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The Wall Street Journal: Oil News Roundup: September 18, 2006 5:51 p.m.

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL ONLINE
September 18, 2006 5:51 p.m.

Crude-oil futures rose for the second consecutive session on the New York Mercantile Exchange, closing at nearly $64 a barrel on news that a key BP platform will stay out of commission longer than expected. Here is Monday’s roundup of oil and energy news.

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THUNDER HORSE STAYS DOWN: BP said it will further postpone the start-up of its long-delayed Thunder Horse oil field in the Gulf of Mexico, adding to a recent spate of mishaps plaguing the British oil giant. BP said it will replace much of the field’s underwater equipment because of a failure during recent testing. The delay will push first production from the field to 2008, instead of 2007 as previously projected.

•Statoil Buys Gulf Prospects: Statoil announced the purchase of three oil prospects in the Gulf of Mexico from Plains Exploration & Production for $700 million. State-controlled Statoil is the key producer in offshore fields that make Norway the world’s third-largest oil exporter after Saudi Arabia and Russia. The company has been expanding internationally, including in the U.S. Gulf.

•Norsk Hydro in Iranian Deal: Norwegian oil company Norsk Hydro has signed a deal with the National Iranian Oil Co. for oil exploration in southwestern Iran.

•Russia Pulls Sakhalin Permit: Russia’s Ministry of Natural Resources has decided to annul a key environmental permit for a $20-billion oil and gas project led by Royal Dutch Shell, in what is possibly the Kremlin’s latest effort to exert control over its natural resources.

•Shell CEO Speaks: Russia’s decision came despite some kind words about the Kremlin this weekend from Shell CEO Jeroen van der Veer, who also added that he saw oil prices tumbling significantly.

•Petronas to Pay Chad: Malaysia’s state-run Petronas has agreed to pay taxes owed to Chad’s government, according to a Chadian presidential aide. Late last month, Chad’s president ordered Chevron and Petronas out of the country, saying they had failed to pay back taxes amounting to $450 million.

•Smuggling and the Philippine Spill: A panel investigating last month’s devastating oil spill in the Philippines suspects smugglers may have caused it.

•And Another Spill: Another spill has been reported off the Philippine coast near southern Luzon, according to China’s Xinhua news agency.

•Video: Stephen Roach on Oil Prices: Morgan Stanley’s chief economist tells MarketWatch’s Ed Crane he sees a “protracted downturn” for commodity prices as China’s economy slows and the U.S. housing market cools.

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