Wednesday AM May 23rd, 2007

Halliburton shifting 70 percent of capital investment to eastern hemisphere…Powell Industries to re-file statements for three years…DCP Midstream buying Momentum Energy Group… Houston-based Halliburton will shift some 70 percent of its capital investment over the next five years to the eastern hemisphere. Halliburton CEO Dave Lesar made the announcement from his new headquarters in the […]

Halliburton shifting 70 percent of capital investment to eastern hemisphere…Powell Industries to re-file statements for three years…DCP Midstream buying Momentum Energy Group…

Houston-based Halliburton will shift some 70 percent of its capital investment over the next five years to the eastern hemisphere. Halliburton CEO Dave Lesar made the announcement from his new headquarters in the Persian Gulf emirate of Dubai. The eastern hemisphere includes oil and gas zones in the Middle East, Russia, Africa, the North Sea and East Asia. Lesar’s arrived for his first week in the United Arab Emirates. He says the oilfield services contractor would quickly expand its Mideast operations as it targets $80 billion in new business over the next five years.

Powell Industries is reducing its first-quarter net income figure for 2005, 2006 and 2007 by a total of about $2.7 million, according to the Houston Business Journal. The Houston-based electrical power distribution and control systems company made the announcement after a review of accounting errors on inventories and accounts payable. The firm will file restated statements for all three periods on May 25th.

DCP Midstream, owned by ConocoPhillips and Spectra Energy, is buying Momentum Energy Group in a $635 million purchase, according to the Houston Chronicle. That expands DCP’s network of natural gas gathering pipelines to three major producing regions.

Chevron is selling its 11.5 percent stake in Dynegy–some 96.9 million shares—by the end of the week, according to the Houston Chronicle. Chevron transferred most of its midstream natural gas business to Dynegy in 1996, and Dynegy marketed Chevron’s natural gas production. Dynegy has been undergoing a restructuring, leaving the natural gas processing and marketing business.

A Houston fuel company has agreed to pay $5.3 million in penalties and damages arising from oil spills that tainted three northern California waterways. That’s according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The settlement calls for Kinder Morgan Energy Partners to pay a $3.7 million civil fine and another $1.3 million to compensate federal and state agencies for the cost of cleaning up after the spills in Suisun Marsh, Oakland’s Inner Harbor and Summit Creek near Lake Tahoe. The company also agreed to fund environmental restoration projects, hire more inspectors and put additional safety measures in place along its pipelines that course through the eastern Sierra Nevada.

The Brays Oaks Management District and Houston Community College held a breakfast Tuesday morning for business owners to discuss providing a year of free job readiness training in the Brays Oaks/Fondren Southwest area. The groups want to initiate a 12-day self-sufficiency program to provide cash incentives and achievement certificates to adults of dependent families in the Fondren SW area of Houston. Employers are eligible for a tax credit when they hire a program graduate. This area received the largest percentage of Katrina evacuees and other State Department international refugees than any other area of Houston. The groups have applied for a $400,000 Self Sufficiency Performance Grant from the Texas Workforce Commission. Another explanatory breakfast is planned for May 31st at Chancellors Restaurant on Dumfries.

UPS is rolling out 50 hybrid electric delivery trucks that are expected to be fuel efficient and reduce pollution. The Atlanta-based company said the hybrid vehicles will operate in Houston, as well as Atlanta, Dallas and Phoenix. The world’s largest shipping carrier says it expects the trucks to reduce fuel consumption by roughly 44,000 gallons over the year, compared the same number of traditional diesel trucks. The hybrids also are expected to reduce carbon emissions. The new trucks join roughly 20,000 low-emission and alternative fuel vehicles already in use by UPS.

Some travelers have rated Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport highest for service among large airports and Houston Hobby best for small airports. For the second consecutive year, Hobby Airport tops the list for highest overall customer satisfaction in a study by J.D. Power and Associates. The 2007 North America Airport Satisfaction Study measures overall airport satisfaction for three market sizes. The study considered airport accessibility, baggage claim, check-in/baggage check, terminal facilities, security check, food and beverage, retail services and immigration/customs control. With restrictions on liquids in the past year, the study found ten percent more passengers are checking baggage.

Signature Hospital Corporation has moved its headquarters to Houston from Dallas, drawn by a rich pool of potential employees. Signature owns three hospitals, including one in Pampa. The new Houston office is on North Belt.

The U.S. private equity group Lone Star Funds will donate $107.5 million as a “social contribution” to the South Korean people. The announcement comes amid a South Korean investigation into suspected tax and currency irregularities against the Dallas-based fund–and negative public sentiment toward foreign investment funds. A Lone Star spokesman says the pledged donation comes from the fund’s sale of Korea Exchange Bank. The fund has run into various obstacles in finalizing a deal to sell its majority stake in South Korea’s fifth-largest bank amid various probes into its acquisition of the lender in 2003. Lone Star has consistently denied any wrongdoing.

A successful cabinet maker in Utah could be just what the Texas panhandle town of Lockney needs. Samuel Fischer hopes to move the operation to Lockney–bringing with it as many as 100 jobs and perhaps eventually an influx of residents. But some critics believe the potential economic boom isn’t worth the cost. Fischer is a polygamist. He’s a member of the fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a renegade offshoot of the Mormon church. The sect’s leader, Warren Feffs, is awaiting trial on charges he arranged marriages between men and underage girls. In Lockney, people like shopkeeper Ginger Mathis worry that Fischer, his two wives and their 24 children will soon be joined by other sect members now living Utah and Arizona. The Associated Press reports Fischer has closed on one house in Plainview and has contracts on three others. He’s also checking out property near Lockney. But Kay Martin, who owns an insurance agency in Lockney, says Fischer is one of God’s creatures and if he wants to move to town–that’s his business. Fischer declined to be interviewed by AP.

American Airlines is changing its Web site–after hearing from customers. Customers of Fort Worth-based American will be able to compare fare options for a flight on one page, similar to the Southwest Airlines Web site. American also says its site will be easier to retrace one’s steps and view a previous page. Airline officials have posted a demonstration of the new functions on the site. The changes won’t take effect until an unspecified date this summer. The most noticeable change for American’s Web site will be to display on one page the flights matching a customer’s itinerary, with up to eight different fares–ranging from “Economy Super Saver” to refundable first-class tickets–in columns. Southwest is based in Dallas.

Zale Corporation says pressure from one-time charges and less consumer discretionary spending factored in a third-quarter loss. For the three months ended April 30th, the Irving-based retailer of fine jewelry retailer company posted a loss of $3.1 million. That’s a year after it reported a quarterly profit of $16.8 million. Zale says such factors as the high cost of gasoline has prompted less discretionary spending. Excluding the one-time items, Zale said it earned $2.2 million in the quarter. Revenue fell three percent to $511.9 million. Analysts expected revenue of $512.2 million. Zale trimmed its fourth-quarter sales expectations to a decrease in same-store sales of two to three percent.

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