A bridge so far: China’s gamble on Macau link

The world’s longest sea bridge will link Hong Kong, Macau and mainland China. (AFP)
Updated 30 March 2018

A bridge so far: China’s gamble on Macau link

HONG KONG: Touted as an engineering wonder, the world’s longest sea bridge, which connects Hong Kong, Macau and mainland China, includes a snaking road crossing and an underwater tunnel and reportedly uses enough steel to build 60 Eiffel Towers.

Nine years after construction began on the 55-kilometer (34-mile) crossing, a preview organized by the Chinese government this week offered a first peek into the megaproject.

The bridge will link Hong Kong to the southern Chinese city of Zhuhai and the gambling enclave of Macau, cutting across the waters of the Pearl River Estuary.
Although the opening date has not been confirmed, officials expect the bridge to be in use for 120 years and say it will boost business by cutting travel time by 60 percent.
The 420,000 tons of steel used for the project represent 60 times the amount used in the Eiffel Tower, China’s official Xinhua news agency said.

Gao Xinglin, the bridge’s project planning manager, said the construction of the 6.7-kilometer underwater tunnel gave him sleepless nights.

“There were many nights where I couldn’t fall asleep, because there were too many difficulties during the construction,” Gao told reporters Wednesday.

“Linking the 80,000-ton pipes under the sea with watertight technology was the most challenging,” he added.

The total price tag for the project, which includes artificial islands, linked roads and new border-crossing facilities, is unclear but some estimates run to over 100 billion yuan ($15.1 billion), leading critics to slam it as a costly white elephant.

Opponents in Hong Kong say the project is part of Beijing’s drive to tighten its grip on the semi-autonomous city.

Dogged by delays, budget overruns, accusations of corruption and the deaths of construction workers, the bridge failed to open by the end of 2017 as hoped.

There have also been safety concerns after 19 lab workers were charged over faking concrete test reports, with one man jailed last December.


Oil up after drone attack on Saudi field, but OPEC report caps gains

Updated 12 min 11 sec ago

Oil up after drone attack on Saudi field, but OPEC report caps gains

LONDON: Crude oil prices rose on Monday following a weekend attack on a Saudi oil facility by Yemen’s Houthi militia and as traders looked for signs of progress in US-China trade negotiations.
Price gains were, however, capped to some degree by an unusually downbeat OPEC report that stoked concerns about growth in oil demand.
Brent crude, the international benchmark for oil prices, was up 85 cents, or about 1.4%, at $59.49 a barrel at 1225 GMT.
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up $1.01, or 1.8%, at $55.88 a barrel.
A drone attack by the Iran-backed Houthi militia on an oilfield in eastern Saudi Arabia on Saturday caused a fire at a gas plant, adding to Middle East tensions, but state-run Saudi Aramco said oil production was not affected.
“The oil market seems to be pricing in again a geopolitical risk premium following the weekend drone attacks on Saudi Arabia, but the premium might not sustain if it does not result in any supply disruptions,” said Giovanni Staunovo, oil analyst for UBS.
Iran-related tensions appeared to ease after Gibraltar released an Iranian tanker it seized in July, though Tehran warned the United States against any new attempt to seize the tanker in open seas.
Concerns about a recession also limited crude price gains.
Meanwhile, China’s announcement of key interest rate reforms over the weekend has fueled expectations of an imminent reduction in corporate borrowing costs in the struggling economy, boosting share prices on Monday.
US energy firms this week increased the number of oil rigs operating for the first time in seven weeks despite plans by most producers to cut spending on new drilling this year.
“WTI in recent weeks has performed relatively better than Brent... Pipeline start ups in the United States have been supportive for WTI, while the ongoing trade war has had more of an impact on Brent,” said Warren Patterson, head of commodities strategy at Dutch bank ING.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) cut its forecast for global oil demand growth in 2019 by 40,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 1.10 million bpd and indicated the market would be in slight surplus in 2020.
It is rare for OPEC to give a bearish forward view on the market outlook.
“Such a bearish prognosis will heap more pressure on OPEC to take further measures to support the market,” said Stephen Brennock of oil broker PVM.