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THE WALL STREET JOURNAL ONLINE: Oil News Roundup: January 8, 2007 3:48 p.m.

Crude-oil futures tried to rally in early trading, but settled lower on the New York Mercantile Exchange on worries about warm weather, ample supplies and the flight of speculators from the market.

Here is Monday’s roundup of oil and energy news:

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WORRIES GROW ABOUT RUSSIA: Russia’s decision to suspend oil exports through Belarus in a dispute over fuel subsidies will exacerbate Europe’s concerns about its dependence on its huge eastern neighbor for energy supplies. Russia’s state-owned pipeline monopoly OAO Transneft said it had shut off crude exports to Belarus, which it accused of illegally siphoning oil from the main pipeline that carries Russian oil to Europe. That move led to a halt in deliveries to Germany and Poland. But the European Union’s energy commissioner said the cuts pose “no immediate risk” to energy supplies in the bloc.

•Report: West May Get Access to Iraqi Oil: The Iraqi government will soon pass a new law allowing heavy Western investment in the country’s oil industry for the first time since 1972, the Independent (UK) reported this weekend.

•GE to Buy Vetco Operations: Confirming reports in The Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times, GE announced it has agreed to acquire oil and gas operations from Vetco International Ltd. for $1.9 billion.

•Consolidation Heats Up: The GE deal was one of a handful of mergers announced in the energy sector; BusinessWeek reports consolidation in the industry is only heating up.

•The Upside of Global Warming: That sound New Englanders are hearing in their basements — the sound of silence as their oil-burning furnaces sit idle — is saving them money as heating-oil consumption drops with this season’s warm temperatures, the Associated Press reports.

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