New Zealand flights return to normal after pipeline repairs

Air New Zealand plane on tarmacImage copyright Getty Images

Airlines will start receiving the first batch of jet fuel through the main pipeline to Auckland Airport since it was damaged earlier this month.

Two million litres will be transferred on Monday evening local time, ending a 10-day shortage.

Most flights have returned to normal after a week of disruptions due to the burst pipe.

Fuel supplies had been rationed but daily allocations will be lifted from 50% to 80% from midnight.

About 140 flights were cancelled at New Zealand's largest airport and the plans of thousands of travellers disrupted last week after the pipeline was ruptured by a digger on a rural property.[1] Several petrol stations[2] in Auckland were also hit by fuel shortages because of the burst pipe.

The disruptions have eased following repairs to the pipe, and only four flights were cancelled on Monday.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Petrol supplies at some Auckland service stations were hit by the fuel shortage

Exxon Mobil, which uses the pipeline to supply fuel to Auckland Airport, said another batch of 4.8m litres of jet fuel is expected to be delivered on Wednesday.

But supplies flowing through to the airport will be reduced for some time.Pipeline operator Refining NZ said the pipe will run at 80% capacity until the end of the year.

Still, a trade group representing 30 airlines flying in and out of Auckland Airport said carriers will be able to make up any shortfalls.

"It doesn't necessarily translate into a fuel shortage for the airlines because they have other means of supplementing their ground fuel such as road transportation," said Justin Tighe-Umbers, executive director of the Board of Airline Representatives New Zealand....

References

  1. ^ ruptured by a digger on a rural property. (www.bbc.co.uk)
  2. ^ petrol stations (www.bbc.co.uk)

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Scottish Power says UK will need to boost capacity

Electricity pylon Britain will need to boost its generation of electricity by about a quarter, Scottish Power has estimated. The energy firm said electric cars and a shift to electric heating could send demand for power soaring. Its chief executive also said there would have to be a major investment in the wiring necessary to handle rapid charging of car batteries. Keith Anderson was speaking as the firm reached the milestone of 2,000 megawatts of wind power capacity. That equates to about an eighth of the British total. The figure includes Whitelee wind farm, on Eaglesham Moor, south of Glasgow, which has more than 200 turbines. Believed to be Europe's biggest wind farm, it is capable of generating enough power for all of Glasgow's homes. Image copyright Thinkstock Image caption Whitelee is believed to be Europe's biggest wind farm In the past 18 months, the Spanish-owned company has been installing nearly a quarter of the British total, but the pipeline of work is coming to an end.Attention is turning to offshore wind. But Mr Anderson told BBC Scotland there would have to be a renewed surge in the building of onshore wind turbines if consumer demand was to be met. He warned that past experience with technology change had shown consumers could make the move faster than governments or companies expect. Once the price of electric cars falls to that of petrol or diesel, which it is thought will happen between 2022 and 2025, there could be a rapid shift in buying patterns and electricity usage. Earlier this month, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced a target of shifting from petrol and diesel-fuelled cars to battery power by 2032[1], while the UK government intends to make that shift by 2040[2]. 'Worst position' Mr Anderson said:"The worst position for this country to be in and the worst position for customers is that we get huge enthusiasm, people rushing out to buy electric cars because the price has come down, and then we can't allow people to plug them in because we haven't invested in the infrastructure. "So one of the things we're looking at now is how we plan what has to happen to the distribution system." The estimate of a 20%-30% increase in demand for electricity comes after years of gradually declining power use, much of that due to growing energy efficiency and the closure of older, energy-intensive industries. Image copyright Getty Images At the same time, old power stations - including Scottish Power's coal-burning plants at Longannet in Fife and Cockenzie in East Lothian - have been closed down. The added challenge of cars is the change in technology from an eight-hour overnight charge to a rapid charge of 15 to 20 minutes. If several car owners on a residential street plug those in at the same time, the system could not cope. Mr Anderson said:"The system that takes the wires into the house, down the street, to local businesses - how do we make sure it can cope with that level of demand?It'll take a long time to plan and deliver." 'Let's keep going' Heating is the next frontier in the energy revolution, which has barely begun.In place of gas and oil-fired boilers in each home, electric central heating can be powered by renewable generation.
What we're saying to the politicians, regulators and customers is:let's keep going - this [wind power] has been a huge successKeith Anderson, Scottish Power chief executive However, it is likely to require not only removal of a boiler, but the replacement of radiators and hot water heating pipes throughout a home.Mr Anderson said:"What we're saying to the politicians, regulators and customers is:let's keep going - this [wind power] has been a huge success."We have been able to develop these projects faster and faster, and to deliver them more efficiently, at much lower cost."Keep going, because that will bring costs down and make us more efficient for the future."If you stop now, the technology development stops, the innovation stops:the new jobs, the new roles, they all stop.You stop that for two or three years, and trying to restart it becomes more difficult and more expensive."Most of the recent onshore wind developments have been in Scotland, focused on the south west.The UK government has allowed much less onshore wind developing, in response to anti-turbine campaigners.It has also left onshore wind out of the auctions which offer generators a minimum price for their energy.These auctions have helped drive down the cost of renewable power, with offshore wind nearly halving in price.References^ shifting from petrol and diesel-fuelled cars to battery power by 2032 (www.bbc.co.uk)^ intends to make that shift by 2040 (www.bbc.co.uk)...

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How jeans giant Levi Strauss got its mojo back

Chip BerghImage copyright Levi Strauss

Chip Bergh has the air of man at ease with the world.But things could have turned out very different, given what he calls his "dysfunctional" childhood.

The 60-year-old chief executive of Levi Strauss, dressed in regulation blue jeans and denim shirt, readily admits to be being "blessed and lucky".

Six years into his successful turnaround of the once struggling US clothing firm, he says the job still gives him a "wow" feeling.

Mr Bergh and his family also love their San Francisco lifestyle, where the vegan boss pursues a passion for marathons and triathlons.

So, professionally and personally, things are going well for the former Procter &Gamble (P&G) executive.

But growing up in the suburbs of New York City there were times when he felt neither blessed nor lucky.

Mr Bergh's father was an advertising salesman working 14-hour days.He was also an alcoholic.

Image copyright Devaki Knowles

There could be "lots of screaming and yelling" at home, Mr Bergh recalls."Mum and dad were always getting in fights."

One day his mother threatened to throw out his dad."That was a wake up call," says the boss of Levi Strauss, or Levi's as it is also known.

His father then finally went to Alcoholics Anonymous, cleaned himself up and never touched another drop.

"I'm proud that my dad recovered," says Mr Bergh."He rebuilt his life."

Mr Bergh's childhood wasn't unhappy."I had a lot of friends, played a lot of sport, and went to a great school," he says.But as the eldest of three children he says he shouldered much of the domestic discord, and grew up fast.

It left its mark and is in part behind his drive to succeed, he thinks.It also left a determination not to repeat some of his father's mistakes.

"I'm pretty level-headed," says Mr Bergh."There's not a lot that really upsets me.I'm not a yeller and screamer, at home or work.I'm pretty relaxed." And he doesn't drink.

Image copyright Levi Strauss Image caption Levi Strauss emigrated to the US from Germany in 1853 when he was 18

So, how does Mr Bergh sum up his management style?"Very open, honest, transparent.What you see is what you get."

He insists he's "really down to earth", adding:"I put my pants on the same way everybody else does - one leg at a time."

Just don't confuse this regular-guy image with a lack of steel, as Mr Bergh's overhaul of Levi's has been radical, some might say brutal.

The company was created in 1873 when San Francisco-based wholesale merchant Levi Strauss and a business partner patented a way to strengthen denim trousers using copper rivets.The rest as they say is history.

Through slick advertising and campaigning on social and political issues (such as donating millions to HIV/Aids charities), Levi's punched above its weight for decades.

Stories were common in the 1960s and 1970s of young Westerners packing Levi's jeans in their luggage to help barter their way through holidays behind the Iron Curtain.

If ever a brand deserved the label "iconic", Levi's was it.

Image copyright Levi Strauss Image caption The Levi 501 jeans are arguably the company's single most important product

But by the time Mr Bergh took over in 2011, the company he calls the original Silicon Valley start-up "had lost its way".

Annual sales peaked in 1997 at $7.1bn (£5.3bn)."We were bigger than Nike then," says Mr Bergh."Nike aspired to be like Levi's."

But Levi's lost its knack of combining heritage with changing trends, and by the early 2000s sales had fallen to $4bn.

As competition increased rapidly from the likes of Walmart and Gap, Levi's had also been borrowing heavily, chiefly to buy out scores of Strauss family descendants, and consolidate ownership.

Mr Bergh says the result was that the firm found it had to "cut costs, cut marketing, to save cash".

Levi's board ultimately decided it needed a fresh pair of hands, and so turned to Mr Bergh, who had the brand expertise and international experience it wanted.

After 28 years at P&G, most latterly working on the Old Spice deodorant and razors accounts, Mr Bergh saw a chance to fulfil an ambition to become a chief executive.

"It was too good an opportunity to pass," he says."It was an opportunity to make a difference, and leave a legacy."

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Chip Bergh is not afraid to "double denim"

All too aware that Levi's was struggling, Mr Bergh sent the firm's then top 60 managers six questions about the pros and cons of the business - and started interviewing each of them.

"But by about the 15th interview it was pretty clear what needed to be done," he says."There was no strategy, there was no alignment across the organisation...People were frustrated."


More The Boss[1] features, which every week profile a different business leader from around the world:


Mr Bergh invested in facilities, broadened the clothing range (especially womenswear), and expanded in relatively untapped markets such as Russia, China and India.

The ecommerce operation, previously outsourced and treated almost as an after-thought, was brought in-house, modernised and expanded.

Mr Bergh also changed the top team at the business.Within 18 months of his appointment, nine of the 11-member executive team had left.Of the current 150 senior managers, two-thirds have been with the company for three years or less.

He says:"We needed to change not just the business but the culture, and the best way to change the culture is to change the leadership."

Image copyright Levi Strauss Image caption The original US patent for riveted jeans, from 1873

Mr Bergh admits the clear out was dramatic, sometimes traumatic, but says:"You always have to do the harder right than the easier wrong."

Did he learn such decisiveness in the army, which he joined for two years after school?Making quick decisions was certainly part of the skill-set, he says.But the army also taught him about leadership.

"It's wrong that the army is all about deference and saluting seniors," he says."You have to earn respect, build trust, be willing to make decisions, coach people and train people - all those skills are transferable to the corporate world."

The army's downside was that promotion moved slowly, and Mr Bergh wanted to "move ahead quickly".A recruitment firm found him a job at P&G.

image

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Media captionChip Bergh on letting staff go with dignity

Levi's turnaround seems to be succeeding, with 2017 expected to see the fifth consecutive year of profits growth.

Retail analyst Marshal Cohen, of market research group NPD, says that yet again Levi's has been able to "reinvent" itself to a new generation.

However, Mr Bergh says the job is far from finished."We have made really good progress.It's been harder and taken longer than I expected.

"I'm not satisfied with where we are.We still have a lot more work to do."...

References

  1. ^ The Boss (www.bbc.co.uk)

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How plastic became a victim of its own success

A Bakelite telephoneImage copyright Getty Images Image caption Leo Baekeland invented Bakelite, the world's first first fully synthetic plastic

"Unless I am very much mistaken, this invention will prove important in the future." Leo Baekeland wrote those words in his journal on 11 July, 1907.He was in a good mood.Aged 43, he'd done well.

Born in Belgium, his dad was a cobbler.He'd had no education, and didn't understand why young Leo wanted one.He apprenticed the boy into the trade, aged just 13.But his mum had other ideas.

With her encouragement, Leo went to night school, and won a scholarship to the University of Ghent.By the age of 20, he had a doctorate in chemistry.

He married his tutor's daughter and moved to New York, where he made so much money from photographic printing paper that he need never work again.

The Baekelands bought a house in Yonkers, overlooking the Hudson River, where Leo built a home laboratory to indulge his love of tinkering with chemicals.In July 1907, he was experimenting with formaldehyde and phenol.

Image copyright Alamy Image caption Baekeland's invention made him famous enough to be featured on the cover of Time magazine

These experiments would lead to his second fortune.

He became so famous that Time magazine put his face on the cover without needing to mention his name, just the words, "It will not burn.It will not melt."

What Leo Baekeland invented that July was the first fully synthetic plastic.

He called it Bakelite.


50 Things That Made the Modern Economy[1] highlights the inventions, ideas and innovations which have helped create the economic world in which we live.

It is broadcast on the BBC World Service.You can find more information about the programme's sources[2] and listen online[3] or subscribe to the programme podcast[4].


And he was right about its future importance.Plastics would soon be everywhere.

When Susan Freinkel wrote her book Plastic:A Toxic Love Story, she spent a day noting down everything she touched that was plastic:the light switch, the toilet seat, the toothbrush, the toothpaste tube.

She also noted everything that wasn't - the toilet paper, the wooden floor, the porcelain tap.

Unlimited potential

By the day's end, she'd listed 102 items that weren't made of plastic, and 196 that were.We make so much plastic, it takes about 8% of oil production - half for raw material, half for energy.

The Bakelite Corporation didn't hold back in its advertising blurb:humans, it said, had transcended the old taxonomy of animal, mineral and vegetable.Now we had a "fourth kingdom, whose boundaries are unlimited".

That sounds hyperbolic, but it was true.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Celluloid, which had been developed in the late 19th century, was gradually replaced by Bakelite and other more modern compounds

Scientists previously had thought about improving or mimicking natural substances.

Earlier plastics, like celluloid, were based on plants, and Baekeland himself had been seeking an alternative to shellac, a resin secreted by beetles that was used for electrical insulation.

Yet he quickly realised that Bakelite could become far more versatile than that.

Artificial explosion

The Bakelite Corporation christened it "The Material of a Thousand Uses", and, again, that wasn't far wrong.

It went into telephones, radios, guns, coffee pots, billiard balls and jewellery.It was used in the first atomic bomb.

Image copyright Alamy

Bakelite's success shifted mindsets:what other artificial materials might be possible, with properties you couldn't necessarily find in nature?

In the 1920s and 1930s, plastics poured out of labs around the world.

There was polystyrene, often used for packaging, nylon, popularised by stockings, and polyethylene, the stuff of plastic bags.

As World War Two stretched natural resources, production of plastics ramped up to fill the gap.And when the war ended, exciting new products like Tupperware hit the consumer market.

Image copyright Alamy

But they weren't exciting for long:the image of plastic gradually changed.

Shifting connotations

In 1967, the film The Graduate famously started with the central character, Benjamin Braddock, receiving unsolicited career advice from a self-satisfied older neighbour.

"Just one word," the neighbour promises, steering Benjamin towards a quiet corner, as if about to reveal the secret to life itself."Plastics!"

The line became much-quoted, because it crystallised the changing connotations of the word.For the older neighbour's generation, "plastic" still meant opportunity and modernity.For the likes of young Benjamin, it stood for all that was phoney, superficial, ersatz.

Still:it was great advice.Half a century on, despite its image problem, plastic production has grown about twenty-fold.It'll double again in the next 20 years.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption None of the commonly used plastics is biodegradable, and many are not recycled

That's also despite growing evidence of environmental problems.Some of the chemicals in plastics are thought to affect how animals develop and reproduce.

When plastics end up in landfill, those chemicals can eventually seep into groundwater;when they find their way into oceans, some creatures eat them.


More from Tim Harford:

How fertiliser helped feed the world[5]

The hidden strengths of unloved concrete [6]

How the invention of paper changed the world[7]

Battery bonanza:From frogs' legs to mobiles and electric cars[8]


But there's another side to the ledger - plastic has benefits that aren't just economic, but environmental too.

Vehicles made with plastic parts are lighter, and so use less fuel.Plastic packaging keeps food fresh for longer, and so reduces waste.If bottles weren't made of plastic, they'd be made of glass.Which would you rather gets dropped in your children's playground?

Rubbish recycling rates

Eventually, we'll have to get better at recycling plastic, if only because oil won't last forever.

Some plastics can't be recycled - like Bakelite.Many more could be, but aren't.In fact only about a seventh of plastic packaging is recycled - far less than for paper or steel.That rate is lower still for other plastic products.


What should be the 51st Thing?

Image copyright Getty Images

Tim Harford has discussed 50 things which he argues have made the modern economy.Help choose the 51st thing by voting for one of these listener suggestions:

  • The credit card
  • Glass
  • Global Positioning System (GPS)
  • Irrigation
  • The pencil
  • The spreadsheet

You can vote on the 50 Things That Made the Modern Economy programme website.[9] Voting closes at 12:00 GMT Friday 6 October 2017, and the winning 51st Thing will be announced in a special podcast [10]on 28 October 2017.


Improving that will take effort from everyone.You may have seen little triangles on plastic, with numbers from one to seven.

They're called Resin Identification Codes, and they're one initiative of the industry's trade association.They help with recycling, but the system's far from perfect.

If the industry could do more, then so could many governments:recycling rates differ hugely around the world.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Taiwan has been widely praised for achieving a recycling rate of around 55%

...

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