Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Oil Prices march on Rita news

Is there any chance that the Marga-Rita won't replace the Hurricane as the drink of choice for New Orleans residents displaced in Houston? Not unless rising oil prices make it too expensive to import tequila.

Oil prices recorded their highest one-day dollar jump in history Monday as Tropical Storm Rita took aim at Houston, threatening to smash through Gulf Coast refineries and offshore wells that Hurricane Katrina spared.

Crude oil for October delivery leapt $4.39, or 7 percent, to hit $67.39 per barrel, after falling for most of the past two weeks. It remains below its post-Katrina peak on Aug. 30, when it closed at $69.81.

Rita isn't a hurricane -- yet. But Monday's forecast showed the storm spinning past the Florida Keys and into the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea, possibly striking land near Houston -- the center of the nation's oil industry -- later this week.

If that prediction holds, the storm will charge through a thicket of offshore oil rigs that Katrina missed when it slammed into Louisiana and Mississippi last month. And it would strike a stretch of the Texas coast crowded with gasoline refineries.