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Energy Roundup: CFTC Eyes Trading Limits, BP Profit Slumps, Hedge Fund Launches Oil Venture, and More

Federal regulators mull limits on energy trading -- The Commodity Futures Trading Commission kicked off its study of speculation in commodity markets with hearings Tuesday, which may lead to new limits on how many futures contracts investors can hold in oil and energy commodities. Opponents to regulation blame wild swings in oil on supply and demand; and are concerned hedging could be crippled under new CFTC rules. [Source: Houston Chronicle]

BP output rises and costs fall, but profits still slump 53 percent -- BP CEO Tony Hayward put heavy emphasis on the company's four percent increase in daily production and its reduction in cash costs during its second-quarter earnings report. BP has exceed its $2 billion reduction in cash costs and another $1 billion savings is expected through the rest of 2009. BP's second-quarter profits fell 53 percent from the same period last year. BP did manage to maintain its dividend at 14 cents a share. [Source: BP]

Hedge fund GLG Partners launching oil production company -- One of the world's largest hedge fund managers is starting a venture called Lothian, an oil production company that will be listed on the London Stock Exchange in September. Lothian, which may be headed up by industry veterans from Tullow Oil and Wellstream Holdings, would then acquire oil production assets worldwide. [Source: Reuters]

Mitsubishi Heavy places bets on U.S. wind industry with plans for assembly plant -- Mitsubishi Heavy Industries plans to build a wind-power generator assembly plant in the U.S. or Canada by early 2010 in an effort to take advantage of President Obama's push for renewable energy. The plant, which may cost up to $105 million, could help Japan's biggest heavy-equipment maker compete with General Electric in the race to supply wind turbines and generators to the U.S. market. [Source: Bloomberg]

Mine shafts touted as geothermal energy conduits for local towns -- Two engineers from the University of Oviedo have developed a method to turn mine shafts that are about to close down into geothermal energy boilers. The geothermal energy would, in turn, provide heating and hot water for people living in nearby towns. [Source: Science Daily]

Ghana signs development plan for massive West African oil discovery -- After months of negotiations, Ghana has signed an agreement with a group of international oil companies including Kosmos Energy, Anadarko Petroleum and Tullow Oil to develop promising offshore oil fields that could bring the country $1 billion in revenue by the end of 2010. Ghana, a stable country that has held five consecutive democratic elections, has spent considerable time negotiating their position with the oil companies in an effort to avoid some of the mistakes and corruption that has plagued other African nations. [Source: WSJ]