Mark Lammey

Energy Voice editor
Oil & Gas

Arctic oil rig departs Seattle-area port despite protest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Oil & Gas

Oilfield services provider Calfrac halves dividend

Canadian oilfield services provider Calfrac Well Services halved its quarterly dividend to 6.25 Canadian cents per share, citing lower crude oil prices and weak demand for oilfield services. Calfrac's board also approved an additional capital of about C$12 million for 2015 to expand in Latin America, the company said on Wednesday.

Oil & Gas

Gazprom’s Turkish pipeline talks expected to resume next week

A meeting between the head of Russia's Gazprom's and Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz is expected to be rescheduled for next week as both sides strive to finalise agreement on a proposed underwater gas pipeline to Turkey, a senior energy ministry official said on Wednesday. Turkey was named as Russia's preferred partner for an alternative to its planned South Stream pipeline to carry gas to southern Europe without crossing Ukraine after Russia aborted the project in December, citing EU objections.

Oil & Gas

National Oilwell Varco to cut 1,500 Norwegian jobs

National Oilwell Varco, the largest U.S. oilfield equipment maker, said it will cut its Norwegian workforce by 1,500 by the end of this year as low oil prices have reduced investments. It plans to cut 900 permanent jobs and 600 contractors, the firm said in a statement on Wednesday.

Oil & Gas

New report urges oil and gas firms to cut costs by taking a lead from other industries

Oil and gas firms need to cut costs by up to 40% a barrel to prolong the production life of the North Sea, a new report says. It urges energy firms to implement seven key tactics used by the aerospace, automotive, chemical, and rail sectors to lower costs and manage performance during hard times. The report, from professional services firm PwC and the Oil and Gas Industry Council, will be officially launched at the Oil and Gas Industry Conference (OGIC) 2015 in Aberdeen today.

Oil & Gas

Sir Ian Wood tells new North-east taskforce for employment to set the standard for Scotland

The north-east can carry the torch for Scotland in the crusade to reduce unemployment among the country’s young people, Sir Ian Wood told the region’s fledgling jobs taskforce yesterday. Sir Ian, the former chairman of energy giant Wood Group, said the area was in far better position than other parts of Scotland to meet ambitious employment targets put forward last year in his commission’s report into youth joblessness. He added: “We are very lucky in this part of Scotland. In terms of prospects, we have got a whole bunch of youngsters, whether we call them technicians or tradesmen, who are 25 to 30 years old and they’re earning up to £50,000 a year.

Oil & Gas

China’s Sinopec hunting U.S. shale deals, but prices high

Sinopec, the world's second-biggest oil refiner, is on the hunt for minority investments in U.S. shale oil and gas projects as it seeks to diversify China's supply sources, a senior company official said. The Chinese state energy firm is keen to take a 10-15 percent stake in projects to export liquefied natural gas (LNG), said Jack Yu, managing director of Sinopec D.C., which handles government relations in the U.S. Previous talks over investing in Freeport LNG's project in Texas fell through, he said. New deals, if they materialize, would come more than two years after Sinopec made waves with two big U.S. investments, spending more than $3 billion buying various shale stakes from Devon Energy and Chesapeake Energy.

Oil & Gas

Shell-BG $70 bln deal crosses key milestone with U.S. clearance

U.S. regulators have given the green light for Royal Dutch Shell's proposed $70 billion acquisition of British rival BG Group, the first clearance for the biggest deal in the energy sector in over a decade. The two companies said on Tuesday the United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) had cleared the deal. The deal, which the companies aim to complete by early 2016, will require further regulatory clearances from all the countries BG operates in, including the European Union, China, Australia and Brazil.