Governor Rick Perry signs House Bill 3011 into law this morning at the Port of Houston Authority Executive Office Building. It authorizes the creation of the Houston Ship Channel Security District—a public-private partnership designed to improve security in the area. The Port of Houston Authority says the district concept, created by Port Chairman Jim Edmonds, will serve as a security model for ports throughout the country.
Business inventories rose four-tenths percent during June, thanks to increasing stockpiles at car dealers, furniture stores, and food retailers. The increase is on target with what Wall Street had been forecasting. The Commerce Department also reports business sales were down three-tenths percent, giving back a bit of the 1.3 percent advance they posted in May. Year over year, inventories are up 3.6 percent, while sales have grown 3.3 percent.
Americans went shopping a bit last month--boosting retail sales by three tenths of one percent. It's a number that's being watched especially closely these days, amid concerns that the turmoil in financial markets will make Americans more hesitant to spend in the months ahead. The Commerce Department reported the modest increase, which follows a drop of seven-tenths of a point in June. That was the worst showing in 16 months. The increase comes despite continued weakness in the demand for new cars. It was slightly better than the two-tenths of a point gain that had been expected. The increase was driven by higher demand for electronics gear, appliances, furniture and clothing. That helped offset a three-tenths of a point slump in sales at auto dealerships. There had been an even bigger drop in June.
Houston-based Crystal Fuels has begun importing small refinery units from Brazil that convert seed oils to biodiesel fuel. The refinery units can be used on site by city buses, for example, or companies that operate large fleets of vehicles fueled by petroleum diesel. Biodiesel is blended 20 percent with petroleum diesel and dramatically reduces air pollution and improves fuel economy. The Crystal Fuels biodiesel production unit weighs about six tons, measures about 22 by eight by nine feet, and can product over 1000 gallons of biodiesel fuel a day.
A subsidiary of Houston biodiesel maker Nova Biosource Fuels has contracted with New Jersey-based ConAgra Trade Group to market and sell biodiesel fuel and manage logistics at Scott Petroleum's Mississippi-based biodiesel refinery. Nova has a smaller biodiesel refinery in Iowa and is in the process of commissioning refineries in Wisconsin and Illinois.
A subsidiary of Houston-based SUEZ Energy North America has received all necessary permits to begin construction of the buoy system and pipeline connection for the Neptune Deepwater Port LNG facility near Gloucester, Massachusetts. SUEZ LNG has three major contracts for construction. Engineering and construction of the shuttle and regasification vessels are being built at the Samsung Heavy Industries Shipyard in South Korea for delivery in 2009. SUEZ Energy North America owns or operates 45 power, cogeneration, steam and chilled-water facilities, with a capacity of more than 5,538 megawatts of electrical generation.