Media Focus on Multinational Corporations[2022.05.09]






CNOOC adds oilfields in Brazil

China National Offshore Oil Corp (CNOOC)'s ultra-deepwater pre-salt oilfield in Brazil was put into operation on Tuesday, the latest effort by the country's top offshore oil and gas producer to step up overseas oil and gas production.

With a total investment of more than $20 billion, the Mero oilfield, a deepwater pre-salt project located in Brazil's Santos Basin, can produce 180,000 barrels of crude oil per day and is expected to reach its peak production by the end of 2022, the company said.


Panasonic set to cash in on China's dual carbon goals with hydrogen fuel cells

Japanese electronics manufacturer Panasonic Corp will accelerate its steps to promote the development of hydrogen-powered fuel cells in China and contribute to the nation's carbon peak and neutrality goals to reduce carbon emissions as well as help utilize clean and renewable energy worldwide.

Zhao Bingdi, president of Panasonic China, said the company plans to build its first hydrogen-powered fuel cells and comprehensive energy utilization project at its plant in Wuxi, Jiangsu province, which is scheduled to be put into operation in June. When completed, the hydrogen-powered fuel cell system will provide electricity and heat for the Wuxi factory.

Panasonic has always paid attention to producing energy-saving products and utilizing renewable energy, and its two factories in Wuxi and Beijing have achieved net-zero emissions, Zhao said.


Toshiba to kick off production for data center hard drives in China

Toshiba will soon begin its production of hard-disk drives for data centers in China, with plans to roughly double global near-line capacity from fiscal 2020 levels by fiscal 2025 as storage demand increases, Nikkei Asia reported on Thursday.

The company will ship samples as early as June and set up mass production by July.

Toshiba Electronic Devices & Storage (TDSC) will join hands with a TDK unit and install assembly lines at the latter's base in South China's Guangdong province for an undisclosed sum. This arrangement will enable Toshiba to slash shipping among other costs associated with its existing data center customers in China while also making it easier to provide customer support.

Toshiba currently only makes data center hard drives in the Philippines and wants to set up production elsewhere for geographical diversification. Separately, the company already has a Chinese factory for hard drives used in computers and other products.

Investment in data centers is on the rise. The market for data center hard drives will grow roughly 40 percent from $13.8 billion in 2021 to $19.6 billion in 2026, Japanese research firm Techno Systems Research forecasts.


China's oil giant CNPC reports strong profit growth in Q1

 China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), the country's largest oil and gas producer and supplier, reported a 40.9-percent surge in net profit in the first quarter of the year.

Net profit attributable to the parent company exceeded 39 billion yuan (about $5.89 billion) from January to March, the company said in a statement filed with the Shanghai Stock Exchange.

The company's business revenue rose 41.21 percent to about 779.4 billion yuan in the reporting period, it said.

The company attributed its net profit growth to the rise in the prices of oil and gas products, as well as the increase in sales volumes.


China approves Pfizer's lung cancer therapy

Biopharmaceutical company Pfizer announced on Friday that Lorbrena, the world's first third-generation anaplastic lymphoma kinase inhibitor, has been approved by China's National Medical Products Administration for the treatment of patients with ALK-positive locally advanced or metastatic non-small cell lung cancer.

As Pfizer's innovative targeted lung cancer therapy, the tablet demonstrates breakthrough in improving patients' progression-free survival, can better penetrate blood-brain barrier, and have less drug resistance, said the company.

It is recommended by the latest global guidelines as a preferred first-line therapy, and is expected to reshape the treatment landscape of the disease by providing patients with long-term benefits, the company said.


Merck inks agreement to expand manufacturing center in Wuxi

Multinational pharmaceutical company Merck entered into an agreement with the administrative management committee of the Wuxi National High-tech Industrial Development Zone on Thursday.

According to the agreement, the industry giant will expand its single-use manufacturing center in Wuxi, East China's Jiangsu province.

Established in September 2018, the center will see its capacity significantly increased thanks to a 100-million-euro ($105.7 million) investment as stated in the agreement. The expansion is aimed at accelerating Merck's Mobius single-use manufacturing and enhancing custom design capabilities in China.

Mobius single-use manufacturing includes up-to-date filtration and separation technologies that are widely used in the biopharmaceutical industry.

The expanded manufacturing center, which is scheduled to become operational in 2024, will provide about 1,000 new jobs upon completion.

Matthias Heinzel, CEO of Merck's life science business, said that the expansion of Mobius single-use assemblies will serve the ongoing development and production of COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics.

The cooperative agreement with the local authorities in Wuxi also underscores Merck's commitment to its customers in China as well as the fast-growing Asia Pacific region, he added.



BMW sees Q1 figures jump after full consolidation of China joint venture BBA

BMW's earnings before tax (EBT) in the first quarter (Q1) of fiscal year 2022 more than quadrupled year-on-year to reach 12.2 billion euros ($12.9 billion), the German carmaker said on Thursday.

The full consolidation of BMW's joint venture with Brilliance China Automotive Holdings Ltd had a positive one-time effect of around 7.7 billion euros, according to the company. Back in February, the German carmaker increased its stake in BMW Brilliance Automotive Ltd (BBA) from 50 to 75 percent.

Revenues rose by 16.3 percent year-on-year to reach 31.1 billion euros in the first three months of the year. The consolidation of BBA also had a positive effect on this development. According to BMW, the new Chinese subsidiary contributed 3.3 billion euros in revenues.

'The strength and resilience of the BMW Group are particularly evident in this challenging environment,' said Oliver Zipse, chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG, stressing that the consolidation of BBA was an 'important strategic move.'

Due to supply bottlenecks and the pandemic development in China, global car deliveries of the BMW Group fell by 6.2 percent to 596,907 units. The group's luxury brand Rolls Royce was the only to record a notable increase, up 17.7 percent to 1,624 units in the first quarter.

Sales of electrified vehicles continued to grow and rose by 28 percent to 89,669 units in Q1, according to BMW. Sales of purely electric vehicles particularly more than doubled to 35,289 units.

'Bolstered by strong global demand' for its premium vehicles, the BMW Group is maintaining its guidance for fiscal 2022, expecting earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) to range between 7 and 9 percent.


FAW Toyota

FAW Toyota kicks off EV campaign in China

FAW Toyota started presales of its first electric model on Thursday, marking the start of the Sino-Japanese joint venture's ambition in the world's largest electric vehicle market.

The mid-sized model, called the bZ4X SUV, was built on the e-TNGA platform which Toyota has developed exclusively for electric vehicles.

The model, with five variants, is expected to take on Volkswagen's electric ID series models in the Chinese market.



Tesla recalls Model 3 Performance vehicles in China

The recall involves Model 3 Performance vehicles manufactured between Jan 12, 2019 and March 25, 2022, with 1,850 of them imported and 12,834 made in China, according to a statement from the State Administration for Market Regulation. 

When switching to track mode, the central displays of the affected vehicles only show the speed value without the speed unit (km/h) due to a software error, which may increase the risk of collisions, thereby posing potential safety hazards, said the statement.

The Beijing and Shanghai branches of Tesla promised to update the software on the recalled vehicles free of charge.


Exxon Mobil


Energy demand is expected to increase, and deepwater oil and gas will play a critical role in the energy mix in the future, ExxonMobil Vice President of Deepwater Jeff Weidner said during an executive dialogue at the Offshore Technology Conference on Wednesday.

“Because energy is a key link for human development, economic progress and the overall quality of life, we expect energy demand to increase,” Weidner said. The expectation is that there will be a strong demand for oil and gas too, but the industry is not investing enough to meet projected demand.

And operators can no longer just consider profitability and rate of return, he said. They must also consider carbon output of the project over its entire life cycle. ExxonMobil is going to streamline its deepwater portfolio using a new set metrics during field development to lower carbon footprint and GHG emissions. “Deepwater developments are unique, the wells are prolific, high-flowing properties that produce a significant amount of oil in a relatively short period of time,” Weidner continued. “However, we need to shorten the time between discovery to first oil. The increase pace of development places a strain on our engineering teams involved in the project and the ability to deploy new technologies. And we must use new methods and systems only when the value exceeds the cost. In some cases, applying new technology is counterproductive and can slow time to first oil.”

South America. ExxonMobil is focusing its deepwater effort in Guyana. The company has reported 18 deepwater discoveries since 2015, including three in April. The company achieved first oil on one in 2019 and the second earlier this year. ExxonMobil is working to bring its deepwater discoveries onstream as quickly as possible. “We want to shorten the timeline from seven years down to four or even three years,” Weidner stated. “The increased pace of development at the Guyana projects has put enormous pressure on our subsurface organization. However, the effort has paid off and ExxonMobil expects to recover 11 billion barrels of oil from the Guyana field.”

Regional impact. “A good relationship with the local government is paramount,” Weidner continued. “If local authorities are aligned with the operating company, it produces a win-win situation for both entities. To date, we have created employment for 3,600 Guyanese citizens and injected $600 million in the local economy. The project has also elevated the quality of life for ExxonMobil employees and our contractors that are focused on long-term sustainability.”

Air Liquide

Air Liquide, Lotte Chemical to advance hydrogen economy in Korea

A joint venture between Air Liquide and UK-based chemical company Lotte Chemical will see the two partners scaling up South Korea’s hydrogen economy through investment into large scale hydrogen filling centres in the cities of Daesan and Ulsan.

Strategically placed to fulfil demand in several densely populated regions of the country, the sites will host both the conditioning hubs and refuelling stations with Air Liquide harnessing its expertise across the hydrogen supply and use chain.

Hydrogen will be supplied by Lotte from its own off-gas sources in South Korea’s main industrial basins of Daesan and Ulsan.

Commenting on the agreement, François Abrial, Member of the Air Liquide Groups’ Executive Committee supervising Asia Pacific (APAC), reiterated the company’s stance on hydrogen, saying, “Air Liquide is committed to actively contribute and invest across the entire hydrogen chain, from production to storage, as well as distribution and application developments for end usages.”

“In line with its sustainability objectives, which include reaching carbon neutrality by 2050, Air Liquide’s ambition is to contribute actively to the emergence of a low-carbon society.”

The project is part of the country’s ‘Hydrogen Economy Roadmap’, which supports South Korea’s growing demand for hydrogen mobility – a sector that could see the country produce 100 tonnes of hydrogen per day by 2025.


TotalEnergies To Invest Oil Cash In LNG And Renewables

French oil major TotalEnergies SE plans to use part of its cash bonanza generated from surging hydrocarbon prices to speed up investment in liquefied natural gas projects and renewables.

“This might be an opportunity to accelerate the transition,” TotalEnergies Chief Executive Officer Patrick Pouyanne said on a call with analysts Thursday after the company reported its first-quarter profits rose threefold as oil and gas prices surged. “If we move, it will be primarily in either the LNG fields and/or in electricity and renewables,” he said, referring to the company’s potential acquisitions.

“I’m not a very big fan of very large-scale acquisitions,” because integration is important, Pouyanne said. He added that the company’s multibillion purchases of A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S’s oil and gas unit, as well as some of Anadarko Petroleum Corp.’s Mozambique assets in recent years “were well done.”

The company is also using some of its first-quarter cash flow to reduce debt, increase shareholders' returns, and make additional investments to support short-term gas production in the North Sea. TotalEnergies will spend near $15 billion this year -- up from $13.3 billion in 2021 -- a quarter of which will be invested in renewable energy and power projects.

The $15-billion spend for this year will be capped, Pouyanne said, meaning that any large acquisition would be offset by divestments.

“There is nothing specific in our mind, let’s be clear, just the will from the board to use part of these exceptional cash flows to accelerate our strategy,” Pouyanne said. “In renewables, there is a big bubble.”

Following this week’s acquisition of a solar farm developer in the U.S., TotalEnergies expects to participate in more M&A deals in the coming months, Pouyanne said. Beyond LNG projects in the U.S., Mozambique, and Papua New Guinea, the company may outline its strategy for growth in the super-chilled fuel market amid its Arctic LNG 2 project, he said.


BP's Profit Soars to Highest in Over Decade

BP boosted its share buyback program after net profit soared to its highest in more than a decade on strong oil and gas trading results.

BP shares were up 1.5% after trading opened in London.

BP's underlying replacement cost profit, the company's definition of net earnings, reached $6.2 billion in the first quarter, far exceeding analysts' expectations for a $4.49 billion profit.

The profit was driven by 'exceptional' performance of BP's oil and gas trading division, as well as higher oil and gas prices and strong refining margins. The company did not make any money from Rosneft in the quarter.

It compares with $4.1 billion in profit in the fourth quarter of 2021 and $2.63 billion a year earlier. Its 2021 profit was the highest in eight years.

BP's refined oil products unit made a profit of $1.6 billion in the first three months, compared with a loss of $26 million in the previous quarter and a $2 million loss a year ago.


Chevron 1Q Income Nearly Quadruples as Oil Prices Surge

Chevron Corp's first-quarter profit nearly quadrupled from the same period a year ago, easily surpassing Wall Street's forecasts as oil and gas prices surged following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The second-largest U.S. oil producer on Friday posted adjusted earnings of $6.5 billion, or $3.36 per share, 8 cents above Wall Street's mean estimate of $3.28, according to Refinitiv. Chevron earned $1.7 billion, or 90 cents per share, in the same quarter last year.

The world's largest energy companies have profited handsomely on the back of rising oil and gas prices.

The global benchmark Brent averaged $114 per barrel in the first quarter. Energy supplies have tightened around the globe as demand has rebounded to near pre-pandemic levels.

Chevron's revenue rose 70% to $54.4 billion in the first quarter, above the Refinitiv consensus of $47.9 billion.

The producer is using its massive profit to raise investments in production and in renewable fuels, return cash to shareholders and pay down debt.

The company's U.S. oil and gas production rose by 10% from the year-ago period.

In the first quarter, Chevron pumped a record of 692,000 barrels of oil and gas per day (boed) in the Permian, the top U.S. unconventional basin, and boosted full-year guidance to a range of 700,000 to 750,000 boed.

'Chevron is doing its part to grow domestic supply,' Chevron's Chief Executive Mike Wirth said in an earnings release.

Marathon Petroleum

Marathon Petroleum posted Q1 results

Marathon Petroleum’s first-quarter (Q1) sales and income shot up on the back of healthy operations at its Refining & Marketing (R&M) division, said the company.

The jump in income and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) was possible due to healthy results at Marathon's R&M division, with the segment reporting adjusted EBITDA of USD1.4bn compared with USD23m in the Q1 2021.

The company said R&M margins were USD15.31/bbl in Q1 2022, up from USD10.16/bbl in the same quarter in 2021.

Between January-March, crude capacity utilisation stood at 91%, resulting in a total throughput of 2.8m bbl/day; in Q1 2021, crude capacity utilisation stood at 83%, with a total throughput of 2.6m bbl/day.

'This quarter we advanced our low carbon strategy with the announcement of our intent to form a joint venture with Neste at our Martinez Renewable Fuels Facility and a 15% Scope 3 absolute GHG [greenhouse gases] emission reduction target,” said Marathon’s CEO, Michael J. Hennigan.


Petróleo Brasileiro

Petrobras to invest $16bn to revitalise Campos Basin, offshore Brazil

Petróleo Brasileiro (Petrobras) has announced a $16bn renovation programme for Brazil’s offshore Campos Basin, which includes plans to introduce three new platforms and interconnect over 100 oil rigs in the area.

The investment will be made over the next five years by the Brazilian state-owned oil and gas firm.

Petrobras said that in the coming years, it will adopt new technologies to revitalise mature assets in the Campos Basin as well as for the deactivation of its oil platforms.

Last year, the basin contributed nearly a quarter of the company’s total production.

Petrobras strategy executive manager Eduardo Bordieri said: “Without the new projects, our future production in the basin would be 300,000boe.”

In the next few years, the company anticipates installing three new floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) platforms in the region.

Two of them will be FPSOs Anita Gabribaldi and Anna Neri. These will operate at the Marlim field and will have a combined production capacity of up to 150,000 barrels per day (bpd).

As part of its Strategic Plan 2022-2026, Petrobras aims to add a volume of 20 billion boe to its reserves by the end of this decade. Of this, five billion boe in assets will be operated by the company in the Campos Basin.

The Brazilian firm has also announced that it will invest $5.5bn over the next five years in exploratory activities.

The investment will be made offshore Brazil, with 58% of it to be allocated to Southeast basins. The Equatorial Margin will be allocated 38% of the investment, while the remaining 2% will be used for exploration in other areas.