Heating oil prices rise after Alaska pipeline leak

Heating oil prices rose 6.25 cents and gas prices rose 3.83 cents while crude oil surged to over $89 a barrel after a leak shut down the 800-mile (1,300-kilometer) trans-Alaska pipeline.

Al Grillo / AP / File
The trans-Alaska oil pipeline snakes across the Atigun Pass as it carries North Slope crude oil about 800 miles to Valdez, in this 2001 file photo. Most portions of the pipeline are elevated to protect the permafrost and allow for animal migration. A leak in the pipeline has raised crude oil, gasoline, and heating oil prices.

Oil prices rose above $89 a barrel Monday after the 800-mile (1,300-kilometer) trans-Alaska pipeline owned by BP PLC and four other companies was shut down because of a leak.

Benchmark oil for February delivery climbed $1.24 to $89.27 a barrel in midday trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The pipeline, which carries between 630,000 barrels and 650,000 barrels a day, was shut down Saturday after a leak was reported at a North Slope pump station. The leak has been contained but there is no immediate timeframe 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 17 percent of the U.S. crude output.

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 Cameron Hanover energy consultancy in its Monday report.

In addition to BP, the other pipeline owners include ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil Corp., Unocal Pipeline Co. and Koch Alaska Pipeline Company LLC.

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.

Oil prices were kept in check by a stronger dollar, which makes crude more expensive for investors holding other currencies.

In other Nymex trading in February contracts, heating oil gained 6.25 cents at $2.5488 a gallon, while gasoline futures added 3.83 cents at $2.4514 per gallon. February natural gas futures lost 7.2 cents at $4.350 per 1,000 cubic feet.

In London, Brent crude rose $2.03 to $95.36 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.

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