By Joe Brock ABUJA (Reuters) - Chevron faces delays in closing sales of oil blocks in Nigeria worth up to $1 billion because of legal disputes involving potential buyers, industry sources say, highlighting a risk other oil majors could face. Chevron is joining competitors ConocoPhillips, Royal Dutch Shell, France's Total and Italy's Eni in disposing of stakes in onshore and shallow water offshore fields in the Niger Delta region. OPEC-member Nigeria has the potential to double its 2 million-2.5 million barrel per day oil output in the next five years but problems with oil theft, pipeline sabotage and regulatory uncertainty are putting off investment. Chevron has chosen its preferred bidders for the five blocks it put up for sale in June but the deals have not closed because rival firms have disputed its decision, with one taking the U.S. company to court, sources close to the deals said.
Residents of nine counties in West Virginia have been without tap water for three days after a major chemical spill polluted the water supply on Thursday. "The water restrictions were imposed Thursday when it was discovered about 7,500 gallons of a chemical used to clean coal -- 4-methylcyclohexane methanol -- had leaked out of a storage tank located a mile upriver from the water plant." Trucks filled with bottled water are being driven to the impacted areas for distribution. On a telling note, West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin issued an emergency order to reiterate that residents cannot make the tap water safe by boiling it.
By Barbara Lewis BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Commissioners clashed on Friday over what the European Union's climate and energy policy goals for 2030 should be, with time for agreement running short ahead of their planned publication this month, EU sources said. The European Union has sought to lead the global fight against climate change, but the economic crisis has sapped the appetite of business and some member states for decisive action because of concerns over competitiveness and cost. Any policy announcement on targets to succeed the 2020 EU goals on cutting emissions, improving energy efficiency and increasing renewable energy use, will require around two years of EU debate to become law. But it will send a signal ahead of next year's U.N. talks on a successor to the Kyoto pact on tackling climate change.
By Chuck Mikolajczak NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stocks dipped on Thursday, weighed by Exxon Mobil and retailers, as an earlier boost from upbeat labor market data lost steam. The S&P retail index declined 0.7 percent, pulled lower by a 13.2 percent tumble in Bed, Bath and Beyond Inc to $69.14 and a 6.9 percent drop in Family Dollar Stores Inc to $61.76. Bed Bath & Beyond lowered its fourth quarter and full-year earnings estimates after the close on Wednesday while Family Dollar reported a weaker quarterly profit on Thursday as it discounted more than it had planned to win holiday shoppers. Exxon Mobil Corp lost 1 percent to $99.71 as the biggest drag on the S&P 500 after Citigroup cut its rating on the oil company to "neutral" from "buy." "After a number of years where the macro events meant the stocks traded pretty similarly, now we are beginning to see more differentiation," said Kate Warne, investment strategist at Edward Jones in St. Louis.
By Karolin Schaps and Vera Eckert LONDON/FRANKFURT (Reuters) - North Europe's devastating storms sent wind turbines spinning and helped strengthen a new winter phenomenon for the region - negative electricity prices. Damaging for utilities losing money making electricity, delighting traders who cash in on price swings, they will not, however, mean cheap power for households. A raft of elements to subsidize the green energy boom make up half of most consumer power bills, shielding them from immediate wholesale market price swings. Over the Christmas holiday, which typically causes a drop in energy demand, wholesale electricity prices in Germany, the Nordic region, the Czech Republic and Slovakia turned negative on excessive renewable energy production and mild weather.