Maxwell Drummond International (MDI) has gone bust, putting nine people out of work at its Aberdeen office. MDI, an executive recruitment consultancy to the global energy sector, was placed into provisional liquidation last week. A spokeswoman for insolvency specialist Begbies Traynor said the "business failure" of MDI was "partly as a result of the downturn in the oil industry".
A Scottish research partnership said yesterday it had taken the biggest cut of a £4million fund created to help lower emissions in the UK. Scottish Carbon Capture and Storage (SCCS) won a £2.8million share of the money on offer from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). SCCS, a tie-up between Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Heriot-Watt and Strathclyde universities and the British Geological Survey, will put the money towards three projects aimed at developing cost-effective carbon capture technologies.
Green power is meeting more than half of Scottish electricity demand for the first time, new figures show. Scottish politicians and green groups hailed the figure, but warned further progress would be hindered by UK Government policy. A total of 57.7% of electricity consumed was generated by renewable technologies in Scotland last year, up 7.9 percentage points on 2014, according to provisional statistics published yesterday by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc).
Oil and gas businesses have gone from being technology pioneers to risk-averse Luddites, an industry chief said yesterday. Colette Cohen, a vice-president at Centrica, said aerospace was the only industry on the same level as oil and gas 40 years ago. The sector has a proud history of innovation, but the biggest breakthroughs have tended to come when oil prices were low.
The developer of a controversial wind farm off the coast of Aberdeen has dismissed claims it will not be able to fund the £230million project. Swedish energy firm Vattenfall said it is confident that cash reserves are in place for the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC) testing and demonstration site, although an investment decision has yet to be taken on the scheme. Assurances came after Vattenfall announced the next step in the project. It said offshore survey group Fugro has started assessing the seabed in Aberdeen Bay ahead of the construction stage, which is slated to start in late 2017.
Offshore survey group Fugro has started assessing the seabed in Aberdeen bay ahead of the construction stage of a £230million wind farm project. Aberdeen Offshore Wind Farm Limited (AOWFL), the joint venture company behind the project, said the information gathered would help it design the foundations for the 11-turbine scheme. While an investment decision on the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC) has yet to be taken, building work is slated to start in late 2017 ahead of first power in 2018, according to AOWFL.
US oilman Stephen Remp said yesterday he was “deeply saddened” by the plight of SeaEnergy, the troubled north-east firm he used to lead. He was speaking after the Westhill-based energy service company announced plans to sell its 3D visualisation business, a move that sent its shares tumbling 45%. SeaEnergy said it was already in talks with a number of potential buyers for Return to Scene (R2S), which it bought for £5million in 2012.
The oil price rout forced Hunting to lay off “just under 100 workers” in the north-east of Scotland last year, the energy service firm said yesterday. Hunting reduced its global headcount by 30% to 2,784 in 2015 as part of cost-cutting measures which were brought in amid a severe slump in drilling activity. Chief executive Dennis Proctor said the outlook for the industry was “bleak”, adding: “We are in a wilderness without a single path to guide us.”
Aberdeen entrepreneurs need to show a sense of urgency and passion if they want to make exporting work for their companies, local businessmen said yesterday. Peter Moon, an account manager at oil and gas software firm Tracker, which has only been in the export market for a year, said he wished the firm had gotten in on the act earlier. Mr Moon, whose company is targeting Middle Eastern clients, said: “We’ve taken a target-driven approach to exporting. Exporting seems a long way off to some people. You can make a two to three year programme but if you think like that, then in two years you will still just be talking about exporting.
A renewable-energy fund and an infrastructure firm yesterday committed to spend £9.8million on buying and upgrading the district heating scheme in Wick. The UK Green Investment Bank (GIB) and Equitix said they would improve the infrastructure at the Wick green-energy plant and expand the heating system to cover another 150 customers. They announced their plans after agreeing to buy the company that had owned and operated the scheme, Ignis Biomass, from Jersey-based fund Ludgate Environmental.
Dulas has started building two new Scottish hydroelectric schemes which will help the country meet its climate change targets, the green-energy developer said yesterday. Both schemes will also help cut energy-costs on the rural estates where they are based and generate income through the feed-in tariff (FiT) system, Dulas said. The Scottish Government has set a target of enabling renewable power generators to cover 100% of the country’s energy demands by 2020.
Offshore accommodation provider Prosafe said there was no oil price upturn on the horizon after proposing a round of staff pay cuts. According to one Prosafe worker, who wishes to remain anonymous, the Norwegian company will implement pay cuts across the board from May. The employee said the firm’s top brass were taking pay cuts of 5-7%, while staff on lower wages faced reductions of 20-28%.
North Sea decommissioning is being held back by a reluctance to accept oil and gas installations will not last forever, an industry expert said yesterday. David Haywood, project adviser at STC Global, an Aberdeen-based design and learning solutions firm, said decommissioning was no longer a “dirty word” and companies should not be embarrassed their assets will cease to make money at some point. Mr Haywood, who has worked for Mobil, Shell and CNR International in an oil and gas career spanning more than 20 years, also said fears that an acceleration in decommissioning could leave viable oil and gas reserves stranded were overstated.
A duo of Norwegian daredevils will parachute into a risk management conference near Aberdeen in May. Once they have landed, skydivers Bjørn Magne and Espen Fadnes, will deliver presentations on corporate risk. Mr Fadnes was an advisor to the Norwegian army before he became a full-time airsport athlete, while Mr Magne is an oil and gas sector safety advisor.
Scottish energy service firm Dron and Dickson (D&D) yesterday defended its decision to push for a second round of pay cuts in less than a year for its offshore workers. D&D, a specialist in the design, supply and maintenance of hazardous-area electrical equipment, blamed the move on the oil and gas price rout and said it hoped pay cuts would prevent job losses. Union bosses said they would try to convince the firm to drop its proposals, which were labelled “disgusting” by staff members.
The Port of Dundee has stolen a march in the race to become the top decommissioning and offshore renewables facility on the east coast of Scotland’s mainland with a £10million investment. The quayside upgrade project is slated for completion in just 18 months, owner Forth Ports said yesterday. Excluding unforeseen delays, it will be finished about three years ahead of Aberdeen harbour’s planned expansion in to Nigg Bay, putting Dundee in pole position to scoop new contracts.
Shell leapfrogged Total to become the UK’s biggest net oil and gas producer after completing its £36million takeover of BG Group. The “mega-merger” was approved by shareholders from both companies last month and went through yesterday. It creates a firm with a net output of 200,000 barrels of oil equivalent (boe) per day in the UK alone.
International oilfield services firm Expro yesterday announced the appointment of a new chief executive to replace Charles Woodburn, who will leave in April. Aberdeen and Reading-based Expro has promoted Mike Jardon, 46, from within its own ranks to fill the void created by Mr Woodburn’s departure. Mr Jardon, who joined Expro in 2011 as chief operating officer, is expected to remain in Houston in his new job.
Scottish motorists are clocking up nearly 1,000 miles more a year than they were two years ago, thanks to lower oil prices.
An Aberdeen-based maritime consultancy shrugged off the worst effects of the oil price collapse to boost its revenues by 34% in 2015. Maritime Assurance and Consulting (MAC) attributed the increased haul of £5.1million in the last calendar year to “careful planning and efficiency savings”. The firm did not disclosed its profits.
Oil prices will stage a gradual recovery towards the end of this year, according to a new Deutsche Bank report, which also flagged up fears over Europe’s economic recovery. It was published on the same day a study from Oil and Gas UK (OGUK) showed the mood among North Sea companies has deteriorated. Deutsche Bank’s report, titled Still Deep in the Woods, said the crude supply glut will persist throughout the first half of the year as Opec holds firm on output, but that the picture will soon change.
Aberdeen firm Rig Control Products (RCP) said yesterday it had netted a £300,000 deal to supply a Singaporean company with oilfield equipment. RCP, which also has a base in Singapore, will also install the four pieces of integrated well control kit on rigs as part of the contract. The system is made up of a hydraulic console with a remotely-operated panel, which is used to operate and control dual choke valves, among other things.
Politicians and industry chiefs pledged to work alongside the newly-formed Offshore Co-ordinating Group (OCG) in its crusade to protect North Sea jobs. Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said was “absolutely imperative” for the Scottish Government to listen to trade unions. Mr Ewing said: “Just this morning, I was agreeing with Grahame Smith that one way the industry can increase efficiency is by listening very carefully to the workforce offshore.
Making sure operators do not bully supply chain companies is a vital part of the battle to safeguard the North Sea’s workforce, union bosses said yesterday. They were speaking at the launch of the Offshore Co-ordinating Group (OCG), an alliance of five trade unions which vowed to lead the fightback on job losses, pay cuts, safety and unilateral changes to terms and conditions for workers. It comprises Unite, RMT, GMB, Balpa and Nautilus, many of which have been embroiled in disputes with employers over these issues since the oil price collapsed.
Oil and gas companies can help secure a bright future for the north-east by making better use of its “world-beating” supply chain, Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said yesterday. Mr Ewing co-chairs the Oil and Gas Industry Leadership Group (ILG), which is targeting total sales from the domestic supply chain of £30billion by 2020, despite the oil price collapse. But he said operators were guilty of squandering talent which is right under their noses.