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    Ike Sets Sights on Gulf Region

    Exxon donates $1.5 million to assist Gustav victims.

    NEW YORK -- Hurricane Ike is on schedule to clip Cuba and the Florida Keys before heading northwest toward the Gulf of Mexico, threatening to prolong closure of U.S. oil installations battered by Gustav last week.

    "A lot of [refineries] are still shut in, and the concerns might be, ‘Do we want to start up operations and spend the money to ferry and fly crews back out only to pull them back in a couple of days?" Jim Rouiller, a meteorologist with Planalytics Inc. in Wayne, Pa., told Bloomberg News.

    While a mandatory evacuation has been lifted in south Florida, Bloomberg reported personnel from 10 rigs and 202 production platforms have been evacuated. In total, there are roughly 717 manned production platforms in the Gulf of Mexico operated by energy companies such as Shell Oil, Anadarko and ExxonMobil.

    U.S. crude oil climbed to $109.89 per barrel early Monday on worries about Ike, and while a stronger dollar sent crude down under $105 by midday, analysts have trepidations about crude oil futures as the storm nears, Reuters reported.

    Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal declared a state of emergency in preparation for Ike, which could make landfall by Sept. 13. New Orleans residents were warned to prepare to evacuate again, following their return home after Gustav passed last week.

    "Hurricane Ike may impact the coastal parishes of Louisiana with hurricane strength winds, wave surges, high tides, torrential rain and tornado activity," Jindal noted on the state’s Web site.

    In related news, ExxonMobil donated of $1.5 million for disaster relief assistance in Louisiana resulting from Hurricane Gustav, noted Rex W. Tillerson, chairman and chief executive officer.

    "The physical damage from Gustav’s hurricane force winds has been devastating, particularly in south Louisiana," Tillerson said in a released statement. "Hundreds of thousands of people will be without power for several more weeks and their homes have sustained serious water and wind damage. We hope our contribution will make a meaningful difference in the affected communities."

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