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Syria Stops Oil Payments to France's Total

Total said Tuesday the Syrian government has stopped paying for oil the French energy giant produces in the country, which is the target of a European Union ban on oil exports.

"We are no longer being paid," a Total spokesman said, confirming media reports. He said the company had since late September "slightly" reduced its production in Syria but was continuing to produce oil and gas there.

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Turkey Threatens to Cut Power to Syria, Halts Oil Search

Turkey said Tuesday it has halted joint oil exploration with Syria and threatened to cut energy supplies to its neighbor as relations sour over the Syrian regime's bloody crackdown on demonstrators.

"We are currently exporting electricity (to Syria). If the situation continues like this, we may be in a position to revise all these decisions," Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said.

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Greek Economy in Dire Shape Ahead of Confidence Vote

The Greek economy shrank 5.2 percent in the third quarter, official figures showed on Tuesday, highlighting the depths of the crisis as parliament debates approval of a new government to enact a debt rescue.

Athens is racing against time to adopt deeply unpopular reforms demanded by its European and IMF creditors before the release of bailout loans needed to avert bankruptcy in mid-December.

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Gas Exporters Urge a Fair Price at First Summit

Leaders of the world's biggest gas suppliers ended their first summit on Tuesday by reiterating the need for a fair gas price while Iran, whose president was absent, warned that Western taxation will derail the energy market.

The 12-member Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) expressed in a declaration they issued after the one-day summit "the need to reach a fair price for natural gas based on gas to oil ... prices indexation."

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Saudi, S. Korea Ink Nuclear Cooperation Deal

OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia has signed an agreement with South Korea on developing nuclear power generation to help meet the kingdom's rising demand, an official statement said on Tuesday.

The announcement came amid mounting concern in the Sunni-ruled kingdom about the nuclear program of its Shiite rival across the Gulf, Iran, which Riyadh, in common with Western governments, fears may conceal a drive for a nuclear weapons capability.

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Euro Health-Check Rings 'Alarm Bells' for AAA France

The authors of a new Eurozone health-check warned Tuesday that France needs wholesale reform even before next year's presidential vote if it is to keep its prized Triple-A credit rating.

"Alarm bells should be ringing for France," says Holger Schmieding, chief economist of Berenberg Bank, Germany's oldest private lender and the principal author of the annual study in partnership with liberal Brussels think tank the Lisbon Council.

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World Stocks Up as Europe Stabilizes, Japan Grows

World stocks rose Monday after Japan's economy grew for the first time in four quarters and Europe moved closer to resolving a debt crisis that threatens to hurl the region into recession.

Benchmark oil hovered near $99 per barrel while the dollar gained against the euro but fell against the yen.

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Libyan Oil Output Rises to 600,000 BPD

Libya has boosted its oil crude production to 600,000 barrels per day and is expected to add another 200,000 bpd before the end of the year, National Oil Corporation Chief Nuri Berouin said on Sunday.

"Our production has reached 600,000 bpd of which 140,000 bpd go to (local) refineries," said Berouin, adding that the remaining 460,000 bpd are exported.

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Cash-Strapped French Wine Town Forced to Sell off Monuments

Residents of Saint Emilion, a hugely popular UNESCO World Heritage site in southwest France, were shocked when their mayor sold a medieval monument to pay off debts.

And while the council has defended the controversial sale as a means of raising much-needed cash for the upkeep of historic sites, it has undertaken to rethink the strategy and find alternative means of funding in future.

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Stalled Spanish Economy Veers Towards Recession

Record unemployment, stalled growth and debt-struck households and businesses: Spain has a long road to travel before it can put the 2008 property bubble collapse behind it.

For years, that bubble drove Spain's rapid economic growth: 3.3 percent in 2004, the year that Socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero came to power.

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