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The Wall Street Journal: Oil News Roundup: September 6, 2006 5:17 p.m.

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL ONLINE
September 6, 2006 5:17 p.m.

Crude-oil prices dropped $1.23 to $67.40 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, their lowest level in nearly five months, as worries about supplies continued to ease. Here is Wednesday’s roundup of oil and energy news.

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BP FACES GRILLING: Already under siege by regulators and financial-market investigators, BP PLC faces a new inquisitor tomorrow: the U.S. Congress. In the first of as many as two Capitol Hill appearances in coming days, U.S. operations chief Bob Malone and other BP officials face a public grilling. The House Energy and Commerce Committee will hear testimony from experts and BP officials on corrosion problems at BP’s Prudhoe Bay oil field. While much new evidence isn’t expected this week, the intensified scrutiny risks a further public-relations backlash from consumers and politicians against BP and its CEO, John Browne.

•Delay in Iran Talks: Talks meant to give Iran a last chance to avoid U.N. sanctions over its nuclear defiance were postponed by several days. Worries about Iran’s tensions with the West have contributed to higher oil prices in recent months.

•Methane Threat: Methane gas trapped in soil is bubbling out of thawing permafrost in amounts five times higher than previously thought and may trigger what researchers warn is a climate time bomb, according to a study being published Thursday in the journal Nature.

•Energy IPOs: Clean Energy Fuels Corp., an operator of natural-gas filling stations that was co-founded by billionaire Boone Pickens, filed to raise up to $288 million in an initial public offering, and ethanol maker Hawkeye Holdings placed an estimated price range on its $431 million IPO.

•Marathon Strike Ends: Teamsters Local 120 said 170 Marathon Oil Corp. workers at a St. Paul Park, Minn., refinery ratified a three-year labor contract following a seven-week strike.

•Very Old Leak Discovered: A mysterious oil leak that has been killing seabirds and confounding wildlife and maritime officials off the California coast for more than a year was traced to a sunken World War I-era cement ship.

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