Tighter visa norms for UK-bound Indian IT workers

From next year, workers in the IT category will need to have one year’s experience with their employer instead of six months at present, before they can be transferred to the UK

Britain has tightened immigration rules from January 2010 for Indian information technology (IT) professionals seeking to move to the UK under inter-company transfers, reports PTI.

From next year, workers in this category will need to have one year’s experience with their employer instead of six months at present, before they can be transferred to the UK, official sources said.

The immigration category will be closed as a route to permanent settlement in the UK. This means that IT professionals who come to the UK under inter-company transfer will not be allowed to settle here permanently even after the mandatory stay of five years.

Immigration officials also denied reports that the Tier 2 (intra-company transfer) category of the points-based system was providing a loophole for Indian IT companies to bring foreign workers into the UK.

Under an intra-company transfer, an employer can fill vacancies in its UK operations by bringing across some of its existing staff based at overseas locations.

It has been claimed that this enables jobs in IT and other sectors to be taken by migrants who are paid less than resident workers.

The British Home Office, however, said that this was not true. "Workers coming to the UK in the Tier 2 (intra-company transfer) category must be paid the going rate,” it said.
 

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Global oil rig utilisation rates at a high

The utilisation rate for land oil rigs has been constantly rising. Analysts believe that the utilisation rate for offshore rigs has also started to improve

The operational utilisation rate of oil rigs worldwide has been constantly rising. Though this rise is mainly driven by an increase in the utilisation of land rigs, 284 offshore rigs were operational in November—the second highest monthly rate in 2009—as per data with Baker Hughes, a consulting services group which services the worldwide oil and natural gas industry. The entity says that the number of rigs operating internationally has been on a constant rise over the past six months.

“The utilisation (rate) for offshore rigs has started to improve. For example, Aban Offshore had eight rigs idle a few months back, but in August 2009 it received contracts for five rigs. Only three rigs remain idle presently,” said Kejal Mehta, analyst, Prabhudas Lilladher Pvt Ltd.

As per data from Baker Hughes, international rig counts have gone up to 1,025 in November 2009 from a low of 986 in April 2009. The rig count for 2009 was highest at 1,044 in January 2009. This total international rig count is mainly driven by utilisation of land rigs. In June 2009, 698 land rigs were operational, while 741 land rigs were operational in November 2009. In November 2009, 284 offshore rigs were operational. In February 2009, 286 offshore oil rigs were operational. The international rig count is inclusive of the total number of rigs in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Latin America and the Asia-Pacific region.

Baker Hughes data on worldwide figures for rig counts indicates that total rig counts have increased to 2,409 in November 2009 from 1,987 in June 2009. The positive trend is visible in the number of operational rigs over the past six months. In July 2009, 2,080 oil rigs were operational, the figure went up to 2,105 rigs in August 2009, and touched 2,203 rigs for the month of September and October 2009. This data includes figures for both land and offshore rigs.

The offshore rig utilisation rate was on a decline from July 2008 (312 offshore rigs operational), which dropped to an all-time low of 261 operational rigs in August 2009. “The utilisation rate had dropped significantly for offshore rigs in the jack-up segment, which has been picking up recently. The utilisation rate for these rigs is expected to improve,” added another analyst who did not wished to be named.

Though the demand for oil rigs is expected to go up, analysts do not envisage a rise in the day rates for offshore drilling. “We expect the demand for offshore rigs to pick up, but a hike in day rates is not expected. A lot of new rigs will be coming up, so capacity utilisation will not touch 90%-95%. This (high rate of) capacity utilisation is required for a hike in day rates,” added the analyst.
 

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No final bid yet from RIL, says LyondellBasell

LyondellBasell and RIL late last month disclosed a "preliminary non-binding offer" by the Indian company for taking a controlling interest in the world's third largest independent petrochemical maker. Going by industry sources, Reliance Industries' bid could be more than $12 billion

Amid reports that Indian corporate giant Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) was mobilising funds for its acquisition of LyondellBasell, the global petrochemical major has said that it has not yet received a final bid.

"Reliance has not made a final bid, (it has made) only a preliminary non-binding offer," said a spokesperson for LyondellBasell, which is currently fighting to get out of bankruptcy.

In reply to emailed queries, the spokesperson told PTI that a settlement agreement has been reached between LyondellBasell and the financial party defendants in the litigation brought by the unsecured creditor's committee on behalf of the bankruptcy estate.

"The proposed settlement, which must be approved by the bankruptcy court, calls for a cash payment of $300 million to unsecured creditors upon the company's exit from bankruptcy," he said.

LyondellBasell and RIL late last month disclosed a "preliminary non-binding offer" by the Indian company for taking a controlling interest in the world's third largest independent chemical maker. Going by industry sources, Reliance Industries' bid could be more than $12 billion.

Asked about the financial details of the proposed bid from RIL, the spokesperson said, "We are bound by a confidentiality agreement and will provide no further information."
 

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