By Nerijus Adomaitis
OSLO (Reuters) – Norway awarded 61 offshore exploration blocks to 30 oil firms in its latest pre-defined areas (APA) licensing round as it seeks to find more resources close to existing fields, Energy Minister Tina Bru said on Tuesday.
Norway, which began to extract oil and gas from its offshore continental shelf 50 years ago, believes it has still only pumped about half of its available resources.
Firms that won stakes in the licences included Equinor, Shell, Aker BP, ConocoPhillips, Total, Lundin Energy and Eni’s Vaar Energi.
“These companies have shown great interest in gaining access to new exploration acreage, illustrating the industry’s confidence in continued profitability from exploration on the Norwegian continental shelf,” Bru said.
APA rounds cover areas with known geology or near existing infrastructure.
“The broad interest shows that companies still believe in the Norwegian continental shelf and in the future profitability of exploration,” said Anniken Hauglie, who heads the Norwegian Oil and Gas Association, an industry group.
Sweden’s Lundin received stakes in 19 licences, followed by Equinor with stakes in 17 licences, while Aker BP and DNO each got 10. ConocoPhillips received stakes in four licences, Total in three and Shell in one.
Vaar Energi will operate all three licences awarded in the Arctic Barents Sea.
Three companies on the original list of applicants did not win any acreage, including RN Nordic Oil, which is a unit of Russia’s Rosneft, and Horisont Energi, a firm dedicated to hydrogen, ammonia and carbon storage solutions.
The third company left off the list of awards, Japan’s Idemitsu, recently sold much of its oil and gas business in Norway to Lundin Energy.
Norway has also invited oil firms to submit applications by Feb. 23 for 136 exploration blocks in frontier areas in the Barents Sea and the Norwegian Sea.
Last December, the country’s top court dismissed a lawsuit by environmental groups against oil exploration in Arctic waters.
Norway is western Europe’s largest oil and gas producer, with a daily output of around 4 million barrels of oil equivalent.
(Editing by Terje Solsvik, Jason Neely and Alex Richardson)
UK firms report strongest hiring intentions in a year – CIPD
LONDON (Reuters) – British businesses have the strongest hiring intentions in a year and fewer are planning to make redundancies as the economic outlook has brightened over the past three months, a human resources industry body said on Monday.
The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development said 56% of businesses planned to increase staff numbers in the coming months, up from 53% in late 2020 but below the 66% planning to hire staff a year ago before the pandemic.
The proportion of firms planning redundancies dropped sharply to 20% from 30% in the last quarter.
However the CIPD said unemployment was likely to rise sharply if finance minister Rishi Sunak does not extend jobs support for businesses at his March 3 budget.
“It is far too soon to rule out further significant private sector redundancies later in the year if the government does not extend the furlough scheme to the end of June or if the economy suffers any additional unexpected shocks,” said Gerwyn Davies, a senior labour market advisor to the CIPD.
A costly furlough programme that is supporting around one in five private-sector employees during the current lockdown is due to end on April 30.
The British Chambers of Commerce warned last week that one in four of its members planned to make job cuts if the support ended while they were still feeling the impact of the pandemic.
The CIPD said hiring plans were strongest in healthcare, finance, education and IT, and weakest in the hospitality sector which is bearing the brunt of the current lockdown.
The survey, run jointly with recruiters Adecco, covered 2,000 employers between Jan. 5 and Jan. 30.
(Reporting by David Milliken; Editing by William Schomberg)
Sunak to raise business tax to pay for COVID-19 support – The Sunday Times
(Reuters) – British finance minister Rishi Sunak is set to increase a tax on business to pay for an extension to COVID-19 support schemes in the budget next month, The Sunday Times reported https://bit.ly/3ujaBcU.
Sunak, in his speech on March 3, will announce he is increasing corporation tax from 19 pence in the pound and will outline a pathway where it rises to 23 pence in the pound by the time of the next general election, the report said. The move will raise an expected 12 billion pounds ($16.8 billion) a year, the report added.
According to the report, at least 1 pence is set to be added to the bill for business from this autumn, at a cost to business of 3 billion pounds, with further rises in subsequent years.
Allies of Sunak clarified he would not increase corporation tax higher than 23%.
These measures will be helpful in paying for an extension to the furlough scheme, VAT cuts and business support loans until at least August.
Unlike the 2010 Conservative-led government, which pursued spending cuts to rebalance the economy after the global financial crisis, Sunak is expected to defer most of the toughest decisions about how to pay for that support in his budget speech.
“The corporation tax hike will be higher than expected and the extension of the support schemes will be longer than most people expect,” the newspaper quoted a source as saying.
Insiders indicated the stamp duty holiday on property purchases would also be extended in line with the other coronavirus support measures, the report said.
Britain’s economy had its biggest slump in 300 years in 2020, when it contracted by 10%, and will shrink by 4% in the first three months of 2021, the Bank of England predicts.
($1 = 0.7136 pounds)
(Reporting by Vishal Vivek in Bengaluru; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)
Foxconn chairman says expects “limited impact” from chip shortage on clients
TAIPEI (Reuters) – The chairman of Apple Inc supplier Foxconn said on Saturday he expects his company and its clients will face only “limited impact” from a chip shortage that has rattled the global automotive and semiconductor industries.
“Since most of the customers we serve are large customers, they all have proper precautionary planning,” said Liu Young-way, chairman of the manufacturing conglomerate formally known as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd
“Therefore, the impact on these large customers is there, but limited,” he told reporters.
Liu said he expected the company to do well in the first half of 2021, “especially as the pandemic is easing and demand is still being sustained.”
The global spread of COVID-19 has increased demand for laptops, gaming consoles, and other electronics. This caused chip manufacturers to reallocate capacity away from the automotive sector, which was expecting a steep downturn.
Now, car manufacturers such as Volkswagen AG, General Motors Co and Ford Motor Co have cut output as chip capacity has shrunk.
Counterpoint Research says the shortage has extended to the smartphone sector, with application processors, display driver chips, and power management chips all facing a crunch.
However, the research firm predicts Apple will face a minimal impact, due to its large size and its suppliers’ tendency to prioritise it. Apple is Foxconn’s largest customer.
Foxconn is looking at other areas for growth, including in electric vehicles (EVs), and Liu said their EV development platform MIH now had 736 partner companies participating.
He expected it would have two or three models to show by the fourth quarter, though did not expect EVs to make an obvious contribution to company earnings until 2023.
Liu also said the company was still looking for semiconductor fab purchase opportunities in Southeast Asia after not winning a bid to take over a stake in Malaysia-based 8-inch foundry house Silterra.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard and Jeanny Kao; Writing by Josh Horwitz; Editing by William Mallard and Ana Nicolaci da Costa)
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