Friday PM January 29th, 2011

Shares in the oil and gas company Apache Corporation have fallen 6% over two days on worries that its extensive operations in Egypt will be interrupted by the political turmoil in the country. Houston-based Apache is the largest producer of oil in Egypt's Western Desert and the second-largest oil producer in Egypt. The company's Egypt operations account for 20%-25% of Apache's production, according to Phil Weiss, an analyst at Argus Research. An Apache spokesman said today its operations were unaffected by the turmoil.


The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality will use the Barnett Shale area to try out proposed tougher regulations on natural gas drillers. The rules, meant to limit toxic chemicals released into the air, will take effect April 1 in the 23-county Barnett Shale region of north Texas. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports the TCEQ expects to apply the rules to the rest of Texas in early 2012. Celina Romero of the Texas Pipeline Association told commissioners that testing the rules in one area will allow the agency to make changes if they prove too complicated or burdensome.


A report on how Texas could improve the I-35 Corridor recommends passenger rail projects to shift travelers from congested roads. The report, released Thursday to the Texas Transportation Commission, says many of the recommendations would involve expanding I-35 or nearby existing highways. It calls for more managed lanes, plus real-time traffic information systems that alert drivers to delays and provide alternate routes. The citizen-led I-35 Corridor Advisory Committee recommends redesignating and renaming parts of I-35 in central Texas to divert traffic away from metropolitan areas.


JPMorgan Chase is giving out more than $19 million to help small businesses in distressed neighborhoods. It's part of $25 million Chase is pledging to help fund loans for low-income individuals and small businesses. The grants will go to ACCIÓN Texas-Louisiana, a San Antonio-based micro lender, as well as to organizations in California, Delaware and Washington State.

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