Eike Batista: Brazil's Oil Man
Eike Batista: Brazil’s Oil Man and One of the Richest Men in the World
Brazilian oil man Eike Batista’s ambition is topped only by his unapologetic candor. To say Batista is a lucky man is an understatement, and a slew of highly successful companies are the proof. He is Latin America’s wealthiest man and Forbes’ 8th richest billionaire in the world, but that’s not enough for Batista, and he has publicly stated his intentions to become the wealthiest man in the world within the next decade.
Batista was fortunate to be born to a highly respected Brazilian government worker, Eliezer Batista da Silva, who also headed of one of the world’s largest mining companies, Companhia Vale do Rio Doce. Batista got his start in mining, studying metallurgical engineering at the University of Aahen and becoming a gold trader. He moved into exploration, harvesting gold dust from the Amazon and eventually managing numerous gold mines.
In 1983, Batista founded EBX holding company. EBX Group expanded over the years to include several subsidiaries involved in various industries and employs approximately 20,000 people.
Batista made his way into the oil and natural gas market with OGX in 2007, and has grown the company into the largest private oil and gas exploration firm in Brazil. OGX’s current portfolio includes 29 exploratory blocks in Brazil’s offshore basin, containing an estimated 6.7 billion barrels of net risked prospective resources.
Batista lives life in the fast lane… literally. In his youth, Batista was a national and international champion speedboat racer and has financed several speedboat racetracks throughout Brazil in his effort to mark his home country as one of the top nations in the sport. He was also married to Brazilian Playboy model and Carnival Queen Luma de Oliveira, with whom he had two children.
It seems like Eike Batista has everything, but he is a superstitious man who accredits his good fortune to his superstitious nature. He believes the reason his companies are so successful is in part to the inclusion of the letter “X” in all the company names. Batista claims that X is the symbol for multiplication of wealth. Also, all of the monetary business deals made by Batista include the number 63, the number of his racing boat when he was a champion in his youth. Now, he seeks to be the champion in a different kind of contest, the race for the title of “Richest Man in the World.” Speculators have predicted that if Batista’s business trends continue, he could be worth $200 billion by 2020, clinching the title for sure.
Ofwat allows retailers to raise prices from April
Retailers can recover a portion of excess bad debt by temporarily increasing prices from April 2022, according to an Ofwat statement.
The regulator confirmed its view that levels of bad debt costs across the business retail market are exceeding 2% of non-household revenue, thereby allowing "a temporary increase" in the maximum prices. Adjustments to price caps will apply for a minimum of two years to reduce the step changes in price that customers might experience.
Measures introduced since March 2020 to contain the spread of Covid-19 could lead to retailers facing higher levels of customer bad debt. Retailers’ abilities to respond to this are expected to be constrained by Ofwat strengthening protections for non-household customers during Covid-19 and the presence of price caps.
In April last year, Ofwat committed to provide additional regulatory protection if bad debt costs across the market exceeded 2% of non-household revenue.
Georgina Mills, Business Retail Market Director at Ofwat said: “These decisions aim to protect the interests of non-household customers in the short and longer term, including from the risk of systemic Retailer failure as the business retail market continues to feel the impacts of COVID-19. By implementing market-wide adjustments to price caps, we aim to minimise any additional costs for customers in the shorter term by promoting efficiency and supporting competition.”
There are also three areas where Ofwat has not reached definitive conclusions and is seeking further evidence and views from stakeholders:
- Pooling excess bad debt costs – Ofwat proposes that the recovery of excess bad debt costs is pooled across all non-household customers, via a uniform uplift to price caps.
- Keeping open the option of not pursuing a true up – For example if outturn bad debt costs are not materially higher than the 2% threshold.
- Undertaking the true up – If a 'true up' is required, Ofwat has set out how it expects this to work in practice.
Further consultation on the proposed adjustments to REC price caps can be expected by December.
"While it’s great that regulators are helping the industry deal with bad debt in the wake of the pandemic, raising prices only treats the symptoms. Instead, water companies should head upstream, using customer data to identify and rectify the causes of bad debt, stop it at source and help prevent it from occurring in the first place," she said.
"While recouping costs is a must, water companies shouldn’t just rely on the regulator. Data can help companies segment customers, identify and assist customers that are struggling financially, avoiding penalising the entire customer in tackling the cause of the issue."
United Utilities picks up pipeline award
A race-against-time plumbing job to connect four huge water pipes into the large Haweswater Aqueduct in Cumbria saw United Utilities awarded Utility Project of the Year by Pipeline Industries Guild.
The Hallbank project, near Kendal, was completed within a tight eight-day deadline, in a storm and during the second COVID lockdown last November – and with three hours to spare. Principal construction manager John Dawson said the project helped boost the resilience of water supplies across the North West.
“I think what made us stand out was the scale, the use of future technology and the fact that we were really just one team, working collaboratively for a common goal," he said.
Camus Energy secures $16m funding
Camus Energy, which provides advanced grid management technology, has secured $16 million in a Series A round, led by Park West Asset Management and joined by Congruent Ventures, Wave Capital and other investors, including an investor-owned utility. Camus will leverage the operating capital to expand its grid management software platform to meet growing demand from utilities across North America.
As local utilities look to save money and increase their use of clean energy by tapping into low-cost and low-carbon local resources, Camus' grid management platform provides connectivity between the utility's operations team, its grid-connected equipment and customer devices.