The UK government’s cap on non-EU migrants has won fewer supporters than ministers hoped. Initially thought to be an obvious crowd-pleaser, it has been met with a torrent of criticism from businesses of all sizes and in all sectors, not to mention cabinet ministers themselves.
One of the things that the oil and gas was most concerned about was the inclusion of intra-company transfers (ICTs) in the cap. This would effectively limit the ability of companies to import their own talent from elsewhere into the UK.
While Royal Dutch Shell waits to hear from the US government on whether it will be permitted to drill in Alaska next year, environmentalists are stepping up their campaign for a “no” vote.
The Pew Environment Group is the latest to speak out against drilling in the arctic. It has released the most comprehensive analysis done on the challenges to preventing and containing spills in the area. Highlights include noting that darkness, extreme weather and shifting sea ice could delay efforts to stop an oil blowout in the US Arctic Ocean for six months or more.
An intriguing story by Sky’s (and the FT’s) Mark Kleinman this morning, who is following the UK prime minister in China.
Mark reports that Shell is planning to list its shares on the Shanghai stock exchange, and has even appointed China International Capital Corp to help it do so.
In a way, Chevron’s $4.3bn deal for Atlas Energy – giving it a foothold in the Marcellus shale gas field – was not particularly surprising. After Exxon and Shell made similar moves to take advantage of the US shale boom, Chevron was simply playing catch up.
But two things about the deal have raised eyebrows: the company’s previous resistance to such a strategy and the persistently low price of gas.
After Exxon and Shell, Chevron has become the latest oil major to jump on the Marcellus shale bandwagon.
Its $4.3bn deal to buy Atlas Energy will give it access to 9,000bn cubic feet of natural gas and 486,000 acres of Marcellus shale.
George Kirkland, Chevron’s vice chairman, said:
The Atlas Energy assets further advance Chevron’s global shale gas position, complementing the company’s recent entrance into shale gas opportunities in Poland, Romania and Canada
Tony Hayward’s first interview since stepping down as CEO of BP airs on UK television tonight. And it looks like it’s going to mark another fascinating chapter in the terrible story of the Gulf oil spill.
A preview from the BBC on Tuesday presented snippets of Hayward describing just how dire the financial situation became for the company. Amongst other things, Hayward admits that banks had even stopped lending to BP before his meeting with President Obama on June 16:
Prior to the meeting, the capital markets were effectively closed to BP. We were not able to borrow either short or medium-term debt at all.
I will be blogging today from the first day of the Oil & Money conference in London, where the great and the good of the oil business are thronging the hallways of one of the city’s swishest hotels.
The keynote speech this morning was delivered by Peter Voser, the CEO of Shell. He talked about the role natural gas has to play in global energy supplies, and especially in the UK, which our energy editor Sylvia Pfeifer wrote about in today’s FT.
But when it came to the Q&A sessions, there are no prizes for guessing what came up first: the BP oil spill. How far would Voser go in criticising his company’s main rival? How confident was he that such an incident would not happen to Shell?
After Friday’s deadly car-bombings in Nigeria’s capital, there can be no doubt that militants from the Niger delta retain a serious – even improved – capability to strike well beyond the uneasy oil region despite last year’s amnesty.
Even as the families of the seven dead begin to grieve, the government and oil groups will be worrying that the unprecedented strike in Abuja might herald a return to widespread assaults on the infrastructure of sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest oil and gas industry.
Tensions in the delta are certainly rising. Tit-for-tat attacks on rival political camps have hit Bayelsa, the home state of Goodluck Jonathan, the president and frontrunner for elections due by April.
Chris Huhne, the UK’s energy secretary, said yesterday he was worried about the “financing of big renewable projects, particularly big wind farms”, which could hinder the government’s pledge to make sure 15 per cent of the country’s energy comes from renewable sources by 2020.
He has reason to be worried. At the height of the financial crisis, some of the UK’s biggest wind power projects were hit by a wave of withdrawals from financiers. In May 2008, Shell backed out of the London Array, while later that year, BP said it would focus instead on US wind power. Then, early last year, Iberdrola said it would cut its investment in the UK by 40 per cent.
But Huhne may be being a little disingenuous here. Industry sources tell us the major disincentive from building wind power capacity at the moment is not a lack of private investment, but worries about the government’s commitment to the necessary infrastructure.
How safe are energy companies? And how well prepared are they in case of an emergency?
These questions will take centre stage again today as BP’s outgoing chief executive Tony Hayward appears in front of the UK’s energy select committee.
In the months after the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico, the US regulatory agency overseeing the offshore industry was severely criticised for its lax inspection regime. Several serious failures on the Deepwater Horizon were found after the explosion, including dead batteries and insufficiently strong devices that could have shut off oil flow in case of an explosion.