When Laura and Marco barreled toward Louisiana and Texas this week, companies closed more than four-fifths of offshore oil production in the Gulf of Mexico to protect equipment and personnel. Crude-oil prices barely budged.
The insouciance was symptomatic of an exceptionally subdued summer in the market.
After convulsing this winter and spring, prices have crept slowly higher over the past two months. Futures for Brent crude, the benchmark in international energy markets, failed to move $1 a barrel in either direction for seven weeks in a row, the longest such streak since 2002.
Prices have been lulled by two main factors, traders say, enabling Brent to find a new equilibrium at around $45 a barrel while the main gauge for U.S. oil stabilized slightly below that level.