News in brief

North Sea job fears

North Sea oil companies are set to shed more than 1,000 jobs in Scotland as a result of mergers and disposals. The merger of US oil companies Chevron and Texaco could lead to the loss of several hundred jobs in Aberdeen. More redundancies will arise from Elf Aquitaine’s sale of its main North Sea interests.

Gas power go-ahead

The Government gave the go-ahead for two more gas-fired power projects last week. The move takes the total capacity approved since it introduced a `stricter’ planning regime for such projects six months ago to over 1,000MW.

Rolls in Israel venture

Rolls-Royce has announced a joint venture with two Israeli partners, Blades Technology and Wertheimer Company, to make aero-engine compressor blades at Tefen in northern Israel.

Robot sales down

Sales of robots fell 28% in the UK during 1998 to 1,282 units – putting British manufacturing further behind its European competitors in terms of factory automation – according to figures from the British Automation & Robotics Association.

Two plus two is …?

Almost 40% of 166,000 job applicants tested by big US companies in 1998 lacked the reading and mathematical skills to perform the job they applied for, reports a survey by the American Management Association.

Enterprise finalists

Science minister Lord Sainsbury announced the 12 finalists for the Science Enterprise Challenge this week. The winners will be announced in late July or early August.

Cookson in US bid

Materials engineer Cookson Group has bid £252m for US-based Premier Refractories International. The deal would nearly double the size of Cookson’s refractories business.