COPY-Hurricane Gustav gaining strength south of Haiti, could threaten Gulf oil

Associated Press - August 26, 2008 11:15 AM ET

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) - Hurricane Gustav grew rapidly as it approached Haiti today. That sent global oil prices soaring on fears it could become "extremely dangerous" in the Gulf of Mexico.

Rains on the leading edge of the storm drove many Haitians to shelter but prompted few other outward signs of preparation only hours before landfall.

Oil investors reacted sharply however. Fearing the hurricane could threaten the Gulf's many drilling platforms, prices jumped by about $5 a barrel. That was after the Miami-based National Hurricane Center projected Tuesday that Gustav would gather strength over the Gulf's warm waters.

It's hard to predict just where Gustav will strike, but energy analysts say the market is reacting.

The storm is on track to slice along the south coast of Cuba during the week before entering the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday. The National Hurricane Center in Miami says the storm could possibly grow by then into a perilous Category 3 hurricane with 115 mile-per-hour winds.

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