Oil prices rose on Friday in Asia to above $101 a barrel as Hurricane Ike swept up from the Gulf of Mexico, prompting companies along the Texas coast to shut down refining and drilling operations.
Light, sweet crude for October delivery rose 39 cents to $101.26 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange midday in Singapore. The contract fell $1.71 overnight to settle at USD 100.87.
Exxon Mobil Corp, Valero Energy Corp, ConocoPhillips and Marathon Oil Co have begun halting operations as Ike headed straight for the nation's biggest complex of refineries and petrochemical plants. Wholesale gasoline prices spiked 30 per cent on Wednesday.
"You have some refineries shutting to prepare for hurricane damage," Tetsu Emori, a commodity markets fund manager with ASTMAZ Futures Co in Tokyo. "That's triggered some buying, especially in oil products such as gasoline and heating oil."
Early today, the storm was centred about 595 kilometres southeast of Galveston, moving to the west-northwest at 12 mph. Top sustained winds were 100 mph.
The storm was expected to strike the Texas coast late today or early Saturday. Forecasters said the storm was likely to come ashore as a Category 3, with winds up to 130 mph. The upper Texas coast accounts for one-fifth of US refining capacity.
Ike is huge, taking up nearly 40 per cent of the Gulf of Mexico. The National Hurricane Center said tropical storm-force winds of at least 39 mph extended across more than 820 kilometres.