Mexico reveals big find
Mexico’s state oil company said deep-water drilling in the Gulf of Mexico had revealed reserves that could multiply the country’s production of natural gas. Petroleos Mexicanos said the Nen 1 exploratory well found a deposit estimated to hold 11.3 billion cubic meters of gas. It said that could lead to production of 0.8 million cubic meters a day, well above this year’s daily average of 0.18 million cubic meters. The company said the find is a total of 4,350m deep, including 1,493m of water. The well is 113km northeast of Coatzacoalcos.
Rio Tinto investing in Kitimat
Anglo-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto yesterday said it would pump a further US$2.7 billion into its Kitimat aluminum smelter in Canada to meet growing demand from the Asia--Pacific region. The new investment will allow the US$3.3 billion project in British Columbia to be completed in 2014, increasing the smelter’s production capacity by more than 48 percent to about 420,000 tonnes of aluminum a year. Jacynthe Cote, chief executive of Rio Tinto Alcan, the company’s aluminum division, said the first metal was expected to be produced in the first half of 2014.
RBS sells 918 pubs
State-rescued Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) yesterday said it had sold 918 pubs to Scottish & Newcastle, the British division of Dutch brewer Heineken, for ￡422 million (US$662 million). The sale is part of Royal Bank of Scotland’s ongoing plans to sell off non-core assets after receiving an enormous government bailout. In a separate announcement, Heineken said it would combine the 918 pubs with its existing portfolio of 462 outlets in Britain. The Dutch firm added that the acquisition would make it one of the leading pub owners and operators in Britain.
US November sales up 14%
US auto sales rose 14 percent last month, paced by gains at Chrysler Group LLC and Volkswagen AG, as consumers returned to showrooms even without the lure of a big year-end sale. Chrysler and VW posted the highest percentage gains at 45 percent and 41 percent respectively. Others posting double-digit gains were Hyundai Motor Co at 22 percent, Nissan Motor Co at 19 percent and Ford Motor Co at 13 percent. General Motors and Toyota Motor Co trailed with increases of 7 percent. Honda Motor, which has been the slowest of the major Japanese automakers to recover from supply disruptions caused by the March earthquake, saw sales fall 6 percent.
Australian banks downgraded
Standard & Poor’s (S&P) yesterday said it had downgraded the credit ratings of the big four Australian banks as part of changes to the way it assesses risk. Westpac Banking Corp, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, ANZ Banking Group and National Australia Bank all had their issuer credit ratings downgraded by one notch from “AA” to “AA-” The Macquarie Group had its long-term rating downgraded from “A-” to “BBB.” The move, which was widely expected, came after S&P had earlier in the week downgraded the ratings of major US banks, including Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley and Bank of America.