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Posts on ‘February 8th, 2006’

Rossport men face return to Cloverhill

MayoNews.ie: Rossport men face return to Cloverhill
By Stephen O’Grady
WITH mediation talks between the Rossport Five and Shell sidelined, Willie Corduff, Micheal Ó Seighin, Brendan Philbin, Philip and Vincent McGrath (below) are this week facing the daunting prospect of a return to prison.
The five men, who served 94 days in jail for refusing to obey a High Court order last summer, come before the High Court on Monday next to find out if they will be punished for contempt of court.
Spokesman for the five men, Dr Mark Garavan, has described as ‘a big legal call’ the imminent decision of the President of the High Court, Mr Justice Joseph Finnegan.
“It would very disturbing and distressing all round,” said Dr Garavan. “It’s very worrying for them and their families, but as always they are very steadfast. They’re completely resolute in terms of the position they have taken, and they’re determined to see this through to the end, whatever it takes.”
The five men withdrew from mediation talks with Shell last week, accusing Minister Noel Dempsey of intervening in the process and altering the agreed original framework for mediation.
Mediator Peter Cassells is believed to have e-mailed each of the men during the past few days in an effort to secure their return to the process, but the five have reserved a decision on their return pending action from the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources.
Minister Dempsey has denied interfering in the process, claiming that it was ‘necessary and clearly understood’ that certain issues regarding mediation would be conveyed to him. Dr Garavan has described Minister Dempsey’s involvement as ‘hugely worrying and very disappointing’. He has called on the Minister to put in place the conventional mediation format which will bring about the return of the Rossport Five.
“Once you go into formal mediation, then it should be done properly and professionally, by which we mean that the two parties to the dispute should come together. They should have confidentiality to explore ideas, they should have control over the process in terms of deciding when it’s over, and there certainly shouldn’t be any reporting outside the process to a third party.”
However, even if an agreed format can be restored, the five men may not be in a position to renew mediation talks after next Monday’s High Court appearance.
Mr Justice Finnegan must consider if the High Court is in a legal position to deliver punishment in a situation where a court order no longer exists. The order committing the five men to prison was lifted last September when Shell applied to lift the temporary injunction, which had restrained interference with pipeline works at Bellanaboy. If Justice Finnegan rules that punishment is in order for breaching a court order, a return to Cloverhill Prison may await the five men. Counsel for the five will argue that a punitive sanction is unnecessary considering the term served behind bars last summer.
Mr Justice Finnegan has previously remarked that the men did not comply with a court order and their time in prison had nothing to do with punishment.
“That could change the dynamic considerably were he to return the men to prison. Obviously then there’s no mediation and we’re back to square one in some ways,” said Mark Garavan, who is also critical of local politicians and members of the opposition for failing to take Minister Dempsey to task over the mediation breakdown.
“I’m hugely disappointed that there is no political reaction to this. To me it’s a clear-cut act of bad face by the Government, and I can’t get over that local politicians are not concerned by what’s going on,” he added.
“If he [Minister Dempsey] was minded to have a resolution he would be doing his damnedest to make sure that mediation was back on track and he would be doing whatever he could to make it happen, and create the conditions under which it could happen. You would also think that he would be subject to criticism from the opposition for his handling of it. But there’s complete silence.” read more

royaldutchshellplc.com and its sister websites royaldutchshellgroup.com, shellenergy.website, shellnazihistory.com, royaldutchshell.website, johndonovan.website, shellnews.net and shell2004.com are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

THE SUN: BP RIDES STORM

BP has shrugged off the ravages of Hurricane Katrina to report record profits.
Britain's biggest company admitted Katrina and other hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico shaved £1.9billion off the figure.
But full-year profits still rose by 25 per cent to £11.04billion, thanks to surging oil and gas prices. Yet shares fell 18p to 647.5 as the City had expected even better.
BP chief executive Lord Browne blamed accounting changes, adding: “It's not economic factors. The money will come back over one to two years.”
He denied claims – as did ROYAL DUTCH SHELL last week – that BP was making excess” profits. Lord Browne added: “We are not profiteering. We make most of our money producing oil and gas – not the refining and selling of petrol. The profits are magnified by high oil and gas prices, but that was done through positioning the company and investing over many years. The money doesn't sit in the company. Most goes back to shareholders, which are basically UK pension funds.”
Lord Browne said the row with Iran, the world's fourth biggest oil producer, over its nuclear programme would not have a long-term impact on prices. He said Iran was unlikely to withhold oil and added: “People rarely do something which damages themselves just to damage somebody else.”
SUN CITY COMMENT: Unlike Shell, BP replaced nearly all the oil it pumped last year with new reserves. That is why, if you must own shares in one of the two, BP is the one to have. read more

royaldutchshellplc.com and its sister websites royaldutchshellgroup.com, shellenergy.website, shellnazihistory.com, royaldutchshell.website, johndonovan.website, shellnews.net and shell2004.com are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

ShellNews.net: Are you a “Team A” litigant suing Shell in Malaysia?

By John Donovan

We know quite a lot about the “Team A” law suit brought against Shell in Malaysia. That case involves a group of 399 former Shell employees. Their action relates to deductions made by Shell to their Employee Providence Fund. A Judge has already ruled that the deductions were “unlawful”.

Shell has appealed the decision apparently in an attempt to exploit a legal loophole relating to time limits. This appears to be a ploy by Shell to evade its moral responsibilities to its former employees. The case has dragged on for years and in the meantime, members of the Team A group are elderly, sick, and dying. read more

royaldutchshellplc.com and its sister websites royaldutchshellgroup.com, shellenergy.website, shellnazihistory.com, royaldutchshell.website, johndonovan.website, shellnews.net and shell2004.com are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

Pacific Magazine: PNG: Shell Employees Not Happy With Proposed Takeover Of Company

Wednesday: February 8, 2006
Employees of Shell (PNG) Limited are planning industrial action over the proposed takeover of the company’s Papua New Guinea assets by InterOil Corporation.
Employees told the Post Courier that they were not happy with the proposed takeover of the company by Canadian energy company InterOil Corporation.
They gave the management until yesterday to respond to their demands which include a 12-month payout of their entitlements and for Shell to identify a project that it would fund as an appreciation to PNG for doing their business in the country for more than 75 years.
They said if there was no positive response from the management, they would shut down the company’s depots nationwide and tell the 160 national staff not to go to work.
General Manager Shell PNG and Solomon Islands Giles Watkin said yesterday that this was a time of uncertainty for their staff.
“We are in ongoing and regular discussions with our staff on this topic,” Mr Watkin said. “Shell has always acknowledged the importance of its staff to its businesses, both in Papua New Guinea and globally.”
Shell’s major customer Air Niugini would be affected if the proposed industrial action went ahead as it buys jet fuel from Shell depots around the country.
In a move that would make InterOil Corporation a major distributor of petroleum products in the country, InterOil agreed in principle to purchase all assets on Shell in the country.
Royal Dutch Shell announced last year that it had reached an “in principle” agreement for a revised deal structure covering the sale of 100 per cent of its shares in Shell Papua New Guinea Limited to InterOil Products Limited.
The deal was subjected to approval by the ICCC. InterOil Products Limited is a subsidiary of InterOil Corporation involved in the retailing business of the company’s products after it bought the assets of British Petroleum (BP) Limited throughout PNG.
The disposal of Shell PNG assets is part of the business strategy of Royal Dutch Shell to concentrate on their other businesses elsewhere……Post-Courier/PNS read more

royaldutchshellplc.com and its sister websites royaldutchshellgroup.com, shellenergy.website, shellnazihistory.com, royaldutchshell.website, johndonovan.website, shellnews.net and shell2004.com are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

International Herald Tribune: Big oil is getting pushed around

By Jim Kennett and Manash Goswami Bloomberg News
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 7, 2006
Exxon Mobil's biggest competitor in the quest for oil reserves is not BP or Royal Dutch Shell. It is the governments of China, South Korea and India.
Chevron and Exxon Mobil lost an auction for Nigeria's most promising oil and gas fields last year to companies controlled by South Korea. In Venezuela, Royal Dutch Shell's bid to develop an offshore gas deposit collapsed when Brazil's state oil company stepped in.
The world's biggest publicly traded oil producers are losing reserves to state-run companies willing to pay higher prices for energy needed to fuel growing economies. Petróleo Brasileiro, Cnooc of China and Oil & Natural Gas of India have all bought reserves in the past year.
State-controlled oil companies represent “unpredictable competition,” said David Pursell, an analyst at Pickering Energy Partners in Houston. “All of a sudden, Cnooc shows up. What's their cost of capital? I don't know. What's their strategy? I don't know.”
The increasing competition for oil and gas fields is driving up costs, hurting corporate profits, while bolstering crude oil prices by inflating the cost of production. In the early 1990s, less rivalry for fields existed because countries like China produced more oil than they consumed and prices were lower.
Last year, Chevron bought Unocal for $17.8 billion, $1.4 billion more than initially planned, after Cnooc made a counterbid. Cnooc at one point offered $18.5 billion for California-based Unocal, which holds reserves in Thailand, Indonesia and Myanmar.
Unocal shareholders accepted Chevron's lower offer after the U.S. Congress threatened to block Cnooc's bid.
Demand for reserves is helping to lift prices for oil and gas. Crude oil in New York is around $67 a barrel, more than three times the average of about $20 during the 1990s.
New York natural gas is around $8 per million British thermal units, four times the average of about $2 during the 1990s.
More than half the oil and gas reserves that changed hands since 2003, through corporate acquisitions or the sale of drilling rights, went to state-owned companies, BP's chief executive, John Browne, said in a speech in Singapore in November.
“Energy is an issue of national security in which governments, and the state companies that they have established, are likely to be involved for a long time,” Browne said.
National oil companies did about 15 major transactions outside of their borders last year, up from two in 2000, said Saad Rahim, an analyst at PFC Energy in Washington. The state companies are a “new breed of competitor” that are driving prices higher and squeezing returns on international projects, Morgan Stanley's oil analysts said in a report in November.
Oil industry participants say government-controlled companies will continue to increase in importance.
Rebuffed in the United States, Cnooc last month paid $2.3 billion for a stake in a Nigerian oil field. Another state-controlled company, China National Petroleum, in October acquired PetroKazakhstan for about $4 billion.
Buying PetroKazakhstan, based in Calgary, Alberta, gave the Chinese control of about 12 percent of the petroleum production in Kazakhstan. The price per barrel China National paid was about double the price in transactions earlier last year.
Oil output is rising in Kazakhstan, which has about 3 percent of the world's proven reserves.
Nigeria's top oil official, Edmund Daukoru, has said that ties between governments are a legitimate part of the process of selecting partners to develop energy projects. He spoke last August after Korea National Oil won the auction of offshore oil and gas development rights with an investment package that included promises for power plants and railways.
Nigeria has a right to choose an investment package that will foster “good economic relations, government to government, with another country that promises to do major infrastructure projects,” Daukoru said.
Korea Electric Power said in a filing to the Korean Stock Exchange in October that its part of the Nigerian package would be $571 million, and it put the total at $5.3 billion for all the companies involved.
“Having some kind of political alignment between nations and their oil companies is bringing a distinct competitive advantage,” John Knight, senior vice president of international business development and acquisitions at Norway's state-owned Statoil, said in an interview. “That advantage will not be going to the stateless multinationals.”
While Statoil is run more like a private company than an arm of the Norwegian government, its ties to the state can help, Knight said. For example, the company is on the short list to work with Gazprom of Russia to develop its massive Shtokman gas field near the Arctic.
When Shell's negotiations with Venezuela to develop the Mariscal Sucre offshore gas field faltered in November 2004, the company played down the possibility that a competitor would step in. Company officials said Venezuela would have to sweeten the terms for development because the gas will primarily go to a domestic market where prices are regulated.
Brazil's state oil company is now Venezuela's partner on the project, an arrangement cemented by ties between the presidents of the two nations. The plan to have Petróleo Brasileiro drill the prospect was announced at a joint appearance by President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil.
“State companies winning deals because of government-to-government interaction has become a rule rather than an exception,” said Arjuna Mahendran, chief economist and strategist at Credit Suisse Private Banking in Singapore. “This will increase competition for multinational companies in acquiring oil and gas assets.”
Exxon Mobil's biggest competitor in the quest for oil reserves is not BP or Royal Dutch Shell. It is the governments of China, South Korea and India.
Chevron and Exxon Mobil lost an auction for Nigeria's most promising oil and gas fields last year to companies controlled by South Korea. In Venezuela, Royal Dutch Shell's bid to develop an offshore gas deposit collapsed when Brazil's state oil company stepped in.
The world's biggest publicly traded oil producers are losing reserves to state-run companies willing to pay higher prices for energy needed to fuel growing economies. Petróleo Brasileiro, Cnooc of China and Oil & Natural Gas of India have all bought reserves in the past year.
State-controlled oil companies represent “unpredictable competition,” said David Pursell, an analyst at Pickering Energy Partners in Houston. “All of a sudden, Cnooc shows up. What's their cost of capital? I don't know. What's their strategy? I don't know.”
The increasing competition for oil and gas fields is driving up costs, hurting corporate profits, while bolstering crude oil prices by inflating the cost of production. In the early 1990s, less rivalry for fields existed because countries like China produced more oil than they consumed and prices were lower.
Last year, Chevron bought Unocal for $17.8 billion, $1.4 billion more than initially planned, after Cnooc made a counterbid. Cnooc at one point offered $18.5 billion for California-based Unocal, which holds reserves in Thailand, Indonesia and Myanmar.
Unocal shareholders accepted Chevron's lower offer after the U.S. Congress threatened to block Cnooc's bid.
Demand for reserves is helping to lift prices for oil and gas. Crude oil in New York is around $67 a barrel, more than three times the average of about $20 during the 1990s.
New York natural gas is around $8 per million British thermal units, four times the average of about $2 during the 1990s.
More than half the oil and gas reserves that changed hands since 2003, through corporate acquisitions or the sale of drilling rights, went to state-owned companies, BP's chief executive, John Browne, said in a speech in Singapore in November.
“Energy is an issue of national security in which governments, and the state companies that they have established, are likely to be involved for a long time,” Browne said.
National oil companies did about 15 major transactions outside of their borders last year, up from two in 2000, said Saad Rahim, an analyst at PFC Energy in Washington. The state companies are a “new breed of competitor” that are driving prices higher and squeezing returns on international projects, Morgan Stanley's oil analysts said in a report in November.
Oil industry participants say government-controlled companies will continue to increase in importance.
Rebuffed in the United States, Cnooc last month paid $2.3 billion for a stake in a Nigerian oil field. Another state-controlled company, China National Petroleum, in October acquired PetroKazakhstan for about $4 billion.
Buying PetroKazakhstan, based in Calgary, Alberta, gave the Chinese control of about 12 percent of the petroleum production in Kazakhstan. The price per barrel China National paid was about double the price in transactions earlier last year.
Oil output is rising in Kazakhstan, which has about 3 percent of the world's proven reserves.
Nigeria's top oil official, Edmund Daukoru, has said that ties between governments are a legitimate part of the process of selecting partners to develop energy projects. He spoke last August after Korea National Oil won the auction of offshore oil and gas development rights with an investment package that included promises for power plants and railways.
Nigeria has a right to choose an investment package that will foster “good economic relations, government to government, with another country that promises to do major infrastructure projects,” Daukoru said.
Korea Electric Power said in a filing to the Korean Stock Exchange in October that its part of the Nigerian package would be $571 million, and it put the total at $5.3 billion for all the companies involved.
“Having some kind of political alignment between nations and their oil companies is bringing a distinct competitive advantage,” John Knight, senior vice president of international business development and acquisitions at Norway's state-owned Statoil, said in an interview. “That advantage will not be going to the stateless multinationals.”
While Statoil is run more like a private company than an arm of the Norwegian government, its ties to the state can help, Knight said. For example, the company is on the short list to work with Gazprom of Russia to develop its massive Shtokman gas field near the Arctic.
When Shell's negotiations with Venezuela to develop the Mariscal Sucre offshore gas field faltered in November 2004, the company played down the possibility that a competitor would step in. Company officials said Venezuela would have to sweeten the terms for development because the gas will primarily go to a domestic market where prices are regulated.
Brazil's state oil company is now Venezuela's partner on the project, an arrangement cemented by ties between the presidents of the two nations. The plan to have Petróleo Brasileiro drill the prospect was announced at a joint appearance by President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil.
“State companies winning deals because of government-to-government interaction has become a rule rather than an exception,” said Arjuna Mahendran, chief economist and strategist at Credit Suisse Private Banking in Singapore. “This will increase competition for multinational companies in acquiring oil and gas assets.” read more

royaldutchshellplc.com and its sister websites royaldutchshellgroup.com, shellenergy.website, shellnazihistory.com, royaldutchshell.website, johndonovan.website, shellnews.net and shell2004.com are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

The Times: Taxing oil majors hurts Britain's savings

LORD BROWNE of Madingley had a clear message for Government, as well as for more vociferous but less powerful critics, as he delivered BP’s bumper profits announcement. The UK’s pension funds depend heavily on his company for their income. Would the Chancellor kindly remember that before slapping extra taxes on the oil business.
This was not the first time that the BP chief executive had spelt out the importance of BP to the savings industry, but, aware of the anger that high oil prices can generate amongst consumers, Lord Browne is wisely pointing out that they are also the beneficiaries of the resulting profits.
A senior trade union leader has again called for BP’s “windfall” profits to be sequestered to help those who have lost pensions because their companies could not provide. But if companies had to provide every penny that is paid out in company pensions, as though they were giant Christmas clubs, company pension schemes would disappear overnight. They would be ruinous, whether based on final-salary promises or money purchase.
Private-sector pensions are paid from the investment returns earned on contributions paid into pension funds more than from the contributions themselves. Long-run studies show clearly that the shares of companies such as BP and Shell, which suffered similar abuse last week, deliver the returns that make invested pension schemes viable. They also indicate that dividends contribute far more of the real returns than capital gains.
To the initiated, this is an old story. The Chancellor and his acolytes plainly did not understand it. however, when they imposed a £5 billion-a-year tax on these dividends in 1997. So Lord Browne cannot take it for granted that the Treasury will get the message today. Everyone working in Great George Street will still get their pension if BP and Shell go bust tomorrow or are reduced to minimally profitable utilities. But those who work in the private sector will go hungry.
The Chancellor has reacted already to high oil prices by raising tax rates for North Sea producers. This will ensure that less money is invested in the sector and that the UK’s ever-more precious natural gas reserves run out even faster.
Investment in new sources of energy is just as vital a product of healthy profits in the oil industry as regular dividends. Lord Browne’s greatest financial contribution to BP has been to focus on acquisitions and buying in reserves and on finding new oil when the price recovered. Both the markets and his competitors could learn from BP’s lack of interest in trying to buy Repsol, of Spain, in today’s financial climate.
BP does not seem likely to please Americans, who reacted to their summer petrol shortage by urging companies to build more refineries. The company could make a useful contribution by taking better care of safety and security at its existing refineries. Lord Browne can claim, however, that BP is involved in more new oil projects than any producer outside Opec.
Like Shell, BP is also putting money into renewable energy. Oil multinationals are among the few with the resources and know-how to make an impact. But their vocation is to find new oil and gas and to deliver it. BP is doing just that. read more

royaldutchshellplc.com and its sister websites royaldutchshellgroup.com, shellenergy.website, shellnazihistory.com, royaldutchshell.website, johndonovan.website, shellnews.net and shell2004.com are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

Daily Telegraph: Upheaval leaves supplies vulnerable, warns BP

By Christopher Hope, Industry Editor (Filed: 08/02/2006)
Lord Browne of Madingley, chief executive of BP, yesterday warned of “significant supply disruption” to world oil supplies as the company announced the biggest proposed cash return to shareholders in British corporate history.
Speaking as the oil giant announced a 25pc jump in annual replacement cost profits to $19.3 billion (£11 billion), Lord Browne warned of a tight market for the next few years.
The Opec cartel of oil producing countries was likely to maintain a tight grip on the market. He added: “The vulnerability to a significant disruption is also expected to remain high.”
Lord Browne said concern centred on the political outlook in oil-producing nations such as Iran where there was a question of whether it wanted “to cut off its nose to spite its face”. People were worried about an “imbalance of power” between producers and consumers, he added.
BP, which spent $19 billion on dividends and buying back its shares last year, also said that its policy of handing back surplus cash to shareholders would continue.
The company now plans to hand back up to $65 billion over the next three years if the oil price stays at over $60 a barrel. Lord Browne said that one of its goals was “to return all free cash flows in excess of investment and dividend needs, all other things being appropriate”.
Colin Morton, of Rensburg fund managers, said: “If you look at the market cap of $200 billion, they're saying you could technically get back almost a third of the company by 2008.”
Unlike Shell, which replaced 60pc to 70pc of the barrels it pulled out of the ground last year, BP's “reserve replacement rate” was 95pc. BP also expected to produce up to 4.2m barrels a day this year, ahead of Shell's 3.65m bpd.
Lord Browne said BP saw no need for acquisitions to boost its asset base, with 18 billion barrels of proved reserves and another 41 billion of additional resources. “We have such an extraordinarily resourced business,” he said.
Profits before interest and tax were up 23pc to $30 billion, less than the UK record of $44.5 billion pre-tax profits posted by Shell last week. Lord Browne denied that the company was profiteering at the petrol pumps, pointing out that only 4pc of this figure was derived from the UK.
Capital expenditure – the money invested in equipment and looking for more hydrocarbons – was set to be around $16 billion this year, increasing by $500m a year in 2007 and 2008.
Despite the strong figures, BP's shares closed down 18 at 647½p after a poor final quarter from its refining and marketing arm which lost $160m, compared with a $1.3 billion profit last time. Analysts had forecast profits of $450m.
The company blamed $1 billion of lost revenues from its Texas City refinery, which was shut down because of Hurricane Rita, a $500m restructuring charge in Europe and a $500m accounting charge.
BP announced a 17pc jump in the final-quarter dividend of 5.3p a share, payable on March 13, taking the total for the year to 19.9p. read more

royaldutchshellplc.com and its sister websites royaldutchshellgroup.com, shellenergy.website, shellnazihistory.com, royaldutchshell.website, johndonovan.website, shellnews.net and shell2004.com are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

Daily Telegraph: BP's success caught up in pump and circumstances

Business comment
By Tom Stevenson
(Filed: 08/02/2006)
Upheaval leaves supplies vulnerable, warns BP
Lord Browne may have been voted the UK's most impressive businessman for the sixth time but he looked friendless as he announced BP's record profits.
The UK's largest company is between a rock and a hard place every time it reports bumper figures – too much and the big business baiters come out in force, not enough and the City throws up its hands.
Yesterday's 25pc rise in full- year profits to £11 billion managed the clever feat of upsetting both camps at once. The T&G came out for the pensioners, forgetting that BP is almost certainly the biggest holding in the retirement fund of every worker in the country.
Friends of the Earth called for a windfall tax, ignoring the Chancellor's last smash and grab raid only three months ago.
The question the critics could have asked is what the biggest handout in British corporate history says about BP's ambitions. There's nothing sensible to buy and the company plainly has doubts about its chances of developing alternatives for the post-oil era.
Despite the largesse, there was also no respite for BP in the Square Mile, where analysts picked holes and marked the shares lower. Disappointing is a relative term, of course, and increasing profits by a quarter when you are bigger than a medium-sized country is a serious performance, even if the result lagged rival ExxonMobil in growth and Shell in dollars.
Some of the damage was beyond the company's control, even if its response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the fire at its Texas City refinery was slower than might have been expected. Record profits, but it's been a bruising year for BP.
In the circumstances, finding a new barrel of oil for every one it sucked out of the ground for the 13th year in a row was a sterling performance and compares favourably with Shell, which only manages a replacement rate of about two thirds. No wonder that the Anglo-Dutch company's bigger headline profits translate into a lower market value.
Browne's big win was to step on the acquisition gas when the oil price was half its current level. He is right to back off now when assets look nothing like as compelling.
If it wasn't for BP's Russian production via its TNK joint venture, production would have been 3pc lower last year.
BP has doubled in value since the beginning of 2003 but it still only trades on 10 times next year's earnings and offers a dividend yield of 3pc.
With the company promising to hand shareholders up to a third of the company's value over three years via dividends and buybacks, and with most sensible observers expecting the oil price to remain high for the foreseeable future, that rating looks undemanding. read more

royaldutchshellplc.com and its sister websites royaldutchshellgroup.com, shellenergy.website, shellnazihistory.com, royaldutchshell.website, johndonovan.website, shellnews.net and shell2004.com are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

The Guardian: The cash keeps on gushing

Wednesday February 8, 2006
BP is paying out staggering sums
BP may have lagged behind Shell and Exxon in terms of 2005 profits, but Lord Browne's oil machine is still producing some extraordinary numbers.
The $65bn (£37bn) that could be returned to shareholders over the next three years, assuming a $60 oil price, is a figure so large it requires illustration. At current stock market valuations, it would buy all these companies in their entirety: ScottishPower, ICI, Cadbury Schweppes, Reuters and Sainsbury's.
No wonder Browne bristles at suggestions of a windfall tax: UK pension funds have benefited hugely from BP's cashflow over the past few years.
It will surprise many that BP, as Britain's largest company and second only to Exxon in market value in the global oil league, should report profits of “only” £11bn, compared with Shell's £13bn. The explanation is that BP's medium and long-term prospects are so much better.
Browne was able to boast that 2005 was the 13th straight year in which BP replaced 100% of its reserves, no mean feat now that most of the world's “easy” oil finds, such as the Gulf of Mexico and the North Sea, are in decline. Naturally, given that the partnership with Russian group TNK has contributed more replacement barrels than any other BP initiative, the profile of risk at the company has changed. But contrast its position with that of Shell, which is replacing only 60% – 70% of its reserves.
In retrospect, the deals that gave BP its flexibility in exploration and enviable cash flows were the acquisitions of Amoco and Arco, both struck when the idea of an oil price over $50 would have been laughable. Whether the timing was genius or luck doesn't really matter.
Where BP does underperform its global peers is in refining and marketing. Two factors, the Texas City explosion and the Gulf of Mexico hurricanes, one hopes will not be repeated, but the other half of the story is simply BP's history. One can't have everything. A management committed to handing back to shareholders all surplus cash is more than decent compensation for investors. read more

royaldutchshellplc.com and its sister websites royaldutchshellgroup.com, shellenergy.website, shellnazihistory.com, royaldutchshell.website, johndonovan.website, shellnews.net and shell2004.com are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

The New York Times: 86 Evangelical Leaders Join to Fight Global Warming

By LAURIE GOODSTEIN
Published: February 8, 2006
Despite opposition from some of their colleagues, 86 evangelical Christian leaders have decided to back a major initiative to fight global warming, saying “millions of people could die in this century because of climate change, most of them our poorest global neighbors.”
Among signers of the statement, which will be released in Washington on Wednesday, are the presidents of 39 evangelical colleges, leaders of aid groups and churches, like the Salvation Army, and pastors of megachurches, including Rick Warren, author of the best seller “The Purpose-Driven Life.”
“For most of us, until recently this has not been treated as a pressing issue or major priority,” the statement said. “Indeed, many of us have required considerable convincing before becoming persuaded that climate change is a real problem and that it ought to matter to us as Christians. But now we have seen and heard enough.”
The statement calls for federal legislation that would require reductions in carbon dioxide emissions through “cost-effective, market-based mechanisms” — a phrase lifted from a Senate resolution last year and one that could appeal to evangelicals, who tend to be pro-business. The statement, to be announced in Washington, is only the first stage of an “Evangelical Climate Initiative” including television and radio spots in states with influential legislators, informational campaigns in churches, and educational events at Christian colleges.
“We have not paid as much attention to climate change as we should, and that's why I'm willing to step up,” said Duane Litfin, president of Wheaton College, an influential evangelical institution in Illinois. “The evangelical community is quite capable of having some blind spots, and my take is this has fallen into that category.”
Some of the nation's most high-profile evangelical leaders, however, have tried to derail such action. Twenty-two of them signed a letter in January declaring, “Global warming is not a consensus issue.” Among the signers were Charles W. Colson, the founder of Prison Fellowship Ministries; James C. Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family; and Richard Land, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Their letter was addressed to the National Association of Evangelicals, an umbrella group of churches and ministries, which last year had started to move in the direction of taking a stand on global warming. The letter from the 22 leaders asked the National Association of Evangelicals not to issue any statement on global warming or to allow its officers or staff members to take a position.
E. Calvin Beisner, associate professor of historical theology at Knox Theological Seminary in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., helped organize the opposition into a group called the Interfaith Stewardship Alliance. He said Tuesday that “the science is not settled” on whether global warming was actually a problem or even that human beings were causing it. And he said that the solutions advocated by global warming opponents would only cause the cost of energy to rise, with the burden falling most heavily on the poor.
In response to the critics, the president of the National Association of Evangelicals, the Rev. Ted Haggard, did not join the 86 leaders in the statement on global warming, even though he had been in the forefront of the issue a year ago. Neither did the Rev. Richard Cizik, the National Association's Washington lobbyist, even though he helped persuade other leaders to sign the global warming initiative.
On Tuesday, Mr. Haggard, the pastor of New Life Church in Colorado Springs, said in a telephone interview that he did not sign because it would be interpreted as an endorsement by the entire National Association of Evangelicals. But he said that speaking just for himself, “There is no doubt about it in my mind that climate change is happening, and there is no doubt about it that it would be wise for us to stop doing the foolish things we're doing that could potentially be causing this. In my mind there is no downside to being cautious.”
Of those who did sign, said the Rev. Jim Ball, executive director of the Evangelical Environmental Network: “It's a very centrist evangelical list, and that was intentional. When people look at the names, they're going to say, this is a real solid group here. These leaders are not flighty, going after the latest cause. And they know they're probably going to take a little flak.”
The list includes prominent black leaders like Bishop Charles E. Blake Sr. of the West Angeles Church of God in Christ in Los Angeles, the Rev. Floyd Flake of the Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral in New York City, and Bishop Wellington Boone of the Father's House and Wellington Boone Ministries in Norcross, Ga.; as well as Hispanic leaders like the Rev. Jesse Miranda, president of AMEN in Costa Mesa, Calif.
The evangelical leaders are meeting Wednesday with senators or their staff members concerned with legislation on energy and the environment. Their letter commends senators who last year passed a resolution by Senators Pete V. Domenici, a Republican, and Jeff Bingaman, a Democrat, both of New Mexico, which called for regulatory measures like a cap and trade program, a system in which industries would buy or trade permits to emit greenhouse gases.
In their statement, the evangelicals praised companies like BP, Shell, General Electric, Cinergy, Duke Energy and DuPont that it said “have moved ahead of the pace of government action through innovative measures” to reduce emissions.
The television spot links images of drought, starvation and Hurricane Katrina to global warming. In it, the Rev. Joel Hunter, pastor of a megachurch in Longwood, Fla., says: “As Christians, our faith in Jesus Christ compels us to love our neighbors and to be stewards of God's creation. The good news is that with God's help, we can stop global warming, for our kids, our world and for the Lord.”
The advertisements are to be shown in Arkansas, Florida, Kansas, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee and Virginia.
The Evangelical Climate Initiative, at a cost of several hundred thousand dollars, is being supported by individuals and foundations, including the Pew Charitable Trusts, the Hewlett Foundation and the Rockefeller Brothers Foundation.
The initiative is one indication of a growing urgency about climate change among religious groups, said Paul Gorman, executive director of the National Religious Partnership for the Environment, a clearinghouse in Amherst, Mass., for environmental initiatives by religious groups.
Interfaith climate campaigns in 15 states are pressing for regional standards to reduce greenhouse gases, Mr. Gorman said. Jewish, Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox leaders also have campaigns under way. read more

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Asia Pulse: BANGALORE TO BE THIRD KEY GLOBAL RESEARCH LOCATION FOR SHELL

Feb 08, 2006
MUMBAI, Feb 8 Asia Pulse – Royal Dutch Shell Technology on Tuesday said Bangalore would be the location for its latest technology centre for high-end technical studies, projects and services across the globe with a view to develop products that will be key to the future of energy business.
“Currently, Shell has major research and development facilities in Houston and at Rijswik and Amsterdam. Bangalore will be the third key location for Royal Dutch Shell Technology,” a company release said here.
According to the company, services at Bangalore will span upstream exploration and production activities as well as downstream refinery and chemical operations.
The centre is due to open in the second half of 2006 and will move to a purpose-built campus in 2009. Recruitment has already started for the initial phase, it said.
” We are looking for the best talent and we are gratified by the number of of highly qualified applications that we are receiving. We have developed a value proposition for our people which compromises a career in a global organisation from an Indian base at highly competitive rates,” Shell Global Solutions President Greg Lewin said in the release.
(PTI) read more

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Financial Times: Oil spike gives BP room to return up to $65bn

By Carola Hoyos in London
Published: February 8 2006 02:00
BP yesterday revealed it planned to return up to $65bn (£37bn)to shareholders during the next three years in what promisesto become an industry-wide bonanza.
Depending on oil price movements, shareholders of the world's five biggest listed energy groups could receive as much as $250bn through share buybacks and dividends in the next three years, according to data provided by UBS, the investment bank, based on guidance to investors.
The exact amount will vary depending on the oil price but it is based on UBS's assumption of $56 a barrel – at the higher end of expectations, but still below the $60 a barrel mark underpinning BP's $65bn figure. Brent crude closed yesterday at $62.16 a barrel. If oil prices were to fall to $41 a barrel, the average for the years 2003-05, BP said investors could still expect around $50bn.
In 2005, ExxonMobil and Chevron, the two biggest US energy groups, and BP, Royal Dutch Shell and Total, their European peers, returned an estimated $76bn to their shareholders while they spent a little more than $50bn looking for and producing oil and natural gas.
“The size of the buybacks and the relatively low percentage that is being reinvested in the industry would tend to indicate that oil companies don't have enough new upstream opportunities and projects to spend their money on,” said Neil McMahon, analyst at Sanford Bernstein.
He added: “The years 2005-2006 could well prove to be the peak of the industry in terms of profitability because they are having to spend their money on shareholders instead of reinvesting in oil projects that will yield production and revenue in the future.”
In 1980-82, the last time oil prices spiked, the industry spent more than 80 per cent of its free cash flow, after dividends, on finding and producing new oil. Today that share has shrunk to 40 per cent.
“It is not that they are holding back in investment, there is just not enough good stuff to invest in until foreign investment is allowed in areas of the Middle East currently closed and the business climate in Russia improves,” Mr McMahon said.
Thierry Desmarest, chairman and chief executive officer of Total, has warned that the production capacity crunch could not be overcome if countries in the Middle East did not allow foreign companies to help develop their oil fields.
“Perhaps the only place left to discover the type of giant fields the world has relied on in the past 30 years is in Russia and the Arctic,” said David Bamford, head of BP's global exploration programme from 1999-2003. read more

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Financial Times: Oil spike gives BP room to return up to $65bn

By Carola Hoyos in London
Published: February 8 2006 02:00
BP yesterday revealed it planned to return up to $65bn (£37bn)to shareholders during the next three years in what promisesto become an industry-wide bonanza.
Depending on oil price movements, shareholders of the world's five biggest listed energy groups could receive as much as $250bn through share buybacks and dividends in the next three years, according to data provided by UBS, the investment bank, based on guidance to investors.
The exact amount will vary depending on the oil price but it is based on UBS's assumption of $56 a barrel – at the higher end of expectations, but still below the $60 a barrel mark underpinning BP's $65bn figure. Brent crude closed yesterday at $62.16 a barrel. If oil prices were to fall to $41 a barrel, the average for the years 2003-05, BP said investors could still expect around $50bn.
In 2005, ExxonMobil and Chevron, the two biggest US energy groups, and BP, Royal Dutch Shell and Total, their European peers, returned an estimated $76bn to their shareholders while they spent a little more than $50bn looking for and producing oil and natural gas.
“The size of the buybacks and the relatively low percentage that is being reinvested in the industry would tend to indicate that oil companies don't have enough new upstream opportunities and projects to spend their money on,” said Neil McMahon, analyst at Sanford Bernstein.
He added: “The years 2005-2006 could well prove to be the peak of the industry in terms of profitability because they are having to spend their money on shareholders instead of reinvesting in oil projects that will yield production and revenue in the future.”
In 1980-82, the last time oil prices spiked, the industry spent more than 80 per cent of its free cash flow, after dividends, on finding and producing new oil. Today that share has shrunk to 40 per cent.
“It is not that they are holding back in investment, there is just not enough good stuff to invest in until foreign investment is allowed in areas of the Middle East currently closed and the business climate in Russia improves,” Mr McMahon said.
Thierry Desmarest, chairman and chief executive officer of Total, has warned that the production capacity crunch could not be overcome if countries in the Middle East did not allow foreign companies to help develop their oil fields.
“Perhaps the only place left to discover the type of giant fields the world has relied on in the past 30 years is in Russia and the Arctic,” said David Bamford, head of BP's global exploration programme from 1999-2003. read more

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Financial Times: Investors in BP let down by quarterly earnings

By Toby Shelley
Published: February 8 2006 02:00
BP yesterday disappointed investors despite producing record annual profit and announcing plans to return up to $65bn (£37m) to shareholders over the next three years.
BP reported a net profit of $22.34bn for 2005, up from $17.1bn the year before.
But weaker-than-expected earnings for the fourth quarter forced the group's shares down 2.7 per cent, or 18p, to 647½p.
BP said its fourth-quarter replacement cost profit, which excludes changes in inventory values, was $4.43bn.
The company replaced 95 per cent of the reserves that it used up last year and has 18bn barrels of proved reserves and 41bn barrels of more speculative resources to build on.
Though the reserves replacement number was a disappointment, it outshone Shell, which is still struggling after its big cut in proved reserves two years ago. BP's dividend for the quarter will be 9.375 cents a share, a rise of 21 per cent.
The record profit and big returns to shareholders brought calls for higher taxation for oil majors.
Tony Woodley, general secretary of the Transport and General Workers Union, said the profit could be used to boost a scheme to help workers who lost pensions when their employers went out of business.
Lord Browne, chief executive, said BP expected to produce about 4.1m to 4.2m barrels of oil equivalent a day in 2006. The company should increase output by about 4 per cent a year to 2010, he said, a little slower than the 4.4 per cent achieved since 2000.
Last year's increase, however, was well under 0.5 per cent due to the impact of US Gulf hurricanes.
For the fourth quarter, production dropped 2 per cent year on year.
The storms also hit BP's refining results. Last month, BP was unable to specify when the Texas City refinery would be back onstream.
Now the company said it will be back up this quarter, having cost $600m to $800m in lost profit. Estimated fourth-quarter opportunity losses due to the hurricanes were confirmed at $950m.
Capital spending for 2006 will be $15bn, $11bn of it upstream. Expenditure for the TNK-BP joint venture in Russia, which has furnished much of BP's production growth, will rise sharply from $1.8bn to $2.5bn.
The dominant exploration and production division saw operating profit soar 38 per cent to almost $6.6bn for the quarter as the higher prices more than made up for the production slippage and fair value losses of more than $800m on North Sea gas contracts that failed to capture the rise in prices. read more

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Financial Times: Sharing that oil profit

Published: February 8 2006 02:00
The paradox of the oil industry is that it is investing record amounts in exploration and production but, because its overall profits have risen even faster, it is returning even larger amounts to its shareholders. BP yesterday promised to give its shareholders $50bn-$65bn in dividend payments and share buybacks in 2006-08 if the oil price were to stay at $40-$60 a barrel. By one estimate, total returns to shareholders of the five biggest companies could amount to $250bn over that period. With the world short of oil, such largesse to shareholders might look like a terrible waste that should be taxed if it cannot be put to better use. This would be a mistake. For much of the gains to the shareholders of big oil companies could well end up being reinvested in other energy companies or sectors.
To some extent, the oil majors are rewarding their shareholders for sticking with them during lean years, such as the 1998-99 oil price crash to $10 a barrel. But the subsequent surge in the oil price has also made investment opportunities harder to find in some ways. The oil service sector is working at full stretch, with equipment such as deep water drilling rigs now booked years in advance. The rise in the oil price has also worsened political constraints because it has made governments and state oil companies in the Middle East even less interested in opening to foreign investment. Elsewhere, countries ranging from Bolivia and Venezuela to Russia and Chad are now imposing tougher terms on foreign oil companies.
However, not all the majors are that pushed to increase output at the moment; BP is, for example, less desperate than Shell to increase production and reserves. Many companies are wary of repeating the mistakes of past cycles when they increased capital expenditure that failed to pay off when the oil price sank. True, we now seem to be living in a world of at least $40 rather than $20 oil. Yet most of the oil majors still pride themselves on maintaining “capital discipline” and preferring to return profits to shareholders rather than plunge into high-cost,marginal projects. The archetypaldisciplinarian of the industry is its leader, ExxonMobil, which last week reported a world record annual profit of $36bn and vaunted the fact that it had increased shareholders' returns by 56 per cent last year.
The worst way to recycle such profits would be through government taxation; twice in the past five years the UK government has raised oil taxes and thereby merely accelerated the decline in North Sea output. To avoid this threat, the oil majors could artificially boost their investment plans beyond what they would otherwise judge commercial. But the risk of this would be cost inflation and overruns on projects. It would be far better to let the capital markets do their job of capital allocation and find new opportunities for these oil profits. read more

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Financial Times: BP

Published: February 8 2006 02:00
Greed is good, up to a point. In the past week, investors have reacted with disdain to almost $47bn of annual profits from the UK's two big oil companies. Shares in BP fell by 3 per cent after 2005 results were announced yesterday, following a similar reaction to Royal Dutch Shell's record numbers last week. BP's refining and marketing division came up short in the fourth-quarter.
Besides the effects of the Texas City refinery closure, BP's downstream business is structurally weaker than its major rivals. At 44 per cent, its coverage of final sales of oil products by its own refining capacity is low, translating into weaker downstream per barrel profits and cash flow.
BP also reduced expectations for longer-term upstream production growth. Overall, its results attest to the pressures currently being felt across the industry. But investors should focus on BP's considerable underlying strengths. Reserves replacement of 95 per cent of production in 2005 was reasonable.
The target of converting 11bn barrels of oil equivalent of existing resources into proven reserves by 2010 and a 10bn barrel exploration portfolio underline long-term upstream potential. Cost cutting and investment focused on upgrading refineries should improve downstream returns.
Perhaps mindful that these results would take the shine off, BP is also offering quite a sweetener; it will return $50bn to shareholders over the next three years at an undemanding projected oil price of $41 a barrel.
Shell, meanwhile, is still having to work hard to repair the damage of 2004's reserves debacle, and its own buyback programme for this year looks stingy. The contrast in confidence in these messages speaks volumes about the relative prospects of these two rivals. Greedy investors should go where the money is. read more

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Houston Chronicle: Updated: County challenges Shell Oil's tax break lawsuit

Officials dispute firm's claim that fees were unfair
By BILL MURPHY
A county official assailed Shell Oil Co. on Tuesday for suing to avoid paying $2 million annually in county taxes on its local inventory.
Commissioners Court authorized the county attorney's office to seek to intervene in Shell's lawsuit to try to prevent the tax relief.
“Shell Oil doesn't think they have to pay taxes,” Commissioner Steve Radack said. “We have hospital district costs going up, and we have all kinds of costs going up. We expect more from our corporate citizens like Shell.”
In 2004, Shell sued the Harris County Appraisal District, looking to revisit a 1993 agreement requiring it to pay county taxes on oil and other inventory in a foreign trade zone at its Deer Park complex. It is this suit that the county now will try to enter.
Shell spokeswoman Destin Singleton wrote in an e-mail, “Shell has always paid its share of taxes. In 2005, Shell and related companies paid more than $50 million in property taxes to Harris County and other taxing jurisdictions within Harris County.”
Shell paid the taxes at the center of the court dispute and is arguing that it should receive a refund because the assessments were “unfairly applied and unlawful,” Singleton wrote.
Shell received a county tax bill of $1.5 million on its $300 million inventory in the zone two years ago. Its bill rose to about $2 million last year, County Judge Robert Eckels said.
The trade zone was created in 1993 after the county sponsored Shell's application for the zone in exchange for the company's commitment to pay county taxes on inventory within it. The sponsorship was needed to get federal approval for a zone, which provides certain tax breaks to trade-related activity and property.
As a matter of policy, the county has protected its tax base by declining to sponsor applications for firms that won't agree to pay county taxes on inventory.
The city of Deer Park and the Deer Park Independent School District do not receive tax payments on such inventory.
The agreement with Shell was to stay in place as long as the county did not let competing oil firms avoid paying taxes on inventory in foreign trade zones created after Shell's pact, Harris County Appraisal District Chief Appraiser Jim Robinson has said.
Shell argues that a competitor, Valero, is not paying county taxes on its foreign trade zone inventory, Eckels said.
The appraisal district contends that the agreement allowing Valero not to pay taxes on its inventory predates the Shell pact, Robinson said. That agreement was in place before Valero bought the property and, as a matter of law, remains intact after a sale, Robinson said.
The lawsuit “is just a blatant abrogation by Shell on the agreement that they made,” he said. “I don't object to a company making money. But I think they are acting in bad faith on this.”
[email protected] read more

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DR HUONG CONFIRMS ACCURACY OF DYNAMITE INDICTMENT OF SHELL

From:
Dr. John Huong
Miri 98100
Sarawak, East Malaysia
To:
Mr. James Ross
Senior Legal Adviser
Human Rights Watch HQ
350 Fifth Avenue, 34th floor
New York, NY 10118-3299 USA
Tel: 1-(212) 290-4700, Fax: 1-(212) 736-1300
Date: 8th February 2006.
Dear Mr. Ross,
This email is in connection with the communication which I believe you have received earlier today from Mr. Alfred Donovan from Shellnews.net.
I want to put on record the facts that I have not authorized publication of the Draft Affidavit and/or the Communication sent to Human Rights Watch.
The publication is entirely a matter for the Donovans.
I had not sanctioned the Draft Affidavit published on the Donovan website.
Having said that, I do not take issue with anything stated in the Draft Affidavit, bearing in mind that I am under threat of imprisonment and it would not be prudent for me to comment further on this matter other than to state in general terms that I support freedom of expression.
Sincerely,
Dr. John Huong
Copied:
Mr. Alfred Donovan
END OF DR HUONG LETTER TO HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH
COMMENT ADDED BY ALFRED DONOVAN
I note that Dr Huong has not taken issue with the accuracy of the content of his draft Affidavit. This is unsurprising since he was the author (but not the publisher). read more

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