MARKET WATCH
Energy futures prices rally after shut in of Mars TLP

By OGJ editors
HOUSTON, May 25 -- Energy future prices rebounded in trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange Monday, led by strong crude oil prices and spiraling natural gas futures prices.

Traders attributed disruption of some oil and natural gas supplies from the Gulf of Mexico for the higher NYMEX energy prices.

Shell Oil Co. Monday reported an "inadvertent shutdown" of the safety valves on the 250,000 b/d, 18-in. Mars oil pipeline in the Gulf of Mexico occurred on Saturday (OGJ Online, May 24, 2004). The pipeline extends about 40 miles from the Mars tension-leg platform to West Delta Block 143 in the gulf.

Consequently, the platform was shut. It had been producing 150,000 b/d of crude oil and 170 MMcfd of natural gas, the company said.

A Shell spokeswoman was unsure when the platform would resume operations (OGJ Online, May 24, 2004).

Energy prices
The new near-month July contract for benchmark US light, sweet crudes soared $1.79 to $41.72/bbl Monday on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The August contract gained $1.68 to $41.24/bbl. On the US spot market, West Texas Intermediate at Cushing, Okla., climbed $1.90 to $41.88/bbl.

Gasoline for June delivery gained 4.1¢ to $1.4578/gal Monday on NYMEX, while heating oil for the same month jumped by 5.26¢ to $1.05/gal.

The June natural gas contract jumped 35.2¢ to $6.705/Mcf. Enerfax Daily analysts said, "It was the highest for a front month since mid-January."

Natural gas futures rose on support from crude oil prices and a firmer cash market that was prompted by some warmer weather this week, they added.

In London, the July contract for North Sea Brent crude also settled sharply higher on the International Petroleum Exchange in line with the higher NYMEX oil prices. On Monday, IPE July Brent gained $1.66 to $38.17/bbl. The trading session's high was $38.20 and the low $36.00.

Gas oil for June delivery gained by $19.00 to $332.25/tonne, while the June natural gas contract rose 10¢ to the equivalent of $3.90/Mcf on IPE.

The average price for OPEC's basket of seven benchmark crudes gained 65¢ to $37.05/bbl Monday.

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