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.
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.
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.
Lifting the ban on US oil exports would do little to help Eastern European countries decrease their reliance on Russian energy, a policy research arm of Congress said in a memo to US lawmakers.
North Sea well services contractors expect revenues and investment to drop by about a quarter this year as balance sheets start to reflect the full severity of the downturn in the sector, a new report said.
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.
Russia's top oil producer Lukoil will increase its crude exports by at least 300,000 tonnes in June due to cuts in production at its Norsi refinery, industry sources said on Tuesday.
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.
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.
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.
Russia's top oil producer Rosneft said on Monday it had made changes to its managerial structure and that veteran oilman Igor Maidannik had left the company.
A subsea company which made its debut just months ago has landed its first major overseas deal worth more than six figures.
Norway has overtaken Russia as western Europe's top gas supplier, data from state firms shows, indicating the European Union's drive to reduce its dependence on Russian energy is bearing fruit.
The UK's new Conservative government could take control of planning decisions to speed up the development of shale gas and prevent investor money from drying up, lawyers say.
French oil major Total is hosting a meeting of the world's biggest oil companies over the sector's action plan ahead of UN climate talks in Paris at the end of the year.
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.”
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.
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 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.
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.
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).
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.
Remote-operated vehicle firm Rovop unveiled its £4.2million headquarters in Aberdeen yesterday and announced that it had received £10million of new investment. The cash injection from the Business Growth Fund (BGF) – a company with £2.5billion of capital and the backing by five UK high-street banks – will be used to help Rovop swell its fleet of ROVs to 50 from 15 over the next three years. Rovop chief executive Steven Gray said the funding boost had come at a “particularly opportune time”, as the company looks to capitalise on the oil price downturn by providing operators with more cost-effective subsea services.
A London infrastructure investment firm has made its first foray into hydro-electricity with the acquisition of a Scottish renewable-energy company for an undisclosed fee. Green Highland Renewables (GHR), which has offices in Perth and Dingwall, has been developing run-of-river hydro schemes since 2007, gaining planning consent for more than 50 hydro schemes with approximately 40 megawatts (MW) capacity. Under the ownership of Ancala Partners, GHR will continue to expand its development portfolio and operational assets, a spokesman for the company said yesterday. GHR will also retain its name and management team, he added. Ancala takes over from shareholders including technology investor Scottish Equity Partners and Scottish Enterprise, investment arm of the Scottish Investment Bank. Records published by Companies House show GHR development director Alexander Reading and chief operating officer Ian Cartwright held shares in the company as of February 2015. GHR founder Alistair Riddell and former chairman Ian Wotherspoon were also listed as shareholders.
Shell’s plans to cast off a number of North Sea assets will not be affected by its proposed £47billion “mega-merger” with BG Group, a Scottish oil and gas consultancy has said. The Anglo-Dutch oil giant last week said it plans to buy Reading-based BG in a deal that would be the second biggest deal of its kind after Exxon and Mobil’s £51billion tie-up in 1998. Analysts have said that the announcement could spark a rash of similar deals as companies look to consolidate against the backdrop of a low oil price environment.