Crude falls for first time in over a week

The price of US light, crude oil has fallen for the first time following six sessions in a row of gains, after the risk of a tropical storm in the Gulf of Mexico appears to have faded.

The price of crude had been elevated toward the tail end of last week over concerns that a low-pressure system in the Caribbean might develop into a full-blown cyclone and pose a threat to oil production in the oil-rich Gulf of Mexico. Fears over the possible storm had led some offshore rig operators to evacuate non-essential staff in a precautionary act.

Today the National Hurricane Centre in Miami said that forecasts pointed to no tropical-storm development in the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico or Caribbean Sea. Crude oil futures for October have consequently fallen 0.67% to $106.82 per barrel.

The price of oil is also facing headwind as demand from refineries begins to wind down with the approach of the end of the US driving season. Last week’s report from the Energy Department showed a slight downturn in refinery utilisation and that would be expected to head lower in future weeks as we head out of the annual period of peak gasoline usage and refineries start to see down-time for maintenance in the autumn.

Tensions in the Middle East may continue to support oil prices as long as political unrest remains in the region, though, although the effect will be more acutely felt by Brent than by US crude oil. Around 1000 are reported to have been killed since the newly-formed Egyptian government took action last week to tackle rallies held by supporters of ousted President Morsi. The price of crude has risen sharply since Morsi was deposed, with fears growing that shipments through the Egyptian-controlled Suez Canal and Suez-Mediterranean Pipeline might be disrupted.

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