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THE WALL STREET JOURNAL ONLINE: Oil News Roundup: December 19, 2006 5:02 p.m.

Crude-oil futures rebounded to more than $63 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, boosted by expectations that U.S. government data due Wednesday will show crude inventories fell last week and by gasoline prices, which hit a three-month high. Here is Tuesday’s roundup of oil and energy news:

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TRANSITION AT BP: BP’s board is considering creating a high-level post for the heir apparent to Chief Executive John Browne — a job designed to smooth the transition at the top of the oil giant ahead of his 2008 retirement, according to people familiar with the situation.

•Overseas to Pay Fine: Oil tanker and bulk-shipping company Overseas Shipholding Group will pay a record fine of $37 million after agreeing to plead guilty to 33 felony charges related to illegal dumping of waste oil into the ocean, federal official said Tuesday.

•China’s Thirst for Oil: The Chicago Tribune continues its in-depth series on China’s hunt for oil supplies and the possibility it raises of conflict with the U.S.

•China Coal Energy Shares Debut: Shares in China Coal Energy Co. made a tepid debut on the Hong Kong stock market yesterday, closing 13% above their initial public offering price.

•Shell deal in India: A unit of oil giant Royal Dutch Shell won a three-year contract to provide technology services to help four major state-owned Indian refineries boost their efficiency and competitiveness.

•Venezuela, Malaysia May Team Up: Venezuela and Malaysia may team up to build an oil refinery in the Asian nation, President Hugo Chavez said Monday.

•Oil to the Rescue in Norway: Hammerfest, Norway, a town of about 9,400 people roughly 1,100 miles north of the Arctic Circle, is enjoying an energy boom, as the base for oil-rich Norway’s latest petroleum drive: the first offshore field being developed in the Barents Sea.

•Florida Forms Ethanol Partnership: Florida on Monday announced the launch of the Inter-American Commission on Ethanol, a partnership between Florida and Brazil to promote ethanol use in the hemisphere.

•Oil Spill Possibly Alters DNA: People who helped clean up the oil spill caused by the wreck of the tanker Prestige four years ago claim to be suffering respiratory problems and say their DNA has been altered, El Pais reports.

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