Opinion

Opinion

Opinion: A little less conversation, a little more action please

01/04/2015

For months now, the industry has been discussing the need for a simplified safety agenda; industry-wide practices and policies which ensure the safety of the workforce, and which cut down on complexity, confusion and cost. The Step Change in Safety Leadership Team, the Steering Groups and workgroups agree. So what’s actually being done? Don’t get me wrong – positive conversations, productive meetings and active workgroups are great. But change is made when action is taken, not just talked about. There are many examples of how we’ve worked together to deliver common standards and achieve industry wide adoption. Here’s an example. In October 2014, Step Change introduced a Common Clothing Policy for the whole of the UKCS.

Opinion

Opinion: The next 50 years in oil and gas – where will the balance of power lie?

31/03/2015

Aberdeen needed to attract around 120,000 new recruits by 2022 if it was to remain a global energy capital and capitalise on opportunities, according to PWC in 2013. But more recently, industry reports tell us that oil and gas sector employment could fall by as much as 35,000 over the next five years, partly driven by an anticipated 50 per cent fall in UK capital spending. However, research by EY into employment trends, commissioned by industry bodies and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), estimated that 12,000 new jobs would be created in the sector over the same period. One thing is certain: over the next 50 years our planning could be improved. One of the most common challenges listed by employers in the sector is the inability to effectively forecast and plan for resources, in terms of numbers and timing – let alone skill sets. To some extent, this has hampered our ability to grow our own talent.

Opinion

Opinion: South Korea link could put us at the forefront of energy research

27/03/2015

The establishment of the University of Aberdeen’s first international campus will be a proud and significant moment in our long history. As an ambitious research-driven University with an international outlook, this as a hugely exciting initiative, and one which is a testament to our ambitions to position ourselves as a global institution which is at the forefront of energy-related research and teaching. The campus will be a mutually beneficial collaboration that will allow us to export our world-class educational offering to a new market in East Asia, providing education and training in offshore subjects relevant to the South Korean industry, and meeting the needs of the country’s economy.

Opinion

Opinion: North Sea is open for business

27/03/2015

The fall in the oil price these last few months has been a big help for anyone who drives a car and pays an energy bill. But I know that for the north-east that boon has come at a price. Last year, Sir Ian Wood, Aberdeen’s most successful businessman, left us in no doubt about the dangers facing the oil and gas industry in the north-east. It meant that, when I was preparing my Budget over the winter weeks, I knew full well that the country could not afford to sit idly by and watch one of our great British industries find itself in even deeper peril.

Opinion

Opinion: Changing attitudes to shapes and sizes

26/03/2015

The oil and gas industry is continuing to ride a wave of challenges but it seems over the last year or so, the whole industry, has recognised the changes in the health and fitness of the offshore workforce. It is no surprise that the recent research by Robert Gordon University has indicated the body shape of offshore workers has changed with increases in weight and height, prompting industry groups to implement new processes and safety standards, which Falck wholeheartedly supports. As an offshore safety training and occupational health provider, we work very closely with delegates in terms of training and also on the healthcare side, so we are one of the first to notice changes in people’s body shape and actively try to advise delegates on health matters that could impact their job.

Opinion

Opinion: Welcome measures to boost oil and gas activity

24/03/2015

History will say whether Budget 2015 will be the end, or the continuation, of George Osborne’s drive to eliminate the UK’s deficit with a resultant reduction in national debt and a lessening of red tape. Across the energy sector, all eyes were on the widely anticipated tax reductions and incentives. The history of UK oil and gas will judge whether Budget 2015 was “just enough” or an opportunity missed. Last Wednesday’s announcements were partly expected and all welcome. The £1.3bn headline “tax giveaway” is all well and good. But this £1.3bn is arguably modest, and is the aggregate “tax reduction” over five years. More important than the headline, is the impact the measures will have on investment decisions.

Opinion

Opinion: There’s more than one way of responding to the oil price crash

23/03/2015

“Necessity is the mother of invention.” So the saying goes and so it is true that crises can stimulate creative thought and challenge established norms in a way that seems difficult to achieve when all is calm and ticking over. In calmer waters thinking reverts to ‘continuous improvement’ and its promise of a more steady and paced level of delivery. With a familiar sigh of relief, comfort levels are restored and with it the pressure to challenge deeply held beliefs and working practices. So how is all this relevant to $60 oil? The answer is simple: The industry has an opportunity to make a real difference, to capitalise on a situation that is marked by great uncertainty but equally offers boundless possibility. It is a straight choice – the industry has only to give itself permission to frame it in terms of the latter.

Opinion

Opinion: Messiah or Easter Bunny?

20/03/2015

A backdated tax cut? Am I dreaming? The Budget was good news indeed. Proclaiming eternal life for the UKCS was always above the Chancellor’s pay grade, but George Osborne’s headlines certainly help. The devil will be in the detail, and no doubt there will be some surprises (and I’m not talking of a winter fuel allowance for 4x4 drivers). Beyond his party’s faithful, for George Osborne the question is has he given enough to get your cross at May’s General Election? Before we declare a National George Osborne Day, let’s see how it pans out. Like an Easter Egg, this budget is definitely chocolate on the outside.

Market info

Opinion: Do budget reforms go far enough?

The Treasury certainly has been listening to the woes of the UK’s offshore industry, battered by the deadly impacts of collapsed global oil prices global oil prices and a fiscal regime that was totally unfit for purpose. Osborne, Alexander & Co have come up with a package of fiscal changes that definitely improve the situation. But do they go far enough? Oil & Gas UK’s chief executive Malcolm Webb certainly comes across as pleased in his initial statement; whether that view will be tempered once the measures have been fully digested remains to be seen. However, Alan McCrae, head of energy tax at PwC is an example of someone who is less sure. While acknowledging that the changes are for the better, his view matches mine ... that more should have been offered.

Opinion

Opinion: Budget measures can give North Sea a confidence boost

19/03/2015

The North East needed a big confidence boost from the Chancellor yesterday when he stood up to give his budget. I believe that the tax cuts for the oil industry he announced plus the government’s support for a city deal for Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire gives us just that. As the north-east's most prominent oil and gas business figure Sir Ian Wood said, the Budget has provided an "essential lifeline" which "should help restore confidence." In short, it shows the North East is open for business with boosts to the economy, industry and infrastructure.

Market info

Opinion: Will Osborne’s oil tax concessions reassure the North Sea sector?

19/03/2015

The Chancellor George Osborne in his budget has proposed reducing supplementary tax by 10% and to reduce petroleum revenue tax by 15%. Will these measures help save the North Sea oil industry from untimely terminal decline? For many decades the North Sea oil industry been the outstanding UK industry performer. In terms of high investment, job creation and sheer ingenuity and inventiveness it has raised the UK profile to record high levels. It has sustained the UK economy and safeguarded the UK’s energy security. It is a categorical imperative that it continues to do so for decades to come. Will Chancellor Osborne’s above proposals ensure that outcome?

Market info

Opinion: Early takes from the Budget

As the 2015 budget is announced by Chancellor George Osborne, Energy's Editor Jeremy Cresswell gives his initial reaction to the measures which will be put into place for the North Sea oil and gas industry Looks like Treasury was listening. Obviously the single, basin-wide tax allowance was expected. So too the seismic survey allowance, which could prove a strategically shrewd move.

Market info

Budget 2015: Guest Editor Derek Leith says the current slump provides the oil & gas sector with an opportunity to reinvent itself

16/03/2015

Following the slide in oil price, which commenced in earnest in July 2014 and by 31 December had fallen by more than 40% in 6 months, alarm signals have been sounding loud and clear throughout the sector. Collectively industry drew a deep breath on the 1 January 2015 as it pondered what the year would bring. Could the price go lower than the $57 recorded on the 31 December and how soon would the price rebound? Well the answer to the first question has been yes, to just over $45 on January 13, and the answer to the second is anyone's guess but looks increasingly like a slow recovery with many predicting an average Brent price of $75 for 2016.

Opinion

Opinion: Why Boone Pickens isn’t worried about oil prices

16/03/2015

DALLAS — Amid all the pessimism surrounding the plunge in oil prices since mid-2014 and the havoc it has unleashed on the industry, there’s a sense of calm in the sprawling conference room just north of downtown Dallas. I’m sitting next to the legendary Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens, who doesn’t seem worried at all. Ask Pickens what’s going to happen with oil prices, and rattles off an optimistic scenario: The US rig count will drop to somewhere between 750 and 1,000 working rigs (currently, it’s at a five-year low of 1,192). Then, the market will balance off U.S. production and West Texas Intermediate crude will return to about $70 a barrel by year’s end.

Opinion

Opinion: Remembering health and safety offshore

13/03/2015

2015 is a year with a multitude of anniversaries including the 50th anniversary of Churchill’s death, the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta, with Waterloo, Agincourt and various World War one events to come. We will also have the 50th anniversary of the discovery of the first significant hydrocarbons in the North Sea, in what is now the West Sole field. This is a significant milestone for the industry and we should celebrate the growth of the UK oil and gas industry.

Opinion

Opinion: The Budget 2015 and plotting a new course for the North Sea

12/03/2015

We all know the North Sea is in uncharted territory and the headlines over the past few months speak for themselves. “North Sea oil industry close to collapse”, “North Sea oil at point of no return”, and “oil price crash threatens the future of the North Sea oil fields” are just a few. I’m sure you get the gist.

Opinion

Opinion: Total selling Laggan-Tormore? Surely not!

The news that Total has apparently put its controlling stake in the Laggan-Tormore project in the West of Shetland sector up for sale at a reported £1billion is very serious. That the company might be offering the 80% interest in this pioneering gas-condensate project seems nuts, given the sheer cost of getting the development thus far and so near to first production. Check the internet and a variety of figures are given for the capital cost of Laggan-Tormore ... as much as £5billion, though the Total Fast Facts currently sitting at the top of the heap on Google says £3.5billion.

Opinion

Opinion: The challenge of a secure power supply

12/03/2015

Recent weeks have seen much focus on whether Scotland will have the right balance of generation to keep the lights on as some of its older power stations start to close. There is, rightly, an intense scrutiny of the system’s capacity to ensure that electricity supplies are secure.

Opinion

Opinion: A new approach to value engineering

10/03/2015

In the current economic climate, operators know they need to realise their reserves more efficiently than ever before within new budget boundaries. They need to change the way they have traditionally worked.

Americas

Is the US shale boom over?

10/03/2015

The biggest slowdown in oil drilling on record is showing signs of reining in the US shale boom. American shale oil output is expected to post the slowest growth in more than four years in April, the country's Energy Information Administration (EIA) said.

Opinion

Opinion: Resilience is key for the oil and gas industry and its achievements

10/03/2015

There is no denying that the UK oil and gas industry is in the throes of a difficult year. The sudden and unexpected drop in oil prices has resulted in very difficult times for all UK continental shelf (UKCS)-related projects, creating uncertainty for North Sea operators, service companies and all those who work in the supply chain.

Opinion

Opinion: The key emerging technologies for oil and gas

09/03/2015

When emerging technologies and key trends are discussed there is a vast array of suggestions made and debated. They range from wearable technology, 3D printing, bio-computers, through to the "internet of things" and many more.

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