Crude held near $69 a barrel yesterday as the US scrambled to replace fuel supplies lost when Hurricane Katrina slammed into Gulf of Mexico rigs and refiners.

President Bush told Americans he expected Saudi Arabia to do "everything it can" to provide the US with more oil and said there would be zero tolerance of price profiteering at the petrol pump.

Europe was unnerved by how ill-prepared the world's biggest economy was for Hurricane Katrina's rampage.

The US holds plenty of crude in its strategic stockpile and has offered to lend some of it to refiners, but the gesture has done nothing to address an immediate shortage of petrol.

"Hurricane Katrina has been an eye opener, highlighting the inadequacy of the global refining system," said Merrill Lynch.

The European Commission wants to revive a plan to coordinate EU oil stocks. France announced is to give financial aid to millions of families to help them cope with sky-high oil prices.