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The Wall Street Journal: Oil News Roundup: September 8, 2006 5:23 p.m.

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL ONLINE
September 8, 2006 5:23 p.m.

Crude-oil prices fell sharply, cracking through key technical support levels and settling at nearly $66 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, a fresh five-month low. Here is Friday’s roundup of oil and energy news.

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BP’S EMPTY CHAIR: By the time a massive oil-pipeline spill was discovered in March on Alaska’s North Slope, the job of BP’s senior corrosion engineer had been left unfilled for more than a year, according to an internal company audit, the Associated Press reports. This hindered BP’s ability to maintain a “strategic view” of its corrosion prevention activities, the audit found.

•Judge Freezes Alaska Lease Sales: A federal judge late Thursday temporarily halted lease sales of more than 1 million acres in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska that environmentalists say are essential feeding and breeding grounds for caribou and migratory birds.

•Vote to Strip Royalties: Also late Thursday, the U.S. Senate voted to strip oil companies of government royalties they get for drilling in the Gulf of Mexico when energy prices are high.

•Russia Mulls Gas Sales to China: Russia is considering ways to ramp up natural-gas sales to China, but it seems unlikely its neighbor will be a big buyer, Radio Free Europe reports.

•Winner in Canadian Battle: Canadian Oil Sands Trust said late Thursday it had succeeded in its $219-million takeover of Canada Southern Petroleum Ltd.

•Geothermal Find: Australia’s Petratherm announced a significant find in drilling for hot rocks for use in geothermal energy.

•Nuclear New Zealand: The CEO of a major New Zealand electric company told a climate-change forum that the country needs to seriously explore using nuclear energy for the first time.

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