Archive for January, 2013

US upstream arm weighs on Shell results

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

Oil group reports 15% rise in fourth-quarter profits, but results show how North America’s shale gas boom is continuing to hit oil companies’ earnings

Oil business lifts Vedanta’s earnings

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

Low copper demand and a ban in India on iron ore mining weigh on the conglomerate, which relied on bumper oil revenues to boost its profits

Bulgaria to Face Japan, Kazakhstan in Friendlies

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

Bulgaria’s national football team will head for Asia at the end of May to play friendlies in Japan and Kazakhstan, the Bulgarian Football Union (BFU) said on Thursday.

The match against Japan is due on May 30 in Tokyo and against Kazakhstan on June 4 in Astana.

Lyuboslav Penev’s side ranks second in Group B in the World Cup qualification matches with six points from four matches, four points behind leaders Italy.

The coach’s initial plans were for a match against Kazakhstan only, but Japan’s attractive offer made him extend the team’s Asian tour.

The team will depart from Sofia airport on May 27, just a day after the end of the country’s national tournament.

The A-League of Bulgaria’s national football championship was ranked 68th in the world by the International Federation of Football History and Statistics at the beginning of the year.

The IFFHS ranking is topped by Spain’s Primera Division with 1283 points, followed by the top leagues of Brazil (1057 pts), Germany (1037 pts), Italy (1034 pts), and England (1007).

With just 296 pts, Bulgaria is 68th, just behind Northern Ireland, Macedonia, Ghana, Angola and Zimbabwe.

The Bulgarian national football championship is then followed by Venezuela, China and Ireland’s first national leagues.


Politics this week

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

Business this week

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

KAL’s cartoon

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

Decline in Bulgaria’s House Prices Slowed Down in 2012

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

The decline in Bulgaria’s house prices has slowed down over the last several quarters, according to Eurostat.

House prices in the Balkan country saw a quarterly decrease of 1.1% in the third quarter of 2012. Bulgaria had registered quarterly decreases of 1.6%, 3.7% and 5.8% in Q2 2012, Q1 2012 and Q4 2011, respectively.

Among the Member States for which data are available, the highest annual increases in house prices in the third quarter of 2012 were recorded in Estonia (+8.4%), Luxembourg (+7.1%) and Finland (+2.1%), and the largest falls in Spain (-15.2%), Ireland (-9.6%), the Netherlands (-8.7%) and Portugal (-7.7%).

The highest quarterly increases in the third quarter of 2012 were recorded in Estonia (+2.6%), Latvia (+2.3%), the United Kingdom (+1.7%) and Ireland (+1.6%), and the largest falls in Romania (-4.2%), the Netherlands (-3.9%) and Spain (-3.7%).


EP to Debate Rule of Law in Bulgaria on Feb 6

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

The leadership of the European Parliament has approved and included in its agenda a plenary debate on freedom and rule of law in Bulgaria.

The debate will take place on February 6, the Bulgarian news agency BTA reported Thursday, citing insider sources in the EP.

Thursday was the deadline to approve or reject the request of the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, ALDE, and its Chair, Guy Verhofstadt.

The proposal was supported by the group of the Socialists.

Earlier in January, Verhofstadt announced the request was related to the “Dogan incident.”

In the heels of his anouncement, the European People’s Party, EPP, returned the fire in a statement of support for the government of Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov, and his ruling Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria party, GERB. The EPP group condemned the attack on the honorary, lifetime leader of Bulgaria’s ethnic Turkish party Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS), Ahmed Dogan, but stressed the incident should not be politicized.

GERB is a member of EPP.

The online Dnevnik news agency reminds that according to the EPP code, the daily agenda can include one or two time periods of up to 60 minutes for debates on human rights violations, democracy and rule of law.

The final agenda is distributed to the MEPs at least three hours before the start of the session.

Changes can be proposed by a Committee or a political group with at least 40 MEPs.

ALDE has 85 MEPs with the Bulgarian ones elected on the ballots of DPS and the now nearly-extinct National Movement for Stability and Prosperity, NMSP, of former Tsar and Prime Minister, Simeon Saxe-Coburg.

Bulgarian Movement for Rights and Freedoms party leader Ahmed Dogan was attacked by Oktay Enimehmedov, 25, also an ethnic Turk, with a gas pistol at the party congress in Sofia on January 19.


Failed Referendum Leaves Bulgaria without Nuclear Future

Thursday, January 31st, 2013


A referendum on nuclear energy in Bulgaria failed due to low turnout, and the country’s ruling party has confirmed it will not build a new nuclear plant. Critics warn that without nuclear energy, Bulgaria may become a third-world country in 20 years.

The referendum, which was supposed to determine the future course of nuclear energy in Bulgaria, has been officially declared invalid: The final voter turnout was about 20 percent, far less than the required 60 percent.

Nearly 61 percent of voters who participated in Sunday’s referendum approved of building the nuclear plant.

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borisov confirmed that his ruling center-right GERB party would not resume construction on a nuclear power plant in Belene.

In March 2012, the GERB party scrapped the 2,000-megawatt nuclear plant project, which had been under construction by Russia’s Atomstroyexport since 2008. The Bulgarian government said that the country could no longer afford the plant’s 6.4-billion euro price tag.

During the negotiations that preceded the cancellation, GERB attempted to bring an American or European contractor on to the project. Bulgaria also demanded that the price be lowered to less than 5 billion euro, which Atomstroyexport refused to do. A breakdown in negotiations led to the termination of the project.

Following the failure of the project, the opposition Socialist party called for a referendum on the Belene plant. Though the government supported the referendum, Prime Minister Borisov urged Bulgarians to vote against the project.

“The question [of the referendum] was put pretty vaguely, no one explained to an average voter the particulars of nuclear energy,” Krasimira Ilieva of the Bulgarian Nuclear Society told RT.

Bulgarian Socialist MP Peter Kurumbashev said the plant would eventually have justified the expense. Kurumbashev told RT that the cost of the nuclear plant proposed by Atomstroyexport is good, when compared to the costs of similar nuclear plants proposed for construction in neighboring Turkey.

“It takes 12-14 years to pay back the money, whereas [the] life of this type of reactors is 60 years. So, in the next 44 years you’re just ‘printing’ money,” he said, adding that the referendum had become too politicized and unclear.

Kurumbashev said that negative campaign continued throughout the entirety of the referendum. The ruling party even said there was no need for referendum at all, “which is a very interesting statement on the part of [a] democracy,” he said.

The Socialist Party of Bulgaria announced plans to revive the project if they win the 2013 elections.

Bulgaria currently operates only one nuclear power plant in Kozloduy, about 200 kilometers from the capital Sofia, which went online in 1974. At its peak production, the plant’s six reactors delivered over 45 percent of Bulgaria’s electricity. The EU ordered four of the reactors to be shut down over safety concerns.

The Belene nuclear plant was intended to replace the four reactors of Kozloduy plant that were taken offline.

Kozloduy’s two operational 1,000-megawatt reactors, designed by the Soviet Union, were modernized in 2005 and 2006 to meet EU safety demands. They will be operable until 2027 and 2032 respectively, at which point Bulgaria will no longer generate nuclear energy.

Some analysts believe that losing atomic power could lead Bulgaria to disaster. “If Bulgaria keeps using only the two reactors that it already has, it will soon find itself out of power as their service time is running out,” Krasimira Ilieva warned.

Ilieva told RT that alternative sources of power have proven too expensive for Bulgaria, and that “We’ve lost out on the economic assets over the past years… Losing nuclear energy would turn us into a third-world state completely.”

So far, only one country in Europe, Lithuania, has given up nuclear energy following EU demands to shut down Soviet-built nuclear power plants. The Ignalinskaya nuclear power plant was shut down on December 31, 2009; Lithuana is still searching for an investor to construct a new one.

Lithuania also does not have the capability to safely dispose of the Ignalinskaya plant’s radioactive waste and thousands of tons of scrap metal, which is also partially radioactive. The country now imports up to 65 percent of its electricity, the Litovsky Courrier website reported.


Twitter’s Vine Video App Presents New Opportunities for Businesses

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

Vine, Twitter’s new video app, was recently released to the public, giving users the ability to create short, looping videos and distribute them to their social networks.

The looping videos, which act a little more like GIFs, can only be up to six seconds long, so it may not be enough time for some brands to share any meaningful messages to consumers. However, years ago it might not have seemed possible that brands could get through to consumers with a series of 140-character blurbs, but now using Twitter seems almost essential for businesses.

Vine could present just another opportunity for brands to connect with consumers on social media and possibly make a quick impression or give a teaser for a new product. The app could also simply be used to give previews of full-length videos that can actually present more of a complete message to consumers about a brand or product.

vine video app

For the long term, Vine could also mean new advertising opportunities for brands on Twitter. Twitter hasn’t announced any official plans for a Promoted Tweets type of offer for Vine media, but such an offering could have some benefits for certain brands, as well as giving Twitter more revenue streams.

Videos from Vine’s Make-a-Scene app appear in expanded tweets, as shown in the photo above, and play automatically. Within the Vine app, videos include sound. When the videos are embedded in tweets, the sound is automatically muted but users can press a button to un-mute them.

Vine videos can also include different clips stitched together into one video, rather than just allowing one continuous shot. This sets it apart from some of the other mobile video apps that have launched recently, all looking to grab the title of “Instagram for video.”

Vine was originally a three-person startup that Twitter acquired in October 2012. The service never launched publicly until Twitter took over and unveiled the app this week.

Currently, Vine’s Make-a-Scene app is just available for free on iOS devices, but Twitter says that it is working on bringing the app to more devices in the future.

The post Twitter’s Vine Video App Presents New Opportunities for Businesses appeared first on Small Business Trends.