SINGAPORE, Oct 24 (Reuters): Oil sank below $60 to a near three-month low today after Hurricane Wilma missed the storm-battered US oil and gas facilities in the Gulf of Mexico.
US light crude fell as low as $59.76 a barrel, the lowest since July 28. Prices were down 61 cents to $60.02, shedding a gain of 61 cents Friday on fears Wilma could hinder the recovery of oil operations in the Gulf. Prices were 15 per cent below the record-high of $70.85 a barrel struck in late August in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
London Brent crude lost 51 cents to $57.97 a barrel.
"The market has been sold off after the Hurricane headed for Florida instead of the Gulf Coast. So oil production is not affected," said Tony Nunan at Mitsubishi Corp. in Tokyo.
Wilma, after devastating Mexico's Yucatan peninsula, spared oil and natural gas production areas in the Gulf Coast Sunday. The 22nd named tropical storm, the record-breaking Alpha, posed no danger to Gulf oil facilities as it soaked Haiti and the Dominican Republic, before weakening.
Some 65.79 per cent of the normal 1.5 million barrel-per-day (bpd) of oil production in the Gulf of Mexico was shut Friday, compared with 64.52 per cent Thursday, the MMS said.
Expectations that high prices will slow oil demand are dampening speculators' appetite, dealers said.
The UK Meteorological Office had predicted a colder-than-average winter for much of Europe, while forecaster EarthSat said last week that the US Northeast -- the world's largest heating oil market -- would be much colder than last year.
The market also gained supply relief as oil workers in France and Nigeria ended their strikes.
Total's Gonfreville oil refinery, the biggest in France, resumed operations Saturday after workers agreed Friday to suspend a month-long strike over wages, one of the factors that had helped prices stay well above $60.
Oil below $60 as Hurricane Wilma spares productionAnd oil exports from OPEC-member Nigeria's 240,000-bpd Brass River tanker terminal resumed at the weekend after protesting unions reached a deal with Italian energy giant Agip, a unit of ENI, a ship agent said, ending a three-day disruption.