Crude oil prices surged above 65 dollars Wednesday as US claimed crude inventories dropped sharply last week because of Hurricane Katrina. Light sweet crude for delivery in October, New York's main contract, jumped 1.98 dollars to close at 65.09 dollars a barrel, posting its first positive finish this week.
The US Department of Energy announced Wednesday crude inventories dropped by 6.6 million barrels to 308.4 million in the week ending September 9. Analysts had expected a drop of 2.0 million barrels.
Gasoline supplies rose by 1.9 million barrels to 192 million last week, contrary to expectations for a fall. Distillate stocks fell 1.1 million barrels to 133.3 million barrels.
"Gasoline stocks are less in focus now because of the end of the (US) driving season, but they remain an issue as stocks are at multi-year lows," Sucden analyst Sam Tilley said.
Despite signs that high prices have dampened global demand for crude, the market remains concerned about supply levels, particularly since refineries are struggling to turn crude into heating fuel in time for the northern hemisphere winter.
Chevron Corp.'s Empire Terminal on the Mississippi River, which suffered severe flooding, an oil spill and a power outage, is nowhere near coming up with a recovery estimate, spokesman Mickey Driver said.