News roundup: Energy execs cautious about acquisitions, survey says … Weekly U.S. oil, gas rig count up by 9 … Closing arguments heard in 'Lil Boosie' murder trial

News roundup: Energy execs cautious about acquisitions, survey says … Weekly U.S. oil, gas rig count up by 9 … Closing arguments heard in 'Lil Boosie' murder trial




Depends on who you ask: Energy executives expect to pull back on deal activity over the next year, after a recent busy period of shale-driven mergers and acquisition, according to a survey by accounting firm Ernst & Young. As the The Houston Chronicle reports, of the 141 oil and gas executives surveyed in April, 31% say they plan to pursue an acquisition during the next 12 months, down from 48% just five months earlier. Nearly half of responding executives say they plan to sell off assets, more than double the 20% who said the same a year ago. Still, executives are generally optimistic about the future of their companies and the economy. More than 90% expect their payroll to grow or remain steady over the next year, and more than half believe the global economy is gaining strength. At the same time, 54% believe credit availability is getting better, compared to 31% in October.



Louisiana on the losing end:The number of rigs actively exploring for oil and natural gas in the United States is up nine this week to 1,974. Houston-based oilfield services company Baker Hughes Inc. reports today that 1,372 rigs are exploring for oil and 598 are looking for gas. Four are listed as miscellaneous. A year ago this week, Baker Hughes reported 1,830 rigs. Of the major oil- and gas-producing states, Oklahoma gained three rigs; Alaska and California each gained two; and Texas, West Virginia and Wyoming were up one apiece. Louisiana declined by two rigs; Colorado, New Mexico and Pennsylvania were down one each. Arkansas and North Dakota figures were unchanged. The rig count peaked at 4,530 in 1981 and bottomed at 488 in 1999.



Fact or fiction? A defense attorney for rapper Torence "Lil Boosie" Hatch accused prosecutors of attacking a culture while failing to make their case in Hatch's first-degree murder trial. In closing arguments today, attorney Jason Williams claimed the prosecution was influenced by violent imagery and lyrics in Hatch's music. But, Williams added, those were merely images used to sell recordings—not evidence of a crime. The prosecution rested Thursday and the defense declined to call a witness, setting up today's closing statements. Prosecutors contend Hatch hired a man to kill 35-year-old Terry Boyd, who was shot to death in 2009. The 29-year-old Hatch is already serving an eight-year prison term on drug charges and is being held in the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. At 2:30 p.m. state District Judge Mike Erwin turned over the case to a 12-member jury after giving them instructions. A first-degree murder conviction would mean a life sentence for Hatch. Prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty in the case.



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