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THE WALL STREET JOURNAL ONLINE: Oil News Roundup: January 10, 2007 4:21 p.m.

Crude-oil futures closed with an almost 3% loss to push their benchmark contract to its lowest level in 19 months after a U.S. government report showed that supplies of distillates and gasoline rose for a fourth week in a row.

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

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BELARUS MAKES A DEAL: An oil-pipeline dispute that prompted relations between Russia and Belarus to plummet and fueled doubts across Europe edged toward resolution, as the Belarus government backed down and canceled a transit tax on Russia oil shipments. A top Kremlin official said the decision was “cause for restrained optimism,” but it remained unclear when pumping would resume across the 2,500-mile-long pipeline network, which feeds Germany, Poland and other East European nations.

•Questioning German Nuke Phase-Out: German Chancellor Andrea Merkel said the Russia-Belarus spat made her doubt the wisdom of a plan to shut down Germany’s nuclear-power plants — a plan to which she had never really warmed, the Financial Times reports.

•EU Energy Plan Unveiled: The European Union unveiled a new energy plan, which calls for a 20% cut in carbon-dioxide emissions by 2020 compared to 1990 levels. “We have an addiction to energy,” said European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.

•Cheaper Oil Helps Narrow Trade Gap: The U.S. trade deficit with the rest of the world narrowed for the third straight month in November, the government reported, thanks in part to falling oil prices.

More Kidnappings in Nigeria: An unidentified armed group kidnapped nine South Korean construction workers who had been working on a gas pipeline in Nigeria.

•Looking for Corn Alternatives: Explosive growth in the ethanol industry is prompting many corn farmers to look for an alternative source for the alternative fuel — including post-harvest crop residues such as corn stover.

•Looking for Louvre: Oil-rich Abu Dhabi hopes to further boost its standing in the arts world by opening a satellite branch of Paris’ famed Louvre museum if talks with French authorities succeed. and its sister websites,,,,, and are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

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