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Updated from 2:39 pm EDT

Oil prices dipped but closed higher for the week as efforts to restore Gulf of Mexico refinery and production equipment continued to run into trouble.

Crude for November delivery closed down 55 cents to $66.24 a barrel on Nymex. The contract remains up more than 4% from its price before Hurricane Rita slammed into the Texas and Louisiana coast last Saturday.

"It looked like a lot happened today, but it's questionable how much actually did," said Bill O'Grady, director of futures research at AG Edwards. "Yesterday we had an unusual spike in front contracts and the November futures, while the winter and spring futures went down a little bit. Today we reversed it."

Gasoline futures finished down 5% to about $2.14 a gallon, but remained above last Friday's close of $2.09. Natural gas futures, which closed at an all-time record high of $14.20 per million British thermal units, fell 1.9% to $13.921 per million British thermal units.

According to the U.S. Minerals Management Service, a total of 471 platforms and 33 rigs remained evacuated Friday, or the equivalent to 57.5% of 819 manned platforms and 24.6% of 134 rigs operating in the Gulf of Mexico. This amounts to 1.5 million barrels of oil per day, or 97.8% of the Gulf's daily oil production. Shut-in gas production is 7.941 billion cubic feet per day, or 79.4% of the gulf's daily gas production.

"Having any refinery capacity unavailable is not a good thing," O'Grady said. "But we're going to get a good chunk of it back over the weekend and into next week."

Rising fuel costs led


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American Airlines to cancel 15 roundtrip flights from Chicago and Dallas, the company's two largest hub airports. The cancellations will begin Oct. 5 and last through Oct. 29. After that, American said, it will monitor jet fuel prices and consider re-implementing the flights.

"We're finding this in a lot of businesses," O'Grady said. "It's very hard to pass these costs along to the customers. The customers just won't tolerate it."

Dan Garton, AMR's executive vice president, said jet fuel prices rose 39% in the last month. Jet fuel was 91% more expensive on Thursday than in September 2004, the company said, while crude oil rose 45% in the same period.

Damage assessments from individual companies remain pretty grim.


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says its Thunder Horse oil platform won't restart before next year. In addition, a BP spokesman said the company's Texas City, Texas, refinery -- site of a March 23 blast that killed 15 workers and injured 170 more -- does not have an official reopening date. BP is conducting inspections and maintenance work at the Texas City refinery, the third largest in the country.

Exxon Mobil

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says its refinery in Chalmette, La., will take until November.

Swift Energy

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said Friday that an initial physical assessments of its Lake Washington, Bay De Chene, Cote Blanche Island and Masters Creek Fields in Louisiana and its Brookeland Field in Texas showed minimal damage from Hurricane Rita. The Houston-based oil and gas company said it expects domestic production for the third quarter 2005 to be about 9 billion cubic feet equivalent.

Houston Exploration

( THX) said more than 75% of its Gulf of Mexico production remains shut-in due to infrastructure problems onshore caused by Hurricane Rita. The company also said hurricane-related problems with onshore facilities located along the coast had forced it to shut in 21 million cubic feet per day of net production equivalent in south Texas from Sept. 21 to 27. Damage to its offshore facilities appears to be minimal, the company said.

The Department of Energy said it started shipping strategic petroleum reserve crude oil to

Marathon Petroleum

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following an on-line sale earlier this month. The 550,000-barrel cargo of sweet crude was delivered from Bryan Mound, Texas, and the transfer will continue throughout October.

In addition to competitive sales, the Energy Department has approved loans of up to 13.2 million barrels of crude oil to refineries whose deliveries were interrupted. More than 6 million barrels of oil have been delivered to date, the department said.