Mark Lammey

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

Gold Awards: A golden evening in the silver city

08/06/2015

Despite a difficult year the energy sector is still a vital organ of our economy. Companies and policymakers have made a considerable effort to reduce production costs and ensure the industry remains a provider of thousands of jobs in the north-east. The Press and Journal Gold Awards marked 50 years of oil and gas activity in the region and outlined an optimistic outlook for the future of an industry that can thrive for 50 more. Mark Lammey reports. All that glitters in the North Sea oil and gas industry was celebrated at the weekend as the inaugural Press and Journal Gold Awards were held in Aberdeen. The event, run in association with the paper’s sister website Energy Voice and title sponsor Aberdeen Asset Management, marked a major milestone for the sector – the 50th year of the granite city’s involvement in the development of the North Sea.

Oil & Gas

Long-term approach needed by oil and gas companies to recruitment

08/06/2015

Oil and gas companies need to take a long-term, strategic approach to recruitment if they are to avoid the pitfalls of a self-inflicted, perpetuating talent shortage, a new report says. Energy firms are more focused on reducing their headcounts to cope with the current oil price downturn, with industry body Oil and Gas UK venturing last month that as many as 4,000 North Sea jobs have been lost since last summer. But talent shortages have affected the industry since the 1990s, and many observers have warned that the sector still needs to find new workers, or it will not be ready to take advantage when the market picks up.

Oil & Gas

Gold Awards: Star players in 50 years of North Sea oil and gas

08/06/2015

The firms and individuals which have shaped a half-century of innovation and achievement in the North Sea have been celebrated at a sparkling ceremony in Aberdeen. Crucially, the Press and Journal Gold Awards also highlighted those who hold the key to the offshore sector’s future. Prizes were presented to Statoil, Balmoral Group, Apache’s Mark Richardson and the VisuaLoSal project, while Wood Group picked up two honours on the night.

Oil & Gas

Unions’ strike action threat

05/06/2015

Union bosses have given offshore catering companies two weeks to return to the negotiating table and hammer out a compromise on staff pay, or risk facing strike action. The Unite union yesterday said the Caterers Offshore Trade Association (Cota) had “refused to enter into meaningful discussion” regarding its members’ earlier decision to backtrack on a 2% pay increase that had been agreed for this year.

Oil & Gas

OPEC moots $80 as new ‘fair’ oil price

04/06/2015

Nearly a year after oil markets entered a deep downward spiral, unmoored from the $100-a-barrel mark that had anchored them for years, some OPEC members are publicly talking for the first time about a new "fair" price for their crude.

Other News

Aberdeen -Stavanger Gateway 2015: ‘Promote sector or face shortages’

03/06/2015

North Sea oil and gas companies must continue to promote the sector to young people or face a shortage of workers in the coming years, a Statoil official said yesterday. Low oil prices have hit the industry hard with many companies forced to let staff go in order to free up funds for new projects, but Statoil appears to be taking a longer term view on employment. The company plans to increase its Aberdeen-based headcount to 200 from 130 when it moves into a new office in Kingswells next spring, with hundreds more working offshore on its Mariner development.

Americas

Brazil oil group seeks changes to local-content rules

26/05/2015

Brazil's national oil-industry association, IBP, released a list of suggestions for regulatory changes on Monday that it hopes will boost exploration activity in the wake of falling oil prices, high costs, delays and a graft scandal at state-run oil company Petrobras.

Americas

Texas oil patches brace for more rains, possible floods

26/05/2015

Texas oilfields could see strong rains and thunderstorms later this week, though they were spared the heaviest flooding that struck central and eastern Texas over the Memorial Day weekend, the National Weather Service said on Tuesday.

Renewables/Energy Transition

Subsidies threat ‘will harm investment in hydro power’

26/05/2015

The development of new hydro-electric power schemes will no longer be economically viable if the UK Government continues to cut subsidies, a London-based investment fund has warned. Hydro schemes have been an attractive proposition for cautious investors as they use established technology, have a predictable output and are designed to last 50 years with little maintenance, said David Freeder, an investment manager at Downing. The government sweetened the deal further in 2010, when it introduced the feed-in tariff (FiT) system, which dishes out fixed-rate payments for electricity generated by small-scale schemes, including solar, wind and hydro.

Oil & Gas

Parkmead eyes mergers market onslaught following share placing

19/05/2015

Scottish oil and gas explorer Parkmead Group plans to muscle in on the sector’s growing mergers and acquisitions (M&A) market using the proceeds of a share placing. Energy companies have been left scrambling to consolidate through asset sales and buy-outs since the oil price collapsed in the second half of 2014, with recent deals including a £47billion “mega-merger” between Shell and BG Group. Parkmead, led north-east businessman Tom Cross, has rapidly beefed up its portfolio in the UK and Netherlands in recent times and is keen to “take advantage of the current M&A environment in the oil and gas sector.”

Oil & Gas

Marine firm acts to capture assets

13/05/2015

Marine service company James Fisher and Sons has bought more assets from companies left stricken by the collapse of Norwegian group Reef Subsea. Reef went into liquidation in February after its backers withdrew their support due to the drop in oil prices, plunging Aberdeen-based subsidiaries Specialist Subsea Services (SSS) and X-Subsea into administration. Last month James Fisher pounced to buy SSS assets, and yesterday said it had shelled out £14.8million on equipment and patents owned by X-Subsea Holdings. X-Subsea, which itself had two subsidiaries in Aberdeen, was put into administration late last month at a cost of 20 Granite City jobs.

Renewables/Energy Transition

Energy policy ‘failure’ for the Western Isles

11/05/2015

A former energy minister has accused the governments of Scotland and the UK of overseeing a “dismal failure of energy policy” related to the Western Isles. Brian Wilson said the Western Isles have the highest electricity tariffs in the UK and that 70% of households in the area suffer from fuel poverty, which is worse than anywhere else in Western Europe. That record is particularly galling given that the Western Isles are often said to have the greatest potential for the generation of renewable energy in Europe, according to Mr Wilson, energy minister from 2001-03.

Oil & Gas

Expert urges firms to change strategy

06/05/2015

Oil and gas firms must show they are capable of doing more than just cutting costs if they are to secure the North Sea’s long-term future and save jobs, a top UK energy industry official said. The sector is in the grip of a downturn brought on by low oil prices and spiralling operating costs – a self-made crisis, in the words of many industry leaders. About 4,000 jobs have been lost in the UK, according to media reports, and only five exploration wells have been drilled in British waters so far this year – way below what the basin can support when business is booming.

Other News

Offshore Europe shaping up for busiest year

05/05/2015

Oil and gas companies are snapping up exhibition stands at this year’s Offshore Europe (OE) conference in Aberdeen as quickly as ever, despite the current downturn in the energy sector. OE’s spiritual sister on this side of the Atlantic – ONS Norway – was cancelled and just last week BP said it would not exhibit at the biennial OE conference this September, with the low oil price citied as a factor in both decisions. Concerns that OE could be a quiet affair this year appear to be unfounded, however.

Oil & Gas

Energy industry recognises stars of health and safety

30/04/2015

The North Sea oil and gas industry raised a toast to its champions of safety at an awards ceremony in Aberdeen yesterday. Six awards were handed out at this year’s UK Oil and Gas Industry Safety Awards to people and companies who went the extra mile to keep employees out of harm’s way. Vic Retalic, HSE and security manager of Premier Oil, was recognised for his creative approach to communicating health and safety messages, which includes the use of cartoons. He took the Safety Leadership Award home from the event at the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre (AECC).

Oil & Gas

Tony Hayward: ‘Beaten shale prices set to boost crude’

23/04/2015

A combination of cost-cutting measures by oil and gas firms and Opec’s decision not to curb output is laying the foundations for the next crude price surge, former BP chief executive Tony Hayward said yesterday. A slump in crude prices from summer highs of more than $100 per barrel to less than $50 at the turn of the year has made life miserable for energy companies, many of which have had to mothball projects and offload staff. The price drop was caused by the build-up of a massive supply glut, which was brought about by a stand-off between Opec and US shale producers. Opec was bent on pumping out so much oil that the price would be driven down to the point that US shale producers would no longer be able to make a profit, forcing them to shut down. Mr Hayward said the tactic is paying off and that Opec, whose leading nations can produce oil cheaply, will ultimately regain market share.

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