Energy Markets Jittery, Gas Being Rationed
Associated Press | August 31, 2005
By BRAD FOSS
Crude oil prices fell in jittery trading Wednesday even after the U.S. government said it would loan oil to refiners struggling in the wake of Hurricane Katrina to keep production of gasoline and other fuels steady. But wholesale and retail gasoline prices leaped higher nationwide.
Some of the knottiest issues still to be resolved will be restoring electricity to Gulf Coast pipelines and refineries, which are also suffering from flooding that could very well have left critical electric motors submerged. It will be days before a full assessment of the damage can be done, industry officials and analysts said.
Meantime, wholesale gasoline suppliers have begun limiting the amount of fuel they sell to retailers in certain markets in order to make sure they do not take delivery of more fuel than they actually need.
Light sweet crude for October delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange fell 56 cents to $69.25 a barrel, down from an overnight high of $70.65. On Tuesday, oil futures settled at $69.81, the highest closing price on Nymex since trading began in 1983, although still below the inflation-adjusted high of about $90 a barrel that was set in 1980.
But October gasoline futures surged by almost 20 cents to $2.67 a gallon on the Nymex. That is almost 75 cents, or 38 percent higher, than they were on Friday.
"There's too much uncertainty," said analyst John Kilduff at Fimat USA in New York.