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Crude oil futures move higher on Imelda storm concerns

Singapore — Crude oil futures rose during mid-morning trade in Asia Friday, finding support from bullish US products futures as Tropical Depression Imelda in Texas pushed prices higher.

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At 10:15 am in Singapore (0215 GMT), ICE Brent November crude futures rose 56 cents/b (0.87%) from Thursday's settle to $64.96/b, while the NYMEX October light sweet crude futures contract moved 71 cents/b (1.22%) higher at $58.84/b.

"A Texas storm has reportedly shut down several key refineries along the Gulf, which may explain the rebound in prices," said analysts from OCBC Bank in a note Friday.

In refined products, the front-month ULSD contract moved 1.32 cents higher from Thursday's settle at $2.0181/gal, while the front-month RBOB contract was 0.33 cents higher at $1.7040/gal.

The remains of Tropical Depression Imelda inundated the Port Arthur and Beaumont areas near the Texas-Louisiana state line with severe rain storms and flooding.

ExxonMobil said it has finished the shutdown of the units at its Beaumont, Texas chemical plant because of flooding, and its 369,024 b/d Beaumont refinery was heard to be preparing to shut Thursday morning, sources said.

"Rising concerns about refined products [post the attack on Saudi crude production facilities] were tempered by reports of disruption to refiners in Texas," said ANZ analysts in a note Friday.

Meanwhile, market participants would be closely watching for developments around the restoration of crude production facilities in Saudi Arabia after last weekend's attacks which caused 5.7 million b/d of crude production to shut down.

While the US blamed Iran for the attacks and had threatened to increase sanctions on the country, Iran denied any involvement in the attacks.

According to media reports, a Saudi-led coalition on Friday launched a military operation on Yemen's port city of Hodeidah.

"There is also news that a Saudi-led coalition has launched military operations against military targets in North Yemen, which is likely to add upward pressure on oil prices in the short-term," said OCBC analysts.

As of 0215 GMT,the US Dollar Index was up 0.03% at 97.873.

--Avantika Ramesh,

--Edited by Nurul Darni,