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February 1st, 2006:

Convenience Store News: Shell Canada Denies $7 Billion Takeover Rumors

CALGARY, Canada — Shell Canada Ltd. said it was unaware of any takeover plans by parent company Royal Dutch Shell plc as the oil and natural gas producer’s shares fell more than 3 percent on Tuesday, reported.
Calgary-based Shell lost $1.55 to $40.50 in trading of more than 860,000 shares on the Toronto stock market, even as the exchange's energy sub-index rose more than 2.5 percent due to rising oil prices, according to the report.
Still, Tuesday’s losses did not totally erase the 9.5 percent gain made last Friday when Shell's shares hit an all-time high of $42.35 in intraday trading before closing at $42.05 as a rumor swirled that Royal Dutch Shell, based in The Hague, intended to buy out the remaining 22 percent of the Canadian subsidiary that it doesn't own, reported
Acting on a request by the stock exchange yesterday to respond to the $7-billion acquisition rumors, Shell said in the report it was “not aware of any intention by Royal Dutch Shell plc to make such an offer.”
The company refused to discuss the matter further, according to the report.
Shell is a major natural gas producer and refiner in Canada with a national chain of service stations, but its prized asset is a 60 percent operating stake in the Athabasca Oil Sands Project, Canada's third major open-pit mining project in the northern Alberta oilsands. read more

This website and sisters,,,, and, are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia segment.

The New York Times: New Orleans' Jazz Fest to Go On

Published: January 31, 2006
Filed at 5:42 p.m. ET
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Katrina couldn't stop the music.
The 2006 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival will go on as usual in post-Katrina New Orleans this spring, buoyed by a deal with a first-ever presenting sponsor, the Shell oil company, producer Quint Davis said Tuesday.
''It was touch and go for most of the time,'' Davis said. ''If Shell and our other sponsors had not come through it would not have been possible. It would have just been too much.''
Both Davis and Shell officials refused to say how much Shell is paying for the sponsorship, but Davis said it was enough.
''We wanted to do something to restore an important part of the city,'' said Marvin E. Odum, executive vice president of Shell Exploration & Production, which operates in New Orleans. ''We're not going to disclose how much it is.''
With the financial backing, Davis was predicting the festival would be presented on the same scale fans are accustomed to.
The lineup of music will be announced later in the month, but New Orleans native Fats Domino, whose home in the Lower Ninth Ward was flooded by Hurricane Katrina, will be among the featured acts. Domino was also the subject of this year's Jazz Fest poster.
Davis said the festival will take place at its usual location — the historic Fair Grounds horse racing track — on the last weekend of April and the first weekend in May, its traditional dates.
''This is going to be a homecoming party for thousands of New Orleans musicians, chefs and crafts people'' Davis said.
Along with Mardi Gras, Jazz Fest is one of New Orleans' major tourist attractions. Average annual attendance, including locals and tourists, is roughly 500,000.
Jazz Fest, the first major tourism event following Mardi Gras in New Orleans, will play an important part is jump-staring the area economy, Davis said.
''A full-fledged Jazz Fest will generate an average of $200 million for the State of Louisiana and the city,'' Davis said.
The festival features a variety of musical acts playing simultaneously on numerous stages on the Fair Grounds infield, along with food booths featuring Louisiana cuisine and numerous arts and crafts venues.
''There was extensive damage to the grandstand and the stable areas,'' said Randy Soth, Churchill Downs senior vice president and general manager of the Fair Grounds. ''And as it turns out, the Jazz Fest uses just about every square inch of those areas.''
Contractors are already at work making repairs, Soth said.
Among the challenges facing this year's organizers: attracting big-name acts, as well as rounding up local musicians who have scattered around the nation after their homes, and their local performance venues, were damaged by Katrina.
The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and Foundation is a nonprofit institution and uses proceeds from the festival to support projects designed to preserve the area's music and cultural heritage. read more

This website and sisters,,,, and, are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia segment.

The New York Times: Oil Prices Slump on Expected U.S. Fuel Stock Build

Published: January 31, 2006
Filed at 10:57 p.m. ET
SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Oil prices slid on Wednesday, undermined by expectations of a rise in crude and product inventories in the United States, but Iran's defiance over its nuclear program kept losses in check.
U.S. light crude dropped 41 cents to $67.51 a barrel by 10:27 p.m. EST, deepening a loss of 43 cents on Tuesday. London Brent crude eased 31 cents to $65.68 a barrel.
U.S. government data due later on Wednesday was forecast to show crude stocks in the world's top consumer rising by 1.3 million barrels last week, which would add to a stockpile already 11 percent above last year's levels.
“The inventory report should show that inventories of crude and refined products are comfortable for this time of the year,'' said Tobin Gorey, commodity analyst at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia.
Analysts in a Reuters poll expected gasoline stocks to rise by 1.1 million barrels, while distillate inventories — which include heating oil — were expected to increase by half a million barrels in the face of above normal winter temperatures.
Prices also eased after OPEC, a provider of more than a third of global oil supply, agreed in Vienna on Tuesday to keep output near a 25-year high at 28 million barrels per day (bpd).
Expectations of lower energy demand in the second quarter were pushed from the table as OPEC ministers grappled with political supply risks beyond their control that leave consuming nations worrying prices near $70 could hurt their economies.
U.S. President George W. Bush said in a speech late on Tuesday that America was addicted to oil and called for slashing its imports from the Middle East by more than 75 percent by 2025, a goal the government's top energy forecasting agency suggests will be almost impossible to meet.
Oil prices are still up over 10 percent this year as traders worry that a dispute between Iran and the West over its nuclear program could disrupt supplies, coming after militant attacks in Nigeria and frigid weather in Russia reduced their exports.
“Ordinarily comfortable inventories would mean lower prices — probably closer to fifty-five dollars. But the Iran situation, and several smaller actual interruptions to crude supply, are keeping prices higher,'' said Gorey.
Iran, OPEC's second-biggest producer, assured the world that it would not halt its exports.
“We are not mixing oil with politics,'' Iranian Oil Minister Kazem Vaziri told reporters in Vienna on Tuesday. “Iran will not stop exports.''
Tehran said on Tuesday it would halt snap inspections of its atomic plants and end a suspension of uranium enrichment if an agreement by the world's top five powers to report it to the U.N. Security Council is carried out.
Bush said in his speech that the world must not allow Iran to gain nuclear weapons, though Iran says it wants to use nuclear energy to produce electricity. OPEC member Venezuela, a big supplier of oil to the U.S., has said it will support Iran.
In Nigeria, Royal Dutch Shell said it had resumed normal production at its 115,000 bpd EA oilfield, shut after a militant attack on Jan 11, though production at its 106,000 bpd Forcados field remained shut in.
In major non-OPEC producer Russia, output fell by around 180,000 bpd in January, the biggest monthly drop in the past seven years, as extreme cold hit the country's Siberian oil producing heartland, government sources said on Tuesday. read more

This website and sisters,,,, and, are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia segment.

The New York Times: Oil Execs Refuse to Testify at Senate Hearing

Published: January 31, 2006
Filed at 11:05 a.m. ET
Skip to next paragraph WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Officials from six major oil companies have refused to testify this week at a Senate hearing looking into whether oil industry mergers in recent years have made gasoline more expensive at the pump.
With oil companies reporting record profits from higher energy prices, consumer groups have complained that mergers in the industry have stifled competition.
Exxon Mobil said on Monday it earned $10.7 billion in the fourth quarter of last year and $36.1 billion for all of 2005 — bigger than the economies of 125 countries.
The Senate Judiciary Committee, which is holding the hearing on Wednesday morning, said it asked representatives from Exxon Mobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Valero Energy and the U.S. units of BP and Royal Dutch Shell to tell their side of the story.
“All declined the invitation to testify,'' the committee said in a statement on Monday, without providing details.
The companies, with the exception of Valero, took a beating at a Senate hearing last November on the industry's soaring profits at the time and high energy prices.
Bill Kovacic, a member of the Federal Trade Commission, is scheduled to testify at Wednesday's hearing.
The FTC is investigation whether oil companies manipulated gasoline prices and oil refining production levels. The agency plans to finish its probe and send its findings to Congress this May.
Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal will also testify.
The price for gasoline jumped 2.1 cents over the last week to a national average of $2.36 a gallon, up 45 cents from a year ago, the government said on Monday. read more

This website and sisters,,,, and, are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia segment.

Irish Times: Statoil's Irish business goes up for sale

Arthur Beesley, Senior Business Correspondent
Norwegian state-owned energy group Statoil has put its Irish service station and oil supply businesses on the market with an estimated price tag of 150-200 million.
Some senior market sources in Dublin believe that Texaco would also like to sell its Irish portfolio of service stations.
A spokesman for Texaco yesterday initially said that the business was not for sale, but said later that the company had a policy of not commenting on rumours or speculation.
Statoil disclosed its intention to sell its Irish business only a day after the group sold its 30 per cent stake in the Synergen power station to Royal Bank of Scotland in a deal valued at 75 million.
However, a spokesman said the group had no intention of selling its 36 per cent stake in the troubled Corrib gas project in Co Mayo.
Statoil employs 1,100 people in its Irish fuel supply business and staff members were told at briefings yesterday that the group wanted to sell the business as a stand-alone entity with its workforce intact.
Merrill Lynch in London has been appointed to manage the sale process.
The business for sale comprises:
69 company-owned service stations;
supply contracts with another 167 outlets;
fuel terminals in Dublin, Cork and Galway;
interests in a number of smaller heating oil supply companies.
Management in Statoil Ireland is said to be disappointed with the decision to sell. However, an offer for the business from a management group is considered unlikely.
The Statoil sale follows the sale for some 180 million last year of Shell's service station network to Topaz, a group backed by Ion Equity.
The freehold title on many of Shell's 55 company-run properties was seen as an attractive part of that business as Topaz is said to have plans for residential or other developments on the Shell sites.
Statoil does not have outright ownership of many of its company-run service stations. This means that an acquirer of the business will not be able to close them down and use the sites for developments.
Statoil claims to be the biggest motor fuel retailer with 20 per cent of the market, but profit margins in the business are notoriously low.
With group turnover in 2004 of 1.07 billion, the company turned a pretax loss of 2.78 million. Its operating profit of 1.09 million was recorded after an exceptional charge of 6.5 million for a severance package.
Results for 2005 are not yet available.
“We intend to accelerate our strategic commitment to our markets in Scandinavia and eastern Europe. While we have a solid position in Ireland, we believe that, under new ownership, the organisation there will be better placed to achieve its strategic potential,” said Jacob Schram, senior vice-president of Statoil Retail Europe.
Statoil entered the Irish market in 1991 when it bought 180 fuel stations in the British Petroleum network.
It bought the Jet network in 1996, but had to sell some of the Jet outlets to Maxol under a direction from the Competition Authority. read more

This website and sisters,,,, and, are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia segment.

San Fransico Bay Guardian: Contrasting conferences

A pair of high-profile international conferences last week divided the Bay Area's opinion shapers – one group seeking fundamental social change, the other a way to maintain control over the economic system.
The 30th annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, drew the likes of Google's Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Wired magazine editor Chris Anderson, Web-service entrepreneur Paul Sagan, and San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom. They joined at least seven heads of state, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Bill Gates, the presidents of Harvard and Yale, John Kerry, and at least two US governors, three crown princes.
But while a few of the Bay Area's elite went to Davos, Bay Area progressive activists headed south last week to Caracas, Venezuela, for the World Social Forum, scheduled (intentionally) to conflict with Davos.
“I went because I think it's the one place, once a year, we can connect with like-minded people,” said Global Exchange's Medea Benjamin. Benjamin said she goes because she can learn about new social movements, problems in need of solutions, and “campaigns to make the world better.”
Benjamin said an amazing 90 Bay Area activists went, including contingents from Media Alliance and the Asian Pacific Environmental Network, as well as individuals like Ethics Commissioner Eileen Hansen.
Some political observers, such as San Francisco State University professor Rich DeLeon, wanted to know why Newsom chose Davos over Caracas. “A lot of San Franciscans on the progressive side would be happy if Newsom showed as much curiosity about Venezuela as Davos,” DeLeon said.
Venezuela has become a rallying point for the left since Hugo Chavez was elected to the presidency of the oil-rich country in 1998. In April 2002 the country's pro-American business interests (with at least tacit approval from the Bush administration) staged a coup d'état, and Chavez was ousted. Forty-eight hours later, after mass street demonstrations, Chavez returned to power.
Since then, other leftists have come to power in Latin American countries that were once under the thumb of the United States, including Evo Morales, who was last week sworn in as Bolivia's first indigenous leader, and former political prisoner and socialist Michelle Bachelet, who this month was elected Chile's first female president.
So Venezuela is leading a gentle progressive revolution in the western hemisphere. “It's a place where billions of dollars of oil money is being used to teach people to read and write,” Benjamin said.
Chavez gave an hour-long closing speech in the city's Polihedro Stadium to what delegates estimated was at least 50,000 people. The next day Benjamin went to the presidential palace with her Code Pink cofounder Jodie Evans, antiwar activist Cindy Sheehan, and Sheehan's sister for a two-hour sit-down with Chavez.
The talk, she said, ranged from the war in Iraq to global warming. While Venezuela produces three million barrels of oil a day, Benjamin said 60 percent of its electricity comes from hydropower.
“They're changing all their lightbulbs to energy-efficient fluorescents,” Benjamin said. “They're really taking the environment and energy seriously.”
By contrast, in Davos, Royal Dutch Shell head Jeroen van der Veer said that the market and existing energy companies will be able to handle energy problems. “There is no reason for pessimism,” he declared.
Newsom (who was named a “Young Global Leader” at Davos last year) distinguished the views of San Franciscans from the policies of the Bush administration and talked about entering into an agreement with 130 other mayors to reduce carbon emissions at the city level, according to official WEF reports.
But the World Social Forum in Caracas, said SF State professor DeLeon, is the sort of place where left-leaning San Franciscans should feel right at home, and where San Francisco, DeLeon said, “should consider sending an official delegation.” (Joe Dignan) read more

This website and sisters,,,, and, are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia segment.