Oil prices slid Monday because of Rita

Oil prices slid Monday, holding below US$64 a barrel, as markets sighed in relief that Hurricane Rita narrowly missed crucial U.S. petroleum processing zones in Texas with relatively light damage reported.

Analysts warned these outages could lead to petroleum product shortages, and higher prices, with the Northern Hemisphere winter fast approaching.

Seven facilities in Port Arthur and Beaumont, Texas, and Lake Charles, Louisiana, were without power from Hurricane Rita, which left the 255,000-barrel-per-day Valero Energy Corp. plant in Port Arthur the most heavily damaged. The facility faces at least two weeks of repairs.

IEA Executive Director Claude Mandil said Monday the agency would decide on whether a further release of state-controlled stockpiles of crude and gasoline is warranted within a week or so based on Rita's impact.

"Rita was better than expected, but no survey has been made on the platforms," said Mandil.

The IEA's members began stockpiling crude following the oil shocks of the 1970s. After Hurricane Katrina's devastation to Louisiana and surrounding areas a month ago, the group made available 2 million barrels daily for 30 days, informs the AP.

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