20080606 oil prices nymex traders 18
Oil traders work on the floor of the New York Mercantile Exchange in New York City, as crude oil rose more than $9 to a new record as the dollar weakened due to a new unemployment report. - 


Renita Jablonski: Oil prices are down sharply today. Traders around the world appear convinced Hurricane Gustav has spared the Gulf Coast infrastructure. So with the wind easing and the dollar at a 10-month high, oil prices fell more than $8 to just under $108 a barrel. The last time prices were in this range was in early April. Steve Henn has more.

Steve Henn: Barbara Shook is the Houston Bureau Chief for the Energy Intelligence Group. She says inspections of platforms and pipelines in the Gulf and around New Orleans are just beginning.

Barbara Shook: The oil companies will be sending out their surveillance planes and helicopters and what have you.

But energy traders aren't waiting for official damage reports to filter back. They're selling off oil futures this morning and oil prices are dropping.

Shook: The assumption is whatever damage may have occurred will be minimal.

Shook says a oil price plunge was only a matter of time.

Shook: What's going on is that you finally have prices catching up with supply and demand. The over-inflated prices that we had during the summer and spring were never justified.

Shook believes slowing economies around the globe and reduced use of gasoline here at home has meant there was never really enough demand for oil to support prices near $150 a barrel. And she blames this summer price spike on speculation.

In Washington, I'm Steve Henn for Marketplace.