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Royal Dutch Shell plc executive: Oil spills likely by drilling in the Arctic

Energy and financial news: Shell, Rio Tinto, GeoPark Holdings, Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing and the United Nations.

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A Royal Dutch Shell plc (LON:RDSA) executive in charge of the company’s Alaskan operations has admitted that oil will probably be spilt by companies drilling in the Arctic. Shell is one of a handful of companies exploring in Arctic waters and began drilling off Alaska this year.

Environmentalists oppose drilling on the grounds a spill would devastate the environment. "There’s no sugar-coating this, I imagine there would be spills, and no spill is OK," Pete Slaiby, vice-president of Shell in Alaska, told the BBC.

"But will there be a spill large enough to impact people’s subsistence? My view is no, I don’t believe that would happen," he added. Campaign group FairPensions said the comments departed from Shell’s "mantra" of focusing on preventing spills and called into question the company’s testing of its spill response plans, reports the Telegraph.

Rio Tinto

Rio Tinto is aiming to reduce costs by more than US$5bn over the next two years and lower spending on exploration even though the world’s second-biggest iron producer is "guardedly" optimistic on China’s economic prospects.

Rio chief executive Tom Albanese said the mining company was taking "tough action" to "roll back" the unsustainable cost increases of the past few years. Albanese said Rio’s two "most challenged" businesses – Australian coal and aluminium – would bear the brunt of the cost cutting. He declined to say how many jobs would be lost, according to the Financial Times.

GeoPark Holdings

GeoPark Holdings announced on Friday that it has put into production a new oil well in the Konawentru oil field in Chile, following successful drilling and testing. The well, situated on the Fell Block in Chile, is 100% owned and operated by GeoPark. GeoPark drilled and completed the Konawentru 4 well to a total depth of 3,102 metres.

The firm said that a production test in the Tobifera formation flowed at a rate of approximately 730 barrels of oil per day (bopd) through a choke of 10 millimetres, with a well head pressure of 462 pounds per square inch. The initial production rate is around 700bopd but the company said that further production history will be need to work out stabilised flow rates, ShareCast says.

Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing

Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing raised $1bn from equity markets on Thursday, after receiving clearance from the UK’s Financial Services Authority for its $2.2bn acquisition of the London Metal Exchange.

The blessing of the UK regulator for the deal clears the way for the closure of the transaction after a court hearing to confirm capital reduction plans on December 5, after which the deal will become unconditional, the Financial Times writes.

United Nations

The United Nations has laid the finger of blame for food price rises on trading in agricultural commodities, but says it is the trade in futures contracts – an agreement to buy at a set price sometime in the future – rather than the actual food stocks that causes the most damage.

David Bicchetti, associate economic officer at UN conference on trade and development (UNCTAD), said "enormous, humongous" amounts of money are traded on commodities that don't actually exist. "Over $400bn [of paper money] is traded – that's 20-30 times the physical production of the commodity," reports The Guardian.

Heinen & Hopman

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