COPY-Half of refineries knocked out by Katrina are close to restarting

JACKSON, Miss. There's a bit of good news for consumers smarting from the sharp rise in gasoline costs. Half of the Gulf Coast refineries damaged by Hurricane Katrina plan to begin to restart production this week.

Eight major refineries that produce gasoline, diesel and jet fuel and heating oil were knocked out of commission and the output at two others was cut by last week's killer hurricane and flooding. That reduced overall U-S refining capacity by more than ten percent.Four of the refineries are expected to resume this week. When the four are running at 100 percent, they represent more than a (m) million barrels of refined oil product a day.It's also slow going for restoration of offshore oil and gas production. Almost 70 percent of normal oil production and half of the natural gas output remains shut down, according to the U-S Minerals Management Service. It says activity is slowly recovering.

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