Vienna, Austria- Oil prices fell Monday after industrialized nations agreed to release 60 million barrels of crude from their strategic stockpiles to help avert a severe fuel shortage in the United States.
The U.S. refinery system was struggling to recover from Hurricane Katrina. Two storm-shuttered facilities restarted and flows of crude oil improved enough to allow refineries
in the Gulf Coast and Midwest to ramp up production. But four damaged Gulf Coast refiners look likely to remain shut for weeks or even months, taking with them more than 5 percent of U.S. capacity, according to a report of The Associated Press.
Still the decision by industrialized nations to alleviate the hurricane-caused shortfall from their own stocks appeared to calm the waters. Vienna”s PV oil associates said that by Monday about 30 cargoes of gasoline from those countries to the United States had been arranged.
On London”s International Petroleum Exchange, October Brent was down US$1.21 to US$64.85 a barrel by midday in Europe close to what it had been fetching before Katrina hit.
The New York Mercantile Exchange was closed for the Labor Day holiday. Benchmark light, sweet crude had closed Friday at US$67.57 a barrel, down US$1.90 after the International Energy Agency on Friday announced its 26 members would release 2 million barrels daily for 30 days to meet shortfalls in world energy markets.
The International Energy Agency groups industrialized nations under the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development umbrella.