Mark Lammey

Business reporter at the P&J. Formerly online editor and deputy business editor at The Moscow Times.
Oil & Gas

Eni raises output target as Q2 profits slump on Saipem

30/07/2015

Italian oil and gas group Eni raised its production targets for the year on Thursday as second-quarter net profit slumped due to lower oil prices and a heavy loss at oil contractor subsidiary Saipem. State-controlled Eni said adjusted net profit in the second quarter was 0.14 billion euros ($153 million), below the consensus forecast of 0.48 billion euros in a Reuters poll of analysts. Stripping out the Saipem effect, adjusted net profit was 0.45 billion euros. On Tuesday, Saipem reported a quarterly adjusted operating loss of 738 million euros after heavy writedowns as part of a turnaround plan.

Oil & Gas

Russia, OPEC pursuing common goals for balanced, stable market, says energy minister

30/07/2015

Russia and OPEC are pursuing the same goals of keeping the oil market balanced and stable, Energy Minister Alexander Novak told OPEC Secretary-General Abdullah al-Badri on Thursday. OPEC decided in June to keep oil production unchanged in a bid to defend its market share. Russia has also refused to take any action to support oil prices which have more than halved since last year. "The global oil market is being affected by various political factors. In particular, ... the agreement on Iran ... and its consequences ... will have an impact on the market," Novak said during a visit to Moscow by Badri.

Oil & Gas

Chevron to lay off 1,500 workers amidst oil price slump

29/07/2015

Chevron Corp, the second-largest U.S. oil company, said on Tuesday it would lay off 1,500 employees, about 2 percent of its global work force, as it trims costs to offset declining crude prices. Nearly all of the layoffs will be in Texas, where the company has expanded in recent years to develop land in the Permian shale formation, and California, where Chevron is headquartered. Fifty international employees will be laid off and roughly 600 contractor positions will be canceled, the company said in a statement.

Oil & Gas

Russia’s Novatek net profit up 31% to $700M

29/07/2015

Novatek, Russia's No. 2 gas producer, made second-quarter net profit of 41.9 billion roubles ($703 million), up 31 percent year-on-year on stronger sales, it said on Wednesday. Analysts had expected the firm to post 38 billion roubles in quarterly net profit. The company said its revenues were at 112.2 billion roubles, up from 88.4 billion roubles in the same period last year.

Oil & Gas

Croatian ex-PM Sanader’s oil graft convictions sent for retrial

27/07/2015

Croatia's Constitutional Court has annulled two corruption convictions against former prime minister Ivo Sanader and ordered a retrial. Sanader, prime minister from 2004 to 2009, had been convicted of taking a bribe from the Hungarian oil group MOL in 2008 to allow it to take a dominant stake in Croatia's biggest utility, the oil firm INA, and also of taking a bribe from Austria's Hypo Bank in 1994 and 1995, when he was deputy foreign minister.

Oil & Gas

Colombia’s Ecopetrol sells over of half of EEB stake for $215 mln

27/07/2015

Colombia's state-owned oil company Ecopetrol sold more than half its shares in energy company Empresa de Energia de Bogota (EEB) for $215 million, Ecopetrol said on Monday, as part of its plan to sell assets to fund investments. Ecopetrol said in a statement it sold 352 million shares, 55.1 percent of its interest in EEB, for 1,740 Colombian pesos per share. The shares were sold to a preferential group of employees, retirees, pension funds and unions.

Oil & Gas

Ukraine plans higher gas imports, injections in August

27/07/2015

Ukraine plans to increase natural gas imports from Europe in August with a view to boosting injections into storage for next winter, Energy Minister Volodymyr Demchyshyn said on Monday. He told a televised briefing that Ukraine aimed to import around 40 million cubic metres (mcm) of gas per day from Europe, up from 24 mcm of gas per day in July. Plans call for increasing injections into underground storage to 52-53 mcm per day in August from the current 35-40 mcm.

Oil & Gas

Oil traders fill South Africa storage to the brim

27/07/2015

South Africa's 45 million barrel strategic crude reserve depot is filled to capacity as oil traders hoping prices will rise in the future snap up storage capacity, two industry sources told Reuters. The state-run Strategic Fuel Fund Association (SFF) operates six underground crude bunkers at the Saldanha Bay facility, one of the largest oil storage centres in the world. Global crude prices have remained depressed since a supply glut led to a more than halving of prices last year.

Oil & Gas

Surge in gasoline demand throws lifeline to European refiners

23/07/2015

The scramble for gasoline this summer has thrown a lifeline to European refiners, pushing gasoline cracks to multi-year highs and tightening the market for the fuel's components, but the seasonal effect next year is likely to be more muted. Stephen George, chief economist at UK-based consultancy KBC Advanced Technologies, said demand for gasoline in the United States and China had risen by about 600,000 barrels per day (bpd) year-on-year, triggered by lower oil prices. "It's about twice as strong as distillate demand growth this year, while new market supplies are skewed to diesel," George said in the Reuters Global Oil Forum on Thursday.

Oil & Gas

Shell bids to drill two Albanian onshore blocks

23/07/2015

A venture between Royal Dutch Shell and Canada's Petromanas has applied to drill two onshore blocks in central Albania close to another promising well they are drilling further south, an official said on Thursday. The official said three bids had been submitted for the blocks - from Shell Upstream Albania B.V with Petromanas Albania GmbH, Israel's Delek Group Limited and Interland Investments SA.

Oil & Gas

Singapore’s Keppel Q2 profit falls 2 pct as rig business falters

23/07/2015

Singapore-based conglomerate Keppel's second-quarter net profit fell 2 percent to S$396.7 million ($290.2 million) from a year earlier, weighed down by weak performance in the offshore and marine unit. Keppel, one of the world's largest offshore rig builders, also has business interest in real estate and infrastructure. The weakness in oil market over the past year has been weighing on the rig building business globally. Keppel posted revenue of S$2.6 billion for the quarter ended June 30, down 19 percent from a year earlier, and a net profit of S$756.9 million for the first half of the year. That was slightly short of half of a mean estimate for the full year at S$1.59 billion, based on 21 analysts polled by Thomson Reuters.

Oil & Gas

Iran eyes $185 bln oil, gas projects after sanctions

23/07/2015

Iran outlined plans on Thursday for the rebuilding of its core industries and trade links in the wake of a nuclear agreement with world powers, saying it was targeting oil and gas projects worth $185 billion by 2020. Iran's Minister of Industry, Mines and Trade Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh said the Islamic Republic would focus on its oil and gas, metals and car industries with an eye to exporting to Europe after sanctions have been lifted. "We are looking for a two-way trade as well as cooperation in development, design and engineering," Nematzadeh told a conference in Vienna.

Oil & Gas

Ashtead Technology plays key role in solving WWII mystery ship sinking

23/07/2015

When the HMAS Sydney was sunk during WWII by what should have been a weaker German cruiser, all 645 of its crewmen perished, taking the explanation for the disaster to their watery graves. But nearly 70 years on, an Aberdeenshire subsea technology company has played a “key role” in solving the mystery surrounding the sinking of the ship, which lay undiscovered off the western Australian coast until 2008. Ashtead Technology yesterday said it donated equipment to the survey team after being sounded out by international subsea firm DOF Subsea earlier this year.

Oil & Gas

Former senior Chinese energy executive stands trial

22/07/2015

A former senior Chinese energy executive has gone on trial this week, the official Xinhua news agency reported on Wednesday, part of the government's sweeping crackdown against deep-rooted corruption. Wang Yongchun was a deputy general manager at China's biggest oil company, China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), until he became caught up in a graft probe last year. Wang's trial on charges of "holding a huge amount of property with unidentified sources" and "abuse of power by a staff member of a state-owned company" opened on Monday in Xiangyang, central Hubei province, Xinhua said.

Oil & Gas

OPEC sees oil drop as short-term, expects stronger demand, delegates say

22/07/2015

A drop in oil prices this month is likely to be short-term and will not deflect OPEC from its policy of keeping output high to defend market share, delegates from Gulf OPEC members and other nations said. Falling Chinese stock markets and the Greek debt crisis have raised concern about demand, while the Iranian nuclear deal could lead to higher oil exports from the Islamic Republic. Benchmark Brent crude, trading below $57 a barrel on Wednesday, has fallen more than 10 percent in July. OPEC, in a major policy shift, decided in November against cutting its production target of 30 million barrels per day (bpd) to prop up prices, seeking instead to defend market share against U.S. shale oil and other competing sources. The group reconfirmed the strategy at a meeting in June.

Oil & Gas

South Korea’s S-Oil sees recovery in H2 refining margins

22/07/2015

South Korea's S-Oil Corp, the country's third-largest refiner, said on Wednesday it sees a recovery in industry-wide second-half refining margins after a recent dip. S-Oil whose main shareholder is Saudi Aramco, the Kingdom's state oil giant, reported a 613 billion Korean won ($533 million) profit in the second quarter from a 238.1 billion won profit a quarter earlier and a 54.4 billion won loss a year ago, helped by more stable oil prices and healthy margins. The refiner said it expected margins to recover to a solid level following a recent correction.

Oil & Gas

Brazil’s Petrobras confirms irregularities in 2009 Braskem deal

22/07/2015

Brazil's state-run oil firm Petrobras confirmed on Tuesday it had found irregularities in the approval of a 2009 contract to provide naphtha to petrochemical company Braskem SA and had reported the issue to public prosecutors. Petrobras, or Petroleo Brasileiro SA, said in a securities filing that it began investigating the contract based on plea deal testimony from former executive Paulo Roberto Costa and money changer Alberto Youssef in a sweeping graft probe. On Saturday, TV Globo reported that the two revealed a bribe paid by Braskem for a deal allowing it to pay below-market rates for naphtha, causing losses to Petrobras.

Oil & Gas

South Korea’s GS E&C wins $270 mln contract to expand KPIC’s naphtha unit

22/07/2015

South Korea's GS Engineering and Construction Corp has signed a contract to expand a Korea Petrochemical Industry Co (KPIC) naphtha cracking plant for 311 billion Korean won ($270 million), the two companies said on Wednesday. The project will help KPIC expand its ethylene production capacity to 800,000 tonnes per year (tpy) from 490,000 tpy, along with its raising benzene, toluene and xylene production capacity to 300,000 tpy from 220,000 tpy, according to the builder GS E&C in a statement.

Opinion

Six ways to get process efficiency right

22/07/2015

So you’ve decided you can’t cost directly any more. You approach is now to improve processes for maximum efficiency. But what excuses are you likely to meet in rolling out these processes? And what can you do to counteract them? Through work with Operators, Service Companies & Contractors of all types both in the UK and further afield here’s STC’s ‘top excuses’ (and our most effective approaches to making them go away!):

Oil & Gas

Oil and gas industry “struggling” despite positive outlook for Scots business overall, KPMG says

22/07/2015

The number of companies going bust in Scotland fell in the second quarter compared to the same period last year but was up compared to the first three months of 2015, new figures show. But while professional services firm KPMG said the figures were “positive for the majority of businesses”, it warned that the oil and gas industry is continuing to “struggle” due to the oil price slump. The food and drink, construction and care homes sectors are also faring comparatively poorly, according to the latest Scottish insolvency figures from KPMG.

Oil & Gas

Technip’s Richard Wylie relishing challenge of mammoth Quad 204 project

22/07/2015

As Technip’s project director for the £800million Quad 204 project, Richard Wylie is tasked with restoring one of the North Sea’s prized assets at a crucial time for the industry. The project involves the redevelopment of the Schiehallion field, 110miles west of Shetland, and the target is to squeeze another 25 years and 450million barrels of oil out of it. The BP-operated field started producing in 1998, but the old FPSO, which was towed away last year, now needs to be replaced along with subsea infrastructure.

Oil & Gas

North Sea waste treatment division boosts Augean

22/07/2015

Waste-management giant Augean said yesterday that contract wins for its North Sea energy service arm contributed to a strong first half performance for the group. Aberdeen-based Augean North Sea Services (ANSS) sealed a number of deals in June and July, including a first contract for the disposal of naturally occurring radioactive material that builds up on offshore drilling equipment. The group’s Radioactive Waste Services (RWS) division will work with ANSS on the contract, which was agreed with an unspecified major operator.

Oil & Gas

Ukraine boosts gas imports from Slovakia

21/07/2015

Ukraine increased its purchase of natural gas imports from Slovakia by 41 percent on Tuesday, boosting its storage supplies, transport monopoly Ukrtransgaz said. Cash-strapped Ukraine is now buying most of its natural gas from Slovakia after halting imports from Russia three weeks ago due to a pricing dispute. It was unclear whether the increase on Tuesday was due to price factors or other reasons.

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