Oil extended losses in Asian trade today as mega-storm Sandy tore through the eastern coast of the United States and forced the shutdown of refineries, roads and airports.
The storm swept a wall of churning sea water and driving rain onto the east coast, flooding major cities and leaving death and chaos in its wake.
New York’s main contract, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) light sweet crude for delivery in December, was down 28 cents at $85.26 a barrel in the morning Asian trade. Brent North Sea crude for December fell 46 cents to $109.09.
“The supply of gasoline, diesel and jet fuel into the US east coast ground almost to a halt as Hurricane Sandy forced the closure of two-thirds of the region’s refineries, its biggest pipeline, and most major ports,” Phillip Futures said in a market commentary.
The United States is the world’s biggest oil consuming nation and any dent in demand there has a bearing on prices.
Seawater coursed between the iconic skyscrapers of New York’s financial district in lower Manhattan, flooding subways and road tunnels and damaging the power grid, plunging hundreds of thousands into darkness.
Further south, vast swathes of the US eastern seaboard found themselves under water and on inland mountains Sandy’s rain-heavy clouds had merged with a cold weather front to dump tonnes of snow on higher ground.