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Hurricane Dean could impact gas costs

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As Hurricane Dean continues to carve a deadly destructive path it could also create a devastating impact on the economy -- particularly with the production of oil in the Gulf of Mexico. Could gas prices skyrocket the way they did after Katrina? As Hurricane Dean makes its way through the Gulf of Mexico toward the Yucatan Pennisula, oil traders around the world are keeping an eye on the storm's path. It's the first hurricane of the season to blow through the vital oil-producing region and if it tracks to the north, could disrupt crude production in the region. According to the US government more than 834 manned oil platforms lie in the waters off the American Gulf Coast. These massive structures produce about 1.5 million barrels of oil per day for the US market. That's about a third of the country's overall domestic oil production. So far only six of the platforms had been evacuated because of the storm, cutting production by about 25,000 barrels per day. Just two years ago Hurricane Katrina plowed through the heart of the gulf oil region, completely destroying 46 platforms and shutting down many of the refining facilities along the gulf coast. Back then, the lack of refining capacity after the storm caused oil and gas prices to spike.

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