Oil prices down as U.S. reels from Harvey

WTI Crude Oil

Oil investors are bracing themselves for a turbulent week as Hurricane Harvey continues to tear through Texas - the core of the USA oil industry.

But analysts said prices are expected to remain subdued as the shutdown of oil refineries would lead to higher crude stockpiles.

Both West Texas Intermediate and Brent barrel prices traded down on Tuesday as Tropical Storm Harvey continues to pound the U.S. Gulf coast.

USA oil prices finished Wednesday with a loss (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/oil-pulls-back-further-as-harvey-continues-to-weigh-2017-08-30), at their lowest level in more than four weeks.

Refinery shutdowns from the storm helped push U.S. gasoline prices to $1.7799 per gallon on Monday, the most since 2015, although they receded slightly to $1.7342 per gallon by 0648 GMT on Tuesday.

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Like the rest of the region, Motiva has been the victim of torrential rains and floods caused by the tropical storm of Harvey.

"Although this is less than 20 percent of total refining capacity in the United States, the Gulf Coast region is a major supplier of refined products both locally, and into other parts of the country", Delaney said. Brent crude is now at $52.35 a barrel - up 0.42%, while WTI is at $46.63 - up a tad- 0.13%.

"The impact could linger for several weeks or longer, depending on how long it takes Texas refiners to return to normal operations", DeHaan said.

"Disruptions to refineries, production and trade will also make the weekly EIA data even noisier and less useful as a high frequency indicator at the very time OPEC needs it most", the Barclays note added.

As a result, the discount of US WTI versus Brent surpassed $5 per barrel, its widest in more than two years.

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Crude markets were also eyeing disruptions in Libya and Colombia.

The amount of production offline on Sunday was roughly 378,633 barrels of oil per day out of the roughly 1.75 million bpd pumped from the Gulf.

Multiple companies have chose to shut their refineries or reduce the output by half due to floods.

"We are thus lowering our Brent oil price estimates to $55 per barrel from $60 per barrel in 4Q17 (and) to $57 per barrel from $64 per barrel in 2018", Jefferies bank said.

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