Mark Lammey

Energy Voice editor
Oil & Gas

US walrus protections hit Shell’s Arctic drilling plan

01/07/2015

The Obama administration dealt a setback to Royal Dutch Shell's Arctic oil exploration plans on Tuesday, saying established walrus and polar bear protections prevent the company from drilling with two rigs simultaneously at close range, as it had planned. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued Shell a permit which emphasized that under 2013 federal wildlife protections, companies must maintain a 15-mile (24-km) buffer between two rigs drilling simultaneously. The rule is meant to protect populations of animals sensitive to sounds and activities of drilling. Walruses have been known to plunge off rocks into the sea during drilling, putting some at risk. The animals are already at risk from reduced habitat due to global warming.

Oil & Gas

Ukraine halts Russian gas imports, flows to Europe unaffected

01/07/2015

Ukraine said it halted natural gas imports from Russia on Wednesday after EU-brokered talks collapsed without a deal on how much Kiev should pay for its supplies and an interim accord expired at midnight. Russian gas flows to the European Union via Ukraine were unaffected. The European Commission said both sides had promised gas transit west would remain smooth, but it would not relinquish its mediation efforts until there was agreement. "From today, Ukraine is not getting gas from Russia. Transit supplies are as normal," Maksim Belyavsky, a spokesman for Ukraine's gas transit monopoly Ukrtransgaz, said.

Oil & Gas

Offshore leaks at lowest ever level

01/07/2015

The number of oil and gas leaks occurring offshore is at its lowest ever level, a new report says. Injury rates were also lower than in many other sectors, including construction, transport and manufacturing, according to industry body Oil and Gas UK (OGUK)’s Health and Safety Report 2015, published today.

Oil & Gas

Lego mentality could hold key to energy sector cost reductions

01/07/2015

Lego building methods could be the answer to the North Sea oil and gas sector’s current plight, energy industry leaders heard at a seminar in Aberdeen yesterday. Organised by trade association Oil and Gas UK (OGUK), the event promoted the virtues of simplification and standardisation and gave an insight into cost efficiency measures taken by other sectors during hard times. Franco-Japanese alliance Renault-Nissan said the automotive industry practically fell off a cliff during the global financial crisis of 2008, while also having to cope with customers’ demands for more content in their cars for less money.

Oil & Gas

BP’s chief economist sees US shale weathering oil surplus

30/06/2015

Shale output in the United States will prove resilient to low oil prices likely to be prolonged by the prospect of half a million barrels per day of Iranian crude making its way back to the market, BP's chief economist said on Tuesday. Talks in Vienna between world powers trying to end sanctions on Tehran in return for limits on Iran's most sensitive nuclear activities could bring a significant increase in Iranian oil exports. BP's Spencer Dale, however, told Reuters that it would probably take time for any easing of sanctions to filter through to oil markets if an Iran deal is agreed.

Market info

New oil bull market in sight as Brazil, Iraq cut output targets

30/06/2015

Massive downward revisions to oil output in Brazil and Iraq have increased the risks for oil markets of going from the current feast to famine within just a few years, leading to a price spike that would give a new boost to the U.S. shale industry. Brazil and Iraq had been expected to add over 2 million barrels per day to global supply by 2020 and another 2.5 million by 2025, becoming the two biggest contributors to help meet rising global demand, according to the long-term forecast of the International Energy Agency. With Brazil's Petrobras cutting this week its five-year production outlook by 1.4 million bpd in response to low oil prices and the ongoing corruption probe and Iraq renegotiating deals with oil majors to reflect "more realistic" output targets, the current glut in the oil markets is poised to end sooner than expected.

Oil & Gas

Israel to let US-led consortium keep control of biggest offshore gas field

30/06/2015

Israel plans to leave its biggest offshore natural gas project, Leviathan, in the hands of a U.S.-Israeli consortium while opening the industry to more competition, under a proposal announced on Tuesday. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had been adamant in seeking a deal that would allow Leviathan to be developed and sought a parliament vote to let the state circumvent the antitrust authority, which has expressed opposition. When some ministers said they would not support such a position, Netanyahu faced a coalition crisis and ultimately the vote was postponed due to lack of a majority.

Oil & Gas

Arctic oil rig departs Seattle-area port despite protest

30/06/2015

U.S. Coast Guard and police boats cleared a way through protesters in kayaks at a Seattle-area port on Tuesday so a drilling ship could head for the Arctic on behalf of Royal Dutch Shell. The Noble Discover is the second drilling ship Shell has sent to the area in recent days. The activists, who have staged frequent demonstrations during the past two months against Royal Dutch Shell's oil exploration in the Chukchi Sea off mainland Alaska, had taken to the waters just beyond the Port of Everett north of Seattle where the oil rig launched for sea.

Oil & Gas

Aberdeen firm Xodus scoops £380k deal for Middle East work

30/06/2015

Aberdeen energy service firm Xodus Group has struck a deal worth £380,000 for work on the Zirku oil and gas processing facilities in the Persian Gulf. The contract was awarded by Abu Dhabi-based oil major Zakum Development Company (Zadco) and builds on several orders Xodus notched up in the Middle East so far this year. The new agreement will see Xodus lay on services aimed at preventing vibration induced failures on Zirku-Island-based installations over a 24-week period.

Oil & Gas

New Aberdeen engineering firm offering price cuts wins £500k of business

30/06/2015

A fledgling Aberdeen-based engineering firm has reeled in £500,000 worth of orders in the last two months by offering cost savings to operators in the oil and gas industry. Low oil prices and high costs have beset the sector in recent times, forcing companies to fire staff and mothball projects to balance their budgets. But the downturn has created a gap in the market for companies to thrive if they can offer cheaper alternatives than their rivals, the directors of Step Change Engineering (SCE) believe.

Oil & Gas

US Supreme Court rejects BP, Anadarko over Deepwater Horizon spill penalties

29/06/2015

The US Supreme Court on Monday rejected bids by BP and Anadarko Petroleum Corp to avoid penalties under federal pollution law in connection with the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The high court left in place a June 2014 ruling by the New Orleans-based 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals, which said the companies were liable for civil penalties under the federal Clean Water Act. The April 20, 2010, Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explosion and Macondo oil well rupture killed 11 workers and caused the largest offshore environmental disaster in US history, polluting large parts of the Gulf, killing marine wildlife and harming businesses.

Oil & Gas

Total union calls national strike against La Mede refinery halt

29/06/2015

France's CGT union on Monday called on workers at all oil refineries, depots and port loading terminals to strike on July 2 to protest against Total's plans to end refining at its La Mede plant on the south coast. In a statement, the CGT also called for Total's service stations to be blocked every Thursday this summer until the oil company withdraws its proposals for La Mede.

Oil & Gas

Russia softens Ukraine gas price stance ahead of talks

29/06/2015

Russia proposes keeping the gas price for Ukraine unchanged in the third quarter, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said on Monday, a day before Russia's energy minister goes to Vienna for gas talks. "Despite all the difficulties in our current relations with Ukraine, we should within reason make concessions," Medvedev told Energy Minister Alexander Novak and Gazprom Chief Executive Alexei Miller. Gazprom had said Ukraine would be charged $287 per 1,000 cubic metres with no discount in the third quarter. That compares to the $247 charged in the second quarter, including a discount of $100 per 1,000 cubic metres.

Oil & Gas

Islamic State bombers hit Syrian city, oil tanks on fire

29/06/2015

Islamic State suicide bombers blew up two trucks in the heart of the northeastern Syrian city of Hasaka and a fire erupted at petroleum storage tanks and a textile firm after shelling by the militants, a Syrian army source said on Monday. The army source was quoted by state television as saying the militants had targeted a major roundabout and near a mosque in the southeastern Ghwyran neighbourhood, a residential area that the militants entered since Thursday in a lighting assault to seize the government-held parts of the city.

Oil & Gas

Japan May LNG average import price hits lowest since 2009

29/06/2015

Japan's average price for imported liquefied natural gas (LNG) fell to its lowest since September 2009, dragged down by declining oil markets, offering relief to the countries' utilities which had been burning record amounts of the fuel after the Fukushima disaster. LNG import prices averaged $8.84 per million British thermal units (mmBtu) in May, the lowest since $8.28 in September 2009, Reuters calculations based on finance ministry data showed on Monday.

Oil & Gas

Brazil’s Petrobras mulls sale of ethanol plants, report says

18/06/2015

Brazilian state-run oil company Petrobras is looking to sell some of its biofuel assets as it tries to raise cash to cover investment for new offshore oilfields and service its debt, Reuters reported, citing two sources. The company, whose $125 billion of debt is the biggest of any oil company and the third-largest of any non-financial enterprise, plans to sell as much as $13.7 billion of assets by the end of 2016. The first source, who has direct knowledge of Petrobras' plans, said the company's ethanol plants, which transform sugarcane into fuel, were the most likely area of the business to be sold. Petrobras has nine ethanol plants and five biodiesel plants.

Oil & Gas

Marathon preparing to restart Galveston Bay FCCU, report says.

18/06/2015

Marathon Petroleum Corp is preparing to restart the 60,000 barrel per day (bpd) gasoline-producing Fluidic Catalytic Cracking Unit 1 at its 451,000 bpd Galveston Bay Refinery in Texas City, Texas, said two sources familiar with plant operations. Marathon could begin restarting the unit, which has been shut since Jan. 13, as early as Friday, the sources said. If there are no problems with the restart, the FCCU is expected to be back in production by June 26.

Oil & Gas

Malaysian navy in contact with pirates aboard hijacked tanker Orkim Harmony

18/06/2015

A Malaysian naval vessel has located the hijacked tanker Orkim Harmony in Vietnamese waters and is trying to persuade the pirates onboard to surrender, promising them they will be unharmed, Malaysian maritime officials said on Thursday. Both the crew and the cargo are safe, and the navy is in the midst of negotiations with the robbers, officials with the Malaysia Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) said in a press briefing in Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia's Chief of Navy Admiral Abdul Aziz Jaafar said on his Twitter account that at least eight perpetrators were on board the Orkim Harmony armed with pistols and machetes.

Oil & Gas

Wintershall to sell package of offshore Norway assets for $602 mln

18/06/2015

UK-based Sequa Petroleum has reached agreement to buy a portfolio of Norwegian offshore field interests for $602 million from Wintershall, the oil and gas subsidiary of BASF, the companies said on Thursday. Sequa said the transaction will be conducted by Oslo-based Tellus Petroleum Invest A/S, which it is also buying in a concurrent deal for $4 million plus 6 million shares in Sequa. The agreement with Wintershall will give Tellus interests in five fields - 20 percent of Knarr, 15 percent of Maria, 10 percent of Yme, 6.5 percent of Ivar Aasen and 4.5 percent of Veslefrikk.

Oil & Gas

Asco ties up £50m deal with Marathon for North Sea support services

18/06/2015

North-east oilfield support services firm Asco has struck a deal worth more than £50million with Marathon Oil UK for work in the North Sea. The five-year contract will see Asco provide a range of integrated oilfield services to support Marathon’s Brae field operations. Commenting on the award, Craig Lennox, Asco’s chief executive for Europe, said: “Asco has supported Marathon Oil for many years and we are delighted to secure a new long term contract with them.

Oil & Gas

Unions call off offshore strike ballot

17/06/2015

Trade unions have shelved plans for a strike action ballot over North Sea working conditions following negotiations with industry bosses yesterday. Last night the Unite union said the Offshore Contractors Association (OCA) tabled an improved offer for offshore workers during the latest round of talks in Aberdeen. Unite regional officer Willie Wallace, said: “Today’s talks have been constructive and we have made enough progress to be able to put an improved offer from the OCA to our membership."

Oil & Gas

Russia’s Sechin says U.S., not OPEC, rules oil markets

17/06/2015

Igor Sechin, the head of Russia's top oil producer Rosneft, said on Wednesday the United States is calling the shots on global oil markets, while the influence of OPEC has shrunk. The United States emerged with renewed vigour as a top producer thanks to its shale boom. By refusing to curb its output to prop up oil prices, OPEC has tried to maintain its share in the global market, shrugging off lower prices which damage U.S. producers.

Oil & Gas

Shell, Japan firms may get stake in Gazprom’s Baltic LNG, report says

17/06/2015

Russian gas company Gazprom may offer up to 49 percent in its Baltic LNG project to a strategic partner and the most likely candidates are Royal Dutch Shell or a consortium of Japanese firms, Russia's Kommersant newspaper said on Wednesday. The agreement may be signed this week during an economic forum in Russia's second city of St Petersburg, it reported, quoting sources in the gas industry.

Breaking