As Katia Moves Toward Gulf of Mexico, Oil Drillers Shutter Some Rigs

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Katia, still a tropical depression, is slowly moving toward the Gulf of Mexico, and several oil firms have begun to pull workers from offshore rigs. There is some chance that the storm could further disrupt production, and, if it moves toward the Texas coast, refineries could be shuttered as well.

The most pressing question for consumers is whether a storm that closes a great deal of capacity in the Gulf will raise gas prices, as Hurricane Irene did.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement issued a report on Thursday that said: "Based on data from offshore operator reports submitted as of 11:30 a.m. CDT today, personnel have been evacuated from a total of 9 production platforms, equivalent to 1.6 percent of the 617 manned platforms in the Gulf of Mexico." About 6% of oil production is the Gulf is now offline.

The reaction may be premature, but the price of WTI crude has moved higher from about $86.50 to over $88 in the last two days. The price is bound to rise still further if the storm's threat to the Gulf increases, if history is any indication.

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