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Aung San Suu Kyi to attend the 2nd Myanmar Oil and Gas Summit

Posted on 21 May 2013 by Africa Business

Aung San Suu Kyi gives speech to supporters at Hlaing Thar Yar Township in Yangon, Myanmar on 17 November 2011. Author Htoo Tay Zar. Source: Wikipedia.org

 

It is with great pleasure that we are able to announce that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Nobel Prize laureate and Chairperson of the National League for Democracy will be attending The 2nd Myanmar Oil and Gas Summit, Yangon, 17-18 June.

The conference and exhibition which is endorsed by the ASEAN Council on Petroleum (ASCOPE) will also be attended by a delegation from the Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE), local and international oil companies and service providers form throughout the world.

To receive the latest event agenda as well as registration details, please reply to this email and my colleague will be in touch. This is the largest oil and gas event which takes place in Myanmar and we do expect it to sell out again.

SPEAKERS INCLUDE:

Ms Cho Cho Wynn, Deputy Director General, MINISTRY OF NATIONAL PLANNING & ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT / DIRECTORATE OF INVESTMENT AND COMPANY ADMINISTRATION (DICA)

VICTORINO BALA, Secretary in Charge, ASEAN COUNCIL ON PETROLEUM (ASCOPE)

U KYAW SOE, Exploration Geologist, PARAMI ENERGY DEVELOPMENT CO LTD

DR DEVA GHOSH, Professor in Geophysics, Universiti TEKNOLOGI PETRONAS,

U Kyaw Kyaw Hlaing, Chairman, SMART GROUP OF COMPANIES

U LYNN MYINT, Vice President, NORTH PETRO-CHEM CORPORATION (MYANMAR), Former Chief Geologist, MOGE

U AUNG MIN, Freelance Consultant, ASIA PIONEER PETROLEUM EXPLORATION TEAM, FORMER MOGE

U AUNG MYAT KYAW, Secretary Geotechnical Committee MYANMAR GEOSCIENCES SOCIETY

DR ANDRZEJ BOLESTA, Economic Counsellor, EMBASSY OF THE REPUBLIC OF POLAND IN BANGKOK

CHRIS FAULKNER, CEO, BREITLING OIL & GAS

JOHN MCCLENAHAN, Ashurst, PARTNER

JAMES FINCH, DFDL Mekong Group, PARTNER

Kenneth Stevens, Managing Partner, LEOPARD CAPITAL

Sebastian Pawlita, Partner, POLASTRI WINT & PARTNERS

DR EULOGE ANICET NKOUNKOU, Minerals on Energy, INTERNATIONAL LAW OF PETROLEUM EXPERT

Please visit: http://www.myanmarsummit2013.com/

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Mergermarket highlights Global M&A Trends at Second Annual Investment Meeting

Posted on 30 April 2013 by Africa Business

-       CEE and Africa are gaining momentum -

 

About Mergermarket

Mergermarket, part of The Mergermarket Group, is an unparalleled, independent M&A intelligence tool used by the world’s foremost financial institutions to originate deals. It provides proprietary intelligence on potential deal flow, potential mandates and valuations via the world’s largest group of M&A journalists and analysts who have direct access to the most senior decision-makers and corporates.
Incorporated in December 1999 by founders Caspar Hobbs, Charlie Welsh and Gawn Rowan Hamilton, it has since become the fastest growing business in its sector. As well as expanding its coverage across Europe, Americas, Latin America and the Asia-Pacific region, the company continues to launch ground-breaking products and services.
In August 2006 The Mergermarket Group was acquired by the Financial Times Group, publisher of the Financial Times newspaper and FT.com. FT Group is a division of Pearson plc, the international media group. For further information, please see: www.mergermarket.com

 

Dubai – 30 April, 2013 – Mergermarket, an independent mergers and acquisitions intelligence and data service, today participates in the second Annual Investment Meeting. AIM is a well-established international event, well placed to cater to the needs of fast growing developing economies.

While the world continues to grapple an economic crisis, Emerging Markets continue to grow and are leading the FDI recovery. AIM proves to be the right formula allowing the developing world to display their strengths and promote greater interaction and exchanges. The United Arab Emirates, a country with unprecedented and continuous growth, is the host of choice and initiator of this important event.

February’s ‘fortune-fortnight’ produced US$ 87.7bn -worth of mega-deals (deals above US10bn) towards global M&A so far this year – 124% higher than the US$ 70.7bn gained from mega-deals in Q1 last year, according to Mergermarket. The expected resurgence in M&A that these deals would produce hasn’t quite come to fruition – global M&A in 2013 to-date valued at US$ 496.7bn is down 12.7% compared to the US$ 569-worth of deals racked up in the same period of 2012. Deal volume is also behind last year at 22.6% from 3988 deals to 3085 deals so far this year.

The Americas M&A activity, mostly dominated by the US, is the only region to have witnessed year-on-year increases in deal value and also deal count from 2010 onwards.  Mergermarket expects US M&A to hold up this activity in 2013 as the country sees US$ 298.1bn-worth of deals announced so far this year, on par with the US$ 237.7bn accumulated in the same time last year.

CEE’s 2012 activity (US$ 127.6bn) was the third consecutive annual increase in deal value.  The region looks consistent with its progress in deal making this year too with Q1 showing increases in deal value every month – deals valued at US$ 28.3bn is up 61% compared to US$ 17.6bn during the same time in 2012. According to Mergermarket, two deals in particular have Influenced this total – the highest valued slots into Russia’s Mining sector where a 37.75% stake was acquired in gold mining company Polyus Gold International by two private investors in February for US$ 3.6bn. The second deal was in the most active global sector of Telecommunications – Tele2 Russia Telecom was acquired by Russian VTB Bank for US$ 3.6bn.

Following one of this year’s top global deals by value total deals for Africa are valued at US$ 14.9bn. This represents a 55.2% increase from the same time last year where deals totaled US$ 9.6bn.  The regions highest valued deal so far saw Eni East Africa was acquired by China National Petroleum for US$ 4.2bn.

Post-crisis global M&A has made an attempted recovery since the 2009 trough but values came at a standstill by the time we reached the end of 2012 (US$ 2,247.7bn) and ended at a similar level to how 2011 did (US$ 2,245.1bn).”

During the course of the year we have seen several signals that M&A activity was back and appetite and excitement by investors and M&A professionals have has increased, says Giovanni Amodeo, Global Editor in Chief of Mergermarket. “However, the Eurozone crisis, the issues in Cyprus and the slowdown in the GDP growth in some of the emerging market has not helped the M&A volume to pick up.  The increase in cross border activity, as shown by Megermarket is a good indication that companies are still looking for good acquisition targets in different continents.”


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Sponsors and supporters sign up on mass for The 2nd East Africa Oil and Gas Summit (EAOGS) taking place 29-30 October 2013 in Nairobi

Posted on 27 April 2013 by Africa Business

 

Nairobi, April

The 2nd East Africa Oil and Gas Summit (EAOGS) announces a host of new sponsors and supporters for the Summit taking place in 6 months’ time at the Intercontinental in Nairobi. Afren and Ernst and Young have signed up as Platinum Sponsors, Africa Oil and ABS as Gold Sponsors, Aggreko and Simba Energy as Bronze Sponsors and Afex Group as Associate Sponsor. EAOGS is also supported by leading industry and government associations including The Eastern Africa Chambers of Commerce, UKTI, Delegation of German Industry and Commerce in Kenya and the US Commercial Service.

‘We’re delighted by the response from sponsors and supporters for this year’s EAOGS and it’s clear that the event has really made its mark as the most prestigious Oil & Gas Summit for the East Africa region’ said Danny Grogan from the organisers Global Event Partners (K) Ltd. ‘We had excellent feedback from the EAOGS 2012 participants and we’ve had a lot of interest from international and local companies, so the Summit is set to be a huge success’ added Grogan.

The EAOGS 2013 conference will bring together regional National Oil Companies, Ministries, IOC’s, independent oil companies, service companies, legal advisors and investors to debate the oil and gas road map for the region. The Speaker line-up so far features Hon Stephen Dhieu Dau, Minister of Petroleum and Mining, South Sudan, Elly Karuhanga, President, Tullow Uganda, Galib Virani, Director, Afren East Africa Exploration, Keith Hill, CEO, Africa Oil and Lex Huurdeman, Senior Expert, Oil, Gas and Mining Policy Unit, SEGOM – World Bank. The full list of confirmed speakers and the latest programme and 2013 brochure are available to view on the website.

EAOGS 2013 will build on the success of the 2012 Summit which was co-hosted by the Ministry of Energy, Kenya and Global Event Partners (K) and was a resounding success welcoming 326 delegates from over 170 regional and international companies attended with delegates coming from 29 countries.

EAOGS 2013 BROCHURE (Acrobat Reader)

Organisers
EAOGS is organised by Global Event Partners (K) Ltd and is part of Global Event Partners Ltd headquartered in London. Global Event Partners Ltd has more than 40 years’ experience of delivering events of the highest quality and at the highest level for the oil & gas industry, specifically working in Africa for the past 12 years.

Corporate website : www.gep-events.com Event website www.eaogs.com

 

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BP TO INVEST MORE THAN R5-BILLION IN SOUTH AFRICA

Posted on 23 April 2013 by Africa Business

BP today announced plans to invest in excess of R5 billion in South Africa and Mozambique over the next five years in new and on-going infrastructure upgrade projects to improve business efficiency and assist Government’s objectives to enhance energy security and enable the transition to cleaner fuels.

During a visit to South Africa today, Iain Conn, BP Group Managing Director and Chief Executive of Refining and Marketing, said that BP was committed to pursuing operations and investments across Africa. In Upstream, BP is pursuing opportunities in Angola, Algeria, Namibia, Libya and Egypt. In Downstream, beyond today’s announcement about South Africa, BP is also making investments to improve and upgrade the fuel import infrastructure in neighbouring Mozambique.

In South Africa, an investment of close to R5 billion will be spent on various projects across the BP Fuels Value Chain including refinery, terminal and retail network assets. This is a sign of BP’s growing confidence in the South African economy as an attractive investment destination especially after the adoption of the National Development Plan (NDP) as the road map for the country.

Mr Conn stated that around half the investment will be spent in upgrading and modernising the refinery infrastructure at Sapref, a joint venture with Shell. The infrastructure upgrade will primarily be to comply with South Africa’s proposed clean fuels requirements.

In February 2013, the South African Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan undertook to announce the support mechanism for biofuels and upgrade of refineries to encourage South Africa to produce cleaner fuels which are environmentally friendly.

“We anticipate that the remuneration mechanism will be finalised shortly as we have already started to invest in the project and our intent is to be ready to produce clean fuels in 2017,” said Mr Conn.

Part of the R5 billion investment is aimed at building and upgrading terminals to world-class facilities that are leading the industry in terms of safety, operational integrity and technology. BP’s investment will also ensure greater security of supply. An example of this investment is the new and recently-commissioned facility built in partnership with Sasol at Alrode outside Johannesburg. Once completed, this terminal will be the most modern and technologically advanced in Africa with high safety management systems and standards.

BP’s retail network will benefit from the announced investment which will improve customer experience. The conversion to a “best in class” convenience retail offering, in partnership with Pick n Pay, will see 120 Pick n Pay Express stores opened in the next five years across South Africa. Coupled with improvements to the BP Express convenience offering, the fuel forecourts will be upgraded with a standardised look.

Iain Conn emphasised that BP’s commitment is not only about the capital and commercial investment, it is also about being part of a South African community and continuing to contribute to the improvement of people’s lives through a focused transformation programme aligned with Government’s goal to create jobs, develop skills and build entrepreneurs, as well as achieve sustainable economic growth.

“This is part of our on-going efforts to be a good corporate citizen as we pursue our business objectives in all the markets in which we operate”, said Mr Conn.

BP has been at the forefront of transformation over a number of years. In 2001, BP became one of the first companies to form an empowerment initiative and this has resulted in cash pay-outs to BEE shareholders to the tune of R300 million.

Subsequently, Masana, a joint venture between BP and its BEE partners, was formed in 2005. This has been one of South Africa’s empowerment success stories which has doubled its growth since inception.

BP continues on pioneering the transformation journey with the latest hydrocarbon (crude oil) procurement initiative which invited and encouraged local previously disadvantaged enterprises to participate in a tender process.

A long standing support for skills development and quality education continues to be at the cornerstone of BP’s involvement in high school enrichment programmes, artisan to PhD support programmes, and general industry skills development for the previously disadvantaged. To this end, BP, as part of the South African Petroleum Industry Association (SAPIA), is involved in an industry-wide skills development initiative that will culminate in a Petroleum Institute which will assist the Southern Africa region.

Mr Conn reiterated that “the investments we are making in South Africa are not only a sign of confidence in the policy direction the country is taking, but they are also our commitment to all South Africans through the successful development of the energy infrastructure, market and associated skills and opportunities.”

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POPSCI NEWS

Posted on 17 April 2013 by Africa Business

  • 5 Ways Drones Could Help In A Disaster Like The Boston Marathon Bombing
    Plus three robots that are already saving lives.

    Yesterday, the President of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International Michael Toscano told U.S. News: “Whether it is in response to a natural disaster or a tragedy like we saw in Boston, [unmanned aerial systems] can be quickly deployed to provide first responders with critical situational awareness in areas too dangerous or difficult for manned aircraft to reach.”

    Is he right? Well, he’s not entirely wrong. Drones, like manned helicopters used by police and emergency responders, can hover, provide a great overall picture of action on the ground, and direct aid to where it’s needed. The trick is that, right now, drones don’t do that uniquely, which is what a sales pitch on their special capacity demands. Boston did in fact have a police helicopter flying overhead, and the problem of low fuel reportedly overheard on the police scanner is a problem that another helicopter could have solved just as easily. Drones aren’t particularly special in disaster relief-yet.

    As drone tech advances, we could soon see remotely piloted vehicles joining the ranks of police departments and emergency response organizations. Here are five drones that might save a life in a future disaster.

    1. The MQ-8C Fire Scout: This full-size, unmanned helicopter could ultimately replace police or medical evacuation helicopters. The crew compartment can, among other things, be converted to hold an EMS team for medical airlift, or extra fuel to stay aloft longer.

    2. Quadrotors: Drones like the Aeryon Scout provide a wealth of video coverage, spying on rooftops and moving in fearlessly to document a blast zone. (Of course, civilian smartphones did much of that work in Boston.)

    3. Swarm of Swiss robots: By emulating the patterns ants use to hunt for food, these swarming drones can efficiently scan a large area and then converge where they are needed-a strategy that requires an awful lot of manpower when it’s used by human search-and-rescue workers.

    4. Incredible HLQ: This quadrotor is designed to carry relief supplies to places people can’t access, or can’t access fast enough, during an emergency. It’s in development now after a successful Kickstarter campaign.

    5. The Pars Aerial Rescue Bot: While not strictly applicable to Boston, this Iranian lifeguard quadrotor could aid in disasters along coastal areas, flying through severe weather to rescue people from drowning.

    Flying machines aren’t the only rescue robots we can expect in the future. Unmanned ground machines also have a lot to offer. CHIMP, a monkey-tank-robot created by Carnegie Melon, is designed specifically to climb over rubble or up ladders to save people in collapsed buildings. DARPA’s Robotics Challenge, in which CHIMP is an entrant, has inspired several robots designed to take the place of humans in emergency situations.

    Three types of ground robots are already saving lives around the world:

    1. A whole fleet of earthquake-response rescue robots: These are currently at work in Japan, and they include the RoboCue victim-recovery bot.

    2. Talon: QinetiQ’s bomb-disposal robot made a name for itself fighting IEDs in the Iraq War. There’s also a police version available.

    3. The Land Shark EODS: This remotely controlled robot is used to detonate explosives safely away from people. Massachusetts State Police have at least one on hand.

    The future will certainly see more robots rushing to save lives, and undoubtedly some of those will be flying. The future promise of flying rescuers, however, should not distract us from the actual ground robots that are being used in Boston presently.

        

  • FYI: Can Humans Get High On Catnip?
    Samantha J. Kitty fiending for some catnip Evan Kafka via Suzanne LaBarre
    Related: Can cats get high on marijuana?

    While cats may feel effects from marijuana-no word on whether Sir Harry Paus actually likes the experience-”kitty pot” does not have a reciprocal effect on humans.

    In the late 1960s, some researchers reported catnip gave people a marijuana-like high, but it turned out they had simply mixed up the two plants. As veterinarian Arnold Plotnick of Manhattan Cat Specialists in New York wrote to me in an email, “Think about it… catnip is cheap and legal. If it had a significant effect on people, everyone would be smoking it.”

    Meanwhile, cats do feel effects from marijuana, but it may be scary for them. “Animals can’t understand they’re being intoxicated, therefore it can cause considerable anxiety,” says Bruce Kornreich, associate director of the Cornell Feline Health Center in upstate New York.

    It’s not clear why the active chemical in catnip, nepetalactone, doesn’t affect humans, Kornreich says. Pot affects cats because like many mammals, including humans and dogs, cats have receptors in their brains for pot’s active chemicals, cannabinoids. Cannabinoid receptors make pets susceptible to feeling symptoms when they inhale secondhand smoke or, more commonly, accidentally eat their owners’ stashes. (It’s actually a bigger problem with dogs, he says, because dogs eat everything.)

    Kornreich has seen pets come into veterinary emergency rooms after marijuana exposure. “The pets are presented for anxiety, active heart rate, acting a little unusual,” he says. “They may react differently to sound and to being touched” perhaps because, like humans, drugs alter their perception.

    Kornreich urges pet owners to take their pets to a vet if this happens, adding that vets are not required by law to report marijuana they run into during their practice. Most veterinarians care more about making pets better, he says. “It’s more just focused on the well-being of the patient.”

    He also strongly discourages purposefully exposing a pet to marijuana. Fido and Kitty can’t consent to getting high. “I don’t think it’s right or fair to make that decision for an animal,” he says.

    If pot affects cats because they have cannabinoid receptors, does that mean people aren’t affected by catnip because they don’t have nepetalactone receptors? Scientists aren’t sure. “While it seems that this is a reasonable hypothesis to explain why humans don’t respond to catnip like cats do, I cannot find any studies that rigorously test it,” Kornreich says. While many brain receptors are common across different animals, many receptors also differ, so it wouldn’t be unprecedented for humans to lack a receptor present in cat brains.

    In cats, inhaled nepetalactone stimulates the olfactory bulb, the part of the brain that processes odors. The olfactory bulb then interacts with the amygdala, the brain region associated with emotion and decision-making, and hypothalamus, which controls a variety of bodily functions. From the hypothalamus, nepetalactone stimulates a sexual response in cats that are genetically predisposed to sensitivity to catnip. (About 20 to 30 percent of cats don’t seem to react to the plant.)

    Some insects seem to react to nepetalactone, too. Strangely enough, chemical companies are studying nepetalactone because it seems to repel mosquitoes, ticks and mites, like a kind of natural DEET. For the insects to change their behavior around nepetalactone, even if negatively, suggests that they have nepetalactone receptors.

    As for smoking catnip: not only does it fail to get people high, it can make them feel pretty awful. Too much catnip, whether smoked or drunk as a tea, could cause headaches and vomiting.

    Have a burning science question you’d like to see answered in our FYI section? Email it to fyi@popsci.com.

        

  • Audi Wants Its Cars To Predict Where Traffic Will Be
    Traffic Jam epSos.de
    Side-stepping traffic by mining data

    At the GPU Technology Conference 2013 show in San Jose, Audi announced some of its plans for its Cars of the Future, The Register reports. One of the coolest ideas: cars that can predict where traffic will be, so drivers can avoid it.

    The amply named Predictive Traffic function would mine traffic records and current reports, including social media, as well as scheduled events like sports games that could bring cars to a standstill. The system, under Audi’s plan, could also predict a driver’s most likely destination based on their traffic history.

    Pretty neat! Along with that, Audi announced a concept for a reworked directions system that would operate in a “human-like” way, giving directions based on landmarks instead of streets. A Smart Parking feature would work similarly to the traffic-predicting system, but do it for parking spots: mapping out available spots and prices for those spots, rather than making you drive around in circles hunting one down.

    We don’t have too many details yet on exactly how these systems would work, but since Audi did make a self-driving car, hopefully we’ll see these projects come to life soon, too.

    [The Register]

        

  • Magnetic Brain Stimulation Removes Craving For Cigarettes
    Smoking Kills Challiyil Eswaramangalath Vipin via Wikimedia
    Don’t worry, it doesn’t hurt!

    Scientists at Medical University of South Carolina temporarily blunted cigarette cravings among smokers by magnetically stimulating nerve cells in their brains. The procedure, called transcranial magnetic stimulation, is already approved by the FDA to treat depression, though its efficacy is controversial (it’s also been prescribed to stop people from lying and treat adult ADHD.)

    In the experiment, researchers randomly assigned 16 smokers to either a 15-minute session of high-frequency transcranial magnetic stimulation (in which coils placed over the forehead send magnetic pulses into the prefrontal cortex), or 15 minutes of sham treatment. The magnetic stimulation isn’t painful and doesn’t require sedation or anesthesia. The scientists told the volunteers not to smoke for two hours prior to the experiment.

    Before the treatment, the researchers showed the smokers both neutral images (such as mountain scenes) and images intended to provoke nicotine cravings (such as a person lightning a cigarette.) Then they asked the volunteers to rate how they felt about statements like “I would do almost anything for a cigarette now” and “I am going to smoke as soon as possible.” After the magnetic stimulation, the participants saw similar images and again rated how much they craved a cigarette.

    The researchers found that the participants who got the real magnet treatment expressed significantly less desire to smoke at the end of the experiment compared with those who got the fake treatment. In fact, the craving reduction was positively correlated with how nicotine-dependent the volunteer was, meaning that those who smoked the most saw the greatest decrease in cigarette craving after the magnetic stimulation.

    The authors of the study note that people trying to quit smoking would need several sessions of transcranial magnetic stimulation per day in order to see longer-lasting reductions in cravings. The paper appears in Biological Psychiatry.

        

  • Everything You Need To Know About Ricin, The Poison Mailed To President Obama
    Ricin (on Breaking Bad) via Breaking Bad Wiki
    Ricin is one of the most poisonous substances on Earth, it’s scarily easy to make, and somebody is mailing it to the President and at least one U.S. senator. What it is, how it works, and more, inside.

    Yesterday, an envelope addressed to Senator Roger Wicker, Republican of Mississippi, was found to contain a white granular substance that was identified as ricin. Today, a similar letter addressed to President Obama was found. These envelopes were intercepted off-site–they never got anywhere near their targets–but as a precaution, Capitol Police have shut down mail service until they can figure out what’s going on.

    In the meantime, let’s talk about ricin!

    How poisonous is it?
    Oh, man. Very. It’s dangerous in just about any way it gets into your system, though ingesting (eating) it is about the least dangerous way. Injecting or inhaling requires about a thousand times less ricin to kill a human than ingesting, and that’s a very small amount indeed. An average adult needs only 1.78mg of ricin injected or inhaled to die; that’s about the size of a few grains of table salt–which ricin resembles visually.

    How does it work?
    Ricin, a toxic protein, infects cells, blocking their ability to synthesize their own protein. Without cells making protein, key functions in the body shut down; even in survivors, permanent organ damage is often the result of ricin poisoning. It’s a highly unpleasant way to be poisoned: within six hours, according to the Center for Disease Control, victims who have ingested ricin will feel gastrointestinal effects like severe vomiting and diarrhea, which can lead to serious dehydration. Then the ricin infects the cells of the vital gastrointestinal organs as they pass through the body, leading to the failure of the kidneys, liver, and pancreas.

    Inhalation of ricin has a different effect, since the ricin proteins aren’t interacting with the same parts of the body. Instead of gastrointestinal problems, you’ll develop a vicious, bloody cough, your lungs will fill with fluid, and eventually you’ll lose your ability to breathe, causing death. Injection, too, is different, depending on where you’ve been injected, but will generally result in vomiting and flu-like symptoms, swelling around the place of injection, and eventually organ failure as your circulatory system passes the protein around the body. Death from inhalation or injection usually occurs about three to five miserable, agonizing days after contact.

    Interestingly, there aren’t any immediate symptoms, and indeed there can be a significant delay before symptoms show themselves, up to a day or two.

    Exposure on the skin is generally not fatal, though it may cause a reaction that can range from irritation to blistering.

    That sounds…horrible. Is there an antidote, at least?
    Haha. No. The US and UK governments have been working on an antidote for decades–here’s a nice article describing the progression of one such antidote–but there isn’t one available to the public. The CDC’s website states bluntly, “There is no antidote for ricin toxicity.” There are some steps you can take if you get to a hospital immediately; for ingestion, a stomach pump can sometimes prevent the ricin from reaching the rest of the gastrointestinal system at its full force. But…that’s about it, really.

    How does it stack up against other poisons?
    Well, that depends on what your aim is. Ricin is much easier to produce than other popular biological weapons like botulinum, sarin, and anthrax, but it is not as potent as any of those, which limits its effectiveness as a weapon. It also is not very long-lived; the protein can age and become inactive fairly quickly compared to, say, anthrax, which can remain dangerous for decades. There were experiments back around World War I attempting to make wide-scale ricin weapons, packaging it into bombs and coating bullets in it, but these proved not particularly effective and also violate the Hague Convention’s agreements on war crimes, so the US discarded ricin.

    It’s much more effective, weapon-wise, as a close-contact, small-target weapon–by injecting, as with Georgi Markov, or by putting small particles into an aerosol spray and blasting a target. It’s also not contagious, which limits its effectiveness as a tool of biological warfare. But it’s considered highly dangerous partly because it’s still outrageously toxic and partly because it takes no great skill to produce.

    So it’s not hard to make?
    Well…no. Like, not at all. It’s made from the byproduct of the castor oil manufacturing process. You take the “mash” of the castor oil seeds, which contain around 5-10 percent ricin, and perform a process called chromatography. Chromatography is a blanket term for a set of techniques used to separate mixtures, usually by dissolving in liquid or gas. The US government has done its best to eradicate recipes for ricin from the internet, sort of; a patent was filed back in 1962 for ricin extraction, and the Patent Office took it off the publicly available server in 2004 for safety reasons. That said, the recipe is super easy to find; here at the PopSci offices, I’m blocked from listening to Rdio on my work computer, but I found a recipe to make an outrageously deadly poison in about a minute.

    The techniques involved are undergraduate-level chemistry, creating a slurry with the castor bean mash and filtering with water and then a few easily-found substances like hydrochloric acid.

    It comes from castor beans?
    Ricin is a highly toxic protein that’s extracted from the seed of the castor plant, often called a “castor bean” or “castor oil bean,” despite not technically being a bean. The castor plant is extremely common; it’s used as an ornamental plant throughout the western world, prized for its ability to grow basically anywhere as well as its pretty, spiky leaves and weird spiny fruits. It’s also an important crop; the seeds are full of oil, and castor oil is used for lots of legitimate purposes. It’s a common laxative, for one thing, and since it’s more resistant to high temperatures than other kinds of vegetable oils, it’s a nice alternative to petroleum oil in engines.

    Wait, but you can eat it? So how is this a poison?
    Ah, yes. Castor oil is perfectly safe, according to the FDA and your grandma, but ricin is not castor oil. Castor seeds are still poisonous; this study says that a lethal dose of castor seeds for adults is about four to eight seeds. But the oil itself does not contain ricin; the ricin protein is left behind in the “castor bean mash” after the oil is extracted from the seed. Poisoning from eating the seed itself is rare.

    Have there been cases of ricin poisoning in the past?
    You mean, beyond the several times it’s been featured as a major plot point in Breaking Bad? Sure! The most famous is probably the assassination of Georgi Markov in 1978. Markov was a Bulgarian novelist, playwright, journalist, and dissident, and was murdered by the Bulgarian secret service, with assistance from the KGB, by ricin injection. He was crossing a bridge when he was jabbed in the leg with an umbrella, which delivered a ricin pellet into his bloodstream. He died three days later of ricin poisoning.

    There are plenty of incidents of people arrested for attempting (or, more often, succeeding) to make ricin; it’s a pretty easy poison to make. In fact, there was even another ricin-in-the-envelope attempt made back in 2003–a person identifying as “Fallen Angel” sent letters filled with ricin to the White House, apparently as a result of some new trucking regulations (seriously). “Fallen Angel” was never found, but the letters were intercepted and did not cause any injury.

    How dangerous are these envelopes filled with ricin?
    The envelope strategy has more to do with potential ease of getting the poison close to targets than its strength as a delivery system. If you’re targeting the President of the United States, it’s easier and more anonymous to mail a letter than to try to get close to him with an umbrella modified for ricin-stabbing. But it’s not a great way to poison someone with ricin. Assuming the letter actually got into the target’s hands, of the three ways ricin can get into a person’s system (inhalation, injection, ingestion), only one–inhalation–is really possible, and it’s not that likely.

    Inhalation as a weapon is best accomplished through a mist, ideally delivered through an aerosol. But that’s not possible in a letter full of powder. It’s possible that small granules of ricin could be released into the air and inhaled when handling the letter, but it is not an effective way to poison someone. And whoever’s sending these letters evidently doesn’t know that the government set up an elaborate mail-screening system after the 2001 Anthrax scare.

        

  • Mystery Animal Contest: Who Is This Fuzzy Sniffler?
    Guess the species (either common or Linnaean) by tweeting at us–we’re @PopSci–and get your name listed right here! Plus eternal glory, obviously. Update: We have a winner!

    So, here are the rules: To answer, follow us on Twitter and tweet at us with the hashtag #mysteryanimal. For example:

    Hey @PopSci, is the #mysteryanimal a baboon?

    And then I might say “if you think that’s a baboon, perhaps you are the baboon!” But probably not, because this is a positive environment and all guesses are welcome and also this is not a very common animal so guess whatever you want!

    The first person to get it right wins! We’ll retweet the answer from @PopSci, and also update this post so your amazing animal knowledge will be permanently etched onto the internet. Show your kids! Your dumb kids who thought that was a baboon!

    Update: And the winner is…Logan Copeman, who correctly guessed that this is a viscacha (Lagidium viscacia, also spelled vizcacha)! Specifically, this is a southern or mountain viscacha, a rodent found in South America. Yep, rodent: the viscacha is not related to the rabbit family, though it looks similar; the rabbit belongs to an entirely different branch of the evolutionary tree, and the fact that the viscacha looks so much like a rabbit is an example of convergent evolution. Convergent evolution describes when two species not closely related end up adapting to their environments in the same way.

    The viscacha lives in the southern Andes mountains, and is closely related to the chinchilla. It’s sometimes known as a long-tailed rabbit, thanks to its long ears and fluffy coat. It moves similarly to a rabbit, on very strong hind legs, hopping around its mountain home to eat a variety of grasses, mosses, and lichens. It lives in colonies, like all members of the chinchilla family, which can widely range in size. It’s not particularly rare; it is sometimes hunted for its meat and fur, but is believed to be holding steady, population-wise. Hi viscacha!

        

  • EuropaCity Is The Ultra-Green Mall Of The Future
    EuropaCity BIG
    Imagine a mall. Now imagine a mall in the year 2150.

    The design firm Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), along with a few added team members (Tess, Transsolar, Base, Transitec, and Michel Forgue) have won first place in a competition to design an experimental “urban center” in France called EuropaCity. Located in Île-de-France, the wealthiest and most populous region in France, EuropaCity is intended to be a center of culture and retail, combining all sorts of experimental sustainable technologies.

    But as a design–and a pretty spectacular one at that–it’s best experienced through images. Click through to the gallery to see and read more about the proposal!

    Click to launch the gallery.

        

  • Nanosponges In Your Blood Could Soak Up Infections And Poison
    Nanosponge Engineers at the University of California, San Diego have invented a “nanosponge” capable of safely removing a broad class of toxins from the bloodstream, including toxins produced by MRSA, E. Coli, poisonous snakes and bees. The nanosponges are made of a biocompatible polymer core wrapped in a natural red blood cell membrane. Zhang Research Lab
    Mice who got nanosponge injections survived lethal doses of toxins.

    A newly invented “nanosponge,” sheathed in armor made of red blood cells, can safely remove a wide range of toxins from the bloodstream. Scientists at the University of California-San Diego inoculated some mice with their nanosponge, and then gave the animals otherwise lethal doses of a toxin–and the mice survived.

    This is especially interesting because a nanosponge can work on entire classes of toxins. Most antidotes or treatments against venom, bioweapons or bacteria are targeted to counteract a specific molecular structure, so they can’t be a one-size-fits-all solution; this nanosponge can.

    Scientists led by Liangfang Zhang, a nanoengineering professor at UCSD, worked with a class of proteins known as pore-forming toxins, which work just the way they sound: By ripping a hole in a cell membrane. These toxins are found in snake venom, sea anemones, and even bacteria like the dreaded drug-resistant Staph aureus. The proteins come in many different shapes and sizes, but they all work in a similar way.

    They designed a nanosponge to soak up any type of pore-forming toxins. It consists of a tiny (85-nanometer) plastic ball wrapped in red blood cell membranes, which basically serve as a decoy and soak up the poison. The plastic ball holds everything together, and keeps the protein away from its real cellular targets. The entire nanosponge is 3,000 times smaller than a full red blood cell. The devices had a half-life of about 40 hours when the team tested them on lab mice, according to a release from UCSD.

    They injected mice with 70 times as many toxic proteins as nanosponges, and the sponges still neutralized the poison and caused no visible damage to the animals, the team reports. Next up are clinical trials in animals, to verify that it works safely in a wide range of cases.

    The paper is in this week’s issue of Nature Nanotechnology.

        

  • Wearing A Kilt Could Make Your Sperm Stronger
    Temperature regulation is the key to fertility.

    Temperature affects how much sperm a man makes, so there’s been speculation that the freedom offered by a kilt can increase production. Turns out that that at least could be right: a new metastudy says wearing a kilt “likely produces an ideal physiological scrotal environment, which in turn helps maintain normal scrotal temperature, which is known to be beneficial for robust spermatogenesis and good sperm quality.”

    The study (PDF), published in the Scottish Medical Journal, reviewed the literature on the link between scrotal temperature and reproduction. We know sperm fares better in lower temperatures, and some researchers have suggested that restrictive clothing could negatively affect sperm production. Enter: the kilt, which author Erwin J.O. Kompanje describes thusly: “The Scottish kilt is a male garment that resembles (but is not!) a knee-length, pleated skirt.”

    The author hypothesizes that, based on past findings about temperature and sperm production, a kilt, specifically one worn in the undergarment-free “regimental” style, would be an ideal environment for sperm production. Kompanje searched through related research, focusing on statistics in Scotland and noting along the way that 70 percent of kilt-wearers choose to go regimental. Kilts (at least in Scotland or other countries where they’re more commonly worn) might also be psychologically valuable, increasing feelings of masculinity when worn. Kompanje goes so far as to write that a downturn in Scottish fertility is correlated with the frequency of kilts being worn, although he admits it’s still somewhat speculative until a randomized trial happens. Gentlemen, put on your kilts for science.

        

  • We Could Eat Trees: Scientists Turn Inedible Plant Cellulose Into Starchy Snack
    Turning plant byproducts into digestible carbs could feed more people.

    Someday, it will be be summer again and it will be time for fresh sweet corn. In the future, you might be able to eat the whole thing, cob and all.

    This weird possibility is courtesy of some scientists at Virginia Tech, who have transformed cellulose, a mostly indigestible polymer, into helpful, indispensable starch.

    Plants produce cellulose and starch, which are chemically similar, for very different purposes. Cellulose forms the cell walls of most plants, algae and even some bacteria, and we use it for anything from clothing (cotton is almost all cellulose) to paper to ethanol. Starch is a plant’s energy source, and it’s ours, too, in the form of tasty things like potatoes, wheat and corn. The difference between the two is a simple change in the hydrogen bonds that form the molecules.

    Animals like cows and pigs can digest cellulose thanks to symbiotic bacteria in their digestive tracts, but humans can’t. It’s important in our diets as source of fiber, in that it binds together waste in our digestive tracts. Y.H. Percival Zhang, an associate professor of biological systems engineering at Virginia Tech, set out to make it a food source.

    Since cellulose and amylose are both glucose chains, you would just have to rearrange their hydrogen bonds. This is anything but simple, although essentially Zhang and colleagues used chemistry. They worked with a series of synthetic enzymes to break down the hydrogen bonds in some plant material that would not otherwise be used for food, like corn cobs and leaves. The “enzyme cascade” enabled the cellulose molecules to reconfigure into amylose, which is a form of starch. A key ingredient in this process, a special polypeptide cap, is found in potatoes.

    The resulting product is not exactly the future of bread flour, but it can be used as a fiber source, or food-safe biodegradable packaging, perhaps. The remaining portion of the original material was treated with microbes to produce a form of glucose that can then be used for ethanol. The whole process didn’t require any unusual heat or chemical reagents, other than the enzymes themselves, so it would be easy to reproduce on larger scales, Zhang and his colleagues say.

    Cellulose is the most common carbohydrate–indeed the most common organic material–on the planet, so using it for food could be a superb way to feed millions of people, they argue.

    “There is an urgent need to use abundant and renewable nonfood agricultural and forest residues and dedicated bioenergy crops that can grow on marginal land and require low inputs,” they write. The paper appears this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

        

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FPSO Africa. 18 – 21 June 2013

Posted on 15 April 2013 by Africa Business

Event Title: FPSO Africa

Date of event: 18 – 21 June 2013

Location: Novotel Accra City Centre, Accra, Ghana

URL: http://www.fpsoafricaconference.com

IBC Asia’s Premier FPSO Africa 2013 will provide the latest insight on FPSO hotspots and best practices in securing FPSO investment in Africa’s booming offshore oil & gas sector.

Why You Must Attend FPSO Africa 2013 Event

  • NEW POLICY UPDATES for the petroleum industry in Africa and its impact on the FPSO business
  • GAIN INSIGHT on the 16 new oil discoveries announced and FPSO prospects in Ghana!
  • CASE STUDIES on FPSOs maximising oil production from deepwater fields in Africa
  • BEST PRACTICES in successfully conducting and sustaining your FPSO business in Africa
  • IDENTIFY financing options for FPSO projects in Africa
  • MAXIMISE FPSO investment through repairs, maintenance and fabrication opportunities

For more information, visit http://www.fpsoafricaconference.com or call +65 6508 2401 today!

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Iberian Lawyer brings together a selected group of finance and legal experts at the 3rd Edition of Agenda Africa Forum in London ─ ‘Investment Frontiers: Angola and Mozambique’ ─ to examine trends in the region

Posted on 11 April 2013 by Africa Business

LONDON, United-Kingdom /African Press Organization (APO)/ The appetite for investments in projects, energy and infrastructure in Africa has not decreased despite the economic downturn. Iberian Lawyer brings over 80 experts from the banking, finance and legal sector at Chatham House, London, to discuss the current opportunities and challenges of investing in Angola and Mozambique.

The Forum is supported by leading law firms F. Castelo Branco, Cuatrecasas Gonçalves Pereira, Miranda, VdA and AVM, and focuses on the current developments and reforms in these countries.

According to KermaPartners’ latest research, the economic strength and growth in Africa makes the region a strategic target for many global law firms looking to expand their services.

Portugal and China may be the major foreign investors in Angola, but its expanding oil and gas sector continues to attract new interest. Meanwhile, efforts by the Government to diversify the economy are attracting a wider pool of international investment, according to the latest Iberian Lawyer Lusophone Africa Special Report.

Angola has been registering record growth. Ten years after the civil war, Angola’s economy is expanding at an annual rate of around eight percent. The Government is using its petrodollars to rebuild the country’s shattered infrastructure, expand the economy and modernise and better connect its cities. According to Mergermarket data, the first quarter of 2013 saw four deals worth US$4.5bn, compared to 11 transactions valued at US$8.63bn for the whole of 2012 and 12 deals for US$6.23bn in 2011.

“Relative to Angola, Mozambique may be further down the development track, but recent discoveries of huge offshore natural gas reserves hold the potential to change the economic direction of the country, says Giovanni Amodeo, global editor in chief at Mergermarket.

“Mozambique recently introduced a new PPP Law that affects strongly in future investments.”

Based on Mergermarket M&A data, Mozambique has seen the largest transaction so far this year with the acquisition of a 28.57 percent stake in ENI East Africa by China National Petroleum Company for US$4.2bn. However, uncertainty has resulted from the implementation of capital gains tax, Rio Tinto’s large writedowns on the Benga mine acquisition and the major infrastructural spending required to ensure ‘route to market’ for players using the Sena line, and ports of Beira and Nacala.

Despite this, the experts predicts that as the nation’s gas boom and sheer geological potential are realised, growth in Mozambique’s domestic steel industry will continue to attract mine builders, producers, offtakers and others to partake in potentially large M&A transactions and joint ventures.

“Africa opens a wide range of business opportunities to international players in a whole host of sectors, but always under complex and over-regulated markets,” says Mari Cruz Taboada, Managing Director of Iberian Legal Group (Iberian Lawyer). “Being accompanied by experienced lawyers is essential when strategically developing projects and investing in markets such as Angola or Mozambique.”

Players from the Middle East, Canada and Western Europe are also trying to take advantage of opportunities in the region, following in the steps of the US, China, South Africa and Brazil.


About Mergermarket

Mergermarket, part of The Mergermarket Group, is an unparalleled, independent M&A intelligence tool used by the world’s foremost financial institutions to originate deals. It provides proprietary intelligence on potential deal flow, potential mandates and valuations via the world’s largest group of M&A journalists and analysts who have direct access to the most senior decision-makers and corporates.

Incorporated in December 1999 by founders Caspar Hobbs, Charlie Welsh and Gawn Rowan Hamilton, it has since become the fastest growing business in its sector. As well as expanding its coverage across Europe, Americas, Latin America and the Asia-Pacific region, the company continues to launch ground-breaking products and services.

In August 2006 The Mergermarket Group was acquired by the Financial Times Group, publisher of the Financial Times newspaper and FT.com. FT Group is a division of Pearson plc, the international media group. For further information, please see: www.mergermarket.com

SOURCE

The Mergermarket Group

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IMF Concludes Fifth PSI Review Mission to Senegal

Posted on 10 April 2013 by Africa Business

An International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission led by Hervé Joly visited Senegal during March 27-April 10, 2013 to conduct the fifth review under the three-year Policy Support Instrument (PSI) approved in December 2010. The members of the mission met with the President of the Republic, the Prime Minister, the ministers of economy and finance, and energy; representatives of the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO); other senior government officials; and representatives of the private sector, civil society, and the development partners.

At the conclusion of the visit, M. Joly issued the following statement:

“Recent macroeconomic developments were broadly in line with the projections made in fall 2012. Growth reached 3.5 percent in 2012 (from 2.1 percent in 2011), fueled by strong performance in the agricultural sector. Inflation has been moderate, with a 1.4 percent consumer price increase in 2012. External trade was marked by a deterioration in the current account deficit which exceeded 10 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2012, driven largely by increases in imports of petroleum and food products. Credit to the economy increased by about 10 percent, while growth of the money supply was contained.

“Notwithstanding the sluggish international environment, GDP growth is expected to tick up to 4 percent in 2013. Inflation should remain below 2 percent. The current account deficit is expected to improve.

“Program implementation was satisfactory overall. All quantitative assessment criteria and indicative targets for the program at end-2012 were met, except for the indicative target on single tendering owing to emergency procurement associated with the floods and preparation for the 2012/2013 crop year. For the first time in the last few years, the annual fiscal deficit target was met despite significant revenue shortfalls (deficit of 5.9 percent of GDP). Progress was made with the implementation of structural reforms, notably with the entry into force of the new general tax code on January 1, 2013.

“The discussions between the authorities and the mission focused on efforts to reduce the fiscal deficit, which remains a priority objective for the authorities in order to maintain debt sustainability and rebuild fiscal space. Since the last review, the fiscal outlook has been affected by tax-revenue shortfalls and new spending pressures, largely reflecting the situation in the energy sector. These developments should be matched by additional efforts to increase fiscal revenues and savings on certain expenditures. Overall, however, deficit reduction will be slightly lower than expected in 2013, to allow for nonrecurrent expenditures associated with the security situation in Mali and the Sahel, and the launching of the program in response to the major flooding of 2012. Nevertheless, the authorities reaffirmed their objective to reduce the deficit to less than 4 percent of GDP by 2015.

“The mission expressed its concern regarding the situation in the energy sector. Energy price subsidies (electricity and petroleum products) cost Senegalese taxpayers more than CFAF 160 billion in 2012 and would remain high in 2013. The mission believes that this burden is difficult to bear for public finances and to justify, given that only a small share of these subsidies benefit the poor. Consequently, the mission encouraged the authorities to phase out these subsidies and replace them with better-targeted social protections. A long-term reduction in electricity subsidies will require bringing online power stations that use more efficient and less expensive technologies, as well as substantial efficiency improvements at SENELEC. Accordingly, the mission encouraged the authorities to accelerate the implementation of their energy sector reform strategy.

The IMF’s Executive Board is expected to take up the fifth program review in June 2013.”

Source: IMF

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Industrial Plastics – A Global Market Watch, 2011 – 2016

Posted on 02 April 2013 by Africa Business

With a CAGR of 6.8%, global market value for plastics in Industrial application sector is anticipated to be worth US$11.1 billion by 2015. Among the end-use segments, Plasticizers account for the largest share of the entire market, driving a CAGR of 6.2%.

 

New York, NY (PR.com)– With a CAGR of 6.8%, global market value for plastics in Industrial application sector is anticipated to be worth US$11.1 billion by 2015. On a global scale, Europe accounts for more than 30% of the market. While U.S. accounts for the largest share of the global market value on a country basis, India and Japan surpasses the U.S. in terms of growth rate anticipated in the near future and leads the world. Among the end-use segments, Plasticizers account for the largest share of the entire market, driving a CAGR of 6.2%, during the analysis period 2011-2016. Lubricants see as the fastest growing end-user with a forecast CAGR of approximately 8.1% by 2016, respectively.

MarketInfoResearch.com has announced their latest research report “Industrial Plastics – A Global Market Watch, 2011 – 2016.” This research reviews the latest trends in the plastics industry with a perceptive to identify the near-future growth prospects. The plastics industry is a fragmented market with multiple market participants, opens up numerous investment opportunities. The major investment focus is packaging business. An in-depth analysis across the geographic regions provides strategic business intelligence for the industry investments. The study offers profitable investment strategies for R&D organizations, plastic manufacturing units, distributors, Contract Research Organizations (CROs) and many more in preferred locations.

The report primarily focuses on:

Latest Market Trends
Region-wise Demand Factor
Key Growth Areas
Market Sizes
Key Competitors Edge
Investment Strategies

Estimates are based on online surveys using customized questionnaires by research team. Besides information from government databases, company websites, press releases and published research reports are also used for estimates. Estimates have incorporated recessionary impact on the industry. The analysis is based on desk research and interviews with industry researchers and law/ethics specialists, as well as on data collected through the survey, and discussions with experts.

The report delivers a microscopic view of regional market values. The major industrial plastics – end-users discussed in the report are:

Industrial Plastics– Value

By End-User

Plasticizers
Lubricants
Solvents&
Other (Fillers, Binders, Dyes and Other)

The report focuses on the current market trends, estimates and forecasts for the period 2011-2016. More than 1500 in plastics market and 177 leading market players that project improved market activities in the near future are profiled. The report consists of 85 data charts describing the market shares, sales forecasts and growth prospects. Moreover, key strategic activities in the market including mergers/acquisitions, collaborations/partnerships, product launches/developments are discussed which gives a deep insight into the growth perspectives of the market.

The region-wise distribution of the market consists of Europe (Germany, France, United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Russia, Belgium, The Netherlands, Poland and Rest of Europe); The Americas (USA, Canada, Argentina, Brazil and Rest of The Americas); Asia-Pacific (China, Japan, India, South Korea, Australia and Rest of Asia-Pacific); Rest of World (South Africa, Middle East and Rest of Rest of the World).

The report also covers major industry participants with details of their services, projects and financial status. Below are few among the 177 plastics company profiles in the report:-

Braskem S.A., Nova Chemicals Corporation, AEP Industries, Inc., American Packaging Corporation, BASF Corporation, BWAY Holding Company, Chevron Phillips Chemical Company LLC, Dow Chemical Company, DuPont Corporation, Eastman Chemical Company, Exxon Mobil Chemical Company, Formosa Plastics Corp – (FPC), NatureWorks, LLC., North American Pipe Corporation, PolyOne Corporation, Sigma Plastics Group, ALPLA-WERKE AlwinLehnerGbmH& Co. Kg, Borealis AG, Chemson Group, Solvay S.A., SolVin, Total Petrochemicals, Arkema, Bayer AG, A.G. Petzetakis, NovamontS.p.A., INEOS Group AG., LyondellBasell Industries, Synbra Holding BV, The Britton Group, CardiaBioplastics, China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation (Sinopec), Liansu Group, PetroChina Company Limited, GAIL (India) Limited, Reliance Industries Ltd., Asahi Kasei Chemicals Corp., Daicel Chemical Industries Ltd./Daicel Corporation, Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation (MCC), Sumitomo Chemical, Teijin Chemicals, Tosoh Corporation, Titan Chemicals Corp. Bhd., USI Corporation, Abu Dhabi Polymers Ltd (Borouge), National Petrochemical Company (NPC), EQUATE Petrochemical Co., Qatar Chemical Co Ltd. (Q-Chem), Saudi Kayan Petrochemical Co., Tasnee, SABIC – Saudi Basic Industries Corp., Boytek and many more….

For more information on the report, its contents, discount and how it could be of value to your company visit:

http://marketinforesearch.com/plastics-fiber-general-c-2_26_351_86/industrial-plastics-a-global-market-watch-2011-2016-p-7208.html

Email: CustomerCare@marketinforesearch.com

About MarketInfoResearch.com:

MarketInfoResearch.com CORP. (MIR) specializes in providing comprehensive collection of online market research reports, country reports, company profiles, customized research services offering informative solutions worldwide. In 2012, MIR acquired to ResearchKart.com. MIR constantly believe in providing inventive solutions to clients all across the globe. MIR’s clientele consists of over thousands of top most academic organizations, financial institutions, trading companies, legal service providers, accounting consultancies and other corporate business executives.

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IMF Executive Board Concludes 2012 Article IV Consultation with Nigeria

Posted on 29 March 2013 by Africa Business

ABUJA, Nigeria, March 29, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ On February 6, 2013, the Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) concluded the 2012 Article IV consultation with Nigeria.1

Background

Macroeconomic performance has been broadly positive over the past year. Real gross domestic product (GDP) growth is projected to have decelerated slightly to 6.3 percent, reflecting the effects of the nationwide strike in early 2012, floods in the fourth quarter of 2012, and continued security problems in the north. Annual inflation increased from 10.3 percent (end-of-period) in 2011 to 12.3 percent in 2012, owing mainly to the adjustment of administrative prices of fuel and electricity; large increases in import tariffs on rice and wheat; and the impact of floods in Q3. The external position has strengthened and international reserves rose from US$32.6 billion at end-2011 to US$44 billion at end-2012 (5½ months of prospective imports), driven by sustained high oil prices, stricter administration of the gasoline subsidy regime, and strong portfolio inflows.

The fiscal policy stance was tightened in 2012 and fiscal buffers are being rebuilt. The non-oil primary deficit of the consolidated government is estimated to have narrowed from about 36 percent of non-oil GDP in 2011 to 30.5 percent in 2012, mainly due to expenditure restraint. Monetary policy remained tight in 2012 in response to inflationary pressures. The central bank kept its policy rate unchanged during the year but raised the cash reserve requirement for banks from 8 percent to 12 percent and lowered allowable open foreign exchange position for banks. Financial soundness indicators point to continued improvements in the health of the banking system.

In 2013, growth is expected to recover to above 7 percent. Inflation is projected to decline below 10 percent, supported by the tight monetary policy stance and ongoing fiscal consolidation. The key downside risks are a large drop in world oil prices; and slow progress in building consensus around key fiscal reforms.

Executive Board Assessment

Executive Directors commended the authorities for prudent macroeconomic policies that have underpinned a strong economic performance in recent years. Looking ahead, Directors agreed that widespread unemployment and poverty remain key challenges for policymakers, and called for renewed efforts to make economic growth more broad-based and inclusive.

Directors supported the authorities’ strategy of consolidating the fiscal position while opening up policy space for needed investment in infrastructure and human capital. To this end, they underscored the need to improve tax administration, better prioritize public expenditure, strengthen public financial management, and improve the fiscal framework. In particular, they encouraged the authorities to reduce poorly-targeted fuel subsidies, adopt a rule to set the reference oil price in the budget, and fully operationalize the Sovereign Wealth Fund as soon as possible. Efforts to mobilize public support for these reforms should be intensified.

Directors considered the current tight monetary stance to be consistent with the authorities’ objective of reducing inflation to single digits. They also took note of the staff’s assessment that the exchange rate in real effective terms is broadly in line with fundamentals.

Directors commended the authorities’ success in restoring financial stability after the 2009 banking crisis. In light of this achievement, they recommended winding down the operations of the asset management company to curb moral hazard and fiscal risks. Directors welcomed the central bank’s commitment to address supervisory and regulatory gaps identified in the Financial Stability Assessment Update, particularly the need to strengthen cross-border supervision and the regime against money laundering and terrorism financing.

Directors concurred that wide-ranging reforms are key to make growth more inclusive. They agreed on the importance of supporting sectors with high employment potential, not through protectionist measures or tax incentives but rather with initiatives to improve governance, the investment climate, and competiveness. Directors welcomed reforms underway in the energy sector, and looked forward to an early passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill which would boost investment, government revenue, and fiscal transparency. They also encouraged the authorities to promote market-based access to credit for small- and medium-sized enterprises.

 

Nigeria: Selected Economic and Financial Indicators, 2009–2013

 

2009    2010    2011    2012    2013

Act.    Act.    Act.    Act.    Proj.

 

National income and prices

(Annual percentage change,

Unless otherwise specified)

Real GDP (at 1990 factor cost)

7.0    8.0    7.4    6.3    7.2

Oil and Gas GDP

0.5    5.2    -0.6    1.8    4.9

Non-oil GDP

8.3    8.5    8.9    7.1    7.5

Production of crude oil (million barrels per day)

2.2    2.5    2.4    2.4    2.5

Nominal GDP at market prices (trillions of naira)

25.1    34.4    37.8    43.1    48.1

Nominal non-oil GDP at factor cost (trillions of naira)

17.7    19.9    22.5    26.9    31.1

Nominal GDP per capita (US$)

1,110    1,465    1,522    1,637    1,686

Consumer price index (end of period)

12.5    13.7    10.8    12.7    8.2

Current account balance (percent of GDP) 1

8.3    5.9    3.6    4.7    4.0

Consolidated government operations

(Percent of GDP)

Total revenues and grants

17.8    20.0    29.9    28.1    26.7

Of which: oil and gas revenue

10.6    14.0    23.4    21.5    19.9

Total expenditure and net lending

27.3    26.9    29.4    27.1    26.7

Overall balance

-9.5    -6.9    0.5    0.9    0.0

Non-oil primary balance (percent of non-oil GDP)

-26.8    -34.3    -36.0    -30.4    -28.3

Excess Crude Account / SWF (US$ billions) 2

7.1    2.7    4.6    9.7    18.1

Money and credit

(Change in percent of broad money at the beginning of the period, unless otherwise specified)

Broad money

17.1    6.9    15.4    10.0    18.1

Net foreign assets

-10.9    -10.3    5.5    13.9    12.4

Net domestic assets

28.0    17.2    9.9    -3.9    5.7

Treasury bill rate (percent; end of period)

4.0    7.5    14.3    …    …

External sector

(Annual percentage change,

unless otherwise specified)

Exports of goods and services

-33.4    36.5    20.1    6.5    0.7

Imports of goods and services

-22.6    36.6    27.2    4.2    3.5

Terms of trade

-16.3    10.0    9.1    1.0    -2.1

Price of Nigerian oil (US$ per barrel)

61.8    79.0    109.0    110.1    104.4

Nominal effective exchange rate (end of period)

82.2    83.6    82.2    …    …

Real effective exchange rate (end of period)

110.0    120.7    119.4    …    …

Gross international reserves (US$ billions)

42.4    32.3    32.6    45.9    53.4

(Equivalent months of imports of goods and services)

7.4    4.5    4.3    5.9    6.4

 

Sources: Nigerian authorities; and IMF staff estimates and projections.

1Large errors and omissions in the balance of payments suggest that the current account surplus is overestimated by a significant (but unknown) amount.

2Consistent with federal, state, and local governments.

1 Under Article IV of the IMF’s Articles of Agreement, the IMF holds bilateral discussions with members, usually every year. A staff team visits the country, collects economic and financial information, and discusses with officials the country’s economic developments and policies. On return to headquarters, the staff prepares a report, which forms the basis for discussion by the Executive Board. At the conclusion of the discussion, the Managing Director, as Chairman of the Board, summarizes the views of Executive Directors, and this summary is transmitted to the country’s authorities. An explanation of any qualifiers used in summings up can be found here: http://www.imf.org/external/np/sec/misc/qualifiers.htm.

 

SOURCE

International Monetary Fund (IMF)

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