By Guy Dinmore and Eleonora de Sabata in Rome, Published: July 23 2010
BP will start deep-water drilling off the coast of Libya within weeks in spite of concerns about the UK group’s environmental and safety record after the Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster.
The move comes as BP faces increased scrutiny over its acquisition of rights to a big oil and gas field off the African coast three years ago, a subject that overshadowed the visit of David Cameron, UK prime minister, to Washington this week.
At 1,700 metres below sea-level in Libya’s Gulf of Sirte, the well will be 200 metres deeper than the Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico which triggered the worst US offshore oil spill disaster when the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded on April 20, killing 11 people.
“Drilling will start within a few weeks,” BP confirmed. Read more…
by Guy Dinmore, published July 1, 2010
In a rare public broadside on Beijing, Jeffrey Immelt, General Electric’s chief executive, accused the Chinese government of being increasingly hostile to foreign multinationals.
“I really worry about China,” Immelt told an audience of dozens of top Italian executives. “I am not sure that in the end they want any of us to win, or any of us to be successful.”
Immelt acknowledged the importance of the Chinese market, which contributed $5.3bn to the group’s revenues last year, but declared that GE was encountering its toughest business conditions there in 25 years.
“China and India remain important for GE but I am thinking about what is next,” he said, mentioning what he called “most interesting resource-rich countries” in the Middle East, Africa, Latin America plus Indonesia.
“They don’t all want to be colonised by the Chinese. They want to develop themselves,” he said.
Immelt also turned his criticism on Barack Obama, US president, lamenting what he called a “terrible” national mood. Business did not like the US president, and the president did not like business, he said, making a point of praising Angela Merkel, Germany’s chancellor, for her defence of German industry.
“People are in a really bad mood [in the US],” the 54-year-old executive told an audience of somewhat surprised Europeans who had seen higher levels of US growth as a beacon of recovery.
By Geoff Dyer and Guy Dinmore published July 1 2010
There have been plenty of signs in recent months that the corporate world is falling out of love with China, but none more revealing than Jeff Immelt’s remarks on a Roman summer evening. The General Electric chief executive told Italian industrialists at a dinner on Wednesday that he was worried about the way Beijing was treating foreign companies.
“I am not sure that in the end they want any of us to win or any of us to be successful,” said the man who runs the largest manufacturing company. The comments are one of the first public declarations of what many foreign executives have been saying in private over the past six months: that they are being gradually squeezed out of the Chinese market as local companies increasingly get the nod. Read more…
by Guy Dinmore
published on FT 19 November 2009
The Dalai Lama, Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, on Wednesday expressed his appreciation of support given by Barack Obama, the US president who is visiting China, while members of the exiled government said they were hopeful that stalled talks with Beijing would resume soon.
Speaking in Rome, where he attended an international parliamentary conference on Tibet, the Dalai Lama said the Obama administration had been “very supportive”, as had the previous Bush and Clinton administrations. He noted the appointment by the White House of a special Tibet coordinator.
In Beijing on Tuesday, Mr Obama called for the “early resumption of dialogue” between the Chinese government and representatives of the Dalai Lama.
A White House official, briefing reporters, said Mr Obama discussed Tibet with Hu Jintao, China’s president, “making clear his respect for the Dalai Lama as a cultural and religious leader, and his intention to meet with the Dalai Lama at an appropriate time”. Read more…
By Guy Dinmore in Rome Published: September 23 2009
Italy will hold talks with the Obama administration and Westinghouse next week on opening its nuclear power market to US technology following concerns raised by Washington that the revival of the Italian nuclear industry after a two-decade moratorium will be dominated by France’s EDF.
Italian and US officials said Claudio Scajola, minister for economic development, and Steven Chu, US energy secretary, would sign an agreement in Washington next Tuesday on research and development of nuclear technology and issue a joint declaration on industrial co-operation in nuclear power. Read more…
by Guy Dinmore in Trieste
The US counter-narcotics strategy in Afghanistan is to undergo a U-turn with money previously spent on controversial opium poppy eradication shifting to agricultural development, Richard Holbrooke, US special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, told an international conference on Saturday.
Franco Frattini, Italy’s foreign minister who chaired the conference in the port city of Trieste, quoted Mr Holbrooke as saying the US would spend “several hundred million dollars” in promoting production of legal crops and cut back funding for eradication. Read more…
By Guy Dinmore in Rome
Three Tunisian detainees to be accepted by Italy under the US plan to close its Guantanamo prison may be allowed to travel freely across Europe, Franco Frattini, Italy’s foreign minister, said on Tuesday.
Italy’s decision, conveyed by Silvio Berlusconi, prime minister, to Barack Obama in the White House on Monday, has already led to dissent within Italy’s centre-right government with the hardline interior minister, Roberto Maroni, expressing his opposition. Read more…