September 5, 2017 / 12:54 AM / 3 months ago

US crude prices rise on returning refineries, but gasoline slumps to pre-Harvey levels

SINGAPORE, Sept 5 (Reuters) - U.S. oil prices edged up on Tuesday as the gradual restart of Gulf of Mexico refineries following forced shutdowns due to Hurricane Harvey raised demand for crude, their most important feedstock.

At the same time the return of many, though not all, U.S. refineries ended a spike in gasoline prices as initial fears of a serious supply crunch faded.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $47.40 barrel at 0038 GMT, 11 cents above their last settlement.

Gasoline futures, by contrast, dropped 3.5 percent from their last close, to 1.69 per gallon, down from $2.17 a gallon on Aug. 31 and back to levels last seen before Hurricane Harvey hit the U.S. Gulf coast and its large refining industry.

“Gasoline fell as refineries in Texas began to reopen,” said William O‘Loughlin, investment analyst at Rivkin Securities.

Texas on Monday edged towards recovery from the devastation of Hurricane Harvey as shipping channels, oil pipelines and refineries restarted some operations.

Harvey hit the Texan coast late on August 25 and at its peak had knocked out almost a quarter of the entire U.S. refining capacity.

In international oil markets, Brent crude futures dipped 13 cents to $52.21 a barrel as traders pulled money out of oil - seen as a riskier asset - and instead poured it into gold, an investor safe-haven, following North Korea’s most powerful nuclear test to date .

Reporting by Henning Gloystein; Editing by Joseph Radford

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