Archive: Wed Feb 2019

  1. Aberdeen South MP escorted out of bar after report of ‘sexual touching’

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    North-east Conservative MP Ross Thomson was escorted out of a Westminster bar after police were called to investigate reports of “sexual touching”.

    Met officers attended the exclusive Strangers Bar on the parliamentary estate at around 11pm on Tuesday after a report of “sexual touching”.

    It is understood that three men, including the 31-year-old Aberdeen South MP, were involved in the incident.

    No formal complaint was made to the officers, and there were no arrests.

    A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: “Police were called at approximately 11pm on February 5 to a bar within the Palace of Westminster following a report of sexual touching.

    “Officers attended and spoke to the parties involved – three men in their 20s and 30s.

    “However, no formal allegations were made to the officers and no arrests were made.”

    A spokesman for the Scottish Tories said that the party was aware of the matter and was investigating.

  2. ExxonMobil announces two new Guyana discoveries

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    US oil giant ExxonMobil has announced two further oil well discoveries offshore Guyana.

    The discoveries mark the eleventh and twelfth discoveries in southeast section of Stabroek Block.

    ExxonMobil said the discoveries of the Tilapia-1 and Haimara-1 wells add to the recently updated estimate of the discovered recoverable resource to more than 5 billion oil-equivalent barrels.

    Steve Greenlee, president of ExxonMobil Exploration Company, said: “We see a lot of development potential in the Turbot area and continue to prioritize exploration of high-potential prospects here.

    “We expect this area to progress to a major development hub providing substantial value to Guyana, our partners and ExxonMobil.”

    Tilapia-1 encountered approximately 305 feet of high-quality oil-bearing sandstone reservoir and was drilled to a depth of 18,786 feet in 5,850 feet of water.

    The well is located approximately 3.4 miles west of the Longtail-1 well.

    The Haimara-1 well encountered approximately 207 feet of high-quality, gas-condensate bearing sandstone reservoir.

    The well was drilled to a depth of 18,289 feet in 4,590 feet of water.

    It is located approximately 19 miles east of the Pluma-1 discovery and is a potential new area for development.

    The Stena Carron drillship began drilling the well on Jan 3 and will next return to the Longtail discovery to complete a well test.

    Keith Myers, president, research at Westwood Global Energy Group, said: “The two new discoveries announced in Guyana today could be some of the largest made to date.

    “Tilapia is reported to have 93m of net oil pay, which is the highest reported so far in any exploration or appraisal well in the Stabroek licence. Haimara found gas condensate close to the Suriname border.

    “This, together with the recent Pluma discovery, defines a gas prone area of the Liza fairway.

    “Guyana now looks as though it could have a gas export business to add to its oil and Stabroek looks like it is one of the most prolific deep water blocks ever licensed.”

  3. Let’s get Brexit resolved ‘pretty darn pronto’, de Leeuw says

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    The oil and gas sector needs clarity on the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union “pretty darn pronto”, an industry expert said today.

    Paul de Leeuw, director of the Oil and Gas Institute at Robert Gordon University, said the sector had a strong track record of overcoming “complications”.

    And he believes the oil and gas industry is less exposed to the potential fallout from Brexit than other sectors, like food and drink and automotive.

    But Mr de Leeuw said he was concerned by the threat of “dislocation” of the provision of goods and services.

    He said: “We are a 24/7 operation. What if you need something, but you cannot get something, whether that’s a person, goods, services, or a combination? Can we deal with domino effect of small things happening?”

    He added: “We are a resilient industry that is good at dealing with complex issues, and we have our fair share. But as a sector, and as a country, things need to get clarified pretty darn pronto.”

    He was speaking at the launch of EY’s annual review of the UK oilfield services (OFS) sector, which showed a third straight year of turnover decline.

    Derek Leith, EY’s global oil and gas tax lead, said the results of the survey were “sobering”.

    Mr Leith warned Brexit could have a “psychological impact” on the UK’s attractiveness in the global labour market.

    Chris Ayres, chief operating officer at Opex Group, agreed “access to talent” could be hampered by Brexit.

    The event at the Macdonald Norwood Hall Hotel was attended by 110 people.

    In a live poll, industry behaviour and culture was identified as the main barrier to growth for the OFS sector, with 39% of the vote.

  4. Centrica signs trade deal for 76% of Moray East power generation

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    Centrica has agreed a contract to trade 76% of the electricity generated from the new Moray East offshore windfarm.

    The energy supplier has entered a power purchase agreement (PPA) covering a 15-year period once generation begins in 2022.

    Moray East will be developed 13miles and will have an annual production equaling the average electricity demand for around 950,000 UK homes.

    The overall value of the Centrica deal has not been disclosed.

    Cassim Mangerah, co-managing director for Energy Marketing and Trading, said “We are excited to have secured the PPA for the Moray East windfarm. The contract represents another milestone for our route-to-market business and is a testament to the level of sophistication and capability we have built.

    “The deal re-affirms our commitment to the development of renewable infrastructure projects and demonstrates further progress in this growth area of our business.”

    The 950 megawatt development is 33.3% owned by EDP Renewables, Mistubishi subsidiary DGE holds 33.4%, ENGIE holds 23.3% and the remaining 10% stake is owned by China Three Gorges.

    In 2017 Moray Offshore Windfarm (East) Limited won a Contract for Difference (CfD) from the UK Government to supply electricity at £57.50/MWh.

    Oscar Diaz, project director for Moray East said: “Moray East is a landmark project for the offshore wind industry, delivering sustainable, renewable generation at a highly competitive power price.

    “This PPA brings high-capacity, low cost,  low-carbon power generation to the UK wholesale market on a long-term contract with associated stability for the entire CfD period.”

  5. Wind turbine supply chain worth over £400bn, Woodmac claim

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    The global wind turbine supply chain will be worth more than £400 billion over the next ten years, according to energy analysts Wood Mackenzie (Woodmac).

    But the study also warns that a growing disparity between megawatt (MW) growth and units deployed will impact component suppliers as price pressure trickles down the supply chain.

    The new Global wind turbine supply chain trends research report, published by Woodmac’s power and renewables arm, claims the supply chain potential could tip the scale at £416bn.

    It also believes that the top five turbine firms will win market share over a ten year period.

    Woodmac power and renewables senior analyst, Shashi Barla, said: “We expect the global market share among the top five-turbine OEMs to rise to more than 73% by 2027, compared to just 54% in 2016.

    “It is therefore imperative that component suppliers secure strategic relationships with these winning OEM to solidify their own future success.

    “Global wind annual installations are expected to grow 40% in the next decade – from 53 gigawatts (GW) in 2018 to over 75GW by 2027.

    “Pressure to lower the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) is accelerating technology developments, which is causing a wider proliferation of next-generation 4.X/5.X/6.XMW turbines.

    “As a result, we expect a 20% decline in the total number of turbines deployed, from over 20,000 turbines in 2018 to just over 16,000 by 2027.”

    Firms such as MHI Vestas, Siemens Gamesa and Senvion currently lead the pack in the UK and Europe with a number of  big projects in operation and coming online soon.

    Wind farm developer EDP Renewables confirmed in August that it signed a conditional contract with MHI Vestas Offshore Wind for the supply and installation of 100 turbines at it Moray East Offshore Windfarm.

    MHI Vestas Offshore Wind revealed it had secured final certification for the “world’s most powerful available turbine” for use on the Moray Firth development, due to begin construction in 2022.

    The project will include the supply and installation of 100 MHI Vestas V164-9.5 megawatt (MW) offshore wind turbine generators.

    The research also highlights the logistics challenges on the horizon for blades and towers as component sizes become longer and taller.

    Woodmac said it believes the industry will “circumvent these obstacles with new transportation methods and on-site/closer-to-site manufacturing”, added Mr Barla.

  6. Union ‘demands’ inquiry into offshore helicopter safety

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    An offshore union has reissued its call for a public inquiry into offshore helicopter safety.

    RMT said workers are “demanding certainty” that commercial pressures are not compromising North Sea helicopter transport.

    The union made the call ahead of a debate in the House of Commons today.

    A total of 33 offshore workers have died as a result of helicopter accidents in the North Sea since February 2009, each involving Super Puma helicopters.

    Most recently, 13 people were killed when a helicopter crashed in April 2016 off the Norwegian island of Turoy.

    RMT said trade union opposition has stopped the return of Super Pumas operating in the North Sea since then.

    The union added that offshore workers have “long identified” commercial pressures being brought to bear on helicopter operators by oil companies.

    In 2014, the UK’s transport select committee called for a public inquiry saying there was evidence of commercial pressures.

    However, the Department for Transport said it has not seen anything to suggest this and the government did not support the call for an inquiry.

    RMT general secretary Mick Cash said:“RMT has been fighting for an independent public inquiry into offshore helicopter safety for over a decade now and that fight for transparency across the industry on this critical issue continues as the House of Commons prepares to debate the issue today.

    “Commercial pressures must never be allowed to threaten offshore workers’ safety and it is only an independent public inquiry that would provide the clarity and certainty that RMT members are demanding over the future direction of helicopter transport in the North Sea.”

    Since Super Pumas have been grounded in the North Sea, some firms have sold them or re-purposed the helicopters for other parts of the world.

    A criminal case into the 2016 Turoy crash was dismissed last year but victims’ families are still pursuing a civil compensation claim.

     

  7. Brexit could cause ‘noise and inefficiencies’ offshore

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    Brexit has the potential to cause “noise and inefficiencies” for offshore regulations, according the chief executive of the Oil and Gas Techonlogy Centre (OGTC).

    Although the oil and gas industry is good at making the rules work, it is the period of uncertainty after Brexit that could cause problems, Colette Cohen said.

    Ms Cohen, who has an extensive background as an engineer in the offshore industry, was speaking at the opening of Subsea Expo at the AECC yesterday.

    “We do have a huge amount of little, annoying rules on how we send equipment on and offshore,” she said.

    “The minute you go past that 12 mile barrier there are all sorts of rules that have taken us years to make daily business.

    “So I do think there will be some things that cause us some noise, whether we have a hard Brexit or an uncertain one, on which rules apply.

    “Making sure that we don’t get into some violation, making sure equipment is certified, a whole series of things like that which could cause us a lot of noise and inefficiencies.”

    From a research and development perspective, the OGTC is unlikely to be heavily impacted as it is funded through the industry as well as UK and Scottish Governments and may be more of a “vehicle” for their R&D spend in the interim.

    However, she said that a real concern lies in European funding for university research projects the OGTC is involved in, as well as the pool of EU and non-EU talent that could be affected by Brexit.

    She added: “From the R&D side, the part we have heard concerns is through the universities.

    “A lot of the research programmes we have ongoing through the universities are manned through EU and non-EU staff.

    “Continuous funding, because there’s been a huge amount of EU funding for R&D programmes across the UK, is at risk, and obviously this amazing brainpower we have homogenised into the UK over the last 10-15 years is at risk.”

    Also on the panel with her was Mike Beveridge, managing director of investment bank Simmons Energy.

    Although he does not expect a huge long-term impact on the subsea sector through Brexit, he said continued uncertainty is not good for business.

    He said: “I’m quite sure we’ll probably find Brexit as an issue in everyone’s due diligence list as we go through the next few months of mergers and acquisitions, and if we end up deferring Brexit, then that risk hangs over for another few months which is not a positive thing.

    “My own view from the oil and gas subsea services industry, I don’t think Brexit is going to have a dramatic impact on the industry because we’re a UK and a global industry and I think there’s plenty to go after even if there are some short-term hiccups with the EU itself.”

  8. Changing of the guard bodes well for UK oilfield services sector, EY says

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    The North Sea’s “changing of the guard” will boost an oilfield services (OFS) sector creaking under the weight of sustained pricing pressures, a new report said.

    Professional services firm EY said an influx of new players looking to invest in prolonging the life of mature fields was a positive trend for the basin.

    But workforce unrest which has bubbled away in recent years is a worry for investors, EY said in its eighth annual review of the UK OFS sector.

    The study charts the sector’s fortunes using companies’ annual accounts for 2017 published on Companies House.

    Turnover for the sector dropped 9% to £26.9 billion in 2017, marking a third consecutive year of decline.

    Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation sank 31% to £1.78bn.

    Derek Leith, EY partner and head of oil and gas tax, said 2017 brought “no let-up” on cost pressures as customers kept their purse strings tight amid fears of oversupply and economic recession.

    But Mr Leith said it was “not unusual” for OFS companies to take longer to recover than exploration and production (E&P) businesses.

    He believes the sector “most probably” came through the bottom of the down-cycle in 2017, and spotted some positive signs last year.

    At least 17 new North Sea developments were approved last year, compared to around seven in 2017, and interest in recent licensing rounds has been strong.

    EY is also encouraged by the Oil and Gas Authority’s use of “area plans” to develop “stranded fields” via tiebacks to existing infrastructure.

    Major E&P companies readjusting their portfolios and putting non-core assets up for sale should also increase the OFS sector’s workload as new owners try to keep fields pumping longer.

    The active role played by private-equity-backed companies in development projects on the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS), including west of Shetland, also bodes well.

    A lack of new capital investment in the UKCS in recent years is also creating anxiety about the prospect of production tailing off beyond 2020.

    On the subject of workforce engagement, EY said: “During 2018, there were a number of workforce engagement issues. Industrial action, some officially authorised and some not, took place a number of times.

    “Although the Offshore Contractors’ Association dispute has now been settled, the engagement issues seen in 2018 do raise concerns for investors over the stability of the workforce and the likelihood of future issues.”

    Matt Abraham, supply chain director at Oil and Gas UK, said 2017 was a low point for the supply chain and that an “upswing in margins” was essential for the sector’s recovery.

    EY said UK OFS companies must keep expanding overseas and diversifying into other sectors if they want to survive long term.

  9. ‘Do your homework’, offshore wind bosses tell oil supply chain

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    Scottish offshore wind bosses have told those working in the oil and gas supply chain to “do their homework” before pitching business to the sector.

    Offshore wind is a big opportunity for oil service companies, but it’s a “different ball game”, they said.

    Richard Copeland, of Moray East Windfarm developer EDP Renewables, Rhodri James of Equinor’s Hywind project and David Hinshelwood of Beatrice Offshore Windfarm developer SSE, were speaking during a RenewableUK discussion session at Subsea Expo in Aberdeen last night.

    Mr James, business development lead at Equinor, said the renewables sector “needs” oil and gas technology, adding that he was “looking to oil and gas” to help the sector innovate.

    But the three men urged the oil and gas supply chain to do its homework before pitching ideas to developers of big offshore wind projects.

    Mr Copeland, offshore opportunities manager for EDP Renewables, said: “I’ve spoken to various subsea and oil and gas companies over the years. In terms of tips for getting work in offshore wind – do your homework.

    “Before you come in, try to understand what the differences are between offshore wind and the oil and gas sector. In terms of price points, what the drivers are etc. But people will probably come back to me and say, ‘well how do we do that?’

    “I would recommend the enterprise agencies who do have good insight into all this, like RenewableUK and the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult. There are lots of avenues to find out about the sector. Do some homework first and ask how your offering transfers to offshore wind?

    “It’s a different ball game.”

    Mr James added: “There’s going to be high deployment form 2030 and beyond, a big opportunity here in the UK – it’s coming. We’re relying on the supply chain, we need you.

    “Take your time to understand the market, come to us with a solution that’s better than what we have in place already. That’s music to our ears.”

    Mr James also wouldn’t rule out repeating the Hywind Tampen model of floating wind electricity provision at the Rosebank North Sea field, once it has been developed.

    He said: “Firstly, we need to make Hywind Tampen a success. Provided that’s successful and there’s a commercial model there that works, it’s a great chance to decarbonise what we’re doing in oil and gas.”

  10. Record production sends profits up 40% at Equinor

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    Record production and higher oil and gas prices steered Equinor to a 40% increase in profits last year.

    The Norwegian major produced 2.1 million barrels of oil equivalent (boe) per day last year, about 1% more than in 2017.

    Equinor said “strong operational performance” also contributed to its healthy figures.

    Full year revenues totalled £60 billion, up from £47bn in 2017, and pre-tax profits increased by 40% to £14.5bn.

    Adjusted earnings were £13.9bn, a 42% increase.

    The company’s unit production cost is just $5 per barrel.

    Equinor, which changed its name from Statoil last year, completed 24 exploration wells and made nine commercial discoveries.

    This higher exploration activity coupled with lower refinery and products trading margins did impact adjusted earnings negatively.

    Equinor expects to start production from the £4.5bn Mariner project in the UK North Sea in the first half of this year.

    The firm initially targeted first oil in the fourth quarter of 2018, but “challenging weather conditions” caused a delay.

    A number of deals were struck last year, including the acquisition of Chevron’s 40%-operated stake in the 300m barrel Rosebank project. That deal was announced in October and completed in January.

    Equinor also agreed to swap stakes in several fields in Norway with Faroe Petroleum, which has since been taken over by Oslo-based DNO.

    DNO previously questioned the wisdom of the transaction.

    Johan Sverdrup, which will deliver close to 300,000 barrels per day to Equinor at plateau, will come on stream in the Norwegian Continental Shelf in 2019.

    The firm’s exploration activity for 2019 includes a three well campaign in UK waters. The West Phoenix rig will drill Bigfoot, Pip and Verbier assets.

    Chief executive Eldar Saetre said: “We delivered growing returns for the full year and expect continued earnings growth.”

    “Our cash flow generation was strong across the business. At an overage oil price of $71 per barrel, we generated an organic free cash flow well above £4.6bn for the full year.

    “We have also done several value-enhancing transactions, strengthened our financial position and reduced our net debt ratio from 29% to 22.2%.”

    He added: “Equinor is already delivering industry leading returns, and we expect to increase returns and cash flow even further going forward.

    “We delivered record high production in 2018, and we are well positioned for profitable growth in the coming years.”

  11. Subsea ‘fallen down pecking order’ for investors

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    The subsea sector has “fallen down the pecking order” for investors, according to leading advisor.

    Speaking at Subsea Expo, Mike Beveridge, managing director at Simmons Energy, said the sector has gone from being “one of the hottest” industries within oilfield services to becoming “incredibly unprofitable” following the recent downturn.

    While things are now once again starting to pick up, making the industry attractive to lenders may prove challenging, Mr Beveridge said.

    He said: “Everyone in the subsea world lived in an environment seven to 10 years ago when it was the hottest sector within the oilfield services industry.

    “We’ve been through this fundamental shift now where the subsea industry to the world at large is a challenged industry environment that has been incredibly unprofitable for the last few years, hasn’t been attractive to lenders and therefore has fallen down the pecking order in terms of many peoples’ priorities.

    “The industry is just not seen as attractive in the eyes of multi-billion dollar lenders that have credit exposure across 50 industries in 120 countries. Where does subsea exposure fit in all of that? The answer is it is not that attractive.

    “The only way to overcome that is through performance, and that is going to be a dilemma for the next 18 months for everybody.

    “The financing of growth will improve with time. At the end of the day you have to translate activity into profitability before banks will be willing to support activity.”

    Addressing the conference during the plenary session at the AECC, Mr Beveridge said the sector is in the first phase of improving profits with activity now picking back up.

    He added there was a “disappointing” lack of mergers with tier two firms, at a time when the companies need to consolidate to survive, and that many had not accepted the need to change.

    “We just haven’t seen the consolidation in the second tier that we think should have been happening, which is really frustrating,” he said.

    “You could look at the emergence in the last upturn of a lot of tier two and tier three players, there was a view five or six years ago that the industry needed a new group of subsea services, IRM-based businesses for example.

    “There were quite a few players that led the charge a few years ago, some of them have been casualties of the downturn.

    “I look at that sector and think it needs consolidation. Some of those companies should have come together and looked for strength and regional businesses should try to become more global by combining with each other.

    “The subsea business is on the road to recovery but I don’t think there’s anything we see to suggest that we’re going to get back to the environment we enjoyed in 2013 and 2014.

    “We have to be different to attack the new challenges ahead of us.”

  12. Subsea sector must end ‘master and servant mindset’

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    The UK’s £7.5 billion subsea sector needs to shed its “master and servant mindset”, an industry veteran said yesterday.

    Firms have been guilty of “poor behaviour”, Neil Gordon, chief executive of trade body Subsea UK, added.

    He hosted the plenary session on day one of the 2019 Subsea Expo at the AECC.

    The Subsea UK chief executive was joined by representatives of the Oil and Gas Technology Centre (OGTC), investment bank Simmons Energy, the Oil and Gas Authority, the Department for International Trade and Tekmar.

    The panel discussed challenges facing the industry, including its declining attractiveness to investors, Brexit, the energy transition and nurturing the next generation of energy sector workers.

    Mr Gordon stressed that proper engagement would lead to the right solutions being found, instead of customers dictating what should be done.

    He said: “Our sector is still reporting cases of pretty poor behaviour across its spectrum right across the supply chain, particularly in relation to commercials, whether that be payment terms, liabilities or contractual wrangling.

    “Less master and servant, confrontational mindsets should be replaced with more open, constructive conversations looking at common objectives, value added and risk and reward, with an appreciation that margins must increase to allow investment in resources and assets.

    “It’s only within this type of environment that our supply chain can relentlessly pursue smart solutions and efficiencies.

    “But it is not only the customers who have to change, the supply chain overall must take a long-hard look at ourselves to reinvent ourselves as pioneering innovators.

    “In the difficult market conditions we’ve been facing we’ve all been under scrutiny and have been forced to review the value that we deliver, whether that’s in our service offering or technology.”

    Mr Gordon added that, while technological innovation was crucial, so too was changing the commercial behaviours of the industry.

    Colette Cohen, chief executive of the OGTC, said the subsea industry was working against itself and needs to be more focused on collaborating.

    She said: “You’re a very competitive industry, and compared with other elements of the business that we’ve worked with, you’re very hard to get to work with each other or to share what’s going on.

    “If you don’t change that behaviour, you’re not going to succeed fast enough.

    “We need to start working together on what your vision. We have Vision 2035, but what’s your vision? What’s your vision as an industry of what you’ll look like and who you’re going to be in five years, let along in 2035?

    “Right now you’re competing so much with each other, you’re not working out that you’re going to be bypassed.”

    They were joined on the panel by Mike Beveridge, managing director of Simmons Energy, who said the subsea sector has “fallen down the pecking order” of investors, which can now only be improved through performance.

  13. Renewables ‘more forward-thinking’ than subsea

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    An industry leader has described the renewables sector as “more forward-thinking” than subsea.

    Alistair MacDonald is chief executive of Benbecula Group and chairman of Tekmar.

    Speaking yesterday at the opening of Subsea Expo, he said firms in renewables are more open to trying new technologies and innovation, while subsea firms have been historically “risk averse”.

    Tekmar, which is focused on renewables, recently diversified into oil and gas amid the latest downturn.

    Mr MacDonald said the downturn meant some firms were willing to work with new suppliers, without which they may not have found success.

    He said: “I would say the renewables sector is a lot more forward-thinking enterprise. It’s a much shorter cycle.

    “The history of subsea is being risk-averse. The technology was very different in the early days, there are parallels with how subsea developed and how renewables has been developing but they have learned a lot quicker and I think they embrace technology quicker, they engage a lot quicker.

    “If I had a choice between a renewables project and a subsea project, I would back renewables because straight to market is quicker for me.

    “At Tekmar we diversified very successfully into the oil and gas space. My question is, had we not had the downturn, would we have engaged as quickly? There was an engagement in new technology and new suppliers and that helped us a lot.”

    Colette Cohen, chief executive of the Oil and Gas Techonlogy Centre (OGTC), said there is an ever-increasing need to work with renewables as the world focuses more on a low-carbon agenda.

    She said: “We are facing the low-carbon economy. Whether we like it or not the renewable industry is really growing right now but there’s also massive societal support for us to become a greener world.

    “When you look at the fourth industrial revolution combined with it, previously when an ice cap melted in the Arctic, it was interesting to a few scientists but now it becomes a viral video across the world.

    “So the recognition and connectivity that’s been created through digitisation really drives this greater awareness of the impact of climate change.

    “So if we’re going to be part of an energy solution and part of a balanced energy mix, we as an industry have got to embrace low carbon technology to continue to operate and produce hydrocarbons, but in the cleanest, greenest way that we can.”

    Ensuring subsea conforms to a clean energy agenda is vital in attracting the next generation, according to Ms Cohen, who said oil and gas is in an “industrial transition” going into the next 50 years.

    She added that protecting the environment is high up on the agenda of young people: “We need to change the language and how we talk about the oil and gas industry.

    “That means we do need to embrace that low carbon future, we have to talk about being part of that, about being energy efficient, about having a clean footprint if we’re going to attract the next generation because they don’t want to work for an industry that’s perceived not to care about the environment.

    “They want to work for an industry that wants to ensure that we’re sitting there, working hand-in-hand with renewables, that we’re conscious of the need for digitisation.

    “I think there is a need for us to genuinely take that as our strategy within our own companies.”

  14. Online projects tool gets revamp

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    A new and improved version of an online tool which helps the supply chain keep tabs on upcoming North Sea projects will soon be unleashed.

    The Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) hopes to go live with the revamped Pathfinder – currently in development — by the end of the first quarter.

    The existing database sits within the supply chain section of the regulator’s website, but the newer one could be incorporated in the data centre subdivision.

    Pathfinder is a treasure trove of information which was launched several years ago by the UK Government’s energy department.

    The intention was to provide the supply chain with up-to-date information on upcoming field development or decommissioning projects, along with relevant contact details at operators.

    It was required to supplement “share fairs” – the annual industry project sharing events.

    Once fully operational, the site will bring additional value to both operators and the service sector.

    But the OGA has continued to improve the existing version ahead of the “makeover” of the IT portal.

    Information about large contracts awarded to tier one contractors can be found readily online.

    This will help the smaller companies who normally provide services to larger contractors, rather than dealing directly with operators.

    A “challenges” section has also been added. It lets operators post details of opportunities where they are looking to the supply chain to come forward with solutions.  

    In the coming months, the Forward Workplan database — which holds information on upcoming operational and maintenance contracts — will be transferred onto Pathfinder.

    It means Pathfinder will become a one-stop site with comprehensive information on all high value offshore contract activity in the UK Continental Shelf.

    Operators can’t pay lip service to Pathfinder.

    The OGA has made Pathfinder an integral part of the Supply Chain Action Plans to ensure the portal becomes an effective tool providing comprehensive information.

    Operators must complete these action plans satisfactorily for their field development plans to be approved by the OGA – and for Decommissioning programmes to be approved by BEIS.

    Sylvia Buchan, OGA supply chain development manager, said: “The most frequent request we get from the supply chain is visibility of emerging projects and upcoming workplans and contracts.

    “They had share fairs once a year, but projects are happening all year round.

    “When we started developing Pathfinder several years ago it was for the supply chain. Now we’re enhancing it on the back of the Supply Chain Action Plans and it will also become a value adding tool for operators.

    “We’ve created something useful for suppliers but also for operators, who can raise any issues they have, which provides an opportunity for the supply chain to come up with solutions.

    “It’s easy for the supply chain to subscribe to pathfinder and it is free.”

    Bill Cattanach, head of supply chain at the OGA, said: “The supply chain needs evidence of upcoming activity to provide confidence to invest in people and equipment which will be necessary for the future.

    “If we can give companies line of sight two years ahead, that will help with suppliers’ investment plans.”

  15. Scotland and New Jersey to share offshore wind ‘best practice’

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    Scotland and the US state of New Jersey are to share offshore wind “best practice”, thanks to an agreement signed by the first minister.

    Nicola Sturgeon has inked a joint climate change agreement with Governor of New Jersey Phil Murphy focusing on the role of offshore wind in decarbonising the energy sector.

    Scotland has a number of big developments in the north-east due to kick off shortly, such as the 100 turbine Moray East wind project, the Neart Na Goethe (NNG) windfarm and the Inch Cape development off the Angus coast.

    Scotland also boasts the Aberdeen Bay Offshore Windfarm, able to power up to 70% of the city’s energy requirement, and the soon-to-be completed Beatrice Offshore Windarm, one of the biggest construction projects in Scottish infrastructure history.

    New Jersey has established a goal of 3,500 megawatts (MW) of offshore wind energy by 2030.

    The agreement has set out plans to share experience and best practice and promote business opportunities.

    Ms Sturgeon said: “We all have a moral responsibility to tackle climate change and the Scottish Government has set ambitious targets to reduce emissions and increase our electricity from renewable sources.

    “Climate change is a global problem and agreements like these, working in partnership with like-minded administrations, will help us tackle the harmful effects it has on the planet.

    “I look forward to working with New Jersey as we work towards our shared ambitions.”

    Scotland agreed a similar deal with the Governor of California in 2017.

    Governor Murphy added:“As New Jersey progresses on the path to 100% clean energy, we are grateful to partner with Scotland to tackle the issue of climate change head on.

    “Scotland has a world-class offshore wind industry and we are looking forward to learning from them as we establish offshore wind farms in our state.”

  16. Enpro unveils production improving tech after £1.5m investment

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    A £1.5 million investment is paying off for Enpro Subsea as onshore testing gets under way on its production enhancing technology.

    The new flow intervention services (FIS) technology is an upgrade to an existing lower pressure version currently in widespread use in West Africa.

    The Westhill-based firm announced the success of the £1.5m investment, which included a £755,000 research grant from Scottish Enterprise in 2017, at Subsea Expro in Aberdeen.

    Enpro Subsea invested the other half.

    Subsea testing will take place later this year.

    The new higher pressure version will help oil and gas operators improve production by stimulating the reservoir and increasing recovery from deepwater wells.

    The FIS can also link with other Enpro flow access module (FAM) technology, allowing operators to link with existing offshore infrastructure, such as Christmas trees and manifolds.

    Enpro managing director Ian Donald said: “Our vision is to develop a range of production technologies and services which increase production and oil recovery from our client’s assets.

    “The investment, combined with research and development (R&D) funding from Scottish Enterprise in 2017, provided us with the ideal opportunity to increase our capabilities in the deepwater intervention area, building on our successes to date.”

    Scottish Enterprise’s head of energy and low carbon technologies, David Rennie, added: “Projects like these are a fantastic example of how our support can make a difference to a company.

    “Subsea Engineering is one of Scotland’s true global strengths and projects like this can only help reinforce that position.”

    Scottish Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse said: “It’s extremely important that Scottish companies expand because we know that the global opportunity is extremely large.

    “Announcements made by companies here today and tomorrow cement the confidence in the sector.”

  17. Diving into the future

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    Any business relies on its assets. Whether these are people, machinery, or even data, it is vital for the sustainable growth of any company that these are nurtured, protected and cared for.

    None more so than in offshore operations. Shutdowns and any slowing of production can be significantly damaging, and costly.

    Ever since we launched our diving medic cover to the energy sector in 1977, we have seen major shifts in attitudes towards subsea maintenance and repair.

    Major incidents across the globe have highlighted the need for more frequent and considered maintenance of equipment where the eye can’t see. Technology has evolved, as you’d expect, and we now see a multitude of remotely-operated vehicles (ROVs) which can detect and repair underwater equipment and machinery on the most complex subsea rigs and platforms, but not all.

    Despite the advancement of technology, humans are still needed for areas that machines can’t reach, mostly underwater.

    Experienced subsea divers are a rare breed. They are required for a wide spectrum of operations, ranging from changing valves and replacing blowout protectors, right the way through to helping place new installations.

    The dangers are vast and the injuries they can sustain can be serious.

    In the past year alone, our medics have looked after 115 divers, two thirds within the UKCS, the others in the US, Africa, UAE, Asia and one off the coast of Alaska, with everything from ear infections to barracuda and lionfish bites and appendicitis.

    We predominantly look after saturation divers working from diving support vessels (DSVs)spending up to 28 days at a time under pressure travelling to their work site by diving bell.

    It is a testament to the current safety record of the diving industry that, of the 115 divers, only eight cases related to an accident or an injury – including the two fish bites and an injury in a bunk in the saturation chamber, and only one resulted in the diver being a non-emergency disembarkation.

    A significant change to the statistics from the 1980s, where in a five-year period there were 45 diving- related deaths in the North Sea alone.

    The complications of incidents are vast. For example, recently, a DSV was operating in the UKCS, replacing a major pump on the sea bed adjacent to an offshore installation at a depth of 140 metres.

    Divers living in the saturation chambers on the DSV were travelling to the sea bed in a diving bell.

    One diver, on his first saturation dive, developed a rare complication, a burst lung in this case resulting in a pneumomediastinum, where breathing gas had leaked from his lung into the area around his heart and into his neck.
    In a challenging environment, the Iqarus team had to maintain patient stability while working underwater and, at the same time, ensuring that the best medical care was offered to save the life of the patient.

    The team mobilised a diving doctor, able to work in the chamber at pressure, to the DSV with the recommended Diving Medical Advisory Committee (DMAC) equipment.

    With support from one of our diving medical specialists onshore, this doctor advised the DSV on the care of the diver and conduct of the decompression, ensuring that the diver was brought back safely to the surface with minimal delay and no adverse effects.

    This example isn’t unique. Working in an offshore environment not only tests both the mental and physical stamina of employees but also the ability of support personnel to function under extremely harsh working conditions.

    The dangers are real and apparent. The wellbeing of these divers is business critical. Their presence has a direct impact on the running of an installation.

    An integrated and specialist diving, topside and medical service can bring together these safeguards in the
    best interests of the people and the asset.

    As the industry develops and looks at new technologies to enhance the diving environment and considers even deeper dives, progressive businesses need to ensure that their duty of care goes deeper too.

    Dr Stuart Scott is medical director, Iqarus

  18. Firms aim to pick up cHeRries

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    The Old Course Hotel in St Andrews set the bar high in one of the categories of the cHeRries Awards in 2018, and judges are on the hunt for an equally strong
    winner at this year’s event.

    Company teams or individual employees can submit entries for the
    tremendous learning and development gong.

    But they will have to move fast as the deadline for submissions is midnight on Sunday.

    Sponsored by international energy services giant Petrofac, the category is open to those who have in the past
    year shown a strong commitment to designing and delivering “cohesive and innovative” learning and development  programmes and initiatives for their organisations.

    Nominees must be able to demonstrate a “visibleand measurable relationship” between the business’s training and development, and overall performance. Judges are particularly keen to see a direct link to performance management processes.

    Ruth Harris, human resources (HR) director, Petrofac Engineering and Production Services, said: “As a people business, we’re passionate about the long-term learning and development of all our
    colleagues.

    We’re proud to recognise the efforts and celebrate the successes of HR talent in the north-east by supporting the cHeRries.”

    The annual Press and Journal cHeRries Awards – sponsored by Robert Gordon University and wealth management and employee benefit services company Mattioli Woods – recognise excellence in the fields of HR, training and recruitment.

    There are 11 gongs up for grabs in the free-to-enter 2019 edition, including the highly-prized “top cherry”.

    They also include a new community award, named after former cHeRries judge Mike Reid, who died last May after battling cancer.

    It all reaches a climax at Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre on Thursday May 30.

    More than 450 people packed out the venue for last year’s awards, when HR co-ordinator RosieSteven collected the tremendous learning and
    development accolade for The Old Course Hotel.

    The cHeRries Awards have been held every year since 2008.

  19. Data Protection & GDPR: Doing the right thing

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    Since its introduction in May last year, the General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR as it is commonly known, has attracted a lot of attention and not all of it good.

    For many, it has been a source of confusion and concern, due in part to conflicting information given in the media and, in some cases, advice from well-meaning companies who were keen to capitalise on a new and easy revenue stream, but who didn’t fully understand the legislation.

    For many organisations, meeting the obligation of processing personal data responsibly and compliantly doesn’t have to be a laborious or costly exercise, but some work is required. Sensibility dictates that it is better to do this work in a planned and budgeted manner rather than in a panic because something has gone wrong and the business wasn’t prepared for it. Some of the scaremongering mentioned previously relates to the multimillion-pound fines, but the Information Commissioners Office have always said that their goal is to promote, improve and support businesses to properly protect personal data, rather than go for their financial jugular.

    At the end of the day, we are all consumers, service users, members, staff, patients, etc, and throughout the day, without much thought, we give our personal data on many occasions. Examples include giving our name, address and bank card details to buy a product, completing a form to register for a service or join a club, to logging into our social media accounts and posting comments, photos or doing those fun quizzes or questionnaires. As individuals, we have a right to ensure that our personal data is being responsibly processed, but unfortunately that isn’t always the case as we have seen recently with some very public data breaches and data processing infractions from well-known brands, including Carphone Warehouse, Uber, Starwood Hotels and who can forget Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, to name but a few.

    There are many upsides to getting with the GPDR programme. Aside from the opportunity to yield operational efficiency gains, compliance also gives organisations a competitive edge. Consumers are becoming more savvy regarding their rights, how their data is being used and are making more informed choices about who they give their business – and personal data – to. Those brands who have suffered breaches have seen their reputation – and market share – decrease. Similarly, in a business context, companies are now asking their supply chain for assurances regarding GDPR compliance, which can make the difference in being selected as preferred supplier or not.

    There is also a strong expectation for organisations to simply “do the right thing” when it comes to processing personal data. It’s not always about what you can do, but what you SHOULD do.

    Hayley Jaffrey, Data Privacy & Quality Governance Director, The Quality Atlas

  20. BP doubles profits in year remembered for Clair Ridge first oil

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    Profits more than doubled at oil giant BP in 2018, a year marked by the start-up of a major project west of Shetland.

    The multi-billion-pound Clair Ridge development was one of six major projects to crank into life for BP last year.

    Clair Ridge is expected to deliver 640 million barrels of oil equivalent (boe) over the next 40 years.

    Large projects in Egypt, Russia, Azerbaijan, the Gulf of Mexico and Australia also came online.

    Other UK highlights included regulatory approval being granted for the Alligin and Vorlich projects, both of which should come on stream in 2020.

    BP and its partners are working towards final investment decisions on the Seagull project and Clair South, the third phase of development of the giant Clair field.

    Neptune Energy agreed to buy 35% of Seagull from Apache last year. BP has a 50% non-operated stake in the project, while Japex has the remaining 15%.

    Discoveries were announced last year at Capercaillie in the central North Sea and Achmelvich, west of Shetland.

    A spokesman for BP said yesterday that both of these finds were still “under evaluation”.

    The firm sold its 75% stake in the Magnus field to EnQuest last year, while interests in the Bruce, Keith and Rhum assets were divested to Serica Energy.

    Announcing its full-year results, BP said operational reliability was “very strong” in 2018, contributing to a 3% increase in upstream production to 2.5m boe per day.

    Output in 2019 is expected to be higher again due to the ramp-up of new oil and gas fields.

    Total revenue jumped 24% to £232 billion last year, while pre-tax profits rose to £12.8bn, from £5.5bn in 2017, aided by higher oil prices.

    Underlying replacement cost profits – BP’s preferred measure – totalled £9.7bn in 2018, up from £4.7bn last time.

    BP plans to complete more than £7.6bn-worth of divestments over the next two years.

    It is reportedly considering selling its 27.5% stake in the central North Sea Shearwater field.

    BP chief executive Bob Dudley said yesterday the firm had built a “powerful track record of safe and reliable performance, efficient execution and capital discipline”.

  21. Offering our clients a different approach in subsea engineering

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    Advisian, the consulting business line of the WorleyParsons Group, has arrived in Aberdeen.

    The multi-sector 2,800-strong business has brought Ingen-Ideas and Performance Improvements (PI) into the team, strengthening their already burgeoning hydrocarbons consultancy offering.

    With multi-discipline front end consultancy and subsea engineering capability, Advisian brings business independence to the North Sea development market backed up by 200-plus engineering resource in the UK.

    With recent economic pressures and a reduction in new development projects there has been a move by operators to use Tier 1 subsea contractors for front end and subsea projects including fabrication and installation work.

    However, as Steve Rolfe, Advisian subsea projects manager explains: “While this approach can reduce short-term project costs, we believe it can limit the operator to a potentially sub-optimal development path. Advisian has always offered something different by taking a more holistic approach to field developments. We do this by looking at the development as a whole, using value-based decision-making techniques and technical expertise with a strong focus on CAPEX. This gives our clients the best overall perspective to support their long-term business strategy.”

    The subsea market has seen a resurgence in subsea tie-backs following the recent economic downturn. The 2016 OGA study titled Lessons Learned from UKCS Oil and Gas Projects 2011-2016 made clear that poorly executed front end work contributed to cost and schedule overruns and therefore poor outturn projects.

    Steve confirms: “Advisian’s solution to the OGA lessons is clear. We remove one of the key subsea tie-back risks by bringing the extensive experience of WorleyParsons’ topsides, brownfield, engineering and construction expertise into the early development stages. This provides greater certainty to our clients and a high degree of confidence in moving the development forward. When we couple this with our independent subsea engineering capability, we enable our clients to manage costs through competitive tendering of subsea scopes, as well as de-risking their projects by applying the depth of topside modification experience WorleyParsons brings.”

    Join us at the Subsea Expo, February 5-7, at Stand 42 to find out how we help clients see things differently from the earliest phase of a project through to successful operation.

    Lee Thomas will present on the groundbreaking results in Pseudo Dry Gas at the West of Shetland Project on February 6.

  22. Where is technology leading us?

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    Global oil and gas executives are preparing to accelerate investments in digital technologies, with the main goal of furthering their cost-saving ambitions.

    This is according to our latest report, New Technology Can Lead The Way, But Do You Know Where You’re Headed?, a survey of 100 global oil and gas executives, which finds that 89% expect to increase investment in digital in the next two years.

    Despite oil prices reaching more attractive levels during the third quarter of 2018, operating efficiency remains a top priority owing to a legacy of falling prices in recent years.

    Some 42% of survey respondents say their primary motivation for investment in digital is to improve efficiency, while 55% say that their priority for technology investment will be focused on operational improvement.

    A smaller segment (23%) are more ambitious, indicating that their main impetus for investment is to expand their suite of digital capabilities.

    Focusing and improving operational efficiency has been the industry’s mantra since the price of oil started to decline in 2014.

    In response, companies are subjecting investments to far more intensive scrutiny, and they are looking for solutions to slim down the cost-per-barrel, aid recovery rates and reduce non-productive times.

    There is now broad recognition across the industry, however, that short-term cost-cutting is not the answer, and that digitisation has the potential to significantly improve efficiency.

    If businesses think holistically about technology, they can go further to unlock growth opportunities and emerge as industry leaders.

    According to our latest findings, robotic process automation (RPA) and advanced analytics are expected to have the most significant impact on the industry over the next five years — with both cited by 25% of executives.

    Most survey respondents (75%) say they are already implementing RPA, and 87% indicate that they are using advanced analytics as they look to use data to boost productivity.

    Conversely, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is only being implemented by 19% of respondents. While 70% say they plan to adopt IIoT in the next 18 months, 20% of respondents believe it carries the most risk in light of the associated cybersecurity threat.

    The report further highlights the significant obstacles faced by the industry in embedding digital technologies and overcoming silo mentalities. Less than a third of respondents (31%) believe their digital investment vision is “highly aligned” with the views of other senior managers.

    And 41% say reaching agreement on a digital road map from executive teams and the board of directors is a key strategic problem.

    Integrating new digital tools is also cited as a fundamental challenge. On average, respondents allocate nearly half (48%) of their digital technology investment to outsourcing, while 36% of organisations surveyed say their greatest operational barrier is around integrating new tools with existing solutions and systems.

    Indeed, respondents devote an average of just 17% of their digital technology investment to building in-house capabilities – which they attribute to personnel issues and prohibitive timelines and costs.

    However, 39% of respondents acknowledge that developing internal resources can be a valuable opportunity to foster an internal culture of innovation.

    There still appears a lack of confidence among executives about how to define and execute digital visions, and the scope of many strategies is still too narrow.

    While outsourcing can be beneficial at the outset, ultimately, the winners will build integrated, in-house capabilities that embrace the potential of new technologies.

    In doing so, businesses must also be aware that the human factor remains crucial to digitisation, and they need to address the organisational challenges that inevitably arise when adopting a more ambitious digital strategy.

    Andrew Deane, associate partner, Oil & Gas Advisory

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