SBM Offshore settles with Brazil over corruption claims


Oil industry service group SBM Offshore has reached a deal with the Brazilian authorities to pay the equivalent of €41m to oil and gas group Petrobras following a scandal over corrupt deals made in Brazil. The agreement, which still has to be approved by a special unit of the Brazilian prosecution department, means SBM Offshore can finally close the door on the affair, which has been rumbling on since 2014 and involved deals made in Angola, Kazakhstan, Iraq and Equatorial Guinea as well as Brazil. The deal takes the total amount SBM Offshore has paid to avoid legal action in Brazil to $347m. The company reached earlier out-of-court settlements in the Netherlands (2014, $240m) and the US (2017, $238m). 'We are pleased that following the recent agreement with Petrobras and the Brazilian authorities we now also have reached an agreement that removes the uncertainties around the remaining litigation risk over our historical legacy issues in Brazil,' said compliance officer Erik Lagendijk in a statement.   More >



3 in 10 Dutch do grocery shopping online

Some 29% of the Dutch are now doing grocery shopping online, up from 21% a year ago, according to new figures from the national statistics agency CBS. The increase puts the Netherlands at the top of the EU list of online supermarket shoppers, the CBS said. Britain used to lead the list but last year the number of people using online grocery services actually fell from 29% to 28%, the CBS said. The European average is 14%. Supermarkets such as Albert Heijn, Jumbo and Plus have been developing their online services and are now being challenged by new players such as Picnic. Clothing still dominates the online retail market, with 57% saying they have bought clothes or sports gear online. In total almost 8 in 10 people in the Netherlands have bought something via internet in the past year. Late delivery is the biggest problem facing online shoppers. Almost a quarter report this as a major issue. Technical problems and wrong deliveries are the second and third biggest bugbears.  More >



Novartis moves from Arnhem to Amsterdam

Pharmaceuticals firm Novartis is moving its Dutch offices from Arnhem to Amsterdam next year, in anticipation of the arrival of the European Medicines Agency in the Dutch capital. Novartis Nederland, which is essentially a sales operation, employs almost 400 people in Arnhem but had been looking for a new location and updated offices. The choice for Amsterdam was made because of the 'many important partners, including universities, research institutes and the EMA,' general director Heinrich Moisa is quoted as saying in the Financieele Dagblad. The EMA is moving to the Netherlands as a consequence of Brexit.   More >



Dutch firm to recycle babies' nappies

Waste processing plant ARN is building a separate facility for recycling babies’ nappies in an initiative supported by 8 local councils in the Nijmegen region. Babies use around 5,000 nappies until they are potty trained, with half a million nappy wearing children each year, sustainability advisor Milieu Centraal has calculated. More elderly are people are using incontinence pads as well. The process involves placing the nappies in a reactor which reaches temperature of up to 250 degrees at high pressure. ‘The nappies, including their contents of urine and faecal matter, become liquid and separate into different materials,' process developer and patent holder Willem Elsinga told broadcaster NOS. 'The high temperature gets rid of the bacteria, traces of medication and viruses so all the products we make from the diapers will be safe. Otherwise we couldn’t sell them,’ the broadcaster quotes him as saying. The plant will turn the diapers into four products: green gas, plastics, fertiliser and biomass, which Elsinga says, can be used as an alternative for coal to fire coal plants. An earlier initiative to recycle diapers in Arnhem ten years ago failed. According to Elsinga that experiment came too early. ‘Everything has to be right: enough diapers, affordable technology and a market that is ready for the products at the end of the line.’ But now local councils are trying to reduce the amount of left-over waste after traditional glass, paper and plastics recycling. ‘We are producing between 150 and 200 kilos of residual waste per head of the population and local councils are keen on separate waste collection. This sort of thing fits in perfectly,’ Elsinga told NOS. If all goes according to plan, the new plant will come into operation in December.  More >


New 4 km motorway will cost €1.2bn

Building work on a controversial new four-kilometer motorway linking Vlaardingen with Rozenburg and providing a shortcut to the port of Rotterdam has been kicked off by infrastructure minister Cora van Nieuwenhuizen. The new A24 includes a tunnel underneath the river Scheur which separates the two towns, shortening travel time to four minutes instead of half an hour, the minister said. The project will cost €1.2bn and users will pay a toll until the €316m of the investment has been earned back. It will open in 2024. Rotterdam port, the transport sector and businesses have welcomed the new motorway. ‘Accessibility is key,’ infrastructure director of the port Ronald Paul told the Volkskrant. ‘The port not only needs to be accessed via waterways and rail but also by road.’ Paul also said the new road will relieve congestion on the A15. ‘Predictions are that if the decision hadn’t been made by 2025 the morning rush hour will merge into the evening rush hour. Every half hour spent in a traffic jam costs money,’ VK quotes him as saying. However, ANWB traffic information manager Arnoud Broekhuis says an extra tunnel link is welcome but may not prove a long-term solution. ‘It makes the traffic network more robust. Now, if the A15 is blocked everybody is stuck. But whether it will prevent traffic jams remains to be seen.’ Bearded reedlings On the other side of the Scheur, people are less contented. The new road will skirt a recreational area and cut through the Rietputten nature reserve, home to populations of bitterns, bluethroats and bearded reedlings. Objections by environmental organisations were rejected by the Council of State in June.  More >



Bio-kerosene plant may open in NL

The Netherlands is on the verge of getting its first factory to produce bio-kerosene, an alternative fuel to tradition kerosene and made out of biomass, the AD said on Tuesday. A location for the plant has not yet been confirmed but Groningen is on the shortlist, the paper said. The plans have been confirmed by Maarten van Dijk, director of SkyNRG, which will build the factory. 'We are in the last phase of selecting the location and suppliers. I think that we will be able to reveal more at the end of this year or beginning of the next,' he told the paper. Rotterdam and Amsterdam are being considered as alternative locations. Airline KLM is a important shareholder in SkyNRG and has also confirmed that plans for the factory are being made. The airline currently imports bio-kerosine from Los Angeles and it uses the fuel mainly on its fights to the American east coast. The AD says there are no other bio-kerosines plants in north-west Europe and that the investment will create a large number of jobs. Pollution Passenger air traffic is currently responsible for between 2% and 3% of global carbon-dioxide emissions, but in the Netherlands, the figure is 7%, the AD said. Bio-kerosine is made from leftovers from the timber and agricultural industries, as well as the food processing industry. Wageningen University said earlier this year that bio-kerosene is a potentially important option to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the aviation sector. However, the price is two to three times that of ordinary kerosene and 'the direct and indirect effects... on the aviation sector and the Dutch economy as a whole depend to a large extent on how the additional costs of biokerosene will be funded,' University researchers said.  More >


Amsterdam alderman fed up with Airbnb

Amsterdam's housing alderman Laurence Ivens has accused online holiday rentals company Airbnb of not doing enough to combat illegal letting and has threatened not to renew an agreement the city has had with the platform since 2013. Some 20,000 homes were on offer on the rental site this year, a rise of 500 on 2017, despite council efforts to bring holiday rentals under control. The city's agreement with Airbnb on stamping out illegal rentals expires at the end of this year, and Ivens says the American company must do more. Research by local broadcaster AT5 showed that it is still easy for people living in rent-controlled properties to put their homes up for hire by tourists, even though this is illegal. Nor does Airbnb stop people from renting out their homes for three times the permitted 60 days a year by posting their ad multiple times, the documentary claims. The only way officials can check if the law is being broken is to send out inspectors, Ivens said. This is time-consuming and not effective because it needs to be repeated day in, day out, Ivens said. He is now going to increase the number of inspectors to 80. Amsterdam home owners can rent out their property through holiday rental platforms for no more than 60 days a year and to no more than four people at one time. Landlords also have to register each let with the city council. Next January the maximum period for rentals will be cut to 30 days and officials are also looking at bringing in total bans in the busiest parts of the city. Fines People caught breaking the rules can be fined €6,000 for a first offence, mounting to €20,000 for repeated illegal rentals. City officials handed out 148 fines in the first six months of this year and closed 61 apartments which were being rented out illegally to too many people. Laurens told AT5 that he is happy to sit with Airbnb to work out a new deal. 'I am happy to meet them and see if we can come up with a tighter deal, and it is up to them if they want to serve the city,' he said. 'But I am not going to continue like this,' Ivens told the broadcaster. Amsterdam signed its first pioneering agreement on limiting rentals with Airbnb in 2014. DutchNews.nl has approached Airbnb for comment.  More >