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STOCK OPTIONS SOARING FOR OIL EXECUTIVES

While gas prices have soared in recent weeks, so has the value of stock options held by senior oil company executives, a new study shows.

Senior executives at the six major oil companies saw the value of their stock options rise by $32.75 million in the past 60 days as the companies' stock prices rose from the higher oil and gas prices, according to a study by Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass. and his staff."It looks like big oil company executives are crying all the way to the bank over the increased prices American consumers are paying for gasoline at the pump," said Markey, a member of the House Commerce energy and power subcommittee.

If Congress passes a repeal of the gasoline tax, Markey plans to call for measures to ensure the savings are passed on to consumers and are not retained by the oil companies, a spokesman said.

The Markey study, based on a review of corporate filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, analyzed the stock options for the five leading executives at Amoco Corp. Atlantic Richfield Co., Chevron Corp., Exxon Corp., Mobil Corp. and Texaco.

Stock options allow an investor the right to buy or sell a specified amount of stock at a fixed price. They tend to rise or fall in value based on the movements of the common stock of which they are based.

During the 60-day period ending April 30, stock options that could be used by Dec. 31 rose by $22.8 million. Options that couldn't be exercised by that date rose by $10 million, the study said.

The biggest gains were at Exxon, where options exercisable as of Dec. 31 rose by $11.1 million in value. Attempts to reach spokesmen by telephone weren't successful. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has lowered its prices for its key crude oil sales to the United States for June by 40 to 45 cents a barrel, according to sources in U.S. companies. And the price of U.S. crude was up slightly in Tuesday's trading to $21.70 a barrel.