Oil Down Sharply as Gustav Weakens

With crude at $111 a barrel, analysts surprised at market's tame reaction to threat
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 1, 2008 5:32 PM CDT
Dark skies and heavy seas pound Pensacola Beach, Fla. early today as Hurricane Gustav approaches the Gulf Coast.    (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Oil prices tumbled to $111 a barrel today as Hurricane Gustav weakened along the Gulf Coast, posing less of a threat than forecast to oil drilling and refining operations. A stronger dollar also contributed to the average retail gas price being down slightly at $3.686 a gallon, the AP reports. It was feared last week that pump prices would soar because of the hurricane.

Oil companies had shut down productions and evacuated facilities ahead of the storm. Altogether, about 2.4 million barrels of refining capacity had been halted, roughly 15% of the US total; the Gulf Coast is home to nearly half the nation's refining capacity. In 2005, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita destroyed 109 oil platforms and five drilling rigs.