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    Transocean, Noble to Enter Patent Infringement Battle (Friday, 20 January 2017)

    20 Jan 2017, 11:00 pm

    Transocean has filed a complaint of patent infringement against fellow rig builder Noble Corp. in a Houston court, accusing Noble of infringing upon Transocean’s “dual-activity” technology. However, Noble is standing its ground, and says it disagrees with this lawsuit.

    Transocean is claiming that Noble constructed five of its drillships: the Bob Douglas, Don Taylor, Globetrotter I, Sam Croft, and Tom Madden; using dual-activity technology, which Transocean had patented on 9 March 2004.

    The technology, Transocean says, saves time and money in drilling offshore wells.


    The company, demanding a trial by jury, claims that it has been damaged by Noble, and has accused Noble of being aware of its patents and “willfully committed acts of infringement.”

    In a statement to OE, Noble says it is aware of the action taken by Transocean.

    "We disagree with their contention and will defend our position," says Noble VP of Investor Relations and Corporate Communications Jeff Chastain.

    The patents were originally filed between 11 April 2000 and 11 July 2000, and were then “assigned” to Transocean in March 2004.

    Noble’s rigs named in the lawsuit have dayrates that range from US$275,000, up to $643,000, and have been under contracts with Anadarko and supermajor Shell, among others.


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    Online Oil and Gas Lease Sale Nets $84 million for Permanent School Fund (Friday, 20 January 2017)

    20 Jan 2017, 10:00 pm

    Commissioner George P. Bush today announced that the Texas General Land Office's (GLO) fourth online sale of oil and gas leases earned public education more than $84 million. As part of Commissioner Bush's initiative to use new innovations in technology to improve efficiency and productivity, the GLO partnered with EnergyNet, an industry leader for easy-to-use oil and gas auction and sealed bid transaction services, to conduct lease sales online. The January 2017 auction featured 14,036 acres, averaging $5,881.38/acre. Sales are held semi-annually and available tracts may be nominated by contacting the GLO.

    "Through innovation we've taken an antiquated paper-based auction and transformed it into an accessible online bidding system," Bush said after the sale. "By creating a digital auction through EnergyNet, the target market pool is expanded beyond local producers and we've opened competition to the global marketplace. Greater access has created greater opportunity and better returns for Texas' schoolchildren. Today we find ideas on Pinterest, sell on Etsy, buy from Amazon and get lunch from Uber. Texans deserve this level of innovation and efficiency in government and we are delivering at the General Land Office."

    During lease sales, private oil companies competitively bid against each other for the right to explore for oil and gas on land owned by the state. In the first online lease sale in August 2015, PSF tracts of land brought in more than $20 million. That's about $1,500/acre more than the previous traditional lease sale. The online lease sale in January 2016 brought in nearly $11 million for 4,393 acres, which is just under $2,500/acre. The July 2016 auction showed the greatest returns netting more than $98 million for 13,339 acres, thus averaging $7,365/acre.


    Prior to Commissioner Bush's initiative to host lease sales online, anyone wishing to develop oil and gas reserves on Permanent School Fund land had to physically submit a bid, sealed in an envelope. It was a process that had changed little since the 1950s. The traditional process limited the scope of interest in bidding participation. As awareness of the new innovative practice has grown, non-traditional bidders have joined in the lease sale process. This expanded pool, plus recent signs of commodity stabilization, have resulted in exceptional online lease sale results.

    In both the traditional and new online formats, the company offering the highest up-front payment is awarded the lease. Online bids were accepted on the website beginning about 30 days prior to the sale date.


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    Oil Gains as U.S. Stockpiles Fall While IEA Sees OPEC Cutting (Friday, 20 January 2017)

    20 Jan 2017, 8:00 pm

    Oil recovered after the biggest drop in more than a week as industry data showed U.S. crude stockpiles declined, while OPEC and other producing nations trim output to ease a global glut.

    Futures rose as much as 1.4% in New York after sliding 2.7% on Wednesday amid a surge in the dollar. U.S. crude supplies fell by 5.04 MMbbl last week, the American Petroleum Institute was said to report. Government data Thursday is also forecast to show a decline. Production cuts by OPEC won’t necessarily trigger a “bonanza” of U.S. shale and other supply, the International Energy Agency said.

    Oil has held above $50/bbl since OPEC and nations including Russia agreed late last year to trim supply by about 1.8 MMbpd to reduce bloated global inventories. While producers from Saudi Arabia to Iraq have signaled they’re implementing the reductions, the IEA predicted a rebound in U.S. shale output as prices rise.


    “If OPEC does implement the deal for six months, the market will tighten,” Neil Atkinson, head of the IEA’s oil markets and industry division, said by phone from Paris. At the same time, “anyone who thinks they can get a free ride needs to think again.”

    West Texas Intermediate for February delivery, which expires Friday, rose as much as 73 cents to $51.81 on the New York Mercantile Exchange and was at $51.44 at 11:54 a.m. in London. Total volume traded was about 12% below the 100-day average. The contract lost $1.40 to $51.08 on Wednesday, the most since Jan. 9. The more-active March futures climbed 45 cents to $52.34.

    U.S. Stockpiles

    Brent for March settlement added as much as 85 cents, or 1.6%, to $54.77/bbl on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. The contract dropped $1.55, or 2.8%, to $53.92 on Wednesday. The global benchmark traded at a premium of $2.09 to March WTI.

    As supply curbs by OPEC and Russia drain a global glut, rising prices will spur drilling by U.S. shale explorers that are more efficient after the two-year downturn, said the IEA. The agency had previously seen American production stagnating in 2017.


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    Isle of Wight Exploration License Extended (Friday, 20 January 2017)

    20 Jan 2017, 6:00 pm

    UK Oil & Gas Investments subsidiary UKOG Solent has been granted a one-year extension to its initial term on license P1916, off the Isle of Wight, England, to 31 January 2018.

    UKOG says P1916 contains an undrilled Portland limestone conventional oil prospect, which is a look-alike to the nearby Arreton Portland oil discovery, in the company's adjacent PEDL331 onshore license. A deeper Triassic sandstone prospect lies directly beneath the Portland target in P1916, which lies off the south west coast of the Isle of Wight.


    UKOG plans to submit a planning application to drill one or more prospects in the Isle of Wight during the coming year.

    Stephen Sanderson, UKOG's Executive Chairman, says: "UKOG's future planned Isle of Wight operations are aimed solely at the extraction of oil from conventional naturally-fractured limestone and sandstone reservoirs, not shale, and therefore will not utilize massive hydraulic fracturing."


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    OPEC Wants Long-term Partnership with Russia (Friday, 20 January 2017)

    20 Jan 2017, 2:00 pm

    OPEC, which is cutting oil output alongside independent producer Russia for the first time in years, wants a lasting partnership with Moscow, the energy minister for top OPEC exporter Saudi Arabia said on Thursday.

    "We at OPEC aim to optimize our relationship with Russia for the long term," Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al Falih told Reuters at the World Economic Forum in Davos.


    "A quick fix is not a big objective. We want this to be a lasting partnership. We have to be flexible when we intervene. Our partnership will evolve over time."


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    Statoil Report Concludes - High Risk for Loss of Life (Friday, 20 January 2017)

    20 Jan 2017, 1:00 pm

    The Norwegian oil operator revealed the conclusion at a press conference earlier today. It follows the completion of an investigation into the incidents at its Mongstad Refinery and a separate incident on the Songa Endurance in the North Sea.

    The incident on the Songa Endurance happened on Saturday 15th October during well plugging activities.

    The loss of well control led to a gas leak that surged seawater more than 30 metres up the rigs derrick before the Annular Blowout Preventer was activated to seal the well.


    Statoils report defined the investigation as having a “high degree” of seriousness.

    In a statement the firm said: “At worst it could have led to a loss of life if the safety equipment had failed to function as intended, or if the gas had been ignited.

    “The BOP was quickly activated and stopped by the gas leak, and five gas detectors automatically turned off equipment that could have produced sparks.”

    The investigation report concluded that two main findings have weakened the barriers and helped gas reach the drill floor.

    Margareth Øvrum, executive vice president for technology, projects and drilling in Statoil, said: “This is a very serious well control incident. The actions taken will improve our ability to

    assess risk, both before and during operations. We will share our experience from this incident with the rest of the industry.”

    It was found during surface maintenance on Tuesday, October 25th, a hydrogen leak had occurred at the Mongstad refinery.

    It was found to have occurred due to external corrosion of a pipe socket at the processing complex.

    Statoil said: “During pipe inspection in connection with surface maintenance in the isomerization plant at Mongstad, a portable gas detector was triggered close to a valve.

    “When an attempt was made to close the valve, the pipe socket broke and high-pressure hydrogen-rich gas was released.

    “During pipe inspection in connection with surface maintenance in the isomerization plant at Mongstad, a portable gas detector was triggered close to a valve.

    “When an attempt was made to close the valve, the pipe socket broke and high-pressure hydrogen-rich gas was released.”

    Statoil have now decided to intensify its programme surface maintenance over the next two years.

    Jens Økland, executive vice president for Marketing, Midstream and Processing (MMP) of Statoil, said: “We are intensifying the activity to handle risk related to corrosion under insulation at Mongstad.

    “In addition, we are implementing measures to improve interaction and involvement in connection with maintenance and any findings. The threshold must be low for asking risk-related questions and implementing required measures.”


    UK Government Spent £100m on Cancelled Carbon Capture Project (Friday, 20 January 2017)

    20 Jan 2017, 11:00 am

    Peterhead power station and the White Rose scheme in North Yorkshire were in the running to win the £1bn contract before it was cancelled in 2015.

    It would have seen emissions from heavy industry stored permanently underground.

    The National Audit Office has been looking into why the project was axed.

    Value for money

    It found a failure by the UK government's energy department to agree the long term costs of the competition with the Treasury led to its cancellation amid concerns over the price to consumers.

    The government said it had not "closed the door" on carbon capture technology.

    The carbon capture and storage (CCS) competition was the second bid by the UK government to support schemes that capture pollution from power stations or industry and store it underground - potentially helping meet greenhouse gas targets.

    At the time it was cancelled, the competition had two preferred bidders: the White Rose consortium in North Yorkshire which planned to build a new coal plant with the technology, and Shell's scheme in Peterhead, Aberdeenshire, to fit CCS to an existing gas plant operated by SSE.

    Drax power station in North Yorkshire was also involved

    A report from the NAO warned it was "currently inconceivable" that CCS projects would be developed without government support, but the second competition did not achieve value for money.

    The then-Department of Energy and Climate Change, now part of the Business Department (Beis), began the programme in 2012 without agreeing with the Treasury on the amount of financial support available over the lifetime of the projects.

    This contributed to the Treasury pulling its pledged £1bn in capital funding in late 2015, resulting in the competition's cancellation.

    Further investment

    The NAO report said the department initially estimated it would cost consumers - who would subsidise electricity from the schemes - between £2bn and £6bn over 15 years, but by 2015, this estimate had risen to as much as £8.9bn.

    The report found the Treasury was concerned over the costs to consumers, and that the competition was aiming to deliver CCS before it was cost-efficient to do so.

    The Treasury also considered it would not guarantee further investment needed to expand the technology and that there were better uses for the £1bn.

    While the second competition had some benefits, improving understanding of the risk and challenges in deploying CCS in the UK, cancelling it hit investor confidence, the NAO said.

    A first competition to kick-start CCS was cancelled in 2011, the government having spent £68m on it.

    'Particular problems'

    Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office, said: "The department has now tried twice to kick-start CCS in the UK, but there are still no examples of the technology working.

    "There are undoubtedly challenges in getting CCS established, but the department faced an uphill battle as a result of the way it ran the latest competition.

    "Not being clear with HM Treasury about what the budget is from the start would hamper any project, and caused particular problems in this case where the upfront costs are likely to be high."

    He added: "The department must learn lessons from this experience if it is to stand any chance of ensuring the first CCS plants are built in the near future."

    A Beis spokesman said: "We haven't closed the door to carbon capture and storage technology in the UK, but decisions had to be taken to control government spending and protect consumer bills.

    "This is why the government ended the funding for the CCS competition, and ensured taxpayers were protected from significant costs when the competition closed."

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    Moray Firth Wartime Bomb Accidentally Picked up by Dredger Destroyed (Friday, 20 January 2017)

    20 Jan 2017, 10:00 am

    A Second World War missile accidentally picked up by a dredger has been blown up by the navy.

    The explosive is believed to have become caught in the net of a boat fishing near the Beatrice wind farm in the Moray Firth on January 7.

    The crew of the vessel dropped it in deep water five miles off Burghead, Moray and alerted authorities.


    A navy bomb disposal team retrieved the 5ft-long missile and blew it up in a controlled explosion on Wednesday.

    A similar incident took place on Burghead beach in July 2015 after a man found an unexploded naval shell while walking his dog.


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