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Shell to exit all Russia operations after Ukraine invasion, joining BP

Shell will exit all its Russian operations, including a major liquefied natural gas plant, it said on Monday, becoming the latest major Western energy company to quit the oil-rich country following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
The decision comes a day after rival BP abandoned its stake in Russian oil giant Rosneft in a move that could cost the British company over $25 billion. Norway’s Equinor also plans to exit Russia.

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Shell said in a statement it will quit the flagship Sakhalin 2 LNG plant in which it holds a 27.5 percent stake, and which is 50 percent owned and operated by Russian gas giant Gazprom.
Shell said the decision to exit Russian joint ventures will lead to impairments. Shell had around $3 billion in non-current assets in these ventures in Russia at the end of 2021, it said.
“We are shocked by the loss of life in Ukraine, which we deplore, resulting from a senseless act of military aggression which threatens European security,” Shell Chief Executive Ben van Beurden said in a statement.
Rival BP’s Chief Executive Bernard Looney called an urgent meeting with his leadership team on Thursday, just hours after the first Russian bombs fell on Ukrainian capital Kyiv last week, two BP sources told Reuters. Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a “special operation.”
During that previously unreported meeting, Looney made it clear the company’s investment in Rosneft had become untenable, the sources said.
“There was only one decision we could make,” one of the BP insiders said. “The exit was the only viable way.”
Looney held two more board meetings at the weekend, after which board members voted to immediately exit the Rosneft stake, the sources said.
Looney also spoke to British Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng on Friday, when Kwarteng expressed his concern about BP’s interests in Russia. Kwarteng welcomed BP’s decision to exit on Twitter on Sunday.

Shell

Kwarteng had a similar message for Shell on Monday.
“Shell have made the right call to divest from Russia,” he said on Twitter, adding that he had spoken to van Beurden earlier on Monday.
The Sakhalin 2 project, located off Russia’s northeastern coast is huge, producing around 11.5 million tonnes of LNG per year, which is exported to major markets including China and Japan.
For Shell, the world’s largest LNG trader, leaving the project deals a blow to its plans to supply gas to fast-growing markets in the coming decades.
Shell said the Russia exit will not affect its plans to switch to low-carbon and renewables energy.
The company also plans to end its involvement in the Nord Stream 2 Baltic gas pipeline linking Russia to Germany, which it helped finance as a part of a consortium of companies. Germany last week halted the project.
Shell will also exit the Salym Petroleum Development, another joint venture with Gazprom.
Together, Salym and Sakhalin 2 contributed $700 million to Shell’s net earnings in 2021.
“Right decision by the Board of Shell to exit its Russian ventures,” Adam Matthews, chief responsible investment officer for the Church of England Pensions Board, which invests in Shell, said in a LinkedIn post.
“Following BP’s decision the focus is on those that have yet to take such a step,” Matthews said.
Japanese trading houses Mitsui & Co and Mitsubishi Corp, which own stakes of 12.5 percent and 10 percent in Sakhalin 2 respectively, said separately that they are examining Shell’s announcement. They said they would consider the situation with the Japanese government and partners for the project, without giving any further details.
Norway’s Equinor, majority owned by the Norwegian state, said earlier on Monday that it would start divesting from its joint ventures in Russia. That came after the country’s sovereign wealth fund, the world’s largest, said on Sunday it would divest its Russian assets.
Other Western companies including global bank HSBC and the world’s biggest aircraft leasing firm AerCap said they plan to exit Russia as Western governments ratchet up economic sanctions on Moscow.

Read more: Many Western firms head for exit in Russia as sanctions tighten over Ukraine invasion

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Ryanair cabin crew in Spain announce 12 new days of strikes in July

Spain-based cabin crew at Ryanair plan to strike for 12 days this month to demand better working conditions, the USO and SICTPLA unions said on Saturday, raising the prospect of travel chaos as the summer tourist season gets under way.

The announcement came on the final day of the crews’ current strike, which began on Thursday and forced Ryanair to cancel 10 flights in Spain on Saturday.

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Cabin crew will strike on July 12-15, July 18-21 and July 25-28 across the 10 Spanish airports where Ryanair operates, the unions said in a statement.

“The unions and crew of Ryanair … demand a change of attitude from the airline,” they said in a statement, calling for Ryanair to resume negotiations on working conditions.

The unions also urged the government “not to allow Ryanair to violate labor legislation and constitutional rights such as the right to strike.”

Airline workers across Europe have been staging walkouts as the sector adapts to a resumption of travel after pandemic lockdowns.

Spain-based cabin crew at easyJet are striking for nine days this month for higher pay. The airline cancelled five flights from Spain on Saturday.

Workers at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport went on strike on Friday and into Saturday, forcing the cancellation of about 10 percent of flights.

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Tesla braces for delayed delivery due to China plant shutdown

Tesla Inc. is expected to announce quarterly production and delivery figures this weekend that will likely be among the worst of the year – and break its multi-quarter streak of record-setting results – due largely to an extended shutdown of its factory in Shanghai.

The electric vehicle maker may have delivered more than 261,000 vehicles globally during the three months ended in June, according to nine analysts surveyed by Bloomberg, ending a two-year stretch of consecutive quarterly gains.

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Tesla handed over more than 310,000 vehicles in the first three months of the year, more than any previous quarter.

“We cut our second-quarter deliveries estimate by 65,000 to 245,000 units, reflecting a prolonged Covid 19-related shutdown and logistical challenges in the Shanghai factory,” wrote Emmanuel Rosner of Deutsche Bank in a research note to clients. “Recall that during the first-quarter call, CEO Elon Musk had provided directional guidance of sequentially flat deliveries for the quarter but the situation in China worsened subsequently,” only improving in early June.

Shares of Tesla rose 1.2 percent to close trading Friday at $681.79, but the stock is down about 35 percent so far this year.

Deliveries are one of the most closely watched metrics at Tesla. They underpin the Austin, Texas-based company’s financial results and are widely seen as a broad barometer of consumer demand for EVs amid a wider shift away from the internal combustion engine.

Many large automakers will announce US sales results Friday but Tesla, which reports global totals, hasn’t specified a release date.

Dan Levy, an analyst with Credit Suisse, reduced his delivery estimate for the period to 242,000 units. “In aggregate, we believe the Shanghai shutdown accounted for about 90,000 units of lost production in the second quarter,” Levy wrote in a note to clients.

Tesla makes the Model S, X, 3 and Y vehicles at its plant in Fremont, California. It also produces Models 3 and Y at a factory near Shanghai. The company has begun delivering the first Model Ys from its new plant near Berlin and held a “Cyber Rodeo” event for 15,000 people in April to celebrate a new factory in Austin.

‘Money Furnaces’

However, both Berlin and Austin have been slow to ramp up production, with Musk warning in a late May interview that both plants are “gigantic money furnaces.”

Analysts and investors are also worried that the price hikes automakers are imposing to combat soaring raw material costs will weigh on demand. Tesla had boosted its sticker prices by as much as $6,000 a car earlier this month, according to Electrek.

A stronger-than-expected delivery number could provide a boost to Tesla’s stock, which is down more than 35 percent this year amid wider market concerns about rising energy costs, inflation and a potential recession.

Musk shares many of those concerns and is in the process of laying off 10 percent of Tesla’s salaried work force while pushing others to return to the office.

Earlier this week, Tesla laid off roughly 200 people on its Autopilot team, mostly hourly employees who worked as data annotation specialists.

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Regulator urges Germans to prepare for possible gas shortage

Fearing Russia might cut off natural gas supplies, the head of Germany’s regulatory agency for energy called on residents Saturday to save energy and to prepare for winter, when use increases.
Federal Network Agency President Klaus Mueller urged house and apartment owners to have their gas boilers and radiators checked and adjusted to maximize their efficiency.
“Maintenance can reduce gas consumption by 10 percent to 15 percent,” he told Funke Mediengruppe, a German newspaper and magazine publisher.
Mueller said residents and property owners need to use the 12 weeks before cold weather sets in to get ready. He said families should start talking now about “whether every room needs to be set at its usual temperature in the winter – or whether some rooms can be a little colder.”
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The appeal came after Russia reduced gas flows to Germany, Italy, Austria, the Czech Republic and Slovakia earlier this month, as European Union countries scramble to refill storage facilities with the fuel used to generate electricity, power industry and heat homes in the winter.
Russian state-owned energy company Gazprom blamed a technical problem for the reduction in natural gas flowing through Nord Stream 1, a pipeline which runs under the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany.
The company said equipment getting refurbished in Canada was stuck there because of Western sanctions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
German leaders have rejected that explanation and called the reductions a political move in reaction to the European Union’s sanctions against Russia after it invaded Ukraine.
Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck, who is also Germany’s economy and climate minister and responsible for energy, has warned a “blockade” of the pipeline is possible starting July 11, when regular maintenance work is due to start. In previous summers, the work has entailed shutting Nord Stream 1 for about 10 days, he said.
The question is whether the upcoming regular maintenance of the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline will turn into “a longer-lasting political maintenance,” the energy regulator’s Mueller said.
If the gas flow from Russia is “to be lowered for a longer period of time, we will have to talk more seriously about savings,” he said.
According to Mueller, in the event of a gas supply stoppage, private households would be specially protected, as would hospitals or nursing homes.
“I can promise that we will do everything we can to avoid private households being without gas,” he said, adding: “We learned from the coronavirus crisis that we shouldn’t make promises if we’re not entirely sure we can keep them.”
He said his agency “does not see a scenario in which there is no more gas coming to Germany at all.”
Also on Saturday, German chemical and consumer goods company Henkel said it was considering encouraging its employees to work from home in the winter as a response to a possible supply shortage.
“We could then greatly reduce the temperature in the offices, while our employees could heat their homes to the normal extent,” Henkel CEO Carsten Knobel told daily newspaper Rheinische Post.
Earlier this month, Habeck activated the second phase of Germany’s three-stage emergency plan for natural gas supplies, warning that Europe’s biggest economy faced a “crisis” and storage targets for the winter were at risk.
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