Monday PM November 5th, 2007

City Of Seabrook craft agreement to settle Bayport legal issues...Gasoline prices climb about 16 cents nationwide over last two weeks...Chinese national oil company capitalization passes $1 trillion mark...

Officials of Seabrook and the Port of Houston have signed an agreement to settle legal issues surrounding the port's new Bayport container terminal. The memorandum of settlement addresses land use, quality of life enhancements and environmental concerns. Seabrook Mayor Robin Riley.

"The concerns to the citizens of Seabrook was the industrial encroachment upon their city. The dates are in there when things have to be done. In fact, on the exact signing date—the one that'll happen in January—there'll be actual property signed over to the city, and at that time then we would be willing to drop our lawsuit. I thin we were successful. You're going to see a tremendous amount of greenspace in the city. We're having berms—the port is going to even build a wall to protect one of the other areas of the city that's on the other side of highway that goes through out city, 146. So they'll be protected from the railroad." Ed: "As far as noise, and..." "Noise, exactly. They've dedicated $1.6 million to build that wall, so this is not a trivial wall. And then we have the berms that are going to go in. And actually, the citizens, while they're on ground level, there will be no spot within the city that you can see the port, and hopefully even hear the port."

Mayor Riley says Seabrook has been fighting plans to build the Bayport facility for years, so it's significant that both parties have come to an agreement that pleases both sides.

TV and film writers have hit the picket line to press their demands for a greater share of sales on the Internet. Members of the Writers Guild of America went on strike overnight after last-minute negotiations broke off in Hollywood. The walkout is expected to have an immediate effect on late night talks shows. Jose Arroyo, a writer for "Late Night with Conan O'Brien,'' says a key issue is new media, including DVDs and Internet sales. He says while producers claim it's uncharted territory, writers want a percentage of the action so that, in his words, "if they make money, we make money.'' Diana Son, who writes for the series "Law & Order: Criminal Intent,'' said residuals from her work allowed her to take maternity leave. But one television fan who watched picketers in New York this morning said she thought both sides should "try harder to negotiate'' an agreement.

The price at the pump is up—again. The average price for gasoline climbed about 16 cents across the nation over the last two weeks. The Lundberg Survey of 7,000 gas stations has found the average price of regular gasoline on Friday was $2.96 a gallon. Mid-grade was $3.08 and premium was $3.19. The survey says the nation's lowest price was in Newark, New Jersey, where a gallon of regular cost $2.73, on average. The highest was in San Francisco at $3.28.

China's biggest oil and gas company, Petrochina, surged past ExxonMobil today to become the world's first company worth more than $1 trillion. Most of Petrochina remains in the hands of the Chinese government. The publicly listed unit of state-owned China National Petroleum Corporation saw its shares nearly triple in value in their first day of trading in Shanghai. That's after an initial public offering that raised almost $9 billion. The company's total market capitalization rose to just over $1 trillion, compared with Irving-based ExxonMobil's $488 billion. By other measures, such as earnings, Exxon remains a much larger company. Its $9.41 billion in third-quarter net profit, though down ten percent from a year earlier, nearly matched Petrochina's $10.8 billion for entire first half.

The United Auto Workers has reached a tentative agreement with Ford on a new four-year contract. The deal has to be ratified by a majority of the 54,000 UAW members who are covered by it. Details of the agreement were not immediately released. But a person briefed on the deal said six plants the automaker had planned to close will remain open for now and the company has promised future investment at U.S. plants. In exchange, the agreement will include payment of lower wages to thousands of new hires. That's a provision already agreed to in contracts with General Motors and Chrysler. Ford says the deal allows it to move its estimated $22 billion in retiree health care obligations to a union-run trust. The company didn't say how much it will have to contribute to the trust. GM and Chrysler have similar agreements in their contracts.

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