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Royal Dutch Shell Plc .com: Wall Street Journal: Oil News Roundup

July 6, 2006 7:00 p.m.

Oil futures briefly swooned after the U.S. government reported an unexpected increase in gasoline inventories, but recovered most of their losses to settle at more than $75 a barrel, near their record high. Here is Thursday’s roundup of oil and energy news.

STILL WARY IN IRAQ: More than three years after the U.S.-led invasion, no big oil company has stepped forward to spend the huge sums necessary to tap Iraq’s giant oil reserves and get crude flowing and revenues pouring into Iraq’s government to help pay for food, jobs and medical care, the Associated Press reports. Legal uncertainty is a big hurdle, but security is still the biggest.

The Oil Ministry announced last month that crude production had risen to 2.5 million barrels a day, its highest level since the war began. But the country’s No. 2 oil shipping terminal, on the Persian Gulf at Khor al-Amaya, caught fire and remained closed last week.

•Airlines Still Suffering: Strong U.S. air-passenger traffic, which filled planes at record levels in June, has given airlines a chance to increase ticket prices by more than 10% so far this year — but that’s still not enough to make up for the skyrocketing cost of jet fuel, MarketWatch reports.

•Attack in Nigeria: Nigerian police said a Dutch oil worker was kidnapped by armed men from a Royal Dutch Shell gas plant, the latest in a spate of hostage-taking in the country’s oil-rich southern delta. Kidnappings and attacks on oil pipelines have cut Nigerian oil production by more than 20% this year, adding to the upward pressure on world prices.

•Too Hot: The increase in the number of large western wildfires in recent years may be a result of global warming, according to a new study by the climate research division at Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

•Wal-Mart Warms to Gore: Former Vice President and environmental activist Al Gore is planning to address Wal-Mart Stores Inc. executives next week at the retailer’s quarterly conference on sustainability, part of the company’s recent efforts to become an environmental leader, Washington Wire reports.

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