Wednesday PM November 8th, 2006

McDermott International to appeal jury award of $387 million to Citgo Petroleum...BP suspends crude oil exports from Georgia's Black Sea over pipeline problems...Independent auditor defends KBR's costly efforts to truck fuel from Kuwait into Iraq...

McDermott International says it will appeal Tuesday's jury award of $387 million rendered against one of its subsidiaries in a case brought by Citgo Petroleum for damages related to a 2001 fire at a Chicago-area refinery. A jury in Cook County, Illinois, found McDermott 45 percent liable for the fire. Citgo contends a defective pipe produced by McDermott unit Babcock and Wilson caused the fire. Former refinery owner Unocal, later acquired by Chevron, was ruled 40 percent liable. Citgo was held 15 percent liable.

BP has suspended crude oil exports from a Black Sea port of the former Soviet Republic of Georgia after discovering pipeline problems during routine maintenance. The pipeline is used for shipping crude oil from Azerbaijan, but the oil will be diverted to other ports in Russia, Georgia and Turkey.

An independent auditor defends Houston-based Halliburton's costly efforts to truck fuel from Kuwait into Iraq during the early days of the occupation. Chicago accounting firm Crowe Chizek and Company was hired by the Pentagon's U.S. Defense Reconstruction Support Office to evaluate whether Iraq's oil proceeds were being used effectively, at the request of the United Nations-sponsored International Advisory and Monitoring Board for Iraq. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers ordered Halliburton subsidiary KBR to undertake the trucking job at a cost of around $1.4 billion. KBR says it fully resolved the issue with the Army Corps of Engineers last February.

French outdoor advertising company J.C. Decaux says it's interested in acquiring its main U.S. rival, Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings. The chief executive of the Paris-based company tells the Wall Street Journal that combining with Clear Channel Outdoor "would create one of the few global media companies in the world with a lot of potential growth.'' J.C. Decaux sells advertising space on public transportation and its own street furniture and billboards. The Journal reports the company's been in talks with at least two private equity consortia interested in buying San Antonio-based Clear Channel Communications. Clear Channel controls the outdoor advertising unit through a 90 percent stake.

The Texas Attorney General's Office says the Dallas Cowboys must release architectural drawings of their new stadium. The $650 million complex--partly funded by a half-cent sales tax--is under construction in Arlington. The city also issued bonds to raise money for the project. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram in August submitted a Public Information Act request to Arlington. The city turned to Attorney General Greg Abbott after the Cowboys said the documents should be withheld. The team cited possible vulnerability to terrorism and competitive harm. Abbott agreed the stadium is "critical infrastructure'' that should be protected by the Texas Homeland Security Act. But the Star-Telegram reports Abbott disagreed that release of the plans would compromise stadium security. The Cowboys and Arlington have 30 days to challenge the opinion.

The Houston Minority Business Council has been named 2006 Council of the Year by the National Minority Supplier Development Council. This is the fourth time in eight years that HMBC has received this award, recognizing the quality and extent of leadership and support provided to major corporations in supplier diversity.

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