Around the World December 30, 2001

aroundworld.jpg State

New York shipbuilder is low bidder for ferries

JUNEAU -- A New York shipbuilder is the low bidder for a state contract to build two fast ferries at a cost of $67.9 million, state transportation officials said.

Derecktor Shipyards of New York won the bid, offering to build the vessels for $2.6 million more than the state had advertised, state officials said Dec. 21.

Transportation Commissioner Joe Perkins said the state will consider it anyway. The state failed to attract a successful bidder in April.

Alaska transportation officials want to build two high-speed catamarans to run between Juneau and Sitka and Prince William Sound. Both ferries are expected to be in service by 2004.

The contract would require two 250-passenger ferries that travel up to 32 knots and carry 35 large vehicles.

Derecktor has experience building high-speed passenger ferries and other vessels including 270-foot Coast Guard cutters, said Gavin Higgins, general manager of the company.

Extreme ice conditions make Inlet impassable

ANCHORAGE -- Upper Cook Inlet was closed to single-hulled tanker barges Dec. 21 after an Anchorage-bound vessel encountered impassable ice floes.

The master of a Carl Anderson Towing tug reported having trouble maneuvering a powerless barge through heavy pack ice, the Coast Guard said. The barge was hauling aviation fuel and diesel.

After two hours battling the ice, the tug managed to turn around and head south to open water. The 100-by-400-foot barge being towed was undamaged and no spill occurred, the Coast Guard said.

The Coast Guard said the upper Inlet will remain closed to this type of barge until the risk of ice is reduced.

The closure only applies to tanker barges, unpowered vessels used to haul petroleum products.

All ships in the Inlet have been under heavy ice rules since Nov. 29. That means they must travel low enough in the water to prevent ice from clogging water-intake vents. And crews must have foul-weather gear and equipment such as docking winches must be operational in icy weather.

Seward entrepreneur announces retirement

ANCHORAGE -- Dale R. Lindsey, a longtime Alaska entrepreneur, is retiring as president and chief executive of Harbor Enterprises Inc. in Seward.

The retirement is effective Jan. 1, the company said. Lindsey will remain chairman and continue to own the company with his wife, Carol.

Lindsey will be succeeded by R.J. "Skip" Reierson, senior vice president and chief financial officer.

The Lindseys bought the company in 1959. Harbor is a major fuel distributor in Alaska and the Yukon through its subsidiaries Petro Marine Services, Alaska Oil Sales, Petro Express and North 60-Degrees Petro.

Lindsey was named "Alaskan of the Year" by the state Chamber of Commerce in 1995, and he and his wife were inducted into the Alaska Business Hall of Fame two years later. He has been a director of the Alaska Sealife Center, Northrim Bank and the Alaska Railroad.

Defense bill secures millions for Alaska

ANCHORAGE -- Alaska made out "like a bandit" in the annual Defense appropriations bill that the U.S. House and Senate passed Dec. 20, said Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska.

The Defense spending bill includes $10.2 million to straighten Alaska Railroad tracks that run through Fort Richardson; $8.5 million for utility corridor repairs at Eielson Air Force Base and $8 million for the construction of a new radar system at Clear Air Force Station.

In addition, 17 Athabascan Natives from the Interior who were given radioactive iodine by the Air Force in the 1950s will be compensated. They and the Fort Yukon-based Council of Athabascan Tribal Governments will share $1.5 million.

Money for the national missile defense program was cut back, from $8.3 billion to $7.9 billion. However, that cut shouldn’t affect plans for Alaska, Stevens said. The cut was made after the Pentagon opted to scale back a satellite program and cancel a Navy missile program, he said.

Stevens said he expects work on five missile silos to begin next summer at Fort Greely. Also, he said, enough money for a radar system at Shemya is in the bill, though it isn’t specifically directed there.


Consumers temper their holiday spending

NEW YORK -- In what was supposed to be the biggest shopping weekend of the season, consumers remained frugal as they flocked to the nation’s stores Dec. 22 and Dec. 23, despite heavy discounting and advertising blitzes.

The restrained spending in the final stretch before Christmas wasn’t the manic frenzy merchants had hoped for and cast a further pall on the shopping season, already expected to be the worst in at least a decade.

"This is supposed to be the ultimate peak Christmas shopping weekend and I think it was even softer than Thanksgiving weekend," said C. Britt Beemer, chairman of the Charleston, S.C.-based America’s Research Group.

Instead of the typical surge on the final weekend before Christmas, traffic and sales were up only slightly from the previous weekend, analysts said, and down from the same time a year ago.

As a result, holiday sales and profits for many merchants may come in below already modest expectations, said Jeff Feiner, managing director of Lehman Brothers.

"The profit picture looks a lot worse. Traffic was still off for the most important weekend before Christmas, even with the rampant discounts," Feiner said.

Retailers’ profits may now be down as much as 5 percent to 10 percent, worse than the 3 percent to 5 percent declines Feiner had expected.

The only bright spots have been in consumer electronics like game consoles and DVD players, kitchenware and certain toys like Harry Potter products.


Official predicts OPEC production cut Jan.1

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- Members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will approve an agreement to cut production by 1.5 million barrels a day in response to plans by independent producers to curtail their daily output, a Gulf oil official said Dec. 24.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the final decision would be taken during a meeting of OPEC ministers in the Egyptian capital on Dec. 28. The six-month agreement should take effect Jan. 1, he said.

The official said that the meeting in Cairo would approve the decision after non-OPEC oil producing countries expressed readiness to cut production.

Russia and Norway have each pledged cuts of 150,000 barrels a day. Mexico has said that it will cut 100,000 barrels, Oman 40,000 barrels and Angola 22,500 barrels, bringing the total non-OPEC cut in oil production to 462,500 barrels a day.

-- Compiled from business wire services.

12/30/2001 - 8:00pm