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
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
Headlines Friday 26th October 2018
RBS sets £100 million aside to cover Brexit uncertainty
Royal Bank of Scotland has taken a 100 million pound impairment provision to account for Brexit uncertainty, in the first concrete sign this is clouding the outlook of a big British bank.  The provision means RBS is concerned that its customers might become less able to pay their debts when Britain leaves the European Union in five months’ time.
While HSBC put aside $245 million at its half-year results to account for greater economic uncertainty, RBS is the first big UK bank to link the move to Brexit.
CEO Ross McEwan said RBS was taking into account the possibility of more negative outcomes from the Brexit negotiations, under new accounting standards that require banks to be better prepared for possible future losses.
“There’s a lot more uncertainty in the marketplace until we get agreement, and that’s what this is reflecting,” McEwan told reporters on a call, referring to the provision.  The fortunes of major lenders like RBS are closely intertwined with the health of UK consumers and businesses.
The bank has been less upbeat about the consequences of Brexit than some of its peers, with McEwan warning recently that Britain could slip into recession if it crashes out of the EU with no deal.
Bank of England Deputy Governor Sam Woods said on Thursday banks in Britain must hold enough cash to withstand any disorderly Brexit hitting financial markets.
RBS’s rival Lloyds said on Thursday it was confident that negotiations between London and Brussels could still deliver a withdrawal agreement, which remains elusive even after years of tense talks.  Both banks said that they had seen no sign borrowers’ ability to service their loans had deteriorated so far.
  • Reuters
Rolls-Royce to Power Havila Kystruten’s New Ferries
Norwegian shipowner Havila Kystruten has hired engineering company Rolls-Royce to provide power and propulsion for its new Ro-Pax vessels.
Rolls-Royce will provide a fully integrated LNG power and propulsion solution to all four Havyard 923 design ships. This includes two LNG fuel tanks with process system, and control and safety systems, four Bergen gas engines, main propulsion thrusters of type Azipull with Permanent Magnet (PM) drive motor, PM tunnel thrusters, and stabilisers of type Neptune 200.
The LNG fuel system from Rolls-Royce will supply Bergen gas generator sets. Each vessel will have two engines with nine in-line cylinders, and two with six cylinders.  The engines can operate on variable speed to reduce both fuel consumption and emissions.  The Bergen engines series reduces total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by about 20 per cent compared to a similar diesel engine, and is IMO Tier 3 compliant, according to Rolls-Royce.
“Havila Kystruten has chosen a LNG fuel system that builds on our long experience with these type of systems, designed to be robust and reliable in rough weather conditions. No less important is the fact that the system and its engines will provide a significant reduction in emissions compared to conventional diesel engines,” Steinar Oppedal, Technical Product Manager for LNG Fuel Systems, Rolls-Royce – Commercial Marine said.
The four vessels are scheduled to start operating on the coastal route between the cities of Bergen in south western, and Kirkenes in northern, Norway from January 2021.  Havila Kystruten contracted Spain’s Astillero Hijos de J. Barreras shipyard to build two of the cruise ferries and Turkey’s Tersan yard to construct the remaining two.
  • World Maritime News
Ship Operating Costs Set to Rise in 2018 and 2019
Total vessel operating costs in the shipping industry are expected to rise by 2.7% in 2018 and by 3.1% in 2019, according to a a survey by Moore Stephens.  Namely, drydocking is the cost category likely to increase most significantly in both 2018 and 2019, by 2.1% and 2.3% respectively, while expenditure on repairs and maintenance is to rise by 2.0% in 2018 and by 2.3% in 2019.
The survey also revealed that the outlay on crew wages is expected to increase by 1.3% in 2018 and by 1.9% in 2019, with other crew costs thought likely to go up by 1.5% in 2018 and by 1.8% in 2019.
Moore Stephens said that the predicted overall cost increases were once again highest in the offshore sector, where they averaged 4.1% and 4.2% respectively for 2018 and 2019. By way of contrast, predicted cost increases in the bulk carrier sector were 1.8% and 2.6% for the corresponding years. Operating costs for tankers, meanwhile, are expected to rise by 2.4% in 2018, and by 2.9% the following year, while the corresponding figures for container ships are 4.2% and 3.8%.
Overall, the cost of new regulation was identified as the most influential factor likely to affect operating costs over the next 12 months, at 23%, up from equal third place at 15% last year. 18% of respondents identified finance costs in second place, down from 20% and first place last year. Competition ranked in third place at 15% as it had last year. Meanwhile crew supply fell to 12% compared to 19% and second place in last year’s survey.
On a more general level, respondents voiced concerns about environmental issues, trade wars, the cost of securing finance, and the global economic recession, all of which were perceived to have the potential to result in increased operating costs.
“One year ago, expectations of operating cost increases in 2018 averaged 2.4%, so the increase now in that expectation to 2.7% must be regarded as sobering – if not unexpected –news,” Richard Greiner, Partner, Shipping and Transport, said.  The latest predicted increases, whilst a cause for concern, “should not unduly surprise or concern shipping, an industry which has seen – and in many cases endured – much larger increases during the past decade,” Greiner added.
  • World Maritime News
Headlines Thursday 25th October 2018
Costamare Gets Funds for Newbuilds, Opts for Scrubbers
Greek shipping company Costamare Inc. had a busy third quarter of 2018 as it secured financing for newbuildings, decided to install scrubbers and purchased more ships.  In August 2018, the company concluded pre and post delivery financing deals for its five newbuild vessels, ordered earlier this year from China’s Jiangsu Yangzijiang Shipbuilding Group.
Currently under construction, the 12,690 TEU units are expected to be delivered between the second quarter of 2020 and the second quarter of 2021. The ships will enter into ten-year charters to Yang Ming upon their delivery.
Additionally, the company agreed to install scrubbers on five Post Panamax container vessels. Following the installation of the scrubbers, the existing charter rates will be increased and the original charter expiry, ranging from 2023 to 2024, will be extended for a period of 3 years.  The ships in question are the 2014-built 9,403 TEU containerships MSC Azov, MSC Ajaccio and MSC Amalfi, for which the current daily rate is USD 43,000, and the 2013-built 8,827 TEU MSC Athens and MSC Athos with MSC, currently earning USD 42,000 per day.
Furthermore, in September 2018, the company purchased two 1996-built, 8,044 TEU sister containerships Maersk Kleven and Maersk Kotka. Upon their delivery the vessels commenced a 2.5-year charter with Maersk Line at a daily rate of USD 17,500. The company is currently in discussions regarding the debt financing of those ships.  Also, during the quarter, Costamare secured charter deals for 23 vessels, excluding the two secondhand acquisitions. The company’s net income for the quarter was at USD 14 million, down from USD 24.1 million reported a year earlier, as voyage revenues deflated to USD 90.9 million compared to USD 101.2 million seen a year earlier.
“Seasonality, combined with concerns about demand growth and trade tensions have resulted in a softer market, both in terms of charter rates and asset prices,” Gregory Zikos, Chief Financial Officer of Costamare Inc., said.
  • World Maritime News
TechnipFMC posts higher profit despite lower revenues
Oilfield services provider TechnipFMC has recorded an increase in its third quarter profit despite lower revenues as its orders exceeded revenues for the fourth consecutive quarter.  In its 3Q 2018 report on Wednesday TechnipFMC said that total company revenue was $3.1 billion, a 24.1% decrease when compared to the last year’s quarter and revenues of $4.1 billion.  The company’s net income was $136.9 million, an increase of 13.1% compared to the same period last year and net income of $121 million. These results included after-tax charges and credits of $2.9 million.
Inbound orders rose to $3.6 billion from $2.5 billion in 3Q 2017 with subsea orders exceeding revenue for the fourth consecutive quarter.  The company’s backlog increased year-over-year in all segments totaling $15.2 billion, compared to $13.9 billion in the last year’s quarter.  Doug Pferdehirt, CEO of TechnipFMC, stated: “Total company orders once again exceeded revenues, supporting a return to year-over-year growth in backlog. Total company backlog of $15.2 billion increased 9 percent when compared to the prior-year quarter, with growth occurring in all business segments.”
Pferdehirt concluded, “The outlook for our three growth pillars – subsea, unconventionals, and LNG – remains favorable.  “In Subsea, the recovery that began nearly two years ago continues. Our Subsea book-to-bill has exceeded 1.0 in five of the last six quarters. Final Investment Decisions (FIDs) for large projects continue to increase, supported by considerable improvement in project economics and operator cash flows. The continued increase in FEED activity further supports our favorable outlook.”
TechnipFMC also updated its full-year guidance for 2018. Onshore/Offshore revenue is expected to be in a range of $5.8 – 6.1 billion, an increase from the previous guidance range of $5.6 – 5.9 billion.  Onshore/Offshore EBITDA margin of at least 13%, excluding charges and credits, increased from the previous guidance of at least 12%.  Surface Technologies EBITDA margin of at least 16% (excluding charges and credits), reduced from the previous guidance of at least 17.5%.
  • Offshore Energy Today
Lloyds Bank downplays Brexit fears as profits rise
Britain’s Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY.L) shrugged off fears of a chaotic, no-deal Brexit and pledged to keep pumping credit into the economy regardless of the outcome of negotiations between Brussels and London.  The bank’s finance chief George Culmer told reporters on Thursday that Lloyds remains hopeful that the two sides can secure a deal before Brexit day in March 2019, when the UK will undergo its biggest policy shift in four decades.
“There is great uncertainty out there, but our continued expectation is for some sort of withdrawal agreement going forward,” Culmer said, adding that 97 percent of the bank’s business is UK-focused.
“What is fundamental is that we continue to support our customers whatever the outcome.”  Reuters this month reported that the Bank of England had laid out a contingency plan to ensure that banks such as Lloyds, Britain’s biggest mortgage lender, do not suddenly slam the brakes on lending in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
Lloyds, which is a bellwether for the economy given its broad exposure to UK consumers, said it had seen no change in customers’ ability to repay debt.
Despite lengthy talks between Britain and the European Union, the terms of divorce remain uncertain five months before the country leaves the bloc with or without a deal.
That has clouded confidence in British lenders and helped to drag down Lloyds’ share price by 17 percent this year despite its strong performance.
  • Reuters
Headlines Wednesday 24th October 2018
North Sea oil and gas 'could still be worth £330bn'
Up to £330bn could be spent on extracting oil and gas from UK waters over the next three decades, according to leading industry experts.  Prof Alex Kemp and Dr Linda Stephen at Aberdeen University have used new data to model the potential for the offshore industry until 2050.  The study concludes that there could be 17 billion barrels of oil or the equivalent gas still to be extracted from offshore fields.  This is in addition to more than 43 billion barrels produced since the 1970s.
Prof Kemp and Dr Stephen have applied new data to their economic modelling of the sector, to test whether it can meet ambitious targets set by the industry, government and the new regulator, the Oil and Gas Authority.  This finds that the targets are achievable, but only under favourable conditions for the industry - on price, cost, funding and technical progress over the decades. Exploration would have to continue at recent levels of both drilling and success if this is to be achieved.
Such an outcome would mark a turnaround from the decline seen in production and in spending since the oil price slumped in 2014, though there would still be a long-term decline in spending and output.
With oil recently trading close to $80 per barrel, stability and some new optimism have returned to the industry.  Investment from before 2014 has, as expected, reversed the decline in total production, at least for a few years. Private equity investors have shown confidence in the mature fields of the North Sea, by buying over assets from more established energy companies, and this week saw approval of two major investment projects.
Since the 2014-15 industry slump - following the decline in the price of a barrel of North Sea Brent crude from $115 to as low as $30, costs have been sharply reduced, though there remain concern that an upturn in activity could spark a return to supply chain inflation.
Prof Kemp's analysis assumes that such prices remain stable, and that the current tax regime is retained, while his figures are at current prices. He also assumes the industry continues to improve its performance in raising the percentage extracted of potential oil and gas.
He has run the economic model on different assumptions, one of which imagines the price of a barrel of North Sea oil is $60, with a therm of gas at 55 pence.  That is forecast to deliver £272 billion of spending on developing offshore fields and then producing from them. In addition, Prof Kemp points to decommissioning spend of £53bn by 2050. It is reckoned that might lead to production of nearly 15 billion barrels of oil and the equivalent gas.
  • BBC News
Aker Solutions’ orders more than double amid signs of market recovery
Norwegian oilfield services company Aker Solutions saw its orders more than double in the third quarter of 2018 from a year earlier amid increasing signs of a market recovery.
During the third quarter, Aker Solutions’ orders totaled NOK 5.9 billion ($712 million), bringing the backlog to NOK 36.1 billion ($4.4 billion). In the third quarter of 2017, Aker Solutions orders totaled NOK 2.6 billion.  “Our order intake in the quarter more than doubled versus the same period a year earlier and we’re seeing high tendering activity in all our markets,” said Luis Araujo, chief executive officer of Aker Solutions.
“A main development this quarter is that we are seeing increased order intake in key global markets such as China, Brazil and Angola, in line with our strategic ambitions,” he said.  The outlook for oil services remains competitive and there is pressure on pricing. Still, there are increasing signs of a recovery amid lower break-even costs and higher oil prices. Tendering activity is high in the company’s main markets and Aker Solutions is bidding for contracts totaling about NOK 45 billion. About two-thirds of these are in the subsea area, where the company expects key projects to be awarded over the next six to 12 months, including in Brazil, the UK, Africa, Australia and Asia Pacific.
When it comes to the company’s financial performance during the third quarter 2018, its net profit increased to NOK 155 million from NOK 124 million in the last year’s third quarter.  Revenue rose 21% to NOK 6.5 billion in the quarter from NOK 5.4 billion a year earlier, driven by increased North Sea modifications work and continued good progress on a number of key projects across all business lines.
Aker Solutions has two reporting segments: Projects and Services. Revenue in Projects rose to NOK 5.2 billion in the quarter from NOK 4.2 billion a year earlier, mainly driven by recent strong order intake and ongoing North Sea modification and hook-up jobs. Revenue in Services rose to NOK 1.3 billion in the quarter from NOK 1.2 billion a year earlier, driven by international growth in the company’s production asset services sub-segment.
For 2018, Aker Solutions continues to see overall revenue up by close to 10 percent from 2017, helped by the strong order intake and performance year to date. Aker Solutions sees overall revenue in 2019 slightly up from 2018, on the back of our strong order intake year-to-date, and continued high tendering activity with underlying 2019 EBITDA margin expected to remain around full-year 2018 levels.
  • Offshore Energy Today
May to address her MPs after attacks over Brexit
British Prime Minister Theresa May will address Conservative Party lawmakers at a private meeting in parliament on Wednesday after anger at her Brexit negotiating strategy prompted some of them to discuss toppling her.  May asked to address her divided party’s powerful “1922 Committee” where she can expect questions from lawmakers, some of whom have discussed forcing a leadership contest.
With just over five months to go until the United Kingdom is due to leave the EU on March 29, May’s Brexit negotiation has stalled over a disagreement on a fallback plan for the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.  Many business chiefs and investors fear politics could scupper an agreement, thrusting the world’s fifth largest economy into a “no-deal” Brexit that they say would spook financial markets and silt up the arteries of trade.
Companies will suffer and criminals could benefit from the inevitable border disruption that will ensue if Britain leaves the European Union without a deal, the country’s public spending watchdog said on Wednesday.  May failed to clinch a deal at an EU summit last week and her decision to signal the possibility of extending a post-Brexit transition period, keeping Britain under EU governance with no say in it, to help end the deadlock has angered both hardline supporters of Brexit and pro-EU lawmakers.
But many Conservative Party lawmakers are wary of toppling a leader on the eve of Britain’s most significant political and economic move since World War Two. Many also fear an election could bring the opposition Labour Party into power.
  • Reuters
Headlines Tuesday 23rd October 2018
ABB to Plug More Holland America Line Ships into Shore Power
Holland America Line, a part of Carnival Corporation, will retrofit three of its vessels with shore power connectors in an effort to further minimize the environmental impact of its fleet.
Namely, the cruise company hired Swiss-based power and automation technology group ABB for the work, that will allow the ships to draw on land-based electrical grids when docked in port.  With ABB’s shore connection technology, ships can turn off all engines and switch to electricity generated in a power plant on shore, tackling emissions and noise while also achieving greater energy efficiency.
After having executed three new installations, Holland America Line will proceed to feature a total of 11 cruise ships outfitted with ABB’s shore power connectors.  “Holland America Line remains firmly committed to including new technical solutions that truly advance its policy for sustainable operations,” Orlando Ashford, President, Holland America Line, said.
  • World Maritime News
Oil and gas and construction sectors to explore power of visualisation
The oil and gas and construction sectors will come together next month to explore how visualisation technology could change their industries.  Hosted by the Oil and Gas Innovation Centre (OGIC), the Visualising our World event will examine the current and future applications of tech in both sectors.
It will feature keynote speakers from BP and Morrison Construction, as well as representatives from a range of firms including Return to Scene, Oceaneering and Multivista.  A number of interactive stands will demonstrate the use of visualisation tech, including augmented reality and asset management software.  Representatives from Construction Scotland Innovation Centre, OGIC, and Robert Gordon University will also be in attendance,
Ian Phillips, CEO of OGIC said: “Often when new technology is developed it becomes apparent that it presents opportunities and benefits for multiple industries, and this collaboration between the oil and gas and construction innovation centres is a prime example of this.
“In terms of oil and gas, there is a wide scope for the benefits visualisation technology can bring to the industry including reducing cost and time taken on projects.
“This event provides a unique opportunity to explore the latest technological advances and look to the future of visualisation.”
The free event will take place on Thursday, November 8 at Aker Solutions in Dyce.
Ben Westland, head of strategic and commercial operations at CSIC, said: “Often when a new technology is first developed, it takes a while for companies to realise the range of opportunities and benefits that it offers. In terms of construction, visualisation technology can help reduce costs and time taken on projects. This event provides a unique opportunity to explore the latest technological advances, look to the future of visualisation and find out what it could mean for construction businesses.”
  • Energy Voice
World's oldest intact shipwreck discovered in Black Sea
Archaeologists say the 23-metre vessel has lain undisturbed for more than 2,400 years.  Archaeologists have found what they believe to be the world’s oldest intact shipwreck at the bottom of the Black Sea where it appears to have lain undisturbed for more than 2,400 years.
The 23-metre (75ft) vessel, thought to be ancient Greek, was discovered with its mast, rudders and rowing benches all present and correct just over a mile below the surface. A lack of oxygen at that depth preserved it, the researchers said.
“A ship surviving intact from the classical world, lying in over 2km of water, is something I would never have believed possible,” said Professor Jon Adams, the principal investigator with the Black Sea Maritime Archaeology Project (MAP), the team that made the find. “This will change our understanding of shipbuilding and seafaring in the ancient world.”
The ship is believed to have been a trading vessel of a type that researchers say has only previously been seen “on the side of ancient Greek pottery such as the ‘Siren Vase’ in the British Museum”.  That work, which dates from about the same period, depicts a similar vessel bearing Odysseus past the sirens, with the Homeric hero lashed to the mast to resist their songs.
The team reportedly said they intended to leave the vessel where it was found, but added that a small piece had been carbon dated by the University of Southampton and claimed the results “confirmed [it] as the oldest intact shipwreck known to mankind”. The team said the data would be published at the Black Sea MAP conference at the Wellcome Collection in London later this week.
It was among more than 60 shipwrecks found by the international team of maritime archaeologists, scientists and marine surveyors, which has been on a three-year mission to explore the depths of the Black Sea to gain a greater understanding of the impact of prehistoric sea-level changes.
They said the finds varied in age from a “17th-century Cossack raiding fleet, through Roman trading vessels, complete with amphorae, to a complete ship from the classical period”.  The documentary team made a two-hour film that is due to be shown at the British Museum on Tuesday.
  • The Guardian
Headlines Friday 19th October 2018
No-deal Brexit could hit food supplies, says Stena Line
A no-deal Brexit could affect food supplies and see traders bypass Great Britain, the ferry firm Stena Line has warned.  There is "very little readiness" at ports and "anxiety is high", said Ian Hampton senior executive at the global ferry operator.  Stena is the largest ferry operator in the Irish sea and owns three UK ports.  The government said it had proposed an ambitious future relationship with the EU to keep trade flowing.  Mr Hampton said there was a possibility Stena Line would reduce services to and from the UK as a result of Brexit.
"We can't plan on the basis of what we don't know, so we're very anxious about the outcome," he told BBC Radio 4's Today Programme.  He warned traders could stop using Great Britain to get from Ireland and Northern Ireland to the rest of the EU, and instead sail direct to the continent.
A no-deal Brexit that created friction on the Northern Ireland border, or delays if extra checks were put in place between Great Britain and Northern Ireland to implement what's become known as a Brexit backstop, could have a significant impact on trade flows, he said.
  • BBC News
Rowan lands new gig for idle jack-up rig
Offshore driller Rowan Companies has received a contract extension for one of its drillships and a one-well contract for an idle jack-up drilling rig.  Earlier in October, Rowan announced an all-stock merger agreement with Ensco, which will create an offshore drilling company with a fleet of 28 floating rigs (semi-subs and drillships) and 54 jack-ups. This includes two drillships and one jack-up rig under construction and does not include rigs which are part of Rowan’s ARO joint venture in Saudi Arabia.
According to Rowan’s latest fleet status report issued on Thursday, October 18 the U.S. oil company LLOG has exercised the first of its two one‐well priced options for the 2014-built drillship Rowan Resolute.  The drillship’s three‐well contract with LLOG started in mid‐June 2018. The second option is at a higher rate. Following this new option, the rig will be under contract with LLOG in the Gulf of Mexico until December 2018.
Furthermore, Rowan EXL III jack-up rig, built in 2010, has been awarded a one‐well contract with McMoRan in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, which is expected to begin in late October 2018, immediately followed by a contract with Cantium.  The contract with Cantium, announced back in August, is expected to start in late November 2018 with a firm duration of six months plus a three‐month option period. The contract is scheduled to end in May 2019.  Rowan EXL III has been idle since mid‐August 2018 and went on rate with McMoRan in early October 2018 while waiting on weather to move.
As previously reported, the 2011-built jack-up rig Rowan Norway has been awarded a two-well contract with Turkish Petroleum with an estimated duration of 100 days and an estimated start date of mid‐November 2018.  The 2011-built jack-up Rowan Stavanger is expected to start its contract for accommodations work with Repsol Norge in early November 2018. The contract is for approximately 150 days, with one 60‐day option. Rowan said in the report that the rig is on standby rate since early September 2018. Standby revenue will be recognized over the accommodations work period.
Rowan’s three jack-up rigs, Rowan Middletown, Charles Rowan, and Arch Rowan, transitioned from managed to leased in early September 2018. The rigs were leased to ARO Drilling, a 50/50 joint venture between Rowan and Saudi Aramco.
As previously reported, ARO won three-year contracts for these rigs with Saudi Aramco.
  • Offshore Energy Today
UK plastics recycling industry under investigation for fraud and corruption
The plastics recycling industry is facing an investigation into suspected widespread abuse and fraud within the export system amid warnings the world is about to close the door on UK packaging waste, the Guardian has learned.  The Environment Agency (EA) has set up a team of investigators, including three retired police officers, in an attempt to deal with complaints that organised criminals and firms are abusing the system.
Six UK exporters of plastic waste have had their licences suspended or cancelled in the last three months, according to EA data. One firm has had 57 containers of plastic waste stopped at UK ports in the last three years due to concerns over contamination of waste.  UK households and businesses used 11m tonnes of packaging last year, according to government figures. Two-thirds of our plastic packaging waste is exported by an export industry which was worth more than £50m last year.
The exporters make millions by charging retailers and manufacturers a fluctuating tonnage rate for plastic waste recovery notes – currently £60 a tonne. Retailers buy these plastic export recovery notes – Perns – to satisfy the government they are contributing something to recycling plastic packaging waste.  But the system – which was heavily criticised as open to fraud and abuse by the National Audit Office this summer – relies on companies making self declarations about how much packaging they are exporting.
The Guardian understands information has been passed to the EA – the regulators – which shows huge discrepancies between the amount of packaging exports recorded by HM customs, compared to the amount UK exporters claim to have shipped.
The data, analysed by the Guardian, reveals British export firms claim to have shipped abroad 35,135 tonnes more plastic than HM Customs has recorded leaving the country.
  • The Guardian
Headlines Thursday 18th October 2018
Stonehaven’s offshore wind farm starts to take shape on horizon
A major new offshore £500 million windfarm, visible from the coast around Stonehaven, has started to take shape.  The plans were developed by Kincardine Offshore Windfarm Ltd (KOWL) and with the first dot on the horizon now making an appearance – six more turbines are expected to follow by the end of 2020.  At almost 600ft high and expected to be generating power this year, the turbine is nine miles offshore between Stonehaven and Aberdeen and lies entirely within the Scottish Marine Area.
KOWL director Allan Macaskill said that the project would be the biggest in the world when completed.  Kincardine Offshore Windfarm Limited was set up by Scotland’s former deputy first minister Lord Nicol Stephen, who is also a director.  It is being operated by Pilot Offshore Renewables.  The wind farm was initially expected to cost £250 million when first planned in 2016, but will now cost closer to £500 million.
Mr MacAskill said the development would require £350 million to build, with lifetime operational expenditure likely to be around £150 million.  He added: “This type of project has never been done before. We will be producing this year and in the early part of 2020 we’ll be installing a further five 9.5 megawatt (MW) turbines.
“All in, this windfarm will be about 49 megawatts. When finished it will be the biggest floating windfarm in the world.”  The development plan for the Kincardine test and demonstration project originally envisaged the installation of eight turbines, but a variance applied for last year has seen that total drop to seven.  At two megawatts, the first turbine to be connected is less powerful than the six larger units which will follow.  They will be among the most powerful turbines in the world, with a potential rating of up to 9.5MW each.
In total, the Kincardine development is expected to produce enough power for 56,000 homes and support 110 jobs during assembly.
  • The Press and Journal
UK hits two month coal-free milestone
Britain has gone without coal to generate electricity for the equivalent of more than two months so far this year, the Government has said.  So far in 2018, 1,600 hours of Britain’s electricity needs have been met without coal being burned, more than double the number of coal-free hours in 2016 and 2017 combined.
Britain is on track to get less than 5% of its electricity from coal for the first time since the Industrial Revolution, the Department for Business and Energy (BEIS) said.
The country is also on track to take polluting coal power off the electricity grid ahead of the 2025 deadline set by ministers, the department said.
Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry said: “Coal is yesterday’s fuel.
“We’re proud to be leading the world when it comes to getting rid of it, well ahead of our 2025 target.  “Our record of clean growth is a true British success story and we are proving that with strong leadership we can power past coal to a cleaner, greener Britain.  “We will continue to promote clean growth with our unprecedented investment in renewables, maximising this economic opportunity as we move to a low-carbon economy.”
Low-carbon generation including renewables such as wind power and nuclear reactors provided more than 50% of UK-wide electricity in 2017, BEIS said.  The figures have been released as part of Green GB and NI Week which aims to promote clean growth.
But the Government has been criticised for failing to support onshore wind, now considered to be the cheapest form of electricity generation, and solar power, and for backing fracking for shale gas.
  • Energy Voice
Brexit: UK to consider longer transition period
The UK's transition out of the EU could be extended by "a matter of months" to ensure no hard border in Northern Ireland, Theresa May has said.  The prime minister said this was a new idea that had emerged in negotiations and was not expected to be used.  The UK leaves the EU in March, and the current plan is for the transition period to finish at the end of 2020.  Some Tory MPs are unhappy at the idea of the UK being tied to EU rules for longer.  It comes after a summit of EU leaders in Brussels failed to make decisive progress in reaching an agreement.
Mrs May addressed her 27 European counterparts on Wednesday evening, urging them to give ground and end the current Brexit deadlock.  Speaking on Thursday morning, Mrs May said that the UK had already put forward a proposal to avoid the need for either a hard border or a customs border between Northern Ireland the rest of the UK.  She added: "A further idea that has emerged - and it is an idea at this stage - is to create an option to extend the implementation period for a matter of months - and it would only be for a matter of months.
"But the point is that this is not expected to be used, because we are working to ensure that we have that future relationship in place by the end of December 2020."  After Wednesday's dinner, EU leaders said it was up to Mrs May to offer new ideas, and declared that insufficient progress had been made to call a special summit next month to draft a withdrawal deal.  Both sides did, though, agree to keep talking.
The UK is due to leave the EU on 29 March 2019 - but an agreement on how this will happen is proving elusive amid differences over how to prevent a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.  The UK has signed up to the principle of a backstop - an insurance policy designed to prevent the need for customs checks - but the two sides cannot agree over what form the backstop will take and how long it will last.  As it stands, the transition period - in which the UK would remain in the single market and customs union - is set to last until 31 December 2020.
The UK Parliament would have to agree to any extension and some MPs are warning that Mrs May will face a rebellion if she tries to do it.
  • BBC News
Headlines Wednesday 17th October 2018
Oil price recovery drives industrial unrest on UK North Sea
British unions ballot workers as they prepare strike action over pay and rotas.  The sharp increase in the price of crude oil over the past year has provided an unexpected windfall for leading energy companies as the industry recovers from a protracted downturn.
But in the North Sea, the $80 a barrel price of Brent crude is stirring up trouble, because workers are pushing for a bigger cut after enduring years of austerity.  The collapse in oil prices in 2014 prompted oil and gas producers in the North Sea to introduce sweeping cost savings affecting their workers: pay was slashed and longer shift patterns were introduced.
Now, with the oil price having rallied by more than 40 per cent over the past year, companies’ profits are significantly healthier. But many companies are reluctant to backtrack on the efficiency gains made during the downturn, fuelling resentment among workers and agitation by trade unions.
This could all come to a head next month, because two of Britain’s largest unions are balloting their members who work as contractors in the North Sea on the case for strikes over pay. The Unite and GMB unions claim this could prompt the most widespread industrial action in the history of the North Sea — an oil-producing basin that has experienced relatively few strikes.
“Workers are harbouring this serious discontent as they see the oil companies’ profits going up,” said Tommy Campbell, regional officer at Unite. “They know they’re not shy of a bob or two.”
  • Financial Times
First Japanese-Flagged Ship Joins Wallem Fleet
Hong Kong-based ship manager Wallem Ship Management has welcomed to its fleet the first vessel flying the Japanese flag.  The ship in question is Aphrodite Leader, a pure car & truck carrier (PCTC) owned by Japanese NYK Line.  The 5,374 CEU PCTC was built at Shin Kurushima Toyohashi shipyard in 2007.
As informed, the Aphrodite Leader completed the various inspections, audits and surveys in accordance with the Japanese flag requirements. The vessel then officially changed over to Japanese flag upon receipt of the statutory certificates from the country’s government and Class NK.
“This marks a positive milestone as Wallem is now one of just a few international ship managers capable of managing Japanese flag vessels,” the company said.
Wallem provides technical and ship management services for a range of vessel types including car carriers, tankers and container vessels.
  • World Maritime News
Theresa May appeals to EU to keep Brexit door open
Theresa May will urge EU leaders in Brussels on Wednesday to keep the door open to continuing Brexit negotiations, after a two and a half hour cabinet meeting that underscored the challenge of bridging the gap between London and Brussels in the days ahead.  May told her colleagues on Tuesday: “If we as a government stand together and stand firm, we can achieve this.”  But a string of ministers intervened to stress the importance of time-limiting the Irish backstop and ensuring it did not separate Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK – both areas where the UK and the EU27 remain at loggerheads.  The attorney general, Geoffrey Cox, said any Northern Ireland-only arrangements for customs after Brexit could mean the province was “torn out of the UK” and leave it “controlled by the EU,” according to one source.
No 10 said cabinet members endorsed May’s call to “maintain the integrity of the union” between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, which the prime minister told the cabinet was threatened by the EU’s proposed version of the backstop.  The spokesman said the prime minister had told her political colleagues it was “not possible for her or any UK prime minister to sign up to an arrangement that would lead to a customs border down the Irish Sea”.  One cabinet minister said: “There was a general wish to get the DUP onside, which hopefully our robust line on the integrity of the UK will help with.”  The chief whip, Julian Smith, told ministers that the prime minister would not get House of Commons approval for a backstop that could apply indefinitely.
Cabinet Brexiters believe May’s chief negotiator, Olly Robbins, was prepared to sign up to fresh compromises on Sunday, before the Brexit secretary, Dominic Raab, arrived in Brussels and rejected the latest proposals.  Michael Gove reportedly insisted at Tuesday’s meeting that the government must take legal advice on the implications of any fresh backstop text, which will be enshrined in the withdrawal agreement.  Complaining that the significance of the backstop had been underplayed by officials in December, Gove told colleagues: “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” He warned that if the government accepted getting on the, “customs union train,” it would need to know “when to get off”, according to Tory sources.  Others insisting on assurances that the UK could not become trapped in a customs union indefinitely included Jeremy Hunt, Penny Mordaunt and Andrea Leadsom, sources said.
With May accepting the principle, and no draft text for ministers to scrutinise, there were none of the feared resignations, but the demand for legal advice could limit negotiators’ wriggle room in the days ahead.  Drafting a time-limited backstop creates a formidable conundrum for negotiators because the December agreement, signed up to by both sides, said it must operate “unless and until” alternative arrangements that prevent a hard border had been put in place.
May’s official spokesman said cabinet members had agreed the UK “cannot be kept in the backstop indefinitely” and ministers had discussed “the need for a mechanism to clearly define how that backstop will end”.
Brussels-watchers say any mechanism controlled by the UK would be anathema in Brussels. Mujtaba Rahman, of Eurasia Group, said: “It’s simply inconceivable that the EU will hand the UK the right to exit the backstop at a time of the UK’s choosing.”
  • The Guardian
Headlines Tuesday 16th October 2018
Carlyle buys energy services firm EnerMech
The Carlyle Group has acquired oil and gas services provider Enermech from Lime Rock Partners. While the value of the deal has not been officially disclosed, the UK media have reported a figure of around  450 million pounds.
According to a statement on Monday afternoon, capital for the investment will come from Carlyle International Energy Partners (CIEP), a $2.5 billion fund that invests in the global oil and gas sector outside North America. The Fund’s mandate includes exploration and production, mid- and downstream and oilfield services.
EnerMech employs 3,500 staff across 40 locations in the UK, Norway, the Middle East, Caspian, Asia, Africa, Australia, and Americas. The company works on large-scale projects across the oil and gas, LNG, renewables, defense, power, infrastructure, and petrochemicals sectors.  For the full year 2017, Enermech had revenues of £361 million and EBITDA of £43.6 million.  The company last month said that for 2018 revenues were expected to reach £430 million with profits in the region of £59 million.
Chief Executive Officer Doug Duguid and Chief Financial Officer Michael Buchan, who formed the company a decade ago, will remain with the company in their current positions.  Doug Duguid said the deal was positive news for staff and clients and said newly available capital would lead to further acquisitions which will strengthen EnerMech’s services portfolio and geographic presence.  He said: “This transaction marks the beginning of a new chapter for EnerMech as we continue to develop our business, grow our global footprint and enter new markets. We are excited to be partnering with CIEP, whose expertise and track record in the energy space will provide valuable support for our strategy and next phase of growth.
“This transaction is a natural progression in the life of any ambitious company and with the backing of Carlyle Group, which enjoys extensive relationships in the upstream and downstream sectors, we will be focussed on doubling the size of the business in the next five years.
  • Offshore Energy Today
Rolls-Royce, Intel Launch Autonomous Ship Collaboration
Rolls-Royce and Intel have signed an agreement with an aim to collaborate on designs for sophisticated intelligent shipping systems that are expected to make commercial shipping safer.  “We’re delighted to sign this agreement with Intel, and look forward to working together on developing exciting new technologies and products, which will play a big part in enabling the safe operation of autonomous ships,” Kevin Daffey, Rolls-Royce, Director, Engineering & Technology and Ship Intelligence, commented.
As explained, the new collaboration will advance smart, connected and data-centric systems for ship owners, operators, cargo owners and ports, bringing together the expertise in advanced ship technology from Rolls-Royce with components and systems engineering from Intel.  “This collaboration can help us to support ship owners in the automation of their navigation and operations, reducing the opportunity for human error and allowing crews to focus on more valuable tasks,” Daffey added.
“Rolls-Royce is a key driver of innovation in the shipping industry we are proud to be working with them on smart, connected and data-centric systems that will be a foundation for safe shipping operations around the world in the future,” Adrian Criddle, General Manager and SVP of Intel UK, said.  With a focus on safety, new ships will have systems with the same technology found in smart cities, autonomous cars and drones, according to the two companies.
The new shipping intelligence systems will have data center and artificial intelligence capabilities as well as sophisticated edge computing throughout that independently manage navigation, obstacle detection and communications. The components embedded in these systems are dedicated to work load consolidation, edge computing, communications and storage.
  • World Maritime News
Scottish independence fundraiser gets fast start amid Brexit nerves
Political and civic groups backing Scottish independence from the United Kingdom started a fundraising drive on Monday to push support for secession above 50 percent.
The initiative is a sign of growing frustration with Prime Minister Theresa May’s plans to take Britain out of the European Union, as well as pressure on Scotland’s pro-independence first minister Nicola Sturgeon.  With less than six months to go before Britain leaves the EU, May’s government has yet to agree a divorce deal.  Sturgeon has said she will wait to see the detail of any agreement before deciding on Scotland’s own path.  The website “ThisIsIt”, which pools 18 Scottish nationalist groups, said it was seeking funds to pay for the professional campaign needed to push up public support for independence.
“Scotland did not vote for Theresa May’s disastrous vision of Brexit,” it said. “The crisis we face shows that Scotland must go its own way.”
The campaign raised over 12,000 pounds ($15,780) within a few hours on Monday, just over a third of its initial target. It aims to raise 180,000 pounds in total.  Scotland voted 62-38 percent to stay in the EU in Britain’s referendum on membership in June 2016, two years after rejecting independence by 55-45 percent in another, legally binding, plebiscite.  Britain as a whole voted 52-48 to leave the EU, taking Scotland with it.
Sturgeon says that the only solution to Scotland’s Brexit “problem” is independence. But she is wary of calling for a new vote only for May to refuse to consider it.  Britain’s parliament, which is sovereign, needs to sign off on any new referendum.  Sturgeon has tried to persuade May to keep the UK in the EU’s single market after Brexit, but many in May’s own conservative party want to break with the EU altogether.
  • Retuers
Headlines Monday 15th October 2018
Able UK to dismantle ExxonMobil’s Sable project
Able UK, a provider of decommissioning and recycling services for offshore structures, has been awarded a decommissioning contract for its Able Seaton Port facility on the River Tees.
Able Seaton Port is located in the center of the UK on the North East Coast close to the mouth of the River Tees and covers 51 hectares (126 acres) including a 10 hectare (25 acre) dry dock.
Able said on Monday that the project will involve the dismantlement, recycling and disposal of offshore natural gas platforms from the ExxonMobil Canada-operated Sable Offshore Energy Project (SOEP) off the coast of Nova Scotia, Canada.  The first shipment of structures is scheduled to arrive at Able Seaton Port in the second quarter of 2020, the company added.  The appointment of Able UK was made by Heerema Marine Contractors, which was contracted by ExxonMobil to undertake the removal of facilities.
Able UK Executive Chairman, Peter Stephenson, said: “The project will involve the removal of seven platforms and their jackets using one of the biggest crane vessels in the world, the Heerema Thialf, with the components being transported to Able Seaton Port in a series of barge movements.
“We expect that the onshore dismantlement, recycling and disposal work will extend over a 10-month period.”  Currently, work is well underway at Able Seaton Port on the 24,200-tonne Shell Brent Delta topside which arrived at Able Seaton Port last May following the construction of the new multi-million-pound ASP Quay Six.  Two more platforms from the Brent field are scheduled to arrive at Able Seaton Port, with the Brent Bravo expected in May 2019 and the Brent Alpha a year later.
  • Offshore Energy Today
Samsung Heavy Secures One More LNG Carrier Order
South Korean shipbuilder Samsung Heavy Industries (SHI) has won a contract for the construction of one liquefied natural gas (LNG) carrier.
The ship will be delivered to an unnamed shipowner from the Oceania region by the end of January 2021, SHI said.  The contract is worth KRW 211.8 billion (around USD 185 million).  The newbuilding will have a capacity of 174,000 cubic meters, Yonhap News Agency reported.  The newest order comes a few weeks after Japanese shipping company NYK ordered an LNG carrier at SHI. The ship is expected to be delivered by the end of March 2021.
SHI has won 41 shipbuilding contracts so far this year with an estimated value of almost USD 5 billion, according to Yonhap.
  • World Maritime News
Nicola Sturgeon to unveil Brexit plan alternative
The Scottish government is due to set out what it calls a "common sense" alternative to the UK government's Brexit plans.  A new paper will press the case for continued membership of the single market and customs union.  It is due out as First Minister Nicola Sturgeon gives a speech in London.  She will warn that MPs "should not be railroaded into accepting a bad or blindfold deal on the grounds that no deal would be a catastrophe".
The UK government said it had put forward "a precise and credible plan" for the UK's future relationship with the EU.  The so-called Chequers plan involves the UK and EU sharing a "common rulebook" for goods, but not services, so a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland can be avoided.
On Sunday, the BBC learned that Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson and Scottish Secretary David Mundell could resign from their roles over a possible Brexit compromise.
In a letter to the prime minister they said they would not support any deal that introduces different arrangements for Northern Ireland.  Downing Street has said the UK can still make progress in Brexit talks despite serious unresolved issues.  Talks between Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab and EU negotiator Michel Barnier faltered at the weekend over the so-called Irish "backstop", which could see the UK remaining in the customs union.
  • BBC News



Headlines Friday 12th October 2018


Local content commissioner ‘should monitor UK offshore wind’

The UK’s former defence secretary and energy minister, Sir Michael Fallon MP, is calling for a local content commissioner to monitor the UK content of future offshore windfarms.  Sir Michael, who was commissioned to prepare a report assessing the impact of the government’s policy towards UK local content, will share industry reaction to his report ‘Winning Locally, Going Global’ at supply chain event in November.

A group of northeast of England-based energy supply chain companies have invited the former cabinet minister to report on his study into the UK offshore wind industry.  At a meeting to be held at Subsea Innovation in Darlington in November, Mr Fallon will update members of the offshore wind supply chain on the feedback and reaction to his report from industry and politicians.  In the report, which was commissioned by Wilton Engineering, Mr Fallon made a number of headline recommendations, including a new 60% target for UK content for offshore wind projects in British waters.

Sir Michael also concluded that expenditure on each windfarm development should be reported in a more transparent way that includes added-value in both jobs and local skills.  Since the report was published earlier this year, several recommendations have been progressed by government, most notably the need for a confirmed timetable for future licences and contracts for difference (CfD) auction rounds, which was announced by Energy Minister Claire Perry in July.

In addition to updating invited guests on the reaction to the report and its conclusions, Sir Michael will also discuss some of the subsequent ideas from supply chain companies to bolster the UK offshore wind industry, among them his call for a local content commissioner to monitor and support UK industry in the application of the 60% target.

Energi Coast chairman and Tekmar Group chief executive of Tekmar Group plc James Ritchie said “Sir Michael’s report has delivered a positive impact on highlighting the issue of local content for the UK offshore wind industry and we are keen to hear his views following the recommendations he made.  The event will also give Sir Michael the opportunity to hear the views of supply chain companies, which are backing his recommendations and have further suggestions that will help them be successfully implemented.”

  • Offshore Wind Journal


Sports Direct buys Glasgow department store Frasers for £95 million

Britain’s Sports Direct (SPD.L), the sportswear group controlled by retail tycoon Mike Ashley, has agreed to buy the freehold of the Frasers department store in Glasgow for 95 million pounds, it said on Friday.  Frasers trades as part of the House of Fraser business which Sports Direct purchased out of administration for 90 million pounds in August.

The Glasgow building is the site of the first store opened by Hugh Fraser and James Arthur, the original founders of the House of Fraser business in 1849.  Sports Direct has agreed to buy it from Glasgow City Council - the administering authority for the Strathclyde Pension Fund.  “Sports Direct intends to continue to operate the property as Frasers and will invest in the property to further elevate and enhance this iconic department store,” it said, adding that the deal has saved 800 in-store jobs.

The retailer, which will fund the deal from cash resources, said completion would take place in January.  When Ashley purchased House of Fraser in August he said he would keep as many of its 58 UK stores open as possible. So far he has confirmed the future of 22.  Billionaire Ashley, who also owns English Premier League soccer club Newcastle United, said his ambition was to transform House of Fraser “into the Harrods of the high street” - a reference to the Qatari-owned luxury department store in London that was once owned by House of Fraser.

Sports Direct said on Friday the purchase of the Frasers freehold would allow it to create the “Harrods of the North”.  Shares in the retailer were up 1.7 percent at 315.7 pence, valuing the business at 1.69 billion pounds.

  • Reuters


UK National Grid looks to huge Norwegian gas field for winter demand

The National Grid has said that the start-up of a giant Norwegian gas field will help ensure the UK’s supply in the coming winter.  In its new Winter Outlook report, the operator of the country’s gas transmission system predicts a peak demand of nearly 400million cubic metres (mcm) per day.  It forecasts that supplies from Norway will be high, in part due to the huge Aasta Hansteen field expected to start up in quarter four this year.

The field has an estimated 51billion standard cubic metres of recoverable gas and will add 23mcm per day to Norwegian production.  That, coupled with various other sources, will lead to demand being lower than supply, according to the National Grid.  From the UK North Sea, up to 125million cubic metres of gas per day is expected to be produced.

National Grid said UK supply last year was far lower than forecasted due to the unexpected shutdown of the Forties pipeline system, which removed 40mcm per day from the North Sea.

  • Energy Voice

Headlines Thursday 11th October 2018
Operations to re-start Erskine taking longer than expected, Serica says
Operations to re-start production at Chevron-operated Erskine field, located in the UK Central North Sea, are taking longer than expected due to issues in the Erskine to Lomond production line.
Production from the Erskine field was suspended on January 16, 2018 and remained suspended throughout the period due to a blocked export pipeline carrying Erskine condensate from the Lomond platform to link into the Forties Pipeline System.
On September 28 Serica Energy, a partner in the field with an 18% interest, reported that a new 26km section of the condensate export line from Lomond to the CATS Riser at Everest had been completed and tested and production was due to re-start shortly.
However, Serica said on Thursday that production restart of the Erskine wells and facilities is taking longer than expected due to the formation of gas hydrates (ice-like crystals of water and gas) in the Erskine to Lomond production line, upstream of the new line section, during the commissioning process.
According to the company, standard methods are being used by the operator to dissolve the hydrates, using methanol and slowly depressurising the line following which it is anticipated that the hydrates will be fully dissipated.
The process is not expected to result in a significant delay or in any long-term impact, Serica concluded.
  • Offshore Energy Today
Five wealthy families are 'UK Codfathers' owning nearly half of Scotland's offshore fishing rights
Five families are netting millions of pounds by controlling nearly half of Scotland’s offshore fishing rights.  Greenpeace today reveal how these so-called “Codfather clans” are reaping huge rewards exploiting “a vastly unequal, mismanaged system”.  The quotas system enables a minority of wealthy families to corner huge swathes of fishing rights. Three of the dominant family-owned firms are based in Scotland.
Hauling in the biggest UK catch are ­ - Peterhead’s Alexander Buchan and family, with an estimated net worth of £147million.  Their Lunar Fishing Company own or control 8.9 per cent of quota holdings (739,153 FQA – Fixed Quota ­Allocations).
Fraserburgh fisherman Robert Tait’s family have an estimated worth of £115million. Their Klondyke Fishing Company are the UK’s third-largest quota holders with 6.1 per cent of the UK total (506,953 FQAs).
Unearthed, Greenpeace’s investigation unit, discovered they paid out dividends of £56million in five years.  And Aberdeen oil and gas billionaire Sir Ian Wood still has a strong foothold in the family’s original fishing business.  Their family firm JW Holdings hold one per cent of the UK’s fishing quota (83,463 FQAs) and minority investments in ­businesses/partnerships with a further 2.3 per cent (192,169 FQAs).  Two other family-owned firms in England are netting a slice of Scotland’s fishing stock.  Plymouth-based Jan Colam and family, with an estimated worth of £130million, own Interfish, the second largest quota holders, with 7.8 per cent of the UK total (643,927 FQAs).  And Andrew Marr and family, worth £209million, at Hull-based Andrew Marr International, own or control 5.1 per cent of UK quota (419,937 FQAs), making them the UK’s fifth largest. They also have minority stakes in companies and vessel partnerships who hold a further 5.4 per cent of UK quota (445,981 FQAS).
Charles Millar, executive director of the Sustainable Inshore Fisheries Trust, said: “The misallocation of fish quotas in ­Scotland’s fishery, as unearthed by Greenpeace, is now plain to see.  “The vast majority of the fleet have almost no quota to work with while a handful of multi-millionaires hold enough to make them even richer.
“The Scottish Government urgently need to alter the way Scotland’s quota is allocated so access to our publicly owned fish stocks is fairly distributed among local, low-impact, fishers right around our coastline.”
The UK Government distribute fish quotas among the four UK administrations, Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland) pro-rata, via a FQA. Yesterday, the Scottish Government said they issue most allocations to fish producer organisations (POs), 10 ­administered by Marine Scotland.
POs are quota ­management and marketing organisations made up of member fishing vessels. They manage their members’ quotas on their behalf.  In Scotland, quotas for species such as herring and mackerel have been bought up by a handful of families. Two-fifths of the entire Scottish catch by value, and 65 per cent by tonnage, was landed by 19 powerful super-trawlers in 2016. Small-scale coastal fishermen, who operate 80 per cent of Scottish boats, have to make do with just one per cent of quotas.
  • Daily Record
Brexit uncertainty taking toll on property market, experts say
Brexit uncertainty has crushed confidence in the property market, according to the official surveyors’ body, with buyers evaporating, prices falling and sales taking a record amount of time to complete.  The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) said the time taken to complete a property sale has widened to 19 weeks, the longest duration since it began collecting data.  It said the downward pressure on prices in London had spread out of the capital, and that “the already negative readings for the south-east and East Anglia deteriorated a little further in September”.
Surveyors across London and the south-east who took part in the RICS research were almost unanimous in blaming Brexit.  Simon Barker, a surveyor at the estate agency Knight Frank, said: “A no-deal Brexit will be a disaster for the property market.”. Michael Brooker, a surveyor and estate agent in Crowborough, East Sussex, said: “The Brexit effect is really depressing the sales market.”
RICS measures sentiment in the property market rather than prices, and said that the net balance had fallen to -2% from +1% in August. It said its measure of inquiries from buyers fell to -11% from -9% the previous month.
Appraisals by surveyors before properties go on the market have slumped dramatically. “The level of appraisals being undertaken remains down on an annual comparison, with the net balance sitting at -20%. As such, there is nothing from this indicator to suggest a pick-up in sales listings is imminent,” said RICS.  Simon Rubinsohn, chief economist at RICS, said: “There are a number of themes running through the comments of respondents this month, but uncertainty relating to Brexit negotiations is at the very top of the list followed by references to the confidential remarks made by the Bank of England governor to the cabinet. All of this is, not surprisingly, taking its toll on the sales market.”
But outside of the south, Brexit uncertainty is having less of an impact. “House prices continue to rise firmly across much of the UK, with the West Midlands, Northern Ireland and Scotland posting the strongest growth,” said RICS.  Northern Ireland currently has the most vibrant property market in the UK, despite the fact that the border with the Irish Republic remains the thorniest issue for Brexit negotiators, and the province is without a government in Stormont. “The market has continued to be strong despite the dreaded word Brexit,” said Kirby O’Connor of the Belfast estate agents GOC.
The rental market across the UK has bucked the trend in the sales market, with demand rising for the fourth successive month, said RICS. It said that with new instructions from landlords down and tenant demand up, rents were likely to rise by about 2% this year and accelerate to 3.5% a year over the next five years, outstripping projected pay rises.
The RICS figures come just weeks after Halifax revealed that house prices had tumbled at the fastest pace for almost six months, and that the number of homes for sale had fallen to a decade low. Britain’s biggest mortgage lender said the average price of a home in Britain had dropped to £225,995 last month, down 1.4% from the level recorded in August. The price of a home remained 2.5% higher than a year ago.
  • The Guardian
Headlines Wednesday 10th October 2018
World Mental Health Day: PM appoints suicide prevention minister
A minister for suicide prevention has been appointed in England by the prime minister as the government hosts the first ever global mental health summit.  Theresa May said the appointment of Health Minister Jackie Doyle-Price to the new role will help tackle the stigma surrounding suicide.  While suicide rates are falling, 4,500 people take their own lives every year.  The appointment comes as ministers and officials from more than 50 countries assemble in London for the summit.
Wednesday's meeting - hosted by Health Secretary Matt Hancock and attended by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge - coincides with World Mental Health Day.  The government has also promised more support in schools, bringing in new mental health support teams and offering help in measuring students' health, including their mental wellbeing.  Ms May said: "We can end the stigma that has forced too many to suffer in silence and prevent the tragedy of suicide taking too many lives."
Alongside the announcement, the prime minister pledged £1.8m to the Samaritans so the charity can continue providing its free helpline for the next four years.  Hannah Lewis - who campaigns for improvements to mental health services having suffered from panic attacks, anxiety and suicidal thoughts as a teenager - said that it can be a year before someone who is referred for help actually begins treatment.  She told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "Mental health is known to deteriorate when you are left without help, and you can only imagine how things got worse with me."  Ms Lewis welcomed the government's announcement - especially the proposals to bring more awareness of mental health into schools - but she added: "More joined-up working at schools and early intervention is great, but we need to make sure then there are sufficient services to be signposted to."
Mrs Doyle-Price, who has been an MP since 2010, will now become the minister for mental health, inequalities and suicide prevention.  As health is devolved separately to the UK's four nations, her role will include making sure each local area in England has effective plans to stop unnecessary deaths and to look into how technology could help identify those at risk.  She said she understood the "tragic, devastating and long-lasting" effect of suicide on families, having met some of those bereaved.  "It's these people who need to be at the heart of what we do," she added.
Manchester University's Prof Louis Appleby, one of the country's leading experts on suicide, said having a minister for suicide prevention would "open doors" and make it easier to have conversations about the role such things as benefits and online gambling have in suicidal people's lives.  Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the appointment would also help with getting support for mental illness on a par with services for physical health.  "There is a long road to travel to get there. This is not something you solve overnight," he said.
The Only Way Is Essex star Tommy Mallet wants to encourage other men to open up about their feelings.  Mallet, who has spoken about his mental health struggles during the current ITVBe series, has started a campaign #icrybecause on social media.  His co-stars have also got involved, revealing what makes them cry.  
But others criticised the government's record on mental health.  Marjorie Wallace, chief executive of mental health charity Sane, said there had not been enough improvements to services since Mrs May pledged to tackle the issue two years ago.  "While we applaud the intention [of the announcement], it is striking that the UK should be hosting such a summit when we hear daily about people left untreated due to a lack of nurses and doctors," she said.  "The prime minister must examine our own mental health system before addressing other countries."
  • BBC News
Greener Grid For Portsmouth Harbour
BAE systems, the contractor responsible for the Portsmouth, UK, naval base dockyard electrical systems, is installing ABB´s new shore-to-ship power solution to energize high power consumption vessels in a pioneering project.
Previously, frequency conversion in the power supply at Portsmouth was carried out by rotary frequency converters (RFCs) - complex mechanical systems that combine motors, generators, drives and ancillary regulation and control equipment. As the RFCs in Portsmouth were nearing the end of their service life, BAE Systems turned to ABB for new solid-state power electronics technology.
ABB responded by developing a new solution based on medium voltage static frequency conversion (SFC) technology. Unlike the RFC, the SFC has no moving parts, apart from its cooling fans, ensuring a high level of reliability with minimum maintenance requirements. Lower costs per MVA, proven technology and higher SFC efficiency (over 98%) allow a clear reduction in the total cost of ownership for end users, allowing savings of up to 25%.
ABB is supplying the SFC as part of a complete package including a dry-type 11 kilovolt (kV) to 6.6 kV transformer and control equipment to interface with the dockyard’s electrical management system. The project is scheduled for completion in 2019.
“Providing Portsmouth Navy Base with a state-of-the-art shore-to-ship power solution will help enhance overall efficiency while minimizing environmental impact,” said Patrick Fragman, Head of ABB’s Grid Integration business, a part of the company’s Power Grids division. “This project is another example of our commitment to sustainable transportation and reinforces our position as a partner of `choice for a stronger, smarter and greener grid.”
  • Maritime Journal
Report: A Glass of Wine – Cost of Switching to Cleaner Fuels in Arctic
It would cost passengers just the price of a glass of wine a day if cruise ships would stop burning highly polluting heavy fuel oil (HFO) in the Arctic environment, according to a new report from green transport group Transport & Environment.
The report analysed the impact on the cruise ship MS Rotterdam had it switched to marine gas oil (MGO) during three summer trips to the Arctic in 2018.
Banning the use of HFO in the Arctic last summer would have increased ticket prices on the MS Rotterdam by on average 6%, based on 2018 fuel prices and assuming the additional fuel costs incurred were passed on to passengers.
This equates to an additional EUR 7 (USD 8.04) a day on ticket prices – or no more than the price of a glass of wine onboard the MS Rotterdam, which is owned by Holland America Line.
“Arctic cruise tourism is booming, increasing the risks of oil spills and creating more pollution. The costs per passenger of a switch to cleaner fuel are tiny. It’s more than worth it to reduce the risks to the unique environment that passengers are paying to see,” Lucy Gilliam, shipping officer at T&E, said.
T&E said the analysis shows the Arctic HFO ban can be implemented immediately with an insignificant impact on the cruise industry. The organization believes that such trivial increases in ticket prices for this luxury business should be acceptable for cruise passengers who, in growing numbers – up by 20% in the Norwegian port of Svalbard in 2017 – are paying to see the pristine Arctic environment.
“Cruise companies claim that a HFO ban would be a death sentence to their industry yet the figures show that the costs passed on to passengers are trivial. Cruises to the Arctic are, by any measure, a luxury yet tickets are VAT exempt,” Gilliam concluded.
Last April the IMO agreed to move forward on developing a ban on HFO from Arctic waters on the basis of an impact assessment. Currently the IMO is inviting submissions on how to assess the impact of the HFO ban on communities and operators in the Arctic. It will be discussed during the next marine environment protection committee meeting (MEPC 73) in London in October.
  • World Maritime News
Headlines Tuesday 9th October 2018
Britain's oil watchdog sees North Sea costs, spending rise in 2018
The costs and operating expenditure needed to produce oil and gas in the British North Sea are set to rise both in overall and in per-barrel terms this year compared with 2017, the country’s regulator for the sector said on Tuesday.
Overall operating spending in the mature North Sea oil and gas basin this year is estimated to rise almost 9 percent to 7.5 billion pounds ($9.8 billion), according to the Oil and Gas Authority. But this is still almost third lower than in 2014, when oil prices over $100 a barrel had pushed up costs.
Unit operating costs, which means the sum of operating costs divided by the sum of barrels of oil equivalent produced, are estimated to rise by around 5 percent this year to 12.2 pounds per barrel of oil equivalent, the watchdog said in a report.  This unit cost level is also around a third lower than in 2014.
The watchdog forecast that total operating expenditure and unit operating costs would not keep rising after 2018 but would stay broadly flat or fall slightly through 2023 in a sign that years of intense cost cutting by the oil and gas industry have come to an end.  Total 2018 North Sea production is set to rise around 3 percent to 613 million barrels of oil equivalent.  Oil and gas companies invested billions in the North Sea in the late 2000s to meet surging demand from Asia but the subsequent oil price rally masked huge inefficiencies and waste.
When oil prices fell in 2014 as shale producers in the United States competed with OPEC for market share, North Sea output had already dwindled to around 1 million barrels per day from a peak of 2.6 million in 1999.  Investments were drying up and many operators were focused on plugging wells and dismantling fields, but government and industry efforts resulting in significant cost cuts have attracted a renewed investment to the basin.
And now the world’s biggest oil and gas companies are under growing pressure to loosen the purse strings to replenish reserves, halt output declines and take advantage of a crude price rally after years of austerity.
In addition, oil services companies are now at loggerheads with producers as they battle for what they see as a fair share of the industry’s recovery.  The oil market is cyclical by nature — if crude prices fall, so does investment and then output, which in turn drives up prices — and oil services companies ride the rollercoaster by using the upturns to raise their prices to offset the downturns.
  • Reuters
AIDAnova Begins Its First Voyage
In the evening hours of October 8, AIDA Cruises’ newest ship AIDAnova left the Meyer shipyard in Papenburg, Germany, to be transferred on the river Ems to Eemshaven in the Netherlands.  During the Ems-transfer, AIDAnova passed the dock gate in Papenburg, the Friesen-bridge near Weener followed by the Jann-Berghaus-bridge in Leer.
After the passage of the Ems barrier Gandersum, the 180,000-ton ship is expected to arrive in Emden and moor in Eemshaven on Wednesday morning, according to the vessel’s transfer plan published by Meyer Werft.  Following AIDAnova’s arrival in Eemshaven, final fit-out and sea trials will be carried out.  AIDAnova, which is the world’s first cruise ship fueled on low-emission liquefied natural gas (LNG), was christened at the abovementioned yard in August this year, following its float-out.
From December 2018, AIDAnova will begin its maiden season with cruises around the Canary Islands. Before those cruises get underway, the new ship will come to Hamburg. On December 2, 2018, the newbuilding will visit the Hanseatic City on the Elbe, after which it will head for Gran Canaria.  Featuring a length of 337 meters and a width of 42 meters, AIDAnova is able to accommodate 6,600 passengers.
  • World Maritime News
Facebook faces backlash over £7.4m UK tax bill on sales of £1.3bn
Labour MP Margaret Hodge says it is "absolutely outrageous that Facebook's UK tax bill is 0.62% of their revenue".  The chancellor is under growing pressure to impose tougher taxes on multinational firms following the publication of Facebook's latest UK accounts.  Documents released on Monday showed the company paid a net £7.4m in corporation tax last year after an £8.4m credit for staff share awards cut the total from £15.8m.
Facebook had booked a 7.5% increase in pre-tax profits to £62.8m on revenues of almost £1.3bn - up almost a third on 2016.  It pointed to damage to profitability from a £759m cost of sales and £444m in "administrative expenses" that were not explained.  Facebook - like other US-based international companies - point out that taxes paid are within the legal frameworks of the nations in which they operate.
There have been multilateral efforts to ensure taxes are paid in the countries where the revenues are made but talks at the OECD are widely understood to have stalled.  At the Conservative Party conference last week, Chancellor Philip Hammond threatened internet giants with a new digital services tax to ensure they pay their fair share of the cost of public services.
The Sun newspaper used its front page on Tuesday to describe Facebook's contribution to UK coffers as "sweet F all".  Labour MP Margaret Hodge, who chairs the all-party group on responsible tax, said it was "absolutely outrageous that Facebook's UK tax bill is 0.62% of their revenue".  She added: "On an income of £1.2bn, they really should be paying much more than £7.4m.  Damian Collins, the Tory MP who chairs the Commons digital, culture, media and sport select committee told The Times: "Facebook should be paying a level of tax which more accurately reflects the value of their business in the UK."
Facebook says it has changed the way it reports tax so that revenue from customers supported by its UK team is recorded in the UK, and any taxable profit is subject to UK corporation tax.  The country, which it says is its biggest engineering operation outside of the US, is also planning to double its office space in London by 2022.
  • Sky News


Headlines Monday 8th October 2018
Brexit 'boosts case for Scottish independence'
Brexit is a "democratic outrage" which is boosting the case for Scottish independence, the SNP's Westminster leader is to tell conference delegates.  Ian Blackford is to open the second day of the party's conference in Glasgow. He will tell delegates that the Conservative government is "completely in thrall to the hardline Brexiteers". And he will say that Brexit is "crystallising the case for Scotland having full control over its own affairs" via independence.
SNP members have gathered in Glasgow for the three-day event, which will climax with a speech from party leader and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on Tuesday.  Monday's schedule includes policy debates on child tax credits, international trade and nuclear weapons and speeches from Ms Sturgeon's party deputy Keith Brown and her deputy first minister, John Swinney.  Mr Blackford's speech will focus on constitutional issues, hitting out against Brexit while promoting the cause of Scottish independence.
The UK is due to leave the EU in March, but the SNP highlight the fact that voters in Scotland backed remain by a margin of 62% to 38%.  The MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber will say: "Time and time again, the SNP and others have fought to ensure that Scotland's remain vote is respected in the EU negotiations - but the Tory cabinet is completely in thrall to the hardline Brexiteers who could not care less about jobs, living standards and public services in Scotland. The democratic outrage of Brexit is crystallising the case for Scotland having the full control over its own affairs. With the full powers of independence we can ensure that Scotland's enormous human and natural resources can make Scotland the fair and prosperous nation that it deserves to be."
In June, Mr Blackford was ejected from the Westminster chamber while protesting against what he called a "power grab" in UK Brexit legislation, sparking a walkout of SNP members.
Referring to this at a fringe meeting on Monday evening, he said SNP MPs would use "any means necessary" to oppose a bad Brexit deal when MPs have a "meaningful vote" later in the year.  He promoted the idea of another Brexit referendum - the so-called "People's Vote" - as a viable "alternative" to having a bad deal or no deal at all.  This echoed comments from Ms Sturgeon on Sunday morning, who said SNP members would "undoubtedly" vote in favour of a fresh referendum if it were put to them at Westminster.
Support for such a vote has not been ruled out by Labour and it is actively pursued by the Lib Dems, although Prime Minister Theresa May has opposed the move.  She told the Conservative Party conference that "we had the people's vote, and the people voted to leave".  And the Scottish Conservatives say the SNP is "the party of the neverendum - not just in Scotland, but across the UK too".
  • BBC News
ADNOC and Baker Hughes form partnership to improve drilling efficiencies
Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) and Baker Hughes, a GE company, have signed a strategic partnership agreement, that will enable and support the growth and development of ADNOC’s subsidiary, ADNOC Drilling, into a fully-integrated drilling and well construction provider.  BHGE said on Monday that, as part of the agreement, BHGE will acquire a five percent stake in ADNOC Drilling. The transaction values ADNOC Drilling at approximately $11 billion. BHGE will be the sole provider of certain proprietary leading edge and differentiated equipment and technologies related to the integrated drilling offering, supporting ADNOC Drilling’s growth.
“Together, ADNOC and BHGE will deliver more competitive well completion times, greater drilling efficiencies and better well economics, and will capitalize on new business opportunities as ADNOC Drilling grows through its new expanded offering,” BHGE said.
The partnership represents the first time that ADNOC has brought an international strategic partner to acquire a direct equity stake in one of its existing services businesses. ADNOC Drilling is the largest drilling company in the Middle East and the sole provider of drilling rigs and associated services to ADNOC Group companies.
BHGE has more than 40 years of operations in the country. Ongoing access and support from BHGE’s technology and equipment portfolio will help accelerate ADNOC Drilling’s ongoing growth and development of a broader product offering, including drilling and well completion services. This partnership structure aligns the interests of both ADNOC and BHGE in driving greater productivity and efficiency while increasing returns.
  • Offshore Energy Today
UK’s Autonomous Shipping Industry Gets a Boost
The autonomous and smart shipping industry in the UK is set to receive a boost with the recently unveiled funding of GBP 1 million (USD 1.3 million).  The funding has been awarded by the UK Government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s Regulators’ Pioneer Fund to the Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) and the Department for Transport (DfT), in collaboration with the National Oceanography Centre’s (NOC) Marine Robotics Innovation Centre.
As explained, it will be used to pioneer new ways of regulating the autonomous and smart shipping industries to help them deliver innovative new technologies to the traditional maritime sector.  Specifically, the funding will see the creation of the Maritime Autonomy Regulation Lab, where regulators from the MCA and DfT can work with academia and support industry to promote on-water testing and flagship projects and help the UK grow its presence in the global marketplace.
“Emerging technology will help the UK’s maritime sector evolve to be more efficient, safer and greener. Technology and innovation is a key part of Maritime 2050, which will set a vision for how our maritime sector will grow and ensure we are ready to maximise its potential,” Shipping Minister Nusrat Ghani said.
“This GBP 1 million funding will support us to work alongside industry and researchers to ensure our approach to the regulation of autonomous shipping is informed and aligned with developments in technology,” Ghani added.
The global autonomous shipping industry is predicted to grow into a USD 136 billion behemoth by 2030, with UK businesses already playing an important role.  “Autonomous shipping will play an increasing role in the future of the maritime industry (…) We have already seen an extraordinary demand for this regulatory work and we are confident that we can drive forward future-ready regulations, to be best placed to respond to the challenges and opportunities this fast-moving industry will bring,” Alan Massey, CEO of the MCA, commented.
  • World Maritime News
Headlines Friday 5th October 2018
EnerMech, Global Energy among top 250 UK companies for growth
Six north and north-east businesses have been listed among the top 250 companies for growth in the UK.  Aberdeen-based EnerMech, Stewart Milne Homes, Dingbro, Global Energy, Baxters and Gray and Adams will all feature in the Sunday Times’ Grant Thornton Top Track 250 table this weekend.
The league ranks Britain’s private mid-market growth companies with the biggest sales.  The figures show the 20 companies headquartered in Scotland (compared to 22 last year) have made a strong contribution to the local economy as the firms’ increased combined sales rose 16% to £4.5 billion and operating profits 27% to £400m.  The businesses collectively employ more than 27,000 people across Scotland.  The table showed the biggest mid-market growth company in Scotland is housebuilder Miller Homes.  The Edinburgh-based group plans to build 4,000 homes a year by 2021, up from the 2,775 it completed last year, helping sales grow 19% to £675.2m, with profits up 27% to £130.7m.
There are 11 entrants in Scotland that were not on the league table last year, including engineering services provider EnerMech, which was founded by five colleagues in 2008 using £20m of seed capital from management and private-equity group Lime Rock Partners; and clothing and homeware retailer M&Co, based in Strathclyde, which has nearly 300 outlets worldwide and plans to open at least 60 new stores by 2022.
The companies in Scotland appear with businesses from around the UK, including Travelodge, Trainline, PureGym and The White Company.  The Top Track 250 is sponsored by Grant Thornton and Lloyds Banking Group, and compiled by Fast Track, the Oxford-based research and networking events firm.  Andrew Howie, partner at Grant Thornton UK, praised the companies for their performance.  He said: “Advances in robotics and artificial intelligence, the pervasive challenge of cybercrime, and the uncertain impacts of Brexit are among the significant issues facing Britain today.
“If we are to continue turning innovative ideas into businesses with international scale, we all need to play our part in shaping a vibrant economy that thrives.
“In this, the role of the mid-market is crucial. Resilient despite the headwinds, the Top Track 250 are innovating, winning business and adapting to generate value. There is much to learn from them.”
  • Energy Voice
Shell adds more optional wells to WilPhoenix rig contract
Awilco Drilling has signed a contract amendment for WilPhoenix semi-submersible drilling rig with Shell, allowing for more extension options.  The original contract was signed back in May, for a decommissioning program of 18 firm wells plus options totaling a further eight wells. This was later extended for one well.
The London-listed driller on Thursday evening said that the new amendment signed with Shell granted three additional options for Shell to extend the original contract with WilPhoenix.  Each option covers the drilling of a single exploration well within or at the end of the current decommissioning program. The options are to be declared by August 31, 2019.  WilPhoenix is one of Awilco Drilling’s two Enhanced Pacesetter semi-submersibles and is equipped for drilling in water depths up to 1,200 ft. The other rig, the WilHunter has been cold stacked in Invergordon for a while now with no near-term employment prospects.
Worth noting, Awilco Drilling has recently ordered a newbuild rig – first such order in four years in the market. The rig is of Moss CS60 ECO MW design equipped for drilling in harsh environments. The driller has options for additional three rigs of the same design.
  • Offshore Energy Today
Unilever backs down on HQ move to Netherlands after investor revolt
Unilever (ULVR.L) (UNc.AS) scrapped plans to move its headquarters to the Netherlands on Friday in the face of a British shareholder revolt, keeping one of the country’s most valuable companies in London ahead of Brexit.  The climbdown comes three weeks ahead of a vote on the plan and is a significant victory for UK shareholders big and small who opposed the move, which would have kicked the maker of Dove soap and Ben & Jerry's ice cream out of the benchmark FTSE 100 index .FTSE.
“We are pleased they have abandoned the plan to ‘go Dutch’,” said GAM portfolio manager Ali Miremadi, who was planning to vote against the move. “Now the company can put its focus into the core job – driving long-term shareholder value.”
Shareholders representing about 12 percent of Unilever had publicly opposed the move, concerned about the effective forced selling of their shares with no premium, uncertainty around the future tax treatment of Dutch dividends and a perception that the move was partly aimed at securing greater takeover protection under Dutch law.  Unilever decided to collapse its Anglo-Dutch structure following a deep business review sparked by last year’s failed $143 billion takeover approach by Kraft-Heinz (KHC.O). The stated aim was to make it more efficient and agile in a consumer market that is changing fast.
But on Friday Unilever said it recognised that the proposal had not received support from a significant group of shareholders and therefore it was appropriate to withdraw it.
“The board will now consider its next steps and will continue to engage with our shareholders,” Chairman Marijn Dekkers said. He added that the company will proceed with the plan to cancel its Dutch preference shares.  Earlier this week, influential proxy advisory firm PIRC recommended shareholders vote against the move.
“This change should not really affect the group’s near-term operation, although it may lead to a faster pace for CEO succession planning,” Liberum analyst Robert Waldschmidt said.
Unilever’s London-listed shares were up 0.8 percent in morning trade, though its Dutch shares were flat.  Waldschmidt said the bigger drivers for Unilever’s shares were U.S. interest rates and continued difficulties in emerging markets, particularly related to their currencies.
  • Reuters


Headlines Thursday 4th October 2018
Panama Canal to Welcome 234 Cruise Ships in Upcoming Season
The Panama Canal expects to receive approximately 234 cruise ships through the Panamax and Neopanamax locks during the upcoming 2018-2019 cruise season.  The first transit will occur on Oct. 5 with the Seven Seas Mariner, on a northbound transit travelling from the U.S. West Coast to the U.S. East Coast.
“As the second full cruise season with the Expanded Canal, we aim to build off our recent milestones and success,” said Panama Canal’s Senior International Trade Specialist Albano G. Aguilar. “In the next year, we look forward to welcoming more than 237,000 passengers through the Panama Canal.”
Ten new cruise ships will transit either the canal’s Panamax or Neopanamax locks for the first time this season, including vessels from the following lines: Princess Cruise, Carnival Cruises, MSC, Norwegian Cruise, Viking Ocean Cruises, Hurtigruten, Iles Du Ponant and Blount Small Ship Adventure.  The Norwegian Bliss, the largest passenger vessel to ever transit the waterway, will return to the Neopanamax Locks again this season, along with the Caribbean Princess, Carnival Freedom and Disney Wonder.
The Norwegian Bliss transited the Panama Canal for the first time in May 2018. The vessel weighs more than 168,000 gross tons and can carry nearly 6,000 passengers. In addition, the Carnival Triumph, Carnival Valor, Emerald Princess will transit for the first time the Neopanamax Locks.
As in previous years, cruise shipping lines such as Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean Cruises, and Norwegian Cruise Line, will offer itineraries this season with complete and partial transits that feature Panama and the waterway.  Smaller cruises, including the Wind Star and the expedition cruiser National Geographic Quest, will include itineraries of 7 and 8 days, respectively, with the west coast of Central America as their destination, the canal authority said.
  • World Maritime News
Total E&P UK narrows losses as production jumps by a quarter
Total E&P UK enjoyed an increase in turnover last year, buoyed by a 26% boost to production.  The company, which is the UK subsidiary of French oil major Total, pumped out 132,000 barrels per day on average last year, up from 105,000 in 2016.  Total E&P UK started production from the Edradour and Glenlivet fields west of Shetland in August 2017.
Turnover jumped to £1.3 billion in 2017, up 43% from £912 million the previous year as the company received a higher price for oil and gas.  Oil fetched $53 per barrel on average last year, compared to $43 in 2016, while gas came in at 41p/therm, up from 34p previously.  Pre-tax losses narrowed to £305m from £950m, while operating losses shrank to £214m from £1.13bn.  Total E&P UK said the losses were mainly caused by an impairment of £280m booked for its west of Shetland area operations.
The company has been producing from the Laggan and Tormore fields, west of Shetland, since February 2016.  Edradour and Glenlivet followed in 2017.  Last month, Total E&P UK announced the discovery of one trillion cubic feet of recoverable gas at Glendronach.  The company is targeting first gas from that field by the end of next year.  It will plug into the system used to send gas from Total E&P UK’s other fields in that area to a gas plant in Shetland.
Over the course of 2017, the business spent £7.8m on research and development, which is £5.6m more than in 2016.  It also gave more than £100,000 to charities.
It employed 586 people on average in 2017, down from 652 in 2016.  The firm’s Paris-headquartered parent company acquired Maersk Oil earlier this year.  In August, Total E&P UK agreed to sell the majority of its interests in the Bruce and Keith fields to Serica Energy.
  • Energy Voice
Brexit recession warning from RBS boss
RBS chief executive Ross McEwan has warned a no-deal Brexit could tip the UK economy into recession.  He told the BBC a "bad Brexit" could result in "zero or negative" economic growth which would hit RBS's share price.  He also said the bank was becoming careful about lending to certain sectors of the economy - particularly retail and construction.
RBS is still 64% owned by the taxpayer following its bailout 10 years ago.  Mr McEwan said: "We are assuming 1-1.5% growth for next year but if we get a bad Brexit then that could be zero or negative and that would affect our profitability and our share price."
The news that RBS is withdrawing credit will heap further woes on the retail sector which has already seen nearly 2000 stores close so far this year.
"There are some retailers we are having to be a bit more cautious about because they haven't made the necessary transition from bricks and mortar to digital," said Mr McEwan.  He also reported jitters in construction.
"The big construction companies are getting very cautious about where they are putting their capital - particularly around London."
Although its appetite for lending across the economy was unchanged overall, he said lending to large businesses was down about 2% this year as they delayed investment decisions.
"Big businesses are pausing, they are saying that in six months time I'll have another look at the UK and I might come back, but if it's really bad I'll invest elsewhere - that's the reality of where we are today."
On a brighter note, he said small and medium sized companies seemed relatively unaffected and were continuing to borrow, invest and grow their businesses.  The government has repeatedly said that a "no deal" Brexit is not its preferred outcome and this week reinforced its commitment to securing a deal before the end of the year.
However, the Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, has said the chances of failing to secure a deal are "uncomfortably high" and many at the Conservative Party conference were clear that leaving without a deal is better than signing up to the government's current plan.
We should care what Ross McEwan says for two reasons.  First, as a bank that does almost all its lending in the UK, its fortunes are dependent on those of the economy as a whole. Second, taxpayers still own two-thirds of this bank.  When Ross McEwan sounds notes of caution about the future - he's talking to all of us.
  • BBC News
Headlines Wednesday 3rd October 2018
Ocean Cleanup Cleared to Head for Great Pacific Garbage Patch
After two weeks of final tests in the Pacific, the Ocean Cleanup has received the green light to proceed to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and start cleaning plastics.  The Pacific Trials were a crucial step for the organization in verifying the system’s endurance and performance in real life conditions.
The System 001 consists of a 600-meter-long U-shaped floating barrier with a three-meter skirt attached below. It is designed to be propelled by wind and waves, allowing it to passively catch and concentrate plastic debris in front of it.  During the trials the system’s U-shape installation was carried out, and the system attained sufficient speed through water, which means that it moved faster than the plastic in order to capture it.  It also proved its ability to reorient when wind and wave direction changed and attained effective span in steady state, which is crucial for the system to capture and retain plastic.  Finally, no significant damage was detected on the system by the end of the test, paving the way for the system to resume its voyage to its final destination.
Maersk Supply Service‘s Maersk Launcher will now tow the System 001 further out into the Pacific to begin the big cleanup.  The system needs to travel additional 800 miles to reach the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the world’s largest accumulation zone of ocean plastics, situated halfway between Hawaii and California.
If all goes as planned, the Ocean Cleanup estimates the first plastic could be collected and returned to land within 6 months after deployment. Once successful, and if the funding is available, the organization aims to scale up to a fleet of approximately 60 systems focused on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch over the next two years.
  • World Maritime News
EU lawmakers to vote on CO2 cut for cars, vans
STRASBOURG (Reuters) - EU lawmakers are expected to back more ambitious targets for cuts in carbon dioxide emissions for cars and vans in a vote on Wednesday that will set the stage for a tough fight with national governments.  Parties in the European Parliament have tussled until the final hours before the vote on how tough to make the curbs on one of Europe’s most important industries, part of efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The environment committee, which leans towards tougher action on climate change than the chamber as a whole, backed a reduction of 45 percent by 2030 on emissions of carmakers’ fleets of cars and vans in a vote last month.  But the biggest political group, the centre-right European People’s Party, did not back the tighter target, concerned it could harm the industry’s competitiveness. Lawmakers have been haggling to reach a compromise before the vote.
“The vote will be really, really close,” said Julia Poliscanova, an expert with Brussels-based campaign group Transport and Environment.  The EU executive draft law proposes less exacting CO2 reduction targets of 15 percent by 2025 and 30 percent by 2030 compared to 2021 levels.  Wednesday’s vote will set lawmakers’ position for negotiations on the final targets with the bloc’s 28 member states, who are still debating their position.
Germany, voicing worries that more ambitious climate targets will cost jobs in its big automotive sector, has said it will back the European Commission’s initial proposal.  But other EU governments, including France, are seeking a higher target.
Volkswagen’s (VOWG_p.DE) admission in 2015 that it had masked exhaust emissions using software in as many as 11 million diesel vehicles worldwide has galvanised EU regulators into setting tougher rules.[L5N1UL2JU]
“Auto manufacturers and certain governments have not learned their lessons from the Dieselgate scandal,” said Karima Delli, chair of the European Parliament’s Transport Committee.
“Today the parliament will send a clear message: either we enter the 21st century or we drag our feet.”
Germany set out its own plans on Tuesday to cut pollution from older diesel vehicles by asking carmakers to offer trade-in incentives and hardware fixes.  The EU’s new rules aim to help meet the bloc’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.  They will introduce a credit system for carmakers to encourage the rollout of electric vehicles, as well as fines for exceeding CO2 limits.
Under the plan, carmakers would be able to lower their CO2 targets by meeting a benchmark for the sale of zero- and low-emission vehicles as a share of their total new car sales.  An amendment floated by lawmakers also proposes to add penalties if manufacturers fail to meet that benchmark.
The European carmakers’ lobby, however, has said a stricter CO2 curb than the 30 percent proposed by the Commission was unrealistic and a threat to the sector’s growth.
  • Reuters
Post-Brexit future full of promise - Theresa May to tell conference
Theresa May will close the Conservative conference by declaring Britain's post-Brexit future is "full of promise" and insisting her party remains "on the side" of hard-pressed families.  The PM will tell the Tory faithful the country's "best days lie ahead of us".  She will also announce that fuel duty will be frozen for the ninth year in a row in the Budget later this month.  Her speech comes after Boris Johnson launched a fresh broadside against her Chequers plan for trade with the EU.
The ex-foreign secretary told a packed meeting on Tuesday it was "constitutional outrage" that would lead to the UK being humiliated.  The conference has been overshadowed by tensions over Brexit, with the prime minister sticking by her Chequers plan, which would see the UK retain close links to the EU in trade in goods, but not services, despite criticism from all sides.
Mrs May will be hoping her big keynote speech goes more smoothly than last year when a coughing fit forced her to stop on several occasions and she was also interrupted by a prankster who handed her a mock P45.
The BBC's political editor Laura Kuenssberg said it was the PM's task to show she could "change the conversation" and demonstrate that Brexit would make a positive difference to people's lives at a time when her future was an "open question" within the party.
She will use her speech to try to strike an optimistic note, and is expected to say: "I passionately believe that our best days lie ahead of us and that our future is full of promise.  "Don't let anyone tell you we don't have what it takes: we have everything we need to succeed." She will re-iterate her commitment to helping people on low incomes by ruling out any increase in fuel duty in the Budget on 29 October.
There had been speculation that the annual freeze, in place since 2010, may come to an end, with an inflation-linked rise used to pay for the £20bn in extra annual funding promised for the NHS.  The prime minister will also launch an attack on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, claiming millions of non-Tory voters were worried about "what he has done to Labour"
The Conservatives, she will say, must show they are a "party not for the few, not even for the many, but for everyone who is willing to work hard and do their best".
"One that puts the national interest first. Delivers on the issues they care about. And is comfortable with modern Britain in all its diversity.
"We must show everyone in this country that we are that party."
But unease in the party over her Brexit plan - agreed at Chequers in July - was illustrated by backbencher James Duddridge, who told the BBC's Today programme the PM was "not listening".
"My support for her is wearing thin to the point of being invisible," he said.
"I have no confidence in her delivering Brexit, but let's listen to the speech this afternoon.
"But it's going to be more of the same, let's get behind Chequers.
"Chequers has failed, it's not realistic, it doesn't deliver on the Brexit my constituents vote for".
PM 'cross with Johnson'
Mr Johnson used his appearance on Tuesday to make the case for greater economic freedom after Brexit and lower taxes. In response, Mrs May said the ex-foreign secretary could be relied upon to put on a "good show" but parts of his speech - which she says she did not watch - had made her "cross".
"He wanted to tear up our guarantee to the people of Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland is part of the UK," she said.
Cabinet Office minister David Lidington, who acts as Mrs May's effective deputy, told the Today programme Mr Johnson had some "well-crafted lines" but had not offered "any new answers".  People are entitled to express their view at fringe meetings, he said, but predicted people would be "rallying behind" Mrs May when she delivers her speech.  Environment Secretary Michael Gove - who unlike fellow Brexiteer Boris Johnson has stayed in the cabinet to defend Mrs May's Chequers plan - has said he is worried about the prospect of a no-deal Brexit, something the government has not ruled out.
"As a government we are preparing for any eventuality but I think it would be sub-optimal," he said at a fringe event on Tuesday evening.
Asked if Brexit was turning out the way he had expected, Mr Gove replied: "No, not quite."
He added: "I didn't expect there would be such a head of steam behind calls for a second referendum or a people's vote."
  • BBC News


Headlines Tuesday 2nd October 2018
EnerMech boosts global revenues by nearly $130 million
Mechanical and electrical services specialist EnerMech has increased its global revenues during last year by nearly £100 million ($129.9M).
The Aberdeen-headquartered firm said on Tuesday it recorded 2017 group turnover of £361.4 million, up from £263.9 million the previous year, while profits (EBITDA) increased by £19.3 million to £43.6 million.  EnerMech employs 3500 staff across 40 locations in the UK, Norway, the Middle East, Caspian, Asia, Africa, Australia and Americas and is an integrated mechanical and electrical contractors serving the oil and gas, LNG, renewables, defence, power, infrastructure and petrochemicals sectors. The company stated that around £45 million of its revenue growth had come from the acquisition of electrical & instrumentation (E&I) specialist EPS Group Australia in early 2017.
Annual accounts lodged this week at Companies House for the year to December 2017 show EnerMech’s UK business continued to weather the oil and gas downturn, despite a drop in turnover to £116 million from £128 million in 2016. In the UK, where the company employs 1000 staff, EnerMech posted EBITDA of £9.9 million compared to £15 million the previous year.
  • Offshore Energy Today
UK companies urged to take advantage of £30Bn offshore wind opportunity
Opportunities for companies to get involved in the UK’s fast-growing offshore wind supply chain are being highlighted in a new prospectus by the former McLaren Group chief executive and Formula One team principal Martin Whitmarsh.
The Offshore Wind Industry Prospectus showcases the expansion of a multi-billion pound global market in which UK companies are winning contracts to work on projects here and around the world. The UK is the global leader in offshore wind, and the international market is expected to be worth £30Bn a year by 2030. China, the US, Germany and India are among the countries seeking to benefit from our expertise.
In the document, Mr Whitmarsh noted that “These opportunities won’t only be for ‘traditional’ offshore wind suppliers involved with components like turbines, foundations, boats and cables, but also in robotics, drones, sensors and big data to name just a few...It is a sector full of opportunity and now is the time to get involved.”
The prospectus was commissioned by the Offshore Wind Industry Council (OWIC). OWIC is working with government on a sector deal which aims to deliver at least a third of the UK’s electricity from offshore wind by 2030, by which time the offshore wind industry will employ 27,000 people. The domestic and export market for offshore wind products and services provided by UK-based firms is expected to be worth £4.9Bn a year by 2030.
The document underlines the fact that that UK companies lead the world in key services such as designing, building and operating offshore wind farms, as well as manufacturing blades and cables. It says there are further opportunities for the supply chain to grow here by manufacturing more turbine towers and foundations. It suggests that, with an ambitious Sector Deal between industry and government, around 60% of the content of UK offshore windfarms could be provided by UK companies by 2030; up from 48% today.
The prospectus predicts that further innovation in turbine blade technology and materials, higher voltage cables and floating turbines will drive growth. It notes that as well as generating vast amounts of clean electricity, offshore wind farms can also help to finely balance the supply of power to the grid, providing flexibility to modern energy systems. It also suggests building on knowledge from the aerospace, automotive and space industries to foster more innovation.
Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy UK managing director Clark MacFarlane, who is OWIC lead for the Whitmarsh Review said, “As this visionary prospectus shows, there are enormous opportunities for UK businesses in this multi-billion pound sector, so companies new to the industry should be excited by the potential to be involved.
2Hundreds of supply chain companies up and down the country are already winning contracts to work on projects here and abroad, and with the domestic and international markets set to expand, UK businesses are in a great position to win an even greater share of the global and domestic markets”.
  • OWJ Online
Royal Mail shares tumble to record low, deepening losses to £1.3 billion
Shares of Royal Mail (RMG.L) deepened its slump on Tuesday, hitting a record low, a day after the 500-year-old postal service warned annual profit would be far lower than expected, hurt by eroding logistics business margins and weaker letter volumes.
Shares of the company, founded under Henry VIII, sank 8 percent to a record low of 360.1 pence on Tuesday. The FTSE 100 .FTSE stock has shed 1.3 billion pounds over two sessions, as it plunged 18 percent on Monday after the surprise warning.
“We have been bearish on the outlook for productivity improvements, but yesterday’s profit warning was shocking in its scale and timing,” Liberum analyst Gerald Khoo said.
The brokerage slashed its target price on the stock to 250 pence from 415 pence and cut full-year earnings estimate by 30 percent and subsequent years by 38 percent.
Credit Suisse slashed its price target on the stock by 111 pence to 450 pence, while Deutsche Bank cut its target to 300 pence from 428 pence on Tuesday.  Although Royal Mail maintained its dividend, analysts warned that the policy did not look sustainable in the longer term.  Last month, the company acquired a parcel delivery firm, Dicom Canada, in order to break in to new markets and announced the resignation of Peter Long as chairman.
The stock, which listed in London in 2013, has lost roughly one-fifth of its value year-to-date including session’s losses on Tuesday.
  • Reuters
Headlines Monday 1st October 2018
Oil and Gas UK sets up decommissioning team
Oil and Gas UK (OGUK) has set up its own team of decommissioning experts in a move which highlights the changing face of the North Sea energy industry.  Richard Heard was already giving his services as a decommissioning consultant. He is now working as part of an OGUK team which also includes decommissioning manager Joe Leask and business adviser Sam George
The trio, who teamed up for a visit to Augean North Sea Servcies last week, are tasked with providing new insights into decommissioning and the opportunities it presents.  OGUK is working alongside Decom North Sea, the Oil and Gas Authority and the UK Government to build supply chain capability for decomissioning projects estimated to be worth £18 billion over the next decade.
Mike Tholen, upstream policy director, OGUK said: “Decommissioning of North Sea oil and gas assets will take place over the next 30 years and more, with new field developments extending this time-line.
“This new team bolsters Oil & Gas UK’s already well-established presence in the decommissioning sector.
“I look forward to the team’s valuable contributions to our calendar of decommissioning activity, including our annual Decommissioning Insight Report and Decommissioning Conference.”
Mr Leask, previously a subsea decommissioning engineer at Repsol Sinopec Resources UK, added: “The team will be working closely with regulators and the UK and Scottish governments to develop an efficient, cost-effective decommissioning capability, sharing best practice and promoting our decommissioning expertise.”
  • Press and Journal
Samsung Heavy Wins Another LNG Carrier Order
South Korea’s shipbuilder Samsung Heavy Industries has clinched another order for a liquefied natural gas (LNG) carrier.  According to the company’s stock exchange filing, the deal is worth around KRW 200.1 billion (USD 180 million).  SHI added that the order was placed by an Asian shipowner, without unveiling the company’s name.
Under the agreement, which was signed on September 28, SHI is scheduled to deliver the LNG carrier to its owner by the end of March 2021.  The latest LNG carrier contract comes on the back of a KRW 412.3 billion (USD 367 million) order for two such vessels, which the shipbuilder secured in mid-August 2018.
The 174,000 cbm ships are expected to join their owner, shipping company GasLog, by the end of 2020.
Also in August, Samsung was contracted by Denmark’s Celsius Tankers to build two 180,000 cbm LNG carriers, with options for two more. At a price of USD 187 million per unit, the LNG carriers would feature Mark-Ⅲ Flex type containment system with re-liquefaction to lower BOR.
  • World Maritime News
Ryanair warns over profits as strikes and oil price take toll
Ryanair has warned that full-year profits will be lower than expected, blaming the impact of strikes and rising oil prices.  The budget airline said full-year profits will be 12% down. It has lowered the expected range from €1.25bn-€1.35bn (£1.1bn-£1.2bn) to €1.1bn-€1.2bn.  It said it suffered a drop in traffic due topilot and cabin crew strikes in September, which hit consumer confidence and knocked forward bookings in the third quarter.  Ryanair also cited higher oil prices.
Its chief executive, Michael O’Leary, said: “While we successfully managed five strikes by 25% of our Irish pilots this summer, two recent co-ordinated strikes by cabin crew and pilots across five EU countries has affected passenger numbers (through flight cancellations), bookings and yields (as we re-accommodate disrupted passengers), and forward air fares into Q3.
“While we regret these disruptions, we have on both strike days operated over 90% of our schedule.
“However, customer confidence, forward bookings and Q3 fares have been affected, most notably over the October school midterms and Christmas, in those five countries where unnecessary strikes have been repeated.”
Ryanair added that it has now cut its capacity for winter 2018 by 1% in response to the additional pressures.  Starting from 5 November, it will close its four-aircraft Eindhoven base, its two-aircraft Bremen base and cut its its five-aircraft Niederrhein base to three.  However, it said most routes would continue. “All affected customers have been contacted by email/SMS this morning and will be re-accommodated on other flights or refunded as they so wish,” Ryanair said.
“We will also now consult with our pilots and cabin crew at these three bases to minimise job losses.
“We expect to offer our pilots vacancies at other Ryanair bases but, as we have a large surplus of winter cabin crew, we will explore unpaid leave and other options to minimise cabin crew job losses.”
Ryanair shares were down 7.5% in early trading.
  • The Guardian
Headlines Friday 28th September 2018


'Another landmark': Renewables hit new heights in UK and US

Records for non-hydro renewable electricity generation tumble on both sides of the Atlantic, with UK clean power share reaching 31.7 per cent in Q2

Clean power records have been tumbling on both sides of the Atlantic, with renewables now close to making up one third of UK generation and US renewables closing in on a 10 per cent share of the grid, it emerged yesterday.

Latest official statistics published yesterday by the UK government show that during the second quarter of 2018 a record 31.7 per cent of electricity generation came from renewable sources, a three percentage point uptick from the same period last year.

Much of the growth over the period has been attributed to the UK's solar sector, which thanks to this summer's heatwave delivered record levels of power generation, reaching 4.6TWh during the second quarter. This, alongside increased offshore wind capacity, more than offset a 12 per cent drop in onshore wind generation during the period.

Overall UK renewable electricity capacity has grown to a record 42.2GW, a 10 per cent increase compared to the second quarter of 2017.

"We've hit another landmark record - with this summer's intense sunshine generating enough solar power to fuel over a million homes," the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said in a statement.

Meanwhile, coal fired power's share of the grid hit another record low, accounting for just 1.6 per cent of generation over the period, although gas power remained the largest single contributor to UK's electricity during the second quarter at 42 per cent.

However, recent estimates for September 2018 suggest coal generation's share of the power mix may have increased during the third quarter of the year due to a rise in gas power prices.

Nevertheless, when nuclear is included the UK's overall low carbon electricity share remained at over 50 per cent during the second quarter of the year, even if it dipped slightly to 53.4 per cent,down from a 53.7 per cent share in the same period last year.

Overall primary energy consumption in the UK also fell by 1.3 per cent to a record low during the period compared to the same time in 2017, driven by warmer weather, the ongoing shift from renewables from fossil fuels and improvements in energy efficiency, the statistics show.

BEIS added: "With less dirty coal being used than ever before, and plans underway to phase out coal power completely by 2025, our modern Industrial Strategy is supporting thousands of good jobs in new clean growth industries."

Energy UK's chief executive Lawrence Slade praised the "huge advances" that had contributed to the power sector's rapid decarbonisation, but suggested further progress could be achieved if the government enabled wider development of the cheapest forms of clean power.

Industry reresntatives maintain that despite being the lowest cost form of generation, new onshore wind and solar farms lack an effective route to market on the UK mainland.

The UK update came alongside news of clean energy records being set in US, where non-hydro renewable power sources for the first time achieved a 9.8 per cent output share of the power mix over the first six months of 2018.

Again, a more than 25 per cent boost in solar power generation over the period compared to the previous year helped deliver the new record, with US wind power also enjoying a 11.2 per cent uptick, according to official data.

Including hydropower, it means US renewables sources accounted for more than 13 per cent of domestic energy production, the US Energy Information Administrations data shows.

However, production of coal, gas and oil also grew 8.8 per cent over the same period, with fossil fuels overall accounting for 77.8 per cent of US generation in the first half of 2018, resulting in a more than three per cent rise in US carbon dioxide emissions from energy consumption.

  • Business Green


Corallian picks Ensco rig for Wick well drilling

UK-based Corallian Energy has signed a contract with drilling contractor Ensco for the provision of a jack-up rig to drill the Wick well off the UK.

Upland Resources, Corallian’s partner in the P2235 license which contains the Wick prospect, said on Friday that the contract was for the provision of the Ensco 72 rig.

The rig site survey has been completed, and Corallian expects drilling of the Wick well to take place in the fourth quarter, following receipt of necessary regulatory approvals and consents.

Steve Staley, CEO of Upland Resources Limited, said: “We are pleased to announce the signing of the contract with Ensco which represents another important step towards drilling the potentially transformative Wick well.”

It is worth noting that Corallian entered into a letter of intent with drilling contractor Ensco back in May for the provision of a jack-up rig for the drilling of the Colter and Wick wells offshore the UK.

To remind, Upland entered into a conditional agreement with Corallian Energy to farm into a 40 percent interest in Licence P2235, containing the Wick prospect, back in November 2017. The farm in agreement was completed on May 24, 2018.

Also, Baron Oil signed a deal with Corallian in March 2018 to take a 15 percent interest in P2235 in return for paying 20 percent of the costs of the first well on the Wick Prospect.

According to Upland’s estimates, the Wick structure could hold in-place P50 resources of around 250 MMbbl.

  • Offshore Energy Today


UK firms cut investment as Brexit nears, current account deficit widens

British companies cut their investment in the second quarter of 2018, when Brexit was less than a year away, and the country’s balance of payments shortfall grew more than expected, official data showed.

The Office for National Statistic confirmed a previous estimate that Britain’s overall economy grew by a quarterly 0.4 percent in the April-June period.

But it lowered the annual growth rate in the second quarter to 1.2 percent from a previous estimate of 1.3 percent.

It also cut the quarterly growth rate in the first three months of the year, when the country was hit by heavy snow, to 0.1 percent from 0.2 percent.

Economic growth in the first half of 2018 was the weakest for a six-month period since the second half of 2011, the ONS said on Friday.

“Although it has picked up a little from a slow start to the year, underlying economic growth remains persistently below the long-term average,” ONS statistician Rob Kent-Smith said.

The revised figures showed business investment fell 0.7 percent in the second quarter compared with the first three months of 2018 and was down for the second quarter in a row.

At the same time Britain’s balance of payments shortfall got bigger, hit by the country’s wider trade deficit.

The difference between money flowing in and out of the country was negative to the tune of 20.3 billion pounds between April and June, bigger than a deficit of 15.7 billion pounds in the first quarter, the ONS said.

The shortfall was also bigger than a median forecast of 19.4 billion pounds in a Reuters poll of economists.

As a share of GDP, the deficit rose to 3.9 percent, up from 3.0 percent in the first quarter and was the biggest in a year.

Bank of England Governor Mark Carney has warned that Britain’s large current account deficit left it reliant on “the kindness of strangers”.

That could be a risk as the country prepares to leave the European Union in March with no clarity yet on whether it will smooth its exit with a transition period.

The ONS has already published its estimate for GDP growth for the three months to July which showed the economy running at its fastest pace in nearly a year, helped by hot summer weather and the World Cup which encouraged consumers to spend.

  • Reuters
Headlines Thursday 27th September 2018


BP receives approval to develop new oil field in North Sea

BP has been granted approval to develop the Vorlich Field in the North Sea, targeting 30 million barrels of oil equivalent.

The field is expected to come on stream in 2020 and is predicted to produce 20,000 barrels gross of oil equivalent a day at its peak.

BP announced on Thursday that it has received approval from the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) to proceed with the development in the central North Sea.

It said the £200 million project is part of a programme of North Sea subsea tie-back developments that seek to access important new production from fields located near to established producing infrastructure.

BP North Sea Regional President Ariel Flores said: “BP is modernising and transforming the way we work, with a focus on accelerating the pace of delivery of projects like Vorlich.

“Without compromising safety, we want to simplify our processes, reduce costs and improve project cycle time to increase the competitiveness of our North Sea business.

“This is increasingly important as competition for global investment funds gets stiffer.

“While not on the same scale as our huge Quad 204 and Clair Ridge projects, the Vorlich development provides another exciting addition to our refreshed North Sea portfolio and further demonstrates BP’s commitment to the North Sea.”

Vorlich, a two-well development approximately 241 kilometres (150 miles) east of Aberdeen, will be tied back to the Ithaca Energy-operated FPF-1 floating production facility, which lies at the centre of Greater Stella Area production hub.

Ithaca has a 34% interest in Vorlich.

Scott Robertson, Central North Sea area manager at the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA), said: “The OGA has been actively involved throughout the Vorlich project and is pleased to approve this development.

“The field will make an important contribution to our Maximising Economic Recovery UK (MER UK) priority as a valuable tieback utilising existing infrastructure and by maximising value from the Greater Stella Area hub.”

  • AOL


North Sea Heliports Alliance Wings Its Way

The six largest European offshore helicopter airports have officially established the North Sea Heliports Alliance (NSHA) dedicated to servicing the offshore wind market.

The directors of the Aberdeen International Airport, Emden Airport, Esbjerg Airport, Humberside Airport, Avinor Stavanger Airport and Den Helder Airport met in March in Den Helder where they agreed to set up an alliance in preparation for the upcoming roll-out of large-scale offshore wind farms in the North Sea.

According to the members, the NSHA will become a platform for European offshore helicopter airports to assist governments, energy companies and port and industry organizations to develop sustainable and safe helicopter services for the offshore wind industry.

“This platform is a think tank for developing a vision of future offshore helicopter operations and is a response to the developing market. The idea arose from an increasing demand for helicopter flights for offshore wind projects in the North Sea and is aimed at providing the fullest possible support for wind farm operators,” said NSHA Chairman Nick Waterdrinker.

The initiative is expected to develop a vision on future offshore helicopter operations for the large North Sea offshore wind farms and on maintaining a scheduled service between several heliports.

Each NSHA meeting will be held at a different airport and will include local energy operators, Den Helder Airport said.

“This new market requires efficient helicopter services and expertise, not only for the construction of offshore wind farms over the next fifteen years, but also for a vision on long-term maintenance and supply strategies. There is a clear energy transition into offshore wind and we, as NSHA, can contribute to a broader and cost-efficient service for the offshore wind market in the North Sea,” said Olaf Schmidt, Director of Emden Airport.

  • Offshore Wind


Goldman Sachs makes UK retail bank debut through Marcus

The US investment bank launches its Marcus digital banking brand in the UK, offering hope of greater savings account competition.

A global banking player has entered the UK easy access savings market.

Goldman Sachs - the Wall Street investment bank - is in search of new revenue streams through its Marcus digital banking brand, which was first launched in the US two years ago.

It opens to customers on Thursday following a month of staff trials.

Its savings product claims to offer an above average interest rate for the UK at 1.5%, as rates slowly begin to pick up across the sector following a decade in the doldrums after the financial crisis.

Marcus - named after one of the bank's founders Marcus Goldman - has a minimum saving level of £1 with a maximum of £250,000.

Its 1.5% rate - still well below the rate of inflation - is not among the market leaders, according to data from the Moneyfacts.co.uk comparison tool.

It suggests the best easy access deals on offer currently are through Secure Trust Bank and Manchester Building Society.

The managing director of Marcus, Des McDaid, said: "Over the last decade savers have been on the wrong end of low interest rates.

"We've spoken in-depth to people across the country and there is a real disillusionment about savings - while most UK adults are diligently trying to save every month, some do not even have a savings account, with low interest rates and complexity being put to blame.

"We want to reverse the trend - literally putting the interest back into savings and make saving worthwhile again."

Mr McDaid, a former director at TSB, has hired an extra 150 staff at its London offices ahead of the launch, with the likelihood of more workers to come if growth targets are met.

There are no plans to open branches amid the trend of closures on UK high streets.

Sally Francis-Miles, money spokesperson at the comparison service MoneySuperMarket, said of the offering: "Savers have been struggling for top rates for years and while 1.5% isn't ground-breaking, it does beat the trend of only pipping the current top by 0.01%.

"Goldman Sachs' entry to the market under its savings brand Marcus is a refreshing change in that respect.

"Hopefully it will also mean an account that stays in the market for more than a couple of days - top rate accounts don't usually last longer than that due to high demand for them," she said.

  • Sky News


Headlines Wednesday 24th September 2018


Equinor enters subsea pact with Aker Solutions and TechnipFMC

Oil major Equinor has signed collaboration agreements with Aker Solutions and TechnipFMC for subsea equipment and services on the Norwegian continental shelf (NCS) and internationally.

Equinor said on Wednesday that the subsea segment has been central in developing the company and the NCS for the past several decades.

The company added that it was operating close to 600 subsea wells, which account for a considerable share of the company’s total production.

Margareth Øvrum, Equinor’s executive vice president for technology, projects, and drilling, said: “We are building on many years of good cooperation with two world-leading suppliers in the subsea segment. Together with TechnipFMC and Aker Solutions, we aim to further develop current solutions and keep up the pressure on continuous improvements that enables future profitable projects.”

The improvement effort throughout the industry over the past few years enabled Equinor to sanction projects that previously could not have been realized.

In 2017, Equinor and its partners sanctioned projects for more than NOK 90 billion on the NCS. Subsea procurements for the Johan Castberg, Snorre Expansion, Askeladd, and Troll Phase 3 projects accounted for a third of the global market last year.

In December of the same year, the company entered into several framework agreements with TechnipFMC and Aker Solutions for the delivery of subsea equipment and services.

Through the new collaboration agreements, the three companies are establishing a framework to ensure continuous improvements.

Two separate agreements have been signed with identical objectives. The work will focus on improvements in safety, quality, cost, and technology from concept through project execution and subsea operations services.

In a separate announcement, TechnipFMC said that the agreement with Equinor covers the full scope of TechnipFMC’s products and services.

TechnipFMC added that the agreement builds on the recent successes of the company’s integrated EPCI delivery on the Trestakk and Visund Nord projects to Equinor.

Also on Monday, Aker Solutions said that several innovative and cost-efficient solutions materialized from Aker Solutions’ and Equinor’s history of collaboration.

Aker Solutions’ newest subsea production system with vertical trees was adopted on the Johan Castberg field and Equinor would use the same design on its Troll and Askeladd fields.

  • Offshore Energy Today


GSF: Maersk Urged to Reconsider New Fuel Surcharge Plan

Danish shipping company needs to reconsider its plan to introduce new fuel surcharge arrangements from January 1, 2019, the Global Shippers Forum (GSF) believes.

Earlier this month, Maersk Line said it will change fuel adjustment surcharge to recover presumed costs from the introduction of low-sulphur marine fuel from January 1, 2020.

The new charges, which are additional to agreed contract rates, are based on two factors – an average cost of fuel and a ‘trade factor’ that upscales the costs on head trades and discounts the fuel cost on reverse trades. But because the charge is per box, the greater number of revenue-earning boxes sailing west will collectively pay far more than they need to in order to compensate for the same boxes returning east when empty, according to GSF.

As explained, this has the effect of applying higher than average surcharges on the company’s most profitable routes. For example, the Far East to North Europe route has a trade factor of 1.3, but North Europe to Far East of 0.7.

In addition, the new measure comes twelve months before the rules related to the use of surcharges actually come in. What is more, the new charging structure would apply to all variations of fuel price.

“Asking customers to contribute to new environmental costs is to be expected, but this charge lacks transparency; no data is available to let customers work out how the charge has been calculated. Given historical experiences with surcharges, shippers are naturally suspicious over something shipping lines say is ‘fair, transparent and clear’. GSF will be taking this piece of financial engineering apart piece by piece as we suspect this has more to do with rate restoration than environmental conservation,” James Hookham, GSF Secretary General, said.

“Maersk has other options. Global rules allow lines to meet air quality standards by fitting ‘scrubbers’ to clean up exhaust emissions, rather than buying more expensive low-sulphur fuel. This requires a one-off capital expense, but for shippers this is a better option than paying sulphur surcharges indefinitely. Some of Maersk’s biggest competitors are taking this different approach, and customers will be looking at the options and voting with their wallets,” Hookham continued.

  • World Maritime News


Smooth Brexit transition 'vital for Scots economy'

Securing a smooth Brexit transition is "vital" to protect Scotland's economy - even if that means extending the timeframe for talks on leaving the EU, according to a leading think tank.

The Fraser of Allander Institute said extending the Article 50 negotiation period "could be essential to protect jobs and livelihoods".

It warned a hard Brexit would act as a drag on Scotland's economic potential.

But it added that the risk of a no-deal Brexit was of most concern.

Prime Minister Theresa May triggered Article 50 last year, committing the UK to leaving the EU in March 2019.

She warned on Friday that the Brexit negotiations were at an impasse and there would be no progress until the EU treated her proposals seriously.

In its latest commentary, the economic forecaster said recent data had confirmed "a welcome pick-up in activity" in the Scottish economy, with Scottish GDP outpacing the UK for two quarters in a row this year.

It now predicts that Scotland's GDP will expand by 1.3% this year and 1.4% in 2019 and 2020, with growth remaining below trend as a result of ongoing structural challenges, such as weak productivity growth.

Fraser of Allander Institute director Prof Graeme Roy said: "Whether you agree or disagree with the decision to leave the EU - and irrespective of the nature of the final settlement - it is essential that we have an orderly transition.

"To enable firms to prepare and develop contingency plans it is vital that a deal is reached. Should this require more time to negotiate a workable solution then so be it.

"Extending the Article 50 negotiation period - but maintaining the same transition timescale to 2020 - may be unpalatable for some but could be essential to protect jobs and livelihoods."

  • BBC News
Headlines Tuesday 23rd September 2018


Labour wants green energy to power most UK homes by 2030

Almost all of Britain’s homes and businesses would be powered by wind, solar and nuclear power by 2030, under bold new green energy plans being outlined by Labour.

Rebecca Long-Bailey, the shadow business secretary, will declare on Tuesday that the party is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to zero by the middle of the century. The UK’s current goal is an 80% cut by 2050.

Such a move would put the UK ahead of the EU and signal that it intends to be a strong international climate leader post-Brexit.

It would also leapfrog Labour ahead of the Conservatives on climate-change action. The government is shortly expected to instruct its climate advisers to explore what a tougher global-warming goal means for the UK’s domestic carbon targets but has not yet pledged to hit zero emissions.

Long-Bailey, who is seen by some as a potential future leader, will also outline a series of new proposals on energy to meet the long-term carbon goal. Experts said they were far more ambitious than the party’s current policy.

The plan envisages 85% of electricity coming from renewable and low-carbon sources by 2030, a dramatic increase on the 50% they provide today.

That would involve a sevenfold increase in offshore windfarms and a tripling of solar power, enabling nearly 20m homes to be powered by wind and solar.

The party would also “remove the barriers” the Conservatives put in place for onshore windfarms. Labour would like to see doubling of onshore windfarms by 2030.

Long-Bailey said: “The potential benefits of transitioning to a sustainable economy are enormous and we want to make sure these are shared by everyone … the Tories are not up to the job of dealing with the existential threat posed by climate change.”

Beyond electricity, the party is also grappling with how to keep the UK warm without burning fossil fuels.

Around 85% of the country uses gas for heating, with most of the rest coming from oil and a tiny proportion from renewable sources such as heat pumps and biomass.

Labour is mulling a goal of providing 44% of heat from renewable sources by 2030 and reducing heat demand from buildings by almost a quarter. The party is expected to officially adopt the energy goals later this year.

Jim Watson, director of the UK Energy Research Centre, said: “These proposals are envisaging a much more ambitious approach than current policy. With respect to renewable electricity, particularly wind, the ambitions look achievable by 2030.”

Industry sources told the Guardian that the proposals for more green electricity were ambitious but could be met provided there was a rethink on onshore windfarms, which are currently ineligible for subsidies.

However, Watson said that meeting the targets on low-carbon heat would be more difficult and “a tall order”.

Greenpeace said the adoption of a net-zero emissions goal for 2050 was “truly transformative”. Friends of the Earth said the energy proposals could help the UK seize the potential of “huge innovations happening in renewable energy technology.”

Labour said it had created a working group with unions to “ensure workers are protected” as the energy industry shifts from fossil-fuel power stations to a renewable future.

  • The Guardian


Aker Energy hires Maersk drillship for Ghana well

Offshore driller Maersk Drilling has signed a contract with Aker Energy for Maersk Viking, an ultra-deepwater drillship, to drill the Pecan-4A appraisal well offshore Ghana.

The contract covers one firm well with an expected duration of 30-35 days, with options for additional wells, and it is expected to start in the fourth quarter of 2018, Maersk Drilling said on Tuesday.

Maersk Viking is currently warm-stacked in the Gulf of Mexico and will imminently start its voyage to Ghana.

Morten Kelstrup, CCIO of Maersk Drilling, said: “The contract for Maersk Viking marks our third rig operating in Ghana. We have a strong commitment to local job creation and competency development and our new joint venture with Prime Meridian Docks, PMD Viking Ghana, will be providing local services in connection with this operation.”

Maersk Viking, which was built in 2014, will perform the drilling at an ultra-deepwater depth of 2,674 meters in the Deepwater Tano Cape Three Points (DWT/CTP) block.

“We are pleased to achieve this key milestone that will enable us to commence drilling of the important Pecan-4A appraisal well. The main objective of the well will be to test the extension of the Pecan Field. This will give valuable and important input when optimizing the Plan of Development for the field and in understanding the wider appraisal potential of the block,” said Jan Arve Haugan, CEO of Aker Energy.

The contract is awarded by Aker Energy on behalf of the license group and as the operator of the DWT/CTP block. Aker Energy is the operator of the block with a 50% participating interest. Aker Energy’s partners are LUKOIL (38%), Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (10%) and Fueltrade (2%).

  • Offshore Energy Today


MSC, CMA CGM Present Plans for Fuel Surcharges

Following the footsteps of Maersk Line, the Swiss and French container shipping giants MSC and CMA CGM have unveiled their intention to introduce a new fuel adjustment surcharge ahead of the 2020 sulphur cap.

Mediterranean Shipping Company plans to introduce a new Global Fuel Surcharge as of January 1, 2019. The company expects its operating costs to increase significantly in preparation for the 2020 low-sulphur fuel regime.

MSC said that the cost of the various changes to the fleet and its fuel supply is in excess of USD 2 billion per year, the same as with Maersk Line.

“The new MSC Global Fuel Surcharge will replace existing bunker surcharge mechanisms and will reflect a combination of fuel prices at bunkering ports around the world and specific line costs such as transit times, fuel efficiency and other trade-related factors.”

Separately, CMA CGM informed that it decided to favor the use of 0.5% fuel oil for its fleet, and to invest significantly by using LNG to power some of its future container ships, and by ordering several scrubbers for its ships.

The company said that all these measures represent a major additional cost estimated, based on current conditions, at an average of 160 USD / TEU. The additional cost will be taken into account through the application or adjustment of fuel surcharges on a trade-by-trade basis, CMA CGM explained.

“The implementation of this new regulation, which represents a major environmental advance for our sector, will affect all players in the shipping industry. In line with its commitments, the group will comply with the regulation issued by the IMO as from 1 January 2020. In this context, we will inevitably have to review our sales policy regarding fuel surcharges,” Mathieu Friedberg, Senior Vice President Commercial Agencies Network, said.

The new International Maritime Organization (IMO) Low Sulphur Regulation will be effective from 1 January 2020 and will require all shipping companies to reduce their sulphur emissions by 85%.

Sulphur content in the fuel used for international shipping will have to be limited globally to 0.5%, compared with the current standard of 3.5%, in order to minimize the emissions.

  • World Maritime News
Headlines Monday 22nd September 2018
Total makes large gas discovery offshore UK

French oil major Total has made “a significant gas discovery” on the Glendronach prospect, located offshore UK, west of Shetland.

Total said on Monday that the well was drilled to a final depth of 4,312 meters and encountered a gas column of 42 meters of net pay in a high quality Lower Cretaceous reservoir.

Preliminary tests confirm good reservoir quality, permeability, and well production deliverability, with recoverable resources estimated at about one trillion cubic feet.

According to the company, the discovery, located on Block 206/04a in a water depth of about 300 meters and a formation below the Edradour reservoir, can be developed quickly with the existing infrastructure around the Edradour field and the Laggan-Tormore facilities of the Shetland Gas Plant.

Arnaud Breuillac, president of exploration and production at Total, said: “Glendronach is a significant discovery for Total which gives us access to additional gas resources in one of our core areas and validates our exploration strategy. Located on an emerging play of the prolific west of Shetland area, the discovery can be commercialized quickly and at low cost by leveraging the existing Laggan-Tormore infrastructure.”

The Glendronach discovery is operated by Total E&P UK with a 60% interest alongside partners Ineos E&P UK Limited (20%) and SSE E&P UK Limited (20%).

It is worth reminding that Total hired the Stena Don semi-submersible drilling rig to drill the prospect back in late April.

Offshore Energy Today

CCC: Scotland's renewables masking 'lack of progress' on EV's and agriculture
Scotland is outperforming the rest of the UK on decarbonisation, but major challenges remain across transport, agriculture, forestry and heating, Climate Change Committee warns
Scotland continues to outperform the rest of the UK when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions reduction and is on course to meet upcoming climate targets. But strong progress in tackling emissions from energy and waste is masking significant challenges in other sectors, such as agriculture, transport and heating.

Those are the conclusions of the Committee on Climate Change's (CCC) official assessment of Scotland's decarbonisation progress, which will be published today and will gauge the country's performance against the UK's goal to cut emissions 80 per cent reduction against 1990 levels by 2050.

With Scotland having achieved a 49 per cent cut in emissions by the end of 2016 - well above the UK's 43 per cent cut - the Scottish Parliament's own recently-proposed interim target of cutting emissions 56 per cent by 2020 is "within reach", according to the CCC.

The report confirms a year-on-year drop in Scotland's emissions of 10 per cent in 2016, thanks in large part to continuing growth in renewable electricity capacity north of the border.

In 2016 renewable sources such as wind and solar made up 17.8 per cent of Scotland's total energy use - including heat and power. As such it outperformed both the UK as a whole and the EU's average renewables share of 16.7 per cent.

Earlier this year the Scottish Government introduced a new Climate Change Bill, which sets out an overall ambition to reduce 1990 greenhouse gas emissions by 90 per cent by 2050, which would strengthen the UK's current statutory goal.

However, following the closure of Scotland's final coal fired power plant Longannet in March 2016, the government's decarbonisation strategy "must now move on decisively", the CCC said, as it called for more action to address emissions from transport, agriculture, forestry, land-use and heating.

Business Green

Labour to consider backing second Brexit vote if there's no general election


Labour will vote on a Brexit motion which will put a second referendum behind a call for a general election.

Pro-EU supporters in Labour have been left somewhat disappointed by the party's motion wording, which only promises to fight for a second vote on the deal Britain gets when it leaves the EU, if there is no general election.

The motion comes after more than 100 constituency parties demanded a second referendum, with Jeremy Corbyn saying he would be "bound" by the outcome of a vote at conference.

But the wording, decided after a five-hour compositing meeting, reads: "If we cannot get a general election, Labour must support all options remaining on the table, including campaigning for a public vote."

The meeting ended just before midnight on Sunday, and supporters of a second referendum are understood to have faced stiff resistance to commitment to another vote, so the leadership could maintain some room to manoeuvre.

The Labour conference will vote on the motion on Tuesday in Liverpool.

On Monday, Theresa May will chair a cabinet meeting amid growing pressure for her to change course and seek a less ambitious Brexit deal.

Former cabinet ministers Boris Johnson and David Davis backed an alternative plan for leaving the EU which was launched by the Institute of Economic Affairs.

In his Daily Telegraph column, Mr Johnson said the Chequers proposal equals "surrender" and "betrayal".

In an interview with the BBC's Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, Mr Corbyn declined to say which way he would vote in a second referendum, saying there was "conjecture" as to what the question would be.

He also made clear that his preference was for an early general election.

Mr Corbyn said Labour would "put our case to Parliament" for an early poll, remarks which will fuel speculation the party will table a vote of no confidence in Mrs May if the Brexit negotiations fail.

Mr Corbyn may be out of step with his party, after a YouGov poll found 86% of members think voters should have the final say on the outcome of the negotiations, and 90% would now vote to remain in the EU.

        Sky News



Headlines Friday 21st September 2018
Carnival Corp: Retrofitting to LNG Is Not an Option
One of the world’s largest cruise majors, Carnival Corporation, is not considering retrofits to liquefied natural gas (LNG) to meet sulphur cap regulations, Tom Strang, Senior Vice President – Maritime Affairs at Carnival Corporation, said at a panel within the SMM trade fair in Hamburg.
The panel titled ‘The Passenger Shipping Industry as an Environmental Pioneer’, held as part of the Global Maritime Environmental Congress (gmec), addressed the current developments in the passenger shipping industry with respect to the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) upcoming 2020 sulfur cap regulation
Strang explained that the cruise sector is investing very significantly in new technology, including LNG as fuel. He added that, although LNG is a fossil fuel, it is currently considered to be the best option as it would meet all the requirements of 2020.
However, the company, which has eleven vessels on order scheduled to be using LNG, does not plan to retrofit existing ships to run on LNG. Strang said that, although this would be possible on the engine side, it would be difficult to find the space to put an LNG tank on board a ship.
“Taking tank space means converting existing space. We still need some of the conventional liquid fuels, we need the water ballast space, we need the fresh water space, so it means that you are eating into revenue generation space.”  It is also a physical challenge of fitting a new tank space in a cruise ship, Strang continued.  “If you lengthen the ship, you can do it. There’s lots of things you can do, but what makes business sense at the end of the day is another thing.”
Speaking about the option of installing exhaust gas cleaning systems on board, Strang said that ship owners that opt for scrubbers could soon “be looking for a fuel which might not be as widely available as it is today.”  He explained that Carnival Corp, which already fitted 62 percent of its existing fleet with exhaust gas cleaning systems, lifts 3.3-3.2 million tons of fuel in about 150 different ports today.  “We have to make sure that the fuel we need is going to be available in most locations. But that is something our industry is really good at – being prepared.”
“Compliance is clearly going to be an issue. We want to make sure that the right fuels are available in the right places.”
“Today you have a choice, you have to make your decision. Most of us from the cruise segment have chosen LNG for the moment. It is not going to be the silver bullet for everything else, but of course, we are working on alternative technologies.”
“The simple answer is – you have to plan, you have to prepare, and you have to make sure that you are ready and the locations you visit are ready,” Strang concluded.
  • World Maritime News
Mixed results from Aker BP’s North Sea wells
Norwegian oil company Aker BP has drilled four wells in the North Sea off Norway. As a result, two wells are dry and the other two have moderate to good reservoir quality.
Aker BP, the operator of production license 028 B, has concluded the drilling of appraisal wells 25/10-16 S, A and C on the Hanz field, as well as wildcat well 25/10-16 B drilled in production license 915 just southeast of the Hanz field, the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) said on Friday.
The wells were drilled about 14 kilometers north of the Ivar Aasen field in the central part of the North Sea and 180 kilometers northwest of Stavanger. The Hanz field was proven in Upper Jurassic reservoir rocks (Intra-Draupne formation sandstones) in 1997. Prior to the drilling of wells 25/10-16 S, A and B, the operator’s resource estimate for the discovery was between 1.9 and 3.0 million Sm3 of recoverable oil and between 0.3 and 0.4 billion Sm3 of recoverable gas.
According to the NPD, the objective of the wells on the Hanz field was to delineate the field, investigate potential additional resources in underlying Middle Jurassic reservoir rocks (the Hugin formation), reduce the uncertainty as regards the extent of the reservoir sandstones and thus lower uncertainty for the field’s estimated resources.
The primary exploration target for wildcat well 25/10-16 B was to prove petroleum in Upper Jurassic sandstones (the Intra- Draupne formation), while the secondary exploration target was to investigate the underlying Hugin formation. The prospect was partially situated in production license 915, just to the southeast of production license 028 B.
  • Offshore Energy Today
Four in 10 wind turbine appeals won
Four in 10 wind turbine appeals decided by the Scottish government successfully overturned the original decision, the BBC has found.  Official figures show 250 wind turbine applications, which were refused by Scottish councils, have been decided by the Scottish government since 2002.  In 104 cases (41.6%) the original decision was reversed.
Campaign groups said government planners were overruling democratic decisions taken by councils.  The Scottish government said the planning system was focused on early engagement with communities.  The figures from the Scottish government's Planning and Environmental Appeals Division (DPEA) detail the number of appeals decided over the past 16 years.  They include a small number of cases - nine in total - relating to conditions attached to a development but the rest are for wind farms of two turbines or more.
Highland (13), Dumfries and Galloway (13) and Aberdeenshire (11) had the most wind farm decisions overturned.
Scottish Borders (9) and Perth and Kinross (8) also had a significant number of successful appeals.
South Ayrshire had more appeals allowed (6) than refused (4), as did West Lothian.
  • BBC News
Headlines Thursday 20th September 2018
Semco readies Maersk jack-up for Buzzard drilling campaign
Maersk Drilling’s jack-up Maersk Innovator has completed its yard stay at Invergordon, Scotland during which main contractor Semco Maritime has extended the cantilever ahead of rig’s Buzzard field drilling campaign in the UK North Sea.
Semco Maritime performed the extension of the cantilever alongside various other maintenance and updating projects and some 250 people have been engaged during the intensive six-week stay, the company said on Thursday.
According to Semco, the rig is now heading for operation at the Buzzard field in the Central North Sea.  Semco Maritime’s main work scope was to extend the cantilever five meters in order to allow the rig a larger drilling envelope. The job involved fabricating and installing beams with flanges up to 100 mm and very high tensile 690 Z grade material requiring special weld procedures, Neil Robertson, Operations Manager at Semco Maritime, Invergordon, explained.
The company said that the six-week anchoring at Invergordon’s deep water quay Queens Dock enabled access to the rig from three sides allowing concurrent installation of Helideck C & H lights, replacement of 16” sea water pipe work, and various other maintenance and updating projects all over the rig from spud cans to the crown.
  • Offshore Energy Today
Buoyant gas industry may be blindsided by renewables
The global gas industry, boosted by a host of new projects to feed booming demand, is in better shape than at any point in the last five years but analysts warn it is getting ahead of itself, pointing to the rise of renewable energy as a threat.
Commodity merchant Vitol expects trade in liquefied natural gas (LNG) to double to 600 million tonnes annually (mtpa) in the coming years, reflecting forecasts by Russian LNG producer Novatek (NVTK.MM) which sees 700 mtpa by 2030.  To meet that demand, companies are working on final investment decisions for a new wave of mega projects.  “The industry is confident,” said Christian Brown, president for the oil and gas sector at Canadian-listed SNC Lavalin (SNC.TO), an industrial project management company.
“So far this year, we have bid almost twice as much as last year (for available gas projects),” he said. SNC Lavalin made about 36 percent of its $9.3 billion revenues from the oil and gas sector last year.  Brown said the industry was in its best shape since 2014, when a slump in oil LCOc1 and gas LNG-AS prices led to aggressive cost cutting and scrapping of projects. He said most growth was coming from U.S. unconventional oil and gas.  “They are fast and furious. Decisions are made quickly,” he told Reuters during the Gastech trade show in Barcelona.
  • Reuters
Brexit: May urges EU leaders to consider 'serious' UK plans
Theresa May has urged EU leaders to focus their minds on getting a Brexit deal in the next two months, saying negotiations will not be extended.  At a dinner in Salzburg, she told her 27 counterparts her priorities were maintaining economic ties and ensuring promises to Northern Ireland were kept.  There are suggestions the UK will put forward new ideas for regulatory checks to address the current Irish deadlock.
On Thursday the other EU leaders will discuss Brexit without Mrs May present.  Arriving for the second day of the gathering Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, the host, said that "away from the hard media statements, I think both sides are aware that they will only reach a solution if they move towards each other".
Negotiations over the terms of the UK's exit and future relations are at a critical stage, with about six months to go before the UK is scheduled to leave on 29 March 2019.  In her speech, Mrs May stressed her "serious" proposals for future co-operation between the UK and EU would ensure a "shared close relationship".
The informal gathering of EU leaders in the Austrian city was the first opportunity the prime minister has had to make the case for her Chequers blueprint to other leaders collectively.  Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, two EU leaders said they hoped the UK would hold another referendum on Brexit, in the hope of reversing the 2016 result.
Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said most of his counterparts would like the "almost impossible" to happen.  Andrej Babis, the Czech Republic's prime minister, added he hoped the British people might change their minds.  Campaign group People's Vote is also calling for another referendum, arguing there should be a choice for voters between leaving with, or without, a deal or staying on current terms.
  • BBC News
Headlines Wednesday 19th September 2018
‘Major’ oil firm hires ‘Safe Caledonia’ flotel
Flotel operator Prosafe has won a contract for its Safe Caledonia accommodation rig to support ‘a major oil and gas operator’ in the UK part of the North Sea.  The firm duration of the contract starting mid-April 2019 is four months with up to two months of options. The contract value, minus extension options, is approximately $12 million.
Jesper Kragh Andresen, CEO of Prosafe says: “Prosafe is extremely pleased to secure this contract after a competitive bidding process. We are very confident that Prosafe will once again demonstrate industry-leading operations in a safe and efficient manner using the Safe Caledonia, proven as one of the best performing accommodation vessels in the world.”
The Safe Caledonia was built in 1982 at the GVA/Kockums yard in Sweden to a Pacesetter design and completed a 20-year life extension in 2012/13.  It has a maximum of 454 beds, 9 offices, and 67 client workstations.
The vessel was refurbished in 2012/13, extending the structural life time of the Safe Caledonia with 20 years.  The accommodation unit is currently on a contract with BP, supporting operations at the Clair Ridge Phase 2 development in the UK North Sea. The UK oil major in August extended the flotel contract until the end of November 2018.
  • Offshore Energy Today
Bernhard Schulte setting up O&G, offshore energy renewables arm
Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (BSM) is preparing for future opportunities and has set up a new business unit to focus on the oil and gas (O&G) and offshore energy renewables markets.
The dedicated expert team, comprising of technical and marine superintendents, crew managers and senior management members, will support owners and operators globally by providing integrated third-party ship management services specifically to the offshore market.  The services include technical management, crew management, newbuilding supervision, fleet maintenance and repair, lay-up solutions, travel services and software application solutions, all tailored specifically for this demanding industry.
BSM is currently active in the offshore segment, providing services to floating production units, offshore and wind energy units as well as flotels.  BSM Offshore md Matthias Mueller said: “This segment is focused on special operations and driven by different rules, so we decided to establish a dedicated expert team to specifically attend to the needs of the offshore market.”  He added: “As a leader in the shipmanagement industry, we know our clients need extra attention in project focused businesses. This is exactly where we are confident we can contribute our expertise.”
Combining the shipowners’ perspective with optimised processes, and the purchasing power we have as one of the world’s leading shipmanagers as well as an extensive array of complementary maritime services, BSM Offshore will be able to contribute to the safe, reliable and economic operations of our customers’ offshore business.
  • Seatrade - Maritime
Rule out 'no deal' Brexit, UK car industry warns in Brussels
London and Brussels should rule out a ‘no deal’ Brexit, which could add at least 5.7 billion euros (£5.1 billion) in car tariffs and snarl up production, Britain’s automotive industry body warned on Wednesday.  Carmakers are worried that port and motorway hold-ups could slow the movement of components and finished models, crippling output and adding costs, if Britain fails to reach agreement with the European Union over its departure from the bloc on March 29.
A delegation from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) is due to meet representatives from EU countries in Brussels on Wednesday to emphasise the importance of securing a deal for the sector.
“Our industry is deeply integrated across both sides of the Channel, so we look to negotiators to recognise the needs of the whole European automotive industry and act swiftly to avoid disruption and damage,” SMMT Chief Executive Mike Hawes said in a statement.  Hawes emphasised how integrated the British auto industry is with the rest of Europe, with 1,100 trucks per day bringing in parts for UK vehicle factories.  “We cannot afford a ‘no deal’ Brexit. That is the worst of the imaginable options for this industry,” he told a briefing in Brussels late on Tuesday.  
Tariffs of 10 percent under World Trade Organisation rules would add an average of 3,000 euros to the cost of British-built cars sold in the EU if fully passed on to buyers and 1,700 euros to the cost of a European car imported into Britain, the SMMT said.  The difference is due to the higher average value of British-built vehicles.
Hawes also cautioned that the auto sector would not work if there were delays at the border, adding that this would require carmakers to have unfeasibly large warehouses to store components.    
Politicians hope to strike a Brexit deal by the end of the year to allow a 21-month transition period until the end of 2020, with little changing until new terms are implemented.  Hawes also said that a free-trade deal alone would not result in frictionless trade, with one possibility being non-tariff barriers. Such requirements might mean exported British cars need to have certain levels of local content.  Carmakers, however, are already taking steps to prepare for any eventuality.
BMW this week said it would move the annual maintenance shutdown period for its British Mini plant to just after Britain is due to leave the EU in case there is no Brexit deal.
  • Reuters
Headlines Tuesday 18th September 2018
World’s Biggest Ship Propeller Heads for Korea to Join MSC’s 23,000 TEU Giant
World’s largest ship propeller, weighing 110 tonnes, was loaded onto a containership in the Port of Hamburg on Sunday, September 16.
The propeller, intended for the first of eleven of MSC’s 23,000 TEU newbuild containerships, is headed for the port of Busan in South Korea on board the 5,ooo-TEU Hyundai Supreme.  The propeller was built by Mecklenburger Metallguss GmbH (MMG) and transported from the production facility in Waren an der Müritz in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania to Hamburg, Hamburger Hafen und Logistik AG (HHLA) said.
On Sunday morning, the HHLA IV floating crane, which can lift up to 200 tonnes, moved the giant propeller onto its transport platform and brought it to the berth of the Hyundai Supreme at the port of Waltershof.
The jib of the floating crane raised the propeller from the transport platform and lifted it over the towering side of the 300-metre-long container vessel.
“It was a delicate operation that involved lowering the heavy load centimetre by centimetre into the hold of the ship,” HHLA said.  From there, it will be transported on to the Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering shipyard, where the 23,000 TEU newbuilds, set to become the biggest containerships in the world, are taking shape.
Under the deal announced in September 2017, Samsung Heavy Industries (SHI) will construct six of the vessels while DSME will construct the remaining five.  The eleven mega-ships will be powered by MAN’s G95ME-C9.5 main engines.  The handover of the boxships is expected to start in 2019 from SHI, with the final vessel from the series due for delivery by March 15, 2020 from DSME.
  • World Maritime News
Aker Solutions to maintain 9 Petrobras offshore platforms
Norway’s Aker Solutions has won a contract for maintenance and modification services provision for nine Petrobras offshore platform in Brazil. The platforms are located at Petrobras’ oil and gas fields in the Campos Basin.
The Campos Basin extends approximately 100,000 square kilometers. The three-year contract is valued at more than BRL 250 million ($60 million) and includes an option for a two-year extension.
Aker Solutions will be renovating, repairing and upgrading offshore production units for Petrobras’ Campos Basin Operational Unit (UO-BC).
“We are pleased to expand our business in Brazil, a key international market,” said Luis Araujo, chief executive officer of Aker Solutions. “This is the second big contract we sign after entering the maintenance and modification market in Brazil, reinforcing the importance of having a complete portfolio and being able to provide an integrated solution from concept to decommissioning.”
The company will execute the work from its C.S.E. Mecânica e Instrumentação Ltda (C.S.E.) services base in Macaé, Rio de Janeiro.  Aker Solutions acquired a majority stake in C.S.E. in December 2016. Earlier this year Petrobras named C.S.E. the best supplier for onshore and offshore maintenance and HSSE, highlighting its focus on customers and excellence. The company competed against 5,000 suppliers and won 4 of 21 awards.
The work starts in October 2018, with final deliveries scheduled for 2021.  The contract will be booked in the third quarter of 2018.
  • Offshore Energy Today
UK and France end scallop wars with peace deal
Larger British boats will not be allowed to fish in the Baie de Seine until the end of October, but they will get a larger quota.
The UK and France have reached a peace deal over the scallop wars between the two countries' fishing fleets.  British vessels under 15 metres will continue to be able to take scallops from the waters of the Baie de Seine but larger boats will stop fishing there from midnight on Monday until the end of 30 October.  The more than a decade-long disagreement came to a head in the early hours of 28 August as French fishermen allegedly threw smoke bombs, rocks and other projectiles at English and Scottish boats in the scallop-rich bay off the Normandy coast.
French fishermen accused the British of depleting stocks and wanted them to face the same rules which mean all French boats are banned from fishing for the molluscs during the summer to conserve stocks.  Nearly three weeks later, the neighbouring countries have come to an agreement, despite UK industry leaders walking away from talks with their continental counterparts last Thursday.
British fisheries minister George Eustice said: "Today UK and French scallop industry representatives reached an agreement on scallop fishing in the Bay de Seine.
"This means our over-15m fleet will get the days at sea it wanted, while allowing the under-15m fleet to continue fishing in the area.
"I commend the UK fishing industry for its patience throughout negotiations and welcome this pragmatic outcome."
The French fishermen wanted all British boats to be banned for the summer period, but they failed to get the smaller boats banned.
"We were forced to drop the 15-metres requirement," French industry spokesman Pascal Coquet said.
As a compromise for the bigger British boats agreeing to not fish for scallops until the end of October, the French agreed to give British fishermen an additional fishing quota.  Jim Portus, chief executive of Britain's South Western Fish Producers Organisation, said it was "a compromise".
"It's not the best deal, but it's better than no deal," he said.
  • Sky News
Headlines Monday 17th September 2018
North of Scotland can be offshore renewables hub, Global’s MacGregor says
Global Energy Group chairman Roy MacGregor has called for government and public sector backing to see the north designated as a specialist hub for development of the offshore renewables sector.
With a small number of hubs expected to be chosen around the UK, Mr MacGregor, whose company owns Nigg Energy Park on the Cromarty Firth, is concerned the area could miss out to other parts of Scotland.
He said that with facilities at Buckie, Invergordon, Fraserburgh and Wick as well as his own sites already actively involved in the industry and others at Arnish and Kishorn seeking work, the area is better prepared than other parts of the country.
He continued: “If we look Scotland-wide at what is going on in renewables we can see real progress and practically all the work is happening in the northern Highlands. I do feel this area should be championed as Scotland’s specialist area and hub for renewables.
“My concern is that the public sector bodies need to get behind this cluster concept or the opportunity could well be lost. Nigg Energy Park is now reaching capacity and we do see the need for further investment and expansion of our site to meet current and future demands. However, there is genuine concern we could be overlooked.”
Mr MacGregor added: “I have real concerns this opportunity for Scotland might be lost as the effort is being wrongly directed into other areas of Scotland where they have no facilities, are not ready, or have no track record of doing business in this specialised area. We do have this expertise and facilities in the north and now have the track record to prove it. The Scottish Government must insist their various agencies get behind us to ensure this opportunity is not lost.”
  • Energy Voice
Hurricane Florence Aftermath: NC Ports Closed Until Wednesday
North Carolina ports of Wilmington and Morehead City will remain closed through Wednesday, September 19, as the authorities work to determine the condition of its facilities in the Hurricane Florence aftermath.
“Initial assessments indicate there is damage at both locations to warehouse and other structures, as well as a significant number of downed empty containers to be cleared. A detailed assessment of all cranes, which appear undamaged, will be conducted,” the port authority said.
The Port of Corpus Christi has returned to normal operations, but remains in Hurricane Condition 5 – seasonal alert, which is automatically activated each year at the beginning of hurricane season.
“This developing weather situation serves as an important reminder that the 2018 hurricane season is not over, and so, we remain vigilant and continuously are monitoring potential storm systems. We encourage our partners and community members to remain alert and to stay educated on preparedness recommendations,” said Sean Strawbridge, Chief Executive Officer of the Port of Corpus Christi.
As of September 15, the Coast Guard Captain of the Port (COTP) reopened the Port of Georgetown, South Carolina, without restrictions.
Due to potential effects from Hurricane Florence throughout the Georgetown area, mariners are urged to transit with caution considering the possibility of aids to navigation discrepancies or other hazards to navigation.
The Port of Georgetown has been closed since September 13 prior to Hurricane Florence impacting South Carolina.
“The Coast Guard in South Carolina is committed to a swift recovery from the storm with search and rescue operations and safety of life as our ongoing priority,” said Capt. John Reed, Sector Charleston commander.
“Our next priority is to resume the flow of maritime commerce stability through the ports of South Carolina.”
As of Sunday afternoon Florence was moving north-northwest across western portions of North Carolina and southern Virginia, with maximum sustained winds of 35 MPH. A turn toward the north and northeast is forecast on Monday.  The storm is reported to have claimed 17 lives amid extreme flooding and damages to infrastructure and cities across North Carolina.
  • World Maritime News
BREXIT deal HAS been reached - and will be unveiled at special summit in NOVEMBER
A BREXIT deal WILL be unveiled in November after Britain and the European Union reached an agreement following a year of intense differences and negotiations, according to reports today.
Senior Government officials and diplomats in Brussels, the UK, and other European Union capitals have said the deal will be presented at a yet-to-be arranged summit in the Belgian capital before Christmas.
According to respected political website Politico differences still remain between the two sides, particularly on how to solve the Irish border issue, but the diplomats claimed that if a deal is clinched, it will be quickly approved by EU27 leaders.  It would be seen as a pivotal moment for under-fire Prime Minister Theresa May, with the step up in momentum helping her force the deal through Parliament before opponents can challenge it in any great detail.  Britain and the EU are now working closely to get the deal over the line, intent on avoiding any issues that critics could potentially pick apart and delay the process further.
Officials claim the withdrawal deal is close to completion, with the final push focusing on the “political declaration”, the document outlining the framework of the relationship that will accompany the withdrawal treaty.  Politico said that according to the EU 27 officials and diplomats working on Brexit, the final compromise will reflect some aspects of Mrs May’s much-criticised Chequers proposals and will remain specifically vague to reduce the potential of more challenges.
One EU diplomat said: “The more generic it will be, the easier it will be for May to keep together the different souls of the Tories.”
According to a senior UK official, one proposal being put forward to avoid any debate over this vagueness is to make the final document a combination of “high-level aspiration” in certain areas and “incredibly detailed agreement” in others.
Another EU official said that during a meeting on August 22 with the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier, Secretary Dominic Raab called for a legal guarantee on the future framework to be implemented into the Withdrawal Agreement, both on the process and the outcomes of it.  But the official said this was “not possible” while a second idea to be put into the political declaration could be that of “review clauses”, which would enable London and Brussels to agree potential problems with the agreement can be settled at a later date.
A senior official told Politico these clauses should not give the impression of “perpetual divorce” but could help calm any fears from Brussels that Britain could emerge with “competitive advantages”.
Both sides have now agreed on the need for a future “political joint committee", which would be staffed with officials from both sides and sit under a joint ministerial committee that would meet regularly to help solve discrepancies.  Despite the positive signs that a deal could be agreed following one-last marathon meeting in November, there are still a number of hurdles to overcome.
  • Express
Headlines Friday 14th September 2018
DP World Will Continue Defending Its Rights in DCT
Dubai-based terminal operator DP World affirmed its plans to pursue all legal means to defend its rights as shareholder and concessionaire in Doraleh Container Terminal.
The company unveiled its intentions only days after the Republic of Djibouti decided to nationalize all the shares and corporate rights held by Port de Djibouti SA (PDSA) in the Doraleh terminal.  DP World referred to Djibouti’s move as a “blatant disregard for the rule of law and respect for commercial contracts,” adding that the transfer appears to have been made in an attempt to flout an injunction of the English High Court which restrains PDSA from using its shareholding to take control of DCT.
On September 9, the President of Djibouti enacted a decree which transferred the shareholding of PDSA in Doraleh Container Terminal to the Government of Djibouti. PDSA is 23.5% owned by China Merchants Port Holdings Company of Hong Kong.
“Investors across the world must think twice about investing in Djibouti and reassess any agreements they may have with a government that has no respect for legal agreements and changes them at will without agreement or consent,” a DP World spokesperson said.
On August 31, the High Court of England & Wales issued an injunction against PDSA, as shareholder in DCT, ordering that it should not treat the joint venture agreement with DP World as terminated.
The 2006 Concession Agreement, which is governed by English law, provides that disputes relating to the agreement are to be resolved through binding arbitration in the London Court of International Arbitration. DP World said that such arbitration proceedings are ongoing, adding that to date the Government has not made any offer to compensate DP World.
  • World Maritime News
Stapem Offshore preparing new DSV for November sea trials
Stapem Offshore’s new catamaran dive support vessel (DSV) will undergo sea trials following the finalization process.  Stapem said on Thursday that the new vessel, named the Stapem Narval, would undergo sea trials in November.  The Stapem Narval is currently under finalization process at Legacy Marine’s yard in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.
During this testing phase, the vessel’s performance and general seaworthiness will be measured.  The company added that technical representatives from the builder, certification officials, and representatives of Stapem Offshore would be present to conduct and follow these tests.  Successful sea trials will subsequently lead to certification and commissioning with an expected delivery date of December 2018 in Angola.
Stapem Narval is the sister vessel of the Stapem Beluga DSV, delivered in January. Both vessels share the identical hull and superstructure layout, similar size, and roughly comparable features and equipment. According to the company, the vessels are suited for demanding offshore tasks that require a high degree of maneuverability and accuracy.
Both vessels were designed by Incat Crowther. Incat won a contract from Legacy Marine for the design of the two DSVs back in April 2017.  The main cabins in the DSVs have seating for fourteen persons and also an SL3 diving operations panel for monitoring dive operations. Achieving speeds in excess of 20 knots, the vessel is powered by two MAN D2876LE402 main engines, each coupled to a Hamilton HJ403 waterjet through ZF 360 gearboxes.
It is worth noting that the Stapem Beluga already had its inaugural mission when Total Exploration & Production Angola requested an inspection of the buoys and moorings used by surfers in Luanda Bay, in front of the Sonils dock.
  • Offshore Energy Today
MPs say RBS boss 'withheld information' about alleged criminality
The chief executive of RBS has been accused by MPs of withholding information about an investigation into criminal activity within the bank.  Ross McEwan had told the Treasury Committee in January that there was not any criminality inside the bank.  But in June, the Times reported that Police Scotland was investigating allegations about a former employee, which MPs then asked him to clarify.  Mr McEwan said he had replied to the Committee's questions in "good faith".  He had been giving evidence about the way the bank's Global Restructuring Group (GRG) had treated small business companies (SMEs).
The session related to a leaked regulatory report that found an "intentional, co-ordinated strategy" to put RBS's interests ahead of customers.  He had been asked: "Do you think that there has been any criminal activity within the bank by your staff?"
Mr McEwan had replied: "Not that we have seen or had reported, and certainly none that the police or the Serious Fraud Office are looking at, to our knowledge."
It was then reported in June that Police Scotland was investigating allegations that had been made in relation to a former employee of the restructuring division.
Nicky Morgan, who chairs the committee, sought an explanation and after receiving a written explanation from Mr McEwan said he had "withheld information of relevance and interest".
In his letter to Ms Morgan, Mr McEwan had said the allegations being investigated by Police Scotland did not relate to the period 2008 to 2013, which has been the subject of scrutiny by the Financial Conduct Authority.  But Ms Morgan said: "When asked in January if he was aware of any criminal activity at GRG, Mr McEwan withheld information of relevance and interest to the Committee.
"His letter to me implies that this was not inadvertent, but because he considered that the criminal allegations and police investigation in question were not related to the subject matter of the committee's session."
  • BBC News
Headlines Thursday 13th September 2018
Maersk Tankers’ New Ships to Save Fuel with Wärtsilä
Finnish technology group Wärtsilä is to supply a newly updated propulsion control system for Maersk Tankers’ six 110,000 dwt LR2 newbuildings.  The order with Wärtsilä was booked in the first quarter of 2018 and includes an advanced alarm and control system.
The Wärtsilä Nacos Platinum automation package is designed to optimise main engine propulsion efficiency to deliver fuel savings and lower operational costs. The energy saving features include power management, and logic for cargo overview and remote control.
Wärtsilä is scheduled to deliver the equipment to the yard in line with the newbuilding programme at the Dalian Shipbuilding yard in China. The plan is to deliver the vessels over a period of two years with the first vessels entering the fleet in 2020.
  • World Maritime News
Fresh Acas talks in Unite and Total offshore dispute
Fresh talks in a long-running dispute between the oil company Total and workers on three of its platforms are expected to take place later.  Workers on the Elgin, Alwyn and Dunbar platforms with the Unite union have taken part in several strikes.  The concerns include a move to a three-weeks-on and three-weeks-off rota.
A revised deal was rejected earlier this week, following talks with the independent arbitration service Acas, and more talks are due on Thursday.  Further 12-hour stoppages are planned, including one scheduled for Monday.  The fresh negotiations will again involve Acas.
  • BBC News
World is sleepwalking toward another financial crisis, former UK PM Brown warns
Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown warned that the world is on the verge of sleepwalking into another financial crisis because governments have failed to tackle the causes of the last major financial crash a decade ago.
Britain’s leader when the collapse of the U.S. investment bank Lehman Brothers triggered the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression said the world is leaderless and was now entering a period of vulnerability.
“We are in danger of sleepwalking into a future crisis,” Brown told The Guardian. “There is going to have to be a severe awakening to the escalation of risks, but we are in a leaderless world.”
Brown said the global economy had failed to introduce an early warning system and a system for monitoring financial flows so that it was possible to tell where money had been lent and on what terms.
“We have dealt with the small things but not the big things,” Brown, who was British prime minister from 2007 to 2010, said.  Brown said action against financial wrongdoing had not been tough enough and many banks would expect to be bailed out again in the event of a future crisis.
“The penalties for wrong-doing have not been increased sufficiently,” he said. “The fear that bankers will be imprisoned for bad behavior is not there. There has not been a strong enough message sent out that government won’t rescue institutions that haven’t put their houses in order.”
  • Reuters


Headlines Wednesday 12th September 2018
Dream Cruises Family Expands with Explorer Dream
Genting Cruise Lines announced the latest addition to the Dream Cruises family with a 75,338 gross ton, 1,870 passenger cruise ship Explorer Dream, that will join the fleet in spring 2019.  Formerly the SuperStar Virgo of sister brand Star Cruises, Explorer Dream will undergo a USD 30 million transformation in March 2019 and sail as the company’s pathfinder marking its first step to become Asia’s Global Cruise Line.
Explorer Dream will strengthen the Dream Cruises’ brand in North China with homeports in Shanghai and Tianjin during spring/summer 2019 with a selection of voyages of various durations from Shanghai or Tianjin to Japan, Russia, Hong Kong and the Philippines.
“Dream Cruises will be extending its brand recognition to 300 million Chinese in Shanghai and Tianjin/Beijing next summer as well as offering cruises in Australia and New Zealand to its Asian-sourced passengers during winter 2019 – the first time Dream Cruises will be sailing outside Asia,” said Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay, Executive Chairman of Genting Hong Kong.  Taking the first step to evolve Dream Cruises into Asia’s Global Cruise Line by sailing outside Asian waters, in autumn/winter of 2019, Explorer Dream will homeport in Sydney and Auckland where she will embark on 21 seven-night weekly itineraries.
“We will be accelerating this vision to develop Dream Cruises into Asia’s Global Cruise Line by utilizing one of Asia’s favourite ships, SuperStar Virgo, and converting her into a brand new sibling alongside Genting Dream and World Dream,” added Tan Sri Lim.
  • World Maritime News
North Sea oil and gas drilling reaches record low as offshore wind power thrives
The drilling of new oil and gas wells in the North Sea has plummeted to record lows, in sharp contrast with recent high-profile achievements in offshore wind.
Total exploration this year is expected to be the lowest since early exploitation in 1965, revealed industry body Oil & Gas UK (O&G UK) in its annual economic report today. Only four exploration wells were ‘spudded’, or started, in the first eight months of the year.
A few miles from the report’s launch in Aberdeen, however, is a giant symbol of another industry’s progress. The European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre officially opened last Friday (7 September), featuring two 8.8MW MHI Vestas turbines, the most powerful commercially installed turbines in the world. The day before, the world’s biggest operational offshore windfarm opened off the coast of Cumbria with enough capacity to power nearly 600,000 homes. 
The UK is the “world leader” in offshore wind, said trade body Renewable UK. There are 37 offshore windfarms, mostly in the North Sea. In contrast to the fossil-fuel sector’s faltering ambition, new wind projects that are under construction, consented or in planning will more than double national capacity from 7.9GW to 19.4GW.
“The offshore wind sector’s growing supply chain includes traditional manufacturing firms and oil and gas companies and their skilled staff, offering services and expertise which grew up around the previous North Sea energy revolution to this new one, in fields such as cabling and providing vessels,” said Renewable UK spokesman Luke Clark to Professional Engineering.
“Former North Sea oil and gas workers are benefiting from this by making the transition into offshore wind, where their transferable skills working in a marine environment are highly valued.”
The oil and gas sector “is at a crossroads”, said O&G UK chief executive Deirdre Michie. “The industry is emerging from one of the most testing downturns in its history. However, the steps that have been taken by industry, government and the regulator have delivered tangible results.”  These include halved operating costs thanks to efficiency improvements driven by new technology. Despite this year’s record low exploration, production from existing wells is on track to be 20% higher than in 2014 – when oil prices plummeted – and more major new projects have been sanctioned so far this year than in the previous two years combined.
Despite a partial industry recovery, the low drilling levels and a “supply chain squeeze” could “threaten industry’s ability to effectively service an increase in activity and maximise economic recovery,” said Michie.
“Essential for security of energy supply, supporting hundreds of thousands of skilled jobs and contributing billions to the economy, this is a vital industry,” said Michie. “As our economic report shows, with the right stewardship across the industry, it will continue to play a leading role for many decades to come.”
The renewables sector is also highly ambitious, however. “The UK’s offshore wind industry is aiming to reach at least 30GW by 2030 – enough to supply a third of the country’s electricity needs,” said Clark from Renewable UK.
  • Institution of Mechanical Engineers
Ineos to invest £60m in new furnace at Grangemouth
An additional furnace will increase production at the Grangemouth site.  Energy giant Ineos is to invest £60m to expand its petrochemical complex at Grangemouth.
An additional furnace will be built on its ethylene plant at the 1,700-acre site.  The company said the investment showed its commitment to UK manufacturing at a time when it is in decline across many industrial regions around the country.
The addition of a 10th furnace will improve the efficiency of the plant and increase its production capacity.  Ineos announced last summer it would boost the amount of ethylene it can produce at Grangemouth and in Norway.  It follows the opening of a new supply of fracked shale gas that is now shipped to Europe from the US.
  • BBC News
Headlines Tuesday 11th September 2018
Brexit worker issues 'could shut offshore platforms'
Oil and gas platforms could have to be shut down if a deal on Brexit leads to difficulties accessing skilled workers, according to an industry report.  The warning comes in Oil and Gas UK's latest economic report.  It said delays in accessing labour markets from EU countries have the potential, in some instances, of leading to production being shut in.
The UK government said employers could continue recruiting from Europe up until 2020.  The report said about 5% of workers in the UK oil and gas sector come from other EU countries.  That figure rises to seven percent for the offshore workforce.  The report said it was "vital that arrangements are in place between the UK and EU to allow the continued frictionless movement of people".  One example related to emergency response vessels stationed close to platforms, which require skilled engineers to operate.
  • BBC News
North Sea oil and gas drilling falls to lowest level since 1965
Slump in exploration to find fresh deposits is cause for serious concern in industry facing threat from Brexit.  The number of new oil and gas wells being drilled in the North Sea has crashed to levels not seen since the basin was first tapped more than half a century ago.
The UK’s oil and gas industry warned that the record low was a cause for “serious concern” and left the sector at a crossroads.  Just four exploratory wells have been drilled in the first eight months of the year, with the most optimistic projections pointing to a total of 12 expected by the year end.
That would put 2018 on a par with 1965, the second year that the modern era of exploratory work got under way in the North Sea and when the Beatles were dominating the UK singles charts.
“Record low drilling activity, coupled with the supply chain squeeze, threaten industry’s ability to effectively service an increase in activity and maximise economic recovery,” said Deirdre Michie, chief executive of Oil & Gas UK, which published the figures.
  • The Guardian
Pound jumps as Michel Barnier says Brexit deal 'possible' before November
The comments come amid a report EU leaders are ready to hold an extraordinary Brexit summit on 13 November.  The EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier believes a deal is possible before the beginning of November.  In remarks that saw a jump in the value of the pound, the European Commission official claimed a treaty could be agreed "within six or eight weeks" if both sides are "realistic".
It came as it was reported that EU leaders are expected to announce next week - at an informal meeting in Salzburg - that an extraordinary Brexit summit will take place in November.
According to The Guardian, the special gathering is likely to be held on 13 November and will allow a political declaration on the terms of the UK's future relationship with the EU.
However, the newspaper said a solution to the Irish border issue would need to be finalised at an already scheduled EU summit in October for a deal to be possible.  Mr Barnier offered hope of a UK withdrawal agreement within that timeframe during remarks at an economic forum in Slovenia on Monday.  
"I think that if we are realistic we are able to reach an agreement on the first stage of the negotiation, which is the Brexit treaty, within six or eight weeks," he said.
"Taking account the time necessary for the ratification process, the House of Commons on one side and the European Parliament and Council on the other side.
"We need, we must reach an agreement before the beginning of November. I think it's possible."
The pound was up a cent against the dollar at more than $1.30 on the reported comments, while sterling was also up half a cent against the euro at just over €1.12.
Chris Erlam, senior market analyst at OANDA, said: "Sterling has become very sensitive to positive Brexit news over the last couple of weeks, having spiked on a couple of occasions on reports that the UK will get a bespoke deal and that Angela Merkel is willing to accept less detail on future ties.
"Clearly there is a feeling that a lot of Brexit pessimism and no deal risk has been priced in which is why we're in a state of such sensitivity to any reports that indicate a breakthrough will come."
Prime Minister Theresa May is still facing opposition to her so-called Chequers plan for Britain's future ties with the EU, with 80 Tory MPs claimed to be willing to vote against her Brexit proposals in the House of Commons.
  • Sky News
Headlines Monday 10th September 2018
Norway’s largest oil pipeline reaches Johan Sverdrup field
Last week Norway’s largest and longest pipeline, laid by the vessel Saipem Castorone, reached the Equinor-operated Johan Sverdrup field in the North Sea.
Saipem Castorone at the Johan Sverdrup field in the North Sea. (Photo: Bo B. Randulff / Roar Lindefjeld / Equinor ASA)
Equinor informed on Monday that, late last week, the last pipe of what is now Norway’s longest and largest oil pipeline was installed right next to the riser platform at the Johan Sverdrup field. The 36-inch pipeline extends 283 km from the Mongstad oil terminal outside Bergen to the giant field in the North Sea.
“We have together with our supplier Saipem succeeded in laying the oil pipeline to Johan Sverdrup without any serious incidents. It has been a significant operation, involving more than 600 people at the most, who have welded together over 23,000 pipes to create what has now become Norway’s largest and longest oil pipeline,” says Geir Bjaanes, responsible for subsea, power and pipelines for the Johan Sverdrup project.
“The oil pipeline plays a really central role in the project. When the Johan Sverdrup field produces at peak, 660,000 barrels of oil valued at more than NOK 350 million each day, will flow daily into Mongstad,” says Bjaanes.
The vessel Saipem Castorone began pipelaying operations at Mongstad in late April this year. After, the pipeline was laid through the Fensfjord before the vessel set course for the Johan Sverdrup field.
  • Offshore Energy Today
Star Bulk to Equip Entire Fleet with Scrubbers
Athens-based shipping firm Star Bulk Carriers unveiled its intentions to equip its entire fleet with exhaust gas cleaning systems before the January 1, 2020 implementation date of the new IMO sulfur emission cap regulation.
Star Bulk expects average cost, including installation, to be below USD 2 million per vessel. The company has secured debt financing with an average margin of below 3.0% to cover up to around 70% of such cost and expects the remaining amount to be covered from operating cash flow and cash on hand, without raising equity for this purpose.
Additionally, the company has secured contracts with undisclosed shipyards for the installation of such systems, while in approximately 35% of the installations, riding teams are being deployed to carry out the retrofitting works onboard the vessels while at sea, reducing off hire time, as a result of those installations, by 50% to 60%.
A month ago, Star Bulk successfully completed the first scrubber installation at sea.
  • World Maritime News
UK growth will slow to 1.3% amid Brexit uncertainty – KPMG
A sharp fall in consumer spending and business investment is expected to drag Britain’s growth rate down to just 1.3% this year, dispelling hopes that the UK’s sluggish rate of expansion in the first six months will recover in the second half of the year.
According to the consultancy KPMG, Brexit uncertainty will take a bigger toll on the economy than many forecasters, including the Bank of England, expect following a slump in consumer spending from 1.9% last year to 1.2% in 2018 and an even bigger drop in business investment, from 3.4% in 2017 to 0.8% this year.
There is little comfort in the report for workers, who have suffered a fall in incomes over the last year as rising wages failed to keep pace with inflation.  The report warned that despite growing difficulties finding staff, intense pressures on profit margins and Brexit uncertainties would dictate caution.
“If productivity growth remains at around 1% then, as a basic rule of thumb, we would expect wages to rise by around 3% on average,” KPMG said, giving workers only a small real-terms rise over an inflation rate running at 2.3%.  The predictions coincide with figures from the retail industry showing a 1.6% fall in the number of people visiting high street shops in August compared with last year.  Retail analysts at the marketing consultancy Springboard said the decline was even sharper than the 0.8% drop recorded in July and showed that the rising cost of the weekly supermarket shop was leaving consumers with little cash left over to buy other items.  
KPMG said in its quarterly health check of the British economy that uncertainty and risks around Brexit were likely to put a brake on further interest rate rises by the Bank as policymakers remained cautious “during the critical months ahead”.  The Bank’s monetary policy committee (MPC), which is chaired by the governor, Mark Carney, meets this week but is not expected to consider a rate rise before November, KPMG said – and only if Brexit negotiations progress smoothly.
“Interest rates are likely be cut to at least 0.25% if negotiations are not successful, with additional measures to be announced by the [Bank of England] to ease any significant pressure on the banking sector,” the report said.
The UK economy grew by 1.7% during 2017, according to the Office for National Statistics. Growth slowed to 0.2% in the first quarter of 2018, recovering to 0.4% in the second quarter.  KPMG’s assessment of the housing market found that the average price of a home across the countrywill rise more slowly this year than last – with growth dropping from 4.5% in 2017 to 2.6% in 2018. The slowdown is expected to continue for the rest of the decade – down to 2.0% in 2019 and 1.6% in 2020.
  • The Guardian
Headlines Friday 7th September 2018
Tanker Scrapping Key for Sustainable Market Recovery
Tanker owners are set to see an increase in freight rates in the second half of 2018, a welcome rebound from the historic lows over the recent months.  Seasonal demand should support the market in Q3 and, especially, in Q4, according to BIMCO. However, a long-term recovery is highly dependent on removal of outdated capacity from the fleet through demolition.
“For crude oil tankers to really enjoy solid earnings, however, patience is required, as overcapacity is currently significant. The fundamental balance could worsen in 2019 if demand growth does not pick up, as the fleet could grow by 2.5% unless extensive demolition activity continues,” BIMCO’s Chief Shipping Analyst Peter Sand said.  Unfortunately, despite high demolition prices owners have not been that eager to part from their older ships as they still believe market will turn for the better in the second half of the year.
During the first half of the year, 13.1 m dwt of crude oil tanker capacity has been demolished, a level equal to the total for the preceding 40 months, BIMCO’s data shows.  But, there has been a reversal in demolition trend in the second half of the year with only one VLCC  broken up in July, and little more that 1 million dwt demolished in total.
“BIMCO expects that there will be a cooling in demolition activity in the final six months of 2018, as the market is likely to deliver somewhat higher freight rates on the back of increased demand in the second half of the year,” Sand said, saying the expected demolition for crude oil tankers is 19 million dwt and 2.5 million dwt for oil product tankers.
Fleet growth year to date has been muted by the massive demolition activity. The crude oil tanker fleet was 0.2% smaller by early August than it was at the start of the year. The oil product tanker fleet has grown 1.7% in the first seven months of 2018.  “Our fleet growth forecast for the full year of 2018 is at 0.8% for the crude oil sector and 2.4% for the oil products sector,” Sand concluded.
  • World Maritime News
Fugro scores hat-trick with BHP
Dutch offshore services provider Fugro has won three contracts with BHP Petroleum for the support of exploration and production operations in Trinidad and Tobago and the Gulf of Mexico.
Fugro said on Thursday that the company would provide geophysical and geotechnical services from dedicated vessels to support the development of the Ruby field within Trinidad’s Block 3(a).  From its deepwater survey vessel, Fugro Searcher, Fugro will conduct 3DHR seismic surveys, seabed clearance and shallow hazards surveys, a flowline corridor survey, and a shallow geotechnical survey. The vessel recently completed the geophysical acquisition of a Carson Basin seep hunting program offshore Canada.
As for the geotechnical site investigations, the workscope includes drilling, laboratory analysis, and engineering reporting.  Fugro also installed its custom-designed FCV 3000 ROV equipment onboard Transocean’s ultra-deepwater drillship Deepwater Invictus. The company will provide subsea ROV support during drilling campaigns in Trinidad and Tobago, the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, and Mexico. These operations began in June this year and will continue until May 2020.  Ed Saade, Fugro’s USA president, said: “We are very pleased to have commenced operations at these significant deepwater developments in the Americas. Our specialized geophysical, geotechnical and drill support services enable Fugro to support the entire lifecycle of offshore oilfields like these.”
  • Offshore Energy Today
BA chief pledges to compensate customers after data breach
The chief executive of British Airways has promised to compensate customers who have had their data stolen in what he described as a sophisticated breach of the company’s security systems.  Álex Cruz apologised on Friday after it was revealed that about 380,000 payment cards had been compromised after a theft of data from the BA website and app over a two-week period.
“The first thing to say is that I am extremely sorry for what happened,” Cruz said on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme. “We will work with any customer affected and we will compensate any financial hardship suffered.”
Shares in the owner of BA, IAG, fell nearly 3% on Friday morning as investors weighed the impact of the hack on ticket sales.  The breach took place between 10.58pm BST on 21 August and 9.45pm on 5 September. The airline said personal and financial details of customers making bookings had been compromised.  Cruz said the attack had not been a breach of encryption but it was a “sophisticated” effort by criminals. He said he would not go into much detail about the nature of what happened because the police were investigating.
The data theft, one of the most serious to hit a UK company, deals another blow to BA’s reputation. The airline experienced an IT disaster last year when a power surge in its control centre near Heathrow caused a global flight interruption and left tens of thousands of passengers stranded, most notably at London airports.
Cruz said the company was operating profitably and would expand its services and customer care. “We will get through this.”  He said BA had a network of partners that monitored websites around the world. A partner alerted the airline to the cyber-attack on 5 September and an investigation was launched. “The moment that actual customer data had been compromised, that’s when we began immediate communication to our customers,” Cruz said.
The airline placed advertisements in newspapers on Friday apologising for the breach.  The Information Commissioner’s Office is investigating the breach and the airline could potentially be fined.
  • The Guardian
Headlines Thursday 6th September 2018
Exclusive - British Navy warship sails near South China Sea islands, angering Beijing
Beijing expressed anger on Thursday after a British Royal Navy warship sailed close to islands claimed by China in the South China Sea late last month, saying Britain was engaged in “provocation” and that it had lodged a strong complaint.
The HMS Albion, a 22,000 ton amphibious warship carrying a contingent of Royal Marines, exercised its “freedom of navigation” rights as it passed near the Paracel Islands, two sources, who were familiar with the matter but who asked not to be identified, told Reuters.  The Albion was on its way to Ho Chi Minh City, where it docked on Monday following a deployment in and around Japan.
One of the sources said Beijing dispatched a frigate and two helicopters to challenge the British vessel, but both sides remained calm during the encounter.  The other source the Albion did not enter the territorial seas around any features in the hotly disputed region but demonstrated that Britain does not recognise excessive maritime claims around the Paracel Islands. Twelve nautical miles is an internationally recognised territorial limit.  The Paracels are occupied entirely by China but also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan.
China’s Foreign Ministry, in a faxed statement sent to Reuters, said the ship had entered Chinese territorial waters around the Paracel Islands on Aug. 31 without permission, and the Chinese navy had warned it to leave.
“The relevant actions by the British ship violated Chinese law and relevant international law, and infringed on China’s sovereignty. China strongly opposes this and has lodged stern representations with the British side to express strong dissatisfaction,” the ministry added.
“China strongly urges the British side to immediately stop such provocative actions, to avoid harming the broader picture of bilateral relations and regional peace and stability,” it said.
“China will continue to take all necessary measures to defend its sovereignty and security.”
The encounter comes at a delicate time in London-Beijing relations.  Britain has been courting China for a post-Brexit free trade deal, and both countries like to describe how they have a “golden era” in ties.  A spokesman for the Royal Navy said: “HMS Albion exercised her rights for freedom of navigation in full compliance with international law and norms.”
  • Reuters
World's largest offshore windfarm opens off Cumbrian coast
The world’s biggest offshore windfarm has officially opened in the Irish Sea, amid warnings that Brexit could increase costs for future projects.  Walney Extension, off the Cumbrian coast, spans an area the size of 20,000 football pitches and has a capacity of 659 megawatts, enough to power the equivalent of 590,000 homes.
The project is a sign of how dramatically wind technology has progressed in the past five years since the previous biggest, the London Array, was finished.  The new windfarm uses less than half the number of turbines but is more powerful.
Matthew Wright, the UK managing director of Danish energy firm Ørsted, the project’s developer, said: “It’s another benchmark in terms of the scale. This – bigger turbines, with fewer positions and a bit further out – is really the shape of projects going forward.”
The energy minister Claire Perry said the scheme would help the UK, the world’s number one in offshore wind installations, to consolidate its leadership and create thousands of high-quality jobs.
The supersizing of windfarms around the British coastline means Walney Extension will not hold its title for long.  ScottishPower’s East Anglia One will be bigger at 714MW when it opens in 2020. Ørsted itself has even larger schemes in the works, including Hornsea One and Two (1,200MW and 1,800MW, respectively) off the Yorkshire coast.  Wright said it was “fantastic news” that ministers had recently committed to a timetable of auctions for clean energy subsidies every two years, starting in 2019.  He said it was too early to say whether the company would submit its Hornsea Three windfarm, capable of powering 2m homes, into next year’s auction. But the executive warned that leaving the EU posed the risk of short-term disruption, and seamless borders and free-trade were important to Ørsted.
“A hard Brexit or a last-minute no deal is probably the thing that would cause a problem in terms of supply chains and movement of goods and people,” he said.  In the long-term, however, any form of Brexit would not change the firm’s interest in the UK and the fundamentals of the market. “We can deal with it,” he said.
Wright said he was unfazed by the ‘wind drought’ that the heatwave brought to much of Europe this summer. “We will see some low wind periods, some high wind outputs,” he said.
But the record-breaking temperatures and wildfires would likely strengthen political action on global warming, he thought. “It does tend to focus the mind a little in terms of climate and energy policy. I think it does have an effect,” he said.  Offshore windfarms provide nearly a tenth of the UK’s electricity.
  • The Guardian
Energy price cap to save households £75, Ofgem says
An energy bill price cap of £1,136 a year for "typical usage" has been proposed by the regulator, Ofgem.  It says the move will mean 11 million households on default deals will save about £75 on average, although the amount households could save will depend on their usage and supplier.  The planned cap will be confirmed in November, take effect at the end of December and stay in place until 2023.
Ofgem said it was a "tough" cap which would give a fairer deal to consumers.  The plan is that when the price cap is introduced at the end of the year, gas and electricity suppliers will have to cut their prices to the level of or below the cap.
The £1,136 per year cap is based on a typical dual fuel customer paying by direct debit and the aim is to force energy companies to scrap excess charges for people on poor value default deals.
  • BBC News
Headlines Wednesday 5th September 2018
Typhoon Jebi Smashes Japanese Tanker into Airport Bridge
Japanese tanker Houn Maru has fallen victim of the powerful typhoon Jebi that wrecked havoc across western Japan on Tuesday, September 4, Japan’s Transport Safety Bureau informed.
Due to the relentless winds and high waves, the 2,591-tonne vessel broke loose from its anchorage in the Osaka Bay smashing repeatedly into the Kansai International Airport bridge that connects the facility with the mainland.  The ship’s 11 crew members were not injured in the incident, according to the coast guard, however, the ship suffered damages.
Prior to the incident the tanker had delivered fuel to the airport, based on the information from local media, and berthed in the vicinity of the airport.
Screenshot from Marine Traffic showing Houn Maru collision with the airport bridge  The vessel was removed from the site by a tugboat of Japan’s Coast Guard on early Wednesday morning, the Japanese Times reported.  Japan’s Transport Safety Bureau has launched an investigation into the collision.
The typhoon left about 5,000 people stranded at Kansai International Airport as parts of the facility were flooded.  Jebi has been described as the strongest typhoon to have hit Japan in the past 25 years, claiming 10 lives and injuring around 300 people, the Guardian writes.
  • World Maritime News
Shell idles Noble drillship
Oil major Shell has decided to idle one of Noble Corporation’s drillships operating for the company in the Gulf of Mexico.
Noble informed in its fleet status report on Tuesday that Shell had exercised a contractual right to idle the 2013-built drillship Noble Don Taylor for the remainder of its contract, or 183 days ending February 25, 2019.
The drillship has been working for Shell in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico since August 2013.  During the idle period, the rig will receive daily revenue of $420,000, Noble said.
The driller also said that Shell can redeploy the rig at any time within the remaining contract period, and the company is free to secure immediate contract opportunities.
Meanwhile, the 2014-built drillship Noble Tom Madden is preparing for mobilization in Guyana. The rig’s contract with ExxonMobil starts in mid-October 2018 with an end date in December. The contract also includes up to three priced options.
  • Offshore Energy Today
Britain would now vote 59-41 to stay in the EU - new poll shows
British voters would vote 59-41 to stay in the European Union if given the option after a six-point swing away from Brexit, an opinion poll showed on Wednesday, the highest recorded support for EU membership in such a survey since the 2016 referendum.
In the June 23, 2016 referendum, 17.4 million voters, or 51.9 percent of the votes cast, backed leaving the EU while 16.1 million voters, or 48.1 percent of votes cast, backed staying. Many opinion polls were wrong about the result.
Polling showed 59 percent of voters would now vote to remain in the bloc, versus 41 percent who would vote to leave. The findings were published in an academic-led report on Wednesday by research bodies NatCen and The UK in a Changing Europe.  That is the highest recorded support for ‘remain’ in a series of five such surveys since the 2016 referendum and a large reversal of the actual 52-48 percent vote to leave.  The author of the report, polling expert John Curtice, added a note of caution, saying that their panel of interviewees reported they had voted 53 percent in favour of remain in the original vote - a higher proportion than the actual vote.
“Nevertheless, this still means that there has apparently been a six-point swing from Leave to Remain, larger than that registered by any of our previous rounds of interviewing, and a figure that would seemingly point to a 54 percent (Remain) vote in any second referendum held now,” Curtice said in the report.
Britain is due to leave the EU on March 29, 2019 but has yet to secure an exit agreement to define future relations with Brussels and manage the economic impact of ending over four decades of integration with the world’s largest trading bloc.  The government has ruled out holding a second referendum.  The survey interviewed 2,048 subjects between June 7 and July 8. That means the survey does not fully reflect any change in opinion brought about by the publication of Prime Minister Theresa May’s negotiating strategy, published in early July.  That negotiating strategy has split May’s party at every level and drawn heavy criticism from both Brexit supporters and those who want to retain close ties to the EU.
Nevertheless, the poll shows voters thought the negotiations were going badly even before the publication of May’s so-called Chequers plan.
“Both Remain and Leave supporters have become markedly more critical of how both the UK government - especially - and the EU - somewhat less so - have been handling the negotiations,” Curtice said. “They have also become markedly more pessimistic about how good a deal Britain will get.”  Curtice said the results of the polling showed that the most influential factor over whether voters will support the conclusion of the negotiations is their perception of its economic effect rather than the details of any deal.
  • Reuters
Headlines Tuesday 4th September 2018
Tours showcasing new offshore wind turbines to start in Aberdeen
Aberdeen Harbour Tours has been operating excursions out of Commercial Quay West in the city for the past 25 years and is now looking to offer close-up views of the newest addition to the North Sea horizon.  Bosses want to sail visitors around Vattenfall’s £300 million wind turbine development.
Tours are expected to start soon, with operator Greenhowe Marine Services taking people up close and personal to the huge structures.  Ricky Greenhowe, who operates the tour boat, said: “A lot of people have been asking about it. Instead of an hour, the cruises would be an hour-and-a-half as it is five miles from the harbour to the windfarm. There’s a lot of people interested so far. We do the harbour tours and we did one trip out there already.”  Ricky said the company is just waiting for the confirmation that the boat can go out before the tours begin. The company also takes visitors out to sea for the opportunity to spot dolphin pods up close, rather than simply viewing them from the harbour.
The boat has previously been used as a water taxi to transfer goods and crew to offshore installations.  He added: “There’s nobody else doing anything like that. It’s two-and-a-half miles off the coast, but this way you can see it up close. We’ve had a lot of interest from companies as well. It’ll be good – it’s something different.”
The European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC) took nine weeks to build, from the time the first foundations were installed.  The development is the largest offshore wind test and demonstration facility in Scotland.  The 11 turbines began generating power for the first time in July.  They are expected to generate the equivalent of 70% of Aberdeen’s domestic electricity demand. The wind farm has also been the subject of legal challenges by US President Donald Trump.  Mr Trump claimed it would ruin the views from Trump International, his multi-million pound Menie golf course.
As well as being one of the fastest developments of its kind to be installed, one of the world’s largest floating cranes, the Asian Hercules III, was used to secure the equipment to the seabed.
  • Evening Express
UK Oil & Gas wins court injunction preventing protests at Gatwick oil project
UK Oil & Gas said it had won a court injunction preventing protests at its projects sites, including near Gatwick Airport.  The Chancery Division of the High Court had granted an interim injunction against persons unknown, who may in future engage in unlawful protest activity.
'The judgement provides immediate High Court protection against those who use the specified unlawful actions and breach the injunction at our sites,' the company said.
Injunctions were granted in respect of Horse Hill and Broadford Bridge to prohibit protesters from entering and remaining on the sites, blocking the public highway, slow-walking in front of vehicles or climbing on to vehicles, among other restrictions.  Judge Male also found 'there is a good reason to believe the Horse Hill site is under a real and imminent threat' and that slow-walking 'is not a reasonable use of the highway', UK Oil & Gas said.
  • Shares Magazine
TSB boss Paul Pester to step down after IT fiasco
TSB chief Paul Pester is to step down after seven years in charge, in the wake of a major IT failure at the bank.  In April this year, customers were left without access to online banking services for several weeks when an attempt to move data to a new computer system went wrong.
The bank is still struggling to get its IT systems to work properly.  On Monday, it apologised to customers who faced disruption to their online and mobile banking over the weekend.
Following Mr Pester's departure, TSB chairman Richard Meddings will take on the role of executive chairman until a new chief executive is appointed.  Mr Meddings said: "Although there is more to do to achieve full stability for customers, the bank's IT systems and services are much improved since the IT migration. Paul and the Board have therefore agreed that this is the right time to appoint a new CEO for TSB."
  • BBC News
Headlines Monday 3rd September 2018
Spirit Energy farms into Hurricane’s West of Shetland licenses
Spirit Energy has farmed into 50% of Hurricane Energy’s Lincoln (P.1368 South) and Warwick (P.2294) licenses, which together cover the Greater Warwick Area (GWA) located in the West of Shetland area off the UK.
Hurricane Energy said on Monday that the GWA farm-in opened up a significant new work program across the assets. The company retains 100% of its remaining portfolio including Lancaster.
Spirit Energy and Hurricane committed to a work program which envisages first oil on the GWA by 2020 and the final investment decision (FID) on the first phase of a full field development by 2021. This is intended to unlock initial reserves of half a billion barrels (gross) from current GWA resources.  Spirit Energy will ultimately take on the role of GWA license operator, following successful drilling during 2019 and 2020.
According to Hurricane, the GWA farm-in allows cash flow generated by the Lancaster EPS to be focussed on appraisal and further development of the Greater Lancaster Area.
  • Offshore Energy Today
UK risks losing more than £3bn tax on North Sea oil and gasfields
The UK risks losing more than £3bn in tax on North Sea oil and gasfields if it sticks with a proposed scheme aimed at wooing buyers for the basin’s assets, according to research by a former top executive at Chevron.
The government’s planned transferable tax history scheme, which is due to take effect in November, aims to make it easier for big oil companies to sell ageing oil and gasfields to new, smaller players that may prolong their operating lives.  By allowing the transfer of a tax history from seller to buyer, the new owner can offset tax paid across the life of the field against the eventual bill for decommissioning — which is seen by the energy industry as a major barrier to deals in the mature basin.
The Treasury last year estimated the transferable tax history scheme will increase the overall tax take from the North Sea by £70m by extending the operating lives of UK North Sea fields, in a region where output peaked almost 20 years ago.  But Tom Mitro, who managed Chevron’s taxation and financial planning in the North Sea in the 1990s, said the scheme could deprive the Treasury of more than £3bn in tax over the next decade.
The UK is predicted to secure about £1.2bn in tax from the North Sea in 2018-19, according to forecasts by the Office for Budget Responsibility, Britain’s fiscal watchdog, which have been adjusted by the Financial Times for current oil prices.  Mr Mitro argued the transferable tax history scheme would reduce the incentive for new owners of North Sea oil and gasfields to invest, and therefore the lives of the assets may not be maximised, and the full tax take lost as a result.  He also said the scheme would reduce the incentive for owners to lower operating costs, which would again hit potential tax receipts.  Mr Mitro also questioned whether the scheme would encourage acquisitions of North Sea assets if sellers baked the value of any transferable tax histories into the deal prices.
Tax receipts secured by the Treasury on each barrel produced from the UK North Sea are now far lower following changes to the fiscal regime two years ago.  The government also faces an estimated £24bn bill for the decommissioning of North Sea platforms and pipelines over the next 20 years — although the industry is due to pick up a bigger share of the costs.
Oil & Gas UK, the industry body which has worked closely with the Treasury on the transferable tax history scheme, defended it as essential for encouraging new operators to a basin that it said had struggled to attract investment for years.
The Treasury is currently running a consultation on the transferable tax history scheme, and Global Witness is expected to submit Mr Mitro’s research.  A Treasury spokesperson welcomed “all responses” to the consultation but it believed the scheme supported “new entrants and bringing more investment to older oilfields”.
  • Financial Times
Brexit could sway Scottish voters towards independence from UK - poll
Britain’s exit from the European Union could tip public opinion in Scotland in favour of seeking independence, an opinion poll showed on Sunday.  Scotland voted against independence in 2014, but a subsequent referendum on leaving the EU has reignited debate over its long-term future as one of Britain’s four constituent parts alongside England, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
In 2016, a majority of Scottish voters backed staying in the EU, while Britain as a whole, voted to leave, meaning that Britain is now due to leave the EU on March 29 2019.  The poll showed that if Britain leaves the EU as planned, 47 percent of Scots would vote for independence at another referendum on Scotland’s future. That compared to 43 percent who would vote against independence and 10 percent who did not know how they would vote.
If Britain remained inside the EU and a Scottish independence referendum were held, the poll showed opinions were reversed, with 43 percent backing Scottish independence under those circumstances, compared to 47 who were against it.  The poll was conducted by Deltapoll, a member of the British Polling Council, which interviewed 1,022 Scottish voters. The poll was commissioned by Best for Britain, an body campaigning for Britain to keep an open mind on retaining its EU membership.  The British government says that the 2014 referendum on Scottish independence settled the question.
  • Reuters
Headlines Friday 31st August 2018
Acas offshore dispute talks to get under way
Talks aimed at bringing to an end strike action on three North Sea platforms are due to be held.  Workers on the Elgin, Alwyn and Dunbar platforms who are members of the Unite union have taken part in several 12 and 24-hour strikes.  Their concerns include a move to a three weeks on and three weeks off rota.
The discussions for Friday involving the independent arbitration service Acas were announced earlier this week.  Total has said the rota plan is essential to keep its operation sustainable.
  • BBC News
Q-LNG, VT Halter Marine Pen LoI for 2nd LNG Bunkering ATB
Marine transportation company QLNG Transport has signed a Letter of Intent (LoI) with VT Halter Marine for a second LNG Articulated Tug and Barge (ATB), the shipyard told World Maritime News.
The second LNG bunker barge is said to be of larger capacity, reaching 8,000 cbm. However, the information is yet to be confirmed by the shipyard to WMN.
VT Halter Marine was contracted by Q-LNG in November 2017 to build an ATB, designed to carry 4,000 cubic meters of LNG. The shipbuilder cut the first steel for the vessel in March 2018.
The vessel is part of a long-term contract between Q-LNG Transport and Shell Trading (U.S.) Company and it will be employed in delivering LNG as a fuel source to various ports in Florida and the Caribbean.  The LNG-bunker barge will also support growing cruise line demand for LNG marine fuel.
It is designed to provide ship-to-ship transfers of LNG to vessels utilizing LNG as a fuel source, and also ship-to-shore transfers to small scale marine distribution infrastructure in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico and abroad.
The ATB construction project will rely heavily on the collaboration between VT Halter and Wärtsilä, who will be delivering a large scope of equipment to the project, including all of the cargo handling, cargo control, and cargo containment system as well as the PMS and automation onboard.
Anticipated delivery of the vessel is in the first quarter of 2020. Once delivered, the bunker barge will be operated by Harvey Gulf International Marine.
Q-LNG was formed in 2017, and it is owned 70% by Harvey Gulf International Marine’s CEO Shane Guidry and 30% by Harvey Gulf.
  • World Maritime News
Business confidence among Scottish firms 'remains steady'
Confidence among businesses in Scotland has "remained steady" for a second month in a row, a survey suggests.  Economic optimism stood at 9% in August, an increase of seven points on the previous month, according to the Bank of Scotland's Business Barometer.  Companies reported lower confidence in their own business prospects, however, which fell six points to 25%.
The bank said a net balance of 6% of businesses in Scotland expect to hire more staff during the next year.  That was down seven points on July.  The Business Barometer questions 1,200 UK businesses - 90 in Scotland - each month.
Fraser Sime, Bank of Scotland's regional director for Scotland, said: "To see overall confidence holding firm demonstrates the continued resilience of Scottish businesses during uncertain times."
Across the UK, firms in the manufacturing sector remained most confident, but confidence of construction businesses fell sharply.  In Scotland, a net balance of 19% of businesses said they felt Brexit was having a negative impact on their expectations for business activity, up one point on a month ago.  Meanwhile, a review of the manufacturing engineering sector has suggested a continuing positive quarter overall for the third time in 2018.  The report, by industry support body Scottish Engineering, said order intake and exports "remain positive at less than 5% above even".
  • BBC News
Headlines Thursday 30th August 2018
Star Bulk to Acquire Bulker Fleet from E.R. Capital Holding
Greece-based shipping firm Star Bulk Carriers (SBLK) has agreed to acquire up to seven dry bulk carriers from Germany’s Erck Rickmers (E.R.) Capital Holding.  The company has inked an en bloc definitive agreement with entities affiliated with E.R. to acquire three firm operating dry bulk vessels within 2018, and four optional operating dry bulk vessels in 2019.
The bulkers in question are ER Bourgogne, ER Brandenburg, ER Brighton, ER America, ER Bayonne, ER Borneo and ER Buenos Aires, all of them constructed in 2010.
“I am very pleased that Star Bulk is acquiring a high quality, modern fleet from E.R. in a structured transaction that combines attractive prices with flexibility for the company. We are excited to expand our footprint in the Capesize segment, especially in a period that the dry bulk market is tightening,” Petros Pappas, Chief Executive Officer of Star Bulk, commented.
Subject to agreeing a three party novation agreement with charterers and E.R., any charterparties existing at the time of the deliveries of each of the vessels shall be novated to Star Bulk, the company said.
As informed, the first three vessels will be acquired for an aggregate of approximately 1.34 million common shares of Star Bulk and USD 41.7 million in cash. The cash portion of the consideration for these vessels will be financed through proceeds of a new five-year term loan of USD 41 million from a major European commercial bank. Following the consummation of the first acquisition, E.R. will own approximately 1.45% of SBLK common shares.
In relation to the remaining four ships, the sellers have granted four call options to Star Bulk Carriers for an aggregate exercise price of USD 115.39 million or USD 28.85 million per vessel, to be exercised on April 1, 2019.
Concurrently, the company has granted four put options to E.R. with an aggregate exercise price of USD 105.39 million or USD 26.35 million per vessel exercisable by E.R. from April 2, 2019 to April 4, 2019, in the event that the company does not exercise the call options. The aggregate exercise price of the call and put options is payable in either, 2/3 cash and 1/3 common shares of Star Bulk, or 100% cash, at the option of the company.
The number of consideration shares related to the second acquisition to be issued to E.R. will be determined by the net asset value of the company.  The deliveries of all seven vessels remain also subject to customary closing conditions, including the novation of any existing charter parties of the vessels.  The company expects to take delivery of the first three vessels in Q4 2018, while the remaining deliveries, subject to the exercise of the call or put option, are expected to take place between early April and mid July 2019.
  • World Maritime News
i3 Energy hires Gardline for Liberator site survey
UK independent 3 Energy has contracted marine survey company Gardline Limited to conduct a site survey at its Liberator field located in the North Sea as it prepares for submission of its updated development plan later this year.
The survey will cover the two production well locations to be drilled during the Phase I development of the Liberator oil field, a survey of the planned export pipeline route, and the appraisal well location for the recently awarded Block 13/23c (Liberator West), i3 explained in a statement on Thursday.
In order to fund this crucial survey and near-term engineering, i3 in July raised $2.1 million through the placing of 1,542,336 new ordinary shares at 105 pence per share with existing institutional investors.
The work is expected to start in September, enabling the company to complete its Environmental Statement and providing the necessary engineering and environmental data for inclusion in the Liberator Field Development Plan (FDP) for which the company is seeking approval in 1Q 2019.  In preparation of the updated FDP, expected to be submitted to the UK’s Oil & Gas Authority in 4Q 2018, i3 continues to advance critical studies and engineering work.
  • Offshore Energy Today
Renewables forecast to halve wholesale energy prices over four years
A solar farm in Port Augusta. Extra capacity commissioned after the closure of large coal-powered generators in South Australia and Victoria is bringing down wholesale energy prices. Photograph: The Guardian
While the Morrison government has identified lowering power prices as a key early priority, a new analysis says wholesale prices will almost halve over the next four years because of the technology many Coalition conservatives oppose – renewables.  The latest renewable energy index compiled by Green Energy Markets confirms analysis by the Energy Security Board that wholesale electricity prices are on the way down because of an addition of 7,200 megawatts of extra large-scale supply from renewable energy.
Tristan Edis from Green Energy Markets says the political debate in Canberra is lagging behind practical developments in the national electricity market. The national energy guarantee was scuppered in part because government conservatives were concerned the mechanism didn’t do enough to reduce power prices, and because of claims that renewables were inflating power bills.
“What I think is extraordinary given recent political events is that we’ve actually turned the corner on wholesale electricity prices and they’re now headed downward and will continue to decline substantially over the next few years,” Edis told Guardian Australia. “This doesn’t seem to have sunken in at all in our political debate.”  The new analysis charts movements in prices in the energy market. It says prices began to rise when large amounts of supply were withdrawn from the market in South Australia with the closure of the Northern power station, and because of the closure of the Hazelwood plant in Victoria.  It says new investment in large-scale renewable energy projects during that period had stalled because of Tony Abbott’s efforts to wind back the renewable energy target. “It was only after prices began spiking upwards with the announced closure of Hazelwood that we saw significant commitments to construct new large-scale renewable energy supply.”
The analysis says price reductions have followed more renewable projects coming on stream. “Prices have since continued to decline in anticipation of increasing amounts of renewable energy supply reaching construction completion and contributing power to the grid.”
Edis says the trends in the market aren’t connected to Canberra’s debate about coal versus renewables – “this is a simple case of economics 101” – meaning that when supply is withdrawn, prices rise. “It seems we’ve dumped a prime minister based on completely false pretences.”
  • The Guardian



Headlines Wednesday 29th August 2018

Odfjell Drilling takes loan for acquisition of former Stena rig
Offshore driller Odfjell Drilling has accepted an offer from bank lenders for a $325 million senior secured term loan facility to finance the acquisition of the former Stena-owned Deepsea Nordkapp drilling rig.
It is worth reminding that the UK driller Stena Drilling ordered the Stena Midmax rig from the South Korea’s Samsung Heavy in 2013. However, the driller cancelled the order in 2017 claiming Samsung was unable to complete and deliver the unit within the contractually agreed timeframe.  Odfjell Drilling announced its plans for the acquisition of the Deepsea Nordkapp, formerly known as Stena Midmax, a Moss CS60E semi-submersible drilling rig, back in April.
Odfjell Drilling’s plan was to finance the acquisition of the rig through a contemplated $325 million senior secured term loan facility, proceeds from the private placement, proceeds from a contemplated issue of preference shares to an affiliate of Akastor and a seller’s credit from Samsung Heavy of $48.25 million.  Planning for the acquisition of the former Stena rig, Odfjell in April completed a private placement raising gross proceeds of approximately $175 million.  At the end of April, Aker BP awarded Odfjell Drilling a two-year firm drilling contract with 1+1 year optional periods. For the purpose of the drilling contract with Aker BP, Odfjell Drilling entered into an agreement with Samsung Heavy Industries to purchase the Stena MidMax for $505 million.  The bank lenders’ offer for a $325 million senior secured term loan facility was accepted on Tuesday, August 28, 2018.
Odfjell said on Tuesday that the facility includes a tranche of $162.5 million guaranteed by K-SURE and a five-year commercial bank tranche of $162.5 million. The loan facility is available at delivery of Deepsea Nordkapp, expected in 1Q 2019.  The facility will be repaid by quarterly installments of $8.55 million, first time in 4Q 2019. At the current swap rate the total average interest is approx. 5.4% p.a.  The offer is subject to final documentation, and signing of the finance documents are expected by end of September 2018.  Following this, Deepsea Nordkapp is fully funded, including ready-to-drill project costs and working capital requirements, with bank debt, equity and yard seller’s credit.
  • Offshore Energy
Govan Graving Docks redevelopment rejected by planners
Council planners have refused permission for a large development at the grade A-listed Govan Graving Docks.  Planning permission was sought to build 700 flats, a museum, restaurant, shops, office space and hotel on the historic Glasgow shipbuilding and repair site.  The application by New City Vision was described as "surprisingly poor" given the scale of development proposed.  Glasgow City Council rejected plans citing a lack of parking and access arrangements as well as flooding risks.
The proposed development was also criticised for failing to to preserve the historic interest of the listed docks.  The dry docks were originally built for the Clyde Navigation Trust between 1869 to 1898 and were in use until 1988.
  • BBC News
Holland America Line’s Newest Ship Aces Sea Trials
Nieuw Statendam, Holland America Line’s second Pinnacle Class ship, has succesfully completed two sets of sea trials off the Italian coast.  The newbuilding returned to Fincantieri’s Marghera shipyard in Italy on August 22.
Nieuw Statendam left Marghera on August 10 and performed the first set of sea trials over two days before going into dry dock at Fincantieri’s Trieste shipyard, where the trial’s data was reviewed and standard hull maintenance was performed.
The 99,500-ton ship sailed its second sea trials on August 18, making its way back to Marghera where the finishing touches will be completed.
“The sea trials are a highly anticipated milestone for any newbuild because it takes us one step closer to delivery, and we’re thrilled that Nieuw Statendam gave a strong performance out in open water,” Orlando Ashford, Holland America Line’s president, commented.
During the sea trials, the 300-meter-long Nieuw Statendam underwent a series of performance tests on the ship’s systems, machinery and engines. The shipyard’s team of nautical officers, naval architects and builders tested the ship’s maneuvering characteristics and safety systems.
Due for delivery in December 2018, Nieuw Statendam will explore the Caribbean in winter and then move to northern Europe, Iceland and the Mediterranean in summer during its inaugural year.
The 2,666-passenger, 99,500-ton ship will reflect the ongoing evolution of Holland America Line. While much of the ship’s design will be similar to Koningsdam, the first Pinnacle Class ship, Nieuw Statendam will have public spaces and its own style.
  • World Maritime News
Headlines Tuesday 28th August 2018
Equinor explores floating wind turbines to power North Sea oilfields
Norway’s Equinor (EQNR.OL) is considering whether to build an offshore wind farm with floating turbines to provide electricity for its Gullfaks and Snorre oilfields in the North Sea, the company said on Tuesday.  A logo of Equinor, formerly known as Statoil, is seen at the company's headquarters in Fornebu, Norway May 21, 2018. Picture taken May 21, 2018. REUTERS/Nerijus Adomaitis
If materialised, it would be the world’s first floating offshore wind farm powering oil platforms and is estimated to cost around 5 billion Norwegian crowns ($591.5 million) and could reduce emissions of carbon dioxide by more than 200,000 tonnes per year, Equinor said.
“To maintain profitable operations (offshore Norway) in the long term, it is essential that we do our utmost to further reduce the carbon footprint from our activities,” Executive Vice President Arne Sigve Nylund said in a statement.
Formerly known as Statoil, Equinor earlier this year changed its name to underscore a push into renewable energy under Chief Executive Eldar Saetre, although oil and gas will remain the company’s dominant business for decades to come.  The company’s first floating offshore wind farm started off Scotland last year, supplying electricity to the onshore market, and Equinor has also announced plans for bottom-fixed offshore wind projects in the United States, Poland and Britain.
A final investment decision on the plan for Snorre and Gullfaks, known as the Hywind Tampen floating wind farm, will be made in 2019, although the aim is first to bring down the cost of development, it said.  The 11 turbines, each with a capacity of eight megawatt, would meet about 35 percent of the power demand from the two fields, the company added.  The Gullfaks field is owned by Equinor, OMV (OMVV.VI) and Norway’s state owned Petoro, while Snorre is held by Equinor, Petoro, ExxonMobil (XOM.N), Idemitsu (5019.T), DEA and Point Resources.
  • Reuters
CEO: Several Bids Received for Port of Newcastle’s Container Terminal
The world’s largest coal export port is on track with its plans to diversify and has received a number of unsolicited bids to develop and operate a container terminal, the CEO of Australia Port of Newcastle, Craig Carmody, said.  The announcement is being made after DP World ended talks with the port on the construction of a container terminal at the Australian giant coal port. The company did not disclose the reasons behind the decision when confirming it to World Maritime News.
Under the port’s plan, the container terminal would be developed in stages at the Mayfield site and it would have a capacity for a 2 million TEU per annum. At the moment, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is reviewing “an artificial constraint on the Port of Newcastle by the NSW government restricting the development of a viable and competitive container terminal.”
“I can confirm that the Port of Newcastle has been approached by a number of globally significant container port operators who are eager to take advantage of our proximity to exporters and importers, the availability of large tracts of low cost land around the port and our access to dedicated freight transport infrastructure.
“Whilst we cannot go into details yet, these bids clearly demonstrate that there is no doubt in the minds of private investors that a container terminal in the Port of Newcastle is economically viable. It’s really a matter of when, not if, we will see preparatory work commencing on the container port in Newcastle,” Carmody said.
“It should be noted that, these bids are contingent on the removal of the current artificial constraint imposed on NSW port competition and other regulatory issues.”
The port’s CEO added that the development is being pursued as the number of containers moving through ports in NSW is likely to double in the next 20 years. As such, developing a container terminal in the port would help ease congestion in Sydney and congested NSW roads.
  • World Maritime News
UK summer 'wind drought' puts green revolution into reverse
Britain’s long heatwave threw the country’s green energy revolution into reverse and pushed up carbon emissions this summer, leading experts to stress the need for a diverse energy mix.  The summer of 2017 was lauded as the “greenest ever” for electricity generation, thanks to a growing number of windfarms and solar installations edging out coal and gas power stations.
But this year has seen a comparatively dirty summer for power generation, due to the weather’s impact on renewables.  The Met Office said the high pressure that caused much of the country to bask under sunny skies had suppressed windy conditions.  The weather proved a boon for staycations, garden centres and solar panel owners, but windfarms suffered. They usually provide four times as much power as solar each year.  The wind drought meant that at times turbine blades sat idle for days.  Windfarm capacity is up by more than 10% since a year ago, but the share of electricity they supplied dropped from 12.9% last year to 10.4% this summer, figures from National Grid show.
Although record-breaking solar output helped fill some of the gap and nuclear plants provided a bedrock of supply, gas power stations were fired up to meet demand.
The key measure of how green the power grid is – carbon intensity, measured in grammes of CO2 per kilowatt hour – was up by 8% on average over the past three months.
Duncan Burt, director of operations at National Grid, said: “We have seen a slight decrease in wind over the summer linked to the unusually warm weather, which demonstrates why it is important for us to have a diverse energy mix to ensure we can continue to manage supply and demand.”  He welcomed the growth in wind and solar over the past year, and said both were playing an increasingly important role in the energy system.  While this summer showed an uptick in carbon emissions, it is the second greenest ever.  And looking beyond the summer, carbon intensity for the year fell to a record low in the first eight months.  National Grid said the carbon intensity of electricity generation was down 3% to 252g CO2 per kWh between January and August, compared with the same period last year.  Windy conditions and new windfarms boosted wind energy during the winter, and coal use has fallen to new lows despite a brief resurgence during the “beast from the east”.
In June, the UK went 12 days without coal, which supplied less than 1% of electricity that month.  RenewableUK, the wind power industry body, said wind had “become a mainstream power source”.  A spokesperson for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said: “We’re investing up to £2.5bn in low-carbon innovation and are already seeing the results.”  Analysts have told renewable energy investors not to be alarmed about the lack of wind this summer.
After examining 17 years of monthly wind speeds in the UK, Bernstein bank concluded: “We do not find any evidence of a structural trend in wind speed over time.”
Experts also said that the way solar highs coincided with wind lows showed that both technologies were needed in the switch to green energy. Wind power generation is well ahead of solar in Europe.  Pascal Storck, director of renewable energy at environmental measurement firm Vaisala, said: “Often wind and solar technologies are played against each other, but the reality is that a diverse portfolio … will be the solution to long-term variability of this nature.”
  • The Guardian



Headlines Friday 24th August 2018
UK offshore jobs drop 14% in 2017. Slight increase expected in 2018
Employment in the UK offshore oil and gas sector fell 14% in 2017, to around 280.000, Oil & Gas UK said in its workforce report on Thursday. The report, however, notes a slight increase in offshore jobs for 2018.  The industry body found that the biggest reduction in offshore workforce came from offshore drillers, as drilling activity fell to a record low. The numbers for 2017 have been explained by the drop in oil prices.
Oil and Gas UK pointed to the fact that the oil price fell from circa $109 per barrel (bbl) in mid-2014 to an average of $54/bbl in 2017, leading to a significant contraction across the sector.
“In the aftermath of the price fall, oil and gas companies have had to streamline and rationalize to sustain their businesses and focus on improving efficiency in response to the prevailing business environment. This has inevitably had a negative impact on employment both from the reduction in activity and efforts to reduce costs,” the report reads.
Per OGUK data the employment rate in the UK offshore oil and gas industry peaked in 2014, with over 450,000 jobs.  “However, there was a sharp drop in 2015, when employment contracted to around 380,000. The latest estimates for 2016 and 2017 show employment levels supported by the industry falling to levels not previously seen since 2010/11, with 280,000 jobs estimated to be supported by oil and gas activity in 2017…” Oil and Gas UK said.
  • Offshore Energy Today
Petrofac takes £43m hit on sale of stake in North Sea project
Petrofac will take a $55m (£43m) hit on the sale of its interest in a North Sea project as it scales back its involvement in oil production and looks to cut debt.
The Jersey-headquartered company, which is a member of the FTSE 250 index, will sell its 20pc stake in the Greater Stella Area development off the east coast of Scotland and its 24.8pc stake in the FPF1 rig to its joint venture partner Ithaca.  Israeli-owned Ithaca will pay $145m on completion of the deal, expected to be in the first quarter of next year, followed by a further $120m between 2020 and 2023 and an additional $28m depending on the field’s performance.
Petrofac said the sale would help it cut debt but also force it to incur a $55m post-tax impairment charge.  Having traditionally focused on building, operating and maintaining oil and gas facilities, Petrofac expanded into production amid rising oil prices earlier in the decade. But it has been reducing its exposure after last year’s profits were hit by a slump in crude.
This latest deal follows the sale of Petrofac’s Tunisian business and a 49pc stake in its Mexican operations to Perenco in June.
Ayman Asfari, Petrofac’s chief executive, said: "This disposal marks a further milestone in our journey back to a capital-light business and, along with recently-agreed transactions in Mexico and Tunisia, marks the significant progress we are making on our stated strategy."
  • The Telegraph
'No-deal' Brexit papers offer little comfort for financial services sector
For Britain's huge financial services industry, there was little comfort to be found in the batch of government planning documents for a "no-deal" Brexit.  Long-established problems still seem a long way from being addressed, while new ones have been thrown into the spotlight.  Much attention will be taken by the government's confirmation that, in the event of a no-deal Brexit, UK consumers are likely to face higher costs and greater delays when it comes to making payments in euros.
There would also be an end to the ban on surcharges, which means that holidaymakers, for instance, may find they have to pay more to use certain credit cards.  Businesses who pay suppliers in euros may find they, too, have to pay more charges, potentially increasing the costs for consumers.  But there is something else big to note from the papers - the lack of progress towards doing a deal with the European Union over the wider financial services industry.
The papers offer lots of concessions to European companies who want to continue working in the UK, but note that nothing similar has come back from Europe.  The concept of passporting - where a British firm could trade in Europe under the same rules as a European rival - now seems dead in the water.
"The government has committed to taking unilateral action to resolve this issue on the UK side," says one line of advice.  "However, this is not sufficient to fully address the risks."  On an individual level, that could mean British nationals living in the EU could find themselves unable to access their savings or annuities.  On a corporate level, it means that banks and other finance companies will continue setting up subsidiaries in European countries, and moving staff to those locations.  But it also raises a significant question about the status of the City of London, and its crucial role in the European financial economy.
It is, for instance, the global hub of the market in complicated investments called derivatives.
  • Sky News


Headlines Thursday 23rd August 2018
Teekay LNG Raises USD 100 Mn from Bond Issuance
Owner and operator of gas carriers Teekay LNG Partners L.P. has collected around USD 100 million from the issuance of NOK 850 million of bonds.  The senior unsecured bonds mature in August 2023 in the Norwegian bond market.
“Teekay LNG expects to close the bond offering on August 29, 2018, subject to customary closing conditions,” the company said.  The company intends to use the net proceeds from the bonds for refinancing of existing bonds and/or general partnership purposes.  Teekay LNG will apply for listing of the new bonds on the Oslo Stock Exchange.  The company has been in refinancing mode for a while now having refinanced an outstanding USD 105 million debt facility secured by the Woodside Donaldson LNG carrier via Teekay LNG-Marubeni joint venture in May 2018.
In June the company refinanced USD 57 million debt secured by the Polar Spirit and Arctic Spirit LNG carriers with a new USD 40 million loan, and USD 125 million loan secured by Madrid Spirit LNG with a USD 117 million debt facility maturing in 2024.  Since the beginning of 2018, the company has taken delivery of six LNG carriers, all on long-term charters.
  • World Maritime News
Scotland’s oil revenues jump by £1billion
Scotland’s share of North Sea tax revenues jumped to £1.3billion in the last year, according to latest tax and spending figures.  The Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland (GERS) report has been published for 2017-18.  It shows revenues from the oil and gas sector were up by more than £1bn from just £266million in 2016-17.
The report said it reflects an increase in total UK revenue from the sector.  Despite this, Scotland is still in deficit of £13.4bn which is 7.9% of GDP, and four times of that of the UK as a whole as a result of higher public spending per head.  Onshore revenues also increased by 3.6% – or £2bn – to £56.6bn.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon unveiled the report this morning.  She said: “Today’s figures show that offshore revenue has increased by £1 billion.  “This comes on the back of recent analysis by the Oil and Gas Authority that production this year is expected to be 18% higher than in 2014.
“Separately, the latest Fraser of Allander Oil and Gas survey also shows that net confidence of oil and gas contractors is at the highest level since spring 2013.
“With the limited economic powers currently at our disposal, the actions we are taking to promote sustainable economic development are helping to ensure that the key economic indicators are moving in the right direction.”
Industry body Oil and Gas UK said it reflects a “striking transformation” of the oil and gas industry since the downturn.  Upstream policy director Mike Tholen said: “This evidences the striking transformation of the UK’s oil and gas industry since the downturn.
“Improvements to operational efficiency, careful management of costs and a stable fiscal regime have ensured it is better placed to weather volatility in international oil markets. This golden formula must now be maintained as we look to maximise economic recovery.”
Energy minister Paul Wheelhouse said it reflected “better market conditions” for the sector.  GERS were a key battleground in the 2014 Scottish Independence referendum, shortly before the oil price crash.
The Scottish Government’s White Paper for independence described them as an “authoritative publication” on Scotland’s finances.  Scotland’s financial position has been impacted by the oil price drop, with its share of revenues being at a nearly £8billion in 2012-13, and dropping to just £50million in 2015-16.
The Westminster Government argued today’s figures show Scotland is stronger as part of the United Kingdom, with Scotland receiving a higher share of UK spending than it contributes.
  • Energy Voice
Scotland’s floating turbine smashes tidal renewable energy records
Leads to calls for 'wholly renewable electricity system' from environment group
A floating tidal stream turbine off the coast of Orkney has produced more green energy in a year than Scotland’s entire wave and tidal sector produced in the 12 years before it came online.
In 12 months of full-time operation, the SR2000 turbine supplied the equivalent annual power demand of about 830 households.  Its developer claimed the machine – the most powerful of its kind in the world – had set a benchmark for its industry due to its performance.  It produced 3GWh of renewable electricity during its first year of testing at the European Marine Energy Centre.
Over the 12 years before its launch in 2016, wave and tidal energies across Scotland had collectively produced 2.983GWh, according to Ofgem.
Andrew Scott, chief executive officer of developers Scotrenewables Tidal Power, said: “The SR2000’s phenomenal performance has set a new benchmark for the tidal industry.
“Its first year of testing has delivered a performance level approaching that of widely deployed mature renewable technologies.”  He added: “The ability to easily access the SR2000 for routine maintenance has been a significant factor in our ability to generate electricity at such levels over the past 12 months, including over winter.”  The team at Scotrenewables said their success – combined with Meygen’s generation of more than 8GWh over the past year from four tidal turbines deployed in the Pentland Firth – is evidence that tidal power generation could be rolled out more widely.
Hannah Smith, senior policy manager at trade body Scottish Renewables, said: “This milestone for the tidal energy industry truly demonstrates the untapped potential of this emerging sector.
“Scotland’s remarkable marine energy resource has placed us front and centre in developing this industry with global potential.
“To keep driving progress it’s critical that both Scottish and UK governments recognise the potential of these technologies and work with industry to fully commercialise these innovations.”
  • The Independent
Headlines Tuesday 21st August 2018
Cable celebration at Beatrice
Seaway Offshore Cables installs final array wire at 588MW Scottish project  Seaway Offshore Cables has completed array cable installation at SSE’s 588MW Beatrice wind farm off Scotland.
The Subsea 7 Renewables & Heavy Lifting-owned unit put in place 91 JDR-supplied wires to connect all 84 turbines locations and two offshore transformer modules.  SSE said the milestone means all offshore cabling for the wind farm is now completed.
Swire Blue Ocean jack-up Pacific Orca remains on turbine installation duty and is putting in Siemens Gamesa 7MW units in the Moray Firth.  The wind farm, which has already notched first power, is expected online next year.
Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners and Red Rock Power are shareholders in the project alongside SSE.
  • ReNews
Orkney tidal turbine generating 'phenomenal result'
A flagship tidal energy turbine has generated more electricity in its first year than Scotland's entire wave and tidal sector produced before it.  The Scotrenewables SR2000, with its 2MW turbine, was installed in the sea off Orkney in 2017.
It has now generated three gigawatt-hours (GWh) of electricity from near continuous operation, its owners said.  It is estimated the seas around the UK could one day be capable of generating 20% of electricity needs.  The European Marine Energy Centre (Emec) in Orkney has tested 30 different devices since it was launched in 2003.  Between the rest of them, they have generated 2.8 GWh hours of electricity.  But the latest full-scale prototype, at 63m, has so far proved to be the most successful.
Andrew Scott, chief executive officer of Scotrenewables Tidal Power, said: "It is a phenomenal result. For one, we've had continual generation or testing for a year.  That's fairly unique in this sector.  "We've generated over three GWh into the Scottish grid.
"That's more than three times any prototype system that's come before us and, in fact, cumulatively that's more power generated in 12 months from this single turbine than the entire wave and tidal energy sector has done in Scotland in the 12 years preceding the launch of this turbine."
The company believes the key to its success has been the design of the generator which is significantly different to previous tidal systems.
  • BBC News
UK government aims to boost exports to 35 percent of GDP
The British government will set out a new export strategy on Tuesday aimed at boosting exports to 35 percent of gross domestic product, as it looks to increase trade ties with the rest of the world after leaving the European Union.
The Department for International Trade, set up after the 2016 Brexit vote, estimates that 400,000 businesses believe they could export but don’t. It said last year goods and services exported by British companies accounted for 30 percent of GDP.
“We are determined to support, connect and grow UK companies on the world stage through our international network,” British trade minister Liam Fox will say in a speech to a business audience in London, according to extracts released in advance.
“As we leave the EU, we must set our sights high and that is just what this Export Strategy will help us achieve.”
The government said better use of Britain’s overseas network, online tools and promotion of export finance support available from government would be among the measures put in place to encourage more businesses to export.  Adam Marshall, Director General of employers group the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “Our biggest competitors invest heavily in promoting their countries’ products and services, and the UK must match or exceed them.”
The EU, which comprises 27 other countries, is the United Kingdom’s largest single trading partner and accounted for 44 percent of exports in 2017.  Supporters of Brexit say one of its benefits will be the freedom to strike new trade deals independently of the EU. Opponents of Brexit argue Britain won’t have the same negotiating clout on its own as it did within the EU.
Fox, a prominent Brexit supporter, has spent much time over the last two years touring the globe promoting the merits of post-Brexit Britain as a trading partner and holding preliminary talks ahead of possible future trade negotiations.  Previous British governments have adopted lofty targets for trade, with mixed success.
In 2012, then-finance minister George Osborne planned to double exports to 1 trillion pounds ($1.28 trillion) by the end of the decade — a figure that Britain looks likely to miss by a few hundred billion pounds.
  • Reuters
Headlines Monday 20th August 2018
Shell charters AET shuttle tanker for Brazilian ops
Shuttle tanker owner AET has secured its first contract with Shell. The contract is for the time charter one new-build dynamic positioning shuttle tanker in Brazil.  The 152,700 DWT DP2 vessel will be built by a Korean shipyard expected for delivery in Q4 2020 and, although earmarked for Brazilian waters, the vessel will be capable of operating globally.
It will be compliant to IMO NOx Tier 3 requirements, built to the latest and highest technical standards and installed with a ballast water treatment system.
Mark Quartermain, Vice President of Shell Trading and Supply Crude said adding the new shuttle tanker to its operations in Brazil supports the company’s growing deep-water activities.
“It achieves this by providing us with increased flexibility for our crude trading business as we look to serve our global customers with Brazil’s growing offshore production. We look forward to building upon our relationship with AET to support our crude trading operations,” he said.
While this might be AET’s first charter for Shell, this is not the first time AET has received a contract to send its shuttle tankers to the land of samba.
AET in May this year extended its partnership in the DP2 shuttle tanker sector with the Brazilian oil company Petrobras.  It was awarded a contract to own and operate four specialist DP2 Suezmax Shuttle Tankers on long-term charter by Petrobras. These new vessels will be in addition to the two AET DP2 ships currently on charter in the Brazilian Basin for Petrobras.
The four 152,000 DWT DP2 shuttle tankers will be built by a Korean shipyard for delivery in 2020 and will be contracted to Petrobras for operations in international and Brazilian waters.
  • Offshore Energy Today
UK Oil & Gas takes majority position amongst Horse Hill stakeholders
With a 36.985% stake in the project UKOG is now the largest single party in the Horse Hill venture.  Extended production testing continues at Horse Hill
UK Oil & Gas PLC (LON:UKOG) has increased its stake in the Horse Hill project, acquiring interests held by Gunsynd Plc and Primorus Investments.  It adds a total additional stake of 7% in the Horse Hill Developments Ltd vehicle, which in turn owns 65% of the Horse Hill project.
As a result, UKOG’s interest in HHDL increases to 56.9% and the underlying interest in Horse Hill rises to 36.985%. The company is paying a total of £1.92mln, taking a 2% stake in HHDL from Gunsynd and 5% from Primorus. Some £425,000 is payable in cash, with the remainder covered by UKOG shares.
"Although modest in overall size, these acquisitions, the first under the company's new AIM operating company status, are highly strategic in that they deliver to UKOG, the driving force behind the HH-1 Portland and Kimmeridge oil discovery, a majority 56.9% shareholding in HHDL,” said Stephen Sanderson, UKOG chief executive.  He added: “These acquisitions are also fully in line with UKOG's strategy of increasing its working interests in key assets to gain effective control and operatorship."
UKOG also noted the “very positive” initial results of ongoing production testing at Horse Hill where short-term high rate tests achieving stable implied daily pumped rates in excess of 400 barrels of oil per day from the conventional Portland reservoir.
Subsequent test phases will produce crude from the deeper Kimmeridge oil pools.
  • Proactive Investors
EU may force banking jobs away from UK after Brexit, warns City boss
Standard Chartered’s Tracy Clarke says tougher demands could see more jobs than planned shift to Frankfurt, Paris and Dublin  Standard Chartered says it has been waiting almost nine months for EU officials to approve a licence for its Frankfurt subsidiary.  Tougher demands by European Union regulators may force banks to shift more jobs to Frankfurt, Paris and Dublin than originally planned due to Brexit, a senior City executive has warned.
Tracy Clarke, Standard Chartered’s CEO for Europe and the Americas, said the bank has been waiting nearly nine months for EU officials to approve an operating licence that will turn its Frankfurt branch into a subsidiary, but regulators have yet to make a decision.  Clarke told the Press Association that German regulators, the European Banking Authority and the European Central Bank (ECB) have become increasingly strict, delaying a licence approval the bank expected in the spring.  Clarke said that while dialogue was constructive, she added: “They’re getting firmer about what they expect to see, and their stance is therefore becoming a bit tougher.”
The ECB has rejected attempts by banks to establish brass plate operations, telling banks they must move significant operations to the EU to sell their services inside political bloc.  It now expects banks such as Standard Chartered to create a dedicated outsourcing unit which will have “real teeth”, Clarke said.  Standard Chartered, which has customers across Europe, but operates mostly in Asia, is trying to navigate rules around how they outsource tasks across its own subsidiaries.
“We expect that onshore in Germany there will be very strong oversight on anything of any service that is performed offshore,” Clarke said.  Ultimately, it means banks such as Standard Chartered may end up moving more jobs due to Brexit than originally planned.
“For us, it still won’t be hundreds more people because of the size and scale of our business, so you might be talking about a few more for us. But if they’re taking this approach with all other banks who are much bigger than we are in terms of their European business, that could be more significant,” she warned.  Clarke, who is also chief executive of Standard Chartered private bank, explained that staff dedicated to activities such as trade finance processing or document checking currently sit offshore in some of Standard Chartered’s business hubs in the likes of Chennai, Kuala Lumpur or Tianjin.
“We rely on that in our global business model, we rely on shared services a lot – either for expertise or for efficiency. So they’re not against that, but there is lots of scrutiny on it,” she said.
The ECB, which regulates euro area banks, said it was keen to prevent UK institutions from creating empty shells when granting licences ahead of Brexit.
  • The Guardian
Headlines Friday 17th August 2018
Borr’s Prospector 5 rig starts journey to Glengorm field off UK
Borr Drilling’s Prospector 5 jack-up rig has left Damen Verolme Rotterdam and started its journey to the UK continental shelf where it is expected to drill for Nexen.
A source told Offshore Energy Today on Thursday that Borr Drilling’s jack-up, the Prospector 5, would be towed to the UKCS by the Pacific Dispatch, Vortex, and DMS Stork tugs.
According to the source, the rig was to leave the Hook of Holland around 11:00 am local time.  The rig will be towed to the Glengorm field on the UKCS operated by Nexen, a 100% owned subsidiary of the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC).
According to the August 9 edition of the Kingfisher Bulletin, the rig will begin work on August 20 and the drilling operations will last 146 days.  Per Bassoe Analytics, Nexen has hired the rig for a one year contract ending in on August 18 next year.  Later in the day, Borr Drilling’s employees confirmed via social media that the rig had departed for the UK North Sea.
Also, both MarineTraffic and VesselsValue show the rig has left the Netherlands and is on its was to the UKCS.  Offshore Energy Today has reached out to Nexen seeking more info on the rig contract and planned activities but Nexen decided not to comment on the matter.  The Prospector 5 rig it was built in 2014 according to Friede & Goldman JU-2000E design by the China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC). The independent-leg cantilever jack-up can work in a maximum water depth of 400 feet and can drill to a depth of 35,000 feet.  The Prospector 5 was previously owned by Paragon Offshore, a company recently taken over by Borr.
  • Offshore Energy Today
Commentary: Fuel markets confirm global growth slowdown
If the global economy starts to grow more slowly, the impact will show up first in the price of refined fuels such as road diesel, marine gasoil and jet fuel that play a central role in the freight transport system.  Middle distillate fuels are principally burned in the high-powered engines used in trucks, railroads, ships, barges and aircraft to move freight around the world, as well as in factories, on farms and at mines and oilfields.
Mid-distillates account for more than a third of the oil used around the world every day, and are the single-largest category of refined products, (“Statistical review of world energy”, BP, 2018).  Distillate fuels are closely correlated with the global economic and trade cycle, and at the moment they confirm other indications the rate of growth is slowing.  U.S. distillate stocks, which had been drawing down faster than usual during the first four months of 2018, have now been building faster than normal since late May.  European gasoil futures prices, which had been in substantial backwardation, have shifted towards flat or even contango since the end of May, reflecting improved availability.
Gasoil futures still command a hefty premium over crude for deliveries in 2019, but the premium has been eroding over the same time frame.  In line with these trends, hedge funds and other money managers have become markedly less bullish on the outlook for distillate prices over the last three months.  Hedge fund managers have cut their bullish positioning in U.S. heating oil by 29 million barrels (33 percent) and in European gasoil by 53 million barrels (33 percent) since late May.
Over the same period, bullish positions in U.S. gasoline have been cut by 14 million barrels (12 percent), according to regulatory and exchange data.  Distillate markets are sending the same signal as a range of other indicators: the rate of global output growth has decelerated in recent months after a very strong expansion in 2017.
  • Reuters
Majority of Scottish voters feel ignored by UK ministers on Brexit
Support in Scotland for remain has risen since 2016 referendum, poll suggests  Almost two-thirds of Scottish voters believe the Westminster government is ignoring their concerns during Brexit negotiations, and there is now more support in Scotland for remaining in the EU than at the time of the 2016 referendum, polling suggests.
According to research for the People’s Vote campaign, 66% of Scottish voters (excluding don’t knows) support staying in the EU, compared with 62% who voted for remain in the referendum.  The YouGov poll of 2,013 adults in Scotland, conducted in early August, also found that 48% wanted a public vote on the outcome of Brexit negotiations, compared with 45% across the whole of the UK.  Scotland's Brexit bill is 'perfectly practical', supreme court told  About 600 people are expected to attend a rally in Edinburgh on Saturday in support of another vote on Brexit, as part of a summer of action coordinated by the People’s Vote campaign.
Among Scottish National party supporters, 83% wanted to stay in the EU, 66% backed a people’s vote on Brexit and 18% opposed a people’s vote.  Labour supporters in Scotland favoured remain by 74% to 26% and a people’s vote by 64% to 21%.  The majority of Scottish Labour voters wanted the party’s UKleader, Jeremy Corbyn, to shift his stance on Brexit, with 44% saying he should oppose Brexit more strongly, 22% saying he should support Brexit more strongly, and 11% saying he had the balance “about right”.
In contrast, 29% of SNP supporters wanted their party leader, Nicola Sturgeon, to oppose Brexit more strongly, 13% wanted her to support Brexit more strongly and 45% believed she had got the balance right.  Among all Scottish voters, 43% felt Brexit would make Scottish independence more likely within the next decade.
Peter Kellner, a polling expert and former president of YouGov, said: “Support for a public vote on the outcome is growing across the UK but is particularly strong in Scotland where most people did not want to leave in the first place. There is deep pessimism about what Brexit will mean for Scotland and the next generation.
“But the survey suggests the leaderships of both the SNP and the Labour party are in the wrong place with most of their supporters. There may be an electoral dividend in Scotland for one of these parties if they strengthen their position.”
  • The Guardian
Headlines Thursday 16th August 2018
DFDS Orders One More RoRo at Jinling Shipyard
Danish shipping and logistics company DFDS has decided to order an additional RoRo newbuilding from Chinese Jinling Shipyard, exercising an option obtained when ordering its previous ferries.
The new ferries will be deployed in route networks in northern Europe and the Mediterranean.  As informed, the newbuilding is similar to the five previously ordered freight ferries and likewise designed to carry 6,700 lane meters of freight equivalent to around 450 trailers. The large capacity decreases unit costs as well as the environmental impact per transported unit, according to the company.  DFDS said that the first two ships are expected to be received at the beginning of the next year, the third and fourth in the second half of 2019 and the last two in the first half of 2020.
DFDS’ fleet extension and renewal program also includes two combined freight and passenger ferries (RoPax) to be delivered in 2021 for deployment in the Baltic route network. In addition, two RoRo ferries are being lengthened to increase capacity, and a chartered RoPax will be delivered in 2021 for deployment on the English Channel routes.
Separately, DFDS reported that its revenue increased 6% to DKK 3.9bn (USD 595.6 million) in Q2 2018. As explained, the revenue was driven by the expansion of the route network in the Mediterranean as well as continued growth in the freight activities in northern Europe. These were also the key drivers of the increase in EBITDA before special items by 9% to DKK 802m.
The growth of freight ferry volumes was in line with expectations in both northern Europe and the Mediterranean with the overall growth of 6% in Q2, the company said.  In June, the acquisition of Turkish company U.N. Ro-Ro was completed. Following the completion of the acquisition, DFDS has 98.8% of ownership of the Istanbul-based company.
  • World Maritime News
Crown Estate Scotland hunts for marine boss
The manager of the seabed in Scotland, Crown Estate Scotland, is looking to appoint a Head of Marine to drive forward the development of the Scottish ‘blue economy’.  The post is an 18-month fixed-term contract that will assist in developing the organization’s marine strategy, and inform longer term decisions on its capacity and structure in the light of marine and other developments.
The Head of Marine for the Crown Estate Scotland will lead teams and shape strategy across offshore wind, marine energy, infrastructure – including cables and pipelines – and aquaculture.  The successful candidate will be expected to work with key partners to embed the ‘blue strategy’ in Scotland’s priorities for sustainable economic growth.  Also, the scope of work includes engaging with the Scottish and UK governments for a favorable policy environment for marine activity.
The deadline to apply for the position has been set for August 24, 2018.
Crown Estate Scotland, formed in April 2017, is responsible for around half the foreshore around Scotland, leasing of virtually all seabed out to 12 nautical miles and the right to offshore renewable energy and gas and carbon storage out to 200 nautical miles.
  • Marine Energy
Britain's biggest banks report 64 payment outages in last three months
Britain’s five biggest banks had a total of 64 security or operational incidents that cut customers off from telephone, mobile or online banking in the second quarter of 2018, according to disclosures on the banks’ websites.
New rules from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), which came into effect on Wednesday, require banks to disclose payment service outages caused by cyber attacks or other disruptions.  The FCA’s action shows how banks’ digital operations are increasingly in focus as consumers do more phone or online banking, making them potentially vulnerable to a serious IT outage or hack.
Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY.L) had 19 of these incidents, with most hitting internet banking, while Barclays (BARC.L) reported 18, Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS.L) 16 and HSBC (HSBA.L) seven. Santander UK (SAN.MC) reported four.  The disclosures do not say what caused the outages, but some banks noted that in some cases the incidents only affected internal systems or limited numbers of customers.
“The vast majority of cases were very small incidents which were resolved quickly without customers experiencing any detriment to their service,” a Lloyds spokesman said.
A Barclays spokesman also said the incidents had a minimal impact on customers and were addressed immediately.
RBS’s systems were resilient and the bank had made significant investments in them, but it was nevertheless working to minimise disruption, a spokesman for the bank said.  HSBC and Santander did not immediately comment on the disclosures.  Earlier this year, a botched system upgrade at mid-sized bank TSB left many customers without access to their money for days and more vulnerable to fraud.  TSB, which is owned by Spain’s Banco de Sabadell (SABE.MC), reported a total of seven incidents in the last three months, highlighting the limits of the disclosure system which does not reflect the severity of service disruptions, only their frequency.
Smaller banks Virgin Money (VM.L), CYBG (CYBGC.L) and Metro Bank MRTO.L reported no incidents, while the Co-operative Bank (42TE.L) and Nationwide Building Society (POB_p.L) both disclosed two.
The FCA and the Bank of England have given financial services firms until October to explain how they plan to avoid damaging IT breakdowns and respond to the growing threat of cyber attacks.
  • Reuters
Headlines Wednesday 15th August 2018
Meyer Werft to Float Out World’s 1st LNG-Powered Cruise Ship Soon
AIDAnova, the world’s first cruise ship that can be entirely powered with liquefied natural gas (LNG), is scheduled to leave Meyer Werft’s covered building dock on August 21.
The float out of AIDA Cruises’ newest ship is planned to commence at around 7.00 pm local time. However, weather conditions or production processes may result in delays or schedule changes, the shipbuilder said.  Once the 180,000-gross ton AIDAnova leaves the building dock, the vessel will berth at the shipyard’s outfitting pier, where its mast and funnel cladding will be fitted.  Until its passage along the river Ems to the North Sea, which is scheduled for the end of September, the ship will remain berthed in the shipyard harbor. There, the newbuilding will undergo further outfitting and work on its interior fittings. Additionally, further testing with LNG will be performed on the ship’s engines and acceptance procedures by the shipowners will also take place.
At the same time, some 1,400 members of the ship’s crew will be commencing their onboard training.  AIDAnova will be welcoming its first guests on board in mid-November 2018, immediately after delivery.  To enable the AIDAnova to berth at the outfitting pier, the floating part of the Spectrum of the Seas that is currently moored there will be moved to another berth at the shipyard harbor. Once the AIDAnova undocks, the floating part of the Spectrum of the Seas currently being fitted at the pier will be maneuvered back to the vacated building dock II, where work will continue, Meyer Werft said in a statement.  Featuring a length of 337 meters and a width of 42 meters, AIDAnova will be able to accommodate 6,600 passengers.  Thanks to its four dual-fuel engines, AIDAnova can be operated both in port and at sea with the currently most environmentally friendly and lowest-emission fossil fuel.
From December 2018, AIDAnova will begin its maiden season with cruises around the Canary Islands. Before those cruises get underway, the new ship will come to Hamburg. On December 2, 2018, AIDAnova will visit the Hanseatic City on the Elbe, after which she will head for Gran Canaria.
  • World Maritime News
Oil falls on U.S. stocks rise, weaker economic outlook
Oil prices fell on Wednesday, weighed down by a report of rising U.S. crude inventories and as the outlook for global economic growth darkened, stoking expectations of lower fuel demand.
Global benchmark Brent crude oil LCOc1 was down 40 cents a barrel at $72.06 by 0745 GMT. U.S. light crude CLc1 was 45 cents lower at $66.59.  U.S. crude stocks rose by 3.7 million barrels in the week to Aug. 10, to 410.8 million barrels, private industry group the American Petroleum Institute (API) said on Tuesday. Crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub rose by 1.6 million barrels, the API said. [API/S]  Official U.S. oil inventory data was due to be published later on Wednesday by the Energy Information Administration. [EIA/S]  Sentiment was also clouded by concerns over the health of the world economy at a time of escalating trade disputes between the United States and its major trading partners.
The OECD’s composite leading indicator, which covers the western advanced economies plus China, India, Russia, Brazil, Indonesia and South Africa, peaked in January but has since fallen and slipped below trend in May and June.
World trade volume growth also peaked in January at almost 5.7 percent year-on-year, but nearly halved to less than 3 percent by May, according to the Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis.  The United States and China have been locked in a tit-for-tat trade spat for a few months, gradually adding tariffs to each others’ products in a dispute that threatens to curb economic activity in both countries.
Chinese oil importers now appear to be shying away from buying U.S. crude oil as they fear Beijing may decide to add the commodity from its tariff list.  Not a single tanker has loaded crude oil from the United States bound for China since the start of August, Thomson Reuters Eikon ship tracking data showed, compared with about 300,000 barrels per day (bpd) in June and July.
Meanwhile, investors are watching the impact of U.S. sanctions on Tehran, which analysts say could remove as much as 1 million bpd of Iranian crude from the market by next year.  BMI Research said oil markets would “struggle for direction, as uncertainty around both the impact on supply from the Iranian sanctions and escalating trade tensions between the U.S. and China persists”.
  • Reuters
More than 200 Scottish schools have vacancies as pupils return from summer break
More than 200 Scottish schools have vacancies for teachers and classroom support staff as pupils return after the summer holidays, according to figures that disclosed the full scale of their recruitment crisis.
The Scottish Tories unveiled research showing 231 schools are advertising for staff, including some that have multiple vacancies.  This means nearly one in ten schools will start the 2018/19 academic year this month trying to plug holes in their teaching or support workforce.  The Conservatives said the figures were "unacceptable" and challenged the SNP to explain "why it has allowed this chaotic situation to emerge."  They followed research published earlier this month showing there are 670 teacher vacancies across Scotland.
It also emerged that council spending on education has fallen by £400 million since 2010 as SNP ministers slashed local authority budgets.  Although teacher numbers have started to increase again, there are still around 3,500 fewer than when the Nationalists came to power in 2007.  A Scottish Conservative spokesman said: "It’s unacceptable that, just as schools are preparing to go back, hundreds are still advertising for staff.”
The Scottish Government has proposed a series of fast-track teaching options to get new staff into schools more quickly.  Ministers have also offered bursaries to those wanting to switch career and teach in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects.  But teaching unions have argued the main problem is pay and conditions, with increasing workload putting off recruits at a time when salaries have declined in real terms.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: "We have invested £88 million in 2017, resulting in 543 more teachers than last year – the second year in a row that numbers have increased, in response to the challenges filling vacancies in some areas.
“Our ambitious reform agenda is aimed at making teaching an attractive career choice with varied opportunities to develop."
  • The Telegraph
Headlines Tuesday 14th August 2018
Renewable Energy Could "Effectively Be Free" by 2030, Says UBS Analyst
Research analyst at Swiss investment bank UBS believes the cost of energy renewables could be so near to zero by 2030 “it will effectively be free,” according to a projections published on Monday. If renewables could soon be cheaper than all the alternative energy sources, and that this “is great news for the planet, and probably also for the economy.”
The analysis, published in the Financial Times, explains that solar and wind farms are getting bigger, and that the potential of this sort of cheap, green energy is far-reaching and will only get cheaper. “In 2010, using solar power to boil your kettle would have cost you about £0.03,” the analyst writes in FT. “By 2020, according to estimates by our research team at UBS, the cost will have fallen to half a penny.” And just ten years later, the costs will be so minuscule, it will practically be free.
As renewables get cheaper, corporate action in the energy sector may increase, which is good for everyone. When it comes to renewables, the analyst argues: “Currently we count a dozen major European utilities (about half the names in the sector index) which have recently announced — or have been featured in the press — acquisitions, divestments or takeovers that could substantially reshape their business.”
In mid-July, two of the biggest economies in Europe, the United Kingdom and Germany, set new records for clean energy, Quartz reports. It makes sense that companies would want to get ahead of the changes. As one example, last week, the Danish wind energy company Orsted entered into an agreement to acquire Lincoln Clean Energy (LCE), a US firm that develops, owns, and operates wind farms, CNBC reports.
“The fundamental economics of the industry are indeed changing,” the Financial Times article explains. In the past, wind and solar have relied on subsidies. But recently, some wind and solar projects have appeared that don’t need a subsidy or tax break to be viable. That’s changed the energy game.
Now, renewable energy has a better chance of relying on innovation rather than subsidies, and companies are competing to secure the best sites for renewable projects. This race for the best, most cost-efficient energy projects is good for the industry, the economy, and the planet.
  • Inverse
Shipping industry struggles to reach 2020 emissions targets
Maritime traffic is one of the worst offenders for air and water pollution, as well as CO2 emissions. The industry faces the challenge of meeting strict new regulations in less than two years' time.
The world’s largest 15 ships emit as much sulfur dioxide as 760 million cars, according to figures from the German environmental NGO Nabu. Ships account for 13 percent of all global sulfur emissions. The gas causes major ecological problems, including acid rain, soil degradation and water pollution, and lung and bronchial disorders in human beings.
In theory, maritime emissions of sulfur dioxide – as well as nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide – should soon see radical cuts. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has imposed new upper limits on sulfur dioxide, due to take effect in two years’ time. From January 1, 2020, shipping fuel must contain no more than 0.5 percent sulfur, down from 3.5 percent at present. But most companies seem a long way from compliance.
Efforts to combat maritime pollution go back to the Marpol Convention of 1973 when countries including the United States, Brazil, China and Germany agreed to take steps toward cleaner oceans.
In the wake of a series of terrible oil spills, the main target at the time was transport safety. But today, the focus is on emissions. The vast container ships and tankers that crisscross the world’s oceans use a mixture of diesel and heavy fuel oil, which pumps out sulfur at rates far above the IMO’s new upper limit.  
The tricky route to cleaner fuel
Changing this situation presents a huge challenge to the shipping industry. The key to cleaner shipping appears to lie with liquefied natural gas (LNG), which produces fewer emissions and can be cleaned more easily. But the conversion of the world’s shipping fleet to the cleaner fuel is proceeding slowly. Of the 221 in Hapag-Lloyd’s container fleet, just 17 are regarded as currently “LNG ready”: easily convertible to clean fuel use.
In addition, there are major gaps in clean-fuel infrastructure. Germany has not a single LNG terminal, the special port facility needed to import and distribute liquefied natural gas, although there are plans to develop one on the country’s North Sea coast.  If LNG is not available, shipping companies have two alternatives: They can burn marine diesel, which contains less sulfur, but is significantly more expensive. Or they can install “scrubbers” in the smokestacks of their ships, to safely remove the sulfur discharged.
Installing scrubbers takes a ship out of service for just one month, but progress has been slow so far. Last January, there were 205 ships worldwide with scrubbers installed. Now there are 510. By 2020, the figure may reach 1300. That may sound impressive, but represents just 4 percent of the 53,000-strong worldwide fleet of merchant ships.  The bottleneck in scrubber installation is already impacting market prices. According to Greek ship brokers Intermodal, rents on scrubber-equipped tankers have reached around $15,000 (€13,200) per day, while non-scrubber vessels costs are nearly $2,000 cheaper, thanks to the prospective cost of using marine diesel.
A report by Deutsche Bank suggests that scrubber installation costs – which average around $2 million per ship – will pay for themselves within two years, thanks to cheaper fuel costs. Those who fail to invest early could become uncompetitive, it suggests. All this means booming business for companies that install scrubbers.  Currently, there are just 25 in the world, with a cumulative capacity of around 1,300 ships in the two years before 2020.
Scrubbers wanted
German industrial services giant Bilfinger recently took an order to refit 42 Greek ships with scrubbers. The company has long experience in installing anti-pollution devices on power plant chimneys and says the price of installation largely depends on the size of a ship’s engines.
Work on large ships could cost up to $10 million. Some unprofitable shipping lines may struggle to find that kind of money to invest. Companies from the IMO’s current “Sulphur Emission Control Areas” – pilot projects in California and in northern European sea areas with stricter limits – may have an advantage under the new conditions.  But many observers emphasize that scrubbers are only a temporary solution. They do little to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, which the IMO has committed to cut in half by 2050. Scrubbers may even slightly increase fuel consumption and with it CO2 emissions. In the long term, only LNG seems to offer real solutions. And in the even longer term, the IMO is proposing a truly radical solution: zero shipping emissions of any kind by the end of the century.
  • Handdelsblatt Global
Vienna named world's most liveable city as Melbourne loses crown
Vienna ends Australian city’s winning streak due to downgraded threat of militant attacks and low crime rate
Melbourne has been dislodged by Vienna for the first time at the top of the Economist Intelligence Unit’s global liveability index, strengthening the Austrian capital’s claim to being the world’s most pleasant city to live in.
The two metropolises have been neck and neck in the annual survey of 140 urban centres for years, with Melbourne clinching the title for the past seven editions.  This year, a downgraded threat of militant attacks in western Europe as well as the city’s low crime rate helped nudge Vienna into first place.
Vienna regularly tops a larger ranking of cities by quality of life compiled by the consulting firm Mercer. It is the first time it has topped the EIU survey, which began in its current form in 2004.
At the other end of the table, Damascus retained last place, followed by the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka, and Lagos in Nigeria. The survey does not include several of the world’s most dangerous capitals, such as Baghdad and Kabul.  “While in the past couple of years cities in Europe were affected by the spreading perceived threat of terrorism in the region, which caused heightened security measures, the past year has seen a return to normalcy,” the EIU said on Tuesday.  “A long-running contender to the title, Vienna has succeeded in displacing Melbourne from the top spot due to increases in the Austrian capital’s stability category ratings.”
Vienna and Melbourne scored maximum points in the healthcare, education and infrastructure categories. But while Melbourne extended its lead in the culture and environment component, that was outweighed by Vienna’s improved stability ranking.  Osaka, Calgary and Sydney completed the top five in the survey, which the EIU says tends to favour medium-sized cities in wealthy countries, often with relatively low population densities. Much larger and more crowded cities tend to have higher crime rates and more strained infrastructure, it said.  London ranked 48th this year.  Vienna, once the capital of a large empire rather than today’s small Alpine republic, has yet to match its pre-first world war population of 2.1 million. Its many green spaces include lakes with popular beaches and vineyards with sweeping views of the capital. Public transport is cheap and efficient.
In addition to the generally improved security outlook for western Europe, Vienna benefited from its low crime rate, the survey’s editor, Roxana Slavcheva, said.
“One of the sub-categories that Vienna does really well in is the prevalence of petty crime ... It’s proven to be one of the safest cities in Europe,” she said.
  • The Guardian



Headlines Monday 13th August 2018

Balfour wins contract on world’s largest offshore wind farm
Balfour Beatty will build the substation for the world’s largest offshore wind farm.
The construction firm announced that it has won the multi-million pound contract for the 1.4 gigawatt Hornsea Two offshore wind farm, off the north east coast.  The firm are already working on the Hornsea One project in a similar capacity under agreement with Danish wind developer Orsted.  Project director for Hornsea One and Two Duncan Clark said: “We’re delighted that Balfour Beatty will continue to work with us on these huge offshore wind farm projects.
“Having already constructed onshore substations for three of our other projects, this contract continues the long-term partnership between Orsted and Balfour Beatty.”
The onshore substation should be completed by 2020, and will be based in Hornsea in East Riding.  Balfour Beatty managing director for the north and midlands Thomas Edgcumbe added: “Having recently completed works to Hornsea 1, this award is testament to the long-standing relationship we have built with Orsted over the past few years.
“We’re proud to continue this momentum, and look forward to successfully and safely delivering the substation; providing clean power to millions of homes across the UK.”
  • New Civil Engineer
Companies in Brexit 'supply shock' as fewer EU citizens come to UK
Businesses are struggling to fill vacancies as a result of drop in new EU workers, says report  Companies are suffering from a “supply shock” as fewer EU citizens come to the UK, and companies struggle to fill vacancies, according to a survey of 2,000 employers.
The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) said the number of applicants per vacancy had fallen since last summer across all levels of skilled jobs, and said shortages were forcing many companies to raise wages.  The number of people moving to the UK from other EU countries has fallen to its lowest level since 2013, according to the latest official figures, with the net figure for long-term migration from the bloc at 101,000 in 2017  The number of people applying for the average low-skilled vacancy has fallen from 24 to 20 in the past year and from 19 to 10 for medium-skilled posts.
Half of organisations with recruitment problems said they had increased starting salaries in response.  Gerwyn Davies of CIPD said: “The most recent official data shows that there has been a significant slowdown in the number of EU nationals coming to work in the UK over the past year.
“This is feeding into increasing recruitment and retention challenges, particularly for employers in sectors that have historically relied on non-UK labour to fill roles and which are particularly vulnerable to the prospect of future changes to immigration policy for EU migrants.”
Alex Fleming of recruiters the Adecco Group, which helped with the research, added: “With Brexit looming we’re seeing a talent shortage and a more competitive marketplace. In this candidate-short landscape the pressure is on employers to not only offer an attractive salary, but also additional benefits.”  A government spokesman said: “EU citizens make a huge contribution to our economy and we have been clear from the beginning of this process that we want these citizens and their families in the UK to be able to stay.
“After we leave the EU, the UK will continue to be the open country it has always been. We will have in place an immigration system that delivers control over who comes to the UK, but that welcomes the brightest and best who want to work hard and contribute.”
  • The Guardian
Humanitarian ship seeks European port for rescued migrants
ON BOARD THE AQUARIUS (Reuters) - Human rights groups called on European governments on Sunday to tell a charity ship where it can dock and let more than 140 migrants rescued in the Mediterranean disembark in safety.  The Aquarius, run by Franco-German charity SOS Mediterranee and Doctors without Borders (MSF), rescued 141 people in two separate operations off the Libyan coast last week.  The boat had just started heading north on Sunday toward Europe when Libyan coastguards called it back to pick up 10 migrants spotted aboard a small fiberglass boat.
As that rescue was underway, SOS Mediterranee and MSF asked for guidance on where to take those they had saved.
"What is of utmost importance is that the survivors are brought to a place of safety without delay, where their basic needs can be met and where they can be protected from abuse," said Nick Romaniuk, search and rescue coordinator for SOS Mediterranee.  The Aquarius has operated in the central Mediterranean since early 2016 and says it has helped more than 29,000 people in distress, many of them African migrants, who, until this summer, were brought swiftly to Italy without any incident.
However, when a populist government took office in Rome in June, it immediately shut its ports to all NGO boats, accusing them of encouraging illegal immigration and helping human smugglers -- charges the charities deny.  In June, the orange-hulled Aquarius picked up 629 migrants, including scores of children and seven pregnant women, but first Italy and then Malta refused to let it dock, provoking a row within the heart of the European Union over immigration policy.
Spain eventually agreed to take in the boat, but there was no indication of where the Aquarius might head on Sunday, with Malta immediately refusing it access and Italy saying at the weekend it would not be welcome at any of its ports.  SOS Mediterranee and MSF accused the Libyan coastguard on Sunday of endangering lives by not telling the Aquarius there were boats close to it that were in distress. They also said other ships in the area had apparently ignored the migrants.
"Ships might be unwilling to respond to those in distress due to the high risk of being stranded and denied a place of safety," said Aloys Vimard, MSF's project coordinator on board the Aquarius.
"Policies designed to prevent people from reaching Europe at all costs are resulting in more suffering and forcing those who are already vulnerable to take even riskier journeys to safety."  More than 650,000 migrants have come to Italy's shores since 2014, but the numbers of new arrivals have plunged over the past year, with Rome encouraging the Libyan coastguard to carry out most of the rescues.
  • Reuters
Headlines Friday 10th August 2018
Port of Rotterdam: Bow Jubail Oil Spill Clean-Up Will Last until Mid-2019
The cleanup operation of the heavy-fuel oil that spilled from Odfjell’s chemical tanker Bow Jubail at the end of June is expected to last until the middle of 2019, according to the Port of Rotterdam Authority.
The tanker vessel leaked over 200 tonnes of fuel oil in the port of Rotterdam following the collision that took place on June 23.
The port authority said on Thursday it would replace a section of the slopes stretching over more than 9 kilometers that had been contaminated by the Bow Jubail oil spill. As disclosed, the decision on the slope removal has been made due to the inability to clean the slopes with hot water as majority of volatile component from the fuel oil had evaporated by now. Therefore, the removal has been identified as a cheaper option than cleaning.
As for the rest of the port infrastructure, quay walls, jetties, buoys and poles can in general be cleaned, as these surfaces can be sprayed with cleaning agents directly under high pressure, the port authority added.
The Port of Rotterdam has almost 75 kilometres of quay wall and more than 200 kilometres of slopes.
“At the moment, cleaning is still focused on those sections of the port infrastructure that have not yet been cleaned as they did not restrict shipping from and to the terminals concerned,” the release reads.
The last restrictions on shipping caused by the water pollution were lifted a month ago.
The Port Authority announced earlier that the damage resulting from the oil spill is estimated at around EUR 80 million. The port plans to recover this damage from Odfjell, the owner of Bow Jubail.
“We will do everything in our power to recover these damages. Society here cannot be left to pay for this,” the port authority’s Chief Operations Officer (COO) Ronald Paul says.
Speaking to World Maritime News, Harald Fotland, Odfjell SE’s COO, expressed deep regret for the incident and its impact on local industry and environment.
  • World Maritime News
Oil dips on trade dispute, Iran sanctions tighten outlook
Oil prices fell on Friday on worries that global trade disputes will slow economic growth and demand for fuel, but losses were limited by U.S. sanctions against Iran which look set to tighten supply.
Benchmark Brent crude oil LCOc1 was down 50 cents a barrel at $71.57 by 0725 GMT. U.S. light crude CLc1 was 40 cents lower at $66.41 a barrel.
Escalating trade tensions are casting a shadow over the outlook for economic growth and pushing up the dollar, the currency in which oil is traded internationally, making it more expensive for consumers using other currencies.
Major emerging economies including China, India and Turkey have all seen their currencies slump.
“Oil, like other commodities, is responding to dollar strength this morning,” Harry Tchilinguirian, head of oil strategy at French bank BNP Paribas in London, told Reuters Global Oil Forum.
For the week, Brent is set for a near 2 percent fall, while U.S. light crude is heading for a drop of nearly 3 percent.
Although crude was removed from the list, replaced by refined products and liquefied petroleum gas, analysts say Chinese imports of U.S. crude will fall significantly.
China’s automobile sales fell 4.0 percent in July from a year earlier to 1.89 million vehicles, an industry association said on Friday, amid rising concern over the potential fallout of the Sino-U.S. trade spat.
While the demand outlook was getting gloomier, supplies are likely to tighten with the introduction of U.S. sanctions against Iran, which from November will also include oil exports.  Although the European Union, China and India all oppose sanctions, many are expected to bow to American pressure.  Analysts expect Iranian crude exports to fall by between 500,000 and 1.3 million barrels per day, with buyers in Japan, South Korea and India already dialling back orders.
The total reduction will depend on whether major buyers of Iranian oil in Asia receive sanctions waivers that would still allow some imports.  It is not clear whether China, the biggest buyer of Iranian crude, will bow to U.S. pressure.
  • Reuters
CBI urges government to drop 'blunt target' on immigration numbers
The Confederation of British Industry has urged Theresa May to drop her “blunt target” on immigration numbers and introduce new freedom of movement rules for EU citizens post-Brexit to ensure firms, large and small, can stay in business when the UK leaves the bloc.
Outlining the results of a major consultation with business leaders, Josh Hardie, the CBI’s deputy director general, said companies believed an injection of honesty was urgently needed in the political debate about migration.
In a report, published on Friday, the CBI argues that the nation’s needs are more complex than simply ensuring that the UK could attract the “brightest and best”.
It calls for new rules for EU citizens to keep open the pipeline of migrant workers in all sectors including agriculture, hospitality, construction, the NHS and the creative industries; and an easing of the policy for non-EU workers to give small businesses, unable to afford the visas or deal with Home Office red tape, a chance to plug any gaps arising from Brexit.
The CBI’s report on immigration comes weeks after a cabinet split on post-Brexit immigration policy, with the former home secretary Amber Rudd’s plans to give EU citizens preferential treatment reportedly scrapped in June by her successor, Sajid Javid.
The CBI report – Open and Controlled, A New Approach to Migration – concludes that a root and branch change is needed in Britain’s immigration approach following what it says was an “extensive” consultation with employers and trade associations representing 124,000 firms.  It argues that May’s long-held immigration target of 100,000 migrants a year is not viable; that rules on visas for non-EU workers are too expensive and too restrictive; and a new EU citizens-only policy needs to be developed to keep the economy on the road.
While recognising that immigration “has also given rise to legitimate public concern about the pressure it creates on public services and on society”, the report says leaving the EU will mean “momentous change” for business which should be addressed properly by the government.
Shifting the tone of the debate to focus on the positive benefits of migration will help build public trust, it says.
The CBI argues that immigration has “delivered significant economic benefit to the UK” over the past 50 years and maintaining access to people and skills was “a high priority for business in the UK as it prepares to leave the EU”.  The report reflects findings from research and surveys of 18 different sectors, one of the largest consultations of its kind. It says a pragmatic approach to migration will secure Britain’s future as a country open for business and foreign-inward investment.
The CBI argues that simply extending the current approach to non-EU citizens to all migrants will be unworkable for business as the current tier-2 visa system involves a cap on numbers coming to Britain each month and is tilted in favour of higher earners.
It recommends registration for all EU citizens migrating to the UK following Brexit and to restrict their stay to three months unless they can prove they are working, studying or self-sufficient.
  • The Guardian
Headlines Thursday 9th August 2018
Thrive inks UK wind deal
Thrive Renewables is to provide 0.8MW of electricity to Bristol Energy from the Clayfords wind farm located near Strichen in Aberdeenshire, Scotland.
Supply will start in September for one year and deliver approximately 2.26 gigawatt-hours of power.
Clayfords is a single-turbine facility and has been operational since 2015, Thrive said.
Bristol Energy origination manager Simon Proctor said: “Deals like this help us to offer even more green energy to our customers, at a competitive price – making renewable energy more accessible for everyone.
“Thrive is a well-established, trusted partner. The fact that they are local and funded by a community of 6250 investors – many of whom live in Bristol and south west – is another way that we can support our city, and boost the circular economy.”
Thrive's Matthew Clayton said: “Thrive exists to offer individuals a rewarding connection with sustainable energy, so having the opportunity to provide our renewable power to a company like Bristol Energy, with similar values to us is extremely rewarding.
“Deals – such as this one – with independent renewable energy providers enable an increasing pool of people to benefit from affordable, green electricity in their homes.”
Bristol Energy supplies power to more than 76,000 homes across the UK
  • ReNews
RockRose Energy in Arran field swoop. FDP in September
London-listed oil company RockRose Energy is set to buy Dana Petroleum’s interests in offshore blocks in the UK North Sea, containing the Arran field.
Under the sale and purchase agreement signed, RockRose will acquire a 20.43% interest in blocks, 23/11a, 23/16b and 23/16c, from the Arran field opertor Dana Petroleum for a nominal consideration.
Arran is a gas condensate field located in the central North Sea approximately 240 km east of Aberdeen and approximately 3 km from the United Kingdom (UK)/Norway median line
RockRose said on Thursday will fund its share of the planned development of the Arran field through the Group’s existing cashflow.
The acquisition adds a further 5.7 mmboe 2P Reserves to RockRose and 3,500 boepd of initial production to the Group post development. RockRose will be partnered in the field by Shell UK, Zennor North Sea Ltd and Dyas UK. The acquisition does not involve Operatorship of the development. RockRose did not say who would take over the operatorship.
  • Offshore Energy Today
Britain walks Brexit high wire over financial services
Britain must avoid tying Brussels up in red tape or antagonising its soon to be former European Union partners and the United States if it is to maintain access to the bloc’s financial services market after Brexit.
At risk is Britain’s biggest financial services export market, which was worth a record 26 billion pounds last year out of total sector exports of 60 billion pounds.  Brexit will mean banks, insurers and asset managers in Britain losing the unfettered access to the bloc’s customers they currently have under EU “passporting” rules.
However a transition deal, if it can be agreed between Britain and the rest of the EU, would allow passporting to continue after Brexit next March until the end of 2020. After that, a new trade agreement covering all economic sectors would be needed, although its outline has yet to be agreed.
Britain is seeking future financial trade based on a more generous version of the existing equivalence system for firms from non-EU states, such as the United States and Japan, where domestic regulation is aligned closely enough with the bloc’s.  Karel Lannoo, chief executive of Brussels think tank CEPS, said accommodating Britain would put political pressure on the EU to improve access for other non-EU states and annoy Norway, which pays for EU market access.
Seventy percent of financial services currently passported between EU states are not covered by equivalence, including commercial lending, deposit taking, payments, asset management and core insurance, meaning firms must pay up to open new EU hubs or face a severe loss of market.
Brussels knows it is treading a delicate line when it comes to amending equivalence - it has already had clashes with the United States over clearing houses, and with Switzerland over stock exchanges - and U.S. regulators warn that their equivalence agreements must not be disrupted by Brexit deals.  Around 100 EU rules would need amending to broaden equivalence, potentially tying up EU legislators for years.
  • Reuters
Headlines Wednesday 8th August 2018
North Sea Oil Rig Strikes Hit Total
The British trade union Unite announced a strike on the Alwyn, Dunbar and Elgin platforms in the North Sea yesterday.  Unite’s regional officer Wullie Wallace said that talks were planned for this Thursday between union members and the French energy giant Total to discuss pay and a new shift rota.
Production data from the Oil and Gas Authority indicates that the three fields pump out more than 70,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day.  At the Brent price, that works out at about £4 million a day.  “All rigs are shut down with no production,” the union said.
Last month Unite announced a series of strike days on the platforms with yesterday’s event lasting 24 hours. The next strikes on the platforms are scheduled for August 13 (for 12 hours) and August 20 (24 hours).  A 24-hour strike on July 23 and a stoppage for 12 hours on July 30 have already been held on Alwyn, Dunbar and Elgin. A continuous ban on overtime has also been enforced since July 23.
Despite the strikes, coupled with proposed action on Equinor’s Mariner rig, the North Sea sector is “not at panic stage”, according to an observer.  Tension between Total and its workforce have been rising since the French oil and gas major announced it would boost security after a week of disagreement with employees after a wage review, proposed changes to shift patterns and anger over the Total’s plans to host a company barbecue while redundancies were being carried out.
In June, Unite announced that its members employed by Total on the North Sea oil and gas platforms were set to begin strikes in July to demand better pay and shift patterns.  BMI Research said in July that the increasing scale and repetition of strikes in the North Sea raised operational risks to both the timelines of new project developments and to the chances of long-term investment.
It was reported last month that Total was selling a third of its stake in the Laggan Tormore gas field along with other oil and gas assets in Britain’s North Sea that could fetch around US$1.5 billion.
The divestment will include stakes in a number of smaller fields Total acquired as part of last year’s US$4.95-billion deal to buy the oil and gas division of AP Moller-Maersk, Reuters reported. The deal was completed this March.
  • Oil and Gas People
Shell drills duster in Norwegian Sea
Oil company Shell has failed to find hydrocarbons at its wildcat well 6304/3-1 in the Norwegian Sea.
The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate on Wednesday said the well, located in the license 832, was dry.
Shell used the Scarabeo 8 semi-submersible drilling rig for the operation, hoping to prove petroleum in Lower Paleocene to Upper Cretaceous reservoir rocks in the Egga and Springar formation.
According to the NPD, the well encountered a total of about 9-meter thick reservoir rocks in the Egga and Springar formation with poor reservoir quality.  This is the first exploration well in production license 832. The licence was awarded in APA 2015.  NPD said the well was drilled to a vertical depth of 3604 meters below the sea surface and was terminated in the Nise formation in the Upper Cretaceous. Water depth at the site is 1228 meters. The well be permanently plugged and abandoned.
Worth noting, this is the second dry well in a row drilled by Shell using the Scarabeo 8 rig. NPD in July said Shell had hit a dry well near the Knarr field in the North Sea.  The Scarabeo 8 drilling facility, which will now drill wildcat well 6406/6-5 in production licence 225 B in the Norwegian Sea where Total E&P Norge is the operator.
The operation is expected to take 90 days to complete. The well will target a prospect named Jasper in a water depth of around 267 meters.
  • Offshore Energy Today
UK firms struggle to hire with Brexit, record low jobless rate
The number of people recruited for permanent jobs in Britain grew at its slowest pace in nine months in July, reflecting record low unemployment and a shortage of migrant workers from the European Union, a recruiters’ body said on Wednesday.
A monthly survey by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) showed there was no lack of appetite for hiring among employers, as the number of vacancies grew at the fastest pace since November 2017.  Britain’s unemployment rate has tumbled to its lowest level since 1975 at 4.2 percent and many employers have reported a shortage of EU migrants available for work since the Brexit vote in June 2016.
An REC spokeswoman said companies were continuing to flag the problem of fewer EU candidates for jobs in Britain.  Official data has shown that the number of EU immigrants to Britain fell to a five-year low last year.  The REC survey showed rising pay for newly hired permanent staff, albeit to a lesser extent than in previous months.  Employers picked up the pace of hiring of temporary workers and their pay rose too, REC said.
The Bank of England said last week it expected pay growth for the workforce as a whole to increase gradually over the next three years as Britain’s economy operates close to full capacity. This risk of the economy overheating was why it raised borrowing costs for only the second time since the global financial crisis.
  • Reuters
Headlines Tuesday 7th August 2018
Saudi Aramco Resumes Oil Shipments through Bab-El-Mandeb Strait
Saudi Arabian oil major Saudi Aramco has resumed oil shipments through Bab-El-Mandeb Strait that were halted at the end of July after the attacks on two very large crude oil tankers.
“The company will continue to monitor the situation and remain ready to take necessary actions in efforts to constantly ensure the safety and reliability of supply to its customers through its wide network which has the flexibility to export oil through multiple ports,” Saudi Aramco said, adding it would take all necessary actions to safeguard people, assets and the environment.
Lifting of the suspension comes after the Houthi movement announced it would suspend Red Sea attacks for two weeks as a sign of good will and support to the peace efforts, Reuters informed last week.
The suspension of attacks could be extended should the talks with the Saudi-led coalition prove to be fruitful.  Two VLCCs, operated by the Saudi National Shipping Company (Bahri) were targeted by Houthi fighters and one of them suffered minor damage while underway in the Red Sea on July 25.
The crude carriers were transporting Saudi Aramco’s crude oil when they were attacked.  Fortunately, there were no injuries or oil spill reported.  The conflict in Yemen has been ongoing since 2015, and it has claimed the lives of over 10,000 people, according to the United Nations. The country’s ports have been subjected to several attacks and closures as a result.
  • World Maritime News
Genel Energy sees significant output boost in 2019
Iraqi Kurdistan-focused Genel Energy (GENL.L) is likely to significantly increase its oil production guidance next year, Chief Financial Officer Esa Ikaheimonen said on Tuesday.
The output boost is expected to come from 11 wells currently being drilled in three fields in the region, eight of which are expected to begin producing this year.  Genel on Tuesday reaffirmed its 2018 production guidance of 32,800 barrels of oil per day.
 “We maintained that guidance ...signalling that even with the existing level we would exceed guidance,” Ikaheimonen told Reuters.
“There is a good chance that we enter the new year with a significantly updated level of production,” he added.
  • Reuters
Scotland’s first minister says ‘scare tactics’ should not be used as a negotiating ploy with the EU
The Scottish first minister complained that there had been “no visible progress” in the divorce talks since the Chequers plan was unveiled in July and told May that she needed to spell out the future relationship the UK sought to have with the EU.  “A no-deal Brexit would be utterly unacceptable and deeply damaging, but by talking it up as a negotiating tactic there is a very real danger it becomes a reality,” Sturgeon warned.
The SNP leader said it would not be enough to secure a simple exit agreement with the EU if it did not prove possible to complete all the divorce negotiations in time for March 2019. That would risk “a blind Brexit – which will see the UK step off the cliff edge next March without knowing what landing place will be”.  No 10 sources described Sturgeon’s response as predictable rhetoric ahead of an afternoon meeting on Tuesday between the first minister and May that was not even confirmed until lunchtime on Monday. Pinning down arrangements for meetings between the two frequently goes down to the last minute.
Ministers, led by the prime minister, have repeatedly referred to planning for a no-deal Brexit in the last week as the UK tries to strengthen its negotiating hand, including dire warnings that plans are being drawn up to stockpile food and medicines if the country were to crash out of the EU.  But Sturgeon said that no deal was a “catastrophic prospect” and that while ministers have focused “on the scare tactics of no deal” the UK had not achieved any results beyond making the prospect more likely.  The first minister said that May had “promised a detailed statement on the future relationship with the EU alongside the withdrawal agreement, so parliament and the people would know where the UK is going”. She added: “Parliament cannot be asked to make the decision on withdrawal without details on what the future relationship will look like.”
Financial markets are taking the no deal warnings increasingly seriously. On Monday, the pound fell to its lowest level in nearly a year against the dollar, tumbling by three quarters of a cent to hit $1.2920, as the market worried about the slow pace of Brexit talks and the potential impact of a collapse in the negotiations.
  • The Guardian
Headlines Monday 6th August 2018
China to Hit Back with 25 Pct Tariffs on LNG Imports from US
In response to the new wave of tariffs announced by the United States, China plans to fight back with USD 60 billion worth countermeasures, targeting, among others, the imports of liquefied natural gas from the U.S.
The Chinese Ministry of Finance announced on Friday, August 3, that it plans to impose 25 percent tariffs on LNG imports from the U.S. The new retaliatory tariffs would also impact copper (25 pct tariff increase), agriculture, as well as power/renewables.  The exact implementation date of the new tariffs is yet to be announced as Beijing awaits the official move of the Trump administration.
The escalation of the trade war between the two countries comes on the back of the 10 percent tariffs the U.S. imposed on July 11. What is more, the U.S. Government announced on August 2, that it plans to heighten these measures with an additional tax increase from 10 to 25 percent, impacting Chinese imports worth USD 200 billion.  The Chinese ministry said such actions were in violation of the consensus between the two countries and the trade rules agreed by the World Trade Organization (WTO).  As such, China is considering a move where it would hurt the U.S. the most- LNG exports.
The buoyant LNG exports, aided by the expanded Panama Canal, have supported Trump’s ambitions of making the U.S. an energy leader.  In 2017, the country ramped up its production and quadrupled the amount of LNG shipped across the globe year-on-year. China imported 15 pct of the total amount of LNG shipped by the U.S. last year, making it the third top importer of LNG together with Mexico and South Korea, data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) shows.
The U.S. is expected to account for 40% of the world’s extra gas production to 2022, thanks to its shale industry growth, based on the International Energy Agency (IEA), which predicts U.S would compete with Australia and Qatar in global LNG supply.
However, it should be noted that China is expected to drive global demand for gas accounting for up to 40 percent of the global share. Therefore, the new tariffs on LNG, if enforced, are likely to impact the country’s liquefied natural gas sector considerably.
  • World Maritime News Staff
Conservative MPs who called for onshore wind ‘ban’ out of step with constituents, poll reveals
​MPs who called for an end to onshore wind farms are "out of step" with their own constituents’ views, according to a new poll.   Three years ago 79 Conservative parliamentarians signed an open letter in which they called for a block on new onshore developments in England.  After their election victory, the government changed planning rules and barred onshore wind developers from competing for subsidies - which amounted to an effective ban for the technology.
However, new polling conducted for green campaign group 10:10 Climate Action, suggests their constituents largely disagree with them.  Nearly three quarters of people across their constituencies supported onshore wind and nearly the same proportion said they would be happy to live within five miles of turbines.  Only six per cent would actively oppose developments, contradicting the government’s assertion that communities in England do not want new wind turbines in their vicinity.
Most people were unaware that new developments had been blocked, with only 12 per cent aware of the measures the government has introduced.
The findings were revealed after another poll commissioned by the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit from YouGov showed that just eight per cent of MPs know that onshore wind farms are now the cheapest way to add electricity generating capacity in the UK.  The same poll found that MPs consistently overestimate opposition to onshore wind.
While government figures show just two per cent of the population “strongly” opposes the technology, half of polled MPs thought the proportion of the population was closer to a fifth or 20 per cent.  The government has tweaked its own rules to allow wind projects in remote regions such Scottish islands to compete for subsidies, but the block is effectively cemented in most of the country for the foreseeable future.
  • The Independent
Sterling falls after UK trade minister says Britain headed towards no-deal Brexit
The pound on Monday sank to its lowest in nearly three weeks following a stronger dollar and comments by officials suggesting Britain could crash out of the European Union next year without securing a trade deal.
Sterling fell to $1.2970, its lowest since July 19, down 0.2 percent on the day. GBP=D3 It was the biggest loser against the greenback among major currencies in early London trading.
The UK trade minister Liam Fox, a prominent Brexit supporter, said over the weekend the odds of Britain leaving the EU without agreeing on a deal stood at 60-40.
  • Reuters
Headlines Friday 3rd August 2018
Norled Orders Two More Diesel Electric Hybrid Ferries at Remontowa
Norway’s ferry company Norled, part of the DSD Group, has ordered two more double ended diesel electric hybrid ferries from Polish Remontowa Shipbuilding, LMG Marin said.
The two sister ships, based on the LMG 120-DEH design, were ordered less than a month after the signing of the shipbuilding contract for the first two units.  As informed, the newbuildings will operate on the Mannheller-Fodnes connection.  Compared to the two first ships intended for the Festøya-Solavågen route, these vessels will feature two modifications. Since the Mannheller-Fodnes route is shorter, the capacity of the battery pack will be reduced by approximately 20%.  At the same time, the vessels will be certified to carry more passengers with the maximum being 395 persons.
According to LMG Marin which will deliver the complete Class documentation, the design LMG 120-DEH features many energy efficient solutions including general use of heat recovery, full LED lighting, electric power transmission, demand-dependent HVAC system, low resistance hull design and weight optimized construction.
  • World Maritime News
5,500 UK churches switch to renewable energy
Churches estimated to have diverted £5m from fossil fuels to clean energy providers
More than 5,500 churches including some of the UK’s most famous cathedrals have converted to renewable power to help tackle climate change.  Church of England places of worship, along with Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, Quaker and Salvation Army congregations, have made the switch to 100% renewable electricity, and faith leaders are urging more to follow suit.  
Fifteen Anglican cathedrals including Salisbury, Southwark, St Albans, Liverpool, Coventry and York Minster are among the buildings signed up to green electricity tariffs.
Church leaders said climate change was “one of the great moral challenges of our time” and hurt the poor first and worst.
With the average annual church electricity bill around £1,000, British churches have diverted more than £5m from fossil fuels to clean energy providers, it is estimated.
The number of cathedrals running on 100% renewable electricity is down to the Church of England’s procurement group, Parish Buying.  Other churches have made the move through the Big Church Switch campaign run by the Christian charities Christian Aid and Tearfund and the Church of England’s environment programme.
Nicholas Holtam, the bishop of Salisbury and the Church of England’s lead bishop on the environment, said: “It’s fantastic to see churches doing their bit to ensure they reduce their impact on the environment. They are also giving a boost to clean energy, which is essential to reduce harmful carbon emissions.”  Rowan Williams, the former archbishop of Canterbury and the chair of Christian Aid, said the Church of England had agreed to sell its shares in fossil fuel companies not on track to meet the aims of the Paris agreement on tackling climate change.
“Churches are part of a global network and so are often very aware of the plight of our brothers and sisters suffering from droughts, floods and extreme weather around the world,” he said.  He urged the government to set a target to cut UK emissions to zero by 2050 to ensure Britain “remains a green and pleasant land at home and a climate leader abroad”.
  • The Guardian
Britain's RBS announces first dividend in a decade
Britain’s Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS.L) will pay its first dividend since its near-collapse and state bailout in 2008, paving the way for the government to further reduce its stake in the lender.
Taxpayer-owned RBS said it would pay an interim dividend of 2 pence per share, subject to the finalization of a $4.9 billion settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) over the bank’s sale of mortgage-backed securities in the run up to the financial crisis.  Until its agreement in May, the looming settlement had blocked RBS’s return to dividends, excluding a whole class of income-focused investors from buying its stock.
Announcing the bank’s half-year results, RBS CEO Ross McEwan said the bank was now looking to return further excess capital to shareholders, including via special dividends or share buy backs, from 2019.  “Our intention has always been to get capital back into the hands of shareholders,” he said on a conference call with reporters, adding that the bank would want to look at the potential impact of Brexit before making any major payouts.
The British government still holds a 62.4 percent stake in RBS, acquired with a 45.5 billion pound ($59.1 billion) state bailout during the financial crisis.  The interim dividend payment would return 150 million pounds to government coffers, according to a Reuters calculation.  It also expands the market for future government share sales by enabling a broader array of investors to look at buying the bank’s shares.
RBS stock however has not performed well recently, dropping around 7.5 percent between the first government share sale in June and Friday’s results announcement.
The bank’s shares had risen almost 3 percent to 257.5 pence at 0745 GMT on Friday.
  • Reuters
Headlines Thursday 2nd August 2018
Teekay Offshore Partners Confirms Two More Shuttle Tanker Orders
Teekay Offshore Partners has brought its ordering tally at Samsung Heavy Industries (SHI) to six shuttle tankers, the company confirmed.  Namely, in July 2018, Teekay Offshore Partners signed a contract with SHI for two additional LNG-fueled Aframax DP2 shuttle tanker newbuildings.  The duo is due for delivery in late-2020 and early-2021.
World Maritime News reported on the order in early July , however when asked for a comment Teekay’s spokesperson said it could not confirm the deal.
The first units from the batch were ordered in August 2017 in a contract covering two firm and two optional units.
The additional two shuttle tankers were ordered in November 2017, bringing the construction cost of the quartet to USD 265 million.
  • World Maritime News Staff
Serco says to weather UK 'hiatus', meets first-half expectations
British outsourcing company Serco (SRP.L) met first-half profit expectations on Thursday and kept its 2018 guidance while highlighting a focus on foreign contracts and cost-cutting to compensate for a “hiatus” in UK public outsourcing.  Revenue at 1.37 billion pounds was down 5.6 percent on a constant currency basis while underlying trading profit rose 20 percent to 37.6 million pounds, meeting company guidance.
Serco, which runs prisons, provides border security, operates ferries and trains as well as payslip administration, canteen and cleaning services in public hospitals, said growth in 2019 revenue would be broadly flat.  Beyond that point its performance “will be more dependent on our ability to grow revenues and to convert loss-making contracts into profitable contracts on rebid.”
“We can and will partly compensate for a weaker organic revenue outlook through increased actions on the cost base,” said Chief Executive Rupert Soames.
The company is hoping that the debt-cutting and streamlining plan initiated in 2014 will soon start to reap more robust growth.  Soames added that Serco in Britain, which accounts for 40 percent of group revenue, would weather “a market hiatus caused by a combination of Brexit and market dysfunction” because the services it provides are non-discretionary.  It also plans to turn its efforts to foreign markets, which made up 80 percent of its new order intake in the first half.  Soames said he saw “significant opportunities” in public contracting overseas.
Serco shares have risen 18 percent in the past six months.
  • Reuters
Barclays second quarter profits soar, boosts dividend
Barclays (BARC.L) second quarter pretax profits have almost trebled compared with a year ago, the lender said on Thursday, beating analysts’ expectations as it avoided the heavy restructuring and legal costs that blighted past results.
Barclays reported pretax profit of 1.9 billion pounds ($2.49 billion) for the three months from April-June, up from 659 million pounds a year ago and higher than the 1.46 billion average of analysts’ estimates compiled by the bank.  The results showed signs of promise for long-suffering Barclays investors in the underlying profitability of the bank, as Chief Executive Jes Staley battles to grow revenues while avoiding the costly misconduct of the past.
“It is the first quarter for some time with no significant litigation or conduct charges, restructuring costs, or other exceptional expenses which hit profitability,” Staley said in a statement.  Income in the lender’s under-pressure investment bank rose 1 percent in the first half of 2018, driven by a strong performance in the equities division, where revenues rose by 30 percent.  Barclays’ core capital ratio, a key measure of financial strength, rose to 13 percent, just above analaysts’ average forecast of 12.9 percent. That number had been depleted by fines and misconduct costs and a source of concern for investors in recent months, fuelling speculation the bank might need to raise fresh capital.  The bank said it would pay an interim dividend of 2.5 pence per share, and said it is on track to pay 6.5 pence per share for the full year.
  • Reuters
Headlines Wednesday 1st August 2018
BAE Systems sticks to annual forecast
Britain’s biggest defence company BAE Systems (BAES.L) stuck to its forecast for flat earnings this year, saying that some issues at U.S. projects and in its maritime unit would be offset by a stronger performance from other parts of the business.  BAE, which is building Britain’s new nuclear submarines, manufactures Eurofighter Typhoon jets and provides electronics for the F-35 combat jet, posted a 2 percent drop in underlying earnings per share to 19.8 pence for the half year period.  For the full-year it is aiming to match the 43.5 pence it made in 2017, and it said it was on course to do so, adding that it expected to see some additional benefit from exchange translation.
The company, which won a $26 billion (£19.83 billion) contract to build war ships for Australia in June, signalled its confidence by lifting its interim dividend by 2 percent to 9 pence per share.
“With a large order book and a positive outlook for defence budgets in a number of key markets, we have a strong foundation to deliver growth and sustainable cash flow,” Chief Executive Charles Woodburn said in a statement on Wednesday.  The company said higher earnings from its electronic systems unit, which provides equipment for combat jets like engine controls, surveillance and night vision systems, and its cyber and intelligence business would offset problems elsewhere.  Those issues included extra costs on a programme to deliver five patrol vessels for Britain, and challenges with a subcontractor in factories that make equipment for the U.S. Army. BAE said it had taken steps to address these issues.
  • Reuters
Silversea Cruises Joins the RCL Family
The ultra-luxury and expedition cruising company, Silversea Cruises, has officially joined the family of Royal Caribbean Cruises (RCL).
On July 31, the companies informed that they have closed on RCL’s acquisition of a two-thirds stake in Silversea after receiving final approval from regulators.  The investment unites two leading players in the cruise industry and fills out RCL’s portfolio of cruise brands across all key market segments.
“We are proud to officially welcome Silversea’s industry-leading team to the RCL family,” said Richard D. Fain, Chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.
Regulators green-lighted Royal Caribbean’s purchase of a 66.7% equity stake in Silversea Cruises, based on an enterprise value of approximately USD 2 billion. Manfredi Lefebvre d’Ovidio will remain Executive Chairman of Silversea and retain a 33.3% stake.
The companies also announced Project Invictus, a multi-year initiative to take Silversea’s ultra-luxury offerings to the next level. Project Invictus enhancements range from product upgrades to magnified ship revitalization programs.
The first Invictus enhancements will begin rolling out on the Silver Muse on August 19. Immediately thereafter, these and other enhancements will be implemented fleet wide, impacting a wide variety of onboard features and strengthening Silversea’s reputation.  Silversea’s growing fleet of ultra-luxury ships will also benefit from an upgrade. The planned renovation of Silver Whisper in December 2018 will be much more comprehensive than initially anticipated. Moreover, Silversea’s Silver Wind will also enter into an enhanced dry dock in December 2018.
  • World Maritime News
Lloyds hit by further £460m PPI payout
Lloyds Banking Group had to pay out a further £460m in PPI compensation between April and June, its latest results have revealed.  The bank put aside a total of £550m in the six-month period to June 30, to provide compensation Lloyds customers who were mis-sold payment protection insurance (PPI).
Lloyds Bank said the additional half-billion pound provision in the second quarter will cover claims currently at a rate of approximately 13,000 per week, until the compensation deadline in August 2019.
The latest compensation round takes the total amount paid by the banking group to clear up the PPI scandal to £19.2bn.  The banking group said: "The charge in the second quarter is largely driven by a potentially higher total volume of complaints and associated administration costs due to higher reactive complaint volumes received over the past six months and ongoing volatility."  The group said that it has sold approximately 16 million PPI policies since 2000, which includes both legitimate and mis-sold policies.
Lloyds would not rule out the possibility of having to increase the PPI compensation pot further, saying that "a number of risks and uncertainties remain including with respect to future volumes".
It also said that in the year up to the compensation deadline in August 2019, for every additional 1,000 complaints per week above the current weekly average of 13,000, the group would expect to incur an additional charge of £150m.
  • Sky News
Headlines Tuesday 31st July 2018
BP second-quarter profit above expectations at $2.8 billion
Higher oil prices and increased output boosted BP’s (BP.L) second-quarter profit to $2.8 billion, four times that of a year ago.  The company also confirmed it would increase its quarterly dividend for the first time in nearly four years, offering 10.25 cents a share.
BP is turning a corner after the slump in oil prices and as it gradually shakes off a $65 billion bill for penalties and clean up costs of the deadly 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill.  Underlying replacement cost profit, the company’s definition of net income, exceeded forecasts of $2.7 billion, according to a company-provided survey of analysts.  It earned $0.7 billion a year earlier and $2.6 billion in the first quarter.
First-half production rose to 3,662 million barrels of oil equivalent per day, including output at Rosneft, from 3,544 mboe/d a year ago.  Benchmark Brent crude futures LCOc1, currently over $74 a barrel, have risen around 16 percent over the first half of 2018 and around 60 percent since June 30 2017.
In its biggest deal in nearly 20 years, BP last week agreed to buy U.S. shale oil and gas assets from global miner BHP Billiton (BLT.L), (BHP.AX) for $10.5 billion, expanding the British oil major’s footprint in oil-rich onshore basins.  BP is also buying back shares to the tune of $200 million in the first half of this year.
In the second quarter, it paid off $700 million for the spill on a post-tax basis.  Gearing, the ratio between debt and BP’s market value, declined to 27.8 percent at the end of the quarter from 28.1 percent at the end of March. Net debt was $39.3 billion at the end of June compared with $40 billion at the end of March.
  • Reuters
Baleària Upgrading Five Ferries to Run on LNG
Spanish ferry operator Baleària is to invest EUR 60 million (USD 70.3 million) to retrofit five of its ferries to run on liquefied natural gas (LNG) in an effort to cut pollution from ships.  Namely, the ferries Nápoles, Abel Matutes, Sicilia, Bahama Mama and Martín i Soler are scheduled to undergo the upgrades over the next two years.
Baleària said that the of LNG in these five vessels is expected to reduce more than 45,000 tons of CO2 annually, 4,400 tons of nitrogen oxide (NOx) and eliminate sulfur and particulate emissions completely.  Nápoles, which would be the first to be fitted with gas propulsion, is to start the upgrade in the winter 2018.
Additionally, Baleària is studying two other LNG projects and is building two smart ships at the Visentini shipyard in Italy, the first of which will be operational as of February 2019.
The company plans to have nine ships running on LNG in three years, Adolfo Utor, President of Baleària, informed.
  • World Maritime News
British Gas loses more customers in first half of 2018
British Gas lost 340,000 customer accounts in the UK in the first half of this year, the chief executive of the firm's parent company has told the BBC.  The lost accounts represent about 270,000 customers.
Iain Conn said the rate of customer losses had halved and he hoped customer numbers would stabilise, but did not give a timeframe for this to happen.  His comments came as Centrica said operating profits at its consumer business had fallen by 20% to £430m.  Shares in Centrica fell 5% in early trade.
British Gas still has 3.5 million customers on Standard Variable Tariffs, which are often the most expensive.  However, that number is down from 4.3 million at the start of the year as the company has encouraged customers to switch to cheaper fixed-rate deals ahead of a cap on more expensive tariffs that is expected to come into force at the end of this year.  The way the cap is worked out will be published in August and will vary around the UK according to regional market conditions. It will be reviewed and reset by the regulator, Ofgem, every six months.
  • BBC News
Headlines Monday 30th July 2018
Oil prices edge higher but trade row caps gains
Oil prices rose on Monday with U.S. benchmark WTI moving higher after four weeks of declines, but gains were limited as the fallout from trade tensions weighed on markets.  Brent crude futures rose 13 cents, or 0.2 percent, to $74.42 by 0638 GMT, after trading lower most of the Asian session. Brent rose rose 1.7 percent last week, the first gain in four weeks.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 31 cents, or 0.5 percent, at $69 a barrel. WTI fell 1.3 percent on Friday.  The U.S. economy grew at its fastest pace in nearly four years in the second quarter, but trade tensions remain high between Washington and Beijing despite an easing between the United States and the EU.
“Oil prices could struggle this week,” said Stephen Innes, head of trading APAC at OANDA Brokerage.
Saudi Arabia last week said it was suspending oil shipments through the Red Sea’s Bab al-Mandeb strait, one of the world’s most important tanker routes, after Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthis attacked two ships in the waterway.  U.S. energy companies added three oil rigs in the week to July 27, the first time in the past three weeks that drillers have increased activity, data released on Friday that showed.
Hedge funds trimmed their bullish wagers on U.S. crude for the second week in a row to the lowest in nearly a month, data also showed on Friday, as oil prices remained volatile amid trade tensions and geopolitical risks.
The speculator group cut its combined futures and options position in New York and London by 11,362 contracts to 412,289 in the week to July 24, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission said. That was the lowest level since late June, the data showed.2.4 percent.  Russian energy minister Alexander Novak said on Friday the market remained volatile and responded to verbal interventions, adding that the market had priced in risks related to U.S. sanctions against Iran.
This week brings a raft of data and central bank meetings that may give investors and indication of the state of the global economy.
  • Reuters
Polar Bear Killed after Attacking Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ Guard
A polar bear has been shot dead by MS Bremen’s cruise ship guard during a shore excursion to Spitsbergen, part of Norwegian archipelago Svalbard that lies between mainland Norway and the North Pole.
Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, the owner of the ship, ascribed the incident to self-defense as one of the four members of the landing party team was reportedly attacked by the bear. As informed, the bear had not been spotted prior to the incident and, despite attempts to scare off the wild animal, the bear would not leave. Due to the said circumstances, the guards intervened to save the attacked person and shot the bear.  The attacked guard did not sustain life-threatening injuries and has been provided with required medical treatment.
The company added that it was cooperating closely with the Norwegian authorities on the investigation into the incident and expressed regret that the incident occurred. Polar bears have been protected in Norway since 1973 as the species is threatened by extinction. The animal has been faced with dwindling food supplies amid shrinking of the ice habitat and warming of the seas due to the climate change.
Svalbard is a vast archipelago, almost the size of Denmark, and only a few landing sites have been identified safe for cruise ship companies. All cruise ship companies venturing into the Arctic have to employ bear guards to protect passengers while on sight-seeing tours. Before the sight-seeing can take place the guards are required to check the site for safety. In cases when an animal is sighted the tour is interrupted and passengers return to the ship.
However, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises said that polar bears are solely observed from aboard ships, keeping a safe distance from the animals.
  • World Maritime News
Sky Data poll: 78% think the government is doing a bad job on Brexit
A survey reveals the government is haemorrhaging trust over Brexit, with two-thirds thinking the outcome will be bad for Britain.  More than three-quarters of the British public - 78% - now think the government is doing a bad job negotiating Brexit, up 23 percentage points from when last asked in March this year.  Theresa May's personal approval ratings have similarly taken a substantial hit - 74% are now dissatisfied with her performance as prime minister, up 14 points, while the proportion satisfied is now at 24%, down 17 points.  And asked how good or bad a deal the government will get when Brexit negotiations are complete, two-thirds - 65% - now think they will get a bad deal for Britain - an increase of 15 points - including 51% of Leave voters.
On the impact of Brexit, 42% of Britons now think it will have a negative effect on themselves personally, up eight points; 18% think it will not affect them either way, and 31% think it will be good.  A majority now think that Brexit will be actively bad for the economy (52%) and the country overall (51%), a rise by four points and five points respectively.  One in three think Brexit will be good for the economy (35%), with 9% saying it won't have an impact, while 40% think Brexit will be good for the country, with 5% saying it will have no effect.
The public by 50% to 40% support a referendum asking the public to choose between leaving the EU with the deal suggested by the government, leaving the EU without a deal, and not leaving the EU - 10% answered don't know.
Asked to choose between those options, not leaving the EU would be the preferred option for 48%, with 27% preferring to leave the EU with no deal, and 13% choosing the government deal - 8% say they would not vote, 3% don't know.  Leave voters would prefer no deal to the government deal by 51% to 22%, and Conservative voters would prefer no deal to the government deal by 44% to 21%.
Were a referendum to take place asking for second preferences, in the final round remaining in the EU would have a clear lead over no deal Brexit by 59% to 41%, excluding those answering don't know and those who would not vote.
  • Sky News
Headlines Friday 27th July 2018
BP pays $10.5 billion for BHP shale assets to beef up U.S. business
BP Plc (BP.L) has agreed to buy U.S. shale oil and gas assets from global miner BHP Billiton (BLT.L) (BHP.AX) for $10.5 billion, expanding the British oil major’s footprint in oil-rich onshore basins in its biggest deal in nearly 20 years.  The acquisition marks a big turning point for BP since the Deepwater Horizon rig disaster in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, for which the company is still paying off more than $65 billion in penalties and clean-up costs.
“This is a transformational acquisition for our Lower 48 business, a major step in delivering our upstream strategy and a world-class addition to BP’s distinctive portfolio,” BP chief Executive Bob Dudley said in a statement.
In a further sign of the upturn in its fortunes, BP said it would increase its quarterly dividend for the first time in nearly four years and announced a $6 billion share buyback, to be partly funded by selling some upstream assets.  The sale ends a disastrous seven-year foray by BHP into shale on which the company effectively blew up $19 billion of shareholders’ funds. Investors led by U.S. hedge fund Elliott Management have been pressing the company to jettison the onshore assets for the past 18 months. BHP put the business up for sale last August.  The sale price was better than the $8 billion to $10 billion that analysts had expected, and investors were pleased that BHP planned to return the proceeds to shareholders.
“It was the wrong environment to have bought the assets when they did but this is the right market to have sold them in,” said Craig Evans, co-portfolio manager of the Tribeca Global Natural Resources Fund.
BHP first acquired shale assets in 2011 for more than $20 billion with the takeover of Petrohawk Energy and shale gas interests from Chesapeake Energy Corp at the peak of the oil boom. It spent a further $20 billion developing the assets, but suffered as gas and oil prices collapsed, triggering massive writedowns.  The world’s biggest miner said it would record a further one-off shale charge of about $2.8 billion post-tax in its 2018 financial year results.
  • Reuters
BC Ferries Looking for Builders of Five New Ferries
Canadian ferry owner and operator BC Ferries has issued Requests for Expressions of Interest (RFEOI) for the procurement of five new vessels to replace its aging fleet.  The bidding process is open to local, national and international shipyards, including consortia, and BC Ferries encouraged local and national companies to bid on these projects.  The company is looking to build four 81-metre Island Class ferries, each with a capacity of 450 passengers and 47 vehicles. The expected delivery date for the first two of these vessels is in 2020, followed by two more ships in 2021.
The second RFEOI is for the construction of one 107-metre Salish Class vessel with a capacity of 600 passengers and 138 vehicles. The expected delivery date for this vessel is in 2021.
Two Island Class vessels are currently under construction and three Salish Class ships joined the fleet last year. BC Ferries holds the design rights to both classes of vessels, which will be provided to shipyards.
“The Island Class ships will be electric hybrid propulsion, including batteries, and the Salish Class will be fueled with natural gas,” said Mark Wilson, BC Ferries’ Vice President of Strategy and Community Engagement.
The five new ships will replace the Bowen Queen, Mayne Queen and Powell River Queen, which will allow for the redeployment of some assets around the fleet.
  • World Maritime News
TSB makes £107.4m loss over notorious IT meltdown
The embattled bank expects its services to be back to normal in 2019 as around 26,000 customers switch to other providers.
TSB has said it made a loss of £107.4m in the first six months of the year following its notorious IT meltdown.
In its first financial update since the botched migration of 1.3 billion customer records to a new IT system in April, the bank put the cost of the debacle at £176.4m. That included bringing in IT specialists from IBM to help sort out the mess and compensating customers.  Paul Pester, the embattled boss of TSB, has previously admitted 1,300 customers suffered financial loss as fraudsters attacked vulnerabilities in its IT system.
Around 26,000 customers have moved their accounts to news banks in the second quarter, while 20,000 have joined the bank, TSB said. It has received more than 135,000 complaints since the IT switch and about 37% have been dealt with.
"We're making progress in resolving the service problems customers experienced following our IT migration, and we will continue to work tirelessly until we have put things right," Mr Pester said.
Its loss in the first six months compares to a profit of £108.3m in the same period a year earlier.  TSB's Spanish owner was also left counting the cost of chaos. Banco Sabadell made a loss of €138.7m (£123.25m) in the second quarter after taking an extraordinary charge of €201m.
The British bank's 1.9 million customers were locked out of their digital and mobile banking accounts following the migration of data from former owner Lloyds' IT system to a new one managed by Sabadell.
TSB's failure has drawn stinging criticism from the Treasury Select Committee, which called on the board to sack its chief executive.  Mr Pester said he would be staying in his post and expected the bank's services to be back to normal by the first quarter of 2019.
  • Sky News
Headlines Thursday 26th July 2018
Shell launches $25 billion buyback plan, second quarter profits miss
Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.AS) launched a long-anticipated $25 billion share buyback programme on Thursday as its debt eased while second quarter profits came in far below forecasts.
The share repurchase programme, promised following the $54 acquisition of BG Group in 2016, is the clearest signal yet that the world’s second-largest oil company has recovered from a bruising three-year downturn in the energy sector.
“Today we are taking another important step towards the delivery of our world-class investment case, with the launch of a $25 billion share buyback programme,” Chief Executive Ben van Beurden said in a statement.  Shell will start buying up to $2 billion of A or B shares every three months, it said. It plans to repurchase at least $25 billion in the period 2018-2020, subject to further progress with debt reduction and oil price conditions, it said.  The move comes as Shell’s debt burden slightly eased in the quarter.  Its debt ratio versus company capitalisation, known as gearing, declined to 23.6 percent from a peak of 29.2 percent in the third quarter of 2016 and from 24.7 percent in the first quarter.  Shell’s debt pile nevertheless remained stubbornly at $66 billion, little changed over the past five quarters.
The Anglo-Dutch company sharply reduced spending, cut thousands of jobs and sold nearly $30 billion of assets in the wake of the 2014 oil market downturn.  In a sign of confidence that it can maintain around $15 billion in annual dividend payments, Shell scrapped in the fourth quarter of 2017 scrip dividend, an austerity policy through which investors can opt to receive dividends in shares or cash.                                                      
  • Reuters
Cargo ship MV Priscilla refloated at high tide off Caithness coast
The ship was refloated late on Wednesday.  The cargo ship MV Priscilla has been refloated off the Caithness coast.  The ship with six crew on board ran aground on the Pentland Skerries last Wednesday.  Tonnes of oil were removed from the ship ahead of the salvage operation, which took place at high tide shortly after 22:00.  The Longhope lifeboat will escort the Priscilla and the tugs towing her to sheltered waters in Scapa Flow.  Divers will then make a full inspection of damage to her hull before decisions are made about what to do next.
The six crew members, who have remained on board throughout, were said to be safe and well.
  • BBC News
Government legal aid cuts undermine right to criminal defence, MPs warn
Justice Committee demands funding review after warning that cuts are driving 'crisis'
Government funding cuts are damaging the fundamental right to legal defence, MPs have warned.  Lawyers have already launched strikes and a judicial review over legal aid arrangements, which are intended to ensure people unable to afford legal advice, family mediation and representation in court are treated fairly.  But the Justice Committee said government changes risk undermining the rule of law and demanded an urgent review to be completed by March 2020.
Bob Neill, committee chair, said the right to legal representation is enshrined under the European Convention on Human Rights.  “There is compelling evidence of the fragility of the Criminal Bar and criminal defence solicitors' firms, which places these rights at risk – a risk which can no longer be ignored,” he added.  Lawyers told the committee of their “deep unhappiness” about the future of the criminal justice system, amid struggles to retain barristers and solicitors.  Defence specialists said they are not properly paid to comb through mountains of digital evidence, following a scandal over the collapse of several rape cases due to disclosure failings.
“We conclude the pressure placed on defence lawyers to fulfil their professional obligations by reviewing unused prosecution material without remuneration is fundamentally unfair and, with the continual increase in the amount of such material, likely to become unsustainable, and increasingly prejudicial to the defendant,” the Justice Committee concluded.  Evidence to the committee had indicated a ”worryingly high level of demoralisation“ among defence lawyers ”with negative implications for the criminal justice system, especially for defendants“.  MPs recommended an urgent, cross-departmental review of criminal justice funding to be completed ahead of the 2019 Spending Review and ”with the aim of restoring resources to a level that enables the system to operate effectively“.
The report builds on oral evidence from lawyers about recent changes to legal aid, specifically the Litigators' Graduated Fee Scheme (LGFS) and the Advocates' Graduated Fee Scheme (AGFS).
  • Independent
Headlines Wednesday 25th July 2018
UK’s offshore wind output to double as Government backs industry
The amount of offshore wind around the UK is set to double in the next decade after the Government confirmed support for the industry.
A new auction for companies to bid for subsidies for offshore wind farms will take place in May next year, with auctions every two years, providing up to £557 million in support, the Business and Energy Department said.
For the first time, onshore wind farms on remote islands such as Shetland and Orkney will also be able to compete in the auctions, ministers announced.  The move could deliver up to an additional two gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind per year in the 2020s, to bring total capacity up to 30GW by 2030 from current levels of 7GW in operation, and 7GW in construction or with contracts.  That will be enough to meet more than a third of the UK’s power needs, boosting jobs and cutting costs for consumers, industry bosses said.  The auction system has seen the price for electricity from offshore wind more than halve in just a few years to as low as £57.50 per megawatt hour of power.  Industry body RenewableUK’s chief executive Hugh McNeal said: “Boosting our ambitions for offshore wind is win-win for consumers, as the industry’s success at cutting costs mean that offshore wind is now one of the cheapest options for new power in the UK.”
Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry said: “The UK renewables sector is thriving, with more offshore wind capacity here than anywhere else in the world and 50% of electricity coming from low-carbon sources last year in what was our greenest year ever.
“For the last decade the Offshore wind industry has been a great British success story: increasing productivity, raising earnings and improving lives in communities across the UK; and today the sector gets the certainty it needs to build on this success through the next 10 years.”  The support for offshore wind was also welcomed by Greenpeace, but the environmental group called on the Government to support other cheap forms of renewables including onshore wind and solar power.
  • The Scotsman
Offshore oil-and-gas on the cusp of recovery
The downturn in the offshore oil-and-gas industry has bottomed out and the sector is beginning its recovery, the major operators are reporting. Citing rotorcraft utilization numbers, they believe they are not of the woods yet, but do express optimism.
It has been one of the worst ever downturns in the oil-and-gas sector, caused by plummeting oil prices in 2014. The impact forced operators to implement restructuring plans — including job cuts — and manufacturers to ramp down production abruptly. Overcapacity is still keeping flight hour pricing at low levels.
But now operators and airframers agree that a favorable trend has appeared. “There are signs of recovery,” said Mark Abbey, CHC’s regional director for Europe, Middle East and Africa.
Jamie John, NHV’s base manager in Aberdeen, Scotland, agrees. “The market has not returned to where it was five years ago, but [it] has been steadily improving,” he told Vertical. “Compared to a year ago, a lot more exploration campaigns are taking place.”  This has recently translated into a 30- to 40-percent increase in NHV’s monthly flight hours, or an extra 100 hours per month. “A lot of new players are coming to Aberdeen, purchasing assets in the field sold by legacy players,” John added. NHV is operating 15 helicopters in the North Sea.
Over at Bristow, the offshore giant has seen an increase in annual flight hours for the first time in three years. In its 2018 fiscal year, which ended on March 31, 2018, it recorded 165,000 flight hours — a 13,000-hour improvement over fiscal year 2017. “We are in a gradual recovery,” said Bristow president and CEO Jonathan Baliff. “Now offshore oil-and-gas is becoming cost-competitive again and our clients realize they need to run a portfolio.”
Consulting service provider Westwood Global Energy Group sees “a significant opportunity” in the offshore wind market. Almost 6,000 turbines are to be installed globally between 2018 and 2022, bringing the global total to 10,000, according to Westwood. It expects $119 million of offshore wind-related helicopter expenditure over the forecast – a growth rate of 39 percent.
  • Vertical Mag
Barclays boss says UK finance sector will dodge Brexit bullet
Britain’s banking industry will emerge largely unscathed from Brexit and retain its position as one of the world’s top two financial centers for the foreseeable future, Barclays’ (BARC.L) Chairman John McFarlane told Reuters.  Home to the world’s highest number of banks and largest commercial insurance market, the City of London and its sister district in east London’s Canary Wharf are scrambling to prepare for Britain’s departure from the European Union, the biggest challenge the UK financial sector has faced since the 2007-2009 financial crisis.
McFarlane shrugged off fears expressed by some bankers and politicians that a blueprint for Britain’s future trading relationship with the European Union, proposed by Prime Minister Theresa May, would cripple job creation and trigger London’s rapid decline as a global financial services center.
Brexit will cost Britain up to 12,000 financial services jobs in the short term, the City of London financial district’s leader, Catherine McGuinness said on Tuesday, and many more jobs might disappear in the longer term.
But McFarlane said London would remain Europe’s primary hub for financial services because the city has the continent’s deepest markets and broadest pool of talent, scotching doomsayers who claim the sector could end up the biggest loser from the end of unfettered access to EU markets.  Supporters of Brexit admit there may be some short-term pain for Britain’s $2.9 trillion economy, but that long term it will prosper when cut free from the EU which they cast as a failing German-dominated experiment in European integration.
The financial sector accounts for 12 percent of Britain’s economic output, but McFarlane said the government’s dismissal of the sector’s preferred plans for access to the EU single market post-Brexit will not be as destructive as some commentators have predicted.  Many had pinned hopes on a bid for “mutual recognition” - whereby Britain and the EU would accept each other’s rules in exchange for broad two-way market access - as the best way to protect financial contracts and activity worth trillions of euros once Britain exits the EU on March 29.  Prime Minister May has instead chosen to build trading ties on a legal mechanism known as “equivalence”, whereby the EU deems a country’s rules to be as robust as its own.
McFarlane said the government now needed to act fast to negotiate “expanded equivalence” for Britain after critics said the regime exposed firms to sudden loss of EU market access.  The EU has so far opposed any attempts to modify equivalence and said it has no plans to reform the regime.
  • Reuters


Headlines Tuesday 24th July 2018

UK GAS-Prices Rise Amid Reduced Supply Due to Total Strike

British wholesale gas prices rose on Monday morning as a strike on some of Total’s North Sea oil and gas platforms began, reducing supply, and as wind output remained low. Day-ahead gas was 0.60 pence higher at 58.00 pence per therm at 0738 GMT.

Trader said a strike on some of Total’s North Sea oil and gas platforms had reduced UK Continental Shelf flows, which was bullish for prices.

Ongoing low wind output was also driving up gas-for-power demand, they added.

The Unite union said 40 people were on strike for 24 hours from 0500 GMT on Monday on the Alwyn, Elgin and Dunbar North Sea oil and gas platforms.

As a result, there are 13 million cubic metres (mcm) less receipts of gas than usual into the NSMP St Fergus and Bacton Seal gas terminals.

The UK gas system is 5 mcm undersupplied with demand forecast at 179 mcm and flows at 174 mcm/day, National Grid data shows.

Peak wind generation is forecast at nearly 2 gigawatts (GW) on Monday, falling to 1.3 GW on Tuesday, Elexon data shows.

Gas-for-power has been 56 mcm/d this month compared to 46 mcm/d in July 2017, said Thomson Reuters gas analyst Oliver Sanderson.

Low wind ouput is expected to continue into August. In August, there will be several planned outages in the UK Continental Shelf, which will also be a bullish driver for prices.

  • Oil and Gas People


Heavy industry turns to renewables in drive to go green

By 2021 about 30 per cent of the power used in Norsk Hydro’s aluminium smelters would come from wind power

In the forests of central Sweden, construction is about to begin on a giant wind farm with a single purpose: to supply power to the aluminium smelters of Norsk Hydro, one of the world’s biggest producers, for the next 29 years.

The wind farm, which cost €270m to build, highlights an important development in renewable energy — a growing number of investments from heavy industry.

Recent deals from cement plants and aluminium smelters signal how a market is developing for renewable energy, particularly during a time of volatility for traditional energy prices, as some of the world’s most carbon-intensive industries try to go green.

“Industrial players are going to have a huge role, a pivotal role in the development of renewables in the future,” said Mark Dooley, head of green energy at Macquarie Capital and the Green Investment Group, one of the developers of the wind farm.

“Most large-scale industrial businesses are enormous consumers of power,” he added. “We think that, while it makes sense that an aluminium producer is in the vanguard, there is every reason to expect that all heavy industrial will follow.”

Corporate buyers of renewable power have been on the rise and emerged as one of the main drivers for new renewables projects, because long-term power supply deals typically enable construction to begin on a large wind or solar project.

  • Financial Times


Public sector pay cap scrapped as workers get pay rise

The news is expected to be announced in the Commons later and comes after years of pay rises being limited to 1%.

A million public sector workers are to get a pay rise believed to be between 1.5% and 3.5%.

The abandonment of the 1% pay cap after six years will be good news for the armed forces, teachers, doctors, prison officers, police and dentists.

A Whitehall source was quoted in The Sun as saying: "Our outstanding public servants work hard for us all - that's why we're announcing new pay awards."

The pay rises are expected to be announced in the Commons later today.

However, it is understood that the extra money has come from departmental savings rather than extra funds, meaning frontline services could be at risk.

The news comes after NHS workers got a 6.5% pay rise over three years in March.

The government has come under consistent pressure to address public sector pay, with many experts blaming it for problems recruiting and retaining staff.

Meanwhile, members of the country's largest civil service union backed strikes over pay but failed to meet the required turnout of 50%.

Some 85% of those who voted backed the industrial action - but only 41% voted.

Public and Commercial Services union general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "Our members have delivered a huge yes vote for strike action and will feel palpable anger at not being able to exercise their democratic right to withdraw their labour."

  • Sky News
Headlines Monday 23rd July 2018

Energy giants opening natural gas spigots, fuelling profit rise

The world’s largest oil companies are pumping more natural gas than ever before, helping to spur a rise in profits while sating rising global demand for fuels that can mitigate global greenhouse gas emissions.

This marks a shift over the past decade for an industry that once focused predominantly on crude oil, with gas in most cases an after-thought. Now, the rise of gas-powered electric generation, surging production from U.S shale fields and the burgeoning liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry that makes shipping the fuel possible, have conspired to create a boom.

BP Plc (BP.L), Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N), Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSa.L), Total SA (TOTF.PA) and Chevron Corp (CVX.N) have collectively increased natural gas output 15 percent in the past decade thanks to better technology and lower costs, according to data from Wood Mackenzie energy consultancy.

Analysts expect all to post double-digit increases in second-quarter profit in coming days, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

“LNG is the growth commodity for these companies,” said Brian Youngberg, an energy industry analyst with Edward Jones, who expects the global LNG industry to grow at least 4 percent annually for the next five years.

At Total, gas is actually 61 percent of output, up from 47 percent as recently as 10 years ago, according to WoodMac.

Total is expected by analysts to post a 44 percent jump in second-quarter profit on Thursday to $3.56 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

  • Reuters


Britain to provide up to 557 million pounds funding for renewable subsidy auctions

The British government said on Monday it will provide up to 557 million pounds of funding for the next clean electricity auctions for less-established renewables.

The next so-called contracts for difference (CfD) allocation round for renewable energy technologies such as offshore wind will open by May 2019, the government said.

Offshore wind and, for the first time, remote island wind providers will be able to bid for contracts to power up to four million homes, it said.

The government will hold another allocation round in 2021 and auctions around every two years.

Depending on the price achieved, the auctions will deliver between 1 and 2 gigawatts of offshore wind each year in the 2020s.

Under the CfD scheme, qualifying projects are guaranteed a minimum price at which they can sell electricity and renewable power generators bid for CfD contracts in a round of auctions.

  • Reuters

PM takes cabinet north for Brexit awayday

As Theresa May's top team of ministers meet in Newcastle, she grapples with continuing cabinet tensions over her Brexit strategy.

Mrs May hopes to present the visit as a commitment to regional development post-Brexit

Theresa May is taking her cabinet on a trip to Gateshead as she prepares to sell her Brexit plan to the EU over the summer amid struggles to maintain discipline over her own MPs.

It comes after Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab indicated he still needs to persuade some members of Mrs May's cabinet to get behind the Chequers compromise deal on EU withdrawal aims.

Mr Raab, who held his first face-to-face talks with EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier last week, said he was "focused relentlessly and unflinchingly" on achieving a deal with the EU.

But he stressed that the UK was serious about the possibility of a no deal walkaway from the EU.

Former attorney general Dominic Grieve, a leading Conservative Remainer at Westminster, warned on Sunday that Britain leaving the EU without a deal would be "absolutely catastrophic".

Claiming some of his fellow Tory MPs are "actively seeking" a no deal outcome from EU divorce negotiations, Mr Grieve insisted he was not "scaremongering" about the impact of such an outcome.

Former prime minister Sir John Major also backed a new Brexit vote, as he attacked the "irreconcilable" attitude of Tory Brexiteers for having "boxed the government and particularly the prime minister into a corner" which could lead to no deal "by accident".

The Prime Minister is hoping to present Monday's cabinet's visit to the north east as a commitment to regional development post Brexit.

  • Sky News

Headlines Friday 20th July 2018

Scottish renewables firms forced into ‘liquidation’ by government decision

Some small Scottish renewable firms were “forced into liquidation” yesterday by the UK Government’s decision to shutdown the Feed-in-Tariff scheme, according to an industry body.

Scottish Renewables accused the government of causing “significant uncertainty” and that the proposed closure of the scheme has “worrying consequences for the already struggling small-scale renewables sector” in Scotland.

Announced yesterday, the decision also resulted in the UK Government issuing a ‘call for evidence’ on the future for small-scale low-carbon generation.

Intended as a payment to small business for generating their own energy, the scheme was planned for closure in 2019, but a consultation on its future was a year overdue.

Hannah Smith, senior policy manager at Scottish Renewables, labelled the decision a “risk to jobs” and deployment of low-carbon energy.

She said: “While we are pleased to see this consultation published, it has some worrying consequences for the already struggling small-scale renewables sector.

“The picture for this part of our industry isn’t especially rosy. Since previous cuts to the Feed-in Tariff there has been a drop off in deployment of technologies such as hydro schemes and small-scale wind.

“That, coupled with considerable delay to the publication of this consultation, has already forced businesses into liquidation and created significant uncertainty as to whether small-scale energy generation can survive in the UK.”

  • Energy Voice


BP’s ETAP Hub Celebrates 20 Years of Production

ETAP, often regarded as one of the most ambitious and commercially complex developments in the North Sea, comprises multiple fields with varying ownership arrangements sharing a central processing facility (CPF).

The Eastern Trough Area Project (ETAP) North Sea development, labelled by the Oil & Gas Authority (OGA) as the “poster child” for its Maximising Economic Recovery (MER UK) strategy, celebrates 20 years of production today, with the key hub expected to operate into the mid-late 2030s.

At the time of development, the individual reservoirs were not deemed to be commercially viable on a stand-alone basis, so the ETAP alliance was formed to develop the fields as one joint development.

It came on stream in July 1998 with an estimated production life of 20 years. However, a $1billion investment programme in 2015 breathed new life into the hub, securing its future well into the 2030s.

Intially seven fields, four operated by BP and three by Shell produced through the CPF. Two further BP-operated fields came online four years later in 2002, bringing the total number of fields producing through the CPF to nine. Two of the Shell fields have since ceased production. Day-to-day production operations of the remaining seven ETAP fields are controlled by BP from the CPF.

In its two decades of operations, more than 550 million barrels of oil equivalent (gross) has been produced from the BP-operated ETAP fields.

BP North Sea Regional President Ariel Flores said: “ETAP embodies the pioneering and innovative spirit the North Sea is renowned for around the world and shows what can be achieved when companies work together for the greater good of the region.”

The collaborative spirit of the ETAP alliance received industry-wide recognition in 2016 when BP and partners won the inaugural OGA Maximising Economic Recovery (MER UK) Award at the annual Oil & Gas UK Awards.

  • Oil and Gas People


UK's new Brexit envoy optimistic, as EU warns of Brexit crash

London’s new Brexit minister said he was confident he could reach a deal, on his first trip to Brussels on Thursday as the EU warned business to get ready for Britain crashing out of the bloc without agreed terms to cushion the economic disruption.

Brexit campaigner Dominic Raab, appointed to the government last week after his predecessor quit over Prime Minister Theresa May’s proposals to stay close to EU trading rules, said Britain was ramping up preparations for a “no deal” but focussed above all on selling her ideas to EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier.

The resignation of his predecessor David Davis and others, and May’s battles in parliament with pro- and anti-Brexit wings of her own Conservative Party, have led Brussels to wonder whether London is capable of agreeing any deal this year to avoid chaos when it leaves in March.

That, the EU’s executive European Commission insisted on Thursday, was not the reason for its warning on stepping up preparedness for a “no deal” or “cliff edge” Brexit.

Raab said Britain was on track and he would bring new “energy, vigour and vim” to talks as they get down to wire to find a deal before EU leaders meet at a summit in October.

“We’ve only got 12 weeks really left to nail down the details of the agreement, so I set out our proposals,” Raab said after meeting Barnier. “I’m sure in good faith, if that energy and that ambition is reciprocated, as I’m confident it will be, we will get there.”

EU officials and diplomats still think some kind of deal, including a 21-month status quo transition period to allow further talks, is more likely than not, if only because the cost for both sides would be so high.

The International Monetary Fund said on Thursday EU countries would suffer long-term damage equivalent to about 1.5 percent of annual economic output if Britain leaves without a free trade deal.

  • Reuters
Headlines Thursday 19th July 2018


Maersk Line, MSC Team Up with ZIM

2M partners, Danish carrier Maersk Line and its Swiss-based counterpart Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), have entered into a strategic cooperation deal with Israeli shipping company ZIM on the Asia – US East Coast trade.

Currently Maersk Line and MSC operate five loops and ZIM operates two loops on the trade.

As of early September 2018, Maersk and MSC will contribute four of their operated loops to a combined operation of five.

Under the deal, the parties intend to swap slots on all five loops of the new cooperation.

Danish ocean carrier said the cooperation would bring cost efficiencies and pave way for an improved product on the Asia – USEC trade, including a new direct product from the US East Coast into Thailand.

“We will improve our combined product portfolio between Asia and the US East Coast and deliver on our promise to customers while creating the needed operational efficiencies for us to run a sustainable business on the trade also in the future,” says Søren Toft, Chief Operating Officer, Maersk Line.

“The new arrangements will help ensure a high level of service for shippers on all routes between Asia and the U.S. East Coast,” said Diego Aponte, President & CEO, MSC Group.

MSC expects that the new arrangements will result in economies of scale and efficiencies, helping the carriers to navigate tough prevailing business conditions.

The cooperation is scheduled to begin in early September 2018, subject to regulatory approval.

  • World Maritime News


Babcock shares dive as slower submarine spending weighs

British engineer Babcock (BAB.L) cut its full-year revenue growth target on Thursday as delays in government spending on submarines hit its Marine division, sending its shares down more than 10 percent.

Babcock, which provides specialist support and services to groups including Britain’s defence ministry and governments around the world, also said it would sell two low-margin businesses and make further disposals through the year.

The combination of the disposals and marine slowdown prompted Babcock, a FTSE 250 company with a market value of 4.1 billion pounds ($5.4 billion), to say it now expected to see “low single digit” underlying revenue growth for the full year.

It had previously forecast “low mid-single digit” growth.

Shares in the group fell 10 percent in early trading and were down 8 percent at 742 pence by 0725 GMT despite it reiterating its underlying earnings guidance.

A provider of aerial emergency services, nuclear support and fleet management, Babcock said it had clarity on the year ahead, with 83 percent of revenue now in place. Its order book of signed contracts remained stable and its pipeline of bids in progress increased.

The slowdown in its Marine division came as its naval business suffered from a temporary slowdown of revenue as the government’s new Submarine Delivery Agency reviews the timing of its planned spending.

That, combined with an expected decline in revenue from the Queen Elizabeth Carrier project is set to result in a year-on-year reduction in Marine revenues in the first half of the year. New order wins should help soften the blow for the full year however.

  • Reuters


UK to consult public on possible bid to join Pacific trade pact

Trade Secretary Liam Fox said on Wednesday he will consult the public about a possible bid to join a Pacific trade group that includes Canada, Australia and Mexico, once Britain leaves the European Union.

Fox also said there would be consultations on trade deals between Britain and the United States, Australia and New Zealand.

“The government is determined not only to seek deals with key bilateral partners but to break new ground: putting the UK at the heart of the world’s fastest-growing regions,” Fox said in a speech to the Federation of Small Businesses.

“That is why I am also announcing a ... consultation on potentially seeking accession to CPTPP - the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.”

The CPTPP has replaced the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which was thrown into question early last year when U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from it after his inauguration.

The Confederation of British Industry employers’ group said companies would welcome the government’s commitment to free and fair trade, but that the top priority was a trade deal with the EU.

  • Reuters
Headlines Wednesday 18th July 2018
EU to launch safeguards to curb steel imports on Thursday
The European Union will launch safeguard measures on Thursday designed to prevent a surge of steel imports into the bloc that could have followed the U.S. imposition of tariffs on incoming steel and aluminium, the EU’s official journal said.
The European Commission has proposed a combination of a quota and a tariff to counter EU concerns that steel products no longer imported into the United States would instead flood European markets.
The quotas for 23 steel product categories are designed to be a reflection of imports over the past three years, with a 25 percent tariff set for volumes exceeding those amounts.
  • UK Reuters
Not dead yet - Home of Brent crude gets new lease of life
Oil giant BP’s (BP.L) Eastern Trough Area Project off the coast of Scotland wasn’t supposed to be viable beyond 2018. But government and industry working together have given ETAP a new lease of life that is being closely watched by countries and companies eyeing other ageing projects around the world.  When ETAP was launched 20 years ago today, some experts predicted the UK sector of the North Sea would cease most production by 2030.
Government efforts to keep producers in the basin, home to the Brent crude that underpins the price benchmark, gained urgency with the 2014 oil price crash.  Cheaper oil also forced the industry to upgrade technology and find more efficiencies.  From original plans to stop production at ETAP, BP decided to invest $1 billion in 2015.
“One has to take stock of the potential going forward and make an intervention that allows for the right investment to extend life,” Ariel Flores, BP’s North Sea Chief, told Reuters. “We’ve done that on ETAP.”
ETAP’s example shows how efforts to extend the production in the North Sea are succeeding, providing lessons for producers in other fields near exhaustion such as those in the Gulf of Mexico and southeast Asia.  Long-established oil giants such as BP, Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L) and Total (TOTF.PA) as well as smaller, nimbler North Sea-focused producers such as Enquest (ENQ.L) and Premier Oil (PMO.L) are all finding business opportunities in the area.
  • UK Reuters
Dairy products 'may become luxuries' after UK leaves EU
Everyday dairy products such as butter, yoghurt and cheese could become luxury items in Britain after Brexit, with price rises being caused by the slightest delay in the journey from farm to table, a report by the London School of Economics finds.
The LSE research, commissioned by the company behind Lurpak, Anchor and Arla brands, also found that speciality cheeses could become scarce after Brexit, with escalating costs whatever the outcome of the exit negotiations.  Ash Amirahmadi, the UK managing director of Arla Foods, said: “Our dependence on imported dairy products means that disruption to the supply chain will have a big impact. Most likely we would see shortages of products and a sharp rise in prices, turning everyday staples like butter, yoghurts, cheese and infant formula, into occasional luxuries. Speciality cheeses, where there are currently limited options for production, may become very scarce.”
The LSE report comes a year to the day after the government was warned that it was “sleepwalking” into a post-Brexit future of insecure, unsafe and increasingly expensive food supplies.
Britain does not produce enough milk to keep up with demand, creating a dependency on the EU, including on dairy-surplus countries such as Ireland, Germany, France, Belgium and Denmark for everyday items such as cheddar cheese and butter.  If the UK crashes out of the EU with no deal and defaults to World Trading Organisation rules, prices will almost certainly rise as dairy products, along with meat, attract high tariffs.
A milk product with a fat content of 3% to 6% has a tariff of 74%, while fresh mozzarella is rated at 41% and unripened cheese at 68%.  Even if a deal were struck and there were no tariffs, imports would face costly delays at Dover, the report says. LSE estimates that every seven-minute delay at a port such as Dover will add a minimum of £11 extra per container because of extra labour costs.
The research suggested that small cheese suppliers in France and Italy could find their products uncompetitive in British shops, generating scarcities and, in turn, price rises.
  • The Guardian
Headlines Tuesday 17th July 2018
Antwerp Port Posts Best Half-Year Results
Supported by increased container volumes, the port of Antwerp has set new records with the best half-year results ever.  During the first six months of 2018, the port handled 118.6 million tons of freight, a sharp increase of 6.5% compared with the same period last year. The container freight as the main driver experienced further rapid growth of 8.2% compared with the first six months of 2017.
The strong freight figures for the first quarter continued unabated in the second quarter. The container volume for its part rose by 8.2% to 66.3 million tons. In TEU, this indicates an increase of 8.3% to 5.6 million TEU. May was an all-time record month, with the port handling a peak container volume of more than 1 million TEU.
As informed, growth was experienced on all trade routes, both on the import and on the export side. Trade with Europe was the strongest, rising by 14.2%, thanks in part to Antwerp being able to win back transshipment freight which last year suffered a dip due to a temporary shortage of dock labor.
Furthermore, the number of cars shipped through Antwerp grew by 1.4%. Together with the 6.5% rise in the number of utility vehicles, this resulted in a 5.2% growth in the total RoRo volume, to 2.7 million tons.  Conventional breakbulk for its part got off to a good start at the beginning of the year but then declined by 6.5% by the end of the first half of the year.  In addition, liquid bulk experienced very strong growth of 6.1% in the first six months of this year.  Dry bulk for its part expanded by 3.1% compared with the same period in 2017.
A total of 7,210 seagoing ships called at the port of Antwerp during the past six months, up 1% on the same period last year. The gross tonnage of the ships arriving in port rose by 0.3%, taking the total to nearly 208 million GT.
  • World Maritime News
BW LPG to Nominate Three Directors to Dorian LPG Board
Oslo-based BW LPG has submitted the names of three director candidates to stand for election at Dorian LPG’s 2018 Annual General Meeting of Shareholders.  The company said it intends to file a proxy statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission, accompanied by a WHITE proxy card, in connection with Dorian’s 2018 Annual Meeting.
The move was made as a part of BW LPG’s takeover takeover attempt of Dorian. On May 29, 2018, BW LPG proposed to combine with Dorian in an all-stock transaction, under which Dorian shareholders would have received 2.05 BW LPG shares for each Dorian share.  After its initial proposal got rejected, the company increased its all-stock proposal to combine with Dorian on July 9, under which Dorian shareholders would receive 2.12 BW LPG shares for each Dorian share.  Martin Ackermann, BW LPG Chief Executive Officer explained that, due to Dorian’s continued refusal to engage with the company on the proposed combination, BW LPG have decided to go directly to shareholders with their director nominees, namely, Baudoin Lorans, Ouma Sananikone and Jeffrey Schwarz.
Based on BW LPG’s current price of NOK 34.06 per share and an NOK/USD exchange rate of 8.13 as of July 13, 2018, BW LPG’s proposal to combine with Dorian values each Dorian share at USD USD 8.88 per share, representing a 28% premium to Dorian’s unaffected share price of USD USD 6.96 as of May 25, 2018, the last trading day prior to the announcement of BW LPG’s initial proposal, and a premium of 19% to the long-term historical exchange ratio of Dorian and BW LPG since Dorian’s IPO.
  • World Maritime News
Vote Leave: Brexit campaign 'broke electoral law' in referendum
Brexit campaign group Vote Leave has been fined £61,000 and referred to the police after an Electoral Commission probe said it broke electoral law.  The investigation found "significant evidence of joint working" between the group and another organisation - BeLeave - leading to it exceeding its spending limit by almost £500,000.
Vote Leave also returned an "incomplete and inaccurate spending report", with almost £234,501 reported incorrectly, and invoices missing for £12,849.99 of spending, the watchdog said.
BeLeave founder Darren Grimes has also been fined and referred to the police for breaking the group's spending limit by more than £665,000 and wrongly reporting the spending as his own.
Veterans for Britain were also found to have inaccurately reported a donation it received from Vote Leave and has been fined £250.
  • BBC News
Headlines Monday 16th July 2018
Singaporean Firm Fined USD 1 Mn for Dumping Oily Waste
Singaporean shipping company Hai Soon Ship Management was sentenced to pay a fine of USD 1 million and serve a two-year term of probation related to water pollution.  According to the U.S. Department of Justice, District of Hawaii, the company received the sentence for charges stemming from its the failure to maintain an accurate oil record book in violation of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS), and false statements concerning the illegal dumping of oil contaminated bilge water at sea.
The company pleaded guilty to the charges on June 14, 2018. Pursuant to its plea agreement, Hai Soon Ship Management’s vessels operating in U.S. waters will be required to comply with a comprehensive environmental compliance plan that provides for regular inspections under the supervision of an independent auditor.
According to court documents and information presented in court, the company’s 3,878 gross ton oil tank vessel Hai Soon 39 provided refueling services to fishing vessels operating at sea. In October of 2017, the Chief Engineer of the Hai Soon 39, along with other engine room staff, constructed a hose in the engine room to bypass the ship’s pollution prevention equipment, including its oil water separator, and pump oily waste directly overboard.
The resultant discharges were never recorded in the ship’s oil record book, as required by APPS, and the Chief Engineer made false entries in the oil record book to make it appear that the discharges had been routed through the oil water separator when in fact they had not.  As part of its sentence, Hai Soon Ship Management will be placed on a two-year term of probation that includes the environmental compliance plan to ensure, among other things, that all of the ships the company operates that come to the United States fully comply with all applicable marine environmental protection requirements established by national and international laws.
  • World Maritime News
Drewry: Ascent of the Charter Market Is Over
The rapid growth of charter rates in the container shipping market is likely to be over as ocean carriers release some ships back to the open market in order to curb the impact of weak profitability.  However, shipping consultancy Drewry expects rates to remain close to their current levels over the remainder of the year.
Suspension of a number of services by carriers over the past few weeks as they scramble to fight off the red ink has seen rates drop slightly, reversing their 50 pct growth recorded in the first half of 2018.
“The risk of default on a charter contract rises when your customers are in the red. While we do not envision a repeat of Hanjin Shipping’s bankruptcy, prolonged losses do raise the chances of carriers off-hiring chartered ships upon contract expiry,” Drewry said.
As explained, the charter market is more heavily weighted towards smaller and intermediate size ships, hence the oversupply of bigger units is more isolated to trades where owned ships dominate. However, the introduction of new mega-ships during the first half does still pose a threat to the charter market as it intensifies the cascading process.
The shipping consultancy said that as of last week there were approximately 2,450 ships owned by non-operating owners, which with a combined capacity of 9.6 million TEU accounts for some 44 pct of the world fleet.  MSC currently has the largest pool of chartered ships with nearly 400 units aggregating 1.8 million TEU, representing approximately 57% of its total operated fleet. In contrast, PIL only charters seven units, or 6% of its fleet. Zim (72%) and Yang Ming (64%) have the highest chartered ratio of the leading carriers, Drewry’s data shows.
  • World Maritime News
Justine Greening calls for second Brexit referendum
Justine Greening has called for a second referendum, labelling the prime minister's Brexit deal a "fudge".  Writing in The Times, the former education secretary described Theresa May's proposals as "the worst of both worlds".  The final decision should be given back to the people and out of "deadlocked politicians" hands, Ms Greening said.  She states there are three options: the PM's deal, staying in the EU or a clean break from Europe with no deal.  Ms Greening, who resigned after the cabinet reshuffle in January, said the referendum should offer a first and second preference vote so that a consensus can be reached.  Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Ms Greening said the government's proposals were a "genuine clever attempt at a compromise that could work" but "suits no-one".  The MP for Putney said: "The reality is Parliament is now stalemated. Whatever the proposal on the table, there will be MPs who vote it down. But Britain needs to find a route forward."
Ms Greening, who supported Remain in the EU referendum, is the highest profile ex-Cabinet minister to call for a second referendum.  She said there were other senior Conservatives who agreed with her stance, adding that people who supported Leave in the referendum would also feel the government's approach is "not what they voted for".
In June tens of thousands of protestors marched to demand a second vote on the second anniversary of the EU referendum Ms Greening, who grew up in Rotherham, where 68% people voted to leave the EU, said the parliamentary stalemate "risks a no-confidence vote and, worse, a Corbyn government, which would be disastrous for the economy".
She had previously suggested a future generation of MPs will seek to "improve or undo" Brexit if it does not work for young people.
Mrs May has ruled out a second vote, as has Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, although a number of senior Labour figures are backing the cross-party People's Vote campaign for a final vote on any exit deal.  Amid continuing divisions in the Conservative Party, the BBC understands the government is considering accepting key amendments tabled by Tory MPs opposed to Mrs May's Brexit plan, to avoid a rebellion in the House of Commons.
  • BBC News



Headlines Friday 13th July 2018

Corpus Christi Books Record H1 Results as It Eyes LNG Trade
The Port of Corpus Christi, one of the major U.S. crude oil exporters, had a record-breaking first half of the year moving 52.2 million tons of products between January 1 and June 30, 2018.
This number exceeds the tonnage moved in the first half of 2017 by 926,000 tons, a 2 percent increase year over year. The port attributed the growth to a 9 percent growth in crude oil and a 2 percent increase in all other petroleum products, compared to the same period in 2017.
“In 2017, the port recorded its second highest year ever in tonnage, at 102.4 million tons, and we set a new record in operating revenue with USD 95.3 million. This is not an anomaly. These numbers continue to grow in 2018,” said Sean Strawbridge, CEO of the Port of Corpus Christi.
The increasing tonnage further solidifies the port’s push for the Channel Improvement Project (CIP), which includes dredging the ship channel from 47 feet to 54 feet and widening it to 530 feet, to accommodate larger vessels.
To that end, the port approved a bond resolution to issue up to USD 217 million in revenue bonds to help finance capital improvements. Aside to the USD 335 million dredging project, set to start later this year, the port plans to invest in new terminals in the Gulf of Mexico and rail infrastructure.
In addition, the port aims to play a larger role in the development of LNG exports from the U.S. once the deepening project is completed.
  • World Maritime News
MSC Cruises, Miami to Build New Cruise Terminal
Cruise liner MSC Cruises and Miami-Dade county reached a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the construction of a new Cruise Terminal AAA at PortMiami.
The new terminal, which is expected to be completed by October 2022, will be able to accommodate MSC Cruises’ next-generation, still under construction MSC World Class cruise ships carrying up to 7,000 guests.
Additionally, the parties signed an agreement for extended preferential berthing rights which extends MSC Cruises’ existing Saturday preferential berthing rights also to Sundays.
“The new agreement and expanded partnership with PortMiami and Miami-Dade County is another key step forward in the business growth of MSC Cruises, as we continue to strengthen our global footprint, with a strategic focus on North America,” Pierfrancesco Vago, Executive Chairman of MSC Cruises, said.
In 2017, MSC Cruises worked with PortMiami on the completion of Terminal F, home to MSC Seaside, the first MSC Cruises ship to be built specifically for North American market and the Caribbean
  • World Maritime News
Trump: Brexit plan 'will probably kill' US trade deal
Donald Trump has said the UK will "probably not" get a trade deal with the US, if the prime minister's Brexit plan goes ahead.  He told The Sun the PM's plan would "probably kill the deal" as it would mean the US "would be dealing with the European Union" instead of with the UK.  Downing Street has not yet reacted to Mr Trump's remarks.  Theresa May has been making the case for a US free trade deal with Mr Trump, on his first UK visit as president.  She said Brexit was an "opportunity" to create growth in the UK and US.
Mr Trump also said that former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson - who disagrees with the PM on Brexit and resigned this week - would make a "great prime minister", adding "I think he's got what it takes".  After it was published, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said the president "likes and respects Prime Minister May very much", adding that he had "never said anything bad about her".
Mr Trump - who has been a long-time supporter of Brexit - told The Sun newspaper that the UK's blueprint for its post-Brexit relations with the EU was "a much different deal than the people voted on".
He said the Brexit proposals Mrs May and her cabinet thrashed out at Chequers last week "would probably end a major trade relationship with the United States."
"We have enough difficulty with the European Union," he said, saying the US was "cracking down" on the EU because "they have not treated the United States fairly on trading".
  • BBC News


Headlines Thursday 12th July 2018
Shanghai Salvage Starts Removing Kea Trader Debris from Reef
Shanghai Salvage Company (SSC) has started recovering debris from the reef where the ill-fated Kea Trader ran aground a year ago.  The operation, during which the company would remove debris detached during storms, follows completion of a new independent bathymetric survey, Lomar Shipping, the owner of the vessel, informed.
The survey determined current surface conditions and the precise location of debris, enabling shallow work vessels to move around the rock hard reef for divers to collect the metal fragments.
Airbags have been used to remove larger pieces of hull structure off the reef bed and onto the logistics support & command platform Ju Li, that is now coordinating SSC operations on site. Lomar Shipping said that this work would continue and escalate over the coming months with the return of more favourable weather.
The materials and debris being recovered would be recycled by local businesses in New Caledonia.  Additionally, the company informed that plans for recovering more substantive pieces of hull from the reef bed are well advanced, with the intention to mobilise new heavy resources with heavy lift capabilities – the design of which is subject to complex engineering studies and final approval by the authorities.
Four offshore vessels continue to work on site, whilst also monitoring the ocean for any floating debris and pollutants.  The vessel’s vertical fracture last November and subsequent storm damage released a quantity of tar balls and polyurethane insulating material, as well as pieces of containers and carpet, that washed ashore in New Caledonia and the Loyalty Islands.
  • World Maritime News
Bulker Banned from Australian Ports for Underpaying Crew
The Hong Kong-flagged bulk carrier MV Shandong Hai Wang has been banned from Australian ports for 12 months after it was discovered that its crew had been deliberately underpaid.
The ban was issued after the Australian Maritime Safety Authority’s (AMSA) surveyors found evidence on board the ship that crew had been deliberately underpaid by about AUD 56,000 (USD 41, 366) from the amount specified in their seafarer employment agreements.  The bulker was boarded by AMSA’s surveyors on July 7 following a tip from the International Transport Workers’ Federation alleging discrepancies in the payment of crew wages.
AMSA, which takes a zero-tolerance approach to the mistreatment of crew, detained the ship immediately for breaching the Maritime Labor Convention.  AMSA’s General Manager of Operations, Allan Schwartz, said AMSA would not tolerate ships that underpay their crew in Australia.
According to the maritime safety authority, as of today, all outstanding wages had been received by the crew and the ship has been released from detention this afternoon, local time.
  • World Maritime News
Brexit: UK's blueprint for future EU relations to be published
The proposals were approved by cabinet last Friday but soon led to a big political fallout
A long-awaited blueprint for the UK's relations with the EU will be published later, with ministers vowing to deliver a "practical and principled" Brexit.  The "comprehensive vision" for future trade and co-operation is aimed at ensuring global trade deals and no hard border in Northern Ireland.  Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab said it would respect the result of the 2016 Brexit vote and address business needs.  Labour said it took "just two days" for the government's plan to unravel.
The EU's chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, has insisted the proposals must be workable.  The UK is set to leave the EU on 29 March 2019, after the 2016 referendum in which people voted by 51.9% to 48.1% for Brexit.  The two sides are negotiating outstanding issues related to its departure as well as the outline of their future relationship once a proposed transition period comes to an end, on 31 December 2020.  Both are aiming for an agreement by October, to allow enough time for the UK and European parliaments to vote on what is decided.
The EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said the UK initiative needed to be compatible with EU guidelines and not create extra costs and red tape.
  • BBC News
Headlines Wednesday 11th July 2018
Drewry: Container Prices to Squeeze Leasing Rate Returns
Container equipment rental rates and cash investment returns remain weak, despite last year’s recovery, shipping consultancy Drewry said.  Long-term lease rates for standard dry equipment leapt by over 50% in 2017, having begun their recovery the year before as the Hanjin bankruptcy left large quantities of equipment impounded and therefore out of the market. But newbuild prices rose by a similar margin, limiting cash investment returns to around 9%.
“With little change in lease rates anticipated over the next few years, investment returns are forecast to remain under pressure,” Andrew Foxcroft, Drewry’s lead analyst for container equipment, said.
With the outlook for world trade looking more promising and growth in ship capacity slowing down, transport operators and especially leasing companies have been vigorously expanding their container fleets. After expansion almost came to a halt in 2016, the container fleet grew by a robust 3.7% last year as the industry hastened to catch up with demand.
Prospects for the coming years are almost as good, with container production expected to be above 3.5 million TEU in all four years from 2017-20, which would be the most consistently strong production figures seen in over a decade.
  • World Maritime News
IRClass Starts Issuing Electronic Certificates
Classification society Indian Register of Shipping (IRClass) has started issuing electronic certificates to all of its classed vessels.  As informed, the e-certificates are available on the IRClass website through a secure platform — giving ship owners, regulators and charterers a real-time access to the latest class and statutory certificates.
Commenting on this initiative, Vijay Arora, Joint Managing Director of IRClass, said: “The implementation of IRClass e-certificates are expected to reduce administrative burden and document handling costs for ship owners, coupled with increasing operational efficiency.”
The e-certificates have a digital signature and a tracking number for online verification purposes. This allows the user to determine the validity of the certificates — to ensure that they have not been falsified or tampered with. The authenticity, originality and traceability of the e-certificates can be verified through the IRClass Verification Portal, according to the classification society.
  • World Maritime News
Facebook faces £500,000 fine from UK data watchdog
The UK's data protection watchdog intends to fine Facebook £500,000 for data breaches - the maximum allowed.  The Information Commissioner's Office said Facebook had failed to ensure another company - Cambridge Analytica - had deleted users' data.  The ICO will also bring a criminal action against Cambridge Analytica's defunct parent company SCL Elections.
And it has raised concerns about political parties buying personal information from "data brokers".  Specifically it named one company, used by the Labour Party, called Emma's Diary, a company that gives medical advice and free baby-themed goods to parents.  Facebook said it would respond to the report "soon".
The ICO also said another company - Aggregate IQ - which worked with the Vote Leave campaign in the run up to the EU Referendum - must stop processing UK citizens' data.  Kyle Taylor, director of campaigning group Fair Vote UK said "Under new GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) laws, the ICO could fine Facebook £479m.  "Unfortunately, because they had to follow old data protection laws, they were only able to fine them the maximum of £500,000. This is unacceptable," he said.
In 2017 Facebook was fined 110m euros (£95m) by the European Commission and in the same year they imposed a fine on Google of 2.42bn euros (£2.1bn).  The action comes 16 months after the ICO began its probe into political campaigners' use of personal data following concerns raised by whistleblower Christopher Wylie, among others.
The ICO found that Facebook had breached its own rules and failed to make sure that Cambridge Analytica had deleted this personal data.
  • BBC News
Headlines Tuesday 10th July 2018
South Carolina Ports Authority Delivers Record Box Volumes in FY 2018
South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA) has reported record container volumes handled during the 2018 fiscal year.
SCPA’s container throughput was 2.2 million twenty-foot equivalent container units (TEUs) in FY 2018, an increase of three percent over the previous fiscal year.
What is more, the port authority saw 201,163 TEUs in June, the single highest month for container volume in SCPA’s history and a 10 percent increase over June 2017. June was a strong finish to the port’s fiscal year, which began in July.
As measured in pier containers, or the number of boxes that moved across the docks of SCPA’s two container terminals, the port handled 115,696 containers in June and a total of 1.25 million containers in FY2018.
“June container volumes were exceptional, marking the first time our port has handled more than 200,000 TEUs in a single month,” Jim Newsome, SCPA president and CEO, commented.
Established in 1942, SCPA owns and operates public seaport facilities in Charleston, Dillon, Georgetown and Greer. Last month, the port authority approved USD 277.6 million capital plan — the largest in SCPA’s history — for projects supporting terminal modernization, capacity increase and intermodal volume growth.
  • World Maritime News
Irish Ferries’ Ulysses to Remain Out of Service
The technical issue concerning Irish Ferries’ ship Ulysses is more serious than originally anticipated, the company informed.  The vessel is expected to be out of service for a further period of one to two weeks, the shipping group added.
Operated by Irish Continental Group’s (ICG) subsidiary on the Dublin / Holyhead route, Ulysses reported technical difficulties with its Starboard Controllable Pitch Propeller on June 24. The vessel entered drydock in Belfast on June 28 and the investigation and repairs to the ship were expected to take no longer than five days, allowing it to resume service on July 4.  However, the repairs have not been completed yet, according to service engineers.  “In advance of her return to service, we will adjust the schedules of our other vessels to minimise the disruption (…) The Dublin / Holyhead route will operate with the Epsilon on the Ulysses schedule alongside the Dublin Swift which will operate additional evening sailings,” Irish Ferries said.
  • World Maritime News
Theresa May's new-look cabinet meets amid Brexit turmoil
Theresa May's new-look cabinet is gathering at 10 Downing Street after a string of resignations over her Brexit strategy left her government in crisis.
Mrs May was forced to carry out a reshuffle of her top team after Boris Johnson and David Davis both quit.  The prime minister has warned the Tory party it must unite or face the prospect of Jeremy Corbyn in power.  Jeremy Hunt, who has replaced Mr Johnson as foreign secretary, said he would be "four square" behind her.
The UK is due to leave the European Union on 29 March 2019, but the two sides have yet to agree how trade will work between the UK and the EU after that.
The delay has been partly blamed on deep disagreements within the Conservative Party over what shape Brexit should take.
Essentially the arguments are about how much the UK should prioritise business interests by compromising on post-referendum promises to end free movement of people, remove the UK from the remit of the European Court of Justice, and also have an independent trade policy which allows the UK to set its own trade rules and strike its own trade deals.  Last Friday at the prime minister's country retreat at Chequers Mrs May brokered a "collective" agreement on proposals for the future relationship between the EU and UK.  However, Mr Johnson - whose departure on Monday followed that of Brexit Secretary David Davis and several junior figures - accused Mrs May of pursuing a "semi-Brexit".  In his resignation letter, he said the Brexit "dream is dying, suffocated by needless self-doubt".
Mrs May later faced down backbench critics at a meeting of the 1922 committee, amid rumours they were close to getting the 48 signatures needed to trigger a no-confidence vote that could spark a leadership election.
  • BBC News
Headlines Monday 9th July 2018
Star Bulk Closes Acquisition of 15 Songa Bulk Ships
Greece-based dry bulk shipping firm Star Bulk Carriers has closed the acquisition of 15 dry bulk vessels from Norwegian shipowner Songa Bulk.  The ships were acquired for an aggregate of 13.725 million common shares of Star Bulk and USD 145 million in cash.
Following the closing of the transaction, the company said that Arne Blystad will be appointed to the Board of Directors of Star Bulk as Class C Director and Herman Billung will join the management team of Star Bulk as Senior Vice President. Additionally, Songa is expected to distribute the consideration shares to its shareholders.
First trading day of the secondary listing of the company’s common shares on Oslo Børs is expected to take place by mid‐July.
The cash portion of the Songa consideration was financed through proceeds of a five‐year capital lease of USD 180 million with China Merchants Bank Leasing with a margin of 280 bps, offering USD 35 million of additional liquidity for Star Bulk.
  • World Maritime News
Royal Caribbean Reaches Deal on USD 700 Mn Loan
Miami-based cruise line Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (RCL) has entered into a USD 700 million loan agreement to finance a part of the Silversea Cruises acquisition deal.
The company informed that the proceeds from the 364-day unsecured term loan agreement, which was signed on June 29, would also be used to pay fees and expenses related to the acquisition.
In mid-June RCL said it would purchase a 66.7% equity stake in Silversea Cruises based on an enterprise value of approximately USD 2 billion. At the time, the company informed that the price of the equity being acquired is around USD 1 billion, adding that it plans to finance the purchase through debt.
The interest rate applicable to the loan deal will range from a rate equal to LIBOR plus a margin of 0.90% to 1.50% per annum or a base rate plus a margin of 0.00% to 0.50% per annum, depending on RCL’s senior debt rating.  After a 60-day grace period, and until the commitments of the lenders have terminated, RCL will pay to the lenders a ticking fee equal to a percentage ranging from 0.08% to 0.20% per annum, depending on RCL’s senior debt rating, on account of the aggregate outstanding commitments of the lenders under the loan agreement.
  • World Maritime News
UK to expand navy in North Atlantic amid 'growing Russian threat'
Britain's Armed Forces will increase their presence in the North Atlantic to meet a growing threat from Russia, the head of the Royal Navy has said.  In his first major television interview, the First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Philip Jones told Sky News that a new Joint Area of Operations (JAO) will be created for the North Atlantic.  It will mean the region becomes a priority for the UK government allowing Royal Navy ships and RAF aircraft to be deployed to the region much more regularly.
Admiral Jones said it was in response to a growing Russian threat.
"This is a resurgence that has come very quickly.
"It is an intensifying resurgence of capability and scale that we didn't necessarily see coming maybe 10 years ago. We have had to respond to that - it is also very modern, it is very capable.
"The signature of their vessels, their deploy-ability, their capability is very impressive. They've clearly been investing in the research and development to be able to do this."
The announcement comes weeks after the United States said it would re-establish its Second Fleet in the Atlantic, also as a response to Russia.  One of its tasks will be to protect the vital undersea lines.  An estimated 97% of global communications are transmitted by fibre-optic cables that run thousands of metres below the sea, right around the world. They carry an estimated $10trn (£7.5trn) in daily financial transactions.
The announcement comes days before NATO leaders meet for an important summit in Brussels where President Donald Trump is expected to put more pressure on alliance members to increase their spending.
  • Sky News



Headlines Friday 6th July 2018

COSCO Shipping to Sell OOIL Shares to Restore Public Float
COSCO Shipping Holdings Co revealed plans to sell up to 15.1 pct of the total issued share capital of Orient Overseas International Lines (OOIL).    COSCO said that the sale plan will only take place in the event the public float of OOIL falls below 25 pct as required under listing rules and to the extent that would restore public float.
The Chinese major plans to sell up to 94,494,789 OOIL shares at the sale price of HKD 78.6, bringing the total value of the sale to HKD 7.43 billion (USD 947 million).
The announcement is being made following approval from the Chinese anti-trust body for COSCO’s USD 6.3 billion takeover of OOIL at the end of June.  The approval came in the nick of time to enable COSCO to meet its previously set date for the completion of the acquisition, which was scheduled for the end of June.  Once the merger is completed, COSCO would hold 90.1% of OOIL, thus becoming the world’s third-largest container carrier. COSCO would have a combined fleet of 400 vessels, with capacity exceeding 2.9 million TEUs including orderbook.
  • World Maritime News
Kongsberg Buys Rolls-Royce’s Commercial Marine Business
UK-based engineering company Rolls-Royce has found a buyer for its Commercial Marine business and it is Norwegian technology group Kongsberg.
The move was announced in January this year as Rolls-Royce launched further reshuffling of its business structure, switching focus to three core businesses based around Civil Aerospace, Defence and Power Systems.  There were several market rumors on the potential buyers of the business, including those linking Finland-based technology group Wärtsilä to the purchase.  The duo have signed a sale agreement, according to which the value of the enterprise has been set at GBP 500 million (USD 661.6 million) and the net proceeds from the deal will range from GBP 350 million to 400 million.
The sale includes propulsion, deck machinery, automation and control, a service network spanning more than 30 countries and ship design capability. Rolls-Royce’s Ship Intelligence activities, which have seen the rapid development of technologies to enable remote and autonomous operation of commercial vessels, are also included.
Commercial Marine has approximately 3,600 employees, with the majority based in the Nordic region. In 2017, the business generated revenue of GBP 817 million with an operating loss of GBP 70 million reflected in the group’s financial results.
  • World Maritime News
Phones to be seized at Theresa May's Chequers Brexit talks amid cabinet plotting
After a night of cabinet plotting, Theresa May faces a showdown at her country retreat over the UK's position on Brexit.
Ministers will have their phones removed on arrival at Chequers in Buckinghamshire and talks will continue into the night, with the PM warning they have "a duty" to "agree the shape of our future relationship with the European Union".
On Thursday night, leading Brexiteers held their own private meeting to mull over a 100-page document that proposes the government's position.
The plan could see the UK remain closely aligned to rules set by Brussels on agriculture and food, potentially making it much harder to strike a post-Brexit trade deal with the US.  Although Downing Street insisted it was "categorically untrue" the plans would make a trade deal with the US impossible.
Speaking ahead of the crunch meeting, the prime minister said: "The cabinet meets at Chequers to agree the shape of our future relationship with the European Union.  "In doing so, we have a great opportunity - and a duty. To set an ambitious course to enhance our prosperity and security outside the European Union - and to build a country that genuinely works for everyone."  Papers circulated to ministers ahead of the crunch meeting are reported to recommend that the UK should maintain a "common rulebook" with the EU for all goods, including agricultural and food products.   The document also reportedly says that "we would strike a different arrangement for services, where it is in our interests to have regulatory flexibility, recognising this will result in reduced market access".
In response to media reports of the proposed "facilitated customs arrangement", Tory MP Owen Paterson - who is a board member of Leave Means Leave - said it would be "a complete breach of Theresa May's manifesto commitment".
  • Sky News
Headlines Thursday 5th July 2018
Stolt-Nielsen CEO: Bunker Costs Eating into Tanker Earnings
Belgium’s Stolt-Nielsen Limited (SNL) booked a much lower profit for the second quarter of 2018 standing at USD 9.5 million.  Compared year-on-year the net profit was halved as for Q1 2017 Stolt-Nielsen reported USD 15.7 million in profit. On a quarterly basis the drop is even bigger taking into account that the company posted USD 39.8 million in net profit for the three months ending February 31, 2018.
For the six-month period the net profit stood at USD 48.3 million, with revenue of USD 1,056.3 million, compared with USD 30.8 million and revenue of USD 976.5 million in the first half of 2017.
The second-quarter results included an USD 11.8 million impairment taken on two bitumen ships, reflecting the weak market conditions. This compares to one-time gains of USD 24.9 million from the lowering of the US federal corporate income tax rate, and USD 8.2 million from a Stolthaven joint venture from the first quarter.
During the quarter, the last of Stolt Tankers’ newbuildings was delivered from Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding to SNL’s joint venture, NYK Stolt Tankers.
According to Niels G. Stolt-Nielsen, Chief Executive Officer of Stolt-Nielsen Limited, the underlying operating result was in line with expectations.  “At Stolt Tankers, we have thus far successfully compensated for rising bunker prices through the bunker hedge program, but rising bunker fuel costs continue to eat into tanker earnings, as spot rates have not yet fully responded to the increased cost of bunkers,” he said.
  • World Maritime News
Okeanis Eco Tankers Starts Trading on Oslo Børs
Piraeus-based shipping group Okeanis Eco Tankers, owned by the Alafouzos family, has concluded a USD 100 million initial public offering in Oslo and started trading on July 4.
Law firm Watson Farley & Williams (WFW) advised the company on the oversubscribed IPO of its new eco-friendly USD 1 billion crude tanker fleet on Oslo’s Merkur Market.
This placement will cover Okeanis’ funding needs well into next year, the law firm added.  Okeanis’ fleet consists of three aframax and three suezmax tankers, four of which currently have time charters in place. It also has eight very large crude carriers (VLCCs) under construction at Hyundai Heavy Industries’ Ulsan yard in South Korea.
This is the first maritime listing by a vehicle owned by the Alafouzos family, who have been active in the shipping sector since the 1960s and the tanker market since the 1980s.
  • World Maritime News
Staff praised for 'brilliance' as NHS turns 70
There are events taking place across the country, with NHS boss Simon Stevens giving "heartfelt" thanks.  NHS staff have been praised as the institution celebrates its 70th birthday.  Chief executive Simon Stevens says the service's success is due to the "brilliance" of its 1.5 million doctors, nurses, ambulance staff, therapists, porters, caterers and others who, along with volunteers, make up the biggest care team in the world.
In a message recorded in an ambulance control room, Mr Stevens said: "It's a time of celebration, looking back over seven decades when we're all living a lot longer and healthier, more than 10 years extra.  
"We've seen amazing medical advances, whether its organ transplantations or new cures for cancer or vaccines.
"But the reason why the health service does so well is frankly due to the brilliance of the staff.
"So, although this is our birthday, today our ambulance crews, here in the ambulance control room where I'm standing, our community nurses, our midwives welcoming new babies into the world, people who are going to be visiting their GP today...
The day will see celebrations around the country, including thousands of Big 7Tea events to thank staff and raise awareness of NHS charities.  There will also be services at Westminster Abbey and York Minster to thank staff and patients.
  • Sky News
Headlines Wednesday 4th July 2018
Completion of World’s Largest Sea Lock Delayed
The completion of the sea lock at the North Sea Canal entrance in IJmuiden, the Netherlands, has been delayed for 27 months.  The daeadline was moved to the end of January 2022, according to the Dutch Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management, Cora van Nieuwenhuizen.
Responding to the development the Port of Amsterdam said that this means that calling of larger ships at the port will be postponed as well.  “We regret this outcome of events. Since the Noordersluis lock will now remain operational longer, the accessibility of ports in the North Sea Canal Area will, in any event, not be compromised,” the port’s release reads.
The sea lock, which will be 500 meters long, 70 meters wide and 18 meters deep, was scheduled to be constructed by the end of 2018, when the testing phase was planned to begin. Official inauguration for commercial shipping was scheduled for 2019.
The new lock is designed to operate in all tides, ensuring better accessibility for the port of Amsterdam, and reducing waiting times for ships.
Once constructed, the IJmuiden lock would be the world’s largest lock, according to the Dutch government, allowing the next generation of bulk carriers, container ships and cruise ships that have grown in size to access the port of Amsterdam and the North Sea Canal.
  • World Maritime News
Accountability Flaws Could Hinder IMO’s Climate Goals
Several transparency and accountability flaws could hinder the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) ability to deliver on its own climate goals in reducing carbon emissions, a new report by Transparency International showed.
The report entitled, “Governance at the International Maritime Organisation: The Case for Reform,” outlines several key policy issues and recommendations that the IMO, the United Nation’s leading shipping agency, must address in order to meet international standards for transparency, accountability, and integrity.
The Berlin-based non-governmental organization said that these changes are essential if the IMO is going to honour its environmental and climate mandates and reach a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions of at least 50 per cent by 2050.
Currently, if left unchecked, shipping emissions could grow from 2.5 percent to 17 percent by 2050. However, to limit the rise in global temperatures by one-and-a-half-degree, as outlined in the Paris Agreement, some research suggests this number must actually reach zero by 2050.
As the principal international body tackling shipping issues, the IMO has a significant role to play in curbing emissions. However, in its current set-up, the IMO is at risk of severely under-delivering on its targets.
  • World Maritime News
Vote Leave broke electoral law, Electoral Commission expected to say
The official Brexit campaign is expected to be found guilty of four charges of breaking electoral law, the BBC has been told.  The draft of an investigation into Vote Leave concludes it broke spending limits and failed to comply with some of the rules.  It also imposes fines as a result of its findings.  But the group's former chief executive claimed the Electoral Commission had not followed due process.
Matthew Elliott has submitted a 500-page dossier to the Electoral Commission rebutting the claims.  The commission said Vote Leave had taken the "unusual step" of going public having seen the draft report.  According to Vote Leave's dossier, the commission finds the campaign group:
  • made an inaccurate return of campaign expenditure
  • is missing invoices and receipts
  • failed to comply with a statutory notice
  • exceeded its spending limit
Crucially, the draft report is said to claim there was coordination between Vote Leave and a smaller campaign, BeLeave, which received a donation of more than £600,000 in the closing weeks of the referendum, after advice from the Vote Leave director Dominic Cummings.
For months there have been allegations that the two campaigns broke the rules by working together too closely. The electoral rules stipulate that different campaign groups can work loosely together but they must not have a "common plan".  This has always been denied by the two groups and has been investigated twice already by the Electoral Commission.
Vote Leave now admits there was email correspondence between the donor in question, Anthony Clake, and Mr Cummings about passing the donation onto BeLeave.
It is understood that this third investigation concludes that there was a "common plan", and therefore the law was broken.
A spokesperson for the Electoral Commission said: "The commission has concluded its investigation and, having reached initial findings, provided Vote Leave with a 28-day period to make any further or new representations. That period ended on Tuesday 3 July.
  • BBC News
Headlines Tuesday 3rd July 2018
Port of Virginia Gets Final OK for Expansion Project
The Port of Virginia received the final authorization from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to move ahead with the Wider, Deeper, Safer project.
The USACE’s report is the final federal review of the project and clears the way for the deepening and widening of the commercial shipping channels serving the Norfolk Harbor.
The dredging project will take the channels to 55 feet deep and widen the channels in select areas to allow for two-way traffic of ultra-large container vessels.
“The largest ships in the Atlantic trade are already calling Virginia, but the added depth will allow for even bigger vessels and their safe, uninterrupted passage to and from the harbor,” the port said.
The project will be executed in two phases. The preliminary engineering and design (USD 20 million) is the first phase and is expected to take 18-24 months and the dredging phase (USD 330 million), which has a 2024 target completion date.
The Army Corps’ Chief of Engineers’ report allows the project to be included in the federal Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) bill.
The report completes an effort that began in 1986, when the port was given authorization in the federal WRDA to deepen the Norfolk Harbor to 55 feet. In June 2015, the port and the Army Corps’ Norfolk District office signed the Feasibility Cost-Share Agreement and began collaborating on the Wider, Deeper, Safer effort.
  • World Maritime News
First power generated by offshore wind farm at heart of Trump row
An offshore wind farm that faced opposition from Donald Trump has generated its first power. Vattenfall’s European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC) off the coast of Aberdeen successfully exported to the national grid on Sunday. The power, from the first of the development’s 11 turbines to go live, was carried through 66 kilovolt (kV) subsea cabling, the first time that cabling of such capacity has been installed on a commercial offshore wind project in Scotland.
The generation of power was hailed as a significant milestone for the project, which faced delays including a legal challenge from Mr Trump, who claimed the turbines would ruin the views from his golf course at Balmedie. The turbines at the site are the most powerful in the world, standing 191 metres tall, with each blade 80 metres long and a 164-metre rotor that has a circumference larger than that of the London Eye. The development is expected to reach full power later in the summer. Project director Adam Ezzamel said: “We have overcome major engineering and technical challenges to achieve first power on the cutting-edge EOWDC thanks to the collective expertise of Vattenfall and our contractors MHI Vestas, Boskalis and Murphy.
“Our priority now is to fully commission the wind farm safely throughout the summer. “First power from EOWDC reinforces north-east Scotland’s status as Europe’s energy capital and will help establish the region as an international centre for offshore wind generation.” Energy minister Paul Wheelhouse said the first power was a “very significant milestone”. He said: “I congratulate the project team at Vattenfall for not only a successful installation but also their achievement in generating electricity from the world’s most powerful offshore wind turbines which, with each rotation at full power, will generate enough energy to power a home for 24 hours.”
Jean Morrison, chair of Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group, added: “The timescale between the first installation and first power is remarkable. “The techniques and innovations developed at the EOWDC will be hugely significant for the industry and should help to reduce the future costs of offshore wind. “As energy demand grows, we need to maximise the returns from our natural resources and offshore wind can help us do that.”
  • The Scotsman
Shipping containers located in underwater search off NSW coast
As many as 50 lost shipping containers have been located on the ocean floor, after falling from a container ship off the NSW coast more than a month ago.  The 268-metre Liberian-flagged ship, YM Efficiency, lost 83 containers about 30 kilometres off the coast near Port Stephens on May 31, with debris including car parts, nappies, sanitary products, yoga mats, bikes and clocks washing up around the Nelson Bay area.  Only two of the 83 containers have since washed up.
But the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) has now said a hydrographic survey vessel employed by the ships insurers, has possibly located as many as 50 more.  The search vessel was deployed from the Port of Newcastle on June 22.  A spokeswoman from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority said the search had been successful so far.  "The search has identified a number of targets which may amount to as many as 50 containers, either broken apart or intact, on the sea floor within the search area."
Search operations are expected to be completed later this week, with poor weather suspending the search on a number of occasions.
Fishers in the Port Stephens have expressed concerns that a long search and clean up operation could hurt their business.  General Manger of the Newcastle Commercial Fisherman's Co-Operative Robert Gauta said if they had to continue to avoid the area where the containers were lost, they would see losses [in catches].  
"The way fishermen work, they share the grounds around, that's one less place they can go."
"So there's no immediate loss, but certainly going forward, if those grounds are not able to be used, there'll be a decrease in our catches going forward."
AMSA said its investigation found a number of deficiencies relating to the ship's safety management system, safety of navigation, and cargo storage which could have contributed to the loss of containers.  It inspected the ship for two weeks while it was unloaded in Sydney's Port Botany.
"AMSA found the crew were not familiar with procedures related to appropriate planning and risk assessment before navigating through heavy weather, or the applications of approved arrangement to the stowage of cargo," an AMSA spokeswoman said.  It also noted that loaded containers were stowed in slots intended for empty containers, and some containers were heavier than the weight limit for the tiers, where they were stored on the ship.
It found a total of 324 containers exceeded their tier weight limits set in the ships cargo securing manual.
  • ABC News


Headlines Monday 2nd July 2018
Fife marine services firm wins $4m BP contract
Fife-based offshore services firm Briggs Marine has boosted its global growth plans after being awarded a $4 million contract from BP Exploration.
The project, based in Azerbaijan, will see Briggs delivering fire and rescue services at Sangachal Terminal – one of the world’s largest oil and gas sites.
The three-year contract is in addition to the oil spill response services throughout the Caspian, which Briggs has been providing since 1996.
The new project will be delivered by 108 Briggs-trained local staff, working across three locations within Azerbaijan.
The oil spill response services will be delivered from two locations – the main response base in capital Baku and a satellite base located 170 miles away in the Evalakh District.
Most of the staff will be located at the Sangachal Terminal to provide the fire and rescue services.
Briggs Marine commercial director Pat Diamond said: “As we look to grow globally, Asia is a key market and we are delighted to expand our established services in the region for BP Exploration.
“Despite having worked with BP for nearly 20 years in Baku, this is the first time we have provided fire and rescue services for them outside the UK.”
Meanwhile Briggs has also bolstered its presence in Liverpool following a contract award by Peel Ports worth around £2m a year.
The contract will see the company provide all mooring services for ships arriving and leaving the Port of Liverpool including Tranmere.
This follows Briggs’ 2017 investment into new 500 square metre water-side facilities in the Port of Liverpool, supporting the ongoing development of its port services, renewables and sub-marine engineering offerings in the region.
Mr Diamond added: “This is another step forward in our Liverpool expansion plans and builds on our growing presence around the Mersey.
“It’s very encouraging to see the rewards of our investment taking shape, as growth in North West England is a key part of our business strategy.
“With 120 Briggs staff now working in the region, we’re using our experience and track record to continue developing and building client relationships, as well as targeting new contracts.”
  • The Courier
Diverse propulsion options sought to make crew transfer vessels greener
Technology is being sought to reduce emissions and fuel performance, enhance operations and reduce maintenance needs of crew transfer vessels.
The Carbon Trust’s Offshore Wind Accelerator (OWA) has issued a call for entries from companies and consortia interested in undertaking a study to evaluate potential technology for reducing emissions and fuel consumption that are suitable for use on offshore wind vessels.
“In order to implement these technologies, an understanding of the necessary infrastructure is required. The objective for the assessment part of the project is to understand the current and future technology applicable for offshore wind vessels, for example electric, hybrid-electric, liquefied natural gas, hybrid-electric, or hydrogen fuel cell hybrid-electric propelled vessels, and determine what their potential is for meeting the objectives,” said the OWA.
The focus of the project is expected to be on crew transfer vessels (CTV) during the operations and maintenance (O&M) phase of an offshore windfarm.
The OWA believes that CTVs will act as a lower cost proof-of-concept with the intention that the technology, when proven, can also be utilised by larger service operations vessels, where work is under way on other projects to reduce their emissions and fuel consumption. “The O&M phase is more suited to long-term planning and facilitating potential new infrastructure required to support new technology,” said the OWA.
In parallel to the technology assessment, a competition is to be run to support and accelerate the introduction of technology shown to have the potential to meet these challenges.
Apart from  reducing vessel emissions, fuel costs and maintenance costs, the OWA wants to understand and evaluate the cost-benefit of existing and future powering and storage technologies, particularly from other industries.
It also wants to derisk and accelerate the introduction of technology to reduce emissions for offshore wind by running an industry challenge or competition, and determine the infrastructure required for integrating this new technology into offshore wind operations.
  • Offshore Wind Journal
Hyundai Heavy Lays Off a Third of Offshore Executives
South Korea’s Hyundai Heavy Industries has cut a third of the executive workforce in its offshore and engineering division, Yonhap said citing the shipbuilder.
The world’s biggest shipbuilder is shrinking the workforce as its orders in the sector completely dried up.
The decision was made only weeks after Hyundai Heavy said it decided to temporarily shut down its offshore shipyard.
At the time, the shipbuilding major informed that the facility would run out of work by the end of July, when it finalizes its last order secured in November 2014, and subsequently close its doors in August.
This would be the first time the facility shuts down since the start of operations in 1983.
Yonhap earlier informed that the shipyard closure will leave some 5,600 offshore workers redundant, 2,600 of which are regular employees and 3,000 are supplier workforce.
The shipbuilder established a task force with its labor union in an effort to devise a solution for the redundant workers. HHI informed that the union demands paid leave for workers in rotation, however, the company is considering a number of options.
  • World Maritime News
Headlines Friday 29th June 2018
Cargill on the Hunt for New CO2 Reduction Technologies
Swiss freight trader Cargill has launched the “CO2 Challenge” which aims to find and scale new technologies capable of reducing a ship’s gross CO2 emissions by ten percent.
The initiative is in line with the company’s recently revealed CO2 per cargo-ton-mile reduction target of 15 percent by the end of 2020.
Cargill’s partners in the project are DNV GL, which will be in charge of assessing the technologies proposed and modeling potential efficiency gains, and Rainmaking, a company which specializes in start-up accelerators.
“The CO2 Challenge is the start of an exciting journey. By taking this innovative approach, we hope to uncover new technologies, new ideas and new ways of working to help our industry meet the challenge of decarbonization and reduce its impact on global warming. Applicants have a unique opportunity to see their product make it onto a vessel and, hopefully, into wider commercial production,” said Jan Dieleman, president of Cargill’s ocean transportation business.
The challenge is open to all businesses and entrepreneurs who have a product in need of commercial assessment, testing, investment and scaling. The application deadline is September 17, 2018.
The shipping industry is putting a greater focus on decarbonization in the wake of the IMO’s decision from April 2018 that the international shipping must at least halve its GHG emissions by 2050.
  • World Maritime News
Sovcomflot, Novatek Forge Ties on LNG Shipping
Russian shipping major Sovcomflot has inked a strategic cooperation agreement with compatriot natural gas producer Novatek for the transport of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and gas condensate produced at Yamal LNG and Arctic LNG 2.
The agreement is a continuation of the strategic partnership of the two Russian companies on developing an effective logistics model for the transportation of hydrocarbons in the Arctic zone of the Russian Federation, and optimizing the Arctic fleet both in terms of quantity and technical parameters.
The deal will also cover Novatek’s other Arctic projects, the two companies said in a joint release.
The duo has pioneered shipping through the Northern Sea Route and in July 2017 Sovcomflot’s Christophe de Margerie, the world’s first ice-breaking LNG tanker, became the first tanker to traverse the route unescorted.
Christophe de Margerie is the first in a series of 15 carriers being constructed for the Yamal LNG project by Korean shipbuilder Da