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Report on Business

ROB Insight

Fresh, focused analysis of today's business news
available exclusively to subscribers of Globe Unlimited

Entry archive:

World’s oil companies put Arctic dreams on hold


The Arctic was once the most exciting and promising frontier for oil exploration, but it was a very long time ago.

Now that another oil major has left the forbidding region with little but a big bill, count on another very long time passing before the industry returns.

There have been spurts of optimism since the 1980s that the swashbuckling adventures of the past would enjoy a rebirth in the Far North of the United States and Canada. Something always gets in the way, usually a cost-benefit analysis after a shift in markets.

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Caterpillar’s cost-cutting plans a mark of struggling global economy


It must have seemed like a good idea when Caterpillar Inc. forked out $7.6-billion (U.S.) in 2011 to acquire mining machinery heavyweight Bucyrus International Inc.

At the time, Caterpillar could not keep up with the soaring demand for massive trucks, earth-movers and other heavy equipment in the midst of a global resource boom.

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Environmental impact of Volkswagen diesel scandal will be felt far and wide


Staff at Volkswagen headquarters in Wolfsburg had salt rubbed into their wounds over the weekend when the local soccer team suffered a 5-1 defeat at the hands of Bayern-Munich. The Bavarian team is league champion and shares its home with BMW, and it is tempting to believe that the Munich car maker is gloating over the misfortune of its rival from Lower Saxony that faces many billions of euros in fines and costs after admitting that it rigged U.S. emissions tests on its diesel cars.

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The case for pushing back B.C.’s LNG deadlines


There is a future for natural-gas exports from British Columbia, but it’s looking much further out on the horizon than its boosters hoped.

The overall concept of moving gas from B.C.’s massive northeastern reserves to the coast, cooling the heck out of it in pricey plants and shipping it to more lucrative overseas markets makes a world of sense.

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Worst is yet to come for VW’s Winterkorn after surviving CEO battle


The ancient Greeks called it hubris when people of power and influence displayed such overweening pride that they angered the gods. Bad things always followed.

Martin Winterkorn, who was determined to turn Volkswagen AG into the world’s largest car maker at seemingly any cost, has done something worse. He has infuriated millions of consumers who bought VW’s diesel-is-clean pitch and put his company in the crosshairs of the U.S. Congress and Justice Department. General Motors and some of his banking friends can tell him what bad things flow from that.

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Oil-patch deals expected to pick up as downturn enters year two


The bid-ask spread – that’s the barrier holding back a flood of mergers and acquisitions in the oil patch.

At least, it’s the reason investment bankers and oil-company executives hold up most often for the drop in deals this year despite the financial strains throughout the industry.

Here’s how the thinking goes: Would-be sellers of assets are hopeful of some timely recovery in crude prices, so they don’t want to shove production and reserves out the door at bargain-basement prices just before it happens.

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Blame fossil fuel users – not producers for greenhouse gas emissions


Since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution in the mid 1700s, fossil fuels have transformed humankind’s journey in almost every conceivable way. Agricultural production has soared, transportation was revolutionized, electrical power enabled breathtaking technological advancements, and petro-chemistry has provided synthetic materials for the manufacture of everything from fertilizers to plastics to clothing and even heart valves.

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The big question remains: What is BlackBerry evolving into?


John Chen wouldn’t admit it, but the BlackBerry Ltd. CEO probably wishes the company’s diehard smartphone users would hang on to their aging devices as long as possible. Many seem to be doing just that: Sales of new BlackBerry smartphones have been well below his initial modest target of 10 million a year despite the launch of several decent new products on his watch.

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