Operators Back Next Phase of Industry Forum on Subsea Integrity

An industry forum that addresses challenges in subsea integrity management is being extended for a further three years with backing from global oil and gas operators.

Phase II of the The SURF IM Network is led by Wood Group Kenny with support from the Industry Technology Facilitator (ITF). Phase 1 was launched last year, supported by an industry wide group of 14 operators and has been extended to run on an annual subscription basis through to 2018 with an expected project value of around £300,000.

The Mad Dog field complex in the US Gulf of Mexico


The SURF IM Network facilitates face-to-face and virtual forums for knowledge sharing and delivering solutions to subsea integrity and reliability challenges, focusing particularly on subsea hardware.

Kieran Kavanagh, Technology Development Director at Wood Group Kenny said: “This successful joint industry project focuses on knowledge sharing and finding solutions to shared challenges in subsea integrity. The Network represents a significant collaboration among its participants to provide solutions that will help to reduce risk, improve reliability and minimize life-of-field costs in the subsea industry and we’re very happy to be working with participant operators to enable this.”

Dr. Patrick O’Brien, CEO of ITF added: “Taking a standardized approach to complex subsea integrity issues that are common across the industry can help to drive efficiencies whilst creating a safer operating environment, so the Network is a win-win for all involved. It is a great example in the current climate of operators collaborating to support the development of effective and cost efficient means to inspect subsea facilities that are being installed in continually increasing water depths and longer step-out distances.”

In Phase I, progress was made in understanding the issue of control system module reliability and the outcomes of a comprehensive participant survey was presented to subsea suppliers to highlight integrity challenges and find ways to enhance reliability for the future.

The SURF IM Network follows on from a Wood Group Kenny Joint Industry Project (JIP) facilitated by ITF, on integrity management of subsea, umbilical, riser and flowline systems that identified key failure mechanisms, investigated inspection and monitoring technologies and gaps, and developed best practice guidelines for the integrity management of subsea facilities.

Plan for Development in the Gullfaks Area Submitted

Statoil and its partners have today submitted an amendment to the Plan for Development and Operations (PDO) for the Gullfaks license to the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy for phase 1 of the Shetland/Lista development.

2Statoil-GulfaksIvar Aasheim, head of field development on the Norwegian continental shelf, submitting the amendment to the PDO for the Gullfaks license to Minister of Petroleum and Energy, Tord Lien, on 30 June. (Photo: Ole Jørgen Bratland - Statoil)

Phase 1 of the development is expected to add 18 million barrels of oil equivalent, and will help increase the resilience of the area for continued operation of the Gullfaks platforms in the North Sea.

“Targeted efforts are underway to cut costs and increase the profitability of our projects. By utilizing the existing infrastructure we manage to recover new resources at a lower cost, thus sustaining profitable production and long-term activities on the Norwegian continental shelf (NCS),” says Ivar Aasheim, senior vice president for field development on the NCS.

The development concept is based on reuse of existing wells (a total of 15) from the Gullfaks platforms, and will not require any new infrastructure. The profitability of the project will thus be very good.

Shetland/Lista has been producing under a test production license since 2013. The submitted plan defines the more long-term development of these resources. This, however, is only the first phase of the development, which involves depressurization down to bubble point pressure in the reservoir.

“Gullfaks has been a unique industrial venture. Since first oil in December 1986 the field has produced more than 2.56 billion barrels of oil and exported more than 70 billion standard cubic meters (sm3) of gas,” says Kjetil Hove, senior vice president for Operations West, Development and production Norway.

“The current recovery rate on the main Gullfaks field is 59 percent, and with a productive life towards 2036 our aim is to further increase this rate,” Hove says. Shetland/Lista will add new valuable barrels. Investment costs are estimated at some NOK 900 million.

Statoil continues its efforts to realize the next phase based on pressure maintenance. This is expected to significantly improve the recovery rate for Shetland/Lista.

The Shetland Group and Lista Formation have with different properties compared with the deeper deposits of the Brent Group, where the main Gullfaks reservoirs are located. The producing interval in Shetland/Lista consists of thin limestone beds that are fractured and thus contribute to good productivity.

Indications of hydrocarbons in the Shetland Group/Lista Formation have long been known. Good productivity was initially established in December 2012 and has been confirmed through perforation in another three existing Gullfaks wells. This has warranted commercial development of the play.

Fugro and Cross Group Awarded Multi Well GoM Contract

3Fugro-SynergyFugro’s dynamically positioned multi-purpose drilling, well intervention and geotechnical vessel, Fugro Synergy, is proving her capabilities on a multi well intervention campaign which recently started in the Gulf of Mexico. The campaign involves utilisation of a top tensioned 6 5/8” riser and coiled tubing, and fieldwork for the contract is being undertaken jointly by the Cross Group Inc and Fugro. It employs the expertise of both organisations, providing a safe, efficient and cost-effective field-proven MODU (mobile offshore drilling unit).

The vessel was designed and built specifically for well intervention services, and with her impressive technical specification, Fugro Synergy truly complements MODU-based operations. Complete with a top tension riser system, this allows through-riser intervention activities. “The tower on Fugro Synergy allows us to run pipe, as opposed to either using a crane over the side, or running riser-less well intervention equipment,” explained Kevin Bosley, Managing Director at Fugro Drilling and Well Services.

“In the current industry climate ‘added value’ is of paramount importance, and Fugro Synergy certainly adds significant value to such client operations, together with our ability to deliver a flexible contracting strategy,” he continued. “The Cross Group’s 7-inch work-over riser packages are being run from Fugro Synergy, with both of our organisations focused on providing joint capabilities for a total light well intervention solution.”

Built in 2009 Fugro Synergy has a successful track record that includes a 2013 well abandonment campaign for Cairn Energy in Greenland where four exploration wells were permanently plugged and abandoned; and a deep water well de-risking campaign in 2014 which involved geotechnical and associated pilot hole (drilling and logging) services at drilling locations and field developments offshore Mexico.

Harvey Gulf International Marine Launched New Affiliate, Harvey Shipyard Group

4HarveyGulf-GCSG-PictureHarvey Gulf International Marine (HGIM) announces it is launching a new affiliate, Harvey Shipyard Group, to manage its shipbuilding assets. Harvey Shipyard Group is acquiring Gulf Coast Shipyard (Gulfport, MS) and Trinity Yachts (New Orleans, LA). HGIM Chairman and CEO Shane J. Guidry said, “These shipyard acquisitions will position Harvey Gulf as America’s only builder, owner, and operator of dual-fuel (diesel/LNG) offshore supply vessels and allow us to pass along the savings of lower operating costs and environmental protection to the Marine Transportation industry.”

Building on Gulf Coast Shipyard’s success in constructing the nation’s first LNG OSVs for the offshore market and building top of the line tank and hot oil barges, HGIM and its affiliates will catapult the Gulf Coast Shipyard into a state-of-the-art builder of world-class vessels. HGIM alone is investing $350 million to construct its dual-fuel fleet.

This July, HGIM will be opening its first of its kind marine fueling station at Port Fourchon, LA to bring LNG as a marine fuel to the offshore and inshore industry. HGIM’s $25 million Phase I construction will be capable of fueling Harvey Gulf’s fleet of dual-fuel offshore supply vessels and will accommodate America’s growing fleet of over-the-road vehicles operating on safe, efficient LNG.

Harvey Gulf is the only American shipbuilder to meet the stringent requirements of the ABS “ENVIRO+, Green Passport Gas Fueled Ships” certification and will continue building and operating the most environmentally–friendly vessels in the Gulf of Mexico. “The duel-fuel vessels we’re building and our LNG bunkering facility are indicative of HGIM’s commitment to develop and utilize the safest, most environmentally-friendly vessels and fuel technology available today,” said Guidry.

Harvey Gulf expects its shipyard acquisitions will result in an expansion of operations in Gulfport and New Orleans as it continues to bring innovative dual-fuel ship design, engineering and construction to its marine transportation industry clients. Companies interested in ship construction or converting presently owned vessels to cost-saving duel-fuel power can contact Wayne Bourgeois, Chief Operating Officer of Gulf Coast Shipyard; Robert Gwinn, President of Harvey Gulf; or Shane J. Guidry, Chairman and CEO of Harvey Gulf and its affiliates.

Lerwick Harbor Looks to Future with Further Expansion Underway

Further expansion of facilities for the offshore industry at deep-water Lerwick Harbour underlines the Port Authority’s confidence in the sector’s future, with three development projects, costing around £30 million and including 880 meters of additional quays, on schedule.

At Dales Voe South, the quay is being extended by 75-meters to 130 meters, with a load-bearing capacity of 60 tons per square meter, unique in Scotland. The full quay will have 12.5 meters water depth alongside, amongst the deepest of its type in Scotland. Completion is due next spring. The extension will be complemented by increased, adjacent laydown for equipment and materials, with a phased expansion totalling 45,000 square meters by 2016.

5Dales-Voe-quay-extension-underwayDale Voe Quay extension underway

An L-shaped jetty at Holmsgarth North jetty will extend to 800-meters-plus when completed next year, with ultimately 10-meters’ water depth alongside. The outer arm will create additional berthing for offshore industry vessels.

Sandra Laurenson, Lerwick Port Authority Chief Executive, said: “The harbour already has almost 4,000 meters of quay, including over 1,300 meters of deep-water berthing, and 130,000 square meters of laydown, meeting offshore industry requirements. The latest developments will underpin Lerwick’s continuing role as a leading support center, with the versatile facilities servicing ongoing operations, including subsea developments – particularly west of Shetland – and opening the door to further decommissioning work and the renewables market.”

Swire Oilfield Services Wins Seven Figure Contract with Weatherford

6SwireOSlogoSwire Oilfield Services has secured an exclusive five year contract with Weatherford International plc in Brazil.

The contract, providing DNV 2.7-1 cargo carrying units (CCU’s) to the oil and gas service company, was awarded following a year-long tender process and will ensure the safe transportation and storage of project critical equipment offshore.

Worth a seven figure (BRL) sum and running for the duration of five years, this is an important contract for the company in a key growth market where they already employ 85 people in Rio de Janeiro and Macaé, maintaining the firm’s development of its services to help clients in the region deal with increasingly challenging logistics.

Marcelo Nacif, General Manager Brazil, said: “This is a great reward for the team’s efforts in growing the business in Brazil and we are proud to support Weatherford’s activities.

“Swire Oilfield Services has a long established reputation for providing the energy industry with reliable, innovative products and services, and operating the world’s largest fleet of offshore CCU’s enables us to respond quickly to our customers’ requirements.

“Of all the markets we operate in, Brazil in particular is undergoing a period of transformation as it attempts to more than double production by 2020. Our increased focus on research and development to better meet our customers evolving needs will help them to achieve this and improve their operations.”

Harkand Mobilizes Vessel for Premier Oil in UKCS

7Harkand-SiemSpearfish--Photo-courtesy-of-Steve-Ellwood1Global operator in the subsea inspection, repair and maintenance sector (IRM), Harkand, has embarked on a contract awarded by Premier Oil Plc to support the operator activities on the Solan field development, West of Shetland.

The multi-purpose service vessel the Siem Spearfish, which is on long-term charter to Harkand, arrived in Newcastle earlier this month to begin mobilization for the campaign which will see it perform walk-to-work duties for the ongoing commissioning work on site.

The Spearfish is being fitted with an Ampelmann active motion compensated gangway which will allow personnel to walk onto the Solan platform safely, even in high wave conditions. The Spearfish is due to arrive on site in Block 205/26a in the UKCS later this month with the work expected to run until August.

The 120m Spearfish was launched last year after being designed and built at the Vard facility in Norway with input from Harkand. Constructed with a deck layout specifically designed to increase the efficiency for mobilization and demobilization, it is equipped with a 250 ton AHC offshore crane with 3,000m of wire and two heavy workclass Triton 4000 meter XLS ROVs and can accommodate a crew of 110.

Harkand Europe managing director David Kerr said: “Solan is an important development and is expected to contribute to the UK economy for the next 20 years. It is also a potentially challenging project in terms of the variable weather conditions anticipated West of Shetland.

“The safety and welfare of the offshore workforce is paramount and we are pleased to have been selected to provide support with a state-of-the-art vessel which is outfitted with the necessary equipment and the people to meet the demands of working offshore West of Shetland.”

Safety First as Optimus Seventh Generation Breaks into Decommissioning Sector

Optimus Seventh Generation, an Aberdeen headquartered behavioral change consultancy, has strengthened its safety portfolio by securing its first decommissioning contract in a six figure agreement with a major North Sea operator.

The four month contract, which began in May this year, will see Optimus Seventh Generation supply induction training and back to back health and safety advisors to support the safe decommissioning of a floating production, storage and offloading vessel in the North Sea.

Mark Walker, Client Partner at Optimus Seventh Generation said: “Having worked hard to develop our reputation as a major safety and behaviour consultancy to high hazard industries, the whole team is thrilled to secure our first decommissioning contract.

8Optimus-Mark-Walker-Mark Walker, Client Partner at Optimus Seventh Generation

“Breaking into a new sector truly demonstrates that the company’s growth plan is working, with decommissioning having always been a key target for us. The sector is full of opportunity in the current climate where collaboration is key between operators, the supply chain and, more pertinent than ever right now, specialist safety professionals.”

Optimus Seventh Generation will provide training to all contractors through its Induction Plus™ program. The four hour induction is aimed at projects experiencing a large influx of new, often subcontracted, labour during decommissioning and construction projects or shutdowns. It educates the attendees on the company’s expectations with respect to compliance with the company’s safety rules, alongside a motivational element to engage the project team with ‘why’ compliance is important and how they can raise their awareness of the hazards specific to the asset.

Mr. Walker continued: “Our project support business works with clients to influence decision making and behaviour to help deliver their project to plan and without harm to people, plant or production. Our Induction Plus™ when embedded by the presence of Optimus safety advisers, helps influence the decision making of all involved, ensuring rules are being followed and incident free projects are being delivered.

“Diversifying in to new sectors is essential in the current climate. By focusing on meeting client needs during a challenging period for the oil and gas industry we hope to help clients implement significant behavioural change, and deliver operational excellence globally.”

Contract Awarded for Process and Riser Platforms on Johan Sverdrup


Statoil, on behalf of the Johan Sverdrup license, has awarded Samsung the contract for decks for both the process and riser platforms. The total contract value is NOK 7 billion.

The contract is a fabrication contract (FC) of decks for the process and riser platforms. Aker Solutions has previously been awarded engineering work and purchase of equipment packages for the two aforementioned decks.

The function of the process platform, which weighs approx. 26,000 tons, is to ensure stabilization of the oil and processing into rich gas.

The riser platform, which weighs approx. 22,000 tons, will serve oil and gas exports, water and gas injection, as well as any future connections. The power cable from onshore also ends at this platform, where the current is transformed from direct current into alternating current for further distribution to the field centre.

The platform deck will be manufactured at the Samsung’s shipyard in South Korea.

"Johan Sverdrup is a large puzzle in which many suppliers must deliver with precision, quality and on time in order for us to start production towards the end of 2019 and this contract is yet another important milestone for the Johan Sverdrup project. Samsung has extensive experience in manufacturing such installations and we already have a good collaboration with the supplier. They have provided a competitive bid in a tough international competition," says Margareth Øvrum, executive vice president for Technology, projects and drilling at Statoil.

With this latest award, all contracts for the four platform decks have been awarded. The decks for the drilling platform and accommodation platform have already been awarded to Aibel (EPC) and Kværner Stord (EPC). In addition, 65% of the equipment packages have so far been awarded to suppliers with Norwegian billing addresses.

"Johan Sverdrup will be of major significance to the whole of society for at least 50 years into the future. We now have in place a broad and strong team in the supplier industry to construct the decks for the four platforms. This provides the most optimal conditions for project delivery in terms of quality, time and cost," says Øivind Reinertsen, project director of Johan Sverdrup field development.

Facts Johan Sverdrup

The investment costs for phase 1 of the Johan Sverdrup development are estimated at some NOK 117 billion NOK (2015 value). Recoverable resources are projected at between 1.4 and 2.4 billion barrels of oil equivalent.

The development concept for Johan Sverdrup phase 1 will consist of four installations, including a utility and accommodation platform, a processing platform, a drilling platform and a riser platform, in addition to three subsea templates for water injection.

The platforms will be bridge-linked. The project aims at a recovery rate of 70% for Johan Sverdrup.

The Johan Sverdrup partnership consists of Statoil, Lundin Norway, Petoro, Det norske oljeselskap and Maersk Oil. The partnership has recommended Statoil as the operator of all field phases.

Overall main contracts at a value of more than NOK 27 billion and more than 45 equipment package contracts at a value of NOK 3.5 billion have been awarded to suppliers with Norwegian invoice addresses.

Solstad Offshore Returns to Gibdock

10Solstad-GibdockGibraltar-based ship repair company, Gibdock, has built up a close working relationship with Solstad Offshore, with a number of the Norwegian operator’s specialist offshore craft being repaired at the yard over the past few years. This partnership was recently rekindled when a Construction Support Vessel (CSV), the 5000dwt Normand Pacific, arrived in Gibraltar for its first special survey. Gibdock managing director, Richard Beards, says,”Solstad Offshore is a repeat customer that we hold in very high regard and we were delighted to welcome them back again. They are a quality operator and it is a positive reflection on our growing reputation within the offshore sector that they have chosen us to repair and maintain their vessels.” The 122m long Normand Pacific, which was built at the Fosen shipyard in Norway in 2010, entered the Gibdock yard in mid-May for a three week program of works, including two weeks in drydock and one week alongside. The vessel had been operating offshore West Africa, but was due to commence a new deployment offshore Mexico. Richard Beards says,”Gibdock was ideally located to carry out the required special survey and pre-contract repair and maintenance work. Solstad Offshore was able to redeploy this valuable asset with limited deviation, and hence lower costs.”

A key element of the drydocking works was the requirement to service Normand Pacific’s two Schottel propulsion thrusters which, in addition to three Brunvoll tunnel thrusters and a Brunvoll retractable azimuth thruster unit, were dismantled in the dock, and moved to the yard’s workshops for extensive overhaul work. Gibdock fitters assisted owner-arranged manufacturer technicians with the servicing of all six units.

In addition, Gibdock assisted MacGregor service engineers with the overhaul of the Normand Pacific’s 200 tons lift capacity offshore crane. Paul Cano, Gibdock ship repair manager, says,”This was in many ways the most demanding aspect of the project, as it involved removing three out of the four hydraulic boom cylinders, each of which weighed 8 tons, and transporting them to the workshop, where they were stripped down and overhauled. We then returned them to the ship, lifted up the boom and refitted the cylinders in place, while other works on the crane and surrounding area were ongoing.” When the crane was fully operational once more, Gibdock sub-contracted Water Weights to carry out a load test, to class requirements, using water bags.

The three-week stay of Normand Pacific at Gibdock also saw the yard carry out extensive pipework for various systems onboard, including the installation of 57m of new piping for new ballast water treatment technology. Additionally Gibdock fabricated and installed pipelines for the cooling system, and carried out a range of standard drydocking works, including external hull coating and overhauling the sea valves. The vessel’s lifeboats and davits were also tested and serviced during Normand Pacific’s stay in Gibraltar.

Paul Cano says,”It was very pleasing to have been chosen to carry out the vessel’s first drydocking. We worked well with Solstad Offshore and the crew of the Normand Pacific to undertake an extensive scope of works in what was quite a demanding time frame.” In the event, Gibdock completed the job slightly ahead of schedule, ensuring the vessel was able to sail on to its next charter on time on June 10th.

Malcolm Rosie, technical director, Solstad, comments: “We were delighted to return to Gibdock with Normand Pacific, after a gap of several years since we were last in this region for drydocking. We were very pleased with the outcome and would have no hesitation returning to Gibdock in the future.”

Established in 1964, Solstad Offshore has grown to become a leading global offshore services provider. It operates a fleet of around 50 fully- and partly-owned vessels, including Platform Support vessels (PSVs), Anchor Handling Tug Supply (AHTS) craft and CSVs.

Risk-Based Approach to Valve Testing in Wells Could Save US$10M Annually Per Asset

11DNVGL-KjellErikssonReducing expenditure while continuing to improve safety and reduce risk is a key driver for the oil and gas industry especially in today’s cost constrained environment. DNV GL and ExproSoft are now joining forces to offer a risk based approach to testing barrier valves in subsea completed wells applicable worldwide. The objective is to reduce both downtime and risk related to shut-in and restart of wells in addition to substantial cost savings.

“In Norway, today’s current prescriptive approach to well testing can result in up to 3 days lost production per test, equivalent to US$10M per asset. Changing today’s prescriptive test intervals and leak criteria to a risk and reliability-based approach, will achieve substantial year-on-year cost savings for operators in Norway and elsewhere,” said Kjell Eriksson, Regional Manager - Norway, DNV GL - Oil & Gas. “Our experts can use established methodologies from the process industry and safety systems to reduce the number of shut-ins and well downtime, thus lowering the need for expensive interventions and work-overs. All this can be attained while maintaining acceptable risk levels and meeting regulatory requirements.”

Currently, the NCS regime refers to NORSOK D-010 for well barrier testing and testing frequencies and leak criteria for well barrier valves are determined by API 14B/ISO 10417. DNV GL and Exprosoft will undertake a project to develop the risk based approach which will identify failure modes and causes, failure rates, analyze the consequences, establish a risk picture and translate the results into a recommended test frequency. Further, a method to develop risk-based leak acceptance criteria may also be an outcome of this work. The results can be applied globally and will be available in Q1 2016.

DNV GL and ExproSoft‘s strategic cooperation and partnership agreement brings together ExproSoft’ s WellMaster, the world’s largest repository of reliability data for wells based on more than 40,000 well years of historical data, with DNV GL’s risk management expertise. “For an offshore platform with 25 wells producing 50 000 barrels a day, the average annual intervention cost is $26 Million,” said ExproSoft’ s CEO, Odd Are Svensen. “We are looking forward to working closely with DNV GL to combine our equipment reliability services with DNV GL’s risk management expertise to reduce intervention cost.”

Leading oil and gas operators in the US, UK and Norway use and share reliability data throughout the well’s lifecycle globally, and experience increased uptime, reduced cost (CAPEX and OPEX), and improved understanding of risk and failures, through access to the WellMaster Reliability Management System (WRMS) from ExproSoft.

New Oil and Gas Research to Show Collaborative Way Forward

12DeloitteA new piece of research could help the oil and gas industry understand and implement greater collaboration in the North Sea, as the sector continues to manage lower oil prices.

Business advisory firm Deloitte launched its inaugural oil and gas collaboration survey, with support from Oil & Gas UK.

The research will assess the level and quality of collaboration currently taking place on the United Kingdom Continental Shelf (UKCS), as well as how companies across the supply chain could work together in new ways.

The research, which has comparisons with a Deloitte study carried out in the US looking at the automotive industry, will survey participants on:

  • What collaboration means;
  • What constitutes effective collaboration;
  • How companies view themselves and each other as collaborators.

Collaboration has been a consistent industry theme since the publication of Sir Ian Wood’s UKCS Maximising Economic Recovery Review. It was a core recommendation in Sir Ian’s report, but there is currently little data available on what it means and how it might benefit the upstream oil and gas industry on the UKCS.

Justin Watson, a partner in Deloitte’s consulting practice, said: “Collaboration has been the focus of many client conversations about how we take the industry forward. With subdued oil prices set to continue, it’s more important than ever that companies look at what could be gained by working more closely together to bring down costs, reduce complexity and boost efficiency.

“However, what collaboration means for the oil and gas industry is not well understood. Our research aims to help define what collaboration is, how it looks in practice and how companies can better collaborate with one another.

“We would encourage anyone operating in or providing services to the UKCS to take part in this research. We hope a better understanding of collaboration could help companies in the North Sea improve productivity and efficiency, cut costs, adopt new ways of working and make the most of what remains in the basin.”

Oil & Gas UK’s business development director, Stephen Marcos Jones, added:

“Whilst tough decisions on resources and projects are being taken by individual companies, there is a growing effort to work together to make the UKCS more efficient and attractive for investors in a world of $60 oil.

“Any work looking at collaboration in our sector, and specifically how companies can work together in new ways, is therefore of real benefit and will be warmly welcomed by the UK’s offshore oil and gas industry.”

This project builds on Deloitte’s previous work on ‘Making the Most of the UKCS’ – Cultural shift key to maximising economic recovery of oil and gas.

PIRA Energy Group's Weekly Oil Market Recap for the Week Ending June 28th, 2015

13piranewlogoNYC-based PIRA Energy Group believes that $60 oil is not enough: demand growth will outstrip supply growth without higher prices. In the U.S., the stock surplus continues to sharply narrow. In Japan, runs rise, crude and product stocks build. Specifically, PIRA’s analysis of the oil market fundamentals has revealed the following:

$60 Oil Is Not Enough: Demand Growth Will Outstrip Supply Growth Without Higher Prices

More than ever, the divide over where oil prices are heading in the future is driven by diverging views on supply costs. If you're one who believes that there will be very large quantities of shale oil (or light tight oil) available at a cost under $60/Bbl, enough to meet demand growth and offset depletion of existing production, then prices need not rise from current levels. Alternatively, if you believe that shale volumes will not be sufficient and higher-cost supplies, including oil sands and deepwater, will be required to balance global supply and demand, then a rise in price is likely required.

U.S. Stock Surplus Continues to Sharply Narrow

This past week’s 6.7 million barrel overall inventory decline sharply contrasts with last year’s 5.2 million barrel inventory build for the same week. The year-over-year stock surplus decreased by 12 million barrels to 128 million barrels, down from 177 million barrels at the beginning of April.

Japanese Crude Runs Rise; Crude and Product Stocks Build

Crude runs rose for the second straight week and crude imports recovered from low levels, which led to a sizable 3.7 MMBbls stock build. Major product demand performance was weaker and finished product stocks posted a build of slightly less than 1 MMBbls. The indicative refining margin remains very good. Light product cracks eased slightly while fuel oil cracks were a bit stronger.

Update on Russia Shale Oil Development

Interest in developing Russia's enormous shale oil was riding high in the last few years until the West imposed sanctions over the Ukraine crisis a year ago. Development of shale oil, which is specifically targeted by western sanctions, has slowed substantially. Activities in a number of JVs that have been formed with Western partners, notably between Rosneft and Exxon, Statoil and BP, Lukoil and Total, and Gazprom Neft and Shell, were put on hold. Efforts to replicate the shale boom in the U.S. have also hindered by the collapse of oil prices over the past year.

Financing Not a Major Concern for Most U.S. Independent Producers in Low Oil Price Environment

In the current low oil price environment, cash flow generated by U.S. independents has gone down, debt has increased and debt ratios (i.e. debt/EBITDA) have gone up. However, debt ratios are still acceptable for most U.S. independents, major debt repayments are not due for a few more years, and several companies have mitigated the downside by hedging future oil production. In addition, there is plenty of money available to be lent, interest rates are still low, it is fairly simple to issue new shares, and companies that try to sell assets to maintain liquidity are finding buyers. Therefore, financing is not a major concern for most U.S. independents. There are exceptions and some smaller and highly leveraged producers have had to restructure or declare bankruptcy.

U.S. LPG Prices Rebound

Prices rebounded strongly last week, as brine issues at Lonestar’s Mt. Belvieu storage terminal were seen as transitory and not endemic of a larger containment issue. July propane futures at the Texas market center rallied 10%, while butane, which has been unfairly dragged lower by C3 in recent weeks, jumped 14% to 57.2¢/gal by Friday’s settle. Ethane prices were mostly unchanged around 19¢/gal.

Inventories Drop to the Lowest Level Since January 2

U.S. ethanol production soared to 994 MB/D the week ending June 19, the highest level ever reported in the DOE's weekly supply report. Inventories declined by a whopping 878 thousand barrels to 19.8 million barrels, the lowest since the week ending January 2.

The information above is part of PIRA Energy Group's weekly Energy Market Recap - which alerts readers to PIRA’s current analysis of energy markets around the world as well as the key economic and political factors driving those markets.

DW Monday, June 29th, 2015: Refining Margins Back but Will They Remain?

14DWMonday copyBetween 2009 and 2014, refining margins rarely exceeded $5/bbl in Europe and $8/bbl in Asia, whilst the USA was the only safe-haven, averaging $15/bbl. In 2015, however, the game changed as the global oversupply triggered a crude price collapse, resulting in healthier refining margins – year-to-date averages in Europe are $9, $12 in Asia and the in USA $20.

This plot is not new and many would expect that in markets geared heavily towards light/sweet oil the premium for processing lower quality crude – the ‘complexity advantage’ – should tighten in a low oil price environment. However, this is not happening. Since early 2015, a barrel of Russia’s Urals trades at a discount to Brent of $1.5, oscillating in a -$1/-$2 range. Nigeria’s Bonny Light, arguably one of the highest quality crudes, traded last week at a 10-year low premium to Brent of $0.23, vs. +$2 in early 2014.

Many factors are at work here. Firstly, the downstream supply chain is rather rigid, as refineries are designed and located for ease of supply and so process specific crude grades, making switching uneconomical. But the primary driver of reduced premiums is now the level of oversupply of crude. Spectacular growth in US light oil production has squeezed output of light/sweet West African, and heavy/sour South American crude grades. Meanwhile, the Middle East maintains production and becomes the reference for Asian buyers, leaving European refineries with a steady Russian output supplied through pipelines.

Recent history teaches the virtues of composure. Following the US fracking revolution, Gulf Coast refineries freshly upgraded to process anticipated heavy/sour foreign crude have not seen returns on their investments, while those who passed on costly upgrades are now well positioned to process booming domestic light/sweet production. However, refiners shouldn’t be banking on sustained high margins. As the market works through an enduring supply glut, and grapples with the prospect of renewed Iranian output, the complexity advantage is likely to prove as volatile as crude prices.

Antoine Paillat, Douglas-Westwood London

HUBER+SUHNER Completes Cable Portfolio for Offshore Applications

15HuberSuhnerHUBER+SUHNER has completed its RADOX® MFH-S cable family with cross-sections of up to 6mm2. These cables are suitable for installation on ships and on oil and gas platforms. Their special product features make them unique on the market.

Through its extended RADOX® MFH-S cable portfolio, HUBER+SUHNER meets the challenging demands for products both on ships and on oil and gas platforms. Unlike rival products, the cables can transmit both signals and energy. Through cross-sections of up to 6 mm2 and more than 70 design versions HUBER+SUHNER covers a wide range of applications: from data transmission in control systems to cabinets and energy transmission in lighting systems or ships' diesel engines.

More robust, more flexible and thinner than rival products
Compared to other products on the market, the cables are thinner and more robust and flexible. RADOX® MFH-S cables are up to three times thinner and therefore much lighter than rival products. In addition, they are approved for use in temperatures from -50 to +90 °C, although they have also proven to function correctly for 20,000 hours in temperatures of up to 120 °C. The cables also feature particularly high abrasion and vibration resistance and a very small bending radius. A motion test in the HUBER+SUHNER in-house test centre has confirmed the flexibility and resistance of the cables after more than one million bending cycles. Therefore, the entire RADOX® MFH-S product family can also be used in moving applications, for example in cranes or drilling rigs. With these features the cables are currently unique on the market.

Particularly resistant in harsh environmental conditions
RADOX® MFH-S cables are particularly resistant to mud, diesel, oil, ozone, hydrolysis and the effects of the weather. That makes them particularly good for use in the harsh environmental conditions which prevail on oil and gas platforms. Their robust design means that they can be used both for indoor and outdoor installations. They are flame-retardant and meet the fire safety requirements according to IEC and EN 45545. Therefore, they can be used in ex zones 0, 1 and 2, and in safety zones. The entire product family is certified to Det Norske Veritas (DNV), NEK 606 and Germanischer Lloyd.

CAT5e Ethernet cable with DNV approval
In addition to the RADOX® MFH-S product family, the CAT5e Ethernet cable has also been revised and approved to DNV standards. The RADOX® Marine CAT5e 2x(2x0.5mm²) and CAT5e 4x(2x0.5mm²) have the same sheath material as the RADOX® MFH-S cable. As a result, they are also resistant to oil, mud and heat (120 °C / 20,000 hours). This, in turn, makes them another interesting product for use in ships' diesel engines and on oil and gas platforms.

GAC Group Joins World Ocean Council

WOC Expands with Global Provider of Integrated Shipping, Logistics, and Marine Services

16-1woc logoThe GAC Group has become a member of the World Ocean Council (WOC), the international business alliance for Corporate Ocean Responsibility, as part of its commitment to sustainability.

As an active WOC member, the Dubai-headquartered GAC Group will support international initiatives that promote ocean sustainable development and will continue to actively pursue developments that reduce the environmental impact of shipping. GAC Group’s over 9,000 professionals at its offices in more than 50 countries around the world are encouraged to take initiatives that reduce the impact of business on the communities they serve and operate in.

Christer Sjödoff, GAC Group Vice President – Commercial, said: “The sea is our natural habitat, so it makes sense that we should do everything in our power to make sure it is sustained. The mission and goals of the World Ocean Council resonate well with our own determination to serve shipping and other sectors that use the world’s oceans in a way that protects and preserves the delicate marine ecosystem, and the environment as a whole.”

16-2GAClogoGAC’s commitment to sustainability is demonstrated through its efforts to develop services like HullWiper, GAC EnvironHull’s diver-free underwater hull cleaning system that reduces fuel consumption whilst protecting the sea from contamination by removed fouling, alien species and chemical or toxic substances.

In addition, GAC-SMHI Weather Solutions – a strategic alliance between GAC and the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute (SMHI) – provides ship owners and operators valuable tools to plan their routes to avoid heavy weather, thus boosting fuel efficiency and reducing the risk of a loss at sea and the resulting ecological and material costs.

“As a Group, GAC takes the long view for sustainable results,” added Sjödoff. “We depend on the seas for a large part of our business, so it is our joint responsibility to ensure that the oceans are protected today, tomorrow and into the future.”

“We also look forward to the 3rd WOC Sustainable Ocean Summit, held in Singapore in November this year, and encourage other leadership companies to be a part of this unique multi-industry conference on global Corporate Ocean Responsibility” Sjödoff concludes.

Paul Holthus, WOC founding President and CEO, added that: “The WOC is proud to welcome the GAC Group to the growing WOC global alliance of leadership companies. The WOC is generating significant interest from companies in the Mideast and Asia. GAC is exemplary of the companies that have a long term commitment to sustainability and are proving it by developing innovative business solutions to reduce industry impacts on the marine environment and improve shipping safety and efficiency.”

Xodus appoints Global Subsurface Lead

17Xodus-Andrew-Sewell-1Xodus Group has promoted Andrew Sewell to the role of Global Subsurface Lead to drive forward its global subsurface capabilities. Mr Sewell has more than 24 years’ experience working in the oil and gas industry, initially as a Geophysicist, and joined Xodus in 2012 as Subsurface Manager. He previously worked with Senergy (now LR Senergy) as Region Manager for Europe and Africa. He started his career with Schlumberger after graduating from Cambridge University with a MA in Physics in 1991.

Mr Sewell has worked across Africa, the Middle East and Europe delivering projects including geophysical reviews, field development plans and due diligence investigations. Recent and ongoing projects he is managing include exploration projects in Kenya and field development projects in Kurdistan and Nigeria.

“In the current market conditions operators are looking to reduce costs and maximise production from mature or marginal fields,” said Mr Sewell. “In addition, the M&A market is becoming increasingly active as oil and gas companies look to buy production and financial companies are now looking to invest in oil and gas companies/assets.

“Xodus Subsurface is well placed to support all types of companies in this dynamic marketplace. We boast a global team of multi-disciplined talent covering exploration and production, with a strong pedigree and track record in supporting M&A deals. By combining this broad wealth of knowledge with the latest software technologies, we can propel our capabilities to deliver high standard products with innovative solutions, efficiently and cost-effectively.”

Xodus’ subsurface offering manages all technical aspects of exploration and reservoir development and includes the core disciplines of geology, geophysics, petrophysics and reservoir engineering, as well as more niche skill sets required for activities such as fracture characterisation. The company provides technical services to E&P companies, investors, start-ups, governments and regulatory bodies, and also expert services to a wide range of private equity businesses and other financial institutions.

Steve Swindell, COO of Xodus said: “We predict a huge growth in subsurface services and are optimistic about the potential out there. Our seamless integration of services from exploration through production and development can greatly enhance the quality of what we deliver as well as saving valuable project time. Andrew’s experience and passion for his field of expertise inspires and motivates the team and I’m confident his ambitions in this new role will be realised.”

Coretrax Invests $2 Million in New UAE Base

18Coretrax-John-FraserCoretrax, leading engineered servicing company for wellbore clean and abandonment, has strengthened its position in the Middle East by opening an office in Abu Dhabi, its fourth base in the region, totalling a $2million investment.

A team of four personnel work from the base, and this is expected to grow to 14 within the next 12 months as Coretrax expands to another office and warehouse based in Mussafah, southwest of the city, in late 2015.

Coretrax, who offer a wide range of downhole tools and services with applications across the well life cycle, currently has bases in Saudi Arabia and Dubai, which have been operational for 24 and 12 months, respectively. The company also has a base in Ebril, Iraq and a team of 14 is currently employed across all Middle East bases.

This latest expansion signifies the next step in Coretrax’s ambitious plans to penetrate the Middle East and comes as the company announces the appointment of UAE based agent, SAMCO to represent Coretrax in Abu Dhabi.

Coretrax global business development director, John Fraser, said: “Having a permanent local presence in Abu Dhabi allows us to continue to surpass client expectations by offering a superior service and enables us to build on our customer base. Having now opened four offices in the Middle East further underpins and confirms our commitment to expand our offering in the region.

“Through our work in the Middle East, we have experienced real growth for Coretrax internationally, and we hope to maximise further opportunities by our appointment of SAMCO, who will act as a conduit for us in Abu Dhabi. We see SAMCO as a dynamic and forward thinking company, which aligns well with our team. We are confident that our agreement will be beneficial, and we anticipate a successful relationship.”

Rolv Flaaten, CEO of SAMCO, said: “We are continually searching for the most innovative companies to represent and we are happy to be working with such a highly efficient company. We look forward to working with Coretrax and further building the company’s profile within the UAE by offering its pioneering wellbore clean products to our expanding client base.”

Coretrax was established in 2008 to provide a bespoke and tailored service, offering a wide range of downhole tools and services which provide up-to-date solutions to improve time efficiency, maximise cost reduction, reliability, damage prevention and technological advancement to the global oil and gas industry.

The company currently employs 36 people across its bases and this number is projected to increase within the next nine – 12 months due to increased business activity globally.

ATR Group Invests Millions in Exclusive ‘Whisper Quiet’ Zone II Compressors

19ATRZone-CumminsGLOBAL equipment specialist ATR Group has unveiled two exclusively designed ‘whisper quiet’ type Zone II compressors following a multi-million pound investment in new fleet built to service the UK and international regions.

The Aberdeen-based company has collaborated with manufacturers Cummins to deliver improved safety and operating features on the compressors as well as significantly reduce noise emission levels.

These upgrades will offer a safer working environment to the offshore oil and gas workforce both in the North Sea and internationally.

ATR’s Power Solutions division has an exclusive deal with Cummins for the specific designs of these ATEX DNV 2-7-2 and ATEX NORSOK Z-015 units, making the company the only supplier in the UK.

Manufactured in Holland, both diesel-driven air compressor models have been fitted with hydrocarbon, (including H2S hydrogen sulphide) detection and shutdown. State-of-the-art ATEX monitoring features to ensure operational safety of the equipment are also standard. The NORSOK model also includes a fixed firefighting detection and suppression system with automatic louvres built into the DNV 2-7-2 container. Units can be operated whilst stacked and both can be monitored and operated from ground level.

Importantly, from a cost saving and health and safety perspective, the 3GHI Protection System fitted to both models negates the need for flame traps thus reducing maintenance or operational downtime.

ATR Group Chief executive Keith Moorhouse said: “This major investment in ATR Power Solution’s rental fleet demonstrates our commitment to delivering innovative and technologically advanced equipment to our clients in offshore exploration and production operations across the world.

“These Cummins Zone II compressors set a new benchmark for the lowest engine and noise emissions in their sector at just 76 dB(A).

“Working closely with our supply partners such as Cummins ensures we can achieve safer, operator friendly, cost effective solutions to our clients.”

Moorhouse added the company also carries out comprehensive training either offshore or at the new purpose-built facility at ABZ Business Park address. “We want to make sure our clients’ personnel completely familiarize themselves with the new safety functions of the machinery to ensure the operator and end client have total peace of mind.”

Zone II compressors are used globally for supplying temporary compressed air when there is a risk of hydrocarbons being released into the atmosphere such as oil and gas processing plants, offshore installations, production vessels and on any asset during drilling and fabrication maintenance work.