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MARKET WATCH
Crude oil futures gain for second day

By OGJ editors
HOUSTON, Nov. 23 -- Crude oil futures on the New York market rose more than $1/bbl Nov. 22 as forecasts remained in place for colder weather in the nation's biggest heating oil and natural gas markets in advance of the Thanksgiving holiday.

Below-normal temperatures in the US Northeast and Midwest through at least next week boosted expectations for demand for natural gas and heating oil.

Meanwhile, the US Minerals Management Service said 135 of the Gulf of Mexico production platforms evacuated ahead of three hurricanes in late summer were still without crews as of Nov. 22. That was 10 fewer than on Nov. 18. MMS estimated shut-in production at 621,233 b/d of crude and 3.2 bcfd of natural gas. Cumulative production lost since Aug. 26, when Hurricane Katrina was approaching the Gulf Coast, totaled 91.11 million bbl of crude and 470.35 bcf of natural gas through Nov. 22.

Energy prices
The January contract for benchmark US light, sweet crudes climbed $1.14¢ to $58.84/bbl Nov. 22 on the New York Mercantile Exchange, and the February position rose by $1.02 to $59.41/bbl. On the US spot market, West Texas Intermediate jumped $1.24 to $58.45/bbl.

The December natural gas contract rose 28.3¢ to settle at $11.614/MMbtu. Heating oil for December delivery rose by 2.7¢ to $1.736/gal on NYMEX. Gasoline for the same month gained 3¢ to $1.49/gal.

In London, the January contract for North Sea Brent crude jumped $1.07 to $56.41/bbl on the International Petroleum Exchange.

The average price for OPEC's basket of 11 benchmark crudes rose 55¢ to $50.70/bbl on Nov. 22.



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