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Economic Crisis To Come»

A hurricane that paralyzed the Gulf of Mexico's oil industry

A hurricane that paralyzed the Gulf of Mexico's oil industry on Wednesday may lead to a global energy crisis, The Financial Times said on Thursday.

Nearly 1,000 people were feared dead and many more left homeless when Hurricane Katrina swept through southeastern America.

While people are still focusing on rescuing the survivors and bringing life back to normal, there were growing worries that the economic impact could be felt around the globe, according to the newspaper.

Some analysts were cutting their US growth forecasts, saying soaring oil prices would hurt consumer spending.

US President George W. Bush, who cut short his vacation and returned to Washington, called the hurricane "one of the worst natural disasters in our nation's history." "This recovery will take a long time. This recovery will take years," he said.

With nine refineries on the Gulf Coast closed, US wholesale oilprices shot to a record 2.65 dollars per gallon, up 34 percent since the storm, and supplies ran short in some parts of the country.

Chevron and other retailers have started rationing, bringing back memories to older Americans of the 1970s oil embargo.

The US government agreed to lend refiners small quantities of oil from its strategic emergency stockpile to help ease the shortage caused by Hurricane Katrina.

Fears that oil prices could spiral out of control prompted the US government to say it would tap its emergency reserve, causing prices to dip momentarily below 70 dollars a barrel. But relief was short-lived, with many seeing the statement as a mere gesture,said The Financial Times.