Media Focus on Multinational Corporations[2022.06.06]






BASF Bioenergy launches its new brand Spartec

BASF Bioenergy launches its new brand Spartec for the North American bioethanol market. With the new brand, BASF establishes a new standard for performance and service.

“The new brand Spartec demonstrates our commitment to addressing key customer needs such as improving plant performance by increasing yields, improving plant efficiency, and reducing carbon intensity,” says Danielle Cusumano, Head of Bioenergy Business, BASF Enzymes.

BASF Bioenergy continuously works with customers and strategic partners to deliver sustainable solutions and develop innovative enzymes creating value for ethanol producers. The products under the new brand name are already available and in use with more products to be launched soon.


Shell greenlights $2.5 bln Crux gas project off Australia

Shell Plc said on Monday it had given the go-ahead to develop the Crux gas field off Australia, which analysts estimated would cost around $2.5 billion.

Construction is expected to start in 2023 with first gas expected in 2027, which will feed the 3.6 million tonne a year Prelude floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) facility, the oil and gas major said in a statement.

Shell said the project would help its Asian customers move from coal to gas, and also provide a secure supply source.

'The project will also boost our customers' security of supply, which is becoming an ever more significant consideration for global consumers,' said Wael Sawan, Shell's director of integrated gas, renewables and energy solutions.

A Shell spokesperson declined to comment on the project's cost saying the company does not comment on capital investments on an individual asset level.

'The use of Prelude's existing infrastructure enables significantly reduced development costs, making Crux competitive and commercially attractive,' Sawan said.

Energy consultants Wood Mackenzie estimated it would cost about $2.5 billion, while Credit Suisse analyst Saul Kavonic estimated it at between $2 billion and $3 billion.


Chevron to focus on lowering carbon intensity

Chevron Corp Chief Executive Michael Wirth on Wednesday told shareholders the U.S. oil producer plans to focus on lowering the carbon intensity of its operations, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

'We aim to lead in lower carbon intensity oil, products, and natural gas, and to advance new products and solutions that reduce the carbon emissions of major industries,' Wirth said in a statement.

He added that Chevron is doing its part to grow domestic supply, with U.S. oil and gas production up 10% over the first quarter of last year.

As per MRC, Chevron and ExxonMobil have signed separate agreements with state energy company PT Pertamina to explore lower carbon business opportunities in Indonesia. Chevron signed an MoU through its subsidiary, Chevron New Ventures Pte. Ltd, and is looking at potential businesses in new geothermal technology, carbon offsets through nature-based solutions, carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS), Pertamina said.

We remind that Chevron Phillips Chemical, a joint venture of Phillips 66 and Chevron, will make a final investment decision on a new cracker in far southeast Texas in 2022, followed by an FID in 2023 on an USD8 billion joint venture petrochemical complex along the US Gulf Coast in 2023.

Talos Energy

Talos Energy Looking to Buy Offshore Fields from Oil Majors

Offshore oil and gas producer Talos Energy on Tuesday said it was interested in scooping up new production, particularly as major oil companies shed assets in a bid to decarbonize.

'We're a natural consolidator, particularly when you think about the Gulf of Mexico,' Chief Executive Officer Tim Duncan said on Tuesday during an analyst day.

Formed just a decade ago, Talos has become one of the largest offshore oil and gas operators in the Gulf of Mexico through roughly a dozen mergers and acquisitions. The company also is expanding through carbon capture and sequestration facilities along the U.S. Gulf Coast.

'The majors are going to decarbonize and we want to be available for the right M&A deal at the right spot,' said Duncan, adding that the company would look at opportunities around Brazil and West Africa.

Talos on Tuesday closed on a joint venture with Chevron Corp (CVX.N) and Carbonvert to expand the Bayou Bend carbon capture and sequestration project offshore of Jefferson County, Texas. Chevron committed $50 million to the project, giving it 50% equity interest, while Talos, with a 25% stake, will be the operator.

While many onshore oil and gas companies have restrained spending and growth to focus instead on shareholder returns, Duncan said Talos would continue to expand its oil business.

'We're not running away from that,' he told investors.


TotalEnergies to Supply LNG for South Korea's Hanwha Energy

TotalEnergies has signed a long-term sale contract with South Korea's Hanwha Energy Corp. for the supply of 600,000 metric tons of liquefied natural gas (LNG) per year over 15 years, the French energy group said on Tuesday.

The LNG will be sourced from TotalEnergies' global portfolio, before supplying Hanwha and HDC's greenfield 1-gigawatt power plant under construction, starting 2024.

“We are pleased to extend our long-standing cooperation with Hanwha, with whom we are already partnering on the Daesan petrochemical site, and in the United States for the development of 1.6 GW of renewables,” Stéphane Michel, president of gas, renewables and power at TotalEnergies, said. “With this new contract, TotalEnergies increases its natural gas shipments to South Korea, the world’s third largest importer of LNG in 2021. Our company is keen to support the country’s switch away from coal for power generation, with both LNG supplies and renewables projects, such as our significant “Bada” 2 GW offshore wind project.”

Cenovus Energy

Canada restarts West White Rose offshore oil project

Cenovus Energy has agreed to restart the West White Rose oil project offshore Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, the local integrated oil and gas company announced today.

The company plans to spend between USD 1.58 billion and USD 1.82 billion to start the project, including between USD 1.26 billion to USD 1.42 billion for completion of the West White Rose platform and between USD 316 million to USD 395 million for subsea drilling, completion works and life extension of the SeaRose FPSO.

First oil is expected in H1 2026. Production is expected to reach 80,000 bopd by the end of 2029.

Part of the deal involves Cenovus Energy decreasing its stake in the original field and satellite extensions and giving partner Nalcor a greater share. Cenovus Energy will decrease its share of both the West White Rose field and satellite extensions by 12.5% to 60% and 56.375% respectively.

The West White Rose project will add another 14 years of production to the field and is 65% complete.

The project was put on hold in March 2020 by former operator Husky Energy due to challenges brought on by low oil prices and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cenovus Energy acquired Husky Energy in January 2021 for USD 3.08 billion.

Part of the deal involves Cenovus Energy decreasing its stake in the original field and satellite extensions and giving partner Nalcor a greater share. Cenovus Energy will decrease its share of both the West White Rose field and satellite extensions by 12.5% to 60% and 56.375% respectively.

The West White Rose project will add another 14 years of production to the field and is 65% complete.

The project was put on hold in March 2020 by former operator Husky Energy due to challenges brought on by low oil prices and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cenovus Energy acquired Husky Energy in January 2021 for USD 3.08 billion.


Malaysia's Petronas Says Q1 Profit Doubles, but Cautious Over Outlook

Malaysia's state energy firm Petronas on Tuesday posted higher profit of 23.4 billion ringgit ($5.35 billion) for its first quarter, in tandem with greater revenue following an upward trend in prices.

Revenue rose almost 50% to 78.8 billion ringgit in the January-March quarter, mainly due to the price impact for major products, the company said in a statement.

Petronas said the quarter's post-tax profit was 154% higher than a year ago, though that was partially offset by higher product costs and taxation.

President and Group CEO, Tengku Muhammad Taufik said the state oil firm 'greatly benefited from an elevated price environment', but held a cautious outlook amid uncertain geopolitical conditions and accelerated moves towards renewable energy sources.

'Despite favorable Quarter 1 performance, the high oil and gas prices are expected to remain vulnerable with increased volatility due to geopolitical and macro-economic uncertainties,' the firm said.

state grid

China's State Grid to invest over 500b yuan in power grid projects in 2022

BEIJING -- The State Grid Corporation of China said that it will invest an all-time high of more than 500 billion yuan ($74.5 billion) in power grid projects in 2022 to help bolster the country's economic growth amid the COVID-19 epidemic.

The input is expected to drive more than 1 trillion yuan in investment from all sources, said the State Grid.

The company will start constructing ultra-high voltage power transmission projects as early as possible, and begin construction on key power grid projects below 500 kilo-Volt, it said.

The intensive construction of key power grid projects will be conducive to promoting the high-quality development of the power grid and will drive the upstream and downstream industries to resume work and production, said the company.

The State Grid invested a total of 2.38 trillion yuan in the country's power grid during the 13th Five-Year Plan period (2016-2020).


Nearly 600 Starbucks branches reopen in Shanghai

SHANGHAI -- The Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Shanghai resumed operations on Friday after a two-month suspension.

As of Friday, nearly 600 Starbucks branches in Shanghai have reopened, accounting for about two-thirds of its outlets in the city.

'Nearly 500 of them have reopened in the past three days, which gives our team more confidence,' said Leo Tsoi, chief executive officer of Starbucks China.

It is estimated that Shanghai, a city at the forefront of China's boom in coffee consumption, has more than 7,000 coffee shops. Starbucks alone has over 900 branches in Shanghai.

Tsoi noted that a new Starbucks will open in Shanghai's Qingpu District on Saturday. 'Both the resumption of existing branches and the opening of the new one reflect our confidence in China's consumer market.'

Starbucks announced in 2018 that it aims to have 6,000 branches in China by end of September 2022.


Amazon discontinues Kindle support in China

US-based tech giant Inc said on Thursday it has stopped supplying retailers in China with its Kindle e-readers starting today and will discontinue its Kindle e-bookstore in the Chinese market on June 30, 2023.

The company said in a statement on its official WeChat account Chinese customers are able to continue downloading any purchased e-books until June 30, 2024. 'For customers not wanting to keep using their device, we are offering a refund as an option if they purchased an eligible Kindle after Jan 1, 2022.'

In addition, customers will be unable to download the Kindle app from Chinese app stores starting on June 30 next year.

'We remain committed to our customers in China. As a global business, we periodically evaluate our offerings and make adjustments wherever we operate,' the statement read. 'With our portfolio of businesses in China, we will continue to innovate and invest where we can provide value to our customers, including Amazon Global Selling, Amazon Global Store, Amazon Advertising, Amazon Global Logistics, Amazon Devices and Services Asia and Amazon Web Services.'

Amazon shut down its third-party seller services on its Chinese online marketplace in July 2019 and has shifted its business focus to cross-border e-commerce and cloud computing services in China.


Merck announces largest single electronics investment in China

Leading science and technology company Merck announced on Tuesday its intention to build its Advanced Semiconductor Integration Site in Zhangjiagang, Jiangsu province, marking its largest single investment project of the electronics business in China.

With an investment of 550 million yuan ($82.1 million), the site incorporating several production sites of semiconductor materials, warehouses and operation centers is designed to expand Merck's local capabilities, supply chain footprint and support China's semiconductor industry, according to executives.

'For us, China is one of the most important markets. The country is undoubtedly a 'must win battle' for Merck and our Electronics business sector,' said Kai Beckmann, Member of the Executive Board of Merck and CEO Electronics, during a virtual signing agreement joined by local authorities in Zhangjiagang.

According to Beckmann, China's 14th Five-Year Plan calling for the development of Digital China will lay a strong foundation for China's next generation of digital infrastructure, and the development of the digital economy has 'implied a sustained and strong demand for China's semiconductor industry'.

Earlier this year, Merck announced its Level Up growth program to double its investment for its Electronics business in China with at least another 1 billion yuan before 2025, with a focus on the chip manufacturing industry.

With this new investment, Merck said it is eyeing to provide comprehensive material solutions for local customers and partners with strengthened local capabilities and a faster response to market, to contribute to increasing the resilience of the supply chains and play an increasingly integral role in the fast growing global and local semiconductor industry.

'China is the largest end market for semiconductors with more than half of the world's total chip output going to China,' said Allan Gabor, president of Merck China and managing director of Electronics China.

'Given the unprecedented capacity investment and expansion of domestic chip manufacturers, China is currently also the fastest growing semiconductor manufacturing market worldwide. We believe a golden era for China's semiconductor industry has just begun.'


DHL ready to stretch legs in post-lockdown Shanghai

DHL Global Forwarding, a division of Deutsche Post DHL Group that provides air and ocean freight forwarding services, said it is prepared with enough resources and capacity to start moving cargo in and out of Shanghai as the city gradually opens up again after recently battling a COVID-19 outbreak.

'We have been carefully monitoring the situation over the last couple of weeks and we already saw a bit more movement in May compared to April in the warehouse that we have,' said Tim Scharwath, the CEO of DHL Global Forwarding.

'We are having our staff staying over at the airport just to make sure that our handling facility at the Pudong Airport could work in case the cargo started moving, while our colleagues have also been working on shipments remotely to make sure that shipments flow through the warehouses,' Scharwath said.

He said DHL welcomed China's resolve to further high-level opening-up, saying the multinational company will continue to count on China to sustain robust growth as the country has expanded many programs to let foreign companies play a bigger role.

'China has been and will continue to be a very important country, while the company's investments in China will continue as we aim to be present in one of the most important countries in the world,' said Scharwath concerning China's unswerving push for high-level opening-up, which would continue to boost confidence in and create new growth engines for world economic recovery.

'Being a logistics provider also means that you have to have a network around the world, and we will definitely continue to invest in China,' he added.


Norway-based Elkem to invest 100m yuan in Shanghai research center

Elkem Silicones, a Norway-based integrated silicone manufacturer and a unit of China's State-owned Sinochem Holdings Corp Ltd, will invest more than 100 million yuan ($15 million) to enlarge its flagship Asia-Pacific research and innovation (R&I) center in Shanghai this year, said its senior executives.

The newly upgraded R&I center is located in Xinzhuang Industrial Zone of Shanghai's Minhang district. The first phase of the project covers an area of about 6,600 square meters. Its construction work will be started in the third quarter and will be completed in the first quarter of 2023.

The company's existing Asia-Pacific R&I Center was established in 2009. Under its plan, the number of its researchers is expected to double in the facility over the next three years.

'The move will enable the group to upgrade its research system and hardware in China while attracting outstanding research and development talent around the world,' said Richard Li, director for research and innovation at Elkem Silicones Asia-Pacific.

Announced in late April, the company said the investment will help enhance the company's ability to provide more efficient, flexible and convenient product development and application support for China and other Asia-Pacific markets.

With the new facility, Li said Elkem Silicones will be in a better position to meet growing demand for advanced silicone products, technologies and solutions in e-mobility, healthcare, personal care, textiles, 3D printing and other industries.

The center will be created to help Elkem Silicones' customers in the Asia-Pacific region improve their innovation capabilities, accelerate the development of new products and applications and seize emerging opportunities, he said.