Oil prices fell back yesterday after the release by industrialised nations of emergency oil stocks to prevent a US fuel crisis after Hurricane Katrina.
London Brent crude was down $1.34 at $64.72 - levels seen before Katrina disrupted US Gulf oil production and refining operations.
US crude was closed for a Labour Day holiday after finishing at $67.57 a barrel on Friday, off last week's record high of $70.85 a barrel.
"Literally and figuratively, I think we've weathered the storm, as the release of strategic reserves has calmed the market," said David Thurtell, commodity strategist at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia.
Last Friday the International Energy Agency announced that its 26 members would release two million barrels per day (bpd) of oil for 30 days to compensate for the loss of a tenth of US refinery output and a quarter of domestic crude production.
UK motorists are still facing fresh rises in the cost of petrol - but retailers yesterday said pump prices were unlikely to break through the £1 a litre mark this year.
The destructive path blazed by Katrina forced up the wholesale price of petrol by 8p a litre last week.
Shell was among the retailers to increase the price of a litre of unleaded petrol last week to an average of 94.5p at its 900 forecourts in the UK.
With £1 a litre looming as the norm in the UK, it has sparked fears that pumps will not be able to display figures higher than 99.99p a litre.
This could mean oil giants including Shell and rival BP having to spend millions of pounds upgrading the software that services the pumps.
Ray Holloway, of the Petrol Retailers Association, said a fresh increase in pump prices was certain as a reaction to the effects of Hurricane Katrina.
But he added: "I don't think £1 a litre is on the horizon in the short term or even this year.
"Once Labour Day is out of the way in America then people will return to work and we should see a fall in global demand."
The Forum of Private Business yesterday welcomed calls from the RAC which fell in line with the pressure group's year long campaign appealing to Gordon Brown to make fuel duty variable as a way of stabilising prices.
"Record fuel prices are fuelling inflation, and the high proportion of tax on fuel is accelerating pump prices," said FPB chief executive Nick Goulding. n BDO survey, Page 21