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2004 FALL ISSUE - 66
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Oil -- Who's Buying
and Who's
Selling Oil in IRAQ

Venezuelan may sell some parts of Citgo Petroleum Corp.
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Iraq to Increase Its Oil Output
Fuzhio, China November 27, 2004 (xingtv / tvinews) - Production has been restored to prewar levels and efforts are being made to boost it an additional 15% /
Iraq, the fifth-largest oil producer in the Middle East, will spend more than $1 billion next year to increase production capacity by about 15% to 3.25 million barrels a day, an Iraqi official said.

"The budget is fixed for priority projects to build new export pipelines and complete modifications to our refineries," Abdulilah Amir, a foreign relations advisor to Iraqi Oil Minister Thamir Ghadhban, said in a telephone interview Sunday.
Iraq, which holds oil reserves estimated by the Arab Oil and Gas Directory to be the third-largest in the Middle East at about 112.5 billion barrels, can produce as many as 2.8 million barrels a day of oil at full capacity, Amir said from Baghdad.
Iraq's plans to increase capacity to 3 million barrels a day this year were curtailed by persistent attacks by militants against foreign contractors and pipelines. The U.S.-government funded Restore Iraqi Oil program returned output to prewar levels of more than 2 million barrels a day this year after last year's invasion led to a production collapse.
Some of the world's largest oil companies, including Exxon Mobil Corp., Royal Dutch/Shell Group and ChevronTexaco Corp., are intent on bidding to develop Iraq's oil resources should the government decide to open up the industry to foreign investment after elections next year.
Oil exports rose to almost 2.3 million barrels a day in October, according to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. Iraqi officials said shipments from the Basra oil terminal were halved last week because of equipment-corrosion problems.
Basra and Iraq's southern provinces, which have escaped most of the security problems that have crippled the industry in the north, are its most fertile areas for oil production and exports.
State-run South Oil Co., formed in 1968, claims to account for about 2 million barrels a day of the country's total output capacity pumped from 813 wells, spread across 12 fields.
The company, which is headed by Jabbar Leaby, took over the Garmat Ali water-treatment plant, which will inject liquid into wells to help pump more oil this month. The plant, which is vital to maintaining the flow of oil from the Rumaila field, was rebuilt under the Restore Iraqi Oil program by Kellogg Brown & Root, a unit of Halliburton Co.
Iraq's Oil Ministry is seeking the assistance of foreign oil and engineering companies to help expand production facilities and oil fields in the face of a campaign waged by militants to undermine the industry, which is the country's main source of income.
Five companies from a list of 14, including Shell, were invited to participate this month in a second round of bidding for a contract to study the Rumaila and Kirkuk oil fields, the country's biggest, Amir said.
Schlumberger Ltd., the world's second-biggest oil-services company, is one of the five invited to bid again to study one of the fields, a company official in Cairo said.
Shell and Chevron are among foreign companies offering Iraqis free consulting services to help build stronger relationships that may lead to larger commercial production contracts in the future.
Iraq's income from the export of oil is forecast to double next year to about $17.5 billion from the 2003 figure, after the removal of the former regime of Saddam Hussein, Daniel Hanna, senior Middle East economist with Standard Chartered, said in a telephone interview.
"When the Paris Club met to cut Iraq's debt, they said they would possibly review the situation, as Iraq is an incredibly oil- rich country," Hanna said. "Its ability to develop these resources and the impact next year's elections and security will have on this is the real issue for the oil industry."
The Paris Club is an informal group of creditor nations whose role is to find sustainable solutions to the payment difficulties experienced by debtor nations.

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Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA
may sell some parts of Citgo Petroleum Corp.
-----CARACAS, Venezuela November 29th 2004 (xingtv / tvinews) - Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA may sell some parts of Citgo Petroleum Corp., its U.S. refining and marketing affiliate, PDVSA's new president said Sunday.
"We're looking at it," said Rafael Ramirez, Venezuela's energy minister and the newly named president of PDVSA, in an interview with local television in Caracas. "It depends on the review we make. We'll see what suits us and what doesn't."
Ramirez, who was appointed PDVSA chief by President Hugo Chavez on Nov. 20, said "some parts" of the Citgo operations could be sold.
Venezuela, the world's No. 5 oil exporter and a member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, is a leading supplier of crude oil and refined products to the United States.
Through Citgo, PDVSA operates a network of U.S. refineries and more than 15,000 gasoline stations.
PDVSA, the state-owned oil company formally known as Petroleos de Venezuela, also has shares in European refineries in Germany, Sweden, Belgium and Britain.
"I think there are some things which don't suit us, not just in Citgo, but above all in Europe," Ramirez said.
Since left-winger Chavez survived a crippling strike at PDVSA staged by political opponents in late 2002 and early 2003, he has moved to tighten government control over the state oil giant.
Citgo said earlier this month its third-quarter profit doubled on increased use of cheaper heavy crude oil when U.S. gasoline prices were riding high. In late October, U.S. crude futures hit an all-time high of $55.67 a barrel.
Net income jumped to $205 million from $103 million a year earlier, Houston-based Citgo said.



ByLines: Editors Note

Gower Studios Is Sold
One of Hollywood's most storied film lots has been sold.
-----The former Columbia Pictures headquarters, most recently known as Sunset-Gower Studios, was acquired by Menlo Park, Calif., private equity firm GI Partners. It landed the 17-acre property, which includes the Nickelodeon Theater, from Pick-Vanoff Co. at a price real estate industry sources put at $110 million.
-----The lot has one of the richest histories in the entertainment industry, dating to a tiny studio that movie tycoon Harry Cohn bought on Sunset Boulevard between Gower Street and Beachwood Drive in 1920. After it became home to Columbia Pictures in 1924, some of Columbia's most noteworthy films &emdash; among them "It Happened One Night," "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," "From Here to Eternity" and "Funny Girl" &emdash; were shot there. Some celebrated television shows were made on the lot too, including the 1960s hits "I Dream of Jeannie" and "Bewitched."
-----Movies and TV programs will continue to be filmed on the 13 soundstages, GI Partners said Wednesday. Projects underway include episodes of the television shows "Six Feet Under," "American Dreams" and "Eve."
-----Andrew Tainiter, a partner in the equity firm, said it typically invested in businesses "with a high degree of recurring revenue."
-----"Sunset-Gower has been one of the premier independent studios for a long time," Tainiter said.
-----He wouldn't disclose what the studio's revenue stream has been. It makes money renting soundstages, office space and equipment and providing support services such as catering.
-----Although Tainiter now has an office on the lot, veteran General Manager Steve Auer will run day-to-day operations of the studio, Tainiter said. Cosmetic improvements will be made to the lot, and more stage and office space may be developed, Tainiter said, though he declined to say how much would be spent.
-----In 1976, the Columbia glory days were over when Pick-Vanoff bought the property for $6.2 million.
-----Saul Pick and Nick Vanoff got what the industry considered a white elephant that had been so thoroughly looted that it was missing office doors, carpeting and toilet seats. Many of the soundstages had been converted to indoor tennis courts.
-----Pick and Vanoff renovated the studio, and by 1981 the renamed Sunset-Gower Studios had become a bustling lot, with ABC renting a third of its stages.
-----In 1983, Pick and Vanoff also purchased the landmark Aquarius Theater, which had been the Moulin Rouge nightclub and the Earl Carroll Theatre. They converted it into a state-of-the art television theater that for nine years was the home of "Star Search" and today is the Nickelodeon Theater.
-----Pick was a German immigrant who survived a Nazi concentration camp and went on to build a real estate empire in Los Angeles before he died in 2002. He built the Cinerama Dome in 1963 and the two bank buildings on the southwest corner of Sunset and Vine Street. And he turned the former KHJ-TV studio on North Vine Street into a thriving independent television facility that was bought by ABC in 1970.
-----In 1963, he also built the first high-rise hotel on the Sunset Strip; it's now called the Hyatt West Hollywood but may best be known as the Continental Hyatt House.
-----Vanoff was a former dancer and successful television producer born in Greece, whose shows included "The Hollywood Palace," the second "Sonny & Cher Show" and "Perry Como's Kraft Music Hall." He died in 1991, a year after winning a Tony Award for best musical for his production of "City of Angels."
-----Pick's son, Mark, took over management of the studio that year. Sunset-Gower wasn't on the market, Mark Pick said, but GI Partners "was remarkably persistent. The more I said 'no,' the more dogged they were."
-----Pick said he would miss life on the lot and such memorable moments as the rehearsal for the 1993 Academy Awards where a boa constrictor to be used in the performance of a song from "Aladdin" escaped from its handler and disappeared, sending the rehearsal into chaos. The snake reappeared weeks later hungry but unharmed.
-----Pick may use profits from the sale to buy another studio, he said.
-----Sunset-Gower was the third studio to be sold this year. The historic Culver Studios in Culver City where Cecile B. DeMille filmed silent movies was purchased for $80 million in April by a group of El Segundo and New York investors. Last month, a Los Angeles investment banking firm reportedly paid close to $100 million for Manhattan Beach Studios, a 5-year-old studio in Manhattan Beach.
-----"Even with television and film production improving in L.A. County, only private investors are seeking out these investments," said commercial real estate broker Carl Muhlstein of Cushman & Wakefield. "You would think the majors who rent them would want to bid on them."
-----Film and television producers aren't putting money into hard assets, he said, preferring to simply rent their facilities and charge the expenses to individual productions.
-----GI Partners manages a $526-million investment fund backed by the California Public Employees' Retirement System pension fund and CB Richard Ellis, a Los Angeles-based real estate services company. Most of its properties are telecommunications facilities, such as the Brea Data Center in Brea and Carrier Center in downtown Los Angeles


News Highlights For Week

Economy Adds Fewer Jobs Than Expected - Nov. 28, 2004
The nation's hiring engine faltered yet again in November, with the Labor Department reporting Friday that the economy added a net 112,000 jobs during the month. That was much fewer than the 200,000 that economists were expecting and only about two-thirds of what needs to be created each month to keep up with the growth in population.
----- The unemployment rate fell to 5.4% from 5.5% the previous month.
----- Employment has seesawed for more than a year now, with periods of strong growth followed by weak ones.
----- November's numbers looked particularly weak in contrast to October's totals, which even after being revised downward Friday were an impressive 303,000.
----- "Just when I thought it was safe to say the job market had finally firmed up, we discovered once again we were wrong," said economist Joel Naroff. "There's a new psychology in the corporate sector. If they need to hire 10 people, they try to get by with five."


Mild Weather, Higher Supply Knock Oil Prices
-----Oil prices fell sharply last week as unseasonably warm weather in the Northeast and the return of Gulf of Mexico production crimped by Hurricane Ivan allowed U.S. refiners to build heating-fuel inventories.
-----Crude for January delivery tumbled $6.90, or 14%, to $42.54 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange last week. Prices have plunged 24% from the Oct. 25 peak of $55.67 a barrel, which was the highest level in the 21 years the contract has traded.
-----U.S. stockpiles of distillates, including heating oil and diesel fuel, rose 20% last week, the biggest jump in almost five months, the Energy Department said. The rise in stockpiles should signal a further decline in gasoline prices this week, analysts said.
-----The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries will meet in Cairo on Friday to discuss production quotas and target prices.
-----Plunging oil prices and the declining value of the dollar may push OPEC to take steps that could cause oil prices to rise, some analysts said.


Ousted CalPERS Chief May Return
-----Sean Harrigan, who was ousted last week as president of the California Public Employees' Retirement System, may soon be back on the board of the $177-billion pension fund.
-----Harrigan lost his seat when the state Personnel Board voted 3 to 2 to replace him as its representative to the CalPERS board. His term expires Dec. 31.
----- However, according to sources close to the talks, Harrigan and his backers in the labor and corporate governance movements have asked Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez (D-Los Angeles) and Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata (D-Oakland) to appoint the deposed CalPERS president to a board seat controlled by the two legislative leaders.
----- Sources familiar with the discussions said Nuñez made no commitment other than to encourage Harrigan to line up support from top national and regional labor leaders.


Southeast Asian Nations, China Sign Trade Pact
-----China inked a deal with 10 Southeast Asian countries to create the world's largest free trade area, bolstering its influence in a region long dominated by the United States.
----- The leaders attending the Assn. of Southeast Asian Nations meeting in Laos also announced plans to hold the first East Asian Summit next year in Malaysia. The Asia-only gathering would include China, Japan and South Korea.
-----The moves are likely to boost China's political and economic interests in an area where its relations have been strained by territorial disputes and lingering war animosities.
----- That could reduce U.S. clout among Southeast Asian nations that are key military allies and large markets for U.S. farm goods, machinery and Hollywood films.
-----The free trade pact would lead to the elimination of tariffs by China and ASEAN on thousands of products by 2015.


Early Holiday Sales Show Weakness
-----U.S. retailers logged wimpy sales in November, which might prompt them to tempt consumers with bigger-than-planned discounts this month.

Sales at stores open for at least a year, a key industry indicator, rose 1.7% from a year earlier, according to a survey by the International Council of Shopping Centers. The year-over-year rate in November 2003 was 3.7%.
----- Of the 71 retail chains surveyed this year, 45% reported sales declines.
-----"The breadth of the weakness was certainly evident," said Michael Niemira, the council's chief economist.
-----Instead of shopping steadily through the month in a way that builds momentum, he said, people bought in surges spurred by sales, and that made for little "follow-through" spending. What's more, he said, bricks-and-mortar stores may have lost revenues as more Americans shopped on the Internet.
----- As a result, Niemira trimmed his forecast for the holiday season, saying he expected same-store sales to rise 2.5% to 3% in November and December combined, not the 3% to 4% he had predicted earlier.


Anthem-WellPoint Merger Is Completed
-----After several false starts and months of controversy, Anthem Inc. completed its acquisition of WellPoint Health Networks Inc., creating the largest health insurer in the nation, with more than 28 million members.
-----The company will operate out of Anthem's Indianapolis headquarters but will adopt a streamlined version of its Thousand Oaks-based target's name: WellPoint Inc.
-----Since the deal was announced in October 2003, Anthem's stock has risen 31%, while WellPoint's has soared 49%.
-----Analysts said they expected the bulked-up insurer to grab employee health benefit accounts at big corporations operating in multiple states.
-----The combined WellPoint covers more than a third more people than its next largest competitor, Minneapolis-based UnitedHealth Group Inc.


Satellite TV Pioneer to Leave DirecTV
-----Eddy W. Hartenstein, widely regarded as the father of modern-day satellite television, will retire as vice chairman of News Corp.'s DirecTV Group Inc. at year-end, the company said.
-----Sources said that Hartenstein had grown frustrated with his diminishing role at the company he launched in 1990 and built into the nation's leading satellite TV provider. Since News Corp. took control last December, the sources said, Hartenstein has increasingly been cut out of the loop.
-----Hartenstein's resignation caught many employees at the El Segundo-based company by surprise. The executive is just 54 &emdash; young enough, industry sources speculated, to start a second career at another technology-based company.
-----Hartenstein said he planned to take some time off before contemplating his next move.
----- Hartenstein's "expertise and counsel have been critical to our progress during the last year," Chase Carey, chief executive of DirecTV, said in a statement.


U.S. to Lift Ban on Mexican Avocados
-----The U.S. plans to lift a 90-year-old ban on importing Hass avocados from Mexico into California, over the strenuous objections of the state's growers, who say an infestation of bugs from south of the border could damage their orchards.
-----The arrival of the Mexican-grown fruit in California, scheduled to begin in 2007, could reduce prices for consumers. But it could also slash state growers' sales by as much as 20%, according to federal estimates.
-----Under the new rules, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said it would allow Mexico to ship avocados to all 50 states year-round.
-----Previous regulations limited Mexican avocados to 31 Northern and Midwestern states far from the nation's avocado-growing regions. What's more, imports were confined to between Oct. 15 and April 15, when the population of insects that could damage the U.S. crop thins out.


Intel Boosts Revenue Forecast for 4th Quarter
-----Chip maker Intel Corp. raised its quarterly sales forecast for the first time in more than a year, citing strong demand for its microprocessors that run most of the world's personal and corporate computers.
-----The upbeat fourth-quarter forecast from Santa Clara, Calif.-based Intel, a barometer of the tech sector's health, came on the same day that technology market researcher IDC said it expected chip sales to rise 26% in 2004 but fall 2% in 2005 because of overproduction. Sales should grow in 2006, IDC said.
-----Intel Chief Financial Officer Andy Bryant told analysts that revenue for the three months ending Dec. 31 was likely to be $9.3 billion to $9.5 billion, up from the previous estimate of $8.6 billion to $9.2 billion.


Edison Uncovers More Unreported Injuries
-----Southern California Edison Co., which has admitted using faulty workplace safety data to win performance-based bonuses from the state, said the blame fell mostly on Edison's failure to keep track of cuts, bruises and other minor injuries among its 12,000 employees.
-----Edison &emdash; the main unit of Rosemead-based Edison International &emdash; said it also uncovered "several hundred" more serious on-the-job injuries between 1999 and 2004 that went unreported.
-----Those injuries also are supposed to be logged for the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health. They came on top of 3,466 such injuries that Edison did report to Cal/OSHA during that time, Edison said.
-----Even so, Edison asserted that the additional injuries would not have deprived Edison of wining the performance bonuses from the California Public Utilities Commission, and that there was no concerted effort by the electric utility to cheat the state.



-----It just goes to show you, says TVI - the week is gone, "NOTHING IN THIS WORLD IS PERMANENT" . . . so follow the money - - and take some advice from a dinner-time chat with "Stonehead".f



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