Archive for Benji Jones

Exxon launched a $3 billion effort focused on lowering its emissions after investors pressured the oil giant to address climate change

Exxon Baton Rouge refinery
An Exxon refinery in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
  • Exxon Mobil on Monday announced a new business focused on low-emissions technologies. 
  • The business will initially focus on carbon capture, a technology Exxon has been developing for years. 
  • The announcement follows mounting pressure from investors who have been pushing the company to do more to address climate change.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Exxon Mobil, the largest US oil company, announced on Monday that it was forming a new business focused on low-emissions technologies including carbon capture. The announcement follows reports that investors with more than $2 trillion in assets are pressing the company to move more quickly to address climate change. 

The Irving, Texas-based company said it plans to spend $3 billion through 2025 on what it calls "lower-emission technologies." That's $600 million a year, or 3% to 4% of the firm's project budget for 2021.

Part of that will go toward 20 new carbon-capture projects that Exxon also announced Monday. 

"With our demonstrated leadership in carbon capture and emissions reduction technologies, ExxonMobil is committed to meeting the demand for affordable energy while reducing emissions and managing the risks of climate change," Exxon CEO Darren Woods said in a statement. 

Carbon capture involves sucking greenhouse gas emissions out of ambient air or from point sources, such as steelmaking factories. It's among a suite of technologies researchers say we'll need to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement, an international accord aimed at keeping global warming in check. 

Read more: Exxon is slashing workers and cutting costs after a historic year of loss. Here's everything we know.

The technology is attractive to oil companies in part because it doesn't require that they rewrite their business models and pump less crude from the ground. As Exxon advances its carbon capture projects it will be able to lower the carbon emissions associated with each barrel of oil - something known as "carbon intensity."

In December, the company committed to reducing the carbon intensity of emissions stemming from oil exploration and production by as much as 20% by 2025.

Other major oil companies including BP and Shell have taken more aggressive approaches to lower their emissions, such as investing in clean energy sources like wind and solar. BP, for one, said it will spend $4 billion to $5 billion a year by 2025 on low-carbon energy. 

Exxon is scheduled to report financial results on Tuesday morning.

Exxon Mobil gas station

Investors call on Exxon to address its climate impact

The pressure on Exxon to do more to address climate change has been building over the past few months. 

Last year, the activist firm Engine No. 1, with the support of CalSTRS, began a campaign to elect four new board members, push the company to invest in cleaner sources of energy, and preserve its dividend. Other investors including BNP Paribas, through its asset management division, are pressing Exxon to be more transparent about its lobbying efforts as they pertain to climate change. 

Read more: Exxon is fighting a plan hatched by major investors to push the oil giant to reveal how it influences climate policy

These efforts are snowballing: Reuters reported last month that more than 135 investors who manage more than $2 trillion altogether are forming a coalition to force the company to make similar changes.

It's not clear whether those investors will be satisfied by Monday's announcement.

Carbon Engineering pilot plant
Occidental Petroleum is partnering with the carbon-capture startup Carbon Engineering. The startup's pilot plant is pictured here.

Exxon's new business will focus on carbon capture

Exxon has been developing and using carbon-capture technologies for years.

The new business, dubbed Low Carbon Solutions, marks a major expansion of that effort and it includes new carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects located in the US, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. Exxon also suggested it may expand its work with hydrogen. 

"ExxonMobil Low Carbon Solutions will also leverage ExxonMobil's significant experience in the production of hydrogen which, when coupled with CCS, is likely to play a critical role in a lower-carbon energy system," Exxon said in the press release. 

The Low Carbon Solutions business will be spearheaded by Joe Blommaert, who was formerly the SVP for global operations in Exxon's chemical business. The company also elected him as VP, a coveted title shared by just 12 other executives. 

Read more: We mapped out the power structure at Exxon and identified 138 of the oil giant's top employees. Here's our exclusive org chart.  

Read the original article on Business Insider

What a Democratic Senate can and can’t do for US energy policy

Biden solar panels
President-elect Joe Biden walks past solar panels at the Plymouth Area Renewable Energy Initiative in Plymouth, New Hampshire

Welcome to Insider Energy, a weekly energy newsletter brought to you by Business Insider. 

Here's what you need to know:

I thought we were done with horrible weeks for a while, but 2021 is already showing us that it, too, can surprise. 

For Democrats and clean-energy advocates, there was, however, some good news: Democrats won both runoff elections in Georgia to regain control of the Senate. That's a big deal for pretty much every issue, from healthcare to voting rights to energy.

Though there's a hefty caveat: The Democratic majority is so slim that any major (and controversial) bills - including those related to climate change - are unlikely to find traction. 

Let's start there. 


US President-elect Joe Biden speaks during a press conference at The Queen in Wilmington, Delaware on November 16, 2020. - US President-elect Joe Biden expressed frustration on November 16, 2020 about Donald Trump's refusal so far to cooperate on the White House transition process, saying "more people may die" without immediate coordination on fighting the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by ROBERTO SCHMIDT / AFP) (Photo by ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP via Getty Images)

What's on the table now that Democrats have control of the Senate

Who wants one stressful election when you can have two? 

The news: Democrats won both runoff elections in Georgia, giving them 50 of the Senate's 100 seats. The tiebreaking vote will fall to incoming Vice President Kamala Harris - in other words, Dems regained control. 

The significance: President-elect Joe Biden won't, as previously expected, operate within a divided government. That gives him a lot more latitude to achieve his ambitious climate agenda.

Big buts: It may be obvious, but a 50-50 split in the Senate gives Democrats a very narrow majority. That will be a problem for any sweeping climate bills, especially if they appear to constrict fossil fuels

  • Not all Democrats may vote in favor of big climate bills. 
  • Plus, don't forget about the filibuster. It's unlikely to go away anytime soon, and it essentially means that climate-specific legislation could require 60 votes.
  • Fun fact! Filibuster comes from the Dutch word for pirate. "It came to mean a legislator who was 'pirating' parliamentary proceedings," NPR reports

All eyes on Joe: Not that Joe. I mean Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia. He's "the most powerful person in US energy policy right now," said Ed Crooks, Vice-Chairman of Americas at Wood Mackenzie. 


Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Area 1002
A bird research camp in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

Arctic drilling anyone? Anyone? 

The high-profile fight to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling appears set for a rather anticlimactic ending.

The news: After a three-year push by the Trump administration to allow oil companies to drill in ANWR - considered to be the largest remaining swath of wilderness, and likely home to a huge amount of oil - leases for acreage in the refuge finally went up for sale. But there were just three bidders ... one of which was the state of Alaska. 

  • Oh, and half of the available leases had no takers at all. 
  • You may remember that a big reason for opening up the refuge was the revenue these leases could raise. Now it appears they could net as little as $15 million

No surprises: The unsuccessful lease sale wasn't exactly surprising. We reported on the lack of interest back in August


Sunrun

Clean-energy stocks surged last year, and they're soaring in 2021. Wall Street analysts offer up their top bets.

Amid a global pandemic and a historic oil market collapse, clean-energy stocks casually soared. The ECO index, a benchmark for clean energy, grew last year by a stunning 203%, according to Raymond James. 

  • For comparison, the S&P 500 grew by 16%, while the E&P Index (including companies that find and extract oil and gas) fell by 38%, per Raymond James. 

This year: It's already looking up, thanks to a Democratic takeover of the Senate and a late-2020 relief bill that included all kinds of goodies for clean energy. This year it's already up about 20%. (The S&P is up 3%). 

For investors: Analysts are predicting another good year for the sector and sharing their top picks. 


Oil rig in field
The worst for oil markets is likely over, Morgan Stanley said in a note Tuesday.

Price check: Crude hits an 11-month high due to a 'perfect storm' of events

Brent today: The benchmark is at about $55 per barrel, as of Friday midday. 

  • The last time we saw prices that high was February - before the coronavirus scourge was declared a pandemic.

Why the rally? Analysts at Rystad Energy said it's due to a "perfect storm" of events: 

  1. Saudi Arabia, the de facto leader of OPEC, agreed to voluntarily cut crude production starting in February by 1 million barrels. 
  2. Storage tanks are finally starting to empty around the world, a signal that demand is ticking up. 
  3. Democrats regained control of the Senate, giving way to a potentially massive economic stimulus in the months ahead
  4. And, of course, the dispersal of COVID-19 vaccines. 

But: A full recovery of oil demand is still a long way off. A bunch of industry experts shared what to expect in the year ahead for the oil market


That's it! Have a great weekend. 

- Benji

Ps. I went cross-country skiing on New Year's Day and discovered it's not as boring as skiing on a flat surface sounds. I also discovered that it's a great workout because I woke up cocooned by sore muscles.  

Benji skiing
Read the original article on Business Insider

The 46 climate-tech startups that VCs say are set to pop in 2021

General Fusion
Fusion-energy startup General Fusion is among the 46 climate-tech startups that VCs say are set to pop in 2021

A decade ago, clean tech was a dirty word. Venture capital investors burned billions betting on solar panels, batteries, and biofuels, causing them to retreat from the industry. 

Now the clean-tech industry is roaring once more, though many investors have given it a new label: Climate tech.

VCs have poured almost $16 billion into the sector already this year, according to clean-tech data PitchBook shared with Business Insider. That's up from an average of about $5.6 billion per year between 2008 and 2016. And 6 cents of every VC dollar spent last year went towards climate tech, a PwC report shows. 

Read more: The 6 climate-tech startups that top VCs can't stop talking about

There's some fear that the sector could go bust again. But this time around, what industry professionals call cleantech 2.0 is "fundamentally different," according to Emily Kirsch, the CEO and founder of Powerhouse, a cleantech innovation firm and venture fund.

For one, a spate of major corporations including oil companies and tech firms have committed to lowering their emissions over the next three decades, Kirsch said. Meanwhile, the cost of renewable energy has fallen dramatically.

The incoming US administration has shown strong support for clean energy to boot

"We've never been more excited about the state of climate technology than we are now," Kirsch said. 

Opus 12
Founders of the startup Opus 12. From left to right, Kendra Kuhl, Nicholas Flanders, and Etosha Cave.

VCs have no shortage of companies to choose from. In the PwC report, which focused on climate tech, the firm identified more than 1,200 startups working on a wide range of technologies, from fusion energy to plant-based proteins. What they share is a product that helps lower carbon emissions. 

Read more: Billionaire investor Vinod Khosla shares the 4 most promising sectors he's betting on in the booming climate-tech industry

Some climate-tech startups are already household names, like Impossible Foods, while others are starting to gain steam and pull in major investors including Form Energy. Many more still are working on promising tech that flies under the radar of mainstream investors. 

With 2021 likely to be a huge year for climate tech, we asked 15 of the top VC firms and incubators which startups they think are set to soar. The firms - ranging from Khosla Ventures to Greentown Labs - offered up 46 of them

The full list is available exclusively to Business Insider subscribers. Click here to continue reading.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 46 climate-tech startups that VCs say are set to pop in 2021

General Fusion
Fusion-energy startup General Fusion is among the 46 climate-tech startups that VCs say are set to pop in 2021

A decade ago, clean tech was a dirty word. Venture capital investors burned billions betting on solar panels, batteries, and biofuels, causing them to retreat from the industry. 

Now the clean-tech industry is roaring once more, though many investors have given it a new label: Climate tech.

VCs have poured almost $16 billion into the sector already this year, according to clean-tech data PitchBook shared with Business Insider. That's up from an average of about $5.6 billion per year between 2008 and 2016. And 6 cents of every VC dollar spent last year went towards climate tech, a PwC report shows. 

Read more: The 6 climate-tech startups that top VCs can't stop talking about

There's some fear that the sector could go bust again. But this time around, what industry professionals call cleantech 2.0 is "fundamentally different," according to Emily Kirsch, the CEO and founder of Powerhouse, a cleantech innovation firm and venture fund.

For one, a spate of major corporations including oil companies and tech firms have committed to lowering their emissions over the next three decades, Kirsch said. Meanwhile, the cost of renewable energy has fallen dramatically.

The incoming US administration has shown strong support for clean energy to boot

"We've never been more excited about the state of climate technology than we are now," Kirsch said. 

Opus 12
Founders of the startup Opus 12. From left to right, Kendra Kuhl, Nicholas Flanders, and Etosha Cave.

VCs have no shortage of companies to choose from. In the PwC report, which focused on climate tech, the firm identified more than 1,200 startups working on a wide range of technologies, from fusion energy to plant-based proteins. What they share is a product that helps lower carbon emissions. 

Read more: Billionaire investor Vinod Khosla shares the 4 most promising sectors he's betting on in the booming climate-tech industry

Some climate-tech startups are already household names, like Impossible Foods, while others are starting to gain steam and pull in major investors including Form Energy. Many more still are working on promising tech that flies under the radar of mainstream investors. 

With 2021 likely to be a huge year for climate tech, we asked 15 of the top VC firms and incubators which startups they think are set to soar. The firms - ranging from Khosla Ventures to Greentown Labs - offered up 46 of them

The full list is available exclusively to Business Insider subscribers. Click here to continue reading.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Biden just introduced a historic climate A-team tasked with carrying out an ambitious energy agenda

Biden’s climate and energy team. Clockwise from top left: Brenda Mallory, Jennifer Granholm, Gina McCarthy, Michael Regan, Deb Haaland, and John Kerry.
Biden’s climate and energy team. Clockwise from top left: Brenda Mallory, Jennifer Granholm, Gina McCarthy, Michael Regan, Deb Haaland, and John Kerry.
  • President-elect Joe Biden formally introduced his climate team during a press briefing Saturday.
  • The team is stacked with pro-climate heavyweights and a number of firsts, including Michael Regan, who would be the first Black man to lead the Environmental Protection Agency if confirmed. 
  • Biden has said he intends to make climate change a top priority, though his agenda will face steep challenges in a divided government. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

President-elect Joe Biden introduced what he called a "barrier-busting" climate and energy team Saturday, vowing to create millions of union jobs and reposition the US as a leader in the global fight against climate change. 

"We have no time to waste," Biden said during a press briefing in Wilmington, Delaware. "Just like we need to be a unified nation to respond to COVID-19, we need a unified national response to climate change."

Leading that response will be a team of pro-climate heavyweights who include a number of firsts.

Read more: 24 energy investors, CEOs, and analysts share their top predictions for 2021 as the industry rebounds from a pandemic-driven slump

Meet Biden's climate A-team

Among Biden's top picks is Gina McCarthy, who helmed the Environmental Protection Agency under former President Barack Obama. She'll head a new White House office focused on climate policy.

There, she'll be able to reach across cabinets to advance a unified domestic strategy.

"Defeating this threat is the fight of our lifetimes," McCarthy, who's currently the CEO of the Natural Resources Dense Council, an environmental nonprofit, said during the briefing. "But the opportunities to act on climate change right now fill me with incredible optimism."

She'll work in parallel with former Secretary of State John Kerry, whom Biden tapped to be his international climate czar. Ali Zaidi, who currently serves as the deputy secretary for energy and environment for New York State, will be McCarthy's deputy.

GettyImages 1201780490
Gina McCarthy, former head of the Natural Resources Defense Council, will serve as Biden's national climate czar.

Biden also introduced former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm as his pick for Energy Secretary, and environmental regulator Michael Regan of North Carolina, whom he nominated to run the EPA - the office most central to his climate-change agenda.

If confirmed, Regan would be the first Black man to lead the EPA. 

There are other firsts, too.

During the briefing, Biden introduced Rep. Deb Haaland of New Mexico, whom he nominated to lead the Interior Department. If confirmed by the Senate, she'll be the first Native American to lead the department - and the first to lead any cabinet-level agency - which oversees about 500 million acres of public lands. Haaland was a cosponsor of the Green New Deal. 

Biden also named longtime environmental attorney Brenda Mallory as the chair of the Council on Environmental Quality. If confirmed she'd be the first Black person to assume the role. 

WASHINGTON, DC, UNITED STATES - 2018/03/04: Jennifer Granholm, Former Governor of Michigan, speaking at the AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) Policy Conference at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. (Photo by Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm is Joe Biden's pick for energy secretary.

A monumental challenge ahead

"So many climate and health calamities are colliding all at once," Biden said during the briefing. 

Americans aren't just facing a pandemic, he said, but symptoms of climate change like superstorms, forest fires, and floods. His solution is to slash emissions to net-zero by 2050 - through the rollout of electric cars, adding more renewable energy to the grid, and improving the efficiency of buildings - while creating high-paying jobs. 

To be clear, that is an ambitious task, and one that will prove even more challenging should the government remain divided. Experts say the administration will likely focus their efforts initially on reversing many of Trump's rollbacks, largely through executive orders.

"The current administration reversed the Obama-Biden fuel-efficiency standards and picked big oil companies over American workers," Biden said. "Our administration will not only bring those standards back. We'll set new ambitious standards. "

Read the original article on Business Insider

Biden just introduced a historic climate A-team tasked with carrying out an ambitious energy agenda

Biden’s climate and energy team. Clockwise from top left: Brenda Mallory, Jennifer Granholm, Gina McCarthy, Michael Regan, Deb Haaland, and John Kerry.
Biden’s climate and energy team. Clockwise from top left: Brenda Mallory, Jennifer Granholm, Gina McCarthy, Michael Regan, Deb Haaland, and John Kerry.
  • President-elect Joe Biden formally introduced his climate team during a press briefing Saturday.
  • The team is stacked with pro-climate heavyweights and a number of firsts, including Michael Regan, who would be the first Black man to lead the Environmental Protection Agency if confirmed. 
  • Biden has said he intends to make climate change a top priority, though his agenda will face steep challenges in a divided government. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

President-elect Joe Biden introduced what he called a "barrier-busting" climate and energy team Saturday, vowing to create millions of union jobs and reposition the US as a leader in the global fight against climate change. 

"We have no time to waste," Biden said during a press briefing in Wilmington, Delaware. "Just like we need to be a unified nation to respond to COVID-19, we need a unified national response to climate change."

Leading that response will be a team of pro-climate heavyweights who include a number of firsts.

Read more: 24 energy investors, CEOs, and analysts share their top predictions for 2021 as the industry rebounds from a pandemic-driven slump

Meet Biden's climate A-team

Among Biden's top picks is Gina McCarthy, who helmed the Environmental Protection Agency under former President Barack Obama. She'll head a new White House office focused on climate policy.

There, she'll be able to reach across cabinets to advance a unified domestic strategy.

"Defeating this threat is the fight of our lifetimes," McCarthy, who's currently the CEO of the Natural Resources Dense Council, an environmental nonprofit, said during the briefing. "But the opportunities to act on climate change right now fill me with incredible optimism."

She'll work in parallel with former Secretary of State John Kerry, whom Biden tapped to be his international climate czar. Ali Zaidi, who currently serves as the deputy secretary for energy and environment for New York State, will be McCarthy's deputy.

GettyImages 1201780490
Gina McCarthy, former head of the Natural Resources Defense Council, will serve as Biden's national climate czar.

Biden also introduced former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm as his pick for Energy Secretary, and environmental regulator Michael Regan of North Carolina, whom he nominated to run the EPA - the office most central to his climate-change agenda.

If confirmed, Regan would be the first Black man to lead the EPA. 

There are other firsts, too.

During the briefing, Biden introduced Rep. Deb Haaland of New Mexico, whom he nominated to lead the Interior Department. If confirmed by the Senate, she'll be the first Native American to lead the department - and the first to lead any cabinet-level agency - which oversees about 500 million acres of public lands. Haaland was a cosponsor of the Green New Deal. 

Biden also named longtime environmental attorney Brenda Mallory as the chair of the Council on Environmental Quality. If confirmed she'd be the first Black person to assume the role. 

WASHINGTON, DC, UNITED STATES - 2018/03/04: Jennifer Granholm, Former Governor of Michigan, speaking at the AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) Policy Conference at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. (Photo by Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm is Joe Biden's pick for energy secretary.

A monumental challenge ahead

"So many climate and health calamities are colliding all at once," Biden said during the briefing. 

Americans aren't just facing a pandemic, he said, but symptoms of climate change like superstorms, forest fires, and floods. His solution is to slash emissions to net-zero by 2050 - through the rollout of electric cars, adding more renewable energy to the grid, and improving the efficiency of buildings - while creating high-paying jobs. 

To be clear, that is an ambitious task, and one that will prove even more challenging should the government remain divided. Experts say the administration will likely focus their efforts initially on reversing many of Trump's rollbacks, largely through executive orders.

"The current administration reversed the Obama-Biden fuel-efficiency standards and picked big oil companies over American workers," Biden said. "Our administration will not only bring those standards back. We'll set new ambitious standards. "

Read the original article on Business Insider

Boeing officials ‘inappropriately coached’ government test pilots during a review of the 737 Max after the model was involved in two fatal crashes, according to Senate investigators

Boeing 737 Max
Boeing 737 Max aircraft of Alaska Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and Gol Linhas Aéreas.
  • Boeing officials inappropriately influenced government test pilots as they were testing the company's 737 Max plane before recertifying it for flight, Senate investigators said in a report Friday. 
  • The investigators said the FAA failed to provide proper oversight of Boeing and Southwest Airlines, potentially putting passengers at risk as a result. 
  • In a statement, the FAA expressed confidence that the issues which led to the two fatal crashes have been resolved.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Boeing officials "inappropriately coached" government pilots during a simulator test to ensure that the company's 737 Max plane was safe to fly again, after two deadly crashes involving the model killed 346 people, Senate investigators said in a report Friday.

Some pilots of the Federal Aviation Administration, who went through the simulation, were prompted by Boeing to get ready to use the right controls, according to the report published by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, which received information from 57 whistleblowers. 

The accusations included in the 100-page report extend far beyond issues with the testing process. The FAA has a culture of retaliation, the investigators said, and its leadership allowed Southwest Airlines to operate aircraft that may have been unsafe to fly. 

"The FAA continues to retaliate against whistleblowers instead of welcoming their disclosures in the interest of safety," the report said. 

The committee originally launched the investigation after two fatal crashes, in 2018 and 2019, involving Boeing 737 Max planes. They later expanded the scope of the probe as whistleblowers and documents raised concerns about the  FAA, which is responsible for regulating the industry. 

The FAA cleared Boeing's 737 Max again last month, and a number of airlines have since announced that they will reintroduce the planes to their fleets. 

Read more: The FAA has cleared Boeing's 737 Max to fly passengers again - here's when and where each US airline will be flying it

The FAA said in a statement to Reuters Friday that it's "carefully reviewing the document, which the committee acknowledges contains a number of unsubstantiated allegations," adding that it's "confident that the safety issues that played a role in the tragic (737 MAX) accidents involving Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 have been addressed." 

In a public statement, Boeing said that it's "committed to improving aviation safety, strengthening our safety culture, and rebuilding trust with our customers, regulators, and the flying public."

"We take seriously the Committee's findings and will continue to review the report in full," the statement continued. "We have learned many hard lessons from the Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Flight 302 accidents, and we will never forget the lives lost on board. "

American Airlines Boeing 737 Max Flight 8

'FAA and Boeing were attempting to cover up important information'

Boeing's missteps leading up to the fatal crashes are well documented, but few probes have focused on the FAA, until now. 

The new report alleges that the FAA failed to provide adequate oversight of flight safety during the recertification process. In some instances, Boeing officials "inappropriately coached" pilots during the test to get a desireable outcome, the Committee said. Some FAA investigators also left tests early or carried out tests using simulations that didn't have the relevant software, the investigation found, as reported by The Verge

"FAA and Boeing were attempting to cover up important information that may have contributed to the 737 MAX tragedies," the report said. 

Southwest Airlines Pilot

Southwest Airlines may have operated planes that were unsafe, the investigators found

The Committee also found issues with FAA's oversight of Southwest Airlines, more than a decade after the agency fined the carrier, stating at the time that Southwest failed to properly inspect its aircraft. 

Between 2013 and 2017, Southwest purchased planes from foreign manufacturers that were cleared to fly based on "deficient information," the investigators said in the report. Whistleblowers alerted FAA to this but the agency didn't ground the planes. 

"The FAA repeatedly permitted Southwest Airlines to continue operating dozens of aircraft in an unknown airworthiness condition for several years," the investigators wrote in the report. "These flights put millions of passengers at potential risk."

In a statement to The Verge, Southwest Airlines said "we are aware of the Committee report and have utilized many of these past references to improve our practices and oversight."

"All applicable aircraft underwent visual inspections, and Southwest completed physical inspections, from nose to tail, on each of the pre-owned aircraft by January 2020 - fully satisfying FAA requests," the statement continued. "Our actions did not stem from any suspected Safety concerns with the aircraft but were an effort to reconcile and validate records and previous repairs." 

The company plans to resume 737 Max service in the first three months of next year, per The Verge. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

Billionaire hedge fund founder Ray Dalio says his family is ‘mourning’ after 42-year-old son was killed in a car crash

Ray Dalio
Ray Dalio, founder of Bridgewater Associates
  • Ray Dalio announced on Twitter that his 42-year-old son Devon Dalio was killed in a car crash in Greenwich, Connecticut.
  • Investigators on Friday were still trying to determine what caused the car to crash. 
  • "My family and I are mourning and processing and would prefer to be incommunicado for the time being," Ray Dalio, founder of Bridgewater Associates, wrote on Twitter. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Devon Dalio, the son of billionaire hedge fund founder Ray Dalio, was killed in a car crash Thursday afternoon, a family spokesperson confirmed to the Connecticut Post.

Devon, who was 42 at the time of death, was driving an Audi that crashed into a Verizon store in Greenwich, Connecticut, where it burst into flames, Greenwich police and Fire Chief Joseph McHugh told the Post. Investigators on Friday were still trying to determine what caused Dalio to crash.

His father shared the somber news in a tweet Friday.

"It is with great pain that I am sharing with you that my 42-year-old son was killed in a car crash yesterday," said Ray Dalio, the founder and co-chief investment officer of Bridgewater Associates, the world's largest hedge fund. "My family and I are mourning and processing and would prefer to be incommunicado for the time being.

Devon, Ray and his wife Barbara's eldest son, was the cofounder and partner of the private-equity firm P-Squared Management Enterprises, according to his LinkedIn page. He is survived by a wife and daughter.

He also served as a board member of his family's foundation, Dalio Philanthropies, and he was interested in supporting health, veterans, and animal welfare, a spokesperson told the Connecticut Post.

"We know that the terrible pain we are feeling has been and continues to be felt by so many others so our sympathies go out to them," Ray Dalio said in a subsequent tweet. "May God be with you and may you cherish your blessings, especially at this time of year."

The elder Dalio's tweet was met with an outpouring of support, and Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont said he and his wife were "devastated" by the news.

"As parents, we cannot imagine the grief and sadness of their loss," Lamont said in a statement to the outlet. "Our prayers are with Ray and Barbara, who have been champions for Connecticut's children."

Read the original article on Business Insider

Google is offering its US employees free weekly COVID-19 tests that they can administer at home

Google headquarters office employee
  • Google is offering its US workers a new perk: Free weekly COVID-19 testing kits. The Wall Street Journal first reported the news
  • The kits are provided through a partnership with the healthcare company BioIQ. 
  • All 90,000 US employees are eligible, including those who work for subsidiaries like YouTube, and they can request up to two tests each week. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Tech giant Google is providing free weekly coronavirus tests for all 90,000 of its US employees that they can administer themselves, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday. It appears to be the largest company testing effort aimed at staff who are working from home. 

The perk was so popular that the website where employees can sign up for the new perk, operated by BioIQ, the biotech firm that's providing the tests, crashed after it went live on Thursday.

All US employees, including those who work for Google's companies like YouTube, are eligible for free tests, which they're guaranteed to receive within three days of submitting a request. 

The search giant will pay BioIQ $50 per test, The Hill reported, and they could cost the company as much as $4.5 million per week. 

The benefit, aimed at asymptomatic carriers, comes as coronavirus cases continue to soar across the country and the first vaccines are delivered to healthcare workers. Friday evening, the Food and Drug Administration authorized a second vaccine, developed by biotech firm Moderna, for emergency use. 

Google New York City office

Employees can test themselves up to two times each week

It's not uncommon for companies to offer coronavirus testing to their office workers, but Google is among the largest companies so far to offer testing to stay-at-home employees.

Google let its massive US workforce work from home beginning in March. They won't be back in the office until September of next year, the company said this week. 

The testing kit, distributed by BioIQ, is a nasal swab that employees can administer on their own and send in for analysis. Google said employees can get up to two tests each week, and that the tests are recommended but not mandatory. 

While the program is only available to US employees, Google said it would extend the benefit to international employees next year.  

This story was updated to clarify that the website that crashed was operated by BioIQ, not Google. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

Exxon is slashing workers and cutting costs as a hobbled oil market slowly recovers. Here’s everything we know.

exxon mobil fall 4x3
Exxon CEO Darren Woods

Exxon Mobil, the nation's largest oil company, is losing money like never before.

For the first time on record, the firm reported a loss three quarters in a row, from January through September. Analysts expect the company to lose money in the last three months of 2020, as well, according to Bloomberg data. 

The obvious culprit is the coronavirus, which sapped demand for gasoline and jet fuel, causing the price of oil to plummet. But Exxon's market value began falling years before the pandemic, driven down in part by souring investor interest in fossil fuels. 

Now down in market value more than 35% from the start of the year, Exxon is cutting costs. The result is big headcount reductions and other measures. Here's everything we know so far. 

Exxon gas station

Exxon is trimming its global workforce by 15%, which includes steep cuts in the US and Europe

As Business Insider first reported, Exxon is slashing its global workforce by 15%, or 14,000 people, through 2022, relative to the company's headcount in 2019. The cuts include both contractors and employees. 

  • Up to 1,900 of the job cuts will be in the US, including at least 723 from the Houston area. Click here for a timeline of the reductions and insight into how Exxon will decide which workers to lay off, as revealed by leaked documents we obtained.
  • Another 1,600 jobs or so could be cut in Europe. We explain which roles are at risk here, and you can read the letter the firm's CEO, Darren Woods, sent employees following the cuts here
  • Exxon also said it would lay off about 300 workers in Canada, starting in December, according to a public press release and an internal memo we obtained. The cuts are involuntary and most of them will take place by February of 2021, per the memo. 
  • In addition, the company launched a voluntary redundancy program in Australia. It's not clear how many roles the program will impact.
  • Part of Exxon's approach to shrinking spending is sending jobs overseas to cheap centers of labor, we reported.
Exxon refinery

The firm used its employee-ranking process to cut workers in the weeks after oil markets crashed

In April, Exxon quietly made a change to the way it ranks employees, forcing managers to dub a larger chunk of employees as poor performers, putting them at risk of being cut.

  • Leaked audio from an internal meeting suggests not all employees placed in that category were, in fact, poor performers. That's why workers we spoke to called the change to the ranking system a layoff in disguise.
  • Exxon's performance-based cuts, initiated this summer, put as much as 10% of the company's workforce at risk of losing their jobs. You can find all the details of the ranking system and the April change here
  • The government of Singapore is probing Exxon's labor practices after employees raised concerns about the company's performance-based cuts.  

Other changes to curb spending

Exxon has said publicly that it began restructuring years before the pandemic drove down the price of oil, in part, to curb spending. In the last few months, however, the firm has made a handful of other changes to cut costs. 

What we're watching

  • The job cuts Exxon has announced so far were determined by workforce reviews Exxon has been carrying out on a country-by-country basis. The company could announce results from additional reviews soon.
  • While Exxon has curbed spending, the firm's "dividend sustainability remains challenged absent higher commodity prices," Morgan Stanley said in early November. We'll be keeping an eye on the dividend. 
  • Exxon is placing a huge bet on Guyana, a small South American country with big oil resources. Expect continued focus there (partly because oil production is cheap).
  • The company will likely report fourth-quarter earnings in late January. Investors will be watching to see the scale of loss that it reports for the full year. 

Do you have information about Exxon? Reach out to this reporter at [email protected] or through the messaging app Signal at 646-768-1657. 

This story was originally published on November 6. We updated it to include new information on cuts to the firm's workforce and budget. 

Read the original article on Business Insider