* U.S. WTI crude near $50 per barrel
* U.S. Gulf refineries restarting after Hurricane Harvey
* U.S. rig count falls to lowest since June
By Henning Gloystein
SINGAPORE, Sept 18 (Reuters) - Oil prices dipped early on Monday but remained near multi-month highs reached late last week as the count of U.S. rigs drilling for new production fell and refineries continued to start up after having been knocked out by Hurricane Harvey.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $49.83 barrel at 0021 GMT, 6 cents below their last settlement, but still close to the more than three month high of over $50 per barrel briefly reached late last week.
Brent crude futures, the benchmark for oil prices outside the United States, were at $55.58 a barrel, down 4 cents but still not far off the almost five-month high of $55.99 from late last week.
“Demand forecasts from OPEC and IEA... continued to improve sentiment in the market. Refineries are also reporting a much better recovery from the recent hurricanes,” ANZ bank said on Monday.
Oil refineries across the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean were restarting after being shut down due to hurricanes Harvey and Irma which both battered the region in the past three weeks.
The latest was Royal Dutch Shell’s 325,700-barrel-per-day joint-venture Deer Park, Texas, which was restarting on Sunday.
“This comes as signs emerge of stalling growth in the U.S. shale industry. The number of rigs drilling for oil in the U.S. fell sharply last week,” ANZ said.
U.S. energy firms cut seven oil rigs in the week to Sept. 15, bringing the total count down to 749, the least since June, Baker Hughes energy services firm said on Friday. RIG-OL-USA-BHI
Reporting by Henning Gloystein; Editing by Michael Perry