Tuesday PM August 14th, 2007

Enron Shareholders make last plea for support of effort to hold Enron banks accountable...Helicopter rescues workers from Diamond Offshore oil platform in North Sea...Governor Perry signs bill setting up Houston Ship Channel Security District...

Former Enron shareholders have made one last plea to President Bush to support their efforts to hold the Enron banks accountable for their role in Enron's collapse. A phone news conference featuring shareholders who lost their life savings asked the Bush administration not to side with the banks that helped Enron with its financial statements. Earlier, Senator John Cornyn was asked to side with the victims of Enron's collapse, and he says his position has been consistent.

"Well, when I was Attorney General of Texas I had supported the ability of Enron shareholders—people who had lost their retirement as a result of the collapse of Enron stock—to go to court and to ask the court to determine who had done something wrong. And that included financial advisers and institutions that had advised Enron. And so what I've said is that I stand by that earlier advice, that earlier position. In the end, it's ultimately up to the courts to decide who gets what, but I think at least these retirees, these pensioners who were hurt by the collapse of Enron stock ought to have their day in court, and that's what I've supported."

The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to consider a case involving Stoneridge Investment Partners, which considers the same question that will determine the Enron case: whether a third party company that participated in fraud can be held liable for its actions even without making public statements about the fraud.


Shell has posted an update to its online Hurricane Center, as hurricane preparations continue at offshore facilities. Shell has evacuated personnel not essential to producing and drilling operations from the facilities likely to experience the heaviest weather from Tropical Disturbance #34. Precautionary evacuations of 88 people began Monday night and about 100 more were being evacuated Tuesday. Shell will temporarily shut-in about five million cubic feet of natural gas production per day from the North Padre Island 975 field.

Governor Rick Perry sent emergency vehicles and personnel to south Texas in advance of a threatening Gulf weather system. The National Weather Service says a system just north of the Yucatan Peninsula could be declared a tropical depression. It's moving west-northwest toward the Texas coast. Perry says storms have saturated much of Texas this summer. He says many communities in this storm's projected path are at high risk of dangerous flash flooding. Perry is sending 30 vehicles and 60 Texas National Guard members to Weslaco and San Antonio. He's activating three helicopter rescue swimmer teams and putting six teams on standby. Volunteer organizations are being prepared to provide mass care support.


A rescue helicopter evacuated more than 30 workers from an oil platform about 125 miles off Scotland's coast after a fire in the engine room. Houston-based Diamond Offshore, which operates the Ocean Guardian platform in the North Sea, says 32 staffers were removed. The fire has been put out. Nobody has been hurt. About 55 people remain on board as the damage was being assessed.


The law's been in effect for two months now, but Governor Rick Perry made the gesture for the cameras as he held a ceremonial signing of the Houston Port Security Bill. In a ceremony in the Port of Houston Authority board room, Perry said the bill formalizes a previously informal partnership between government and the industries that line the Houston Ship Channel. According to a statement issued by Perry's office, that partnership coordinates security efforts the length and breadth of the channel, which is home to more than 40 percent of the nation's petrochemical production. The law passed by this year's legislature authorizes Harris County Commissioners to set up a Ship Channel Security District consisting of voluntary local entities and private-sector partners.


Venezuela is creating its own oilfield services company to reduce dependence on foreign contractors. The nation's top energy official, Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez, said that the state-run oil company is starting its own version of Houston-based oilfield services company Halliburton to provide services within the oil-producing country. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez aims to make the nation's oil industry self-sufficient as he advances what he's labeled his "Bolivarian revolution.'' That's a nationalist movement named after South American independence hero Simon Bolivar. Venezuela's state-owned oil company now depends on foreign companies, including Halliburton and Houston-based Schlumberger, to maintain petroleum production. Ramirez said the new company would also offer services in other Latin American nations such as Colombia, Nicaragua and Ecuador.


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