Oil prices rise as hurricane Karl shuts platforms

LONDON — World oil prices rose on Friday as oil giant Pemex shut platforms and wells in the Mexican Gulf coast menaced by a strengthening Hurricane Karl, analysts said.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in October, climbed 54 cents to 75.11 dollars a barrel.

Brent North Sea crude for November was up 79 cents at 79.27 dollars in midday London trade.

The closure of wells belonging to state-run Pemex and the evacuation of its platform personnel as Hurricane Karl advanced was likely to be pushing up prices, said Serene Lim, oil and gas analyst at ANZ bank.

"I think the strength in oil prices could be from Hurricane Karl's threat," she said.

Pemex had earlier announced that it had halted production at 14 wells in the Gulf of Mexico and began evacuating personnel on Thursday as Hurricane Karl strengthened.

"Since yesterday, as a precaution, we began evacuating platforms in the area and that operation is complete," media reports quoted Pemex as saying.

In its latest bulletin, the US National Hurricane Center upgraded Karl to a category three storm as it unleashed top sustained winds of 195 kilometres per hour (122 miles per hour) and advanced on Veracruz state.

It was expected to crash ashore within hours, the center said in its 0900 GMT bulletin.

The centre of Karl was about 110 kilometres east-northeast of Veracruz, with the system moving westward at 15 kilometres per hour.

"Some additional strengthening is still possible today before landfall," the Center said, warning that the storm should dump huge amounts of rain and has potential to trigger dangerous flash-flooding and storm surges.