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THE WALL STREET JOURNAL ONLINE: Oil News Roundup; January 11, 2007 5:45 p.m.

Crude-oil futures finished a volatile session with the benchmark contract under $52 a barrel for the first time since May 2005. Tumbling natural-gas prices, as well as hefty oil-product levels, helped fuel the 4% oil-price decline.

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

CHINA’S THIRST GROWS: China imported 14.5% more crude oil last year than in 2005, and imports are likely to continue growing in the double-digits in 2007 as the country’s economy shows no sign of slowing down and more of its strategic petroleum-reserve tanks become ready for use. The data and expectations of continued demand growth add to the worries of global energy and security experts who believe China’s growing need for foreign oil to supplement stagnant domestic output is contributing to an unsustainable global energy future.

•Confrontation With China Over Iran Deal: China and the U.S. are at loggerheads over the widening American crackdown on Iran’s international business dealings, as Beijing told Washington not to interfere in a possible multibillion-dollar natural-gas deal between Iran and China’s biggest offshore oil company.

•China Cites Polluters: Environmental authorities cited several Chinese power companies for polluting or not obtaining proper approvals, rattling their share prices and highlighting Beijing’s determination to get tougher on pollution as the country struggles to meet environmental targets.

•Russia Pumps Oil Through Belarus: Russia resumed pumping oil to Europe via Belarus, ending a three-day suspension of supplies caused by a dispute between the former Soviet neighbors that has left lasting doubts in European capitals about Russia’s dependability as an energy supplier.

•Indonesia’s Coal Surge at Risk: Indonesia has quietly become the world’s second-largest exporter of thermal coal and might challenge Australia for the top spot this year. But growing domestic demand for coal to generate electricity and stagnated foreign investment cast doubt on Indonesia’s ability to tap strengthening fundamentals in the global coal market, analysts and industry officials say.

•Nigeria’s Oil Industry Still Corrupt: Despite promises of a government cleanup, Nigeria’s oil industry is still riddled with corruption, the Financial Times reports (subscription required).

•A Gas Station Near You: The automobile club AAA is encouraging motorists to log on to find gas stations along their route and avoid becoming among the more than 2.5 million people who will need emergency fuel delivery this year. Starting Thursday, travelers who use AAA’s free TripTik online mapping tool can find the nearest gas stations and best fuel prices for about 100,000 U.S. locations. and its sister websites,,,,, and are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

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