Headlines Wednesday 21st March 2019

 

Damen Shipyards Enters Cruise Market with SeaDream Order

Damen Shipyards Group has signed its first contract for the construction of a cruise ship for Norway-based SeaDream Yacht Club. The contract is for the 155-metre mega yacht, that will be deployed on voyages all over the world. The purpose-built ship will be prepared to operate in various destinations, including polar and tropical. As such, it will boast ice class Polar Code 6 credentials.

“We are delighted to sign this historic contract with which the Damen Shipyards Group enters the cruise market,” Andrea Trevisan, SVP Sales and Marketing Damen Cruise, said.

SeaDream’s vessel will be completely constructed and outfitted, including the interior, at the Mangalia yard by Damen. The construction is scheduled to start in October this year, with a scheduled delivery date of September 2021.

  • Worldmaritime News

 

TUS-ORE Catapult Research Center Opens Its Doors

UK’s Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult and China’s Tus-Wind have officially opened the TUS-ORE Catapult Research Centre (TORC) for offshore wind in China.The GBP 2 million center opened today, 21 March, in Yantai City following a trade mission of 11 UK companies eager to explore offshore wind opportunities.

TORC will act as a renewable energy technology research and development center with links into both the UK and China to support the growth of their respective offshore wind industries. The center will develop collaborative research programs, support market entry and incubation for UK businesses in China, provide commercial support for Chinese developers and support the demonstration of new technologies on a 300MW offshore wind farm in the Shandong Province.

“Our new Research Centre, in partnership with TUS, will support UK businesses as they take advantage of a new wave of opportunities to engage with one of the fastest-growing offshore wind markets in the world – and present a fantastic opportunity to develop a supply chain that can compete on a global scale,” said ORE Catapult’s Chief Executive, Andrew Jamieson.

“With more than a decade of experience and expertise in this sector, and global exports expected to be worth £2.6bn a year by 2030 for UK companies, now is the time for innovative companies to act and establish themselves at the heart of the Chinese market.”

The Innovate UK Global Business Innovation Programme offshore wind mission was set up to provide UK companies with an opportunity to both engage with potential Chinese technology partners in the sector and gain insight in how their technology development programs can be adapted for offshore wind.

“Following the development of TORC, I believe the government will provide more favourable policies to UK companies seeking to enter China to create real benefit to both sides, furthering the technological cooperation between China and UK and creating significant opportunities and reliable incubation service for UK companies,” said Tus Clean Energy’s Senior Vice president, Charlie Du.

  • Offshorewind.biz

 

Alphaliner: Carriers to Increase Asia-Europe Transit Times

Carriers on the Asia – North Europe route will implement major changes to their networks from the end of March, resulting in longer average transit times as vessel sailing speeds are further reduced. According to Alphaliner, the average duration of services on the corridor will reach a record high of 11.3 weeks as a result of these changes. Asia – North Europe round trip durations have increased steadily from an average of eight weeks in 2007 to the current average of over eleven weeks, mainly due to slower sailing speeds to mitigate rising bunker prices.

The use of larger ships on this route has also resulted in longer port stays, as the average size of vessels deployed in this trade has more than doubled from 7,000 TEU in 2007 to above 15,000 TEU currently, Alphaliner noted.

The 2M carriers, Maersk and MSC, will extend the duration of two of their six Asia – North Europe services to 13 weeks, making the AE-5/Albatross and AE10/Silk services the longest strings on this route. The extended 91-day rotations for both services includes planned diversions for bunkering calls at the Russian Baltic port of Kaliningrad, which add more than four days to the loops’ total rotations.

 

Apart from the extension of the two 2M services, THE Alliance has also stretched the rotation of its FE5 from nine to ten weeks, while HMM extended its standalone AEX service from ten to eleven weeks.

In contrast, the OCEAN Alliance will shorten the rotation of its ‘NEU3’ from eleven to ten weeks, while calls at Shanghai and Ningbo will be removed, leaving overall transit times largely unchanged.

  • Worldmaritimenews

 

May in Brussels to urge short Brexit Delay

Theresa May will make a direct plea to EU leaders later asking to postpone Brexit for three months, hours after telling the British public a delay was "a matter of great personal regret". At an EU summit in Brussels, she will try to persuade the other 27 countries to delay the UK's exit beyond 29 March.

On Wednesday, the PM made a speech blaming the delay on MPs and telling the nation she was "on their side".

Meanwhile, Jeremy Corbyn is also due in Brussels for separate Brexit talks. The Labour leader will meet the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, and the leaders of seven European countries to discuss alternatives to Mrs May's Brexit plan. He said Mrs May was "in complete denial about the scale of the crisis" facing the country and was "unable to offer the leadership the country needs". Her speech also sparked an angry response from MPs across the House of Commons, with some calling her comments "toxic" and "reckless". The UK is set to leave the EU next Friday unless the law is changed. The current default position for leaving is without a withdrawal agreement. Mrs May agreed a deal with the EU, but MPs have rejected it twice. She has asked the EU for a short extension of the two-year Brexit process until 30 June, but any extension needs to be agreed to by all EU members. European Council President Donald Tusk said he believed the EU would agree to a short extension, but this would only be if Mrs May's deal is signed off by MPs next week. Another EU summit next week could be called in an emergency if needed, he said.

Mr Tusk said the "question remains open" as to how long a delay the other EU leaders would support.

But, in her speech from Number 10, Mrs May insisted she would not be willing to postpone Brexit any further than 30 June, despite appeals from some MPs.

She added: "Of this I am absolutely sure. You, the public, have had enough.

"You are tired of the infighting, tired of the political games and the arcane procedural rows, tired of MPs talking about nothing else but Brexit when you have real concerns about our children's schools, our National Health Service, knife crime.

"You want this stage of the Brexit process to be over and done with. I agree. I am on your side."

She said it was now up to MPs to decide whether they wanted to leave with her deal, no deal or not to leave at all. But she warned that the latter option could cause "irreparable damage to public trust" in politicians.

  • BBC News
Headlines Wednesday 20th March 2019
 
NYK Agrees USD 80.6 Mn Syndicated Loan for Scrubbers
 
Japanese shipowner NYK Line has signed a JPY 9 billion (USD 80.6 million) syndicated loan agreement to finance the purchase and installation of scrubbers.  This is Japan’s first syndicated loan to be certified by Japan Credit Rating Agency (JCR) with its highest ranking of Green 1, demonstrating the loan to be aligned with the core components of the Green Loan Principles.
 
NYK’s medium- to long-term environmental targets include a 30% per ton-kilometer reduction of GHG emissions by 2030 compared with a 2015 base year, and 50% per ton-kilometer by 2050 compared with the same base year.
 
“NYK will promote green finance and continue its efforts to keep a wide range of stakeholders involved in the company’s proactive approach to environmental investment as the company makes efforts to contribute to realizing a sustainable society with technology that lessens environmental burdens,” the company explained.
 
NYK’s medium-term management plan includes the group’s intent to integrate environmental, social, and governance (ESG) initiatives into management strategy by establishing new medium- to long-term environmental targets.
 
To achieve these goals, NYK was the first company in the global shipping industry to issue labelled green bonds, and after that achievement in March 2018 the company received a green loan from Taiyo Life Insurance Company in December 2018. This new syndicated loan agreement is the third form of green financing for NYK for a total of over JPY 20 billion.
  • World Maritime News
 
Manora partners approve budget for 2019 drilling program
 
UAE-based oil company Mubadala Petroleum has approved a 2019 work program and budget for four firm wells and one contingent well at the Manora oil field in G1/48 located in the Gulf of Thailand.  Mubadala Petroleum is the operator of the field and Tap Oil is its partner with a 30% interest.  Tap Oil said on Wednesday that the joint venture had approved three Manora oil field development wells, scheduled to start drilling in July 2019 and one firm exploration well, scheduled for November 2019, and one further exploration well contingent upon rig slot availability.
 
The 2018 investments in the Manora oil field confirmed the hypothesis that shareholder value could be delivered from disciplined development, appraisal and near field exploration drilling investment. Accordingly, Tap and Mubadala Petroleum have approved further drilling in 2019.
 
In late 2018, Tap and Mubadala Petroleum reviewed insights and opportunities from production operations plus successful 2018 drilling, geological and geophysical activities. A portfolio of incremental Reserves and production enhancement opportunities was inventoried, analysed, highgraded and eventually budgeted for 2019. Investments prioritized include workovers, development drilling and exploration drilling which are all designed to add to Reserves, production, cash flow and extend the economic life of the Manora oil field.
 
Budgeted opportunities to develop undeveloped Reserves include two development wells in the Manora 300 series sands discovered in 2018, a further development well in the 490-60 reservoir delineated in late 2017 by the MNA-18 well. Other budgeted workover opportunities will optimize production. Further investment in the de-bottlenecking of facilities, including water injection capacity enhancement, is also budgeted.
 
Tap said that the final investment decisions on the precise location of these development drilling opportunities will be made in 2Q 2019, with the three well development drilling program scheduled to start in July 2019.
 
A portfolio of nearfield exploration drilling opportunities has been evaluated, with three prospect clusters high-graded that could be tested with a combination of exploration wells and associated side-tracks. This drilling and side-track strategy was successfully used in 2018 at Manora 8 and the Manora 8 side-track and is a very cost-effective strategy to test multiple objectives from one surface location, Tap said.
 
The firm 2019 budget includes one exploration well and a side-track. A further exploration well and side track is also budgeted, contingent upon rig slot availability. Detailed well engineering and design is ongoing towards a final investment decision on the number and location / trajectory of exploration wells and sidetracks to be made in May 2019, with drilling scheduled to start in 4Q 2019.
 
Potential exploration targets include further structures along the southern extension of the Manora East bounding fault which delivered recent success at Manora 8 side-track and at Manora 18 plus exploration and new field opportunities around the proven oil generation depocenter east of the Manora East fault block. Investment priorities are opportunities that can be developed quickly through existing Manora facilities.
 
The Manora oil field was discovered in November 2009 and produced first oil in November 2014. At the end of 2018, Manora had produced 14.36 million barrels of oil gross from 14 wells averaging 6,397 bopd gross in 2018. The field produced with a 77.5% water cut in 2018 and currently has five water injection wells to dispose of produced water and provide reservoir pressure support in the deeper reservoirs.
 
In March 2019, an application was made the Thailand Department of Mineral Fuels to extend the Manora Production Area by 13.73 Km2 to include the Malida oil discovery which is being evaluated as a Manora oil field tie back development opportunity.
  • Offshore Energy Today
 
Kocalar starts turning in Turkey
 
Akfen's 26MW wind farm first of four to come online backed by EBRD financing.  A 26MW wind farm in Turkey built by Turkish conglomerate Akfen and financed by the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has started commercial operations.
 
The Kocalar wind farm is the first of four developed by Akfen and supported by the bank to start production.
 
The EBRD is supporting Akfen Renewables with loans and equity.
The bank, which became an Akfen shareholder in 2015, provided a financing package of $102m in September 2018 for the construction of the four wind farms and nine solar projects.
 
The remaining three wind farms – 99MW Ucpinar, 51MW Hasanoba in the north-western province of Canakkale and the 66MW Denizli site in the south-west – are due online between June and October 2019.
 
Akfen Renewables general manager Kayril Karabeyoglu said: “Canakkale is one of the highest wind potential areas in Turkey.”
 
In Turkey the EBRD has provided – directly and through local banks – loans of nearly €2bn for projects with value of €9bn and 2.9GW of installed capacity.
  • Renews.biz
 
Brexit: Theresa May will not ask EU for long extension
 
Theresa May will not be asking the EU for a long delay when she formally requests that Brexit is postponed.  Downing Street said the PM shared the public's "frustration" at Parliament's "failure to take a decision".  BBC assistant political editor Norman Smith said the delay would not be beyond the end of June.
 
A cabinet minister has told the BBC this would be the "wrong choice" and a "craven surrender to hardliners" within the Conservative Party.  Under current law, the UK will leave the EU - with or without a deal - in nine days.  The PM is due to send a letter requesting a delay to Brexit later, ahead of a EU summit on Thursday at which she will discuss the matter with fellow leaders.
 
Any delay will have to be agreed by all 27 EU member states and EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has said the EU will not grant it without a "concrete plan" from the UK about what they would do with it.
 
Explaining that Mrs May "won't be asking for a long extension" when she writes to the EU, Number 10 said: "There is a case for giving Parliament a bit more time to agree a way forward, but the people of this country have been waiting nearly three years now.
 
"They are fed up with Parliament's failure to take a decision and the PM shares their frustration."
 
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker indicated there could be an extra Brexit summit next week.  But a tweet from his spokeswoman said his patience was "wearing thin" and that the withdrawal agreement would not be negotiated.
  • BBC News
 
Headlines Tuesday 19th March 2019
 
Panama Canal Joins GIA for Low Carbon Shipping
 
The Panama Canal has joined the Global Industry Alliance (GIA) in an effort to support low carbon shipping.  The signing ceremony inducting the waterway into the GIA took place at the Panama Maritime World Conference and Exhibition. The move was made after the Panama Canal signed a letter of agreement on March 15 officially joining this group of industry players.
 
“Today’s announcement marks a proud milestone for the Panama Canal and its long legacy as the Green Route of world maritime trade,” Jorge L. Quijano, Panama Canal Administrator, said.  “Given our roots in sustainability and innovation, this partnership reaffirms the canal’s commitment to leading our industry to a cleaner and more efficient future.”
 
Launched in June 2017, the GIA is a partnership of 18 maritime organizations working together to share their expertise and provide technical input towards the implementation of concrete activities that can support the shipping industry’s transition to a low carbon future.
 
The GIA members aim to do so by identifying and developing innovative solutions that address common barriers to the uptake and implementation of energy efficient technologies and operational measures. The Panama Canal will become the first Latin American organization to join the GIA.
  • World maritime News
 
JDR Scoops Kriegers Flak Deal
 
JDR Cables has secured an inter-array cable contract by Vattenfall for the Kriegers Flak offshore wind farm in Denmark.  Under the deal, JDR will manufacture more than 170km of aluminium core inter-array cables and a range of termination accessories.  According to the UK-based company, the cable will be assembled at JDR’s Hartlepool facility, while the project completion is expected in 2021.
 
“We are extremely proud to be awarded this landmark contract, which highlights our world-leading expertise in the supply of specialist subsea power cables to the offshore energy industry,” said Mike Lovell, Sales Director Renewables at JDR.
 
“JDR’s track record for innovation cemented the deal and will help to drive cheaper energy for consumers. We are looking forward to the development of Danish Kriegers Flak and continuing our collaboration with Vattenfall in the future.”
 
In November 2016, Vattenfall won the tender to build the Kriegers Flak project with the lowest ever bid of EUR 49.9 per MWh, 58% below the original cap of EUR 120 per MWh.
 
The 605MW offshore wind project will comprise 72 Siemens Gamesa 8MW turbines scheduled to be in full operation before the end of 2021.
  • Offshorewind.biz
 
Aker BP hits pay in North Sea well
 
Norwegian oil company Aker BP has made an oil and gas discovery northwest of the Bøyla field in the North Sea offshore Norway.  Aker BP, the operator of production license 869, has concluded the drilling of wildcat well 24/9-14 S and a horizontal appraisal well, 24/9-14 A in the Froskelår Main prospect, the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) said on Tuesday.
 
Appraisal well 24/9-14 A was drilled 2650 meters northeast of wildcat well 24/9-14 S. The wells were drilled about 4 kilometers northwest of the Bøyla field and 225 kilometers west of Stavanger.
 
The objective of wildcat well 24/9-14 S was to prove petroleum and the reservoir potential in reservoir rocks (injectites) in the Eocene (Intra Hordaland group sandstones). The objective of well 24/9-14 A was to investigate the lateral extent, as well as the reservoir potential of the injectites.
 
Wildcat well 24/9-14 S encountered a total gas column of 30 meters, and a total oil column of 38 meters in the Hordaland group in sandstone layers (injectites) totaling 35 meters, mainly with very good to excellent reservoir properties. The sandstones are interpreted as being remobilised sand from the Heimdal and Hermod formations in the Palaeocene which are injected into the overlying Hordaland group. The gas/oil contact was observed in the well. The oil/water contact was not observed, as the logs showed oil down to the situation.
 
Appraisal well 24/9-14 A, which was drilled horizontally, encountered several gas-bearing and oil-bearing injectite zones totalling 540 meters, with many sandstone layers with variable reservoir properties, mainly from good up to excellent. Here too, the sandstone layers are interpreted as being injected sands in the Hordaland group with variable quality and thickness. The gas/oil and oil/water contacts are as in the wildcat well.
 
Tying into existing infrastructure
 
According to the NPD, preliminary estimates place the size of the discovery between 10 and 21 million standard cubic meters (Sm3) of recoverable oil equivalents. The nearby 24/9-3 (Gamma) oil discovery can be viewed as being a part of this discovery. Part of the discovery may extend over to the UK sector. The licensees will consider tying the discovery into existing infrastructure in the Alvheim area.
 
The wells were not formation-tested, but extensive volumes of data have been acquired and samples have been taken. These are the first and second exploration wells in production license 869, which was awarded in APA 2016.
 
The 24/9-14 S well was drilled to respective vertical and measured depths of 2097 and 2252 meters below sea level, and was terminated in the Sele formation in the Palaeocene. The 24/9-14 A well was drilled horizontally in the Hordaland group in the Eocene to respective vertical and measured depths of 1847 and 4398 meters below sea level.
 
Water depth at the site is 120 meters. The wells have been permanently plugged and abandoned.  The wells 24/9-14 S and 24/9-14 A were drilled by the Saipem-owned Scarabeo 8 drilling rig, which will now drill a combined wildcat and test production well, 24/9-15 S, in production license 340, where Aker BP is the operator.
 
Evy Glørstad-Clark, SVP Exploration in Aker BP, commented: “The exploration success at Froskelår Main is an encouraging result of a long -term strategy to unlock the exploration potential in the Alvheim area. This strategy has involved extensive data acquisition and detailed technical analysis.
 
“In parallel, we have been expanding our acreage position in the area through licensing rounds and business development activities. The Froskelår Main discovery represents a significant addition to the resource base in the Alvheim area. The discovery also illustrates the significant resource potential yet to be uncovered on the Norwegian Continental Shelf.”
  • Offshore energy today
 
Brexit: Theresa May to press on with deal despite Bercow ruling
 
The government says it is pressing ahead with Theresa May's Brexit deal despite Commons Speaker John Bercow throwing the process into doubt.  Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay suggested a vote could take place next week - after Mrs May has sought a delay to Brexit from the EU.  Mr Bercow has ruled that the PM cannot bring her deal back for a third vote without "substantial changes".  Mr Barclay said "serious consideration" was being given to his intervention.
 
The Brexit secretary told BBC Radio 4's Today programme it was important to "respect the referee" and abide by his decisions.
But he added that Mr Bercow himself had said, in the past, that if Parliament was guided only by precedent then "nothing ever would change".
 
Mr Bercow cited a ruling from 1604 to justify his decision to block a third vote, after the deal was rejected for a second time last week, by 149 votes.  Mr Barclay suggested that MPs would "find a way" to get another vote, if the government manages to persuade enough of them, including the 10 Democratic Unionists, to change their mind and back the deal.  He suggested it would also depend on Theresa May getting "clarity" from the EU on "terms of an extension" to Brexit.
 
George Ciamba, the Romanian minister who will chair today's meeting of European affairs ministers in Brussels, said there was "less clarity today than yesterday" on Brexit.  He said an extension of Article 50, the legal process taking the UK out of the EU was matter for leaders and that Thursday's European Council meeting was the proper venue for the decision.
 
What are the options?
 
Children and Families' minister Nadhim Zahawi told BBC Newsnight that one of the options was for MPs to vote on whether to ignore the 400-year-old convention that Mr Bercow had cited in making his ruling.  Brexit Minister Kwasi Kwarteng earlier told the Commons the government was now hoping to ask the EU for a delay to Brexit.  He said the length of the delay would depend on whether Mrs May's Brexit deal is approved. If the deal is agreed, the delay could be short, but if not it could be longer.
 
It is written into law that the UK is due to leave the EU at the end of next week - 29 March. The government can ask the EU to delay Brexit but all 27 EU leaders would need to give their permission.
 
Mrs May has been trying to get her Brexit withdrawal agreement - the "divorce" deal, which she has already agreed with the EU - signed off by MPs in time, but they have voted against it twice.
 
But without giving any warning, Mr Bercow made a statement on Monday saying this was not possible. He cited a parliamentary rule dating from 1604 which states that a defeated motion could not be brought back in the same form during the course of a parliamentary session.  EU ministers are meeting in Brussels to prepare for this week's summit of EU leaders who are expected to discuss whether to grant an extension to the Brexit process.
 
In his Newsnight interview, Mr Zahawi, who is a Brexiteer, was asked whether the government was going to bypass Mr Bercow's ruling. He said: "Let's see, we have to look at all our options.
 
"If there's a majority in Parliament, I would prefer that we can set aside this convention and have a vote and go and take a short extension and get on with Brexit - which I think is where my prime minister's at."  Mr Zahawi added that the Speaker had "made it now much more difficult to have the short extension" and a meaningful vote.
 
"Therefore the longer extension is now clearly on the table. I don't believe that's a good thing".
 
"What Speaker Bercow has done has made it much more likely that we don't deliver Brexit."
 
Nikki da Costa, former director of legal affairs at Downing Street, told BBC Radio 4's Today that Mr Bercow had taken the "hardest possible ruling" on the Parliamentary convention regarding defeated motions but if Mrs May's deal was starting to win acceptance it would be possible for her to get MPs to overturn the speaker's decision.  She added: "I think the PM and the government can still have a third meaningful vote... but it will be extraordinarily difficult to have a fourth meaningful vote so I think MPs really have to think very carefully if that vote does come back."
 
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is due to meet the leaders of the SNP, Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru and Green Party for talks on Brexit.  The SNP's Westminster leader Ian Blackford, Lib Dem leader Vince Cable, Plaid Cymru's Westminster leader Liz Saville Roberts and Green Party MP Caroline Lucas have all released a joint statement calling for another referendum.
 
"The best and most democratic way forward is to put the decision back to the people in a new vote - with the option to Remain on the ballot paper," they said.  Mr Corbyn will also meet members of the group of MPs calling for a so-called Norway Plus style of future relationship with the EU.  And European Council president Donald Tusk will hold talks with Irish premier Leo Varadkar in Dublin.
 
Mrs May is due to meet EU leaders in Brussels on Thursday at the previously scheduled summit.
  • BBC News

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Headlines Monday 18th March 2019
 
IRClass Wins ERS Contract for 33 SCI Ships
 
Ship classification society Indian Register of Shipping (IRClass) has secured a five-year contract from India’s largest shipping company, The Shipping Corporation of India (SCI), to undertake emergency response service (ERS) for 33 vessels.  The contract, effective from the end of February 2019, will cover oil tankers, bulk carriers and containerships.
 
According to IRClass, the ERS is aimed at providing technical support by way of an assessment of the damage stability as well as longitudinal strength of any vessel involved in a major incident such as grounding, collision or fire.  Issues potentially arising from such incidents include excessive trim/heel, loss of stability, progressive flooding, structural impairment, etc.
 
On alerting the relevant communication channel, IRClass team starts to recreate the status of the vessel, by using a pre-developed 3D hull model and applying the data received from the vessel.  As explained by the classification society, the reliability of the service is established by way of mock drills conducted periodically.
 
SCI currently has a fleet of 63 vessels comprising tankers, bulkers, boxships and offshore supply vessels, according to the company’s website. The fleet has a total market value of more than USD 1 billion, VesselsValue’s data shows.
  • Worldmaritime news
 
Spain’s First Offshore Wind Turbine Goes Into Operation
 
The 5MW Elisa prototype, Spain’s first offshore wind turbine, has officially been put into operation.  According to the Canarian Association for Renewable Energy, the turbine was commissioned yesterday, 17 March, at the Plocan test site.  To remind, the installation of the full-scale Elisa prototype was completed at the site offshore Gran Canaria at the beginning of July last year.
 
The self-installing telescopic offshore wind turbine is developed under the EU-funded Elican project carried out by a consortium of Esteyco, Siemens Gamesa, ALE Heavylift, DEWI GmbH, and Plocan.
 
The project’s goal was to assemble the entire system, including the foundation, tower and wind turbine, and its pre-commissioning under controlled conditions at the Arinaga port, and then tow it to the site using conventional tugs.  This is said to reduce the risks associated with assembly work at sea and cut installation costs by 30% to 40% compared to existing conventional solutions.
  •  Offshorewind.biz
 
 
Oil major Eni sets out $3bn 'net zero' carbon emissions plan
 
Italian oil major to invest in major forestry projects in Africa and scale up renewables capacity, but still plans to increase fossil fuel production.  Italian oil and gas major Eni has set out its plans to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2030, earmarking an additional £3bn of investment towards forestry offsets, renewables, circular economy initiatives, energy efficiency, and flaring down projects.
 
Outlining its four-year business strategy on Friday, the company said it would achieve the "ambitious" emission target by minimising CO2 in its operations - such as through cutting methane leaks - and offsetting residual upstream emissions through large forestry projects.
 
The company hopes to plant enough woodland as a natural carbon sink to capture up to 20Mt a year of carbon emissions by 2030, making it the largest forestry offset commitment to date from a major oil firm.  The planned forestry projects will be mainly be focused in Africa and are expected to cover an area four times the size of Wales, the Financial Times reported.
 
Additional actions in the strategy include plans to increase the share of natural gas in Eni's portfolio, expand its biofuels business, increase its renewable energy capacity, and invest $1bn over the next four years to "maximise the use of waste as a feedstock and extend the lives of industrial sites".
 
By 2022 the company aims to complete 60 clean energy projects, investing $1.4bn in expanding its renewable energy capacity to 2.6GW, up from just 200MW this year. It then plans to almost double its renewables capacity to up to 5GW in total by 2025, while also stepping up its focus on energy storage.  Within its own operations, meanwhile, Eni said it aimed to reduce its operating costs by replacing gas consumption with renewables.
 
However, the company - which holds three billion barrels of oil reserves - still plans to grow its upstream oil business, aiming to deliver 2.5 billion barrels of new resources by drilling 140 exploration wells through to 2022.  The company said it expects production to grow by 3.5 per cent a year, targeting new areas for drilling in the Middle East, Norway, and Mexico.
 
Claudio Descalzi, Eni CEO, said decarbonisation was a "strategic priority" for the company's board, and that deployment of its own new technologies would play a "key role", while also helping to boost profitability.
 
"We are committed to a low carbon future and today we are setting a new target to reach upstream carbon neutrality by 2030," he said. "We are committed to growing our renewables business organically during the plan. Our renewables portfolio is well diversified both geographically and in terms of technologies. In the future we are planning to increase our exposure to energy storage. In Italy, we will expand the 'Progetto Italia', our industrial conversion project generating power from renewables on reclaimed industrial areas."
 
Eni's move follows rival oil giant Shell's pledge on Friday to cut the net carbon footprint of its business by between 2-3 per cent by 2021, marking the company's first ever short-term emissions reduction target. Shell now plans to set short term emissions goals every five years.
  • Business green
 
Brexit: Not too late for real change to PM's deal – Johnson
 
It would be "absurd" to hold another vote on the PM's Brexit deal before attempting further talks with the EU, Boris Johnson has claimed.  Writing in the Daily Telegraph, the leading Brexiteer said it was "not too late" to get changes to the deal, with EU leaders due to meet on Thursday.  But security minister Ben Wallace said Mr Johnson and other opponents of the deal were "ignoring the facts".  The PM's plan is expected to be voted on for a third time in the coming days.
 
But the BBC's political editor Laura Kuenssberg said the situation remained highly unpredictable.  She said it was "eminently feasible" the PM would delay a vote until after the EU summit at the end of this week - where European leaders will discuss a UK request to extend the process and to delay Brexit and for how long.
 
What's the current state of play?
Last week, MPs rejected Theresa May's deal for a second time - this time by 149 votes - and then backed plans to rule out leaving the EU without a deal.  They also voted in favour of an extension to the process - either until 30 June, if the deal is supported before 20 March; or a longer one that could include taking part in European elections if MPs reject her plan again.
 
All 27 EU member states would have to agree to an extension.  The BBC's Europe editor Katya Adler said there were growing divisions about the length of any delay or what conditions should be attached.
 
Are Tory MPs changing their minds?
The possibility of Brexit being delayed or overturned in another referendum has seen some MPs reluctantly back Mrs May's deal.  A group of 15 Tory MPs from Leave-backing constituencies, including former Brexit Secretary David Davis, wrote a letter urging colleagues to back the deal to ensure Brexit goes ahead.
 
But so far the number of Tories publicly switching positions falls far short of the 75 MPs Mrs May needs to switch sides.
 
Mr Johnson, writing in his weekly Daily Telegraph column, said that further changes were needed to the Irish backstop in Mrs May's withdrawal agreement to break the impasse in Parliament.  "If we agree this deal - and unless we have a radical change in our approach to the negotiations - we face an even greater humiliation in the second phase," he said.
 
EU leaders have said they will not renegotiate the withdrawal agreement.  Former cabinet minister John Redwood said he was also not shifting position, pointing out that legally the UK was still due to leave the EU on 29 March.  Mr Wallace, who backed Boris Johnson for the leadership in 2016, said he "strongly urged" him to support the deal and "not to ignore the facts placed before him".
 
"I know Boris is passionate about leaving the EU and if he is passionate, he will recognise that voting for this deal is the way to deliver Brexit," he said.
 
Jacob Rees-Mogg, chair of the European Research Group of Tory Brexiteers, said he was "waiting to see" whether the Democratic Unionists would swing round behind the deal before deciding which way to vote.  But he said he still believed leaving without any agreement was the "best option", telling LBC "it means... we will have restored our nation's independence".
 
What about the DUP and Labour?
Senior ministers have indicated the deal will only return to the Commons if it has the support of the DUP's 10 MPs, whose votes prop up the Conservative government.
 
Negotiations with the Northern Irish party are expected to continue on Monday, although Downing Street said a formal meeting to try and get them on board was not scheduled.
 
DUP MLA Jim Wells told Today the party still had a "huge difficulty" with the existing backstop arrangements - designed to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland but which opponents say will separate Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK.  He said: "We could find ourselves locked in there forever in effect - and once you get in, you can never get out."
 
Meanwhile, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will have a series of meetings with other Westminster leaders and some influential backbenchers in an effort to find a cross-party compromise.
  • BBC News
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Headlines Friday 15th March 2019
 
BC Ferries’ Spirit-Class Duo Completes LNG Conversion in Poland
 
The second of two Spirit-class ferries has wrapped up its stay at Poland’s Remontowa Shiprepair Yard, marking the completion of BC Ferries’ LNG Conversion project.  Spirit of Vancouver Island got underway from Gdansk on February 28, 2019, after spending three months at the yard as part of its mid-life upgrade.
 
Spirit of Vancouver Island is the second of two units to undergo the upgrade after the Spirit of British Columbia received the same treatment in the first half of 2018.  Remontowa equipped each ferry with four new dual-fuel Wärtsilä 8L34DF main engines and a cryogenic tank. Currently, the ships’ engine rooms are dual fuel, adapted to be fed both with low-sulfur diesel oil and natural gas (stored as LNG) as the main fuel.
 
Other upgrades have included the renewal of navigation and propulsion equipment as well as passenger areas.  The LNG conversion project was delayed by a year after BC Ferries deferred it to ensure sufficient equipment procurement lead times, detailed engineering and necessary regulatory approvals, and perform additional financial due diligence.
 
The two Spirit-class vessels consumed approximately 15 per cent of BC Ferries annual fuel costs and their conversion to dual-fuel is expected to lead to operational savings and environmental benefits.
 
BC Ferries awarded the conversion contract to the Polish shipyard in March 2016. Remontowa’s competitors for work on the conversion project included Seaspan’s Vancouver Shipyards and Fincantieri of Italy.
  • World Maritime News
 
UK Oil & Gas reports Horse Hill production milestones as ‘testing’ continues
 
Some 35,000 barrels of crude have so far been recovered from Horse Hill where test production continues and new drilling in the coming months aims to expand capacity.  As it releases its annual results UK Oil & Gas plc (LON:UKOG) has also provided an update from the ongoing extended well test at the Horse Hill field, highlighting a number of milestones.
 
UKOG, which owns a 50.635% interest in Horse Hill, said that 10,000 barrels have now been produced from the Portland reservoir and it continues to flow at an average rate of 220 barrels of oil per day.  It explained that the production rate is deliberately held beneath the previously reported test rate of 362 bopd for “prudent reservoir management purposes”.
 
The Portland production adds to the 25,000 barrels of crude previously produced from the Kimmeridge zone in an earlier phase of the testing programme, and, takes the aggregate to 35,000 barrels.  Some 165 tankers worth of crude has now been routed from Horse Hill to the Hamble oil terminal, sold a Brent Crude Oil prices (less deductions for handling and marketing).
 
In its financial results, for the twelve months ended 30 September 2018, the company said that sales in that period saw oil prices between US$70 and US$80 per barrel whilst lifting costs for the test production amounted to US$20-27 per barrel – at full scale it is anticipated below US$20 per barrel.  The extended well testing programme (which has seen flows are a variety of rates and has included periods of down-time) began in June 2018 and in
 
UKOG’s results to the end of September it reported revenue of £225,000.  UKOG detailed a £128,000 gross profit and a £16.7mln pre-tax loss, including a £11.5mln write off against exploration assets.  Looking ahead, UKOG highlighted that the current plan sees Horse Hill test production revenues continuing through the remainder of 2019 and that long term field production revenues will begin before the calendar year end.
 
New drilling this spring – comprising the HH-2 well and a new Kimmeridge sidetrack for the existing HH-1 well – will aim to boost production capacity.
UKOG said it is optimistic that Horse Hill can achieve its horizontal production targets of 720-1,080 bopd per well. At such a level, the company said the project will be generating free cash flow in 2020.
 
Subject to regulatory approvals, the plan is to switch seamlessly from ‘testing’ into long term production.  It also highlighted that as the project phases into full production, the addition of proven and probable reserves at Horse Hill will open up the possibility of reserve-based lending – in other words debt could be raised against the crude remaining beneath the ground.
 
A rig tender process has recently begun for this spring’s drilling programme, and, the company noted that it already has planning and environmental permits in place for the work.  UKOG chief executive Stephen Sanderson said: "The Portland's continued excellent production performance, particularly from a non-optimised vertical well, provides building confidence that the previously reported 720-1,080 bopd horizontal well production targets are increasingly attainable.
 
“The recent rig-tender exercise also means we remain fully on track to begin the first horizontals in Spring, with long term production testing of both wells planned to follow directly afterwards.  “This programme puts UKOG in a strong position to deliver real growth and positive cash flow in the near future."
 
As at 30 September, UKOG had £12.4mln of cash and equivalents.
  • Proactive Investors
 
Interserve: Key UK contractor faces crunch vote on rescue plan
 
Key government contractor Interserve faces a crunch vote on Friday which could lead it into administration.  The outsourcing giant has been trying to persuade shareholders to back a rescue deal which would see 95% of the firm pass to lenders.  It reached a deal with creditors last month to prevent its collapse.
 
But if shareholders reject its debt-for-equity-swap plan in the vote, Interserve's lenders could apply for a pre-pack administration.  This would mean the firm would avoid a Carillion-style collapse, but it would wipe out existing shareholders.  A pre-pack administration lets a company sell itself, or its assets, as a going concern, without affecting the operation of the business when administrators are appointed.
 
The administrators take over the running of the business to protect creditors.  In a pre-pack, the lenders take 100% of the business.  Like construction giant Carillion, Interserve has numerous public sector and infrastructure contracts. Carillion collapsed in January last year with debts of £1.5bn.  The outsourcing firm is one of the UK's largest public services providers, and employs 45,000 people in the UK.
 
It started in dredging and construction, and from there has diversified into a wide range of services, such as healthcare and catering, for clients in government and industry.  It sells services, including probation, cleaning and healthcare, and is involved in construction projects.  It is the largest provider of probation services in England and Wales, supervising about 40,000 "medium-low risk offenders" for the Ministry of Justice.
 
Its infrastructure projects include improving the M5 Junction 6 near Worcester, refurbishing the Rotherham Interchange bus station in Yorkshire, and upgrading sewers and water pipes for Northumbrian Water.  And at King George Hospital in east London, for instance, Interserve has a £35m contract for cleaning, security, meals, waste management and maintenance.
 
Both the rescue deal and the pre-pack administration are designed to keep those contracts going and jobs in place, at least in the short term.  Interserve, one of the government's biggest providers of public services, may go into administration later.  The firm is holding a crucial shareholder vote to decide whether to accept a rescue plan which would see its lenders write off hundreds of millions of pounds in debt in exchange for new shares.
 
It employs 45,000 people in the UK and relies on contracts to serve schools, hospital and the army for 70% of its revenue.  The company is drowning in £650m of debt and its woes have invited comparisons with failed contractor Carillion which went bust just over a year ago.
 
However, the government - which put Interserve under intense supervision 18 months ago - insists that if the rescue deal is not approved and the company does go bust, there is a plan to bring the company out of administration over this weekend.  This arrangement will see the lenders take control of the company, essential services will not be interrupted, but current shareholders will see their shares rendered worthless.  That includes the company's biggest shareholder, US firm Coltrane Asset Management, which has opposed the deal but is thought to be interested in buying pieces of the company after administration.
 
Whatever happens on Friday, the financial disaster at Interserve is certain to revive the debate around the role of the private sector in providing public services.
  • BBC News
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Headlines Thursday 14th March 2019
 
Port of Seattle Looking for Partner for New Cruise Terminal Project
 
The US Port of Seattle has issued a request for qualifications (RFQ) to secure a partner that will develop and operate a new, single berth cruise facility at Terminal 46.
 
In addition, the port has adopted principles to ensure that a growing cruise business increases local economic benefit and maintains the port’s leadership as the most environmentally progressive cruise homeport in North America.  “Our principles ensure that this new cruise terminal will expand local economic benefit, and with the addition of our third shore power berth will make Seattle the national leader in promoting clean, electric shore power for our Alaska-bound cruises,” Port of Seattle Commission President Stephanie Bowman said.
 
The cruise terminal RFQ is the first step in a partnership selection process that will support the completion of a new facility for the 2022 cruise season.  Early estimates are that a cruise terminal could be constructed for around USD 200 million. A public-private-partnership approach to build the terminal will have the port contributing half that cost. Responses to the RFQ are due April 18.
 
The opportunity to explore using 29 acres at the north end of Terminal 46 for a new cruise terminal and single berth has come forward now as the Northwest Seaport Alliance works to realize its strategic plan of realigning international maritime cargo operations at Terminal 5 near West Seattle and Terminal 18 on Harbor Island. The cruise terminal project is contingent on the successful authorization of a new lease at Terminal 5 which is scheduled for review at the Northwest Seaport Alliance’s March 19 meeting.
 
This year, the Port celebrates 20 years of service as a cruise homeport. Since 1999, the Port of Seattle has become the US West Coast’s premier cruise port for Alaska cruises. In 2019, Seattle’s cruise industry will serve more than 1 million revenue passengers for the third year in a row.
 
The Port of Seattle is said to be the most environmentally progressive cruise homeport in North America, with the first cruise homeport in the United States with two shorepower berths, and may be the only cruise homeport in the United States with three shorepower berths when Terminal 46 is completed.
 
The Port of Seattle is also the first and only cruise homeport in North America with a voluntary clean water agreement between cruise lines and regulators. Emissions from ocean-going vessels, including cruise ships entering Puget Sound, have decreased by more than 67 percent over the last 10 years.
  • World Maritime News
 
Rem Offshore secures contracts for five vessels
 
Norwegian offshore shipping company Rem Offshore has been awarded five contracts for its vessels with a total contract value of about NOK 200 million ($23.4M).
 
Rem said on Wednesday that the vessels which had been awarded new contracts are three 2013-built platform supply vessels – Rem Mira, Rem Cetus, and Rem Insula – and vessels to be named Rem Trader and subsea construction vessel Rem Inspector.
Fredrik Remøy, CEO of Rem Offshore, said: “The value of these contracts significantly contribute to the earnings visibility of Rem Offshore and creates a solid foundation for further growth. These awards also showcase our organization’s talent for value creation in what is still a trying market.”
 
The vessel owner has not provided any further details about the value of the contracts nor its clients.
  • Offshore Energy Today
 
British parliament to vote on Brexit delay, PM seeks to revive her deal
 
Britain’s parliament was due to vote on Thursday on whether to delay Brexit beyond March 29 and Prime Minister Theresa May prepared to push members of parliament to vote again before then on her EU divorce deal, which they have twice rejected.
 
Key to May’s plan will be an attempt to persuade the most pro-Brexit MPs to reverse their opposition to her deal in the face of a possibly long delay that could mean Britain ends up with a closer relationship with the EU than May’s plan foresees or that Brexit is overturned in a second referendum.  Arlene Foster, leader of the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) that props up May’s minority government in parliament but which has so far voted against May’s agreement, said it was working with the government to try to find a way of leaving the EU with a deal.
 
On Wednesday, parliament rejected the prospect of leaving the European Union without a deal, paving the way for Thursday’s vote that could delay Brexit until at least the end of June. Sterling surged as investors saw less chance of Britain leaving the EU without a transition deal to smooth its exit.
British finance minister Philip Hammond said Brussels might insist on a long delay to Brexit if the UK government requests an extension to the process.
 
 “This is not in our control and the European Union is signalling that only if we have a deal is it likely to be willing to grant a short technical extension to get the legislation through,” Hammond told Sky News.  “If we don’t have a deal, and if we’re still discussing among ourselves what is the right way to go forward, then it’s quite possible that the EU may insist on a significantly longer period,” he said.
 
May said on Wednesday MPs would need to agree a way forward before an extension could be obtained. All 27 other EU member states must agree to any extension.  She said her preference was for a short delay, meaning the government could try to pass the deal she negotiated with the EU by the middle of next week, even though it was rejected heavily by MPs in January and again on Tuesday.
 
Andrew Bridgen, a eurosceptic lawmaker from May’s Conservative Party accused her of pursuing a “scorched earth” policy of destroying all other Brexit options to leave MPs with a choice between her deal and a delay of a year or more.  A senior official in Britain’s opposition Labour Party said it would support a limited extension to the Brexit date beyond March 29 in order to seek a compromise that can be backed by MPs.
 
“We will be putting an amendment down to ensure parliament considers an extension, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a long extension,” Labour’s finance spokesman John McDonnell told Sky News. “We will go for a limited extension today.”  MPs filed amendments to the government’s motion on delaying Brexit that is due to be put to a vote later on Thursday.
 
One amendment seeks to rule out a second referendum while another is for a second referendum. A Labour Party amendment calls for a delay to Brexit to allow parliament time to find an alternative way forward.
  • Reuters
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Headlines Wednesday 13th March 2019
 
British parliament to vote on whether to leave EU without a deal
 
Britain’s parliament will vote on Wednesday on whether to leave the European Union in 16 days without an agreement as the government said it would eliminate import tariffs on a wide range of goods in a no-deal Brexit scenario. British lawmakers handed Prime Minister Theresa May a second humiliating defeat for her Brexit plan on Tuesday, plunging the country deeper into political crisis with almost no clues as to how it will emerge from the chaos.
 
It means the world’s fifth largest economy could leave the EU without a deal; there could be an extension to the March 29 divorce date which is enshrined in law; May could hold a snap election or try a third time to get her deal passed; or a another referendum on the issue is also possible.  On Wednesday, lawmakers are expected to reject a no-deal Brexit in a vote at 1900 GMT and on Thursday are then due to vote on whether to ask the EU for a delay to Brexit, something to which all the bloc’s other 27 members must agree.
 
A spokesman for European Council President Donald Tusk, representing EU governments, said Britain would have to provide a “credible justification” for any request for a delay.  “We won’t know how long that extension will be, that’s for them to decide. We won’t know what conditions will be attached,” Brexit minister Stephen Barclay told BBC radio.
 
The default position if nothing else is agreed remains that Britain will exit with no deal, a scenario that business leaders warn would bring chaos to markets and supply chains, and other critics say could cause shortages of food and medicines.
 
Supporters of Brexit argue that, while a no-deal divorce might bring some short-term instability, in the longer term it would allow the United Kingdom to thrive and forge trade deals across the world.  Unveiling details of a tariff plan that would last for up to 12 months in the wake of a no-deal Brexit, the government said 87 percent of total imports to the United Kingdom by value would be eligible for tariff-free access, up from 80 percent now.
 
It also said it would not introduce new checks or controls on goods moving from the Irish Republic to Northern Ireland, a major concern among Irish politicians who feared a hard border could see a return of violence which blighted the British province for more than 30 years until a 1998 peace accord.
 
May has said the government would not instruct lawmakers from her own Conservative party, who are bitterly divided over Brexit, on how to vote on Wednesday, as would normally be the case.  “If you pushed me to the end point where it’s a choice between no deal and no Brexit ... I think no deal is going to be very disruptive for the economy and I think no deal also has serious questions for the union,” Barclay said.
 
“But I think no Brexit is catastrophic for our democracy. Between those very unpleasant choices, I think no Brexit is the bigger risk.” The European Union said the risk of a damaging no-deal Brexit had “increased significantly” but there would be no more negotiations with London on the divorce terms, struck with May after two-and-a-half years of tortuous negotiations.
 
Britons voted by 52-48 percent in 2016 to leave the EU but the decision has not only divided the main parties but also exposed deep rifts in British society, bringing concerns about immigration and globalisation to the fore.  Many fear Brexit will divide the West as it grapples with both the unconventional U.S. presidency of Donald Trump and growing assertiveness from Russia and China, leaving Britain economically weaker and with its security capabilities depleted.
 
Supporters say it allows Britain to control immigration and take advantage of global opportunities, striking new trade deals with the United States and others while keeping close links to the EU, which, even without Britain, would be a single market of 440 million people.
  • Reuters
 
World’s largest cargo plane delivers helicopters to Aberdeen
 
The world’s largest civilian cargo plane has helped deliver two helicopters to Aberdeen for Babcock Offshore’s North Sea operations.  Last month the UK branch of the company identified two AW139 helicopters which would be of use for its Australian business, and two S-92 helicopters in Melbourne that could serve the North Sea.
 
To carry out the switch, Babcock employed the services of the Antonov 124 – billed as the largest civilian plane in the world for transporting cargo.  According to operator Volga-Dnepr Airlines, it is capable of carrying 120tonnes across its greatest distances.
 
The AW139s were transported to Melbourne, where the massive carrier then picked up the S-92s.  These were then taken on a series of flights to Prestwick airport, as the Antonov is too large for Aberdeen airport, and were then taken by road to Babcock’s hangar in Aberdeen.  Ian Cooke, technical director at Babcock Offshore said: “This was a great example of how being part of a global group can bring local benefits.
 
“When two AW139s became available in Aberdeen it made sense to get them to Australia to serve the oil and gas customers there.  “And then it was also ideal timing to transfer two S-92s, in demand by UK customers, back to Aberdeen to join the Scottish fleet.  “It was a complex project but it went without a hitch and was really smoothly managed by everyone involved.
 
“The aircraft are now being prepared for operations in their new locations and will bring real benefits to Babcock customers in Scotland and in Australia.”
  • Energy Voice
 
Saga LNG Shipping Names Its First LNG Carrier
 
Saga LNG Shipping has named its new liquefied natural gas (LNG) carrier at China Merchants Heavy Industry (Jiangsu) shipyard on March 13, 2019.  Named Saga Dawn, the 45,000 m3 vessel would be delivered to the company in May and enter into service shortly after.  Saga LNG Shipping said that the unit is the world’s first LNG carrier featuring an IMO type A LNG containment system, based on LNT Marine’s patented LNT A-BOX design.
The ABS-classed vessel features Wärtsilä dual-fuel main and auxiliary engines.
 
“We are confident the momentum of this significant milestone will allow us to order many more similar vessels in the near future to meet evolving market demands,” said David Wu, Founder and CEO of Saga LNG Shipping.  The company explained that Saga Dawn “brings new life to the dwindling midsized LNG fleet.” The vessel has a fully laden draft of nine meters and no partial loading restrictions.
 
“We expect Saga Dawn to pave the way for new business models, innovative trades and the opening up of stranded demand centers, especially in Asia,” said Jonathan Verswijver, VP of Business Development at Saga LNG Shipping.
  • World Maritime News
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Headlines Tuesday 12th March 2019
 
Zeebrugge Rolls Out Tools to Process UK Cargo Digitally after Brexit
 
Preparing for Brexit, Belgium’s Port of Zeebrugge has introduced two new digital tools to allow a fluent flow of cargo to and from the UK.  This is in spite of extra customs administrations which will be implemented after the Brexit deadline.  As informed, the development of the RX/SeaPort data sharing platform is an initiative of the Zeebrugge port authority and the Association of Port of Zeebrugge interests (APZI). The platform offers a digital connection between all links in the logistical chain.
 
“After March 29, the platform ensures a minimization of the Brexit impact, by improving the operational efficiency and creating more transparency in the logistical chain,” Wim Fossaert, Commercial Director of RX/SeaPort, commented.
 
“RX/SeaPort guarantees a chainwide solution for cargo shipped from and to the UK quickly and efficiently. Ferry and shortsea traffic will experience new customs regulations after Brexit. If these are handled digitally and efficiently, we will avoid problems,” Joachim Coens, Managing Director of MBZ, said.
 
Every week, more than 70 regular shipping services connect Zeebrugge to UK regions.  The first tool, WIZARD, focuses on the impact of Brexit on the logistical process, namely the transportation of goods to and from the UK through the Belgian port. Each phase of the import and export flow is illustrated: booking & pre-announcement, customs declaration, guidelines and procedures for departure and arrival at the terminal.
 
In addition, RX/SeaPort has developed a digital system, E-Desk Ferry, which focuses particularly on ferry transportations. Through the system, export users notify the terminal operator of the arrival of their cargo. This notification contains the type of document, customs office, MRN number, unit number, terminal and booking reference.  This data is continuously available for the terminal operator, which creates digital transparency and prevents waiting periods at the terminals, as explained by the port authority.
 
In the case of import, users will notify the terminal operator about the cargo’s customs status with corresponding customs document numbers. Based on this information, the cargo can be released for transport.
Shortsea traffic can make use of the existing systems E-Desk Container and E-Desk Roro.
 
“After months of preparation with all the stakeholders, we are very happy to present the first tools of RX/SeaPort to process the UK cargo digitally after Brexit. This is an optimization of the logistical chain in Zeebrugge and will result in a seamless flow of traffic and cargo,” according to Marc Adriansens, Chairman of APZI.
 
In 2018, the Port of Zeebrugge handled over 40 million tons of goods, a rise of 8 percent when compared to 2017. The increase was mostly due to the growth of roll-on/roll-off and liquid natural gas volumes.
  • World Maritime News
 
How will Brexit affect the port of Cairnryan?
 
William Gunn — known to his friends as Billy — is rattling along the A77 in a lorry packed with aluminium, heading for the ferry at Cairnryan.  He may know this road better than anyone, having made the trip from Glasgow to Belfast and back more than 2,000 times over the past 44 years.
 
"Doesn't bear thinking about" he laughs. "Always on a Wednesday. Back on a Friday."  Happily Billy, 62, likes driving on a route which many people in south-west Scotland curse for its narrow lanes, tight curves and dangerous junctions.
 
It's a clear run today but Billy fears that Brexit will clog up the ports and the roads.  "I would imagine there would just be tailbacks of traffic," he says.   "They'll be queuing on the streets probably."
 
So how might that happen?
 
Billy's weekly journey takes him on the shortest route across the Irish Sea from Cairnryan to Belfast.  Another busy passage runs from Holyhead, on the Welsh island of Anglesey, to Dublin but if Brexit were to lead to customs checks there, then more hauliers may choose to head north to Dumfries and Galloway to enter Northern Ireland instead.
 
Of course all of this is conjecture but that is the problem with Brexit. Nobody, from the prime minister down, seems to have a clue what is actually going to happen, leaving businesses and individuals alike struggling to plan.
 
Ian Hampton, a senior executive at Stena Line, the largest ferry operator in the North Sea says Brexit may well affect the flow of trade.  "There are a lot of goods that flow up and down the isle of Ireland," he says. "They take different routes to and from the United Kingdom, the mainland, so a decision on where that border could be could actually change the way trade moves."  Mr Hampton has even suggested that supplies of food and other goods might run short.  "On shortages, look it's a potential," he told The Nine news programme on BBC Scotland. "Goods will inevitably require checks as you move to being a third party country to the EU so therefore it could inevitably create delay."  Stena Line's Ian Hampton said it was possible that supplies of food and other goods could run short.
 
In Cairnryan, Lee Medd, business development manager at the Dumfries and Galloway Chamber of Commerce is more upbeat.  He evinces a mixture of concern about increased traffic on the roads — everyone here is worried about the roads — and optimism about the prospects for the UK outside the EU.
 
"I think to be honest we will see a much increased flow of traffic coming in and out of this port. It's already got a lot of traffic coming in from Ireland but it's going to be seen as the easy option," he says.  "Business happened around the world before we were part of the European Union," he points out.  "People have always wanted to do business with Britain. Britain has always wanted to do business with other people around the world. That will continue. Let's just crack on with it. This could be the best thing to happen to the United Kingdom."
 
Romano Petrucci, who runs the Central Cafe in Stranraer, which has been serving up fish and chips for six decades, does not share that optimism.
Cairnryan is a tiny place with little infrastructure and few places to park so any overflow would put pressure on larger Stranraer, still smarting from the decision to move the port out of the town after 150 years.  Stranraer itself is capable of coping, says Mr Petrucci, indeed he would be delighted to see queues of hungry lorry drivers but he believes the roads would struggle to cope.
 
"We've been completely and utterly abandoned for the last 20 years," he says. "We're the only place that doesn't have any dual carriageway for 50 miles in Scotland and yet we're a major port. So no we're not ready."  Some residents here say they are not convinced that the authorities are ready either.  They have accused Dumfries and Galloway Council of failing to explain its plan for Brexit.
 
Martin Ogilvie, resilience manager for the council, says the criticism is not entirely unfair, explaining that the uncertainty meant they had taken a decision not to scare people with speculation.  But, he insists, they are prepared.  "There are plans already to stack up the vehicles on certain roads through just outside Stranraer," he says. "It's almost like a rolling queue but we can't have these queues blocking the main trunk roads."
 
Martin Ogilvie insists Dumfries and Galloway Council is prepared for the effects of Brexit.  The council, he insists, is developing options to get the traffic off the main roads and find somewhere safe to queue. One option is to use the old pier in Stranraer.  Back in his lorry, still moving for now, Billy is disgruntled about the whole affair.
 
The referendum campaign, he says, did not do much to inform the public about what would actually happen if the UK voted to leave the EU.  "We were not told a great deal about it," he says. "Nobody even tried to explain the full consequences. Even to this day, I don't think folk truly understand the full consequences of leaving Europe."
  • BBC News
 
Row over hydro projects in 'Skyfall glen'
 
The three projects in Glen Etive, near Glen Coe, are among seven that were approved by members of a Highland Council planning committee last month.  Now one councillor has secured enough support to have the plans reviewed on 20 March.  The three proposed schemes are opposed by a campaign, Save Glen Etive.
 
Mountaineering Scotland, a body representing the interests of hillwalkers, climbers and skiers, also opposes the three hydro projects.  The developer Dickins Hydro said it appreciated the glen was a special area and would do everything in its power to reduce any impact on the environment.  Glencoe and Glen Etive Community Council supports the overall hydro project, which could produce enough electricity for up to 8,000 properties and raise community benefit funding.
 
Local councillor Andrew Baxter said that it was only right that the projects planned for a sensitive environment were scrutinised by the full council.  Glen Etive, near Glen Coe, is a National Scenic Area, and a Wild Land Area.  The the area is well-known to film fans as a location for 2012's James Bond movie Skyfall.  Scenes for Skyfall, which starred Daniel Craig as secret agent 007, were filmed in Glen Etive and the wider Glen Coe area.
Mountaineering Scotland said constructing the hydro power schemes on the rivers and burns in the glen would involve road and bridge building, use of cement and the laying of power cables.
 
In January its chief executive, Stuart Younie, urged Highland Council to look at the "whole picture of development" in the glen rather than treating each application in isolation.  Landscape photographer Tim Parkin, who support opponents of the plans, said allowing the projects to go ahead would set a precedent.
 
He said: "We don't want to see this as the thin edge of the wedge. If we say it is OK here, is it then OK in Glen Nevis and other areas? Next will we see developments on Rannoch Moor?  "We want to see renewables, but is it the right place for them? Is there a plan to put things in the right place?"
 
Alasdair Sutherland, chairman of Glencoe and Glen Etive Community Council, said the schemes would generate £17,000 in community benefit every year for the local area.  He said: "The community is very receptive to that for all sorts of reasons.  "There's a single-track road that doesn't have enough passing places, we have a litter problem here and there are no public toilets.  "We think that the lives of the people of Glencoe and Glen Etive could be improved."
 
William Dickins, of Dickins Hydro, said the glen offered ideal conditions for small-scale hydro schemes, including high rainfall and the topography of the area.  He said: "We have spent a lot of time talking to the local community and had specialists look at the whole environment.  "But I understand that it is a very pretty and attractive area and a very special area.
 
"I can assure you we will do everything we are able to to ensure that at the end of the day everything is restored to look the same as it did before."
  • BBC News
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Headlines Monday 11th March 2019
 
UK oil and gas production forecast raised
 
Gas from Glengorm could be tied back to the Elgin-Franklin or Culzean platforms.  Forecasts of how much oil and gas could be produced by the UK offshore industry have been revised upwards.  The industry regulator now believes 11.9 billion barrels will be extracted by 2050, up from an estimate of 8 billion four years ago.
 
So far 43 billion barrels of oil or its gas equivalent have been extracted from UK waters.  The new prediction is driven by lower production costs, technical advances and 30 new fields coming on stream.  Estimates of oil and gas potential have been part of the debate about the financial situation facing Scotland should it become independent.
 
The Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) forecast in 2015 that a further eight billion barrels could be pumped by 2050, but that has now been raised by 3.9 million barrels.  Head of performance, planning and reporting at the OGA, Loraine Pace, said: "The 3.9 billion barrels identified is great news with 2018 being a productive year.
 
"New discoveries such as Glendronach and Glengorm highlight the future potential of the basin which could be boosted further with new investment, exploration successes and resource progression."  The regulator, reporting to the Treasury ahead of the chancellor's spring statement, said oil output last year was up 8.9 % last year, the highest UK oil production rate since 2011.
 
Gas production, however, fell by 3%. The total is expected to fall from this year onwards, but at a slower rate than previously forecast.  Capital expenditure also fell for the fourth successive year, although this trend is expected to be reversed in 2019.
  • BBC News
 
GasLog Partners Takes Another LNG Carrier from GasLog
 
Owner and operator of LNG carriers GasLog Partners has signed an agreement to acquire the 174,000 cbm tri-fuel diesel electric LNG carrier GasLog Glasgow from GasLog.  The purchase price for the vessel would be USD 214 million, which includes USD 1 million for positive net working capital balances to be transferred with the vessel.
 
GasLog Partners estimates that the GasLog Glasgow will add around USD 23.5 million to EBITDA in the first 12 months after closing. The 2016-built carrier is currently on a multi-year time charter with a subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell through June 2026. Shell has the option to extend the charter for a period of five years.
 
The unit would be financed from GasLog Partners’ available sources of liquidity, including proceeds from its November 2018 shares sale, and the assumption of the GasLog Glasgow’s USD 134 million of existing debt. The transaction is expected to close early in the second quarter of 2019.  With GasLog Glasgow, the Partnership’s fleet would be expanded to 15 wholly-owned LNG carriers.
 
“We continue to execute on our strategy of dropping vessels into GasLog Partners in order to recycle capital back to GasLog to fund our capital programme. In turn, this leads to further growth opportunities for the Partnership,” Paul Wogan, Chief Executive Officer of GasLog, said.
  • World Maritime News
 
Debenhams confirms it is in talks about borrowing £150m
 
Debenhams has confirmed it is in advanced negotiations about borrowing £150m as it battles for survival.  The funding, which would be in addition to £520m of long-term debts, is intended to ensure credit insurers restore cover for Debenhams’ suppliers and to enable the business to restructure its store portfolio.
 
The arrangement would also repay £40m of short-term debt agreed last month in an effort to facilitate trading through Easter.  Debenhams is also attempting to refinance £320m of loans and £200m of bonds that are due to be repaid next year. A deal is expected to include a debt-for-equity swap and 50 store closures.
 
Its latest push for survival comes after the Sports Direct boss, Mike Ashley, stepped up his attempts to seize control of Debenhams last week by calling for a shareholder meeting at which he said he wanted to oust all but one of its directors and install himself as chief executive.  Directors are understood to be attempting to secure a watertight refinancing plan in the run-up to the meeting, which is likely to take place in late April. They want to ensure the support of shareholders against Ashley’s attempt to seize control of Debenhams without a takeover bid.
 
Ashley would need support from other shareholders to reach the 50% of voting stock required to oust directors or put himself on the board.  But in January he was able to force out the Debenhams chair, Sir Ian Cheshire, by teaming up with fellow shareholder Milestone Resources, controlled by the Dubai-based retail entrepreneur Micky Jagtiani, who owns a 7% stake. Though the pair control less than 40% of Debenham’s shares, they were able to push through their scheme as so few other shareholders voted.
 
Ashley is keen to disrupt the refinancing because the deal is likely to involve a debt-for-equity swap that would dilute the value and voting power of Sports Direct’s stake in Debenhams.  Trading at Debenhams also continues to be poor and the share price depressed. This month the retailer said it would not meet profits targets as sales continued to fall, while the £40m loan and loss of credit insurance for suppliers had added to costs.
 
Debenhams shareholders, lenders and analysts have expressed concerns about Ashley’s plan, given the trading difficulties at House of Fraser, the department store chain his group bought out of administration last year.  Sports Direct shareholders are also concerned about Ashley’s intention to abandon his role as chief executive of the group should he be installed as boss of Debenhams.
  • The Guardian

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Headlines Friday 8th March 2019
 
Songa Container Orders Scrubbers for Its Entire Fleet
 
Norwegian feeder owner Songa Container has decided to equip its entire fleet with exhaust gas cleaning systems (scrubbers).  In its fourth quarter of 2018 financial report, the company said it signed a scrubber installation contract in October 2018 for all 15 vessels in the fleet. The installations are due to take place within the course of 2019 and first quarter 2020.
 
However, in January 2019, the company cancelled the installation of a scrubber on the Songa Antofagasta due to a potential sale of the vessel.  Going forward, Songa Container said that much of its focus will be on the CAPEX program related to the retrofit of scrubbers.
 
“The strategy of installing scrubbers will enable the company to provide a technically proven, environmentally beneficial, commercially attractive and risk mitigating fleet of container vessels to the liner operators for their future business development.”
 
“Due to the very low penetration of scrubber-fitted container vessels in the feeder segment,” the company expects to have a comparative advantage on its fleet.
 
“Whilst there are still many uncertainties concerning the consequences surrounding the implementation of the IMO2020 regulation, the company believes that taking a position to the IMO2020 regulation by retrofitting scrubbers in a worst case scenario, represents an opportunity to maximize its fleet utilization,” Songa Container explained.
  • World Maritime News
 
Siem Offshore secures long-term job for subsea construction vessel
 
Norwegian  subsea shipping company Siem Offshore has been awarded a long-term contract for its Siem Spearfish vessel.  The vessel owner said on Friday it had agreed a three-year frame agreement with an undisclosed subsea contractor for the offshore subsea construction vessel Siem Spearfish.  The vessel has started the operation for 2019, Siem said in the statement.
 
The Siem Spearfish vessel is of an STX OSCV 03 design built in 2014. It was designed for subsea operation duties such as construction and installation work, inspection and maintenance.
 
According to its owner, the vessel is environmental friendly with focus on low fuel consumption through its diesel electric machinery. It is classed according to SPS 2008 and Clean Design.
  • Offshore energy today
 
Scottish Power Going After More UK Offshore Wind
 
ScottishPower is actively pursuing future offshore wind projects in England and Scotland as part of its GBP 6 billion investment plan, to ensure one third of the UK’s electricity can be produced by wind by 2030.  The energy company said it plans to engage with The Crown Estate and The Crown Estate Scotland on seabed leasing rounds.
 
The announcement supports the Offshore Wind Sector Deal, which was unveiled by Energy Minister Claire Perry MP at ScottishPower’s construction and operations hub for its East Anglia ONE offshore wind farm in Lowestoft, the utility said.
 
“ScottishPower is proof that offshore wind works, we’ve worked tirelessly to bring down costs and, having transitioned to 100% renewable energy, will be building more windfarms to help the UK shift to a cleaner electric economy. Two of our offshore windfarms in East Anglia will replace ALL of the old thermal generation we’ve sold and we are ready to invest more by actively pursuing future offshore projects both north and south of the border,” ScottishPower Chief Executive, Keith Anderson, said.
 
Construction is already underway at the company’s GBP 2.5bn East Anglia ONE offshore wind farm, located 43km off the Suffolk coast. It will see 102 Siemens Gamesa turbines deployed each with a capacity of 7MW.
 
“We have a fantastic supply chain already in place in the UK, from businesses in and around East Anglia to across England, across Scotland as well as Northern Ireland. The Sector Deal will attract even more businesses in the UK to join the offshore wind supply chain and we are excited to see the transformative impact this will have on our projects,” Anderson said.
 
Planning consent has also been gained for its East Anglia THREE windfarm for up to 1,200MW and planning consultations on Scottish Power’s next two large offshore wind farms in the East Anglia zone have begun. If consents are granted, it is anticipated that East Anglia TWO will commence construction in 2024 and East Anglia ONE North will commence construction in 2025.
 
Around 3,000 construction jobs are being supported globally by the East Anglia projects and GBP 25million has been spent with suppliers based in East Anglia alone, Scottish Power said.
  • Offshorewindbiz
 
Corbyn to open Scottish Labour conference
 
Scottish Labour is to kick off its spring conference in Dundee with a speech from UK leader Jeremy Corbyn.  Activists are gathering in Dundee for the three-day event, with Mr Corbyn and Shadow Scottish Secretary Lesley Laird the main speakers on Friday.  Scottish leader Richard Leonard will speak on Saturday, before Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell on Sunday.  Mr Leonard said the party would outline policies to end austerity and tackle poverty, inequality and homelessness.
 
The Lib Dems had their conference in February, while the Greens, SNP and Conservatives are to hold theirs in April and May.  As well as the leaders speeches, the conference is to feature debates about healthcare, the economy, education and Scotland's place in the world.
 
Mr Leonard said the party's offering was one of "hope and investment", as opposed to "more cuts and division with the Tories and SNP".
 
He said: "We will bring an end to austerity and we will shift the balance of wealth and power in Scotland, ensuring the wealthiest pay more to fund our NHS, our schools and the services we all rely on.
 
"We will end low pay and the exploitation of workers, reverse the rise in poverty, homelessness, inequality and foodbanks, and invest in our communities and our industries.  "We will put people before profit and transform our economy and our society so they work in the interests of the many not the few."
 
'Turbo-charged austerity'
On Thursday, Mr Leonard told First Minister Nicola Sturgeon that her independence plans amount to "turbo charged austerity at the very time when the people are crying out for investment".
 
Ms Sturgeon replied that "until Richard Leonard and Scottish Labour find it within themselves to stand up for Scotland instead of standing up for the continuation of Tory rule, the party will never recover in Scotland, and it will never deserve to recover in Scotland".  There was a row ahead of the conference when former leader Kezia Dugdale claimed a report to delegates from the party's Scottish MEPs had been "censored" to remove references to a new EU referendum.
 
A Labour source said the move had been a "genuine misunderstanding", and said Mr Leonard had written to Catherine Stihler and David Martin to apologise.
  • BBC News
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Headlines Thursday 7th March 2019
 
Construction of UK’s Tilbury2 Terminal Can Start Immediately
 
The construction of the Port of Tilbury’s new multimillion pound port terminal, Tilbury2, will begin immediately after the UK-based company GRAHAM was appointed to carry out the work.  In late February 2019, the port received development consent from the Secretary of State for Transport to build the new port.
 
The contract with GRAHAM will involve the creation of a new port terminal and associated facilities on land at the former Tilbury Power Station on the north bank of the River Thames at Tilbury.  When operational in Spring 2020, Tilbury2 will be the UK’s largest unaccompanied freight ferry port and the country’s biggest construction processing hub.
 
GRAHAM has been awarded the contract for both the Terrestrial and the Marine Package. The Terrestrial contract incorporates a roll-on/roll-off (RoRo), highway works, the relocation of the existing railhead, and a fixed structural steel bridge to the linkspan. The Marine contract includes works within the tidal estuary beyond the existing sea wall/flood defences, including a floating pontoon, link-span/articulated bridge, associated pilings and river bed preparation for the berth.
 
“Tilbury2 is a significant project for our business and our customers… There is a great deal to do over the next 12 months and we look forward to opening our new port in 2020,” Charles Hammond, Chief Executive of Forth Ports Group (owners of the Port of Tilbury) said.
 
“The Tilbury2 project is a complex scheme that will facilitate the expansion of the Port of Tilbury and support its continued local, regional and national economic growth. We look forward to working collaboratively with The Port of Tilbury and local stakeholders to deliver this transformational scheme,” Michael Graham, GRAHAM Executive Chairman, commented.
 
Tilbury2 is central to the Port of Tilbury’s GBP 1 billion (USD 1.3 billion) investment program during 2012-20.
  • World Maritime News
 
UK Launches Offshore Wind Sector Deal, Commits to 30GW by 30
 
The UK has launched the new joint government-industry Offshore Wind Sector Deal which will see offshore wind reach the connected capacity of 30GW and deliver one-third of the UK’s electricity by 2030.  Under the new deal, the number of jobs in the industry is expected to rise to 27,000 by 2030, up from 7,200 today.
 
The deal also includes a GBP 250 million Offshore Wind Growth Partnership to develop the UK supply chain as global exports are set to increase fivefold to GBP 2.6 billion by 2030. The increase in exports will be achieved through partnerships between the Department of Trade and industry to support smaller supply chain companies to export for the first time.
 
Claire Perry, UK’s Energy & Clean Growth Minister said: ”By 2030 a third of our electricity will come from offshore wind, generating thousands of high-quality jobs across the UK, a strong UK supply chain and a fivefold increase in exports. This is our modern Industrial Strategy in action.”  The amount of UK content in homegrown offshore wind projects is set at 60% in the new deal, to ensure that the GBP 557 million pledged by the government in July 2018 for further clean power auctions over the next ten years will directly benefit local communities.
 
The government and the industry have committed to reducing the cost of projects in the 2020s and overall system costs, so projects commissioning in 2030 will cost consumers less.
 
The deal will also see The Crown Estate and The Crown Estate Scotland release new seabed land from 2019 for new offshore wind developments.
 
UK government alongside the deal will provide over GBP 4 million pounds for British business to share expertise globally and open new markets for UK industry through a technical assistance programme to help countries like Indonesia, Vietnam, Pakistan and the Philippines skip dirty coal power and develop their own offshore wind projects.
 
”Now that we’ve sealed this transformative deal with our partners in government, as a key part of the UK’s Industrial Strategy, offshore wind is set to take its place at the heart of our low-carbon, affordable and reliable electricity system of the future,” the Co-Chair of the Offshore Wind Industry Council and Ørsted UK Country Manager for Offshore, Benj Sykes, said.
 
”This relentlessly innovative sector is revitalising parts of the country which have never seen opportunities like this for years, especially coastal communities from Wick in the northern Scotland to the Isle of Wight, and from Barrow-in-Furness to the Humber. Companies are burgeoning in clusters, creating new centres of excellence in this clean growth boom. The Sector Deal will ensure that even more of these companies win work not only on here, but around the world in a global offshore wind market set to be worth £30 billion a year by 2030.”
  • Offshore windbiz
 
Glomar Offshore buys two Bourbon vessels
 
Offshore support vessel owner Glomar Offshore has bought two multi-purpose vessels from Bourbon Offshore.  Glomar said on Thursday it had bought the 2008-built Bourbon Arethuse and the 2009-built Bourbon Amilcar vessels, which are to be renamed Glomar Worker and Glomar Supporter, respectively.
 
Glomar said that, after modifications and upgrades in its yard in Gdynia, Poland (Globaltic Marine), the vessels will be dedicated to serving the oil and gas and renewables clients in the North Sea and Baltic on subsea and survey projects.
 
In addition, Glomar reported that upgrades on its recently acquired Minkar, Situla and Shaula (ex Halul 10, 11 and 12, all 2002 built) are proceeding and the vessels are expected to be ready to trade by 3Q 2019.  The vessels are to be certified as NOGEPA standby units, serving Glomar’s Dutch oil & gas clients.
 
Glomar said: “We would like to thank both previous owners, msrs Bourbon Offshore and Halul Offshore Services, as well as our brokers, Grieg Shipbrokers, for facilitating both transactions successfully.”
  • Offshore Energy Today
 
Brexit: UK urged to table 'acceptable' backstop remedies
 
The UK has been urged to table fresh proposals within the next 48 hours to break the Brexit impasse.  EU officials said they would work non-stop over the weekend if "acceptable" ideas were received by Friday to break the deadlock over the Irish backstop.  The UK has said "reasonable" proposals to satisfy MPs' concerns about being tied to EU rules had already been made.
 
Chancellor Philip Hammond has warned Brexiteers to vote for the PM's deal or face a delay to Brexit.  The PM is seeking legally-enforceable changes to the backstop - an insurance policy designed to prevent physical checks on the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, but there have been few visible signs of progress.
 
MPs are due to vote for a second time on the Brexit deal next week. If they reject the deal again, they will get to choose between leaving without a deal or deferring the UK's exit from the EU beyond the scheduled date of 29 March.  Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Mr Hammond refused to be drawn on how he would vote if Mrs May's deal is defeated.
 
"If the prime minister's deal does not get approved on Tuesday then it is likely that the House of Commons will vote to extend the Article 50 procedure, to not leave the European Union without a deal, and where we go thereafter is highly uncertain," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.
 
"For those people who are passionate about ensuring that we leave the European Union on time it surely must be something that they need to think very, very carefully about now because they run risk of us moving away from their preferred course of action if we don't get this deal through."
 
What we heard from the chancellor this morning was that he was clear about the uncertainties ahead - and rather unclear (cagey, in fact) about how he might vote when it came to decision-time about a no-deal.  There was an explicit warning to Brexiteers: vote for the prime minister's deal because otherwise, it's delay and a soft Brexit.
 
As one minister expressed to me yesterday, they believe the vote does have a chance of getting through because Brexiteers will realise - just in time - that it's either the PM's deal next week, or what this minister described as "soft, softer, then meltdown".
 
But across government, the mood is not optimistic about what's going to happen next week and most ministers are expecting a defeat.
 
French Europe minister Nathalie Loiseau reiterated the EU's position that the withdrawal agreement cannot be reopened and said the deal was the "best possible solution" with the controversial Irish backstop a "last resort solution".  She said: "We don't like the backstop, we don't want to have to implement it, and if we have to, we don't want to stay in the backstop.  "We all agree that it should be temporary."
 
Negotiations 'difficult'
Mrs May is pinning her hopes on getting changes to the backstop that will prevent the UK from being tied to EU customs rules if no permanent trade deal is agreed after Brexit.  Critics say that - if the backstop were used - it would keep the UK tied to the EU indefinitely.
 
But the BBC's Europe reporter Adam Fleming said talk of a 48-hour deadline for new proposals and a weekend of negotiations was "a notional timetable" and that more flexibility could be possible.
 
Attorney General Geoffrey Cox, who is leading the UK team, has conceded that negotiations are at a sensitive point and the exchanges have been "robust".
 
Mr Cox, who will take questions from MPs on Thursday, has played down reports he has abandoned hopes of getting the EU to agree to a firm end date to the backstop or some kind of exit mechanism - key demands for many Tory Brexiteers.
Negotiations between British ministers and the EU officials over the past 24 hours have been described as "difficult", with the EU insisting there has been no breakthrough.
 
Diplomats from the 28 member states were told on Wednesday that Mrs May could meet European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Monday if progress was made.
  • BBC News

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Headlines Wednesday 6th March 2019
 
APM Terminals Inaugurates New Container Terminal in Costa Rica
 
APM Terminals Moín — a new container terminal in the Caribbean Sea just off the coast of Costa Rica — was inaugurated last week.  As informed, the completion of the terminal will enable products to be shipped on transatlantic routes to European and Asian markets without transshipment.
 
The project represents a total investment of USD 1 billion and is built on a 40-hectare artificial island. The terminal has a 650-meter long pier and a container yard with the capacity to hold 26,000 TEUs, including power connection capacity for 3,800 refrigerated containers.  The construction of the terminal in Costa Rica was completed by a consortium of Van Oord and BAM International.
 
According to the terminal operator, the region will attract a very high percentage of the ships that transit through the Panama Canal. The number of shipping routes that reach the APM Terminals Moín is projected to increase by as much as 285 percent.  This 100% owned greenfield development is part of the 30-year concession to operate the terminal.
 
“We are proud that the country has trusted APM Terminals with the mission of developing and operating this amazing port. A concession that also brings socioeconomic opportunities to the community, the country and the region,” Kenneth Waugh, Managing Director of APM Terminals Moin, commented.
 
The six gantry cranes and the 29-yard cranes represent a USD 110 million investment and will allow the terminal to continuously perform an average of 180 movements per hour for loading and unloading. These efficiency standards will significantly reduce vessel service times from 40 hours to just 15 hours.
  • World Maritime News
 
Subsea 7 confirms three Woodside contracts
 
Offshore installation and construction company Subsea 7 has confirmed it has been awarded three engineering, procurement, construction, and installation contracts with Woodside since December 2018.  Following previous reports, Subsea 7 now officially confirmed the contract for SNE Field Development-Phase 1, offshore Senegal (SNE); Scarborough Project, offshore Australia (Scarborough) and Julimar Development Phase 2, offshore Australia (Julimar)
 
The awarded work is for engineering activities required to finalize the technical definition of the proposed developments prior to Woodside and its joint venture partners making final investment decisions (FID), which Woodside is targeting for between mid-2019 and early 2020 depending on the project.  “Subsea 7 has already recognised the value of the engineering studies in its Order Backlog. The value of the EPCI contracts will be recognised after FID, following exercise of the relevant option. Assuming FID is reached on all three projects, they would in aggregate be equivalent to a major project award for Subsea 7,” Subsea 7 said.
 
The Julimar field is located approximately 200km offshore North West Australia. The full scope of work will be to design, procure, install and commission a 22km 18” Corrosion Resistant Alloy (CRA) gas transmission flowline and an umbilical system. The Julimar project was awarded to Subsea 7 as a stand-alone SURF contract and will be led from Subsea 7’s Perth office, with support from other Subsea 7 offices.  The SNE and Scarborough projects were awarded to Subsea Integration Alliance, a global partnership between Subsea 7 and OneSubsea, with integrated SPS (subsea production systems) and SURF (subsea umbilicals, risers, and flowlines) project teams.
 
SNE is a deepwater oil field discovery located offshore, 100 km south of Dakar, Senegal. The proposed development scope includes up to 23 wells with in excess of 90km of rigid pipelines featuring Subsea 7’s Swagelining pipeline and BuBi pipeline technologies. The SNE subsea integrated project will be led from Subsea 7’s London office, with support from other Subsea 7 and OneSubsea offices.
 
The Scarborough Field is located approximately 380km offshore North West Australia. Subject to FID by the Scarborough joint venture, the full integrated project scope of work would include the engineering, procurement, construction and installation of subsea rigid pipelines, flexible risers, umbilicals and associated infrastructure.  All three projects will be executed using reeled pipelay and heavy construction vessels from Subsea 7’s fleet with offshore campaigns scheduled between 2021 and 2023.
 
Andy Woolgar, Vice President Australia and New Zealand for Subsea 7, said: “These awards build on our relationship with Woodside and our successful track record of projects executed offshore Australia. They highlight the engineering expertise and strength of our business and our local workforce to perform integrated projects from pre-FEED to execution as well as standalone projects.”
 
Gilles Lafaye, Vice President Africa for Subsea 7, said: “The award of the SNE FEED contract by Woodside to Subsea Integration Alliance reflects our expertise in integrated projects and we look forward to strengthening our relationship with Woodside. Senegal is an exciting new market for Subsea 7, and we are pleased to support the local oil and gas industry. We look forward to building a long-term and mutually beneficial partnership with Woodside on this project and in future developments.”
  • Offshore Energy Today
 
Neodrill Bags Three New Projects
 
Norway-based offshore services company and provider of drilling technology products, Neodrill AS announced three new project wins.  New contracts include projects with Repsol, Total and DEA Group. Neodrill’s pre-rig well construction with CAN (Conductor Anchor Node) technology technology delivers a smarter well foundation through the installation of conductors at pre-rig stage, said a press release from the Oil and gas exploration service company.
 
Neodrill will deliver its CAN-ductor on Repsol’s North Sea well, installation is expected to take place in the summer ahead of an expected spud date in Autumn 2019. The company will deliver its new product, named Engineered Conductor Support (ECS), on the exploration well. The ECS optimizes the fatigue life of any given wellhead system.
 
The new projects mark the first time DEA Group and Total will avail of the CAN technology. In February, Neodrill installed a CAN-ductor for Total in its UKCS well East of Shetland, this was the first time that the technology was installed in mixed soil conditions. A new well in DEA Group’s NCS asset will also benefit from the CAN technology this summer.
 
The new projects announced by Neodrill will result in a saving of between 2-4 days of rig days per well, as well as providing a more robust well foundation. The benefits of the CAN technology also include improved fatigue life and well load capacity. The CAN technology for exploration wells is also easily refurbished and reused.
 
Commenting on the recent contract wins, Neodrill’s Chief Executive Officer, Jostein Aleksandersen said: “We are very pleased by the work we have achieved for our clients so far this year, and we very much look forward to what the rest of 2019 will bring.  “Even though we have been around for nearly 20 years, innovation is part of our DNA. We are proud that with each new project, we have the opportunity to create something new and game-changing for the industry – whether that’s our first ever CAN installation in a new region, such as China, or new innovations to further enhance our technology.”
 
Neodrill is currently sponsoring the SPE/IADC International Drilling Conference and Exhibition in the Hague. The new contract announcements follow the installation of the world's deepest CAN-ductor at Woodside’s Ferrand-1 in North West Australia.
  • OE Digital
Nordex scores European double
 
Turbine orders secured in Luxembourg and Italy for N131/3300 and N149/4.0-4.5 machines.  Nordex has secured turbine orders in Luxembourg, its first in the country, and Italy. 
 
The deal in Luxembourg is with PW34 for the 23MW Wincrange project, which will feature seven N131/3300 machines.  Nordex will also provide service for the turbines for 20 years.  Cable work at Wincrange has been completed and foundation installation will kick off in April.  Turbine erection will start at the end of the year, with grid connection scheduled for February 2020.
 
In Italy, Nordex will supply seven N149/4.0-4.5 units for an unnamed wind farm and client.  The Italian contract also includes servicing for two years.
  • ReNews.biz
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Headlines Tuesday 5th March 2019
 
Clarksons: CIMC SOE to Build Up to Six Small-Scale LNG Carriers for Avenir LNG
 
Chinese shipbuilder Nantong CIMC Sinopacific Offshore & Engineering (CIMC SOE) is set to build up to six LNG carriers for Bermuda-registered company Avenir LNG, according to Clarksons.  The contract includes the construction of two 20,000 cbm firm plus up to four additional optional LNG bunkering vessels with delivery of the firm vessels set for 2021.  Details about the contract emerged following the yard’s announcement on the construction contracts becoming effective.
 
The small-scale LNG company was formed by Stolt-Nielsen, which holds majority of the company shares, in cooperation with Golar LNG and Höegh LNG.  Stolt-Nielsen has already ordered four small-scale LNG carriers from Keppel Offshore & Marine (Keppel O&M) for its subsidiary Stolt-Nielsen Gas.
 
The 7,500 m3 vessels will be equipped with engines that can run on both diesel and LNG. To be completed in the fourth quarter of 2020 and the first quarter of 2021 respectively, the carriers will have a class notation for bunkering which enables the provision of LNG bunkering services if required.
  • World Maritime News
 
Total firms up Arctic LNG 2 project entry
 
French Total has signed definitive agreements with Novatek for the acquisition of a direct 10% interest in Arctic LNG 2, a major liquefied natural gas development led by Novatek on the Gydan Peninsula, Russia. The project will be developed using offshore platforms in northern West Siberia.  Previously, Total and Novatek signed binding documents on the terms to enter the Arctic LNG 2 project back in May 2018.
 
Upon signing the definitive agreements, Total said on Tuesday that, taking into account Total’s 19.4% stake in Novatek and Novatek’s intention to retain 60% of the project, the Group’s overall economic interest in this new LNG project will be approximately 21.6%. Should Novatek decide to reduce its participation below 60%, Total will have the possibility to increase its direct share up to 15%.
 
Novatek and Total also agree that Total will have the opportunity to acquire a 10 to 15% direct interest in all Novatek’s future LNG projects located on the Yamal and Gydan peninsulas.
 
The transaction will be closed by the end of first quarter 2019.
 
According to Novatek, the Arctic LNG 2 project has made significant development progress since May 2018. Front-end engineering and design (FEED) work has been completed in October confirming the preliminary cost estimates between $20 billion and $21 billion. Moreover, additional exploration drilling confirmed significant reserve growth at the Project’s Utrenneye field, and accordingly, the Russian state reserves commission subsequently increased the field’s natural gas reserves to approximately two trillion cubic meters under the Russian reserves classification.
 
“We are delighted to have concluded the definitive agreements for our entry into this new world class LNG project based on the vast Russian gas resources alongside our partner Novatek. Arctic LNG 2 builds on the success of Yamal LNG and will introduce several innovative solutions to further increase competitiveness,” commented Patrick Pouyanné, Chairman and CEO of Total.
 
“Arctic LNG 2 fits into our strategy of growing our LNG portfolio through competitive developments based on giant low cost resources primarily destined for the fast growing Asian markets.”
 
With production capacity of 19.8 million tonnes per year (Mt/y), or 535,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boe/d), Arctic LNG 2 will develop over 7 billion boe of resources in the Utrenneye onshore gas and condensate field. The project will involve installation of three gravity-based structures in the Gulf of Ob on which three liquefaction trains of 6.6 Mt/y each will be installed.
 
Arctic LNG 2 production will be delivered to international markets by a fleet of ice-class LNG carriers that will be able to use the Northern Sea Route and a transshipment terminal in Kamchatka for cargoes destined for Asia and one close to Murmansk for those cargoes destined for Europe.
 
The project’s final investment decision is expected to be taken in the second half of 2019, with plans to start up the first liquefaction train in 2023.
  • Offshore energy today
 
Ørsted Signs Armed Forces Covenant
 
Leading offshore wind developer Ørsted has signed the Armed Forces Covenant which highlights the offshore wind as a “forces-friendly” industry.  As a forces-friendly company, Ørsted will seek to support the employment of veterans by working alongside the Career Transition Partnership (CTP) in order to establish a tailored employment pathway for service leavers.
 
The company will also offer flexibility in granting leave for service spouses and partners before, during and after a partner’s deployment wherever possible, as well as supporting employees who choose to be members of the Reserve forces.  Ørsted UK managing director Matthew Wright was joined at the signing ceremony by Commodore David Elford OBE ADC Royal Navy and several ex-services veterans now working at Ørsted.
 
”In our experience, service veterans possess many transferable skills and qualities which have led to a successful transition to careers in the offshore wind industry,” Wright said.  We are therefore delighted to formalise our pledge of support to those who serve or have served in the armed forces with the signing of this covenant.”  Ørsted said that the company already has many service veterans working on projects both offshore and onshore across the UK and the signing of the Covenant is a way to formalise the company’s pledge to ensure that those who serve or have served in the armed forces, and their families are treated with fairness.
 
”At its heart, the Covenant commits its signatories to do what they can to ensure that members of the Armed Forces (be they regulars, reserves or Cadet Force adult volunteers) and their families are not disadvantaged as a result of their service,” Commodore David Elford OBE ADC Royal Navy, the Naval Regional Commander for eastern England, said.  ”For a company such as Ørsted to sign the Covenant and its associated pledges sends an important message (both inside and outside the company) that the armed forces are respected and valued.”
 
Former Royal Navy Engineer Ash Hedges started his Ørsted career as a wind turbine technician and progressed through to Deputy Operations Manager at Ørsted’s Westermost Rough Offshore Wind Farm.  “I would definitely say my career in renewable energy would not have happened if not for my military beginning,” Hedges said.  ”The life skill and experience I have at 34 years old is a credit to my training and the Royal Navy. The experience of working in a high-pressure environment, with huge responsibility and living with your colleague’s day in day out really set me up for my current role.”
Brexit: UK and EU backstop talks to resume
 
Ministers will resume efforts later to secure legally-binding changes to Theresa May's Brexit deal that might get MPs' backing in a week's time.
 
Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay and Attorney General Geoffrey Cox will meet EU officials in Brussels in search of guarantees over the backstop plan to avoid border checks in Ireland.  Mr Cox has dismissed reports he has given up on securing a firm end date to ensure the UK is not stuck.  MPs will vote on the deal by 12 March.  The UK is currently scheduled to leave the European Union on 29 March.
 
If MPs reject the withdrawal agreement for a second time, they will have the opportunity to vote on whether to go ahead in just over three weeks' time without any kind of negotiated deal.
 
If they decide against, they will then have a vote on whether to extend negotiations and push the date of departure back by several months.
 
Separately, Scottish and Welsh politicians are joining forces in an attempt to force the prime minister to change her position on Brexit. For the first time since devolution 20 years ago, they will debate the same motion, at the same time.
 
Leading Brexiteers are hoping Mr Cox will be able to change his legal advice to satisfy them that the backstop - a controversial plan which will see the UK aligned with EU customs rules until the two sides' future relationship is agreed or alternative arrangements worked out - will not endure indefinitely.
 
They have set a number of tests for the government's chief law officer and other ministers ahead of next week's votes.
 
Michael Tomlinson, one of an eight-strong group of Conservative MPs who will scrutinise what is brought back from Brussels, said only significant changes to the backstop would do.  "We support the prime minister in seeking treaty-level changes," he said after the group's first meeting on Monday.
 
A "proper analysis" of any new text would be needed to allow them to "form a judgement", he added.  BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg said the group of Eurosceptics, who are also lawyers, will "pore over whatever Cox gets from Brussels", adding: "They will ultimately make a political call. The crucial bit for government is for the attorney general to feel he has enough to go on to change his legal opinion on the backstop."
 
Mr Cox took to Twitter on Monday after newspaper reports suggested he had turned his attention away from the concrete "freedom clause" demanded by many MPs to assurances that the backstop would fall away if talks on a future relationship break down.  He said while some of the reporting was accurate, "much more of it isn't". He added: "Complex and detailed negotiations cannot be conducted in public."
 
Meanwhile, an identical motion will be debated simultaneously by the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly on Tuesday evening - with co-ordinated votes.
 
The vote will underline opposition to Mrs May's deal, demand a delay to Brexit and call for "no deal" to be ruled out.  Scottish Brexit Secretary Mike Russell said the "historic step" was being taken "to send a strong message to the UK government that it must stop pursuing such a disastrous course of action".
 
The UK government has said that the deal is a good one for Scotland and Wales.  Labour has urged MPs not to weaken in their resolve to oppose the PM's agreement when it returns to the Commons.
 
•           BBC News
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Headlines Monday 4th March 2019
 
Energean starts four-well drilling program in Israel
 
Oil and gas producer Energean Oil and Gas has started its 2019 drilling program in Israel, which consists of three development wells and Karish North.  Following this four-well campaign, Energean has a further six drilling options available in its contract with Stena Drilling, the company said on Monday.  Energean also said it will batch drill the top-hole sections of the wells, which will allow significant operational efficiencies and cost savings.  The drilling campaign is being undertaken using the Stena DrillMAX drillship. The Stena DrillMAX is a sixth generation drillship capable of drilling in water depths of up to 10,000 feet.
 
To remind, Energean in January 2018 signed a contract with Stena Drilling to deploy the Stena Forth drillship “or such substitute as may be agreed by the parties” to drill three development wells in 1Q 2019 at Energean’s Karish and Tanin gas fields.
 
Karish North will directly target 1.3 Tcf of gas and 16 million barrels of liquids (gross) with a volume-weighted geological chance of success of 69%.
  • Offshore energy today
 
Climate change bill should set zero emissions date
 
A net-zero target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions is "necessary" in Scotland's Climate Change Bill to limit global temperature rises, according to MSPs.  The bill has been criticised by environmentalists for not setting a firm date for this goal.  It proposes cutting them by 90% by 2050 and setting a net-zero target when a "clear pathway" exists to achieve it.  Holyrood's environment committee said a "greater urgency of action" was needed.
 
It said ministers should review the targets based on fresh advice requested from the independent Committee on Climate Change (CCC).  That advice is expected in May.  The bill was drafted before the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) issued its stark warning on the impact of global warming.  The IPCC said the world needed to make "rapid, far reaching and unprecedented" changes if temperature rises were to be limited to 1.5C.  The terms carbon neutral and net-zero are often used interchangeably but there are differences.
 
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the most abundant greenhouse gas but there are others which the Scottish government counts and they are not all carbon-based.  Therefore some climate change campaigners prefer the term net-zero as it includes not just CO2 and methane but also nitrous oxide, which is emitted during agricultural and industrial activities as well as from fossil fuels.  Simply being carbon neutral would not stop global warming because these other gases are also harmful to the atmosphere.  Perhaps an even better term would be "climate neutral".
 
The Holyrood committee's report urges clarity on the temperature limit in the bill and calls for that figure to be set at 1.5C.
Gillian Martin, convener of Holyrood's environment committee, said they welcomed the introduction of the bill and the opportunity to examine how Scotland can take action on global warming.
 
She added: "There is no precedent in human history for the speed and scale of change needed to tackle climate change and reduce harmful emissions."
 
Ms Martin called for greater urgency and action across all parts of government, across the wider public and private sectors and by individuals.  "We've all seen the catastrophic damage caused by climate change all around the world, and the threat this has on people's lives, wildlife and our natural environment," she said.  "That's why we've called for the bill to reflect the most ambitious targets possible, to ensure future generations inherit a world that is healthy and sustainable."  The committee calls for the bill's journey through parliament to be timetabled so the fresh CCC advice can be given "thorough and detailed scrutiny".
 
It added that it would like to see Scotland at the forefront in developing technologies that help meet emissions targets.  Caroline Rance, climate campaigner at Friends of the Earth Scotland and member of Stop Climate Chaos Scotland said: "It's clear from the evidence given to the committee that there is plenty of opportunity for Scotland to do more in the vital period before 2030 and the public support for urgent action is loud and clear.  "By taking positive action in the next few years we can secure warmer homes, better public transport and deliver the support to enable climate-friendly farming."  
 
The Scottish government welcomed the report and said the targets currently being set were ambitious.  A spokesperson added: "Our bill contains the most ambitious statutory targets of any country in the world for 2020, 2030 and 2040, and will mean Scotland is carbon neutral by 2050.
 
"We want to go further and achieve net-zero emissions for all greenhouse gases as soon as possible. We'll set a target date as soon as this can be done credibly and responsibly.  "We are currently awaiting advice from the UK Committee on Climate Change, which is due on 2 May. If the committee advise that we can now set even more ambitious targets, we will act on that."
  • BBC News
 
German LNG-fueled research vessel floated out
 
LNG-fueled research vessel Atair, being built on behalf of the Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH) has been floated out at the German Naval Yards Kiel.  The general contractor for the vessel, first of its kind, is Fassmer Shipyard while the hull, superstructure and parts of the outfitting were constructed at the German Naval Yards Kiel.  The survey vessel is planned to be used for wreck search and underwater surveying, German Naval Yards Kiel said in a statement.
 
Harald Fassmer, managing director of Fassmer Shipyard said, “the building of the vessel is very complex and large parts of outfitting works are still ahead of us.”  The towing of the ship to Fassmer shipyard is scheduled for the middle of March, where installation and finishing works in all trades will be continued, he said.  After finishing the trials the newbuilding is planned to be delivered to the Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH) in spring 2020.
  •  LNG world news
 
Brexit: Independent Group call for Labour 'clarity' on second referendum
 
Labour’s shadow cabinet needs to put its weight fully behind the push for a second Brexit referendum, the Independent Group (TIG) of MPs has said.  The group, made up of MPs who quit Labour and Tory benches, has said the opposition should show a more united front over a new EU withdrawal poll.  In an open letter, TIG has called on members of the shadow cabinet to drop the “terms and conditions” it says Labour has attached to backing a bid for a new referendum.  Accusing Labour of “ambiguity” on the issue, TIG has asked if the shadow cabinet will support a cross-party Commons amendment calling for a new Brexit poll.
 
TIG’s spokesman Chuka Umunna said Labour needs to clarify its stance.  He said: “With just 26 days to go to the scheduled date of departure, it is absolutely vital that we all work together in the national interest to give people the final say on Brexit.  “All terms and conditions attached to a people’s vote need to be dropped and an unequivocal commitment given now to make it happen. There is no time to waste.”
 
The Independent Group has already tabled an amendment seeking to pave the way for a second Brexit referendum.  It came after Labour announced the party would back attempts in the Commons for a fresh public vote, if it failed to force MPs to adopt its own Brexit plans.
 
•           The Independent
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Headlines Friday 1st March 2019
 
UK renewables production rises in 2018 as coal hits record lows
 
Provisional BEIS statistics show UK production of renewables and oil rose in 2018, as coal, gas, and nuclear output all fell
Wind, solar and bioenergy helped push up UK production of renewable energy almost nine per cent last year, as both nuclear and gas output fell and coal generation again plummeted to record lows, provisional government statistics for 2018 show.
 
For the fourth consecutive year, the UK's overall energy production - including electricity, oil and gas for domestic use as well as export - rose by 2.9 per cent in 2018, hitting its highest level since 2011, according to data released yesterday by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
 
However, renewable energy production was up 8.7 per cent, fuelled by a 7.2 per cent increase in bioenergy output last year, as well as a 12 per cent uptick in electricity output from wind, solar, and hydro facilities.  The increase in output meant the share of renewable electricity in the overall power mix also hit a record high of 27.5 per cent, up from 23.5 per cent in 2017. Nuclear, meanwhile, accounted for 22.1 per cent of electricity supplied, down slightly from 23.4 per cent the previous year.
 
Counting nuclear and renewables together, low carbon generation accounted for a record high of 49.6 per cent of supply, up from 46.9 per cent in 2017, largely thanks to increased generation from wind, solar, and bioenergy.  And with GDP growth at 1.4 per cent in 2018, BEIS said the UK's energy ratio - a measure of energy efficiency based on consumption per unit of economic output - was likely to have fallen by around 2.5 per cent last year.
 
Analysis released in January by Carbon Brief found renewables accounted for a record third of domestic power generation last year, while overall electricity use fell to its lowest level since 1994, continuing a downward trend that started in 2005. Separate analysis has suggested renewables are on course to overtake fossil fuels as the UK's primary power source in the early 2020s.
 
The picture was more mixed for fossil fuel generation in yesterday's provisional statistics, however. Coal output fell by 15 per cent to a new record low, as the UK continues to work towards phasing out coal-fired power altogether by 2025.  Gas production also fell 3.4 per cent, marking its first drop after four consecutive years of growth. The fall was in part due to the closure of the Theddlethorpe gas terminal in August last year, BEIS said. Overal, gas production is now down by 64 per cent compared to its peak in 2000.
 
But while gas export exports also fell by 33 per cent in 2017 - due in part to the end of a long-term capacity contract for the UK-Belgium interconnector in October - domestic demand for gas actually increased by 0.8 per cent last year, largely because of colder UK weather during the 'Beast from the East'.
 
Meanwhile, UK production of crude oil and natural gas liquids rose by nine per cent in 2018. BEIS said this was in part due to the opening of new oil fields on the UK continental shelf, as well as the temporary closure of the Forties Pipeline in Scotland for maintenance for several weeks in December 2017, which hampered production the previous year.
 
Overall, production of oil and liquid gas is now down 63 per cent compared to peak production levels seen almost two decades ago in 1999.  BEIS said yesterday's statistical release enabled a provisional assessment to be made of trends in energy production and consumption in 2018, but that a more detailed analysis would be available on 28 March.
  • Business Green
 
Corvus Energy Wins World’s Largest Battery Package Order for Hybrid Vessels
 
Canadian manufacturer of energy storage systems Corvus Energy has signed a contract with Norwegian Electric Systems (NES) for the marine world’s largest battery package for hybrid-powered vessels.  As informed, the technology will be installed onboard Havila Kystruten’s environmentally-friendly coastal vessels.
 
“This is a big step for the cruising industry and we are extremely proud to receive this order… The Energy Storage System (ESS) is the world’s largest package ever delivered to a ship and will enable the vessels to enter fjords and ECAs on zero emission mode five years before the deadline,” Geir Bjørkeli, CEO of Corvus Energy, said.  Corvus Energy will deliver an air-cooled ESS with Corvus’ patented single-cell thermal isolation which exceeds class requirements.
 
“The Energy Storage System has a capacity per vessel of 6,100 kWh, which is double the capacity of any existing battery-operated vessel,” Roger Rosvold, Vice President Sales at Corvus Energy, explained.  “The unused potential for using batteries on board cruise and passenger ferries is huge. Batteries reduce fuel consumption and maintenance costs, cut pollution and, with increasing environmental regulations and requirements that will incur costs for air emissions, provide a very compelling business case.”
 
“As more and more shipowners wake up to this, we expect to see uptake accelerating across the board. The industry is just starting to understand the power of batteries,” Rosvold further said.  The newbuilds are part of Havila’s contract with Norwegian Ministry of Transport for the construction of four environmentally-friendly vessels that will operate on the Bergen-Kirkenes coastal route.
 
Two of the vessels will be built by Turkish shipbuilder Tersan and the remaining by Spanish Barreras. Featuring a length of 125 meters and a width of 20 meters, the ships will be able to accommodate 700 passengers.  The vessels will have a hybrid gas-electric propulsion system with battery, where four gas-powered engines in each vessel run the generators. The system is also adapted to the next generation of technology, using hydrogen fuel cells.
 
The equipment from Corvus Energy is scheduled for delivery in 2020 and the coastal route vessels will be in service from 2021.
  • World Maritime News
 
Norwegian firm buys fish hatchery near Dumfries
 
A Norwegian firm has signed a deal to buy a south of Scotland fish hatchery.  It will see salmon breeder AquaGen take over the Scottish Sea Farms site at Holywood near Dumfries.  The company said the move would allow it to offer a "reliable supply of eggs" to salmon farmers.
 
Chief executive Nina Santi said it was planning a "series of upgrades" to existing facilities at the hatchery and hoped to produce up to 50 million eggs a year.  Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said the investment showed the company's confidence in the sector in Scotland.
 
Scottish Sea Farms' head of fish health Ralph Bickerdike added: "This is a hugely promising development for Scotland's salmon farmers, bringing world-leading breeding expertise and technologies to bear on home-grown broodstock so that their offspring can be adapted to specifically suit the Scottish marine environment.
 
"This, in turn, will bring a whole host of further improvements in terms of fish welfare and product quality."
  • BBC News
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Headlines Thursday 28th February 2019
 
NSW Labor Party aims for renewable energy target of 'at least' 50 per cent by 2030 if elected
 
New South Wales Labor will implement a renewable energy target if elected in March that will require the state to generate "at least" 50 per cent of its energy from renewable sources by 2030.  Under Labor's climate change plan, announced today, the state would also move "as close as possible to 100 per cent" renewable energy by 2050.  Opposition Leader Michael Daley said despite eight years in government the Coalition had failed to develop a plan to fight climate change.  "Climate change is real," he said.
 
"The Liberals and Nationals at the state and federal levels are still denying it exists, they still have no leadership on climate change."  NSW currently obtains less than 13 per cent of its energy from renewable sources.  Mr Daley said coal-fired power stations "will see their lives to an end" and Labor's plan is "not about a war on coal".
 
‘Not a war on coal’
 
"As far as coal goes there still will be a place for coal in New South Wales for decades to come, but it won't be based in load power generation," he said.  "If we don't act to save the environment in New South Wales and do something about climate change our grandchildren will condemn us."  "I don't intend to be a premier that has the condemnation of children into the future."
 
Labor's energy spokesperson Adam Searle said under the plan all state government agencies would be powered by clean energy by 2025.  "We will make sure the state government as a purchaser buys 100 per cent renewable energy for its own purposes," he said.
 
Mr Searle foreshadowed that Labor would make further announcements before the March 23 election outlining its plan to help diversify and transition regional economies currently reliant on coal industry.  "They are not closing today or tomorrow, we have the time to build new renewable energy capacity with storage and dispatchability over the next decade," he said.
 
Labor will also hold a climate change summit in its first year of government to help devise a climate change action plan to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.
  • ABC.net.au
 

ICS: Oil Tanker Ban on BC’s North Coast Is a Hindrance to International Maritime Trade

A proposed crude oil tanker moratorium on British Columbia’s northern coast would interfere with international maritime trade, the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) has warned.  The Canadian Senate is giving consideration to legislation — Bill C-48 — that would prohibit large tankers carrying crude and heavy oils from stopping, loading or unloading at ports in northern B.C.
 
The area covered by the proposed ban would extend from the Canada-Alaska border to the northern tip of Vancouver Island.  “Such a dramatic step could lead to serious concerns being raised by Canada’s international trading partners,” Simon Bennett, ICS Deputy Secretary General, said.
 
“The proposed moratorium does not seem to have been developed through an evidence-based process and we fear it could establish a dangerous precedent that might be copied elsewhere, including by individual U.S. States, with the potential to impact greatly on the efficiency of world trade, as well as that of Canada,” he added.  This legislation, tabled in the Canadian parliament in May 2017, is currently being reviewed by a standing committee of the Senate of Canada.
 
As informed, the purpose of the bill is mitigating the risk of oil spills. If Bill C-48 passes, the new law would protect Haida Gwaii, Queen Charlotte Sound, Kitimat, Prince Rupert and many other areas from the risk of a major spill.  However, the legislation recognizes that coastal communities depend on some of these crude oils and therefore allows for the continued shipment of smaller quantities. Ports in southern British Columbia, where the marine safety system is more robust, will, as before, remain open to tanker traffic and smaller tankers will still be allowed to service B.C.’s northern communities.
 
Furthermore, energy products that dissipate more quickly through evaporation, such as liquefied natural gas, would be exempted from the ban under the proposed law.
 
ICS, which represents the world’s national shipowners’ associations and 80% of the world merchant fleet, also reflected on an “impressive” environmental record of the shipping industry, especially the tanker sector. On average, worldwide, there are currently fewer than two significant oil spills — over 700 tons — per year, compared to 25 such incidents per year thirty years ago, despite a doubling of the amount of oil transported by sea.
  • World Maritime News
 
Scottish deposit return scheme plan praised
 
One of the world's leading recycling firms has said Scottish government plans for a deposit return scheme could be taken on by other countries.  Proposals for a drinks container scheme would see customers pay a small charge, which is refunded when the bottle is returned to a shop.
Truls Haug, UK boss of Norwegian firm Tomra's deposit return business, said he was "quite a fan" of the plan.  
 
Scottish ministers are currently considering their next steps.  Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham has said the results of a recent consultation on deposit return show the public would back such a scheme, which under the current proposals would have a minimum deposit of more than 15 pence.
 
One of the aims of the consultation was to help determine what range of materials - such as plastic, metal or glass glass - should be included. A decision on this will be announced at a later date.  Mr Haug, whose company has a focus on making "reverse vending" machines, which take in used bottles, said of the Scottish government plan: "I'm quite a fan of what they are presenting.
 
"I think if they act on what they have stated earlier, I believe this could be a leading example going forward."  He told BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland programme: "They are one of the first states that focus on the recycling more than reducing littering.  "If you focus on recycling, the littering will automatically be reduced.  "But if you only focus on littering, that doesn't mean you recycle the material.  "So I think they have the correct approach to a deposit return scheme."
 
The Scottish government has been working to take forward the scheme amid increasing concern about the amount of recyclable waste being buried in the ground.  Mr Haug, managing director of Tomra Collection Solutions UK & Ireland, said the key to an effective deposit return scheme was to make it simple and include a wide a range of containers - like glass, plastic and paper.
 
He said: "Lithuania had a recycling rate of 34% prior to the introduction of deposit, and they reached about 90% within two years."  Scotland was the first part of the UK to commit to a deposit return scheme, and the UK, Welsh and Northern Irish governments have now set out their own plans.
 
The idea of a UK deposit return scheme has seen some controversy, with some retailers accused of trying to water down the proposals.
  • BBC News
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Headlines Wednesday 27th February 2019
 
Ineos to spend 1 billion pounds on UK energy business
 
Billionaire Jim Ratcliffe’s petrochemicals company Ineos said on Wednesday it would spend 1 billion pounds on UK energy assets, including the Forties pipeline, which carries almost half of Britain’s oil and gas from the North Sea.  Ineos said it would invest 500 million pounds on overhauling its ageing Forties pipeline, which has been in service since 1975 and can carry up to 600,000 barrels per day (bpd) of oil.
 
Founder and chairman Ratcliffe, Britain’s richest man, said the investment underscored the company’s commitment to its UK-based businesses.  “Ineos is a supporter of British manufacturing and this 1 billion pounds investment underlines our confidence in our business in the UK,” Ratcliffe said.
 
The company bought the pipeline from BP in late 2018. Within weeks, it was forced to shut the system for around two months to fix a crack in an onshore section, triggering a spike in British natural gas prices in the depths of winter.  
 
Ineos said the upgrades would extend into the 2040s the lifeline of the pipeline system, which it said carries 40 percent of Britain’s offshore crude oil and natural gas.  Ineos said it would also invest 350 million pounds in a new energy plant at the 200,000-bpd Grangemouth oil refinery in Scotland, and an additional 150 million pounds in a new petrochemicals facility in the northern English city of Hull.
  • Reuters
 
Solstad Wins Moray East Contract
 
Solstad Offshore ASA has secured a contract with GeoSea for the Moray East offshore wind project in the UK.  Solstad Offshore will provide the vessel Normand Service, previously Sea Spider, to support wind farm installation operations at the 950MW project.
 
The vessel will be chartered for a period of 180 days firm, with up to seven months of options. The work is expected to begin in the second quarter of the year, the company said.  Moray East will comprise 100 MHI Vestas 9.5MW wind turbines mounted on jacket foundations and installed some 22km off the Aberdeenshire coast.
 
GeoSea is the EPCI contractor for the project’s 100 turbine foundations and three offshore substation foundations, and is in charge of transporting and installing the three OSS topsides.
 
Project developer, Moray Offshore Windfarm (East) Ltd, owned by EDPR, Diamond Green Limited and ENGIE, plans to have the 950MW project fully operational in 2022.
  • Offshore Wind.biz
 
Brexit: May tells MPs 'do your duty' ahead of fresh votes
 
MPs will have their say on the next steps for Brexit later as Theresa May urges them to "do their duty".  Writing in the Daily Mail, the prime minister said the UK remained "firmly on course" to leave the EU with a deal "if MPs hold their nerve".  A number of amendments to the government negotiating strategy will be voted on in the Commons on Wednesday.  The votes are not on Mrs May's Brexit deal itself, but they will show what support she can or cannot get.
 
After her Brexit deal was overwhelmingly rejected by MPs last month, the prime minister has been trying to seek assurances from the EU to address MPs' concerns.  She is still in talks with Brussels over the Irish backstop policy in her plan - which aims to prevent a hard border returning to the island of Ireland - and has assured MPs they will get to vote again on the deal by 12 March - just 17 days before the UK's scheduled leaving date.
 
However, on Tuesday, Mrs May bowed to pressure to accept that the 29 March deadline might not be achievable, and promised MPs a vote on whether or not to delay Brexit or rule out leaving the EU without a deal if her plan is rejected for a second time.
 
In the Mail, Mrs May stressed that she did not want to see the Article 50 process extended and her "absolute focus" was on getting a deal in place for 29 March.
 
The prime minister's critics have accused her of "kicking the can down the road", but she insisted her efforts to persuade the EU to make concessions had "already begun to bear fruit".
  • BBC News
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Headlines Tuesday 26th February 2019
 
ScottishPower targets £2bn smarter UK spend
 
ScottishPower is to spend up to £2bn in the UK in 2019 as it targets new sectors such as electric vehicle charging, smart grids and energy storage.  The plans include a 50MW battery storage project at its Whitelee wind farm in Scotland, the UK’s largest onshore project.
 
The large-scale battery project will be the first of a series of storage schemes, mainly located at windfarms and at strategic points on the network.
ScottishPower said its 2019 networks business would focus on continuing the company’s leading role in connecting renewables in Scotland, Wales and England.
 
Investments will also target the digitalisation of the grid including artificial intelligence systems that will control and balance the network in areas with high penetration of low carbon technologies to enable the widespread use of electric vehicles.   The company also revealed plans for a new public electric charging service based within the company’s retail division.  The new business will install fast chargers across the UK at strategic commercial locations from winter 2019.
 
ScottishPower chief executive Keith Anderson said: “Now that we have sold our gas power stations our growth plans are about cleaner and smarter power that will help the UK to decarbonise faster and we have set out the part we will play in the transition to electrify the economy where it matters most now – in transport and in heating.”
 
Between 2018 and 2022, ScottishPower will spend £6bn in the UK with 40% on new renewable energy generation, 42% on smarter enhanced networks and 15% on innovative services and products for customers.
 
In renewables, ScottishPower set out plans to develop a 1GW pipeline of onshore wind projects by 2025.  The company is currently building the 714MW East Anglia 1 offshore wind farm and plans to start construction of East Anglia 2 in 2024 and East Anglia 1 North a year later.
  • ReNews.BIZ
 
Amazon to launch 1,000 UK apprenticeships by 2021
 
The world's most valuable public company says the scheme will consist of nine programmes, lasting between one and four years.  US technology giant Amazon says it will create more than 1,000 apprenticeships in the UK over the next two years.  The company said the apprenticeship pay-scale will range from an entry level starting salary of between £9.50 and £10.50 an hour, up to £30,000 a year.
 
The apprenticeships will consist of nine programmes, lasting between 13 months and four years, across IT, software engineering, robotics, leadership and technology as well as safety and human resources.  Amazon said that more than 90 new graduate and postgraduate apprentices will also become qualified over the next two years as part of the programme, through on-the-job and classroom training, focusing on software development engineering, senior leadership and automation.
 
Qualified apprentices then will work across Amazon's UK corporate and operations sites which including its UK head office and three development centres in London, Cambridge and Edinburgh.  "We want to give people opportunities to succeed in the digital age, regardless of their background," said Doug Gurr, Amazon's UK country manager.  "Our fully-funded apprenticeship programme, from entry level through to degree level, will provide an exciting path to becoming Amazon's future team leaders, engineers and innovation drivers."  The Amazon UK apprenticeship applications will open on March 4.
 
Minister for Digital, Margot James, said: "It is great to see global tech giants, like Amazon, continue to invest in the UK and create high-skilled jobs for the next generation.  "Our booming digital sector is one of the fastest-growing industries in the country and this is a vote of confidence in our world-leading skills in tech innovation."
 
The announcement comes after the company said it would create an additional 2,500 "permanent" jobs in 2018, as well as open a new office in Manchester, taking its UK workforce up to 27,500 by the year-end.
 
At the time, Amazon said that growing investments in British research and development and increasing customer demand were factors behind the expansion.
  • Sky News
 
Seadrill sees improvement in offshore drilling market with increased tendering activity
 
Offshore drilling contractor Seadrill is seeing continuous signs of improvement in offshore drilling market with increased tendering activity and better contract economics.  Seadrill on Tuesday posted revenues of $292 million for the fourth quarter of 2018, which is a 17% increase when compared to revenues of $249 million in the third quarter of 2018.  This was primarily due to the West Hercules and West Phoenix working at higher dayrates and for more days during the quarter, the West Elara moving to a higher contractual dayrate and the Sevan Louisiana returning to service. This was partially offset by lower floater economic utilization of 93% for the quarter (3Q18: 98%).
 
However, when compared to the fourth quarter of 2017, when Seadrill was in bankruptcy proceedings, the company’s revenues were $431 million.  The driller recorded a net loss of $360 million in 4Q 2018 compared to a $245 million loss in 3Q 2018 and a $2.7 billion loss in 4Q 2017.  Anton Dibowitz, CEO, commented: “The offshore drilling market continues to show signs of improvement with increased tendering activity and better contract economics. We expect more activity in 2019 to lead to a tighter supply demand balance and improved pricing in 2020 as the recovery progresses.
 
“We are delighted to have entered into a Joint Venture with Sonangol to manage and operate four rigs focused on the Angolan market. This relationship provides us with access to a market that is expected to show significant growth over the next five years as well as an opportunity to continue expanding our fleet of premium ultra-deepwater rigs.
 
“We remain focused on continued cost reduction and disciplined use of capital including the terms on which we will contract our premium fleet.”  As at December 31, 2018, total cash was $2 billion which includes $461 million in restricted cash. Seadrill’s order backlog as of February 26, 2019, totaled approximately $2 billion.
 
Since its last earnings report in November, Seadrill has added $89 million of additional backlog.  Namely, the semi-submersible West Phoenix was awarded a two-well contract and six options with Equinor in the UK and Norway expected to start in direct continuation with its current contract. Three of the options have been exercised resulting in total backlog of approximately $51 million.
 
The West Castor jack-up rig was awarded a contract with Staatsolie in Suriname, starting in March 2019. The total backlog including mobilization is approximately $25 million.  The jack-up rig West Callisto was awarded a six-month extension with Saudi Aramco in Saudi Arabia, keeping the unit employed until July 2019 adding approximately $13 million in backlog.
  • Offshore Energy Today
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Headlines Monday 25th February 2019
 
GMS confirms charter dates for two vessels
 
Gulf Marine Services, a provider of self-propelled self-elevating support vessels serving the offshore energy industry, has informed that long term charter start dates for two of its vessels have now been confirmed. The company confirmed the date for the appointment of a new non-executive director.  GMS in January announced the start of the first of three five-year charter awards for a Mid-Size Class unit in the MENA region, stating at the time that  “the start dates for the other two vessels are being finalized.”
 
“The Group is pleased to confirm that the start dates for the remaining two charters have now been finalized. A Small Class vessel and a Mid-Size Class vessel will commence their charters early Q2 and in mid-Q3 2019, respectively,” GMS said on Monday.  Duncan Anderson, Chief Executive Officer of GMS, said: “We are very pleased to confirm the commencement dates for these two long-term charters, which together with the third vessel already on hire for this client has added a total of 15 years (including options) to our contract backlog and will provide a firm baseload of work for the fleet.”
 
The company did not say who the client was, nor which vessels have been hired for the job.  GMS has also confirmed the date the date of Mohammed Bississo’s appointment as a Non-Executive Director of the Company as effective from 1 March 2019.  Bississo has waived his entitlement to receive a fee for this role.
 
Bississo currently co-heads Kasamar Holdings, an Abu Dhabi-based family office that owns 9.82% of GMS through Castro Investments Ltd.  He previously spent more than six years at one of the leading mid-market alternative investments firms, based in Abu Dhabi, UAE, as a member of the private equity group. Bississo has a BSc in Computer Science from the University of California Irvine, and an MBA from Duke University.
 
Simon Heale, Chairman of GMS, said: “We are very pleased to welcome Mr Bississo to the Board.  His extensive knowledge of the UAE financial sector will further enhance the expertise of our Board and will be of benefit in ur discussions with our local banking syndicate.”
  • Offshore Energy Today
 
MISC’s Revenue Sinks 12.8 Pct in 2018
 
MISC Group, a provider of energy-related maritime solutions and services, closed 2018 with 12.8% lower revenue year over year.  The group’s revenue dropped to MYR 8,780.3 million (USD 2155.47 million) in 2018 from MYR 10,068.2 million reported a year earlier.  As explained, all segments recorded lower revenue excluding heavy engineering following higher revenue from ongoing projects in the current year.
 
LNG segment experienced a reduced number of operating vessels following the expiry of a charter contract in June 2017 and suspension of a charter contract due to geopolitical situation in the current year together with lower charter rate following contact renewal of an LNG carrier in October 2017.  What is more, offshore segment’s decrease in revenue is due to lower construction revenue for FSO Benchamas 2 in the current year as well as a recognition of one time gain for GumusutKakap Semi-Floating Production System (L) Limited (GK) variation works.
 
Group operating profit for the year ended December 31, 2018 was MYR 1,466.3 million, a decrease of 45.8% from the operating profit of MYR 2,705.1 million seen in 2017.  According to MISC, the decrease was mainly impacted by lower revenue. In addition, higher bunker costs incurred in the petroleum segment and close-out of completed projects in the prior year and insufficient contribution to absorb fixed overheads in the current year in the heavy engineering segment have further dampened current year’s overall operating profit.
 
Moreover, the group’s profit before tax of MYR 1,344.1 million was lower than the corresponding year’s profit before tax of MYR 2,003.5 million, caused by the drop in the operating profit.
 
“Volatile market conditions continue to affect the players in the industry on a global scale. In the face of this challenging market, MISC has proven its strength and capability in securing investment growth of more than USD900 million. Our financial stability is further affirmed when we recorded strong credit ratings in the maritime sector with Moody’s Investors Service, affirming a Baa2 issuer rating and S&P Global Ratings affirming a BBB+ long-term corporate credit rating,” Yee Yang Chien, MISC’s President/Group Chief Executive Officer, said.
 
“We believe that business and operational performance go hand in hand for us to consistently provide better energy related maritime solutions and services,” he added.
 
As of December 31, 2018, MISC Group’s fleet consists of more than 120 owned and in-chartered LNG, petroleum and product vessels, 15 floating production systems (FPS) as well as two LNG floating storage units (FSUs). The fleet has a combined dwt capacity of approximately 16 million tons.
  • World Maritime News
 
Homeowners fear Brexit price fall
 
A survey of home owners in Scotland suggests half of them believe Brexit will lead to a fall in the value of their property.  Aberdein Considine's Property Monitor found just 3% think prices will rise.  The research indicated 2018 had been a year of growth for the Scottish property market.
 
Total sales were in excess of £18bn - up £400m on the previous year and the best spell of growth since the 2008 crash.  Aberdein Considine managing partner Jacqueline Law said: "These figures demonstrate that the market has to a large degree recovered from the difficult days of the financial crash but we cannot ignore the uncertainty which Brexit presents.
 
"Whatever the outcome, families and individuals still need homes to live in and properties will continue to be bought, sold and rented.  "Homeowners and businesses could definitely benefit from a clearer understanding about what the months and years ahead have in store, and hopefully the next few weeks will bring some much needed clarity."
 
The survey suggested Edinburgh remains the most expensive area in Scotland, with the price of the average home there up by 9.3% over the year to £272,989.  For Scotland as a whole, the average property costs £174,290, after an annual rise of 3.3%.
 
Aberdein Considine's Property Monitor surveyed more than 1,000 people in Scotland.
  • BBC News
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Headlines Friday 22nd February 2019
 
Major Dutch maritime companies join Green Maritime Methanol Project
 
Shipowners, shipyards, manufacturers and ports of Amsterdam and Rotterdam join forces to study methanol as a marine fuel
Delft, The Netherlands, 20-02-2019. A consortium of leading international maritime companies, supported by Maritime Knowledge Centre, have joined forces to further investigate the feasibility of methanol as a sustainable alternative transport fuel in the maritime sector.
 
Major shipowners Boskalis, The Royal Netherlands Navy, Van Oord and Wagenborg Shipping will take part in the consortium, together with shipbuilders, Damen Shipyards, Feadship, Royal IHC and major marine engine manufacturers Pon Power and Wärtsilä together with their trade association VIV. Specialized marine equipment suppliers like Marine Service Noord and maritime service providers including C-Job Naval Architects complete the maritime supply chain.
 
Work to study the infrastructure and supply chain for methanol is also addressed by the participation of The Netherlands’ two largest ports; Rotterdam and Amsterdam, as well as methanol suppliers BioMCN and Helm Proman and trade organization The Methanol Institute.
 
“Together the consortium partners – which include all the main stakeholders in the transport supply chain – bring extensive experience and knowledge which will help to make this project a success,” says Pieter Boersma, Business Director Maritime & Offshore of TNO.
 
“The inclusion of shipowners, shipyards, OEMs, ports and methanol suppliers demonstrates the strong interest to integrate experience and knowledge from the entire value chain in the Green Maritime Methanol project. As part of the project, the partners will look at concrete possibilities to adopt methanol as marine fuel on either newbuilds or conversions of the existing fleet.”
 
Finally, some of The Netherlands’ leading research institutes including TNO, TU Delft, NLDA and Marin invest in this theme and provide knowledge-building and research capacity for the project by studying operational profiles, ship configurations, engine configurations, performances, various emissions as well as many other relevant topics.
 
The Green Maritime Methanol project is supported by TKI Maritime and the Netherlands Ministry of Economic Affairs and will be completed within two years.  
  • Hellenic Shipping News
 
Fleet Xpress powers new Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic ship
 
Inmarsat, the global leader in mobile satellite communications is providing connectivity through Fleet Xpress for Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic’s new adventure cruise ship, National Geographic Venture.
 
The expedition ship, designed to explore the coastal waters, shallow coves and fast-moving channels where wildlife congregates, completed its first cruise around the Galapagos Islands in December 2018 before moving to Baja California. It is also destined for the Pacific North West coast and Alaskan cruising in the next few months.
 
Built by US yard Nichols Brothers, the 73m length by 14m beam Venture is one of a growing band of ice-strengthened expedition ships catering for more remote destinations. With a capacity for 100 guests supported by 50 crew, ship-to-shore connectivity is a central proof point that adventure cruising can deliver on comfort, safety and continuity of lifestyle, as well as get close-up to nature.
 
“Fleet Xpress is the right fit for our fleet of smaller expedition vessels due to the requirement of a smaller VSAT terminal and the ability to provide hi-speed, reliable, global coverage as these vessels sail to remote parts the globe where connectivity is limited and our guest expectation is always to be connected,” said Arthur Theodorou, Director of IT Lindblad Expeditions.
 
“Expedition cruising is creating a significant new market for Fleet Xpress,” says Christian Cordoba, Inmarsat Maritime Channel Manager for Yachting and Passenger. “Combining the high data speed of Ka-band and continuous L-band back-up with purpose-designed and easy to install 1m terminals allows Fleet Xpress achieves 24/7 coverage, stability and reliability, including high-speed IoT connectivity, whether the ship is in the Arctic or miles up an inland channel.”
 
Mr Cordoba says that the new generation of expedition cruisers have especially high expectations for connectivity, which they consider a lifestyle entitlement. “For adventure cruisers today, connectivity is part of the package they are paying for; this is an audience which expects a highly educational vacation, but also to share experiences online instantaneously.” Service reliability and speed become hotel management issues that affect brand reputation, ratings and repeat business, he adds.
 
“From the owner’s perspective, Fleet Xpress is also the answer because these compact ships don’t have the real estate for the sizeable terminals larger cruise ships use to connect via C-band. Meanwhile, L-band alone falls short on data speeds and Ku-band services may work with compact shipboard terminals, but they can’t offer the benefit of a seamless global coverage the itineraries demand.”
 
Fleet Xpress is now installed on board six of the Lindblad Expeditions ships, including Venture’s sister ship National Geographic Quest, delivered in 2017, with retrofits made on Sea Bird, Sea Lion, Endeavour II and Islander. Fleet Xpress is fully integrated with the ship phone systems (PABX), and the internal communications platforms and local area networks used to optimise vessel operations.
 
The fully proven reliability of Fleet Xpress in service, and the robust and established I-5 and I-4 satellites supporting Ka-band and L-band respectively are also proving persuasive in attracting new types of vessels such as adventure cruise ships like National Geographic Venture to the high-speed data network, adds Cordoba.
  • Hellenic Shipping News
 
PPAs Signed for Three Offshore Wind Projects in Taiwan
 
Taipower has signed power purchase agreements (PPAs) with China Steel Corp (CSC) and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (CIP) for three offshore wind projects, the local media reported.
 
The PPAs were signed for the 300MW Chong Neng project, developed jointly by CIP and CSC, as well as for CIP’s 552MW ChangFang and 48MW Xidao, all located offshore the Changhua County.  Under the 20-year agreements, a tiered feed-in tariff (FIT) has been set to buy the energy at a higher price in the first ten years before it is reduced in the second decade, the Taiwanese Central News Agency said.
 
The agreed rate for the first decade is TWD 6.2795kW/h set to later be lowered to TWD 4.1422kW/h, Taipei Times reported Taipower as saying.  To remind, Taiwan’s Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) awarded grid capacity to the three projects back in April last year. Shortly after, CIP and CSC signed preferred supplier agreements with MHI Vestas.
 
Offshore WIND has contacted CIP for more information and comments on the matter.
  • Offshorewindbiz
 
Brexit: Theresa May warned dozens of Tories could rebel over no-deal
 
Dozens of normally loyal Conservative MPs could rebel against the government in a bid to prevent a "no-deal" Brexit, Downing Street has been warned.  Leaders of a group of MPs comprising Leavers and Remainers say they may back alternatives if Mrs May's reworked deal cannot command a Commons majority.  Co-chairman Andrew Percy told the BBC more than 30 may try to block no deal.
 
The government says "productive" talks in Brussels aimed at addressing MPs' concerns continue "urgently".  The UK remains on course to leave the European Union on 29 March.  But the government has repeatedly refused to rule out the possibility of the UK leaving without a formal deal, in the event that Mrs May cannot get MPs to approve the deal she negotiated with Brussels in time.
 
Many MPs fear that scenario would be damaging to business and cause chaos at ports.  Growing concerns over the prospect of a no-deal exit are set to come to a head next Wednesday when MPs debate Brexit again and, if the UK and EU haven't agreed a deal by then, will vote on future options.
 
It has been reported that a handful of ministers, including potentially some in the cabinet, could also back the amendment, in what would be a direct challenge to the prime minister's authority.  The BBC's Newsnight political editor Nicholas Watt said a number "were saying in private they would be prepared to lose their jobs" to be able to support the amendment.
 
The Brexit Delivery Group says "numerous" Tory MPs are prepared to back an amendment tabled by former minister Sir Oliver Letwin and Labour's Yvette Cooper to give Parliament the opportunity to delay Brexit and stop a no-deal exit if there is no agreement with the EU by the middle of March.  Mr Percy told the BBC that members of his group were becoming "tired" of the rival European Research Group faction's refusal to back the prime minister.
 
The ERG of Brexiteers, led by Jacob Rees-Mogg and Steve Baker, insist the "no-deal" option must be preserved as negotiating leverage in Brussels and declined to back the PM in a non-binding vote on the issue recently.
 
In a letter to government whips, Mr Percy and his co-chairman Simon Hart write: "Not only does this risk damaging the national interest, but also... we are putting in jeopardy the very thing many colleagues have spent decades campaigning for; our exit from the European Union."  The group has previously remained "almost without exception" united behind voting for the deal, the letter points out.
 
They believe the main sticking point - MPs' demands for changes to the backstop, the "insurance policy" to prevent the return of customs checks on the Irish border - will be secured.  However, they fear it might not be enough to win over some Brexiteers.
 
The BBC's Nick Watt said the prime minister was "taking no chances and is working hard to secure a revised deal with the EU by next Tuesday, the eve of the vote".  On Thursday, Mrs May held meetings with senior ministers who have expressed concerns about the impact of a no-deal scenario on business and also leading Remainers in her party, such as Justine Greening and Phillip Lee.
 
The duo have been touted as potential defectors to the newly formed Independent Group of ex-Tory and Labour MPs, which is calling for another EU referendum in return for supporting the PM.
 
Mr Lee told the BBC that although he was staying in his party, there were "worrying" signs of a "populist" shift in direction and it was time for Mrs May to "face down" the ERG.
 
"There are elements of that group that do not reflect the Conservatism that I joined in 1992 and it's about time that we dealt with it," he told Radio 4's Today.  The government has described the latest talks in Brussels involving Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay, Attorney General Geoffrey Cox and EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier as "productive".
 
Mr Barclay and Mr Cox will meet Mr Barnier again early next week.
  • BBC News

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Headlines Thursday 21st February 2019
 
Tilbury2 Port Construction Project Gets Go Ahead
 
The UK’s Port of Tilbury has received development consent from the country’s government to build Tilbury2 – a new multimillion pound port terminal adjacent to the current 930-acre site in Thurrock, on the outskirts of Greater London.  With construction scheduled to commence in a few weeks, the privately funded port, Tilbury2, will be built on a site covering in excess of 150 acres, which was part of the location of the former Tilbury Power Station.
 
“This is great news for the UK at a time when the country needs its ports more than ever before. Tilbury2 will deliver much needed port capacity to support businesses importing and exporting to and from Europe and the rest of the world,” Charles Hammond, Chief Executive of Forth Ports Group, said.
 
“The terminal will be fit-for-purpose for the UK’s departure from the European Union, utilising the latest technology and streamlined border processes, in support of continued market demand created by business growth.”  When operational in Spring 2020, Tilbury2 will be the UK’s largest unaccompanied ferry port and the country’s biggest construction processing hub, with AEO-trusted trader status.
 
Construction of the port, which will include a new rail and road connection, deep water jetty and pontoon, will bring the project cost to in excess of GBP 200 million (USD 260.7 million). The tender process for a contractor to complete this build has been completed and an announcement will be made shortly, Forth Ports Group said.
 
Tilbury2 will comprise a roll on/roll off ferry terminal for importing and exporting containers and trailers to northern Europe, in partnership with P&O Ferries. In addition, it will comprise a facility for importing, processing, manufacturing and distributing construction materials, a strategic rail terminal which can accommodate the longest freight trains of 775m and storage areas for a variety of goods, including exported and imported cars.
 
“By 2020, GBP 1 billion will have been invested in Tilbury’s expansion plans, including Tilbury2 and the 55-acre London Development Park, with the full backing of our shareholders,” Hammond added.
  • World Maritime News
 
Shelf Drilling expanding rig fleet with four China-built jack-ups
 
Shelf Drilling, one of the world’s largest jack-up drilling rig fleet owners, is set to expand its fleet further with the acquisition of two jack-up rigs, with an option to buy two more from China Merchants.  Shelf will buy the first two rigs, of Gusto MSC CJ46 design, for a price of $87 million per rig, and has entered into bareboat charters of, and the option to buy, two additional CJ46 jack-up rigs.
 
The two rig acquisitions are expected to be completed during Q2 2019, subject to successful completion of rig acceptance and certain other customary conditions.  As for the charter deals for the other two rigs, the initial term of each bareboat charter is three years, which can be extended for three additional years upon mutual agreement between the parties.
 
Shelf has the option to acquire one or both of the CM bareboat rigs for $90 million per rig during the first year of the charter period, $92 million per rig during the second year of the charter period and $95 million during the third year of the charter period.
 
The initial three years period of the bareboat charters will begin on August 19, 2019, and Shelf expects that the CM bareboat rigs will be delivered to the company around the same time.
 
Following the start of the bareboat charter period, the Shelf will pay China merchants an average charter rate of $15,000 per CM Bareboat Rig each day during the charter period.
 
David Mullen, Chief Executive Officer, Shelf Drilling, said: “We consider this a transformational transaction for the Company. The acquisition of two premium jack-up rigs and the option to buy two further premium jack-up rigs will significantly enhance our fleet at an attractive price and an appropriate funding structure demonstrating our focus on capital discipline. We believe that the combination of Shelf Drilling’s unique operating platform, low-cost structure, and customer relationships, along with China Merchants’ demonstrated rig construction capabilities will create compelling value for all our stakeholders. We look forward to working with China Merchants as a strategic partner.”
 
According to Bassoe Analytics, there are currently eleven jack-up rigs under construction at the China Merchants yard, all of which are designed by GustoMSC.  As per Shelf Drilling latest fleet status report released in November 2018, the drilling company had a fleet of 39 offshore drilling rigs.
  • Offshore Energy Today
 
Stena Forth to Drill Guyana Offshore Well
 
Eco Atlantic Oil & Gas Ltd and partners have contracted a rig, the Stena Forth, to drill the Jethro-Lobe prospect on the Orinduik block, offshore Guyana.
 
"Eco (Atlantic) Oil & Gas, along with its partners in the Orinduik Block, offshore Guyana, Total E&P Activités Pétrolières and Tullow Guyana B.V. (Operator), has contracted a rig, the Stena Forth, a sixth-generation drillship from Stena Carron Drilling Limited Guyana Branch, to drill the Jethro-Lobe prospect on the Orinduik Block offshore Guyana," said a joint press release.
 
The exploration company said the Stena Forth is a harsh environment, dynamically positioned third-class drillship, capable of operating in up to 10,000 feet of water to a maximum drill depth of 35,000 feet.  The Stena Forth, which is currently drilling off West Africa, is fully crewed and is operating.
 
Eco Atlantic confirms that the contract with Stena secures the rig for transport at the end of May, targeting a June 2019 spud date. Further, the agreement also defines a window for a second well on the Orinduik Block, which would be drilled after the Jethro-Lobe well has been drilled.   The Partners have also approved the majority of the rig servicing contracts to ensure smooth and timely operations with the Stena Forth. Wellheads have been ordered from DrillQuip, and support ship and infrastructure agreements are now underway.
 
Colin Kinley, Chief Operating Officer for Eco Atlantic stated: "Eco is pleased to have secured the Stena Forth Drillship for thisinitial drill programme on Orinduik. This state-of-the-art Class 3 Rig hasoverall capacity ratings at close to double our operating requirements. The rigis operating, which is a great advantage to the partners."
  • OE Digital
 
Labour and Conservatives could see more MP exits
 
Labour and the Conservatives could face more resignations, with members of the new Independent Group saying they expect more MPs to join them.  Ex-Tory MP Heidi Allen told ITV's Peston programme "a third" of Tory MPs were fed up with the party's direction.  Tory MP Justine Greening said she would quit her party if it allowed a no-deal Brexit, while Labour's Ian Austin said he was considering his position.
 
MPs from the new group say they stand for "the centre ground of politics".  The group was set up by eight defecting Labour MPs unhappy about their party's handling of Brexit and anti-Semitism.
 
They were later joined by three pro-Remain Tories - who accuse the Conservative leadership of allowing right-wing hardliners to shape the party's approach to Brexit and other matters.  Chancellor Philip Hammond said he was "saddened" by his former colleagues' comments, but denied the "relatively small hardcore" - namely the pro-Leave European Research Group - had taken over.
 
He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "The Conservative Party is, always has been and, in my view, must remain a very broad church.  "I understand their concerns, but I hope over time they will feel able to rejoin the party and help maintain that."
 
A number of other MPs have expressed sympathy with the group's grievances.  Speaking to the Express and Star, Labour's Mr Austin said he would think "long and hard" about his future in the party.
 
And Conservative Ms Greening told the Today programme she would find it hard to stay in a party that "crashed us out of the EU".
  • BBC News
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  Headlines Wednesday 20th February 2019
 
 
DP World Expands with Purchase of UK’s P&O Ferries
 
Dubai-based port operator DP World has acquired the pan-European logistics company P&O Ferries for a purchase consideration of GBP 322 million (USD 421 million).  The company said that the transaction implies a 2017 Enterprise Value/EBITDA valuation multiple of 6.1x.
 
The acquisition is expected to be earnings accretive from the first full year of consolidation and is expected to meet DP World’s return targets. On a proforma basis, DP World’s net leverage as of the first half of 2018 would be 2.96x net debt to EBITDA with this acquisition compared to the reported 2.91x.
 
The transaction is subject to customary completion conditions and is expected to close in the first half of 2019.  “P&O Ferries provides efficient European freight connectivity building on last year’s acquisition of Unifeeder. This transaction is in line with our strategy to grow in complementary sectors, strengthen our product offering and play a wider role in the global supply chain as a trade enabler,” Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Group Chairman and CEO, DP World, said.
 
P&O Ferries consists of roll-on roll-off (Ro-Ro) ferries operation and a European transportation and logistics solutions provider, P&O Ferrymasters. The company operates a fleet of 21 vessels on the Short Sea, North Sea and Irish Sea sectors across 11 ports, while P&O Ferrymasters provides supply chain solutions in 19 European locations.
  • World Maritime News
 
Ulstein Kicks Off Nexans Aurora Construction
 
Ulstein Verft has cut the first steel for Nexans’ DP3 cable laying vessel C/S Aurora.  The hull is being built at Crist in Poland, while the engineering, outfitting and system integration, as well as equipment preparation, testing, sea trials and finalizing are carried out at Ulstein Verft in Norway.
 
Designed by Norwegian company Skipsteknisk, the vessel will be outfitted for power cable laying, including bundle laying, cable jointing, repair, cable system protection and trenching, Ulstein said.
 
“This is a proud moment for Nexans and an important milestone for the organization,” said Vincent Dessale, Senior Executive VP Subsea and Land Systems Business Group at Nexans.  “Aurora will play a key role in the installation of our cutting-edge submarine cables to help bring more energy to the world, connect offshore wind farms to the grid, support electrification of offshore petroleum installations and create interconnectors between countries.”
 
In July, Nexans signed a deal with Ulstein Verft for the construction of the vessel. Shortly after, it was announced that MAATS Tech will supply a deck spread and Palfinger Marine a major deck equipment package.
 
The 150m Aurora has a turntable with a cable capacity of 10,000t and a deadweight of 17,000t. It will be able to accommodate 90 persons once launched in 2021.
  • Offshorewindbiz
 
RES wind projects £1m more efficient than market, DNV GL report claims
 
Global Renewable Energy Company (RES) projects are £1 million more efficient than the industry standard, according to a new report by DNV GL.  Research carried out by DNV GL – technical advisor to the energy sector – claims windfarm assets managed by RES perform 1% better than industry standard, adding £1m in revenue to the firm’s average 40 megawatt projects.
 
RES operates several Scottish projects, including the 33 turbine Mid Hill and 20 turbine Glens of Foudland wind projects in Aberdeenshire.  The data found that RES management of personnel, tools and processes provided “greater turbine availability figures”.
 
Keir Harman, renewables operations director for DNV GL, said: “Our review and findings of RES’ portfolio are a sign of confidence for investors and an endorsement of RES being able to deliver a lower cost of energy for its customers.  In fact, our independent review actively demonstrates that RES-managed projects in the UK, Ireland and France are performing measurably higher than the industry standard.
 
“With dramatic growth and investment becoming increasingly complex in a subsidy free environment, it is evident that wind farms benefit from increased investment and innovation in operations.”  The 22 wind farms assessed provide a subset of the entire fleet asset managed by RES and the evaluation included assessment of wind farm availability and performance metrics.
 
Darren Cook, head of asset management at RES, said: “We commissioned the DNV GL report not just to see how we benchmark against the competition, but to understand how we can make more improvements and deliver even lower cost energy to our customers and, ultimately, to the consumer.
 
“Everyone at RES has an eye on how we can make assets perform more efficiently for our many customers. It’s pleasing to see that this focus on delivering above expectation and innovation is having significant positive impact for our customers.
  • Energy Voice
 
MP Joan Ryan quits Labour for Independent Group
 
Joan Ryan has become the eighth Labour MP to quit the party in the past 48 hours, citing its tolerance of a "culture of anti-Jewish racism".  The Enfield North MP said she was "horrified, appalled and angered" by Labour's failure to tackle anti-Semitism, saying its leadership allowed "Jews to be abused with impunity".
 
Ms Ryan said she did not believe Jeremy Corbyn was fit to lead the country.  Seven other MPs quit on Monday to form the Independent Group in Parliament.  There is mounting speculation that a number of Conservative MPs disillusioned with the government's policy on Brexit could join forces with them.
 
BBC Newsnight's political editor Nick Watt said Conservative whips were reporting three MPs - Sarah Wollaston, Heidi Allen and Anna Soubry - had gone "very, very silent".  While the Independent Group are not confirming anything, he said he had been told by one member that Wednesday would be a "very busy day".  Announcing her decision on Twitter, Ms Ryan said she would continue to represent the north London seat in Parliament.
 
On Tuesday, she told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that she would not trigger a by-election in her constituency, as she won her seat in 2017 "in spite of [Mr Corbyn], not because of him".  "I didn't win my seat on his coat tails," she added.
 
Ms Ryan, who served as a minister under Tony Blair, follows Chuka Umunna, Mike Gapes, Luciana Berger, Ann Coffey, Angela Smith, Gavin Shuker and Chris Leslie in quitting the party.  In her resignation statement, she said Mr Corbyn and the "Stalinist clique which surrounds him" was not providing real opposition at a moment of crisis for the country.
 
Instead, she said the leadership was focused on "purging their perceived ideological enemies within and obsessing over issues of little interest to British people".  Ms Ryan, chair of the Friends of Israel group, repeated Ms Berger's claim that the party had become "institutionally anti-Semitic", suggesting that under Mr Corbyn's leadership Israel had been "singled out for demonisation and de-legitimisation".
 
"The Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn has become infected with the scourge of anti-Jewish racism. The problem simply did not exist in the party before his election as leader.
 
"No previous Labour leader would have allowed this huge shame to befall the party. I have been horrified, appalled and angered to see the Labour leader's dereliction of duty in the face of this evil."
 
Ms Ryan lost a non-binding confidence vote of her party members in September which she blamed on "Trots, Stalinists, Communists and the assorted hard left".
  • BBC News

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Headlines Tuesday 19th February 2019
 
Havyard to Design Two More Cargo Ships for Royal Arctic Line
 
Havyard Design & Solutions will deliver ship design for further two cargo vessels for Royal Arctic Line, which would be built at Nodosa Shipyard in Pontevedra, Spain.  This will be the third and fourth cargo vessels that Havyard Design & Solutions delivers to Royal Arctic Line A/S. The design is of the Havyard 971 type, which is smaller than the first two vessels.
 
“These two vessels are an important addition to our strategy to renew older vessels, and, not least, to the infrastructure on Greenland,” Anders Bay Larsen, Head of Fleet Management, said.  The vessels will operate in northwest Greenland, which makes stringent requirements of the vessels’ design, as they must operate in a rough climate, sail in and out of small shallow ports, and meet ice class requirements.
 
Havyard 971 was developed in close collaboration with the shipping company in order to meet these requirements.
 
The first vessel is scheduled to be delivered at the end of 2020, while the second vessel would join the owner four months later.
  • World Maritime News
 
Skandi Olinda vessel begins Petrobras contract
 
The Skandi Olinda, a Brazilian-flagged flexible lay and construction vessel, has started its eight-year charter contract with Brazilian oil company Petrobras.  The vessel is owned by a joint venture formed between TechnipFMC (50%) and DOF (50%). Under the TechnipFMC/DOF joint venture agreement, TechnipFMC will manage flexible pipelay, and DOF will be responsible for marine operations.
 
The naming ceremony for the vessel was held in Rio de Janeiro earlier in February.  The Skandi Olinda has a 340-ton Vertical Lay System tower capacity, a 2,500-ton underdeck carousel, and two work-class ROVs, allowing it to lay flexible pipes in water depths up to 2,500 meters. It was built by Vard Promar Brazilian yard, where its sister ship, Skandi Recife, was also constructed.
 
Arnaud Piéton, President Subsea at TechnipFMC, commented: “We are delighted that the Skandi Olinda is joining our fleet of specialized vessels. This new charter contract with Petrobras reinforces our commitment to the development of the Brazilian market and our extensive ultra-deepwater pipelaying experience.”
 
DOF Subsea CEO, Mons S. Aase, said: “The extensive newbuild program of 4 PLSVs together with TechnipFMC has combined the subsea and vessel expertise across our organizations. Taking final delivery of Skandi Olinda and commencing the contract with Petrobras marks the successful conclusion of the newbuild program of the joint venture, which now has 6 vessels.”
  • Offshore Energy Today
 
Equinor signs LNG bunkering deal for shuttle tankers
 
Marine LNG Zeebrugge, a joint venture between Engie, Mitsubishi Corp and NYK will supply four dual-fuel crude shuttle tankers chartered by Equinor with LNG as a marine fuel. The vessels will operate mainly in Northern European waters and are scheduled to come into operation in early 2020
  • Lloyds List
 
Labour warned more MPs 'thinking hard' about futures
 
More Labour MPs could quit the party unless it listens to their concerns, Jeremy Corbyn has been warned.  Following the decision of seven Labour MPs to walk out on Monday, colleagues expressed anger with the leadership during a "tense" meeting in Parliament.
 
Corbyn-critic Ian Austin said others would "think hard" about leaving unless it fixed its anti-Semitism problem.  The BBC has been told two Tory MPs are thinking about joining the ex-Labour MPs' independent group in Parliament.  The BBC's political editor Laura Kuenssberg said a small number of Conservatives were considering their futures amid unhappiness over the government's Brexit policy.
 
Chuka Umunna, Luciana Berger, Chris Leslie, Angela Smith, Mike Gapes, Gavin Shuker and Ann Coffey quit Labour's ranks in protest at what they said was a culture of "bullying and bigotry" in the party and frustration over the leadership's reluctance to back another EU referendum.
 
The seven are not launching a new political party but have urged other Labour MPs - and members of other parties - to join them in "building a new politics".  Their departures have provoked a mixed reaction at the top of the party, with Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell saying they should stand down and allow by-elections in their constituencies.
 
But deputy leader Tom Watson said the move was a wake-up call for the party. He condemned those on the "hard left" who he said were celebrating their exit, saying he "sometimes no longer recognised" the party.
 
Edinburgh South MP Ian Murray told the BBC he was sticking with Labour but "may change his mind" unless the party responded to concerns about its culture and direction.  Speaking after a Labour meeting in Westminster - addressed by party chairman Ian Lavery - Mr Austin said Labour must act to stop more MPs jumping ship.
 
Mr Austin said Mr Lavery had failed to "demonstrate the leadership" and "understand the scale of the problem we have" with anti-Semitism within its ranks.  "If that is the best the leadership can do, I can see more people taking the same course of action," he said.
 
"I think it will result in people thinking long and hard about their position in the party."  The BBC's political correspondent Ben Wright said several MPs thought Mr Lavery had misjudged the mood of the meeting by delivering a tub-thumping speech about being proud of the party.
 
But he said he did not get a sense that other MPs were poised to join the splinter group.
 
Party sources said Mr Lavery had insisted Labour must remain a "broad church" and it was determined to root out the "appalling abuse" that Ms Berger in particular had been subjected to.  Announcing her resignation on Monday, the Liverpool Wavertree MP said Labour had become institutionally anti-Semitic and she was "embarrassed and ashamed" to stay.
 
Meanwhile, Ms Coffey - one of the seven who quit - was asked on BBC Breakfast about whether more MPs could follow her.  "A number of my colleagues have expressed concern privately, but everybody has their own journey and it's a huge thing to do to leave and resign from a party," she said.
 
Labour MP Jess Phillips, writing in the Daily Telegraph, called on Mr Corbyn to listen to why the MPs had quit and "act on it", warning that reacting with bitterness could cause the party to "burst apart".
 
However, shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry told the Daily Mirror that the resignations were a "distracting and divisive exercise".
  • BBC News
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Headlines Monday 18th February 2019
 
Excelerate, Equinor Conduct 1st STS Transfer of LNG in The Bahamas
 
Excelerate Energy and Equinor Energy completed the first-ever ship-to-ship (STS) transfer of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in The Bahamas on February 7, 2019.  The STS transfer was carried out using Excelerate’s 150,900 cbm floating storage regasification unit (FSRU) Exemplar and Equinor’s 142,759 cbm LNG carrier Arctic Voyager.
 
A full LNG cargo was transferred using the double-banked LNG transfer system while moored at Equinor’s South Riding Point storage and transshipment terminal, strategically located for storage and transshipment of crude, products and LNG, Excelerate said.  “Excelerate conducted the industry’s first commercial STS transfer of LNG in 2007, and since then, STS transfers have been completed and proven safe in a wide range of environments, now including The Bahamas,” Daniel Bustos, Excelerate’s Chief Commercial Officer, commented.
 
Excelerate recently completed its 1,500th commercial STS transfer on February 3, 2019, at the Engro Elengy Terminal in Port Qasim, Pakistan.
To date, the company has successfully transferred over 170,900,000 cubic meters of LNG using its STS protocol – of the 1,500 operations, over 1,300 have been with third-party vessels.
  • World Maritime News
 
Smart Solutions in a Digitized Future
 
Digitalization is an establishing technological driver of change in the offshore industry. The potential is huge in terms of increasing safety and operational efficiency, whilst at the same time reducing operational costs. This article addresses some of the recent pioneering technologies that benefit from this transformation.
 
Analysis software
GustoMSC has developed a suite of proprietary software geared to the specific requirements of its designs and customers. Instead of using regular off-the-shelf analysis software, the company developed its own software allowing them to efficiently perform analyses for its customers’ units, while making sure to follow the latest developments in technology, insights, and design standards.
 
For jack-ups this has led to the development of the Legload software, which the company uses in all its designs and site-specific assessments to study the interaction between a jack-up, the seabed it is standing on, and the action of waves, current, and wind. The analysis can be performed according to any design standard required and the results are easily interpreted and compared to design limits. The version that clients can use themselves, called the Site Feasibility Tool, has all the properties and limits of jack-ups in a client’s fleet already programmed in. This version allows the client to quickly assess the suitability of its jack-up for a specific site, and requires only a limited number of properties to be entered by the client in a simple and understandable interface.
 
The dynamic response of a jack-up to the waves is an increasingly important aspect of the type of analyses Gusto MSC performs. For this purpose the company has developed the Simsep program. The dynamic behaviour of a jack-up in sea states can be studied by simulating time series of various sea states. One significant recent development is that the company is now able to perform the highly accurate simulation of extreme irregular waves.
 
All these advances were partly driven by specific customer requirements,and were instrumental in allowing jack-up operations in the demanding northern part of the North Sea. Owing to these advances in available computer power, and the improvements in software, the company frequently runs statistical analyses involving many hundreds of hours of simulated storm conditions in a couple of hours. Until recently GustoMSC relied much more on deterministic analyses that would cost way more time to get a workable result.
 
In addition, GustoMSC’ parent company NOV has developed cloud-based big-data solutions, offering its clients a website dashboard that allows them to monitor ongoing operations, the health of their hardware, and predict required maintenance. This big data allows GustoMSC to gain even more feedback on the performance of the units, improving the understanding of both technical and operational aspects.
 
Bottom-founded offshore structures, such as jack-ups, have to be able to withstand earthquake events (seismic loading) of which the intensity depends on the area of operation and the risk involved. Changes in regulatory standards (e.g. ISO 19905-1), awareness in the sector, and the industry trend to install jack-ups in more seismically active regions mean that seismic analyses have become an important consideration in demonstrating the safety of a jack-up operation at a particular site, or in the design of new-built units.
 
There is a significant growth of interest for offshore wind-turbine installation in the Japanese and Taiwanese regions. Wind farm projects are slowly materializing in these regions; the first Japanese construction jack-up was delivered in February to Penta Ocean – the CP-8001, a GustoMSC GJ-3750C design based on proven technology, suitable for various installation works. From the start, severe earthquakes in these regions were significant for the design of this unit. The CP-8001’s unique features allow highly efficient operations in Japanese ocean side areas with harsh wave and weather conditions, while not giving in on the welfare of the crew. The enactment of relevant Japanese regulations will undoubtedly provide further potential for offshore wind farms.
 
Considering seismic loading directly in an early design phase of new units allows for an optimized design where seismic resistance can be assured with a minimal cost and weight. Seismic analysis allows GustoMSC to provide designs tailor made for the Far East offshore wind farms. The advanced calculation capabilities facilitate an increase in the safety in the offshore industry and, at the same time, enables contractors to safely reduce the level of conservatism where possible and take maximum advantage of the capabilities of their equipment.
 
All these new technologies will profoundly affect the ways in which people work at sea as they provide the resources the world requires for its growing population and increasing living standards. GustoMSC’s future is based on continuous development of smart and safe solutions, with digitalization forming a key consideration in most of its new developments.
  • Offshore windbiz
 
Rotterdam port achieves record container volumes for 2018
 
Rotterdam port has relied on container transhipment as its main engine of growth again for 2018, with last year’s throughput reaching a record 14.5m teu, according to Port of Rotterdam Authority.  Box volumes last year at 14.5m teu is an increase of 5.7% compared to 2017. Transhipment volumes recorded 4.5% year-on-year growth.
 
“A key factor in the increase in 2018 was the growth in numbers of transhipment and full import containers. Container exports developed less strongly, partly due to Chinese import restrictions on waste flows. The shortsea segment suffered from slowdowns in the British and Russian economies,” Port of Rotterdam Authority stated.
 
While container transhipment continued to grow at a healthy pace, that of crude oil, mineral oil products and agribulk fell.  At 469m tonnes, the port of Rotterdam’s total throughput volume ended up slightly higher in 2018 than in 2017, which was itself a record year at 467.4m tonnes.  “The port authority expects throughput volume to increase slightly in 2019, with container sector growth being lower than the exceptional levels seen in previous years,” the port authority said.  The authority said it is implementing a ‘both-and’ strategy aimed at strengthening the existing port industrial complex and embracing new initiatives in the fields of energy transition and digitisation.
 
“Partly because of this, we also expect high investment levels in the years ahead,” the port authority said.  The authority also pointed out that its progress in environmental and social contribution has been equally important.  “The Port of Rotterdam Authority is committed to drastically reducing CO2 emissions in order to help achieve the ambitious national climate target,” the authority said.
 
“We want to play a pioneering role and make the port an inspiring example of human capital, so that the Rotterdam port and industrial area will still be making a substantial contribution to Dutch prosperity and employment in 2050.
 
One important initiative highlighted is the Leer Werk Akkoord involving the municipality, educational institutions and the business sector to offer jobs for the long term unemployed in the Rotterdam-Rijnmond region.
 
  • Seatrade Maritime News
 
Several Labour MPs about to resign, say party sources
 
A small group of MPs look set to announce their resignations from Labour, senior party sources have said.  At least four backbenchers who disagree with the Labour leadership over its handling of Brexit and anti-Semitism are thought likely to break away.  They are expected to announce their departure at an event later on Monday morning.
 
Labour MP Stephen Kinnock, a vocal critic of leader Jeremy Corbyn, has urged them to "stay in and fight".  Senior Labour figures, including deputy leader Tom Watson, have also called on those thinking of quitting to keep the party united so it is "electorally viable".  But anger over the leadership's refusal to get behind calls for another EU referendum, combined with dismay at its handling of anti-Semitism allegations, have led so-called "moderate" MPs already disillusioned with Mr Corbyn's leadership, to consider their future.
 
An event mid-morning concerning the future of British politics can mean only one thing - that after months of mounting worry and concern, some of Labour's backbenchers have made the major decision to leave their party.
 
This doesn't necessarily mean they are about to unveil a new party, and it doesn't necessarily mean that the group will be able to sway much power. This morning's event may see only four or five MPs announce their decision.
 
But it seems that the divisions in the Labour Party could not be contained.  Many of Jeremy Corbyn's MPs have long been convinced that the party should be much more enthusiastically campaigning for another referendum on staying in the EU.  But those leaving later also have broader fears about the nature of his leadership and the pace at which Labour has dealt with anti-Semitism.  The group set to depart may be small, but they are not the only ones inside the Labour Party who hold major concerns.
 
Last week, former shadow chancellor Chris Leslie said it was "heartbreaking" that Labour was not united in arguing against leaving the EU, adding: "I certainly think we are being played for fools by the leadership of the Labour Party."
 
A row over the treatment of Liverpool Wavertree MP Luciana Berger - an outspoken critic of Mr Corbyn's handling of anti-Semitism and Brexit, who had been threatened with a no confidence vote by local party activists - has sparked a fresh round of in-fighting at the top of the party.
 
Chris Leslie, Owen Smith, Chuka Umunna and other Labour supporters of the People's Vote campaign for another EU referendum have been linked with rumours of a split for some time - Mr Smith told the BBC last week that he was considering his future in the party.
 
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said on Sunday he did not see "any need for anybody to split from the party".  "Those saying we'll split if we don't get a 'People's Vote' [another referendum on the final Brexit deal] - well, we've still kept that option on the table and it might come about," he added.  Mr McDonnell insisted the party was "holding together on Brexit" and would be "ruthless" on claims of anti-Semitism that have plagued Labour.
 
He said the effect of MPs splintering from the party would be similar to the SDP breakaway in 1981, which split Labour's vote and "installed Mrs Thatcher in power for a decade".  Manuel Cortes, general secretary of the TSSA union, a supporter of Jeremy Corbyn's leadership, urged Labour MPs to stick with the party.  "I'd urge anyone in our party thinking of bolting not to do so," he said.
 
"Brexit or any other issue isn't an excuse for breaking away. Labour is the only show in town for creating a fairer Britain. Our voters need our MPs to be made of sterner stuff."  Mr Cortes, whose union backs another referendum, added: "We must get behind Jeremy who is leading the fight against no-deal.
 
"I also don't anticipate he will rule out a final say as this is our party's policy and he's no dictator."  Stephen Kinnock, Labour MP for Aberavon, told those thinking of quitting: "We have a duty to deliver for people that we are elected to represent and to change the country for the good and the Labour Party is the vehicle to do that."
 
Asked on BBC Radio 4's the Westminster Hour what his message for those who wanted to leave the party would be, he said: "I would say to them that there are certain people in the party with whom they disagree very strongly.
 
"The way to win the battle, if you like, is to stay in and fight."
 
A former Labour vice-chairman said on Sunday he would quit the party over what he saw as a repeated failure to tackle hostility towards Jewish people.  Former Barnsley East MP Michael Dugher, who stood down at the last election, told the Sun: "I can no longer justify paying subs to a party which I now regard as institutionally anti-Semitic."
 
On Sunday, Labour members on social media began circulating a graphic pledging to work towards a Labour-led government "under whatever leadership members elect".
  • BBC News
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Headlines Friday 15th February 2019
 
RBS warns of Brexit harm as profits double
 
Royal Bank of Scotland has reported profits of £1.62bn for 2018, more than double the £752m it made a year earlier.  RBS chief Ross McEwan called the results "a good performance in the face of economic and political uncertainty".  Mr McEwan said the UK economy faced "a heightened level of uncertainty related to ongoing Brexit negotiations".  He told the BBC that Brexit could have a bigger impact on the economy than the Bank of England has suggested.
 
Mr McEwan said: "Larger corporations are pausing on their investments. And this cannot be good for the economy long-term because those large corporations then employ smaller businesses and individuals.  "If this goes on for a long period of time we're going to see the economy slowing down more than the Bank of England suggested.  "We have a very small period of time left until the end of March and it's time that our politicians got to the conclusion so that we can get some certainty going forward."  He said that 2018 saw benign economic conditions continue, with low defaults by customers on their loans.
 
But the bank's statement noted the potential impact of "ongoing political uncertainties and geopolitical tensions" which could affect its customers, and, as a result, defaults were expected to increase this year.  The bank was rescued by the government in 2008 in the aftermath of the financial crisis at a cost of £45bn and it still owns 62% of the company.
 
In October, RBS paid its first dividend to shareholders since its bailout. In its latest results, the bank announced a final dividend of 3.5p per share, and also a 7.5p special dividend, which means the Treasury is set to receive £977m.  While the government is still RBS's main shareholder, it also has about 190,000 private investors.  The government has been selling off blocks of shares it owns in the bank, and aims to have sold all of its stake by 2024.
 
But it realises a loss every time it does this as it paid 502p a share and they have not yet returned to that level. RBS shares are currently trading at about 240p.
  • BBC News
 
DSME to Build Another LNG Carrier for Maran Gas
 
South Korean shipbuilder Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) has secured an order for a liquefied natural gas (LNG) carrier from Greece-based shipowner.
 
DSME is to build the 174,000 cbm ship for Maran Gas Maritime, part of Angelicoussis Shipping Group, according to data provided by Asiasis.  The newbuilding is expected to be delivered to its owner by the first half of 2021.  The value of the contract has not been disclosed.
 
In 2018, Maran Gas ordered three identical LNG vessels at DSME, with two of them scheduled for delivery in 2020 and one in 2021.  Last year, DSME won orders for 47 vessels worth USD 6.81 billion, hitting approximately 93% of the company’s orderbook target for the year of USD 7.3 billion. This year, the shipbuilder reportedly aims to win orders worth USD 8 billion.
  • World Maritime News
 
Total to move UK trading jobs to Geneva – report
 
French energy giant Total is planning to relocate its trading operations to Geneva, in a move affecting 200 jobs, according to Sky News.  The outlet reports that Total will move the jobs from London to Geneva, in a bid to consolidate marketing activities split between those two cities and Paris.
 
In a statement to Sky, Total said Brexit was “not at all a factor” and that the firm’s North Sea operations are not affected by the plans.  The firm said the changes came following its $1.5bn (£1.1bn) acquisition last year of Engie’s LNG business.  It is understood that Total is in talks to sell some of its North Sea assets, with reports emerging in November that the French energy giant was in talks with investment managers First Alpha Energy and Albion Energy Capital.
 
Total also completed a £5.8bn takeover of Maersk Oil in March last year.
  • Energy Voice
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Headlines Thursday 14th February 2019
 
UK Oil & Gas increases stake in Horse Hill project with Doriemus deal
 
UK Oil & Gas plc (LON:UKOG) has again increased its stake in the Horse Hill oil project, this time in a transaction with fellow junior market stakeholder Doriemus.  It is acquiring a 6% interest in the Horse Hill Developments Limited (HHDL) vehicle which in turn holds 65% of the Horse Hill project.  Subsequently, UKOG will own 77.9% of HHDL and therefore 50.635% of Horse Hill.
 
The transaction sees UKOG paying Doriemus £2.1mln in shares, a total of 129.62mln UKOG shares, with a reference price of 1.62p per share (based on the average over five preceding trading days).  "We are delighted to acquire this further share of our Horse Hill flagship oil production project,” said Stephen Sanderson, UKOG chief executive.  “The transaction now firmly establishes UKOG as the majority interest holder in the Horse Hill Portland and Kimmeridge oil field, together with the highly prospective surrounding licence acreage. “Horse Hill is UKOG's stated 2019 focus and we are on-track to deliver continuous test-derived oil production until the start of long-term stable oil production by year end.  “The plan is designed to make Horse Hill the Weald Basin's number one oil producing field in 2019 and to move UKOG upwards into the top tier of UK onshore oil producing companies shortly afterwards.”
 
It is anticipated that two new horizontal wells will be added to the Horse Hill project this year, with drilling slated to start in the spring, ahead of the planned start of permanent production later this year.
 
The plan is to produce some 720-1,080 barrels of oil per day from the conventional Portland reservoir in the upcoming programme.
Future new wells, from 2020 onwards, will aim to increase field production above 2,000 bopd.
  • Proactive Investors
 
Iceland’s First Electric Ferry to Feature ABB Technology
 
Technology company ABB has been selected to supply integrated power and electric storage solutions to the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration’s new electric ferry which will operate on an Icelandic route known for its harsh weather conditions.  The 70-meter-long ship will take 3,600 annual trips in the rough waters between Landeyjahöfn on the mainland and the Westman Island, covering 13 km in about 45 minutes.
The ferry, with a capacity of 550 passengers and 75 cars, is designed by Polarkonsult and is due for delivery from the Crist S.A. shipyard in 2019.
 
The vessel will feature a large battery pack and is designed to operate in a fully electric mode, with onshore charging in both harbors. During particularly challenging weather conditions, when the consumption of battery power may exceed the available energy, the ferry will utilize its diesel-electric generator set, according to ABB.
 
As informed, the new ferry will replace the 1992-built MF Herjólfur in line with Iceland’s incentives to promote electric modes of transportation. With 80 percent of Iceland’s energy coming from non-fossil resources, led by hydropower and geothermal energy, the newbuilt vessel is aimed at supporting Iceland’s sustainability goals.  “Opting for ABB’s electric solutions allows the vessel to meet design constraints that initially seem in conflict: it is optimized for cleaner operation and reduced greenhouse gas emissions, whilst power is sufficient to navigate some very hazardous waters safely,” Sigurdur Gretarsson, Director of Maritime Division, Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration, said.
 
ABB’s power distribution system will allow the batteries to connect directly to the DC link, which helps avoids losses of power during charging and discharging. Additionally, the system can allow for variable speed operation of the diesel engines, which results in reduced fuel consumption.  The scope of ABB supply also includes generators, transformers, switchboards, the power and energy management system (PEMS) and the energy storage control system (ESCS). The ferry will be connected to ABB Ability Collaborative Centers Infrastructure. This network uses remote equipment monitoring and data analytics to enable remote technical support, as well as predictive maintenance and planned interventions.
 
According to the company, crucial to the supporting infrastructure shoreside is the shore power connection delivered by ABB to recharge the battery with a power of 2500kW while the ferry is in the dock. On average, it will take about 30 minutes to recharge.  “Selection of ABB’s technologies for a vessel operating on such a tough route, where the water depth is sometimes limited to 4.5 meters, but wave heights can reach 3.5 meters, sets a new benchmark for battery power on board a ship,” Juha Koskela, Managing Director, ABB Marine & Ports, commented.
 
“This project demonstrates how system integration – whether on board the ship or between the ship’s crew and shoreside expertise – is a key success factor for vessel management,” Koskela added.  The new ferry will not only reduce the environmental impact but also improve the regularity of the connection. Previously, during rough weather, the ferry operating the route would travel to an alternative harbor to dock safely, extending the sailing time from 45 minutes to close to 3 hours and causing motion sickness in passengers.
 
The new ferry will be able to enter the destination harbor in challenging weather conditions most of the time, with the rare exception of particularly rough seas.
  • World Maritime News
 
Airbus to Stop Making A380 'Superjumbo' Aircraft After Disappointing Sales, Putting 3,500 Jobs At Risk
 
Airbus has announced it will end production of the world’s biggest passenger plane, the A380 "SuperJumbo" model, by 2021.  The admission of long-term failure comes after Emirates, the largest customer of the A380, reduced its order from 162 to 123 aircraft.  The double-deck plane is beloved by passengers but has proved an abject commercial failure.
 
More than half of the entire production planes ordered are for Emirates. The Dubai-based airline has opted to take smaller A330 and A350 jets instead.  Emirates said it had struck a reduced deal worth $21.4bn with Airbus that will see it take on another 14 new A380s in the next two years, and that the airline was "sad" to see the model discontinued.
 
The Airbus chief executive, Tom Enders, said: “As a result of this decision we have no substantial A380 backlog and hence no basis to sustain production, despite all our sales efforts with other airlines in recent years.  “This leads to the end of A380 deliveries in 2021.”  Mr Enders, who is set to retire in two months, said: “The A380 is not only an outstanding engineering and industrial achievement. Passengers all over the world love to fly on this great aircraft. Hence today’s announcement is painful for us and the A380 communities worldwide.”
 
Airbus A380s will continue in operation for a wide range of airlines, including British Airways, for years to come. The planemaker has vowed to continue to proved technical support for the model.  A year ago Airbus said the future of the plane had been secured for the next decade, though the rate of production would fall to one every two months. But since then the secondhand value of the aircraft has come into question, with two of the first Singapore Airlines planes to fly being broken up for parts after just 10 years in service.
 
The Airbus A380 first flew commercially for Singapore Airlines in 2007, and has been bought by a dozen other airlines including British Airways, Air France, Lufthansa and Qantas.  The jet has proved extremely popular with passengers, with a special website allowing travellers to pick routes and airlines that will allow them to fly on the SuperJumbo.
 
But the A380 has never flown many important business routes, including the premier intercontinental link between London and New York, on a sustained basis.  Up to 3,500 jobs will be affected, including hundreds in the UK at the Airbus factory in Broughton, north Wales, and at the Rolls-Royce plane engine factory in Derby.
 
Airbus reported healthy profits in its 2018 full-year results.
  • The Independent
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Headlines Wednesday 13th February 2019
 
UK Government increases renewables funding following review
 
The UK Government has announced an increase in renewable energy funding following a review.  The amount of money used to reduce carbon emissions from UK industry has been increased from £15 million to £24m.  The government announced the increase last night in response to a January review held by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).  BEIS said as part of the announcement that it expects to invest around £100m in low carbon industrial innovation to accelerate “the roll out of low carbon technologies which will enable UK industry to remain competitive”.
 
In 2017, the UK government commissioned Aberdeen-headquartered Wood to undertake a study to assess the most promising carbon capture technologies.  The report from the energy services giant found that technologies such as renewable energy and hydrogen could play a role in decarbonising industry, power, heat and transport.
 
In January, the UK Government announced it would propose new solar power subsidies for households and businesses.
Its scrapping of the Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) for small scale renewables generators was widely criticised by renewables industry groups last year.
However, the government announced a new proposal last night to ensure households and businesses installing new solar panels will be guaranteed payment for power provided back to the grid.
  • Energy Voice
 
Awilco Drilling posts loss on WilHunter rig impairment
 
UK offshore drilling company Awilco Drilling has posted a net loss for the fourth quarter of 2018 of $24.2 million.  The company, which owns two 3rd generation semi-submersible drilling rigs, the WilHunter, and the WilPhoenix said its quarterly result was dragged down by an impairment charge of $25 million.  This is related to the continued cold stack status and lack of visibility of contracting opportunities in the near term for the WilHunter semi-submersible drilling rig which has been sitting idle in Invergordon for a while now.  Awilco’s other rig, the WilPhoenix, was in continued operations for Shell UK Ltd at the Kingfisher location in the UK North Sea in the fourth quarter of 2018.
 
Revenue efficiency for the quarter was 95.3%. Contract utilization was 100%. At the end of December, WilPhoenix had a total contract backlog of approximately $30.7 million. Revenue earned in the fourth quarter was USD 10.2 million.  Worth noting, Awilco Drilling last year entered what it said was “a growth mode.” Namely, Awilco made news as being the first company since the oil downturn began in 2014 to order a newbuild offshore rig.
 
Awilco in March last year ordered one new-build high-end semi-submersible rig from Keppel, with options for three more rigs.  The company, which has for years operated in the UK North Sea, is targeting the Norwegian market with the newbuild rig.  In a statement on Wednesday, Awilco said the Norwegian market for modern high-end semi-submersibles now has little availability remaining in 2019 and only around 1/3 of rig days in 2020 remaining clearly available.
 
The most recent fixtures remain around USD 300,000 excluding potentially material bonus amounts.  In the UK, reduced supply coupled with increased demand is expected to see the current marketed fleet soon sold out for the summer of 2019. This is expected to result in day rate pressure and reduced seasonality in the region with higher utilization levels forecast in the winter of 2019 into 2020, Awilco said.
 
Awilco’s newbuild rig is expected to be delivered in March 2021, when Awilco expects the market will move towards a more balanced supply as aging cold-stacked rigs will require contracts at a significant premium to current rig dayrate levels to justify the reactivation costs.
  • Offshore Energy Today
 
UK economy to make modest post-Brexit recovery if deal agreed: economists
 
Britain’s economy will barely grow in the run-up to Brexit amid concern the UK will leave the European Union without an agreement, but if there is a deal there will be a modest post-divorce upturn, according to economists polled by Reuters.  Economists mostly said a free-trade deal between the two will be made and expectations that Britain will leave on March 29 without an agreement have barely changed over the past month.
 
Growth slumped to 0.2 percent last quarter as Brexit worries hammered investment by companies and a global economic slowdown weighed on trade.  The February 8-12 Reuters poll said it would expand at the same rate this quarter.
 
Polls conducted by Reuters since the June 2016 referendum decision to leave the EU have consistently said a no-deal Brexit would be the worst outcome for the British economy.  The chance of a no-deal Brexit nudged up only to 25 percent in the latest poll from the 23 percent given in January and, with a deal expected, growth is forecast to accelerate to 0.3 percent next quarter and to 0.4 percent in the third
 
“If there’s a silver lining from the mounting signs that the uncertainty caused by Brexit is holding back GDP growth, it’s that the economy could enjoy a decent rebound if a Brexit deal is agreed,” said Paul Dales at Capital Economics.  The likelihood of a recession in the coming year held firm at 25 percent and the probability of one in the next two years at 30 percent.  “Although the economic headwinds have increased in recent quarters, the most likely way in which a recession will be triggered is if Brexit goes badly wrong,” said Peter Dixon at Commerzbank.
 
Prime Minister Theresa May is trying to convince the bloc to amend a divorce deal that she agreed with it in November but that was rejected by her own parliament. As it stands, the UK will leave the EU in 44 days without a deal.  May told British lawmakers from all parties on Tuesday she wanted them to back the Brexit deal she is aiming to strike, citing the need to pass further legislation to prepare for Britain’s exit. May said she believed she could reach a Brexit deal parliament could support.  European Union Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said on Monday the bloc would agree to tweak the political declaration on EU-UK ties after Brexit that forms part of the exit package.
 
As in all Reuters polls since late-2016, the vast majority of economists said the two sides would settle eventually on a free-trade deal.  Holding again in second place was Britain being a member of the European Economic Area, paying into the EU budget to maintain access to the EU’s single market.  The third and fourth spots flipped, with Britain leaving without an agreement and trading under basic World Trade Organization rules now in third place and Brexit being canceled last.
 
Apart from January’s poll, Brexit being canceled was in last place every time Reuters has asked.  The Bank of England said last week Britain faces its weakest economic growth in a decade this year, but also said interest rates would eventually rise if an EU divorce deal is done.  Other major central banks have signaled they will hold off on raising borrowing costs but BoE Governor Mark Carney stuck to his message that gradual and limited rate rises are coming if a no-deal Brexit is averted.
 
Economists polled by Reuters took him at his word and medians suggest a 25 basis point increase to Bank Rate to 1.00 percent would come in the fourth quarter, later than thought last month. Another 25 basis point was predicted in the second half of next year, also later than previously thought.  “The combination of Brexit uncertainty, slowing world - and UK - economic growth and lower forecasts for inflation suggests a far slower normalization of policy,” said George Buckley at Nomura, who pushed back his expectation for the first hike to November from May.
 
Carney said on Tuesday a modest tightening of monetary policy over time would likely be sufficient to achieve the Bank’s 2 percent inflation target. The poll pegged inflation to average the target this year and next.
  • Reuters
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Headlines Tuesday 12th February 2019
 
Storm Erik causes new peak for British wind generation
 
On Friday, the National Grid reported Great British wind generation peaked at 15.32 gigawatts (GW), providing 36% of the UK’s electricity demand.  The UK utility regulator confirmed last night that between 12:15pm to 1:45pm wind was being generated at its highest level ever.  The new data beats the previous record of 15.04GW, recorded on December 18 last year.
 
RenewableUK’s executive director Emma Pinchbeck said: “At one of the coldest times of the year, when we need it most, wind is generating over a third of Britain’s power needs, setting a new clean energy record. It’s yet another demonstration of how our energy mix is shifting to renewables, with onshore and offshore wind in the vanguard.  “This transition is set to continue apace; we’re currently finalising a sector deal that will see offshore wind alone generating at least a third of our electricity by 2030. This will secure £48bn of new investment and support 27,000 highly-skilled jobs.  “Onshore wind is already the cheapest source of new power in the UK and can make a major contribution to meeting our carbon reduction targets and keeping bills down”.
 
In September, RenewableUK hailed a “historic milestone” as the country’s wind generation passed 20 gigawatts.  Renewable UK said the milestone showed “phenomenal growth” in the sector, coinciding with the trade body’s 40th anniversary.  Wind power accounted for half of all power coming from UK renewables in 2017.
 
The first commercial wind farm went operational in 1991, with wind deployment climbing to 5GW by 2010.  In January, turbine blades at Aberdeen Bay windfarm clocked record speeds during gale force winds, the project operator Vattenfall confirmed.
 
Storm winds which battered Scotland averaged up to 67mph in the north-east, causing the world’s most powerful blades to hit a top speed of 192mph.  It’s understood the 262 foot rotor blades at the site, also known as the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC), managed to complete a six second rotation, resulting in near 200mph speeds.
  • Energy Voice
 
TUI Losses Double Due to Heatwave and Weak Pound
 
TUI, Europe’s biggest holiday company, saw losses increase from €36.7m (£32.2m) to €83.6m (£75.7m) as margins fell in the final three months of 2018.  The decline in earnings is blamed on northern Europe’s “unusually long and hot summer”, overcapacity in the Canary Islands and weakness in Sterling “as a result of the Brexit decision”.  Last week the Anglo-German firm, based in Hanover, issued a profits warning – saying an anticipated 10 per cent increase in earnings would not materialise.  But Fritz Joussen, the chief executive, said TUI “is financially strong with a sound strategic and operational positioning” and on track to deliver a similar full-year performance to 2018 with profits of around €1.18bn (£1.03bn).
 
TUI’s turnover is up 4.4 per cent to €3.7bn (£3.25bn). Customer numbers have increased by 1.2 per cent to 3.7 million – making the average spend per customer exactly €1,000 (£880).  Joussen said: “Travel and tourism remain a growth market. Customers continue to travel, but they are currently resistant to increases in price.”
 
He hinted that TUI will cut prices to maintain market share, saying: “During this consolidation phase in our sector, it is particularly important to adequately participate in market growth.”  Profits in TUI’s cruise business rose by a quarter, with Marella – the UK fleet – seeing average rate per passenger per day rising by £8 to £137.  Occupancy rates on Marella ships increased by one per cent to a remarkable 102 per cent. This is achieved by some parents sharing two-person cabins with one or two children.
 
But the firm warned: “Sales of higher-margin products to British customers are adversely affected by the weakness of the British pound.”
Last week TUI’s largest rival, Thomas Cook, also announced increased first-quarter losses. It has put its in-house carrier, Thomas Cook Airlines, up for sale.
  • The Independent
 
Debenhams secures £40m lifeline as it battles for survival
 
Debenhams has secured a cash injection of £40m, giving it more time to arrange a longer-term refinancing and store closure plan.  The ailing department store chain, which has 165 outlets and employs 25,000 people, has been battling to reach a deal with its banks and bondholders after a difficult Christmas capped off a lacklustre 2018, during which it issued three profit warnings.
 
Sergio Bucher, the chief executive, hailed the new 12-month credit facility as a “first step in our refinancing process”.  “The support of our lenders for our turnaround plan is important to underpin a comprehensive solution that will take account of the interests of all stakeholders, and deliver a sustainable and profitable future for Debenhams.”
 
Debenhams said it would continue talking to its lenders about a comprehensive refinancing. The rescue process is expected to involve the closure of tens of stores and lenders taking a stake in the company.  News of the cash injection saw Debenhams’ shares jump 30%, to just over 4p.  The firm also announced a new sourcing partnership with Li & Fung, a Hong Kong-based supply chain manager. Bucher said this would be key part of the company’s turnaround plan, giving it access to state-of-the-art technology in the LF digital platform, enabling it to respond more quickly to trends and customers’ preferences.
 
The company previously had £520m in debt facilities in place including £320m of loans and £200m of bonds, which are due to be repaid next year.  Without the short-term overdraft extension, it risked breaching the terms on its debt when it faces a test on its financial health at the end of February.  Last month Debenhams said it had net debt of £286m. Cashflow has been squeezed as suppliers concerned about the financial health of the company are demanding more up-front payments.
 
The retailer has been sounding out property advisory firms about organising the rapid closure of as many as 50 stores via an insolvency procedure known as a company voluntary arrangement (CVA).  Such a route has already been taken by other struggling high street chains including New Look, Mothercare and Carpetright as the whole industry struggles with a combination of rising costs, falling sales and the switch to internet shopping. CVAs can take several weeks to arrange and it is not clear if a deal can be put in place before Debenhams’ quarterly rent day in late March, when it will have to pay out about £50m to landlords.
 
The ultimate plan to refinance its debt is likely to include a debt for equity swap but might also involve new cash from Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct, which owns close to 30% of the company. In order to facilitate his possible involvement in a deal, Ashley is understood to have been given access to limited information about the store chain after signing a non-disclosure agreement.
 
Before Christmas, Sports Direct offered the department store a £40m loan but the company turned it down because it came with a demand for security over some of Debenhams’ assets that would have given Ashley’s company a preferential position over other shareholders.  Sports Direct demanded the right to add another 10% to its shareholding without making a formal takeover bid for the whole company. Under Takeover Panel rules anyone with more more than 29.9% must make a bid for the whole company. Debenhams feared such an agreement would give Ashley control of the company on the cheap.
 
The credit agency Moody’s cut its view on Debenhams to negative last month, saying the company would struggle to refinance its debts without raising new funds. The company had put on hold plans to raise cash by selling its Danish Magasin du Nord chain after failing to receive strong enough offers.   After weak sales and pressure on profit margins over Christmas, Moody’s said it expected Debenhams’ underlying profits to fall by up to £20m this year, having previously predicted they would be similar to last year.  Pressure on the company ramped up in January when its then chairman, Sir Ian Cheshire, and chief executive, Sergio Bucher, were ousted from the boardroom by Ashley’s Sports Direct and the Dubai-based retail billionaire Micky Jagtiani’s Milestone Resources, which voted against them at its annual shareholder meeting.
 
Cheshire stepped down immediately and was replaced by the interim chairman, Terry Duddy, the former chief executive of Home Retail Group. Bucher has stayed on but is no longer a director.
  • The Guardian
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Headlines Monday 11th February 2019
 
UK Scraps Brexit Ferry Deal with Seaborne Freight
 
The UK Department of Transport has terminated the ferry contract awarded to Seaborne Freight last year as part of the UK government’s plan to avoid the likely congestion at British ports stemming from the no-Brexit deal.  Namely, the looming hard-Brexit is expected to bring severe congestion in and around UK ports from March 29, 2019 amid increased border checks by European Union Member States.
 
The cancellation was announced over the weekend as the Irish firm Arklow Shipping, which was backing Seaborne Freight, decided to withdraw from the deal, Reuters reported citing the spokeswoman of the Department of Transport. As informed, the department is in advanced talks with other companies to secure additional capacity.  The GBP 14 million contract has been in the center of public criticism as Seaborne Freight, established in 2017, has no ferries in its fleet or trading history.
 
Seaborne Freight was selected together with DFDS and Brittany Ferries to provide additional ferry capacity in the North Sea as part of a total contract value of GBP 103 million (USD 131.3 million).  General Secretary of UK’s shipping union RMT Mick Cash said that the union had protested a number of times “over the fiasco” of the government’s Brexit ferry contracts to both the Department for Transport and the ports, stressing that the cancellation of the Seaborne Freight ferry contract comes as no surprise.
 
“The whole exercise is a complete and utter shambles with the government ignoring union calls on what needs to happen. Instead ‎they are blundering on from crisis to crisis.
 
“RMT has set out a package of demands that would guarantee that the Brexit ferry contracts are crewed by British seafarers, on decent pay and conditions negotiated through recognized trade unions. This government “wing and a prayer” approach was always doomed‎ to failure and it’s time for Chris Grayling (Transport Minister) to stop attacking RMT and start listening to people who actually know what they are talking about instead of the chancers selling him a pile of old rope they done even own,” he added.
 
Grayling has also been targeted by severe criticism following the ferry contract cancellation, with Labour party representatives calling for his resignation.
  • World Maritime News
 
Scottish Enterprise Schedules CfD Prep Event
 
Scottish Enterprise is holding an event for the local offshore wind supply chain regarding the Contracts for Difference (CfD) scheme.  The event will focus on lessons learned in previous CfD auctions, the opportunities expected in the forthcoming round and how the industry will evolve for future rounds.
 
The speakers will present competition, innovation and skills to help prepare the Scottish supply chain companies to position themselves best.
Scottish Enterprise will hold the event on 7 March at the Radisson Blue Hotel in Glasgow from 09:30 to 16:00 GMT.  According to Scotland’s main economic development agency, the event is for both new market entrants and those established in the supply chain across all tiers.
 
In 2017, the UK committed to setting aside GBP 557 million to support bi-annual CfD auctions for offshore wind and remote island wind, beginning from the third CfD round this year and going throughout the 2020s.  The next allocation round is expected to be held by May, with the second round slated for 2021 and every two years or so from then on. Depending on the price achieved, the auctions are expected to deliver up to 2GW of offshore wind each year in the 2020s.
  • Offshore Wind.biz
 
Brexit: Theresa May responds to Jeremy Corbyn's letter
 
Theresa May has responded to Jeremy Corbyn's letter setting out his five demands for a Brexit deal.  The prime minister queried his call for the UK to stay in a customs union with the EU - but welcomed more talks with Labour on a Brexit agreement.  Mrs May wants the two parties to discuss how "alternative arrangements" to the Irish backstop - a commitment to avoid a hard border - could work.  She did not reject any of his conditions outright in her reply.
 
Meanwhile, Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay and EU negotiator Michel Barnier will hold talks in Strasbourg later, as the EU and UK Brexit negotiating teams discuss proposed changes to the deal.  Writing her response to his letter of last Wednesday, Mrs May told the Labour leader: "It is good to see that we agree that the UK should leave the European Union with a deal and that the urgent task at hand is to find a deal that honours our commitments to the people of Northern Ireland, can command support in Parliament and can be negotiated with the EU - not to seek an election or second referendum."
 
This is despite Mr Corbyn repeatedly saying there should be a general election if Mrs May cannot get a deal through Parliament. He has also faced pressure from some of his MPs to push for another public vote on Brexit.  Labour asked for five changes to be made to the Brexit deal:
  • A "permanent and comprehensive UK-wide customs union" with the EU, with the same external tariff. It would give the UK a say on any future trade deals that the EU may strike.
  • The UK to be closely aligned with the Single Market
  • To stay in step with the EU on rights and protections for workers
  • A promise to participate in EU agencies and funding programmes on the environment, education and industry regulation
  • Agreements with the EU on security, such as access to the European Arrest Warrant database
BBC political correspondent Iain Watson said it appears there are some potential stumbling blocks to a deal.  Mrs May does not agree with his first demand on the customs union, and wrote: "I am not clear why you believe it would be preferable to seek a say in future EU trade deals rather than the ability to strike our own deals?"
 
The existing Political Declaration, setting out the goals for the future relationship between the UK and the EU, "explicitly provides for the benefits of a customs union - no tariffs, fees, charges or quantitative restrictions across all sectors and no checks on rules of origin", Mrs May told Mr Corbyn.  It also recognises the development of the UK's independent trade policy, she added.  Mrs May said securing frictionless trade for goods - which means trying to do business between the UK and the European Union with the minimum of tariffs, quotas, customs checks and other obstructions - was "one of our key negotiating objectives".  She added: "The fundamental negotiating challenge here is the EU's position that completely frictionless trade is only possible if the UK stays in the single market.  "This would mean accepting free movement, which Labour's 2017 General Election manifesto made clear you do not support."
 
In response to Labour's third demand, to stay in step with the EU if workers' rights improve in Europe, the prime minister said existing rights will be protected.  But there will be no automatic upgrade in line with the EU, she said. However, she said she would be prepared to commit to asking Parliament if it wanted to follow suit each time.
 
She agreed with Mr Corbyn's fourth point - that the government supports participating in EU programmes - but said this is already set out in the political declaration.  And she said the government shared Labour's ambition in relation to security after Brexit. She outlined several measures which had been agreed - including "arrangements akin to the European Arrest Warrant".
 
But she said the challenge came from the EU, which is restricting how much the UK participates in joint security after Brexit.  "Labour's support for this position going into the next phase will I hope send a powerful signal that the EU should reconsider its stance," she said.
The letter concludes with Mrs May saying she looked forward to the two parties meeting "as soon as possible".  Labour is yet to respond to the letter.
  • BBC News
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Headlines Friday 8th February 2019
 
Wärtsilä to Carry Out World’s 1st Hybrid Retrofit for Short Sea Vessel
 
In December 2018, Finnish technology company Wärtsilä inked an agreement with Norwegian shipping company Hagland Shipping AS for a hybrid retrofit installation onboard Hagland Captain, a general cargo vessel.  As informed, it will be the first project of its kind ever in short sea shipping applications.
 
The installation of a Wärtsilä battery hybrid propulsion solution is expected to significantly enhance the ship’s environmental performance by reducing its emissions, fuel consumption, and noise.  According to the company, included in the solution are a shore power connection to provide power for loading/unloading operations and for battery charging, a new reduction gear with power take-off (PTO) and power take-in (PTI) technology, and a Wärtsilä NOx Reducer (NOR).
 
It is estimated that the total reduction in nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions after the retrofit could be as much as 80 to 90 percent, while overall fuel cost savings are expected to be in the range of 5 to 10 percent.  In addition, the battery capacity will be sufficient to sail in and out of harbor on electric power for approximately 30 minutes, which will effectively reduce noise and pollution levels in the vicinity of the harbor.
 
The project is in response to a collaborative agreement between Hagland Shipping and NOAH AS, the Norwegian environment and resource company, whereby the shipping of materials to the island of Langøya in Norway is required to be via environmentally sound vessels. Non-profit NGO, Bellona, has also given its input to the project concept.
 
“We believe our mutual project will have a considerable impact in the market and will further the environmental drive towards sustainable solutions in short sea shipping,” Oivind Wendelboe Aanensen, COO, Hagland Shipping AS, commented.
 
“Environmental considerations are increasingly important for fleet owners around the world. The need for the latest smart marine technologies has been seen for some time already in deep sea shipping, and this project is evidence that the need also exists in short sea transportation,” Paul Kohle, Director, Sales & Sales Support, Asset Management Services, Wärtsilä Marine, said.
 
“Wärtsilä is responding to these developments with its Smart Marine Ecosystem approach, which through the use of high levels of digitalisation and connectivity, is creating greater efficiencies, increased safety, and more sustainable solutions,” Kohle added.
 
The company’s hybrid solutions are based on a ‘first-of-its-kind’ fully integrated hybrid power module which combines engines, an energy storage system using batteries, and power electronics optimized to work together through a newly developed energy management system (EMS).
 
•             World Maritime News
 
Solstad Offshore lands new vessel deals
 
Norwegian offshore vessel owner Solstad Offshore has entered into contracts for three of its large platform supply vessels (PSVs) and an anchor handler.
 
Solstad said on Friday that the 2014-built Normand Service (ex. Sea Spider) or sister vessel had been contracted to GeoSea for a period of 180 days firm plus up to seven months of options.  The vessel will support wind farm installation operations at the Moray Firth Eastern Development. The contract starts in the second quarter of 2019.
 
Furthermore, two 2014-built PSVs, Sea Spear and Sea Supra, have been fixed to an undisclosed client for three months firm each, plus options, with beginning in 2Q 2019.  The Sea Spear has been contracted to Saipem in the Mediterranean with the beginning set for February 2019 for a period of 45 days firm plus options.
 
In addition, Solstad has entered into a new contract for the 2009-built AHTS Far Sagaris with Queiroz Galvão Exploração e Produção S.A (QGEP) in Brazil. This new charter contract is firm for 95 days with 180 days option, starting in February 2019 and it is in direct continuation with current charter of Far Sagaris.
 
As previously announced, AHTS Normand Pioneer has replaced Far Sagaris at its previous charter contract with QGEP, that is firm up to 1Q 2021.  Far Sagaris will keep supporting production activities at the Atlanta Field in Santos Basin.
 
Solstad said that the latest awards contribute positively to its fleet contract backlog at rates that reflect a gradually improving market.
 
•             Offshore Energy Today
 
Blockchain – The case for digitalising shipping
 
As blockchain technology (of cryptocurrency fame) develops, it has gained its fair share of supporters and detractors, but despite this, it is quickly being adopted by the marine industry because of its proven ability to optimise costs.
 
“Shipping is a slow and age-old industry still conducted in large part by phone and email. Possibly the last true disruption to the industry was containerisation,” says Daniel Wilson, Director of Business Development at TradeLens. And he should definitely know. After all, TradeLens was launched in January 2018 by A.P. Moller – Maersk and IBM to apply blockchain to the global supply chain.
 
The TradeLens ‘ecosystem’ currently includes more than 40 port and terminal operators across the globe, as well as customs authorities, brokers, cargo owners, freight forwarders, transportation and logistics companies, and others. The TradeLens platform empowers multiple trading partners to collaborate on a single shared view of a transaction without compromising details, privacy or confidentiality. Think of it as cloud-based shipping where every transaction is sealed and stamped electronically.
 
The next big revolution in shipping?
During a 12-month trial, Maersk and IBM applied blockchain to the shipping industry and found that the transit time of a shipment of packaging materials to a production line in the United States could be reduced by 40%, avoiding thousands of dollars in cost.
 
“We believe blockchain can play an important role in digitising global shipping, an area of the global economy that moves many trillion dollars of goods every year. However, success with the technology rests on bringing the entire ecosystem together around a common approach that benefits all participants equally with an open and neutral system,” continues Wilson.
 
The ramifications are huge and some see it as a revolution akin to when container shipping replaced stevedores and sacks of rice.
 
So how does it work? Instead of keeping sensitive and often proprietary ledger records or asset registries in one place, on a computer in one warehouse for example, or in an office somewhere else only to be emailed back and forth, blockchain systems offer a tamper-proof way of exchanging data (or time-stamped blocks, as they are called) because of the simple fact that they are never just located in one place. The information that can be held on a blockchain – money, information, a contract, a bill of lading – exists as a shared and secured decentralised and encrypted public ledger. It is inherently resistant to modification and is thus easily verifiable.
 
“The application of blockchain technology in the shipping industry has the potential to cut administrative and operational risks for shipowners, charterers and brokers,” says Michael Saava, a partner on the shipping team at law firm Watson Farley & Williams in Dubai, and co-author of an important paper on the subject.
 
The case for blockchain
By digitising the paper trail of international shipping – signed and stamped cargo and freight documents involving hundreds pages that need to be physically delivered to dozens of different agencies, banks, customs bureaus and other entities – the blockchain could save, and make billions by increasing time to market for products, cut trade barriers and thereby create jobs.
 
“The expectation is that blockchain technology will create a platform not anchored down by endless paperwork and complex transactions but instead be fully digital thus enabling more fluid freight movement and reduced costs and resource waste,” continues Saava in Dubai.
 
But unless the whole world can agree on one open blockchain standard, not unlike today’s email, GPS or GSM mobile communications standards, detractors see a situation where a few global players will retain their own ‘siloed’ and proprietary way of working. This benefits no one.
 
“How all this will be achieved remains to be seen,” admits TradeLens’ Wilson. “But we are growing at a rapid clip.”
 
The hope of course, as with other important world standards, is that companies, governments, authorities, and other interested parties will be able to agree on a common and basic standard that works with existing systems, and then apply monetisable applications on top of it all.
 
Wärtsilä, for its part, is closely monitoring all these developments and is actively participating in accelerator programs with start-up companies on all fronts of the maritime sector. The new maritime business accelerator programme formed in Turku, Finland in August 2018, is a case in point. It brought together innovative start-ups and maritime industry companies like Wärtsilä, Royal Caribbean, and others to find new growth companies for partnerships.
 
With more stakeholders coming together in this manner, a future where growth is enabled by blockchain isn’t that far off the horizon.
 
Unblocking Blockchain
While many industry players have been trying to come up with a blockchain solution to help strengthen industry collaboration, the idea of a truly open platform where all could collaborate without any inhibition still needs some work.
 
In November last year, five shipping lines and four terminal operators had announced a consortium to develop a blockchain platform to digitise the industry and transform documentation flows.
 
Christened the Global Shipping Business Network (GSBN), the collaboration consists of the Ocean Alliance members CMA CGM, Cosco/OOCL and Evergreen, Yang Ming, DP World, Hutchison Ports, PSA and Shanghai International Port. The tech company is CargoSmart.
 
GSBN will allow shippers to digitise and automate the documentation and processes around ‘dangerous goods’, a category of goods classed as hazardous and which is subject to a range of regulatory schemes. However, the ultimate aim is to “facilitate the seamless sharing of documents and data across all stages of the shipping lifecycle,” CMA CGM said in a statement.
 
GSBN drew obvious comparisons with its competitor platform TradeLens, a joint effort between Maersk and IBM, which was launched in January 2018 and since then has been criticised for alienating much-needed potential partners because of Maersk’s heavy involvement.
 
TradeLens allows trading partners to collaborate by establishing a single shared view of a transaction without compromising confidentiality. Shippers, shipping lines, freight forwarders, port and terminal operators, inland transportation and customs authorities can all have real-time access to shipping data and shipping documents.
 
The new alliance also raised similar questions within the industry. For instance, how will private data be handled? What processes will be covered in the platform? Will it be open to other services? Will it have vendor lock-in by default, or will it enable companies to take out private data and process it in their own way?
 
However, the new question is: will these new endeavours also trigger a competition within the industry as companies compete for adoption?
 
Industry experts point out that a major drawback is that these initiatives, which aim to provide an industry platform, are controlled by a small group.
 
In an ideal world, the industry would benefit the most if all were interconnected without having to make a choice between platforms and offer smooth collaboration.
 
“Smart technology allows a much broader and horizontal approach to be taken across the industry, replacing the vertical view traditionally followed today. This means soon enough we will see a different approach to collaboration, competition, security, safety, and technology,” explains Marco Ryan, Wärtsilä’s Chief Digital Officer and Executive Vice President.
 
Wärtsilä has always been at the forefront of cross-collaboration within the industry. In November 2017, Wärtsilä had announced its vision for a Smart Marine Ecosystem. More recently, in this year’s SMM held in Hamburg, the company unveiled ‘An Oceanic Awakening’ – a global initiative focused on the radical transformation of the world’s marine and energy industry into one supremely efficient, ecologically sound and digitally connected ecosystem.
Source: Wärtsilä
 
•             Hellenic Shipping News
 
 
Brexit: Theresa May and Leo Varadkar to meet in Dublin
 
Theresa May will travel to Dublin later to discuss the Brexit negotiations' main sticking point with her Irish counterpart Leo Varadkar.  The PM is seeking legally binding changes to the backstop - the plan to avoid the return of Irish border checks should no UK-EU trade deal be in place.  
Both Mr Varadkar and the EU have repeatedly rejected calls for changes.
 
Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell told the BBC he believed there was now a Commons majority for Labour's plan.  The party is seeking a permanent UK-wide customs union with the European Union after Brexit, which would allow the UK "a say" in future trade deals.  
"The prime minister has to accept that the only way she will get something through Parliament is a compromise like this," he said.  "We believe that this is a deal that could fly within Parliament."
 
Meanwhile, a former civil service chief has called for delays to the withdrawal process to avoid a "blindfold Brexit".
 
In a report published by the People's Vote campaign for a further EU referendum, Lord Kerslake said the UK was not ready to leave.  "Britain is divided, directionless and hurtling towards a legal deadline, with no idea where we will end up after we cross it," said the peer, who is now a Labour adviser.  The UK is due to leave the EU on 29 March.
 
However, Mrs May is still attempting to negotiate changes to the withdrawal agreement she struck with the EU last year but which has since been rejected by MPs.  After meeting EU leaders in Brussels on Thursday, she said she had "set out very clearly the position from Parliament that we must have legally binding changes to the withdrawal agreement" to deal with MPs' concerns about the backstop.  The backstop is an "insurance policy" designed to avoid the return of customs checkpoints at the Irish border after Brexit, which many fear could threaten the peace process.
 
But many MPs object to the arrangement, which they say could leave the UK "trapped" under EU rules indefinitely.  Mr Varadkar will travel to Belfast for talks with Northern Ireland's five main political parties before returning to Dublin to meet Mrs May over dinner.
 
BBC Ireland correspondent Chris Page said: "Ireland has consistently said it won't negotiate directly with Britain because this can be done only by the EU, so it's describing the meeting today as discussions, not negotiations."
 
Ahead of the meeting, Attorney General Geoffrey Cox will hold talks in the Irish capital with his Irish counterpart, Seamus Woulfe.  Mr Cox has been leading work within Whitehall on providing either a time limit on the backstop or giving the UK an exit mechanism from it.  Dublin has insisted the backstop cannot be time-limited if it is to prove effective.
 
Meanwhile, Downing Street has said ministers are looking "with interest" at a letter from Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn setting out the terms on which he would offer his party's backing for Mrs May's deal.
 
A senior No 10 source said the government was "looking at those proposals but there are obviously very considerable points of difference that exist between us.  "The PM continues to believe an independent trade policy is one of the key advantages of Brexit."
 
The Labour leader's five demands include a "permanent and comprehensive UK-wide customs union" aligned with the EU's customs rules but with an agreement "that includes a UK say on future EU trade deals".  Cabinet Office Minister David Lidington has described the latter point as "wishful thinking" but said he would meet Labour's Brexit spokesman Sir Keir Starmer.
 
And while Mr Corbyn's Brexit stance has angered Labour members of the People's Vote campaign, other backbenchers said it opened the possibility of a closer relationship with the EU than Mrs May was currently proposing.  Wrexham MP Ian Lucas told BBC Newsnight this would be favoured by British manufacturers.
 
"There's a natural majority in the House of Commons for a 'soft' Brexit but the prime minister to date has refused to put that natural majority together. What Jeremy has done today is write a letter which could make that happen," he said.
 
•             BBC News
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Headlines Wednesday 6th February 2019
 
ExxonMobil & Qatar Petroleum Move Forward with USD 10 Bn Golden Pass LNG Project
 
Oil and gas major ExxonMobil and partner Qatar Petroleum have made a final investment decision to proceed with development of the Golden Pass LNG export project located in Sabine Pass, Texas.  The companies said that the construction would begin in the first quarter of 2019 and that the facility was expected to start up in 2024.
 
The USD 10+ billion liquefaction project will have capacity to produce around 16 million tons of LNG per year.  Golden Pass awarded the engineering, procurement and construction contracts for the project to a joint venture of Chiyoda International Corporation, McDermott International Inc. and Zachry Group.
 
The project will include three liquefaction trains, each approximately 5.2 million tons per year, as well as other associated utility systems, interconnections to the existing facility and the expansion of the facility’s storm protection levee system.  It will utilize the existing infrastructure including five 155,000 m3 LNG storage tanks, two marine berths to accommodate the largest LNG carriers, and the existing 69-mile Golden Pass Pipeline system with access to U.S. markets.  Golden Pass is part of ExxonMobil’s plans to invest over USD 50 billion over the next five years to build and expand manufacturing facilities in the U.S.
 
Working interests in the Golden Pass LNG export project are 70 percent Qatar Petroleum and 30 percent ExxonMobil.
 
•           World Maritime News
 
Sonardyne Wins £1 Mln Order from Unique Group
 
Integrated subsea and offshore solutions provider Unique Group is bringing the advantages of Sonardyne International Ltd.’s new Fusion 2 and 6+ underwater survey and positioning technologies to its global customer base following orders worth in excess of £1 million.  Unique Group’s orders, announced Tuesday on the opening day of Subsea Expo, in Aberdeen, will see multiple copies of Sonardyne’s Fusion 2 Long BaseLine (LBL) and INS operating platform and a large number of the latest Compatt 6+ seabed transponders and ROVNav 6+ vehicle-mounted transceivers distributed across Unique’s key operational bases.
 
With Fusion 2, Unique Group’s customers will have access to a single software environment in which their surveyors can perform all of their LBL, SPRINT INS and INS aided LBL operations. The software includes the ability to seamlessly switch between modes, as required, and remote access for onshore teams. Together with Sonardyne’s latest 6+ in-water hardware and new Wideband 3 signal protocol, Fusion 2 will speed up projects, through faster combined telemetry and range updates, and enable real-time INS-aided LBL SLAM operations, all with less equipment and fewer interfaces.
 
Unique Group has also ordered Sonardyne’s GyroCompatt 6 positioning transponders, which offer operators real-time positioning and motion data from one small, versatile and robust instrument.
 
Speaking at Subsea Expo, Edd Moller, Global Business Manager – Construction Survey, said, “Launched in November, Fusion 2 is our fastest, most capable survey and construction software system yet, with simple set up, easy to use workflows and an intuitive and flexible user interface. With this significant order for Fusion 2 and our Compatt 6+ and ROVNav 6+ hardware, Unique is demonstrating its confidence as an early adopter in our software and hardware systems. We are equally confident Unique’s customers will see the benefits of both.”
 
Andy Doggett, Group Director – Survey Division, at Unique Group, said, “Fusion 2 will enable our customers to reduce their vessel hardware requirements and interfaces; they will have less equipment to mobilise, which, in turn, will work better for them. With a single time-saving solution that is able to seamlessly switch between full LBL, INS and INS-aided operations at different phases of a project, their operational procedures will also be much simpler.”
 
•           OE Digital
 
Shearwater GeoServices awarded four North Sea seismic contracts
 
Shearwater GeoServices, the Norwegian seismic JV between GC Rieber and Rasmussengruppen, has been awarded four ocean bottom seismic (OBS) surveys in the North Sea.  Aker BP has awarded Shearwater a multi-year OBS contract, with the initial three surveys to be conducted at the Frosk, Ivar Aasen and Valhall fields. The first survey is scheduled to commence in the second quarter of this year, and the three surveys are estimated to take around four months.
 
Equinor has awarded the company an OBS survey at Gullfaks field in Norway, with work commencing in the third quarter of 2019 and estimated to take one month.  Irene Waage Basili, the CEO of Shearwater GeoServices, commented: “We are excited to be chosen by two major petroleum exploration and production (E&P) companies to execute these surveys and leverage our proprietary OBS acquisition system, state-of-the-art vessels and experienced crews.
 
“These awards secure backlog for the full North Sea summer season for two of our OBS vessel platforms and cementing our strong position in the OBS market. We are pleased to see strategically important customers acknowledge this position by awarding additional projects for follow-on seasons.”
 
Two vessels will be used for the contracts, multi-purpose vessels WG Tasman and WG Cook.
 
•           Splash 247
 
EU implodes into Brexit BLAME GAME: Theresa May leaves bloc staring at no-deal 'ABYSS'
 
BREXIT blame games have begun in Brussels as Britain appears to hurtling towards a no-deal divorce and now EU diplomats and officials are moving to ensure Theresa May looks liable for any chaos.  
 
Britain is set to leave the EU on March 29 as Article 50, the exit clause that enabled Brexit, expires two years after it was triggered. But Mrs May is no closer to securing a divorce deal as she struggles to convince MPs in Westminster, leaving EU countries scrambling to prepare for the inventible chaos of a no-deal Brexit. The Prime Minister faces a battle between hardline Brexiteers within the Conservative party and a growing cross-party group of Remainers preventing the ratification of the draft EU withdrawal deal, which was agreed by Mrs May and EU leaders at a special Brussels summit in November last year.   After making promises to renegotiate the controversial Irish backstop, the insurance mechanism to prevent a hard border, fears have engulfed Brussels that the Prime Minister has adopted a Doomsday strategy – essentially playing chicken with rebel MPs.  An EU official said: “My analysis is that we are really heading for the abyss.”  On a potential extension of Article 50, they added: “We may extend to June. But it is coming. The risk of no-deal is huge.”
 
The European Commission has been deliberately tough on Britain with its no-deal preparations, which have been organised by Martin Selmayr, the executive’s secretary-general.  The German-born eurocrat, who is nicknamed the “monster” because of his uncompromising style, insisted any no-deal agreements should no replicate membership in a bid to deter Britain from pursuing a so-called “mini-deals” divorce.
A senior EU official, who is working on the bloc's no-deal preparations, said: "Our plans cannot replicate the withdrawal agreement and are only there to help mitigate the most disruptive effects on EU27 stakeholders."
 
Ahead of Mrs May's crunch trip to Brussels, member state diplomats have expressed concern that nothing substantial will be achieved.
Hinting that the Prime Minister's travel plans are just for show, one diplomat said: "It's for domestic consumption."
Another suggested that the "gruelling" call last week between Mrs May and Donald Tusk, the European Council president, signalled a new low in Brexit negotiations when the Prime Minister suggested the EU come forward with fresh ideas to save her deal.  Mr Tusk said it was down to Britain to reveal what needs to be done in order to win a majority in the House of Commons for the deal.
 
There is a growing desire in Brussels for Mrs May to finally take full "ownership" of her deal. Diplomats are concerned that the Prime Minister was all too happy to rip up nearly two years of negotiating when coming out of support of the amendment tabled by Sir Graham Brady, the chairman of the 1922 Committee of Tory backbench MPs.  The proposal offered the Government a mandate to return to Brussels for further talks to replace the backstop with "alternative arrangements to avoid a hard border".
 
One EU diplomat said: "The deal is crafted around May's red lines, we couldn't have done anything more for her and now she wants to rip it up!"
 
•           Express
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Headlines Tuesday 5th February 2019
 
i-Tech increases Houston workforce following Gulf of Mexico contracts
 
i-Tech Services, a Subsea 7 company, has hired 13 new people in Houston following the award of several new contracts in the Gulf of Mexico during last year.  i-Tech said on Monday that, in order to meet client demand for its range of life-of-field services, the Gulf of Mexico team grew by more than 25%.  Recent contracts included vessel charter renewals and the provision of custom engineering solutions for subsea flow assurance and inspection, repair, and maintenance (IRM) workscopes.
 
Edward Galloway, regional director for the Gulf of Mexico at i-Tech Services, said: “Despite the challenging market conditions, we enjoyed a really successful year in 2018 and expect to build on this success based on our growing capabilities and strong track record in the region.  “Key to winning these awards was i-Tech Services’ ability to provide clients with a complete turnkey solution that protects the integrity and optimizes the performance of subsea infrastructure throughout the life of a field.
 
“To position ourselves for the future and help manage the increasing demand for our services, we have invested in growing the team and the development of new technology solutions to ensure we remain the go-to provider for all our clients’ life of field challenges.”
  • OffshoreEnergyToday
 
Swansea tidal lagoon plan revived – without government funding
 
The backers of a pioneering project to harness energy from the tides off the Welsh coast have rebooted the scheme and believe they can build it without the help of government.  With the recent failure of two major nuclear projects, attention has turned to alternatives to fill the low-carbon power gap, with developers of windfarms and small nuclear plants among those vying for government support.
 
Now the firm behind the proposed Swansea tidal lagoon, for which ministers rejected subsidies last year on the grounds it was too costly, has said it believes the project can work without government money and be built within six years.  Swansea-based Tidal Power plc said several major companies were interested in buying the low-carbon electricity generated by the tide flowing through turbines in a concrete wall along Swansea bay.
 
Property company Land Securities, Cardiff airport and developer Berkeley Group are among those to have expressed an interest in signing a power purchase agreement (PPA) with the lagoon.  Such PPA deals are typically used by big energy users as a way of hedging against future power price rises, or burnishing green credentials by buying from renewable sources. A record 13.4 gigawatts of clean energy contracts were signed last year, according to BloombergNEF.  The lagoon’s backers also believe its prospects will be boosted by adding floating solar panels to the lagoon, ramping up the amount of electricity it generates. UK water companies have already used floating solar power on reservoirs in Manchester, near Heathrow and elsewhere.
 
The addition of solar should increase the Swansea lagoon’s annual energy output by more than a third, up from 572 gigawatt hours, enough to power about 150,000 homes, to about 770GWh.
 
Chris Nutt, the business development manager at Tidal Power, said: “It is becoming widely understood that there is a huge hole left in our long-term energy demands and after the latest cancellation of expected new nuclear capacity our choices if anything have become simpler – saturate the UK coastline with offshore wind or invest in groundbreaking solutions like Swansea Bay.”
 
The company is sounding out big energy users, including leading brands in the professional services, telecoms, media, manufacturing, services and utilities sectors.
Mark Bailey, the director of planning and development at Cardiff airport, said: “The tidal lagoon project … could be a game changer for the Welsh economy.”
The plan is to secure enough signed PPAs by the end of the year to enable a final investment decision in early 2020, with construction starting shortly afterwards. If that timetable were met, the project would be generating power in 2024 or 2025.
 
Going ahead without subsidies would be a rarity for a new power station in the UK, almost all of which rely on some form of government contract or subsidy before being greenlit.  Advocates of the project have said the predictability of the tides could be useful as nuclear falters and variable sources such as solar and wind power grow. But government has been sceptical.
 
The business secretary, Greg Clark, told parliament recently: “No one is more enthusiastic than I about innovation and new technologies, but the truth is that the costs of the proposed [Swansea] project were three times that of Hinkley Point C, and a full programme [of several lagoons] would make a tiny contribution to our energy supply for a much greater cost.”
  • The Guardian
 
Seismic Uptick Suggests New Wave of Recovery
 
Amid mixed reports on the health of the offshore supply chain, the underreported seismic services segment — a bellwether of eventual market growth or decline — is showing signs that another wave of market recovery is just a year away.  Oslo-based analysts and their reports single out companies like Seabird Exploration, PGS and Polarcus as worthy of investment because their survey work is being ordered or looked-at anew by offshore energy companies flush with new acreage. Some, like Equinor and Aker BP, have squirreled away cash in the long wait for rig and other rates to drop.
 
“Typically, we see the seismic space is first to respond to an upswing owing to their library and multi-client offering that responds quickly to changes in oil-company base spending,” says Danske Bank offshore analyst, Joergen Langli.  He confirms the new front-end engineering and design work, or FEED, being awarded of late is “an early indication of value coming back to the market”, but adds that new orders on larger, greenfield projects that’ll be sanctioned in 2019 won’t help build contract backlogs until 2021. The resulting engineering work looks like it will also lag by a year the seismic being ordered now or examined for 2019 and 2020 drilling campaigns.
 
Though arguably hardest hit by the downturn of 2014, seismic outfits might now be recovering the fastest. Their stacked survey vessels at quayside, however, will likely not be hired for at least another year, or not until oil companies begin maturing remote acreage.  Arctic licenses recently awarded in Norway might not see seismic for at least a year, as oil companies work-up acreage in core North Sea areas. A record amount of “recycled” acreage in mature areas — some 82 licenses — were only just awarded companies in Norway, as Oslo set sights on production sooner rather than later.
 
“I would say that arctic exploration is hot when oil companies can afford the exploration scope that that region will require,” says Langli. He confirms oil companies have for the past couple of years busied themselves by sizing up acreage close to export infrastructure.
 
Focus on profit
It isn’t just the North Sea rim that’s bolstering interest in seismic, and several survey outfits report strengthening global revenue forecasts for 2019 after a strong finish to 2018. PGS, for one, noted record high “late” sales of MultiClient (or group sales) to oil companies at year-end, just as it reported increasing cash flow and better market fundamentals.
 
Years of wild growth across the segment are now seen yielding to a focus on profit. One Norwegian newspaper quoted an analyst saying “a turning point” had been reached in seismic, as a range of data had turned in the segment’s favor.
 
While PGS is doing better, it’ll be some time before stacked survey vessels across the segment join the remote-areas exploration fray. “As late as 2016, the global seismic space included far too many vessels,” Langli admits.
 
“The size of the seismic fleet is returning to a point where rates are starting to pick slowly up. What we have seen is that they have reduced their vessel capacity with vessels still at quayside, they’ve laid-off and they’ve trimmed their organizations,” he says.
 
The global supply of vessels has roughly halved since 2015. Upwards of 40 percent of the workforce has been cut, Langli says, and companies have slimmed down from “several management layers to one for two”. Vessels, too, have been sold-off at a discount.  Danske Bank Markets, which has oil heading for 70 dollars in its scenario, sees industry-wide cash flow increasing further by year-end.
 
Better times
“After that, the greenfield and arctic pick-up, and that’s when the fun starts,” Langlis says. “The bottom line for the whole supply chain is we need to see more demand. We have looked at the different supply side on rigs, seismic and subsea, and we see that across all sectors, supply is just so high relative to 2014. You need to tighten the supply slack across the whole value-chain before you can see price traction across the segments,” he says.
 
Danske Bank Markets, meanwhile, sees E&P spending slowly increasing in 2019 over 2018 toward an overall nine percent for 2019 versus 2018.  “For some sub-segments, pre-2014 demand needs to be brought back” before the supply of seismic and other subsea services increases, he adds.
 
PGS, meanwhile, reported in January that its contract rates are up 35 percent over the 2018 average. It is also seeing a UK market “coming back to life with positive signs of capital investment returning” after a recent round of regulatory moves.
  • OE Digital
 
UK ports and Brexit - ready or not?
 
Prepared or not prepared? That’s quite a question. According to a survey on preparedness for Brexit by Odgers Berndtson, only 16% of about 100 UK ports and harbour authorities have made any ‘significant or practical’ plans for Brexit, but 59% expect a negative or strongly negative impact.  The survey also reports that only 25% of UK port leaders think they are currently in a position to handle Brexit [the departure of the UK from the European Union] well; one-third believe they could cope but ideally with further investment. And that, of course, is the sticking point.
 
The British Ports Association (BPA) responded by pointing out that ports and terminals are considering a range of potential outcomes but uncertainty has made it difficult for them to make firm investment decisions. “Like many others in the logistics chain, ports are considering their options and awaiting details from the Government as to what the final trading environment will look like,” said a statement.
 
Extensive planning and discussion
Richard Ballantyne, chief executive of the BPA, said: “The ports industry has been involved in extensive planning and discussion with the UK Government on the challenges a no-deal Brexit would present but, given that there is still no certainty around our trading relationship with Europe after Brexit, it is not surprising that some ports have been unable to fully prepare.”
 
There is a variety of levels of exposure to Brexit challenges across the UK ports sector, he said. “It has been clear from the outset that ferry ports in particular face significant challenges and we know that the Government is well aware of these. The industry has been working at a national level as well as with local resilience forums and other groups to ensure that ports and partners across the freight and logistics sectors – including Government agencies at the border – will be prepared for any potential disruption.”
 
The BPA has been asking the Government for the past two years to ensure that there is sufficient time to implement any necessary changes at the border and has been urging ministers to avoid a ‘no deal’ scenario if at all possible, said Ballantyne.
 
The response to the survey was a little more optimistic from the UK Major Ports Group (UKPMG), whose chief executive, Tim Morris, said: “The survey is not reflective of the experience of UKMPG members, the very largest ports handling 75% of UK port volumes, who have been engaged with considerable Brexit activity. In many cases the biggest ports already handle significant quantities of non-EU cargoes so already have the systems and processes in place for handling ‘third country’ trade.”
 
The UK’s port sector has proved itself over time to be resilient and adaptable, said Morris. “We expect the same to be the case with Brexit, although greater clarity from politicians on the future relationship and the route to it would undoubtedly make transition quicker and smoother.”
 
Post-Brexit supply chain reliability
Hutchison Ports (UK) has dived into the fray last week, launching its own ‘Guide to post-Brexit supply chain reliability’. This highlights the shortsea shipping routes between its UK ports – Felixstowe, Harwich and Thamesport – and the European Union, and says that ‘in the climate of uncertainty facing the logistics world, Hutchison Ports is best placed to navigate any disruption that Brexit may cause’.
 
“As the UK prepares for life outside the EU, its importers, exporters and transport operators must review their logistics strategies to prevent interruption to their supply chains,” it says. “Hutchison Ports already provides alternatives to the busiest cross-Channel routes for accompanied traffic, and options to switch to unaccompanied trailer traffic or shortsea containers.”
 
Increased ro-ro capacity
Recently the Port of Felixstowe and DFDS announced an agreement to increase ro-ro capacity by more than 40%, by replacing one of the existing ro-ro bridges with a floating linkspan, investing in more tractor units and creating more than 300 more parking spaces for unaccompanied trailers.
 
“As well as being the UK’s largest container port, Felixstowe is also a key gateway for roll-on/roll-off trade with Europe,” said ceo Clemence Cheng. “Demand on DFDS’s service to Rotterdam has been growing steadily for a number of years and we are delighted to have agreed a new contract with them to secure the service at Felixstowe for another 15 years.”
 
The investment is driven by long-term confidence in the route, he said. “We are seeing increased interest in both ro-ro and shortsea container connections at all three of our UK ports as shippers seek to minimise risks to their supply chains resulting from Brexit.”
 
  • Seatrade-maritime
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Headlines Monday 4th February 2019
 
Sempra Energy Gets Final EIS for Port Arthur LNG Project
 
Sempra Energy’s Port Arthur LNG export project and two natural gas pipelines have received the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).  The proposed Port Arthur LNG project in Jefferson County, Texas, is expected to include two natural gas liquefaction trains capable of processing 11 million tonnes per annum of liquefied natural gas, up to three LNG storage tanks and associated facilities and new natural gas transmission pipelines in Texas and Louisiana.
 
The FEIS is the final step in the environmental review process before FERC can proceed to issue an order approving the project.  “Today’s positive review of our Port Arthur liquefaction-export project and new pipeline projects by the FERC represents a significant step forward as we remain focused on becoming North America’s premier infrastructure company,” said Carlos Ruiz Sacristán, president and CEO of Sempra North American Infrastructure Group.
 
Last month, Port Arthur LNG and the Polish Oil & Gas Company signed a definitive 20-year sale-and-purchase agreement for LNG from the Port Arthur LNG as part of Sempra Energy’s long-term goal of exporting 45 Mtpa of North American LNG to meet the global demand. The agreement is subject to certain conditions, including Port Arthur LNG making a final investment decision.
 
Development of the Port Arthur LNG liquefaction facility is contingent upon obtaining additional customer commitments, completing the required commercial agreements, securing all necessary permits, obtaining financing, incentives and other factors, and reaching a final investment decision.
  • World Maritime News
 
Aker BP hits oil and gas at Froskelar Main well offshore Norway
 
Norwegian oil company Aker BP has hit oil and gas at it its Froskelar Main exploration well in the North Sea offshore Norway.  The company on Monday said that preliminary analysis indicates a gross discovery size of 45-153 million barrels oil equivalents.  The Froskelår Main well, formally named exploration well 24/9-14, is located in the Alvheim area and follows the Frosk discovery from last year.
 
The major part of the discovery is in license 869 on the Norwegian Continental Shelf, while a part may straddle the UK-Norwegian border in the North Sea. The well is being drilled using the Scarabeo 8 semi-submersible drilling rig owned by Saipem.  “The drilling operation will continue, and a comprehensive data collection program will be performed to determine the size and quality of the discovery. More information will be provided when this work has been completed,” Aker BP said.
 
Aker BP is the operator and holds 60 percent interest in license 869. The partners are Lundin Norway (20 percent) and Vår Energi (20 percent).  In a recent capital markets day presentation, AKER BP said it planned a high-potential 2019 exploration program with 15 prospects to be drilled, targeting net unrisked prospective resources of 500 million barrels of oil equivalents (mmboe). The company has set aside $500 million for exploration in 2019, which is an increase compared to $359 million in 2018.
  • Offshore Energy Today
 
Oil and gas industry can thrive with UK Government support, say MPs
 
The UK Government has been told it needs to step up “urgently” to protect the future of Scotland’s oil and gas industry.  The Scottish Affairs Committee at Westminster has published a report outlining significant challenges facing the sector and recommendations to ensure it can thrive.
 
The committee heard from academics, industry bodies, unions, energy and climate change specialists, experts in decommissioning and regulators, as well as the UK and Scottish Governments, over the course of an inquiry.  Noting the sector had “come through a significant and challenging downturn”, the committee report calls on the UK Government to agree an “ambitious sector deal” to protect the future of the industry.
 
It states: “The opportunities presented by an oil and gas sector deal for Scotland are too significant to be overlooked.  “The sector deal would both provide energy security for the UK for decades to come and support the industry to remain a global leader in energy production.”
 
The committee recommends developing new technology to maximise the recovery of 10 to 20 billion barrels of oil and gas remaining in the UK Continental Shelf, helping the industry reduce its carbon footprint, and supporting the transfer of skills and technology from the oil and gas sector into other industries.  Scotland should be enormously proud of its globally recognised oil and gas industry.  The industry contributed £9.2 billion to the Scottish economy in 2017, supporting 135,000 jobs, according to the report.
 
Scottish Affairs Committee chairman and SNP MP Pete Wishart said: “Scotland should be enormously proud of its globally recognised oil and gas industry.
 
“However, the industry is going through a period of immense change as it prepares for a challenging future and the Government urgently needs to step up and support the industry.  
 
“My committee’s report sets out a pathway for the future of the industry – a sector deal that would support the industry’s past, present and future.
 
“There is potentially another 30 years of oil and gas production in the North Sea but it’s important the sector uses this time to ensure the sector’s future as production starts to slow.
 
“To do this the Government needs to support the sector in exporting its skills and expertise around the world and to transfer the sector’s world leading engineering into other sectors, like renewable energy and carbon capture technology.
 
“Only by doing this can the Government ensure that in 30 years the north east of Scotland is still home to a world-class energy sector.”
 
Director of environmental campaign group Friends of the Earth Scotland, Richard Dixon was strongly critical of the report, saying: “This is an utterly complacent report which slavishly supports the oil and gas industry’s aim of getting every last drop of oil out of the North Sea while assuming that eye-wateringly expensive technology will save the industry from its own carbon emissions.
 
“Climate change is an existential crisis for human civilisation and this report could have marked a turning point by acknowledging that we need to leave most of the fossil fuels we know about where they are. Instead it fully sanctions the industry to continue to fry the planet.”
 
He added: “MPs and both the Scottish and UK governments continue to see no contradiction between the urgent need to reduce climate emissions and actively encouraging the industry to pump even more fossil fuels.”  Mr Dixon called for an immediate halt to new oil exploration and a plan to phase out existing production and transfer workers to green energy jobs.  He questioned the economic viability of carbon capture technology and said it “will probably never happen on a large scale”.
 
A spokeswoman for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said: “Oil and gas remains one of the most productive and important sectors of the UK economy. We welcome this report and will consider the committee’s recommendations.”
  • The Courier
 
Brexit: Talks on backstop 'alternative arrangements'
 
Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay, MPs and government officials will discuss alternative arrangements to the Irish backstop as three days of talks begin.  The Alternative Arrangements Working Group, with Leave and Remain MPs, will meet for the first time on Monday after the Commons voted to find another way of avoiding a hard Irish border.  Home Secretary Sajid Javid has said "existing technology" could be used.
 
The Irish PM said the UK was reviewing ideas that had "already been rejected".  The backstop is an insurance policy - designed to avoid a hard border "under all circumstances" between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.  Leo Varadkar told RTE radio it was "very frustrating" the UK government was "going back to the idea of technology".
 
The UK is due to leave the EU at 23:00 GMT on Friday 29 March, when the two-year time limit on withdrawal negotiations enforced by the Article 50 process expires.  A number of cabinet ministers have indicated they would be willing to agree to a short extension to finalise legislation for Brexit, including Justice Secretary David Gauke.
 
Mr Gauke - who is opposed to leaving without a deal - told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "We need to leave the EU in a smooth and orderly way and our objective is to do that on 29 March. But I think it's important it is a smooth and orderly departure and that is key."
 
What is the working group?
Number 10 said the working group of Conservative MPs was set up following "significant support" for the so-called "Malthouse Compromise" - named after housing minister Kit Malthouse who encouraged talks between different groups of MPs.
 
Engineered by both Leavers and Remainers, the proposal includes extending the transition period for a year until the end of 2021 and protecting EU citizens' rights, instead of using the backstop.  Members of the working group include Conservative MPs Steve Baker, Marcus Fysh, Owen Paterson, Damian Green and Nicky Morgan.  The group will hold regular meetings with Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay, as well as senior government officials from HMRC, Cabinet Office Europe Unit and Number 10.
 
Mr Fysh said the group had spoken to the EU and it was "very open" to the proposals, adding that they were not based on new technology.  He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "These are proposals that have not been discussed in the negotiations yet. The UK government has not properly looked at these proposals either."
 
The working group will also hold meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday.  Mr Gauke said he welcomed "parliamentary colleagues trying to be constructive [and] trying to find a way to meet the competing objectives".
 
He added: "I know this working group are going to be working with officials to examine and test these arguments to see if there is anything we can pursue. We need to do that work and then proceed with an approach that can deliver."
  • BBC News

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Headlines Friday 1st February 2019
 
BP to expand emissions disclosure on oil investments
 
BP has agreed to broaden its disclosure on greenhouse gas emissions to show how it thinks future investments in oil and gas align with U.N.-backed climate goals, it said on Friday.
 
Following talks with a large group of investors, BP also agreed to back a shareholder resolution on the measures at its annual general meeting (AGM), further evidence of the way the energy industry and investors are engaging on climate issues.  The agreement with a group of investors with $32 trillion under management, known as Climate Action 100+, comes weeks after rival Royal Dutch Shell agreed to introduce broad carbon emissions targets linked to executive pay.
 
Unlike other companies, BP has agreed to detail how major future investments in fossil fuels will be consistent with the 2015 Paris agreement to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by the end of the century by phasing out fossil fuels.  It will set out new metrics to measure greenhouse gas emissions from its operations.  BP said in a statement it would link carbon targets to the remuneration of 36,000 of its employees, including executive directors.  If the resolution is approved at the AGM, BP will introduce these changes into its reporting for 2019 onwards.
 
But the joint agreement revealed a fundamental rift with investors over BP’s statement that its strategy today was in line with the Paris agreement.  “Investors remain concerned that the company has not yet demonstrated that its strategy, which includes growth in oil and gas as well as pursuing low carbon businesses, is consistent with the Paris goals,” Climate Action 100+ said in statement.
 
BP plans to rapidly grow oil and gas production over the next five years thanks to more than a dozen new projects launched in recent years, as well as the $10.5 billion acquisition of BHP’s U.S. shale portfolio last year.  “We will be open and transparent about our ambitions and targets as well as our progress against them,” BP Chairman Helge Lund said in a statement.  BP Chief Executive Officer Bob Dudley has repeatedly said that while the oil and gas sector needs to play a role in the transition to low carbon energy, it still needs to meet growing demand for fossil fuels, particularly in emerging economies.  “BP is committed to helping solve the dual challenge of providing more energy with fewer emissions. We are determined to advance the energy transition while also growing shareholder value,” Lund said.
 
Investors and analysts have said many oil and gas projects, such as complex and expensive investments in Canada or some deepwater basins, will not be needed in the transition to a low carbon energy.  
 
While BP agreed to increase its disclosure around climate, it also rejected another resolution tabled by climate activist group Follow This calling for emission reduction targets for all its operations, including emissions from products it sells to customers, known as Scope 3.  BP announced in April plans to keep carbon emissions flat over the decade to 2025 even as its oil and gas output was set to grow. It also plans to invest up to $500 million per year on renewable energies such as solar, wind and power storage.
  • Reuters
 
Satellite firm Spire moves into shipping industry
 
One of the world's biggest satellite companies has announced a move into the global shipping industry.  US firm Spire has been developing technology to support maritime radar, which helps ships avoid collisions at sea.  The company, whose European headquarters are in Glasgow, gathers data through its low-Earth orbit satellite network.
 
Spire's John Lusk said the industry as a whole was on the cusp of huge growth.  Mr Lusk, general manager of Spire Maritime, said the space data they collected was of use to the maritime industry.  He said: "We're able to take that data, tracking ships in the wide open ocean and do data analytics and provide solutions for companies in the maritime industry to help them become more efficient."  He added: "We've been operating in 'stealth mode' for the last year, trying to get a sense of if there was a opportunity with our maritime data.  "Our customers are constantly asking us for more solutions around the maritime industry, we felt this was a great opportunity to spin off maritime as a business."  
 
San Francisco-based Spire is also playing a key role in Scotland's growing space industry.  In the past two years, Glasgow has built more satellites than any other city in Europe, and Scotland is now in a prime position to become home the UK's first spaceport.
 
Mr Lusk told the BBC's Good Morning Scotland programme: "If you look at investment in big data, I think we're at the very beginning of massive investment in the space industry.  "If you think about a satellite launched even two decades ago, you were looking at a multi-billion dollar massive bus that we had to launch into space.  "Through technology and innovation, those satellites are becoming much smaller and launching satellites into space is not that expensive compared to what it used to be."
  • BBC News
 
SSE to sell £635m stake in wind farms to Greencoat UK Wind
 
Energy giant SSE is selling a 49.9% stake in two Highland wind farms to Greencoat UK Wind for £635 million. The Glasgow-based energy company will use part of the funds for a £200 million share buyback.
 
The remaining proceeds will be used to reduce SSE's net debt.  The buyback is expected to commence before the transaction completes.  The stakes, at Stronelairg, near Fort Augustus,  and Dunmaglass, south of Inverness, equate to 160.6MW (megawatts) of capacity which implies an average valuation for the two wind farms of around £4 million/MW.  SSE will continue to operate both assets while future development rights are in line with equity share. The transaction is expected to complete by the end of March 2019.
 
Following this, and the completion of the Beatrice offshore wind farm (SSE share 40% or 235MW), expected in Spring 2019, SSE's renewable generation capacity will be around 4GW (gigawatts) with an expected average annual electricity output of around 11.5TWh.  Greencoat is raising £131 million through a placing of new ordinary shares at 127p per share. Proceeds from the placing will be used to repay or reduce future draw downs under revolving credit facility, which has been increased to £525 million.
 
Following the completion of the acquisitions, Greencoat expects to have £794 million of outstanding debt, of which £400 million is long term debt.  Tim Ingram, Chairman of Greencoat UKW, said: "I am delighted to announce the acquisition of these two high load factor, ROC accredited wind farms, which will deliver attractive investment returns. This transaction builds on our longstanding relationship with SSE and we are delighted to be co-investing with a major UK pension fund partner."
It's not the first deal between the firms. In 2016 SSE agreed to sell a 49.9 per cent stake in the 349.6MW Clyde Wind Farm in South Lanarkshire for £355 million to Greencoat UK Wind.  Greencoat UK Wind currently owns stakes in around 10 wind farms in Scotland.
 
Gregor Alexander, SSE's Finance Director, said: "Both Stronelairg and Dunmaglass are a testament to SSE's ability to design, develop, construct and operate first class renewable energy assets. Onshore wind makes a huge contribution to supplying low carbon electricity to the GB market and to meeting the UK's carbon reduction targets.  The sale of stakes in these wind farms to Greencoat is a continuation of SSE's longstanding approach of partnering and securing value for shareholders at appropriate times."
 
Stronelairg is 228MW, consisting of 66 Vestas 3.45MW turbines, with an expected annual load factor, on a P50 basis, of 42% and a build cost of £1.5m/MW.  Dunmaglass is 94MW, consisting of 33 GE 2.85MW turbines, with an expected average annual load factor, on a P50 basis of, of 43% and a build cost of £2.2m/MW (including acquisition cost of the development).
 
Combined, the average cost to build these assets was £1.7m/MW.  Both windfarms have 0.9/MWh Renewable Obligation Certificates which run to September 2036 for Dunmaglass and March 2037 for Stronelairg.
  • Insider
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Headlines Thursday 31st January 2019
 
Britain auctions 300 million barrel offshore oil, gas field
 
Britain’s Oil and Gas Authority has launched an offshore licensing round for a field in the North Sea that is estimated to hold as much as 300 million barrels of oil equivalent (boe), it said on Thursday.  Companies have until May 2 to bid for the Greater Buchan Area, where oil production started in 1981 but where much volume is believed to remain untapped, and which the OGA would like to see exploited by companies partnering up.
 
“This is a material opportunity. To put this in context, the last discovery made in the UK of this scale was Rosebank in 2004,” said Ross Cassidy, senior research manager for the North Sea at Wood Mackenzie.
 
“The... volumes are a mix of redevelopment, undeveloped and yet-to-find volumes...(It) is surrounded with infrastructure at Golden Eagle, Buzzard, Scott, Forties and Kittiwake, making a tie-back to existing infrastructure possible. A minimum of 75 million boe is likely to be required to be commercially viable.”  The auction starts after Total and partners including China’s CNOOC announced a new gas discovery in the British North Sea’s Glengorm prospect, with recoverable resources estimated at around 250 million barrels boe.
 
The British North Sea has been undergoing a revival, attracting a new breed of investors in the form of private equity backed oil companies and majors rejigging their portfolios in the region.  The OGA plans to auction other mature offshore licenses this summer.
  • Reuters
 
Austal Delivers New Ferry to Molslinjen
 
Australian shipbuilding company Austal has delivered a new vehicle passenger ferry to Danish ferry operator Molslinjen.  As informed, the ship, to be named Express 4, is the largest commercial ferry by volume Austal has ever built at its Henderson shipyard.  Construction of the AUD 109 million (USD 79.2 million) ferry commenced in 2017, using an enhanced design based on the shipbuilder’s catamaran platform, but with a new optimized hull shape and vessel weight minimization solution to deliver better performance and greater fuel efficiency.
 
The 109-meter vessel can carry up to 1,000 tons and is capable of transporting more than 1,000 passengers and 425 cars. It will operate at speeds up to 40 knots and during testing achieved a top speed of 47.8 knots (88km/hour), powered by four engines.
 
“The design and engineering enhancements … will enable Molslinjen to achieve lower operating costs and deliver an enhanced passenger experience, two of the most important factors for global operators of large, high speed ferries,” David Singleton, Austal CEO, said.  The official delivery of Express 4 to Molslinjen marks the start of a 27-day voyage from Henderson to its home port in Odden in Denmark, via Sri Lanka, the Suez canal and Malta.
 
The vessel is expected to commence regular ferry services in the Kattegat Sea from mid-March 2019.
  • World Maritime News
 
Scottish budget: Greens hopeful of reaching deal
 
The minority SNP government will need the support of MSPs from at least one other party if it is to pass its spending plans for the coming year.  Talks with the Greens are understood to be at an advanced stage, but an agreement has not yet been reached.  MSPs are due to hold their first vote on the budget proposals at 17:00.
 
If the budget bill passes the stage one vote, amendments will be considered by the finance committee before a final vote of MSPs on 21 February.  Finance Secretary Derek Mackay unveiled his plans in December, with his budget including extra funding for education, the health service and infrastructure alongside a widening of the tax gap for higher earners north and south of the border.
 
The Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats have already ruled out backing the proposals, partly because the Scottish government has refused to rule out calling for another referendum on independence.  The pro-independence Greens - who have backed the previous two budgets - have demanded more money for councils and a commitment to "meaningful reform" of local government taxation - including the council tax, before they can give it their support this time.
 
Speaking to the BBC's Good Morning Scotland programme, Green MSP Andy Wightman said: "The main sticking point, to be frank, is the budget settlement itself and the settlement in particular for local government, and that's what we've been negotiating.  "The talks broke down last week, there was some movement on Tuesday, yesterday we had quite a difficult conversation about our approach and there was a bit of movement last night."
 
When asked whether his party would vote with the government on Thursday afternoon, he replied: "Well we're not quite there yet but I seriously do hope so because Scotland needs a budget.  "I think other parties are posturing. There has been no serious negotiations by them and I think that's a dereliction of their responsibility to the electorate who rely on a budget, who rely on stability, who rely on knowing that public services are going to be there."
 
Mr Mackay has claimed the budget was being "imperilled by the opposition engaging in a destructive fashion", but has also said he was confident his proposals would ultimately win the backing of a majority of MSPs.  He added: "I'm proposing a budget that invests record sums in the NHS, more for education and the economy.  "And I think it's really important when we face the Westminster chaos that there's stability and certainty in the Scottish Parliament for Scotland's public services.  "So I'm proposing a budget that does stability, economic stimulus and sustainability for our public services."
 
The Greens have essentially two demands.  They want longer term reform of the way local government is financed - I think they'll get that, in fact they've got it already. There's a deal done - a promise of legislation by the end of this parliament and a green light for the prospect of a local tourist tax.
 
But the Greens also want a substantial increase in spending on local government this year, for 2019-20, and that is the sticking point.  Derek Mackay is prepared to budge, to move in their direction - but he doesn't want to increase income tax further than existing plans and he doesn't want to increase business rates.  With First Minister Nicola Sturgeon expected to make an announcement on independence in the coming weeks, Scottish Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser said the government should instead focus on growing the economy.
 
He added: "Our number ask for this budget to help our economy was for the SNP to rule out a second independence referendum, which people in business keep telling us is the biggest risk they currently have to future prosperity."  Labour's finance spokesman James Kelly urged all MSPs to reject the budget, saying that "no credible anti-austerity party would ever propose it and all credible anti-austerity parties should vote against it".
 
And Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie said the SNP should "take independence off the table" so there could instead be a focus on "teachers' pay, local government money and mental health services".
  • BBC News

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Headlines Wednesday 30th January 2019
 
Brittany Ferries: Delivery of New LNG-Powered Ferry Delayed
 
Brittany Ferries’ new LNG-powered ferry Honfleur will not be delivered in time for the 2019 summer season, as scheduled, the shipping company informed.  Being built at the Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaft yard (FSG) in Germany, the ship was originally scheduled to enter service in April 2019 on the company’s Caen-Ouistreham (France) and Portsmouth (UK) route.  However, the German shipyard is reportedly facing a financial crisis. As explained by Brittany Ferries, the financial difficulties are consequence of penalties imposed for late delivery of Irish Ferries’ newest ship, W.B. Yeats.
 
“Brittany Ferries awaits a concrete proposal from FSG to secure the contract to deliver Honfleur. The company hopes this will come in the very near future and will communicate in more detail at that time,” Brittany Ferries said.  “Passengers who have booked travel on Honfleur from 9 July, will automatically be transferred to Brittany Ferries Normandie. The company apologises for any inconvenience and disappointment that this change will cause,” the company added.
 
Following the steel-cutting in March 2018 and keel laying in August, the 1,680-passenger, 42,400 gross ton Honfleur was launched in December.  When it enters service, Honfleur will be the first ferry on the English Channel to be powered by LNG, according to the company. The ship’s hull has been hydro-dynamically optimized — this combined with gas-electric propulsion machinery will reduce energy consumption while minimizing vibration and noise levels.
 
In 2017, the environmentally-friendly LNG-powered ferry received financial support from the European Investment Bank’s EUR 750 million Green Shipping Guarantee (GSG) program.
  • World Maritime News
 
Steps to achieving zero emission vessels outlined in new study
 
A new study on how vessels can achieve zero emissions has been released by Lloyd’s Register (LR) and University Maritime Advisory Services (UMAS), showing what is needed for shipping as it heads toward the IMO 2050 greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction strategy.  The new ‘Zero-Emission Vessels Transition Pathways’ study aims to show what is needed to enable the transition, both at the ship and supply infrastructure level, to deliver zero-emission vessels (ZEVs) to ahead of 2050, and demonstrate to all stakeholders what action needs to be taken today.
 
Broadly, the study looks at key milestones, barriers and enablers over the specified time frame, and considers cost implications, operating profile and how policy measures such as carbon pricing could influence the outcomes.  The study indicates that all pathways explored will achieve the IMO ambition of at least 50% reduction in GHG emissions by 2050 and go beyond to show that zero carbon is possible.
 
Early action is needed, particularly during 2020-2030, as there is still uncertainty when choosing one fuel, one technology and one route, leading to the emergence of pilots and prototypes, development of policies, standards and rules.  In the 2030s, the market will see a scaling up of zero-carbon solutions.
 
“We expect to see a consolidation of what the dominant technologies for use on board will be and the interactions between end-fuel price, machinery costs and revenue loss will be better understood. We will start to see ships being designed to store less energy on board and changes to their operating profile to bunker more frequently,” said a joint statement from LR and UMAS.
 
“We expect that by 2050, and beyond consolidation of the market, to see an end fuel mix dominated by one family of fuels.”
For example, a growing share of biofuels in the 2020s with ongoing efforts to develop fuels produced from renewable electricity, referred to as electro-fuels, resulting in a major shift to electro-fuels in the 2040s and 2050s.
 
In order to achieve at least a 50% reduction in CO2 by 2050, ZEVs need to be entering the fleet around 2030. Also, a significant portion of newbuilds will have to be zero emission to compensate for the non-zero emissions of the existing fleet.
 
“And for those not directly associated with ship building or operating: the shipping industry must now establish collaborative joint ventures involving the shipping industry partners but also fuel technology companies, equipment manufacturers and energy developers from other industry sectors so we can develop, scale and commercialise the uptake of ZEVs.”
  • Seatrade Maritime News
 
Brexit: Theresa May set for further talks with EU leaders
 
Theresa May is expected to continue talks with EU leaders in the coming days after MPs backed a proposal for her to renegotiate her Brexit deal.  MPs voted 317 to 301 in favour of replacing the backstop - the insurance policy designed to avoid a hard border in Ireland in the event of no deal.  But the EU has said it will not change the legal text agreed with the UK PM.  Employers' group the CBI said businesses are likely to accelerate their plans for a no-deal Brexit.
 
Carolyn Fairbairn, head of the CBI, said: "I don't think there will be a single business this morning who is stopping or halting their no-deal planning as a result of what happened yesterday.  "The amendment feels like a real throw of the dice."
 
BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg said Mrs May had won a little more time and momentum with the vote, but it was now the "end political game" and a "high stakes" moment for EU leaders.  The prime minister is due to meet Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn later for talks, after MPs backed an amendment rejecting the idea of a no-deal Brexit.  He had previously refused to meet Mrs May unless she ruled out a no-deal Brexit herself.  Mrs May said that, after taking the votes into account and talking to the EU, any revised deal would be brought back to the Commons "as soon as possible" for a second "meaningful vote".  However, various EU leaders have suggested there will be no revisions to the deal, with European Council President Donald Tusk saying: "The backstop is part of the withdrawal agreement, and the withdrawal agreement is not open for renegotiation."
 
French President Emmanuel Macron also said the agreement was "not renegotiable", while Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said the backstop arrangement remained "necessary" despite the vote.  Mr Tusk added the EU would, however, be willing to look at the political declaration again - the part of the deal that makes a pledge on the future relationship between the UK and the EU - and that the EU would "stand ready" to consider any "reasoned request" for an extension to the leave date of 29 March.  BBC Europe editor Katya Adler said there were "no cracks" in EU unity, with its leaders united with Ireland and their desire to keep the backstop.  
 
Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that Tuesday's vote had "overturned a defeat of 230 into a victory", referring to the crushing defeat of Mrs May's deal in the Commons earlier this month.  The prime minster now had a "clear mandate" to take to Brussels, he said.  When asked what alternatives there were to the backstop, Mr Barclay said the UK was "exploring in terms of the use of technology... looking at things like the time limit".  He said: "There are a number of options, there are issues in terms of having time limits, issues in terms of exit clauses, issues in terms of technology and this will be the nature of the negotiation with the European Union in the coming days."
 
Environment Secretary Michael Gove told the BBC that Mrs May "got a handsome majority" and it was clear that "the backstop will have to change".  Former Brexit secretary Dominic Raab told Today: "The EU themselves said: 'Tell us what you want'.  "We're going back. The prime minister's hand is strengthened - with some discreet, focused and eminently reasonable changes to the backstop."  He insisted that changes to the deal could be made, adding: "The question isn't whether the EU can do it, it's whether they want to do it - the ball is squarely in their court."
 
An amendment rejecting a no-deal Brexit also won the support of Parliament on Tuesday - but the vote was not binding, meaning the date for exit remains 29 March.  Nevertheless, Mr Corbyn said as a result of the message from MPs rejecting no deal, he would now meet the prime minister to discuss the next steps.  On Tuesday Mr Corbyn said: "After months of refusing to take the chaos of no deal off the table, the prime minister must now face the reality that no deal is not an option."
 
Labour's Jack Dromey, whose amendment with Tory MP Caroline Spelman to reject no-deal was passed despite being opposed by the government, told the Today programme: "What was welcome about yesterday were the exchanges after the vote between the prime minister and Jeremy Corbyn, that negotiations would at last commence - because we cannot crash out without a deal."
 
Five other amendments, including Labour MP Yvette Cooper's bid to delay Brexit if Mrs May does not get her deal through Parliament, were defeated.  Former first secretary of state Damian Green told the Today programme that the vote would "narrow down" talks with the EU.  "Let's have some intense negotiation, on that spot," he said.  He added: "Just as inside the Conservative Party people have had to compromise, Brussels will have to compromise."  Mrs May is hoping the support for Sir Graham Brady's amendment to look at alternatives to the backstop gives her a stronger negotiating position with the EU.  The controversial element of the PM's original plan is the insurance policy to prevent checks on goods and people returning to the Northern Ireland border.  It would effectively keep the UK inside the EU's customs union, but with Northern Ireland also conforming to some rules of the single market.  It was one of the main reasons Mrs May's Brexit deal was voted down in Parliament by an historic margin earlier in January as critics say a different status for Northern Ireland could threaten the existence of the UK and fear that the backstop could become permanent.  She told the Commons there was now a "substantial and sustainable" majority of MPs supporting leaving the EU with a deal, but admitted renegotiation "will not be easy".
 
The leader of the Democratic Unionist Party in Westminster, Nigel Dodds, said it was a "significant night" and his MPs would work with the prime minister "to deliver the right deal for the United Kingdom".  But the leader of the SNP in Westminster, Ian Blackford, said that passing the amendment had seen the government "rip up the Good Friday Agreement" - integral to the peace process in Northern Ireland.  Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable said the Commons had given the prime minister "contradictory instructions to have no deal but pursue a course of action that will lead to a no deal"
  • BBC News
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Headlines Tuesday 29th January 2019
 
Total announces second UK offshore gas discovery in 4 months
 
North Sea discovery was ‘huge’ compared to normal finds, analyst says  France's Total and Cnooc, the Chinese state-controlled oil and gas operator, say they have made another significant gas discovery in the UK North Sea, the second in four months.
 
The two companies said on Tuesday that the latest discovery, where recoverable resources are estimated to be equivalent to 250m barrels of oil equivalent, is in the Central Graben area, in waters to the east of Aberdeen and close to other significant fields, including the Culzean gas project which is due to come in to production later this year and Total's Elgin-Franklin platform.  Analysts at Cantor Fitzgerald said the latest find was "huge" relative to the average size of discoveries in UK waters.
 
The discovery at the Glengorm prospect is the second for Total in four months, after the French oil major announced in September that it had made the largest UK oil and gas find in a decade, west of the Shetland islands.  Total has a 25 per cent interest in the Glengorm discovery while Cnooc, the operator, holds 50 per cent. The remaining 25 per cent is held by Italian energy group Edison. 
 
Kevin McLachlan, senior vice president of exploration at Total, said results of drilling at the Glengorm prospect were at the "top end of expectations".
  • Financial Times
 
DFDS Awarded Brexit Contract by the UK
 
Danish shipping and logistics company DFDS has been awarded a contract by the UK government to provide additional ferry capacity in the North Sea.  The UK Department for Transport awarded the contract to the ferry operator in order to prepare for “the possibility of severe congestion at and around UK ports from 29.3.2019, caused by increased border checks by European Union Member States”.
 
As explained, a no-deal Brexit scenario could cause disruption at the Dover-Calais crossing to the supply of vital goods.  Under the contract worth €47 million (USD 53.7 million), DFDS has agreed to provide additional capacity on Immingham – Cuxhaven, Immingham – Rotterdam, and Felixstowe – Rotterdam.  The plan includes two further companies — Brittany Ferries and Seaborne Freight — and a total contract value for all three companies of GBP 103 million (USD 131.3 million).
 
“As this is a matter for the UK Department for Transport to announce, we were unable to say anything on this before they had done so, and we also need to leave it to them to provide further details,” Henrik Tidblad, DFDS’ Commercial Fleet Director, said. Together with a team of internal and external resources he negotiated the contract.  DFDS will secure the additional capacity primarily through moving around ships in its network and performing extra round trips.
  • World Maritime News
 
Royal Mail narrows full-year profit view, sees letter volumes to fall more
 
Royal Mail Plc narrowed its full-year profit forecast on Tuesday and guided to a larger-than-expected decline in addressed letter volumes, as people continue to shun traditional mail for electronic alternatives.  Royal Mail has been reviewing its operations and testing new modes, including automation, to deliver post and parcels as its attempts to cut costs have been slower than expected.
 
The former British postal monopoly said it expected adjusted operating profit before transformation costs to range between 500 million pounds and 530 million pounds for the year ending March 31, below its previous forecast of 500 million pounds to 550 million pounds.  It had posted an adjusted operating profit before costs of 694 million pounds a year earlier.
 
The company, which was recently downgraded from the blue-chip index to the mid-caps, said the decline in addressed letter volumes, excluding political parties’ election mailings, would likely be wider than its forecast range of 4-6 percent in 2019-20.  It expects addressed letter volumes to fall 7-8 percent for the current year and said the volumes were likely to be outside its forecast medium-term range next year.
 
“While the rate of e-substitution remains in line with our expectations, business uncertainty is impacting letter volumes,” Chief Executive Officer Rico Back said, adding that the immediate risk to domestic operations from Britain’s impending exit from the European Union was low.
  • Reuters
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Headlines Monday 28th January 2019
 
What’s in store for UK renewable energy in 2019?
 
Investment – and investor interest – in the UK’s renewable energy sector is set to remain strong in the next 12 months despite uncertainty as regulations continues to evolve rapidly in line with the drive towards a low carbon economy.  2019 is expected to be the ninth consecutive year where global investment volumes remain firmly above the US$200 billion mark, despite a combination of headwinds including the prospect of further withdrawals of renewable energy subsidies and increasing dependence upon market prices, not to mention global trade tariff disputes and Brexit.
 
Change – both regulatory and technological – is on the horizon this year, says Dane Wilkins, Head of Energy and Infrastructure at JLL.  “We do not see any slowdown in the amount of capital targeting renewable energy,” says Wilkins. “But on the back of an eventful 2018 on the regulatory front, investors, developers and users have much to consider as we enter 2019 and move closer to the type of low carbon, decentralised and digital economy envisaged by economist Dieter Helm.”
Here are six key areas to watch in the renewable energy sector in 2019:
 
Global renewable energy capacity to grow by 200GW: Continued investment in utility-scale solar energy and an expanding offshore wind sector will drive momentum in the transition to renewables. The growth of renewable energy in both mature and emerging markets, Wilkins says, will take overall renewable energy capacity to over 200GW this year.
 
More Asia investors enter the market: M&A activity in European offshore wind will continue, driven mainly by Asian investors who are keen to gain access to experience in the sector.  “Asian investors are fully aware of Europe’s leading position in offshore wind generation,” says Wilkins. “The region provides them with valuable insight which they need back home. Aggressive decarbonisation in Asia, with Japan leading the way, makes the more mature European market a major draw.”  As well as Asian investors, at least one more major oil company is expected to enter the offshore renewable energy market in 2019, further proof of the sector’s appeal.
 
Investors adapt to a post-subsidy world: The renewable energy sector’s move away from government subsidies will continue. Typically, investors have coped with the fact that subsidies have stopped by “either living with merchant risk and lower returns or moving on to countries where these subsidies are still in play,” Wilkins says. “Renewable energy is now getting closer to the point where government subsidies are simply no longer required.”  That said, mature markets with such support mechanisms, which provide greater revenue certainty, remain in high demand. The UK government’s Contract for Difference (CfD) auctions are likely to attract a number of bidders keen to take advantage of the top-up mechanism. Over 6GW of offshore wind sites are chasing the security of the CfDs, which would underpin any loss of revenue from energy for 15 years. “At a time of lower returns and increased competition, we will undoubtedly see strong bidding competition for the UK’s CfDs,” says Wilkins.
 
With the next auction planned for May, further CfD auctions are expected to run well into the next decade, as the UK aims to double its offshore wind capacity from its current level of 7GW.
 
The Capacity Market mechanism makes a comeback: Reinstatement of the UK Capacity Market mechanism, which guarantees the lights are kept on, is likely in 2019, after a surprise EU court ruling in late 2018 resulted in its suspension. As a result of its return, transaction levels for flexible energy generation and storage are expected to rebound strongly.  “The reversal of this ban – which we expect at some point in 2019 should unlock more than £500 million of committed capital from energy investors and developers with investment decisions currently on hold,” says Wilkins.
 
Investors look to diversify: Diversification of energy portfolios in the UK will continue to be an important theme for investors in 2019, Wilkins says, driven by spreads between clean energy and gas prices.  “We envisage increased price volatility and a continuation of the cannibalization effect where one energy source outprices another,” he says. “So there’s strong merit in diversifying energy portfolios.”
 
Electric vehicle growth accelerates: The UK is set for increased activity in electric vehicle charging in 2019, with the launch year of a £400 million government-backed EV charging fund driving momentum in 2019. Wilkins expects at least five capital raises for funds targeting EV infrastructure in the year, which will provide a big boost for the nascent sector. This in turn will support rising plug-in EV sales in the UK, expected to reach 10,000 a month this year in line with JLL predictions.
 
Looking ahead: Amid a growing appetite for renewable energy, continued investment in Europe – despite the withdrawal of subsidies – will ensure the region reaches its 20 percent target by 2020, says Wilkins.  “We’re definitely seeing signs that the market is evolving with a greater understanding of regulatory and merchant risk,” concludes Wilkins.
 
“We’re building momentum in the transition to zero-subsidy renewables; in 2019 we anticipate over 2GW of projects will come online without subsidies in Europe alone.”
  • The Investor
 
Jones Bros Nets Walney Extension Heliport Contract
 
Jones Bros Civil Engineering UK has won a contract by Ørsted to provide a heliport base to support the Walney Extension offshore wind farm.  Under the GBP 1.8 million contract, Jones Bros is in charge of the design and construction of the base in Barrow-in-Furness, which will support helicopters traveling to and from the 659MW project.  According to the company, the helicopter base features an aviation fuelling system with a 15,000-litre storage tank, with the team installing the pipes used to fuel the aircraft.
 
The Jones Bros team is also installing modular welfare units for staff working on the site situated on a former candle factory.  “We’re pleased to continue our relationship with Ørsted through this exciting project,” said Garod Evans, Contracts Director at Jones Bros. “The base will be vital for the Walney Extension offshore wind farm to transfer personnel to and from the site.”
 
Jones Bros said it had worked seven days a week to meet deadlines on the first phase of the project, with additional activities including earthworks, attenuation drainage systems, concrete landing strip and aviation lighting. The second phase of the construction is now underway.  Ørsted, previously DONG Energy, and Jones Bros worked together back in 2017, when the civil contractor helped build new quayside infrastructure for the offshore wind farm.
 
Walney Extension comprises 40 MHI Vestas 8MW turbines and 47 Siemens Gamesa 7MW turbines located in the Irish Sea, some 19km from the Walney Island coast in Cumbria.  The project was officially inaugurated at the beginning of September last year when it became the world’s largest offshore wind farm.
  • Offshore Wind.biz
 
Recruitment drive for 200 trainee engineers
 
More than 220 trainee engineers will be hired across Scotland as part of a drive to improve fibre broadband connections.  The Openreach jobs will be in locations throughout the country working to expand and upgrade the firm's network.  It includes 48 posts for the Glasgow area, 38 for Edinburgh and the Lothians and 34 for Aberdeen city and shire.  There will also be new posts in Dumfries and Galloway, Stirling, Ayrshire and Perth and Kinross.  Across the UK, more than 3,000 trainee engineers are being recruited.
 
It highlights the continued growth of the company, which last March announced plans to hire 400 trainee engineers across Scotland.  Clive Selley, chief executive of Openreach, said: "We're making great progress towards reaching our target of upgrading three million homes and businesses to full fibre by the end of 2020 - reaching another 13,000 premises per week - and these new recruits in Scotland will play a crucial role in that programme.  "Openreach is a people business and our new apprentices will enable us to fulfil our commitments, with an ultimate ambition to deliver the best possible connectivity to everyone, everywhere, equally, across the entire country."
 
Around half will be helping to deliver the company's Fibre First programme to introduce faster technology.
  • BBC News

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Headlines Friday 25th January 2019

 
Saudi Arabia to provide fresh maritime investment opportunities
 
Saudi Arabia’s maritime and logistics sector is set to provide a host of fresh investment opportunities that will enable the kingdom’s integration into the regional and global economies at the 2nd Saudi Maritime Congress, in March, in Riyadh.
 
The event will take place on March 11 and 12 at the Four Seasons Hotel Riyadh at Kingdom Centre.  Saudi Arabia’s looks to integrate into the regional and global economies as a hub connecting three continents – Asia, Europe and Africa, and positioning the country as a global logistics hub.
 
In fact, the country is on an aggressive growth and diversification path, seeking completely to transform its economy and reduce dependency on oil exports in line with ‘Vision 2030’, said a statement from the organisers.  This growth and diversification will be achieved through a range of measures and an integral part of the plan is to seek greater contribution from the private sector to the national economy and to attract foreign direct investment opportunities.
 
The event will bring together leading figures from the shipping industry to discuss the effect the ambitious Vision 2030 programme will have on the Saudi economy and how shipping and logistics sectors will contribute to this project.  Held under the patronage of Saudi Ports Authority (Mawani) and in partnership with Bahri, Saudi Maritime Congress will bring together leaders from the kingdom’s shipping, ports, ship construction and offshore marine companies, as well as their international partners, to learn, network and explore new opportunities.
 
Abdullah Aldubaikhi, chief executive officer of Bahri, said: “Our company is proud to be working in partnership with the event – a strategic meeting point of the region’s leading logistics and shipping industry decision-makers and experts.”
 
“We would like to emphasise the importance of this event to us, which has established itself as one of the most important highlights of the maritime industry calendar. The Congress offers a valuable platform to discuss the latest developments and trends in the shipping industry and highlights Saudi Arabia’s milestones in its evolution as a leading maritime hub in the world,” he said.
 
“At our company, we are delighted to be reinforcing our commitment to connecting economies and future-proofing the maritime industry through our partnership with Saudi Maritime Congress and look forward to you joining us in March to drive forward the goals of Vision 2030,” he added.  Chris Hayman, chairman of Seatrade, said: “The congress will showcase promising business opportunities to attendees, particularly in the shipping and logistics sector. Saudi Arabia is a fantastic place for business investment and, having diversified itself into many non-oil businesses, the country offers a great environment for new businesses to evolve.”
 
Saudi Arabia is one of the world’s largest economies and is the largest free market economy in the Middle East and North Africa holding 25 per cent share of the total Arab gross domestic product (GDP).
 
The kingdom also has the largest seaport network in the Middle East with nine major ports and around 200 piers. The strides that Saudi Arabia has made between 1976 and now can be seen from the fact that the number of berths for vessels increased from 33 in 1976 to 224 in 2017, while the cargo handled went up from 97 million tonnes to 240m tonnes during the same period. The current cargo handling capacity of all the Saudi Arabian ports is 560m tonnes, it stated.
  • Hellenic Shipping News
 
Total makes minor gas discovery in Norwegian Sea
 
French oil company Total has completed drilling of two wells in the Norwegian Sea, making a minor gas discovery in the process.  The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate on Friday said that Total had concluded the drilling of wildcat well 6406/6-6 S and appraisal well 6406/6-6 A. The wells were drilled about 40 km southeast of the Kristin field in the southern part of the Norwegian Sea.
 
The primary exploration target for the well was to prove petroleum in Middle Jurassic reservoir rocks (the Garn and Ile formation). The secondary exploration target for the well was to prove petroleum in Lower Jurassic reservoir rocks (the Tofte formation).  In the primary exploration target, well 6406/6-6 S encountered gas in a sandstone layer of about three meters, as well as traces of gas deeper in the middle part of the Ile formation, with poor reservoir quality. The gas/water contact was not encountered. The Ile formation is about 145 meters thick, of which about 80 meters are sandstone layers. In the Garn formation, there were thin layers of tight sandstone reservoir totaling 20 meters.
 
The secondary exploration target in the Tofte formation was about 25 meters of aquiferous sandstone reservoir, mainly with poor reservoir quality.  In appraisal well 6406/6-6 A, the Ile formation was thinner, with a total of about 55 meters of sandstone reservoir, and the quality of the reservoir rocks was confirmed. Technical problems made it impossible to conduct measurements that could confirm a gas column. In the Garn formation, there were thin layers of tight sandstone reservoir totaling 25 meters.
 
Neither of the wells were formation-tested, but extensive data acquisition and sampling have been carried out in well 6406/6-6 S, NPD said.  Preliminary estimates place the size of the discovery between 0.4 and 2.5 million standard cubic meters (Sm3) of recoverable oil equivalents.  The licensees in production license 255 B will assess the discovery together with other nearby discoveries and prospects as regards further follow-up.  These are the second and third exploration wells in production license 255 B. The license was carved out from production license 255 (awarded in the 16th licensing round) on 19 May 2016.
 
Well 6406/6-6 S was drilled to respective vertical and measured depths of 4784 and 4877 meters below the sea surface, and well 6406/6-6 A was drilled to respective vertical and measured depths of 4659 and 4835 meters below the sea surface. Both were terminated in the Ror formation in the Lower Jurassic.  Water depth is 265 meters. The wells have been permanently plugged and abandoned.
 
Wells 6406/6-6 S and 6406/6-6 A were drilled by the Scarabeo 8 semi-submersible drilling rig, which is now drilling wildcat well 24/9-14 S in production license 869 in the central part of the North Sea, where Aker BP ASA is the operator.
  • Offshore Energy Today
 
CWind and ORE Catapult Ink UK Offshore Renewables Deal
 
CWind and Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult have signed a collaboration agreement to focus on offshore renewables in the UK.  The two companies will focus on delivering applied research projects and accelerating technology development, aimed at improving health and safety, the operational performance of offshore renewable assets, as well as reducing risk and cost.
 
“ORE Catapult uses its unique facilities and research and engineering capabilities to bring together industry and academia and drive innovation to improve existing, and develop next generation, renewable energy technologies,” said Chris Hill, ORE Catapult’s Operational Performance Director.  “With CWind’s strong and proven background in engineering, I am confident that together we can deliver new research, technology and development projects that will support evolving offshore wind capabilities and generate significant economic benefit for the UK.”
 
CWind said that the agreement demonstrates its long-term commitment to developing solutions to overcome the challenges faced by the UK offshore renewables sector, using innovation and technology to drive change.
 
“As a Company, CWind is committed to innovation and driving positive change to support the future growth of the UK offshore wind industry,” said Ian Bryan, Managing Director of CWind (Interim). “Our values are matched closely with those of ORE Catapult and we look forward to achieving success for mutual and industry benefit.”
 
ORE Catapult and CWind have been collaborating over the last 12 months and have planned multiple projects for this year, including the exploration of an engineered corrosion protection solution and an in-field communication solution.
 
In addition, CWind joined the Offshore Wind Innovation Hub’s (OWIH) Technical Advisory Group, in which it will play a role in shaping the initiative’s O&M and Electrical Infrastructure Technology Roadmaps, identifying the innovation needs of the sector.
  • Offshorewindbiz
 
Brexit: Push for more generous EU no-deal offer
 
Some EU countries are pushing for the European Union's no-deal legislation to be more generous to the UK.  The European Commission has proposed "bare bones" arrangements on aviation and road haulage if there is no deal.  The legislation would allow British truckers to carry goods into the EU and British airlines to fly in and out of the EU, from 29 March to 31 December.
 
But a group of countries want to give UK hauliers the right to operate within the EU as well, known as cabotage.  Some also want British airlines to be able to offer connecting flights within the EU.  Diplomats are also concerned that airlines will not be able to offer new routes or run more services because the number of flights would be capped at 2018 levels.
 
Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, France's Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said: "You can't be out of the EU and be getting the benefits of the single market."  
 
"That is the clear red line of France."  The issues were discussed at a meeting of member states' ambassadors in Brussels on Wednesday.  Officials will try to hammer out a compromise at a meeting on Friday and ambassadors will discuss it again next week.  "We've got to strike a balance between being prepared but not sending the message to the UK that no deal would be OK," a diplomat said.
 
The European Commission, which co-ordinates planning for no deal at a European level, is opposed to expanding the scope of the legislation, saying it would give the UK some of the benefits of membership of the single market.  The commission also urged member states not to engage in bilateral deals with the UK, which some countries have suggested, because much of the responsibility for these issues rests with national governments.
 
Details of the discussion are contained in a diplomatic note of a meeting of EU ambassadors on Wednesday.  At least one country asked whether the EU should consider additional contingency measures to guarantee co-operation on security issues, such as the Schengen Information System which is used to share information about stolen goods and people of interest.  The news will cheer supporters of a no-deal Brexit, who argue that the EU would be prepared to offer mini-deals with the UK if the withdrawal agreement it has negotiated with the UK is not approved
  • BBC news

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Headlines Thursday 24th January 2019

 
EIB Provides Long-Term Loan to ICG for Two New Ferries
 
The European Investment Bank (EIB) is providing EUR 155 million (around USD 176 million) to finance two new passenger and vehicle ships for the Irish Continental Group’s (ICG) subsidiary Irish Ferries.  The two ferries, expected to increase passenger and cargo capacity on routes to Ireland, will replace older and smaller vessels and reduce emissions from the Irish Ferries fleet.  The newbuilds are planned to be used on both the Dublin-Holyhead and Dublin-Cherbourg routes.
 
The announcement was made as the W.B. Yeats cruise ferry made its maiden commercial voyage from Dublin to Holyhead on January 22. The largest ever EIB support for Irish shipping was announced during a visit by Andrew McDowell, EIB Vice President and Eamonn Rothwell, CEO of ICG.  The latest addition to the Irish Ferries fleet, the new W.B.Yeats, was partly financed using EUR 75 million from the EIB. Delivered to its owner in December 2018, the W.B. Yeats can transport 1,800 passengers, 300 cars and 165 trucks.
 
The second ship, expected to be completed in 2020 and unnamed as yet, will likely transport 1,800 passengers and crew and 1,526 cars or 300 trucks. EIB is providing EUR 80 million for this vessel which will be the largest cruise ferry in the world in terms of vehicle capacity and provide Irish Ferries with an effective 50% increase in peak freight capacity.
 
“The EUR 155 million financing facilities agreed with the EIB, alongside financing from leading Irish and international banks, for the two new cruise ferry ships demonstrates the EIB’s commitment to support transformational corporate investment such as this in Ireland, enabling ICG to deliver on its growth strategy and strengthening the tourism and cargo trading links in and out of the country,” Rothwell said.
 
The long-term loan to ICG represents the first support approved by the EIB under a new Green Shipping financing initiative that supports investment in new and existing ships to reduce emissions and improve fuel efficiency.
 
The W.B.Yeats ship incorporates emissions scrubber technology to reduce sulphur oxide pollution and ballast water systems which meet current and known future environmental regulations and is expected to deliver optimal fuel consumption and efficiencies.
 
“Shipping connections are crucial for Ireland and the European Investment Bank is pleased together with ICG to support two new ships that will both transform maritime transport to and from this country and cut harmful emissions. The EUR 155 million long-term EIB loans will support EUR 309 million of new investment in best in class vessels that will serve Irish routes for years to come,” McDowell commented.
 
“The new W.B. Yeats … together with the second vessel will transform freight capacity and passenger travel from Ireland to the UK and continental Europe. The first approval of financing under the EIB’s Green Shipping initiative reflects firm commitment of ICG to cut emissions and improve fuel efficiency. Increasing maritime transport capacity reflects increased demand arising from Ireland’s export driven recovery and the potential need for flexibility in the event of disruption on UK routes,” he added.
  • World Maritime News
 
Polarcus lands 3D seismic project offshore Mexico
 
Marine seismic company Polarcus has been awarded a 3D marine seismic acquisition project offshore Mexico.  Polarcus said on Thursday that the project off Mexico would last for approximately 45 days.  The company added that the deal was scheduled to begin in the second quarter of 2019.  Polarcus has not revealed any details on the client nor the value of the deal.  
 
In recent company news, Polarcus agreed an early redelivery option in late December 2018 with the charterers of the Vyacheslav Tikhonov vessel, originally named Polarcus Selma.
  • Offshore Energy (today)
 
Free trade port efforts gain traction
 
China will step up efforts to accelerate free trade port construction this year, a further step to build on the success of free trade zones across the country, the Ministry of Commerce said.  Assistant Minister of Commerce Ren Hongbin said one of the ministry’s priorities in 2019 is to advance the building of free trade zones and explore steps to construct free trade ports in China.
 
The ministry will draw on international experience and come up with policies and institutional systems for building free trade ports “as soon as possible”, Ren said at a news conference on Wednesday.  Free trade ports are regarded as the world’s most open form of economic zone, which has brought prosperity to places such as Singapore thanks to broad-based preferential policies on trade and investment.  It is open to all commercial vessels on equal terms. Goods may be unloaded, stored and shipped without the payment of customs duties.
 
According to last year’s government guidelines, a free trade port system will be “basically established” in Hainan by 2025. Last April, China announced it would develop the island into a pilot free trade zone, through which Hainan will be granted more capacity to reform, and speed up the fostering of a law-based, international, and convenient business environment.
 
Zhao Ping, a senior researcher at the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade Academy, said: “It is necessary to create a high-tech talent pool to help to speed up the pace of transforming Hainan into a free port. Key focus areas would include shipping, logistics and finance, so talent in these sectors should be valued.”
 
Sang Baichuan, a professor at the University of International Business and Economics, said specially tailored policies are also needed in terms of market access, financial systems and taxation.  Tianjin, a coastal city in northern China, plans to apply for the establishment of a free trade port, which can further integrate the development of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, said the administration of China (Tianjin) Pilot Free Trade Zone. In a recent emailed interview with China Daily, the administration revealed that the construction plan will be submitted to the higher authorities “in due course”.
 
About five years ago, China set up its first FTZ in Shanghai as a way to promote trade and investment. Since then, pilot FTZs have sprung up across the country. In all, 12 have been built or planned.  Ren said in 2019, the ministry will support Shanghai to boldly innovate in facilitating investment and trade.
 
The ministry will further reduce the negative list for foreign investment access in the pilot FTZs, and accelerate the further opening of key areas such as medical care and education, Ren said.
  • Hellenic Shipping News
 
Theresa May faces Cabinet rebellion over no deal vote
 
Theresa May is reportedly facing an internal rebellion against her Brexit plans on Tuesday, with up to 40 ministers said to be ready to resign if the government blocks a free vote against a no deal EU divorce.
 
Amber Rudd, the work and pensions secretary and key ally of the Prime Minister, was said to have delivered stark warning to Mrs May against no deal.  It has been reported chief whip Julian Smith will decide at the end of the week whether Tory MPs are given a free vote on amendments to the Prime Minister's Brexit motion.
 
It comes as Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn reiterated his demand for no deal to be taken off the table, while also giving his strongest backing yet for the possibility of a second referendum.
  • Evening Standard
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Headlines Wednesday 23rd January 2019
 
K’Line’s VLGC Ships Ichthys LNG’s 1st LPG Cargo to Japan
 
K Line’s very large gas carrier Grace River has carried and discharged Ichthys LNG Project’s first LPG cargo carried to Japan, the company said.  The cargo was imported by Astomos Energy Corporation at Kyushu L.P.G. Fukushima Terminal today.  The Ichthys LNG Project, one of the largest LNG projects in the world, is expected to produce approximately 8.9 million tons of LNG and approximately 1.65 million tons of LPG per annum, along with approximately 100,000 barrels of condensate per day.
 
Operated by Inpex Corporation, the project is characterized as “All Japan” for its features such as  70% of approx. 8.9 million tons per year of LNG produced by the project will be supplied to Japanese customers, along with the fact that Japanese companies are major participants in crucial parts of the project’s value chain, including exploration and production, building of liquefaction plants and receiving terminals, laying pipelines, and maritime transportation.
 
K’ Line Group said it would be more involved in the shipment of LNG, LPG and condensate exported by the project.  The project’s first LNG cargo was carried by the company’s LNG carrier Pacific Breeze in October 2018, and it is planned that Aframax tankers operated by K’Line’s subsidiary in Singapore will carry condensate products.
  • World maritime news
 
Oman Shipping orders new VLCC pair, eyes expansion in bulkers and containers
 
Oman Shipping Company (OSC) is eying an ambitious fleet expansion plan after it ordered two eco-friendly newbuild VLCC at South Korea’s Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME).  The newbuildings are expected to be deployed in the spot market, as OSC plots further fleet expansion in the bulk and container sectors, according to Michael Jorgensen, cfo and acting ceo of OSC.
 
“The new additions to OSC’s VLCC fleet will be amongst the most technically advanced in the world,” said Jorgensen. “They will form a key part of our expansion plan over the coming years as we prepare for further investment in oil and product carriers in 2019/2020, particularly in the bulk and container market.”  The next-generation eco-friendly vessels will add to OSC’s expanding fleet of 49 ships including 16 VLCCs, 17 product tankers and four chemical tankers.  The new 300,000-dwt VLCCs are scheduled to be launched from DSME’s Okpo shipyard in the last quarter of 2020.
 
“The newbuild VLCC project will involve the very latest eco-friendly technology to meet and exceed the environmental regulation standards of the International Maritime Organisation. Key elements of the next generation design include highly-efficient engine and fuel-saving technologies. They will also be outfitted with open loop scrubbers bringing addition environmental benefits while also addressing new SOx, NOx environmental regulations effective from 1 January 2020,” Jorgensen said.
 
“The investment comes as OSC continues to report strong growth following long-term deals with local refineries and traders. Our crude oil and product vessel portfolio accounts for more than half of the company’s national fleet. The latest expansion is a further reflection of the significant upturn in liquid cargoes, including crude, refined petroleum fuels and petrochemicals, being generated by Oman’s largely hydrocarbon-centric economy.
 
“Much of the recent growth has been underpinned by major industrial and petrochemical clusters established at Sohar, Salalah and Duqm. Recent investments in mega refining and petrochemicals schemes in these clusters well for the further growth of OSC’s shipping capacity,” he shared.
 
Jorgensen added that significant growth is also being driven by a new VLCC ‘spot-chartering’ desk which secured more than 100 fixtures with global oil majors in its first 20 months of operation. This includes new contracts with oil majors and traders.
 
In the domestic market, OSC’s growth is being driven by a 20-year contract to transport condensate for ORPIC (Oman Oil Refineries and Petroleum Industries Company) and a 15-year deal transporting methanol for OTI (Oman Trading International) from Salalah Methanol plant.
 
The company is further supporting the export of LPG from Sohar Refinery to Yemen, Sudan, India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
  • Seatrade-Maritime
 
Cathie Associates and Blue Wind Sign South Korea OW Deal
 
Cathie Associates has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Blue Wind Engineering (BWE) to cooperate on expanding within the offshore wind industry in South Korea.  According to Robin Comrie, Co-Managing Director of Cathie Associates, the company hopes to play a role in the growth of offshore wind in the region as South Korea aims to triple the share of renewables in its power mix by 2030.
 
The two parties have previously worked together on a project in the subsea power cable market and thus want to continue to share knowledge benefitting both companies, Cathie Associates said.  “Offshore Wind in South Korea is set to grow and it is a key market for us,” said Robin Comrie, Co-Managing Director of Cathie Associates.
 
“We are happy to have partnered with BWE as this provides us with a unique opportunity to bring our 40GW of offshore wind engineering expertise to South Korea. Having previously worked with BWE, we know that both companies are focussed on providing innovative, high value and cost-effective solutions to South Korean clients.”
 
Blue Wind Engineering was established to contribute to the development of wind power industry in South Korea, offering services ranging from the design of wind farms to the design and certification support of wind power components, production and construction.
 
The company signed a MoU with the UK-based engineering consultancy AgileTek in September 2018 to cooperate on offshore wind in the country.
  • Offshore windbiz
 
Brexit: Nicola Sturgeon and Theresa May to meet for talks in London
 
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is heading to London for Brexit talks with Prime Minister Theresa May.  Mrs May is attempting to build support for her withdrawal plan, and is holding talks with opposition parties and the Scottish and Welsh governments.  The prime minister said the devolved administrations would be given an "enhanced role" in future Brexit talks.
 
However, Ms Sturgeon said she was "not going into the meeting with high expectations" after past encounters.  The UK is due to leave the EU on 29 March, with or without a deal, under current legislation.  The UK government is casting around to find a Brexit deal which could win a parliamentary majority after Mrs May's blueprint was overwhelmingly rejected by MPs.  Various rival plans have been put forward, ranging from tweaks to the existing withdrawal agreement to holding a new referendum which could potentially see Brexit called off.
 
MPs will vote again on 29 January, although Mrs May has so far given few details about how her deal might be changed ahead of this.  Ahead of the talks in London, Ms Sturgeon told BBC Scotland that she was not optimistic that Mrs May could be persuaded to change course.  She said: "It seems to me that the prime minister's approach is that she will listen to other voices in other parties - as long as we're prepared to agree with her. 
 
"Her approach doesn't seem to have changed one iota since that historic defeat she suffered in the House of Commons last week, and it needs to change if any progress is to be made.  "She has to recognise that there is no more time to waste, that's why I think it's so important to seek now an extension to Article 50, and she has to open her mind to the prospect of another EU referendum to put this issue back to the electorate if the parliamentary deadlock can't be broken.  "Of course I'll also remind her that Scotland didn't vote to leave the EU, we voted to remain.
 
"And if her government and the Westminster establishment is going to continue to ignore Scotland's voice and Scotland's interests then we have the right to consider other options for our future, including independence."  Ms Sturgeon has also criticised a decision to cancel a meeting that was due to take place on Thursday, involving senior politicians from Scotland and Wales.  A Cabinet Office said diary pressures meant the Joint Ministerial Council meeting would got not ahead as scheduled.
 
On Monday, Mrs May said the Scottish and Welsh governments would be involved more closely in future talks, and said she would look for more ways to involve Northern Irish representatives.  She said: "While it will always be for Her Majesty's Government to negotiate for the whole of the UK, we are also committed to giving the devolved administrations an enhanced role in the next phase, respecting their competence and vital interests in these negotiations."  However, the prime minister rejected the idea of having another referendum on Brexit, saying the parliament's duty was to "implement the decision of the first one".
 
Referring to the possibility of a second Scottish independence referendum, Mrs May said a new Brexit vote would "set a difficult precedent that could have significant implications for how we handle referendums in this country, not least by strengthening the hand of those campaigning to break up our United Kingdom".
  • BBC news
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Headlines Tuesday 22nd January 2019
 
North Sea Seabed Holds Energy Storage Potential – Study
 
Rocks in the seabed off the UK coast could provide long-term storage locations for renewable energy production, according to the new research by the Universities of Edinburgh and Strathclyde.  Engineers and geoscientists from the Universities of Edinburgh and Strathclyde used mathematical models to assess the potential of the process, called compressed air energy storage (CAES).  The team then predicted the UK’s storage capacity by combining these estimates with a database of geological formations in the North Sea.
 
Using the technique on a large scale could store enough compressed air to meet the UK’s electricity needs during winter, when demand is highest, the study found. Porous rocks beneath UK waters could store about one and a half times the UK’s typical electricity demand for January and February, the study found.  Compressed air energy storage would work by using electricity from renewables to power a motor that generates compressed air. This air would be stored at high pressure in the pores found in sandstone, using a deep well drilled into the rock.
 
During times of energy shortage, the pressurised air would be released from the well, powering a turbine to generate electricity that is fed into the grid.  A similar process storing air in deep salt caverns has been used at sites in Germany and the US.  Locating wells close to sources of renewable energy – such as offshore wind turbines – would make the process more efficient, cheaper and reduce the amount of undersea cables required, the team says.
 
”This method could make it possible to store renewable energy produced in the summer for those chilly winter nights. It can provide a viable, though expensive, option to ensure the UK’s renewable electricity supply is resilient between seasons. More research could help to refine the process and bring costs down,” Dr Julien Mouli-Castillo, School of GeoSciences, said.
 
The study was funded by the Engineering and Physical Science Research Council, Scottish Funding Council, and the Energy Technology Partnership.
  • Offshorewind.biz
 
Dundee identified as possible emergency port to maintain food supply under no-deal Brexit
 
Dundee is being lined up to forge a major new trade route with Europe in case Brexit leads to chaos at ports.  A report for the SNP Government found the city has one of four hubs in the country that could step in to ensure food supply and the flow of goods once the UK leaves the EU.
 
Michael Russell, the Constitutional Relations Secretary, is meeting with the boss of Belgium’s Zeebrugge Port on Tuesday as the SNP Government looks at how to ease port pressure under a hard Brexit.
 
Asked about Dundee’s potential role in a no-deal scenario, a Scottish Government spokesman said they are in discussions with ports to “assess their capacity and identify how we can make the most of the facilities available”.
  • The Courier
 
CalMac Takes Over Argyll Ferries’ Gourock-Dunoon Service
 
Scottish Argyll Ferries’ service has been transferred to publicly owned Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac), the country’s major operator of passenger and vehicle ferries and ferry services.  The Gourock-Dunoon ferry route has now been brought under the CalMac Ferries’ flag.  Transport Scotland made the decision to incorporate the Argyll Ferries’ service into the existing Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Service contract at the end of last year.
 
As part of the takeover, Transport Scotland has indicated improved harbor facilities for passengers will be considered in the future, including the possible introduction of electric vehicle and electric bike hubs at both ferry terminals, as well as developing the ferry service to encourage active travel users.  Two Argyll Ferries’ vessels, MV Ali Cat and MV Argyll Flyer, will be rebranded over the next few months at a time to minimize the impact on service delivery.
 
Separately, the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) welcomed the transfer of the Argyll Ferries contract to CalMac and heralded it “as a victory for union members and the on-going campaign to end profiteering and uncertainty on Scottish Ferry services.”  This move is welcomed by RMT members currently employed by Argyll Ferries. The union also welcomes the Scottish Government’s direct award of this contract, which contrasts with the tender process affecting RMT members on the Northern Isles contract.
 
“Transferring Argyll Ferries staff on to CalMac terms and conditions provides long term stability and certainty for our members on the MV Ali Cat and MV Argyll Flyer. We welcome this and the re-integration of the Gourock-Dunoon route into the Clyde and Hebrides ferries network operated by CalMac,” Mick Cash, RMT general secretary, commented.
 
“We urge the Scottish Government to take this opportunity to provide a more ambitious service for passengers and staff between Gourock and Dunoon and across Scotland’s publicly funded ferry network,” he added.
  • World maritime news
 
World's biggest container shipper commits to carbon neutrality by 2050
 
Danish container shipping giant Maersk has pledged to become a carbon-neutral business by 2050 - the first commitment of its kind from the global maritime shipping sector.  Announced on Wednesday (5 December), the move will see Maersk work with governments and industry in order to help spur the development of net-zero vessels and shipping fuels in a bid to make these technologies commercially viable by 2030.
 
Given that the average container shipping vessel has a lifespan of 20-25 years, Maersk’s chief operating officer Søren Toft said that taking ambitious action to decarbonise the shipping sector within the next decade will be “crucial” in achieving the International Maritime Organisation's (IMO) 2050 target of halving CO2 emissions from 2008 levels.
 
“The only possible way to achieve the so-much-needed decarbonisation in our industry is by fully transforming to new carbon-neutral fuels and supply chains,” Toft said. “Going forward, we cannot do this alone.”
 
While collaboration will be key to meeting its 2050 ambition, Maersk is also set to make “significant” investment into retrofitting its existing vessels, purchasing electric ground vehicles, sourcing renewable power and installing energy efficiency technologies.  An exact figure has not yet been disclosed, but Maersk has notably invested around $1bn each year into research and development projects around low-carbon technologies since 2014. Through this investment, it has trained more than 50 engineers in the design and installation processes for energy efficiency technologies.
 
The announcement comes off the back of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) landmark report, which warns that the world must achieve net-zero emsissions by mid-century if global temperature increases are to be limited to 1.5C.
Setting a course for sustainability
 
According to a report by the European Parliament, the international shipping industry is currently responsible for about 2.5% of global CO2 emissions – but this proportion could rise to 17% by 2050 if the sector is left unregulated.
 
Cargo and container ships are an important transportation method, carrying billions of tonnes of goods across select trade groups each year. However, the heavy boats are often heavy emitters, with research suggesting that vessels of 5,000 gross tonnage and above account for 85% of carbon emissions from the shipping sector.
 
Some of the largest corporations within the sector have already made progress towards decarbonising their operations, with global non-profit BSR’s Clean Cargo Working Group estimating that emissions per container move have dropped by 37.1% since 2009.
 
Leading this trend, Maersk has reduced its relative CO2 emissions by 46% against a 2007 baseline, largely through the adoption of energy efficiency technologies and the sourcing of renewable power.  Indeed, since the IMO approved a roadmap through to 2023 on the global adoption of an emissions reduction strategy in 2016, more than 170 countries have reached an agreement to reduce CO2 emissions from their respective maritime sectors by at least 50%, against a 2008 baseline.
 
But as ambition levels rise, progress to convert aims into action continues to be slow, with the Clean Cargo Working Group’s most recent research concluding that absolute emissions accounted for by the 22 largest companies within the industry had fallen just 1% between 2016 and 2017.  To spur more ambitious action, BSR is now calling on those within the sector to turn to innovation. Agri-food giant Cargill notably launched the first industry competition to incentivise the development of innovative solutions to maritime shipping’s carbon challenges earlier this year. 
 
  • Edie.net

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 Headlines Monday 21st January 2019

 
Hurricane suffers a setback during Lancaster hook-up operations
 
UK-based Hurricane Energy has encountered a problem during the hook-up stage of its Early Production System (EPS) development of the Lancaster field in the West of Shetland area and the Aoka Mizu FPSO has been forced to return to the Cromarty Firth.  Hurricane plans a phased development of the Lancaster field. The first phase of the development is an EPS, using two wells tied back to the Aoka Mizu FPSO.
 
Hurricane completed the subsea installation for the Lancaster EPS and became ready for the arrival of the Aoka Mizu FPSO in September 2018. In mid-October, the FPSO started its journey from Dubai to Rotterdam for a final scope of work after which it headed to the Scottish waters.  Hurricane informed on Monday that, during the buoy hook-up operation on January 18, 2019, the rope being used to pull in the buoy became snagged and it was not possible to complete the hook-up operation. The rope has now been freed and the buoy returned to its starting position, Hurricane said.
 
According to the company, due to the predicted deterioration in weather conditions, the Aoka Mizu FPSO has returned to the Cromarty Firth to complete remediation work on the buoy pull-in system and prepare for the next opportunity to pull in the buoy.
 
Hurricane said it will issue a further announcement once the hook-up has been successfully completed.  First oil is scheduled for the first half of 2019.
  • Offshore Energy
 
All Horns Rev 3 Turbines in place
 
 
Fred. Olsen Windcarrier’s jack-up vessel Brave Tern has installed the last turbine at the Horns Rev 3 offshore wind farm in Denmark.  The jack-up vessel loaded the final batch of the MHI Vestas units destined for the 406.7MW project on 10 January at the Port of Esbjerg.
 
Offshore construction began back in July last year when the first turbine was installed at the site 25-40km west of Houstrup Strand on the Danish west coast.  Horns Rev 3, owned by Vattenfall, is expected to be completed as early as in May this year, instead of the initial plan to have it finalized in 2020.  The offshore wind farm comprises a total of 49 MHI Vestas V164-8.3 MW turbines, marking the first time this turbine model is used in Danish waters.
 
The project delivered first power in December 2018 and will officially become the largest offshore wind farm in Denmark once commissioned.  The jack-up vessel loaded the final batch of the MHI Vestas units destined for the 406.7MW project on 10 January at the Port of Esbjerg.  Offshore construction began back in July last year when the first turbine was installed at the site 25-40km west of Houstrup Strand on the Danish west coast.
 
Horns Rev 3, owned by Vattenfall, is expected to be completed as early as in May this year, instead of the initial plan to have it finalized in 2020.  The offshore wind farm comprises a total of 49 MHI Vestas V164-8.3 MW turbines, marking the first time this turbine model is used in Danish waters.  The project delivered first power in December 2018 and will officially become the largest offshore wind farm in Denmark once commissioned.
 
  • Offshore Wind.biz
 
Port of Galveston Inks 10-Year Berthing Agreement with Disney Cruise Line
 
The US Port of Galveston has finalized a new agreement with cruise company Disney Cruise Line, extending preferential berthing agreement rights at the port for an additional 10 years.  The agreement also includes an option to renew two additional five year periods effective November 1, 2018.  As informed, the new agreement outlines plans for a shared cruise terminal that will accommodate a ship equal to or larger than the Disney Magic/Disney Wonder class of vessel.
 
Additionally, it is projected that Disney will nearly double its sailings over the first five years of the potential 20-year agreement. The cruise line has three new cruise ships on order at Meyer Werft shipyard in Germany, slated for delivery in 2021, 2022 and 2023, respectively.
 
“September 22, 2012 marked the first time ever that a Disney Cruise Line ship set sail from the State of Texas with the maiden voyage of Disney Wonder. The port has been seasonal homeport to both Disney Wonder and Disney Magic ever since,” Rodger Rees, Port of Galveston CEO/Port Director, commented.  “We are proud to be one of the few selected homeports for Disney Cruise Line,” Rees added.  “As we plan to expand our fleet and introduce new experiences and entertainment aboard our ships, we couldn’t be more excited to extend our commitment with the Port of Galveston,” Jeff Vahle, president of Disney Signature Experiences and Disney Cruise Line, said.
  • World Maritime News
 
Brexit: May looks for way to break deadlock
 
Theresa May will try to convince Tory Brexiteers and DUP MPs to back her withdrawal deal by resolving Irish backstop concerns, cabinet sources say.  Last week, Mrs May said she would focus on cross-party talks to get a Brexit deal accepted by Parliament.  But it is understood she is now seeking to win approval from her own benches, with the government unlikely to win widespread Labour backing.  Downing Street insisted that cross-party talks were continuing.
 
The backstop is the "insurance policy" in the withdrawal deal, intended to ensure that whatever else happens, there will be no return to a visible border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic after the UK leaves the EU.  Both the UK and the EU believe that bringing back border checks could put the peace process at risk. But a way of avoiding those checks has yet to win over MPs.
 
Mrs May held a conference call with her cabinet on Sunday. It is understood she wants to show the EU that MPs could back a deal without a backstop, in the hope of encouraging Brussels to soften its position.  Norman Smith, BBC assistant political editor, said anyone waiting for a Plan B would be "stuck at the bus stop for an awfully long time".  He said that reports over the weekend of the possibility of a bi-lateral agreement with the Irish Republic or a rewriting of the Good Friday Agreement had been "kiboshed" by both governments.  "It is back to the backstop and trying to find some sort of breakthrough", he added.
 
Mrs May's government agreed a withdrawal deal with the EU in November - covering topics such as the "divorce bill" and the Irish border - but it was rejected by MPs by a majority of 230 votes.  If Parliament doesn't approve a withdrawal agreement, the UK is due to leave the EU on 29 March without a deal or transition period.
 
What is happening on Monday?
The prime minister will address the Commons on Monday afternoon, setting out how she intends to proceed with the Brexit withdrawal agreement.  She will also table a "neutral" motion, simply saying that the Commons has considered her statement, which will be debated and voted upon on 29 January.  This motion is expected to attract amendments from groups of backbenchers seeking more of a say in the process.  Two groups of MPs are expected to table bills which could take a no-deal Brexit off the table, and potentially suspend Article 50 - which allows the UK to leave the EU.
 
One of the groups - which includes Labour's Yvette Cooper, Conservative Nicky Morgan, and Liberal Democrat MP Norman Lamb - wants the UK to extend negotiations with the EU beyond 29 March, if MPs do not approve a withdrawal agreement by 26 February.
 
Under Mrs May's deal, if there is not a trade deal or other agreement between the UK and the EU when the transition period ends, the backstop kicks in.  It would see Northern Ireland staying aligned to some rules of the EU single market.  It would also involve a temporary single custom territory - effectively keeping the whole of the UK in the EU customs union - unless both the EU and UK agree it is no longer necessary.
 
But this has been a huge issue for many Conservative MPs and the DUP, who have supported Theresa May's government since the 2017 election.  Removing or amending the backstop could provide Mrs May with enough backing from Brexiteer Tory MPs and the DUP to get an agreement passed.  Mrs May invited Jeremy Corbyn to cross-party talks on Brexit after she survived a vote of no confidence in her government last week.  But the leader of the opposition said he would only enter cross-party talks if the prime minister took the possibility of a no-deal Brexit off the table.  Mrs May said that was an "impossible condition".
 
Labour's position since Mrs May's withdrawal agreement was rejected by the Commons is to seek a general election - if that fails they would consider backing a second referendum.  Mr Corbyn has previously said Labour wants a customs union with the EU, tariff-free access to the single market and an EU-level of employment rights to be included in any Brexit agreement.
  • BBC News

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Headlines Friday 18th January 2019
 
Port of Hamburg Well Prepared for Hard Brexit
 
The Port of Hamburg is well prepared for a United Kingdom exit from the European Union – even in the event of a no-deal Brexit.  “The Port of Hamburg and our Customs and import controls are well prepared, and even for the eventuality that bottlenecks at ferry ports on the English Channel, in Antwerp or Rotterdam should cause re-routings to Hamburg,” Torsten Sevecke,  State Secretary of the Ministry for Economy, Transport, and Innovation, pointed out.  “For some months, for all those involved extensive training has been available in Hamburg on preparing for various Brexit scenarios,” he added.
 
Similarly, veterinary offices are well prepared to provide the extra advice and checks that a possible no-deal Brexit would require in the port.  For the moment, rejection of an exit deal by the British House of Commons earlier this week has no further repercussions on preparations in Hamburg for Brexit.
 
“Especially from the Hamburg point of view, rejection … of a withdrawal agreement is extremely regrettable,” Annette Tabbara, Under-Secretary of State and the Free and Hanseatic City’s delegate with the German government and the European Union, and for foreign affairs, said.  “The Senate is however well prepared, even for a no-deal Brexit. Apart from the necessary legal adjustments, we have devoted special attention to how we can minimize the risks for our citizens and business in Hamburg, as well as universities and research institutions.”
 
Given Hamburg’s traditionally strong economic links with the United Kingdom, it is especially important to arrange future goods traffic with Great Britain as smoothly as possible, according to the port.
  • World Maritime News
 
After billion-barrel bonanza, BP goes global with seismic tech
 
Buoyed by the success of seismic imaging that found an extra billion barrels of oil in the Gulf of Mexico, BP (BP.L) is looking to take its latest technology to Angola and Brazil.  The software used in the Gulf, based on an algorithm created by Xukai Shen, a geophysicist straight out of Stanford University, led to BP discovering the crude in an area where it had long thought there was none to be found.
 
Industry experts said the scale of the discovery 8 km below BP’s Thunder Horse field, announced last week, marked a major leap forward for deepwater exploration - a costly business known for its low success rate and high risk. It is an example of how technology is helping deepwater make a comeback after a decade when the industry has focused on advances in onshore shale.  The new deposit was found with software known as Full Waveform Inversion (FWI), which is run on a super-computer and analyses reverberations of seismic soundwaves to produce high-resolution 3D images of ancient layers of rock thousands of metres under the sea bed, helping geologists locate oil and gas.
 
It is more accurate than previous surveying methods, BP said, and processes data in a matter of days, compared with months or years previously.
While the discovery marked the biggest industry success for digital seismic imaging, the British oil major’s rivals are hot on its heel with similar techniques.
BP scientist John Etgen, the company’s top adviser on seismic imaging, said it aimed to retain its edge with a new machine it has developed, Wolfspar, to be used alongside FWI.
 
The submarine-like Wolfspar is dragged by a ship through the ocean and emits very low frequency soundwaves, which are particularly effective for penetrating thick salt layers that lie above rocks containing fossil fuels, he added.  Etgen told Reuters that BP planned to roll out Wolfspar alongside FWI in the second half of this year at the Atlantis field in the Gulf of Mexico, where a large salt layer still hides parts of the site. The company plans to expand the use of the technology to other big oil and gas basins, including Brazil next year and Angola at a later stage, he said.
 
“Seeing through very complex, very distorted salt bodies was the hardest problem we had, the most challenging,” the Houston-based scientist said in an interview.  In both Brazil and Angola, oil deposits are locked under thick salt layers. Brazil’s deepwater oil fields comprise one of the world’s fastest-growing basins in terms of production. BP last year signed a partnership with Brazil’s national oil company Petrobras (PETR4.SA) to develop resources there.
  • Reuters
 
UK manufacturers set cash aside in case of hard Brexit
 
British manufacturers are being forced to build up financial buffers in preparation for a no-deal Brexit as the cost of stockpiling goods and materials puts companies under strain.  Measures taken by manufacturers to prepare for a disorderly exit include creating cash cushions and taking out working capital loans to cover the costs of stockpiling.
 
Manufacturers have already spent millions storing raw materials and finished products in case a no-deal Brexit causes delays at the border, tying up money that would otherwise be used to run day-to-day operations. Airbus and Brompton Bicycle are among the UK-based manufacturers that have started stockpiling as 29 March looms.  Santander, one of the biggest lenders to business in the country, said its manufacturing clients were building up cash reserves and delaying capital expenditures as they sought to keep cash in the business. A source at another major high street bank said the lender was working with manufacturing clients on offering more working capital loans.
 
Paul Brooks, the head of manufacturing at Santander UK, said: “In recent months we have seen manufacturers choosing to build up cash reserves and delay investments due to uncertainty over the economy’s outlook.  “We are working closely with our manufacturer customers to support them through this period, including helping them to manage their cashflow, spread the cost of buying assets and explore export opportunities in new international markets.”
 
Recent figures show lending patterns consistent with stockpiling by manufacturers. The Bank of England’s fourth-quarter survey of UK credit conditions showed that demand for “inventory finance”, in which loans are secured against stock, rose much faster than average in the final quarter of 2018 after hitting a three-year high in the previous quarter. Overall demand for borrowing from manufacturers rose by 7% in the year to November, to £18bn, according to data from UK Finance, the banking industry body; bucking the trend of falling demand for loans in most other sectors.
 
The financial strain from Brexit preparations is spread throughout manufacturing supply chains. Demand for new lending facilities is particularly acute among smaller companies, which often only have a single banking relationship, a senior banker said.  There is also evidence of payments deadlines being squeezed by suppliers and stretched by customers, said the banker, further increasing the default risks borne by smaller firms.
 
Manufacturers, from the largest companies such as Airbus to much smaller suppliers, have warned repeatedly that a no-deal Brexit would harm British industry by delaying goods at the border. EEF, the manufacturing lobby group, said 60% of the companies it surveyed were looking to stockpile goods in case supplies dry up. At least a quarter are already doing so.  Stephen Phipson, the EEF chief executive, said British companies were “ramping up their contingency operations” in the face of “terrifying uncertainty”.
 
He said: “Increasingly, companies are conducting in-depth audits of their supply chains to make cost efficiencies, while many are also reshoring where possible. We continue to talk to banks and other financial institutions on behalf of our members in order to make sure they have the financial support necessary for this extra expenditure.”  British manufacturers have reached a “point of maximum uncertainty” on Brexit, one banker said, with the future of the trading relationship between the UK and the EU unclear before the 29 March exit date after the government’s preferred deal suffered a historic defeat in parliament.
 
Stephen Pegge, UK Finance’s managing director for commercial finance, said: “Businesses have been building up their cash deposits and tend to be slower to draw down on lending facilities. This suggests firms are exercising caution in the face of ongoing economic uncertainty.”  However, banking industry insiders are confident that British lenders will be able to continue to lend to companies even if no deal is reached. The Bank of England said in November that its stress tests showed that Britain’s largest banks would be able to lend to companies even if a no-deal Brexit causes a worse decline in the UK economy than the 2008 financial crisis.
  • The Guardian
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Headlines Thursday 17th January 2019

 

World’s largest semi-sub rig arrives in Scotland ahead of North Sea gig

After a five-month journey from Singapore via the Canary Islands, Diamond Offshore’s semi-submersible drilling rig Ocean GreatWhite has arrived at Kishorn, Scotland.  As reported in December 2018, Scotland’s Kishorn Port landed a contract under which it would host a visit by world’s largest semi-submersible offshore drilling rig, the Ocean GreatWhite.
 
The Ocean GreatWhite weighs in at 60,800 tonnes and is a 6th generation harsh environment drilling rig capable of drilling down to 10,000m in 3,000m of water. With a draft of over 23 meters, the rig needs deep water for anchoring.  Kishorn Port announced the rig’s arrival on Tuesday, January 15, 2019.  According to the port, the Ocean GreatWhite will stay at anchor at Kishorn for the next couple of months as it prepares for its first drilling contract off Shetland, which is scheduled to start early this year.
 
Kishorn Port are the owners and operator of Kishorn Port and dry dock, which will be used as a supply base with Ferguson Transport and Shipping assisting with port and marine services.  Alasdair Ferguson, a Director of KPL commented: “This is a landmark day for KPL and we look forward to establishing Kishorn as a port and dry dock of choice for the oil and gas and offshore renewables sectors.”
  • Offshore Energy
 
Dundee start-up Iron Ocean’s self-heating survival top could save lives offshore
 
A Dundee start-up has developed a self-heating offshore survival garment with the aim of saving the lives in the event of an accident at sea.  Iron Ocean has worked with the Oil & Gas Innovation Centre (OGIC) in Aberdeen and Heriot-Watt University to develop the Centurion 3, an upper body top that produces heat when immersed in cold water.
 
The garment’s three-layers are tear resistant, fire retardant and compression fit. It is designed to be worn under a traditional survival suit. Current clothing worn under survival suits do not provide active heating. That means immersion into cold waters causes body temperature to rapidly decrease with an estimated life expectancy of between 10 and 12 minutes.  The newly developed material incorporated into Centurion 3 immediately activates when in contact with water and produces a heat output above the average body temperature for more than 20 minutes.
 
Simon Lamont, founder of Iron Ocean and former industry health and safety manager, said: “I came up with the initial concept following the 2009 Super Puma crash.  “I realised something had to be done to protect workers from the harsh elements of the North Sea in the event of an offshore incident.  “OGIC’s support at the very beginning of this journey was invaluable, having their backing opened the door for me to work with the expertise of Heriot-Watt University and provided the technical expertise to make my idea a reality.”
 
With the prototype complete, Iron Ocean will begin marketing the product to a variety of sectors including leisure, military and maritime.  Teams from Heriot-Watt University developed innovative smart materials for incorporation into Centurion 3.  Two phases of research were co-funded by OGIC. Phase one saw the development of the water-triggered heat-generating materials, which led to phase two, within which the heat-storage material was further developed for use within the prototype Centurion 3 garments.
 
Mhairi Begg, OGIC project manager, added: “From the start we saw the potential this project had for improving safety offshore and what a disruptive technology it will be when brought to market.
 
“Often when people think about innovations in oil and gas the focus is on engineering technology, however, this project shows just how much potential there is for innovations to take place across the whole industry.”
  • The Courier
 
Brexit: Theresa May pushes for cross-party consensus
 
Theresa May is to meet MPs to try to find a way forward for Brexit, after her slim victory in the no-confidence vote.  The PM saw off a bid to remove her government from power by 325 to 306 votes, the day after her plan for leaving the EU was rejected.  Afterwards, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn refused to join talks unless the threat of a no-deal exit was ruled out.
 
The PM said she wanted to approach discussions in a "constructive spirit".  Speaking outside Downing Street after talks on Wednesday night with the Lib Dems, SNP and Plaid Cymru, Mrs May called on MPs to "put self-interest aside".  She must present a new plan for EU withdrawal to Parliament by 21 January.
 
"It will not be an easy task, but MPs know they have a duty to act in the national interest, reach a consensus and get this done," she said.  The prime minister is expected to hold meetings with both Tory Brexiteers and the DUP - both of whom rejected her withdrawal deal earlier this week - on Thursday.  BBC assistant political editor Norman Smith said that Environment Secretary Michael Gove, Cabinet Office Minister David Lidington and Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay will also hold talks with senior opposition politicians.
 
However, when asked what the government was willing to compromise on, Conservative Party chairman Brandon Lewis refused to give specifics.  He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that Mrs May would not consider a customs union and that he did not believe a new referendum was "the right way to go".  Former prime minister Tony Blair told Today that an extension to Article 50 - the two year mechanism that means the UK leaves the EU on 29 March - was "inevitable" at this point and warned a no-deal Brexit would do "profound damage" to the UK's economy.  Meetings, on their own, are not a Plan B. Conversations, are not by themselves, compromises.
 
To get any deal done where there are such clashing views all around, it requires give and take. It feels like a political lifetime since there has been a fundamental dispute in the cabinet, in the Tory party and across Parliament. Theresa May has stubbornly, although understandably, tried to plot a middle course.  But that has failed so spectacularly at this stage. Ultimately she may well be left with the same dilemma of which way to tack.
 
It's clear, wide open, in public, that the cabinet is at odds with each other. Just listen to David Gauke and Liam Fox on whether a customs union could be a compromise for example.  The answer for her is not suddenly going to emerge from a unified tier of her top team. There are perhaps five or six of the cabinet who would be happy to see that kind of relationship as a way to bring Labour on board.
  • BBC News
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Headlines Wednesday 16th January 2019
 
Faroe, Shell, Spirit form partnership to drill Edinburgh prospect
 
Oil company Faroe Petroleum has entered into a partnership with Shell and Spirit Energy following the award of PL 969 in the recent APA licensing round with the intention to advance the cross-border Edinburgh prospect towards a drill decision during 2019.  Faroe said on Wednesday that, through a series of arrangements entered into during 2018, the license partners agreed to equalize equity in UK Block 30/14a (Edinburgh Area) and UK Block 30/14b on the same basis as the award in the adjacent Norwegian Blocks 1/6 and 1/9 (PL 969).  Faroe, Shell, and Spirit own identical stakes in all blocks. The companies hold 45, 40, and 15 percent, respectively.
 
According to Faroe, the equity equalization remains subject to certain terms and conditions between the parties and awaits deal completion of the acquisition related to UK Block 30/14a from Total.  It has been agreed by the parties that Faroe will operate the Edinburgh Area licenses up until a final well decision is taken by the license partners, after which Shell will become license operator. The Edinburgh Area contains the large Edinburgh prospect, which straddles the UK/Norway border in the Central North Sea at the southeastern end of the prolific Josephine Ridge area.
 
The structure is a large, tilted Mesozoic fault block, and is considered to be one of the largest remaining undrilled structures in the Central North Sea covering an area of over 40 square kilometers.  The prospective reservoirs include the Upper Jurassic Ula age-equivalent (Freshney and Fulmar) and Triassic Skagerrak formations.
 
Faroe added that on a preliminary, unaudited basis, the Edinburgh prospect had material volumes with potential for a standalone development.
Graham Stewart, chief executive of Faroe Petroleum, said: “We are pleased to announce the alignment of equity in the Edinburgh Area amongst such a strong partnership, having worked to resolve the commercial impediments in the area for over eight years.
 
“The partnership’s combined operating experience in both the UK and Norway represents a distinct advantage in bringing the drilling of this high impact exploration prospect closer to fruition.”
  • Offshore Energy Today
 
Report: Renewables to overtake fossil fuels in UK energy mix in 2020
 
Renewables are on course to overtake fossil fuels for the first time as the UK's primary electricity source as early as 2020, according to the latest market forecast from EnAppSys.
 
If current trends continue, the market analyst predicts growing renewable power sources such as wind and solar will generate 121.3TWh or electricity over the calendar year of 2020, pushing ahead of declining coal and gas-fired power sources with a forecasted 105.6TWh of generation.  It would mean that, for the first time, more of the UK's electricity would be provided by renewables than any other aggregated power source, including fossil fuels, nuclear, and interconnectors, according to yesterday's report.
 
The forecast assumes current trends of declining fossil fuel generation and rising renewables generation continue at the same annual rate. In 2018, coal and gas fired power stations produced a combined 130.9TWh, a 6.7 per cent fall from the previous year's 140.3TWh, the report states. Meanwhile, renewable sources delivered 95.9TWh last year, rising 15.2 per cent from 2017 - a strong performance bolstered by the UK's increasing offshore wind capacity.
 
Overall, renewables accounted for a third of all power generation in the UK, with wind providing 17 per cent, solar four per cent, and biomass 11 per cent, analysis by Carbon Brief found earlier this month. Nuclear also accounted for a fifth of UK generation, taking low carbon power's share of the mix to a record high of 53 per cent. Gas and coal, meanwhile, provided 39 per cent and five per cent respectively.  
 
Paul Verrill, director of EnAppSys, said the rise of renewables, particularly offshore wind, was driving major changes in the UK energy market, with conventional power generators having to adapt to lower levels of activity and find ways of offsetting any lost income as a result.  He said he expected wind and the wider renewables sector to continue squeezing levels of output from fossil fuel generators in the coming years. "With the moratorium on onshore wind and reductions in capital cost of offshore wind farms, it is likely that more of these offshore projects will come on stream in future years, which will drive even higher levels of renewable output," he said. "New electrical transmissions infrastructure that came on line in 2018 will increase further the contribution of renewable energy to the UK fuel mix but constraints still persist despite the investments."
 
Verrill also pointed to further ongoing challenges for fossil fuel generation in light of the suspension of the Capacity Market mechanism late last year, which was aimed at ensuring back up baseload power from conventional generators on days of low renewables generation and high demand.  "Against this backdrop, the margins for thermal power generation fell to 2014 price levels as the impact of reduced demand, increased levels of wind generation and very competitive market dynamics placed downward pressure on profits," he explained. "This dynamic should settle down over time, but with rising competition in the market driven by the growth of renewables it will become necessary to reinstate the Capacity Mechanism payments or some other alternative to fill the gap created by the lost income. If this is not the case, it's likely that plant closures will be necessary to remove oversupply from the system and this will lead to decreased security of supply."
  • Business Green
 
Brexit: Nicola Sturgeon says another EU referendum 'only credible option'
 
Scotland's first minister has said another referendum on Brexit is now the "only credible option" after MPs rejected Theresa May's Brexit deal.  Nicola Sturgeon was speaking after MPs voted by 432 to 202 against the deal, which sets out the terms of Britain's exit from the EU on 29 March.  Labour immediately lodged a vote of no confidence in Mrs May's government following the defeat.  Ms Sturgeon is due in London to meet SNP MPs ahead of the confidence vote.  She said it was time to "stop the clock" on Brexit and "put this issue back to the electorate".
 
But Mrs May has signalled her intention to carry on despite suffering the largest defeat for any sitting UK government in history, and has offered cross-party talks in a bid to find a way forward from the current stalemate if she wins the no confidence vote on Wednesday.  In a statement released immediately after the vote, the prime minister said: "The House has spoken and this government will listen."   Ms Sturgeon, whose SNP MPs voted against Mrs May's deal, confirmed her party would back the no confidence motion - which Labour hopes will spark a general election.  And she said the "historic" scale of the defeat for the prime minister meant the country has now "reached the point where it would be unconscionable to kick the can any further down the road."  Ms Sturgeon added: "What must happen now is clear. Firstly, and most urgently, the clock must be stopped on the Article 50 process. This is the only way to avoid any possibility of the UK crashing out of the EU on 29 March without a deal.  "Secondly, legislation must be brought forward to put this issue back to the electorate in another referendum.
 
"The government has had more than two and a half years to deliver a workable Brexit plan and it has completely failed to do so. The notion that it can do so now in a matter of weeks is farcical."  Ms Sturgeon said another EU referendum with Remain as an option was now the "only credible option to avoid untold damage to the economy and the prospects of future generations".  And she said it was "also the only option, within the UK, that would allow Scotland's democratic wish to remain in Europe to be respected".
 
Mrs May spoke to Ms Sturgeon on the phone late on Tuesday evening as the prime minister started to reach out to other parties.  In a post on Twitter following their conversation, Ms Sturgeon said it was "not obvious that she [Mrs May] has any real idea what to do next".  The 35 SNP MPs were joined by every Scottish Labour and Liberal Democrat MP in rejecting the deal, as well as three Scottish Conservatives - John Lamont, Ross Thomson and Douglas Ross.  But it was backed by the other 10 Scottish Conservatives, including Scottish Secretary David Mundell.
 
Mr Lamont, Mr Thomson and Mr Ross are expected to back the prime minister in the no confidence vote - as are the vast majority of the 115 other Conservative rebels and the DUP, which strongly opposes Mrs May's Brexit deal but says it wants a change of policy rather than a change of government.  Responding to the Commons vote, Labour's shadow Scottish secretary Lesley Laird said the prime minister had now lost all authority, and that there was now a "clear need for a general election to break the deadlock".
 
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie, who backs another referendum on Brexit, said the "historic and devastating defeat" for the prime minister meant her deal and her credibility were now in tatters.  But the interim leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Jackson Carlaw, said the prime minister's proposals were the "only substantial deal on the table" that would "avoid No Deal and deliver an orderly Brexit".
 
Mr Carlaw also challenged Mrs May's opponents to "set out, quite specifically, how their own alternatives might work, how they would respect the referendum, and how they will secure a majority in parliament".
 
The President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, said he regretted the outcome of the vote and has urged the UK government to "clarify its intentions with respect to its next steps as soon as possible".
  • BBC News
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Headlines Tuesday 15th January 2019
 
Eland Oil & Gas hails most active development period in its history
 
Aberdeen-based oil and gas explorer Eland Oil & Gas, which operates in West Africa, said it is expecting further operational success this year in an update on operations and guidance for 2019.  Looking at highlights, it said that average production in 2018 was 8,000 barrels of oil per day (bopd) net to joint venture company Elcrest, more than doubling the 2017 average production of 3,934 bopd.  It had a year-end unaudited cash position of $42.6 million and net debt position of $4.7 million.  It described 2018 as the most active development period in the company's history with seven wells drilled, re-entered and completed on the Opuama, Gbetiokun and Ubima fields
 
Eland successfully refinanced existing reserve-based lending facility with the potential to increase to US$200 million.  In its outlook, it said that 2019 production is expected to average in the range of 14,000 to 17,000 bopd net to Elcrest. It has a development work programme targeting four new wells across Opuama and Gbetiokun.  George Maxwell, CEO of Eland, said: "2018 was an exceptional operational year for Eland, with net production increasing some 60% from the start of the year to over 13,000 bopd by the year end, a record for the company and for the OML 40 licence.
 
“Moreover, the Ubima field tested at combined rates of up to 1,400 bopd net to Eland and this is expected to enter commercial production in H1 2019. Gbetiokun will also provide a step-change in production as we forecast over 6,700 bopd net to the Company following commencement of the extended well test in Q1 2019.  “This performance is a testament to the commitment of our exceptional staff and in-country partners, and I look forward to further operational success throughout 2019, which is shaping up to be a very busy period for the Company.
 
“The sharply higher production rates throughout 2018 have led to a strengthening of our financial position and we commence this year with a largely unused new debt facility and a strongly cash generative business, ensuring we are fully-funded for the next phase of growth."
  • Insider
 
Turbine Parts Transporter Gets ABS Nod
 
Classification and technical advisory services provider ABS has granted an Approval in Principal (AIP) to Neptun Ship Design for its Wind Turbine Transport Vessel design, said to be the first to support transporting parts for turbines greater than 9MW.
 
The 178m long Blue Azurit design allows wind turbine manufacturers to produce full length welded towers ready for installation, according to ABS.  The vessel is designed to pick up components directly from a supplier’s berth, transport parts to an offshore harbor, or feed them to an installation vessel.
 
“The scale of offshore wind turbines continues to increase steadily, offering greater efficiencies to the market. We are working with Neptun to verify compliance with ABS Rules, as it strives to deliver enhanced vessel capabilities supporting the wind industry’s continued growth, while increasing reliability and efficiency,” said Wei Huang, ABS Director, Global Offshore.
 
In granting this AIP, ABS conducted a preliminary engineering plan review and considers, that the conceptual engineering is feasible for the intended application and is, in principle, in compliance with the ABS Rules for Building and Classing Offshore Support Vessels, 2018.  “The ABS extensive offshore industry experience made them the natural choice to support this project. Blue Azurit will help the offshore wind industry meet pressure to reduce costs, minimize project risks, deliver higher reliability and support renewable energy targets from new offshore wind nations,” said Gerald Hadaschik, Neptun’s Managing Director.
  • Offshore Wind.biz
 
Brexit: Theresa May faces 'meaningful vote' on her deal
 
MPs are preparing to vote on whether to back Theresa May's deal for leaving the European Union.  The so-called "meaningful vote" will take place later as five days of debate on Brexit come to an end.  Mrs May has called for politicians to back her deal or risk "letting the British people down".  But with many of her own MPs expected to join opposition parties to vote against the deal, it is widely expected to be defeated.
 
MPs will also be able to suggest amendments that could reshape the deal before voting starts at about 19:00 GMT.  The prime minister addressed her backbench MPs on Monday evening in a final attempt to win support for her deal - which includes both the withdrawal agreement on the terms on which the UK leaves the EU and a political declaration for the future relationship.
 
In the Commons, she said: "It is not perfect but when the history books are written, people will look at the decision of this House and ask, 'Did we deliver on the country's vote to leave the EU, did we safeguard our economy, security or union, or did we let the British people down?'"  Mrs May also tried to reassure MPs over the controversial Northern Irish "backstop" - the fallback plan to avoid any return to physical border checks between the country and Ireland.  She pointed to new written assurances from the EU that the contingency customs arrangement being proposed would be temporary and, if triggered, would last for "the shortest possible period".
 
Mrs May will address her cabinet on Tuesday morning, before the debate resumes at lunchtime.  Environment Secretary Michael Gove told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that rejecting Mrs May's deal would lead to a no-deal Brexit with short term economic damage "or worse, no Brexit at all".  He said with this deal "we've picked a whole bowl of glistening cherries", despite the fact the EU had said at the beginning of negotiations that there would be no "cherry picking".
 
"If we don't vote for this agreement then we risk playing into the hands of those who do not want Brexit to go ahead," he said.  But many Tory MPs and the Democratic Unionists remain adamantly opposed to the deal.  About 100 Conservative MPs - and the Democratic Unionist Party's 10 MPs - could join Labour and the other opposition parties to vote it down.
 
Former Brexit secretary Dominic Raab said that Brexiteers like him could back a deal if aspects such as the backstop were dealt with.  He told the Today programme the EU had played "a smart game of hard ball" and said it was time for the UK to do the same.  The deal suffered a heavy defeat in the House of Lords on Monday night, as peers backed a Labour motion by 321 votes to 152.
 
While the vote carries no real weight, as peers accepted MPs should have the final say, the motion - which also rejected a "no deal" scenario - expressed "regret" that Mrs May's deal would "damage the future economic prosperity, internal security and global influence" of the UK.  However, five Conservative Brexiteer MPs who have been critics of the withdrawal agreement have now said they will support the government, along with three Labour backbenchers and independent Frank Field.
Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay said it showed there had been "progress" but admitted to the BBC's Politics Live that gaining support was "challenging".
 
A number of amendments to Mrs May's deal have been put forward by MPs to try to make changes to it in Parliament.  Proposals include giving MPs a vote on whether to implement the backstop and putting a time limit on how long the backstop could last.  Labour MP Hilary Benn had planned an amendment to reject the deal and prevent no deal - but has since told BBC assistant political editor Norman Smith that he has withdrawn his proposal.  Mr Benn told the Today programme that he wanted there to be a "clear, single vote" on Mrs May's deal, so that there was "clarity" on why it was being rejected.
 
When asked what the margin of defeat could be for Mrs May, former Downing Street director of legislative affairs Nikki da Costa told Today she expected it to be within the "50 to 80 mark".  The Commons Speaker, John Bercow, will decide which amendments can go forward to be voted on just before the vote on the deal itself.
 
Speaking to his own backbenchers last night, Mr Corbyn again condemned the deal and reiterated his call for a general election if it is voted down by Parliament. He also promised Labour would call a no-confidence vote in the government "soon".  He said: "Theresa May has attempted to blackmail Labour MPs to vote for her botched deal by threatening the country with the chaos of no deal. I know from conversations with colleagues that this has failed. The Labour party will not be held to ransom."
 
Towards the end of seven hours of Commons debate, shadow chancellor John McDonnell said if Labour could not force a change of government, ministers must cede power to allow MPs across Parliament to work together "to secure the best compromise to protect our country".  Chancellor Philip Hammond wound up the fourth day of debate just after 02:00 GMT on Tuesday, by warning that no-one would get "exactly the Brexit they want".
 
Leaving the EU without a deal would be "every bit as much a betrayal as no Brexit at all", he argued, saying it would not deliver on the promise of greater prosperity.
  • BBC News
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Headlines Monday 14th January 2019
 
Kvarken Link, RMC Sign LOI for Hybrid Ferry
 
Kvarken Link, a Finnish-Swedish consortium, has inked a letter of intent (LOI) with Finnish shipbuilder Rauma Marine Constructions Oy (RMC) for the construction of a new car and passenger ferry with a hybrid propulsion system.
 
As informed, the newbuilding is set to operate between the Finnish city of Vaasa and the Swedish city of Umeå. It is expected to be delivered by April 30, 2021.  It will have two cargo decks with a total capacity of 1,500 lane meters for lorries. In addition, the ferry will be able to accommodate 800 passengers.
 
The vessel will be designed to be environmentally friendly, with a machinery running on a dual fuel and battery solution, and the main source of fuel being liquefied natural gas (LNG). The vessel will also be able to use biogas produced in Vaasa.  According to RMC, the ferry has an ice class of 1A Super, which guarantees that the vessel is able to navigate in the challenging ice conditions of the Kvarken region as independently as possible.
 
The vessel order has a value of around EUR 120 million (USD 137.6 million). The formal construction agreement is to be signed in early 2019, with the design and construction work set to start immediately thereafter, as explained by Jyrki Heinimaa, CEO of RMC.
 
“I would like to express my highest appreciation to all involved for the hard work performed, bringing the project to a success. The Board of Directors would also like to thank everybody in their different roles for the positive development of the future business relations between Ostrobothnia and Västerbotten,” Mayor Tomas Häyry, Chairman of the Board of Directors, commented.
  • World Maritime News
 
Eni signs MoU for petroleum exploration in block offshore Bahrain
 
Italian oil major Eni has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the National Oil and Gas Authority (NOGA) of the Kingdom of Bahrain with the aim to pursue petroleum exploration of offshore Block 1.
 
Minister of Oil of Bahrain and NOGA chairman Mohamed Bin Khalifa Al Khalifa (L) and Eni CEO Claudio Descalzi (R) during the signing ceremony; Source: NOGA.  The block is an offshore area of over 2,800 square kilometers which is, according to Eni, still largely unexplored. Block 1 is located in the northern territorial waters of the Kingdom of Bahrain with water depth ranging from 10 to 70 meters.
 
Eni said that the MoU was signed by the Minister of Oil of Bahrain and NOGA chairman Mohamed Bin Khalifa Al Khalifa and Eni CEO Claudio Descalzi.  The signing ceremony was held in the presence of officials from NOGA, Noga Holding oil and gas company, and Tatweer Petroleum.  Al Khalifa said: “This strategic partnership with Eni is a major step towards utilizing the Kingdom’s offshore natural resources. With this signing, we aim to hold various discussions to review all relevant aspects of the technical and commercial terms of the potential exploration and development within a reduced timeframe.”
 
Claudio Descalzi added: “We are delighted with the signing of this agreement and the opportunity to explore the potential of Block 1.  “This MoU and the exploration in Block 1 will allow Eni to start cooperating and investing in a country that was one of the first in the Gulf to produce oil and which now aims at unveiling its offshore potential.
 
“Entering in Bahrain will enable our company to expand its presence in a key region of the Middle East, in line with our strategy aimed at diversifying our exploration portfolio across basins with liquid hydrocarbon potential while keeping high quality stakes throughout the exploration phase.”
  • Offshore Energy Today
 
Scots defamation law review amid growth of social media
 
A review of defamation law in Scotland has been launched amid the growth of social media.  The Scottish government has invited members of the public to a consultation on the law, which protects an individual's reputation against false claims.  The move was made after the Scottish Law Commission made 49 recommendations to modernise and simplify legislation.  It is the first review of its kind for more than 20 years.
 
The commission, which spent three years looking at defamation, said that a defence of "public interest" should be enshrined in law, allowing what it called "fearless journalism" to thrive.  It also suggested reducing the time limit for bringing a legal action from three years to one, because if there is genuine reputational damage, social media means it would quickly become clear.
 
The government said it wanted to ensure a balance between freedom of expression and the protection of an individual's reputation.
Launching the consultation, Ash Denham, minister for community safety and MSP for Edinburgh Eastern, highlighted how the increase in false information spread via social media was a key push behind the review.
 
She said: "Defamation law potentially affects everyone and it is crucial that we ensure the law is fit for modern Scotland.  "The enormous growth in the use of social media presents new challenges and means that defamatory communication is becoming increasingly instant and common.
 
"It is crucial that we strike the right balance between the two values that often pull in opposing directions - freedom of expression and the protection of an individual's reputation.
 
"Consultation is an essential part of the process and members of the public have an important part to play in reforming the law on defamation and ensuring it is fit for the future."
  • BBC News
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Headlines Friday 11th January 2019
 
Exclusive: Goldman Sachs on course to launch cash management in mid-2020
 
Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N) is considering paying big multinational corporations more for their deposits than other banks as it paves the way for its entry into a mundane but prized business: managing cash.
 
The global investment banking powerhouse and fifth-largest U.S. bank, which is six months into building the required technology, aims to start the service in the first half of 2020, according to two people familiar with the plan. They agreed to discuss internal strategy on the condition they not be named.  The bank, which will earn fees and gain a captive client base for its foreign exchange business, could offer existing corporate clients more on deposits if they sign up for Goldman’s cash management services, a person familiar with the plan told Reuters.
 
Long considered a low-margin, utility-like service, the wholesale payments and cash management business generated about $250 billion in global revenue in 2017 for big banks, according to management consulting firm Oliver Wyman.  The steady stream of income has grown more attractive to banks that have been shifting away from volatile areas such as trading and investment banking in the aftermath of the financial crisis a decade ago.  Citigroup Inc (C.N), JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N), Bank of New York Mellon Corp (BK.N), HSBC Holdings PLC (HSBA.L), Standard Chartered PLC (STAN.L) and Deutsche Bank AG (DBKGn.DE) currently dominate the market, handling corporations’ payments and receivables across different regions.
 
As Goldman seeks to grow stable revenue by adding a cash management service for clients whom it already offers hedging and strategic advice, the investment bank further evolves to match rival universal banks’ range of businesses.  Goldman Sachs is about half way to a goal management set in 2017 to generate $5 billion more in annual revenue by next year, largely by boosting reliable, fee-based businesses. (Graphic: tmsnrt.rs/2H81K9a)
 
However, rivals privately scoff at the idea Goldman can gain significant market share in a business where contracts often last five years, clients tend to stick with their banks and a global network of banking licenses greases the wheels.  “The regulatory and operational costs of building a global cash management platform will be very steep and will take many years to achieve the scale that will justify the costs,” said a senior commercial banker at a large European bank.  “Large multinational companies are consolidating the number of banks they deal with, and they don’t tend to switch service providers frequently for workday functions like facilitating supplier payments and managing payrolls.”  Nonetheless, Goldman believes it can make inroads.
 
Its investment bankers have heard corporate treasurers at big U.S. multinational corporations complain that other banks’ systems are clunky and outdated, one person familiar with Goldman’s plans said. Goldman will try to woo those accounts with a user-friendly interface and other improvements, and eventually hopes to be the third or fourth bank corporate clients use, in addition to other banks, for cash management.  Later this year, Goldman will become its own first client by moving its deposits from other banks onto its own cash management platform. Goldman stands to earn money from cash management in three ways: fees earned for processing funds, fees earned on exchanging a client’s cash into other currencies during a transaction, and by using deposits as operational account balances, a cheaper alternative to wholesale funding.
 
Oliver Wyman predicts that wholesale payments and cash management revenue will grow 5 percent annually over the next five years. Growing volumes and rising interest rates will more than offset narrowing profit margins caused by increased competition, the consulting firm said.  Paying clients more for deposits and offering new technology is a strategy Goldman used when it launched Marcus, its online retail bank, in 2016.  It has paid off. Marcus had $30 billion of deposits in the United States and the United Kingdom and $4 billion in loans as of November, and is contributing about $200 million to Goldman’s revenue, according to a November presentation.
 
In recent months, Goldman has advertised that it is hiring cash management compliance, technology, and legal professionals.
In one LinkedIn post seeking applications for lead data architect in the commercial banking engineering team, Goldman said it was looking for “innovative solutions to traditional banking activities” by combining the “heritage of a 148-year-old financial institution with the agility and entrepreneurial spirit of a tech start-up.”
  • Reuters
 
EIB Working on New Energy Lending Policy
 
The European Investment Bank (EIB) has launched a new public consultation on energy financing to better reflect energy industry trends and to enhance its support for the European Union’s 2030 energy and climate targets.  Over the next three months, EIB will engage with stakeholders, including shareholders, industry associations, civil society and the private sector to develop a new energy lending policy that supports EU targets.  Dialogue with stakeholders will reflect on EIB’s recent support for energy investment and consider key trends and investment challenges currently facing the sector.  The consultation will include examining how future EIB-backed investments can reduce energy consumption through energy efficiency, better support renewable power generation, improve financial and advisory backing for energy innovation, and secure infrastructure essential for energy transition.
 
EIB will host a public consultation meeting in Brussels in February, followed by consideration of the new Energy Lending Policy by EIB’s EU member state shareholders later in the year.  The new policy will replace EIB’s Energy Lending Criteria adopted six years ago in the context of Europe’s 2020 targets that ensured strengthened support for clean energy finance including renewable energy, energy efficiency, and related electricity grids.
 
The public consultation of EIB’s support for energy investment follows the finalisation of the new European Union legislative framework – Clean Energy for All Europeans.  The new EU energy policy packages seek to facilitate the energy transition and fix two new targets for the EU for 2030: a binding renewable energy target of at least 32% and an energy efficiency target of at least 32.5%.  These targets are expected to stimulate Europe’s industrial competitiveness, boost growth and jobs, reduce energy bills, help tackle energy poverty, and improve air quality.
 
In the last five years, EIB has provided more than EUR 49 billion for energy investment across Europe and around the world, including financing for 30 European Projects of Common Interest.
  • Offshore Wind.biz
 
Chevron Launches Three New Very Large Crude Carriers
 
US-based energy major Chevron launched earlier this week three new very large crude carriers (VLCCs) that will join the company’s global shipping fleet.  Splashed at Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME) shipyard in South Korea, the ships in question are Houston Voyager, Pascagoula Voyager and San Ramon Voyager.
 
The 318,000 dwt vessels feature a length of 336 meters and a width of 60 meters.  Each carrier has a capacity of 2 million barrels and will trade primarily between the Arabian Gulf and the US, according to Chevron.  The tankers are part of seven identical vessels ordered by Greek shipping company Maran Tankers in 2017 and chartered to Chevron.
  • World Maritime News
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Headlines Thursday 10th January 2019
 
Freight Derivative Trade Volumes Rise in 2018
 
The overall volume of Forward Freight Agreement (FFA) trades increased in 2018, according to data compiled by the Baltic Exchange.
 
Freight derivative volumes in the tanker market rose by 20% in 2018 hitting 321,962 lots*, volumes in the dry market were up by 1.4% to 1,196,929 lots, its strongest performance since 2008, while dry options volumes increased by 44% to 268,976 lots, finding similar levels to 2016.  Closer analysis of the figures revealed that on the dry bulk side panamax volumes grew by 10% and now account for nearly half (48%) of all dry FFA trades. Capesize volumes were down slightly on 2017, dropping 4.5% to 481,725 lots.
 
For dry options, panamax volumes grew by 65% to 82,987 lots, now accounting for nearly a third (31%) of all trades, with capesize volumes improving 37% to 182,575 lots to take a 68% share of the total. Supramax lots were down 3.5% (3,414 lots) on 2017 levels, accounting for the final 1% of the 2018 total.  The Baltic Exchange added that open dry interest stood at 207,891 lots on January 2, 2019, up 25% on January 2, 2018. Dry option open interest is also up with 185,724 lots open on January 2, 2019, up 57% on January 2, 2018.
 
For tankers, dirty trade volumes were up 53% on the previous year reaching 191,224 lots. Much of this growth took place in the final quarter of 2018 when an average of 5691 lots were traded each week. Clean volumes for the year were down 10% at 130,738 lots.  Open interest for tankers stood at 50,962 lots on January 2, 2019.
  • World Maritime News
 
i3 Energy inks offshore rig LoI for Liberator, Serenity drilling
 
UK North Sea-focused oil company i3 Energy has signed a letter of intent with Dolphin Drilling for the use of a semi-submersible drilling rig for its 2019 drilling program.  Subject to signing a firm contract, i3 Energy will use either Blackford Dolphin or Borgland Dolphin offshore drilling rig. The oil company will use a Dolphin Drilling rig for a three-well appraisal and development drilling program in the UK North Sea starting in June 2019. The drilling program is estimated to last 94 days.
 
i3 will first drill the A3 appraisal well in Block 13/23c (Liberator West), then drill and suspend the first Liberator Phase I production well in Block 13/23d (L2) and complete the campaign by drilling the S1 well into the Serenity prospect.  i3 has said that advancement of its integrated subsurface analysis now maps STOIIPs of 314 MMbbls in the Liberator field and 197 MMbbls in Serenity (using conservative assumptions on oil column thickness).
 
If successful, the A3 appraisal well is expected to convert a portion of Liberator West’s resources into reserves, in addition to determining the placement of the second Phase I production well (either L4 or L1), which would be brought onstream alongside the L2 well at a potential combined rate of up to 20,000 barrels of oil per day in mid-2020. A third Phase I well is expected to be delivered in mid-2021 to maximize infrastructure utilization.
 
The S1 well at Serenity is intended to prove what i3 believes is a material extension of the Tain discovery, which is an unclosed oil-bearing structure immediately adjacent to the east into which there are 4 well penetrations.
 
The A3 and S1 appraisal wells will allow the company to optimally size the standalone FPSO facility for a potentially enlarged Phase II development which includes both the Liberator and Serenity fields. Upon the successful appraisal and development of Liberator and Serenity, i3 said it could potentially produce more than 200 MMbbls from its current licenses.
  • Offshore Energy Today
 
Jaguar Land Rover to cut thousands of UK jobs after China, diesel slump - source
 
Britain’s biggest carmaker Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) (TAMO.NS) is set to announce “substantial” job cuts in the thousands, a source told Reuters, as the company faces double-digit drops in demand in China and a slump in sales for diesel cars in Europe.  The company builds a higher proportion of its cars in Britain than any other major or medium-sized carmaker and has also spent millions of pounds preparing for Brexit, in case there are tariffs or customs checks.
JLR swung to a loss of 354-million pounds between April and September and had already in 2018 cut around 1,000 roles in Britain, shut its Solihull plant for two weeks and announced a three-day week at its Castle Bromwich site.
 
The Tata Motors-owned company has unveiled plans to cut costs and improve cash flows by 2.5 billion pounds including “reducing employment costs and employment levels.”  Those cuts will be “substantial” and run into the thousands, the source told Reuters.
 
“The announcement on job losses will be substantial, affecting managerial, research, sales, design,” said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Production-line staff will not be affected “at this stage,” said the source.  The company, which employs nearly 40,000 people in Britain and has been boosting its workforce at new plants in China and Slovakia in recent years, declined to comment when contacted by Reuters on Thursday.
JLR, which became Britain’s biggest carmaker in 2016, had been on course to build around 1 million vehicles by the turn of the decade, but output in 2018 looks set to have fallen as sales in the first eleven months dropped 4.4 percent.
 
Sales in China between July and September fell by 44 percent, the biggest slump of any market for the central England-based firm, turning the country from its biggest sales market to its smallest.
 
Its chief financial officer said in October that the firm’s Changshu plant in China “has basically been closed for most of October in order to allow the inventory of both our vehicles and dealer inventory to start to reduce.”
 
Diesel accounts for 90 percent of the firm’s British sales and 45 percent of global demand, the company said last year, as demand in the segment tumbles following new levies in the wake of the 2015 Volkswagen emissions cheating scandal.  Like fellow automakers, the company could see its three British car factories grind to a halt in fewer than 80 days if lawmakers next week reject a deal by Prime Minister Theresa May, leading to tariffs and customs checks after a no-deal outcome.
  • Reuters
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Headlines Wednesday 9th January 2019
 
Offer raised in oil firm hostile takeover bid
 
Faroe Petroleum, the Aberdeen-based oil and gas firm, faces a raised bid in a hostile takeover battle with rival explorer DNO.  The Norwegian bidder has raised its cash offer price from 152p a share to 160p, with a closing date of 23 January.  That implies the value of the company is £642m, of which DNO already owns more than 30%.
 
Faroe directors have previously said the initial bid undervalued the firm.  DNO says directors, managers and employees of Faroe Petroleum would share a £52m windfall, under the latest offer.
 
The Norwegians were disappointed by the lack of backing from other shareholders at the 152p offer, first announced on 26 November.  Last week the firm said it had only 43% of shares, whereas it requires 50%. It announced an extended offer, suggesting there had been a low take-up due to the festive break.
  • BBC News
 
WoodMac sees North Sea exploration comeback and uptick in development expenditure in 2019
 
According to Wood Mackenzie, an energy intelligence group, five themes that will dominate the market in 2019 include the comeback of North Sea exploration and, although the deal spend will slow, it will remain the seller’s market. WoodMac also sees an uptick in development expenditure in 2019 but production will remain flat.
 
In the end, companies with the lowest-cost projects will be the winners this year.  North Sea exploration is back in 2019. Across the region – the UK, Norway, Netherlands and Denmark – WoodMac expects more than 60 exploration wells to spud, up 25% on 2018. Budgets are bigger and company portfolios are brimming with prospects matured through the downturn. The competition for assets in the M&A market will be fierce, particularly in Norway. So growth via the drillbit is attractive.
 
There is scale too. While many of prospects drilled will be infrastructure-led, WoodMac believes we will also see new plays and ideas being tested. In total, companies are targeting 10 billion barrels of gross unrisked resource. Volume, as well as value, is on the agenda.  Norway will be at the heart of the uptick, with drilling expected to reach pre-downturn levels – WoodMac forecasts over 40 exploration wells will be drilled, up from 26 in 2018.
 
Exploration is back in the UK too. It languished in 2018, with just eight wells drilled, the lowest number since the 1960s. WoodMac expects the UK sector to see between 10-15 wells this year. Siccar Point’s Blackrock and Lyon wells in the West of Shetland are the ones to watch. Both are high risk but have standalone potential.
 
Equinor is the only major set to drill more than a handful wells in the North Sea this year. It will drill around 20 across UK and Norway – its highest number since 2013. Aker BP and Lundin are the next players in line as they look to secure growth post-Sverdrup.
  • Offshore Energy Today
 
Forget fantasy Brexit, UK tells lawmakers as crucial deal debate begins
 
British Prime Minister Theresa May’s government cautioned lawmakers on Wednesday that it was a delusion to think that the government would be able to negotiate a new divorce deal with the European Union if parliament voted down her deal next week.
 
The future of Brexit remains deeply uncertain - with options ranging from a disorderly exit to another referendum - because British lawmakers are expected on Jan. 15 to vote down the deal that May struck with the EU in November.  May pulled a vote last month on the deal, admitting that it would be defeated. The British parliament on Wednesday resumes debating the deal ahead of next week’s vote. Britain is due to leave the EU on March 29 at 2300 GMT.
 
“I don’t think the British public are served by fantasies about magical, alternative deals that are somehow going to spring out of cupboard in Brussels,” Cabinet Office Minister David Lidington said in an interview with BBC radio.
 
“This deal on the table has involved some very difficult give and take on both sides.”
 
May has repeatedly ruled out delaying Brexit, though she has also warned British lawmakers that if they reject her deal then Brexit could be derailed or that the United Kingdom could leave without a deal.  May’s government suffered a defeat in parliament on Tuesday when lawmakers who oppose leaving without a deal won a vote on creating a new obstacle to a no-deal Brexit.  
 
The 303 to 296 defeat means that the government needs explicit parliamentary approval to leave the EU without a deal before it can use certain powers relating to taxation law. May’s office had earlier played down the technical impact of defeat.
The defeat highlights May’s weak position as leader of a minority government, a split party, and a deeply divided country as the United Kingdom prepares to leave the club it joined in 1973.
 
Lidington said the vote showed that many lawmakers do not want a no deal but he cautioned that it was not enough to show simply what lawmakers did not want. Without an alternative, he said, the default position would be leaving without a deal.
 
“Parliament has to say what it is that they are prepared to vote for,” he said. “This is a deal negotiated by us and 27 other sovereign government around Europe.”
Some investors and major banks believe May’s deal will be defeated on Tuesday but that eventually it will be approved.  The ultimate Brexit outcome will shape Britain’s $2.8 trillion (2.2 trillion pounds) economy, have far-reaching consequences for the unity of the United Kingdom and determine whether London can keep its place as one of the top two global financial centres.
 
Business chiefs and investors fear leaving the EU without a deal would silt up the arteries of trade, spook financial markets and dislocate supply chains.
  • Reuters

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Headlines Tuesday 8th January 2019

 
Update: Tugboat to Tow Hapag-Lloyd’s Disabled Boxship to Halifax
 
Tugboat Maersk Mobilizer will help tow Yantian Express, Hapag Lloyd’s disabled containership, to Halifax, Nova Scotia, the US Coast Guard said.
 
On January 7, 2019, the 95-meter-long tugboat was en route to the 7,506 TEU boxship which was some 1,015 miles northeast of Bermuda, according to the USCG.  The German-flagged container vessel caught fire on January 3 while it was sailing from Colombo to Halifax. The fire started in one container aboard the ship and spread to additional containers.
 
Efforts to extinguish the fire were launched on the same day but they were hampered by bad weather conditions.  During the weekend, the ship’s crew members were evacuated to the tugboat Smit Nicobar after the fire increased in intensity.
 
The USCG said the tugboat remained on scene, providing firefighting assistance.
 
“We’ve been monitoring the situation to provide as much assistance as possible and keeping in open communication,” Chief Petty Officer Ryan Langley, operations unit watchstander at the Fifth District command center, said.
  • World Maritime News
 
Senate crossbench gave renewables $23bn boost by thwarting Abbott's plan
 
The Senate’s decisions to stop Tony Abbott abolishing clean energy agencies helped create renewable energy projects worth $23.4bn, a new report says.  The Australia Institute says decisions taken by Labor and the crossbench between 2013 and 2015 to save the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and Australian Renewable Energy Agency (Arena) have now secured $7.8bn in public funding and investment for clean energy.
 
Together with the renewable energy target – which was retained but reduced to 33,000GWh by 2020 – these measures will cut greenhouse gases by 334m tonnes over their lifetime, compared with 192m tonnes through the Coalition’s emissions reduction fund.  The Australia Institute released the Saved by the Bench report alongside polling that showed Australians supported the Senate’s role as a check on government power but were split on whether it blocked government legislation too often.
 
Climate change will be a central issue in this year’s federal election – Labor is promising more ambitious emissions reduction targets and conservative Coalition figures want to wind back support for renewables.  
 
After its election in 2013, the Abbott government successfully repealed Labor’s emissions trading scheme and interim carbon price but was thwarted in its attempts to abolish key environmental agencies.  The report found that Australia’s investment in renewables dropped 46% in the three years after 2013, but “has since rebounded dramatically, to a record high of US$8.5bn in 2017”.  The report credits decisions by Labor, the Greens, Palmer United party and other crossbenchers for ensuring “investment in renewable energy has continued through a time of great uncertainty for the energy sector”.
 
It said that between 2013 and 2018, the CEFC gave loans worth $6.6bn to clean energy projects, encouraging a further $12.3bn of private sector investment.  During that time, Arena gave $864m in grants and has committed to a total of $1.2bn by 2022.
 
“In total, those projects are worth $4.4bn, meaning that each dollar of Arena support leverages about 2.7 dollars of private funding,” it said.  Small-scale renewable certificates issued under the renewable energy target have helped more than 805,000 Australian homes install solar panels and supported the connection of 225,000 solar hot water systems by households.
 
In the year to June 2018, renewable energy supplied a record 15.7% of power in the national energy market, and this is tipped to reach 37% by 2030, thanks to the renewable energy target and state targets in Queensland and Victoria.  The Australia Institute executive director, Ben Oquist, said that despite earlier plans to axe Arena and the CEFC, “the Coalition has reversed its position … as a result of their strong performance”.
 
“There are few examples that show just how crucial the role of the Senate crossbench is than renewable energy investment post 2013.”
 
Labor has promised an emissions reduction target of 45% in the electricity sector but the Coalition has been left without a policy since Malcolm Turnbull ditched the emissions reduction component of the national energy guarantee.  As the New South Wales Liberal party positions itself in favour of taking stronger action on climate change, Abbott and the influential backbench MP Craig Kelly have called for an end to renewables subsidies.
 
The Greens have asked for voters to elect Greens senators in an election expected to deliver government to Labor by promising to push Labor “to be as ambitious as it possibly can be” on emissions reductions.  The Australia Institute’s poll of 1,449 respondents found voters were split on the performance of the Senate, with 38% agreeing that it blocked government legislation too often and 34% disagreeing.
 
Voters registered strong support for statements that: the Senate should pass legislation on its merits (73% to 12% opposed); negotiation leads to better laws (66% to 20%); and it is bad for the country when the government also controls the Senate (63% to 24%).  They disagreed with the statements that Australia would be better off without the Senate (55% opposed, 22% in favour) and that the Senate should generally pass government legislation (66% opposed, 20% in favour).
 
In December, the Australian Energy Markets Commission estimated that increased wind and solar generation would help drive power prices down by 2.1% on average in the next two years, with the typical household saving $55 a year in wholesale power costs.
 
UK, European officials discussing possible Brexit delay - Telegraph
 
British and European officials are discussing the possibility of extending the formal exit process from the European Union amid fears a Brexit deal will not be approved by March 29, The Daily Telegraph reported, citing unidentified sources.  The Telegraph cited three unidentified EU sources as saying British officials had been “putting out feelers” and “testing the waters” on an extension of Article 50, a part of the Lisbon Treaty which sets out the conditions for leaving the EU.
 
Prime Minister Theresa May has repeatedly ruled out delaying Brexit, though she has also warned lawmakers that if they reject her deal then Brexit could be derailed or that the United Kingdom could leave without a deal.
 
“We are leaving the European Union on the 29th of March,” British Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay said when asked about the Telegraph report. “We are not looking to extend.”
 
When asked directly if he denied the report, Barclay said: “Yes, because I can be very clear that the government’s policy is to leave on March 29.”  He added that extending the Article 50 exit process was not a unilateral decision for the United Kingdom. Extending would require the unanimous agreement of EU heads of state in the European Council.
 
The future of Brexit remains deeply uncertain as British lawmakers are expected next week to vote down the divorce deal that May struck with the EU in November.  Business chiefs and investors fear leaving the EU without an approved deal would silt up the arteries of trade, spook financial markets and dislocate supply chains for the world’s fifth-largest economy.
 
Besides leaving without a deal or on the terms of May’s deal, other options include delaying Brexit, calling a parliamentary election or holding another referendum on EU membership.  The ultimate Brexit outcome will shape Britain’s $2.8 trillion (2.2 trillion pounds) economy, have far-reaching consequences for the unity of the United Kingdom and determine whether London can keep its place as one of the top two global financial centres.  May last month pulled a parliamentary vote on her deal, struck after two years of negotiations and designed to maintain close future ties with the bloc, after admitting it would be heavily defeated.
 
A new parliamentary vote is due on Jan. 15, though it is unclear what May’s next steps would be if the deal is defeated.  Goldman Sachs said its base case was that May’s deal would be defeated at first but a close variant of the deal would eventually be approved by parliament.  May is seeking assurances from the EU on the most controversial part of her deal - an insurance policy to prevent a hard border between EU-member Ireland and the British province of Northern Ireland.
 
Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar has said the EU is willing to give Britain reassurances about the Irish backstop before British lawmakers vote on May’s Brexit deal next week.
 
“We don’t want to trap the UK into anything – we want to get on to the talks about the future relationship right away,” Varadkar said, the Irish Times reported. “I think it’s those kind of assurances we are happy to give.”
 
However, Britain’s former Brexit Secretary David Davis, who opposes May’s deal, said assurances such as proposed by Varadkar would not be enough to convince rebels to support the deal.2
  • Reuters

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Headlines Monday 7th January 2019
 
DFDS Awarded Brexit Contract by the UK
 
Danish shipping and logistics company DFDS has been awarded a contract by the UK government to provide additional ferry capacity in the North Sea.
 
The UK Department for Transport awarded the contract to the ferry operator in order to prepare for “the possibility of severe congestion at and around UK ports from 29.3.2019, caused by increased border checks by European Union Member States”.
 
As explained, a no-deal Brexit scenario could cause disruption at the Dover-Calais crossing to the supply of vital goods.  Under the contract worth €47 million (USD 53.7 million), DFDS has agreed to provide additional capacity on Immingham – Cuxhaven, Immingham – Rotterdam, and Felixstowe – Rotterdam.  The plan includes two further companies — Brittany Ferries and Seaborne Freight — and a total contract value for all three companies of GBP 103 million (USD 131.3 million).
 
“As this is a matter for the UK Department for Transport to announce, we were unable to say anything on this before they had done so, and we also need to leave it to them to provide further details,” Henrik Tidblad, DFDS’ Commercial Fleet Director, said. Together with a team of internal and external resources he negotiated the contract.  DFDS will secure the additional capacity primarily through moving around ships in its network and performing extra round trips.
  • World Maritime News
 
BPA: 2019 Will Be about More Than Just Brexit
 
The British Ports Association is looking at challenges and opportunities facing UK ports beyond Brexit this year.
 
The BPA is keen to focus on port sector promotion, increased public transport investment, planning/consenting improvements and issues around people and safety which will all be priorities for all ports across the UK.  Additionally, potential new border controls, changes to environmental and regulatory rules and a new fisheries policy remain as major themes for the industry in 2019.
 
“2019 will be another critical year for UK ports and in the coming months we should start to know what Brexit will look like. UK ports provides important international gateways for goods and passengers and it is essential that the industry features highly in the Government’s Brexit considerations,” Richard Ballantyne, BPA Chief Executive, said.
 
“This is particularly important to pro-trade facilitation measures in relation to any new border control processes at British ports and especially at the UK’s network of Roll-on Roll-off ferry ports which facilitate much of the UK’s European trade.”
 
Alongside Brexit the BPA has been promoting a Port Zoning policy which it will be looking to evidence and provide further analysis on.  “The BPA’s Port Development and Enterprise Zone concept is our vision is for areas around ports to be classified with a special planning, consenting, business and regulatory status to help stimulate port development and growth,” Ballantyne continued.
 
The idea could see the growth of a network regional hubs around port and coastal locations across the UK.  The BPA will also be promoting the case for increased road and rail infrastructure investment to better connect UK ports and encourage the development of a new national freight strategy to better facilitate trade and cargo transportation.
 
In 2019 the BPA will also be examining safety and skills at ports, supporting the working of the industry body Port Skills and Safety which leads on training and landside safety issues for ports, and other relevant topics.
  • World Maritime News
 
UK new car sales record biggest fall since financial crisis
 
British new car sales in 2018 fell at their fastest rate since the global financial crisis a decade ago, hit by a slump in demand for diesel, stricter emissions rules and waning consumer confidence due to Brexit, according to an industry body.
 
Demand dropped by nearly 7 percent last year to 2.37 million vehicles, the largest fall since registrations nosedived 11.3 percent in 2008, preliminary data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) showed.  A nearly 30 percent drop in demand for diesel was the most significant factor in the decline. Diesel has been pummelled since the Volkswagen emissions cheating scandal of 2015, prompting a crackdown and higher levies.
 
But the industry also warned that Britain’s departure from the European Union due at the end of March risks the future of a sector which employs over 850,000 people and has been one of Britain’s few manufacturing success stories since the 1980s.
 
“It’s still hard to see any upside to Brexit,” said SMMT Chief Executive Mike Hawes.
 
“Everyone recognises that Brexit is an existential threat to the UK automotive industry and we hope a practical solution will prevail,” he said, calling for lawmakers to back Prime Minister Theresa May’s deal to guarantee a transition period.  Investment looks very likely to have fallen in 2018 and sales this year are forecast to drop again as the SMMT warned a no-deal Brexit would hit jobs.
 
“You’re not going to see immediate closure of plants but what you could see is a reduction in production volumes and certainly, these are often international companies who have alternatives,” said Hawes.  After record highs in 2015 and 2016, demand fell in 2017 and some analysts see car demand as a leading indicator which could be a harbinger for future economic performance.
 
Britain’s economy slowed to a crawl at the end of 2018, the housing market is stalling and lending to consumers growing at its slowest pace in nearly four years, according to data released on Friday.  Diesel, which accounted for 48 percent of sales in 2016, fell to 42 percent in 2017 and just 32 percent in 2018, mirroring a trend seen in many European markets.
 
The rise in petrol sales and drop in diesel means the average CO2 emissions of new cars sold in Britain in 2018 rose just under 3 percent, posing a headache for automakers who need to reduce levels to meet stricter regulations.  New rules which came into force in September also impacted sales by disrupting the supply of some models, the SMMT said.  Demand this year could also be distorted if Britons fear tariffs could be introduced after Brexit perhaps pushing up registrations in the first three months of 2019.
 
The complete figures for 2018, which include the final few registrations submitted by paper rather than electronically, will be released at 0900 GMT.
  • Reuters

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Headlines Friday 21st December 2018

 

BP boosts Clair stake after closing ConocoPhillips deal

Oil major ConocoPhillips has completed its previously announced sale to BP of a ConocoPhillips subsidiary that holds a 16.5 percent interest in the BP-operated Clair field for an undisclosed price.

The two oil majors agreed in July 2018 for BP to acquire from ConocoPhillips a 16.5% interest in the Clair field. BP, the operator, previously held a 28.6% interest in the field.

As a result of the deal, BP now holds a 45.1% interest and ConocoPhillips retains a 7.5% interest in the giant Clair project located in the West of Shetland region offshore UK.

Other partners in the Clair field are Chevron with a 19.4% stake and Shell with a 28% stake.

The Clair field is being developed in phases. Phase One was brought on stream in 2005, targeting approximately 300 million barrels of recoverable reserves. Clair Ridge, the second phase development of the giant Clair field, started up in November 2018.

Two new, bridge-linked platforms and oil and gas export pipelines have been constructed as part of the Clair Ridge project. According to BP, the partners invested more than £4.5 billion in the new offshore facilities, designed for 40 years of production.

The Clair Ridge development is expected to recover an estimated 640 million barrels of oil with production expected to ramp up to a peak at plateau level of 120,000 barrels of oil per day.

ConocoPhillips also completed a simultaneous acquisition of BP’s 39.2 percent interest in the Greater Kuparuk Area in Alaska and 38 percent interest in the Kuparuk Transportation Company for an undisclosed price.

In the first nine months of 2018, production associated with the acquired 39.2 percent interest in Kuparuk was 39 thousand barrels of oil equivalent per day (MBOED), and production from the divested 16.5 percent interest in Clair Field was 4 MBOED.

  • Offshore Energy Today

 

2018 a Record Breaking Year for Carnival Corporation

Miami-based cruise ship major Carnival Corporation & plc continued its winning streak as the company achieved record full year earnings.

Namely, the cruise line’s net income for the full year 2018 was at USD 3.2 billion, rising from USD 2.6 billion reported in the prior year.

Revenues for the full year 2018 were USD 18.9 billion, USD 1.4 billion higher than the USD 17.5 billion in the prior year.

“We delivered strong fourth quarter earnings and record adjusted fourth quarter earnings to top off a record breaking year,” Arnold Donald, Carnival Corporation & plc President and Chief Executive Officer, said.

“In 2018, we grew net cruise revenue over five percent, achieving the highest revenue yields in our company’s history, and producing double-digit adjusted earnings growth despite a significant drag from fuel and currency.

“More importantly, we achieved double-digit return on invested capital in line with the target we established five years ago.”

Gross cruise revenues for the fourth quarter were USD 4.4 billion compared to USD 4.2 billion for the same period of 2017, representing an increase of 4.3 percent. In constant currency, net cruise revenues increased by 6.1 percent to USD 3.7 billion from USD 3.5 billion.

Looking ahead, Carnival Corporation said that cumulative advance bookings for full year 2019 “are considerably ahead of the prior year at prices that are in line with the prior year.”

Pricing on bookings taken since September has been running in line on a comparable basis to the prior year while booking volumes are significantly higher compared to the prior year. As a result, even with higher capacity, there is less inventory remaining for sale than at the same time last year.

“Based on continued strength in underlying fundamentals, we are poised to deliver another year of strong revenue and earnings growth, with booking volumes running significantly ahead of our higher capacity growth and net revenue yields expected to exceed last year’s record levels. We remain committed to driving demand in excess of measured capacity growth to continue the momentum into 2019 and beyond,” Donald said.

Based on current booking trends, the company expects full year 2019 constant currency net cruise revenues to be up by 5.5 percent, with capacity growth of 4.6 percent, and net revenue yields in constant currency expected to be up around 1.0 percent compared to the prior year.

Taking the above factors into consideration, the company expects full year 2019 adjusted earnings per share to be in the range of USD 4.50 to USD 4.80, compared to 2018 adjusted earnings per share of USD 4.26.

  • World Maritime News

 

Britain braces for M&A slowdown as mega-deals set to wane

Bankers are bracing for a drop in mega-deals in Britain in 2019 as companies cautious about Brexit and other geopolitical risks row back on big transactions following the best year for UK mergers and acquisitions in three years.

Advisors caution that the bitter trade war between the United States and China, a no-deal Brexit and tighter regulation could all deter companies from pursuing more ambitious acquisitions.

“Our view is that next year will be a decent year for M&A but there will be less of the mega-deals,” said Eamon Brabazon, the co-head of EMEA M&A at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

“Given the potential direction of geopolitics, the world’s a bit more cautious and so companies may be less likely to do a $10bn-plus deal in 2019,” he added.

The value of deals involving British companies climbed to $466.5 billion in the last 12 months, up from $362.7 billion in 2017 and the highest since 2015, according to Refinitiv data.

Outbound M&A by UK firms accounted for $179.6 billion of the volume this year, while inbound deals totaled $142.2 billion and domestic deals between British businesses reached $87.3 billion.

The value of M&A in the UK - which was the world’s third largest market for deals - rose even as the number of transactions slid by 7.7 percent to 4,568, as firms pursued fewer but bigger acquisitions.

Globally there were 42 mega-deals worth more than $10 billion, the most since 2015, the Refinitiv data show. Those involving British companies included Vodafone’s (VOD.L) $21.8 billion acquisition of Liberty Global’s (LBTYA.O) assets in Germany and eastern Europe and Comcast’s (CMCSA.O) $40 billion purchase of Sky.

Fears that Britain could crash out of the EU without a deal have intensified since November, when Prime Minister Theresa May struck a withdrawal agreement with Brussels that has since met with fierce opposition from UK lawmakers.

Brexit concerns have hit the UK M&A market in recent weeks and were blamed for the collapse last month of a potential 2.9 billion-pound takeover of British shopping center owner Intu Properties (INTUP.L) by a consortium including Canadian property giant Brookfield.

Even so, some bankers believe the UK’s looming departure from the EU could spur bids for British companies if there are sharp sell-offs in sterling and equities that make London-listed firms look particularly cheap.

“Our focus for the UK market is: are there going to be dislocations in equity and FX markets because of Brexit and as a result are there going to be opportunistic approaches to UK-listed companies?” said Hernan Cristerna, co-head of global M&A at JP Morgan. “What we’re very focused on is engaging UK clients on defense advice to be prepared.”

Brexit aside, another factor that could stifle dealmaking is regulation and political interference in deals in the UK and elsewhere in the world.

Britain’s reputation as one of the most open M&A markets in the world took a hit in July when the government proposed new far-reaching powers to scrutinize and block deals for UK assets by foreign buyers on the grounds of national security.

The proposals, which have not yet come into force, follow similar crackdowns on foreign investment in other countries including the U.S., France and Germany.

“Generally, we’ve seen industrial policies and protectionism on the rise across different geographies and anti-trust regulators taking longer to approve deals, so we are in an increasingly challenging regulatory environment,” said JP Morgan’s Cristerna.

“There is some concern that to get regulatory and political approval for some of these large transformative deals will be harder, so I think a lot of our clients are shying away from them.”

  • Reuters
 
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Headlines Thursday 20th December 2018
 
CLIA: Cruise Industry Targets 40 Pct Carbon Footprint Cut by 2030
 
The cruise industry has committed to reduce the rate of carbon emissions across the industry fleet by 40 percent by 2030, the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) announced.
 
“Today’s (December 19) announcement is a tribute to cross-industry collaboration and a shared commitment to environmental sustainability,” said Arnold Donald, Global CLIA Chairman and President & CEO of Carnival Corporation & PLC.
 
“We aspire to the International Maritime Organization’s vision of a carbon-free shipping industry by the end of the century. Our commitment to a 40 percent reduction in the rate of emissions by 2030 is a strong first step toward realizing that vision.”
 
Progress toward the 40 percent target will be measured against a 2008 fleet baseline, and emissions rates will be calculated based on the industry fleet’s total carbon emissions, total ship berths and total distance traveled.
 
CLIA said it would report annually on the industry’s progress toward the commitment.  The association members plan to achieve the cuts by resorting to innovative technologies for energy efficiency in ship design and propulsion. A considerable role is also assigned to LNG as marine fuel with the industry’s first LNG-powered ship launched just last week, and some 25 such ships could be operating by 2025.
 
Earlier this week, Carnival Corporation’s cruise ship AIDAnova received its first LNG during a maiden call at the Santa Cruz de Tenerife terminal from Shell’s LNG tanker Cardissa.
  • World Maritime News
 
EDF, Shell swoop for New Jersey offshore acreage
 
An alliance between EDF Renewables and Shell has acquired a lease area off New Jersey from developer US Wind that has the potential for a 2.5GW offshore wind project.
 
The partners, which have named the venture Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind, said the site off Atlantic City has “steady wind resources in relatively shallow water”.  Work will begin shortly on a site assessment plan followed by formal development work. The transaction is subject to regulatory approvals.
 
EDF Renewables and Shell believe a project could be operational off New Jersey by the mid-2020s, subject to a final investment decision.
 
“Shell has bold ambitions to grow our renewable power business and we see great potential in US offshore wind,” said vine president of wind division Dorine Bosman.  “Gaining access to this acreage in New Jersey complements our successful entry to Massachusetts and our existing renewable generation business.  "Building on the strength of our brand and global presence allows us to continue providing our customers with more and cleaner energy.”
 
EDF Renewables North America chief executive Tristan Grimbert said: “The opportunity supports the EDF Group’s aim to double global renewable capacity to 50GW by 2030.
 
“It solidifies EDF Renewables’ ambitions to leverage its depth of experience in the European offshore wind market in the emerging U.S. market.”  He added: “As the costs of offshore wind are declining, the US offshore wind industry is quickly advancing with strong Federal and State support.
 
"The industry is well-positioned to meaningfully contribute to the New York and New Jersey economies through employment and supply chain opportunities.”
  • ReNews.biz
 
AB InBev signs deal to source 100% renewable electricity in UK
 
The owner of Budweiser and Corona has secured a deal to purchase 100% renewable electricity for its UK operations.  AB In Bev’s agreement with Europe’s largest solar energy Lightsoruce BP represents the largest unsubsidised solar deal ever in the UK. The 15-year power purchase agreement (PPA) will rollout 100MW of solar power, generating enough electricity to power 18,000 homes.
 
The solar power is expected to be added and connected by the end of 2020. All Budweiser brewed and sold in the UK will begin to feature a new symbol to encourage consumers to choose a beer brewed with 100% renewable electricity.  AB InBev’s zone president for Europe Jason Warner said: “This deal is about driving positive change in what people buy in their weekly shop, order in the pub or drink with friends.
 
“We want to build a movement towards celebrating and growing renewable electricity, and are asking our consumers, customers, colleagues, business partners and fellow companies to join us – we are making our 100% renewable electricity symbol available for any brands who share these values.”  The move reinforces AB InBev’s 2025 sustainability target to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 25% by 2025 against a 2017 baseline – a reduction submitted through the Science-Based Targets Initiative (SBTI), covering scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions.
 
The brewer has also committed to source all electricity from renewables by 2025 – a pledge that would make AB InBev the largest corporate buyer of renewable electricity in the consumer goods industry.
 
Earlier this year, AB InBev announced it would be rolling out what it claims is a greener way to put bubbles in beer and reduce its CO2 emissions by 5%.
  • Edie.net

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Headlines Wednesday 19th December 2018
 
2018: 'Record Year' for UK Offshore Wind
 
According to RenewableUK, more than 2GW of new offshore wind capacity has been installed off the Great British coast in the last twelve months - a record breaking volume for the UK.  Eight new offshore windfarms were officially opened during the year, bringing the annual total of new capacity to 2,121 MW– nearly double the previous annual record of 1,154 MW in 2012.
 
" This near-doubling of capacity was achieved with just 18% more turbines than were installed in 2012 (367 turbines this year compared to 309 turbines in 2012), underlining the impressive growth in turbine power in the last 6 years. Since 2012, the average capacity of an offshore turbine has grown over 50% from 3.7MW to 5.8MW this year," said press release from RenewableUK.  New projects opened this year included the world’s largest operational offshore wind farm, Walney Extension (659MW), Rampion (400MW) and Race Bank (573MW), as well as the world’s second floating offshore wind farm, Kincardine, in Scottish waters.
 
Offshore wind deployment will continue to grow next year, with Beatrice in Moray Firth (588MW) going fully operational, and construction work continuing on East Anglia ONE (714MW) and Hornsea Project One (1,218MW) off the Yorkshire coast, which will both to be fully operational in 2020.  RenewableUK’s Executive Director Emma Pinchbeck said: “We’re thrilled that we’ve absolutely smashed previous records and installed more new offshore wind power stations than ever before. This is just the beginning of the great shift to renewables. By 2030, offshore wind could be generating more than a third of the UK’s entire electricity needs, with 30 gigawatts up and running. The industry would attract £48 billion in investment by the end of the next decade and employ 27,000 people in highly-skilled jobs."
 
“Offshore wind has brought the UK jobs, lower bills and renewable energy. It’s offering even more to the UK in the anticipated Offshore Wind Sector Deal, which the Government has said it wants to finalise by Christmas,” Pinchbeck added.
  • OE Digital
 
Ocean Installer put in charge of Johan Castberg FPSO mooring and tow out
 
Norway’s Equinor and Ocean Installer have signed a contract that covers the FPSO mooring installation, tow out and hook-up of the Johan Castberg FPSO in the Barents Sea.  Equinor-operated Johan Castberg is one of the largest subsea field developments on the Norwegian continental shelf. The project includes Skrugard, Havis and Drivis, which lies about 240 kilometers from Hammerfest and about 100 kilometers north of Snøhvit. The water depth is between 360 and 405 meters.
 
Ocean Installer said on Tuesday that its new scope was extensive and would be carried out in combination with the marine operations contract Ocean Installer was awarded in February 2018.  “This is Ocean Installer’s first FPSO tow out and we sincerely appreciate the trust Equinor shows in our mooring capabilities by awarding us yet another large scope, “said Olav Haugland, CEO of Ocean Installer.
 
Ocean Installer will start engineering work immediately and the project will continue until the floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) unit begins to produce in 2022. The offshore mooring pre-installation work will be carried out in 2020. The FPSO tow out and hook-up scope will be executed in 2022 and will be supported by Global Maritime.  Ocean Installer’s existing marine operations project covers scope to be carried out in all offshore seasons from 2019-2022. The project will be executed by Ocean Installer’s headquarters in Stavanger.
 
The Johan Castberg (formerly Skrugard) field is situated approximately 100 kilometers north of the Snøhvit-field in the Barents Sea. The field will be developed with an FPSO+ production vessel with additional subsea solutions.
  • Offshore Energy Today
 
UK economy to slip to seventh biggest in world in 2019 - PwC
 
Britain risks slipping from being the world’s fifth-biggest economy to its seventh-largest next year, when it is due to leave the European Union, with France and India on course to overtake it, accountancy firm PwC said.  PwC projected economic growth in 2019 of 1.6 percent for Britain — assuming the country manages to avoid the shock of a no-deal Brexit in March — versus 1.7 percent for France and 7.6 percent for India.
 
“The UK and France have regularly alternated in having the larger economy, but subdued growth in the UK in 2018 and again in 2019 is likely to tip the balance in France’s favour,” PwC economist Mike Jakeman said.  The ranking is based on the size of national economies in U.S. dollar terms.
 
Britain’s economy slowed and the value of the pound slumped after the 2016 Brexit referendum decision to leave the EU.  “India is the fastest-growing large economy in the world, with an enormous population, favourable demographics and high catch-up potential due to low initial GDP (gross domestic product) per head,” Jakeman said.  “It is all but certain to continue to rise in the global GDP league table in the coming decades.”
 
PwC expects India to rise to fifth place next year from seventh, and France to remain at sixth.
  • Reuters
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Headlines Tuesday 18th December 2018
 
Carnival to Launch 4 Ships in 2019
 
The world’s largest cruise liner company Carnival Corporation & plc will launch four new cruise ships in 2019 across three of its global brands – Carnival Cruise Line, Costa Cruises, and Princess Cruises.
 
Carnival Cruise Line will debut its new Carnival Panorama on December 11, 2019, when the vessel is scheduled to begin sailing from its homeport of Long Beach. It will become the brand’s first new ship to homeport in California in 20 years, sailing year-round voyages from the newly renovated Long Beach Cruise Terminal to the Mexican Riviera.
 
The 4,008-passenger, 133,500-ton Carnival Panorama is the third in the line’s Vista-class series, the largest ever constructed for Carnival Cruise Line, which includes Carnival Vista and Carnival Horizon.  The new vessels also include Sky Princess, Princess Cruises’ fourth Royal-class ship; and Costa Smeralda, the second of Carnival Corporation’s total of 11 new ships joining the fleet between 2018 and 2025 that can be powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG) both in port and at sea; as well as Costa Venezia, Costa Cruises’ first ship designed and built specifically for the China market.
 
The 143,700-ton Sky Princess has the capacity to carry 3,660 guests and is scheduled to launch its inaugural Mediterranean deployment beginning October 20, 2019, with a seven-day Mediterranean and Adriatic cruise from Athens (Piraeus) to Barcelona. On November 17, the ship is scheduled to set sail from Barcelona for Fort Lauderdale, before it returns to tour Europe beginning in April 2020.
 
The brand’s first ship built specifically for the China market, Costa Venezia, will be Costa Cruises’ largest ship operating homeport cruises from China. The 135,500-ton, 5,260-passenger will start sailing in the beginning May 2019 throughout East Asia.
 
Finally, Costa Smeralda will be Costa Cruises’ first ship that is able to be powered in port and at sea by LNG. At 182,700 tons, and with over 2,600 guest rooms, Costa Smeralda will be the largest ship in Costa Cruises’ fleet.  The ship is scheduled to make its maiden voyage on October 20, 2019, with a 15-day cruise from Hamburg.  The four ships are part of Carnival Corporation’s ongoing fleet enhancement strategy with 20 new ships scheduled for delivery between 2019 and 2025.
 
Carnival Corporation launched four ships launched in 2018, which include Carnival Horizon from Carnival Cruise Line, Seabourn Ovation from Seabourn, ms Nieuw Statendam from Holland America Line and most recently, AIDAnova – the world’s first cruise ship that can be powered by LNG both in port and at sea.
 
“Each launch of a new ship generates lots of interest and excitement among consumers, whether they are among our many loyal guests or they are new to cruising,” said Roger Frizzell, chief communications officer for Carnival Corporation.
 
“Our four new ships in 2019 will be no exception as our brands will introduce spectacular new vessels that have been designed with one purpose in mind: to dazzle our guests as they enjoy an extraordinary vacation experience.”
  • World Maritime News
 
Russian cargo ship runs aground off Cornwall coast
 
A 16,000-tonne Russian cargo ship has run aground off a beach in Cornwall.  The Kuzma Minin grounded off Gyllyngvase Beach in Falmouth at about 05:40 GMT.
 
The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said the 590ft (180m) ship had dragged its anchor and has a list of about five degrees.  There is no cargo on the vessel, which has 18 Russian crew on board. The MCA said tugs will be attached to the ship to help refloat it by mid-morning.
 
The Met Office had issued a yellow warning of severe weather for the area, with 65mph winds forecast.  Falmouth harbourmaster Mark Sansom said the coastguard was in the process of getting a pilot on the stricken ship by helicopter to assess the situation.  "Obviously the weather conditions are very poor but we are expecting them to improve and we'll be looking for that opportunity to refloat the vessel," he said.  The coastguard said there had been no reports of any pollution and an area around the ship had been cordoned off.
 
One eyewitness, Megan Hocking, said she was "thinking of everybody on the tugs and lifeboat this morning - terrible conditions for a rescue mission".  Another added that the area was "getting busy with sightseers".
  • BBC News
 
Brexit: cabinet meets to discuss ramping up plans for no deal
 
PM wants to focus on preparations despite ministers canvassing alternatives to her deal
 
Cabinet ministers are expected to agree plans to significantly ramp up no-deal planning, allocating money from a £2bn contingency fund to departments such as the Home Office and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.  Ministers will be presented with three options at a meeting on Tuesday morning, to wind down preparations, keep them at a similar level or step up preparations, one cabinet source said, with the latter almost certain to be chosen.  Some cabinet ministers believe it is time to show more central command in no-deal planning. Previously, departments had been given some freedom to decide when and what they spent.
 
The environment secretary, Michael Gove, is among those who have been allocating the most resources, recently advertising for 90 staff for an EU exit crisis centre to respond to emergencies following a no-deal Brexit.  Defra, along with the Home Office and the Department for International Trade, are to get the most significant budgets for no-deal preparations.  Several ministers are expected to push for no deal to become Whitehall’s “central planning assumption.”
 
The issues are not solely financial but also relate to decisions over whether to take civil servants off important domestic priorities, one cabinet minister said. “Do you take civil servants off the social care green paper, for example? That’s the choices in front of us,” the minister said.  The communities secretary James Brokenshire said on Tuesday that it was “right and proper” for no-deal planning to be stepped up.
 
“We have been taking no deal seriously for some considerable period,” he said. “I’m not going to pretend otherwise that we are stepping up our preparations for no deal. Although, frankly the way to avoid that, as I’m sure others would say very clearly, is having parliament voting to secure that deal.”
 
The cabinet meeting marks the first steps in an attempt by May to persuade rebellious Tory MPs that the alternatives to her Brexit deal are worse before the meaningful vote in the week of 14 January.  May wants the increasingly serious no-deal preparations to dominate the Brexit discussion at cabinet, even though ministers worried about the stalled negotiations with Brussels are openly canvassing alternatives if her deal is voted down next month.  In the Commons on Monday, May told MPs that a chaotic no deal would happen unless they voted for her deal, or parliament decided to abandon Brexit altogether.
 
The prime minister said rejecting her deal would “risk the jobs, services and security of the people we serve” at the price of “turning our backs on an agreement with our neighbours that honours the referendum and provides for a smooth and orderly exit”.  May also told MPs that negotiations were continuing between the UK and the EU, saying she was seeking “further political and legal assurances” over the unpopular Northern Ireland backstop, in an effort to demonstrate that it was temporary.  
 
However, European commission officials in Brussels said that no further EU-UK meetings were taking place. “The deal that is on the table is the best and the only deal possible – we will not reopen it. It will not be renegotiated,” a spokesman said.  May is set to be embroiled in another Commons row on Tuesday after the government refused to allow time to debate a non-binding no-confidence vote in her leadership as prime minister, put down by Labour. Eurosceptic Tories and the DUP have said they will back the government.  Labour deliberately chose a form of words that was different to a formal “no confidence vote” in the government – which would be required to begin the process of trying to force a general election under the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act.
The shadow housing secretary, John Healey, said a full motion of no confidence would be tabled “when it’s clear to the country the government has failed decisively”.
 
“It is still a question of when, not if, we move to confront the government with a full vote of no confidence,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.  A Downing Street source said: “We won’t allow time for what is a stunt. The FTPA applies if Labour wants to put down a motion under the terms of that.”  Brokenshire said the motion was “not responsible opposition” and said it was “gamesmanship” from Labour.
  • The Guardian

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Headlines Monday 17th December 2018
 
Subsea 7 scoops Shearwater deal from Shell
 
Offshore engineering and construction specialist Subsea 7 has won a sizeable contract from oil major Shell for the Shearwater Fulmar Gas Line (FGL) re-plumb project located 140 kilometers off Aberdeen.  Subsea 7 said on Monday that the engineering, procurement, construction, and installation (EPCI) project workscope incorporates a 37-kilometer 24″ export line, a 14″ rigid riser, control jumper, subsea structures, and associated subsea tie-ins.
 
Project management, engineering, and procurement work has already begun in Aberdeen, with support from Subsea 7’s office in Glasgow. According to the company, offshore activities are scheduled for 2019.  Jonathan Tame, Subsea 7 vice president for UK & Canada, said: “For many years Subsea 7 has been chosen by Shell to provide engineering and project execution expertise in the North Sea. This latest award further demonstrates our ability to design the right engineering solutions that ensures a safe, effective and cost-efficient project delivery.”
 
It is worth noting that Subsea 7 considers a sizeable contract as being between $50 million and $150 million.  To remind, Shell made the final investment decision (FID) for the Shearwater gas infrastructure hub in the UK North Sea last week. That was Shell’s seventh FID in the UK North Sea in 2018.
 
Dry gas produced by the Shearwater platform currently flows via the Shearwater Elgin Area Line (SEAL) pipeline to Bacton, on the east coast of England.  As part of a newly sanctioned project, the Shearwater platform will be modified, and the Fulmar Gas Line to Shearwater installed, enabling wet gas to flow into the Shell Esso Gas and Associated Liquids (SEGAL) pipeline.
 
The gas will initially be processed at the St Fergus plant in Scotland prior to onward transmission of natural gas liquids (NGLs) to the Fife Natural Gas Liquids plant (FNGL) and Fife Ethylene Plant (FEP) at Mossmorran where they will be separated and exported to customers.
  • Offshore Energy Today
 
Report: DSME Tied to Another LNG Carrier Order
 
South Korea’s Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) has reportedly secured another contract to construct a liquefied natural gas (LNG) carrier.
Yonhap New Agency cited the shipbuilder as saying that it received the order from an undisclosed Oceania shipowner.  Further details related to the shipowner and the shipbuilding contract were not revealed.
 
The deal allegedly pushed DSME’s orderbook to USD 6.4 billion, representing 88 percent of the shipbuilder’s 2018 target of USD 7.3 billion in new orders.  The latest shipbuilding contract was revealed only days after DSME won a deal to build an LNG carrier for John Angelicoussis’ shipping company Maran Gas Maritime. The earlier ordered 173,400 cbm ship would be handed over to its owner by the first half of 2021.
  • World Maritime News
 
Energy firms SSE and Npower scrap merger plan
 
Energy firm SSE has scrapped its plan to merge its retail business with rival Npower, blaming "very challenging market conditions".  The deal would have created the UK's second-biggest energy supplier.  The two said last month they would have to renegotiate the deal, which had been cleared by the regulator, because of the government's new price cap.  The cap will keep energy bills below £1,137 a year for "typical usage" and is due to start in the new year.
 
Energy regulator Ofgem has said the cap will save 11 million customers an average of £76 a year on their gas and electricity bills.  More than half of all households in Britain are on default tariffs because they have never switched or have not done so recently.  The merger would have seen SSE's household energy division, SSE Energy Services, combined with the retail operations of Npower, which is owned by Germany's Innogy,
 
However, in a statement, SSE said it had decided the tie-up was no longer "in the best interests of customers, employees or shareholders".  The deal was affected by several factors, SSE added, including the performance of the two businesses, the energy price cap and changing energy market conditions.  It said the combination of these factors "meant the new company would have faced very challenging market conditions, particularly during the period when it would have incurred the bulk of the integration costs".
 
SSE chief executive Alistair Phillips-Davies said: "This was a complex transaction with many moving parts. We closely monitored the impact of all developments and continually reviewed whether this remained the right deal to do for our customers, our employees and our shareholders.
 
"Ultimately, we have now concluded that it is not. This was not an easy decision to make, but we believe it is the right one."
SSE said it was now assessing options for its SSE Energy Services business, including a standalone demerger and listing, a sale or an alternative transaction.
  • BBC News
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Headlines Friday 14th December 2018
 
Mitsubishi Christens Astomos Energy’s New LPG Carrier
 
Japan’s Mitsubishi Shipbuilding held a christening ceremony for a liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) carrier being built for Astomos Energy Corporation on December 13.  Named Laurel Prime, the new ship will be the seventh vessel of its type built for Astomos Energy.
 
The shipbuilder said that, in addition to energy saving performance, the 83,000m3 ship would have the capability to adapt flexibly to major LPG terminals worldwide, as well as to the expanded Panama Canal.
 
Completion and delivery of the vessel, which will be operated by Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK Line), is scheduled for the end of December, 2018.  The 48,300 dwt Laurel Prime features a length of 230 meters and a width of 36.6 meters. MHI added that the new vessel utilizes a unique hull form which provides exceptional fuel efficiency.
  • World Maritime News
 
Ørsted Establishes Offshore Wind Biodiversity Policy
 
Ørsted has taken a concrete step towards protecting marine flora and fauna at its offshore wind farm sites with its offshore wind biodiversity policy, announced on 13 December.  The policy set out principles that support the developer’s efforts to protect the natural environment in areas where it develops, constructs and operates offshore wind farms.
 
As offshore wind farms and their transmission infrastructure can interact with marine and coastal ecosystems, concerns are being raised about their impacts on marine ecosystems. Such concerns could increase as the offshore wind industry becomes global, which requires being more open and transparent on biodiversity protection, Ørsted said.
 
“Renewable energy plays a major role in mitigating climate change and the threat it poses to biodiversity. At the same time, it is important to protect biodiversity at our wind farm projects and sites,” said Hans Lyhne Borg, Head of Environment, Consents & Property at Ørsted.  “Our biodiversity policy formalizes and makes it transparent that Ørsted takes responsibility for the natural environment, and that we actively engage with all relevant stakeholders and operate within all relevant regulations, for the protection of species and habitats,” he added.
 
Current focus areas include potential noise impact on marine mammals from installation of wind turbine foundations, potential impact on birds’ migration routes and feeding grounds from wind turbines, as well as potential impact on seabed ecosystems and coastal environments from installation of transmission cables
Ørsted said it already used leading-edge engineering solutions and technologies to meet stringent regulations in different countries that are aimed at reducing potential impacts on marine mammals and birds.
 
Furthermore, the company has a dedicated Research and Development Roadmap that focuses on the environment and has funded several workstreams, including environmental research and conferences, in the focus areas. One of the latest research projects Ørsted is funding tags and tracks how Lesser black-backed gulls might interact with its offshore wind farms at Walney Extension and Burbo Bank Extension, from colonies in Northwestern England.
 
The developer further stated that it would continue working closely with regulators, local communities, environmental experts and other interested parties to build new knowledge and capacity around local biodiversity issues.  This includes Ørsted’s collaboration with World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in Denmark, with whom it partnered in August 2018 to jointly map and help tackle the impacts of climate change.
 
“The increasing demand for energy is driving rapid changes on our planet. Animals are under pressure, corals are dying, and plants are perishing. Nature, underpinned by biodiversity, provides a wealth of services that has built modern society, with its benefits and luxuries, and we will continue to need these natural resources to survive and thrive,” said Bo Øksnebjerg, Secretary General of WWF.
 
“It is imperative that we all take on the responsibility of protecting the planet’s biodiversity. And so, we are very pleased that Ørsted is assuming a great part of this responsibility in their work with offshore wind farms going forward,” he added.
  • Offshore Wind.biz
 
Scottish and UK governments clash over Brexit court ruling
 
The Scottish and UK governments have clashed after Supreme Court judges said parts of Holyrood's Brexit legislation would not be allowed to stand.  The judges said the bill "as a whole" was within Holyrood's competence, but that MSPs had acted outwith their powers in relation to one section.  MSPs passed their own Brexit bill in March after a row with UK ministers over Westminster's EU Withdrawal Bill.  But the case was then referred to the court by UK government law officers.
 
The judges also said changes which were later made to the UK legislation - adding it to a special schedule of protected legislation which MSPs cannot modify - meant a further 21 provisions now could not stand.  Scottish Secretary David Mundell said the court had "provided much-needed legal clarity" that the bill "goes beyond the powers of the Scottish Parliament".
 
But Scottish Brexit Secretary Mike Russell claimed the UK government had "changed the rules of the game midway through the match" in an "act of constitutional vandalism".  The UK Withdrawal from the European Union (Legal Continuity) (Scotland) Bill - known as the "continuity bill" - was passed under emergency procedures with only the Conservatives and a single Lib Dem MSP voting against it.  It was drafted as an alternative to Westminster's EU Withdrawal Bill, which MSPs refused to give their consent to following a row over how powers currently exercised from Brussels will be used after Brexit.
 
However, Holyrood Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh wrote an official memo saying the bill was "not within the legislative competence of the parliament".  This was denied by the Scottish government's legal advisers, but paved the way for UK law officers to apply to the Supreme Court to provide "legal certainty" about whether it was valid.
 
A two-day hearing was held in London in July, with the UK government arguing that the bill should be struck down. However, the Scottish government's case was backed by lawyers from the Welsh and Northern Irish governments.  Lady Hale said the judges had unanimously rejected many of the UK government's arguments.
 
She said "the whole of the Scottish bill would not be outside the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament", but that one section - relating to MSPs having to give consent for UK Brexit laws - was not within Holyrood's remit.
 
And she pointed out that the UK government had subsequently made changes to its legislation which added it to a protected schedule of the Scotland Act as soon as it became law, meaning it cannot be altered by MSPs.  This means the bill was largely competent when it was passed by MSPs in March - but that a number of sections now could not stand.
  • BBC News

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Headlines Thursday 13th December 2018
 
UK renewables startup Octopus is teaming with a Silicon Valley firm in a smart energy push
 
Octopus Energy, a UK renewable energy company backed by £7 billion ($8.8 billion) fund Octopus Capital, is set to announce an integration with If This Then That (IFTTT) to enable customers to automatically adjust energy usage based on changes in price.  Based in San Francisco, IFTTT has raised $62.5 million in venture capital funding from investors that include the firm Andreessen Horowitz and Salesforce.
 
In a release on Thursday, the companies say customers can save hundreds of pounds a year as well as trim personal CO2 footprint by choosing to, for example, turn off heating during peak price times, control their energy usage remotely, or charge electric vehicles more cheaply.  Octopus supplies renewable energy to about 400,000 UK homes — one notable customer is the Premier League soccer club Arsenal.
 
Renewables' share of electricity generation in the UK jumped to a record quarterly high of 30.1% in the first three months of the year, compared to 27% at the same time last year, according to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.  IFTTT was founded in 2010 and officially launched its service in 2011.  This allows users to automatically turn smart devices or appliances on or off when the price of energy changes or when the price of energy will be below a certain level for a prolonged period of time. Actions can also be triggered when consumption in a day, week or month exceeds a nominated value.  Customers can create "Applets" that connect input "Triggers" to output "Actions." Consumption can be altered based on energy price change, energy price threshold change over a duration and total consumption over a certain period of time.
 
Users can automatically turn smart devices or appliances on or off when the price of energy changes or energy prices are set to be below a certain level for a period of time. Actions can also be triggered when consumption in a day, week or month exceeds a nominated value.
 
"This kind of technology advance is crucial to adopting the smart grid needed for a renewable future," said Greg Jackson, CEO Octopus Energy.
  • Business Insider
 
Total drops 4 pct interest in Ichthys project for $1.6 billion
 
French oil major Total has signed an agreement to divest a 4% interest in the Ichthys liquefied natural gas (LNG) project in Australia to operating partner Inpex for an overall consideration of $1.6 billion.  The transaction, which is subject to Australian regulatory approvals, reduces Total’s interest in the asset to 26%, the French company said announcing the transaction on Thursday.
 
Arnaud Breuillac, President, Exploration & Production at Total, said: “This transaction is part of our constant portfolio review to optimize our capital allocation. Ichthys is part of a wave of Australian LNG projects, which have unfortunately experienced major cost overruns and delays during their construction phase. The final CAPEX estimate provided by the Operator is around 45 B$ to be compared to an updated figure around 40 B$ in 2017. In line with our capital discipline policy, we have therefore decided to control our capital employed in Ichthys by monetizing a 4% stake after the project start-up and de-risking.”  He added: “We are of course committed to the Ichthys project with our remaining 26% interest contributing to our growth both in production and cash flow from 2019 and beyond. LNG is a core area for Total – the world second-largest privately owned player with a strong pipeline of low breakeven pre-FID projects in our portfolio”.
 
At full capacity, the Ichthys offshore facilities and the two-train onshore liquefaction plant will supply 8.9 million tons per year (Mt/y) of LNG and 1.65 Mt/y of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), along with 100,000 barrels of condensate per day.  
 
The first LNG cargo was exported on October 22, 2018, the first offshore condensate cargo was exported on October 1, 2018, and the first LPG cargo was exported on November 16, 2018. The two LNG trains are now fully operational.  Before the deal with Total, Inpex, as the operator, had a 62.245% interest in the Ichthys LNG project. Other partners are CPC Corporation, Taiwan (2.625%), Tokyo Gas (1.575%), Osaka Gas (1.2%), Kansai Electric Power (1.2%), JERA (0.735%) and Toho Gas (0.42%).
  • Offshore Energy Today
 
Serco sees brighter prospects in 2019
 
British outsourcer Serco (SRP.L) said on Thursday it expects revenue to grow again in 2019 as it starts to see the results of an overhaul that began in 2015.  While UK outsourcing remains difficult after the collapse of Carillion and with Interserve (IRV.L) struggling to survive, some analysts now see Serco as a bright spot, which will next year be able to reinstate a dividend suspended in 2014.
 
“We expect to achieve positive free cash flow in 2018 after three years of outflows,” Serco said in a statement.  The company provides services for public sector departments in Britain and abroad, operating prisons and asylum seeker accommodation, organising health sector administration, running trains and ferries and providing IT support to the US Navy.
 
It said it expects underlying trading profit to grow 30 to 40 percent to 90 million to 95 million pounds in 2018, in line with analysts’ forecasts, and to 95 million to 100 million pounds in 2019, with revenues seen rising to between 2.8 billion and 2.9 billion pounds, from 2.8 billion pounds in 2018.
 
“With revenues no longer reducing, cash generation turning positive and the benefit of a strong balance sheet, we are pleased with progress, and we expect further improvement in 2019,” Chief Executive Rupert Soames said.
  • Reuters
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Headlines Wednesday 12th December 2018
 
Scottish industry body calls for tidal & wave budget backing
 
Scottish Renewables has called on the Scottish government to support renewable energy in its draft budget, which is expected to be announced on December 12, 2018.  The industry body has submitted an extensive package of measures to Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Economy and Fair Work Derek Mackay, that were designed to support Scotland’s renewable energy industry as it continues to ‘deliver the economic benefits of tackling climate change’, Scottish Renewables said.
 
The submission asks that the Scottish government use its draft budget to invest in developing innovative technologies like tidal and wave energy sectors, and support the transition to a low-carbon economy through investing in the decarbonization of Scotland’s heating sector.  Among other measures requested, Scottish Renewables also asked the government to ensure meeting local energy ambitions through creating an environment in which small-scale renewables can thrive.
 
Jenny Hogan, Deputy Chief Executive of Scottish Renewables, said: “Our renewable energy sector is a Scottish success story which is already delivering the economic and environmental benefits of tackling climate change.  “Industry has worked closely with successive Scottish and UK governments to get to a position where Scotland is generating enough electricity from renewable sources to meet 69% of our power needs, generating £5.5 billion in revenue in 2016 and employing 16,000 people.
“The Scottish government must ensure that this draft budget builds on the success to date in electricity generation and takes the bold action necessary to decarbonize our heat and transport sectors.”
 
In addition, the draft budget, according to Scottish Renewables, should ensure adequate resourcing across all levels of government to enable efficient processes, support local, low-carbon energy development and ensure meeting the ambitions contained in the Scottish Energy Strategy – including a new target that half of all energy be sourced from renewables by 2030.
  • Marine Energy.biz
 
UK approves Chevron’s plan for Captain EOR project
 
UK’s Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) has approved Chevron’s field development plan to progress its Captain Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) project in the Central North Sea.  Chevron made the Final Investment Decision to proceed with the first phase of the Captain EOR project back in October 2017.
 
Announcing the approval of the plan on Tuesday, Chevron said that, through the application of polymer injection technology, the Captain EOR project was expected to increase production and help maximize economic recovery from the field.  Production consent for Stage 1 of the EOR project advances this technology – a first on the U.K. Continental Shelf (UKCS), Chevron added.
 
The Captain field was discovered in 1977, in Block 13/22a located on the edge of the outer Moray Firth. The billion-barrel field achieved first production in March 1997 – over 20 years ago – thanks to technology developments in horizontal drilling and down-hole pumps.  The installation comprises a wellhead protector platform (WPP) and bridge linked platform (BLP) connected to a floating production, storage and offloading vessel (FPSO).
 
Chevron North Sea holds a 85% interest and is the operator of the Captain field and Dana Petroleum holds the remaining 15% interest.
  • Offshore Energy Today
 
May's MPs trigger confidence vote in her leadership
 
Lawmakers in British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative Party on Wednesday triggered a confidence vote in her leadership, plunging Britain’s planned divorce from the European Union into chaos.  With less than four months left until the United Kingdom is due to exit on March 29, the world’s fifth largest economy was facing the prospect of a disorderly no deal divorce or another divisive referendum on Brexit.
 
Ministers lined up to express loyalty to May, who was due to speak from her Downing Street home.  Justice Secretary David Gauke warned that if she lost then Brexit would have to be delayed.  Graham Brady, chairman of the Conservative Party’s so-called 1922 committee, said the threshold of 15 percent of the parliamentary party seeking a confidence vote had been exceeded.  A ballot will be held between 1800 and 2000 GMT on Wednesday in a room at the House of Commons and an announcement made as soon as possible afterwards, he said
 
May could be toppled if 158 of her 315 lawmakers vote against her, though a big mutiny could also scupper her leadership.  Brexit is Britain’s most significant political and economic decision since World War Two.  The ultimate outcome will shape Britain’s $2.8 trillion (2.32 trillion pounds) economy, have far reaching consequences for the unity of the United Kingdom, and determine whether London can keep its place as one of the top two global financial centres.
The British pound, which has lost 25 cents against the U.S. dollar since the 2016 referendum, fell on the news of a confidence vote but then rose to 1.2548 on news that Brexit might have to be delayed.
 
Ever since formally triggering the Brexit divorce in March 2017, May has sought to find a way to keep Britain closely aligned with the EU after its exit.
But on Monday, she abruptly pulled a parliamentary vote on her deal in the face of ridicule from lawmakers. She then rushed to Europe in an attempt to get assurances from EU leaders about the deal.
 
Brexit-supporting lawmakers in her party have accused May of betraying Brexit in negotiations while opponents say she has negotiated a deal that is the worst of all worlds - out of the EU but with no say over the rules it has to abide by.
A schism over Europe in the Conservative Party over Britain’s relationship with the EU contributed to the fall of all three previous Conservative premiers - David Cameron, John Major and Margaret Thatcher.
 
Brexiteers in her party have accused May of selling out Brexit in negotiations, though if they do manage to topple her, Brexit might be delayed, or even cancelled.  “Theresa May’s plan would bring down the government if carried forward,” lawmakers Jacob Rees-Mogg and Steve Baker said in a statement. 
 
“But our Party will rightly not tolerate it. Conservatives must now answer whether they wish to draw ever closer to an election under Mrs May’s leadership. In the national interest, she must go.”  But some ministers expressed support for her with Home Secretary Sajid Javid saying a leadership contest was the last thing Britain needed.
 
“The last thing our country needs right now is a Conservative Party leadership election. Will be seen as self-indulgent and wrong,” Javid said.  The EU’s top court ruled on Monday that Britain could cancel its official Article 50 notice to leave the bloc without permission from the other EU members and without losing any special privileges.  Justice Secretary Gauke said that if May lost, Brexit would have to be delayed.
 
“In terms of negotiating any type of arrangement with the European Union, I think it is inevitable that if she were to lose the vote tonight there would be need to be a delay in Article 50,” Gauke told BBC radio in an interview.
 
“I don’t think we would be leaving the European Union on the 29th of March.”
  • Reuters

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Headlines Tuesday 11th December 2018
 
Maersk Broker Bulk Chartering to Merge with Wonsild Dry
 
Maersk Broker Bulk Chartering has reached an agreement to merge with Wonsild Dry, which will become a fully integrated part of the company, as of January 2019.  The parties informed that they share the view that increasing expectations and demands from clients in a highly competitive dry bulk market will require best in class broking services both commercially and operationally.
 
“We are certain that a combined global organisation will create a stronger platform for further growth and, indeed, a company that will be able to service our many loyal clients even better in the future,” according to Maersk Broker.
 
Maersk Broker Bulk Chartering added that it plans to continue investing considerable resources in terms of business development including enhanced Research, and Digital solutions.  The cooperation between Maersk Broker and Wonsild Dry started in 2016 when Maersk Broker became a major shareholder of the company. Since then, synergies from a combined organisation “have become increasingly apparent” and the parties have now agreed to move forward as one entity.
 
The offices of Maersk Broker Bulk Chartering and Wonsild in Copenhagen and Singapore respectively will be combined. The Wonsild teams in Hong Kong and Bangkok will complement the existing network of Maersk Broker Bulk Chartering offices in London, Hamburg, Dubai, Delhi, Beijing, Taipei, Seoul and Tokyo.  As from January 1, 2019, the combined activities will be trading as Maersk Broker Bulk Chartering. Wonsild’s tanker activities will not be affected by or be part of this transaction.
  • World Maritime News
 
Cooper expects to repair Sole pipeline in April next year
 
Subsea 7, Cooper Energy’s subsea contractor for the Sole project in Australia, is preparing to repair the damaged section of the pipeline in April 2019 after detecting an anomaly last month.  Cooper’s Sole gas field is located in the eastern part of the Gippsland Basin, approximately 40km offshore Victoria, Australia.
 
Subsea 7, Cooper’s pipeline installation contractor, recently completed laying of the 65 km pipeline to link the Sole production wells offshore Victoria to the Orbost Gas Plant. The pipeline has been laid on the seabed, is unconnected to the gas fields and not carrying hydrocarbons.
 
However, last month, Subsea 7 reported to Cooper it had identified an anomaly in the form of a through wall thickness opening at one location in the pipeline during the performance of pipeline acceptance pressure testing (hydrotest).  On Tuesday, December 11 Cooper said that the pipeline installation contractor had removed a section of pipeline which contained the damage from the sea floor and successfully completed a hydrotest of the 65 km pipeline from the Orbost Gas Plant to the Sole wells.  The hydrotest was conducted over a 24-hour hold period and has confirmed the capability of the pipeline to retain the required pressure and is an important step in preparing the pipeline for a permanent repair.
 
The contractor is preparing to repair the damaged section of pipe within April 2019, subject to regulatory approvals.
Cooper reiterated that the Sole Gas Project remains within budget and on schedule for first commercial gas production in July 2019 as previously advised.
  • Offshore Energy Today
 
Businessman plans Scottish stock exchange
 
A plan for a Scottish-based stock exchange, focusing on social and environmental companies, has secured a partnership agreement with a major European stock market operator.  Bourse Scot Ltd is being planned by entrepreneur Tomas Carruthers, who has been involved in innovative trading platforms before.  It would be the first Scottish stock exchange since the closure of the trading floor in Glasgow in 1973.  That was a merger of exchanges in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen.
 
Euronext has agreed to provide its Optiq software platform for a virtual exchange based in Scotland, which is being aimed mainly at companies worth between £50m and £100m.  Bourse Scot expects to launch a Scottish stock exchange in the second quarter of 2019, if it secures regulatory approval.  Mr Carruthers, an Edinburgh-trained accountant, says he is already in talks with a number of potential issuers who intend to use it to raise investment.
 
He hopes the renewables industry will see it as a place to raise funds while maintaining control and headquarters, rather than selling to a bigger company, or a dominant stake being sold to a private equity investment firm.  The business plan is to win public funds, and create around 60 skilled jobs. These would be based in Edinburgh, with offices planned for Glasgow and Aberdeen.
 
The jobs would include marketing, to attract firms and investors into the market, and compliance. Stock exchanges need to police their rules to assure investors they can trust hat they are being told.  The plan for a social and environmental exchange would involve rules about the activities of such firms, with staff requiring participating firms to prove what they claim about social and green outcomes.
 
Mr Carruthers commented: "Stock exchanges play a vital role in bringing together investors and businesses seeking investment. In the 1960s there were five such exchanges across Scotland, enabling Scottish investors to directly fund business opportunities which, in turn, supported economic growth.
 
"Fifty years on and the economic landscape in Scotland is very different. Growth sectors such as renewable energy and biotechnology have once again established Scotland's standing as a centre of global excellence. A Scottish stock exchange will ensure companies can continue to find the financing they need to reach their full potential."
 
The businessman's main business success was as founder and chief executive of Interactive Investor, an online trading platform created in 1997.  He was also appointed by Prime Minister David Cameron to run the Social Stock Exchange, for companies with a social mission, where he was chief executive from 2012 until last year.
  • BBC News
 
 
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Headlines Monday 10th December 2018

Port of Tallinn to Reward Emission-Reducing Ships

Estonia’s Port of Tallinn has unveiled its intention to reward emission-reducing ships with a discount of up to 8% on tonnage fees starting in 2019.

The port authority said that differentiated port fees, to be introduced in January 2019, are based on the international Environmental Ship Index (ESI), which evaluates the amount of air pollution emitted by a ship, the vessel’s energy savings measures as well as readiness to connect the ship to onshore power supply.  To receive the discount, ships must hold a specific ESI score. Vessels with the ESI score of 80 and above may apply for a discount of 8% on tonnage fees, while ships with the ESI score between 65 and 79.9 may apply for a discount of 3%.

The new port pricing system involving differentiated port fees is aimed at encouraging shipping companies to adopt environmentally friendlier technologies, contributing to the health of the Baltic Sea ecosystem.  Ellen Kaasik, the Head of Quality and Environmental Management of the Port of Tallinn, noted that the use of the ESI score for differentiated port fees rewards not only the newest LNG or electricity powered vessels, but also other ships that have the highest fuel efficiency and use special equipment to reduce air emissions.

“All the vessels sailing on the Baltic Sea must, naturally, meet current applicable environmental regulations,” Kaasik said.

“Our aim as the landlord port is to encourage shipping companies to make extra efforts for adopting sustainable solutions and thus for protecting the fragile ecosystem of our Baltic Sea.”

The Port of Tallinn first introduced differentiated port fees in 2014, when discounts were made available for cruise vessels sorting their waste. From early 2018, all vessels using LNG as their primary fuel have been offered a tonnage fee discount of 4%.

  • World Maritime News

 

BP targeted with first shareholder resolution on climate goals

Pressure on oil companies to tackle climate change is growing after an activist group for the first time filed a shareholder resolution urging BP (BP.L) to set hard targets for reducing overall carbon emissions.  Follow This, a Dutch organisation that spearheaded a number of climate shareholder resolutions at Royal Dutch Shell’s (RDSa.AS) AGMs over the past three years said it also filed one with the Anglo-Dutch company for 2019.

It also plans to file a resolution with U.S. rivals Exxon Mobil (XOM.N) and Chevron (CVX.N) “unless other parties file a similar resolution,” it said in a statement.  The 2019 resolution calls on the companies to set and publish targets for the reduction of carbon emissions in line with the 2015 Paris Climate Accords to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius by the end of the century.

The targets should include emissions from the drilling and refining operations as well as for the burning of fuels and products such as plastics which are sold to millions of customers around the world, known as Scope 3 emissions.  BP CEO Bob Dudley has repeatedly opposed setting targets for Scope 3 emission reduction.  It calls on the companies to set clear metrics to measure greenhouse gas emissions and disclose information on progress.

“Targets should be on the agenda of every oil company, given that the oil industry can make or break the Paris Climate Agreement,” said Follow This founder Mark van Baal.

BP and Shell confirmed the resolutions had been filed.  BP “will consider the resolution carefully and make a response and recommendation to our shareholders as part of our Notice of Meeting prior to the AGM,” a spokesman said.  A Shell spokeswoman said the Follow This resolution was “unnecessary” after the company last week announced plans to set sector-leading emission targets that will be linked to executive pay and include Scope 3 emissions.

The announcement, which followed extensive discussions with investors, marked a reversal for Chief Executive Officer Ben van Beurden who had previously opposed setting targets.  “We are planning short-term targets for the net carbon footprint of our energy products. This will allow us to demonstrate clear progress towards our long-term ambition in this area,” Shell said.

Shell’s board has consistently opposed the Follow This resolutions which were voted down with less than 6.34 percent of the vote since 2015.  In the 2018 AGM, the discussion around the resolution however led to a heated debate between van Beurden and van Baal.

BP earlier this year announced plans to keep emissions flat over the decade to 2025, which are nevertheless limited to its own operations.  BP has faced several shareholder resolutions in the past focussed mostly on emissions disclosure.

  • Reuters

 

Brexit ruling: UK can cancel decision, EU court says

The European Court of Justice has ruled the UK can cancel Brexit without the permission of the other 27 EU members.  The ECJ judges ruled this could be done without altering the terms of Britain's membership.  A group of anti-Brexit politicians argued the UK should be able to unilaterally halt Brexit, but they were opposed by the government and EU.  The decision comes a day before MPs are due to vote on Theresa May's deal for leaving the EU.

MPs are already widely expected to reject the proposals during a vote in the House of Commons on Tuesday night.  BBC Brussels correspondent Adam Fleming said the ruling made staying in the EU "a real, viable option" and that may "sway a few MPs" in the way they vote.  But he said "a lot would have to change in British politics" to see the UK remain in the EU, with Mrs May and the government having to change its mind to make it a "political reality".

A senior ECJ official - the advocate general - said last week he agreed the UK should be able to change its mind about leaving.  His opinion was not legally binding, but the court tends to follow his advice in the majority of cases and it has broadly done so in this ruling.  Thea statement from the ECJ said the ability for a member state to change its mind after telling the EU it wanted to leave would last as long as a withdrawal agreement had not been entered into, or for the two-year period after it had notified the bloc it was leaving.  If that two-year period gets extended, then a member state could change its mind during that extra time too.

But the court said the decision must "follow a democratic process", so in the UK's case, it would have to be approved by Parliament.  The member state would then have to write to the EU to notify them of the "unequivocal and unconditional" decision.  The ECJ said it made the ruling to "clarify the options open to MPs" ahead of voting on Mrs May's deal.  The campaigners hope the victory in their legal case will increase the chances of Brexit being called off completely, potentially through another referendum.

Jolyon Maugham QC, director of the Good Law Project which took the case to the court, said the ruling was "the biggest upset since the First Book of Samuel and arguably the most important case in modern domestic legal history".

"It is up to MPs to remember what they came into politics for and find the moral courage to put the country's interests before private ambition," he added.  Environment Secretary Michael Gove, a prominent Brexiteer, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme those calling for a second vote were "people who never accepted that first vote, who didn't accept that democratic mandate and who want to overturn it".

"We don't want to stay in the EU. We voted very clearly, 17.4 million people sent a clear message that we want to leave the European Union, and that means also leaving the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice," he added.  "So, this case is all very well, but it doesn't alter the referendum vote or the clear intention of the government to make sure that we leave on 29 March."

The first minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon - who backed Remain - said the ruling meant it was "now open to the House of Commons" to extend Article 50 to allow time for another vote.  And Lib Dem Brexit spokesman Tom Brake tweeted that it was the "best news possible" and said it was now "full steam ahead for a People's Vote".

  • BBC News

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Headlines Friday 7th December 2018
 
Financial close reached for £2.6bn Scottish offshore windfarm
 
40 minutes Financial close has been reached for a project that is expected to reduce the cost of offshore wind energy generation by nearly 60%.  The £2.6bn Moray East project off Scotland’s north east coast is expected to deliver 950MW of renewable generation capacity, meet the energy needs of about about 950,000 households and cut the cost of offshore generation from the £140/MWhr for windfarms being built today to £57.50.  It will be built by the Moray Offshore Windfarm (East) consortium, owned by EDPR (43.3%) and Diamond Green, which is partly owned by DGE (33.4%) and Engie (23.3%).
 
Moray East board director Dan Finch said: “Moray East marks a major milestone in the progress of the offshore wind industry. Not only will it deliver plentiful, sustainable, renewable power, it will do so at a highly competitive price – to the economic advantage of both the household and the country.
 
“Offshore windfarms pay rent for the use of the sea bed – and last week we made our first payment of £6m to the Crown Estate (Scotland) – so the country is already benefiting before we have even produced a single unit of power.”  He added that the company announced last month the Port of Cromarty Firth will be used as the project’s intermediate port during construction, and in the long term, we announced in summer that Fraserburgh will be the operations and maintenance base for the lifetime of the windfarm.
  • The Construction Index
 
Chevron in first capex boost after four years. Set to spend $20B in 2019
 
Chevron has announced a $20 billion-dollar capex for 2019, marking a first budget boost after it had lowered capex for four years in a row. The budget for 2018 was $18.3 billion.  Of the $20 billion, California-based Chevron plans to spend $17.3 billion on its Upstream business, of which $7.6 billion on the U.S. Upstream, and 9.7 billion on the International Upstream.
 
In the upstream business, approximately $10.4 billion is forecasted to sustain and grow currently producing assets, including $3.6 billion for the Permian and $1.6 billion for other shale and tight investments.  Approximately $5.1 billion of the upstream program is planned for major capital projects underway, including $4.3 billion associated with the Future Growth Project at the Tengiz field in Kazakhstan. Global exploration funding is expected to be about $1.3 billion. Remaining upstream spend will be for early-stage projects supporting potential future developments.
 
Chairman and CEO Michael K. Wirth: “Our 2019 budget supports a robust portfolio of upstream and downstream investments, highlighted by our world-class Permian Basin position, additional shale and tight development in other basins and our major capital project at TCO in Kazakhstan,”. “Our investments are anchored in high-return short-cycle projects, with more than two-thirds of spend projected to realize cash flow within two years.”  Wirth continued, “We expect to continue to deliver steady production growth, enabling continued free cash flow that underpins our strong dividend and share repurchase program.”
 
Approximately $2.5 billion of planned capital spending is associated with the company’s downstream businesses that refine, market and transport fuels, and manufacture and distribute lubricants, additives and petrochemicals.
  • Offshore Energy Today
 
New Scottish film studio site announced
 
An enormous industrial building in the Port of Leith has been identified as the home of a major film and television studio for Scotland.  Screen Scotland, the publicly-funded body tasked with boosting the industry, is now trying to find the right private developer to take it on.  It has launched a tender process for a developer to lease, refurbish and run the "big blue shed" port building.  Screen Scotland said the studio could be up and running by the end of 2019.
 
It said public money could be available to assist with the refurbishment but the amounts would be determined by the responses to the tender process.  The building, just three miles from the centre of Edinburgh, was built in 2000 for engineering firm VA Tech but closed four years later.  It lay empty for several years before wave power firm Pelamis took over. The company collapsed in 2014.
 
Last year, the building was temporarily turned into a film studio as part of the production for Disney/Marvel's blockbuster Avengers: Infinity War.
Screen Scotland now wants the building to be a permanent large-scale film and TV production facility.  It is launching a tender process for a proposal to lease, refurbish and operate a permanent facility, saying that "public sector funding may be provided to the successful applicant".
They hope the 160,000 sq ft space will include up to five sound stages, workshops, production areas and an extensive backlot.
 
Executive director Isabel Davis said she was "excited" about its potential. She said: "The site itself is enormous. "At its highest point it is 100ft tall."  There have been concerns that the lack of suitable studio space meant Scotland was losing out to other parts of the UK in the race to attract major film and TV productions.
Although scenes for several major films and TV dramas have been shot in Scotland in recent years, the productions are often based elsewhere - with crews only travelling to Scotland for a few weeks for filming.
 
The major exception has been the popular series Outlander, which is filmed at the Wardpark Studios in Cumbernauld.  It has also been looking to expand to help it attract "top end productions".  Ms Davis, of Screen Scotland, said there was currently a "global production boom" driven by the rise of streaming sites such as Netflix and Amazon.  "We know the appetite is there for more space and we are feeling that both from the local industry and the global industry," she said.  
 
Screen Scotland is inviting the private sector to come forward with proposals for the Port of Leith building.  "We will be looking at what they are offering in terms of the private sector investment," she said.  "We will also be looking at what is being asked of us as the public sector and we will be appointing somebody to run the facility in April of 2019.  "We hope that swiftly after that we will be able to have the refurbishment take place so that the studio can be operational towards the end of that year."  Ms Davis said it was "an extremely significant step forward in Scotland's desire to have a facility of this scale".  "We are very confident there is market appetite for something like this," she said.
 
Last month plans for another Scottish film studio were halted by a court's decision that a tenant farmer could not be removed from his land.  A £250m studio, which was to feature six huge sound stages, had been planned for about 100 acres of greenbelt in the Pentland hills outside Edinburgh.  The studio project was described by the Scottish government in 2017 as being "of national importance".  But a Scottish Land Court ruled that land from two smallholdings could not be used for the development.
  • BBC News
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Headlines Thursday 6th December 2018
 
Chinese maritime giant opens Dundee offshoot to exploit decom and renewables opportunities
 
A Chinese state-owned maritime giant which completed the largest single-lift sea salvage operation in history will today open the doors to its first UK office in Dundee.  China Ocean Engineering Shanghai Co (COES) has invested around half a million pounds in establishing its new renewables and decommissioning focused offshoot, COES Caledonia (UK) Ltd, in the city.  It is a further boost to Dundee’s offshore aspirations, which are being built out through the Dundeecom banner in partnership with docks owner Forth Ports, the city council and the private sector.
 
Last month, Offshore Decommissioning Services revealed plans to base its operations, engineering and logistics base in the city in support of Moonraker, the offshore heavy lift vessel it plans to build.  COES is significantly further down that road with its latest £400 million heavy lift flagship – the Chuang Li – in final commissioning ahead of entering commercial operations early in the New Year.
 
The new COES Caledonia office is planning to offer the 4,500MT Chuang Li for heavy lift operations in the North Sea.  The plan – and the build-out of the firm’s local operations from an initial staffing base of up to 15 –  is dependent on contract wins but COES Caledonia director general, Professor Norman McLennan, said he was confident there was a bright future ahead.
 
The intention to build a major business in the city is underscored by the fact COES International President, Mr Hong Chong, has travelled from China to Dundee to attend the official opening of the local office, which will be based at River Court, Dundee One at the city’s waterfront.
 
“COES is part of the Ministry of Transport in China. It is a state-owned and because of that is financially stable,” Prof McLennan, an oil and gas industry veteran who was raised in Dundee and educated at Harris Academy, said.  The investment in Dundee follows a meeting between Mr Hong and Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon during a trade mission to China in the Spring.  First Minister Nicola Sturgeon meeting members of the COES team during a trade mission to China.
Business, Fair Work and Skills minister Jamie Hepburn will attend the official office opening in Dundee today along with local dignitaries and members of the business community.
 
Prof McLennan said the capability of the Chuang Li – which literally translates as innovative vessel – was a potential game changer for the North Sea decom sector and the emerging offshore renewables industry.  He said it had the capability of removing entire platforms topsides and subsea jacket infrastructure in single lift operations and could also handle the removal of abandoned seafloor pipework.  The Chuang Li will also be able to assist in renewables operations – a capability that will be required as three multi-billion-pound offshore wind farms planned for the Outer Firths of Tay and Forth – NNG, Inch Cape and Seagreen – are built out in the years ahead.
 
“The office initially will be a small presence with up to 15 people,” Prof McLennan said.  “It is subject to contract success – to winning major contracts – but we have ambitions to get that done and over the years ahead that will create both local and international job opportunities.”  The international spotlight fell on COES last year after it successfully completed the raising of the MV Sewol ferry off the coast of South Korea.  The stricken vessel had lain for almost three years following its tragic sinking in 2014 in which more than 300 passengers died, the majority of them schoolchildren.  The operation was one of the largest sea born salvage projects ever undertaken.
 
COES completed the project by strapping steel wires around the wreckage and raising it in the space between two floating barges.  The lift was completed in a day and the Sewol was later brought ashore for salvage and further investigations.
  • The Courier
 
Carnival Cruise Line Unveils Name of Its Newest and Largest Ship
 
Carnival Cruise Line has announced the name of its new XL-class ship to be delivered in 2020.  To be named Mardi Gras, the newbuilding will be the largest Carnival Cruise Line ship ever constructed and the first in North America to be powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG).
 
At 180,000 tons, the new Mardi Gras will be more than six times the size of its namesake, the first Carnival Cruise Line ship that entered service in 1972.  “Our first ship Mardi Gras was a historic vessel, introducing a brand new style of cruising to the vacationing public. What better way to pay tribute to our company’s nearly 50-year history of creating wonderful vacation memories than by naming this groundbreaking vessel after our original and beloved ‘Fun Ship,'” Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line, commented.
 
Currently under construction at Meyer Turku in Finland, the 5,200-plus lower berth vessel will feature a length of 337 meters and a width of 42 meters. The steel cutting ceremony for the new ship was held in November 2018.  As World Maritime News previously reported, the ship will be based in Port Canaveral, Florida, which will feature a new terminal.
 
A second XL ship will start construction in 2020 and be delivered in 2022.
  • World Maritime News
 
Sterling's fate hangs on Brexit, UK growth to be weak - Reuters poll
 
Sterling’s near-term fate hangs on whether British Prime Minister Theresa May manages to get her Brexit withdrawal deal through Parliament, according to Reuters polls that also found economic growth will be weak.  May faces deep opposition in parliament ahead of a Dec. 11 vote on her withdrawal agreement, raising the risk of a no-deal Brexit shock to the economy in less than four months’ time.
 
She suffered embarrassing defeats on Tuesday at the start of five days of debate over her deal to leave the European Union that could determine the future of Brexit and the fate of her government.  If the deal is agreed, sterling GBP= will gain 3.5 percent, according to the median in a poll of foreign exchange strategists taken mostly as Parliament debated the deal, but if it fails to pass the pound will fall by 2.75 percent.
 
“Our colleagues are right to flag the risks that Parliament could initially reject the deal. This inevitably leads to a knee-jerk sell-off in GBP,” noted BofAML analysts.  “We think there is likely to be a material repricing of the UK rates curve once a deal is announced and ratified, which in turn is likely to be bullish for GBP.”
Sterling has ricocheted on each piece of Brexit news, largely ignoring economic data. As predicted in Reuters polls ahead of the June 2016 referendum on EU membership, it has fallen versus the U.S. dollar, down well over 10 percent on Wednesday from pre-vote levels.
 
There is still only a median 25 percent probability no agreement is reached before Britain is due to leave the EU on March 29, unchanged from a November poll. It has been between 20 and 30 percent since Reuters began asking in July 2017.  Instead, almost 90 percent of economists who answered an additional question expect the most likely outcome to be the two sides agreeing a free-trade deal, as they have since Reuters began polling on this in late-2016.
 
Still in second place was leaving without an agreement and trading under basic World Trade Organization rules. And once more in third place was Britain being a member of the European Economic Area, paying into the EU budget to maintain access to the EU’s single market.  While the second and third outcomes were a close call, Brexit being cancelled was seen as unlikely and no respondent pegged this as the most likely scenario.  “The outcomes are obviously up in the air at present. But as it currently stands, some form of Free Trade Agreement looks to be the most likely option,” said Peter Dixon at Commerzbank.
 
Median forecasts in the wider foreign exchange poll pegged sterling at $1.29 in one month, $1.34 in six months and $1.37 in a year’s time, little-changed from a November poll. It traded around $1.275 on Wednesday.  The dollar has enjoyed unrivalled performance against its peers this year but will be undermined in 2019 on increasing concern about slowing U.S. economic growth, a poll showed. [EUR/POLL]  Against the euro EURGBP= the pound will be little moved from Wednesday’s level in one month when a euro will get you 89.0 pence. In six months and a year it will be worth 87.0p.  With little clarity about the terms under which Britain and the EU will part ways, British services firms were clobbered last month, leaving the economy at risk of contracting, a survey showed on Wednesday. [GB/PMIS]
 
The poll predicted Britain’s economy will expand 0.3-0.4 percent per quarter from here through to mid-2020, largely underperforming its peers.  It will grow 1.3 percent this year and a still modest 1.5 percent next year and in 2020, according to the poll of 76 economists, slower than ahead of the EU vote.  Still, a post-referendum recession never materialised and economists gave only a median 25 percent chance of one in the coming year and 30 percent within two years.  Inflation has held stubbornly above the Bank of England’s 2 percent target - and is not expected to be back there until the third quarter next year - yet the central bank has kept monetary policy loose.
 
It is not expected to raise the Bank Rate from the current 0.75 percent until at least April, when it will add 25 basis points. A subsequent 25 basis point increase is not expected until early-2020.  Only one of 77 economists polled expects the Bank to increase borrowing costs at its next policy decision on December 20.
  • Reuters

 

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Headlines Wednesday 5th December 2018
 
SNP lays into Labour for ‘giving up’ on North Sea
 
Oil exploration will need to be abandoned and huge volumes of black gold left in the ground if the UK is to meet climate change targets, the Labour Party said yesterday.
 
Shadow Treasury Minister Clive Lewis said recent UK Government tax breaks for North Sea industry were completely at odds with efforts to cut carbon emissions.
MP for Norwich South, Mr Lewis called for clarity on the amount of oil the UK can extract without compromising its Paris Agreement commitments.  In response, Kirsty Blackman, MP for Aberdeen North, accused Labour of “giving up” on the North Sea and of “betraying” oil workers by rejecting the UK’s strategy of maximising economic recovery (MER) from the basin.
 
Ms Blackman also labelled Labour “foolish” for raising environmental concerns on the same day that a new report from Oil and Gas UK (OGUK) claimed the industry’s ambitions were compatible with climate change goals.  Mr Lewis was challenging the recent legislation on transferable tax histories (TTH) during a House of Commons Public Bill Committee session.  After months of lobbying from the oil sector, TTH was brought in to promote the transfer of aging assets to newer companies who are ready to invest in extending field life and production.  The legislation lets buyers inherit tax credits from the seller which can later be used to offset decommissioning costs once the well runs dry.
 
Mr Lewis said the Treasury had left itself and UK taxpayers exposed to “exorbitant” future decommissioning costs, while effectively subsidising an early exit for wealthy corporations if the oil price drops.  He referred to a report from campaign group Global Witness, which said TTH could add more than £3 billion to the UK’s North Sea dismantling bill.  Energy consultancy Wood Mackenzie has estimated that UK taxpayers will have to fork out £25 billion in total.  Mr Lewis also complained that tax breaks introduced in the last three years had done nothing to safeguard or create jobs in the North Sea.  He said preference should be given to regulations which incentivise job creation and emissions reductions and accused the Treasury of ignoring the UK’s role in “avoiding catastrophic climate change”.
 
“Despite the continued claim that the UK is a global leader in action to meet climate change targets, the government’s actual policies continue to fall far short of its green rhetoric,” he said.  “Climate science is clear that to avoid more than 1.5 degrees Celsius of global warming at least 80% of known oil and gas reserves must stay in the ground.  “Every nation bears some degree of responsibility for leaving a portion of its fossil fuel reserves untouched.”
 
Mr Lewis said the issue tied into government and industry’s wider policy of MER – a commitment to recover as much oil from the UK North Sea as is commercially viable.  He described the approach as “wholly inappropriate in a climate-constrained world” and “entirely inconsistent with the Paris agreement, which will not only require a moratorium on new exploration but also the winding down of a substantial proportion of current projects.”
Ms Blackman, however, said: “We now have it in crystal clear terms – Labour has given up on the North Sea.
 
“Labour MPs want to leave more oil and gas in the ground, instead of maximising the recovery of reserves to give Scotland the greatest the possible economic boost – stimulating jobs and investment.  “And at a crucial time for the industry, with folk getting back to work and companies looking to invest in the Scottish oil and gas sector, workers will feel totally betrayed by the Labour party.”
  • Energy Voice
 
Denmark, Britain top global league for climate measures - report
 
Denmark and Britain are the top countries when it comes to implementing measures to fight climate change, although Britain has lagged in phasing out fossil fuel subsidies, a report published by academics said on Wednesday.  The report was launched as delegates from more than 190 nations meet in Poland to flesh out how to reach commitments made under the 2015 Paris Agreement to keep the rise in global temperature below 2 degrees Celsius this century.  Denmark, Britain and Canada have made the most progress in transforming their energy sectors toward meeting the targets, said the report by researchers from Britain’s Imperial College, commissioned by British power generator Drax.
 
“We researched how the world is progressing on uptake of the five key technologies and measures needed to limit climate change to 2 degrees Celsius. This reveals Denmark, UK and Canada to be world leading,” said Imperial’s Iain Staffell.  The five technologies are clean power, fossil fuels, electric vehicles, capacity for carbon storage, and energy efficiency of households, buildings and transport.  Denmark has decarbonised its electricity sector, moving away from coal, installing renewables and reducing fossil fuel subsidies by 90 percent over the last decade.  Britain has invested heavily in offshore wind and plans to phase out coal-fired power generation by 2025.  Canada has also installed renewables and is building facilities to capture and store carbon dioxide emissions.
 
The report assessed the climate change measures of 25 major countries, including all of the G7 and BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), which together represent 80 percent of the world’s population and 73 percent of its carbon emissions.  Britain, however, remained the sixth largest subsidiser of fossil fuels among the 25 countries, the report showed, based on data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) up until 2016.  According to the OECD definition of a fossil fuel subsidy - which includes direct expenditures by governments, foregone tax revenues and other concessions - Britain’s fossil fuel support amounted to around 10 billion pounds ($13 billion) a year.
 
Coal has provided two-fifths of the world’s electricity for the past 30 years, barely changing over the last decade as the falling share in most developed countries is being countered by growing electricity demand in coal-reliant Asian countries, the report said.
  • Reuters
 
DSME to Build Up to Six LNG Carriers for US Owner
 
Korean shipbuilder Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering has received an order to build two liquefied natural gas (LNG) carriers for an American owner.  Under the deal, signed with the unnamed company, the new vessels would be delivered from the shipyard in the first half of 2021.  The shipbuilding contract is worth KRW 412.1 billion (USD 370.1 million) and includes options for four more units, which, if exercised, would bring the value of the agreement to around USD 1.1 billion. The company informed that the deal on the options would be finalized in 2019.
 
DSME is to construct the 174,000 cbm units at its Okpo shipyard. The new LNG carriers would be fitted with the M-type, electronically controlled, gas injection (MEGI) engines and full re-liquefaction systems (FRS) to increase fuel efficiency by 30% compared to conventional LNG carriers.
 
“The situation has improved recently due to a surge in LNG carrier freight rates, and this will be a great boost for DSME,” a company official said.
DSME has won about USD 5.84 billion worth of ship orders so far in 2018, including 14 LNG carriers, 16 large-sized crude oil carriers, 16 super large containerships, and 4 special ships.
  • World Maritime News
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Headlines Tuesday 4th December 2018
 
Making North Sea oil last additional generation ‘key to climate change targets’
 
A report by Oil & Gas UK says innovation will be critical to efforts to build a lower-carbon economy.  Making North Sea oil last “an additional generation” is key to meeting the UK’s climate change targets, a new report says.  The research into the future of the offshore oil and gas sector argues the UK’s “comparative advantage in offshore technology” should help form part of a long-term energy strategy, along with carbon capture projects and a focus on hydrogen power.
A combination of reduced energy demand and the changing energy sources mean the UK has already met its carbon emission reduction target for 2020, according to the report.
 
But setting out a longer term strategy, it highlights the need for the industry to embrace innovation and says “developing Carbon Capture and Storage (CCUS) and the hydrogen economy based on oil and gas industry expertise has the potential to make the UK a global leader.”
It suggests the increase in renewable energy and efficiency improvements have while revealing 20% of the UK’s oil and gas is used for power generation, and more than a third is used for transport.
 
The findings of the report will be presented by its author Will Webster, energy policy manager at Oil & Gas UK, on Tuesday morning.  Ahead of the speech, Mr Webster said: “This report demonstrates industry’s key role in the energy transition and reinforces that Vision 2035, industry’s ambition to add a generation of production to the UK North Sea and double the export opportunity for the supply chain, is critical in achieving the balance between delivering our climate change targets and ensuring security of energy supply.  
 
“As the report shows, despite the rapid advances in lower carbon technologies there is ongoing demand for oil and gas in several key areas including transport and domestic heating.
 
“A total of 80% of the UK’s 27 million homes are heated by gas, demonstrating the long-term importance of our industry in ensuring security of energy supply.  “A lower carbon future will still require large scale energy distribution networks, undersea engineering and the mass movement and storage of gases and liquids. 2
He added: “The role for Carbon Capture and Storage and the development of hydrogen on an industrial scale will also feature in the future as these will be essential elements of any lower carbon environment.
 
“Clear evidence for this was in the action plan recently published by the Government to deliver the UK’s first carbon capture usage and storage projects by the mid-2020s.  “The industry’s expertise and use of pioneering technology means we are ready to play a central role in delivering cost effective, competently engineered solutions for CCUS.”
  • Shropshire Star
 
 
Clarksons: Siem Books Two More RoRos at FSG
 
German shipbuilder Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaft (FSG) has secured orders for two additional Roll-on Roll-off (RoRo) ferries from Siem Car Carriers, according to Clarksons Platou Shipbroking report.  The two 4,000 lane meter RoRos are due for delivery in the second half of 2019, Clarksons said.
 
FSG is about to deliver two 11,000 dwt RoRo ships to Siem Group.  Named Alf Polak and Maria Gracia Onorato, the duo will be chartered in by Italian shipping company Onorato Armatori once delivered. Onorato Armatori plans to deploy the RoRo ferries on routes between Sardinia and Sicily.
They will be the largest RoRo ships in the Mediterranean, as they can carry up to 310 semi-tr