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BP spends 6.1 bln dollars on Gulf spill response: company

In Uncategorized on August 9, 2010 at 11:22 am

LONDON, Aug 9, 2010 (AFP) – British energy giant BP said Monday that it has spent a total of 6.1 billion dollars in response costs to the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, days after plugging the damaged well with concrete.

“The cost of the response to date amounts to approximately 6.1 billion dollars (4.6 billion euros), including the cost of the spill response, containment, relief well drilling, static kill and cementing, grants to the Gulf states, claims paid, and federal costs,” BP said in a statement.

An estimated 4.9 million barrels, more than 205 million gallons, spewed from BP’s ruptured well in the 87 days from the beginning of the disaster until the leak was finally capped on July 15, the US government has said.

A BP mobile claims office is seen on August 4, 2010 in Chalmette, Louisiana. AFP

The company revealed on Thursday that it had finished pumping cement into the damaged well after a five-hour operation.

“The MC252 well has been shut-in since July 15; there is currently no oil flowing into the Gulf,” the group said on Monday.

It added: “Following the completion of cementing operations on the MC252 well on August 5, pressure testing was performed which indicated there is an effective cement plug in the casing. BP believes the static kill and cementing procedures have been successful.”

Source: SGGP

BP agrees to $20 bln oil spill fund

In Uncategorized on June 18, 2010 at 4:30 am

WASHINGTON (AFP) – An “unprecedented” string of failures triggered the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, BP’s chief executive will argue Thursday, a day after his firm pledged at least 20 billion dollars in compensation.

Tony Hayward is to testify before angry US lawmakers Thursday, a day after he and BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg were summoned to the White House for talks with President Barack Obama.

An activist dressed as death holds an oil covered globe June 16, 2010 during a demonstration in Washington, DC. AFP

In addition to agreeing to fund a 20-billion-dollar compensation account, the British firm said it would pay no more shareholder dividends this year, as it tries to meet the bill from the disaster.

Flanked by somber-looking BP executives, Svanberg pledged that compensation claims would be handled “swiftly and fairly.”

“We have made clear from the first moment of this tragedy that we will live up to all our legitimate responsibilities,” he said.

“We will look after the people affected, and we will repair the damage to this region, the environmental damage to this region and to the economy.”

In a surprise move, he announced a 100-million-dollar foundation to help unemployed rig workers.

But his charm offensive backfired when his statement that BP cares about the “small people” was received as condescension, forcing him to issue an apology for having spoken “clumsily.”

The compensation fund will be run by prominent lawyer Kenneth Feinberg, who managed compensation claims by victims of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks, and will be overseen by a panel of three judges who can hear appeals.

“BP has agreed to contribute 20 billion dollars over a four-year period at a rate of five billion dollars per year, including five billion dollars within 2010,” a White House statement said.

“This account is neither a floor nor a ceiling on liability,” the statement said, adding BP would not seek to take advantage of the 75-million-dollar federal liability cap for oil companies.

The announcement represented a major victory for Obama, who has come under fire over his handling of a disaster that has raised questions about his leadership and threatened to damage his presidency.

It was also welcome news for the thousands whose livelihoods are threatened by the spill.

“It is probably the best news I’ve gotten since this thing started. It gives us some security for the future,” Brent Roy, whose fishing charter business in Venice, Louisiana has been shut down for a month, told AFP.

For BP, the pledge comes amid speculation about the firm’s financial health.

Obama sought to reassure investors, saying he was “absolutely confident BP will be able to meet its obligation to the Gulf Coast and to the American people.”

“BP is a strong and viable company and it is in all of our interests that it remain so,” he said.

But the scale of the company’s difficulties was hinted at Wednesday when chief financial officer Byron Grote announced that it planned to offload 10 billion dollars of assets.

Analysts said BP, which has already spent some 1.6 billion dollars battling the spill and made a profit of around 14 billion dollars in 2009, should be strong enough to weather the storm even if it has to borrow more.

“Regardless how the payments mechanically happen, BP has the financial strength to fund it,” said Jason Gammel of Macquarie Research. “They have enough cash flow and quality assets that will allow it to fund that type of liability.”

British finance minister George Osborne told the BBC on Thursday that BP was a “very strong company” and has the resources to cover the costs of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

The firm’s final liability will be tied to the amount of oil still spewing into the ocean each day, with US experts now putting that figure at between 35,000 and 60,000 barrels.

BP is containing an average of 15,000 barrels a day of oil, which is being siphoned up to two processing ships on the surface. It hopes to increase that amount significantly in the coming weeks.

But the leak is not expected to be permanently capped until August, when one of two relief wells being drilled is complete.

On Thursday, according to prepared testimony, Hayward will tell lawmakers that the explosion aboard the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon rig that sparked the spill was virtually impossible to predict.

“I understand people want a simple answer about why this happened and who is to blame,” Hayward said.

“The truth, however, is that this is a complex accident, caused by an unprecedented combination of failures.”

Hayward will also tell lawmakers he is “personally devastated” by the spill.

“The explosion and fire aboard the Deepwater Horizon and the resulting oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico never should have happened — and I am deeply sorry that they did.”

Source: SGGP

Prudential scraps $35.5 bln bid for Asian insurer AIA

In Uncategorized on June 3, 2010 at 2:09 am

British insurance giant Prudential ditched its audacious deal to buy AIG’s Asian unit AIA. AFP file

LONDON (AFP) – British insurance giant Prudential ditched its audacious deal to buy AIG’s Asian unit AIA on Wednesday, ending a bid to become the world’s top non-Chinese insurer, after AIG refused to cut the price.

The failed takeover, worth 35.5 billion dollars (29 billion euros), was masterminded by Prudential’s high-profile Chief Executive Tidjane Thiam, whose glittering career now looks tarnished, according to media.

“Prudential plc announces that it is in negotiations with American International Group, Inc. (AIG) for the termination of the agreement for the combination of Prudential with AIA,” the London-based firm said in a statement.

The deal collapsed one day after AIG rejected a request by Prudential to cut the price to 30 billion dollars, following a shareholder revolt over the high cost.

Prudential had unveiled the record takeover in March, declaring it a transformational deal which would make it the world’s top non-Chinese insurer by market capitalisation, ahead of competitors Allianz and AXA.

The mega-deal would have been the biggest-ever takeover in the global insurance sector.

In reaction to news of the failure, Prudential’s share price sank 2.61 percent to 560.5 pence in early morning trading here on Wednesday, while the FTSE 100 index on which the group is listed was down 1.16 percent.

However, the stock had soared by 6.3 percent on Tuesday as investors had welcomed AIG’s refusal to budge on the price.

“Unfortunately, it has not been possible to reach agreement so we feel it is in the best interest of our shareholders not to pursue this opportunity,” Prudential chairman Harvey McGrath said in the statement.

“We are therefore withdrawing from the transaction.”

The British firm said it would now pay AIG a break fee of more than 152 million pounds (224 million dollars, 183 million euros), plus legal fees of 81 million pounds.

Prudential boss Thiam, born in the Ivory Coast, but with French nationality, took a huge gamble by making the ambitious bid for AIA only six months into his job at the helm of the British group.

Thiam, who aimed to transform the 162-year-old British company into an international insurance powerhouse, added on Wednesday that the deal had required renegotiation because of turbulent financial markets.

“We entered into this potential transaction from a position of strength in Asia and we view the region as offering excellent growth opportunities for Prudential,” Thiam said.

“We agreed with shareholders that a renegotiation of the terms was necessary given market movements but it has not proved possible to reach agreement.”

He also stressed that Prudential would keep a strong focus on growing its business in Asia.

“Our existing business in Asia has delivered another record performance in the first quarter of this year and we will continue to focus on generating sustainable shareholder value across our portfolio,” added Thiam.

But the Financial Times said on Wednesday that some investors were calling for Thiam’s head after his failure to renegotiate the deal.

“It will be an early agenda item — who will be the new CEO,” one major unnamed investor told the paper.

The Daily Telegraph reported that AIG had turned its back on Prudential and was instead pursuing other options.

Quoting sources, the paper said AIG was exploring talks with sovereign wealth funds, including Singapore-controlled GIC and Temasek, and Qatar Holdings, which could become “cornerstone investors” in AIA ahead of reviving plans for an initial public offering in Hong Kong.

The Telegraph said the implosion of the deal had made Prudential a bid target itself.

Prudential’s newly listed shares in Hong Kong and Singapore fell on Wednesday.

Investors marked down the insurer’s Hong Kong share price by 0.47 percent to 63.20 Hong Kong dollars (8.10 US dollars), while the stock was down 10 cents, or 1.20 percent, to 8.22 US dollars in Singapore.

Wooing investors, Prudential last week took out secondary listings in Hong Kong and Singapore ahead of a 21-billion-US-dollar rights issue to help fund the deal.

Despite the share price falls, one Hong Kong-based analyst suggested there might well be relief that the deal had fallen through.

“AIA is three times bigger than Prudential — it’s too big for Prudential to swallow,” Fulbright Securities general manager Francis Lun told AFP.

Thiam was appointed Prudential boss in March 2009, becoming the first black chief executive of a company listed on London’s benchmark FTSE 100 index.

Thiam, who began his role in October 2009, was formerly Prudential’s financial chief.

Source: SGGP

460 bln VND earmarked for marine reserves

In Uncategorized on May 29, 2010 at 5:15 am

460 bln VND earmarked for marine reserves

QĐND – Friday, May 28, 2010, 20:57 (GMT+7)

Vietnam will put aside 460 billion VND (roughly 24 million USD) to develop marine protected areas (MPA) from 2011 to 2020.

Under a plan, which was recently approved by the Prime Minister, Vietnam will set up 16 MPAs during the first phase, lasting from 2011 to 2015, to the tune of 300 billion VND.

The MPAs will include Tran and Co To in Quang Ninh province, Bach Long Vi and Cat Ba in Hai Phong city, Hon Me in Thanh Hoa province, Con Co in Quang Tri province, Hai Van-Son Tra in Thua Thien-Hue province and Da Nang city, Cu Lao Cham in Quang Nam province, Ly Son in Quang Ngai province, Nam Yet and Nha Trang Bay in Khanh Hoa province, Nui Chua in Ninh Thuan province, Phu Quy and Hon Cau in Binh Thuan province, Con Dao in Ba-Ria-Vung Tau province and Phu Quoc in Kien Giang province.

Accordingly, the MPAs will cover at least 0.24 percent of the country’s total territorial waters and around 30 percent of the MPAs’ areas will be protected strictly by 2015.

With a total investment of 160 billion VND for the 2016-2020 period, the country will study and expand operational MPAs and establish a number of new MPAs.

To develop MPAs, the government has issued incentive policies aimed at encouraging individuals and organisations, especially communities, to pour investment in and manage MPAs.

In addition, a large number of officials in charge of marine conservation will be trained for concerned agencies at all levels as well as for coastal regions.

Source: VNA

Source: QDND

Contractors sign $2.1 bln thermal power project

In Uncategorized on April 23, 2010 at 4:38 pm

Contractors sign $2.1 bln thermal power project

QĐND – Friday, April 23, 2010, 21:24 (GMT+7)

Five contracts to build the US$2.1 billion Mong Duong thermo-power plant No 2 in the northern province of Quang Ninh were signed on April 22.

The project is co-sponsored by American Electric Supply, Inc (AES) and the Vietnam National Coal and Minerals Industries Group (Vinacomin-TKV), with an estimated capacity of 1,200 MW. The US group has contributed 90 percent of the capital and Vinacomin, 10 percent, to form the joint-venture, Mong Duong AES-TVK.

The Mong Duong 2 is the first power project in the form of BOT which has been signed since 2001, said Minister of Industry and Trade Vu Huy Hoang at the signing ceremony.

US Ambassador to Vietnam Michael W. Michalak said the signing of the BOT contract for the project significantly manifests the rapid growth of economic cooperation between Vietnam and the US. It also proves AES’s long-term commitment to Vietnam’s energy development via the public-private partnership (PPP) model, he added.

The ambassador also said he hopes the Ministry of Planning and Investment will soon make laws on PPPs to create equal competition for foreign investors in Vietnam.

Source: VNA

Source: QDND

World raises nearly 10 bln dlrs for quake-hit Haiti

In Uncategorized on April 1, 2010 at 5:11 am

International donors pledged nearly 10 billion dollars to help shell-shocked Haiti recover from last January’s devastating earthquake.

The 9.9-billion-dollar pledge from some 50 donors includes 5.3 billion dollars for the 2010-2011 period, far in excess of the 3.8 billion that was sought by conference organizers for that period.

That target was meant to fund a 4.0-billion-dollar action plan put forward by the Haitian government to fund reconstruction projects over the next two years in the poorest country in the Americas.

“The member states and international partners have pledged 5.3 billion dollars for the next two years and 9.9 billion dollars in total for the next three years and beyond,” UN chief Ban Ki-moon told a press conference wrapping up the meeting.

“Friends of Haiti have acted far beyond expectations.”

The aim of the meeting was to help the battered Caribbean country “build back better” after the 7.0-magnitude quake on January 12 leveled parts of its capital Port-au-Prince, killing at least 220,000 people and leaving 1.3 million homeless.

L-R: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Haitian President Rene Garcia Preval and former US President and UN Special Envoy for Haiti Bill Clinton attend the opening session of the International Donors Conference

Wednesday’s biggest contributions came from the United States and the 27-member European Union.

Several dignitaries emphasized the need to follow through on the pledges, which Ban said “will be published and tracked by a Web-based system” established by the UN and Haiti.

Reconstruction will be Haitian-led, inclusive, accountable, transparent, coordinated and results oriented,” US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told the press conference.

The US chief diplomat, co-hosting the conference with Ban, offered 1.15 billion dollars, saying the funds would go toward supporting Haiti’s plan “to strengthen agriculture, energy, health, and security and governance.”

The EU meanwhile pledged an additional 1.6 billion dollars, with France offering to disburse 180 million euros (243 million dollars) in 2010-2011 for food and the restoration of government authority.Facts: Haiti quake and UN donor conference

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton told the meeting that the EU contribution was on top of 295 million euros already pledged, bringing total EU public and private contributions “close to three billion dollars.”

Some 138 countries, international bodies such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, non-governmental organizations and Haitian expatriates took part in the one-day conference.

Officials have estimated Haiti needs 11.5 billion dollars in aid for reconstruction over the next 10 years.

Stressing the need not to repeat past errors in helping impoverished Haiti, Clinton appealed to the world to “do things differently” this time.

“We cannot retreat to failed strategies,” she added. “We need Haiti to succeed.”

Her husband, US special envoy to Haiti and former US president Bill Clinton meanwhile said that he and the Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive would lead an Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC) tasked with overseeing the pledges.

The IHRC, which will have an 18-month mandate, is meant to give the Haitian government “influence over how and where aid is spent and will ensure that the reconstruction is well coordinated” and addresses the needs of all Haitians.

UN Development Program administrator Helen Clark joined calls to put “the government and people of Haiti… in the driver’s seat of the recovery” and stressed the need to involve civil society, the private sector and the Haitian diaspora.

The World Bank meanwhile said it would provide 479 million dollars in aid through June 2011, of which 250 million was new funding.

World Bank President Robert Zoellick called for another meeting in six months’ time, coinciding with the annual General Assembly session in September to assess the progress.

“This is an opportunity to go from tragedy to trying to do something very differently, and the key to this is to be able to combine capable Haitian ownership with an effective donor partnership,” he noted.

He said this would require “budget support to help the Haitian government.”

“To make this easier for the various donor countries, the Bank will be serving as the fiscal agent for the multidonor trust fund, that we’ve helped set up with the other international agencies so as to try to assure stronger fiduciary controls,’ he added.

International Monetary Fund Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn described the conference as “a unique occasion to try to rebuild the Haitian economy” and said the proposed Trust Fund was “the right way to move forward.”

Among other key donations, Canada, a major provider of aid to Port-au-Prince, said it would also chip in with 400 million Canadian dollars (390 million US) while Brazil pledged 172 million dollars, including 15 million in direct budget support for the Haitian government.

Japan offered 30 million dollars in addition to 70 million already announced.

Source: SGGP

Venezuela, Cuba engage in joint projects worth over $3 bln

In World on December 13, 2009 at 4:06 am

Venezuela and Cuba will sign agreements on 285 joint projects totaling about $3.2 billion at an upcoming summit of the regional ALBA trade bloc, RIA-Novosti quoted Venezuelan Energy and Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez as saying.

According to Ramirez, the documents were agreed during the work of the 10th Cuban-Venezuelan intergovernmental commission prior to the ALBA summit in the Cuban capital, Havana, on December 13-14.

“In 2000, we started the work of the intergovernmental commission with 17 projects worth $30.5 million…and now we will sign 285 joint deals totaling $3.185 billion,” the Venezuelan minister said.

He added that the trade between Venezuela and Cuba has reached $8.7 billion, mainly in the health, education, agriculture and energy sectors.

Over 40,000 Cuban experts are working in Venezuela to help the poverty-stricken Latin American country improve its health care and education systems, Ramirez said.

ALBA, or the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America, was founded by former Cuban leader Fidel Castro and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in 2005 and now comprises nine members — Venezuela, Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Dominica, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Antigua and Barbuda.

Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share

Vietnam, China strive for US$25 bln trade target

In Vietnam Economy on October 18, 2009 at 3:03 am

Vietnam, China strive for US$25 bln trade target

QĐND – Saturday, October 17, 2009, 19:24 (GMT+7)

Vietnam and China should take further measures to promote cooperation in economics, trade and investment and especially to balance two-way trade and raise revenues to US$25 billion in 2010.

The view was shared by Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao during their meeting on the sidelines of the 10th Western China International Trade Fair in Chingqong city, Sichuan province, on October 16.
Mr Wen welcomed Mr Dung’s visit to Sichuan province, which he said will help strengthen the strategic comprehensive cooperation partnership between the two countries, particularly cooperation between Vietnam and China’s western provinces.

Vietnam is China’s friendly neighbour and key trading partner, said Mr Wen, adding that the Party, Government and people of China attach great importance to fostering friendly and cooperative ties with Vietnam.

For his part, Mr Dung said that the Vietnamese Party and State will do their utmost to strengthen the partnership with China in line with the motto “friendly neighbourliness, comprehensive cooperation, long-term stability and future orientation”, and in the spirit of “good neighbours, good friends, good comrades and good partners.”

Both host and guest agreed that the two countries should work more closely together to organise activities within the framework of the 2010 Vietnam-China Friendship Year and increase the exchange of delegations at all levels, particularly among the youth. 

They appointed the two countries’ aviation agencies to study the opening of a direct air route between Vietnam and Chongqing to facilitate trade activities between Vietnam and China’s western provinces.

They hailed the completion of land border demarcation and landmark planting and urged relevant agencies to prepare for the signing of a protocol on the completion, an agreement on border management regulations and an agreement on bordergate management regulations by the end of this year. They also asked the designated agencies to draft and sign documents on joint cooperation in tourism in the Ban Gioc Waterfall area and the free movement of boats at the Bac Luan River mouth in 2010.

The two leaders expressed their belief that maritime issues will be eventually settled in the spirit of friendship between Vietnam and China and in line with international law, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC).

They agreed to cooperate closely to foster ties between ASEAN and China.

Mr Dung invited Mr Wen to visit Vietnam at an appropriate time and the invitation was accepted with pleasure.

Source: VOV


Source: QDND Bookmark & Share

Australia offers 1 bln USD standby loan to Indonesia

In Uncategorized on December 10, 2008 at 5:23 pm

Jakarta (VNA) – Australia will provide one billion USD standby loan to Indonesia, to help the country tackle the deepening impact of the global financial routs, the Jakarta Post reported.

Indonesia has sought sources of loans from Japan, Australia, the World Bank (WB) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to plug budget deficit in 2009, after the country plans to cut bond sales by a third due to the seeping of investors appetite.

The offer was made by Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd during his meeting with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

Indonesia has forecast its budget deficit around 52.7 trillion rupiah (roughly 4.37 billion USD) in 2009.

The Southeast Asia’s largest economy, has slashed its 2009 growth forecast from 6.3 percent to 4.5-5 percent next year, as global economic conditions deteriorate.

The Indonesian authorities are moving quickly to ease the fallouts of the global economic downturn by boosting purchasing power at its huge domestic market with over 230 million population.-

Thailand invests 2.6 bln USD in Laos’ hydropower plant

In Uncategorized on December 4, 2008 at 2:28 pm

Vientiane (VNA) – Kharnchang Public Company, Thailand’s second largest contractor, has signed a deal with the Lao government to develop a 1,260 megawatt hydroelectric power station in a project worth about 90 billion baht (2.6 billion USD).

The project in Xayaburi province involves 10 turbine units that would supply total output of about 7,400 GWh a year, the company said in a statement last weekend.

About 10 percent of the power generated would be reserved for local consumption in Laos and the rest would be sold to the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand, the statement said.

It will take 8-9 years to build the power plant from 2010, and the project will last for at least 27 years. –