ExxonMobil CEO urges Congressional focus on energy security…Association for the Study of Peak Oil looks at worldwide oil reserves…Consumer Electronics Association says holiday sales of electronics up seven percent…
ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson says energy legislation being considered in Congress is too focused on supply independence and not enough on security. Speaking at an energy conference in New Orleans, Tillerson says energy security means developing domestic resources, promoting wise use of energy and not setting up obstacles to trade. He says it means focusing on increasing efficiency through conservation and allowing more drilling to increase production. Congress is considering measures that would lengthen the permitting process for drilling on federal lands and eliminating $15 billion a year in tax benefits. ConocoPhillips CEO James Mulva says the potential for legislation that would slow the permitting process is an even greater concern than higher taxes.
The Association for the Study of Peak Oil begins a four-day conference at the Hilton Hotel today. The convention is looking at what they see as a peak and subsequent drop-off in worldwide oil production, which they say is imminent and ongoing. Oil companies and some industry analysts say peak oil theorists discount unconventional oil sources, such as Canada’s oil sands and other untapped sources. Slated to speak are Texas oilman and private equity analysts T. Boone Pickens, Matthew Simmons of Simmons International, who has written a book on declining reserves, and Republican U.S. Representative Roscoe Bartlett of Maryland, co-chairman of the Congressional Peak Oil Caucus.
The Federal Reserve says U.S. industrial output was lackluster again in September as the short strike at General Motors contributed to a big drop in auto production. Industrial output rose one-tenth of one percent last month following no change at all in august. Output of autos and auto parts fell 3.3 percent in September following a 1.6 percent drop in August. Part of the September weakness was blamed on the brief two-day strike at General Motors.
A federal bankruptcy court has approved the Bombay Company’s plan to hold a going-out-of-business sale and close its stores by the end of January. The court approved the sale of inventory at about 320 Bombay stores, which could begin this week. Executives say store employees will soon be out of work, and Bombay shareholders will probably get nothing for their shares. Bombay filed for bankruptcy in September after three years of losses and an unsuccessful search for a buyer. During an auction last week, a joint venture of Gordon Brothers Retail Partners and Hilco Merchant Resources submitted the winning bid of about $105 million for the chain’s inventory. The winning bidders plan to close Bombay’s U.S. stores but keep its Canadian locations open. The chain employs about 3,600 people, including more than 200 at its Fort Worth headquarters.
The North Carolina Court of Appeals tossed out a lawsuit challenging financial incentives for Dell to build a plant in Winston-Salem. Dell is based in Round Rock. The decision rejects the arguments of Republican gubernatorial candidate and former North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Robert Orr. He had sued on behalf of taxpayers. Orr argued that North Carolina and local incentives, which could exceed $300 million, are unconstitutional because they mainly benefit Dell–instead of a general public purpose. But the three-judge panel said the incentives “promote the general economic welfare of the communities involved” and are constitutional. Dell attorney Burley Mitchell says the only people who still believe that economic incentives were unconstitutional–were the plaintiffs.
An industry group says between computers, TVs and other high-tech goodies, sales of electronics this holiday season are seen up seven percent in the fourth quarter, compared to a year earlier. The Consumer Electronics Association says a survey found that computers even trumped peace, happiness and clothing this year as the most wished-for gifts. Gifts are seen accounting for nearly half of electronics sales in the fourth quarter. The rest will come from purchases that people make for themselves. Portable music players, such as iPods, top the list of specific gadgets that people want, followed by laptops and video game systems.
Maybe there’s a reason stores put their holiday decorations up so early. The National Retail Federation says its survey has found that 40 percent of shoppers will begin their holiday shopping before Halloween. That’s despite the fact that the day after Thanksgiving is typically seen as the official beginning of the holiday shopping season. The trade group says consumers plan to spend an average of $923.36 on holiday-related shopping. The total is up 3.7 percent from 2006.
Chicago is about to get direct flights to Moscow. Fort Worth-based American Airlines announced it will offer nonstop service from O’Hare International Airport to Moscow–beginning in June. Fort Worth-based American plans to operate the new service six days a week with its 225-seat, two-class Boeing 767 aircraft. Chicago-to-Moscow flights will fly every day except Sunday. The Moscow-to-Chicago flights will operate every day except Monday. Delta is the only U.S. airline to currently fly into Moscow, with direct flights out of New York and Atlanta. The Russian carrier Aeroflot also flies direct to the U.S.
Asian makes continue to beat U.S. rivals in the latest annual survey of vehicle reliability from Consumer Reports. At the same time, Toyota’s scores are falling, while Ford is said to be making its most reliable vehicles in years. Honda and its luxury nameplate Acura topped this year’s list. It predicts the reliability of 2008 model year vehicles based on past performance. Hummer and Land Rover were said least reliable. The top-rated domestic brand was Buick, coming in tenth. The issue is scheduled to hit newsstands November 6th.
A Houston-based collection agency that was fired for mishandling some Ohio records–wants more state business. The Department of Job and Family Services wants Ohio to grant G.C. Services a one-year, $5 million contract extension–without competitive bids. The deal involves back child support. Job and Family Services has asked the Ohio Controlling Board to postpone its decision because the agency wants more time make its case to the panel. Senator John Carey says members were alarmed to learn that the firm has had trouble with the Better Business Bureau of Houston. The company was fired by Ohio in 2004 for throwing state documents with names, addresses and social security numbers—into a trash bin. G.C. Services lobbyist Philip Craig says he’s not authorized to speak on behalf of the company.
Saint Arnold Brewing Company has won its first gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver for its Fancy Lawnmower beer. More than 100 judges spent three days evaluating 2,793 beers from 470 breweries in this 26th annual competition. Fancy Lawnmower is Saint Arnold’s German-style Kolsch-style light ale. It won bronze medals in 2000 and 2006. Saint Arnold’s employs 18 workers on Fairway Park Drive and produces ten different style brews.