Friday 6 February 2015

Some Actual Good Sense on North Sea Oil & Gas

Here's an article on an aspect of the UK's offshore oil & gas industries - from the Grauiad, no less -  that actually makes some sense.  Probably because the writer is from Shell. 
UK can become a world-class hub for decommissioning oil platforms: Decommissioning Brent oil and gas platform in the North Sea gives British companies a unique opportunity to develop specialist skills and expertise in safe removal and recycling of oil platforms and pipelines ... Over the next 30 years, almost all the 470 offshore installations in the North Sea’s UK Continental Shelf, such as platforms, will need to be decommissioned ... That means expenditure of between £35bn and £50bn, at least as much as the UK government plans to spend on our railway network over the next five years. 
Brent - ah, I remember the Brent complex, there are old oilman's Brent stories as interesting as for North West Hutton (and I may swing the red lamp & tell them some day).   The beauty of this decommissioning binge, is that it is mostly pre-financed: companies are obliged to make provisions for decommissioning.  So - a big wave of industrial expenditure, much of it to be given to UK yards (we are quite good at this type of thing, although so are the Dutch), coming at just the time when spending on new platforms is significantly under the cosh from the low oil price.

I say 'pre-financed':  liquidating a reserve can of course be a challenge for the corporate treasury, but that's just a treasury challenge, and the banks are up for that sort of thing.

An upbeat note for the weekend.  Good luck to the Red Rose boys in Cardiff !



Suffragent said...

Good point Nick and as a practical person I am 100% behind bringing this work to the UK. I guess the lack of comments, (I tried reading it a few times and it just upset me) is because it’s hard to find a positive spin on “one of our countries greatest abilities is to dismantle its own infrastructure”.

Nick Drew said...

upsetting maybe, but gotta follow the money, Suff - no point in wishful thinking

I always cite the example of Canon (I think it was) who got really good at making laptop flatscreens, like, best & most efficient in the world

their laptop division pleaded for this advantage to be kept in-house to boost laptop division sales & profits

but Canon (if it was them) wisely decided they'd sell the screens to anyone who wanted to buy - definitely the correct strategy

the other great story is Green Shield Stamps: when Tesco withdrew from using them the game was clearly up - thy could have staggered on a bit longer, but Tomkins was decisive and unsentimental: he withdrew from the trading-stamps game and took his chain of showrooms + catalogue expertise & turned it into Argos

business is business - whatever works ...

Jan said...

Agree Nick. The big growth has to be in recycling and clearing up the various messes we have created with more or less unbridled capitalism. We haven't paid nearly enough attention to the health of the planet.

Suffragent said...

I’m not talking about wishful thinking and hoping that things won’t change. I’m talking about investing in things that drive the change. A true capitalist market creates growth where new products supersede inferior ones and their added features create new markets. Why is it, a world of high frequency trading where the velocity of money is everything, so a company can’t invest money in developing new products and yet it can put aside huge amounts of money for dismantling itself? Because the Governments (they love a good cause where every person with a gas axe is overseen by twenty of their box tickers) and the market (after public outcry) put those rules in place. The shortage of investment in human capital is not because of the lack of money (the market is awash with printed tokens), the geniuses in the city tell us that the risk is too high, as they charge headlong into their next overvalued bubble. If the city was truly about investing in industry and the Government were truly interested in the prosperity of its people, why couldn’t they come up with a new type of long term “investment vehicle” left alone by the taxman (until cashed) and out of reach of the spurious games and fees of the city. How could we fund it in the short term? By removing the same status given to charities (pretend or otherwise) and stop sending money to third world countries while creating one of our own. In the long run it would fund itself through increased prosperity and who knows? the benefits of a healthier society.
I fully agree that industry and society should be responsible for cleaning up their own mess but killing off our own industry with over regulation, only to export the problem to worse places is Nimby thinking at best (and suicidal at worst). An open press and customer outrage soon bring “unbridled capitalists” in to line (shell platform). If we really want to help the planet, any “big growth” should be inside a condom. Start with that elephant in the room.