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The Wall Street Journal: Oil News Roundup: September 13, 2006 5:22 p.m.

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL ONLINE
September 13, 2006 5:22 p.m.

Crude-oil futures broke a seven-session losing streak, finishing at more than $64 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The bounce came despite a government report of a bigger-than-expected build in oil distillates. Here is Wednesday’s roundup of oil and energy news.

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EL NIÑO RETURNS: El Niño conditions have developed and are likely to continue into early 2007, according to U.S. government climate forecasters. The phenomenon, which involves the warmth of waters in the Pacific Ocean, can have an impact on energy demand and crop forecasts, as it affects rainfall in Southeast Asia and winter temperatures in the U.S. and Canada.

•Oil Leases Investigated: An official responsible for Gulf Coast oil leases says he was told in the 1990s to remove a provision concerning royalty payments — an action that is allowing oil companies to avoid billions of dollars in payments — the Interior Department’s inspector general told Congress.

•Pipeline Rules Questioned: Several U.S. lawmakers were skeptical of proposed new rules to prevent corrosion in miles of Alaska North Slope pipelines, questioning why the plan would cover only a small fraction of the thousands of low-pressure oil lines in the country.

•Nigerians on Strike: Oil-workers’ unions launched a three-day strike over worsening security in an oil-rich region on Nigeria as Chevron confirmed the death of one subcontractor and injuries to two others there.

•Japan in Awkward Position: Japan’s long energy relationship with Iran is being tested by Iran’s confrontation with the West over its nuclear program, the Financial Times reports.

•Iran Says Won’t Manipulate Oil: Iran’s oil minister said suggestions his country might use oil as an economic weapon are baseless.

•What Peak Oil?: The world has tapped only 18% of the world’s oil supply, president and CEO of the state-owned Saudi Arabian Oil Co. said, challenging the notion of “peak-oilers” that supplies are petering out. The official said the world has potentially 4.5 trillion barrels in reserves — enough to power the globe at current levels of consumption for another 140 years.

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