COMPANY NEWS IN BRIEF

27 November 2020 | Business

Exxon and Total in talks

ExxonMobil and Total are in negotiations over their massive LNG projects in Mozambique, with each seeking to extract more gas from a shared field that straddles the two developments and cut costs, three sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

The talks between the energy majors also involve the Mozambican government, according to the sources, as it has to give final approval to any new agreement.

The field that straddles the projects happens to contain gas that is thicker and therefore cheaper to extract and convert into LNG than reserves elsewhere in the projects.

The companies are looking to cut costs wherever they can, bruised by a Covid-19-induced collapse in global oil and gas prices and facing a worsening security situation in Mozambique.

Across the industry, most companies have been forced to delay decisions on new LNG projects and write down investments in existing production plants, in stark contrast to last year's record level of approvals for plants. - Nampa/Reuters

Delta pilots vote for pay cuts

Delta Air Lines Inc pilots voted in favour of a deal that avoids furloughs through Jan. 1, 2022 in exchange for pay cuts, a union representing the pilots said on Wednesday.

The 1 713 Delta pilots, who were expected to be furloughed on Nov. 28, will now receive a partial pay of 30 hours a month along with medical benefits and vacation accrual, while they stay off their jobs.

"I don't think there is any better way to welcome in the Thanksgiving season than with the achievement of protecting all our pilots from furlough," Delta's head of flight operations John Laughter said in a memo addressed to employees.

The airline industry has been hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak that brought travel to a near halt, with Delta and other airlines left scrambling to cut costs and boost liquidity as sales plunged.

"This agreement will help Delta navigate the Covid-19 crisis and emerge a stronger airline in the end," Delta MEC, a unit of the Air Line Pilots Association, said in a statement. - Nampa/Reuters

El Al Airlines considers public bond sale

El Al Israel Airlines is considering a bond sale to the public as it fights to stave off collapse after failing to reach a deal on a state-backed loan to help it recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Israel's flagship airline, which also reported a third-quarter loss on Wednesday, had secured government backing for 75% of a US$250 million loan conditional on the group slashing expenses and issuing US$150 million worth of new shares.

The company held the share sale last month, resulting in the 27-year-old son of a US nursing homes tycoon taking a controlling stake. It also agreed with unions to cut 2 000 jobs and reduce the salaries of the highest paid.

Airlines across the world have been hammered by travel restrictions to tackle the pandemic. Germany's Lufthansa and Franco-Dutch group Air France-KLM have both had state bailouts, while Norwegian Air last week sought bankruptcy protection.

With Israel's borders shut to foreigners, El Al lost US$147 million in July-September as it operated just a handful of flights. That compared with a net profit of US$27 million a year earlier. Revenue plunged to US$39 million from US$647 million. - Nampa/Reuters

Tesla looking at expanding in Europe

US electric vehicle maker Tesla is looking at expanding in Europe by entering the mass-market segment with a compact car, chief executive Elon Musk said on Tuesday.

"Possibly in Europe it would make sense to do, I guess, a compact car, perhaps a hatchback," Musk told a European online conference on batteries hosted by the German government.

"In the US, the cars tend to be bigger for personal taste reasons," he said. "In Europe, they tend to be smaller."

Musk said he had had some problems parking his five-metre long Tesla Model X car in German capital Berlin.

"I was driving a Model X around Berlin and we had quite a bit of trouble finding a parking space where we could fit," he said.

The California-based automaker currently sells 4 car models including its mid-sized Model 3 sedan and medium-sized Model Y sport-utility vehicle.

All its vehicles are several tens of centimetres longer than Volkswagen's Golf car, the European reference in compact sedans. - Nampa/Reuters

Ford orders 12 ultra-cold freezers

Ford Motor Co said on Tuesday it has ordered a dozen ultra-cold freezers that can safely store Pfizer Inc's Covid-19 vaccine, a move aimed at ensuring the US automaker's workers have access to vaccines when they are rolled out nationally.

Ford's purchase mirrors efforts by US states and cities to buy equipment to store millions of doses of Pfizer's vaccine at temperatures of minus 70 degrees Celsius.

Health care providers and states are preparing for a new type of vaccines by Pfizer and Moderna Inc that require lower temperatures for storage.

"We're doing this so that we can make the vaccine available to our employees on a voluntary basis," Ford spokeswoman Kelli Felker said.

Details of how Ford will use the freezers, which are expected to be delivered by year end, are still being worked out, she said.

Assembly workers are considered essential in most states, but not at the top of the list for vaccines, which are expected to be distributed first to healthcare workers and nursing home residents. - Nampa/Reuters

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