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The Wall Street Journal: Oil News Roundup: October 24, 2006 5:23 p.m.

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL ONLINE

Crude-oil futures rose to more than $59 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange as traders moved their focus from OPEC’s planned cuts to the weekly U.S. inventory report, which is expected to show a fall in distillate stockpiles heading into winter. Here’s Tuesday’s roundup of oil and energy news:

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LEASE SUIT SETTLED: The state of Louisiana and the U.S. Department of the Interior have agreed to settle a lawsuit over oil and natural-gas leasing in federal waters off Louisiana’s coast, with the agency agreeing to delay future offshore lease sales pending a complete environmental analysis. Louisiana, in turn, won’t object to the department issuing leases under Lease Sale 200, development of which could result in as much as 252 million barrels of oil and 1.44 trillion cubic feet of gas.

•Lawsuits to Target Big Oil: The next wave of big-issue litigation — after tobacco, guns and junk food — will be “an ambitious legal war on oil, electric power, auto, and other companies whose emissions are linked to global warming,” BusinessWeek reports.

•BP Profit Dips: BP said its third-quarter earnings fell 3.6%, as a partial shutdown of its Alaskan oil field and a United Kingdom tax increase more than offset a rise in oil prices. It also warned average daily production for the year would be lower than in 2005.

•Shell’s Bid Could Spark Rush for Deals: Royal Dutch Shell’s offer to buy the rest of Shell Canada it doesn’t already own could lead to a rush of interest in other companies working Alberta’s oil sands, the Globe and Mail reports.

•Iraq Minister Sees Bidding Soon: Iraq’s oil minister said he expects to begin taking bids for development contracts after a new development law is passed at the end of this year, Reuters reports. Iraq’s oil production has been significantly disrupted by sabotage.

•SK Profit Tumbles: SK Corp., South Korea’s largest refiner by capacity, said its third-quarter net profit dropped 28% because of lower refining margins and weak domestic demand.

•Big Spill in Russia: A pipeline ruptured in central Russia’s Urals region, causing an oil spill of about 300 tons, or 90,000 gallons.

•Ugly History for Fischer-Tropsch: The Fischer-Tropsch process, by which natural gas and coal are turned into liquid fuels, has an ugly history, involving Nazis and South African Apartheid, Slate reports.

•DOE Slacking Off?: Critics say the Energy Department does not seem to be serious about energy efficiency, the Christian Science Monitor reports.

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