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Isaac Hits Gulf. Venezuelan Refinery Smolders

Isaac threatens the Gulf, its oil rigs and the City of New Orleans
Click for bigger map. - Map
Fri. Aug. 31, 2012 - Prospects for oil supply worsened as Isaac passed through the oil regions of the Gulf at the same time that a major refinery in Venezuela suffered a fatal explosion.

The prices rose as markets opened for the new week but fluctuated as forecasters placed the trajectory along a path that is less damaging to the oil industry. Gasoline prices rose, though, and the longer term outlook for oil was considered under pressure by many.

Nonetheless, Isaac passed through the oil and natural gas rigs in the Gulf of Mexico making landfall and moving into the New Orleans area. Offshore operations evacuated workers, including those at BP's 250,000 bpd Thunder Horse rig. Officials and meteorologists are watching closely for stirred-up oil left over from the Deepwater Horizon spill.

Storm surges hit the Gulf Coast region. By Friday morning the National Hurricane Center stopped issuing advisories, but rain and flooding was expected in the Southeast as the weather system moved north into the inland.

Further south on Saturday, the Amuay refinery on the coast of Venezuela exploded, killing 48 people. Officials said the fire was extinguished by Wednesday and that operations could resume by the end of the week. Amuay, which refines 645,00 barrels per day, is part of the second larger refinery in the world, the Paraguana Refining Center. The accompanying map locates the refinery.

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