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Tar balls wash ashore on Gulf Coast following Tropical Storm Lee

Jay Reeves / AP

Brandon Franklin picks up a tar ball washed in by Tropical Storm Lee from amid shells at Gulf Shores, Ala., on Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2011. Franklin, coastal plans manager for the city, said the tar balls are suspected of being pieces of submerged tar mats left over from the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Officials said Tuesday that they plan to test the black and brown globs to find out if they're related to last year's oil spill.

Jay Reeves / AP

Tar balls washed in by Tropical Storm Lee are amid shells on the beach at Gulf Shores, Ala., on Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2011. City officials suspect the tar balls are left over from the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico last summer. Officials said Tuesday that they plan to test the black and brown globs to find out if they're related to last year's oil spill.

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Rupak De Chowdhuri / Reuters

Around the globe countries are drilling for it, distributing it, trading it and looking for ways to run their economies with replacements for it.