Oil prices still high

Oil prices remained high on Wednesday as the first reports after Hurricane Katrina showed extensive damage to facilities in the Gulf of Mexico.

As the US Coast Guard said seven rigs were adrift and eight refineries had closed down, US light crude hit $70.57 a barrel in early Far East trade.

On Tuesday US light touched a fresh record high of $70.85, before falling back to close at $69.81, according to BBC.

Gas production has also been hit in the US, sharply increasing its prices too.

Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell was one of many firms to see damage to its Gulf of Mexico facilities.

Aerial photos have shown significant damage to the top of its giant Mars platform.

The rig usually produces 220,000 barrels of crude and 220 million cubic feet of natural gas per day.

"The markets are jumpy amid all the uncertainty and confusion, with much offshore production still shut in," oil analyst Tom Wallin of Energyintel was quoted as saying by BBC.

Mr Wallin added that despite most attention being placed on oil prices, in his view natural gas supplies would be most affected by the damage caused by Katrina.

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