Media Focus on Multinational Corporations[2022.08.08]




Mars Wrigley

Snickers apologizes for introducing Taiwan as a 'country'
US confectionery giant Mars Wrigley has apologized after an advert for its Snickers candy bars featured Taiwan as a 'country'.
The promotional video for an event involving Snickers and South Korean music group BTS (see below) ended with the words '
only available in the following countries', with the flags of South Korea, Malaysia and the Republic of China (Taiwan).
This video, not intended for the mainland Chinese market, was however spotted by Chinese Internet users, triggering a controversy on social networks.'
We have taken note of press reports relating to a Snickers event being conducted in parts of Asia,' Mars Wrigley said Friday evening in a statement posted on Snickers China's official Weibo social media account.
We take this very seriously and offer our sincere apologies, continues the confectionery giant, which says respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China.
Snickers China then posted an additional message on its Weibo account: '
There is only one China in the world and Taiwan is an inalienable part of Chinese territory.'

Saudi Arabian
Aramco buys Valvoline's Global Products business for $2.65 billion
The Saudi Arabian Oil Company Aramco purchased the US automotive, commercial and industrial lubricants, and automotive chemicals producer Valvoline for $2.65 billion, Aramco confirmed in a statement Tuesday.
'Valvoline's global products business fits perfectly with Aramco's growth strategy for lubricants as it will leverage our global base oils production, contribute to our Research and Development capabilities and strengthen our existing relationships with OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers),' Mohammed Al-Qahtani, Aramco senior vice president of downstream, was quoted as saying in the statement.
'The sale of Global Products represents the successful outcome of our strategy to unlock the full, long-term value of our strong but differentiated Retail Services and Global Products businesses,' said Valvoline CEO Sam Mitchell.

Marathon Petroleum
Marathon Petroleum posts bumper profit on soaring fuel prices
Marathon Petroleum smashed quarterly profit estimates on Tuesday, the latest U.S. refiner to benefit from a surge in fuel prices sparked by tight capacity and low inventories, said Reuters.
The company's refining and marketing margins tripled to USD37.54 per barrel in the April-June quarter, mirroring similar gains at rivals such as Phillips 66 and sending Marathon's shares 4% higher in premarket trading.
Global refining capacity has declined in the past two years because the pandemic-driven demand hit forced several less profitable operations to shut shop, while Western sanctions have tightened an already-supplied market.
Marathon's refineries ran at nearly full capacity in the second quarter, resulting in a total throughput of 3.1 MMbpd, compared with utilization of 94% and a total throughput of 2.9 MMbpd a year earlier. For the third quarter, the company expects a throughput of 2.9 MMbpd.
The company posted an adjusted income of USD5.69 B, or USD10.61 per share, the largest in at least five years, according to Refinitiv data. The figure sailed past the average analyst estimate of USD8.04 per share.

Enterprise, Oxy plan CO2 project along Texas Gulf Coast
Enterprise Product Partners and Occidental Petroleum plan to forge a carbon dioxide sequestration and transportation system that could sell carbon management services to emitters along the Texas Gulf Coast, they said in a statement, said the company.
They plan to combine the pipeline company’s transportation network with carbon sequestration hubs under development by Oxy, an oil producer expanding into the carbon management business. The idea is to focus initially on capturing emissions along the industrial corridor from Houston to Beaumont and Port Arthur.
“For many years, Enterprise and Oxy have successfully collaborated in developing traditional oil and gas projects,' Enterprise co-CEO Jim Teague said, “We are excited to evolve that relationship.' Oxy announced plans last month to spend up to USD1 billion on a facility that could remove 500,000 tons of carbon dioxide directly from the air. It would be the world’s largest direct air capture project.
The energy transition is driving interest in carbon capture projects, which are on track to increase tenfold by 2030, Norwegian energy consultancy Rystad Energy said Tuesday. Still, it said the planned influx is not aggressive enough — planned carbon capture capacity falls short of what is needed to meet the International Energy Agency’s net-zero scenario.

bp to invest up to £50 million in new battery R&D center in UK
bp unveiled plans on Monday to invest up to £50 million ($61 million) in a new, state-of-the-art electric vehicle (EV) battery testing center and analytical laboratory in the UK.
The new facilities, planned to open by the end of 2024, will be located at bp's existing global headquarters for its Castrol business in Berkshire.
Castrol intends to use the new facilities to continue to work with car manufacturers and suppliers to co-engineer future battery technology and associated thermal management fluids.
'The new facilities will help advance the development of leading fluid technologies and engineering for hybrid and fully battery electric vehicles, aiming to bring the industry closer to achieving the key tipping points for mainstream electric vehicle (EV) adoption,' bp said.
The announcement comes after bp announced its intention to invest up to £18 billion in the UK's energy system by the end of 2030.

BP Sells Stake In Oil Fields Off Australia To Jadestone
Oil and gas company Jadestone has agreed to acquire BP’s entire 16.67 percent working interest in the Cossack, Wanaea, Lambert, and Hermes oil fields in the North Carnarvon basin offshore north-west Australia.
The fields, also known as the North West Shelf Oil Project, are operated by Woodside Energy. The project comprises 13 subsea wells producing through the Okha FPSO vessel.
The FPSO was installed at the fields in 2011 and has 60,000 bpd of oil processing capacity, along with water handling and gas processing, and reinjection facilities. The Cossack, Wanaea, and Hermes fields are currently in production and are estimated to contain aggregate gross 2P reserves of 30.3 mmbbls.
Gross average production from the fields in 2021 was 12,461 bpd with the first quarter of 2022 production averaging 14,178 bpd gross.
The fields also produce associated gas, with the partners in the North West Shelf Oil Project having the rights to use the gas required to fuel the Okha FPSO, with the remainder being used as feedstock in the North West Shelf LNG project.
The four fields are mid-life producing assets with significant original oil in place, which Jadestone estimates at approximately 890 mmbbls, and which provides the opportunity for further investment to increase recovery factors.
The transaction is structured as an asset purchase, which includes BP’s 16.67 percent working interest in the Cossack, Wanaea, Lambert, and Hermes fields, subsea infrastructure, FPSO, and abandonment liabilities.

Gasunie sells remaining Eemshaven LNG terminal capacity to Engie
French energy major Engie has booked the remaining capacity of the Eemshaven LNG terminal, owned by the Gasunie subsidiary EemsEnergyTerminal.
EemsEnergyTerminal sold the remaining capacity of the LNG terminal in Eemshaven to Engie which purchased the last billion cubic metres (bcm). The total eight bcm available in the Eemshaven LNG is now sold out.
The first delivery of LNG through the terminal is to take place as early as mid-September.
With these new capacities added to its existing LNG portfolio, Engie wants to strengthen its energy diversification strategy and increase its ability to supply LNG to Europe.

TotalEnergies Launches Multi-Energy Strategy In Angola
TotalEnergies rolled out its multi-energy strategy in Angola with the launch of the Begonia oil field, Quiluma and Maboqueiro gas fields developments, as well as its first photovoltaic project in the country.
TotalEnergies made final investment decision for Begonia on Friday, the first development of block 17/06, located 93 miles off the Angolan coast, in agreement with concession holder Agência Nacional de Petróleo, Gás e Biocombustíveis (ANPG) and its partners.
The Begonia development consists of five wells tied back to the Pazflor FPSO already in operation on Block 17. After commissioning, expected in late 2024, it will add 30,000 barrels a day to the FPSO's production.
The field is the second TotalEnergies-operated project in Angola to use a standardized subsea production system, saving up to 20 percent on costs and shortening lead times for equipment delivery. The project represents an investment of $850 million and 1.3 million man-hours of work, 70 percent of which will be carried out in Angola.
TotalEnergies also announces the final investment decision for the project in which the company holds an 11.8 percent interest alongside its partners. Eni is the operator with 25.6 percent while partners Chevron, Sonangol, and BP hold 31, 19.8, and 11.8 percent, respectively.
This is the first non-associated natural gas project developed in Angola. Gas produced from the Quiluma and Maboqueiro offshore fields will supply the Angola LNG plant, improving Angola's LNG production capacity and the availability of domestic gas for the country's industrial development. Production is scheduled to start in mid-2026.
TotalEnergies, alongside the Ministry of Energy and Water as well as its partners Sonangol and Greentech, was also awarded the concession for the construction of the Quilemba photovoltaic plant with an initial capacity of 35 MWp and the possibility of adding 45 MWp in a second phase.
The plant will be in the southern city of Lubango and should come on stream at the end of 2023. It will contribute to the decarbonization of Angola’s energy mix and, through a fixed-price Power Purchase Agreement, deliver significant savings for the Angolan government compared to the fuel used in existing power plants.
TotalEnergies holds a 51 percent interest in Quilemba, alongside Sonangol which holds 30 percent, and Greentech holding the remaining 19 percent.
'Begonia, NAG1, and Quilemba illustrate the deployment of our multi-energy strategy in Angola, where TotalEnergies has been active for nearly seventy years,' said Patrick Pouyanné, Chairman and CEO of TotalEnergies.

Exxon And Chevron Smash Profit Records
U.S. supermajors ExxonMobil and Chevron both reported their highest-ever quarterly profits on Friday as oil and gas prices rallied and refining margins jumped to multi-year highs in the second quarter.
ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM) beat analyst expectations and booked second-quarter earnings of $17.9 billion, or $4.21 per share assuming dilution. This is nearly quadruple the $4.69 billion earnings for the second quarter last year, and more than triple the earnings from the first quarter of this year. Exxon’s per share earnings easily beat the analyst consensus of $3.84.
Higher oil and gas prices, the highest refining margins in years, increased production, and aggressive cost control all contributed to the record-breaking profits at Exxon, which beat its previous quarterly earnings record from 2012 and the quarterly profits from 2008, when Brent prices hit a record $147 per barrel.
Second-quarter earnings were “driven by a tight supply/demand balance for oil, natural gas, and refined products, which have increased both natural gas realizations and refining margins well above the 10-year range,” Exxon said.
The U.S. other supermajor, Chevron (NYSE: CVX), also posted record earnings beating analyst forecasts, thanks to high oil and gas prices and tight fuel markets driving multi-year high refining margins.
Chevron booked adjusted earnings of $11.4 billion, or $5.82 per share, for the second quarter, up from $3.3 billion earnings, or $1.71 per share, for the same period of 2021. The analyst consensus was for $5.08 EPS for this past quarter.
Chevron increased the top end of its annual share repurchase guidance range to $15 billion, up from the $10 billion guidance from March.
Following the results release, Chevron stock was up by more than 3.5% pre-market on Friday, while Exxon was advancing by 2.5%.
The record earnings from the U.S. supermajors add to similarly strong earnings from the European majors, each of which reported much higher profits as commodity prices rallied.

Alibaba revenue beats expectations
Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 resurgence, Chinese tech heavyweight Alibaba Group Holding Ltd delivered better-than-expected financial results in the April-June period, saying it is determined to continuously invest in technology, customer service and logistics operations for sustainable and long-term growth.
The company's total revenue stood at 205.56 billion yuan ($30.4 billion) for the quarter ending June 30, down 1 percent year-on-year compared with 205.74 billion yuan a year ago, beating analysts' expectations. Its adjusted net income fell 30 percent on a yearly basis to 30.25 billion yuan.
'During the past quarter, we actively adapted to changes in the macro environment and remained focused on our long-term strategy by continuing to strengthen our capabilities for customer value creation,' said Daniel Zhang, chairman and CEO of Alibaba Group.
Following a relatively slow April and May, the company saw signs of recovery in June along with the resumption of supply chains, logistics and delivery capacities, and registered positive growth during the June 18 online shopping carnival, Zhang said in an earnings call with investors on Thursday night, adding the trend of consumption recovery continued in July.
'What we have seen in China's retail marketplace is an overall strong and positive sentiment from merchants to take full advantage of our marketplaces and available digital tools to drive their business growth, especially during difficult times,' Zhang noted.

ByteDance steps further into healthcare
Chinese tech behemoth ByteDance, owner of popular short video app TikTok, has acquired Beijing Amcare Medical Management Co Ltd, a high-end hospital group that provides women and children with medical services, in an effort to expand its reach into the healthcare segment.
According to the National Enterprise Credit Information Publicity System, as of June 24, Xiaohe Health (Hong Kong) Ltd, a newly-added shareholder of Amcare, held 69.5 percent of shares, while the existing shareholder Xiaohe Health Technology (Beijing) Ltd held the other 30.5 percent of the shares. These two companies are affiliated with the Beijing-based tech giant ByteDance and the deal has been unconditionally approved by market regulators.
Established in 2006, Amcare is a professional women's and children's hospital for middle and high-end customers, providing medical services covering obstetrics, gynecology, pediatrics, assisted reproduction, postpartum rehabilitation and medical cosmetology.

China Construction First Group
Anti-desertification efforts by CSCEC unit in Yellow River basin bear fruit
Once a befouled, odorous body of water that was the result of decades of mining, Ulansuhai Nur, the biggest lake in the Yellow River basin located in Urad Front Banner of Bayannur, Inner Mongolia autonomous region, is taking on a brand new view of a bird paradise laden with various green plants and lucid water.
Shi Zhigang is a local farmer who settled many years ago near the Ulan Buh Desert, where desertification issues were severe. This worsened the ecological conditions of the Ulansuhai Nur and even the Yellow River. 'Those were the days when sandstorms always kept us from going outdoors. When the storms darkened the sky, we couldn't even open the doors and windows that were blocked by sand,' Shi said.
'Aside from the impact from the Ulan Buh Desert, what made protection work even harder is that the area is confronting multiple impacts brought by the environmental issues of neighboring areas, such as water and soil erosion at Wula Mountain and landslide issues in nearby mining areas,' said Jia Haiyuan, project manager with Third Construction Co Ltd of China Construction First Group (CSCEC1B3), a unit of China State Construction Engineering Group Co Ltd.
With the area facing tough and numerous environmental issues, Ulansuhai Nur has an area 'awaiting cleanup' of its 14,700 square kilometers, making it the 'hardest nut to crack' among its peers, which was exactly what the company was facing back in June 2019, when it came here to work with the local government to make fundamental changes to the area.
'Our first step was dealing with the sand, as reducing the amount of sediment that flows into the Yellow River is a key start to the overall project. To this end, we have to restore the soil-fixing capacity of the whole area, and that's why we have been planting trees and grasses constantly,' Jia said, adding that the plants they used to fix soil can also generate income for participating farmers, such as cistanche bushes and fruit trees.
What's more, the project team planned a welfare forest on nearly 670 hectares of land to help with poverty alleviation, and guided local herdsmen and villagers to plant fruit trees and to steward the land. So far, 1,200 local villagers have taken part in forestation efforts, with 100 residents living in poverty now earning an additional 8,000 yuan ($1,185) monthly during harvest seasons.
To better help the local government with forest and grass restoration, the project team leveraged an unmanned aerial vehicle sowing system, and completed the aerial sowing of 667 hectares of sandy terrain in the area.
Together with 1,533 hectares of economic forest planting, CSCEC1B3 said these efforts will effectively help prevent soil erosion and improve the ecological environment of the middle and lower reaches of the Yellow River.
The project has achieved remarkable results. The team led by Jia has laid about 32 million sod squares in the desert, planted 13.32 million haloxylon saplings, laid 157 kilometers of sand-traversing roads, repaired an area of 66.505 square kilometers of mines and planted 1,963 hectares of trees.
The ecology of the Yellow River is now turning for the better and has seen major improvements, with biodiversity effectively improved. According to local authorities, over 260 bird species either live at the lake or rest there as they migrate. Their number totals 6 million, but no previous figures are available for comparison because of a lack of observation.
After the completion of this project, a total of 1 million cubic meters of sand will be withheld from flowing into the Yellow River every year. The water ecological security of the middle and lower reaches of the Yellow River will be further enhanced and guaranteed, helping more people living in these areas earn more income.

HK approves Sinovac vaccine for children
Sinovac Biotech's COVID-19 vaccine called CoronaVac has been approved for children aged six months to three years in Hong Kong from Thursday, the Beijing-based biopharmaceutical product provider said on Wednesday.
The health authorities of the Hong Kong special administrative region have made the decision based on clinical trials and studies of vaccination for local children and adolescents, the company said.
The vaccination schedule for this age group follows the same schedule of older children. Three doses of vaccines will be used, with the first two doses given 28 days apart followed by a third dose at least 3 months after the second dose, and there is no restriction on the application for immunosuppressed children.

State Grid
State Grid to construct $22b UHV projects in H2
BEIJING -- The State Grid Corporation of China (State Grid) said on Wednesday that it will start constructing a new batch of ultra-high voltage (UHV) projects in the second half of the year.
With a total investment of more than 150 billion yuan ($22 billion), these projects are expected to further leverage the role of power grids in expanding investment, according to the company.
In the first half of 2022, the company has 11 UHV projects worth 90 billion yuan under construction, with the length of transmission lines totaling 6,828 km, it said.
Among the 11 projects, the Baihetan-Jiangsu 800-kilovolt UHV direct current power transmission project became operational a month ago, transmitting clean hydropower from the southwestern province of Sichuan to East China's economic powerhouse Jiangsu Province.
State Grid said its investment in projects under construction amounted to 883.2 billion yuan in the first seven months.
The company's total investment in projects is expected to hit a record high of 1.3 trillion yuan this year, which will lead to 2.6 trillion yuan worth of relevant investment in upstream and downstream industries.

Tencent to invest 10 billion yuan to support scientific research
Internet giant Tencent will invest 10 billion yuan ($1.48 billion) over the next decade to support select scientists in making original breakthroughs in basic research in two major scientific fields: mathematics and physical sciences, and biology and biomedical sciences.
The project, the New Cornerstone Investigator Program, recently generated a buzz in China's scientific community for its unconventional conditions and targets. It is led by scientists, funded by Tencent and supervised by the China Association for Science and Technology.
The program's most distinctive feature, compared with other research grants, is that it essentially gives scientists up to 5 million yuan per year to pursue their research without worrying about publishing a large number of papers or meeting research goals and deadlines.
Applications for the program will be taken from July 1 to Sept 30, and the candidates will be screened by a committee of well-known scientists. The program aims to identify 60 suitable scientists this year, and the list would be published early next year.
Candidates working in the program's experimental category can receive up to 5 million yuan per year, while those in theoretical fields of study can receive a maximum of 3 million yuan annually. The two major categories each contain dozens of secondary subjects, and interdisciplinary research is encouraged.
Wang Wurong, vice-president of Tencent and secretary-general of the program, said the initiative is 'people-oriented', with the aim of supporting 200 to 300 deserving scientists to freely explore and forge original breakthroughs in basic research.

CRCC unit ramps up innovation in projects
Builders of China Railway 24th Bureau Group Corp Ltd (CR24), a unit of the State-owned China Railway Construction Corp, are banking on in-house innovative solutions to tackle various challenges and boost the progress of its infrastructure projects, as the COVID-19 situation comes under better control nationwide.
Before daily operations begin on Thursday on the Beijing-Shanghai Railway and the Shanghai-Nanjing Intercity Railway, an overpass of Benfa Road in Changzhou, Jiangsu province, can be seen above the rails of the two busiest railways, which marks not only a milestone for the road project as it is a success after numerous challenges, but also another valuable example for all other construction teams facing similar technical issues nationwide.
CR24, the builder of the bridge, attributes the construction success of the overpass section to its tailor-made solutions using steel box girders and digitalized tools.
Bringing no disruptions to normal operations of the two railways, the builder managed to have tons of steel box girders 'gently walk' 86 meters to their destinations, with errors controlled within only 3 millimeters, said Xie Yuanfang, a project designer with the CRCC, adding that to safeguard the daily operations of the neighboring railways, each of which has more than 110 trains running through, CR24 construction workers can only take advantage of hours-long train maintenance time to build the overpass section every day.

Toyota hit by chip shortages and rising costs
The world number one is in turn shaken by the disruptions in the automotive industry.
Until then, Toyota had been more spared by the shortage of semiconductors than its major Western competitors.
The Japanese manufacturer saw its net profit fall by 17.9% over one year in the first quarter, to 736.8 billion yen (5.4 billion euros).
And its operating profit collapsed by 42%, to 578.6 billion yen, despite sales up 7%, to 8491.1 billion yen.
Toyota cut its monthly production targets three times in the quarter due to global chip shortages and restrictions on factories in China due to Covid-19.
'We have not been able to produce enough, with customers around the world awaiting delivery of their vehicles,'
the Toyota spokesman said.

Lufthansa strike: How to get your rights and money in the event of flight cancellations
Flying this summer could almost feel like 2019, the year before the pandemic: the airports are full.
However, many flights are canceled or delayed.
The airports in Frankfurt and Munich are currently among the top ten major airports with the most delays worldwide.
The travel fever is back, but the staff only partially.
And when there is a strike, like last week at Lufthansa, there is chaos:
130,000 Lufthansa passengers did not reach their destination on time last Wednesday and Thursday because the airline's ground staff went on strike.
Management complained that the labor dispute was 'incomprehensible,' 'unacceptable,' and canceled over 1,000 flights in Germany.
But collective bargaining has been going on since the end of June and after two failed rounds of negotiations warning strikes are normal.
After the €35 million strike, Lufthansa reached an agreement with Ver.di this Thursday.