Oil prices fell today in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, which has killed more than 40 people and brought record flooding to the oil heartland of Texas, paralysing a quarter of the US refining industry. 

Harvey, downgraded to a tropical storm and losing steam as it moved inland, shut at least 4.4 million barrels per day (bpd) of refining capacity.

That sparked fears of a fuel shortage ahead of the Labor Day weekend and cut refinery demand for crude, widening the spread between US gasoline and crude. 

This gasoline "crack spread" hit a high of $27.79 a barrel today, up $10 in a week. 

Brent crude for November was down 50 cents at $52.36 a barrel today. The Brent contract for October, which expired on Thursday, closed up $1.52 at $52.38. 

US crude was last down 50 cents at $46.73 a barrel. The contract rebounded 2.8% yesterday but is heading for a weekly decline of around 2%. 

US gasoline hit a two-year high above $2 a gallon yesterday, but eased back today. 

The US government tapped its strategic oil reserves for the first time in five years yesterday, releasing 1 million barrels of crude to a working refinery in Louisiana. 

An adviser to President Donald Trump told a White House briefing more oil could be released from reserves. 

"We would be very comfortable tapping into that," homeland security adviser Tom Bossert told reporters. 

US crude oil stocks fell sharply last week as refineries raised output with the approach of Harvey, the Energy Information Administration said. 

The oil market outside the US remains well supplied with ample production by the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. 

OPEC oil output slipped in August by 170,000 bpd from a 2017 high, a Reuters survey found.