Oil prices spike because of oil field closure - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

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Oil prices spike because of oil field closure

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Oil futures have risen sharply today on word that the nation's biggest oilfield will be shutting down because of a pipeline leak.

Crude futures have been trading up more than a dollar, 50 cents a barrel in electronic trading overseas on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Half the production on Alaska's North Slope is being turned off after the discovery of severe corrosion in a Prudhoe Bay oil transit line. Company officials say they don't know how long the field will be off line.

Once the field is shut down, B-P says oil production would be slashed by 400-thousand barrels a day. The Energy Department says that's nearly eight percent of U-S production or about two and a-half percent of the U-S supply, including imports.

The development comes at a bad time for U-S consumers, already paying dearly for gasoline. Oil traders have kept prices high because of supply worries, triggered by the hurricane season and Middle East violence.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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