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The Wall Street Journal: Oil News Roundup: Wednesday July 19, 2006

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL ONLINE
July 19, 2006 12:02 a.m.

Crude-oil futures tumbled again, dropping $1.76 a barrel to settle at less than $74 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Some analysts say crude’s fall from a record high of more than $77 is just a technical correction, though an alarming report about the housing sector may have heightened fears that an economic slowdown could sap demand for crude. Still, with violence still roiling the Middle East, crude could jump again at any time. Here’s Tuesday’s roundup of oil and energy news.

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ROSNEFT’S RELIEF: A British judge rejected a bid by Yukos, once Russia’s largest oil company, to stop the flotation of shares in London by the Russian state-controlled oil company Rosneft. The case was immediately referred to the Court of Appeal, but Rosneft shares will begin trading without restriction in London tomorrow.

SINOPEC’S BOUNTY: China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., also known as Sinopec, said it processed 5.3% more crude oil and sold 7% more refined products during the first half amid robust Chinese demand for fuel and other petrochemical products. But analysts said the higher sales of refined products might not translate into an impressive first-half profit.

CNOOC’S DISCOVERY: A major recent gas discovery deep under the South China Sea could reopen a frontier for oil and gas exploration that some multinational companies abandoned decades ago after shallower wells turned up dry, the chairman of Cnooc Ltd., China’s biggest offshore oil producer, told The Wall Street Journal.

•A Scorcher: Searing heat throughout much of the U.S. strained electric systems and broke consumption records, underscoring warnings by regulators and industry officials that the nation isn’t building enough power plants and transmission lines.

•Showing Potential: Iraqi engineers have lifted crude-oil output capacity in the country’s southern fields, giving Baghdad’s new government a boost and underscoring its oil supply’s vast potential.

•Toyota Plans Plug-In: Toyota Motor North America Inc. President Jim Press said the auto maker plans to pursue a plug-in hybrid vehicle, touting the long-term potential of gas-electric hybrids on America’s highways.

•Pricing Pressure: High energy prices contributed to a jump in U.S. wholesale prices in June, the Labor Department reported.

•Solar Boat: Britain’s biggest solar-powered boat debuted on a lake in London’s Hyde Park, opening what its developers hope is a door to the future of solar-powered transportation.

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