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SPOTLIGHT

1. ENERGY FRONTIERS

'Euphoria' about China's gas potential masks cool reception to shale auction

BEIJING -- China's latest push to open itself up to more natural gas exploration entered a new stage when 83 companies made 152 bids last month for the rights to search for gas in previously unexplored shale blocks. The result turned up a surprising hodgepodge of bidders, according to a source with knowledge of some of the companies participating in the process, from the usual state-owned enterprises to Chinese municipalities hoping to access the energy bounty beneath their feet.

2. REGULATION

In the oil patch, zoning is no stranger to drilling

MIDLAND, Texas -- Wes Perry, the CEO of a midsized drilling company in this oil and gas town, says city government has piled on so many regulations, it's pointless to drill a well inside the city limits. "It doesn't make economic sense," said Perry, standing in the back of KD's Bar-B-Q, a local favorite. "It adds a few hundred thousand dollars for each well. That's 10 or 20 percent more." But that doesn't mean he dislikes the rules. He wrote them, or at least helped write them, as part of his other job -- mayor of Midland.

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