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Kiryat Gat bends planning rules for Intel

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The Kiryat Gat municipality has requested changes to the District Outline Plan just after it was approved, in order to facilitate future expansion of Intel’s fabs in the city. The requested changes, which were ultimately approved by the National Planning and Building Council last month, reduced the required allocation of open spaces in Kiryat Gat in order to allow the city’s industrial zone, in which Intel’s fabs are situated, to be expanded.

The giant US chip maker currently has one operational fab in Kiryat Gat (Fab 28), and is in the process of constructing another (Fab 38) at an investment of $10 billion. In the light of the global chip shortage, however, Intel is looking for places to construct more fabs, and Israel is one option under consideration, according to information presented by Intel Israel representatives and the planning authorities at the hearing last month before the National Subcommittee on Planning Matters of Principle. Although the requested changes to the District Outline Plan were approved, there is no certainty that Intel will in fact decide to build an additional fab, which will be its third in Israel if it does.

“We must be attractive to Intel”

In January 2021, the National Planning and Building Council, Israel’s supreme planning body, published for public comment an update to the District Outline Plan for the Kiryat Gat area. The National Subcommittee on Planning Matters of Principle finished dealing with objections to the plan only in January this year. Then, a week after the process ended, the Kiryat Gat city engineer wrote to the Southern District Planning and Building Committee requesting a further discussion of the plan in order to enable the city’s industrial zone to be expanded to the south, allowing for future expansion of Intel’s fabs. The District Committee chairperson wrote to the National Subcommittee on Planning Matters of Principle, which held a further discussion of the matter last month.

Allowing for future expansion of the Intel fabs meant reducing the open spaces in the outline plan in a way that upsets the balance between them and the built-up space, and impinging on the urban fabric of Kiryat Gat. Two Intel representatives appeared before the committee: David Hadad, who is Corporate Services Site Factory Operational Manager at Intel Israel, and Miryam Weinstein, an architect in charge of infrastructure licensing at the company.




Hadad spoke of the drive by Intel to construct fabs, arising from the global chip shortage, and from Intel Inc. CEO Pat Gelsinger’s plans to turn the company into a powerhouse foundry, producing chips to order for external developers, in contrast to Intel’s classic model of manufacturing chips of its own design. In its foundry business, Intel seeks to compete with market leader TSMC of Taiwan, and to that end it needs more fabs.

In the US, Intel is building two fabs in Arizona at an investment of $20 billion, and fabs in Ohio the investment in which could reach $100 billion. At the same time, Intel plans to invest at least $19 billion in a fab in Germany, and it is in negotiations on investment in Italy, as part of its push to increase its presence in Europe.

“Basically, for the first time in 40 years Intel is expanding to additional sites, and we must show that we continue to be relevant, and allow Intel to expand within a short time, because this revolution is just beginning,” Hadad told the committee. According to Weinstein, in order for Israel to be attractive to Intel, it has to be able to provide land for no fewer than four fabs, amounting to 1,300 dunams (325 acres). “Israel will be an attractive site if we can demonstrate the ability to build at least four fabs. Any less than that, and other places become more attractive, and as has been said even Intel is not a Zionist company,” she said.

Kiryat Gat mayor Aviram Dahari backs Intel totally. Dahari is not concerned at the idea of reducing the amount of open space called for in the outline plan. “I always say that Kiryat Gat is 16,000 dunams bathed in a million dunams of green, so another 1,000 dunams less is not the issue here,” Dahari says. He proposes compensating for the loss of open space cut from the plan in other areas in the west of the city.

“This is precious time that we mustn’t lose,” he says. “The normal rules are good for normal times. Now we’re in a war, a war over who will lead global developments… we’re working with Intel, and they want a year before the board in the US gives them approval.”

“Will we dismantle national planning for every factory?”

The representative of the Jewish National Fund (JNF) opposed changing the outline plan for Intel’s sake. He referred to alternatives for enabling Intel to expand without that coming at the expense of open areas, such as by reducing the amount of land available for sale by the Israel Land Authority. “It’s always simplest to exploit open land,” he said.

Other objections were raised by environmental organizations. “I don’t know what Intel’s contribution is in comparison with other enterprises,” their representative said. “Will I dismantle all the national planning for every factory that comes along, and say we don’t need forests and open areas because here’s a factory that provides jobs? This is not a consideration that supersedes every other planning consideration.”

Despite the objections, as mentioned the committee approved the requested change.

Published by Globes, Israel business news – en.globes.co.il – on April 27, 2022.

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd., 2022.


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Financial regulator cautions UK against rushing to create ‘crypto hub’

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The chair of Britain’s financial regulator has cautioned against a rush to add crypto markets to the agency’s remit after the government launched an ambitious bid to draw up new regulation and make the UK a crypto hub.

Charles Randell, chair of the Financial Conduct Authority, called for “realism” about how long it would take the regulator to prepare to supervise issuers and traders of “purely speculative crypto tokens”, and how much crypto firms need to improve before they could be officially authorised.

He also stressed the importance of the FCA’s independence at a time when some in the crypto industry have urged the government to press the regulator to be more accommodating of digital assets.

“It’s critical that . . . there are strong safeguards to ensure that all interests — not just the interests of people making money from pushing crypto products, but also the interests of the people whose savings will be put at risk — are heard,” Randell said, in a speech on Friday. “That requires a strong and independent financial conduct regulator.”

The FCA chair, who is expected to leave his post this spring, also said it was not clear how the regulator would pay for the “very significant costs” of adding crypto oversight to its responsibilities.

Randell’s comments follow a speech from economic minister to the Treasury John Glen in April, which laid out the government’s ambition to make the UK “the very best place in the world to start and scale crypto-companies”.

Glen said the government was determined to attract global crypto players to set up shop in the UK, a plan that would include new regulation and probably mean handing more powers to the FCA.

The bid to compete with rival crypto centres, such as Switzerland and Dubai, was met with scepticism by digital asset businesses. Many UK crypto entrepreneurs think the FCA is implacably opposed to digital assets, and crypto companies have clashed with the regulator over how it has implemented money laundering controls.

Randell said the regulator is open to innovation, including using distributed ledger technology and the potential for properly regulated stablecoins — crypto tokens linked to traditional assets like the US dollar — to “reduce costs and frictions” in the payments sector and shake up the industry.

However, Randell questioned the objective of overseeing more speculative cryptocurrencies. “Should people be encouraged to believe that these are investments, when they have no underlying value?” he said.

“When the price of Bitcoin can readily halve within six months, as it has done recently, and some other speculative crypto tokens have gone to zero?” he added.

Randell said he was opposed to including crypto firms under the financial services compensation scheme, which would mean the pot of money collected from regulated financial companies would be available to compensate their customers. The financial services industry as a whole should not be “exposed to the costs of failing crypto firms”, he noted.

The FCA chair, who has previously spoken about the need to control advertising for crypto, returned to the subject of endorsements by entertainment personalities.

“With celebrities as varied as Kim Kardashian and Larry David willing to take money to promote speculative crypto, how do we curb people’s enthusiasm to do something that may seriously harm their financial lives?” he said.

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U.S. natgas futures drop 5% on rising output, milder forecasts

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U.S. natural gas futures fell about 5% on Friday as output slowly rises and on

forecasts for milder weather and lower demand over the next two weeks than previously expected.

That decline comes despite a jump in the amount of gas flowing to U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) export

plants to a near seven-week high following maintenance outages at some Gulf Coast plants.

Although the weather is expected to turn milder next week, it’s still hot in many parts of the country

now.

In the spot market, next-day power at the PJM West hub and gas at the Dominion South hub

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in Pennsylvania jumped to their highest since the February freeze in 2021 as homes and

businesses crank up air conditioners to escape the heat.

High air conditioning use also boosted peak power demand in Texas to a record for the month of May on

Thursday. The state’s grid operator forecast demand would likely break that record peak on Friday.

U.S. front-month gas futures for June delivery fell 37.9 cents, or 4.6%, to $7.929 per million

British thermal units (mmBtu) at 9:17 a.m. EDT (1317 GMT).

Despite Friday’s decline, the contract was still up about 4% for the week after falling about 5% last

week.

Gas was trading around $28 per mmBtu in Europe and $22 in Asia. The U.S. contract

rose to a 13-year high near $9 on May 6.

U.S. futures lag far behind global prices because the United States is the world’s top producer, with all

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the gas it needs for domestic use while capacity constraints inhibit exports of more LNG.

Data provider Refinitiv said average gas output in the U.S. Lower 48 states climbed to 94.9 billion cubic

feet per day (bcfd) so far in May from 94.5 bcfd in April. That compares with a monthly record of 96.1 bcfd in

November 2021.

Refinitiv projected average U.S. gas demand, including exports, would hold near 89.7 bcfd this week and

next before sliding to 88.7 bcfd in two weeks.

The average amount of gas flowing to U.S. LNG export plants rose to 12.3 bcfd so far in May from 12.2 bcfd

in April. That compares with a monthly record of 12.9 bcfd in March. The United States can turn about 13.2

bcfd of gas into LNG.

On a daily basis, however, LNG feedgas was on track to hit a near seven-week high of 13.3 bcfd on Friday.

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Since the United States will not be able to produce much more LNG soon, it has worked with allies to

divert exports from elsewhere to Europe to help European Union (EU) countries and others break their

dependence on Russian gas after Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine.

Russian gas exports to Europe rose to around 8.1 bcfd on Thursday from about 7.8 bcfd on Wednesday on the

three mainlines into Germany: North Stream 1 (Russia-Germany), Yamal (Russia-Belarus-Poland-Germany) and the

Russia-Ukraine-Slovakia-Czech Republic-Germany route. That compares with an average of 11.9 bcfd in May 2021.

Gas stockpiles in Northwest Europe – Belgium, France, Germany and the Netherlands – were

about 14% below the five-year (2017-2021) average for this time of year, down from 39% below the five-year

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norm in mid-March, according to Refinitiv. Storage was currently about 37% of full capacity.

That is healthier than U.S. inventories, which were around 15% below their five-year norm, because high

European gas prices have kept LNG imports strong while Russia keeps supplying fuel via pipeline.

Week ended Week ended Year ago Five-year

May 20 May 13 May 20 average

(Forecast) (Actual) May 20

U.S. weekly natgas storage change (bcf): +95 +89 +109 +97

U.S. total natgas in storage (bcf): 1,827 1,732 2,199 2,139

U.S. total storage versus 5-year average -14.6% -15.2%

Global Gas Benchmark Futures ($ per mmBtu) Current Day Prior Day This Month Prior Year Five Year

Last Year Average Average

2021 (2017-2021)

Henry Hub 7.94 8.31 2.96 3.73 2.89

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Title Transfer Facility (TTF) 28.05 27.88 8.88 16.04 7.49

Japan Korea Marker (JKM) 21.79 21.17 9.65 18.00 8.95

Refinitiv Heating (HDD), Cooling (CDD) and Total (TDD) Degree Days

Two-Week Total Forecast Current Day Prior Day Prior Year 10-Year 30-Year

Norm Norm

U.S. GFS HDDs 36 31 43 49 44

U.S. GFS CDDs 128 132 86 96 102

U.S. GFS TDDs 164 163 129 145 146

Refinitiv U.S. Weekly GFS Supply and Demand Forecasts

Prior Week Current Week Next Week This Week Five-Year

Last Year Average For

Month

U.S. Supply (bcfd)

U.S. Lower 48 Dry Production 95.2 95.1 95.1 92.0 83.9

U.S. Imports from Canada 7.9 7.6 7.9 7.2 7.6

U.S. LNG Imports 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.1

Total U.S. Supply 103.2 102.7 103.0 99.2 92.6

U.S. Demand (bcfd)

U.S. Exports to Canada 2.9 2.8 2.7 2.1 2.1

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U.S. Exports to Mexico 6.2 6.2 6.2 6.1 4.8

U.S. LNG Exports 12.2 12.2 13.1 10.5 5.1

U.S. Commercial 6.0 5.0 5.1 4.9 5.6

U.S. Residential 7.0 4.7 4.8 4.7 6.7

U.S. Power Plant 28.2 31.4 30.3 25.4 26.0

U.S. Industrial 21.0 20.7 20.9 21.4 20.9

U.S. Plant Fuel 4.7 4.7 4.7 4.7 4.6

U.S. Pipe Distribution 1.8 1.8 1.8 1.8 1.8

U.S. Vehicle Fuel 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1

Total U.S. Consumption 69.0 68.5 67.7 63.0 65.7

Total U.S. Demand 90.3 89.6 89.7 81.7 77.7

U.S. weekly power generation percent by fuel – EIA

Week ended Week ended Week ended Week ended Week ended

May 20 May 13 May 6 Apr 29 Apr 22

Wind 11 15 13 16 16

Solar 4 4 4 4 4

Hydro 7 7 7 7 7

Other 2 2 2 2 2

Petroleum 0 0 0 0 0

Natural Gas 38 34 36 33 33

Coal 20 18 19 19 19

Nuclear 19 19 20 19 19

SNL U.S. Natural Gas Next-Day Prices ($ per mmBtu)

Hub Current Day Prior Day

Henry Hub 8.21 8.53

Transco Z6 New York 7.82 7.75

PG&E Citygate 9.78 9.98

Dominion South 7.62 7.55

Chicago Citygate 7.93 8.08

Algonquin Citygate 7.94 8.04

SoCal Citygate 8.19 8.68

Waha Hub 7.33 8.01

AECO 4.58 6.41

SNL U.S. Power Next-Day Prices ($ per megawatt-hour)

Hub Current Day

New England 70.00 78.75

PJM West 153.50 131.75

Ercot North 80.00 77.75

Mid C 18.25 19.19

Palo Verde 37.50 41.00

SP-15 51.25 53.00

(Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)

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Sri Lanka Hunts For Cash To Pay Oil Traders For Crude And Fuel

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Unloading procedures for one cargo of gasoline have begun but the ship cannot berth yet because there’s no space for it to do so, according to the harbor master at the port of Colombo. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said the government is also trying to find the cash to complete a rare purchase of crude oil from Russia.

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