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Energy Futures Higher Again

MARKETSCOPE : Energy futures continued climbing on Thursday, as Gulf Coast refineries struggled to recover from disruptions at their facilities following Hurricane Katrina.

October West Texas Intermediate crude oil prices rose 53 cents to $69.47, October heating oil futures surged 12.20 cents to 219.85 cents, and October gasoline futures gained 14.97 cents to 240.50 cents.

President George W. Bush sees the higher prices and oil shortages as temporary, but the market doesn't expect the Gulf Coast refineries and rigs to get themselves completely back to normal soon. The Colonial Pipeline is operating at around 50% of capacity. Experts noted signs of panic hoarding of fuel throughout the country, which contributed to the shortages and drove gasoline prices well above $3.00 a gallon in numerous areas. Price gouging is also suspected.

Independent refiners reported having trouble obtaining supplies. Valero Energy (VLO) applied to borrow 1.5 million barrels from the government's Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

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