Spin is beating science in the debate over unconventional oil and gas in Scotland, according to the boss of a leading engineering firm. Keith Cochrane, chief executive of Weir Group, said he fears the country will be left behind if it does not take advantage of shale gas opportunities. The Scottish Government has announced a moratorium on granting planning consents for hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” - the method by which the gas is extracted. It will be in place while a full public consultation is carried out alongside further research into the technique to look at planning, environmental regulation and the impact on public health.
Oil & Gas
David Cameron and the President of Mexico have discussed the prospects for co-operation on energy as part of Europe’s efforts to diversify the sources of its fuel supplies away from Russia during the ongoing stand-off over Ukraine. The discussion came as the Prime Minister hosted Enrique Pena Nieto for lunch at 10 Downing Street on the second day of his state visit to the UK. The Mexican leader will visit Aberdeen for talks with senior representatives of the UK oil and gas sector tomorrow, when he is expected to sign a memorandum of understanding on future collaboration. Mr Cameron’s official spokesman told reporters the two men had “talked about how the EU and Mexico can continue to co-operate on energy matters, including as part of the EU’s strategy to increase diversification away from Russian energy sources”.
Rosneft said its net profit for 2014 was $5.7billion – a 10% decrease year-on-year – caused by current economic conditions. Russia’s top oil producer said its earnings before EBITDA were up 11.6% from the year before to 1.06trillion rubles.
ITF Technology Showcase: Guest editor, Dr Patrick O’Brien, on learning lessons from other industries
The oil and gas industry, in common with other highly complex sectors such as aerospace, defence and nuclear, has traditionally experienced long development times and high up-front costs. Despite the current economic challenges faced by the industry, a significant hydrocarbon prize remains up for grabs. The associated drive for efficiencies should be used as a catalyst to examine and implement approaches which may bring technology into operation as early as possible, optimise decision making, or generate efficiencies in other areas. Identifying common needs that present barriers to development and offer opportunities for collaborative working is a start.
Independent oil producer EnQuest has become the latest firm to cut its contractor rates in the wake of the fall in oil prices.
Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest crude exporter, pledged to supply as much oil as its customers need and doesn’t anticipate any weakening in that demand. The country won’t cut output unless customers refuse to buy its crude, Oil Minister Ali Al-Naimi said in Berlin on Wednesday. That’s unlikely to happen because it is the world’s most reliable supplier, he said.
Energy service firm Petrofac plans to axe 16.5 full-time equivalent offshore roles supporting the UK North Sea operations of CNR International (CNRI). A spokeswoman confirmed the fewer-than-expected number last night after 37 possible redundancies was mentioned in a letter to Petrofac employees. It also said workers supplied to CNRI through its Aberdeen-based recruitment business, Atlantic Resourcing, were being “downmanned”.
A leading politician has intervened in an effort to prevent the European Commission from limiting emissions from the UK's oil and gas industry. The commission has proposed the medium-sized combustion plant directive, which would limit the emissions produced by medium-sized engines and generators - integral to every offshore oil platform.
Millions of pounds of funding is available to support innovations which offer cleaner, low-cost and more efficient conventional fuels. Innovate UK is offering £6million to new technologies that increase efficiency, reduce the cost and minimise the environmental impact of coal, natural gas and oil.
David Glen, head of tax at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in Scotland, said there is a “real danger” plunging oil prices could result in investment becoming uneconomic, leading to diminishing field life and speeding up decommissioning. The latest economic report from the University of Strathclyde’s Fraser of Allander Institute, sponsored by PwC, joins calls for the Chancellor to take action in the Budget later this month. David Glen, head of tax at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in Scotland, said there is a “real danger” plunging oil prices could result in investment becoming uneconomic, leading to diminishing field life and speeding up decommissioning. The latest economic report from the University of Strathclyde’s Fraser of Allander Institute, sponsored by PwC, joins calls for the Chancellor to take action in the Budget later this month.
California regulators ordered oil drillers including Chevron Corp and Linn Energy LLC to halt operations at 12 injection wells in the state because of concerns they may taint groundwater. The Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources said 10 of the well operators shut down voluntarily, while two were issued cease-and-desist orders. All the wells are located in Kern County, northeast of Los Angeles, are within a mile of the surface and 500 vertical feet underground of a water supply, the agency said. There is no evidence that drinking water has been contaminated, the agency said.
The head of the Scottish Government’s Energy Jobs Taskforce has pledged to do “everything possible” to ensure skills are not lost in the current oil price crisis facing the North Sea oil and gas sector. Lena Wilson, who is chief executive of the economic development agency Scottish Enterprise as well as chairwoman of the taskforce, insisted the group is “not a committee or a talking shop” and plans will be backed by government funding when required. She said: “If we come up with any ideas that need funding, we will first of all look to the significant existing resources we have.
James Fisher and Sons, the marine service group with a string of north-east subsidiaries, is eyeing growth opportunities in Africa after its latest acquisition.
Statoil is preparing to drill two UKCS wells in the Spring . . . one in the Catcher area of the Central North Sea and the other in the Northern North Sea immediately to the west of the company’s Mariner field. The Catcher prospect, known as Wall, is a sizeable target which, if the pre-drill estimate is achieved, could be the herald of a standalone development. The Mariner area prospect is known as Boatswain and could add around 40million barrels of recoverable oil (median case), so enhancing the economics of the current Mariner development. Moreover, it could open up a fairway to the west and offer the potential for further reserves upgrades.
ITF Showcase 2015: Guest editor Dr Patrick O’Brien on the emergence of robotics in oil and gas operations
As the ITF Showcase kicks off in Aberdeen this week Dr Patrick O’Brien, chief executive of ITF, has taken up the role of Energy Voice’s guest editor. Follow along each day as he spells out the challenges and triumphs the industry faces. The oil and gas sector is both willing and increasingly able to exploit innovation, recognising that it can help to deliver cost efficiencies, support production and most importantly, improve safety. The increasing use of robotics and autonomous systems by oil and gas companies is part of this innovation picture and a key theme of the Technology Showcase.
German energy company RWE Dea has appointed Lord John Browne to head their supervisory board. After being acquired by LetterOne Energy, the Hamburg-based RWE Dea has received a new supervisory board at its first general meeting of shareholders.
Egypt aims to pay its $3.1 billion debt to international oil and gas companies a year later than previously indicated, according to the Egyptian oil ministry. The ministry said: "All current operational payments hae been made on time and are on track to repay any remaining arrears before mid-2016." It is expected that the debt will be repaid by the middle of 2016, a year ahead of the previously indicated mid-2015.
Marine equipment specialist Motive Offshore has unveiled its plans for its company restructure and worldwide growth, following a multi-million pound investment last year. Headquartered at its 30-acre site near Banff in Aberdeenshire, Motive Offshore has been restructured as Motive Offshore Group, comprising of two key operating companies Motive Engineering and Motive Rentals, allowing the company to strengthen its offerings for clients in the UK and internationally. Motive Offshore Group chief executive James Gregg said: "The company restructure marks a pivotal time for the business as it continues to expand with an increasing portfolio of clients and workforce.
London listed, but still North American at its core, drilling contractor Noble Corporation is disposing of three of its older rigs . . . the semi-submersibles Noble Paul Wolff, Noble Driller and Noble Jim Thompson. What has not been stated is whether they will be scrapped. In the case of the last named, the company will be substituting another semi-, the Noble Paul Romano to execute a previously announced contract covering four wells, or a primary term of up to one year in the US Gulf of Mexico. The Paul Romano is in the Canary Islands and is expected to start operations on or around September 1. The deteriorating drilling market is behind the decision with DavidWilliams, chairman, president and CEO of the company, reporting last month: “Rapidly declining crude oil prices during the fourth quarter further aggravated the offshore supply imbalance and contributed to an increasingly difficult environment for securing new contract commitments from our customers.
Harkand has strengthened its inspection division by appointing a new inspection manager in their Aberdeen office. Andrew Inglis, who was appointed today, brings more than 15 years experience in delivering subsea inspection services in the North Sea region to the role, and has previously held inspection management roles at Subsea 7 and Bibby Offshore Ltd.
DOF Subsea S&P UK has secured a contract extension with Heerma Marine Contractors. The contract will cover global provision of survey and positioning services on board Heerma Marine Contractor's vessels, including the Hermod, Balder, Thialf, Aegir, support vessels and anchor handlers.
Oil and gas companies have committed to jointly funding two projects worth more than £4million through the Industry Technology Facilitator (ITF). The full details will be announced at the Technology Showcase conference in Aberdeen this week. The first project is the Fullwave Game Changer research project, which has been extended for a further phase, with a consortium of 15 oil and gas operator and service companies working in collaboration with Imperial College London. The phase II investment of more than £2.5million brings the total funding over the last nine years to £7.5million.
Egdon Resources said it has recorded further encouraging flow test results from its Wressle-1 oil and gas discovery in England. The company said test operations have been carried out on the first set of perforations in the Penistone Flags reservoir, the last of three hydrocarbon zones identified in the well. The Penistone test produced gas at restricted flow rates of up to 1.7million cubic feet of gas per day (mmcfd) with associated oil of up to 12 barrels of oil per day (bopd).
German utility RWE yesterday closed the sale of oil and gas production arm RWE Dea to Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman, ending months of uncertainty over whether the £3.7billion deal would go ahead. But it causes embarrassment for the UK Government, which tried to block part of the transaction at the 11th hour, citing possible sanctions against the new owner. It remains to be seen how Westminster will respond to RWE Dea’s UK North Sea assets – now owned by new company L1 Energy – falling into Russian hands.
Exxon Mobil Corp. shook off the chill of sanctions and has continued to snap up oil drilling rights in Russia, giving it larger exploration holdings in Vladimir Putin’s backyard than in the US. Taking the long view, Exxon boosted its Russian holdings to 63.7 million acres last year from 11.4 million at the end of 2014, according to data from US regulatory filings. That dwarfs the 14.6 million acres of rights Exxon holds in the US, which until last year was its largest exploration prospect. While US and European Union sanctions against Russia forced Exxon to shut down an Arctic drilling project in October, the producer is staking claims to areas that could yield tens of billions of barrels in coming decades. The bet on Russia follows a string of drilling failures elsewhere and spending cuts that will likely be addressed in Chief Executive Officer Rex Tillerson’s meeting with investors on Wednesday.