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Crude-oil futures surged to a new four-week high Wednesday after U.S. government data showed distillate inventories, which include heating oil, fell more than expected amid continued forecasts for cold U.S. weather.

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

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CNOOC UNDER PRESSURE: Domestic production troubles are putting pressure on Cnooc to raid its multibillion-dollar war chest and make an acquisition, but potential targets are unlikely to come cheap despite the recent fall in oil prices. China’s largest offshore oil producer by output is facing a shrinking field of midsize companies that it could buy following a flurry of corporate activity globally in the past year. It may have to content itself with bidding for producing fields that come with neither the prestige it wants nor significant size, analysts say.

•Next Step in Big China Venture: China’s government approved part of a plan to build a giant oil-refining and petrochemical plant, an important step forward in a long-awaited venture involving Saudi Arabia, China and Exxon Mobil.

•EU Calls for Emissions Curbs: The European Commission called for binding rules that will force oil refiners to cut carbon-dioxide emissions from vehicle fuel by 10% by 2020. The commission has been forced to delay a decision on a separate, hotly-debated law that would force auto makers to slash carbon emissions from new cars 25% by 2012.

•Climate Change Science Quieted: A NASA scientist accused the White House of regularly trying to quiet or alter reports on climate change, the Financial Times reports.

•Turkey/Greece Spat Heats Up: Turkey had no right to interfere with plans by Cyprus for oil and gas exploration in the region, regional rival Greece said, accusing Ankara of violating international law

•Most Oil Removed From Shipwreck: Most of the oil has been removed from the Napoli, the tanker ship that ran aground off the coast of England last week, the BBC reports.

•Rights Group Blasts Nigerian State: New York-based Human Rights Watch said its study of one of Nigeria’s oil-producing states found that officials squandered or stole public money, some hospitals required patients to bring their own beds, and schools were running out of chalk.

•Scary Palms: Palm oil, once considered an environmentally friendly alternative to fossil fuels, has become an ecological nightmare, the New York Times reports. and its sister websites,,,,, and are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

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