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Reuters: UPDATE 1-Shell Mars oil field restarting, Ursa still down

Wed Nov 14, 2007 2:17pm EST 

NEW YORK, Nov 14 (Reuters) – Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSa.L: Quote, Profile, Research) said Wednesday its Mars platform in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico was still raising output back to normal levels of 190,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day after completing scheduled work.

The nearby Ursa field, which supplies the Mars crude oil stream, remained shut after planned maintenance was extended by several days, Shell said.

Traders pushed the price of Mars blend crude oil up $3 per barrel against benchmark WTI in early trading on Wednesday on expectations of lower supplies of the medium sour grade. [CRU/C]

Mars was shut Nov. 3 for planned work but the restart of the platform was delayed after a small gas leak was detected. The leak has been repaired and Mars is expected to return to normal production rates “over the next couple of days,” Shell said in a statement.

Shell operates both Mars and Ursa, as well as the Mars crude oil pipeline system, which transports approximately 300,000 bpd of deepwater Gulf of Mexico sour crudes to the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port.

Ursa was designed to produce up to 150,000 barrels per day of crude oil and 400 million cubic feet per day of natural gas and began operations in March 1999.

BP Plc (BP.L: Quote, Profile, Research) is the minority partner in the Mars field. BP, ConocoPhillips (COP.N: Quote, Profile, Research) and ExxonMobil (XOM.N: Quote, Profile, Research) have minority shareholdings in Ursa.

(Reporting by Robert Campbell; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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