The Army will reconsider its decision to award three $5 billion contracts to KBR, Dyncorp International and Fluor Corporation. That's according to the General Accountability Office. The federal watchdog agency is backing protests by Cape Canaveral, Florida-based IAP Worldwide Services and Newville, Pennsylvania-based Contingency Management Group. The bundled contracts are considered to be some of the largest deals awarded by the Army. They could be worth up to $150 billion if the Pentagon extends the deal on a yearly basis over a ten-year span. In June, the Army chose Houston-based KBR and the two other companies to provide food and shelter to U.S. troops in Iraq. The protests have kept the pact on hold since July.
Crude oil futures notched a new record in New York trading before fading to $99.18 a barrel. The new record atop $100 a barrel was seen after the government reported a larger-than-expected decline in crude oil inventories over the previous week. The Energy Information Administration says oil inventories fell by four million barrels last week. Inventories of distillates, which include heating oil and diesel fuel, rose by 600,000 barrels. Supplies of gasoline rose by 1.9 million barrels. At the pump, meanwhile, gasoline prices rose three-tenths of a cent overnight to a national average of $3.052 a gallon, according to AAA and the Oil Price Information Service. Crude touched the $100 mark Wednesday for the first time.
A Dallas energy company is investigating a blowout in southwestern Mississippi that shut down a highway and caused the evacuation of nearby homes. Denbury Resources officials said this week that the cause of the December 16th blowout in Amite County, Mississippi, remains a mystery. District Manager Billy Biggers says a rig will be installed over the blown-out oil well to find out what went wrong. The blowout caused carbon dioxide to escape the well. No fire was reported at the scene and officials said the blowout posed no imminent threat to residents. Local officials evacuated nearby homes as a precaution. Denbury officials said the incident involved a well that was built in the 1970s and it was later revitalized using carbon dioxide infusion. Biggers said carbon dioxide injection has been used in southwest Mississippi as far back as 1985 without old wells erupting.
Wachovia has begun eliminating about 240 mortgage and other banking-related jobs in San Antonio amid widespread slowdowns in the industry. A spokesman says affected employees were notified several months ago of the cuts, but the jobs are being eliminated by September 30th. The Charlotte, North Carolina,-based banking company notified the Texas Workforce Commission of the cuts last week. Wachovia has about 3,300 employees in San Antonio--more than it began with at the start of 2007.
Late-night talk shows are back on the air following a two-month break during the writers strike. David Letterman, Jay Leno, Conan O'Brien and Jimmy Kimmel returned with new episodes last night. Letterman's writing staff is back on the job under a separate agreement with his production company, but other shows are without their writers as the walkout continues. Movie and TV show writers walked off the job in November in a dispute over fees from programs distributed via the Internet and other digital media. A couple of the returning talk shows were highlighted by appearances from presidential candidates. Hillary Clinton taped a cameo joke for Letterman's return, quipping that "all good things come to an end.'' Mike Huckabee showed up on Leno's program, despite picket lines denouncing him as a scab. The Republican candidate said he thought the strike had been settled with the talk shows.