Tuesday AM September 19th, 2006

Petrobras acquires 50 percent of Pasadena Refinery System...HP stages 2006 Technology Forum in Houston...Twelve Houston firms place on Fortune's list of 100 fastest-growing companies...

The president and CEO of Brazil's Petrobras will take part in a signing ceremony this morning to officially acquire 50 percent of the Pasadena Refinery System—an investment of about $360 million. The refinery has a processing capacity of 100,000 barrels per day, and is situated adjacent to available land where new units will be built. Technical studies are underway for capacity expansion and enhancement of its ability to refine heavier crude oils.


Hewlett-Packard is holding its 2006 Technology Forum this week at the George R. Brown Convention Center, meeting with more than 6,000 customers and HP certification-seekers. HP remains very interested in its Houston operations, according to the company's Jane McMillan.

"Well, the first thing that I can say is that we are committed to the Houston market. I mean, through our legacy and heritage with Compaq, we have been here in Houston for 20 years. So, Houston's a really big market. The Houston campus is one of the largest that we have in HP campuses in North America. So we are, we love Houston and we're excited to be back. In fact, this is the first large event that we've had since the merger here in Houston."

Attendees include customers, technology partners and employees of HP.

"Giving them hands-on, educational lab experience. We're be having demonstrations for them. There's a certification program that they can go on—someone that can go in and work with our customers, and they're trained on all of our technologies and solutions that they can go and actually be an extension to the HP employees and the people on the street. And going to some customers that we may not have an opportunity to get to on our own, so they can go out there and help educate and get them up and running and make sure that they're systems are working, working well."

HP is facing inquiries by federal and state officials on whether investigators hired to find the source of boardroom leaks violated the law by impersonating employees and journalists. HP's chairwoman Patricia Dunn is resigning in January after admitting she authorized the investigation. The Justice Department and Congress are investigating whether private security firms violated the law.


Twelve Houston companies have placed on Fortune magazine's latest ranking of the 100 fastest-growing companies. The 12 Houston firms on the list include Vaalco Energy in first place, followed by Edge Petroleum in eighth place, Frontier Oil at 11th, Southwestern Energy at 35th, Swift Energy at 40th, Grant Prideco at 48th, Helix Energy Solutions Group at 50th, EOG Resources at 53rd, ConocoPhillips at 75th, National Oilwell Varco at 93rd, Quanex at 94th and Oil States International at 95th.


Mississippi officials don't expect a decision this month on whether part of the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve will be stored in a Richton, Mississippi salt dome. Richton is one of two sites under consideration in Mississippi. The U.S. Department of Energy in 2005 added the Bruinsburg salt dome near the Mississippi River just south of Vicksburg as a possible location. The other sites being considered are: Chacahoula and Clovelly in Lafourche Parish, Louisiana and Stratton Ridge in Brazoria County, Texas. According to state officials, there are about 50 salt domes used for petroleum product storage in Mississippi. Officials said the Richton site stores 160 million barrels--roughly 16 percent of the one billion barrel target.


America's leading companies are expecting slower growth over the next six months. The business roundtable's third quarter CEO Economic Outlook Survey shows lower expectations in sales, capital spending and employment. The CEO economic outlook index is at 82 percent, down from the second quarter reading of 98 percent. Business roundtable executive director Johanna Schneider says the trend is down. But that was to be expected, since there were unusually high numbers in the last two quarters. She say any survey results of over 50 percent mean the economy is expanding.


America's deficit in the broadest measure of foreign trade increased in the spring to the second highest level in history. The widening gap reflects a jump in payments for foreign oil. The Commerce Department reports that the deficit in the current account rose to more than $218 billion in the April-June quarter. That's an increase of 2.4 percent over the deficit in the first three months of the year. The current account is the broadest measure of foreign trade. It covers trade in goods and services as well as investment flows between countries. The deficit represents the amount the U.S. must borrow from foreigners to cover the shortfall between exports and imports.


Bio photo of Ed Mayberry

Ed Mayberry

Local Anchor, All Things Considered

Ed Mayberry has worked in radio since 1971, with many of those years spent on the rock 'n' roll disc jockey side of the business...