Although the ongoing boom in natural gas is unprecedented, Seal Beach-based Clean Energy Fuels, Corp. had long provided facilities in anticipation of increased natural gas use. As a result, the company is poised to make its first profit since the venture was founded by T. Boone Pickens in 1997. The company currently provides fueling facilities for Metro, which runs an all-natural gas fleet. However, Clean Energy expects increased business from private industry customers who continue adding natural gas engines to their fleets. However, analysts conclude that its success will depend on how the energy fueling concern will weather competition from cleaner, low-sulfur diesel, which continues to fuel the vast majority of fleets across the nation.
A recent report from the International Energy Agency concluded that worldwide demand for oil will increase by 1.4% thanks to renewed economic activity. 2010 was the last year the agency recorded a demand increase. The United States led the way in meeting the demand for oil during 2013, though pundits fear that existing laws placing export limits on crude oil may affect the nation’s ability to aid in satiating global demand.
Amtrak CEO Joe Boardman did not mince words when he declared that the Highway Trust Fund in its current form is “dead” during a speech to the National Press Club. Boardman cited the fact that the 18.4-cent-a-gallon federal fuel tax, which has not been increased since 1993, has not been enough to keep pace with economic growth. Boardman suggests that lawmakers should replace Highway Trust Fund with a surface transportation program. In such a scheme, the mode-independent, result-oriented program would collect revenues through sources other than just a fuel tax, require meaningful fiscal support from Congress and choose projects based on expected results regardless of mode. In the same meeting, Boardman expressed his aspiration to see the new AEM7 electric locomotives from Siemens begin operations on the Northeast Corridor as soon as possible. On the other end of the country, Amtrak recently launched two new Talgo train sets for Cascades service, much to the delight of Washingtonians and Oregonians.
Pasadena-based Jacobs Engineering is a firm on the upswing these days, as the company continues to purchase smaller firms and establish itself as a major player on the international engineering scene. The late founder Joseph J. Jacobs had nothing but ambition and drive when he started his one-man consulting firm in 1947. By the time he retired in 1992, his firm had transformed into a $1 billion enterprise. Even after his death in 2004, Jacobs Engineering continues to grow, with 200 satellite offices and 48,000 employees across the world. Its latest purchase of Australian firm Sinclair Knight Merz will further expand Jacobs’ foothold into continents where the latter had only scant recognition.
The US Department of Transportation forecasts higher revenues, profits and profit margins for airlines in 2014. The development comes as a result of stable fuel prices, growing demand and route refinements that were possible through several mergers during the recession. To no one’s surprise, 13.5% percent of said increase in revenues comes from reservation change fees. Overall, airlines earned over $3.2 billion in profits during the last quarter. Also to no one’s surprise, loud and unruly children are the number one etiquette violators on planes according to a recent survey. Curiously, the same survey noted that passengers reclining their seats back for the duration of their flights ranked 7th place, even though 80% of passengers admitted to doing the same thing.
A report from the US Department of Commerce concluded that the trade outlook for the country is becoming better and better thanks to increased consumer demand and increased availability of petroleum from the US. Exports of goods and services reached a new high of $192.7 billion, while imports rose more modestly, to $233.3 billion, suggesting a more stable global economy. The outlook will be a boon to American manufacturers, even as the national economy grows at a weak pace.
US exports lacked much excitement in August, but trade outlook seems more favorable. Details of a report recently released by the US Census Bureau show that trade in the near future may well be on the bright side. For one thing, from January through August this year, the nation’s deficit was 13% lower than it was during the same time frame in 2012. Part of this is due to a decline in oil imports, as prices have dropped and domestic energy production has increased. Trade is looking good for America also because of improved economic conditions. China’s manufacturing sector has picked up from a slow start earlier this year, and the debt crisis in Europe is not as bad as it previously was. This is key, as Europe makes up 20% of US exports.