Natural selection in energy transition


While the shift from hydrocarbons to renewables is far from smooth, investment opportunities in the generation, service and utility markets are proliferating as the sector landscape evolves.


UK lacking a tech grip


Ever heard of the International Energy Agency’s Technology Collaboration Programme? Possibly not. It doesn’t exactly hit the headlines.


Opinion: Remembering Piper Alpha


As an apprentice at Dounreay back in July 1988, I remember very clearly travelling the 22 miles from Thurso across the far north east corner of Scotland to Wick, to look out to sea.


Opinion: Kemp – Mergers and asset transactions on the rise in oil and gas sector


Over the last year or so there has been increased activity in mergers and asset transactions in the oil and gas sector. This certainly includes the UK Continental Shelf. With respect to asset transactions, in the immediate aftermath of the oil price collapse, there was little activity. Both potential sellers and buyers had to assess the effects of the price fall on the value of assets. Cost reductions and valuation of their effects were a priority. Also, there was great uncertainty regarding future price behaviour which made agreement valuations more difficult.

Renewables/Energy Transition

Opinion: Biomaths – why burning wood pellets doesn’t pay


The UK is finally moving beyond burning coal to generate electricity. Many in government and industry have held up biomass as its natural, renewable replacement. Billed as low-carbon and easy to burn using existing technologies, it’s an apparently ideal solution and in the UK, it’s riding a wave of subsidies. But it’s time to shed some light on the dubious evidence that lends biomass its status as a renewable energy source.


Opinion: How can the government reboot the capacity market?


On February 14 Toshiba announced that it was no longer willing to take construction risk on the Moorside nuclear plants. This puts thousands of new nuclear jobs in the rural Cumbrian constituency at risk -anything but a Valentine's Day gift.


Opinion: It’s time to get excited about the North Sea again


Recent M&A activity as well as ongoing discussions within the UK North Sea Oil and Gas industry is shaking many traditionalists. The renewed interest from smaller operators in growing their presence in the region and the arrival of private equity businesses as the new owners of exploration and production companies will mean leaner operations, with shrinking workforces an inevitability.


Opinion: Improving power quality to meet future energy needs


Future airline and ships will be powered by data, but many more will be powered by electricity. The electric car has made its flashy debut and hit the road; the solar-powered electric plane recently completed its round-the-world trip.


Opinion: The risk of tainted funds


If you suspect a business counterparty is implicated in bribery and corruption what should you do? How do you protect your business from being tainted by the actions of your counterparty? Are your assets at risk?


Opinion: Navigating the black expanse of $30 oil


Where do efficiency savings and productivity gains come from when the obvious wastage is eliminated? When the headcount requires no more than a couple hands and a foot? That’s the question facing many of us now as the black expanse of $30 oil spreads out before us.


Les Linklater: Four by four

It’s hard to believe that four years ago, I stepped into the role here at Step Change in Safety. Like my New Year’s resolutions, my hopes and the reality didn’t always align. Since day one, there have been many successes and Step Change’s strategic priorities have evolved. But, sadly, there have been tragic and stark reminders of just how much is still to be done.


Opinion: Security trends in Iraq for 2016


As director of an Iraqi security services company, I am often asked by energy companies what the key issues are that are currently affecting security for their operations in Iraq and how I see these trends developing in 2016. Unsurprisingly, most trends impacting the energy sector are strongly influenced by the sharp drop in oil prices. In particular, we are concerned about increasing price pressure on security provision from international energy companies. Those who make senior policy decisions on security matters know that the probability of attacks does not change with oil prices. If the risks were there on a $100-dollar barrel, then you can make a safe assumption they are still there in a $40-dollar barrel. However, our industry is being asked to reduce costs by up to 20%. As security operators don’t have such margins to begin with, this is causing real difficulties, and we advise energy companies that security in high-risk areas is an essential: it’s vital to think very carefully about the impact of reducing security budgets.


Les Linklater: Remember, Remember the 5th of November


The infamous Guy Fawkes belonged to a group who planned the failed Gunpowder Plot of 1605. The plotters hid a large amount of gunpowder in a cellar beneath the House of Lords in an assassination attempt on the King. However, the authorities received a ‘tip off’ and searched the Palace of Westminster in the early hours of the 5th of November where they found Fawkes guarding the gunpowder.


Opinion: Big oil, environmentalists face common challenge in climate change


Before the Energy Transitions Commission was even launched here in Houston a few weeks ago, environmentalists had already dismissed it as a public relations ploy by major oil companies and other peddlers of fossil fuels. They immediately questioned the climate change credentials of companies like Shell, which is one of the leaders of the initiative to help meet the energy needs of growing world population without damaging the environment beyond repair. Just a few weeks ago, activists from the environmental community took to their kayaks and posed for pictures in front of Shell’s Polar Pioneer rig moored in Seattle. Paddles raised in defiance, they decried the company’s plans to drill in the Arctic.


Opinion: Collaboration – ideas from the construction industry?


During the current difficult period faced by the UKCS oil and gas industry, collaboration between the various parties in the offshore industry has been identified as one of the key factors in ensuring that the oil and gas output from the UKCS is maximised. There has been recent discussion in Energy Voice about some of the ways in which this can be done – and some of the problems being encountered, including the publication of some very interesting survey results published by Deloitte. Looking at these things in terms of their legal and contractual dimensions, there might be lessons to take from the way that the (onshore) construction and engineering sector has dealt with these issues in the last decade or so. In that area, particular forms of standard form contracts and the use of “good faith” obligations have been at the centre of trying to ensure collaborative working – with some success.


Bob Keiller: The B Side of the playlist on career advice


I’ve received many questions following recent articles on how to manage during difficult times. Readers are asking what specific things they could do, or I have done, or we are planning to turn the generic advice into practical measures. Well, I suppose it all depends. My business situation will be different from everyone else’s, so my decisions may or may not be relevant to others, but I am happy to share some of the tactical options we took to make our business less vulnerable during the current downturn in our industry.


Bob Keiller: Why I Give (and Get) the Best Career Advice from a Playlist


Many of us are old enough to remember buying vinyl albums. After you bought a new one, you would study every detail of the cover, and, then, you would play it repeatedly until you knew every track. Not only that, you knew the order of the tracks. I find good music inspirational. Some of you will already know that I write a weekly message on Core Values to my employees, and I always use a musical reference as a hook. So today, I want to share my playlist for leading in difficult times.


Opinion: Get off the log

If 14 frogs sat on a log and three decided to jump into the water, how many would be left? I know what you’re thinking – 11. It’s simple arithmetic, right? Wrong. Read the question again. They decide to jump in; but the question doesn’t say they actually jump. So there are still 14 on the log. After all, there’s a big difference between our intentions and our actions.


Opinion: Tee for Technology

At this time of year our thoughts turn to technology, right? You did know April 26 is World Intellectual Property Day didn’t you? The “T” in OTC is for “Technology” not “Tee” for golf - but you knew that, right? Technology has the potential to revitalise this industry and the UKCS in particular. Almost irrespective of the oil price we need increased production at lower cost. And we need it soon. It’s not rocket science (or is it?). We need to promote, protect, resource and reward innovation. As for the “World Intellectual Property Day” I don’t expect you to wear the lapel badge. I’m a fan of Geeks, but for this brand they need a new PR company. However we all can, and should, be innovation champions.