Oil experts from industry and academia will debate the obstacles to extracting the North Sea’s remaining reserves at a conference in Aberdeen this week. The list of speakers includes top petroleum economist Professor Alex Kemp, Shell’s UK director for upstream, Paul Goodfellow and Amec Foster Wheeler’s group president for northern Europe and Commonwealth of Independent States, John Pearson. The event, organised by Aberdeen University, will take place at the King’s Conference Centre on Thursday.
The boss at Saltire Energy said yesterday the Aberdeenshire oil service firm had handled low crude prices “extremely well” despite a double-digit drop in profits. The Portlethen-based oil drilling equipment rental business ended its last financial year with pre-tax profits of £15.28million, down 13.6% on 2013/14, according to accounts lodged at Companies House. Turnover at Saltire, which is controlled by award-winning entrepreneur Mike Loggie, fell 11.9% to £31.98million for the year ended June 30, 2015.
Wildlife lover and businessman Ian Marchant will swing his way Tarzan-like into the president’s chair at the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland next month. The zoological society, which owns Edinburgh Zoo and the Highland Wildlife Park near Aviemore, said Mr Marchant was a longstanding member and strong supporter of conservation. The new role is in addition to the posts Mr Marchant holds at several businesses and charities.
Industry body Oil and Gas UK (OGUK) yesterday urged the next Scottish Government to make a quartet of commitments to help energy companies steer a course out of the downturn. OGUK said the government needs to create a supportive business environment, delivery world-class infrastructure and connectivity, help innovation flourish and support skills retention.
New product launches and demand from the Middle East have combined to help oil and gas consultancy Kelton Engineering lift its profits by nearly 90%. The Aberdeen-headquartered engineering consultancy said UK trading had held reasonably firm in the year ended September 30, 2015, a period which saw Brent crude prices fall from just under $100 a barrel to about $50. But bosses at Kelton expect the industry downturn to have a greater impact on income during the current financial year.
Energy service group Petrofac is investigating bribery allegations against one of its former directors. The firm took the step after leaked documents were brought to its attention indicating that Peter Warner had authorised “confidential payments” worth £1.4million to win a contract in Kuwait. The documents include an email exchange in 2007 appearing to show Mr Warner, who was Petrofac’s executive vice-president of sales and marketing, requesting payments using a code which substituted the word “millions” for “metres”.
Scottish colleges have been invited to bid for a share of the £12million pot Nicola Sturgeon pledged for retraining out-of-work oil and gas engineers. Skills Development Scotland (SDS) said the current funding round is the first it has launched using cash from the Oil and Gas Transition Training Fund. The overall value of the first tranche has not been fixed and will depend on the volume and viability of the bids received.
Maxwell Drummond International (MDI) has gone bust, putting nine people out of work at its Aberdeen office. MDI, an executive recruitment consultancy to the global energy sector, was placed into provisional liquidation last week. A spokeswoman for insolvency specialist Begbies Traynor said the "business failure" of MDI was "partly as a result of the downturn in the oil industry".
A Scottish research partnership said yesterday it had taken the biggest cut of a £4million fund created to help lower emissions in the UK. Scottish Carbon Capture and Storage (SCCS) won a £2.8million share of the money on offer from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). SCCS, a tie-up between Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Heriot-Watt and Strathclyde universities and the British Geological Survey, will put the money towards three projects aimed at developing cost-effective carbon capture technologies.
Oil and gas businesses have gone from being technology pioneers to risk-averse Luddites, an industry chief said yesterday. Colette Cohen, a vice-president at Centrica, said aerospace was the only industry on the same level as oil and gas 40 years ago. The sector has a proud history of innovation, but the biggest breakthroughs have tended to come when oil prices were low.
The developer of a controversial wind farm off the coast of Aberdeen has dismissed claims it will not be able to fund the £230million project. Swedish energy firm Vattenfall said it is confident that cash reserves are in place for the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC) testing and demonstration site, although an investment decision has yet to be taken on the scheme. Assurances came after Vattenfall announced the next step in the project. It said offshore survey group Fugro has started assessing the seabed in Aberdeen Bay ahead of the construction stage, which is slated to start in late 2017.
Offshore survey group Fugro has started assessing the seabed in Aberdeen bay ahead of the construction stage of a £230million wind farm project. Aberdeen Offshore Wind Farm Limited (AOWFL), the joint venture company behind the project, said the information gathered would help it design the foundations for the 11-turbine scheme. While an investment decision on the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC) has yet to be taken, building work is slated to start in late 2017 ahead of first power in 2018, according to AOWFL.
US oilman Stephen Remp said yesterday he was “deeply saddened” by the plight of SeaEnergy, the troubled north-east firm he used to lead. He was speaking after the Westhill-based energy service company announced plans to sell its 3D visualisation business, a move that sent its shares tumbling 45%. SeaEnergy said it was already in talks with a number of potential buyers for Return to Scene (R2S), which it bought for £5million in 2012.
The oil price rout forced Hunting to lay off “just under 100 workers” in the north-east of Scotland last year, the energy service firm said yesterday. Hunting reduced its global headcount by 30% to 2,784 in 2015 as part of cost-cutting measures which were brought in amid a severe slump in drilling activity. Chief executive Dennis Proctor said the outlook for the industry was “bleak”, adding: “We are in a wilderness without a single path to guide us.”
Aberdeen entrepreneurs need to show a sense of urgency and passion if they want to make exporting work for their companies, local businessmen said yesterday. Peter Moon, an account manager at oil and gas software firm Tracker, which has only been in the export market for a year, said he wished the firm had gotten in on the act earlier. Mr Moon, whose company is targeting Middle Eastern clients, said: “We’ve taken a target-driven approach to exporting. Exporting seems a long way off to some people. You can make a two to three year programme but if you think like that, then in two years you will still just be talking about exporting.
A renewable-energy fund and an infrastructure firm yesterday committed to spend £9.8million on buying and upgrading the district heating scheme in Wick. The UK Green Investment Bank (GIB) and Equitix said they would improve the infrastructure at the Wick green-energy plant and expand the heating system to cover another 150 customers. They announced their plans after agreeing to buy the company that had owned and operated the scheme, Ignis Biomass, from Jersey-based fund Ludgate Environmental.
Offshore accommodation provider Prosafe said there was no oil price upturn on the horizon after proposing a round of staff pay cuts. According to one Prosafe worker, who wishes to remain anonymous, the Norwegian company will implement pay cuts across the board from May. The employee said the firm’s top brass were taking pay cuts of 5-7%, while staff on lower wages faced reductions of 20-28%.
North Sea decommissioning is being held back by a reluctance to accept oil and gas installations will not last forever, an industry expert said yesterday. David Haywood, project adviser at STC Global, an Aberdeen-based design and learning solutions firm, said decommissioning was no longer a “dirty word” and companies should not be embarrassed their assets will cease to make money at some point. Mr Haywood, who has worked for Mobil, Shell and CNR International in an oil and gas career spanning more than 20 years, also said fears that an acceleration in decommissioning could leave viable oil and gas reserves stranded were overstated.
Offshore caterers will vote on strike action after employers went back on a pay deal. Union bosses yesterday accused offshore catering companies of refusing “point blank” to honour a 1.3% pay raise that had been agreed for this year. The Unite union said the position held by the Catering Offshore Trade Association (COTA), which represents six offshore catering firms, had left it with no choice and advised its members to vote in favour of strike action.
Europe's small and medium-sized oil companies have forward-sold more crude than in previous years, ramping up their defences against a scenario in which prices stay weak for longer than expected. Hedging future oil output against market volatility is a well-rehearsed practice among smaller producers but as prices remain historically low, they have shielded themselves more heavily than usual from a further downturn. Second-quarter results figures showed that oil companies, including North Sea operators Ithaca and Premier Oil, have increased their hedging positions compared with the previous year.
Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak has been appointed chairman of state-controlled oil pipeline monopoly Transneft, the company said on Tuesday.
A strong Dubai price has again put top oil exporter Saudi Arabia in a dilemma over whether to raise the prices of crude it sells to Asia to match the benchmark's strength, or to cut to stay competitive in an oversupplied market. Record purchases of October-loading crude by Chinaoil during a mechanism that sets the price of Middle East crude in Asia strengthened the benchmark, even as other grades are being pressed lower by a global glut. Saudi Arabia is due to release October crude prices later this week, setting the trend for Iranian, Kuwaiti and Iraqi crude bound for Asia.
Iran expects to finalise the wording for a new model for international oil contracts in the next three weeks, the oil minister said on Monday, as Tehran seeks to boost recovery from its fields with the help of foreign companies. The ministry is expected to present the new oil contracts to investors at a conference in London in December, ahead of a likely lifting of international sanctions in 2016. "Iran has put together a new model for oil contacts that allows access to regional and international markets and paves the way for long-term strategic cooperation with major companies," Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh was quoted as saying by the Shana news agency.
Italian energy group Eni is open to selling a stake in its mega gas discovery in Egypt, as it has done for another gas field in Mozambique, its chief executive said in a newspaper interview published on Monday.
China's falling auto sales have been at the forefront of concerns that its economy is slowing much faster than expected, weighing on oil prices. Yet moves to cut the cost of car-financing as part of economic stimulus efforts this week may not be enough to drive up auto sales or boost demand for oil, analysts said. Domestic car sales have fallen since April, dropping by 7 percent, or more than 100,000 cars, in July from a year ago and likely putting out of reach even a revised 2015 vehicle growth target of 3 percent, down from 7 percent previously.