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    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:

    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:

    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:

    Deloitte: North Sea oil firms adopt +apos;wait and see+apos; policy (Friday, 18 July 2014)

    1 Jan 1970, 12:00 am
    Investment in the North Sea has stalled, with planned changes to how the industry is regulated cited as a possible cause, a new report has said.Business advisory firm Deloitte said many companies might be adopting a "wait and see" policy before making investment decisions.The oil and gas industry is going through some big changes to deal with rising costs and help maximise output.A new regulator, the Oil and Gas Authority, is currently being set up.There is also an ongoing review into taxation.Deloitte said the latest figures suggested the changes were actually stifling investment, at least in the short term.A total of seven exploration and appraisal wells were "spudded" in the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) over the second quarter of this year, down from 12 in the previous quarter.This was 10 wells fewer than the same time last year and the lowest number since at least 2004 when consultancy Deloitte started compiling the data.The government-commissioned Wood Review recommended setting up an independent oil and gas regulator to help Britain squeeze as much fossil fuels out of the ground as possible.The Oil and Gas Authority, which will oversee Britain's North Sea licensing work, is expected to start operating this autumn."It's likely that the industry could be pausing until it has a better understanding of the impact of (the Wood Review), and the effect on the long-term future of the North Sea, before making any big investment decisions," said Derek Henderson, senior partner at Deloitte's Aberdeen office.The government is also consulting on changes to its oil and gas taxation regime, a factor which will have a huge impact on the investment choices of energy companies.Mr Henderson said exploration statistics in other parts of the North Sea, operated by Norway and the Netherlands, were also down.He said developers were now spending five times more to extract a barrel of oil from the North Sea than in 2001 as they tried to tap areas that are harder to reach.Source:

    Funding announced for new oil and gas industry regulator (Thursday, 17 July 2014)

    1 Jan 1970, 12:00 am
    The UK government is to provide £15m in short-term funding to help kick-start a new independent regulator for the North Sea oil and gas industry.The Oil and Gas Authority (OGA), which will be based in Aberdeen, will receive £3m a year for five years from 2016-17.The government said it was providing the cash to show commitment to the new regulator and help ensure it was set up as quickly as possible.But the OGA will be fully funded by the industry in the long term.The establishment of the new body was announced after Sir Ian Wood carried out a major review of the sector for the government.His report recommended a new regulator be set up as the existing one was "no longer adequate" to meet the challenges of managing an "increasingly complex" sector.The Wood report also claimed changes in the way the North Sea oil and gas sector operated could produce at least three to four billion additional barrels of oil over the next 20 years.Energy Secretary Ed Davey said: "The Wood Review is good for our energy security, good for the economy and good for jobs."We've made a lot of progress in a short amount of time - in six months we have announced the new body will be located in Aberdeen, we're recruiting for a world-class CEO, and we already have the legislative framework for the new body under way."This pace shows how determined we are to maximise the future potential of the UK's offshore oil and gas industries which currently employ 450,000 people in the UK."Once it is established, the new body will work with the government on a wholesale review of the tax regime for the sector, which will encompass "everything from tax rates to tax allowances", according to Treasury Chief Secretary Danny Alexander.However, a Scottish government spokesperson had a word of caution."As the First Minister clearly stated at the Oil and Gas UK conference in June, the creation of this new arm's length regulator should not be treated as a route for the UK Government to cut its budget on oil and gas regulation," he said."We believe that government should continue to make a fair and proportionate contribution to a new and improved stewardship model for the oil and gas industry in the North Sea, taking into account of the policy function remaining within core Government."Any other approach would be against overall intention of Sir Ian Wood's recommendations on collaboration, good governance, and a renewed partnership between Government and industry."The Scottish government has always stated that the only conceivable location for the regulator is Aberdeen. And, while we recognise the UK government's recent decision to headquarter the Oil and Gas Authority in Aberdeen, we hope that today's announcement that it will 'require a substantial presence in London' is not a weakening of this commitment."Responding to the announcement, the chief executive of industry body Oil & Gas UK, Malcolm Webb, said: "The offshore oil and gas industry welcomes the reaffirmation of government support for the Wood Review."We are encouraged by the proposed approach to implementation and look forward to the establishment of the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA), headquartered in Aberdeen."We need a fresh, well-resourced arms-length regulator to put the principles of the Wood Review into practice."We are delighted to see government commitment to providing a share of the future funding of the OGA, which is an excellent demonstration of the commitment to the tripartite approach called for by Sir Ian (Wood)."The Secretary of State challenges the industry to match the government's commitment to Sir Ian's recommendations. I can assure him that our industry is committed."Source:

    Operators rising demand for Offshore accommodation units (Wednesday, 16 July 2014)

    1 Jan 1970, 12:00 am
    Growing demand for offshore accomodation vessels in the North Sea is increasing rates and accomodatoin quality as operators seek to improve spanner time, says analysts Douglas Westwood. The firm says declining North Sea production and increasingly mature assets are expected to drive demand for offshore accommodation support, as maintenance, refurbishment and shutdown work means more staff and workshop capacity is needed.But, the northern North Sea's (NNS) harsh environment limit operators to using jackup barges and semisubs and the sector "is plagued by constrained global supply and limited availability, placing upward pressure on day rates," says Murray Dormer, at Douglas-Westwood's London office.This is having a significant impact on contract costs in the NNS, with day rates typically ranging from US$200,000-$350,000. Additionally, operators are placing contracts several years in advance to ensure maintenance or construction schedules are satisfied. This is forcing Operators to seek more efficient contracting practices, either through unit sharing agreements or securing units on an annual basis."Notably; although costs continue to rise, a key emerging trend in the floating accommodation sector is employee welfare. IOCs are using their global footprints to help drive the adoption of the ‘quality equals efficiency’ concept. This is now being mirrored in the NNS, where several large operators and service contractors have identified a trend between ‘spanner time’ – hours worked by offshore personnel – and the quality of worker accommodation. While this may incur greater costs in terms of unit day rates, the cost advantages gained from reduced downtime and improved worker efficiency could make this increased expenditure worthwhile. "The industry is screaming for offshore accommodation capable of working in harsh conditions. Although the market will see 11 new units delivered between 2015-2016, continued growth in demand for accommodation semisubs, intensified by unit retirement, will further constrain supply. We are already seeing the market respond with new orders; however, will this be enough to offset growing demand pressures?" Source:

    Oil firm Chevron to cut 225 jobs from Aberdeen facility (Wednesday, 16 July 2014)

    1 Jan 1970, 12:00 am
    Oil company Chevron has announced plans to cut 225 jobs in Aberdeen.The company said the decision followed a review of its North Sea business - and would give it more flexibility.However, the firm said the final number of redundancies could be reduced with potential opportunities for some workers to move abroad while others could be moved back from overseas.Despite the cuts the firm said it was still committed to its UK operation.Chevron said it would continue to invest in major projects such as the Rosebank in Shetland, which is estimated to hold as much as 240 million barrels of oil.A spokesperson said: "Chevron is reorganising its business unit in Aberdeen."We are hoping to reduce the number of redundancies through other global opportunities for employees, repatriating expatriates, so the exact number of redundancies is unknown."Source:

    North Sea tax review welcomed (Tuesday, 15 July 2014)

    1 Jan 1970, 12:00 am
    Industry body Oil & Gas UK has welcomed HM Treasury’s plans to launch a formal consultation into the future of the UK offshore oil and gas tax regime.The trade body says it believes the sector faces an uncertain future and that the tax review is therefore now urgently needed. The UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) is seen as a mature offshore oil and gas province and is currently one of the world’s most expensive basins to operate and invest in. Despite current record investment, there are worrying signs that investment will halve over the next four years, whilst exploration remains at an all-time low, warns oil and gas UK.Production has fallen rapidly in recent years, particularly in some of the oldest fields in the North Sea which are taxed at rates of up to 81%.>Last week, an independent commission said a North Sea tax review was critical to ensure that the remaining hydrocarbons on the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) are fully exploited. Read more: North Sea tax review criticalEarlier this year, Sir Ian Wood's Maximizing Recovery review, commissioned to look at the future health and prospects of the basin, in light of falling production and increasing costs. Read more: A North Sea watershedIn a breakfast briefing earlier this year, James Edens, VP and Managing Director at CNR International (UK), said UK North Sea production in 2013 was 1.43MM boe/d—the lowest it had been since 1977. Semisubmersible day rates have almost doubled in the last three years and jackup rates have risen 60% in the last three years, Mike Tholen, Oil & Gas UK’s economics director, told the same briefing. Tholen said today: “The current fiscal regime has become increasingly complicated and unpredictable with high tax rates combined with a multiplicity of allowances. While targeted allowances have successfully encouraged a wave of activity in recent years, temporarily halting the production decline, their impact is diminishing in an ever more expensive business climate. Investors are increasingly looking to invest elsewhere rather than in the UK.Malcolm Webb, Oil & Gas UK’s Chief Executive (pictured), said: “The Wood Review calls for a tripartite approach to the UKCS between HM Treasury, the new regulator (the Oil and Gas Authority) and industry to maximise economic recovery (MER). The current fiscal regime is becoming a barrier to investment both in new fields and in the many mature opportunities. This will be the first instance of MER in action and we have high expectations for what the consultation will deliver.  “While our members will work closely with HM Treasury to respond in depth to the Consultation this review must lead to early action.  It cannot simply be a paper exercise. The tax regime must be simplified and the headline rates reduced to send a strong signal that the UKCS is open for business.”Source:

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