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Royal Dutch Shell Plc .com: Oil News Roundup from THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

From The Wall Street Journal

July 10, 2006 8:29 p.m.

Crude-oil futures edged lower again Monday, closing at less than $74 a barrel, as fears about the West’s confrontation with Iran eased momentarily. Here’s Monday’s roundup of oil-related news.

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ETHANOL VAPOR: Among clean-energy technologies, ethanol has been getting all of the attention lately, but it is far from a cure-all for the nation’s energy problems, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Minnesota. The study said ethanol is not as environmentally friendly as some supporters claim and would supply only 12% of U.S. motoring fuel — even if every acre of corn in the U.S. were used. The study suggested soybean-based biodiesel might be a better temporary solution, but said no agriculture-based fuel was viable in the long run.

•Ethanol Venture: Andersons Inc. and Marathon Oil Corp. signed a letter of intent to create a joint company to construct and operate ethanol plants.

•Hostage Released: Michael Loss, the Dutch oil worker kidnapped in the Niger Delta last Thursday, was released today.

•Venezuela’s Conundrum: Venezuela hopes to supply Latin America with its vast natural gas reserves through a transcontinental grid, but the country is just beginning to take steps to resolve a domestic deficit of the fuel that has dogged oil operations for years, MarketWatch reports.

•Boeing’s Bounce: Demand for fuel-efficient planes has helped Boeing temporarily overtake Airbus in the race for new-aircraft orders.

•Gas-Utility Deal: WPS Resources Corp. agreed to buy Peoples Energy Corp. for about $1.52 billion, giving it 1 million new natural-gas customers in northeastern Illinois.

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