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    Fracking licences to be granted by government (Monday, 28 July 2014)

    1 Jan 1970, 12:00 am
    The bidding process for licences to extract shale gas - using the controversial process fracking - will begin later on Monday.About half the UK is open to exploration, but tightened rules cover areas of outstanding beauty.Companies granted a licence to begin test drilling will also need planning permission and environmental permits.The coalition sees shale gas as a major potential energy source. Critics of fracking warn of environmental dangers.In announcing the so-called 14th onshore licensing round, Business and Energy Minister Matthew Hancock said: "Unlocking shale gas in Britain has the potential to provide us with greater energy security, jobs and growth.""We must act carefully, minimising risks, to explore how much of our large resource can be recovered to give the UK a new home-grown source of energy."It is the first time in six years firms have had the opportunity to secure new licences.Robert Gatliff, Science Editor at the British Geological Survey told the BBC it would still be some time before full scale drilling would start."The first stage, you'd review all the data you've got. Then you'd want to drill one or two exploration holes and then take samples of the shale and see exactly what the content is and see which have got the most in and which bits are likely to fracture best to get the most oil out."He said that although surveys suggest there is between 820 and 2000 trillion cubic feet of gas embedded under the UK, "there's no way we'd get all that out"."If you look at what happens in the US, and that's where you've got to look because that's where they've drilled thousands of holes, they're not getting more than 5%.""In Britain we're so crowded and we've got these beautiful areas, that reduces the amount we can get out as well."About half the UK is open for licensing, including parts of National Parks. But applications there will only be accepted in "exceptional circumstances and in the public interest", said the government. The same rules apply for the Broads, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and World Heritage Sites."Proposals for such development must recognise the importance of these sites," Communities Minister Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon said.The licences are likely to prove controversial, as there is a great deal of public opposition to fracking, which involves blasting water, chemicals and sand at high pressure into shale rock formations to release the gas held inside.Source: www.bbc.co.uk

    Coroner finds fatal 2009 North Sea helicopter crash was +apos;preventable+apos; (Friday, 25 July 2014)

    1 Jan 1970, 12:00 am
    A North Sea helicopter crash which killed 16 men was preventable, a coroner’s inquest has found.Fourteen oil workers and two crew died when the Super Puma plunged into the sea off the Aberdeenshire coast on April 1, 2009.On Thursday, Worcestershire coroner Geraint Williams said the crash was the result of a “catastrophic gearbox failure”.His verdict echoed that of an earlier inquiry, which found that proper maintenance had not been carried out on the helicopter.At an inquiry into the death of co-pilot Richard Menzies, Mr Williams concluded: “Mr Menzies died when the helicopter of which he was the co-pilot suffered catastrophic gearbox failure and crashed into the North Sea.“There were a number of failures in the performance of the maintenance programme to which the helicopter was subject which meant that opportunities to detect and rectify incipient problems were lost and which, had they been detected and acted upon, may have prevented the crash occurring.”A six-week fatal accident inquiry into the crash was held before sheriff principal Derek Pyle in Aberdeen earlier this year.The sheriff principal outlined three failures by helicopter operator Bond, in the absence of which the accident "might have been avoided".Bond failed to perform a maintenance task after a metal particle was found on the aircraft's epicyclic chip detector, Mr Pyle found.Following the inquest, he reported: “He added: "The essential fact is that everyone in the company well knew that maintenance must be done by the book.“On one occasion, that fundamental rule was broken. It resulted in the failure to detect a significant fault in the helicopter's gearbox, which possibly - but only possibly - resulted in the crash."Source: www.stv.tv

    BG Group considers $1.7 Bln North Sea Platform sale (Friday, 25 July 2014)

    1 Jan 1970, 12:00 am
    British oil and gas company BG Group is considering selling its largest platforms in the North Sea for 1 billion pounds ($1.7 billion), The Times reported on Thursday, citing unnamed sources.According to the newspaper, the company may sell its Armada, Everest and Lomond platforms, as part of its attempts to overhaul its portfolio.The UK’s third-largest energy producer is cooperating with investment bank Rothschild on the deal. The assets could bring $1 billion to $2 billion and may draw the interest of other companies, such as Perenco, EnQuest and Centrica, with initial bids to start this month, reported Bloomberg, citing people, familiar with the matter."We do not respond to rumors and speculations. BG Group has been clear that we plan to take a more active approach to managing our assets," a BG Group spokesman told The Times.BG Group traces its roots to British Gas, a former state-owned utility that was sold by then British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 1986. On July 11 the company announced it had completed the sale of its 62.78 percent stake in the Central Area Transmission System gas pipeline in the North Sea and associated infrastructure to Antin Infrastructure Partners for about $961 million.Source: www.youroilandgasnews.com

    Shetland gas plant workers strike over pay (Thursday, 24 July 2014)

    1 Jan 1970, 12:00 am
    Construction workers at the Total gas plant in Shetland have downed tools in a dispute over pay.About 900 welders, pipe fitters and riggers staged a sit-in at the site next to the Sullom Voe oil terminal.Earlier this year, managers Petrofac paid an allowance to staff from the mainland who had to share bedrooms or commute from accommodation barges.It is believed island tradesmen are now demanding they also receive the extra money.The latest strike action was not carried out through official channels.Meetings between workers, management and shop stewards took place throughout the day before staff were sent home for the evening.Petrofac has told the men they can keep their jobs if they return to work on Thursday.The workers say they will now pursue the issue through a legal ballot.Prime Minister David Cameron was due to visit the site on his trip to Shetland, but instead remained in Lerwick.Source: www.bbc.co.uk

    First commercial flight of AgustaWestland AW189 to Cygnus field (Wednesday, 23 July 2014)

    1 Jan 1970, 12:00 am
    The first commercial flight of the much anticipated new generation AgustaWestland AW189 helicopter took place on July 21, 2014, as Bristow flew eight passengers out to the Cygnus field in the Southern North Sea (SNS).The aircraft is the first of two AW189s to be stationed at Bristow's Norwich base and is dedicated to GDF SUEZ E&P UK Ltd for transport between Norwich and the operator's Cygnus field 120 nautical miles away. The new aircraft is expected to complete one return flight each weekday with the potential to increase the service to three daily flights as the Cygnus field develops through the drilling, hook-up and commissioning, and later operational phases. Cygnus is the largest gas discovery in the SNS in the last 25 years. First gas is expected in late 2015.Bristow is the first helicopter operator to introduce the AW189 and has a further four of the aircraft on order for oil and gas operations.Mike Imlach, Vice President of Operations and Managing Director of Bristow Helicopters Ltd, said: "We're excited to be the launch customer for what is a superb aircraft and an important addition to our fleet. Bristow has worked closely with AgustaWestland throughout the aircraft's development and the result is an aircraft of the highest technical specification with state of the art safety technology which will enable us to offer our clients the best possible capabilities."We are a long term partner of GDF SUEZ and we look forward to working to support their operations in the coming years as the Cygnus field develops."Jean-Claude Perdigues, Managing Director, GDF SUEZ E&P UK Ltd, commented: "We are pleased to be the first operator to deploy this new generation AW189 aircraft, which is of the highest technical and safety specification, for passenger transfers as the first installation campaign on Cygnus continues apace."Source: www.bristowgroup.com

    UK government encourages investment in uHPHT O+amp;G fields (Wednesday, 23 July 2014)

    1 Jan 1970, 12:00 am
    The UK government has published a consultation on a new cluster area allowance to encourage investment in ultra high pressure, high temperature oil and gas fields.There is still a considerable amount of oil and gas to recover in the North Sea – up to 21 billion barrels of oil equivalent. However, exploration and production is becoming harder and more expensive.The new allowance builds on Sir Ian Wood’s recommendations for maximising economic production of oil and gas. It has been designed not only to support investment in technically challenging development projects, but also to encourage exploration in the surrounding areas.The allowance will reduce the tax on a portion of a company’s profits from 62% to 30% at current rates.The government is committed to maximising the benefits that the UK’s oil and gas resources can bring to the economy – not just through tax, but through jobs, skills and exports. The UK offers the strongest basis to maximise these benefits because of the size and diversity of its economy. It provides the stability and predictability needed for companies to invest and is able to adopt a long-term approach to the sector because of its broad shoulders.Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, said:“This is another example of how we are backing investment that creates jobs across the UK. The UK’s oil and gas industry is one of the country’s greatest industrial success stories, and this allowance will help ensure we continue to maximise the benefits from the sector for decades to come.”The government welcomes responses from industry, and will announce the final policy design in the autumn.The allowance builds on the success of the government’s previous allowances, which directly incentivised around £7bn of investment in the North Sea last year, according to industry estimates. This investment supported over 100,000 jobs across the UK.Source: www.offshoreenergytoday.comThere is still a considerable amount of oil and gas to recover in the North Sea – up to 21 billion barrels of oil equivalent. However, exploration and production is becoming harder and more expensive.The new allowance builds on Sir Ian Wood’s recommendations for maximising economic production of oil and gas. It has been designed not only to support investment in technically challenging development projects, but also to encourage exploration in the surrounding areas.The allowance will reduce the tax on a portion of a company’s profits from 62% to 30% at current rates.The government is committed to maximising the benefits that the UK’s oil and gas resources can bring to the economy – not just through tax, but through jobs, skills and exports. The UK offers the strongest basis to maximise these benefits because of the size and diversity of its economy. It provides the stability and predictability needed for companies to invest and is able to adopt a long-term approach to the sector because of its broad shoulders.Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, said:“This is another example of how we are backing investment that creates jobs across the UK. The UK’s oil and gas industry is one of the country’s greatest industrial success stories, and this allowance will help ensure we continue to maximise the benefits from the sector for decades to come.”The government welcomes responses from industry, and will announce the final policy design in the autumn.The allowance builds on the success of the government’s previous allowances, which directly incentivised around £7bn of investment in the North Sea last year, according to industry estimates. This investment supported over 100,000 jobs across the UK.Source: www.offshoreenergytoday.com

    Production resumes at Njord (Tuesday, 22 July 2014)

    1 Jan 1970, 12:00 am
    Statoil has resumed oil and gas production on the Njord A floating steel platform in the Norwegian Sea after a major reinforcement of the platform structure. Njord A, which produces the Njord and Hyme fields, had been shut down since last summer after an inspection revealed a need to reinforce the Njord A platform structure. Work was carried out through winter and spring to strengthen the structure, including adding bracing to the primary beams and struts, and increasing the length of the secondary beams under the platform. Further work will be carried out to Njord A in 2016, when it is taken to shore for additional upgrades, to reinstate drilling operations on board and prepare the platform for future use—the Njord Future Future program—targeting the Njord and Haltenbanken area in the Norwegian Sea.The platform had been designed for an original lifetime of 16 years – from 1997 when it started production to 2013. The Petroleum Safety Authority subsequently approved the technical design lifetime to 2022."We have extended Njord's lifetime by improving recovery on the field, and by finding more oil and gas in the area. The Njord A platform has been with us the entire time, and we want to make sure that the structure can withstand the loads it will be exposed to," says head of Njord operations Arve Rennemo.Njord A has an integrated deck with a drilling and processing facility and living quarters. Njord was a marginal field development, but Statoil says the area has a substantial resource potential which could provide a basis for production beyond 2013.Source: www.oedigital.com

    Bristow Certified to Fly AgustaWestland AW189 (Monday, 21 July 2014)

    1 Jan 1970, 12:00 am
    Bristow announced on 17th July that it has been certified to fly the much anticipated new generation AgustaWestland AW189 helicopter.Bristow is the launch customer for the aircraft which has now been fully certified by the UK Civil Aviation Authority.The company is due to commence flights with its first two new AW189 aircraft from its base at Norwich shortly, servicing the Southern North Sea. Bristow has a further four of the aircraft on order for oil and gas operations.Equipped with the latest safety technology, the twin-engine, eight-ton AW189 has a capacity of 16 passengers and two crew and a range of 140 nautical miles, making it ideal for offshore operations in the North Sea.Mike Imlach, Vice President of Operations and Managing Director of Bristow Helicopters Ltd, said: "We're excited to be the launch customer for what is a superb aircraft and an important addition to our fleet. Bristow has worked closely with AgustaWestland throughout the aircraft's development and the result is an aircraft of the highest technical specification with state of the art safety technology which will enable us to offer our clients the best possible capabilities. We look forward to commencing operations with the aircraft in the coming weeks."Source: www.helihub.com

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