refineries are set to restart in the next few days, although all the crude output in the Gulf of Mexico remains paralysed," said Sam Tilley, analyst at the Sucden brokerage.

"The market is still uncertain about the length and scope of the protest at the Total refinery in France, the country's biggest at 328,000 barrels per day," said Tilley. "It has officially been extended until today (Friday) but may be extended and widened to other Total refineries."

The Total refinery in Gonfreville L'Orcher, near the port of Le Havre, remained at a standstill Friday.

In the United States, two refineries affected by Hurricane Rita's passing restarted on Thursday, but eight remained in shutdown mode in Texas and Louisiana, according to the US Energy Information Administration. Of those eight, one was attempting to restart.

Four refineries were still shut down near New Orleans due to destruction caused by Katrina four weeks ago.

Crude production in the Gulf of Mexico was still 98.59 percent offline, according to the latest data from the US Mineral Management Service, while 79.97 percent of natural gas production was shut down.

That marked little improvement from Wednesday's figures of 100 percent and 80 percent shutdowns for production of crude and natural gas, respectively.

Tetsu Emori, chief commodities strategist at Mitsui Bussan Futures in Tokyo, said the slow recovery in US refinery operations was a big concern.

Emori said he expected oil to trade in a range of US $62-68 a barrel and while there was a chance it may again breach US$ 70, it was unlikely to hold above that level.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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