Issues of the Week

Gas soaring as Eagles diveTHE $2.4 billion expansion of the North-West Shelf gas project will go ahead after the six partners Woodside, Shell, BHP, BP, Chevron and Mitsui/Mitsubishi decided to invest $1.6 billion in a fourth LNG production train on WA’s Burrup Peninsula.

The train – which processes gas into liquids for transport – will have a capacity of 4.2 million tonnes a year, making it the world’s biggest.

The consortium also gave in-principle support to the construction of a new $800 million pipeline linking the gas fields to Karratha.

BOC Australia opened its $16 million Perth operations centre in Canning Vale, which has been hailed by the company as an “international benchmark” in the gases services industry.

The plant uses automated technology for the filling and testing of gas cylinders.

BOC area general manager for WA, David Hatcher, said customers could now be confident that the product they received was “second to none” in terms of gas-mixing accuracy and quality assurance.

THE Australian dollar hit a new all-time low earlier this week, slumping to US49c, ... 48c... 47c despite positive retail and employment indications.

Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics indicating a 1.2 per cent rise in retail turnover in February, which followed increases in January and December – the strongest three-month gain in the past two decades.

IF Sunday’s performance against Geelong is any indication, the West Coast Eagles are set to hit an all-time low this year. The once-mighty Eagles were torn to shreds by their navy-and-white nemeses, who beat them by 66-points.

The Fremantle Dockers, however, look to enjoy a more successful season if their performance against AFL powerhouse team Carlton, is any indication, even though they did lose by a point.

WA-based engine technology manufacturer Orbital has announced it will team up with US company Venture Industries and Russian car manufacturer OAMO ZiL to mass produce a vehicle for the Russian market.

Venture Industries has invested $250 million in the project and has chosen the direct-injected two-stroke Orbital Combustion Process engine to power 150,000 Russian cars.

Another 150,000 engines have been earmarked for other car manufacturers in the region.

The engine technology, which has up to 40 per cent less parts and costs about 30 per cent less to manufacture than conventional engines, has already been fitted in 100 Ford Festivas.

THERE has been much wheeling and dealing in the head offices of Australian telecommunications company Cable & Wireless Optus. Last week the company was the subject of a $17 billion takeover bid by Singapore Telecommunications and the deal is still being negotiated.

But investors have not embraced the deal, with shares in both companies falling to their lowest levels since mid-1998.

A week later, and C&W Optus announced a $900 million infrastructure deal with Finnish mobile giant Nokia.

This will allow it to deliver Australia’s first 3G network by the end of 2002.

The agreement follows last month’s Federal Government auction of the 3G spectrum, which C&W Optus bought for $248.8 million.

Under the deal, Nokia will provide C&W Optus with a full end-to-end 3G solution and be a key mobile Internet applications partner of Optus Mobile

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