Tuesday PM May 22nd, 2007

Halliburton CEO arrives in Dubai...BP shutting down some Alaskan oil production over pipeline leak at Prudhoe Bay...Federal jury in Tyler sides with Echostar Communications in patent lawsuit...

Houston-based Halliburton will shift some 70 percent of its capital investment over the next five years to the eastern hemisphere. Halliburton CEO Dave Lesar made the announcement today from his new headquarters in the Persian Gulf emirate of Dubai. The eastern hemisphere includes oil and gas zones in the Middle East, Russia, Africa, the North Sea and East Asia. Lesar's arrived for his first week in the United Arab Emirates. He says the oilfield services contractor would quickly expand its Mideast operations as it targets $80 billion in new business over the next five years. Seventy-five percent of that lies in the eastern hemisphere, mainly the Middle East. Lesar says his goal was to achieve a 50-50 split between Halliburton's business in the western hemisphere and the booming new markets in the eastern hemisphere, primarily the Mideast. Currently, 65 percent of Halliburton's business and as much as 70 percent of its capital spending is in North and South America.

BP is shutting down 100,000 barrels a day of its Alaskan oil production for a "few days.'' The company says it has discovered a water pipeline leak at Prudhoe Bay. While analysts say the temporary loss of output shouldn't have a dramatic impact on world oil markets, any snag in the industry can make energy traders jittery. London-based BP said the leak was discovered in a 12-inch pipe that collects water separated from the oil and gas it produces. U.S. refiners convert more than 15 million barrels a day of crude oil into gasoline, diesel and other liquid fuels. About two-thirds of that oil comes from abroad. The country imports an additional 2.6 million barrels a day of refined products, according to recent Energy Department statistics.

A federal jury in Tyler sides with Echostar Communications in a patent lawsuit. Echostar is the parent of the Dish satellite TV service. Austin-based Forgent Networks had accused Echostar of violating a patent it holds on technology used in video teleconferencing over phone lines. But the jury ruled that the patent was invalid. Echostar attorney Jeffrey Blum says the company decided to fight the lawsuit--even though other defendants settled Forgent patent lawsuits. Blum says the unanimous verdict of the eight-person jury vindicated the Colorado company's position. Forgent Chief Financial Officer Jay Peterson says the company is disappointed by the verdict and will assess its options. Forgent develops and licenses patents.

The George R. Brown Convention Center is establishing a new Event and Guest Services Division to oversee event coordination and booth cleaning. The division will also offer concierge service, client amenities, retail outlets, the Explore Houston visitors center and tickets.

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