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The Wall Street Journal: Oil News Roundup: August 9, 2006 12:37 a.m.

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL ONLINE
August 9, 2006 12:37 a.m.

Oil futures fell to nearly $76 on the New York Mercantile Exchange, giving back some of Monday’s sharp rally, after U.S. Energy Secretary Sam Bodman made soothing remarks about oil supply in response to the looming shutdown of the Prudhoe Bay oilfield in northern Alaska. Here’s Tuesday’s roundup of energy-related news:

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BODMAN’S ENCOURAGING WORDS: Mr. Bodman said that, while the problems at BP facilities at Prudhoe Bay — a field responsible for 8% of U.S. daily oil production — could take months to fix, the U.S. could make up most or all of the supply shortage with other sources. He also suggested that part of Prudhoe Bay might be able to stay open. BP later said it was talking to regulators about ways it could maintain production in part of the facility.

SAVING GAS: High gasoline prices have inspired 55% of U.S. drivers to curb their driving, according to a new Pew Research Center poll. Twelve percent have started using mass transit more often. But economists say it is unlikely Americans will change their driving habits dramatically, at least in the short term. Gas prices have steadied, according to the AAA.

•In the Spotlight: Despite recent volatility in natural-gas prices, there is ample reason to believe the shares of companies like Anadarko, Devon and XTO that focus on drilling for gas might still have room to grow, The Wall Street Journal reports.

•Big Empty: The search for the next significant natural-gas field is leading wildcatters into corners of the country that haven’t seen much exploration recently. But the area generating the most excitement is in a swath of far West Texas called the “Big Empty,” The Wall Street Journal reports.

•Shades of Valdez: A massive oil spill off the coast of Lebanon, caused by Israeli bombardment of a power plant three weeks ago, could be as big an environmental disaster as the Exxon Valdez spill, the United Nations Environment Program said.

•Halliburton Probe: The U.K.’s Serious Fraud Office is looking into allegations that KBR, a unit of oilfield services giant Halliburton, took part in a scheme to bribe Nigerian officials, the Financial Times reported.

•Petronas Buys Rosneft Stake: Malaysian state-owned energy firm Petronas, has taken a $1.1 billion stake in Russia’s Rosneft to offset dwindling production at home, the FT reported (FT subscription required).

•China Coal IPO on Tap: China National Coal Group Co., the country’s No. 2 coal producer by output, plans to submit an application for an IPO to Hong Kong’s stock exchange this week.

•Simulated Spill: A simulation outside San Francisco’s Golden Gate bridge will “spill” 360,000 gallons of oil (or rather hundreds of cards meant to represent oil) in order to test the response of the Coast Guard and other authorities.

 

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