Updated from 2:21 p.m. EDT

A late flurry of buying sent crude prices to a higher close Friday.

The newly benchmarked December contract closed up 61 cents to $60.63 a barrel, although crude finished down about 2% for the week. Heating oil dropped less than a penny to finish at $1.87 a gallon, and unleaded gasoline closed up 2.69 cents at $1.64. Natural gas fell 10.5 cents to $12.87 per million British thermal units.

David Pursell, a partner at Pickering Energy Partners, said a bullish report Friday from the U.S. Minerals Management Service helped push crude prices up.

"It's nice that oil didn't go down and natural gas only went down a little bit," he said.

The agency said shut-in oil production stood at 986,805 barrels of oil a day as of Friday, the equivalent to 65.79% of the Gulf of Mexico's daily production. Friday's shut-in gas production was 5.337 billion cubic feet per day, the equivalent to 53.37% of the gulf's daily gas production.

The statistics were slightly up from Thursday, as they included shut-ins caused by Hurricane Wilma, the latest gulf storm, as well as Rita and Katrina.

Oil stocks did well overall, with the Philadelphia Stock Exchange Oil Services index rising 2.2% and the Amex Oil Index heading up 1.9%.

On Thursday, the Energy Department said natural gas in underground storage rose by 75 billion cubic feet for the week ended Oct. 14, about 20 billion more than had been anticipated. That takes the total natural gas stocks for the continental U.S. to 3,062 billion cubic feet.

Pursell said natural gas prices are lower in part because of warmer weather. Also, hurricanes Katrina and Rita have put a lot of industrial demand for natural gas out of commission.

"There's still a fair amount of demand offline," he said. "For every refinery that's offline, there's one or two petrochemical companies offline, and they're big consumers of natural gas. Until we get some clarity on winter weather, gas is going to be hanging around waiting for Old Man Winter."

Hurricane Wilma is expected to spare the refineries in the Gulf of Mexico as it beats a path toward Florida. At least report, the storm's center was about 15 miles east-southeast of Cozumel, Mexico, with maximum sustained winds of 140 mph.

"They say it's going to Florida, but I don't want to take my eyes off it," Pursell said.

Oilfield services provider Schlumberger ( SLB) said third-quarter earnings surged 70% to $540.8 million, or 89 cents a share, on a 4% revenue gain. Excluding items, the company earned 86 cents a share, beating estimates by a penny. Shares were losing 99 cents, or 1.2%, to $79.59.

Cimarex Energy ( XEC) said it expects an $82 million charge in the third quarter related to oil and gas derivative contracts connect with its acquisition of Magnum Hunter in June. The Denver-based company said third-quarter oil and gas production volumes increased by 102% over the same period a year earlier to 445.8 million cubic feet equivalent per day. Gas production rose 92% to 337.8 million cubic feet per day and oil volumes increased 145 percent to 18,000 barrels per day.

Oklahoma City-based energy company Kerr-McGee ( KMG) said Thursday it had boosted its net production in the Gulf of Mexico to about 95,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, nearly 75% of pre-hurricane volumes. The company said it expects to be producing more than 80% of its pre-hurricane levels in the Gulf of Mexico by the end of October.

Constellation Energy ( CEG)said its board of directors declared a quarterly dividend of 33.5 cents on each share of its common stock, the equivalent of $1.34 annually. The dividend is payable Jan. 2, 2006, to shareholders of record at the close of business on Dec. 12, 2005.

Most of the big energy players rose. ConocoPhillips ( COP) was up 70 cents to $58.45. Chevron ( CVX) was up 94 cents to $56.69. Exxon Mobil ( XOM) was up 50 cents to $55.70. And BP ( BP) was up 67 cents to $64.49.

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