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U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $49.16 barrel at 0154 GMT, 7 cents above their last settlement. November Brent crude, the global benchmark, lost 44 cents, or 0.8%, to $54.05 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe, with prices up around 2.5% for the week.

USA crude prices dropped as a result of low refining activity following Harvey, which sharply cut demand for oil to process, traders reported.

Additionally, in response to the impact of Harvey which hit the Gulf Coast of Texas on August 25, the EIA said USA oil refinery utilization rates slumped 16.9 percentage points to 79.7 percent last week, the lowest rate since 2010.

Hurricane Harvey's impact on US crude supplies and output will be revealed in weekly government data out Thursday.

U.S. Gulf Coast facilities were slowly recovering from the devastating effects of Harvey, which hammered Louisiana and Texas nearly two weeks ago, shutting key infrastructure in the heart of the U.S. oil and natural gas industry. However, U.S. oil production also hit, with weekly output down from 9.5 million bpd to 8.8 million bpd.

The temporary shuttering of refineries during the storm boosted crude inventories.


Oil prices fell on Friday as Hurricane Irma drove towards US state of Florida.

Reflecting the impact of Harvey which hit the Gulf Coast on August 25, the EIA said US oil refinery utilization rates slumped 16.9 percentage points to 79.7 percent last week, the lowest rate since 2010. Yet another hurricane, Katia, is developing in the Gulf of Mexico.

The American Petroleum Institute (API) reported a build of 2.791 million barrels in U.S. crude oil inventories, compared to analyst expectations of a build of 4 million barrels for the week ending September 1. "The impact of the forces of nature on USA oil production should not be overestimated - nor should their impact on demand be underestimated". Current models show Irma making landfall in Florida by Sunday morning and soaking parts of the area with about a foot of rain.

Port and refinery closures along the Gulf coast and harsh sea conditions in the Caribbean have hit shipping.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Irma had weakened from a Category 5 storm to Category 4 and moving northwest through the central Bahamas toward Florida. It has already killed 14 and destroyed islands in the Caribbean, with Hurricane Jose heading for the Caribbean Leeward islands, close on the heels of Irma.

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