WINTER HITS U.S. INDUSTRY, STRAINS GAS SUPPLY

A record breaking cold front before and during the weekend of Dec. 23 shut down several major refineries and petrochemical plants in the U.S. Gulf Coast region and sent demand for natural gas and propane soaring in many regions. A prolonged blast of arctic air shattered low temperature records in more than 125 cities from the Rocky Mountains to the East Coast. Weather related problems, combined with higher demand for heating oil and an explosion and fire at Exxon Co. U.S.A.'s Baton Rouge,

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