A north east firm is licking its lips at the prospect of growing demand from oil and gas firms after receiving a “number of inquiries” for ultrasound technology currently being used by Italian sports car maker Lamborghini. Aberdeen-based RSL is a supplier of equipment designed to check the strength of materials without damaging them, a technique known in the trade as non-destructive testing (NDT). Last year, the company agreed to become a UK reseller of DolphiCam, a type of camera that can assess impact damage on carbon-fibre-reinforced plastics by creating 2D and 3D images through the material. Made by Norway’s DolphiTech, the camera is currently being used by Lamborghini and aerospace giant Boeing, and RSL thinks the technology can be applied in the subsea sector.
The investment company set up by oil pioneer Algy Cluff has been handed a third licence to tap coal reserves “stranded” under the Firth of Forth. Cluff Natural Resources (CNR) has ploughed ahead with plans to develop Britain’s first offshore Underground Coal Gasification (UCG) project in recent times, despite opposition from environmentalists, who feel the methods used are unsafe and require further testing. UCG involves pumping oxygen and water through a borehole to turn the fossil fuel into synthetic gas, which can then be converted into hydrogen, methane, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide. The award of the Frances licence in the firth takes CNR’s portfolio of UK-based UCG assets to nine, covering 266,000sq miles.
Global oilfield service company Forum Energy Technologies yesterday said it has made 12 employees redundant following the closure of its workshop in Lybster, Caithness. The Houston-based firm’s statement adds it to an ever-growing list of oil and gas companies that have been forced to lay off staff due to low crude prices and rising costs. Last week oil giant Shell said it would make 250 of its North Sea workforce redundant, while Taqa revealed plans to reduce its headcount by 100. BP earlier announced it would cut 200 full-time onshore positions and 100 contractor roles from its 4,000-strong North Sea workforce. Forum yesterday said that the company’s operations at Lybster, which focused on the manufacture of oil well drilling equipment, will be shifted to one of its other facilities.
A Banchory-based engineering firm is making its work in the renewable energy industry pay after diversifying from the oil and gas sector. Ecosse Subsea Systems (ESS) said more than half of its projects are now in renewables. Yesterday it confirmed that the decision to branch out into the sector has played a big part in tripling the firm’s profits. ESS, which performs seabed clearance, trenching and cable laying work, said revenues hit £15million for the year ending March 2014, an 88% increase, while operating profits went up to £3.4million from £1million.
An energy industry safety group has moved to allay fears that offshore workers could be left stranded at sea if they don’t comply with new rules for helicopter flights. In line with size restrictions that come into force today, passengers need to have had their shoulders measured so that they can be assigned a seat next to a window large enough for them to crawl through in the event of a ditching. On Monday, an Aberdeen-based workplace healthcare provider, RPS, said workers whose measurements have not been recorded will be allocated an “extra broad” seat by default. It went on to warn that unmeasured workers might find that there is not enough room for them, as there are a limited number of XBR seats on a helicopter.
A new centre that was created to speed up the development of technologies for the oil and gas industry has completed its first collaborative project, a year after receiving approval for start-up funding. The Oil & Gas Innovation Centre (Ogic) acts as a matchmaker between Scottish Universities and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) who are looking to cut costs using innovative technology. A year ago the Scottish Funding Council approved funding of £10.6million for Ogic, which formally opened for business in Aberdeen in November. One hundred technology firms have asked Ogic for support since then — 18 projects are now being discussed, while four have been approved.
The UK’s new energy industry regulator, the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA), yesterday insisted it was ready to become an executive agency on April 1 as planned. Oil and Gas UK (OGUK) chief executive Malcolm Webb had earlier suggested the fledgling watchdog had decided to delay the move, which will let it start fulfilling its role formally, for some months. The establishment of a strong and well-funded regulator was one of the recommendations made in last year’s Wood Review, which made a series of proposals aimed at maximising the recovery of UK fossil fuels.