|Theme||Visible||Selectable||Appearance||Zoom Range (now: 0)|
Nearly 150 workers have been evacuated or are due for evacuation from Shell's Shearwater project in the North Sea since a COVID-19 outbreak emerged at the end of June, the company said on 20 July, as the industry called for an exemption from self-isolation rules for offshore workers. So far, 26 people at the Shearwater oil and gas hub have tested positive for COVID-19, with another 122 categorized as having been "close contacts" of those infected, Shell told S&P Global Platts. Most have already been flown to shore, with a small number isolating at the facility before returning to shore, Shell said, adding that the spread of infection was slowing, with only five cases detected in the last 7 days of the outbreak. Shearwater is the focus of concerns that rising UK infection rates could spread to the offshore oil and gas sector, which normally provides 1 million B/D of oil including the Brent and Forties benchmark grades and meets about half the country's gas needs. Offshore workforce numbers have recently recovered to well over 10,000, following a steep fall last year in response the pandemic, according to industry figures.
The US produced more oil, petroleum liquids, and natural gas than any other nation last year, according to newly released figures from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA). The US managed to lead the world for the seventh year despite seeing a year-over-year decline from a record high output in 2019. The EIA pegged combined oil and gas production in the US in 2020 at 66.9 quadrillion BTUs. This topped Russia and Saudi Arabia's output of 45.5 quadrillion BTUs and 26.5 quadrillion BTUs, respectively. "Petroleum and natural gas production fell in all three countries in 2020 following a rapid decline in demand during the COVID-19 pandemic and the consequent crude oil price declines, particularly in the first quarter of 2020," the report read.
The 19th OPEC and non-OPEC ministerial meeting, known collectively as OPEC, has agreed to end its historic production cuts after determining that global crude demand has shown "clear signs of improvement and OECD stocks falling, as the economic recovery continued in most parts of the world." Sunday's agreement will see the gradual end to the production cuts that were made last year in an unprecedented response to excess supply that resulted from the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to a number of vaccine programs taking shape worldwide, OPEC said now is the time to erase the cuts by throttling production up by 400,000 B/D per month to the end of 2022. The gradual increase is considered a cautious move by many analysts, one meant to temper crude markets and expectations as a full global economic recovery remains unrealized amid the spread of new virus variants. Analysts have also noted that the deal has soothed tensions within the group, most notably between Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which had lobbied hard for an increase in its baseline production figure that effectively sets its quota limit.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the joint International Association of Oil and Gas Producers (IOGP)/IPIECA Health Committee has worked to ensure that the industry was operating with the most up-to-date and scientifically sound information possible when making decisions that affect workers' health during the pandemic. The Health Committee has issued periodic statements on COVID-19 testing and updated these accordingly as COVID-19 testing technology and the approaches to isolation and quarantine have evolved continuously throughout the pandemic. The fifth version of this statement is now available. Testing is an essential tool in continuous evolution to adequately address the COVID-19 pandemic. It faces several challenges and limitations that must be overcome as preventive and mitigation measures are implemented while using the various COVID-19 testing methodologies. Limited societal readiness, lack of available testing infrastructure, and the validity of tests used are some of the principal hurdles to establishing an effective and consistent testing regime.
As the COVID-19 pandemic subsides in most parts of the world, and as a global society we commit ourselves to its control and eradication everywhere, it is time for our "ship" to leave port. As we pull up our anchor ("anchors aweigh" means the anchor is off bottom and the ship is free to move), we must accept that there are risks out there, but we must get back to the task of exploration and production of oil and gas as never before. As I predicted in this column many months ago, we are definitely leaner (fewer people, with even more work to do) and now we need to be much meaner (better skilled, better motivated, and better focused). All the old adages apply: "life isn't fair," "there are no guarantees," etc.--but a commitment to "duty, honor, and service" (an unofficial motto of my employer, Texas A&M University) stands firm in my mind for our industry. As we leave port, we must have the confidence and purpose that has defined our industry since its inception--improving lives, mitigating poverty, and providing the energy to enable a modern global society.
In the last quarter of 2019, the world experienced a dramatic change in the way daily activities happen: A completely new and unknown virus (COVID-19) appeared, forcing many nations and societies to implement several restrictions in an effort to minimize contagion and deaths. In this article, some SPE African sections share their experience on how to conduct activities during the global pandemic, so other SPE sections can implement similar events to benefit their members. "[The lockdown] has strongly affected membership drive, sponsorship of events, and most importantly the conviviality that we used to have during most SPE in person events. We should know and agree that there is a paradigm change in the way we do things. Most guidelines and by-laws must be reviewed along COVID-19 protocols. Also, [we need to] ensure there is an updated methodology of reaching out to members and sponsors. We should be careful of too many virtual events/programs to avoid stress-related issues to our members. I also think we should start trying out hybrid events."
The ministers responsible for climate and environment of the Group of Seven (G7) nations, the world's seven largest advanced economies, agreed on 21 May to stop international financing of coal projects that emit carbon by the end of this year and to phase out financial support for all fossil fuels to meet their commitment to the 2015 Paris Agreement. The target of the Paris Agreement is to cap the rise in the Earth's temperatures to as close as possible to 1.5 C above preindustrial times. "In building back better from the pandemic, we stress our determination to put climate, biodiversity, and the environment at the heart of our COVID-19 recovery strategies and investments," the ministers wrote in a joint communiqué, in which they committed to making their 2030 ambitions consistent with the aim of achieving net-zero emissions as soon as possible and by 2050 at the latest. The communiqué stated that urgent and concrete action is needed to move toward global sustainability, further mitigate and adapt to climate change, and halt and reverse biodiversity loss and environmental degradation. "We recognize that climate change and the health of the natural environment are intrinsically linked and will ensure that the actions we take maximize the opportunities to solve these crises in parallel," the ministers said. They also said that the COVID-19 pandemic was a reminder that increased contact between humans, wildlife, and livestock as a result of human activities--including those contributing to climate change--has increased the risk of zoonotic disease emergence and spread.
The most striking thing about the recent symposium put on by SPE's Gulf Coast Section was the more than 100 people in the room. During the breaks, it was nearly impossible to have a conversation without a mention of how good it is to be back meeting people in person and shaking hands, like it was before the COVID-19 pandemic. Things, indeed, are looking a lot better. The feeling that day, and the message from speakers at the Acquisitions and Divestitures (A&D) Symposium, offered an upbeat outlook for those buying and selling assets and, perhaps, a path for more such gatherings. "Last year, everyone was focused on liquidity and lenders and how many people I am firing this week and cost reductions and mergers and acquisitions," said Doug Reynolds, managing director for Simmons Energy, a division of Piper Sandler.
Dragon Oil is the host organization for SPE's 2021 Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition (ATCE). Mr. Al Jarwan shared that he has a very positive outlook for the future. He said he is optimistic about prices, growth, and the global trade situation. He sees how the vaccine rollout globally is contributing to increased travel, which will benefit both the industry and ATCE. When the pandemic occurred, Dragon Oil, like most companies, experienced cash-flow issues and had to cut both capital and operating expenditures.