Oil prices under the weakened dollar influence

&to=http:// english.pravda.ru/comp/2002/10/04/37743.html ' target=_blank>Crude oil futures rose to within a quarter of $50 a barrel Monday after a gas leak shut down a North Sea oil production platform and as traders weighed concerns about heating oil supplies against the fact that temperatures have been mild in recent weeks.

Light, sweet crude for January climbed 32 cents to settle at $49.76 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The last time Nymex crude settled above $50 a barrel was Nov. 3. In London, Brent crude rose $1.18 to $45.75 on the International Petroleum Exchange.

Mike Fitzpatrick, a broker at Fimat USA Inc. in New York, said there was "nothing new" pushing &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/economics/2003/03/26/45093.html ' target=_blank>oil prices higher on Monday and that there was "not a terrible reaction" to the production snags in the North Sea because exports do not appear to be affected, informs Forbes.

Traders took their lead Monday from Norway, after the country's oil group Statoil was forced to halt production at a platform in the North Sea following a weekend gas leak.

Statoil said it had "probably" sealed off the leak, reducing the risk of an explosion after most employees were evacuated from the rig.

Repairs undertaken at the platform prevented production resuming Monday and were also expected to affect operations at the neighbouring platform Vigdis, leading to a total loss of production of about 200,000 barrels per day (bpd) for an undetermined period, Statoil said.

Production was suspended and 180 of 216 employees were evacuated by helicopter on Sunday after the leak first appeared, according to the Channel News Asia.

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