SINGAPORE, Sept 22 (Reuters): Oil bounded above $67 toy as Hurricane Rita bore down on Gulf of Mexico oil and gas production and forced six refineries in Texas to shut down.
Companies scrambled to close facilities as Rita, now a maximum Category 5 storm, aimed her peak 175 mile per hour (281 kph) winds on Texas, home to a quarter of US refining capacity. It is expected to hit land by Saturday.
US light crude rose 89 cents to $67.69 a barrel, but off Wednesday's three-week high of $68.27. Brent crude was up 68 cents to $65.41.
With 18 of Texas' 26 refineries located near the Gulf of Mexico coastline, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said Rita -- the third most intense Atlantic hurricane on record gauged by internal pressure -- could have a "substantial impact".
Six Texas refineries have closed as a precaution ahead of Rita, suspending total daily production capacity of 1.4 million.
Together with the four facilities still closed in Louisiana and Mississippi after Katrina, around 14 per cent of national refining capacity is now offline.
Gasoline futures rose 6.69 cents to $2.12 a gallon, taking gains since Friday to almost 19 per cent and leading the energy complex as dealers feared refinery closures would strain supplies. Heating oil was up 3.93 cents to $2.0780 a gallon.
But prices, still below the record-high $70.85 a barrel touched in Katrina's wake, were kept in check by a government report showing US gasoline stocks rose by 3.4 million barrels last week, against the 200,000- barrel fall expected by analysts.
US crude stocks fell 300,000 barrels, compared to forecasts for a rise of 200,000 barrels, while supplies of winter fuel heating oil added to their year-on-year surplus.
The arrest of a Nigerian warlord over 'treasonable' comments this week brought his supporters to the streets and threatening violence, putting supplies from the world's eighth-largest exporter of crude at risk.
Disruptions to global supplies, rather than demand from countries such as the United States and China, were increasingly driving up oil prices, posing a much greater threat to world economic growth, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said.