Tuesday, November 1, 2016

BP profits nearly halve; Tesla developing new glass; South Africa's water crisis

1 BP profits nearly halve (BBC) Oil giant BP has reported a near 50% fall in third-quarter profits from last year as the sector continues to struggle with low prices. The company made $933m (£763m) on an underlying replacement cost basis, compared with $1.8bn a year earlier.
BP blamed falling oil prices for its fall, saying it was affected by a “weaker price and margin environment”. Rival oil company Royal Dutch Shell also warned over oil prices, although its profits rose by 18% from last year. The company reported better-than-expected third-quarter profits of $2.8bn.
BP also cut its investment plans for this year. It now expects to spend $16bn on capital expenditure, compared with a previous prediction of $17-19bn. For 2017, it is forecasting investment of $15-17bn.
David Hunter, an energy analyst at Schneider Electric, said that he believed the two companies were banking on a recovery in oil prices to boost their future profits. “They’re a big contributor in FTSE 100 dividend payouts and have continued to maintain those levels despite the fall in oil prices,” he said.
2 Tesla developing new glass (Danielle Muoio in San Francisco Chronicle) The Model 3 will use some of the same glass technology that Tesla is using for its solar roof shingles, CEO Elon Musk has said during a conference call regarding the financial details of a SolarCity merger, on which shareholders will vote on November 17.
Musk said Tesla now has a special glass technology group and that the new division is focused on developing the technology for the solar roof Tesla unveiled with SolarCity last Friday. He said the Model 3 will incorporate that same glass technology being used in the solar roof, but didn’t elaborate further.
“It is using a lot of techniques from the automotive glass business and, in case it wasn’t obvious with the announcement, Tesla has created a glass technology group with some really phenomenal people,” Musk said on the call.
Musk did offer some additional insight about the glass in a tweet. He said the glass can incorporate heating elements to clear snow while generating energy. He added that the glass wouldn’t waste energy while using said heating elements, adding it would be “strongly net positive.” Tesla could then be using the glass for a number of things, like a solar roof for the Model 3 or to make its windshield.
3 South Africa’s water crisis (Johannesburg Times) South Africa’s dams could take up to five years to recover even if the country experiences normal rainfall following a severe drought, authorities have said, increasing the prospects of water rationing.
Southern Africa has been affected by a severe drought that has prompted water restrictions by various municipalities, which have warned that water could be rationed if consumers do not heed calls to cut consumption.
“We predict that it will take anything from two to three years and even up to five years to recover from the drought we have just come through,” said the department of Water and Sanitations deputy director general Trevor Blazer. Blazer said only about 8 percent of rainfall water is captured in dams, with most of it being lost to evaporation, transpiration and replenishing ground water.
The severe drought that ravaged southern Africa and led to the loss of livestock and staple maize crop, was driven by an El Nino weather system that set in last year. It brought scorching temperatures with 2015 being the driest year in South Africa since records began in 1904, impacting farmers and pushing up food prices.

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