(CNN) – On January 30, a Hague ruling found that a Royal Dutch Shell subsidiary was in part to blame for oil pollution of the Niger Delta. Shell had alleged that criminals – who dug up its pipelines and drilled holes to steal product – were the root of the problem.
Peter Voser, Royal Dutch Shell CEO, spoke with CNN’s Nina dos Santos with his reaction to the court finding that all “all four cases were sabotage” and “not done by Shell”. Voser added the company applies global standards to its operations and the Nigeria incident “will not change the way we do business”.
Delta Airlines' decision to buy an oil refinery has caught the imagination. It seems to make a lot of sense and if the numbers actually come true it will look like a stroke of genius.
Delta says that it could get savings of $300 million a year by cutting out the middle man and refining its own jet fuel, all for the cost of one medium-size new airliner. It sounds like a no-brainer so I put the question to a CEO of an Asia airline: did he think that individually or as a group that Asian airlines would get together to look at a similar arrangement.
It does make some sense. According to Cathay Pacific Airways, fuel costs accounted for 41.5% of total operating costs last year. That's a lot higher than the 30% average for global airlines. The reason why Cathay and other Asian arilines have proportionally higher fuel bills is that they are mainly long-haul operators, and the fuel component of a long-haul flight can be twice as high as a short-haul flight - 60% fuel cost on long-haul versus 30% on short haul.
Fuel costs were the main reason by long-haul budget airline AirAsia X to cut back its services. Its short-haul flights are still performing strongly.
But buying a refinery is not on anyone's agenda among Asian airlines. Not yet at least. But what is on the radar relating to fuel costs is fracking - the process of extracting gas and oil through hydraulic pressure fracturing of rocks. It has revolutionized the gas industry in the U.S. Gas prices are at a 10-year low, prompting oil-energy users such as power companies to look at switching to gas-fired plants, a relatively easy transtition.
As oil users switch to gas, airlines are hoping there could be a knock-on effect to the price of oil as demand starts to fall. It may be a long shot at this stage, but in the airline industry it's one of the very few bright spots on an otherwise bleak outlook for controlling one of the biggest costs in the business.
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (CNN) – For the past three years I have taken part in what is known within a group of 50 business and policy makers here in Riyadh as the “sand and snow expedition.” It starts from the capital of Saudi Arabia at the Global Competitiveness Forum and finishes at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
From an editorial standpoint you can, in one week, capture the views of the world’s largest oil producer and the latest on the Arab Spring before moving on to an arena with some 2,600 chief executives and political leaders trying to share the stage perched high among the Swiss Alps.
The visit in Riyadh included an exclusive interview with the wealthiest businessman in the Middle East, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal (pictured), chairman of Kingdom Holdings. From the 67th floor of the tower that bears the name of his group, Prince Alwaleed delved into some of the most sensitive issues in the region, from the Arab Spring to sanctions on Iran.
In the halls of the GCF, executives expressed deep concerns about potential conflict with Iran and the impact such a move would have. As he does with some of his investments, Prince Alwaleed took a contrarian view.
Dhahran, Saudi Arabia (CNN) – With 260 billion barrels of oil, Saudi Arabia has more than double the proven reserves of Iran, its nearest competitor within OPEC.
In an interview in Dhahran, in the Kingdom’s Eastern Provence, the veteran energy minister Ali Al Naimi said the country is ready step back in as the swing oil producer if sanctions undermine Iran’s exports of 2.2 million barrels a day.
“We have the capacity to produce 12.5 (million barrels a day) and we are idling now between 9.4 and 9.8. So we have substantial spare capacity,” he said.
(CNN) – The global research department of HSBC has released a report predicting the rise and fall of the world’s economies in the next 40 years.
The world’s top economy in 2050 will be China, followed by the United States. No surprises there – since China’s reforms in the 1980s, economists have said it’s not a question of if, but when, China’s collective economic might will top the U.S.
But among the smaller, developing nations, there are several surprises by HSBC prognosticators:
Abu Dhabi (CNN) – Iran is using what is normally a quiet holiday lull in the West to make the most of its military manoeuvres in the Strait of Hormuz, which have concluded after 10 days. The navy test-fired two types of long-range missiles, following the launch of medium-range devices on New Year’s Day.
From afar, it would appear that Iran is throwing its trump cards on the table very early in this standoff with the United States, the European Union and the six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar).
Abu Dhabi (CNN) - There is a milestone about to be set which is going largely unnoticed around the world. Oil will average more than $100 a barrel for an entire year for the first time.
Here in the Persian Gulf states, they call it three digit oil. Simply put, that is a number above $100.
Due to advancements in healthcare and people generally living longer, they say 60 years old is the new 40, meaning we are more youthful in age in the 21st century.
Does this apply to the oil market where $100 a barrel is the new $80 - not too hot, not too cold but just right for oil producing countries and consuming nations alike?
(CNN) – It has been about a year since BP sealed the oil well that had been gushing oil into the Gulf of Mexico.
Renewed exploration and drilling is in the news this week with deals being discussed in Russia, Alaska, India, and even off the shores of Cuba. But has the international business community learned enough from the Gulf oil spill one year later.
A U.S. biochemist and scholar says no way, and argues that more protections and protocols must be put in place.
Hong Kong, China (CNN) – When the going gets rough, China gets going. After six months of attempted neutrality between Moammar Gadhafi loyalists and rebel forces, Beijing now appears to have chosen sides. This, as the end-game seemingly nears for Libya’s leader of 42 years, whose hold on power wanes by the day.
A spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry now says the country “respects the choice of the Libyan people” and wants “to play a positive role in rebuilding Libya”.
The translation? Beijing thinks Moammar Gadhafi is about to be booted out and it’s switching allegiance to the folks that may eventually run the country.
Looking at this move through the prism of an oil-sprinkled lens, Beijing’s motivation comes into focus a bit more. China is the world’s second largest consumer of oil after the U.S. And Libya, at peak production, was pumping out a total of 1.5 million barrels a day. And 11% of that went where? You guessed it - China.
(CNN) – A surprise attack from an unlikely source sent oil prices reeling Thursday.
The International Energy Agency, the Paris based research arm of 28 industrialised countries, held an emergency press conference to announce that its members would release 60 million barrels onto the market – allocating two million barrels a day for a month. Half of the total will be coming from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
It is only the third time the IEA tapped reserves; the first was in 1991 during the Gulf War, then again in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina wiped out some production in the Gulf of Mexico.
This move triggered memories of G-7 currency interventions in the mid-1980s, the fabled Plaza and Louvre accords, when collective action by central banks was taken to either raise or lower the U.S. dollar.
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