Sylvia Pfeifer

It’s been a fortnight of corporate comebacks for former BP executives. First out of the blocks was Tony Hayward, the former chief executive of the UK oil group, with the launch last week of his energy fund, Vallares. And this week, Andy Inglis, his former colleague who used to run BP’s exploration and production arm, made his first public appearance in front of City investors in his new job at Petrofac, the oil and gas service provider. Both men left BP last year in the wake of the Gulf of Mexico spill.

As head of BP’s upstream business based in Houston, Texas, Mr Inglis was in charge of its exploration activities at the time of the gulf accident. He resigned from the board of BP after Bob Dudley, who took over as chief executive officer from Tony Hayward after the accident, initiated a wholesale restructuring of the upstream division.

Mr Inglis heads Petrofac’s new Integrated Energy Services division which brings together the company’s solutions, energy developments and training services businesses. The division is focused on so-called ‘resource holders’ or national oil companies that own small and medium-sized undeveloped fields. Unlike other service companies, IES will not only provide straight-forward services such as engineering and construction but, where appropriate, it will also provide capital.

Sylvia Pfeifer

I am in “Gas City” or Doha, the capital of the state of Qatar. Located halfway along the Western coast of the Gulf, Qatar has been enjoying a construction boom fuelled by its hydrocarbon riches, in particular the world’s largest single gas field, the North Field. The field contains more than 900 trillion cubic feet of gas, equivalent to 150bn barrels of oil, or more than 10 per cent of worldwide gas resources.

The field was first discovered in the early 1970s by what is now Royal Dutch Shell and in just a few week’s time the Anglo-Dutch oil and gas giant will make history when it starts up its Pearl Gas-To-Liquids (GTL) plant. Via pipelines feeding from two offshore platforms 60km off the Qatar coast, the plant will take gas from the North Field and turn it into valuable liquids such as cleaner-burning diesel and aviation fuel, oils for advanced lubricants and naptha used to make plastics.

Sylvia Pfeifer

George RoseThe board of Tony Hayward’s new energy fund, Vallares, which will see the former head of BP return to British corporate life, is taking shape. George Rose, the former finance director at BAE Systems, the defence contractor, is in talks to take up the position of chair of the audit committee.

If he agrees, it would be a good catch for Hayward. Rose, who stepped down from the board of BAE in March this year, was well-respected during his time at the defence company. He is currently also a non-executive director at National Grid, a position he has held since 2002, and where he chairs the audit committee, and was until recently a candidate for its chairmanship.

Sylvia Pfeifer

Life-sized polar bear outside Cairn's office

Photo by Felix Clay / Greenpeace

It’s not often that you meet a life size polar bear on your way into work but that is what greeted staff at Cairn Energy in Edinburgh this morning. The Scottish oil and explorer is being targeted by Greenpeace as part of an ongoing campaign to stop the company from exploring in the waters of the Arctic off Greenland.

Several activists – along with the bear – blockaded the entrance to Cairn’s office. Earlier in the day, Geenpeace along with other environment organisations WWF and Friends of the Earth wrote to Sir Bill Gammell, Cairn’s CEO, demanding he publishes the company’s emergency response plan to any incident or accident in the Arctic. Activists from the group scaled one of the rigs Cairn was using last year in Greenland and managed to stop work there for a bit.

BP will find out on Thursday whether its proposed alliance and share swap with Russia’s state-oil champion Rosneft broke the UK oil group’s shareholder agreement with its other Russian venture TNK-BP.

The Stockholm tribunal panel hearing the case is expected to issue its ruling to the two parties on Thursday afternoon and both sides are likely to issue an announcement sometime after that.

Sylvia Pfeifer

Sylvia Pfeifer

Shares in BP hit a 6-month high this morning after a report that rival Royal Dutch Shell considered an opportunistic takeover bid for the UK oil group in the summer during the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

BP’s shares were up 5 per cent to 488.85p at 10am this morning in London trading.

According to the report in the Daily Mail Shell weighed a bid while oil was still flowing into the waters of the gulf but decided against it because of the potentially uncapped legal liabilities facing BP. The paper says Shell might still bid for BP if another suitor emerges over the coming months but is unlikely to be the “first mover”.

Sylvia Pfeifer

BP marked a return to the deep water today – in Africa.

Seven months after its accident in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico, the UK oil group announced it has made a significant discovery in the deepwater West Nile Delta area in Egypt.

The Hodoa discovery – Hodoa means ‘horseshoe’ – is located in the West Mediterranean Deepwater, some 80km northwest of Alexandria. The WMDW-7 well was drilled to a depth of 6350m and is the first Oligocene Deep Water discovery in the West Nile Delta area.

Sylvia Pfeifer

With just over a fortnight to go before climate talks start again in Cancun, a new report warns that the renewables share in final energy consumption will be “very difficult to meet”.

Despite growth by renewable energies generation in 2009 (15 per cent for wind and 53 per cent in solar photovoltaics) the 20 per cent target is a “very challenging target”, according to a report published today by Capgemini, the consultancy.

Sylvia Pfeifer

Royal Dutch Shell’s announcement this morning that it is selling its holding in six oil and gas fields in the Gulf of Mexico is by no means a signal that the Anglo-Dutch major is about to reduce its presence in the area. The company is doing what most of its peers have been doing - selling non-core assets and focusing on higher-quality ones.

At the same time, most of the supermajors are also increasing their capital expenditure budgets in an attempt to increase production growth – one of the themes to come out of the third quarter reporting season that just ended which saw Exxon and Shell report sharply higher profits, fuelled by strong crude prices and better refining margins.

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