Oil prices rise amid sharp decline in USA output

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Additionally, in response to the impact of Harvey which hit the Gulf Coast of Texas on August 25, the EIA said us oil refinery utilization rates slumped 16.9 percentage points to 79.7 percent last week, the lowest rate since 2010.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $49.15 barrel at 00606 GMT, 5 cents above their last settlement.

Oil prices recouped some losses on Tuesday, helped by OPEC saying its output fell in August, an indication that the production-cutting pact was helping to reduce a supply gut.

The deal to curb output brought crude prices above $58 a barrel in January but they have since slipped back as the effort to drain global inventories and stabilize the oil market has taken longer than expected.

Brent crude futures, the benchmark for oil prices outside the United States, were up 24 cents at $54.73 a barrel, just shy of their Friday peak of $54.79 a barrel, their highest level since April.

While refineries, pipelines and offshore platforms resume operations after Harvey, another Atlantic hurricane, known as Irma, is approaching the U.S. coast and is set to hit Florida tomorrow.

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The largest US refinery, Motiva Port Arthur, and a number of others were restarting this week, but Goldman Sachs had warned that demand could fall considerably due to the storms.

But as the refinery sector gradually recovers, so is its crude processing. American crude stockpiles rose by 4.58 million barrels last week, the first gain since June. Analysts at consultancy JBC Energy said those talks should prove supportive for crude prices.

OPEC and other major oil producers such as Russia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Brunei, Equatorial Guinea, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Mexico, Oman, Sudan, and South Sudan reached an agreement in December 2016 to remove 1.8 million barrels a day from the market. The goal of the deal, which was extended in May, was to drain a global oversupply that has kept prices depressed amid a resurgence in USA shale production.

HURRICANES The market is also awaiting US inventories data in the wake of the storms.

Among refined products, October gasoline lost 1.3 cents, or 0.8%, to $1.635 a gallon, while October heating oil settled at $1.743 a gallon, down 2.3 cents, or 1.3%.

Investors and analysts were also looking ahead to monthly reports from OPEC and the International Energy Agency due on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively, for the latest OPEC production data and global demand forecasts.

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