Oil stockpiles tapped worldwide- prices down

Oil prices continue to fall since a number of nations agreed to release 60 million barrels of crude from their strategic stockpiles in order to help avert a fuel shortage in the United States.

Industrialized nations arranged to send about 30 shipments of gasoline to the United States.

The US refinery system is struggling to recover from Hurricane Katrina. Almost 70 percent of normal oil production and half of the natural gas output in the Gulf remains shut down, the US Minerals Management Service told.

Two storm-shuttered facilities restarted, and flows of crude oil improved enough to allow refineries in the Gulf Coast and Midwest to ramp up production. But four damaged Gulf Coast refiners look likely to remain shut for months, the Boston Globe reports.

Meanwhile The International Energy Agency groups industrialized nations under the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development. Its members began stockpiling crude following the oil shocks of the 1970s.

The total release from the IEA includes 30 million from the United States' own Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which is near its capacity of around 700 million barrels stored in salt caverns in Texas and Louisiana -- the state hardest hit by Katrina.

But analysts urged caution, despite the respite. ''Be wary of good news. The situation remains horrific and light will be at the end of a very long tunnel," brokerage Fimat Inc. warned.

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