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The Wall Street Journal: Oil News Roundup: September 25, 2006 5:27 p.m.

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL ONLINE
September 25, 2006 5:27 p.m.

After falling below $60 in early trading, crude-oil futures rebounded sharply, settling at $61.45 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, after the head of OPEC suggested the cartel could cut production to put a floor under prices, which have tumbled 20% since a mid-July peak. Here is Monday’s roundup of oil and energy news.

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MERGER MONDAY: It was a busy day for deals in the energy sector. In the biggest, U.K. oil-and-gas explorer Tullow Oil agreed to buy Australia’s Hardman Resources for about $1.1 billion to boost its reserves, Bloomberg reports. New York’s Overseas Shipholding Group agreed to acquire rival crude-oil and petroleum-product shipping company Maritrans in a deal valued at $455 million. No word on whether Tampa, Fla.-based Maritrans’ ticker symbol, TUG, would survive the merger. Louisiana-based oilfield-services company Superior Energy Services said it agreed to buy Mississippi rival Warrior Energy Services for about $358 million in cash and stock. Warrior shares surged 69% on the news.

•U.S. Ties to Kazakhstan: President Bush is pursuing closer ties to oil-rich Kazakhstan despite what human rights observers have said is a disturbing backslide toward autocracy in the former Soviet republic, the Associated Press reports.

•Chevron in Research Project: Chevron and Los Alamos National Laboratory said they are teaming on a research project to improve the recovery of hydrocarbons trapped in oil shales and slow-flowing oil formations.

•Xcel Hires Builder for Solar Plant: Minnesota utility Xcel Energy has selected Baltimore’s SunEdison to build a $60 million solar electric plant in Colorado, the largest project of its kind in the country. (See Corrections and Amplifications below.)

•EU Energy Chief Proposed: French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin proposed the creation of a new EU energy chief to represent the European Union in energy talks with top suppliers like Russia, Norway or other oil and gas producers in central Asia.

•New Nigerian Blocks: Nigeria is preparing to offer up to 50 new oil-and-gas exploration blocks next month, Reuters reports, though terms will be tighter to avoid a repeat of the last auction, when many high bidders failed to pay up.

•China, India Vow Commitment to Renewable Energy: At a London renewable-energy conference, representatives of the fast-growing economies of China and India vowed to balance renewable energy with continuing development, Reuters reports.

•No Relief in the U.K.: Slumping oil prices haven’t eased worries among U.K. manufacturers about high energy costs, the BBC reports.

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