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CAPTION ONLY: NEW OIL TANKER WILL SAFEGUARD

SHARE CAPTION ONLY: NEW OIL TANKER WILL SAFEGUARD

"Patriot," the recently christened Conoco tanker, is shown under construction at a shipyard in South Korea as it neared completion in October. The vessel's double hull design is an outgrowth of the uproar following the Exxon Valdez oil spill. By April the ship, the first of its kind to be operated by a U.S. oil company, will be carrying crude oil from Venezuela and Mexico to Conoco's refinery in Lake Charles, La. Crude oil has fallen about $6 per barrel since late October. Oil traders say the price is plunging on perceptions that a global glut is building. But industry critics point out retail prices have not kept pace with recent sharp drops in wholesale prices.