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    Venezuela's PDVSA Quietly Issues New Debt to Pay Off Suppliers (Wednesday, 4 May 2016)

    4 May 2016, 11:00 pm

    Venezuelan state oil firm PDVSA has issued at least $310 million in debt to companies including General Electric Co as it negotiates private issuances to pay off its suppliers, industry sources told Reuters, stretching the finances of a company that bondholders already worry is on its way to default.

    The securities are not bonds but offer rights similar to those enjoyed by bondholders, and at least one issue offers dispute resolution via the Paris-based International Chamber of Commerce, according to one of the three sources, who cited a term sheet.

    This means that if PDVSA defaults, investors holding their bonds may find that there are more creditors competing for compensation than they had originally anticipated.

    The overall negotiations on private debt issuance, which were confirmed by seven sources, come as weak oil markets and an unraveling socialist economy have fanned concerns PDVSA will be unable to make nearly $5 billion in bond payments between now and the end of the year. PDVSA and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro insist they will meet all debt obligations and dismiss default rumors as a right-wing conspiracy.

    In addition to the $310 million, a package of $1.5 billion in such securities maturing in three to five years is being discussed as a way of settling debts with small and medium-sized oil services firms, according to one of the sources, who was briefed on that proposal.

    PDVSA is struggling to prevent oil services providers from stopping work in Venezuela in protest over billions of dollars in unpaid bills.

    The company has worked with banks including Deutsche Bank AG to structure fixed-income securities such as promissory notes that can be sold to investors, according to one of the sources, a local trader who saw documents outlining the proposal.

    "PDVSA has been offering promissory notes as well as other types of notes and financial instruments to settle debts with providers," said another of the seven sources, who was also involved in one such operation.

    "They are offering them because there is no cash."

    Deutsche and GE declined to comment. PDVSA did not respond to an email seeking comment. The sources spoke on condition of anonymity because the negotiations are ongoing or because they are not authorized to comment publicly on the matter.

    The total amount of such securities that have already been issued by PDVSA could not immediately be determined.

    BACKED-UP BILLS

    Promissory notes would typically be unattractive for oil services companies to keep on their own books. They are seen as too risky for many investment portfolios, because they trade in limited volumes and are therefore difficult to sell.

    As a result, they are generally structured by large foreign banks that ultimately end up buying the notes at a steep discount, according to another of the sources, who works in the finance industry.

    GE has agreed to convert $350 million in unpaid PDVSA invoices into $257 million in loan notes, which are interest-bearing securities that can be sold to other investors, a GE source told Reuters.

    An oil industry source said that one company accepted $53 million in promissory notes that come due at the end of this year, asking that the company not be identified to avoid creating conflict with PDVSA. The notes are not registered with settlement agents such as Euroclear, the source added.

    Since the 2008 financial crisis, PDVSA has systematically allowed bills to pile up and later negotiated discounts with providers or paid them with global bonds which sell at a discount. Debts to providers in 2014 reached nearly $21 billion, according to that year's financial statements.

    PDVSA has not yet released 2015 results.

    The company has not made any cash payments in dollars to providers in at least six months as a result of its difficult cash-flow situation, according to two of the sources. It has not been able to issue bonds on capital markets because of prohibitively high yields.

    Converting the unpaid bills into securities does not increase PDVSA's total debt burden.

    But it does have significant consequences in the event of a default, since the debt changes from a private obligation between two parties into a security held by investors.

    Payment difficulties led Schlumberger, the world's top oil services company, to announce in April that it was halting operations in Venezuela.

    In response to an email seeking details, a Schlumberger official said the company was not in a position to discuss the issues because it considers them confidential.

    Services giant Halliburton also said it was reducing activities in Venezuela, without saying why. It said in its 2015 annual report that at the end of last year it had $31 million in surety bond guarantees associated with its Venezuelan operations, without providing details.

    Halliburton declined to comment.

    Source: www.reuters.com

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    Exxon's Baytown Refinery Prepares Restart of Second Largest CDU (Wednesday, 4 May 2016)

    4 May 2016, 10:00 pm

    Exxon Mobil Corp was preparing on Tuesday to return to production the second-largest crude distillation unit at the 560,500 barrel per day (bpd) Baytown, Texas, refinery later this week, said sources familiar with plant operations.

    The unit was taken out of production on Monday due to malfunction, the sources said.

    Exxon spokesman Todd Spitler said unplanned maintenance was continuing at the Baytown refinery with minimal impact to production. He would not say whether the company planned to restart the unit.

    Source: www.reuters.com

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    Proserv Lands Job on Apache’s North Sea Wells (Wednesday, 4 May 2016)

    4 May 2016, 6:00 pm

    UK energy services company Proserv has scored a contract with Apache Corporation for work on the UK Continental Shelf.

    The company said it would supply a subsea control system and associated topside and subsea interface equipment for use on the new Callater wells located south of the Beryl Alpha platform in the North Sea.

    As part of separate contract Proserv previously completed work for Apache on the Bacchus and Aviat extension wells for the provision of subsea control modules and services in the Forties field.

    Proserv said the contract was a “multi-million dollar” one, without revealing the exact amount.

    David Lamont, CEO of Proserv, said the deal was proof that there are still major opportunities in a low oil price marketplace “to provide truly smarter solutions that challenge convention and reduce operating costs, extend field-life and maximise ultimate recovery.”

    Formerly known as Prospect K, the Apache Callater wells are situated 335 kilometres northeast of Aberdeen. Proserv will deliver four subsea control modules with standard interfaces to provide compatible support for earlier generations of subsea controls equipment and enable future link-ups with other existing field assets in the surrounding area.

    Proserv said that the move will provide Apache with a solution to extend field life in the future without affecting the existing subsea control systems.

    Source: ww.offshoreenergytoday.com

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    Statoil Scraps Plans to Reduce Helicopter Turn-around Times Along with Other Proposed Cuts (Wednesday, 4 May 2016)

    4 May 2016, 4:00 pm

    After Friday’s fatal crash of a helicopter near Bergen, Statoil has decided to delay implementation of proposed cutbacks in its helicopter program that were aimed at making it more efficient.

    Workers, and not least the leaders of their labour unions, had claimed the efficiency efforts could undermine safety. Both Statoil and the helicopter firms bidding for new transport contracts have strongly denied that, but Statoil has decided to wait with putting what it now stresses were mere “proposals” into effect.

    They included cutting helicopters’ “turn-around” time between flights by half, and demanding financial compensation from helicopter companies that don’t maintain flight schedules. Newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) reported Wednesday that Arne Nylund, in charge of Statoil’s North Sea oil fields, seemed to have listened to workers who felt Statoil’s cost-cutting and efficiency programs had gone too far.

    ‘Won’t be implementing (changes) now’

    Nylund downplayed the cutbacks Statoil had demanded of helicopter companies during negotiations for new contracts due to take effect next year. He told DN the proposed cutbacks were “a possibility we have looked at in connection with the contract process, but it’s (just) a possibility and it’s not impemented. It’s important to stress that we won’t be implementing something like it now.”

    Nylund told DN Statoil would also discuss the proposals with employee representatives before a new helicopter contract takes effect on May 1, 2017.

    The new contract in question won’t be with CHC Helikopter Service, the company that operated the Airbus Super Puma EC225 helicopter that crashed at Turøy while on approach for landing at Bergen’s Flesland airport on Friday. CHC lost that contract in the bidding against Bristow Norway AS, which will take over all offshore transport from Bergen and Florø for five years from the middle of next year. Bristow doesn’t use the controversial Super Pumas either, with Sikorsky S-92 helicopters making up its fleet. They’re reported to be widely preferred by workers commuting to their jobs on offshore oil and gas platforms. Statoil officials pointed out, though, that both the Airbus EC225s and the Sikorskys were “accepted helicopter models” during the bidding process.

    ‘Super Puma’ helicopters still grounded in Norway

    The Airbus EC225s were immediately grounded worldwide by Airbus itself, but it withdrew the grounding order just two days after the crash in Norway that killed all 13 people on board. Even though accident investigators have concluded that the crash was the result of technical and not human error, Airbus claims the accident doesn’t involve “systematic” technical failure and that the Super Puma EC225s are safe to fly.

    Norwegian aviation authorities at state agency Luftfartstilsynet, however, have retained a grounding order for the EC225s in Norway. “For us, it’s important that we have as certain information as possible about the flight capabilities of this model before we lift the ban on flying them,” Tor O Iversen, communications director for the authorites, told DN.

    Friday’s crash occurred after eyewitnesses saw the helicopter’s rotary blades separate from the aircraft itself. Investigators said it may take more than a year to examine the badly mangled wreckage and pinpoint the cause of the technical malfunction, which they said happened so quickly that neither of the two pilots onboard managed to send out a mayday signal or give any indication of an emergency situation.

    Nylund and other Statoil executives have been stung by harsh criticism from union officials who have suggested the company’s extensive cost-cutting programs, initiated even before oil prices started to dive, can affect safety. While acknowledging efforts to use fewer helicopters that will be in service more often, and therefore reduce costs, Nylund claimed there would be no reduction in actual security checks of aircraft. The halving of “turn-around” times applies only to baggage handling, passenger boarding and refueling, he said, claiming it was “out of the question” to reduce security checks.

    “The pilots shall not feel any pressure to compromise safety,” Nylund said. “A captain is the master and has complete authority over whether a helicopter is ready to fly or not. We respect that.”

    Nylund stressed that efficiency will not come at the cost of safety. With the company in mourning, after losing one of its own employees on Friday along with 10 others working on Statoil’s Gullfaks B platform, Nylund stated that “no one benefits from more accidents, on the contrary. Efficiency should make operations more reliable. There should be no conflict between efficiency and safety.”


    Source: newsinenglish.no

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    DOF’s AHTS Starts Four-year Contract with Petrobras (Wednesday, 4 May 2016)

    4 May 2016, 2:00 pm

    DOF, an owner and operator of a fleet of offshore/subsea vessels, has informed that one of its AHTS vessels has started a contract with Petrobras in Brazil.

    Skandi Paraty, owned by DOF’s Brazilian subsidiary Norskan Offshore, has now been delivered from the yard and went on-hire on a four-year contract with Petrobras yesterday night local time Brazil, DOF informed on Tuesday.

    Norskan was awarded two four-year charter contracts by Petrobras in February 2014 for AHTS vessels Skandi Copacabana and Skandi Paraty.

    Skandi Paraty is an anchor handling tug and supply vessel (AHTS) of a Vard AH11 design. The vessel is the last vessel in a series of three, all built at Vard Niteroi in Brazil. It was designed for field installation operations across a wide range of water depths and environmental conditions.

    The other two vessels from the series of three are Skandi Urca and Skandi Angra.

    Mons S. Aase, CEO, stated, “I am very pleased that Skandi Paraty is onhire, and this contract confirms our strategy and maintain our strong position in the Brazilian market.”

    DOF Subsea also recently said that Petrobras extended the RSV contract for the vessel Geograph for 18 months.

    Source: www.offshoreenergytoday.com

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    Wood Group Consults with 1000 Staff as Firm Looks to Make More Job Cuts (Wednesday, 4 May 2016)

    4 May 2016, 1:40 pm

    The Aberdeen-based company said it took the decision “in response to continuing cost and efficiency challenges affecting the oil & gas sector and to strategically position the company to remain competitive both now and in the future”.

    David Kemp, Wood Group’s chief financial officer, said: “We are firmly committed to supporting the long-term sustainability of the industry in the North Sea and maximising economic recovery by ensuring we are fit for purpose, flexible and strongly equipped to deliver efficiently and effectively.

    The firm caused a backlash in the North Sea last month when it announced the 3rd round of cuts to affect their offshore staff working on Shell projects. Industrial action is said by the unions to be on the cards. 

    More information when we have it. 

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    Emergency Airworthiness Directive - Urgent Super Puma Gearbox Checks Ordered (Wednesday, 4 May 2016)

    4 May 2016, 12:00 pm

    On Tuesday afternoon this week the Accident Investigation Board held a press conference on the status so far of the investigation of the Super Puma accident at Turøy in Hordalan, Norway.

    It was then determined then that the accident was most likely caused by a technical error and not human error from the pilots.

    After the press conference helicopter manufacturer Airbus sent out an urgent message to all owners of Super Puma aircraft urging several checks including that fastners to the main gearbox are tightened.

    Soon after the Airbus alert came a more extensive directive from EASA the European Aviation Safety Agency. The directive can be seen in full below. 

    EMERGENCY AIRWORTHINESS DIRECTIVE

    Manufacturer(s):
    Airbus Helicopters (formerly Eurocopter, Eurocopter France, Aerospatiale)

    Applicability:
    EC 225 LP helicopters, all manufacturer serial numbers.

    Reason:
    This Emergency AD is issued following a fatal accident occurred in Norway on 29 April 2016 to an EC 225 LP helicopter. The partial information available so far indicate in-flight separation of the main rotor hub from the main gearbox (MGB). Investigation is on-going to identify the root cause of this accident.

    For the reason described above, this AD requires, as a precautionary measure, to perform certain inspections.

    This AD is considered to be an interim action and further mandatory action may follow.

    Required Action(s) and Compliance Time(s):

    Required as indicated, unless accomplished previously.

    Before next flight after the effective date of this AD

    • 1.1 Check the correct installation of the Front and Right Hand and Left Hand Rear MGB suspension bars in accordance with the instructions of Airbus Helicopters (AH) EC225 Alert Service Bulletin No.53A058.
    • 1.2 Check the chip detectors of the MGB for absence of metallic particles in accordance with the instructions of Work Card 60.00.00.212 of AH EC225 Maintenance Manual (MMA).
    • 1.3 Perform an oil filter check of the MGB for absence of metallic particles, in accordance with the instructions of Work Card 63.24.01.061 of AH EC 225 MMA and, if any particle is collected, refer to Standard Practices Manual MTC 20.08.02.601.
    • 1.4 For helicopters equipped with M’ARMS Vibration Health Monitoring system, download data and check for any threshold exceedance. Ensure availability of these data in case future analysis needed.

    Note: For further instructions to accomplish the actions required by paragraph (1.4) of this AD, contact AH.

    (2) If, during the inspections as required by paragraphs (1.1), (1.2), (1.3) and (1.4) of this AD, any finding is found, before next flight, report to both Airbus Helicopters and EASA; do not resume flights until corrective action(s) are agreed by EASA.

    (3) A single ferry flight with no passengers is allowed to maintenance location where the inspections required by paragraph (1) of this AD can be accomplished.

    Ref. Publications:
    AH EC225 Alert Service Bulletin No.53A058, dated 03 May 2016.

    AH EC225 MMA.

    Remarks:
    1. If requested and appropriately substantiated, EASA can approve Alternative Methods of Compliance for this AD.

    2. The results of the safety assessment have indicated the need for immediate publication and notification, without the full consultation process.

    3. Enquiries regarding this AD should be referred to the EASA Safety Information Section, Certification Directorate. E-mail: ADs@easa.europa.eu.

    4. For any question concerning the technical content of the requirements in this AD, please contact: Airbus Helicopters (EBSESB) – Aéroport de Marseille Provence 13725 Marignane Cedex, France; Telephone +33 (4) 42 85 97 97; Fax +33 (4) 42 85 99 66; E-mail: Directive.technical-support@airbus.com

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    Total Pick Atlas’ Recruitment Services (Wednesday, 4 May 2016)

    4 May 2016, 12:00 pm

    French oil major Total has selected a recruitment specialist Atlas Professionals to supply personnel for technical assistance services on the Norwegian continental shelf for the next three years.

    According to Atlas, the contract which starts July 1, 2016 has an option to be extended for another two years.

    Total E&P Norge, the Norwegian arm of the French oil and gas major, is involved in exploration and production of oil and gas on the Norwegian Continental Shelf.

    Atlas said the contract draws on previous collaboration with Total in the Netherlands where the recruitment company provided a range of technical professionals to Total.

    Renske Barentsz, Atlas’ Business Manager in Norway, said: “Atlas already has a great track record with Total in the Netherlands. We are absolutely delighted that we now have been given the opportunity to extend our relationship and support Total in Norway as 1st tier supplier and therefore further enhance our position in the oil and gas sector.”

    Source: www.offshoreenergytoday.com

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