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THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Oil News Roundup: May 31, 2006

The price of crude oil resumed its volatile trading Tuesday, jumping 66 cents a barrel to close at more than $72 on the New York Mercantile Exchange, driven in part by fresh evidence of China’s thirst for oil. Here is today’s news roundup on oil and energy.

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STILL THIRSTY FOR OIL: China’s oil consumption rose 10.8% in April from a year ago, the biggest such gain since 2004, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported. Beijing recently lifted the cap on fuel prices in China, encouraging refiners to buy more oil to make more fuel, feeding the surge in demand. Strong oil consumption in China, the world’s No. 2 oil consumer after the U.S., has helped keep global energy prices high.

NO NEW NATIONALIZATION: Ecuador’s Energy Minister Ivan Rodriguez said his government doesn’t plan to nationalize its oil industry, just days after it canceled contracts with Occidental Petroleum, raising fears it would follow the lead of Venezuela and other resource-rich nations in taking control of its oil assets. The pledge came on the occasion of a visit from Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, a leader in the global movement to nationalize natural resources.

•Israeli IPO: Israel plans to sell more than 50% of state-owned Oil Refineries Haifa on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange by November or December, Israeli business daily Globes reports on its Web site.

•Irish Conservation Pact: Ten of Ireland’s biggest companies agreed to save energy and adopt renewable fuels, Ireland Online reports.

•L.A. Oil Spill: An oil spill from an overturned tractor trailer closed the eastbound 60 Freeway in downtown Riverside, Calif., for much of the day, including part of the evening rush hour, the L.A. Times reports.

•As the Turbine Blade Turns: The California Energy Commission will spend $380,000 to study whether grazing sheep can be deployed to help keep eagles, hawks and other predatory birds from being killed by wind turbines, the San Jose Mercury News reports. Apparently, high grass near California turbines invites ground squirrels, which attract the raptors, who get caught in the turbine blades.

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