Fugro Focuses on Technology for Offshore Operations

14Fugro.svgFugro will enhance its OTC exhibits this year with a series of high-level sessions on every day of the much anticipated technical program. Offering insights into its technological solutions for marine site characterization and asset integrity, Fugro has a team of renowned specialists that are scheduled to share their expertise on topics including developments in AUV surveys, advances in integrated offshore geophysical methodologies and considerations for marine renewable energy facilities.

In the exhibition hall, the company’s display at booth # 1604 is highlighting ways to benefit from cost savings, technological advances and risk reductions, including its pioneering methodologies for hydrocarbon seep hunting during exploration campaigns. Fugro’s experts will also be on hand to discuss ROCIS, its oceanographic measuring tool for protecting offshore installations from strong ocean currents.

Complementing the technical program and exhibit booth, the poster lounge will also feature Fugro sessions on both Monday and Tuesday.

The Fugro expertise at OTC will also be accompanied by a little fun, with a selfie competition on booth # 1604 providing a chance to win an exclusive Fugro Lego vessel every day.

OTC2017 takes place from 1st to 4th May at NRG Park, Houston, Texas, USA

Modus Expands & Strengthens Commercial Team

15Modus CS5Modus Seabed Intervention continues to strengthen its management team with the recruitment of Guy Lainchbury, who joins Modus as Commercial Manager. With over twenty years’ experience in the Subsea Industry, Guy has previously worked as Commercial Manager for Saipem and more recently as Tendering Director for Subsea 7 where he worked for 10 years.

Nigel Ward, Commercial Director of Modus Seabed Intervention commented, “We are very pleased that Guy has joined the Modus team. Modus will continue to expand into new markets and introduce new innovative technology whilst maintaining our focus on customer satisfaction. Guy is a recognized subsea construction commercial expert with unrivalled international experience, which will be a clear asset to Modus as we continue to innovate and target our ambitious growth plans”.

Guy Lainchbury said: “Using my experience in a new commercial venture will enable Modus to leverage the unique position it has in its existing and new market segments to further meet ever-increasing subsea challenges. Modus’ technology-focused approach is very clear and I am delighted to be part of a company that drives itself to be at the forefront of its sector.”

Seadrill - Agreement with Archer

16seadrill logo for web rgb jpgSeadrill Limited ("Seadrill" or "the Company"), as part of its restructuring plans, has signed and closed an agreement with Archer and its lenders to extinguish approximately $253 million in financial guarantees provided by Seadrill in exchange for a cash payment of approximately $25 million. The Company remains in constructive discussions with Archer and its lenders to extinguish the remaining $25 million of financial guarantees in exchange for a cash payment representing 10% of their face value.

As part of Archer's restructuring plans the Company has also agreed to convert $146 million in subordinated loans provided to Archer into a $45 million subordinated convertible loan. The subordinated convertible loan will bear interest of 5.5%, matures in December 2021 and have a conversion right into equity of Archer Limited in 2021 based on a strike price of US$2.083 per share (subject to appropriate adjustment mechanics), which is approximately 75% above the subscription price in Archer's private placement on February 28, 2017.

PIRA Energy Market Recap for the Week Ending April 24, 2017

17PIRALogoAsian Product Markets to Tighten

PIRA expects India’s oil demand to recover and post growth this year as the effect of demonetization wanes. China’s crude imports will stay high this year, supported by rising crude runs and declining domestic crude production. At the same time, PIRA expects China’s net exports of gasoline, kero/jet and gasoil (including blending components) to ease due to the tightening of export quotas. Asian product markets in general look reasonably constructive in 2017.

Henry Hub Gains Assist Broader Price Strength

This month’s average daily Henry Hub (HH) price is $3.09/MMBtu to date, in line with PIRA’s forecast of $3.10. In consideration of the warmer-than-normal temperatures that have been so prevalent this April, the maintenance of price support is remarkable. No doubt, the impact from the early end to heating demand is significant and is the primary factor behind the upwards of 100 BCF of additional storage that will be on hand by end-month. Even so, the broader market price strength seen across most regions — sans the NE — stems from the market’s emphasis on the challenges U.S. balances face for the upcoming injection season tied to structural demand growth amidst the ongoing year-on-year supply losses.

Lower Water Levels Leave Upside to French Peak Prices

French hydro output is down 32% year-on-year month-to-date to 6.0 GW. Our latest Monthly Outlook has assumed that the French hydro situation would normalize by the third quarter, but there are clear risks that the hydro output will remain low in the upcoming months, in France and across South-Western Europe. Under a scenario with lower hydro levels, French gas units, and even more, the French interconnector flows would respond, ultimately impacting prices, especially at on-peak hours.

Coal Markets in Holding Pattern As Queensland Infrastructure Recovers

Physical coal prices and front-end paper prices generally moved lower this week, following news that the recovery in the Queensland rail network will occur ahead of schedule. The coal market has been searching for an equilibrium for nearly a year now, after being swayed by a periodically overheated coking coal market and shifting paradigms in coal demand and supply in China. PIRA believes that the backwardation in coal forward markets is well founded, due to falling import demand in the Atlantic Basin, flagging Indian imports, and a risk that Indonesian exporters will overproduce this year. However, the strength in Asian demand led by China will offer some support to pricing, particularly if PIRA’s bullish outlook on crude oil prices is correct.

Global Equities Post a Mostly Positive Week

Most equity tracking indices posted a positive week. The broad U.S. market rallied almost 1%, with banking, retail, housing, and industrials, all outperforming by a solid margin. Energy was the clear laggard, down -2.2%, while utilities were fractionally changed. International indices also were mostly higher, but tended to lag the U.S. performance.

U.S. Ethanol Prices Increase

U.S. ethanol prices climbed to a record high the week ending April 14. RIN prices were steady. Output and sales of ethanol in the Brazilian South-Central harvest year of 2016/2017 were sharply lower. European ethanol manufacturing margins increased because of lower raw material cost.

Modest U.S. Decline

Overall commercial inventories drew 1.7 million barrels this past week but the crude stock draw of 1.0 million barrels was disappointingly low. Cushing crude stocks drew almost 0.8 million barrels, somewhat more than expected. Overall inventories are now slightly below last year and this deficit should widen with next week’s data. Higher imports and higher runs have eliminated gasoline stock draws for now, while for distillate continued strong demand from improving economic activity (including rig growth) and the start of planting season along with contained imports will limit the extent of inventory builds.

Slowing Appalachian Production Momentum Likely Underestimated

The potential supply impact of an additional ~20 BCF/D of near-term Appalachian takeaway capacity weighs heavily on price structure — particularly beyond the 2017-2018 heating season. Yet, the recent relationship between production and takeaway suggests something more than a “if we build it, they will come” association is at work here. Signs seem to point toward more measured production gains. Moreover, a more rationalized approach to delivering low-cost supply has already tightened balances. Consequently, slower-than-anticipated Appalachian production growth, opens the door to for further upside ahead.

PRB Firm on NG Prices, Little Impact from Cyclone Debbie

With demand entering shoulder season, higher gas prices and cyclone activity in Australia are having a muted impact on U.S. coal market sentiment. Prices, except in the PRB, have been slipping in quiet trade. As with last month, PIRA remains most bullish on PRB prices and we expect subdued market activity in the other U.S. coal contracts until summer.

Financial Stresses Remain Low, Commodities Weaken, but Energy Credit Holding Up

While stresses remain low, there has been an uptick as measured by the St. Louis Fed Stress indicator. The recent disinflation trends have not yet reversed, despite the equity market rally this week. Energy performed very poorly on the week, but is still showing month-on-month gains. Commodities, in general, weakened as noted by the posted declines for the spot commodity index, copper, iron ore, aluminum, and ags.

U.S. Ethanol Production and Stocks Rise

U.S. ethanol production rebounded the week ending April 14, increasing by 7 MB/D to 993 MB/D though several plants remained closed for spring maintenance. Stocks rose by 131 thousand barrels to 23.0 million barrels, up from 22.0 million at this time last year. Ethanol-blended gasoline manufacture increased slightly to 9,044 MB/D from 9,005 MB/D in the preceding week.

Seasonal Japanese Demand Declines Still Tempered and Margins Better

Japanese crude runs rose 37 MB/D on the week. Crude imports rose sufficiently to build crude stocks 2.2 million barrels. Finished product stocks built 1.3 million barrels as seasonal demand declines continue. The rate of seasonal demand declines remains tempered. Margins improved $0.63/Bbl on the week, and while still somewhat subpar, they have improved. Our marketing margin indicators eased again for the third straight week, but they remain slightly above average.

2017 Rate Decline Moderating

The tanker market decline seen from end 2016 moderated in March. The persistent decline in VLCC rates seen since the beginning of the year was halted in April by a flurry of long-haul Atlantic Basin movements to Asia, including U.S. grades and by record imports by China. But the rebound in VLCC rates is unlikely to persist into 2Q/3Q 2017. At the other end of the size spectrum, MR product tanker rates were strong globally in March on heightened activity with rates in the Atlantic Basin rising to multi-year highs, driven by a wide open gasoline arb and rising U.S. exports.

Rough Outage Was Clearly Expected – What Are Markets Expecting Next?

The Rough outage caused little-to-no-uproar in European natural gas prices – it was already priced-in and then some. Rough has been an active and key part of winter infrastructure since 1975, but it’s tired and needs to either be fixed or retire. This winter the U.K. will have to make do without it. Over the past 10 years, the facility has supplied winter months with 25-mmcm/d of gas on average, up to a maximum of just about 46-mmcm/d on peak demand days. These volumes won’t be cheaply or easily replaced - after all, the Rough gas was bought at summer prices and now it will have to be bought at spot winter prices from the Continent or abroad. Problems with the storage facility have been going on for long before last summer and the ailing facility has made it more than clear that problems keep on popping up. Worst of all, the problems may persist forcing the market to look towards a United Kingdom without a seasonal storage facility, but with significantly higher risk premiums come winter time.

Bauxite Trade + VLOC Loss Set to Boost the Cape Market

Cape rates have weakened this month following a drop in the number of fixtures. Cape traffic at Kamsar in Guinea has jumped this month and is developing into a 50 MMmt/year long-haul trade and is now a major driver of Cape demand and prompted PIRA to raise the outlook for rates. The loss of the converted VLOC Stellar Daisy is raising doubts over the continued employment of 50 other similar ships. PIRA believes that Cape freight rates will push higher in late 2017 and outperform current FFA rates.

Chinese Data Upbeat; U.S. Manufacturing Looks for Upturn

Based on the latest GDP, industrial production, retail sales, and fixed asset investment, economic activity in China picked up pace broadly in early 2017. There were three major reasons for this: stronger momentum in construction activity; positive effects from industrial price reflation; and the improving landscape for global trade. Based on expected future trends, however, the pace of Chinese growth will probably moderate somewhat in the coming period. U.S. industrial production for March was weak: the performance of capital-intensive industries was especially disappointing, though energy-intensive industries registered sharp gains. Manufacturing confidence in the U.S. and Europe ran high during April.

Lower U.S. Refinery Gasoline Yield during the Driving Season

Summer grade gasoline season has arrived; terminals need to be ready by May 1, 2017. Typically, refinery yield of gasoline is reduced during this transition period. The average yield decline was 0.6 percentage points between March and April over 2012-2016. With historically high runs expected this summer, refinery gasoline yields will be only around 50%.

LNG Can Run to the Baltics, but Can’t Hide from Central European Hubs

Long considered isolated and squarely part of Gazprom territory – Northeast Europe is diversifying its supply mix and this will eventually impact Central & Western European balances, despite the hopes and dreams of LNG producers. The LNG marketer strategy of placing LNG carefully in isolated and illiquid markets may have somewhat of an expiration date even though it is working reasonably well for now.

Asian Demand Growth: Accelerating Demand Growth Returns

After an expected slowdown, PIRA's update of major country Asian product demand indicates that year-on-year growth has again accelerated. However, the improvement needs to be put in proper context, as it is driven by China’s apparent demand improvement. PIRA had been expecting Asian demand growth acceleration to evolve over the next several months, but the narrowness of the foundation in this month’s snapshot needs to be acknowledged.

Supply Surge Adds Liquidity, Subtracts Contracts, FIDs

The conclusions to be drawn for 2017 are that we are still not in a place where FIDs are expected to be concluded, the Qatar moratorium notwithstanding. Last year only 8.7-bcm/yr. of FIDs were signed according to GIIGNL (Tangguh train 3 and Elba Island). PIRA also has Canada’s 3 BCM/Yr. Woodfibre LNG in its database for FIDs in 2016. Regardless of location, the most critical feature of this new supply will be its unquestionable cost competitiveness vs. other contenders.

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.

NASA’S Adventure at The Bottom of The Sea

1 1darby magruder nasaIt took an abandoned nuclear missile silo, a vast underwater laboratory and a lot of hard work. But the US space agency boldly went where it had never been before: the North Sea.

Growing up just a few miles from the Johnson Space Center in Houston, USA, Darby Magruder dreamed of living in space.

He became an engineer, joined Nasa and worked alongside astronauts. But he came closest to his dream when he took some space shuttle technology and made it work, against the odds, in the cold, dark depths of the UK’s North Sea.

And it only happened because of three vast concrete structures that, for the last 40 years or so, have been providing a solid base for a trio of oil and gas platforms off the coast of Scotland.

The Shell-operated Brent Bravo, Brent Charlie and Brent Delta were put into position in the 1970s: each one weighing more than 300,000 tonnes and as tall as the Eiffel Tower.

At the bottom of the structures are 64 hollow concrete vessels that have been used to store oil and help anchor the platforms.

1 2brent side by sideWith the Brent field stopping production, decisions had to be made about what to do with the structures. Shell needed to find out more about the sediment at the bottom of those vessels.

“There was a plan to drill through the top of the vessels,” remembers Roddy MacFarlane, who works on Shell’s Brent decommissioning team, “but they are at the bottom of the sea and are made of metre-thick reinforced concrete. Drilling through was going to be difficult and risky.”

A group of Shell staff who meet in their own time to hunt out solutions to the company’s biggest challenges – the Hunters Network – thought Nasa might have the expertise to send a probe through the existing 10-inch network of pipes.

And that’s where Magruder came in.

“As soon as Shell told me the challenge I thought about our AERCam – something we invented to float around the Space Shuttle to inspect it without having to do spacewalks,” says Magruder, who is Deputy Chief of Robotic Systems Technology at the Johnson Space Center.

He took time away from some of his Nasa projects – which include building humanoid robots to set up a base on Mars – and got to work making a bowling ball-sized scanning device that could get through the Brent pipes.

1 3roddy mac farlaneBuilding the probe

It needed lights, cameras, control systems and, of course, sonar. And it had to be gold-coloured, a reference back to the Apollo missions.

Nasa built a replica of the Brent pipe system in its Neutral Buoyancy Lab – a vast swimming pool used to simulate the weightless conditions in space – to test that the Sonar Sphere prototype worked. It did.

But Magruder also wanted to see if it could scan effectively inside the vessel. So he found an abandoned US nuclear missile silo.

“One of my colleagues is a diver and he knew of this silo, which is largely flooded, in Texas,” said Magruder. “It is almost exactly the same shape and size as the Brent vessels. So we tested the probe there too.”

But despite all the preparation, the North Sea had some surprises in store. On the first attempt, the tether attached to the probe snapped. On the second, the probe got through the pipe but wouldn’t go into the vessel itself. And on the next attempt, the probe struggled to see through a layer of mixed oil and water.

The fourth attempt was different.

To get access to the pipes Magruder had to climb down inside one of the legs supporting Brent Bravo. He worked in a room 71 metres under the surface.

“We had breathing gear on and special suits, we were weighed down with so much stuff and monitoring equipment,” recalls Magruder. “The attention to safety was really strong, very similar to Nasa.

“To get into position we even had to go through a huge blast door. It was cold too. It was just like being an astronaut. I loved it.”

Once the probe got in and data started coming through, Magruder cried tears of joy.

Back on shore, MacFarlane punched the air in celebration.

The probe went on to produce a detailed map of the amount and distribution of sediment in the vessel. Another technique, developed by a separate team, was used to get a sample of the sediment so its composition could be analysed.

With the project now nearing its end, Magruder has hopes the Sonar Sphere could find yet another use: back up in space.

“We are looking at dragging an asteroid into the Moon’s orbit to investigate it,” he says. “With a little modification, the Sonar Sphere could be at the forefront of space exploration, telling us what the asteroid is made from.”

Not bad for a little gold ball.

Story by Lech Mintowt-Czyz
Source: Shell Inside Energy Stories

Brent: a short history

The Brent field, off the north-east coast of Scotland, was served by four platforms: Brent Alpha, Brent Bravo, Brent Charlie and Brent Delta.

The field was discovered in 1971 and Brent Bravo began production in 1976.

At its peak in 1982 the Brent field produced more than 500,000 barrels of oil a day: enough to meet the annual energy needs of around half Britain’s homes.

Production from the field has generated £20 billion in tax revenue for the UK.

Shell established its decommissioning project in 2006, overseen by a panel of independent scientific experts, to explore how to safely decommission the structures. The company is finalizing its proposals to the UK government ahead of a public consultation.

97% of the platforms’ “topsides” – the structures that sit on the legs and are visible above the surface – will be recycled.

The four topsides weigh 100,000 tonnes between them.

Brent Alpha is supported by a 31,500 tonne steel structure. The other three platforms stand on concrete bases, each weighing more than 300,000 tonnes.

All four platforms, if placed on the ground, would be as tall as the Eiffel Tower.

Aker BP Enters into Long-Term Framework Agreements

Aker BP ASA (Aker BP) has in international competition entered into long-term framework agreements with key suppliers of engineering services, construction, electro/ IT/ control room systems as well as transport and installation of fixed facilities offshore.

Aker BP aims to plan and execute field development projects on Aker BP-operated fields in a safe and very cost effective manner. The company’s ambition is thus to increase the productivity, quality, flow- and time efficiency throughout the value chain, and thereby increase the value creation and competitiveness of the company. A strategic core element in this effort to improve is to enter into long-term, interdependent collaboration with strategically important suppliers.

2AkerBP 1024x683The Framework agreements were signed 7 April at Aker BPs headquarter. From left: Jippe de Boer (Tender manager, Heerema Marine Contractors), Jan Arve Haugan (CEO, Kvaerner), Anne Marit Panengstuen (President and CEO, Siemens), Olav Henriksen (SVP Projects, Aker BP), Borghild Lunde (SVP, ABB Oil and Gas) og Knut Sandvik (EVP Head of Projects, Aker Solutions). Photo Aker BP

“Platform Alliance”

The intent of the entered framework agreements is that Aker BP in the company’s field development projects develops and executes work by using a more integrated project delivery model; a “Platform Alliance” for each project.

“Our goal is to work more efficiently alongside the suppliers, as well as to minimise the total time it takes to deliver the final product. We want to work as one integrated team and with the same incentives to reduce costs and to remove non-value added activities”, says Senior Vice President (SVP) Projects, Olav Henriksen.

The entered framework agreements and the planned collaborative model is a natural extension of the principles and experiences that Aker BP already has developed and acquired through the “Subsea Alliance”, which was established with Aker Solutions and Subsea 7 in 3Q 2016.

The framework agreements are independent and can be used separately or as part of the future “Platform Alliance”. Use of the framework agreements within or outside the Alliance model presumes agreement among partners in the involved licenses.

Framework agreements

The following framework agreements have been entered into:

  • Engineering & Procurement (EP): This framework agreement has been awarded to Aker Solutions and comprises engineering services and procurement from early studies to first oil.
  • Construction & Hook-up (CH): This framework agreement has been awarded to Kvaerner and comprises construction of steel jackets and topsides, including offshore hook-up.
  • Electro, Instrument, Control & Telecom (EICT): Separate framework agreements have been awarded to both Siemens and ABB. The agreements consist of design, supply and installation of electrical, instrument, control and telecom systems, from the preliminary phase to first oil.

Aker BP has also entered into a separate framework agreement with Heerema Marine Contractors for transport and installation of facilities offshore (Transport & Installation – T&I), including Call-off for transportation and installation on Valhall West Flank. This framework agreement is not included in the planned Alliance model.

The framework agreements followed completion of a competitive process, where qualified suppliers were invited to tender for one or more of the services. All framework agreements have durations of six years with an option for four additional years.

Valhall Flank West

In the Valhall licence, Aker BP and partner Hess have already agreed to use an Alliance model to develop the Valhall Flank West.

The plan is to develop a normally unmanned installation (NUI). The goal is to submit the Plan for Development and Operation (PDO) in the second half of 2017.

Forum Investment Brings New Multiplexer Technology to the Rental Market

3Forum EMOForum Subsea Rentals, a Forum Energy Technologies business, announces that new multiplexer video and data acquisition technology is available to their global rental market following significant investment in MacArtney’s EMO range.

The acquisition of DOMINO-7 Mk II and NANO-MUX multiplexers has been made in response to a growing demand for compact, lightweight designs which deliver enhanced operational efficiencies while supporting a complex array of subsea sensors.

The investment not only expands Forum’s extensive range of multiplexers, it brings the newest kit - the NANO-MUX- to the global rental market for the first time.

Richard Main, Operations Manager and Global Asset Manager at Forum Subsea Rentals, said: “We have an unparalleled range of innovative technologies available for rental which were developed by Forum and other third party manufacturers which deliver results to our worldwide clients.

“We recognized a growing demand for rental multiplexers that can fit smaller ROVs. Both the DOMINO 7 Mk II and the new NANO-MUX offer a wide range of configurations. This latest acquisition builds on our commitment to continually bring our clients reliable, result-driven and technology-led solutions which help them meet their operational challenges.”

The new compact MacArtney DOMINO-7 Mk II multiplexer (MUX) can be installed on a range of work class ROVs. A fiber-optic system with a range of MUX channel and power supply configurations, it offers three videos with 10 bit data link in addition to two multi-beam ports, so that data can be communicated via a gigabit Ethernet link coupled with a 48 VDC supply voltage. It has additional power supply channels and can be re-configured effectively and quickly whilst ensuring that it is deployable with a range of power and protocols available.

The small dimensions and low weight of the MacArtney NANO-MUX allow it to be installed on a wider range of ROVs. Video and data can be converted to fiber including HD video formats as well as high speed gigabit Ethernet data. Applications include control of a camera’s pan-and-tilt utility as well as zoom and other lens control functions. The additional serial channels can also be used to transmit other sensor data within one single fiber optic signal.

NOIA Elects Chairman David H. Welch and Vice Chairman John Gellert

4NOIATagline 2 color RGBThe National Ocean Industries Association (NOIA) Board of Directors has elected David H. Welch as Chairman and John Gellert as Vice Chairman for the upcoming 2017-2018 term. Welch and Gellert assumed their positions at the NOIA Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.

Welch becomes the first producer to serve as Chairman in NOIA’s history. In 2004, Welch joined Stone Energy Corporation, an independent oil and natural gas exploration and production company. He is the President and Chief Executive Officer for Stone Energy. Welch has also previously served on NOIA’s board of directors.

“As a longtime member of NOIA, I am truly honored by the opportunity to serve as Chairman. With recovering commodity prices and a more energy-aware administration in Washington, D.C., NOIA and its members can now work better with Washington to help forge common-sense policies that allow for the safe development of all offshore energy resources.”

Since 2015, Gellert has led SEACOR Marine Holdings as President. SEACOR Marine is a provider of offshore marine support vessels, serving the offshore oil and gas exploration and production industry. Gellert also serves as a co-Chief Operating Officer for SEACOR Holdings.

Gellert said, “It is a great privilege to serve NOIA in this new role. I am looking forward to working with Dave, Randall, and the NOIA membership in this exciting time. We will continue NOIA’s mission to promote the safe development of offshore energy for the continued growth and security of the United States.”

NOIA President Randall Luthi said, “Dave and John assume NOIA leadership during a pivotal time for the offshore industry. Commodity prices are stubbornly creeping up and, after eight years, we finally have an administration that understands the benefits of “all of the above” energy. As we enter what should be a brighter year, we have a true opportunity to make the case for offshore energy, both in the short and long-term. President Trump is looking for ways to kick start the American economy and generate federal revenue. Our industry offers a way to achieve both.

“NOIA will continue our push to increase access to our offshore resources and establish a fair and reliable regulatory environment for our industry. Our industry has a proven track record of providing well-paying jobs, affordable domestic energy for our nation and vital revenue streams for federal, state and local governments. In return, past Federal policies have closed over 94% of the outer continental shelf to oil and natural gas exploration. It is time to reverse that trend and discover the full energy potential of the US offshore.”

Luthi concluded, “The last year brought an unprecedented regulatory deluge, but we were incredibly fortunate to have Kevin McEvoy, Chief Executive Officer of Oceaneering International, as our Chairman. Through Kevin’s leadership we were able to weather the storm, and we are in a far better place now than we would be without his leadership.”

Prior to joining Stone Energy Corporation, Welch held executive positions with Amoco and later BP, including Director of Strategic Planning, President of the Amoco Gulf Group, Senior VP of BP North America and President of BP Alaska Canada Gas. He also spent 5 years with the US Geological Survey and one year as an adjunct professor at Tulane University in the graduate school. Welch studied petroleum engineering at LSU and the Colorado School of Mines, economics and chemical engineering at Tulane and studied business at Harvard.

Gellert has enjoyed a long career with SEACOR, where he started as a financial and market analyst after graduating from Harvard College in 1992. He has held a series of international appointments with both marketing and operating responsibilities in Europe, West Africa and South East Asia.

TechnipFMC and DOF Subsea Announce the Delivery of Skandi Búzios and Commencement of Contract with Petrobras

TechnipFMC (NYSE and Euronext: FTI) and DOF Subsea (DOF) announce that the Skandi Búzios, a pipelay support vessel (PLSV) owned by the joint venture formed between TechnipFMC (50%) and DOF (50%), commenced its 8-year charter contract with Petróleo Brasileiro S.A. (Petrobras), as scheduled on April 13th, 2017.

5TechnipFMC skandibuziossideviewSkandi Búzios

Skandi Búzios is the sistership of the Skandi Açu, which started its charter contract on August 13th, 2016. These two vessels have the most important flexible pipelay tension capacity in the world (650 tons), enabling the installation of large diameter flexible pipes in the ultra-deepwater Brazilian pre-salt area.

Under the joint venture agreement, TechnipFMC is responsible for the engineering and management of the flexible pipelay, while Norskan S.A., a DOF ASA subsidiary, is responsible for the marine operations.

Hallvard Hasselknippe, TechnipFMC’s President of Subsea Projects, stated: "We are confident that these new state-of-the-art PLSVs, together with the expertise of our people will be key for Petrobras to successfully achieve its projects offshore Brazil." Mons S. Aase, DOF Subsea's Chief Executive Officer, added: "This milestone project is the result of our long-term focus on the Brazilian market. We are proud of this significant addition to our Brazilian fleet."

Wood Group Awarded FEED Contract with Statoil

Wood Group has been awarded a contract with Statoil to provide front end engineering design (FEED) to the subsea flowline system of the Snorre Expansion Project in the Norwegian North Sea.

6WoodGroup SnorreSpanning blocks 34/4 and 34/7 in the Tampen area of the Norwegian North Sea, this field has been producing oil and gas since August 1992. The Snorre development embraces two platforms, A and B. Photo credit: Statoil

The contract will be delivered by Wood Group’s Stavanger, Norway office and follows on from the successful completion of a concept study for the project completed at the end of 2016.

Bob MacDonald, CEO of Wood Group’s Specialist Technical Solutions business comments: “We are delighted to continue our work with Statoil on SEP, leveraging our broad technical expertise and strong experience of working on the Norwegian Continental Shelf. Our independent subsea engineering expertise combined with the latest pipeline system technology will allow us to challenge the design, working to reduce cost and boost efficiencies.”

Trond Grytten, operations director in Norway, adds: “Being awarded this FEED demonstrates our ability to deliver high quality engineering on schedule and on budget, and consolidates our long-term working relationship with Statoil.”

Wood Group has worked with Statoil globally for more than 20 years. In May 2016, the company was awarded an evergreen master services agreement to support the life cycles of Statoil’s offshore and onshore facilities.

Wärtsilä Dual-Fuel Solution to Drive the World's Most Powerful Cutter Dredger

The technology group Wärtsilä has been contracted to supply a comprehensive package of engines and propulsion machinery for a new Cutter Suction Dredger (CSD) vessel. When delivered, the 'Spartacus', which is being built on behalf of Belgium based Dredging International (DEME), will be the world's most powerful CSD and the first ever to be fueled by liquefied natural gas (LNG). It is being built at the Royal IHC yard in the Netherlands. The order with Wärtsilä, worth around 20 MEUR, was booked in the fourth quarter of 2016.

7Wartsila SpartacusThe world's most powerful cutter dredger and the first to be fueled by LNG, will rely on Wärtsilä propulsion solutions.

The 164-meter long vessel will have a total installed power of 44,180 kW. It will feature four 9-cylinder Wärtsilä 46DF dual-fuel engines, two 8-cylinder Wärtsilä 20DF dual-fuel engines, and a Wärtsilä LNGPac fuel gas storage and supply system with a newly designed bilobe tank arrangement. Wärtsilä will also supply two fixed pitch propellers with shaft assemblies and HP nozzles, and two tunnel thrusters, as well as commissioning, site supervision, and extended project management services. The Wärtsilä equipment is scheduled for delivery to the yard during the fourth quarter of 2017.

"Wärtsilä has worked in close cooperation with the owners starting from the early stages of this large project. This has enabled a well engineered and fully integrated propulsion arrangement, and an LNG fuel system that is optimised for the needs of the vessel," says Arthur Boogaard, General Manager, Business Development Special Vessels at Wärtsilä.

"Wärtsilä has provided excellent support throughout the design phase, and we are confident that this results in a highly efficient CSD with lower operating costs than would have been otherwise possible. We are very aware of our environmental responsibilities, and for this reason we have opted for Wärtsilä dual-fuel engines running on clean burning LNG fuel," says Jan Gabriel, Head of newbuilding and conversion department at DEME.

The 'Spartacus' is expected to be delivered to the customer in mid-2019 and will operate in different locations around the world. CSDs are able to dredge nearly all kinds of soils, including sand, clay and rock. They are used wherever the ground is too hard for conventional dredgers to operate.

DEME is a long-standing customer of Wärtsilä and has, in recent years, utilized Wärtsilä solutions for numerous vessels, including three hopper dredgers, a cable installation vessel, an offshore construction vessel, as well as the 'Spartacus' CSD.

EV Launches Revolutionary Videoing Service

Leading specialist in well diagnosis, EV, has announced the launch to market of its pioneering Video While Tractoring (VWT) service.

The new, innovative offering provides users with the unique ability to stream real-time live video simultaneously to the surface whilst tractoring in hole. Among many benefits, VWT leads to minimised risk and increased operational efficiency for operators.

Ahead of the launch, the product underwent a detailed year-long in-house development and was extensively tested during field trials with an industry leading, globally-recognised tractor provider last year.

VWT is combinable with pressure, temperature, gamma ray and casing collar locator sensors which can be recorded simultaneously with EV’s Optis® HD Electric Line camera or its IVC (Integrated Video Caliper) tools.

8EV Fraser LoudenEV’s chief executive office, Fraser Louden

EV’s chief executive office, Fraser Louden said: “We’re committed to ongoing Research and Development and believe that in the current climate, when time and cost savings are imperative for the future of our industry, it has never been more important to bring new value added solutions to the market.

“Previously, conventional tractor and camera operations on mono-conductor cables required a careful and repetitious and time consuming ‘tractor, stop, video, stop, tractor’ cycle whilst running in hole. With the evolution of tractor conveyance quickly becoming a method of choice in highly deviated and horizontal production and injection wells, it was important that EV engineered a solution to enable a more efficient and reliable live diagnosis service offering.

“Launching VWT doesn’t just highlight EV’s extensive experience, but further underpins EV as industry leaders in the field of well diagnosis.”

Headquartered in Aberdeen, EV is the market leader in downhole video applications, and has a globally placed team of 100 employees. EV continues to expand and currently operates in more than 35 countries, having 26 locations around the world, including Canada, USA, Latin America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, South East Asia and Australasia. EV is backed by UK mid-market private equity house Dunedin.

For more information about EV, click here.

FuchsRohr AluDrill Offers Reliable Lightweight Solutions for Demanding Drilling Surroundings

With their innovative aluminum alloy drill pipe, OTTO FUCHS Drilling Solutions (OFDS) strikes a new path for the oil and gas industry. The leading-edge FuchsRohr AluDrill pipe is an alternative to standard steel pipes commonly used for drilling. Due to its comparatively high strength to weight, the aluminum pipe solution can be used across a wide range of subsea and downhole operations including demanding horizontal drilling.

9OTTOFUCHSPhoto credit: OTTO FUCHS Drilling Solutions(OFDS)

Peter Kaufmann, President of OFDS, is convinced that FuchsRohr AluDrill's operational advantages can significantly improve drilling effectiveness: "As the downhole environment increasingly moves from vertical to directional and horizontal drilling, weight becomes a major concern. Our aluminum alloy pipes are up to 50 percent lighter than similarly-sized steel pipes and completely stable. Their strength-to-weight ratio sets them apart from pipes made from conventional materials.“

Kaufmann says that aluminum alloys have become more important in recent years, especially in the aerospace industry and in the construction of industrial compounds: "Aluminum alloys' outstanding qualities have allowed us to enlarge their scope to other applications. The light weight and high strength makes them ideal for oil and gas drilling.“

A series of commercially drilled shale wells in Colorado's Niobrara formation demonstrated the advantages of the FuchsRohr AluDrill. In Q4 2016, a Colorado based operator evaluated the FuchsRohr AluDrill in mono-bore wells exceeding 17,000-ft.-well, typically with a 7,000-ft. vertical and a 10,000-ft. lateral sector. The results showed up to a 30 percent improvement in sliding mode with similar gains possible in rotary mode due to improved weight transfer to bit. With sliding mode typically consuming up to 40 percent of drilling time, the FuchsRohr AluDrill has demonstrated strong economic advantages for drillers and operators. In addition, due to the 30-50 percent reduced weight over steel, the FuchsRohr AluDrill pipes allow drillers and operators to efficiently cover lateral distances, reaching targets in residential areas that cannot be reached by vertical drilling. This is important for parts of the Niobrara formation that extend within the greater Denver metropolitan area.

The recent drilling projects showed that the pipes are stable and reliable due to shrink-fitted tool joints. The aluminum alloy's superior elasticity gives distinct advantages when drilling "dog legs” and horizontally.

OFDS is currently working with the market to identify several drilling applications where FuchsRohr AluDrill can cut costs and reduce time. The FuchsRohr AluDrill is available in all standard sizes from 4 – 6⅝ inch and features a proprietary internal upset design, which allows it to be used with standard pipe-handling equipment. While this pipe is typically provided with standard API connections, premium connections are also available.

As part of the OTTO FUCHS Group, based in Meinerzhagen, Germany, OTTO FUCHS Drilling Solutions has a long history in metal processing. Otto Fuchs, the founder after whom the company was named, started the business in 1910. In allusion to his last name Fuchs, the German word for fox, the logo shows the stylized head of this animal.

Starting as a brass foundry, OTTO FUCHS Group developed over 100 years into an integrated product and service solutions provider with a wide range of clients in the aerospace, automotive and construction industries as well as industrial engineering. The fast-growing group employs more than 9,000 people worldwide and generates an annual turnover of more than $2.5 billion.

OTTO FUCHS Drilling Solutions will be present at the OTC in Houston, Texas, in the German Pavilion (Hall B, Booth Number 3615-8, May 1-4). Additional OFDS trade fair exhibitions include the SPE Offshore Europe in Aberdeen, Scotland (September 5-8), the SPE ATCE in San Antonio (October 9-11) and the ADIPEC in Abu Dhabi (November 13-16).

Damen Launches First Line Assistance Vessel – the Damen Responder 5413

Damen has introduced the Responder 5413 – a new First Line Assistance Vessel. The company has pioneered this versatile, 54-metre vessel partly in response to the increasing number of extreme weather events across the globe, believing it can play a vital role as a first response vessel, capable of assisting a relief or emergency operation in a number of ways.

10Damen Responder 5413 lowresThe Damen Responder 5413

Designed for unrestricted service, the vessel demonstrates proven seakeeping behaviour. The Damen Responder 5413 is based on the successful Multi Purpose Vessel (MPV) 5413. Four of these units were delivered to the leading offshore survey, geotechnical and seabed geophysical services company, Fugro, for use as surveying vessels.

The carefully considered layout includes a spacious aft deck, providing multiple container stowage possibilities, a RHIB in a slipway for fast and safe access to and from the vessel, crane capacity, and ample working areas.

The Damen Responder 5413 also has extended spaces for medical treatment, recovery and quarantine, and has an operations room, fitted with global communication equipment.

Ample container stowage

Depending on the emergency, the Damen Responder can be fitted with containerised and/or modular equipment tailored to the specific needs of the incident. The Responder has fixed positions for three 20 ft (TEU) containers.

Containers can be easily mounted on the aft deck and can be utilised for:

  • Modular workshop/storage
  • Oil recovery equipment
  • Diving equipment
  • Fire fighting equipment
  • Water making equipment
  • Electrical power generation

This flexible vessel is capable of operating in relatively shallow waters and has a crane capacity of 10 tonnes at 12 m.

Swift delivery & competitive pricing

With two vessels available, Damen can guarantee a swift delivery time and competitive pricing.

Damen believes that this vessel could be the ideal solution for governments, local authorities or NGOS in need of a proven, economical vessel, which is suited for numerous environmental and protection tasks using modular, containerised equipment.

MacArtney Appoints New CEO

The MacArtney Underwater Technology Group has appointed Claus Omann as CEO, effective as of 1st August 2017.

11 1Claus OmannClaus Omann

Niels Erik Hedeager, the current CEO, will at the same time take over the role as Chairman of the Board of Directors.

11.2Niels Erik HedeagerNiels Erik Hedeager

Claus Omann has a strong technical and commercial background and has previously worked for LEGO, Viking Life-Saving Equipment, and TRIAX in various senior management positions including Technical Director and most recently CEO.

This is the job I have dreamt about, and I am honoured getting this opportunity to join MacArtney and lead the organisation on the next journey, says Claus Omann.

Niels Erik Hedeager has been working for MacArtney for more than 28 years and has been the central figure behind the strong growth which MacArtney has enjoyed over many years.

We are very satisfied that Niels Erik has accepted the offer to take over the job as Chairman so that the company can continue benefitting from his strong knowledge of the business, says Glenn MacArtney, Chairman of the Board.

It has been a real pleasure to serve the company for many years and working closely with the MacArtney family. First for many years with the founders of the company – Winnie and Martin “Mac” MacArtney and now their two sons, says Niels Erik Hedeager.

Being a privately owned corporation with group headquarters in Esbjerg on the west coast of Denmark, MacArtney Underwater Technology has supplied products and engineering solutions for almost four decades.

For additional information, please contact Niels Erik Hedeager, CEO of MacArtney A/S, tel. +45 7613 2000, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or visit the company website

Enhanced Subsea Integrity on the Agenda at Industry Event

The technology arm of Subsea UK, the National Subsea Research Initiative (NSRI) has teamed up with Scottish innovation centres CENSIS and Data Lab in an effort to enhance inspection and condition monitoring methods for greater subsea integrity management.

NSRI will be running a workshop in Aberdeen on 25th April, bringing industry and academia together to identify the sensory and digital technologies needed to monitor the deterioration and predict the failure of subsea architecture for both oil and gas applications and offshore wind installations.

The event will explore the range of tools, techniques and methodologies for ensuring existing North Sea subsea assets are fit for purpose, as well as provide practical help and advice on how the developer community can overcome financial challenges and secure funding to get technology to market.

12GORDON DRUMMONDDr. Gordon Drummond, project director of NSRI

Dr. Gordon Drummond, project director of NSRI will provide an insight into the most common subsea system failures based on recent research gathered from UK operators, highlighting the opportunities for developers, academia and the wider industry to work together to provide remote and continuous monitoring instead of periodic inspection activities.

He commented: “We are trying to do something slightly different with this workshop. We have widened the net and reached out to a number of organizations out-with the subsea sector in a bid to stimulate fresh thinking and inject some new ideas. The goal is to identify the opportunities, connect collaborative partners and identify routes to funding, so we can bring those ideas to life.

“As offshore assets mature, operating them becomes increasingly more complex and monitoring their condition is essential to ensure integrity. To achieve this, we must have the right systems and procedures in place so we can monitor deterioration, identify failure mechanisms, understand the root causes, and implement the right maintenance program, if necessary.

“Although subsea equipment failures are relatively uncommon, greater adoption of monitoring and measuring enables operators to effectively plan and carry out bespoke maintenance campaigns, minimizing operational risk and costs.”

CENSIS and Data Lab help to form new partnerships between industry and academia enabling innovators and researchers to collaborate and develop products and services which will keep the UK industry at the fore.

The event will welcome Dr. Rachael Wakefield from CENSIS, Duncan Hart from Data Lab and Mike Reuss-Newland from Wood Group who will look at how sensors coupled with data analytics can enhance subsea integrity management systems.

Sarah Keynes from the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) will also take to the stage to discuss the funding opportunities available to projects which are focused on developing innovative monitoring approaches to the oil and gas and offshore renewables sectors.

Delegates will then work in groups to discuss the possible technological solutions which could help the industry overcome current and future monitoring and maintenance challenges. The ideas generated will be grouped using the adopt, adapt, develop and collaborate principle, setting out the short, medium and long term activities which will help progress the development of subsea technology for improved integrity management in the form of a technology road map.

“Knowing more about the status of equipment and its condition allows us to pre-empt failure by taking some form of preventative action. We hope this event will help steer the developer community in the right direction by identifying new products and services which will help to determine the reliability and performance of existing infrastructure and thereby help schedule preventative actions,” added Dr. Drummond.

Following the event, NSRI will issue a report on the findings, with technology roadmaps outlining the route to an improved method for integrity management through condition monitoring and data analytics with industry driven objectives.

As the technology arm of Subsea UK, NSRI explores where the industry is heading in terms of subsea infrastructure and identifies the technologies needed to help it get there, supporting field development and expansion in both deep and shallow waters.

NSRI’s Condition Monitoring and Predictive Failure event will take place on 25 April 2017 at Village Hotel, Prime Four, Kingswells, Aberdeen. Those wishing to attend can book their place online here.

PIRA Energy Market Recap for the Week Ending April 17, 2017

13PIRALogoU.S. Commercial Stocks Flat Year-On-Year

U.S. commercial stocks drew 4.7 million barrels this past week, roughly split equally between crude and products. Crude stocks had their first significant weekly stock decline this year and this begins an expected trend for the weeks ahead with next week’s EIA data forecast to show a 4.9 million barrel stock decline. Cushing crude stocks built 0.3 million barrels last week and they too should begin to decline showing a 0.5 million barrel decline in next week’s EIA report. Both gasoline and distillate have had inventory declines for the last 8 weeks and for next week PIRA sees another distillate inventory decline while gasoline stocks are flat. Crude runs were up 760 MB/D year-on-year this past week and with next week’s forecast 240 MB/D run increase, they will be up 840 year-on-year, a reflection of much stronger refining margins and lower outages.

Delays Limit Cross-Border Flows

For much of 2017, net shipments to Mexico have been in a holding pattern, with volumes vacillating tightly between 3.9 and 4.2 BCF/D. Looking ahead, maintenance on Net Mexico this month will likely push volumes below this cemented trend. Thereafter, seasonally growing cooling loads will help drive pipeline utilization higher, with summer heat triggering record export volumes. Nevertheless, recently announced downstream infrastructure delays pose some downside risks to our outlook. That said, with most of the major pipeline delays likely resolved by 2018, a resolution is in sight. Accordingly, while near-term risks to 2017 pipeline deliveries exist, we remain steadfast with our conviction that export growth should approach ~1 BCF/D year-on-year in 2018.

Late Winter March Springs Up

March spot power prices increased from February levels in most Eastern markets as cold weather and the start of an active nuclear maintenance schedule boosted the call on gas-fired generation in the East by 18%. Henry Hub prices recovered above the $3 mark by the end of March as cold weather boosted heating loads while production continued to tread water. Northeast prices topped February averages by ~15%. For the balance of 2017, gas price gains ranging from ~25% in the Midwest and Southeast to over 50% in the Mid-Atlantic region will pressure gas-fired generation, reducing implied heat rates. Margin weakness will be especially pronounced in PJM as the gas buildout continues.

Coal Prices Ease As Market Adjusts to Cyclone Debbie

Seaborne coal pricing cooled considerably this week, as the market seems to be deciding that the impact of Cyclone Debbie on thermal coal balances and prices will not be as severe as previously thought. This was particularly the case for FOB Newcastle prices, which dropped by over $4.50/mt at the front of the curve. In terms of key developments this week, import demand in both South Korea and China for March came in strong, and this resurgence should underpin strength in the Asian coal market. With this backdrop of demand strength, and the actual impact of Cyclone Debbie on thermal output not yet known, PIRA believes that the downward adjustment in pricing this week was an overcorrection.

Court Freezes Diezel Portion of California LCFS

The California Fifth District Court of Appeal issued an opinion in the years-long legal battle between ethanol producer POET and the California Air Resources Board (CARB). The Court found that the Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) violated California’s Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), focusing specifically on CARB’s flawed analysis of NOx emissions from biodiesel. The Court froze the regulations addressing diesel fuel and its substitutes (i.e., biodiesel and renewable diesel) at 2017 levels while CARB reattempts to fix the violations.

U.S. Ethanol Prices Increase Again

RIN prices climbed the week ending April 7 as the likelihood of a quick change in the RFS waned. The 2017/2018 harvest in the South-Central region of Brazil began. The Latin American country is considering a tariff on U.S. imports of about 20%. European prices continued to slide.

Benign U.S. Inflation; Strengthening Activity in China and India

In the U.S., the Consumer Price Index revealed a surprising drop in inflation during March. A combination of different factors was responsible for this outcome – for example, March declines in apparel and new car prices were a pullback from high inflation readings in early 2017. The bottom line: U.S. core inflation is still remarkably steady on a year-on-year basis, and the underlying price pressure remains under control. In China, latest data on trade, vehicle sales, and oil demand indicated that the economy is in solid shape. In India, weakness in vehicle sales and oil demand during early 2017 will likely turn out to be just a blip.

Wet Forecast Ignored

The corn market’s reaction to a continuing wet forecast after a three-day weekend is certainly disappointing in the early going. Where it was dry enough to plant in states like Nebraska and some parts of Illinois, conditions were described as ideal over the weekend. However, there remains a wide swath of the Belt that’s “unplantable” at the moment with very little relief for the next week.

U.S. Propane Inventories Continue to Draw

Propane inventories continue to be pushed down by exports and products supplied. U.S. stocks totaled 40.4 MMB at the end of last week, down by 1.2 MMB from the week prior. The year-over-year deficit widened by 4 MMB and was 27.3 MMB last Friday. Exports remained in the 900-MB/D range and have been in this range for the past three weeks. There have been about 20 days of supply (adjusted for exports) since the beginning of February.

Seasonal Japanese Demand Declines Tempered, but Margins Soft

Crude runs eased on the week, while crude imports remained low enough to induce another small crude stock draw. Finished product stocks rose modestly off record lows. The seasonal decline in aggregate demand is less than has been seen in past years. Gasoil and kerosene demands are holding up exceedingly well against typical seasonal demand declines. Refining margins eased modestly on the week and remain very mediocre, in spite of the low finished stock position. Our marketing margin indicators eased again for the second straight week, but they remain above average.

Pipeline Delays Signal More Rationalized Supply Growth

If all of the currently Appalachian midstream pipelines commence timely service, the North American market could be awash in low cost gas — quickly tilting the fundamental balance from tightness back into surplus by 2018. This sentiment appears to underpin the sub-$3 prices reflected in the deferred futures contracts. Yet, despite a flurry of recent federal approvals, every road out of the Appalachian basin appears to be plagued with a unique set of challenges, suggesting a more rationalized approach for delivering low-cost supply to the market.

In Spite of Low Water Levels, Growing Swiss Exports to Italy in the Evening Hours

While Swiss nuclear output has recovered to prior year levels, hydro is still a major bullish driver for the Swiss power market. Switzerland has been experiencing very low water levels in its reservoirs over the past few months, while recent flow data also shows Italy still pulling more power from Switzerland this month to meet its evening peaks.

European Carbon Prices Stay Low, Bearish 2016 Emissions Data Released

A lack of recent policy developments and the release of 2016 EU ETS verified emissions data, down about 2.5% year-over-year, has diverted attention away from post-2020 market reform efforts and towards near-term trends. Market fundamentals, driven by declining power sector EU Carbon Allowance (EUA) demand and higher auction volumes, are poor and may be overshadowing a rise in compliance-related EUA purchasing (which occurred in previous years even with year-over-year emissions declines). EUAs are also currently in line with implied carbon prices from coal-to-gas switching. PIRA maintains a generally flat view for EUA prices in 2017. However, positive Trialogue talks on post-2020 reforms in May-June could offer a degree of price support, should policymakers use the bearish 2016 emissions data to focus attention on the need for stronger supply-side reforms.

U.S. Output Plummets

U.S. ethanol production fell 33 MB/D to a 26-week low of 986 MB/D the week ending April 7 as more plants shut down for spring maintenance. The 68 MB/D decline over the past fortnight was the largest ever reported. Domestic inventories drew by 802 thousand barrels to 22.9 million barrels, the largest drop in 48 weeks. Ethanol-blended gasoline manufacture decreased to 9,005 MB/D, down 100 MB/D from a 14-week high of 9,105 MB/D in the preceding week.

Financial Stresses Remain Low and Credit Conditions Constructive

Energy and precious metals performed well on the week, along with many of the debt tracking metrics, both energy and non-energy. Industrial metals, equities and the dollar moved lower. There continues to be unwinding of the “reflation” trade, which was confirmed by the release of inflation expectations by the Cleveland Fed. Disinflation tendencies have reappeared in the U.S. and Europe, though in the UK, implied inflation is continuing its uptrend. Banking stocks have continued to retrench as the yield curve has tended to flatten. Volatility has increased of late, both VIX (equities) and government bond market volatility. The market skew/vix indicator has fallen, which is interpreted as the market pricing in increased tail uncertainty. Even so, financial stresses remain low.

Resource Control Policies Still Loosening, Despite Rising Prices

PIRA’s analysis of resource nationalism around the world indicates that the low oil price environment is causing oil producers to implement more investor-friendly policies. Most notably, a Saudi Aramco IPO appears likely in 2018, while new leaders in Brazil and Argentina are adopting market-oriented reforms. On a broader scale, it will take a few more years of relatively depressed oil prices to overcome long-held tendencies to maintain government control and trigger a more widespread policy shift. Ingrained resource nationalism in Russia and elsewhere has offset attempts to attract foreign investment, while presidential elections in Iran and Mexico could set back efforts to open their oil sectors. But with many exporters forecast to continue running budget deficits, PIRA expects the balance to continue shifting toward policies designed to attract greater foreign and private investment.

April Weather: U.S. and Europe Warm; Japan Cold

At mid-month, April looks to be warmer than normal (-9% versus 10-year normal) in the three major OECD markets with a net effect on oil-heat demand to be -105 MB/D. On a 30-year-normal basis, the markets are almost 19% warmer.

Rough Storage Extended Closure Will Have Ripple Effect on Global Gas this Winter

The U.K. became a little more like Japan this week, as we now have another large gas market with virtually no seasonal gas storage. The U.K. Rough storage facility is not closed for good, but betting on its return anytime soon would not be wise and so we add the U.K. as a potentially larger LNG buyer this winter and beyond. The long LNG market is not exactly dodging a bullet here by adding more U.K. demand into the mix, but every little bit helps.

Global Equities Retrench a Bit

The overall U.S. market fell back on the week. With disinflation influences picking up a bit, the tracking indices of banking, materials and industrials lagged in performance. The defensive indicator held up better than the growth indicator. Internationally, all the tracking indices moved lower, though the World Index, excluding the U.S., was down only marginally.

China’s Crude Output to Stay in Decline Despite Increased Spending

The low price environment of last year hit China’s crude production especially hard. Output fell from 4.13 MMB/D in January 2016 to 3.89 MMB/D in December 2016. With prices near $50 currently, PIRA forecasts less production will be shut in. But a lack of new projects, relatively high cost of production, and a base decline close to 4% per year leads PIRA to forecast that China’s crude production will continue to decline this year and next year. We expect crude output at 3.80 MMB/D in 2017 and 3.77 MMB/D in 2018. Beyond 2018, production is expected to stay relatively flat until 2025.

Rough Outage Was Clearly Expected – What Are Markets Expecting Next?

The Rough outage caused little-to-no-uproar in European natural gas prices – it was already priced-in and then some. Rough has been an active and key part of winter infrastructure since 1975, but it’s tired and needs to either be fixed or retire. This winter the U.K. will have to make do without it. Over the past 10 years, the facility has supplied winter months with 25-mmcm/d of gas on average, up to a maximum of just about 46-mmcm/d on peak demand days. These volumes won’t be cheaply or easily replaced - after all, the Rough gas was bought at summer prices and now it will have to be bought at spot winter prices from the Continent or abroad. Problems with the storage facility have been going on for long before last summer and the ailing facility has made it more than clear that problems keep on popping up. Worst of all, the problems may persist forcing the market to look towards a United Kingdom without a seasonal storage facility, but with significantly higher risk premiums come winter time.

Belarus Gas Price Fixed Until Year End

The price of Russian gas for Belarus will remain at the same level until the end of the year, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said commenting on the results of his recent talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg. "The Russian side suggested completing this year the execution of the current contract with Gazprom" Lukashenko said. "I would not say that we managed to achieve the intended result and reach the goal that we had initially set," the president said, commenting on the Moscow talks. "It was a kind of compromise, but a compromise that resulted in the terms that are very favorable for us."

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, April 17, 2017: Will Smaller Hedged U.S. E&Ps Feel the Squeeze as Service Companies Warn of Higher Costs?

14DWMondayNewLast month, Dave Lesar of Halliburton noted that the domestic market is short of fracture (frack) sand, equipment and experienced personnel. The No. 1 North American pressure pumper is adding 2,000 people to the payroll and putting idled equipment back to work at a frenetic pace. While the company continues to place an emphasis on protecting the market share it built up in the downturn, it is also warning of the eagerness of its suppliers to raise prices.

Following the downturn, oilfield service companies slashed prices to survive. Layoffs, asset retirements and CAPEX reductions were all necessary to stay afloat. Since that repositioning for a depressed environment, oil prices have rebounded requiring a ramp up in spending on people and equipment necessary to execute new projects.

So when, and how much of these cost increases for oilfield service companies will creep into the market and out of the pockets of E&P companies? Currently, many small E&P companies are hedging their commodity price positions to raise capital and execute their development programs while minimizing their exposure to volatile revenue streams. On the cost side, improvements have certainly been made in technology and streamlining the supply chain, but the question remains – how much of this can be maintained? Many of the “new normal” breakeven figures coming out are often calculated with respect to a depressed service cost environment.

Some believe that true technological gains might account for as account for as little as 10% (or less) of the service cost savings. But with nearly three quarters of a million barrels per day of daily production hedged this year alone by small to medium sized companies, a sharp uptick in service costs driven by increased activity from a sharp oil price upsurge could put those highly hedged into a bind. Large companies with healthier balance sheets are less likely to hedge large proportions of their production and could absorb (and ultimately create) rising service costs with a sharp uptick in oil prices. But how will smaller hedged companies face this scenario.

One analyst noted, “The only danger is that (hedged) companies will miss out on higher prices if crude moves above $60 per barrel.” This of course assumes that service cost remain manageable.

Andrew Meyers, Douglas-Westwood Houston

Edison Chouest Offshore Announces New Alliance with BP

1ChouestEdison Chouest Offshore (ECO) and its family of companies have announced a 30-month alliance agreement with BP, the largest energy investor in deepwater Gulf of Mexico over the past decade.

Chouest and BP have enjoyed a business alliance for over eight years, and the new alliance will continue to include Chouest affiliates ECO (vessel services), C-Port (multi-service terminal facilities in Louisiana’s Port Fourchon) and C-Logistics (logistics coordination, expediting and tracking cargo movement).

“We are honored to build upon our many years of operating together in the Gulf of Mexico and worldwide,” said ECO President and CEO Gary Chouest. “We will continue to work with BP to uphold the superior standard of service and safety culture that both companies have adopted, and is second to none in our industry.”

Items in the alliance agreement include a three-year extension for utilization of BP’s Gulf of Mexico Preservation and Maintenance facility, designed and built by Chouest, and located at the intersection of Hwy. 90 and LA 311, just northwest of Houma, LA.

Additionally, the vessel alliance includes a new 312-ft. new generation, purpose-built platform supply vessel specifically designed for delivery of supplies to BP’s Gulf of Mexico production platforms. The vessel is currently under construction at Chouest’s Houma shipyard, LaShip, and scheduled for delivery within the next several months.

Engineered to perform specific tasks with a focus on efficiency, Chouest vessels have established a proven track record for worldwide technological superiority. ECO stands on the industry forefront with innovative support to complex deepwater operations. The Chouest family of companies includes expansive terminal facilities at Port Fourchon, the hub of cargo movement in the Gulf of Mexico.

Further setting Chouest apart is its unique ability to remotely monitor vessel and cargo movement throughout the fleet by way of its new Remote Monitoring Center, located at ECO’s corporate headquarters in Cut Off, LA. The center was created through a synergy between several ECO affiliates, including C-Logistics, allowing for real-time monitoring of vessel systems.

Craig International Procurement Contract with Premier Oil

Craig International has signed a five-year procurement contract for all Premier Oil’s maintenance and repair operations in the UK North Sea.

The contract, which could be worth up to £5 million, will see Craig International’s UK office work alongside its global network on all aspects of the procurement process – from sourcing to logistics – to ensure the most cost-effective service possible.

2Craig International PremierCraig International will supply procurement for all maintenance and repair operations to Premier Oil in the North Sea, including the Solan field.

Craig International won the competitive retender due to the company’s range of innovative e-commerce ideas and driven efficiencies which provide added value to the client.

Jill MacDonald, joint managing director of Craig International, said: “We’ve built a strong relationship with Premier Oil and securing this contract recognizes the value outsourced procurement can bring to a project. Our approach gives clients a variety of options to meet their requirements and suit their budgets.”

Craig International is a division of privately-owned shipping and energy services firm, Craig Group.

Craig International has a global network of pre-qualified suppliers, over 60 experienced and qualified buyers in seven countries covering every continent, proven out-sourcing experience, recognized international accreditations and on-line procurement tools and processes.

With bases in Aberdeen, Calgary, Cape Town, Doha, Dubai, Hamburg and Houston, Craig International provides a truly global service. The company has evolved from an oilfield supply company to a provider of out-sourced procurement services. These services are resulting in major savings for oil companies in time and resources, combined with considerable savings on spend on oilfield products.