SEOUL- Oil held steady above $66 on Thursday on worries over heating fuel supplies ahead of winter as storm-hit U.S. refineries could stay shut for weeks and extended strikes in France also cut output, according to Reuters.
U.S. crude on the New York Mercantile Exchange was steady at $66.35 a barrel by 0626 GMT, after a $1.28 jump on Wednesday. London Brent crude edged 13 cents down to $63.80.
"Oil futures are looking forward to a much colder-than-expected winter as forecast by many meteorologists," said Gordon Kwan, oil and gas analyst with CLSA in Hong Kong.
"The fact that we have had so many refineries shut down means we are going into this winter on perhaps not enough heating oil."
More than 3 million barrels per day (bpd) of fuel processing capacity remained shut after hurricanes Rita and Katrina, and the U.S. government said on Wednesday that up to 15 percent of U.S. capacity could be out for at least another couple of weeks.
Natural gas production from the hurricane-hit region slowed nearly 2 percent on Wednesday, according to the U.S. Minerals Management Service. The MMS said 80.3 percent of production was shut, from 78.6 on Tuesday.
In the Gulf of Mexico, home to more than a quarter of U.S. domestic oil production, all crude output remained shut after Rita, the second major storm to strike at the heart of the U.S. energy industry in a month.
U.S. government data on Wednesday showed gasoline stocks in the world”s biggest consumer rose unexpectedly last week due to strong imports and flagging demand, but analysts said the numbers did not reflect Hurricane Rita”s full impact on fuel production.