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Royal Dutch Shell Plc .com: Wall Street Journal Oil News Roundup

July 7, 2006 8:05 p.m.

Crude-oil futures closed lower Friday, weighed down by an unexpected rise in gasoline supplies last week. But the front-month contract touched a record intraday level on the New York Mercantile Exchange during the session, at $75.55 a barrel, and scored a slight gain for the week. Strong U.S. petroleum demand, a fall in inventories and North Korea’s missile tests were among traders’ biggest concerns. Here’s Friday’s roundup of oil-related news:

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POSITIONING FOR THE FUTURE: Several oil titans are planning to purchase large stakes in Russia’s Rosneft as part of its public offering of stock, BBC news reports. The state-owned oil firm is expected to raise about $11 billion by selling shares in London and Moscow. “The Oil and National Gas Corporation of India said it was mulling over a $3 billion investment while BP PLC and China’s CNPC are also reportedly interested, BBC writes.” China and India are eager to grab reserves to support their booming economic expansion.

• Irony in Iraq: One of the world’s leading oil producers, Iraq, suffers the misfortune of having to import petroleum products and has a burgeoning black market for gasoline, writes Voice of America’s Margaret Besheer. Her article points out the frustration facing Iraqi’s who need gas for their tanks and fuel to cook food and to run generators.

• Clogged: Prolonged underinvestment in oil capacity is having an outsized relationship on prices of crude and its byproducts, says Oxford Analytica, an independent strategic-consulting firm, on

• Hostages: A Dutch oil worker was kidnapped in the southern delta of Nigeria, the Associated Press reports. It was the second abduction in less than 24 hours in the chaotic region where gunmen have destabilized oil production.

• Not So Green: Revisiting an old idea, Wired Blogs’ Autopia column points out how liquefied coal could provide an abundant supply of home-spun automobile fuel, and sites a New York Times article that claims the “coal in the ground in Illinois alone has more energy than all the oil in Saudi Arabia.”

• Expensive Extraction: High costs and a tight labor market are endangering the expansion of one of Canada’s largest oil-sands projects, The Australian reports.

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