Oil prices little changed, concerns about damage from hurricane ease

By Colleen Howe

BEIJING (Reuters) – Oil prices were little changed early on Tuesday after a hurricane that hit a key U.S. oil producing hub in Texas caused less damage than expected.

Brent futures fell 4 cents to $85.71 a barrel by 0113 GMT, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude fell 5 cents to $82.28.

Although oil refining activity slowed and some production sites were evacuated, major refineries along the U.S. Gulf Coast appeared to see minimal impacts from Hurricane Beryl, which weakened into a tropical storm after hitting the Texas coast.

That eased market worries about the risk of supply disruptions in Texas, where 40% of U.S. crude oil is produced.

Major oil-shipping ports around Corpus Christi, Galveston and Houston had been shut ahead of the storm. The Corpus Christi Ship Channel reopened on Monday and the Port of Houston was projected to resume operations on Tuesday afternoon.

Market participants are also keeping an eye on the situation in the Middle East for more trading cues. Oil prices settled down 1% on Monday amid hopes a possible ceasefire deal in Gaza could reduce worries about global crude supply disruptions.

Senior U.S. officials were in Egypt for talks on Monday, but gaps remained between the two sides, the White House said, and Hamas said a new Israeli push into Gaza threatened the potential agreement.

Hamas last week had dropped a demand for Israel to commit to a permanent ceasefire, which Israelis said opened the way for a deal.

(Reporting by Colleen Howe; Editing by Himani Sarkar)

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