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Oil prices steadied late in the USA session on Thursday with resistance on approach to the $49.20 p/b level in WTI.

The group raise its combined futures and options position in NY and London by 20,525 contracts to 186,421 during the period.

Hurricane Harvey hit the U.S. Gulf coast two weeks ago, knocking as much as a quarter of the country's huge refinery industry, as a result of which demand for crude oil - refining's lifeblood - fell sharply.

October West Texas Intermediate crude traded down 95 cents, or 1.9% at $48.14 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Its predecessor, Harvey which hit Texas on August 25, shut a quarter of US refining capacity, sharply reducing demand for crude that sent prices slumping. Its predecessor, Harvey, closed a quarter of US refineries and 8% of USA oil production.

The price for October futures of Brent oil has increased by 0.07 percent to $53.42 per barrel as of 08:06 (UTC + 4).

OPEC and other major oil producers such as Russia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Brunei, Equatorial Guinea, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Mexico, Oman, Sudan, and South Sudan reached an agreement in December 2016 to remove 1.8 million barrels a day from the market.

But as the refinery sector gradually recovers, so is its crude processing. However, U.S. oil production also hit, with weekly output down from 9.5 million bpd to 8.8 million bpd.

As of Wednesday, about 3.8 million barrels of daily refining capacity, or about 20 percent, was shut in, although a number of the refineries, as well as petroleum handling ports, were in the process of restarting.

ANZ bank was quoted by the news agency as saying: "With another hurricane threatening to hit the USA coast, traders still remain cautious".

Traders said it would take weeks for the United States petroleum industry to return to full capacity, and that under the current conditions it was hard to identify fundamental market trends.

Hurricane Irma, which hit landfall in the Caribbean today, has grown into one of the most powerful storms ever to churn over the Atlantic Ocean.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) stated that Irma was a Category 5 hurricane, with wind speeds of 160-185 miles per hours.

With storm Katia about to hit the Mexican Gulf coast, there are three major hurricanes now active in the region.