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Oil prices rise after pipeline shutdown

Alaska oil prices spiked above $91 a barrel Monday after the 800-mile trans-Alaska pipeline was shut down because of a leak.

The price jumped $2.37 a barrel to close at $91.75 on West Coast open markets.

The price of oil from elsewhere in the world also rose Monday but not as much as the Alaska crude.

Benchmark oil climbed $1.22 to $89.25 a barrel in trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. In London, Brent crude rose $2.03 to $95.36 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.

The Alaska pipeline, which carries about 630,000 barrels a day from more than two dozen North Slope oil fields, was shut down Saturday after a leak was reported at a North Slope pump station at the pipeline's starting point. The leak has been contained but there is no immediate time frame for reopening the pipeline, according to Alyeska Pipeline Service Co., which manages the line.

The closure cut oil production on the North Slope to about 5 percent of normal. The pipeline carries about 12 percent of the U.S. crude output. Although the pipeline is shut down, Alaska oil loaded aboard tankers is still flowing to refineries.

Refineries that rely on Alaska crude have several weeks of inventories available so prices aren't expected to top $100 a barrel because of the closure, according to The Schork Report, an energy consulting firm.

"We don't believe the news as it stands is enough to push crude oil above the $100 barrier," The Schork Report said. "If production is reduced to 5 percent until March or April, then we'll change our mind."

Once a repair schedule has been released, oil prices could ease, added energy consultancy Cameron Hanover in its Monday report.

The pipeline owners are BP, Conoco Phillips, Exxon Mobil Corp., Unocal Pipeline Co. and Koch Alaska Pipeline Co.

Meanwhile, a stronger dollar tempered the rise in oil and other energy prices. Since crude is priced in dollars, a stronger dollar makes it more expensive for buyers who use the euro or other currencies.


Daily News staff and wire services