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
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
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
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
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
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
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
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
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
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
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
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
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
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
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

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

 

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

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

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
 
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
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

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 
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
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
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

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 
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
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
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

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 
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
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
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

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 
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
 
 
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 
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
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
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

 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 
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
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
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-trailers, according to FSG.
  • World Maritime News
 
Brexit: Theresa May to open five days of crunch debate
 
Prime Minister Theresa May is preparing to sell her Brexit deal as she opens five days of debate in the Commons.  The debate is due to last eight hours each day and to begin mid-afternoon. MPs will vote next Tuesday evening.  The deal negotiated by the UK and the EU has to be backed by a majority MPs if it is to come into force.  But ahead of the debate, ministers face a contempt-of-Parliament challenge over their decision not to release the full legal advice on her Brexit deal.
  • BBC News
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
Headlines Monday 3rd December 2018
 
TAQA renews North Sea contract with Petrofac
 
TAQA’s Tern Aplha platform in the UK North Sea. Source: TAQA
 
Petrofac’s Engineering and Production Services (EPS) business has secured a condition monitoring contract renewal from TAQA in the UK following competitive tender.  Under the terms of the three-year agreement, Petrofac’s Condition Monitoring team will provide onshore and offshore vibration analyses, and support TAQA in equipment troubleshooting and monitoring for its North Sea assets, the oilfield services company said on Monday.
 
Dave Blackburn, Senior Vice President, EPS West, said: “We’re delighted to be extending our 10-year relationship with TAQA. We look forward to further supporting our client with its ongoing asset integrity work to reduce unplanned maintenance.”
  • Offshore Energy Today
 
Shell sets carbon cutting targets after investor pressure
 
Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.AS) caved in to growing investor pressure over climate change on Monday with plans to set short-term targets for reducing its carbon footprint.
 
BP (BP.L) and Total (TOTF.PA) have already set short-term targets, but Shell Chief Executive Officer Ben van Beurden had previously resisted setting hard goals, saying it would be “foolhardy” to expose Shell to legal challenges.  But following discussions with investors, the Anglo-Dutch oil and gas giant said that from 2020 it will set three- to five-year targets every year which will include specific net carbon footprint targets.  Shareholders had criticised Shell for last year setting long-term “ambitions” to halve its emissions of carbon dioxide by 2050, which lacked binding targets for implementation.
 
Shell, which did not specify any targets on Monday, plans to link these targets and other measures to its executive remuneration policy. The revised remuneration policy will be put to shareholders for approval at its annual meeting in 2020.
 
“We are taking important steps towards turning our Net Carbon Footprint ambition into reality by setting shorter-term targets,” Ben van Beurden said in a statement.  The move comes as governments meet in Poland for a conference hosted by the United Nations COP24 which will lay out a “rule book” to implement a 2015 climate accord.
 
The Paris agreement set goals to phase out fossil fuel use this century, shift towards cleaner energies and help limit a rise in temperatures.  Shell signed a joint statement with a group of 310 investors with over $32 trillion of assets under management, dubbed Climate Action 100+, outlining the targets and review process.
 
“When it comes to meeting the demands of the Paris Agreement on climate change, we believe it is necessary to strengthen partnerships between investors and their investee companies to accelerate progress towards reaching such an ambitious common goal,” Peter Ferket, Chief Investment Officer of Robeco said in the joint statement.
  • Reuters
 
Sturgeon in London for further Brexit talks with May
 
Nicola Sturgeon is travelling to London for a fresh round of Brexit talks with Prime Minister Theresa May later.  It comes as MSPs prepare to reject a no-deal scenario and Mrs May's own withdrawal plans at Holyrood this week.  The prime minister is sticking with the plan she agreed with EU leaders over 18 months of talks, despite the likelihood it will be voted down by MPs next week.  The first minister will call for Westminster to be given more time to find an alternative way forward.
 
If Mrs May's plans are voted down by MPs, Labour is threatening a vote of no confidence in the government, in the hope of forcing a general election.  Meanwhile, the pro-Brexit cabinet minister Michael Gove is urging colleagues to back Mrs May's deal - fearing defeat will result in no deal or even another referendum and no Brexit at all.  
 
Ms Sturgeon is prepared to back another referendum.  But first she wants MPs of all parties to unite in opposition to Mrs May's plan and to leaving the EU without a deal.  Ahead of Monday's talks, Ms Sturgeon said: "With so much at stake for people's jobs and living standards, it is vital that MPs come together to reject the PM's deal, to rule out a no deal Brexit and to secure an extension to Article 50.  "The Scottish Parliament will this week confirm its opposition to the prime minister's proposals and stand firm against a No Deal Brexit and I hope the Westminster parliament will follow suit.  "As soon as the prime minister's deal has been put to bed, all parties and MPs must come together to agree a better way forward."
  • BBC News
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
Headlines Friday 30th November 2018
 
Shareholders say ‘yes’ to $2.7B Transocean-Ocean Rig merger
 
Offshore drilling companies Transocean and Ocean Rig have informed that their respective shareholders have voted in favor of the previously proposed Transocean’s acquisition of Ocean Rig.  The two drillers in September entered into a definitive merger agreement under which Transocean was to acquire Ocean Rig in a cash and stock transaction valued at approximately $2.7 billion, inclusive of Ocean Rig’s net debt, subject to,  subject to the approval of both Transocean and Ocean Rig shareholders and the satisfaction of customary closing conditions, including applicable regulatory approvals.
 
Commenting on the approval Jeremy Thigpen, President and CEO of Transocean said: “We are extremely pleased that our shareholders have overwhelmingly approved our acquisition of Ocean Rig. Through this combination, Transocean further enhances our industry-leading fleet of high specification floaters, thus improving our competitive position.
 
“We are excited to begin actively marketing these assets into the growing list of opportunities we continue to see emerging across our global customer base.”
Thigpen concluded  said: “We look forward to closing the transaction in the coming days and welcoming Ocean Rig’s experienced crews into the company.”  In a separate statement, Ocean Rig, a deepwater drilling specialist, said that holders of 86.76% of the outstanding shares of Ocean Rig voted, of which 99.99% approved the merger.  
 
Ocean Rig has said that at the effective time of the merger, each issued and outstanding share of Ocean Rig immediately prior to such time will be cancelled and automatically converted into the right to receive 1.6128 newly issued shares of Transocean and $12.75 in cash. Transocean as the combined entity will remain listed on NYSE under the symbol “RIG.”
 
Ocean Rig’s fleet is comprised of nine high-specification ultra-deepwater drillships and two harsh environment semi-submersibles, Eirik Raude and Leiv Eiriksson.  Additionally, its fleet includes two high-specification ultra-deepwater drillships currently under construction at Samsung Heavy Industries. These two newbuilds are expected to be delivered in the third quarter of 2019 and the third quarter of 2020, respectively.
  • Offshore Energy Today
 
NCL Owners to Raise USD 962 Mn by Selling Shares
 
The owners of Miami-based cruise company Norwegian Cruise Line are looking to raise up to USD 962.7 million through a public offering.  The previously announced secondary public offering of over 18.8 million of ordinary shares by certain funds affiliated with Apollo Global Management and Star NCLC Holdings.
 
The offering, which was priced at USD 51 per ordinary share, is expected to close on or about December 3, 2018, subject to customary closing conditions. Norwegian did not sell any ordinary shares in the offering and will not receive any of the proceeds from the offering.
 
Concurrently with and subject to completion of the offering, Norwegian has agreed to repurchase from the underwriter ordinary shares that are being sold by the selling shareholders in the offering having an aggregate purchase price of USD 85 million at a price per share equal to the price per share. The share repurchase is part of Norwegian’s existing USD 1 billion share repurchase program.
 
The company informed that a registration statement relating to Norwegian’s ordinary shares was previously filed with the SEC and became effective upon filing.
  • World Maritime News
 
Train ticket prices to rise by average of 3.1% in January
 
The price of train tickets will rise by an average of 3.1% in January, the rail industry has announced.  The new fares will come into force on 2 January.  Fares regulated by the government - around 40% - are set at July's RPI, which was 3.2%.  These include season tickets on most commuter routes, some off-peak return tickets on long-distance journeys and flexible tickets for major cities.  Other fares are set by train operators.
 
The overall rise of 3.1% announced on Friday is just slightly less than the latest wage growth figure of 3.2% for the three months to September.  Rail Delivery Group chief executive Paul Plummer said: "Nobody wants to pay more to travel, especially those who experienced significant disruption earlier this year.  "Money from fares is underpinning the improvements to the railway that passengers want and which ultimately help boost the wider economy.  "That means more seats, extra services and better connections right across the country."
 
But the rise comes at a time of increasing dissatisfaction with the country's railways.  Fewer than half (45%) of passengers are satisfied with the value for money of train tickets, according to a survey by watchdog Transport Focus.  And passengers in some parts of the country experienced weeks of chaos after new timetables were brought in earlier this year.
 
Train punctuality slipped to a 12-year low in the summer and 14% of services failed to meet the industry's punctuality target in the 12 months to 10 November.  On Thursday, rail regulator the Office of Rail and Road launched formal action against Network Rail, ordering the government-owned company to improve its management of the rail infrastructure or face the possibility of fines and being sued by train companies for lost revenue.  Anthony Smith, chief executive of watchdog Transport Focus, said: "Until day-to-day reliability returns - with fewer significant delays and cancellations - passenger trust won't begin to recover.
 
"Passengers now pour over £10bn a year into the rail industry alongside significant government investment, so the rail industry cannot be short of funding.  "When will this translate into a more reliable railway and better value for money for passengers?  "It's also time for a fairer, clearer fares formula based on a calculation that uses the Consumer Prices Index, rather than the discredited Retail Prices Index."
 
The Rail, Maritime and Transport union said the fare increase was "another kick in the teeth for passengers on Britain's rip-off railways".  General secretary Mick Cash said: "With the vast majority of our rail franchises in foreign state hands this increase means the British people will be paying the highest fares in Europe on our rammed-out and unreliable services to subsidise passengers in Berlin, Paris and Amsterdam. That is nothing short of a disgrace."
  • Sky News
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
Headlines Thursday 29th November 2018
 
UK support for Arctic oil and gas 'exploitation' goes against climate change pledges, report finds
 
The UK government's support for oil and gas "exploitation" in the Arctic goes against its climate change pledges, a new report has said.  The Commons environmental audit committee added that the approach is not compatible with commitments such as the Paris agreement, and that failing to change course would mark a "dereliction of a global duty".
 
Ministers should reconsider encouraging UK businesses to explore oil and gas opportunities in the Arctic and get other nations to take a similar approach, the study states.  It comes as Arctic sea ice is at its lowest levels since records began, according to the report.  The committee claimed the Arctic Ocean could be ice-free during summer by the 2050s unless emissions are reduced.  One trillion plastic particles frozen in the ice could be released into the ocean due continued melting, their study claims. 
 
The committee insists that the UK has a responsibility to ensure commercial activities are guided by principles of sustainable development.  The report states: "As the ice melts, the opportunities for shipping increase.  "The committee is concerned about the risk of oil spills, higher carbon emissions and plastic pollution."  The committee's chairwoman Mary Creagh said: "The Arctic is changing rapidly and warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet.  "This brings potentially catastrophic consequences for the global climate as well as commercial opportunities and risks.
 
"If there is anywhere in the world that the principles of sustainable development should apply, it is the Arctic.  "The government should start by acknowledging the incompatibility of its support for oil and gas exploitation with its climate change commitments.  "With interest in the Arctic from countries as far away as China and Singapore, the UK must ensure it remains a key player in its protection.  "Failing to act now would be a dereliction of a global duty."
 
The report called for increased funding for scientific research into the situation in the Arctic.  The study urged the government to strengthen UK emissions targets.  It also called on ministers set out a clear timeline for a comprehensive plan to reduce UK plastic pollution.  A government spokesperson said: "Any suggestion that we are not committed to meeting the goals of the Paris agreement is nonsense.
 
"We do not actively encourage oil and gas exploration in the Arctic.  "We have decarbonised our economy faster than any other G20 nation and were the first in the world to put in place legally binding targets to reduce our emissions.  "We are clear that all countries must set ambitious targets for reducing emissions, including Arctic States and we continue to push for this at the highest levels.  "The UK is a world leader on tackling climate change, but we must do more and will study this report carefully."
  • Sky News
 
Call for huge Inchgreen dry dock to be 'saved for the nation'
 
Inverclyde Council is set to increase the pressure on the owners of a huge dry dock in Greenock.  Councillors want the owners to either bring the Inchgreen Dry Dock back into use or make it available as an asset for the nation.  Peel Ports insist they want to secure an industrial future for the dock and work was being tendered for.
 
The owners said they were bidding to win refit work on the Royal Navy's new QE2-class aircraft carriers.  If successful, the tender could create hundreds of shipyard jobs locally but campaigners and councillors are running out of patience.  The Inchgreen dock, one of the largest in the UK, is where the QE2 was fitted out in the 1960s after its launch from the John Brown shipyard.
 
But it has been largely unused for 16 years and its cranes were demolished last year.  The scale of Inchgreen Dry Dock, which is 305m long by 45m wide, has to be seen to be believed but it currently lies unused.  The facility is owned by Peel Ports and managed by Birkenhead-based Cammell Laird who insist they have plans to resurrect it as a working yard.  The company said they were towards the last few months of a tendering process to use Inchgreen to repair and refit the Royal Navy's 280m-long Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers.  
 
Failing that they insist they still plan to use the facility as an ongoing shipyard for supporting the navy's Type 31 Fast Frigate programme.
  • BBC News
 
Frankfurt expects 750-800 billion euros in assets transferred due to Brexit
 
Banks are expected to transfer 750-800 billion euros (664-709 billion pounds) in assets to Frankfurt due to Britain’s departure from the European Union, the city’s lobby group Frankfurt Main Finance (FMF) said on Thursday.  The bulk of the relocation of assets will occur in the first quarter of 2019, FMF managing director Hubertus Vaeth said in a statement, adding that more was to follow later.
 
“As long as uncertainty persists most financial institutions prefer minimum solutions,” he added.  Currently, banks based in Frankfurt have total assets of 3.5 trillion euros.  Of 37 financial institutions that have applied for new or more comprehensive bank licences with the European Central Bank, 30 have picked Frankfurt as their European headquarters, Vaeth said.
 
Roughly half a dozen banks which have picked a different hub on the continent are also increasing their Frankfurt footprint, he added.  Vaeth still expects 10,000 new jobs to be created in Frankfurt due to Brexit, adding that the increase will occur more slowly than originally anticipated.  That target will likely be reached within eight years after the 2016 referendum, and not five years as originally thought, he added.
  • Reuters
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
Headlines Wednesday 28th November 2018
 
Subsea 7 Awarded Frame Agreement Extension Offshore UK
 
Subsea 7 S.A. has announced the award of a sizeable(1) three-year extension of an existing DSVi(2) frame agreement, with seven North Sea clients: Chevron North Sea Limited, Dana Petroleum (E&P) Limited, Hess Denmark APS, Nexen Petroleum U.K. Limited, Repsol Sinopec Energy UK Limited, Shell UK Limited and TAQA Bratani Limited.
 
Under this frame agreement, Subsea 7 will continue to provide diving support vessel services on a year-round basis, as well as associated project management and engineering services for up to 50 offshore facilities in the North Sea. This award follows on from the original frame agreement awarded in 2009, which was most recently extended in 2016. This year Shell UK Limited became the seventh client to join this collaborative approach, in which all seven operators benefit from enhanced efficiency realised through the sharing of these services.
 
The scope of work includes diver and ROV inspection, repair and maintenance, subsea construction and decommissioning services, and dedicated long-term project support. Project execution and engineering work is managed from Subsea 7's Aberdeen office.
  • Oil Voice
 
Orsted to invest $30 billion in green energy by 2025
 
COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Denmark’s Orsted (ORSTED.CO) will invest $30 billion (24 billion pounds) in green energy up to 2025, it said on Wednesday, as it seeks to become one of a handful of future “renewable majors” leading a global transition from fossil fuels to green energy.
Orsted, the world’s largest offshore wind developer, said it would have 15 gigawatt (GW) of offshore wind power capacity by 2025. Last year, it had said it aimed to have 11 to 12 GW by the end of 2025.
 
It plans to further double capacity by 2030 to more than 30 GW.  “We expect the global market for renewable energy to more than triple towards 2030,” Chief Executive Henrik Poulsen said in a statement.  Core markets are Germany, the UK and Denmark but Orsted is seeking to expand in Taiwan and the United States. Earlier this year it bought U.S.-based offshore wind firm Deepwater Wind LLC and U.S. onshore wind developer Lincoln Clean Energy.
 
“It’s our ambition to create a leading North American company within renewable energy,” Poulsen said.  Of its total investments of 200 billion Danish crowns (24 billion pounds), offshore wind will constitute 75 percent to 85 percent, while the remaining 15-20 percent is expected to go into onshore wind farms.
Orsted said it would stick to a plan to increase annual dividends by a high single-digit percentage compared to the previous years, and that this policy would apply until 2025.
  • Reuters
 
UK's first carbon capture and storage project 'operational by mid 2020s'
 
The UK's first carbon capture and storage project should be operational by the mid-2020s, according to ministers.  A commitment to develop the technology, which stops greenhouse gases entering the atmosphere, was made ahead of a summit in Edinburgh.
 
Research funding has also been announced for a carbon capture scheme in Aberdeenshire.  It will see carbon dioxide piped to storage sites under the North Sea.
Experts say the technology is an important tool in tackling climate change.
 
The UK government was criticised in 2015 after a £1bn pound competition to develop carbon capture and storage was dropped.  Power stations at Peterhead in Aberdeenshire and Drax in North Yorkshire were the final contenders for the grant.
  • BBC News
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
Headlines Tuesday 27th November 2018
 
Ørsted Wraps Up Hornsea One Divestment
 
Ørsted has completed the divestment of 50% of the Hornsea Project One offshore wind farm in the UK to Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP).  Ørsted signed an agreement in September to sell half of the 1.2GW project, under which it will construct the wind farm under a full-scope EPC contract, provide long-term O&M services and provide a route to market for the generated power.  The total sales price includes the acquisition price and the commitment to fund half of the payments under the EPC contract for the complete project, including the transmission assets. It amounts to circa GBP 4.46 billion, due to be paid until 2020.
 
GIP will partially finance the buy via a multi-tranche financing package equaling more than GBP 3.5 billion, which contains a mixture of investment grade-rated project bonds issued to a consortium of blue-chip institutional debt investors with UK presence, commercial bank loans and mezzanine debt provided by the Danish pension fund PFA, with some tranches guaranteed by Denmark’s Export Credit Agency, EKF.
 
Located some 120km off the Yorkshire coast, Hornsea Project One will feature 174 Siemens Gamesa 7MW turbines connected to three offshore substations and the world’s first reactive compensation substation (RCS).  The 1.2GW project is scheduled to be fully operational in 2020 when it will become the largest offshore wind farm in the world.
 
According to information from 1 November, 104 out of 174 turbine monopile foundations and 66 out of 174 inter-array cables have been installed.
  • Offshore Wind.biz
 
Seadrill sees rig dayrates improving in 2019-20
 
After a couple of years of negative sentiment in the offshore drilling industry caused by the low oil prices and the rig oversupply, things have started looking up for the sector.
 
Following recent positive forecasts shared by jack-up rig players, we now have floater operators showing optimism too. Offshore driller Seadrill Limited, which operates both floaters and jack-ups, on Monday said it sees dayrates improving in the next two years.  The company, which in July emerged from Chapter 11 Bankruptcy after successfully completing restructuring, had seven floaters working for the full quarter at an average dayrate of $241k per day and two floaters completing contracts during the quarter.
 
Seven jack-ups were working for the full quarter at an average dayrate of $99k per day and two jack-ups started contracts during the quarter.  “We had an operationally strong quarter with economic utilization of 98% for floaters and 97% for jack-ups,” Seadrill said.
 
Anton Dibowitz, the CEO, said: “The fundamentals for our industry remain strong and there are improving signs through increased contracting activity, additional supply leaving the market and industry consolidation which should lead to better pricing in the future. We are already starting to see rate improvements for contracts starting in 2019/20.”
 
“We remain disciplined in our approach to contracting and will not be drawn into long-term contracts at low day-rates given our financial flexibility.”  “Having restructured our business, we are now well positioned to capitalize on the recovery. The combination of a strong cash position, no near-term amortization payments or debt maturities and light financial covenants alongside a large modern fleet and continued focus on cost reduction will ensure we remain competitive.
 
“We remain disciplined in our approach to contracting and will not be drawn into long-term contracts at low day-rates given our financial flexibility.”
The company posted a net loss of 249 million for the third quarter of 2018.
  • Offshore Energy Today
 
Scottish government to set out fresh Brexit analysis paper
 
The Scottish government is to set out an analysis paper about how the draft Brexit deal could impact on Scotland.  MPs will vote on the agreement hammered out between the UK government and EU negotiators on December 11.
 
The Scottish government has spoken out against the plan, and is now to put down its objections in the latest in a series of Brexit policy papers.
Scottish Brexit Secretary Mike Russell said there were "major issues left unresolved" in the deal.  The UK government insists that the withdrawal agreement is the only one on the table, and that the only alternative would be for the UK to leave the EU without a deal.
 
Prime Minister Theresa May has won backing for her draft Brexit deal from European leaders, but faces a battle to get it through a "meaningful vote" in the House of Commons.  SNP MPs have set themselves against it, alongside Labour, the Lib Dems and both pro-EU and Brexiteer factions of the Conservatives.
The Scottish government's latest Brexit analysis will be launched by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at her official Bute House residence later on Tuesday, alongside Mr Russell.  He said Mrs May's plan was a "damaging deal" which would "hit the economy and living standards" in Scotland and make it harder for the NHS to attract staff.
 
The MSP said: "Analysis of the deal demonstrates that this is a blindfold Brexit with major issues left unresolved.  "This means that far from providing certainty and bringing Brexit negotiations to an end, this deal will mean more years of negotiations and real economic uncertainty with no guarantee that an eventual trade deal can even be agreed.
 
"The Scottish government will continue to work with others to achieve a better deal keeping Scotland and the UK inside the single market and customs union and we will continue to support another referendum on EU membership."  The UK government has insisted that a better deal is not available, a point reiterated by European leaders at their summit on Sunday.
 
Mrs May told MPs on Monday that her plan was "the right deal for Britain because it delivers on the democratic decision of the British people".  She said: "This has been a long and complex negotiation. It has required give and take on both sides, and that is the nature of a negotiation.  "But this deal honours the result of the referendum, while providing a close economic and security relationship with our nearest neighbours, and in so doing, offers a brighter future for the British people outside of the EU. And I can say to the house with absolute certainty that there is not a better deal available."
  • BBC News
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
Headlines Monday 26th November 2018
 
Subsea 7 bags three-year extension offshore UK
 
Subsea engineering company Subsea 7 has been awarded a sizeable three-year extension of an existing Diving Support Vessel initiative (DSVi) frame agreement offshore the UK.  Subsea 7 said on Monday that the agreement is with seven North Sea clients: Chevron North Sea, Dana Petroleum, Hess Denmark, Nexen Petroleum, Repsol Sinopec Energy UK, Shell UK, and TAQA Bratani.
 
Under this frame agreement, Subsea 7 will continue to provide diving support vessel services on a year-round basis, as well as associated project management and engineering services for up to 50 offshore facilities in the North Sea.  This award follows on from the original frame agreement awarded in 2009, which was most recently extended in 2016. This year Shell UK became the seventh client to join this collaborative approach, in which all seven operators benefit through the sharing of these services.
 
The scope of work includes diver and ROV inspection, repair and maintenance, subsea construction and decommissioning services, and dedicated long-term project support. Project execution and engineering work is managed from Subsea 7’s Aberdeen office.
Subsea 7 defines a sizeable contract as being between $50 million and $150 million.
 
In related news, energy minister of Equatorial Guinea last week ordered oil and gas companies working in the country to cancel all contracts with Subsea 7, accusing the offshore services company of not complying with the country’s local content rules.
  • Offshore Energy Today
 
Port of Cromarty Firth to invest £30m in expanding quayside
 
The quayside at a Highlands port is to be expanded at a cost of £30m to accommodate energy projects and the larger cruise ships.  Invergordon's Port of Cromarty of Firth said the project to be completed in 2020 would create more than 140 jobs, 25 of them at the site.  It will be the second quayside and laydown area to be built at the port in three years.
 
In 2015-16, the Port of Cromarty of Firth invested £25m in a new quayside.  The new project involves constructing a 218m (715ft) long quayside, and a nine-acre (4ha) laydown area for the handling of offshore wind turbine components or use in the decommissioning of oil and gas infrastructure.  Last week, the Port of Cromarty Firth said it had secured a £10m contract for storing parts needed for constructing the Moray East offshore wind farm.
 
An expanded quayside will also mean the port will be able accommodate the largest cruise ships currently being designed and built.  Bob Buskie, chief executive of the Port of Cromarty Firth, said the announcement was "tremendous news for the port and the Highlands".  He said: "As a trust port, all of our profits are reinvested in the port's future development.  "We believe this investment will be help bring new work to the area for decades to come.  "This is already starting, with last week's announcement of the Moray East Offshore Windfarm contract."
  • BBC News
 
Labour argues for article 50 extension if Brexit deal voted down
 
The government and the EU could be persuaded to extend the Brexit process if Theresa May’s deal is voted down by MPs, Labour has argued, as ministers begin the task of trying to sell the agreement to the country.
 
Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit secretary, said May had “run down the clock” with her Brexit talks, meaning that to renegotiate a better permanent deal would probably require article 50 to be extended beyond March next year.
 
If the only alternative was the chaos of no deal, then May and the EU27 would back down and allow this, Starmer argued.  However, the Brexit secretary, Stephen Barclay, who was sent out to extol the merits of the deal agreed in Brussels on Sunday, said that if MPs voted down the deal “we go into uncharted waters”.
 
“This is the best deal, and it’s also the only deal, and EU leaders have made that clear,” he said.  May was expected to make the same point in a statement to parliament later on Monday, warning MPs that failing to back the deal would take Britain “back to square one”.  Barclay conceded it would be difficult to get the deal through parliament, but said the cabinet needed to make the case, for it.  “I don’t pretend for a minute it’s not a challenging task given where the numbers currently look,” he told Sky News. “But this is a good deal that respects the referendum result.  “And we need to be clear with parliamentary colleagues as to what the alternative will be, which will be massive uncertainty from either no deal or no Brexit. That’s not in the interests of their constituents or in the interests of protecting jobs. It gives uncertainty to EU citizens in areas like the NHS.”
 
Starmer dismissed that forecast, saying Labour’s main concern was with the vagueness of the agreement on a future relationship.  “It is a problem, and it’s a problem the prime minister has really got us into, because over the two years she has effectively run down the clock,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
 
“We had a snap general election at the beginning of the exercise, which wasted the first few months. We had months and months and months of waiting for Chequers. The frustration in Brussels during that time was: ‘We don’t really know what you’re asking us for’. We only got Chequers in June and here we are.  “And to be honest, all the stuff about extended transition, all the stuff about backstop, that’s insurance policies because the future arrangements, the future relationship, is not nailed down because that bit hasn’t been really negotiated over the past two years. That’s a massive failure.”
 
If the deal was voted down, Starmer said it would probably take political pressure from MPs to avoid the alternative of a no deal, and the agreement of the EU to extend article 50.  “If you had a vast majority saying we don’t authorise the government to leave with no deal, it would be very difficult politically to do so. I accept that might not be legally binding,” he said.
 
“I accept that stopping no deal is something that’s going to have to involve the whole of the EU, but I think there would be a very strong push by the majority in parliament against no deal. And I don’t think this prime minister would simply plough on regardless, because she knows how dangerous no deal is.”  Some reports have said May plans to challenge Jeremy Corbyn to a TV debate on the merits of her deal, something the Labour leader has agreed to do. Barclay told Sky he could not confirm it.
 
Asked why May planned to send herself and ministers around the UK to sell the deal, when it was MPs who would decide, Barclay said: “MPs themselves gave this decision to the public, MPs voted to have a referendum, to give the public a say. So it’s quite right that we take our case to the public. It was their vote.”  Speaking later on Today, Barclay dismissed fears the UK could be endlessly stuck in backstop arrangements over issues such as fishing, which has been raised as a concern by the French president, Emmanuel Macron.
 
“It’s not in the EU’s interests for their own trade negotiations, because one of the key points when you’re negotiating trade is to be clear on the size of the market, and you couldn’t do that if it was unclear if the UK was in or out.”  Barclay said he hoped to be able to sell the deal to fellow Brexit-supporting Conservative MPs: “It’s a deal for Brexiteers like me which delivers on key things we campaigned for. It allows a skills-based immigration system, it allows an independent coastal state, so we have control of our fishing, we control of our money, border and laws.”
  • The Guardian

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 
Headlines Friday 23rd November 2018
 
Oil flows from BP Clair Ridge development off Shetland
 
Oil from BP's major Clair Ridge development which is expected to produce for the next four decades - has begun to flow.  The Clair field, west of Shetland, was discovered in the 1970s.  Two new bridge-linked platforms and export pipelines will be used to recover an estimated 640 million barrels of oil at Clair Ridge.
 
The start of production is seen as a significant moment for the UK's oil and gas sector.  As decommissioning ramps up in the North Sea, the north east Atlantic is seen as the new frontier in oil exploration and production.  BP expects production to peak at 120,000 barrels of oil a day.
 
The Clair field - 47 miles (75km) west of Shetland - was discovered in 1977 and is estimated to contain seven billion barrels of oil and gas.  Clair Ridge is regarded by BP as one of its key assets, particularly since it sold stakes in several other fields last year.  The company said new platforms and pipelines required investment of more than £4.5bn.
  • BBC News
 
Aegean Marine Unlocks Funds after First Day Motions Approval
 
Marine fuel logistics company Aegean Marine Petroleum Network has secured access to USD 532 million in financing after it received US court approval of all the company’s first day motions.  The US Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York granted the interim approval related to the company’s voluntary Chapter 11 restructuring, immediately improving the company’s liquidity position.
 
Aegean Marine said that the approvals have unlocked access to substantial capital during the restructuring process provided by the USD 532 million Debtor-in-Possession credit facility (DIP) funded by Mercuria Energy Group Limited, including an initial USD 40 million of incremental cash over the next 30 days to support operations.
 
“The company continues to operate in the normal-course and all payments to suppliers and vendors have been made and will continue to be made during the relatively short anticipated duration of the Chapter 11 process,” said Donald Moore, Chairman of the Aegean Board.  The company and certain of its subsidiaries filed voluntary petitions for relief under Chapter 11 of the US Bankruptcy Code on November 6, 2018, with the support of Mercuria.
 
In addition to providing the DIP to fund the Chapter 11 process and the company’s working capital needs, Mercuria is also acting as the stalking horse bidder in a sale process designed to maximize the value of the company as a going concern. The Asset Purchase Agreement, including the USD 681 million stalking horse bid proposed by Mercuria, has been filed with the court.
  • World Maritime News
 
Spain threatens to vote against Brexit deal over Gibraltar
 
Spain's prime minister has threatened to scupper Theresa May's Brexit deal - with a warning that "our positions remain far away" on the issue of Gibraltar.  Pedro Sanchez spoke to his British counterpart on Wednesday night, and Mrs May subsequently said she was "confident that we'll be able to agree a deal that delivers for the whole UK family, including Gibraltar".
 
But in a late-night tweet on Thursday, Mr Sanchez appeared to disagree, writing: "After my conversation with Theresa May, our positions remain far away.  "My government will always defend the interests of Spain. If there are no changes, we will veto Brexit."  Spain does not have the ability to "veto Brexit" or the 585-page withdrawal agreement, which will be adopted by a qualified majority, rather than a unanimous vote.  But any refusal to co-operate would undoubtedly sour the atmosphere at this weekend's EU summit, where leaders from the trading bloc are aiming for consensus.  Spain wants any declaration on a new EU-UK relationship to make clear that any decisions about Gibraltar, a disputed British overseas territory, would only be taken in direct talks with Madrid.
 
An original clause in the draft deal said any post-Brexit agreement between the UK and the EU could only apply to Gibraltar if it was negotiated on a bilateral basis with Spain, but this clause has since disappeared from the final 26-page text, which was published on Thursday.  The eleventh-hour objections may mean that the agreement is not ready until the last minute ahead of Sunday's summit.  Mr Sanchez's comments also serve as a warning for future negotiations on the UK-EU relationship after the formal Brexit date on 29 March next year.  
 
A final trade deal, to be negotiated during the Brexit transition period, will have to have final approval from each and every member state.  Gibraltar is a tiny 2.6 square mile (6.8 square kilometre) territory that is home to about 30,000 people.  The territory's chief minister, Fabian Picardo, says he is hopeful of a breakthrough soon - with Mrs May due to head to Brussels on Saturday for closing talks with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.
 
Mr Picardo told Sky News: "I think everybody wants to achieve this very difficult thing by consensus, and I think it will be possible to achieve that consensus and I certainly hope that it will be possible to do that in a way that doesn't delay the summit on Sunday."  He also warned that he believes Brexit will be "bad for Britain and bad for Gibraltar", adding: "My view is that we should not be doing Brexit at all. But if the United Kingdom is doing Brexit, we're doing Brexit too - because what's best for Gibraltar is that we stick with the United Kingdom."  
 
Spain is not the only major obstacle for Mrs May, who is enduring an uphill struggle to win the support of her own MPs.  On Thursday, she faced hostile criticism from prominent Conservative backbenchers and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) in a dramatic Commons showdown.  It took 39 minutes of debate before her first positive response to the latest agreement, with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn describing it as "26 pages of waffle" that amounted to a "vague menu of options".  Mrs May's critics in Westminster have been lining up to demand that she removes a central part of the withdrawal treaty: the Irish backstop.  Iain Duncan Smith called for the backstop, which would keep the whole of the UK in a customs union if a free trade agreement cannot be negotiated by the end of 2021, to be "stripped out" - warning "none of this is at all workable".
 
Dominic Raab, who quit as Brexit secretary last week, added the "regrettable but inescapable reality" of the backstop was that it "gives even more away" to Brussels.  And the DUP, which is propping up Mrs May's government, gave her an ultimatum.  Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, the party's chief whip, told a silent Commons: "If she wants to have the support of my party... then we need to see an end of the backstop."  Other MPs - Conservative, Labour and SNP - pushed the case for another referendum if parliament rejects Mrs May's deal, but she said that the public do not want to be asked: "Would you like to think again?"
  • Sky News
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
Headlines Thursday 22nd November 2018
 
Brightoil Petroleum Is Not Selling 15 Ships
 
Brightoil Petroleum has decided not to sell its fleet of fifteen vessels “due to a change in shipping market environment.”  The company said it intends to terminate the commercial negotiation with potential investors for the sale of the ships.  In July this year, Brightoil Petroleum announced plans to dispose of the stake in Zhoushan Oil Storage and Terminal facilities and the entire fleet of 15 vessels including VLCCs, Aframaxes and barges.
 
However, the company noted that since early October this year and up to the current date, the VLCC sector is experiencing a strong up-going market. Brightoil Petroleum believes that the strong market trend will continue in 2019 and wants to continue pursuing the shipping business and maintains stable cash income for the group.  The ships are operated by Brightoil Shipping Singapore (BOSS), a subsidiary of Brightoil Petroleum.
 
On November 16, 2018, BOSS and Shell International Eastern Trading Company entered into charter agreements in relation to BOSS’s VLCCs and Aframax tankers. BOSS has a total of five VLCCs and four Aframax tankers.  The agreements are expected to commence by the end of this year, according to the company.
  • World Maritime News
 
Fred. Olsen Energy risks bankruptcy without refinancing solution
 
Offshore driller Fred. Olsen Energy (FOE) might be facing bankruptcy if no solution is found to its refinancing, which is being obstructed by one secured lender.  As part of its ongoing refinancing efforts, FOE in early November presented to its stakeholders a proposal for the refinancing of its capital structure.
 
Among other things, the key elements of the proposal include the sale of the company’s drilling unit Bolette Dolphin, the issuance of new equity in the amount of approximately $130-140 million in consideration of approximately 89% of FOE’s share capital, post refinancing, and the issuance of new loan capital in the amount of approximately $90 million.  In an update on Thursday, FOE said it is in the process of negotiating a binding agreement for the sale of the Bolette Dolphin to a selected buyer at a price of $340 million.
 
Moreover, although some minor adjustments to the proposal are still being discussed, the key principles of the proposal have received the support of bondholders holding a majority of the bonds issued by FOE and the majority shareholder has confirmed that it will not object to the proposal if put forward to the general meeting.
  • Offshore Energy Today
 
Nationwide profit falls 17 percent on technology investment
 
Nationwide Building Society (POB_p.L), one of Britain’s three biggest mortgage providers, reported a 17 percent drop in first-half profit on Wednesday as it booked a charge for asset write-offs and technology investments.  The lender said it took a charge of 135 million pounds for the six-month period, as it invests in technology to improve its services amid rising competition for savings deposits from traditional incumbent players and new upstart digital banks.
 
Nationwide, a bellwether for the British home loan market with its 13 percent mortgage share, said its net interest margin fell to 1.27 percent in April-September, from 1.34 percent in the same period a year ago, amid intense competition among lenders.  Banks in Britain have in recent months reported tightening margins, as new players entering the market and contracting demand for home loans have squeezed the rates lenders can charge.  Nationwide said its statutory profit was 516 million pounds in the first half of its financial year, down from 628 million in the same period a year ago but in line with expectations.
 
Unlike rival listed banks such as Lloyds and Barclays which have a goal of delivering ever higher profits to their shareholders, Nationwide operates as a society owned by its customers and has said it will be comfortable keeping annual profits at between 0.9 billion and 1.3 billion pounds per year.  The lender said fears about the impact of Britain’s exit from the European Union have held back investment.
 
 “Consumer confidence and activity in the housing market are more subdued than what you’d expect,” Nationwide Chief Economist Robert Gardner said.  Nationwide said it will press ahead with plans to launch a business current account regardless of whether it wins funding for the scheme from a fund set up by Royal Bank of Scotland to fulfil the conditions of its 2008 crisis-era bailout.
 
That represented a change in Nationwide’s previous stance on the topic when it said it would only launch the business account if it succeeds in its application for the funding.
  • Reuters
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
Headlines Wednesday 21st November 2018
 
Flexibility 'needed to avoid renewables glass ceiling'
 
The UK will hit a ‘glass ceiling’ of 80% renewables deployment by 2040 that will require new technologies to achieve full power sector decarbonisation according to a new report.
 
The ‘Solving the Flexibility Challenge’ study by Eaton, Bloomberg New Energy Finance and Statkraft found the UK’s efforts to cut emissions by 80% by 2050 could be hampered by a lack of dispatchable power sources such as storage.  The shortfall could require the development of power-to-gas solutions or greater use of bioenergy to a reach a 100% renewable future in the UK.  The report found the rate of storage deployment before 2040 will have a “very large influence” on the speed of the renewable energy transition in the UK.  The high-storage scenario finds that by 2030, lower storage costs reduce power sector emissions by 13% and fossil backup capacity by 12%.
 
“Without energy storage, smart-charging electric vehicles, demand response and interconnectors, the UK energy transition risks proceeding on a suboptimal path, with a power system reliant on fossil backup and oversized renewable capacity,” it stated.
 
The report forecasts renewable to comprise 74% of the energy mix by 2030 and 80% by 2040 but in all scenarios a lack of flexibility would have a real cost.  The low-flexibility scenario sees power sector emissions a full 36% higher in 2040.
  • ReNews.BIZ
 
COSCO Shipping Specialized Carriers Inks Deal for Up to 9 Newbuilds
 
COSCO Shipping Specialized Carriers has ordered five 62,000 dwt multipurpose pulp carriers at Cosco Shipping Heavy Industry (Dalian).  Under the contract, the company has options for four additional vessels from the series.  The investment is said to be in line with Cosco’s five-year fleet development plan.
 
The Chinese shipping company revealed that it would be paying around RMB 232.6 million (USD 33 million) per ship, pushing the total value of the deal including options to over USD 3 billion.
 
The nine ships are planned for successive delivery between 2019 and 2021.  Back in September 2017, the company ordered two 62,000 multi-purpose pulp carriers at Dalian, with an option for an additional vessel. The construction of the newbuilds is progressing well to meet delivery deadlines in 2019, the company informed.
  • World Maritime News
 
Brexit: May heading to Brussels amid scramble to finalise deal
 
Theresa May will meet EU officials later as the two sides scramble to finalise a Brexit deal in time for Sunday's summit of European leaders.  The EU missed its deadline on Tuesday to complete the text of its declaration on future relations with the UK, amid concerns from several member states.  Stumbling blocks remain over UK access to the EU single market, access to UK waters for EU boats and Gibraltar.  The PM is under pressure from her own MPs not to give any further ground.
 
It comes as the new work and pensions secretary Amber Rudd appeared to rule out the option of a no-deal Brexit.  She told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "It's my view that parliament, the House of Commons, will stop no deal. There isn't a majority in the House of Commons for that to take place."  The BBC's Norman Smith said Ms Rudd's stance appeared to be at odds with the prime minister, who has warned that if her deal is voted down by MPs there will either be no deal or "no Brexit".
Mrs May has also repeatedly warned that she believes that "no deal is better than a bad deal".
 
Asked on Today if she would back another referendum, like some of her fellow Remain-voting Tory MPs on the backbenches, Ms Rudd said: "I don't think we are looking at another referendum."  She said MPs would "take a careful look over the abyss" and decide it was in the "best interests of the country" to vote for Theresa May's Brexit withdrawal agreement.  Mrs May appears to have faced down the threat of a challenge to her position from Brexiteer critics of the deal, for the time being at least.
 
However, Tory MPs unhappy with Mrs May's handling of Brexit negotiations want much more clarity on the terms of the UK's future co-operation with the EU if they are to back the final deal - which will be put before European leaders this weekend.  All sides in the Commons have warned of a "blind Brexit" in which the UK signs up to a series of legally-binding commitments in the draft withdrawal agreement, without similar guarantees over future trading arrangements.  The withdrawal deal was agreed in principle by both Mrs May and the EU last week. It includes a £39bn "divorce bill" and the controversial customs "backstop" which keeps the UK temporarily in the EU customs union as a way of preventing the return of manned customs posts at the Irish border.
 
However, the joint political declaration on future relations - still being drafted - would only set out the shape of the UK's trading relationship with the remaining 27-nation bloc, without any legal commitments.  Any binding trade deal would still have to be thrashed out in the 21-month transition period after Britain leaves the EU on 29 March 2019.  The BBC's political editor Laura Kuenssberg said some UK ministers still believed there was time for a few "nips and tucks" to the withdrawal agreement reached in principle last week.  During a flying visit to Brussels designed to prepare the ground for this weekend's summit of EU leaders, Mrs May will hold talks with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker.
 
The prime minister departs for Brussels with her position seeming more secure, despite a week of cabinet resignations and political plotting to remove her from post.  On Tuesday one of Mrs May's most ardent critics, Jacob Rees-Mogg, said the time "is now" for fellow backbenchers to either force a confidence vote in Mrs May or have her lead the party into the next election.  But he accepted it could be next month before the required threshold of 48 letters needed to trigger a contest was reached.
 
The prime minister's allies insist she would win any confidence vote, with party rules meaning she would then be immune from a challenge for 12 months.  And a YouGov poll commissioned by the Times suggests that 46% of voters backed Mrs May staying in post, against just 33% a week ago.
  • BBC News
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
Headlines Tuesday 20th November 2018
 
MHI Vestas Adds New Blade Mould to Isle of Wight Inventory
 
MHI Vestas has received a new blade mould at its factory on the Isle of Wight, UK, as part of manufacturing expansion efforts.  The new mould, second of its type at the factory, is expected to contribute to the promise that the expansion will add 1,100 new direct, indirect and induced jobs and GBP 42 million additional economic benefit per year to the Solent region once fully operational.
 
MHI Vestas said that major preparations are now underway to begin production as early as January 2019.  “Among all the uncertainty these days, it’s quite a remarkable image: a massive blade mould comes into the UK with hundreds of new employees readying themselves for years of serial production. It’s offshore wind at its finest, actually – large-scale manufacturing, sustainable jobs, considerable economic benefit to local communities, and a green energy source driving the UK toward a carbon-free future,” said MHI Vestas UK Country Manager, Julian Brown.
 
As reported earlier, the Denmark-headquartered offshore wind turbine manufacturer kicked off a major recruiting campaign for its Isle of Wight factory on 15 October due to a growing demand for its V164 wind turbine platform.  Blades have been manufactured at the Isle of Wight factory since 2015, with serial production commencing in 2017.
 
“This expansion effort is one of the most ambitious blade initiatives we have ever undertaken,” said MHI Vestas Vice President of Blades, Bo Jensen.
 
“In close cooperation with the Isle of Wight Council, Isle of Wight College and Solent Local Enterprise Partnership, our training and certification programs are paving the way for the next generation of offshore wind specialists. This development of green energy manufacturing skills will not only benefit MHI Vestas but will also serve to elevate the regional composites industry as well.”
  • Offshore Wind.biz
 
Ardmore Abandons Public Offering Plan
 
Tanker owner and operator Ardmore Shipping Corporation has decided to abandon its public offering plan as revealed on November 19.  The company said that it would not pursue the public offering of senior unsecured notes at this time “due to capital market conditions.”
 
Ardmore Shipping made the decision only hours after it announced the plans to offer senior unsecured notes due 2023 in an underwritten public offering pursuant to an effective shelf registration statement filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
 
Ardmore was to grant the underwriters a 30-day option to purchase additional notes, solely to cover over-allotments. The company intended to use the net proceeds of the offering for general corporate purposes, including funding future vessel acquisitions.
 
The shipowner reported a net loss of USD 12.2 million for the three months ended September 30, 2018, as compared to a net loss of USD 4.6 million for the same period in 2017. The nine-month net loss came at USD 26, as compared to a net loss of USD 8.7 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2017.
  • World Maritime News
 
Brexit v No Brexit: Economic forecasts to be revealed
 
New analysis will be published by the government comparing the "costs and benefits" of Brexit with the UK remaining in the EU.  The impact of three scenarios will be measured - no Brexit; no deal; and leaving with the government's draft deal and a free trade agreement.
 
They will be released before MPs vote on whether to accept or reject a final deal on the divorce terms.  Robert Jenrick, exchequer secretary to the Treasury, made the concession in a bid to avoid defeat in parliament on the finance bill.  The law contains changes to taxes and duties announced in the budget.
 
A Sky source said there was "comfortably" enough MPs to defeat the government if it did not adopt the amendment and suspected soft Brexiteers in the Treasury were "sympathetic" to it.
 
Mr Jenrick promised the "baseline" for the comparison would be the UK's current relationship with the EU.  He told the Commons on Monday: "The analysis will consider a modelled 'no deal' scenario - or WTO terms - a modelled analysis of a free trade agreement scenario and a modelled analysis of the government's proposed deal.  "And in each case these will be compared against the status quo of the current institutional arrangements within the EU."  It will include "evidence from across government" and "a range of data"," he added.
 
Mr Jenrick said all the figures would be published "in good time" before MPs cast their most important yet in the Brexit process - whether to pass the final deal negotiated with Brussels.  Several high-profile Tory MPs have already threatened to vote the agreement down if it is not changed dramatically from the draft released last week, with the DUP's chief whip warning it is "not something we can support".  Chuka Umunna, who tabled the original amendment to the finance bill, said ministers had been "planning to con the British people".
 
"It is vital at this crucial time for our country that MPs and the public know the full facts about the cost of Brexit and how it compares to the deal we already have inside the EU," he said.  "Brexit is not about a political psychodrama or who is up and who is down in Westminster - or in and out of the government - it is about the future of our country."  It came on the same night the DUP, which props up the minority Conservative government, fired a "warning shot" over Brexit by abstaining on other amendments.
 
A party source told Sky News that Prime Minister Theresa May was "acting cavalierly" and warned her not to expect "business as usual".
  • Sky News
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
Headlines Monday 19th November 2018
 
Lightning strikes Hummer field, slows down drilling operations
 
Following a lightning strike, Castex Energy has experienced issues, which slowed down its drilling operations at the Hummer gas/oil field in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico.
According to a Monday statement by Petsec Energy, Castex’s partner in the project, on November 7, 2018, the Main Pass Block 273 B-2 well was drilling ahead at approximately 10,342 feet when the Main Pass 270 “B” production platform and Ensco 68 drilling rig were struck by lightning during a serious thunderstorm.
 
As a result, it was necessary for the operator to stop drilling while repairs were being made to the rigs electrical equipment, and when re-entering the hole the well was unintentionally side-tracked. The decision was made to plug back to 9,100 feet and drill a bypass around that section of the hole. Well operations are back to drilling and the well is drilling ahead at 9,653 feet.
 
The B-2 appraisal/development well is being drilled from the Main Pass Block 270 “B” production platform, to a bottom hole location approximately 6,000 feet to the East of the B-1 discovery well. This is the first of potentially 3 to 8 appraisal/development wells required to develop the field.  The well is designed to test, in a structurally advantageous position, six oil and gas reservoirs, these being the five oil and gas reservoirs that were intersected in the B-1 well and a deeper horizon not tested by the B-1 well, but productive in the area.
 
The primary objectives of the B-2 well are two sand reservoirs with proven oil and gas reserves discovered in the B-1 well (Cawley, Gillespie & Associates, independent reserve engineers), one of which is categorized as Proved Developed Producing (PDP), the other Proved Undeveloped (PUD). These reservoirs are also productive in similar nearby fields (Main Pass 280/283 Field Complex).
 
The B-2 well is planned to be drilled to a measured depth (MD) of 18,559 feet with a true vertical depth (TVD) of 16,624 feet. The well is being drilled utilizing the Ensco 68 jack-up drilling rig and is expected to take a further 50 to 60 days to reach total depth.
Contingent on the results of the well the production facilities will be expanded, and the well will be completed for production with production estimated to begin in February 2018.
 
The estimated net cost to Petsec to drill the well has been revised and is approximately $3.75 million, plus $1.2 million to $1.5 million for completion and additional production facilities.
  • Offshore Energy Today
 
Sovcomflot Returns to Black as Tankers Hint Recovery
 
Russian shipping company Sovcomflot managed to return to the black in the third quarter ended September 30, 2018, amid signs of a better balance in the tanker market.
 
Namely, the company reporting a net profit of USD 0.3 million for the period, against a loss of USD 22 million seen in the same quarter a year earlier.  Sovcomflot’s revenue increased by 13.1 percent to USD 396.4 million for the third quarter of 2018, compared to USD 350.5 million reported in the same quarter of 2017. Time-charter equivalent (TCE) revenue was slightly up at USD 262.6 million, rising by 2.9 percent from USD 255.2 million year-on-year.
 
“During the reporting period, the tanker freight markets remained in a depressed state as vessel supply continued to outstrip vessel demand. Signs of a better balance have emerged more recently following longer term oil price recovery and worldwide fleet removals over 2H 2017 and 1H 2018,” the company said.  These factors, in part, led to the start of a recovery in freight levels in the conventional tanker fleet towards the end of the third quarter of 2018 and in the large crude vessel segments in particular. The improvement has continued into the fourth quarter of the year and has resulted in a healthy increase in earnings across the group’s crude carrying vessels, an improvement that is forecast to hold steady in the near term and into the first quarter of 2019.
 
“The green shoots of recovery in the conventional tanker market, and in the larger crude sector in particular, are encouraging for the fourth quarter of 2018 and may bring a welcome earnings boost on top of that provided by the Gas and Offshore divisions,” Sergey Frank, President & CEO of PAO Sovcomflot, said.
 
During the first nine months of 2018, the company completed financing and refinancing transactions amounting to USD 424 million in total, including a USD 106 million long-term facility with Sberbank, to finance an Arctic shuttle tanker, and a USD 252 million long-term facility with international banks to finance six Green Funnel Aframax tankers.
 
SCF’s long-term offshore and gas businesses increased their TCE revenues by 17.7 per cent and 14.5 per cent respectively in the nine month period, compared with the first nine months of 2017.
  • World Maritime News
 
TSB appoints Debbie Crosbie as new boss after IT fiasco
 
TSB has appointed Debbie Crosbie as its chief executive, replacing Paul Pester who resigned in September after this year's IT meltdown at the bank.  In April, almost two million customers lost access to online banking services after the bungled introduction of a new computer system.  Ms Crosbie will join TSB in 2019, after 20 years at CYBG where her most recent role was chief operating officer.  Her basic salary will be £914,000, slightly more than her predecessor's.  She will also be eligible for a bonus scheme similar to Mr Pester's, the detail of which will be in its annual report.
 
Executive chairman Richard Meddings, who is running the bank until Ms Crosbie takes over, said: "In an impressive field of candidates, Debbie stood out.  "With over two decades of experience, superb retail and SME [small and medium sized] banking expertise, and a genuinely open and engaging style of leadership, we have found an outstanding new CEO".
 
He added that her appointment was another step forward in completing "the work of putting things right for customers".  Ms Crosbie, who is also currently vice chair of the Scottish CBI, said: "TSB has all the right ingredients to be the leading challenger bank in the UK."  Mr Meddings will continue as executive chairman until Ms Crosbie's appointment receives regulatory approval and she takes up her new role. At that point he will return to his previous position as non-executive chairman.
  • BBC News
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
Headlines Friday 16th November 2018
 
Tidewater and GulfMark complete merger after shareholder approval
 
Houston-based offshore support vessel owner Tidewater has completed its business combination with its compatriot GulfMark Offshore, creating an OSV player with the world’s largest fleet. Following the completion, Tidewater has appointed a new CFO.
 
The two companies announced their decision to combine and create a new player with the world’s largest fleet in the OSV sector back in July 2018.  It was decided in October that the meetings of the shareholders of both companies would be held on November 15, 2018.  At the companies’ respective stockholder meetings held on Thursday, November 15 Tidewater and GulfMark stockholders overwhelmingly supported the business combination, with relevant proposals being approved by over 99% of the votes cast by Tidewater stockholders and GulfMark stockholders, respectively, in person or represented by proxy, not including abstentions, Tidewater said in a statement.
 
According to the company, all necessary conditions to the closing have been satisfied and the business combination has been consummated. In connection with the completion of the transaction, GulfMark common stock ceased trading on the New York Stock Exchange as of the market close on November 15, 2018.
  • Offshore Energy Today
 
Fincantieri to Extend Three Windstar Cruise Ships
 
Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri has signed a contract to extend three cruise ships owned and operated by Seattle-based Windstar Cruises.  Under the EUR 200 million (USD 227.1 million) worth contract, the shipbuilder would undertake an extension and modernization project on Windstar’s cruise ships Star Breeze, Star Legend and Star Pride.
 
The works, expected to be partially financed through an export credit facility guaranteed by Italy’s export credit agency SACE, will be carried out by the Fincantieri Ship Repair and Conversion at the shipyard in Palermo.
 
The project, called the “Star Plus Initiative”, is scheduled to start in spring of 2019 with the construction of the first mid-body section. The works, which will require an average stop of about four months per unit at the shipyard, are expected to finalize by November 2020, with the delivery of the third and final vessel.  Fincantieri’s work will include three main activity areas, namely, lengthening of the mid-body by around 26 meters; the total renewal of nearly all the propulsion machinery including main engines, replacement of electrical generators and automation systems and other equipment; and extensive modernization of public areas, passenger cabins and open decks.
 
The three ships involved in this program currently have a length of 134 meters, with a tonnage of some 10,000 tons and a capacity of 212 passengers. On completion of these projects each ship will have a length of 160 meters, a tonnage of around 13,000 tons, and will have a capacity to accommodate 312 passengers.
  • World Maritime News
 
UK's Ofcom fines EE, Virgin Media for overcharging customers
 
Britain’s Ofcom has fined EE and Virgin Media for overcharging some phone and broadband customers who ended their contracts early, the media regulator said on Friday.
 
EE, Britain’s biggest mobile operator, will have to pay 6.3 million pounds and Liberty Global-owned (LBTYA.O) cable company Virgin Media 7 million pounds for breaking consumer protection rules, the regulator said.  Ofcom said about 400,000 EE customers who ended their contracts early had to pay early exit penalties of up to 4.3 million pounds, while about 82,000 Virgin Media customers were overcharged about 2.8 million pounds.
 
The regulator said its investigation found that BT Group Plc’s (BT.L) EE did not clearly set out the exit charges its mobile customers on “discount contracts” would have to pay in case they dropped out early.  EE has volunteered to conduct an in-depth review of its processes and systems following the investigation on overcharging users, Ofcom said.
 
Last month, Ofcom announced a separate investigation into whether mobile operators EE and Vodafone Group Plc (VOD.L) had provided accurate information about the coverage of their 3G and 4G mobile networks.  BT and Virgin Media were not immediately available for comments.
  • Reuters
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
Headlines Thursday 15th November 2018
 
Uber loses $1bn in three months as growth slows
 
The ride-hailing giant is battling to show it will one day be profitable ahead of an eagerly awaited stock market flotation.  Uber has reported a quarterly loss of $1.07bn (£820m) as it pumped money into bikes, scooters and food deliveries.  July to September's losses were $177m (£136m) higher than the quarter from April to June - and come as the ride-hailing giant prepares for a keenly anticipated flotation next year.
 
Revenue rose 5.4% over the third quarter and gross bookings increased by 6% to reach $12.7bn (£9.78bn), but these figures represent a slowdown in growth when compared with the same period a year ago.  It was the third quarter in a row that Uber's quarter-on-quarter bookings growth has remained in single digits after double-digit growth through the whole of 2017.  The company, based in San Francisco and valued at $76bn (£58.5bn), is seeking to expand in the haulage, food delivery and electric bikes markets as growth slows in its ride-hailing app, which is now a decade old.
 
Uber faces pressure to show it can still grow enough to become profitable as it prepares for an initial public offering some time next year.
Chief financial officer Nelson Chai said: "We had another strong quarter for a business of our size and global scope."
 
He emphasised the importance of "high-potential markets in India and the Middle East where we continue to solidify our position".  In the UK, Uber has faced controversy over drivers' rights and a bruising battle over its London licence after failings in the way it operates identified by the capital's transport authorities.
  • Sky News
 
NYK Steps into the Future with Super Eco Ship 2050
 
Japanese shipping major NYK Group has given the maritime world a taste of things to come as it unveils a new concept of an emission-free ship dubbed the NYK Super Eco Ship 2050.  The concept is part of company’s Staying Ahead 2022 with Digitalization and Green management plan and incorporated the latest green and digital technologies. The design fits well the industry decarbonization efforts aimed at halving greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
 
The concept ship has been crafted as a 2050-model pure car and truck carrier (PCTC) in cooperation with MTI and Elomatic, an engineering and consulting company based in Finland.
 
NYK said the power needed to operate the ship has been cut by 70 percent by remodeling the hull to decrease water friction, reducing the weight of the hull, introducing fuel cells for electric propulsion, and relying on other highly efficient propulsion devices.
 
Instead of fossil fuels, the ship would be powered by solar energy and hydrogen produced from renewable energy sources, all of which would lead to a reduction of CO2 by 100 percent and thus result in a zero-emission vessel.
  • World Maritime News
 
Cairn hits dust in UK North Sea well
 
Oil company Cairn Energy has failed to find commercial hydrocarbons in its Ekland well in the UK North Sea and has decided to farm out its Chimera prospect, also located in the UK North Sea.
 
In an operational update on Thursday Cairn said that its commitment exploration well on license P2184 in the UK North Sea, targeting the Ekland prospect, failed to encounter commercial hydrocarbons.  The well, drilled using the Ensco 101 jack-up drilling rig, has been plugged and abandoned.
Cairn has a 45% interest in license  P2184 and is the operator. Cairn’s partners in the license are Zennor with a 30% interest and Petrogas with the remaining 25% interest.
 
It is also worth mentioning that Cairn Energy is one of the partners in Azinor Catalyst-operated Agar-Plantain Prospect in the UK North Sea. As reported earlier today, Azinor Catalyst made an oil discovery at its 9/14a-17B well and associated side-track on the Agar-Plantain Prospect. Cairn has an option to take over operatorship with respect to future activity on the Agar-Plantain project.
  • Offshore Energy Today

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Headlines Wednesday 14th November 2018

Asia's weakening economies, record supply threaten to create oil glut

Oil traders’ worries over record supplies arriving in Asia just as the outlook for its key growth economies weakens have pulled down global crude benchmarks by a quarter since early October.

Ship-tracking data shows a record of more than 22 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil hitting Asia’s main markets in November, up around 15 percent since January 2017, and an increase of nearly 5 percent since the start of this year.

Much of this oil was ordered ahead of U.S. sanctions against Iran that were imposed this month, as refiners prepared for a sudden drop in supply.

But with unexpectedly broad exemptions granted by Washington that allow Asia’s main oil consumers to continue buying crude from Iran, the overall supply drop has not materialized.

Global supply has instead surged, led by soaring output from the world’s three-biggest producers - the United States, Russia and Saudi Arabia - who in October broke through joint output of 33 million bpd for the first time, meeting more than a third of total oil consumption.

That surge has so far been met by healthy demand, not only in Asia’s main emerging economies of China and India, but also in the mature markets of Japan and South Korea.

Now, though, the rising supplies are threatening to turn into a glut, triggering a 25 percent sell-off in spot crude contracts LCOc1 CLc1 since early October as financial traders pulled money out of oil markets.

Analysts warn the situation may get worse, with increasing signs of a slowdown across Asia’s biggest economies.

“Momentum still appears to be slowing across the region, reflecting a combination of tighter financial conditions and slowing global trade,” said Frederic Neumann, co-head of economic research for Asia at HSBC in Hong Kong.

  • Reuters

 

Oil exploration bids in UKCS up by almost 50% since 2016

Bids to explore for oil and gas in areas including the North Sea have risen by almost 50% since 2016, according to new figures.

The Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) said 36 applications covering 164 blocks in frontier areas of the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) had been received in the 31st Offshore Licensing Round.

The OGA said "strong and diverse" interest had come from "multinationals to micro businesses".  The bids will now be assessed.  Some areas, such as the East Shetland Platform, have never been previously licensed.

Following technical evaluation of the applications, awards to successful applicants are expected to be made in the second quarter of 2019.

However, the OGA said it remained concerned by low levels of drilling activity.

  • BBC News

 

SSE looking to spin-off renewable energy assets in UK and Ireland as it confirms big drop in first-half profit

The FTSE 100-listed firm said SSE Renewables will comprise around 4 gigawatts of SSE's existing renewable assets such as hydropower, onshore wind and several stakes in offshore wind projects

The spin-off plans came as SSE reported an almost 41% slump in adjusted pre-tax profits to £246.4mln for the six months to September 30

SSE plc (LON:SSE), the power firm which is looking to merge its UK retail division with Innogy's npower, said on Wednesday that it is looking to create a new company that will include its renewable energy assets in the UK and Ireland as it confirmed a big drop in first-half profit.

The FTSE 100-listed firm said the new company - to be known as SSE Renewables, - will comprise around 4 gigawatts of SSE's existing renewable assets such as hydropower, onshore wind and several stakes in offshore wind projects.

The group said the new entity will provide greater visibility of assets and future earnings for investors and improve its ability to raise finance for projects.

The spin-off plans came as SSE reported an almost 41% slump in adjusted pre-tax profits to £246.4mln for the six months to September 30, down from £416.7mln a year earlier, as operating profits at its Wholesale business plunged by 98%, while retail profits dropped by 13%.

In September, the energy company had warned that its profits would be hit as calm weather cut renewable output and a summer heatwave curbed demand.

Alastair Phillips-Davies commented: “The operating environment for energy companies is likely to remain complex and challenging.  SSE is taking decisive action to deal with all of the key issues and making material progress in its core businesses of regulated energy networks and renewables.”

In spite of the profit slump, SSE has raised its interim dividend by 3.2% to 29.3p per share and said intends to recommend a full-year dividend of 97.5p and to deliver the five-year dividend plan it set out in May 2018.

In early morning trading, investors took heart from the pay-out news, pushing SSE shares 1% higher to 1,142.50p.

  • Proactive Investors

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Headlines Tuesday 13th November 2018

Corallian set to drill Wick well in December with Colter to follow

UK-based Corallian Energy has revealed its plans to drill the Wick prospect located off the UK in December 2018 with the Colter well to follow.

Corallian, the operator of the P2235 and P1918 licenses which contain the Wick and Colter prospects, respectively, said on Tuesday that drilling of the Wick well would begin during December 2018.

The company said that the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Offshore Petroleum Regulator for Environment and Decommissioning (OPRED) has completed its review of the Environmental Statements, the representations received from consultees and the additional information provided by Corallian for the proposed Wick and Colter wells. OPRED has advised the Oil and Gas Authority of its in-principle agreement to the issue of the relevant consent for both projects.

“There are several regulatory approvals and notifications still required before the consenting process is completed for the wells. When all the necessary approvals have been obtained, the wells will be drilled as a back-to-back program using the Ensco 72 jack-up rig. Following completion of the Wick well, the rig will be mobilized from the Moray Firth to the English Channel to drill the Colter well,” the company said.

According to Corallian, Fraser Well Management Limited will be the well operator for the drilling of the wells. Orbis Energy Limited is the environmental consultant to the projects.

In a separate announcement on Tuesday, United Oil & Gas, Corallian’s partner on the Colter well, said that the well would be drilled as soon as operations were completed on the Wick well, subject to further approvals.

Colter will appraise a historic discovery that lies immediately to the south of Europe’s largest onshore oil field at Wytch Farm.

The discovery was made in 1986 by well 98/11-3, which encountered a 10.5-meter oil column in the Sherwood Sandstone reservoir. The same play proved to be productive at Wytch Farm where over 450mmbbls have been produced to date.

Unidted added that the new well will be drilled updip of 98/11-3 targeting significant potential that has been identified following reprocessing of 3D seismic data. The gross unrisked mid-case oil contingent resources in the section proven up by the 98/11-3 well have been estimated at 4 mmbbls, with gross unrisked mean-case prospective resources estimated at 15 mmbbls in the rest of the structure.

United Oil & Gas CEO, Brian Larkin, said: “As with our first well, the successful Podere Maiar on the Podere Gallina license onshore Italy, Colter has an excellent address, lying on the same play as Wytch Farm, and will appraise a historic discovery, which we believe could hold in aggregate up to 19 mmbbls of gross contingent and prospective resources.”

United’s CEO also said that the company was looking forward to new activities on the Walton-Morant license offshore Jamaica, which includes the high-grade Colibri target, the North Sea Crown oil discovery, and a potential well at Waddock Cross in the Wessex Basin in H1 2019.

  • Offshore Energy Today

 

IMRF, The Nautical Institute Join Forces for Safety at Sea

The International Maritime Rescue Federation (IMRF) and The Nautical Institute have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to work together on projects that support their shared objective to improve safety at sea.

The agreement commits both organisations to exchanging information and technical cooperation in areas of mutual interest, and to harmonise training standards and guidelines across the industry while jointly promoting issues which relate to the safety of mariners and others at sea.

“Safety at sea and supporting those in peril is a key component of maritime tradition and professionalism. Through this MOU we will increase awareness in shared areas of concern and be stronger at promoting best practice,” Captain John Lloyd, CEO of The Nautical Institute, said.

Representatives from the IMRF and The Nautical Institute will also participate in each other’s workshops and seminars and will work together in the future on joint proposals and initiatives.

The IMRF is the international charity that brings together the world’s maritime search and rescue organisations to share lifesaving ideas, technologies and experiences, to work to prevent loss of life in the world’s waters, and The Nautical Institute is the international representative body for those involved in the control of seagoing ships.

  • World Maritime News

 

New Scots green laws 'needed post-Brexit'

Scotland must pass its own laws to protect nature and wildlife after Brexit, a coalition of conservation groups has said.

The 35 groups said an Environment Act for Scotland will be needed after the UK leaves the EU.

Scottish Environment Link's (SEL) members include the Marine Conservation Society, the National Trust for Scotland and RSPB Scotland.

It has launched a Fight for Scotland's Nature campaign to promote its ideas.

SEL estimates that about 80% of environment laws in force in Scotland come from the EU.

In a statement, it said: "If and when Brexit happens, Scotland (along with the rest of the UK) will lose the unrivalled support and enforcement roles of the European Commission, European Court of Justice and other EU bodies.

"Alarmingly, with only a few months to go, there is uncertainty about what will replace this.

"This is why Scottish Environment Link is pushing the Scottish government to fight for Scotland's nature and commit to a world class environment act before it's too late."

  • BBC News

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Headlines Monday 12th November 2018

Pound slides amid fears over no-deal Brexit

The pound has fallen sharply against the US dollar on renewed worries about the political turbulence around Brexit.  Sterling slipped by more than a cent to less than $1.29 during overnight trading on Asian markets and the declines were extended later as London opened, taking the currency close to $1.28 and about 1% lower on the day.  It came amid weekend reports that more ministers were on the verge of quitting the government and added to falls for the currency at the end of last week, before which the pound had been trading at more than $1.31.

Sterling has been gripped by volatility amid uncertainty about whether the UK will leave the EU next March without a trade deal in place.  Credit ratings agency Moody's said on Monday that the risk of a no-deal withdrawal had risen.  Experts including the Bank of England expect a sharp shock to the economy if there is such a withdrawal and the UK's independent fiscal watchdog has drawn comparisons with the impact of the three-day week in 1974.

Meanwhile, a report on Monday from accountancy firm BDO found that business confidence in the manufacturing sector was at a 16-month low.  It pointed to a "lack of clarity on the shape of Britain's future trading relationships" which had caused a general weakening of optimism across the economy.

Sterling's latest struggles come as former foreign secretary and leading Brexiteer Boris Johnson called on his former Cabinet colleagues to stage a mutiny over Theresa May's Brexit plans.

He claimed in a newspaper column that the prime minister was "on the verge of a total surrender" to Brussels.  At the same time there has been pressure from MPs on the other side of the debate.  Mr Johnson's younger brother Jo Johnson resigned last week saying the UK was "barrelling towards an incoherent Brexit" and calling for a fresh referendum.

Former education secretary Justine Greening - who backed Remain in the 2016 vote - told the BBC on Monday that Mrs May's plans represented "the worst of all worlds" and that MPs would reject it.  Jasper Lawler, head of research at London Capital Group, said: "As pressure mounts on May, Brexit and politics will be critical once again to the pound this week."

  • Sky News

 

BP’s well off Nova Scotia disappoints

The Canadian subsidiary of the British oil major BP has not found commercial quantities of hydrocarbons in the Aspy well offshore Nova Scotia.  BP’s partner Hess said last Friday that the drilling of the Aspy exploration well had reached a total depth of 7,400 meters, without encountering commercial quantities of hydrocarbons.

The Aspy D-11 well is part of BP’s Scotian Basin Exploration Project. The well was drilled in Exploration Licence (EL) 2434 in some 330 kilometers southeast of Halifax, Nova Scotia.  The Scotian Basin Exploration Project is a proposed exploration program that includes seismic acquisition and drilling across four exploration licenses 2431, 2432, 2433, and 2434.

BP holds a 50 percent interest in the licenses and is the operator while its partner Hess holds the remaining 50 percent.  The British oil company resumed drilling operations at the Aspy D-11 well location in late July after an earlier stoppage due to a subsea leak.  The repairs and integrity testing were since completed, and it was determined that the cause of the leak was a loose connection of the booster line on the riser.  Also, Canadian authorities approved BP’s plans in August to drill a sidetrack well at the Aspy D-11 well site.

  • Offshore Energy Today

 

World’s 1st LNG-Powered Cutter Suction Dredger Hits the Water

The world’s first LNG-powered cutter suction dredger has been launched at the Royal IHC shipyard in Krimpen aan den Ijssel in the Netherlands.

The vessel, named Spartacus, is owned by Belgian dredging, environmental and marine engineering group DEME. The dredger boasts a total installed capacity of 44,180 kW, making it the most powerful cutter suction dredger in the world.

Spartacus has four main engines that can run on LNG, marine diesel oil (MDO) and heavy fuel oil (HFO). The two auxiliary engines also incorporate dual-fuel technology. The vessel also features a waste heat recovery system, a one-man operated dredge control and a heavy-duty cutter ladder that can reach a dredging depth of 45 m.

 “IHC is known for its willingness to push boundaries to develop and produce high added-value equipment and vessels for our customers. The combination of power, size and innovation makes Spartacus a perfect example of such a project. DEME was once the first dredging company to put a ‘jumbo’ dredger in the market which has led to a new generation of dredging vessels.

“As Spartacus will soon be the world’s largest and most powerful LNG-powered CSD in operation, DEME will again have set a new standard in the market,” IHC’s CEO Dave Vander Heyde said.

Once completed, Spartacus will join the dual-fuel dredgers Minerva and Scheldt River that were delivered to DEME in 2017. In addition, in October the company ordered two new trailing suction hopper dredgers and two split barges, reinforcing the fleet in 2020.

  • World Maritime News

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 
Headlines Friday 9th November 2018
 
Concordia Maritime Confident in Availability of Compliant Fuels
 
The CEO of Concordia Maritime, Kim Ullman, believes there will be enough approved marine fuels available across global ports to meet the new sulphur limit that enters into force in 2020.  As a result, the Swedish tanker owner and operator plans to meet the requirement by bunkering compliant fuels and is staying away from exhaust gas technology for now.  “We are therefore not planning to invest in scrubbers here and now,” he said.
 
Concordia Maritime reported red ink in the third quarter amid lingering weak tanker market keeping freight rates at low levels.  The company’s net loss before tax for the third quarter was SEK 66.9 million (USD 7.4 million), a considerable improvement from last year’s equivalent of SEK 533 million net loss. EBITDA was SEK –18 million, corresponding to USD –2.1 million. For the first nine months of the year, the company booked a net loss of SEK 162 million, also slashed from SEK 618 million reported in the same period in 2017. 
 
“For a long time, we have predicted that the turnaround would gradually materialise in the second half of 2018 – mainly towards the end of the year. And we can now see that it is actually happening. An improvement has been noted after the end of the quarter – at this stage mainly for crude oil, but we expect to see the same trend for product tankers as we approach the end of the year,” Ullman said.
 
The turnaround came first in the VLCC segment, where rates have risen from USD 9,000 per day in September to about USD 50,000 per day in November. For Suezmax tankers, the rates have more than doubled in a short period – from about USD 10,000 per day to USD 25,000 –30,000 per day in November.  As explained, recovery of product tankers is lagging behind a little, but improvements are being noticed. In certain specific regions, such as the Americas, spot contracts for MR tankers are priced at USD 15,000–18,000 per day – double what the situation was just a few weeks ago.  Among the main drivers supporting tanker market recovery are OPEC’s gradual output increase of between 500,000 and 1,000,000 barrels of oil per day since July, combined with phasing-out of vessels through recycling.
 
Ullman explained that the third quarter of 2018 marked a clear bottoming-out of the market and that gradual improvement is underway.  “Now we look forward to grasping the opportunities that a stronger market presents. However, it is important to remember that it will take some time before the improved market brings profitable levels for tanker companies specializing in product tankers,” he concluded.
  • World Maritime News
 
Tailwind closes North Sea deal with EOG
 
UK oil and gas company Tailwind Energy has completed the acquisition of EOG’s UK business.  Tailwind agreed with EOG Resources to acquire its UK business in early September 2018 and announced the completion of the acquisition on Thursday, November 8.  As part of the inherited EOG UK portfolio, Tailwind will own and operate 100% of the producing Conwy oil field, a 25% non-operated interest in the Columbus gas development project, and other minor asset interests in the North Sea.
 
Following completion, Tailwind expects to produce in excess of 15k bbl/d across its portfolio.  Tailwind Energy is a new oil and gas company focused on acquiring and investing in United Kingdom Continental Shelf (UKCS) assets. It is being supported by Mercuria, a privately-held commodities and energy group.
 
It is also worth mentioning that, prior to EOG deal, Tailwind also this year completed the acquisition of interests in the Triton Cluster in the UK North Sea from Shell and ExxonMobil.
  • Offshore Energy Today
 
PwC: Number of shop closures in Scotland 'accelerates'
 
The number of shop closures across Scotland's high streets "accelerated" in the first half of this year, according to a report.  PwC found 58 new stores opened in the nation's main cities and towns, while 107 closed - a net loss of 49.  The net loss in the first half of 2017 was 42.  Researchers attributed the rise in closures in part to continued growth in online shopping and a shift to in-home leisure.
 
Men's and women's fashion shops were among the worst hit, while kitchen planning stores, opticians, shoe shops and banks also saw "notable" net closures.  Nine Scottish towns and cities were evaluated in the study of multiple retailers, which was conducted by the Local Data Company.  Aberdeen fared worst in relative terms, with a net loss of 20 stores. Edinburgh saw a net reduction of 13 stores and Glasgow 11.  The only areas to see a rise in shop numbers were Ayr and Leith, in Edinburgh, which both increased by one.
 
The report also suggested a migration of shoppers from high streets to retail parks.  Over the period, 67 high street shops and 40 shopping centre stores closed, while the number of outlets in retail parks remained static.  Mark Addley, from PwC in Scotland, said the analysis had revealed a "retail map which is continuing to change beyond recognition from a generation ago".  He added: "The convenience of online shopping is making its mark on the high street, and we expect this will lead to retailers having to re-evaluate the purpose of their bricks and mortar operations.
 
"Retailers of all sizes will be hoping for a strong festive trading period, but we must bear in mind that the peak time period for new CVA (Company Voluntary Arrangement) announcements is the first quarter of the new year, so we should brace for more high street closures in the coming months."
 
The rate of closures in Scotland was slightly better than the overall picture across Great Britain, which saw a net 1,123 stores disappear from the top 500 high streets in the first half of the year.
 
The research found 1,569 shops opened, compared to 2,692 closures.
  • BBC News

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Headlines Thursday 8th November 2018

Solstad clinches two PSV contracts with Equinor in UK

Norwegian offshore vessel owner Solstad Offshore has won a two-year contract with Equinor for one of its platform supply vessels, and an extension for another, for work in the UK.

One of Solstad Farstad’s vessels (For illustration only); Photo by Alan Jamieson/Flickr

Solstad Offshore, the company owning 140 offshore service vessels, said on Thursday that Equinor had hired its Normand Skipper PSV, and exercised its one-year option for the Sea Falcon vessel.

Built in 2005, the Normand Skipper will start the contract either in November or December. The contract also has up to two-years of options after the initial firm period.

As for the Sea Falcon contract, Equinor has exercised a one-year option on the present Sea Falcon contract, effective from November 2018.

The Normand Skipper will join the Sea Falcon and Sea Frost (both 2013, PX105 Design) in supporting Equinor’s UK operations. Both Sea Falcon and Sea Frost have been on contract to Equinor since 2016 and 2017 respectively.

  • Offshore Energy Today

 

‘Amazon of oil and gas’ moves to Aberdeen

London-based Deepstream Tech has opened up a new office in Aberdeen amid growing North Sea demand.  The firm’s new location at International Avenue in Dyce will serve a growing number of clients for its online platform to “bring down inefficiencies” in the procurement marketplace.

The tool, which the firm describes as the “Amazon of oil and gas”, streamlines the tendering process for individual projects, connecting firms more easily with a range of suppliers and services.  Deepstream reports that 200 companies based in the North Sea are using the platform.  Chief executive Jack Macfarlane said: “The vision is that we bring down the inefficiencies in procurement in oil and gas.

“With the nitty gritty of equipment and services, there’s a tendering process that is incredibly inefficient.

“A lot of the innovation that goes to other industries has been completely lacking in oil and gas. Our vision is to make it as easy as possible to trade in the sector with e-commerce.”

Deepstream, which launched two years ago, is hoping to open up offices in Oslo and West Africa in the New Year.

Commercial vice president Stephen Brogdon said: “This is one of our main target markets along with West Africa and the Norwegian continental shelf.

“It’s about services for our current customers, we want to work very closely with them.

“That’s the primary reason for being up here, it’s not just about looking to win new contracts.”

Norway is another big market for the company, with Deepstream currently taking part in Equinor’s “Techstars” business accelerator programme.  The scheme is similar to the Oil and Gas Technology Centre’s TechX scheme in Aberdeen, aimed at making efficiencies in the global oil and gas sector.  Deepstream is one of ten firms taking part in the 13-week programme, from an original pool of hundreds across 38 countries,  Having a major operator’s backing has opened up new opportunities with Equinor, as well as other firms like Aker Solutions and Konsberg Maritime.  Mr Brogdon said a collaboration is underway with them to “revolutionise” the market for surplus equipment in the industry, which will launch in January.  He added: “The Techstars program has been amazing, allowing the team to connect with over a 120 Norwegian and North Sea companies.

“Having that Equinor name adds a huge amount of weight to us and we are actively seeing user growth.

“It’s great validation for us in the team as well.”

  • Energy Voice

 

BAE Systems sticks to forecast for flat earnings

Britain’s biggest defence company BAE Systems (BAES.L), which counts Saudi Arabia as its third biggest customer, stuck to a forecast for flat earnings in 2018 and said programmes in the UK and the United States were making progress.

BAE’s update is its first since companies have come under pressure for doing business with Saudi Arabia in the wake of the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.  BAE makes 16 percent of its annual sales from selling Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets and other arms to Saudi Arabia. It did not mention Saudi in its trading statement.

“Whilst a degree of geopolitical turbulence exists, the potential pipeline for Typhoon remains positive with opportunities both with partner nations and through exports,” the company said on Thursday.

Germany has pledged to suspend arms exports to Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi’s killing. [nL8N1X37FU]  The case has raised questions about the UK government’s 10 billion pound deal to sell Saudi Arabia 48 new Typhoons, which are made by BAE Systems and its partners.  The deal, confirmed in a memorandum of understanding in March, has not been finalised, and is not reflected in BAE’s 2018 financial statements.

BAE, which builds ships and fighter jets for the UK, and combat vehicles and other equipment for the United States, said that for 2018 earnings per share would be in line with the previous year, with some small additional benefit from exchange rates.

The company repeated a line it has given in the past that it saw limited impact on its business from Britain leaving the European Union as it had little trade with the EU.

  • Reuters
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
Headlines Wednesday 7th November 2018
 
UK offshore workers vote for industrial action over pay row
 
A majority of the offshore workers affiliated to UK trade union GMB have voted in favour of industrial action in a dispute with the Offshore Contractors Association (OCA) over pay issues.  The vote comes after the members rejected a pay offer made by the OCA in July.
 
GMB is set to meet representatives from the OCA to hold talks in a bid to seek improved offer and to settle the wage dispute.  Members of the union have been asking for a 4% rise in basic pay and associated allowances.  GMB national officer Ross Murdoch said: “These workers have been instrumental in these companies’ success and they fully deserve what is effectively a cost of living increase.
 
“It’s time for the OCA to return to the table with an improved offer to avert costly disruption and reputational damage.”
 
“It is unfortunate that matters have come to this, but they can be resolved if the OCA employers see sense and make a fair and reasonable offer.
 
“It’s time for the OCA to return to the table with an improved offer to avert costly disruption and reputational damage.”
 
The development comes just days after another trade union, Unite the Union, reported that around 1,000 offshore workers covered by the OCA agreement voted for industrial action. OCA has also invited Unite the Union for talks.
 
Unite members planned strikes at some of Total’s oil and gas platforms in the North Sea in September and October this year in protests against plans to switch the existing rota system to one requiring workers to work at offshore platforms for three weeks at a stretch.  However, the strikes were called off after the union reached a settlement that offered improved pay to the workers.
  • Offshore Technology
 
WorleyParsons in North Sea deal with ConocoPhillips
 
Australian engineering company WorleyParsons has been awarded a frame agreement for engineering and construction (E&C) services and an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract in the UK with ConocoPhillips.
 
Under the first contract, WorleyParsons will provide E&C services to assets in the central and southern North Sea, the company said on Wednesday.  Under the second contract, WorleyParsons said it will provide EPC services, including pre-commissioning and commissioning, for a subsea tieback project to an existing platform.  The services for both contracts will be provided from WorleyParsons’ UK Integrated Solutions’ Aberdeen office.
 
“We are delighted to continue our long-term relationship with ConocoPhillips in the ongoing development and support of their North Sea assets,” said Andrew Wood, Chief Executive Officer of WorleyParsons.
  • Offshore Energy Today
 
Smaller UK factories expect dip in output before Brexit - CBI
 
Smaller British manufacturers expect their output to dip for the first time in seven years during the next three months, hurt by sagging order books ahead of Brexit, an industry survey showed on Wednesday.  Domestic orders flatlined and manufacturers reined in their investment plans, the quarterly survey of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) showed.  The report adds to a string of downbeat signals from manufacturers ahead of Brexit, now due in less than five months.
 
Prime Minister Theresa May faces opposition to her Brexit plan from within her own Conservative Party, and has also failed so far to reach agreement with other EU leaders, raising fears that Britain could leave the EU without a transition deal.
 
“SME manufacturers are clearly feeling the pressure: both from softer global economic momentum, reflected in a tailing-off of exports orders, and Brexit uncertainty biting hard on investment plans,” CBI economist Alpesh Paleja said.
 
Optimism about export prospects for the year ahead waned to the weakest level since April 2009, during Britain’s last recession.
“(A) significant scaling back of planned capital spending is further proof that Brexit uncertainty is taking a real bite out of firms’ plans to grow and innovate,” Paleja said.
  • Reuters
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
Headlines Tuesday 6th November 2018
 
Serica further boosts Rhum, Keith interests
 
UK-listed company Serica Energy has signed an agreement to further increase interests in the Bruce and Keith fields in the UK North Sea.  The company on Tuesday said it would acquire the 3.75% interest in the Bruce field and the 8.33% interest in the Keith field and associated infrastructure owned by Marubeni. The net 2P Reserves attributable to the Marubeni Assets as at 1 August 2018 are estimated to amount to approximately 0.95mmboe.
 
The announcement comes just a day after Serica announced the signature of sale and purchase agreement with BHP Billiton to acquire further interests in the Bruce and Keith fields.  As for the Marubeni transaction, Serica said it is different from the other deals that Serica has entered into with BP, Total E&P and BHP, in that Serica will acquire the decommissioning obligations of Marubeni, but will receive in turn a cash consideration from Marubeni, and there will be no deferred or contingent consideration. This reflects in part the small interest in Bruce being acquired.  The transaction together with the previously announced purchases from BP, Total E&P and BHP will result in Serica consolidating its ownership of the Bruce and Keith fields to 98% and 100% respectively post-completion.  Serica said that the transaction would consolidate its position as “one of the leading mid-tier independent oil and gas producers” on the UK Continental Shelf and will provide incremental benefits to the company.
 
Mitch Flegg, Chief Executive of Serica Energy, commented: “We are targeting completion of the transactions with BP, Total E&P, BHP, and Marubeni on 30 November 2018 and our ownership in Bruce will then increase to 98% and in Keith to 100%. On that date over 110 staff will transfer from BP to Serica to join the team that we have recruited in our new operational headquarters in Aberdeen.”
 
“It is our intention to build on the excellent work that has been performed by BP and its partners in Bruce, Keith, and Rhum. With our consolidated ownership of the three fields, and as operator, we will be in a strong position to deliver enhanced returns from these assets and extend their operating lives for the benefit of our shareholders and fellow stakeholders in the North Sea and Aberdeen.”
 
The Bruce field was discovered in June 1974 and is located in the UK Northern North Sea, 350 km northeast of Aberdeen at a water depth of 122 meters and with an area of approximately 75 km². Field development was approved in 1990 and production started in 1993. Production is primarily gas with associated condensate and NGLs. The field produces from 11 reservoir units, separated by faulting and has had a cumulative production since 1993 of over 3tcf. To date there are over 60 well penetrations in the field with 21 producing wells.
 
The Keith field lies 6.8 km to the southwest of the Bruce field in a water depth of 120 meters and has been developed as a subsea tie-back to the Bruce complex. The Keith field was confirmed as a separate field to Bruce after drilling in 1987 and first came on production in 2000, with a second phase of development in 2002. No further capital programmes are planned on Keith as the field is in the final stages of its producing life.  
 
Subject to completion of the Total E&P Transaction, Serica UK intends to continue production from its single well as long as economically viable, but the well is currently scheduled to cease production in 2019. Wet gas from the Bruce and Keith fields is processed at the Bruce complex and then transported via a 6 km spur line through the Frigg pipeline to St. Fergus for Natural Gas Liquids extraction. Dry gas is delivered as part of a commingled gas stream at St. Fergus into the National Transmission System. NGLs are extracted at St. Fergus and transported via a 12-inch diameter, 22 km pipeline to Cruden Bay.
  • Offshore Energy Today
 
Shell to hand in Goldeneye decommissioning plan
 
Shell will file a draft decommissioning plan for the Goldeneye field with the UK Government today.  Goldeneye is a gas and condensate field lying 81 miles north-east of Aberdeen.
 
The field produced from 2004 to 2011 and was served by a normally unattended installation.  The Goldeneye platform and pipeline were studied as part of a carbon capture and storage project, with carbon dioxide to come from Peterhead Power Station.
 
But in November 2015 the UK Government withdrew £1 billion worth of funding for the project, leaving Shell to come up with decommissioning plans.  The programme will be handed in to the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, according to a public notice in The Press and Journal.
  • Energy Voice
 
Britain's Co-operative Bank reports nine-month loss of $114 million
 
Britain’s Co-operative Bank reported a loss before tax of 87 million pounds for the first nine months of its financial year as it battles to turn around performance after a restructuring and recapitalisation in June last year.
 
Co-op on Tuesday said it made an operating profit of 14.3 million pounds for the year to date, an improvement of 40 million pounds helped by lower costs.  The bank agreed a rescue plan last year with U.S. hedge fund creditors after its capital base, hit by restructuring costs and weak income, fell to levels unacceptable to regulators.
 
New Chief Executive Andrew Bester said the bank is thinking about a move into small business banking via an application for a funding scheme supported by Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS.L) as part of the conditions of its state bailout.
 
“We are looking to build on our strong heritage in the SME market in the year ahead and as part of that we are considering our options regarding the RBS alternative remedies fund,” Bester said.
  • Reuters

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Headlines Monday 5th November 2018

NKT Firms Up Moray East Cable Deal

Moray Offshore Windfarm (East) Limited and NKT have signed a final binding agreement for the delivery and installation of export cable systems on the 950MW Moray East offshore wind farm.

The scope of works includes the manufacture and delivery of approximately 175 kilometres of 220 kV AC offshore export cables, which will be installed by the NKT Victoria cable-laying vessel, and burial of the cables.

The cable installation is expected to start in 2020. The contract is valued at around EUR 150 million.

The Moray East wind farm will comprise 100 MHI Vestas 9.5MW turbines installed in the Outer Moray Firth off the north-east coast of Scotland. The wind farm is scheduled to be fully commissioned by 2021.

Moray Offshore Windfarm (East) Limited is owned by EDP Renováveis S.A., ENGIE, and Diamond Generating Europe Ltd.

  • Offshore Wind.biz

 

TMS Cardiff Gas Adds Two More LNG Carriers to Its Orderbook

Gas carrier owner and operator TMS Cardiff Gas has boosted its newbuilding tally at Korean yards with an order for two more LNG carriers.

Based on the company’s website, the two 174,000 cbm LNG carriers featuring XDF propulsion, will be delivered in 2020.

Namely, the Greek shipowner has returned to Samsung Heavy Industries (SHI) and Hyundai Heavy Industries Group for an additional LNG carrier respectively. Hyundai’s Samho Heavy Industries will be in charge of building one of the ships, based on the data from Asiasis.

Cardiff Gas kick started its newbuilding ordering campaign last January, when it inked a construction contract with HHI for a 174,000 cbm LNG carrier slated for delivery in 2020. Upon delivery the vessel is set to start its seven-year charter with TOTAL Gas & Power Chartering.

The Greek gas carrier owner resumed its ordering streak in July, when it added three more LNG carriers to the orderbook.  World Maritime News is yet to receive a comment from the company on the order.  According to VesselsValue, the newbuild ships range in value from USD 185 to 190 million.

According to the latest information on the company’s website, the company’s fleet is comprised of seven newbuilding LNG carriers, five second-hand LNG carriers and two LPG carriers.

  • World Maritime News

 

UK living wage rises above inflation rate for 180,000 workers

Voluntary earnings rate to increase to £9 across country and £10.55 in London.  More than 180,000 workers are set for an inflation-beating pay rise, as the UK living wage rises against a backdrop of increases in transport costs, private rent and council tax.

The pay rate, a voluntary measure adopted by more than 4,700 employers, including Aviva, Burberry and Ikea, will increase by 2.9% to £9 an hour across the country and by 3.4% to £10.55 in London.

Set by the Living Wage Foundation, the rate is calculated by assessing what workers need to meet the basic cost of living in Britain, and is £1.17 higher an hour than the national living wage imposed by the government for workers over the age of 25.

The foundation encourages employers to introduce the new rates immediately, but UK Living Wage companies will be given until May next year to bring in the pay rises.  The national living wage (the title chosen by the former chancellor George Osborne) is the statutory national minimum wage but for those over the age of 25. . It is set at £7.83 an hour; it will rise to £8.21 an hour from next April.  For 21-24-year-olds, the current rate is £7.38 and will rise to £7.70; and the rate for 18-20-year-olds rises from £5.90 to £6.15.

The increase in the UK living wage comes as British households face increasing pressure from higher living costs. Inflation rose sharply following the EU referendum in 2016 when the sudden fall in the value of the pound drove up the cost of importing goods to Britain.

Although the effects have gradually begun to fade, the consumer price index measure of inflation remains at 2.4%, which is above the 2% target set by the government for the Bank of England. Threadneedle Street calculates that households have lost about £900 each since the Brexit vote as a consequence.

Tess Lanning, director of the Living Wage Foundation, said more companies still needed to pay higher wages to help workers struggling with the rising cost of living in Britain. “Employers that pay the real living wage enable their workers to live a life of dignity, supporting them to pay off debts and meet the pressures of rising bills,” she said.

More than 1,200 organisations have signed up to pay the higher living wage in the past year, including Liverpool FC, the University of Bristol, the combined authority for the city region of Sheffield, and Aberystwyth University.  These companies and public sector organisations are however the exception rather than the norm. More than a fifth of jobs pay less than the UK living wage, according to a study from the accountancy firm KPMG.

Jobs paying below the UK living wage have also increased by about 1.2m since 2012, with part-time workers and people aged between 18 and 21 most likely to be below the threshold.

Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the TUC, said that millions of people were struggling to make ends meet. “These new rates would make a big difference to Britain’s lowest paid workers. But more companies need to sign up,” she said.

Growing numbers of employers may find they need to raise their wages to attract staff amid growing numbers of job vacancies, particularly in sectors such as retail, hospitality, agriculture and distribution, as fewer EU migrants choose to come to Britain following the Brexit vote.

Amazon recently announced an inflation-beating pay rise for its UK workers, though it did not sign up to the commitments set by the Living Wage Foundation. Questions still also remain over working conditions at the online retailer.

The lowest levels of unemployment since the mid-1970s are starting to help workers demand greater pay increases. Average weekly earnings including bonuses increased at the fastest rate in almost a decade, with a rise of 3.1% in the three months to August compared to the same period a year ago.  However, separate government figures show that more than 10 million workers received a pay rise of 1% or less last year.

James Watt, founder of the raft beer company Brewdog, a Living Wage employer, said it made business sense to pay the living wage, adding that “it’s a shame that short-term mentalities and greed are still prevalent in many industries”. He added: “Far too many companies in the hospitality industry view their employees as transient and disposable and this is why wages are often low, turnover is high and dissatisfaction is the norm.”

  • The Guardian
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
Headlines Friday 2nd November 2018
 
Result of offshore pay ballot expected
 
A ballot of up to 3,000 offshore workers on whether to take industrial action over a rejected pay deal is due to close.  Unite members covered by the Offshore Contractors Association (OCA) agreement are seeking a pay and allowances rise.  The ballot came after workers rejected a revised OCA pay offer following a consultative ballot in July.
 
The results of the Unite ballot are expected on Friday afternoon. The GMB union is also balloting its members.
 
The OCA represents contractor companies involved in a range of activities in the UK's offshore oil and gas industry.
  • BBC News
 
Summers could be entirely powered by clean energy by 2050
 
British summers could be entirely powered without fossil fuels by the middle of the century without breaking the economics of the energy market, according to a report.
 
But while wind, solar and nuclear power would provide nearly 91% of the country’s electricity by then, up from about 50% today, gas power stations are still expected to be needed during winters.  Analysts at Aurora Energy Research looked at how the wholesale power market would cope if the UK meets its target of slashing carbon emissions 80% by 2050.  They found that the price of power would drop to nearly zero between April and October because of lower demand and the glut of electricity coming from solar panels and windfarms.  But energy firms would still have a viable business model because the other half of the year prices would hit around £70 per megawatt hour, higher than today’s annual average of £50-60 per MWh.
 
“Reaching a high renewables scenario can deliver Great Britain’s climate change targets without breaking the wholesale market,” said Weijie Mak, a co-author of the report.
 
However, he said if the country adopted a tougher approach of reducing emissions to zero, as ministers recently asked experts to consider, that would break the market because prices would go too low for companies.  The report paints a picture of a world where the appetite for electricity has increased by two-thirds on today’s demand, because of the rise of electric cars and switching from gas boilers to electric heating.
 
But because of higher demand and lower solar output in winter, gas power plants would still be needed to fill in the gaps between November and February.  Their owners would need an additional payment during winter for being ready to provide backup power when needed, to make the economics work.  The explosive growth of renewables in the past eight years has already dampened power prices by about £4 per MWh. But Aurora said that effect could be as much as £40 per MWh by 2050.
 
Whether that translates through to a cut in energy bills remains to be seen, said Richard Howard, head of research at Aurora. While the wholesale part of a bill would certainly fall, other components such as backup power payments, renewables subsidies and network costs could rise.
  • The Guardian
 
Babcock receives new LNG bunker supply vessel
 
Babcock Schulte Energy (BSE), a 50:50 joint venture between Babcock and Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (BSM), has received its new liquefied natural gas (LNG) bunker supply vessel, MV Kairos.  The 7,500m³ vessel was constructed at Hyundai Mipo Dockyard in South Korea as part of a contract awarded in December 2016.  BSE is expected to deploy MV Kairos to the Baltic region to serve various customers, including Linde / AGA terminal in Nynäshamn, Sweden, and the Klaipėda LNG fuelling station in Lithuania.
 
MV Kairos is designed to conduct ship-to-ship bunkering and transhipment operations. The vessel will be used to serve the shore-based gas consumers and supply LNG fuel to a range of ships, including ferries, containers, and cruise vessels.  MV Kairos features Babcock’s Fuel Gas Supply Vessel Zero (FGSV0) technology, a scalable cargo-handling and fuelling solution with compressed natural gas storage, and utilisation capabilities.
 
The vessel is also capable of eliminating the emission of boil-off and flash gas to the atmosphere during normal operations, offering significant benefits to the environment.  Babcock LGE managing director Neale Campbell said: “Babcock thrives in complex environments, which require specialist engineering expertise.
 
“Our commitment to the Babcock Schulte Energy joint venture draws upon Babcock’s significant gas systems expertise.
 
“Leveraging this to meet our customer’s specific requirements, the collaboration, teamwork, and overall performance of our teams have been exceptional and critical to the success of this programme.”
 
MV Kairos has entered service with the loading of LNG at the Regasification Terminal Pengerang (RGTP) in Johor, Malaysia. The LNG was supplied by Malaysia’s Petronas LNG, reported Reuters.
 
MV Kairos is currently placed on a time-charter with Blue LNG, a joint venture between Nauticor and Klaipedos Nafta.
  • Ship Technology
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
Headlines Thursday 1st November 2018
 
Royal Dutch Shell sees profits jump as oil price rises
 
Royal Dutch Shell's profits surged by 37% in the third quarter of the year on the back of rising oil prices.  The Anglo-Dutch giant said earnings excluding one-off items on a current cost of supply measure (CCS), which strips out price fluctuations, hit $5.6bn (£4.3bn) from $4.1bn last year.
 
Rising oil and gas prices in the July-to-September period were the main driver of profits.  Shell joins rivals, including BP, in reporting strong results.  However, the figure was lower than a company-provided analysts' consensus forecast of nearly $5.8bn.  Shell's shares fell more than 1% in early trade.
 
Royal Dutch Shell chief executive Ben van Beurden said: "Good operational delivery across all Shell businesses produced one of our strongest-ever quarters, with cash flow from operations of $14.7bn."
 
Shell said it had completed the first tranche of a $25bn share buyback programme that it announced in July.  The move fulfils a pledge that it made when it bought oil and gas exploration firm BG Group in 2016.  "Our strategy remains on track," said Mr van Beurden.
  • BBC News
 
NTR splashes cash for UK solar
 
Irish investor NTR has acquired nine solar assets in the UK totalling 38.4MW.  The €61.3m deal, which includes an additional €2.6m on completion of unspecified conditions, is the first under the company’s second sustainable infrastructure fund.
 
The assets were developed by Plus Renewable Technologies, a global renewable energy and technology company.  NTR chief executive Rosheen McGuckian said: “Our strategy for the NTR Renewable Energy Income Fund 2 is to acquire both pre-construction and operational European onshore wind and solar assets, with the operational assets providing immediate yield on investment while the pre-construction assets are being built out.
 
“We are very pleased with this, our first acquisition for the Fund, which consists of a well-diversified portfolio of attractive cash yielding solar assets, providing long-term contracted revenues for our investors from the get-go.”
 
Plus Renewables chief executive Paul Cheng added: “We are pleased that NTR has chosen our renewable energy projects as the first assets for its second sustainable infrastructure fund. This is a testament to the quality of our projects.
 
“Our nine assets in the UK have either an attractive feed-in-tariff term of 20 years or are eligible for 1.3 ROCs, providing long-term price certainty to NTR. These assets were developed in 2015 and 2016, after rigorous due diligence to ensure that they would be built on high priority sites with strong load fundamentals and efficient grid structures.”
  • ReNews
 
UK, EU close to Brexit deal on financial services - UK official
 
A deal that would give UK-based financial services firms basic access to European Union markets after Brexit is nearly done, a British official said.  The Times newspaper reported that a tentative deal had been reached on all aspects of a future partnership on services, as well as the exchange of data.
 
“We are making progress,” the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said, adding that the financial services deal would be based on the EU’s existing “equivalence” system.
 
Currently, as an EU member, banks and insurers in Britain enjoy unfettered access to customers across the bloc in all financial activities. Equivalence, however, covers a more limited range of business and excludes major activities such as commercial bank lending.  A financial services deal may be expected if an overall Brexit agreement is struck this month, the official said.  The pound jumped, rising to $1.2904 GBP=D3.
 
London, which has been a critical artery for the flow of money around the world for centuries, is the world’s largest centre of international finance. While New York is by some measures bigger, it is more centred on American markets.  Many bankers and politicians predicted after the June 2016 referendum that leaving the EU would prompt a mass exodus of jobs and business, dealing a crippling blow to London’s position in global finance.
  • Reuters

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Headlines Wednesday 31st October 2018

 

UK leader of £3bn windfarm cable market, according to report

The UK is likely to be the £3 billion market leader in the offshore cable field, claims a new report by a renewables trade body.

RenewableUK yesterday published a report claiming the UK will be able to secure multi-million-pound contracts in the manufacture and installation of offshore wind cables.According to the study, the UK is expected to be the biggest cable market globally between 2018 and 2028, worth £3.64bn, with more than 19 gigawatts (GW) of capacity due to be installed, requiring over 9,300km of cabling – equivalent to the distance from London to Tokyo.

RenewableUK executive director Emma Pinchbeck said: “For the first time, companies working in the offshore wind cables sector, or those wanting to get into it, can see in detail where the multi-million-pound opportunities are in projects here and around the world.

“This is a great example of the industrial opportunities being created by the offshore wind industry, in which the UK has a global lead. Innovative hi-tech companies based in Britain are already reaping the rewards, and these opportunities will continue to grow in the years ahead with offshore wind becoming the backbone of our global clean energy system”.

  • Energy Voice

 

IMO Eyes Tougher Measures to Reduce Marine Plastic Litter from Ships

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has adopted an action plan which aims to enhance existing regulations and introduce new supporting measures to reduce marine plastic litter from ships.  The action plan stipulates actions to be completed by 2025, which relate to all ships, including fishing vessels. The concrete measures and details will be further considered by MEPC 74.

The reduction measures being targeted on behalf of the shipping industry’s include a review of the application of placards, garbage management plans and garbage record-keeping in MARPOL Annex V. It is also being proposed to establish compulsory mechanism to declare loss of containers and identify number of losses; and consider ways to communicate location of containers lost overboard.

Dumping plastics into the sea is already prohibited under regulations for the prevention of pollution by garbage from ships in the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), which also oblige governments to ensure adequate port reception facilities to receive ship waste.

Only permitted materials can be dumped and this waste – such as from dredging – has to be fully assessed to ensure it does not contain harmful materials like plastics.

However, studies demonstrate that despite the existing regulatory framework to prevent marine plastic litter from ships, discharges into the sea continue to occur. Marine litter has a substantial harmful effect on the marine life and it can also pose dangers to shipping.  For example, abandoned or lost fishing nets can become entangled in propellers and rudders.

  • World Maritime News

 

No-deal Brexit could trigger recession, ratings agency warns

Standard & Poor still expects a deal to be reached - but expects that without one joblessness would rise and incomes fall.

Britain could be tipped into recession and experience the highest level of unemployment since the aftermath of the financial crisis in the event of a no-deal Brexit, a leading ratings agency has warned.  Analysis from Standard & Poor also found that leaving the EU without a deal would prompt a sharp fall in house prices and see household incomes fall by an average of £2,700 a year over two years.

S&P still expects a deal to be agreed but said that the risk that it would not had "increased sufficiently" to warn investors of what this might mean.  The analysis comes as the pound hovers around its lowest level against the US dollar for more than two months, at $1.27, amid anxiety over Brexit.  S&P's analysis of a no-deal scenario sees a recession lasting four to five quarters should there be no deal before the exit date on 29 March.  It sees the economy shrinking by 1.2% in 2019 and 1.5% in 2020, and returning to only moderate growth the following year so that by 2021 economic output would still be 5.5% lower than in the event of an "orderly exit and transition period".

The scenario would see unemployment rise to the current level of 4% to more than 7%, a rate last seen in the wake of the financial crisis.  House prices would fall by 10% over two years while, alongside the sharp fall in household income, inflation would turn higher and peak at 4.7% in mid-2019.  The situation would be likely to result in ratings downgrades for UK Government debt and also leave UK banks vulnerable, according to the analysis published on Tuesday.

S&P global ratings credit analyst Paul Watters said: "Our base case scenario is that the UK and the EU will agree and ratify a Brexit deal, leading to a transition phase lasting through 2020, followed by a free trade agreement.

"But we believe the risk of a no-deal has increased sufficiently to become a relevant ratings consideration.

"This reflects the inability thus far of the UK and EU to reach agreement on the Northern Irish border issue, the critical outstanding component of the proposed withdrawal treaty."

  • Sky News
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
Headlines Tuesday 30th October 2018
 
Shetland tidal array goes ‘baseload’ with Tesla battery
 
Scottish cleantech company Nova Innovation has integrated its tidal energy array with Tesla battery storage to deliver grid-connected baseload power station.  Since the start of October 2018, the UK grid has been supplied by Nova’s Tidal Energy Storage System (TESS) demonstrator which integrates the company’s Shetland Tidal Array with Tesla’s Powerpack battery technology to provide clean power ‘on demand’.
 
Simon Forrest, CEO at Nova Innovation, said: “By storing the clean energy generated by the natural ebb and flow of the tide, we can control the supply of electricity to the grid to match demand.  “This creates a consistent source of completely predictable power from a clean, sustainable resource. Nova’s expertise in smart grid control, renewable generation and energy storage has delivered this game-changing innovation.”
 
Linking tidal power with energy storage improves security of supply, reduces carbon emissions and helps to balance electricity supply and demand. The predictability of the tide and the six-hour generation cycle times make it the perfect partner for energy storage, according to Nova Innovation.  Sam Gardner, Acting Director of WWF Scotland said: “Predictable renewable power and smart storage working in harmony is the holy grail of the transition to a renewable electricity system.  “It’s great that the Scottish Government has backed this project and we hope it inspires politicians and others with the confidence to provide further support for ground-breaking technologies to cut climate pollution.”
 
The project has secured funding from the Scottish Government’s Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Program. The program is supported by the European Regional Development Fund, is accelerating the development and delivery of low-carbon infrastructure projects across Scotland.
  • Marine Energy.biz
 
Stable tax measures are welcomed by oil industry
 
The oil and gas industry welcomed the chancellor’s announcement on stable tax measures and plans to make Scotland a “global decommissioning hub”.  Philip Hammond said the government will “maintain headline tax rates at their current level”, putting to rest concerns about cuts amid the rising oil price.  Media reports earlier this year suggested the recent recovery in the oil price could put tax relief measures in the firing line.
 
The announcement to maintain the regime has been broadly welcomed by the sector, but measured with a warning that an emergency budget in a “no-deal Brexit” means “nothing is off the table”.  Trade body Oil and Gas UK said it is recognition of the industry’s hard work “following one of the most testing downturns in its history”.  Leading oil and gas consultancy Wood Mackenzie agreed the move was positive, but added the stable tax system could change amid a no-deal Brexit.
 
A spokeswoman for the firm said: “Petroleum tax rates were changed several times during previous price swings over the decades but, at least on this occasion, the government has stuck to its promise to keep the system stable, predictable and competitive for the time being.  “Of course, in the case of a ‘no deal Brexit’ an emergency budget will follow and nothing is off the table.”  Deidre Michie, chief executive of Oil and Gas UK, said: “The chancellor’s commitment to fiscal stability is welcome recognition of the hard work by industry to encourage recovery following one of the most testing downturns in its history.
 
“It’s important that this stability is sustained for the longer term, encouraging further investment and much needed new business for the supply chain, which continues to be under pressure.”  Mr Hammond also issued a call for evidence on plans to make Scotland a global decommissioning hub, but was warned the UK must act quickly as other countries are already making moves in that space.
 
The chancellor announced the plan to work with the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) to strengthen Scotland and the UK’s position for removing infrastructure offshore.  It comes as Oil and Gas UK recently announced that 11 decommissioning projects have been announced by companies this year, more than the last three years combined.
 
Martin Findlay, senior partner at accountancy firm KPMG in Aberdeen, said: “Although oilfield decommissioning may be slower than would be the case had oil prices remained low, other countries are already moving to secure their share of the spoils of decommissioning work.  “The UK needs to move quickly and target appropriate investment and industry assistance appropriately.”
 
Meanwhile the Office for Budget Responsibility upwardly revised its forecast for North Sea revenues by £1.2billion on average per year through to 2023 due to the higher price of brent crude oil, which recently climbed to $85 (£66) per barrel.
  • Energy Voice
 
Frankie & Benny's owner to buy Wagamama in £559m deal
 
The Restaurant Group will swallow up the Asian-inspired chain as it seeks more growth during a tough time for the sector.  The company behind the Frankie & Benny's and Chiquito restaurant brands has agreed to buy the Wagamama chain in a £559m deal.  The takeover will see The Restaurant Group (TRG) swallow up a business, founded in 1992, which now has nearly 200 outlets, most of them in the UK.  It comes as the new owner seeks areas of growth during a challenging period for the UK's casual dining sector, with the likes of Gaucho, Prezzo and Byron strugglin
g.
The Restaurant Group's chief executive Andy McCue described the Wagamama deal - which is expected to be completed by mid-December - as "an exciting and transformative opportunity".  He added: "Wagamama is a fantastic brand, with a market leading pan-Asian proposition, which has consistently outperformed the casual dining market in recent years."  The deal sees TRG pay £357m in cash and assume £202m in debt. It will be funded partly through a £315m cash call on the group's shareholders. Shares fell 1% on the news.
 
Wagamama will operate as an autonomous part of the group with current chief growth officer Emma Woods becoming chief executive and chairman Allan Leighton set to join the TRG board as a non-executive director.  TRG said it would accelerate the brand's UK expansion including in some cases by converting existing sites into Wagamama restaurants, as well as piloting new "food to go" offerings and exploring international growth.  Wagamama currently has 133 UK restaurants plus five in the US and 58 franchise sites across Europe, the Middle East and New Zealand.  It employs more than 6,000 people and reported revenue of £307m and underlying earnings of £43m last year.
 
TRG has 381 casual dining restaurants under a number of brands plus more than 60 pubs and also operates dozens of concessions at airports and railway stations. The group employs more than 15,000 people.  The group has endured a tough time in recent years with a series of profit warnings culminating in a boardroom overhaul.  Performance has stabilised since the appointment two years ago of former Paddy Power executive Mr McCue as its boss.  It has shaken up its offering by cutting prices and introducing more budget options.
 
The group disclosed in its takeover announcement that like-for-like sales so far this year were down by 2.2% but added that they were up 1.4% in the 14-week period since the end of the World Cup.
  • Sky News
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
Headlines Monday 29th October 2018
 
Norled’s Order Marks Sembcorp Marine’s Entrance into RoPax Ferry Sector
 
Norwegian shipping company Norled has ordered three hybrid plug-in ropax ferries from Singapore’s shipbuilder Sembcorp Marine.  This is the first design-and-construction roll on/roll off passenger (ropax) ship project for Sembcorp Marine. The ships will be built by the group’s subsidiary LMG Marin and are scheduled for delivery in the fourth quarter of 2020.
 
The trio is tailored for Norled’s shortsea Hella-Vangsnes-Dragsvik connections in Norway. The 84.2-metre long multi-deck, double-ended ferries can each carry up to 300 passengers and crew, as well as 80 cars or a combination of 10 cars and 10 trailer trucks.  The vessels will operate normally on zero-emissions lithium-ion battery power at a service speed of 10 knots. When required, they can run on combined battery-diesel hybrid backup modes.
 
“Sembcorp Marine’s project with Norled marks our entry into the ropax ferry design and construction segment,” Head of Specialized Shipbuilding Tan Heng Jack said.
The energy-efficient solutions to be installed on the ferries will also include quick-connection shore charging plugs; auto-mooring; auto-cross; efficient hull, propulsion and heat recovery systems.  
 
Separately, Sembcorp announced that it has won a contract for engineering, procurement, construction, hook-up and commissioning works on two topsides, to be deployed at the Hornsea 2 Offshore Wind Farm in the UK North Sea. The two topsides will be fabricated at Sembcorp Marine’s integrated yard facilities for delivery in the first quarter of 2021.  The two contracts are worth SGD 200 million (USD 144 million).
  • World Maritime News
 
Wellesley wraps up appraisal of Grosbeak discovery in North Sea
 
Wellesley Petroleum has successfully appraised the Grosbeak discovery in the Northern North Sea by wells 35/11-21S and 35/11-21A.  The wells were drilled in production license Pl248I where Wellesley is the operator and holds a 60% operated interest.  Well 35/11-21S encountered a gross oil column of 90 meters at the target Middle Jurassic Brent Group level.
 
Wellesley said that, within this oil column, 45 meters comprised net reservoir with good to excellent reservoir properties. Extensive data was acquired from the reservoir interval including a successful well test which confirmed the high quality and good connectivity of the reservoir.  Sidetrack well 35/11-21A encountered 20 meters of excellent quality gas-bearing reservoir and an 8 meter oil column in the shallower Upper Jurassic Sognefjord and Fensfjord formations. The underlying Brent Group reservoir comprised a 50 meter oil column in the Ness Formation with 9 meters of sandstones lying within the oil zone. Pressure data from these sandstones indicates good connectivity to the zone tested in the 35/11-21S well.
 
The updated range of recoverable resources in the Grosbeak Discovery is 53 – 115 million barrels of oil plus 269 – 432 billion cubic feet of gas. The 35/11-21S and A wells have been plugged and abandoned and development studies will start.
 
Chris Elliott, CEO of the Wellesley Group of companies, commented: “This is a very positive end to our operated drilling campaign in the Grosbeak area. Our pre-drill subsurface studies of Grosbeak indicated that the Brent Group sandstones were both predictable and well connected and this has been demonstrated by the appraisal wells, significantly reducing the development risk of this reservoir. The discovery of a separate, excellent quality gas reservoir in the Upper Jurassic also adds significant resources to what we expect to be a material and commercially robust future development.”
 
The wells 35/11-21S and 35/11-21A were the first and second exploration wells in production license 248 I. Production license 248 was awarded in 1999 and production license 248 I was carved out in 2017.  Wells 35/11-21 S and 35/11-21 A were drilled to respective vertical depths of 2564 and 2614 meters, and respective measured depths of 2776 and 2907 meters below the sea surface. Both wells were terminated in the Cook formation in the Lower Jurassic. Water depth at the site is 360 meters. The wells have been permanently plugged and abandoned.
 
The wells were drilled by the Transocean Arctic, which will now drill wildcat well 30/6-30 in the northern North Sea in production license 825, where Faroe Petroleum is the operator.
  • Offshore Energy Today
 
Scottish salmon industry accused of welfare failures
 
Environmental campaigners have accused Scotland’s salmon farming industry of repeatedly breaching limits on sea lice infestation, escapes and fish mortalities and putting profit before welfare, following the recent release of graphic images of farmed salmon left with ugly open wounds by sea lice parasites and disease.
 
They want a temporary ban on all new fish farms until far stricter controls are in place, a stance backed by the Scottish Green party. The industry, however, buoyed by record exports worth £600m last year, wants to more than double production by up to 400,000 tonnes by 2030.  The Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (Sepa), the country’s pollution and water quality watchdog, will soon publish proposals for its strictest regulatory regime yet. It said earlier this month that compliance by Scotland’s fish farms with existing standards covering seabed pollution, waste, chemical use and water quality had fallen from 86% to 81%.
 
“Sepa is clear that compliance with environmental laws is non-negotiable,” said John Kenny, its acting head of compliance. The new regulations would “include more powerful modelling using the best available science, enhanced environmental monitoring, a new approach to sustainable siting of farms, and new approach for controlling the use of medicines”.
 
The Scottish parliament’s rural economy committee is expected to issue a critical report in the coming days. It may stop short of backing calls for a moratorium but will urge ministers in Edinburgh to overhaul regulations.  In March, Holyrood’s environment committee warned the industry’s expansion goal “will be unsustainable and may cause irrecoverable damage to the environment” unless standards improved markedly.  “The status quo is not an option,” it said.
 
At a salmon farm at Loch a’ Chàirn Bhàin, near Kylesku in the far north-west of Scotland, executives shepherding a group of fish merchants from Brixham were weary of the intense criticism their industry faces. Alban Denton, the managing director of Loch Duart, argued it already operated under the toughest regulatory regime of any livestock industry.
 
Even so, Denton and his colleague Andy Bing, who founded the firm 40 years ago, suggested there were better, more sustainable techniques the industry could follow.  It puts fewer fish in its cages than most, running a stocking density of 1.5% fish against an industry norm of 2% “biomass” per cage.  It promotes “non-medicinal farming” where wrasse, a small fish that eats marine parasites, act as cleaner fish to peck off any sea lice on the salmon. The wrasse are harvested from the wild sustainably, the firm says, living in artificial reefs made from sliced up black plastic in a corner of each salmon cage.
 
Yet wrasses’ role as a highly sought after solution to sea lice infestation has pushed its price as high as £50,000 a tonne – the most expensive by weight in Europe. Loch Duart suspended one supplier in south-west England earlier this month for allegedly fishing in a no-catch zone.  Rather than treated with the copper-based antifoulants standard in the industry, its cages are air-dried to remove algae. They occasionally use hydrogen peroxide or fresh water baths to treat amoebic gill disease, which has at times plagued some farms.  Its farms lie empty, or fallow, for five months rather than an industry norm of five weeks, to allow the seabed to recover and suppress sea lice numbers. They say that combination of tactics works: on the eight cages on Loch a’ Chàirn Bhàin, six have been entirely sea lice free this year, and two had negligible numbers.  It has had serious issues with sea lice in the past, and has shot seals too, under licences that conservationist are too lax.
  • The Guardian

 

Pipe Manager

Our clients Production department requires a Pipe Manager to join... read more

Purchasing Officer

We are looking to speak with candidates with purchasing experience... read more

Service Delivery Project Manager

Our client requires a Service Delivery Project Manager to join... read more