US offers $63 billion arms package for Middle East

 Today in defence news we feature a story from the Middle East and how the US is about to supply $63 billion in arms package to Eygpt, Israel, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries in an attempt bolster their Arab allies against Iran.  For full article please read on:

US offers $63 billion arms package for Middle East

 

The United States on Monday announced military aid packages worth more than $63 billion for Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states in an effort to bolster Arab allies against Iran and others.

The United States plans to offer a $13 billion package for Egypt over 10 years and a $30 billion package for Israel over the same period, increases over previous military funding, as well as unspecified defense aid to Saudi Arabia and Gulf states, said US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

 

The package for Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf countries could reach $20 billion over 10 years, another official said.

The proposed aid packages still have to be approved by Congress and there is expected to be opposition by some lawmakers, particularly over assistance to Saudi Arabia, which is accused of not being helpful in Iraq.

 

Rice made the announcement hours before leaving with Defense Secretary Robert Gates for a rare joint trip to Egypt and Saudi Arabia where they are seeking more Arab help in stabilizing Iraq.

 

’This effort will help bolster forces of moderation and support a broader strategy to counter the negative influences of al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Syria, and Iran,’ said Rice in a statement announcing the defense agreements.

 

Washington is striving to assure Gulf allies, worried by the growing strength of Iran and war in Iraq, that the United States is committed to the region and will stand by them, with arms sales part of that process, US officials say.

 

But Iran accused the United States on Monday of seeking to create fear and cause divisions in the Middle East by announcing the major package of arms deals.

 

’America has always considered one policy in this region and that is creating fear and concerns in the countries of the region and trying to harm the good relations between these countries,’ Iran foreign ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini told a regular press briefing.

Rice said the Bush administration was starting discussions with Egypt for the $13 billion military assistance deal which would strengthen Egypt’s ability to ’address shared strategic goals.’

 

’Further modernizing the Egyptian and Saudi Armed Forces and increasing interoperability will bolster our partners’ resolve in confronting the threat of radicalism and cement their respective roles as regional leaders in the quest for Middle East peace and in ensuring Lebanon’s freedom and independence,’ Rice said.

The increased aid package to Israel is a significant rise over a previous 10-year plan negotiated by the Clinton administration in 1998, said US Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns.

 

Burns said under that deal Israel got about $2.4 billion in military aid each year which would now rise to about $3 billion annually. Burns planned to travel to Israel next week to conclude the formal agreement for the $30 billion.

 

’We will have to do a lot of quick follow-up,’ said Burns in a conference call with reporters.

 

The Saudi package is expected to upgrade the country’s missile defenses and air force and increase its naval capabilities, a defense official told Reuters on Saturday.

 

Burns said the final amount for the Saudi and Gulf states arms package was still being negotiated although he expected it to be in the billions.

 

Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates are also expected to benefit but no details have been given

Energy for the Generations – Interview with Jeroen van der Veer, Chief Executive, Shell

Energy for the Generations

by Jeroen van der Veer
Chief Executive
Royal Dutch Shell pl
c

Reflecting on the relationship between food and energy (biofuels, to be precise) provides a good introduction to an important dilemma: how to secure energy that is clean, cheap and convenient – the three Cs – for ourselves and future generations.

Late last year, I noticed a tiny newspaper report about a Chinese government decision to limit the conversion of corn into ethanol. The reason was that ethanol production was beginning to compete too much with food production. Instead, China now intends to produce ethanol from the less tasty crops of sorghum and cassava. Another story told of a tortilla war in Mexico. Tortillas, of course, are made from corn, much of which Mexico imports from the United States. Domestic corn production suffered a decline in the 1990s, when cheaper U.S. corn flooded the Mexican market. But now the situation is reversed. The United States, in an effort to reduce oil imports, uses nearly a quarter of its corn yield for the production of ethanol. The global price of corn has risen to the highest level in 10 years, and this has translated into a higher price for tortillas. Millions of poor Mexicans are the unintended victims.

I am the first to admit these two stories are simplifications. But I believe they tell us several things about how and how not to work for a sustainable energy future.

First, in our search for clean and secure energy, we must keep an eye on the law of unintended consequences. Every solution creates a new set of problems, it is said, so why not try to think more than just one step ahead? It does not take an Einstein to figure out that one cannot turn corn into fuels and eat it too. It might take an Einstein, however, to discover ways of producing biofuels that compete less directly or not at all with food. I consider myself lucky that Shell and its partners have quite a few Einsteins working to crack the bio-code. Shell, Choren and Iogen are currently developing ways of producing second-generation biofuels from residues like straw and wood chips. We will be separating the wheat from the chaff, so to speak.

Meanwhile, there are many options to cushion the impact of first-generation biofuels on food prices. We must ensure diversity in the types of crops we use. We should grow them in parts of the world where arable land is underused, thus boosting local economies and creating a synergy between food and fuel production. And we should avoid import restrictions so that we make use of each region’s natural strengths while creating a truly global market for biofuels. If we do all of that, there will be a bright future for biofuels.

Second, the vision of a secure and clean energy future must be more than a rich man’s concern if it has any chance of succeeding. We do not want to pit 900 million car drivers against 2 billion people who have no access to modern energy services at all. Imagine you are unfortunate enough to live in a poor neighbourhood in one of the world’s mega-cities. It is of course possible that you wake up every morning worried about climate change. But it is more likely that your main concern is how to find affordable food.

Third, we need the right mix of realism and idealism. A vision may show the way forward, but the facts tell us where the journey begins. I will elaborate on some of these facts before addressing a realistic vision.

Facts

The most important fact is that energy demand is rising and will continue to rise. Another fact is that fossil fuels are and will remain the dominant source of energy for decades to come. Fossil fuels make up between 80 and 85 per cent of the world’s global energy mix. With stringent international measures, we could reduce that share to around 77 per cent by 2030.

Solar and wind energy together provide around 0.15 per cent of the world’s total primary energy consumption. Biofuels add 450,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, or around 0.2 per cent. This is about the same as the daily consumption of Greece or Pakistan. A major part of the remainder is made up of nuclear energy. The use of alternative energy, such as solar and wind, is set to grow. If we look to 2050 and beyond, renewables could perhaps begin to make up as much as a quarter of the global energy mix. But very few people realise just how far we have to go to reach that point. For instance, if the United Kingdom would fit 20 million roofs each with four square metres of standard silicon-based solar panels, this would generate less full-time equivalent power than a typical power station fired by gas or coal, or no more than 1 per cent of U.K. electricity capacity. As we say in the Netherlands, only the sun rises for free. However, we clearly need to improve our performance in exploiting its energy.

As for wind energy, the London Array offshore windfarm in which Shell is a partner will have up to 341 wind turbines, generating the equivalent of about 1 per cent of the U.K.’s electricity demand. The project has received some positive support from nongovernmental organisations. However, compare that to China, which last year alone added conventional generating capacity roughly equivalent to the entire U.K. stock of power stations. Clearly, if we want wind energy to make a difference, we will need more commitment from all stakeholders and greater speed in realising the projects.

Another important fact is that coal is making a comeback, particularly in China and India, where it is abundant and cheap. In the United States, too, more than half the electricity is generated by coal-fired power plants. In the European Union the figure stands at 36 per cent. Anybody who is concerned about carbon emissions cannot be happy with these figures, since coal is at the dirty end of the emissions scale. However, wishing coal away will not alter the facts. A more useful approach might be to invest in a combination of “clean-coal” techniques, such as coal gasification, which turns coal into synthetic gas, and coal-to-liquids technology. I would also include the capture and underground storage of carbon dioxide (CO2) in this list, as well as techniques that convert CO2 into solids that could serve as building materials.

One more fact: Electricity generation is now responsible for 41 per cent of global energy-related carbon emissions. That could rise to 44 per cent by 2030, as electricity takes a bigger share of energy consumption. Some people say the “future is electric.” They point to initiatives in the automotive industry and Silicon Valley to promote plug-in hybrid cars. I am sympathetic to this development. But before we get electric about such future prospects, let us remember that it would require generating more power than we do already.

Vision

Now let us turn to the vision of a realist. I will try to keep it as transparent as the synthetic fuel, made from natural gas, that was added to the diesel of an Audi race car last year. The salesman in me is compelled to mention that this was the first diesel car to win the 24-hour race in Le Mans as well as the Le Mans series of eight races in the United States. (This year, the rules have changed: Diesel cars will not be allowed to carry the same volume of fuel as petrol cars.)

Two things are pretty obvious to me: One is that the most certain way to balance the three Cs is energy efficiency.

The best way to use energy is not to use it. The best way to mitigate CO2 emissions is not to emit them. Gains may be made at the well, in car engines, in manufacturing industries, or in office buildings and homes. The possibilities to save energy are legion and not restricted to the energy industry.

The other certainty is this: Yes, we need to promote renewables. But if we really care about the “C” of clean, and if we accept the argument that fossil fuels will remain dominant for at least the coming three decades, then making efficiency and CO2 gains in the fossil part of the global energy mix is the most urgent task we face.

Here is an example. Shell is investing billions of dollars in an effort to cease all continuous flaring of waste gas at oil wells, especially in Nigeria. We will turn waste gas into pipeline gas for power generation and liquefied natural gas (LNG). Ultimately, this should reduce CO2 emissions by around 30 million tonnes per year.

As the International Energy Agency has pointed out, there are several other countries where continuous flaring is still a reality. With today’s gas prices, putting a stop to flaring and gathering the gas isn’t just good for the environment, it is also a commercial opportunity. A global cap-and-trade system for CO2 emissions is a precondition to making fossil fuels cleaner and promoting renewables around the world. In any cap-and-trade system, companies that invest large sums to capture and store CO2 should receive credits for that. If carbon has a cost, then getting rid of it should bring a reward. Power generation in particular offers opportunities for limiting emissions. Since power plants are stationary, it is relatively easy to capture the carbon they emit.

Regarding the Kyoto Protocol, the post-2012 system should be based on two pillars: First, it must be global to establish a level playing field for all. Second, it should go beyond CO2 and greenhouse-gas emissions to include global energy security.

The Seventh Generation

I have been inspired by what I have read about the traditional chiefs of the Native American Iroquois nation. Before making a decision, they must weigh its impact on the welfare and well-being of the seventh generation to come.

Indeed, leadership is foresight. We, the “carbon humans” of the twenty-first century, are very advanced technologically. We know that the costs of taking action against CO2 today are much lower than they would be for future generations. That is why we should secure energy for the generations. The alternative could be an intergenerational market failure.

When I think about Shell’s role in meeting this challenge, I believe that we are well placed to make a tangible contribution and at the same time sustain our business for many years to come. With a strong resource base and a lot of good investment opportunities, we can help secure energy supplies. We are well positioned in second-generation biofuels and in renewables, one of which we will grow into a major business. And thanks to our Einsteins, we will pass exciting technologies on to future generations – including and especially to young scientists joining Shell. After all, as the Dutch humanist Erasmus would point out: For talent to bring a reputation, it needs to be visible.

Jeroen van der Veer is chief executive of Royal Dutch Shell plc. He leads the executive team and is accountable for business performance and implementing strategy. Since 2004, he has led Shell through major changes, including simplifying governance and organisation and clarifying direction and accountabilities.

He joined Shell in 1971 and worked in manufacturing and marketing in the Netherlands, Curaçao and the United Kingdom. In 1984, he returned to Shell Nederland as manager of corporate planning and then of the Pernis refinery in Rotterdam.

After an assignment coordinating Shell businesses in Africa and Canada, he became a managing director of Shell Nederland in 1992. In this post, he led major reorganisations as well as a $2 billion upgrade of the Pernis refinery. In 1995, he moved to the United States as president and chief executive of the Shell Chemical Company. He was appointed a group managing director in 1997.

Mr. van der Veer was born in Utrecht in the Netherlands in 1947 and is married with three daughters. He has a degree in mechanical engineering from Delft University and another in economics from Rotterdam University.

He is a non-executive director of Unilever, serving as a member of the Nomination and Remuneration Committees.

Biography of Jeroen van der Veer, Chief Executive of Royal Dutch Shell plc.

Jeroen van der Veer is Chief Executive of Royal Dutch Shell plc.
Until 3 March 2004 he was also Chief Executive Officer of Shell Chemicals Limited.

Career background The opportunity for overseas experience was a major factor in Jeroen van der Veer’s decision to join Shell after military service.

His first degree was in mechanical engineering. Later he studied economics. His first Shell appointment was in process design, followed by a period on the ‘shop floor’ in maintenance at Pernis. His career has also included manufacturing operations in Curatao and Pernis in the Netherlands. Other postings were in Corporate Planning for Shell Nederland, and in marketing with Shell UK’s liquefied petroleum gas business, extending and restructuring it to achieve profitability.

Jeroen’s strong interest in people, and how different backgrounds can find consistent expression within Shell, came to the fore during his period as Area Co-ordinator for Africa and Liaison Officer for Canada. This enabled him to appreciate how Shell operating companies are exposed to very different circumstances.

The management of change has been a constant feature of his postings, especially at Shell Nederland, where he was Managing Director and oversaw the investment of USD 2,000 million in the ‘Per plus’ project at Pernis – one of the largest of Shell’s operations worldwide, including both refining and chemicals manufacture.

Jeroen joined the Committee of Managing Directors (CMD) from the Shell Chemical Company in the USA, where he was President and Chief Executive. In the USA he was very involved in the transformation of the Shell Chemical Company (a part of Shell Oil Company) and he sponsored the reward and recognition initiative. This reflects his strongly held view: it is important to allow people to contribute to Shell in their own way while the leadership helps them to focus their energy on what matters.

Jeroen is an Advisory Director of Unilever, serving as a member of the Nomination and Remuneration Committees. In July 2002, he took up the world presidency of the Society of Chemical Industry (SCI), a post he will hold for two years.

Personal life Jeroen is married to Mariette, and has three daughters. His interest in human development is reflected in a love for visiting museums on his travels. He keeps fit with golf playing off a 16 handicap. He has skated two of the Netherlands’ ‘eleven-cities’ tours, in 1986 and 1997.

Spanish cable manufacturer Furas to become part of the Leoni Group

Today in manufacturing news we feature a story from the German Cable Manufacturing giant Leoni who have recently acquired the Spanish Cable Manufacturer Furas.  For full details please read on:

  

Spanish cable manufacturer Furas to become part of the Leoni Group

 

Leoni will acquire the activities of the Spanish cable manufacturer and assembler Furas to round off its portfolio of high-quality power cord products subject to cartel authority approval. With annual sales of about EUR 43 million and about 310 employees, the company, which was established in 1969 and is based in Spain and Morocco, is among Europe’s leading manufacturers of cordsets for the electrical appliance industry.

 

High-quality power cords for electrical appliances

 

Furas has many years of experience in producing rubber-insulated and fabric-braided cables and power cords. These are used mainly for small electrical appliances, professional power tools and industrial pumps. With this acquisition in its Electrical Appliances business unit, Leoni will offer its customers a comprehensive range of products in the high-quality power cord segment and will broaden its footprint in the European market. Supported by Furas’ extensive know-how, Leoni also plans to expand its position in the Chinese market for rubber-insulated and fabric-braided cables and power cords.

 

The Leoni Group – successful in a variety of markets

 

Leoni is a global supplier of wires, cables and wiring systems as well as a provider of related development services. With more than 35,000 employees and about 100 subsidiaries, the MDAX-listed Company generated consolidated sales of EUR 2.1 billion in the 2006 financial year. The principal customer base is the automotive industry, for which Leoni develops and makes technically sophisticated products: from single-core automotive cables through to complete wiring systems with integrated electronics. In addition, Leoni’s product range comprises wires and strands, standardised cables for the electrical appliance and automotive industries as well as special cables and fully assembled systems for applications in a wide variety of different industrial markets.

High hopes for shipbuilding jobs in UK

Today in our shipbuilding news we feature a key story from the UK an dhow the government are going to invest nearly £4 billion to create two new aircraft carriers which will in turn create a lot of jobs.  For full press article please read on:

High hopes for shipbuilding jobs in UK

 

Hundreds of jobs could be created by the return of shipbuilding to the Wear. Pallion Engineering has been in talks with the Government for more than a year about securing work from a £3.9billion contract to build two aircraft carriers.

 

Winning part of the contract would provide a future in shipbuilding for a generation who never dreamed of a career in an industry in which Sunderland once led the world.

 

Pallion Engineering chairman Alan Dickinson today said: “I am reasonably confident that it is good news but I would like to get my name on the contract, then we will have a big celebration.

 

“This is good news not just for Sunderland but for the whole British shipbuilding industry.

 

“The total order is £3.6 to £4.6billion, so even one per cent of that is a big thing.

 

“There will be hundreds of jobs on a new build – there have to be, given the size of the build, the amount of work and all the skills that would be needed.

 

“We have been talking to the tendering people for the last 18 months.

“A job like this gives you a chance to get some apprentices in and give them the training for a career in the industry.”

 

Pallion Engineering was one of two North East companies named by defence minister Lord Drayson as being in a strong position to win work on the £3.9billion contract.

 

At the opening of the new £2.3million Marine Design Centre in Newcastle this week he said: “A&P Tyne and Pallion Engineering will be competing for work on the upper blocks.

 

“This is the largest piece of work the navy has ever had. Building these ships will test the capacity of the whole UK shipbuilding industry.”

 

The new carriers will be built at various locations around the country, with the parts transported to Rosyth in Scotland for assembly.

 

As well as the carriers, there will also be work available on a fleet of new support vessels to keep the carriers supplied at sea.

 

It could also mean a new start for former workers who had given up hope of ever working in the industry again.

 

Mr Dickinson added:”There is still a lot of skill in the North East but some of those people can’t believe that it can be an ongoing job anymore.

 

“All they need is the opportunity to come in and do it.”

Angola wants foreign investors for diamond sector

 Today in metals we feature a news story from Angola who are in need of investors for their diamond sector.  For full press details please read on:

Angola wants foreign investors for diamond sector

 

Angola’s state-run diamond company wants foreign companies as partners to tap what it believes are vast undiscovered pockets of the precious gems, a company official said on Thursday. In an interview Endiama spokesman Sebastiao Panzo said the mineral-rich southwestern African nation wanted to attract investors who were interested in bottom-up diamond exploration and prospecting.

 

Angola, the continent’s third largest diamond producer and the world’s fifth biggest in terms of value, is exploring only about 40 percent of the territory believed to have potential for diamond mining, with production concentrated in its northeastern provinces.

 

“Surveys from the colonial era show we have diamonds in other areas we need to prospect. Who dares to prospect with us — those are the partners we need. We want international partners to go to the bottom of the pipeline of the industry with us,” Panzo said.

 

He identified the provinces of Bie, Malanje and Uige as among the areas that should be explored.

 

Angola’s diamond production is forecast to rise by about 8 percent to 10 million carats this year after surging by nearly a third in 2006, Endiama said earlier this year. It wants to boost output to 17-19 million carats by 2010.

 

Encouraging exploration is key to that objective and part of Angola’s bid to diversify its oil-dependent economy, which has been booming since the end of a 27-year civil war in 2002. But foreign interest in its diamond sector has often been confined to buying of cut and uncut stones.

“You can’t imagine how many companies we receive here who come and just want to buy diamonds. But the demand is much bigger than our capacity to provide,” Panzo said.

Endiama is considering introducing new mining legislation that would streamline regulation and make it easier for foreign firms to invest in the sector. The legislation could be passed by parliament in 2007, Panzo said.

 

“Foreign partners say we have to have better legislation on the timings for prospecting and exploration, the fees that are asked for from investors, the tax regime. That’s what we are trying to do,” he said.

 

Companies partnering with Endiama in the exploration and prospecting phases also could be given rights to trade the gems, although Panzo said it was too early to commit to such incentives.

 

South African mining giant De Beers, which is 45-percent owned by mining group Anglo American Plc, has invested in a concession in Angola’s northeastern region. Other foreign firms have also expressed interest in exploration there.

Superior Essex gains RDUP approval on full portfolio of fiber optic drop cables

Today in manufacturing news we feature a story from one of the big US cable manufacturers, Superior Essex, who have recently been given RDUP approval for their Fiber Optic Cables.  For full press details please read on:

  

Superior Essex gains RDUP approval on full portfolio of fiber optic drop cables

 

Superior Essex Inc. , one of the largest wire and cable manufacturers in the world, today announced that its latest Fiber-to-the-Premises (FTTP) drop cable product line was accepted for listing by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development Utilities Program (RDUP). With the addition of these cables, Superior Essex’s full portfolio of fiber optic drop cables is part of the “List of Materials Acceptable for Use on Systems of USDA Rural Development Telecommunications Borrowers.”

 

RDUP (formerly RUS) is a government agency that provides grants and low interest loans to qualifying rural communities and companies for funding the costs of listed products and other construction expenses.

 

The newly listed cable products include the Company’s Series 57 FTTP cables, which are designed to meet recently developed RDUP performance specifications for fiber optic drop cables. This FTTP cable series provides both a small diameter and an Optical Fiber Nonconductive Riser (OFNR) flame/safety rating from Underwriters Laboratories (UL), and this combination allows for high versatility for installations. The OFNR flame/safety rating allows this cable to be installed outdoors as well as inside most commercial buildings and within typical residential buildings in the U.S.

 

“Most people will quickly recognize the advantages of being able to use one cable for both indoor and outdoor applications,” said John Armistead, director of OSP fiber cable product management for Superior Essex. “What is often overlooked, however, is the value that an OFNR safety rating provides for outdoor applications. Cables that lack an OFNR rating typically contain materials that are considered flammable, which can advance the spread of a fire to the home.”

 

About Superior Essex

 

Superior Essex Inc., a FORTUNE 1,000 company, is one of the largest wire and cable manufacturers in the world. The Company manufactures a broad portfolio of wire and cable products with primary applications in the communications, magnet wire and related distribution markets. It is a leading manufacturer and supplier of copper and fiber optic communications wire and cable products to telephone companies, distributors and system integrators; a leading manufacturer and supplier of magnet wire and fabricated insulation products to major original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) for use in motors, transformers, generators and electrical controls; and a distributor of magnet wire, insulation, and related products to smaller OEMs and motor repair facilities. Additional information on the Company can be found on its Web site at http://www.superioressex.com.