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THE WALL STREET JOURNAL ONLINE: Oil News Roundup: January 22, 2007 4:59 p.m.

Crude-oil futures tumbled 1.7% to $51.13 a barrel after earlier rising as high as $53.44, shrugging off forecasts for colder U.S. weather and increased heating oil demand.

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

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BETTER TIMES FOR SINOPEC: Conditions for Sinopec, China’s biggest oil refiner, were looking good this year — until China’s central government on Jan. 14 announced its first reduction in prices of refined products in 19 months. The announcement cooled investors’ ardor for Sinopec, as they feared lower gasoline prices could cut profit. But some analysts believe Beijing’s price decision could actually mean better times ahead for Sinopec.

•CNPC Profit Growth Slows: China National Petroleum Corp. experienced a slowdown in its pretax profit growth in the second half of last year as global oil prices fell and China’s windfall tax had an impact. CNPC, the state-owned parent of Hong Kong-listed PetroChina Co., posted a pretax profit of about $23.87 billion in 2006, up 4.9% from 2005.

•CEOs Ask for Climate-Change Controls: The chief executives of 10 major corporations, on the eve of the State of the Union address, urged President Bush to support mandatory reductions in climate-changing pollution and establish reduction targets.

•Mars Bounces Back: Royal Dutch Shell’s Mars platform, the most-prolific in the Gulf of Mexico, recently surpassed pre-Katrina production levels, the Houston Chronicle reports.

Arctic Reserves a Key Energy Source: Vast petroleum reserves in the Arctic are a key source of world energy, but development must also protect the fragile cold-weather environment and curb greenhouse gases, Norway’s oil minister said.

•Total Plans Indonesian Investment: France’s Total plans to invest $6 billion in exploration and production in Indonesia in the next five years.

•Nippon, SK Swap Stakes: Nippon Oil and South Korean oil refiner SK Corp. have agreed to buy stakes in each other as part of a deal to strengthen competitiveness in the growing Asian market.

•Wal-Mart’s Energy-Efficient Stores: Freezer cases with lights that turn off when no customers are around is one feature of a Wal-Mart Supercenter in Kansas City, Mo., that marks a new level of energy efficiency, the company says. The store, which opened Friday, is the first in a new line of energy-efficient stores that use 20% less energy than other Supercenters.

•Using Earth’s Heat: A new MIT study suggests geothermal energy could satisfy 10% of U.S. energy needs by 2050.

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Friday’s Roundup:

SCHLUMBERGER’S NET SOARS: On the back of hefty oil prices and strong performance from its oil-services unit, the Houston energy concern posted a 71% gain in net income for the fourth quarter. The firm earned $1.13 billion, or 92 cents a share, compared with $660.6 million, or 54 cents a share, a year earlier. Revenue climbed 33% to $5.35 billion.

•License to Drill: ConocoPhillips plans to seek a two-year extension of its federal export license for its liquefied natural gas plant in Nikiski, Alaska – a move that if approved could spur additional gas exploration in Cook Inlet.

•Oil Subsidies Repealed: As expected, the House voted Thursday to roll back oil-industry subsidies that many believe will promote the use of more renewable fuels. The bill, a high priority for Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi, isn’t a lock to pass the Senate, where Democrats hold a slim majority.

•U.S. Crude Demand Wanes: U.S. thirst for oil fell in 2006 to below levels seen in 2004, according to the American Petroleum Institute. Total U.S. petroleum deliveries dropped about 1% to 15 million barrels a day, according to the agency.

•Ecuador Investment: The country’s new leftist government has indicated it would entertain private energy investment, even as it plans to review oil contracts amid a push for resource nationalism in the region.

•Tanking: Crude’s fall toward $50 a barrel could push U.S. gas pump prices beneath $2 a gallon, based on historical measures.

•Fundamentally: Supply and demand, inventories and global uncertainty all figure into oil’s rise and fall. The Motley Fool contributor Robert Aronen digs into these factors to figure out if the oil boom is really over.

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