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  1. Brazil’s economy The devil in the deep-sea oil Unless the government restrains itself, an oil boom risks feeding Brazil’s vices Nov 5th 2011 | from the print edition DEEP in the South Atlantic, a vast industrial operation is under way that Brazil’s leaders say will turn their country into an oil power by the end of this decade. If the ambitious plans of Petrobras, the national oil company, come to fruition, by 2020 Brazil will be producing 5m barrels per day, much of it from new offshore fields. That might make Brazil a top-five source of oil (see article). Managed wisely, this boom has the potential to do great good. Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff, wants to use the oil money to pay for better education, health and infrastructure. She also wants to use the new fields to create a world-beating oil-services industry. But the bonanza also risks feeding some Brazilian vices: a spendthrift and corrupt political system; an over-mighty state and over-protected domestic market; and neglect of the virtues of saving, investment and training. So it is worrying that there is far more debate in Brazil about how to spend the oil money than about how to develop the fields. If Brazil’s economy is to benefit from oil, rather than be dominated by it, a big chunk of the proceeds should be saved offshore and used to offset future recessions. But the more immediate risks lie in how the oil is extracted. The government has established a complicated legal framework for the fields. It has vested their ownership in Pré-Sal Petróleo, a new state body whose job is merely to collect and spend the oil money. It has granted an operating monopoly to Petrobras (although the company can strike production-sharing agreements with private partners). The rationale was that, since everyone now knows where the oil is, the lion’s share of the profits should go to the nation. But this glides over the complexity in developing fields that lie up to 300km (190 miles) offshore, beneath 2km of water and up to 5km of salt and rock. To develop the new fields, and build onshore facilities including refineries, Petrobras plans to invest $45 billion a year for the next five years, the largest investment programme of any oil firm in the world. That is too much, too soon, both for Petrobras and for Brazil—especially because the government has decreed that a large proportion of the necessary equipment and supplies be produced at home. How to be Norway, not Venezuela By demanding so much local content, the government may in fact be favouring some of the leading foreign oil-service companies. Many would have set up in Brazil anyway; now, with less price competition from abroad, they will find it easier to charge over the odds. Seeking to ramp up production so fast, and relying so heavily on local supplies, also risks starving non-oil businesses of capital and skilled labour (which is in desperately short supply). Oil money is already helping to drive up Brazil’s currency, the real, hurting manufacturers struggling with high taxes and poor infrastructure. When it comes to oil, striking the right balance between the state and the private sector, and between national content and foreign expertise, is notoriously tricky. But it can be done. To kick-start an oil-services industry, Norway calibrated its national-content rules realistically in scope and duration, required foreign suppliers to work closely with local firms and forced Statoil, its national oil company, to bid against rivals to develop fields. Above all, it invested in training the workforce. But Brazilians need only to look at Mexico’s Pemex to see the politicised bloat that can follow an oil boom—or at Venezuela to see how oil can corrupt a country. Petrobras is not Pemex. Thanks to a meritocratic culture, and the discipline of having some of its stock traded, Petrobras is a leader in deep-sea oil. But operating as a monopolist is a poor way to maintain that edge. Happily, too, Brazil is not Venezuela. Its leaders can prove it by changing the rules to be more Norwegian.
  2. (Courtesy of The Huffington Post) Plus there is a little demonstration how the system works, if you go to the link
  3. http://www.montrealgazette.com/business/Obituary+David+Azrieli+touched+many+parts+society/10014707/story.html By Paul Delean, THE GAZETTE European-born David Azrieli, who fled the Nazis as a teenager, fought in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war and then found fortune in Canada, died Wednesday at age 92. According to Forbes magazine, the Montreal-based real-estate developer and businessman was one of the richest Canadians with an estimated worth of $3.1 billion. He also was one of the most generous, contributing more than $100 million to philanthropic causes around the world, many of them in the fields of medical research, education and the arts. “It’s a great loss,” said Susan Laxer, president of local Jewish organization Federation CJA. “He literally changed the landscape in Israel with his office towers and architecture, and with his philanthropy, he touched many parts of our society and community. Through his legacy, he’ll continue to touch the lives of many people.” Norma Joseph, professor of religion and associate-director of the Azrieli Institute of Israel Studies at Concordia University, described him as “a formidable person, very strong-minded. And he used his mind for a wonderful vision of community and building.” The institute got its start in 2011 with funding provided by the family foundation, “but he did more than give money. He also gave his personal time and effort,” Joseph said. Born into a Jewish family in Poland, Azrieli escaped ahead of the Nazi occupation and kept moving, winding up in British Mandate Palestine in 1942. He studied architecture at Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and fought in Israel’s war of independence before settling in Canada in 1954. In a rare 1973 interview with the Montreal Star, he said he arrived here with no family connections and “literally, penniless.” “Nobody gave me anything,” he said. After earning a Bachelor of Arts degree from the Université de Montréal and working at a number of jobs, he had enough saved for his first solo project in 1957, construction of four duplexes on vacant lots he purchased in Ville D’Anjou. It was the start of a real-estate juggernaut that would eventually include thousands of apartment units, office buildings and shopping centres in Canada, the U.S. and Israel. Among his local holdings is the downtown Dominion Square Building housing The Gazette, acquired for $78.25 million in 2005, and the Sofitel Hotel. The Azrieli Group also held interests in companies active in the fields of energy, water and finance. He remained its chairman until last week when daughter Danna succeeded him, a move prompted by his medical condition. A sometimes controversial figure, Azrieli made headlines in the 1970s when he razed the former Van Horne Mansion on Sherbrooke St. and erected a 17-storey office tower on the site. In 1984, he sued The Gazette for libel over an editorial about a local development, but lost. “From the times of the pyramids to those of the skyscrapers, the works of architects and builders have been monuments to their glory or to their shame,” Superior Court Judge Paul Reeves said. “They build before the public eye and the public rightfully says whether it likes or dislikes what it sees.” In his later years, Azrieli split his residency between Israel and Westmount. “I have two homelands,” he once said, “two places that I love and where I have been blessed to do what I love best.” Active in and supportive of Jewish causes throughout his lifetime, he served as president of the Canadian Zionist Federation and in 2008 authored a book called Rekindling the Torch: The Story of Canadian Zionism, which told the story of the contribution of Canadian Jews and non-Jews to establishment of the state of Israel and their continuing support for the country. He also made Holocaust remembrance a personal crusade after it took from him two siblings and both parents. “This is my vision, to be able to use the tangible rewards of my career in building and construction to create a legacy for education and educational institutions in both of my homelands,” he said. A recipient of the Order of Canada, Azrieli also was a “chevalier” of the Ordre National du Québec. Married for 57 years to Stephanie Lefcort, he had four children: Rafael, Sharon, Naomi and Danna. He died surrounded by family at his country home in Ivry-sur-le-Lac, Que. [email protected]
  4. Tant qu'a dire votre meilleur film de 2008, pourquoi ne pas faire un top ten de vos 10 films préférés! POur moi 1. Swingers - 1996 (Vince Vaughn, Jon Favreau, Heather Graham) 2. Pulp Fiction - 1994 (John Travolta, Sam L. Jackson, Bruce Willis) 3. Fight Club - 1999 (Brad Pitt, Ed Norton Jr., Helena Bonham Carter) 4. Usual Suspects - 1995 ( Kevin Spacey, Stephen Baldwin, Gabriel Byrne) 5. Goodfellas - 1990 (Robert Deniro, Joe Pesci, Ray Liota) 6. Heat - 1995 (Robert Deniro, Al Pacino) 7. Rounders - 1998 (Matt Damon, Ed Norton Jr.) 8. Forrest Gump - 1995 (Tom Hanks, Sally Fields) 9. Shawshank Redemption - 1994 (Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman) 10. Star Wars, Ep. 3: Revenge of the Sith - 2005 (E. McGregor, H. Christiansen) mentions honorables.... - There's Something About Mary - Gladiator - Cast Away - The Godfather Part2 - Wall Street - Glengarry Glen Ross
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