Shell to build FLNG plant
Royal Dutch Shell PLC said it has decided to construct a massive natural gas plant for use off the Australian coast. Shell did not say how much the “Prelude FLNG” (floating liquid natural gas) facility would cost to build, but claimed that it would be the world’s largest floating manmade object. It would be designed to take in the equivalent of 110,000 barrels a day in gas from undersea fields 200km off the coast and cool it into liquefied natural gas. Shell said the facility, to be built in a South Korean shipyard, will be longer than six football fields and made of 260,000 tonnes of steel. Shell said yesterday that Prelude would operate for 25 years, and be able to withstand the worst hurricanes.
High savings a problem
Central bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan (周小川) said yesterday that too many people were saving too much money, which could lead to asset bubbles, adding that Beijing needed to find a way to promote growth and curb inflation. The nation’s savings rate is one of the highest in the world, standing at about 50 percent of GDP last year — much higher than developed economies. Zhou also reiterated that Beijing would take a “gradual” approach to making the yuan fully convertible, as it continues to promote the international status of the currency.
Sales tax hike considered
The government is considering raising sales tax from 5 percent to 10 percent by 2015 to fund rising social security costs, the Yomiuri newspaper said yesterday, although the economics minister said he had held no discussions on such a proposal. Prime Minister Naoto Kan has made social security and tax reform key to his policy agenda and the government wants to include the tax hike proposal in a welfare and tax reform plan it aims to draft by next month, the Yomiuri reported without citing sources. The sales tax rate in Japan, saddled with public debt double the size of its US$5 trillion economy, is among the lowest in major economies. The extra revenue generated from the 5 percentage-point hike, likely to be about ￥12.5 trillion (US$153 billion) a year, would be used to fund welfare costs such as medical and nursing care for the elderly, the Yomiuri said.