Renault-Nissan and Hyundai face shutdowns in India over workers’ COVID fears

Renault-Nissan and Hyundai face shutdowns in India over workers’ COVID fears
People wait for inoculation with the dose of Covishield Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine at a vaccination camp in Chennai on Monday. (AFP)
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Updated 24 May 2021

Renault-Nissan and Hyundai face shutdowns in India over workers’ COVID fears

Renault-Nissan and Hyundai face shutdowns in India over workers’ COVID fears
  • Workers at Renault-Nissan's car plant to strike on Wednesday because COVID-related safety demands have not been met
  • Hyundai agreed to send its workers on five days of leave starting Tuesday

CHENNAI: Automakers Renault, its alliance partner Nissan Motor Co. and Hyundai Motor Co. face temporary factory closures in India due to growing unrest among workers concerned about rising COVID-19 cases.
Workers at Renault-Nissan’s car plant in the southern state of Tamil Nadu will go on strike on Wednesday because their COVID-related safety demands have not been met, a union representing the workers told the company in a letter on Monday.
Hyundai, meanwhile, has agreed to send its workers on five days of leave starting on Tuesday during which time its plant, also in Tamil Nadu, will remain shut, said E Muthukumar, president of the Hyundai Motor India Employees Union.
The unrest highlights the challenges companies face in India amid a huge wave of COVID-19 infections and a shortage of vaccines which is making employees more fearful.
Tamil Nadu is one of the worst hit states with more than 30,000 cases a day last week. The state, an auto hub known as India’s Detroit, has imposed a lockdown until May 31 but allowed some factories, including auto plants, to continue operating.
The five-day production halt at Hyundai’s plant comes after several workers briefly staged a sit-in protest on Monday before resuming work for the day, two union sources said.
“The management agreed to close the plant after workers expressed concerns over safety after two employees succumbed to COVID,” Muthukumar told Reuters.
Hyundai Motor India did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The strike threat at the Renault-Nissan plant came ahead of a court hearing on Monday over allegations from workers that social distancing norms were being flouted and factory health policies did not sufficiently address the risk to lives.
“Due to unsafe working conditions and as the union demands have not been met ... members of this union will not report to work from the first shift on Wednesday,” the union said in a letter dated May 24, reviewed by Reuters.
It said workers would not return until they felt safe. The union represents about 3,500 workers at the plant.
Nissan, which owns a majority stake in the plant, declined to comment.
Renault-Nissan told an Indian court last week it rejected claims that COVID-19 safety protocols were being ignored at the factory, adding it needed to continue production to meet orders.


TAQA and RG to explore opportunities for geothermal projects in Saudi Arabia

TAQA and RG to explore opportunities for geothermal projects in Saudi Arabia
Updated 10 sec ago

TAQA and RG to explore opportunities for geothermal projects in Saudi Arabia

TAQA and RG to explore opportunities for geothermal projects in Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: The Industrialization and Energy Services Company, also known as TAQA, has formed a strategic alliance with Iceland’s Reykjavik Geothermal to explore and identify opportunities for geothermal projects in Saudi Arabia. 

The alliance will also see both companies working together on geothermal projects such as designing, drilling, constructing, monitoring, and managing geothermal wells. 

The strategic alliance was announced during PetroEnvironmnet Conference and exhibition 2022 on May 17. 

“Partnering with RG, the best in class and internationally recognized company in the geothermal, baseload and clean/renewable energy fields is an important step to realizing TAQA2021 strategy,” said Khalid Nouh, CEO of TAQA. 

RG CEO Magnús Ásbjörnsson said: “We first came to the Kingdom over a decade ago with a vision of bringing clean, reliable baseload energy to the Kingdom, and in TAQA we have found a partner that aligns with our vision.”

Founded in 2008, Reykjavik Geothermal currently has seven projects — two in construction and five in development, with offices in the US and Ethiopia. 

According to the company website, its mission is to generate clean and dependable geothermal energy around the world.


Oil rises on EU’s Russian oil ban effort, demand hopes

Oil rises on EU’s Russian oil ban effort, demand hopes
Updated 6 min 37 sec ago

Oil rises on EU’s Russian oil ban effort, demand hopes

Oil rises on EU’s Russian oil ban effort, demand hopes

LONDON: Oil hit its highest in seven weeks on Tuesday, supported by the European Union’s ongoing push for a ban on Russian oil imports that would tighten supply and as investors focused on higher demand from an easing of China’s COVID lockdowns.

EU foreign ministers failed on Monday in their effort to pressure Hungary to lift its veto on the proposed oil embargo. But some diplomats now point to a May 30-31 summit as the moment for agreement on a phased ban on Russian oil.

Brent crude rose as high as $115.50, its highest since March 28, and by 1024 GMT was up $1.16, or 1 percent, to $115.40. US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude gained 78 cents, or 0.7 percent, to $114.98.

“Oil prices have remained near multi-week highs this week, supported by surging gasoline and distillate prices in the US, and fears around an EU ban on Russian oil imports remaining in play,” said Jeffrey Halley, analyst at brokerage OANDA.

Crude has surged in 2022, with Brent hitting $139, its highest since 2008, in early March as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine exacerbated supply concerns.

Oil also gained support from hopes of demand recovery in China as it looks to ease COVID restrictions, analysts said, and from rising geopolitical tension between the EU and Russia following Sweden and Finland’s moves to join NATO.

Shanghai on Tuesday achieved the long-awaited milestone of three consecutive days with no new COVID-19 cases outside quarantine zones and set out on Monday its clearest timetable yet for exiting a lockdown now in its seventh week.

Also in focus are potential further declines in US fuel inventories. Weekly inventory reports are expected to show a rise in crude stocks and declines in inventories of distillates and gasoline.

The first report, from the American Petroleum Institute is due at 2030 GMT. (Additional reporting by Isabel Kua in Singapore and Yuka Obayashi in Tokyo Editing by Jason Neely and Mark Potter)

 


China In-Focus — Stocks rise; COVID-19 affects Beijing’s retail industry

China In-Focus — Stocks rise; COVID-19 affects Beijing’s retail industry
Updated 12 min 38 sec ago

China In-Focus — Stocks rise; COVID-19 affects Beijing’s retail industry

China In-Focus — Stocks rise; COVID-19 affects Beijing’s retail industry

BEIJING: Emerging market stocks jumped on Tuesday, helped by a rise in Chinese shares on hopes Beijing will ease its tech sector crackdown, while currencies inched up on weakness in the dollar and strong data from Central European economies.

MSCI’s index of emerging market stocks rose 2 percent, while its currencies counterpart added 0.5 percent.

Mainland China’s CSI300 Index gained 1.3 percent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index climbed 3.1 percent. 

Beijing’s retail, industry upended by COVID-19 restrictions

The economy of China’s capital Beijing took a hit in April as authorities wrestled with a new COVID-19 outbreak, telling residents to avoid going out or work from home and halting many businesses.

Retail sales in the city of nearly 22 million people, a key gauge of consumption, shrank 16.05 percent in April from a year earlier, according to Reuters calculations based on January-April data released by the city’s statistics bureau on Tuesday, outpacing the nation’s 11.1 percent contraction.

Industrial output fell 3.3 percent in the first four months, compared with a 7.2 percent growth in the first quarter, the biggest cumulative drop since July 2020. The city’s statistics bureau did not publish data for April or offer comparative figures.

Property sales in Beijing nosedived by 25.83 percent last month, further pummeling an already struggling sector, despite more policy easing steps aimed at reviving what has traditionally been a key pillar of China’s economy.

Fixed-asset investment grew 8.9 percent in the first four months, slower than the 10.3 percent gain in January-March.

China’s revenue from government land sales down

China’s government land sales revenue fell 29.8 percent in January-April from a year earlier to 1.5012 trillion yuan ($222.04 billion), finance ministry data showed on Tuesday, down from a 27.4 percent slump in the first quarter.

For April, revenue from government land sales fell 37.88 percent from a year earlier, the fastest pace since January-February 2020, according to Reuters calculations based on the ministry’s data.

That was sharply wider than a 22.84 percent fall in March.


Russian crude production plunges by nearly 9 percent in April, OPEC+ data shows

Russian crude production plunges by nearly 9 percent in April, OPEC+ data shows
Updated 23 min 50 sec ago

Russian crude production plunges by nearly 9 percent in April, OPEC+ data shows

Russian crude production plunges by nearly 9 percent in April, OPEC+ data shows

LONDON: Russian crude output fell by nearly 9 percent to 9.16 million barrels per day (bpd) compared with March levels, according to assessments by OPEC+ secondary sources, an internal report seen by Reuters on Tuesday showed.

This meant that Russia last month produced 1.28 million bpd below the levels required in an oil production cut agreement between the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, a group known as OPEC+.

Overall, OPEC+ produced 2.6 million bpd below its targets in April, the data showed.


Dubai’s GII acquires 51% of Saudi Arabia’s Almeswak for $530m

Dubai’s GII acquires 51% of Saudi Arabia’s Almeswak for $530m
Updated 39 min 31 sec ago

Dubai’s GII acquires 51% of Saudi Arabia’s Almeswak for $530m

Dubai’s GII acquires 51% of Saudi Arabia’s Almeswak for $530m

RIYADH: Dubai-based Gulf Islamic Investments completed a $530 million deal to acquire 51 percent stake in Saudi care provider Almeswak Dental Clinics. 

GII said it will seek to list Almeswak on the Saudi stock exchange within the next three years, Gold Business reported. 

“This is a landmark transaction that reflects our capability and reach in the healthcare sector and the Saudi market,” said Mohammed Al-Hassan, GII co-founder.

GII, as the company is known, has acquired a majority stake in Almeswak Dental Clinics from Saudi private equity firm Jadwa Investment Co.

Almeswak, which Jadwa acquired in 2017, operates more than 80 centers across 20 cities in Saudi Arabia.