A projected fall in energy demand in the world's largest oil consumer as Hurricane Sandy menaced the US east coast led refineries to slash production and traders to evacuate the market.
"Oil has fallen and the market is reacting to Hurricane Sandy which is affecting the US east coast," said Victor Shum, senior principal of Purvin and Gertz energy consultants in Singapore.
"Quite a few refineries on the east coast have reduced throughput in preparation for the hurricane to hit the US east coast and that means crude oil consumption is going to come down," he told AFP.
After claiming 66 lives in the Caribbean, Hurricane Sandy forced a lockdown in the US eastern seaboard as 10 states declared states of emergency, including the capital Washington.
Airports, businesses, schools and even the Statue of Liberty brought down their shutters as nervous Americans stripped supermarket shelves of water, bread and batteries before the hurricane hit.
US President Barack Obama also on Sunday urged Americans to take the storm "very seriously".
Forecasters warn that Hurricane Sandy might bring "life-threatening" storm surges of six to 11 feet (1.8 to 3.3 metres) in waters around New York City and northern New Jersey.
Authorities predict the hurricane will start to be felt late Monday.