Continued from page 1

PepsiCo Inc. is quietly changing the sweeteners in the drink, with the goal of helping the soda maintain its potency longer. Cans of Diet Pepsi around the country now list a mix of two artificial sweeteners, a pairing that is commonly found in newer diet sodas.

Previously, Diet Pepsi used only aspartame, which is sensitive to heat and breaks down more easily.

This summer, PepsiCo had declined to say whether it would go ahead with such a change after reports surfaced that it was testing the new sweeteners. The switch is only intended to help prevent the taste from degrading over time, but companies are sensitive to public perceptions that they might be tinkering with major brands.


Cash-strapped nation presses drive for oil

HAVANA — Cuba is moving fast to try to tap subsea oil wealth, and will start work in “days” with Russia’s Zarubezhneft, drilling this country’s deepest offshore well yet, state oil firm Cubapet said Saturday.

“Cubapetroleo reports that [Norwegian-owned] semisubmersible platform Songa Mercur has arrived offshore off the north-central coast to continue in a matter of days offshore exploratory well-drilling work,” said a statement in Granma, the Communist Party of Cuba’s newspaper.

The Norwegian-owned machinery run in partnership with the Russian company will tap exploratory well L-01X, down to 21,325 feet, the deepest drilled to date in Cuba. Work is expected to go on for about six months, the statement added.

Songa Mercur is replacing the Italian-owned Scarabeo 9, which was used but failed to strike usable crude three times. The nearby United States voiced concerns about potential for catastrophic environmental damage in the event of an accident, in Cuba’s still-untested industry.

Energy is Cuba’s Achilles heel, and it relies heavily on close ally Venezuela and its socialist President Hugo Chavez for its cut-rate supplies.

With Mr. Chavez, 58, recovering from more cancer surgery here, Cuba has never been in as big a hurry to try to achieve energy independence.


Cheaper gas lowers consumer prices 0.3%

A steep fall in gas costs pushed down a measure of U.S. consumer prices last month, keeping inflation mild.

The seasonally adjusted consumer price index dropped 0.3 percent in November from October, the Labor Department said Friday. Gas prices fell 7.4 percent, the biggest drop in nearly four years, although they are still much higher than they were in 2008. The drop offset a 0.2 percent rise in food prices.

Story Continues →