The storm surge has pushed oil prices to a new record high as production in Louisiana is shut down. Crude futures climbed to over 70 dollars a barrel amid fears Hurricane Katrina could do lasting damage to the American oil industry.
Risk manager Peter Beutel had this gloomy assessment: “The fact that this happens at a time when the markets are as tight as they are, when they markets are as nervous and jittery as they are, I mean the timing just could not be worse.”
In the US Louisiana is second only to Texas in terms of oil production, with 17 refineries churning out 1.5 million barrels of crude a day.
That capacity has been scaled back dramatically, with an almost immediate impact at the petrol pumps, gasoline prices climbing 12 per cent.
Last year Hurricane Ivan tore up platforms and pipelines across the Gulf of Mexico area. The predictions are Hurricane Katrina could do much worse.