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Sat, Dec 24, 2005 - Page 12 News List

World Business Briefs


■ Oil

China meeting good: OPEC

OPEC president Sheikh Ahmad Fahad al-Ahmad al-Sabah said that the group had very successful meetings with Chinese officials during its first-ever official trip to China, the world's fastest-growing energy consumer. Both sides agreed to hold regular future dialogues, he said. Al-Sabah said the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries believes China's demand is now "stable" and "reasonable," although he said he was given no specific demand figures from China. Al-Sabah said OPEC projects Chinese demand next year to grow by 350,000 barrels a day. Al-Sabah, who is also Kuwait's oil minister, arrived in Beijing on Thursday and planned to visit Guangzhou before heading to Russia. Beijing releases production and trade statistics each month, but not inventory data. China is the world's second-biggest consumer of oil and third-biggest importer. The nation's demand has been a major factor behind rising oil prices, especially last year and somewhat this year.

■ Singapore

Old worker programs rare

Few firms in Singapore have programs aimed at helping older workers stay in their jobs longer, a survey said yesterday. Less than one third of the 271 companies polled have such programs, according to the poll conducted by Remuneration Data Specialists (RDS) and the Singapore Human Resources Institute. Only 13 percent have redesigned jobs for workers older than 40. Five percent allow flexible hours and 8 percent send older workers for special training. Three in 10 offer short-term contract work, which the survey said is designed to protect companies that are not keen to keep such workers for long. "If the workers don't fit in, the firms are not locked in," the Straits Times quoted RDS managing consultant Peter Lee as saying.

■ Gold

Barrick to buy rival firm

Barrick Gold Corp has agreed to buy rival Canadian gold mining company Placer Dome Inc for US$10.4 billion, the companies said on Thursday. The deal is the biggest acquisition in the gold industry and lifts Barrick ahead of US-based Newmont Mining Corp to create the world's largest producer, the Bloomberg financial news agency said. Barrick, the third-largest gold producer, made a hostile bid in October for Placer Dome, the world's No. 6. After Barrick raised its bid by nearly 10 percent, Placer Dome agreed to the takeover.

■ Laos

Russian firm to invest

A Russian company plans to invest about US$680 million in hydro-electric projects in southern Laos, a Russian trade official in Vientiane said yesterday. Region Oil signed a memorandum of understanding to this effect on Thursday with the Committee for Planning and Investment of Laos, said the Russian Federation's trade representative in Vientiane, Sergei Shmakov. A contract should be signed within 18 months, once the company, Region Oil Co (Russian Federation), completes a feasibility study. Laotian authorities have said the country wants to be the "battery" of southeast Asia, selling energy to neighboring countries while feeding its own fledgling growth. Last month, the French and Thai-backed mammoth Nam Theun II dam project formally got underway in Laos despite years of opposition from environmentalists. The US$1.25 billion project aims to supply power to Thailand from 2009.

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