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THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Oil-News Roundup 19 May 2006

Oil News Roundup

May 19, 2006

Crude-oil futures dropped to a low of $67.85 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange on concerns that rising inflation will sap demand. But prices reversed course in Thursday's afternoon session, settling at $69.45, up 76 cents. Here is today's well of news about oil and energy.

BOLIVIA DRAWS INVESTORS: The president of Bolivia's state oil company Yacimientos Petroliferos Fiscales Bolivianos, or YPFB, says a string of foreign firms want to invest in the country's energy sector despite the leftist government's sweeping nationalization, Reuters reported. Meanwhile, Venezuela's Chavez will travel to Bolivia on May 26 to sign accords on the cooperation in the natural gas sector between YPFB and Venezuela's state-owned Petroleos de Venezuela SA, or PdVSA. In yet another sign of cooperation between two South American oil producers, Ecuador announced it plans to process its crude oil in Venezuela, at refineries owned by PdVSA, despite having turned down the option a few months ago.

Oil Blocks: Nigeria will auction 17 oil-drilling licensing areas to buyers including Indian, Chinese and British firms in return for an approximately $20-billion investment in refining, power and other projects, Reuters reported.

Exxon Strikes Off Nigeria: An ExxonMobil subsidiary announced it has drilled the first oil discovery on its Oil Prospecting Licence 214, approximately 70 miles offshore Nigeria.

Debating Drilling Bans: The House considered whether to end a quarter-century ban on offshore oil and gas development in coastal waters outside the western Gulf of Mexico, weighing arguments that new supplies are needed to lower energy prices.

Detroit on Capitol Hill: Leaders of the Big Three showed up for meetings with Washington lawmakers in ethanol-powered vehicles decorated with images of corn stalks, in a demonstration of their commitment to alternative fuels. The executives plan to meet in June with Bush.

EU Raids: European Union regulators searched the offices of natural-gas and electricity firms in six countries.

Suntech Looks Overseas: The CEO of Suntech Power Holdings Co., one of the world's biggest solar-power firms, said it will look to markets outside China, as demand in that country is being dampened by the government's still-tentative support of alternative energy.

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