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The Wall Street Journal: Oil News Roundup: August 17, 2006 5:18 p.m.

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL ONLINE
August 17, 2006 5:18 p.m.

Crude-oil futures fell for the fourth straight day, losing nearly $2 a barrel to settle at $70.06 on the New York Mercantile Exchange, their lowest close since June 20. Oil has fallen more than $4 a barrel, or nearly 6%, this week after a cease-fire in the Middle East. Here is Thursday’s roundup of energy-related news:

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IRAQI FUEL SHORTAGE: Before the Iraq war began, U.S. officials hoped the country’s vast oil wealth would help to pay for its reconstruction. Instead, oil production has been disrupted by constant sabotage, corruption and aging refineries; as a result the country is suffering from a severe fuel shortage. Iraqi officials announced plans to double their spending on imported oil products.

•Oil-Spill Help: The United Nations pledged some $64 million to help clean up the Mediterranean oil spill caused when Israel bombed a power station in Lebanon last month.

•Oil-Spill Repercussions: The Mediterranean spill has crippled the ancient port town of Byblos, the BBC reports.

•Oil-Spill Repercussions II: Philippine authorities continued to clean up the worst oil spill in the nation’s history and warned it could damage fisheries and other natural resources.

•Threat of Higher Prices in India: Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh suggested the government might raise the prices of subsidized petroleum products such as kerosene and cooking gas.

•Siemens Building Wind-Blade Plant: German manufacturer Siemens announced plans to build a wind-turbine blade factory in Iowa and predicted a tripling of wind-power-blade demand in the U.S. by 2020.

•Pondering Equities: Investors who want exposure to oil but don’t want to suffer the ill effects of market contango — a rare (but recently persistent) situation in which out-month futures are more expensive than the current month — are taking a second look at oil equities, Reuters reports.

•Focus on OMV: If you’re looking for an obscure oil company in which to invest, Austria’s OMV might be the ticket, according to Motley Fool. It reported a 19% gain in quarterly profit.

•Scam Artists: Booming oil and gas prices have attracted scam artists, who lure victims to invest in bogus energy investments, USA Today reports.

•Ethanol-Free in Indiana: A small Indiana town touted by Gov. Mitch Daniels as a model of renewable-energy use is suffering from a severe shortage of renewable energy.

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