Company news in brief

13 August 2019 | Business

Tullow makes major oil discovery in Guyana

Tullow Oil announced yesterday a major oil discovery in the Orinduik block in Guyana, raising expectations it will move to develop a field in the oil-rich South American country.

The discovery in the closely watched Jethro-1 well follows a number of exploration successes by Exxon Mobil in the neighbouring Stabroek block in recent years where over 5 billion barrels of oil were discovered.

Tullow chief executive Paul McDade said the well is expected to hold over 100 million barrels of oil, in excess of expectations. The company will start drilling a second well, Joe-1, later this month.

"It looks like we have something we would develop. It looks like we have a long-term business in Guyana," McDade told Reuters in an interview.

The discovery gives the London-based oil and gas explorer a boost after operational issues at its flagship field in Ghana and delays to projects in East Africa. – Nampa/Reuters

Aramco says half-year net income slips

Saudi state-owned energy giant Aramco said yesterday its first half net income for 2019 had slipped nearly 12% to US$46.9 billion, a first such disclosure for the secretive company ahead of its debut earnings call.

The fall in revenue - owing to lower oil prices - was reported amid renewed speculation the company was preparing for its much-delayed overseas stock listing, dubbed potentially the world's biggest.

It is the first time the company has published half-year financial results and comes after Aramco opened its secretive accounts for the first time in April as it prepares to raise funds from investors.

Analysts say record demand for a US$12 billion debut international bond launched this year has propelled the world's top oil exporter to speed up efforts to float the company. But yesterday's statement made no mention of the planned initial public offering.

Crown prince Mohammed bin Salman has previously said the IPO - which could potentially be the world's biggest stock sale - would take place in late 2020 or early 2021. – Nampa/AFP

Cathay Pacific warns staff over 'illegal protests'

Hong Kong carrier Cathay Pacific warned staff yesterday that they could be fired for supporting "illegal protests", as the firm comes under pressure from Beijing over pro-democracy demonstrations.

The flagship carrier's stock plunged more than four percent in Hong Kong trade yesterday after Beijing imposed new rules banning airline staff involved in the Hong Kong protests from flights to or over the mainland.

The airline cancelled over 150 flights last week as a result of a strike linked to the unrest and bookings have dropped since the protest movement began ten weeks ago.

Cathay has struggled to find middle ground in the increasing bitter standoff between protesters in Hong Kong and local authorities backed by Beijing.

The protests in Hong Kong were sparked by opposition to a bill allowing extradition to the mainland, but they have morphed into a broader movement seeking greater democratic freedoms in the city. – Nampa/AFP

Write-downs hit dairy giant Fonterra

New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra announced more than NZ$820 million (US$530 million) in write-downs yesterday, a financial hit that will plunge it deep into the red and prevent an annual dividend payout.

Fonterra - the world's largest dairy exporter - said a review of operations had found assets were collectively over-valued by NZ$820-860 million.

It said the one-off costs meant the co-operative would post a rare loss of NZ$590-675 million when it unveils its annual results next month.

The upcoming loss will be only the second in the 18-year history of Fonterra, a collective that buys milk and dairy products from New Zealand farmers then sells them on to foreign firms.

It follows a troubled few years which has seen a slew of top executives depart as Fonterra slashed the value of investments in China and struggled to contain the fallout from a 2013 baby formula contamination scare. – Nampa/AFP

Apple offers record 'bounty' for iPhone security flaws

Apple Inc is offering cyber security researchers up to US$1 million to detect flaws in iPhones, the largest reward offered by a company to defend against hackers, at a time of rising concern about governments breaking into the mobile devices of dissidents, journalists and human rights advocates.

Unlike other technology providers, Apple previously offered rewards only to invited researchers who tried to find flaws in its phones and cloud backups.

At the annual Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas on Thursday, the company said it would open the process to all researchers, add Mac software and other targets, and offer a range of rewards, called "bounties," for the most significant findings.

The US$1 million prize would apply only to remote access to the iPhone kernel without any action from the phone's user. Apple's previous highest bounty was US$200 000 for friendly reports of bugs that can then be fixed with software updates and not leave them exposed to criminals or spies.

Government contractors and brokers have paid as much as US$2 million for the most effective hacking techniques to obtain information from devices. Apple's new bounties, however, are in the same range as some published prices from contractors. – Nampa/Reuters

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