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The Wall Street Journal: Oil News Roundup: October 30, 2006 5:32 p.m.

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL ONLINE
October 30, 2006 5:32 p.m.

Crude-oil futures tumbled nearly 4% to close at less than $59 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, as traders again expressed skepticism about OPEC’s ability to keep a floor under prices in a world flush — for the moment, at least — with oil. Here’s Monday’s roundup of oil and energy news:

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REPORT: BP CUTS CONTRIBUTED TO ACCIDENT: The good news for BP: The Prudhoe Bay oil field is back up to pre-shutdown speed. The bad news: Federal investigators said the oil giant’s cost cutting compromised safety at a Texas refinery and helped cause a deadly explosion at the plant in March 2005. The findings are the first allegations by outside investigators of a direct link between the company’s cost cutting and the accident and significantly raise the legal and financial stakes for BP. Read the text of the report and the transcript of last night’s 60 Minutes report on the refinery blast.

CHINA BETS ON INDONESIA: China Huadian, state-owned parent of Hong Kong-listed Huadian Power International, said it signed a joint venture for a $2 billion project to build a power plant with Indonesia’s state-owned electrical utility. China’s energy companies are expanding their footprint in Asia, scoring a series of multi-billion-dollar deals to build power and chemical plants in Indonesia, a key supplier of China’s growing imports of natural gas.

•Sinopec Surges: China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., also known as Sinopec, said its third-quarter net profit rose 51.4%, as high crude prices and China’s energy demand offset refining losses and a newly introduced windfall tax on oil sales.

•Anxiety about German/Russian Ties: The U.S. government is increasingly nervous about Germany’s chumminess with energy supplier Russia, the Financial Times reports.
•Ethanol Still the Winner: Energy experts say ethanol is still getting the bulk of alternative-energy research dollars, CNET reports.

•Bolivia Takes More: Bolivia and foreign energy firms over the weekend signed last-minute deals for new production contracts to comply with the nationalization of the Andean country’s oil and gas sector.

•Labor Shortage in Power: Industry experts are worried there will soon not be enough skilled technicians in the U.S. to run the nation’s power plants, the Associated Press reports.

•Greenhouse Gases on Rise: The industrialized world’s emissions of greenhouse gases are growing again, despite efforts under the Kyoto Protocol to cap them and stave off global warming, the United Nations reported.

•Carbon Market a Boon to Farmers: The Chicago Climate Exchange, North America’s only legally binding greenhouse-gas reduction and trading system, is turning out to be a financial boon to farmers, the AP reports.

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