source : http://www.news.com.au/perthnow/story/0,21598,24334752-951,00.html
WORLD oil prices climbed in Asian trade today as powerful Hurricane Ike hammered the southern US coast.
The hurricane has forced the shutdown of oil and gas production facilities in the area, dealers said.
New York's main contract, light sweet crude for October delivery was up 47 cents to $US101.34 a barrel, rebounding from a decline in closing US trades overnight.
The contract had fallen to $US100.10 in intraday trade yesterday, approaching the $US100 threshold it had last crossed on April 1, before finishing at $US100.87.
Brent North Sea crude for delivery in October was up 61 cents to $US98.25 after dropping a hefty $US1.33 in London trade.
"Today is Friday and Hurricane Ike is coming to land,'' said Ken Hasegawa, manager at the energy department of Newedge Japan brokerage.
Oil and natural gas production in the Gulf of Mexico has been largely shut down as Hurricane Ike looms, the US Department of Energy said.
It added, however, that the storm was likely to spare most Gulf energy installations. The bulk of US oil refineries are in the gulf, and Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell had evacuated personnel from its offshore installations as of Wednesday.
Ike, which left more than 100 people dead in its rampage through the Caribbean, was expected to barrel into the Texas coast as a major hurricane packing winds in excess of 190km/h.
Hasegawa said however the oil price rise was being limited by easing global energy demand resulting from an economic slowdown.
"The economic slowdown remains a major concern,'' he said, adding that the troubles at US firm Lehman Brothers could further add to the jitters in the financial markets.
Lehman Brothers shares plunged further overnight as fears intensified about the survival of the troubled Wall Street investment giant.
Some analysts said the downward spiral raised the prospect of a collapse in the manner of Wall Street rival Bear Stearns earlier this year.
The market also had a series of reports this week underlining weakening demand.
The US Department of Energy on Tuesday lowered its forecasts for 2009 global crude oil demand in the United States, the world's largest consumer of crude oil.
On Wednesday, in its weekly report on US energy stockpiles, it said demand for petroleum products in the United States continued to fall and was now 3.8 per cent below its level a year ago.