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Americas

Petrobas incidents: Two fatalities after scaffolding collapse and platform fire

08/07/2015

An investigation has been launched after an incident at a Brazilian oil terminal operated by state-owned Petrobas caused two fatalities. Two workers were killed after scaffolding erected on a construction project at the site collapsed at the end of a pier operated by Transpetro, which is the company’s pipeline and shipping unit. It is understood the workers, who had been wearing security belts, drowned during the incident.

Health & Safety

Months of repairs expected after rig collapses

08/07/2015

A rig will have to undergo months of repairs and maintenance after one of its jack-up legs collapsed – causing it to keel into waters offshore Qatar. The incident happened in the Maersk Oil operated field Al Shaheen on the Rumailah rig, which is owned by GIS (Gulf International Services). Both companies said all personnel were evacuated safely and no injuries had been reported.

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Iran talks drag on with make-or-break date pushed back to Friday

08/07/2015

Diplomats missed another deadline for a nuclear deal with Iran and may prolong talks until the end of the week or beyond, as they spar over an arms embargo and what would happen if the accord is breached. World powers extended until July 10 the interim arrangement that freezes Iran’s most sensitive nuclear work in exchange for limited relief from sanctions. While the negotiators in Vienna are playing down talk of deadlines, the timetable for review by the U.S. Congress means that any further easing of the curbs will be delayed by at least a month if a final agreement isn’t reached by Friday morning. “We’re frankly more concerned about the quality of the deal than we are about the clock, though we also know that difficult decisions won’t get any easier with time,” U.S. State Department senior adviser Marie Harf said. All sides say they’re closer than ever to a deal after 11 straight days of high-level talks in the Austrian capital. For energy-rich Iran, an agreement would speed its return to world oil markets and the international financial system. The world powers say any deal must restrict the Islamic Republic’s ability to pursue nuclear weapons.

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Budget ‘to secure Britain’s future’

08/07/2015

George Osborne is to sweeten the pill of dramatic welfare curbs with tax cuts as he promises reforms to “secure Britain’s future” in his first Tory-only Budget. The Chancellor will point to the plight of Greece to justify painful changes, warning that the “greatest mistake” would be to “think that all our problems are solved”. He is expected to wield the axe on tax credits and housing benefit, reduce the overall benefits cap and announce that student grants are being scrapped.

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Pope urges youth to save the planet

08/07/2015

Pope Francis has challenged Latin America’s youth to take up his environmental protection campaign, saying the defence of God’s creation is not just a recommendation but a requirement. Francis’ appeal, delivered at Quito’s Catholic University, is particularly relevant for Ecuador, a Pacific nation that is home to one of the world’s most species-diverse ecosystems in the Galapagos Islands and Amazon rainforest, but is also an Opec country heavily dependent on oil extraction. The pontiff told students and professors that God gave humanity the Earth to not only cultivate, but to care for - a message he framed earlier this month in his headline-grabbing encyclical on the environment.

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Iran nuclear talks on verge of another missed deadline

07/07/2015

World powers and Iran are on the verge of missing another deadline in Vienna, where diplomats are in a 10th straight day of talks seeking an accord over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif held talks until early Tuesday in the Austrian capital, along with their counterparts from China, France, Germany, Russia and the U.K. After their meeting broke up, lower-level officials and technicians continued negotiations into the night. Iran’s interlocutors say that while differences have continued to narrow, agreement isn’t assured by the time their latest deadline expires at midnight on Tuesday. “We’re not there yet,” State Department spokesman John Kirby said in Washington. After almost two years, diplomats say they’re closer than ever to sealing an accord that would return energy-rich Iran to world markets while giving regional rivals guarantees that the Islamic Republic can’t produce nuclear weapons. Iran says its program has always been peaceful, a claim the West disputes.

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Millions ‘overpaying for energy’

07/07/2015

Millions of people are overpaying for their energy, a year-long inquiry will reportedly say today. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) probe into the energy market, launched in the wake of a pledge by Labour in 2013 to freeze prices if it won this year’s general election, is expected to outline moves to encourage customers to switch to lower-cost energy providers. The Financial Times quoted an industry executive as saying: “There are three themes to this report. The first is people are paying more than is necessary; the second is that green levies and network costs are driving bills up; the third is regulation of the sector is not joined up and transparent.” It is believed the report will announce that the so-called Big Six energy firms should not be dismantled to separate power generation and supply, and will find that the large companies have not been colluding to increase profits.

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Kongsberg strengthens its North Sea base with senior appointment

06/07/2015

Kongsberg Maritime has strengthened its offshore division with an addition to the team at its North Sea base in the UKCS. The global marine technology company has appointed Frank Maclean to succeed Dave Shand as a general manager, following his retirement. With more than 35 years’ experience in the oil and gas industry Maclean will continue to play a role at Kongsberg where he has spent the majority of his career.

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Will Putin pay $100billion for South Africa nuclear plant?

06/07/2015

Russia is seen as the frontrunner to win the right to build South African nuclear power plants that may be worth as much as $100billion. With a six-month deadline to award contracts, who’s going to pay for the country’s biggest project yet remains a mystery. Price-tag estimates for as many as eight reactors generating 9,600 megawatts, which the government wants to begin operating from 2023 and complete by 2029, range from $37billion to $100billion. Bids are due to start this quarter, with Russia’s Rosatom Corp. seen as a leader. Areva SA, EDF SA, Toshiba Corp.’s Westinghouse Electric Corp., China Guangdong Nuclear Power Holding Corp. and Korea Electric Power Corp. have also shown interest. The planned investment comes as the government battles to fend off a junk-grade credit rating and the National Treasury seeks to rein in the budget deficit. Proceeding with the nuclear plants could result in a large increase in public debt, the International Monetary Fund warned in a June 24 report.

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Kerry tempers Iran-deal optimism as foreign ministers return

06/07/2015

US Secretary of State John Kerry tempered expectations that a nuclear deal with Iran is imminent as foreign ministers from world powers rejoined a record ninth straight day of negotiations. While progress continues to be made at the talks, “we are not yet where we need to be on several of the most difficult issues,” Kerry told reporters on Sunday at Vienna’s Palais Coburg, where he’d been meeting for much of the day with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. An agreement will allow energy-rich Iran back into global oil and natural-gas markets as sanctions are lifted. The US, whose allies in the region are wary of Iran’s influence, says it will only sign a deal that restricts the Islamic Republic’s ability to make nuclear weapons. Iran says its program is entirely peaceful.

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Iran deal seen imminent after atomic agency breakthrough

05/07/2015

A nuclear deal with Iran looks imminent after a logjam over monitoring was broken and with foreign ministers set to rejoin U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in a record ninth-straight day of talks later on Sunday. Kerry began morning meetings at Vienna’s Palais Coburg with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, a U.S. administration official said. The impending agreement could be announced as early as Monday, according to two Western officials who asked not to be named in line with rules. “The extension of negotiations is not a desired alternative for any of the parties,” Zarif’s deputy, Abbas Araghchi, said Saturday on state television. “All parties involved are determined to come to a conclusive end.”

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Prince of Wales calls for “profound changes”

03/07/2015

The Prince of Wales has called for “profound changes” to the global economy to avoid catastrophic climate change, warning that an “unprecedented level of co-operation and integration” would be needed to secure the well-being of the planet. Charles, a passionate environmentalist, said that the “irresistible power of ’business as usual’ has so far defeated every attempt to ’rewire’ our economic system in ways that will deliver what we so urgently need”.

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Taliban isn’t the only challenge for Karachi’s power company

03/07/2015

K-Electric Ltd., the Karachi power utility, is under fire from politicians, regulators and even the Taliban after a heatwave last week killed thousands in the city. Temperatures touched 47 degrees Celsius (118 degrees Fahrenheit) in Pakistan’s commercial hub, also home to the stock exchange and central bank. The government blamed K-Electric for failure to maintain uninterrupted power supply. The Tehreek-e- Taliban Pakistan last week threatened “action” if the company didn’t improve the power situation. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif visited the city Wednesday, a week after the Minister of State for Power Abid Sher Ali warned of a government takeover. The scrutiny may prompt Dubai’s Abraaj Capital, K-Electric’s controlling shareholder, to delay plans to sell its stake by December next year, said Sajjad Anwar, chief investment officer at NBP Fullerton Asset Management Ltd., which owns 1.5 million shares in the utility.

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BMW’s first fuel-cell car tests clean-engine push

02/07/2015

BMW AG will test a vehicle powered by hydrogen fuel cells on public roads this month as the German automaker looks to expand clean-car offerings after rolling out the battery-powered i3 in 2013. The company plans “a technically mature, customer-ready vehicle some time after 2020,” Matthias Klietz, head of powertrain research, told journalists at BMW’s test track in Miramas, France. “By around 2025 to 2030, we expect fuel cell cars to have an established presence, but there are challenges that remain, like building the refueling infrastructure.” BMW is developing fuel cells with Japanese partner Toyota Motor Corp., and it demonstrated a 5-Series Gran Turismo prototype in Miramas on Wednesday that uses the companies’ joint technology. The model is part of the car industry’s multibillion-dollar effort to create alternative powering setups and improve fuel use to meet tightening emissions rules.

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UN’s atomic chief to visit Iran as nuclear talks gain momentum

01/07/2015

The head of the United Nations atomic agency will travel to Iran Thursday to meet the nation’s president and top security official, Iranian media reported, as talks with world powers tackle remaining hurdles to a nuclear deal. Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, will meet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in Tehran, state-run IRNA news agency reported, citing diplomats it didn’t name. He’ll also hold talks with the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, Ali Shamkhani, a key official with military oversight.

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Heathrow extension sparks carbon debate

01/07/2015

Building a new runway at Heathrow will make it harder to solve the problems of air pollution and climate change emissions which the UK already faces, environmentalists have warned. The Government has been ordered by the Supreme Court to urgently produce a plan to improve poor air quality in the UK, which causes thousands of premature deaths and disease a year, to meet European Union legal limits. In the report backing a third runway at Heathrow, Sir Howard Davies warns that without action to tackle air quality, expansion could create pollution levels in 2030 that meant the UK was breaching the law.

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God and oil at Harvard: A CEO sees faith as capitalism’s Savior

01/07/2015

James Hackett is on a mission to become an evangelist for capitalism and responsible fossil fuel development. He poses, with all seriousness, a rhetorical question that makes a lot of people of a certain political persuasion uneasy these days: Can God, free markets and oil mix? Hackett knows a lot about oil and gas. He became chief executive officer of Anadarko Petroleum Corp. in 2003, taking charge of a sputtering bit player thought to be takeover bait and turning it into a respected deep-water driller with $45 billion in strategic deals. Then, at the top of his game in May 2013, he stepped down for what some friends called a shocking career detour: Harvard Divinity School. On a recent day, Hackett the deal maker, whose stewardship included steering Anadarko through the bleak days of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Gulf of Mexico oil spill, is pondering a more academic worry. He’s a year away from completing his master’s of theological studies and needs at least an A-minus on a Spanish scripture exam.

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Oil’s decline is making your Fourth of July barbecue cheaper

30/06/2015

Americans will spend less this year firing up the grill for Fourth of July barbecues, thanks to cheaper energy and rising dairy and pork production. The cost of a summer-cookout party for 10 people will be $55.84, or $5.58 per person, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation, which conducted a survey of prices in grocery stores across 30 states. That’s down 3 percent from a year earlier, the Washington-based group said.

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Subdued stampede festival awaits Calgary amid oil price collapse

30/06/2015

Valerie Nimchuk paints murals of bull riders and horses playing wash-tub basses on storefronts in Calgary, part of decorations for a cowboy festival billed as the “Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.” This year, Nimchuk is hoping her playful drawings for the Calgary Stampede will buoy spirits and paint over the economic woes in Canada’s energy hub that’s reeling from the collapse in oil prices. “Everybody likes to get into the Stampede spirit,” said Nimchuk. “It’s a great community event for Calgary.”

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Stranded oil worker “hopeful” of return

30/06/2015

An oil worker stranded in Azerbaijan is "hopeful" that a solution could be found to bring him home next week. Wick man Mark Munro, 30, and Allan Tait, 21, from Aberdeen have found themselves trapped in the country's capital Baku. They were caught up in a nightclub fight, which has left them with travel restrictions until the situation has been resolved.

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China nuclear deal a betrayal

29/06/2015

The Government is preparing to hand over the building of new nuclear power stations to Chinese firms, in a “total betrayal” of UK workers, a union has claimed. The GMB raised concerns earlier this month about the prospect of a site in Bradwell, Essex, being given “lock, stock and barrel” to the Chinese National Nuclear Corporation.

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Step Change boosts leadership team

29/06/2015

Industry body Step Change in Safety has bolstered its Leadership Team with the addition of seven offshore safety reps. The new members have joined as part of Step Change’s specially selected group of 18 Elected Safety Reps (ESRs) who are part of the Step Change’s Leadership Team and provide regular feedback on their colleague’s safety concerns.

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