Wednesday AM November 28th, 2007

Pemex dismantles damaged Gulf of Mexico oil platform...British regulators approve proposed merger between Transocean and GlobalSantaFe...Synthesis Energy Systems to build coal-to-methanol gasification plant in China...

Mexico's state-run oil company is dismantling a damaged oil platform off the Gulf Coast. Pemex decided to take down the platform because heat from near-constant fires have made it unstable. In a statement, the company said engineers have successfully removed the platform's drilling rig. Pemex says it hopes the action will help workers extinguish a raging fire, as well as seal oil and gas leaks that have continued since an October 23rd accident killed at least 21 workers. High waves hit the platform's drilling rig, sending a boom crashing into its valve assembly. More than 80 workers and rescue personnel were forced to abandon the platform, and most dove into small, enclosed fiberglass lifeboats. Some of the boats broke apart in the stormy seas and became swamped. Sixty-three workers were pulled from rough waters by passing ships, but 21 were found dead and one remains missing. Pemex says the platform has been spilling an average of about 430 barrels of oil per day into the Gulf. That's almost 13,000 barrels to date. Crews have been trying to recover the spilled oil. Repair efforts have been complicated by fires that have heated and blackened the entire platform.

British regulators have given their approval to the proposed merger between Transocean and GlobalSantaFe after the offshore drillers agreed to sell GlobalSantaFe's floating rigs in the North Sea. The company has three floating semisubmersible rigs operating in the North Sea. The merger creates the world's largest drilling company, which will operate under the name Transocean, with more than 150 drilling rigs and 20,000 employees.

Houston-based Hercules Offshore is selling its land-rig fleet to Petrex Sudamerica Sucursal de Venezuela and Saipem of Italy for $107 million. Hercules says it will focus on marine operations. Hercules sold six rigs in Venezuela, one in Trinidad and two in the United States.

The Woodlands-based Chicago Bridge & Iron Company has been awarded a $100 million contract by Nexen Petroleum UK, according to the Houston Business Journal. The contract includes design engineering and procurement services for Nexen's fourth offshore platform in the North Sea Buzzard field complex.

Synthesis Energy Systems plans to build a coal-to-methanol gasification plant in China, according to the Houston Business Journal. The Houston company says the plant will utilize technology to convert coal reserve to a synthesis gas that will be later refined into methanol. Synthesis is also building two other coal-to-chemical plants in China.

The president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors says a rising tide of foreclosures threatens to "break the back of our national economy.'' Douglas Palmer of Trenton, New Jersey, is one of the mayors attending a meeting in Detroit where city leaders from across the country are talking about the nation's housing crisis. They're releasing a report that says the crisis is draining billions of dollars in economic activity from major metropolitan areas. The one-day forum included discussions on how to keep foreclosed properties from dragging down the quality of life in neighborhoods. Palmer says people also need to be more educated about loans so they don't get themselves in over their heads financially.

A technology company that sells marketing software to nonprofits announced the theft of some E-mail addresses and password information. Tad Druart with Austin-based Convio says the data breach occurred between October 23rd and November 1st. The company, which has notified federal authorities, says the hacker compromised an employee's password. Druart says no personal information, such as social security numbers or bank account information, was stolen. Druart says the company immediately notified the 92 affected companies. The tools are sold to groups including the American Red Cross. Red Cross spokeswoman Stephanie Millian says roughly 278,000 E-mail addresses, and a smaller number of passwords, were taken from a blood drive Web site. The Red Cross notified affected users November 14th. Convio is also the handler of the KUHF Web site.

Houston-based Encysive Pharmaceuticals says its drug Thelin is now available in Italy, according to the Houston Chronicle. Thelin was approved for treating pulmonary arterial hypertension by the European Union in August 2006. Thelin is also being marketed in the UK, German, Ireland, Spain, France and The Netherlands. The drug is under review by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration.

Houston-based Cameron Management has purchased the 24-story 1001 McKinney Building downtown, according to the Houston Chronicle. The former City National Bank Building was constructed in 1947.

TXU Energy plans to move its Dallas headquarters and about 400 employees to suburban Irving early next year. The company had promised to establish separate headquarters from other divisions of parent Energy Future Holdings. TXU Energy sells electricity to about 2.1 million residential and business customers, mostly in north Texas. Energy Future Holdings this year bought TXU Corporation for $32 billion--and renamed it. Energy Future also owns Luminant, the largest power generator in Texas, and Oncor Electric Delivery, which is a power-distribution unit.

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