Qatar finds new reserves
Key gas exporter Qatar has discovered additional reserves of 68 billion cubic meters of natural gas in a northern offshore field, media reported yesterday. The discovery was made in Block 4 North in North Field at a water depth of about 70m, newspapers said. The gas discovery was “made after four years of intensive exploration activities, including the drilling of two exploration wells,” the Peninsula daily quoted Qatari Energy Minister Mohammed al-Sada as saying. The field is operated by Qatar Petroleum and its German partner, Wintershall, as well as Japan’s Mitsui Gas Development Qatar. North Field was discovered in 1971 and contains 25.5 billion cubic meters of recoverable gas.
Exports recover in January
Malaysia yesterday said that exports rebounded 3.5 percent in January from a dip a month earlier as demand from neighbors and the giant Chinese market picked up. January exports were valued at 56.99 billion ringgit (US$18.37 billion), the trade ministry said in a statement. Imports rose 16 percent to 53.72 billion ringgit. The economy grew a faster-than-expected 6.4 percent in the fourth quarter last year, its best showing in more than two years, and expanded 5.6 percent for the full year. The increase, which exceeded the official target of 5 percent, has been credited largely to steady domestic demand. The government has been pumping money into investment drives and cash handouts to boost the economy ahead of elections due by June.
Big US firms shield profits
US companies are keeping more of their profits offshore, choosing overseas tax havens amid talk in Washington about closing corporate tax loopholes, the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday. The business newspaper said its analysis of 60 big US companies had found that they had collectively parked a total of US$166 billion offshore last year. That shielded more than 40 percent of their annual profits from US taxes, the report said. Each of the 60 companies chosen for the analysis had held at least US$5 billion offshore in 2011, the Journal said.
World Bank bars Larsen
Larsen & Toubro, India’s biggest builder of power networks and airports, has been barred from World Bank-financed contracts for six months under the lender’s fraud and corruption policy. Larsen is ineligible to be awarded a contract from Thursday last week to Sept. 6, according to a listing published on the World Bank Web site. The sanctions are not expected to have a material impact on the company’s operations, profitability or financials, Mumbai-based Larsen said in a statement to the stock exchange on Saturday.
Ecuador to review treaties
Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa on Saturday said he planned to challenge several bilateral investment treaties after the South American country was ordered to pay billions of US dollars in damages by overseas courts. “We are going to take on these treaties as soon as we have the majority in the legislature” Correa said, referring to the session set to start on May 14. His supporters won an overwhelming majority in a Feb. 18 vote. He was alluding to two of 23 treaties that Ecuador has signed since 1993. They have allowed US oil firms, such as Occidental Petroleum and Chevron, to sue Ecuador in foreign courts.