Monthly Archives: February 2014

EU maintained trade surplus with Brazil in 2013

eubrasilEU28 exports to Brazil in 2012 amounted to 39.7 billion euro and imports to 37.4 bn. The EU28 registered a continuous deficit in trade in goods with Brazil up to 2011, with a peak in 2007, turning to a surplus of 2.3 bn in 2012. The first nine months of 2013 confirm the most recent trend, with EU28 exports to Brazil continuing to increase, from 29.6 bn euro in the first nine months of 2012 to 30.4 bn in the same period of 2013, while imports continued to fall, from 28.8 bn to 24.9 bn over the same period. As a result, the EU28 surplus in trade of goods with Brazil of 0.8bn in the first nine months of 2012 increased significantly to 5.5 bn in the same period of 2013. Continue reading

Panama outlook favorable in spite of risks – IMF

panamacanalAn International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission visited Panama City during February 11-21 to conduct the country’s annual consultations. The delegation concluded that Panama’s economic performance remains buoyant, outlook favorable, in spite of certain local and international risks. The IMF therefore thinks a tighter fiscal policy is recommended. Continue reading

Shell advances with major UK CCS project

shellShell has signed an agreement with the UK Government to progress the Peterhead Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) project to the next phase of design. The project, led by Shell, with strategic support from SSE, owners of the Peterhead gas power station in Aberdeenshire, aims to capture 10 million tonnes of CO2  over 10 years. This will generate enough clean electricity to power the equivalent of 500,000 homes a year. If successful, the project will represent the first industrial-scale application of CCS technology at a gas power station anywhere in the world.     Continue reading

Heritage Drafts Steve Moore, Supply Side Visionary, To Fight Team Obama

By Ralph Benko

uscapitolWill America start prospering again — as it has not prospered for over a decade? Likely yes. But not without a fight.  Now that Jim DeMint has raided Steve Moore from the Wall Street Journal that card might be Heritage Foundation vs. the White House. Could be big. John Holdren, now Obama’s White House science advisor, 40 years ago termed America “overdeveloped.” Continue reading

Steinweg opens new offices in SE Europe

logo C.Steinweg GroupThe Steinweg Group has opened  new offices in the port of Bar in Montenegro as well as in the city of Beograd in Serbia in order to strengthen the presence of the company in the region. The offices will be active in warehousing and logistics of metals and will serve the hinterland in Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia, Kosovo, Albania and neighbouring countries, Steinweg announced.

IHC Merwede launches Sapura Topázio

topazioIHC Merwede has successfully named and launched the pipelaying vessel Sapura Topázio in a ceremony at the company’s shipyard near Rotterdam. is the second in a series of five fully integrated offshore vessels, which will be completely designed, engineered and built by IHC Merwede. Continue reading

Shell sells Australia downstream to Vitol

shellvitollogoShell announced it has reached a binding agreement to sell its Australia downstream businesses (excluding Aviation) to Vitol for a total transaction value of approximately A$2.9 billion (US$2.6 billion). The sale covers Shell’s Geelong Refinery and 870-site retail business – along with its bulk fuels, bitumen, chemicals and part of its lubricants businesses in Australia. It also includes a brand license arrangement and an exclusive distributor arrangement in Australia for Shell Lubricants. Continue reading

The American Public’s Indifference to Foreign Affairs

By George Friedman

georgefriedmanLast week, several events took place that were important to their respective regions and potentially to the world. Russian government officials suggested turning Ukraine into a federation, following weeks of renewed demonstrations in Kiev. The Venezuelan government was confronted with violent and deadly protests. Kazakhstan experienced a financial crisis that could have destabilized the economies of Central Asia. Russia and Egypt inked a significant arms deal. Right-wing groups in Europe continued their political gains. Any of these events had the potential to affect the United States. At different times, lesser events have transfixed Americans.This week, Americans seemed to be indifferent to all of them. This may be part of a cycle that shapes American interest in public affairs. The decision to raise the debt ceiling, which in the last cycle gripped public attention, seemed to elicit a shrug. Continue reading

Has Brazil really entered recession? Then here is what to do

By Arnout Nuijt

brazilianflagPositive news about Brazil’s economy is hard to find these days. In fact the bad news is piling up. A recent report by the Financial Times of London, quoting Brazil Central bank figures, suggests the country has entered technical recession more than 7 months ago by shrinking slightly for two consecutive quarters in 2013. Another report in the same publication expressed worries about what harm a recession may do to Brazil’s housing bubble. So how serious should you take these reports and what can you do to protect your business in Brazil? Continue reading

Rand Paul vs. Hillary Clinton: A Radically Transformational Presidential Election Fighting Over Peace and Prosperity?

By Ralph Benko

randpaulRand Paul vs. Hillary Clinton? In a context of emerging peace, prosperity, and human rights? This would be big.  Transformational, even.Peter Bein art, in the Atlantic Monthly (among many, many other political observers), has concluded that “Rand Paul is the 2016 Republican Frontrunner.”  And two of the Washington Post’s top political observers, Chris Cillizia and Sean Sullivan, say “Hillary Clinton is the biggest frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination ever. Yes, ever.” The next presidential election is not going to be  “Rutherford B. Hayes vs. Samuel Tilden.” It bodes to be transformational. Continue reading

LatAm economic climate improves, Brazil’s worsens

latamThe Ifo/FGV Economic Climate Index for Latin America (ECI)  advanced, after having been stable in the last two surveys (July and October 2013). The 8% increase in the ECI (to 95 from 88 points) is explained by both the improvement in assessments of present conditions (PSI) and expectations (EI), but only the latter one went to the zone of favorable assessment. Furthermore, all three indicators are below the average of the last 10 years and, in addition, the region still has to improve its performance to ensure a stable growth trajectory. However, the result does not generalize to all countries in the region. Continue reading

Wärtsilä signs service agreement with Van Oord

logo-vanoordWith the signing of a new three-year framework service agreement, Wärtsilä and Van Oord, the Netherlands based contractor for dredging and offshore projects, have entered into an exclusive partnership for all field service and parts supply. The agreement covers preventive and corrective engine maintenance on Van Oord’s fleet of dredging and other vessels. The contract has a total value of EUR 30 – 40 million over three years. The contract was signed on February 13  in Rotterdam. Continue reading

Shell Australia awards contract to Kotug Teekay

kotugaustraliaShell Australia  has awarded a major contract for the design, construction and operation of three Infield Support Vessels (ISVs), which will create approximately 80 local jobs and support its Prelude FLNG Project, located 475km north-north east of Broome, in Western Australia. KT Maritime Services Australia Pty Ltd (Joint Venture partnership of KOTUG and Teekay) will supply three 42 metre-long, 100-tonne bollard-pull Rotortugs to assist in product offloading during the operations phase of the project. The ISVs will operate out of the Port of Broome on a rotation.  Continue reading

World Bank improving Rio Public Service Delivery

rioMore than 16 million people living in the Rio de Janeiro State will benefit from a new US$48 million loan approved today by the World Bank Board of Directors. The loan will finance a project designed to improve the delivery of public services. The Rio State Strengthening Public Management and Integrated Territorial Development Technical Assistance Project will provide technical assistance for the development of fiscal and infrastructure reforms designed to achieve better integration between the 19 municipalities of Rio de Janeiro’s Metropolitan Area. It will also support the installation of an early warning system for heavy rainfall events that will cover all municipalities of the State. Continue reading

China is the real threat to emerging markets

equitiesIt has been a rough time for emerging market equities, but only China has the real power to upset the apple cart for investors this year, says Robeco’s chief economist. Rate hikes in countries such as India and Turkey to try to prop up their currencies and cut capital flows have sent stock prices plummeting. Much of the malaise has been blamed on the US Federal Reserve (Fed) for beginning its tapering program. Continue reading

BAM International awarded Australian contract

bamaustraliaFortescue Metals Group (FMG) has awarded the BAM Clough Joint Venture (BAM Clough) a design and construction contract for a fifth iron ore loading berth at its Anderson Point Facility (AP5) in Port Hedland, Western Australia. The works include the design and construction of a 306-metre long wharf extension, seven berthing dolphins, and the supply and installation of wharf conveyor modules. Continue reading

New Dimensions of U.S. Foreign Policy Toward Russia

By George Friedman

georgefriedmanThe struggle for some of the most strategic territory in the world took an interesting twist this week. Last week we discussed what appeared to be a significant shift in German national strategy in which Berlin seemed to declare a new doctrine of increased assertiveness in the world — a shift that followed intense German interest in Ukraine. This week, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, in a now-famous cellphone conversation, declared her strong contempt for the European Union and its weakness and counseled the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine to proceed quickly and without the Europeans to piece together a specific opposition coalition before the Russians saw what was happening and took action. Continue reading

2013 a record-breaking year for IHC Engineering

ihcIHC Engineering Business (IHC EB), part of IHC Merwede, has been successful in winning export orders to the value of more than £200 million over the past year. These innovative projects are being managed from the company’s office in Stocksfield, Northumberland, with further expansion and recruitment planned for 2014. Continue reading

OECD admits to forecasting errors during 2008-09 crisis

logooecd_enExtreme volatility during the global financial crisis complicated economic forecasting, leading to large errors that underline the need for better modelling methods and new approaches for making and presenting projections, according to an OECD report. OECD forecasts during and after the financial crisis: a post-mortem says that the Organisation’s economic projections under-predicted the depth of the collapse in activity in 2008-09 and over-estimated the pace of recovery in recent years. The degree of forecasting errors seen over the 2007-12 period is similar in size to that seen around the first oil shock in the 1970s. Continue reading

New Rotterdam time and fuel saving lay-by berths for small container vessels

portofrotterdamThe Port of Rotterdam Authority has put into use three public lay-by berths for feeder and short sea ships on the Maasvlakte. This will save shipping companies valuable fuel and time in particular. Two berths are at dolphins in the continuation of the Rhenus terminal in the Europahaven (port number 8235).  The third location is at the dolphins at a short distance from the GDF Suez quay in the Beerkanaal (port number 8025). The investments were in the region of €4 million. Continue reading

Mainly Asian companies settled in Rotterdam in 2013

rtmpartnersThe number of international companies locating in Rotterdam continues to grow. A total of 29 international companies opted for Rotterdam following the intermediation of the Rotterdam Investment Agency. The companies expect to create more than 2,700 jobs in Rotterdam and to invest 161 million euros. Continue reading

Memo To Janet Yellen’s Vice Chair Nominee Stanley Fischer: That Was Then. This Is Now.

By Ralph Benko

fedDr. Janet Yellen now has taken over the chair of the Fed. And President Obama, to great acclaim, recently nominated Prof. Stanley Fischer as Vice Chairman. Prof. Fischer may be the most distinguished and beloved central banker at work within the world financial system today. It is not often that central bankers find themselves beloved. Fed Chairman William McChesney Martin famously quoted a writer saying that the Federal Reserve is “in the position of the chaperone who has ordered the punch bowl removed just when the party was really warming up.” Yet Fischer is beloved. Continue reading

SBM Offshore reacts to corruption allegations

sbmLate last week Dutch media began reporting on alleged corruption practices involving SBM Offshore deals in Brazil, Angola, Equatorial Guinea and other countries. The info was apparently published by a former employee of the company on the SBM Offshore company profile page on Wikipedia. On Friday February 7th, the company issued the following statement: Continue reading

Rotterdam to redevelop Waalhaven business park

Distributiecomplex-Waalhaven-ZuidProDelta Real Estate and the Port of Rotterdam Authority are to radically redevelop almost 4 hectares of the Waalhaven Zuid business park. The Port Authority will demolish the current sheds on both sides of Hilgersweg, in stages. This will lose its public function and become part of the Distriport Waalhaven complex, which ProDelta is developing. This company will develop over 32,000 m2 of space for the handling and storage of merchandise, in two stages. This will involve an investment of around €14 million, excluding the land. A start will be made on the demolition of the existing buildings for stage 1 this month. Construction will begin soon afterwards and should be completed by January 2015. Continue reading

Spanish group plans 230-room Rotterdam hotel

pakhuismeesterenSpanish-based Room Mate Hotels continues to strengthen its international expansion by adding 11 new hotels to its existing 18. The hotel chain will open new facilities in places like Istanbul, Bogotá, Rotterdam, Milan and Rome and reinforce others like New York and Barcelona. Room Mate Hotels will soon manage 29 hotels worldwide. In Rotterdam the chain will incorporate a hotel of 230 rooms in the well known Manhattan on the Maas district (Kop van Zuid). It will be decorated by Teresa Sapey, the avant-garde architect of Room Mate Pau in Barcelona. The ground floor will be devoted to a commercial area, offering Spanish products, among others. Continue reading

Steigenberger Group plans Rotterdam hotel

intercityhotelA new InterCityHotel is being developed within the immediate vicinity of Rotterdam Central Station. The project is scheduled for completion in 2017. The InterCityHotel Rotterdam will offer the very best level of comfort to leisure and business travellers alike. 180 rooms from the latest InterCityHotel generation, each of which will be at least 20 m² in size, will deliver a feel-good factor whilst conference facilities extending over an area of 440 m2 and featuring five rooms. A pre-function section will be available for meetings and events. Culinary needs will be served by a restaurant and a 162 m2 Bistro Lounge. Continue reading

Why so much anarchy?

By Robert D. Kaplan

kaplanTwenty years ago, in February 1994, I published a lengthy cover story in The Atlantic Monthly, “The Coming Anarchy: How Scarcity, Crime, Overpopulation, Tribalism, and Disease are Rapidly Destroying the Social Fabric of Our Planet.” I argued that the combination of resource depletion (like water), demographic youth bulges and the proliferation of shanty towns throughout the developing world would enflame ethnic and sectarian divides, creating the conditions for domestic political breakdown and the transformation of war into increasingly irregular forms — making it often indistinguishable from terrorism. I wrote about the erosion of national borders and the rise of the environment as the principal security issues of the 21st century. I accurately predicted the collapse of certain African states in the late 1990s and the rise of political Islam in Turkey and other places. Islam, I wrote, was a religion ideally suited for the badly urbanized poor who were willing to fight. I also got things wrong, Continue reading

IHC Merwede secures orders worth € 350 million

ihc2014IHC Merwede has been successful in securing orders worth € 350 million for a wide range of dredging and offshore vessels and equipment. The company’s Dredging division has confirmed new contracts for the delivery of a large custom-built trailing suction hopper dredger, 13 units that will be supplied by IHC Beaver Dredgers and a cutter suction dredger training simulator. The Offshore division has also announced orders for the construction of a 300-tonne pipelaying vessel, as well as a J-Lay pipelaying system and a tandem mooring system. Continue reading

South Africa needs more export competitiveness and regional integration, World Bank reports

saflagGreater export competitiveness and deeper regional integration could help propel South Africa towards faster-growing exports, allowing it to achieve higher, more inclusive, job-intensive growth as laid out in the country’s National Development Plan (NDP) 2030, according to the World Bank’s South Africa Economic Update. Continue reading

SBM Offshore reports Full Year Results for 2013

sbmSBM Offshore finished 2013 with a strong underlying financial performance, ahead of expectations. The Company has now put most of its legacy projects to rest, secured the balance sheet and refocused its activity around the FPSO-led strategy. Directionalrevenue increased 13% to US$3,445 million, while Directional backlog reached US$23 billion. This was reinforced by strong operational performance with consistently high uptime across the fleet of over 99%. Three prestigious FPSO awards were won during the year (Cidade de Maricá, Cidade de Saquarema and FPSO Stones), two FPSOs (Cidade de Paraty and OSX-2) were delivered on time and on budget and Deep Panuke platform reached full production capacity and is now fully on hire.  Continue reading

Rotterdam Offshore Group takes off

rotterdamoffshoregroupSerdijn Ship Repair (SSR) and Zwagerman Offshore Services join forces into a new company under the name Rotterdam Offshore Group BV (ROG).  Both companies have a strong reputation for finding innovative solutions for complex jobs. Their ideas and  activities are complementary, so a complete portfolio can be offered to clients. Alongside the jetties there are lay-by facilities for vessels up to 190 mtr and 9,5 mtr of depth, with sufficient crane capacity. A large yard area of more than 14,000 sqm with a fully equipped workshop. Existing markets and new market segments will be addressed  in several business modules. Continue reading

The Secret Hillary Rodham Clinton, Part II

By Ralph Benko

hillaryAs recounted in the previous column, the record is clear that Saul Alinsky, about whom the young Hillary Rodham wrote her Wellesley honor’s thesis, was neither communist nor  conventional Big Government liberal. Hillary Rodham turned down a job  offer from Alinsky.  She turned aside from the path of  anti-establishment populist. Hillary Rodham took the road more traveled, that of conventional  liberal. By word and deed she turned away from Alinsky’s optimistic  participatory politics. She turned, instead, to central planning.  What might that choice suggest? Continue reading

Boskalis Smit Salvage wins Angolan contract

logoboskalisRoyal Boskalis Westminster N.V. (Boskalis) subsidiary SMIT Salvage has been awarded a contract to remove a damaged jack-up platform from the seabed offshore Angola. Including the award of this contract, SMIT Salvage has acquired approximately USD 70 million of work year to date. Continue reading

Shell producing from new Mexican Gulf platform

shellShell has begun production from the Mars B development through Olympus – the company’s seventh, and largest, floating deep-water platform in the Gulf of Mexico. It is the first deep-water project in the Gulf to expand an existing oil and gas field with significant new infrastructure, which should extend the life of the greater Mars basin to 2050 or beyond. Combined future production from Olympus and the original Mars platform is expected to deliver an estimated resource base of 1 billion barrels of oil equivalent (boe). Continue reading

A More Assertive German Foreign Policy

By George Friedman and Marc Lanthemann

Angela MerkelThe Ukrainian crisis is important in itself, but the behavior it has elicited from Germany is perhaps more important. Berlin directly challenged Ukraine’s elected president for refusing to tighten relations with the European Union and for mistreating Ukrainians who protested his decision. In challenging President Viktor Yanukovich, Berlin also challenged Russia, a reflection of Germany’s recent brazen foreign policy. Since the end of World War II, Germany has pursued a relatively tame foreign policy. But over the past week, Berlin appeared to have acknowledged the need for a fairly dramatic change. Continue reading

The Secret Hillary Rodham Clinton, Part I

By Ralph Benko

hillaryForty-five years ago Hillary Rodham made a fateful decision. It has defined her life. Understanding that moment of decision is essential to understanding  Hillary Clinton’s life — the successes and the failures and, perhaps,  the future. It would explain the subtly discordant persona that causes  the media — even many elite Hillary sympathizers — to present her as  some kind of fabulous monster. And it may reveal something of the soul  within. Continue reading

OMA updates Rotterdam Kunsthal

kunsthalThe Kunsthal in Rotterdam, designed by OMA in 1992, reopens this month after an extensive renovation. After more than 20 years of intense use, OMA, the city of Rotterdam and the Kunsthal have completed their comprehensive plan to upgrade the performance of the building in terms of energy, security, program and circulation. The glass facades and roof are now fitted with high performance insulation materials. But there is more.  Continue reading

PROMAR orders Damen Platform Supply Vessels

damenpromarpsvPROMAR has ordered two Platform Supply Vessels from Damen Shipyards Group and this ambitious Swiss company is looking to further expand the offshore fleet under its management in the next five years. The first Damen PSV 3300 will be delivered in February 2015 and the second, in August of the same year. Continue reading

Boskalis Dockwise transports new Statoil rigs

dockwisestatoilDockwise, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Royal Boskalis Westminster N.V. (Boskalis) was awarded several contracts in January 2014 with a combined value of approximately USD 65 million. The largest contract award was from Statoil Petroleum AS for the transportation of two very large new jack-up drilling rigs. The two Cat-J rigs will be the largest and heaviest jack-up rigs ever to be transported on a heavy marine transport vessel. Continue reading