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energy

Oil & Gas

Politicians debate fracking at energy hustings

Politicians traded blows over the future of the North Sea oil and gas industry, changes to the tax regime for the sector and the potential for onshore fracking at an energy hustings in Aberdeen yesterday. Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said he wants to see a continued “downward trajectory” in terms of the tax rate for the North Sea if his party is returned to Westminster. But the Liberal Democrat, speaking at the event organised by industry body Oil and Gas UK, came under fire from SNP candidate for Gordon Alex Salmond for his role in the coalition’s infamous tax raid in 2011.

Other News

Atlas Knowledge and Amplo Development Services join forces in South Africa and Namibia

Atlas Knowledge and its strategic partner Amplo Development Services have launched a new initiative to bring internationally certified construction, commercial and oil and gas training to the South African and Namibian energy industries. The move is in response to the increasing demand in the region for accessible and affordable training to workforce in the developing energy region. The first two authorised training centres of Amplo's have been certified to deliver in excess of 1,000 e-learning courses as well as OPITO certified invigilated training.

Other News

Lib Dems set out ‘five green laws’

The Liberal Democrats have set out plans for five “green laws” as they seek to establish their credentials on protecting the environment and fighting climate change. The party’s manifesto pledges to bring in laws which would protect nature, cut waste, make transport greener, slash the country’s greenhouse gas emissions and improve the energy efficiency of homes. A Nature Act would include requirements for the government to set out a 25-year plan for helping the UK’s nature recover, increase access to green spaces, protect forests, bees and birds and tackle wildlife crime. And, following on from the Tories’ announcement yesterday of a marine protected area around Ascension Island, the Lib Dems have pledged a million square kilometre reserve in the South Atlantic.

Energy Technology

Lloyds Register Energy forms strategic alliance

Lloyd’s Register Energy has formed a strategic alliance with MaxGrip. The move will see the development of a new risk-based inspection (RBI) software module called ‘strEAM+RBI’. The collaboration leverages Lloyd’s Register Energy’s market leading integrity engineering and RBI experience with MaxGrip’s expertise in software development and its strEAM+ framework. It offers a unique software solution that directly embeds into an enterprise’s asset management application, including IBM Maximo, SAP and INFOR EAM. Andy Scott, VP asset integrity services Americas, Lloyd’s Register Energy, said: “Companies operating in asset intensive industries are seeking ways to balance long term decisions with day to day operational challenges.

Oil & Gas

Ithaca completes fifth and final well test for Greater Stella

North Sea oil and gas company Ithaca Energy said yesterday it had completed a successful final development well test on the Stella field. The five wells drilled achieved a combined maximum flow test rate of more than 53,000 barrels of oil equivalent (boe) per day. Aberdeen and Calgary-based Ithaca said this “significantly de-risks” a project – the Greater Stella Area (GSA) – which is expected to produce about 30,000boe per day, including 16,000 for its own 54.66% stake.

Renewables/Energy Transition

Energy firms create ‘confusopoly’

The “deliberately confusing” bills provided by energy companies are the biggest barrier to consumers switching suppliers, according to a study. Confusing tariffs and badly-presented billing information is stopping households from getting the best deal, the report by the CentreForum think-tank for comparison site comparethemarket.com claims. The report warns that switching rates have been in decline since 2012 despite efforts by the UK Government and regulator Ofgem to make it easier to change supplier. Despite identifying general barriers to switching such as a lack of internet access, CentreForum said the biggest problem facing customers was the “deliberately confusing way that suppliers present information”.

Renewables/Energy Transition

Solar industry slams green policies

No large scale solar farms will be built under the new green energy subsidy system in the next year, it has been revealed. The industry hit out at “rollercoaster policies” for solar - which it said could be cheaper than gas in a few years - after it emerged neither of the two solar projects which won funding for 2015/2016 in the first renewables subsidy auction of its kind were going ahead. It means only three of the five solar farms awarded subsidies, paid for through consumer bills, in the auction will be built in the next few years, compared to all 15 onshore wind projects which won payments under the new “Contracts for Difference” scheme.

Opinion

Opinion: Longannet closure….what about Iberdola’s broken promises?

Imagine an uninformed stranger arriving in Scotland and examining what passes for an energy policy. What conclusions would be reached about the self-contradictory, self-defeating chaos that has been achieved so far? On the one hand, we have a Scottish government which has made massive virtue out of a low-carbon energy policy, targeting a generation equivalent to 100% renewables. On the other, we have one of Europe’s most polluting power stations scheduled for near-imminent closure. Our passing stranger might reach one of two conclusions, or possibly both. First, the closure of Longannet is entirely consistent with the stated objectives of the current Holyrood administration.

Americas

Canadian job security affected by layoffs in energy and retail

A string of mass firings in the energy and retail industries is taking a toll on Canadians’ job security, recent polling suggests. The share of Canadians who say their employment isn’t fully secure rose last week to 15 percent, the highest since June 2013, according to a weekly survey by Nanos Research Group. The share who say their jobs are at least somewhat secure has declined to 68.9 percent, the lowest since early January. High-profile companies have recently announced closings and Canada’s unemployment rate is at a five-month high as the country copes with the plunge in oil prices and consolidation in the retail industry.

Other News

E.ON fined £7.5million for overcharging customers

E.ON is to hand £7.75 million to Citizens Advice after the energy company was found to have overcharged customers in the wake of price rises. The package of help for vulnerable customers is in addition to the £400,000 E.ON has already paid back to potentially affected customers. Regulator Ofgem said the penalty reflected E.ON’s “repeated failing” on billing rules after the company incorrectly imposed exit fees and overcharged customers following price rises in January 2013 and January 2014. The regulator said E.ON's errors meant customers who took the chance to switch suppliers after the bill rises were wrongly charged. Companies are not supposed to apply exit fees if a customer signals their intention to move supplier within the standard 30-day notice period of a price rise. This is the case even if the switch occurs after the price rise.

Renewables/Energy Transition

Campaigners urge more support over energy

More support is needed from politicians to reduce energy demand and boost energy storage, according to environmental campaigners. The call from WWF Scotland came as they published figures showing that March broke records for wind power output in Scotland. Their analysis of data showed that wind turbines alone provided the National Grid with enough electricity to supply, on average, the energy needs of 110% of Scottish households, 2.6 million homes. This represents an increase of 16% compared to the same period last year. Overall, wind power generated the equivalent of 57% of Scotland’s total electricity consumption - domestic and non-domestic - for the month.

Middle East

Iran nuclear talks run into eighth day as US says deal possible

Iran and world powers extended talks aimed at ending the 12-year standoff over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program into an eighth day with the US indicating progress toward an agreement. Diplomats negotiated all night in Lausanne, Switzerland and will reconvene at about 9:00 a.m. local time, US spokeswoman Marie Harf said. The US State Department said late Wednesday that enough progress had been made in meetings between Secretary of State John Kerry and his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif to warrant continuing talks.

Renewables/Energy Transition

Offshore windfarm fund nets £463million

More than £460 million has been raised for the world’s first dedicated offshore wind fund to invest in wind farms off the UK’s coasts. The UK Green Investment Bank said £463 million in capital had been committed by investors including UK pension funds and a sovereign wealth fund in the first stage of fundraising for a planned £1 billion fund to invest in offshore wind farms. The Government-backed bank is also investing £200 million in the fund, which is managed by its subsidiary the UK Green Investment Bank Financial Services Ltd, and said that with fundraising continuing it expected to meet the £1 billion target. It has transferred its investments in two existing offshore wind farms into the fund, which will give investors an immediate cash yield.

Markets

Oil set for third quarterly drop as deadline in Iran talks looms

Oil headed for a third quarterly loss as Iranian and Western diplomats worked toward a nuclear deal that may lead to the OPEC member increasing crude exports and worsening a global supply glut. Futures dropped as much as 1.7% in New York, falling for a third day. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov left the talks in Switzerland and will only return if an agreement is in sight, signaling negotiations may continue into the final hours leading to Tuesday’s deadline. US crude stockpiles probably expanded further from a record last week, a survey showed before government data Wednesday.

Renewables/Energy Transition

More Scots back green energy measures

Almost four in five Scots want the next UK government to continue to implement renewable energy measures such as wind and wave power, according to a new survey. Almost two-thirds also want the next government to continue policies that help cut emissions and tackle climate change. A YouGov poll commissioned by industry body Scottish Renewables questioned 1,008 people on February 24 and 25. It found that 79% backed the continued development of renewable energy sources compared to just 26% who back fracking for shale gas, 45% who support new nuclear power stations and 49% in favour of the building or extension of coal and gas-fired power stations.

Middle East

Iran reserves again coveted by big oil after decades of conflict

Outside the boardroom of BP Plc’s headquarters on London’s swanky St. James’s Square, a display case houses the geological data from Masjid-i-Solaiman, Iran’s first oil well. The discovery of crude in 1908 laid the foundations for the company that would become British Petroleum and opened one of the richest opportunities that western oil companies have ever enjoyed in the turbulent Middle East. Since then, the industry’s history in Iran is intertwined with CIA-backed coups, colonial exploitation and the anti-western resentment surrounding the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Oil & Gas

Ewing to champion Scottish oil and gas expertise

Energy Minister Fergus Ewing will champion Scotland’s trouble-hit offshore industry on a trade mission to the heart of the US oil and gas sector this week. There are still “huge opportunities” despite significant challenges, he said as he prepared for his trip to Houston to meet key figures from a number of companies. The visit comes at a time when the industry globally has been hit by a slump in oil prices.

Other News

South Korea could open gateway for next generation of North Sea oil workers

The next generation of North Sea oil workers could be trained thousands of miles away in South Korea under a pioneering deal struck by higher education chiefs. Aberdeen University has announced plans to create its first international campus in Asia – where millions will be spent teaching students on a real platform off the Gwangyang coast. Granite City academics said the unique joint venture with the South Korean government was a “statement of optimism" in the future of the energy sector, which has been hit hard by a global sump in oil prices. The proposed campus will provide students with “large-scale, real-life testing facilities”, including a fully functional training rig to give students the hands-on experience they need.

Video

Video: Aberdeen University to create energy hub with its first international campus

Aberdeen University has revealed plans to create its first international campus in Asia. Professor Seth Kunin, vice-principal for internationalisation, spoke to Energy Voice about the Aberdeen University's first international hub, which will have its very own platform off the Gwangyang coast. He said the move would help position the institution in South Korea and open up the opportunity for expansion to other regions across the world.

Renewables/Energy Transition

UK and Scottish Government gives funding for CCS power station

A project for a coal-fuelled power station with carbon capture and storage (CSS) technology at Grangemouth has secured £4.2 million from the Scottish and UK governments. The money has been awarded to the Seattle-based Summit Power Group for research and feasibility studies for its proposed Caledonia Clean Energy Project. The 570 MW coal-gasification station would be fitted with CCS technology, which captures emissions from fossil fuel power plants and permanently stores them underground. The scheme’s backers said it was designed to capture 90% of CO2 emissions, which would then be carried along existing on-shore and sub-sea pipelines to be permanently stored 2km beneath the North Sea.

Renewables/Energy Transition

Green energy centre funding secured

Funding has been secured for a £25 million green energy centre at St Andrews University which will create 225 jobs. It is hoped the site at Guardbridge will help regenerate part of north-east Fife, with apprenticeships and opportunities in the construction of the centre. The scheme is part of a drive by St Andrews to become the UK’s first carbon-neutral university.

Other News

MSPs to hold energy supply inquiry

A Holyrood committee is to hold an inquiry into the security of Scotland’s energy supply in the wake of news that Longannet power station is likely to close prematurely. MSPs on the Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee will take evidence on the UK electricity market with a focus on supply, demand and the transmission network. It follows the announcement that the troubled coal-fired plant in Fife will “in all likelihood” shut by March 2016 after losing out on a short-term National Grid contract. Operator Scottish Power said the station has been under pressure from higher transmission charges to connect to the grid due to its location.

Analysis

The only thing oil analysts can agree on is disagreement

Standard Chartered Plc’s Paul Horsnell forecasts oil will rise to $90 a barrel in the fourth quarter. Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s Francisco Blanch predicts $58. Six months ago, they were just $1 apart. That sudden divergence highlights a growing trend: Energy analysts are the most divided in at least eight years on the direction of Brent crude, the global benchmark. Forecasters failed to predict the plunge that cut oil prices by more than half after the U.S. shale boom boosted output to a three-decade high. OPEC, led by Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, relinquished its traditional role adjusting production to moderate price swings in an effort to maintain market share.

Other News

Norway deal to boost green power

The world’s longest electricity connector is to be built between the UK and Norway to supply low-carbon power from the Scandinavian country. The 450-mile (724km) long “interconnector”, which has the capacity to supply enough electricity to power nearly three quarters of a million UK homes, will help with energy security and could cut consumer bills, officials said. It will be the first electricity interconnector between the two countries, with the £1.5 billion cost of the scheme split between the UK and Norway.

Renewables/Energy Transition

UK emissions down by 8.4% in 2014

The UK’s greenhouse gas emissions dropped by more than 8% last year in the face of lower electricity use and less burning of coal to generate power, provisional figures show. Renewables such as wind, solar, bioenergy and hydropower generated almost a fifth (19%) of the UK’s electricity in 2014, a new record high for the clean technologies. There was a drop in emissions of 8.4% in 2014 compared with 2013, while output of the main greenhouse gas - carbon dioxide - fell by nearly a tenth (9.7%), statistics from the Department of Energy and Climate Change showed.