Price of oil in U.S. Crosses 53 Dollars per Barrel

The price of oil soared past the 53-dollars-a- barrel mark during intraday trading Thursday on the New York Mercantile Exchange, a first since futures trading began 21 years ago.

The price later retreated, and crude oil for November delivery closed at 52.62 dollars a barrel, 60 cents, or 1.2 per cent, higher than Wednesday.

The oil price is 73 per cent higher than a year ago and has risen in 14 of the last 16 sessions.

The latest spike came after Royal Dutch/Shell Group said two of its platforms hit by Hurricane Ivan in the Gulf of Mexico will not be fully operational until 2005,Ifinancial news agency Bloomberg reported.

Oil traders said the 60-dollar-per-barrel mark would loom closer if delivery from important oil producing regions such as the Middle East, Nigeria, Russia or the United States was disrupted.

Daily demand in the last months of 2004 was expected to increase to more than 84 million barrels worldwide with only few production capacities available.

A harsh winter, which is anticipated in some areas of the U.S., could send the demand for heating oil soaring in the U.S. and Europe and reserves in North America are at a minimum level presently.