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TOPIC: 2010 THE INDUSTRY GRASSROOT NEWS..........JAN.26 ,2010

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2010 THE INDUSTRY GRASSROOT NEWS..........JAN.26 ,2010
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Wood Group signs Statoil GoM frame agreement
Published: Jan 21, 2010
Offshore staff

HOUSTON -- Wood Group’s Alliance Engineering has signed a frame agreement with Statoil USA E&P to provide engineering and design services for Statoil's upcoming Gulf of Mexico prospects. The frame agreement includes topsides engineering, design, and project management services for production facilities and field development studies.

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KBR to offer BP resid hydrocracking process
Jan 21, 2010
By OGJ editors
HOUSTON, Jan. 21 -- BP PLC has signed an agreement under which KBR will offer licensing and engineering services for a proprietary resid hydrocracking process.
KBR said it will market BP’s Veba Combi-Cracker (VCC) technology globally for refining, heavy-oil upgrading, and coal-to-liquids processing. In refineries, VCC technology represents an alternative to delayed coking, the dominant process for upgrading residual material from vacuum distillation units.

VCC feeds vacuum resid to a slurry phase reactor at 200 bar with an antifoaming agent. Hydrogen bubbles through the slurry mixture from below. Downstream of the slurry reactor, a separator removes unconverted material and the additive, while lighter products move to a fixed-bed catalytic hydrotreatment vessel for removal of nitrogen and sulfur.

Typical products are heavy gas oil, light gas oil, naphtha, and light olefins. BP says VCC achieves a resid conversion rate of 95%, compared with slightly above 70% for delayed coking. In addition, VCC’s liquid yield exceeds 100% because of the addition of hydrogen, while liquid yields of cokers typically fall below 80%, BP says.

BP acquired the technology when it absorbed Veba of Germany in 2002.
A 3,500-b/d VCC demonstration plant was built in the 1980s near what is now BP’s 264,000-b/cd Gelsenkirchen refinery in Germany. Poor economic conditions forced closure of the unit in 2000. BP also has operated a 200-b/d VCC pilot plant at Gelsenkirchen able to process a wide range of feedstocks.

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ConocoPhillips Announces Second Phase of Surmont Oil Sands Project

ConocoPhillips has announced the second phase of the Surmont project, a Canadian oil sands steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) facility. Phase 2, slated to begin initial construction in 2010, will increase Surmont's gross production capacity from 27,000 to 110,000 barrels per day.

"Surmont is an important part of our oil sands portfolio and we're pleased to announce its next phase of development," John Carrig, president and chief operating officer of ConocoPhillips, said. "The oil sands are an area of significant future oil production growth and are important for short- and long-term energy and economic security in North America. This phase of Surmont will also result in a significant increase in construction and operating jobs."

Surmont is located approximately 63 kilometers southeast of Fort McMurray, Alberta, in the Athabasca oil sands region. Surmont is operated by ConocoPhillips Canada and is a 50/50 joint venture with Total E&P Canada. Phase 2 is scheduled to begin production in 2015.

"We believe that our oil sands projects and the conversion of crude oil produced from oil sands to fuel can be conducted in an environmentally sustainable manner and that technology will play a significant role in managing the environmental footprint," Carrig said. "Accordingly, we are actively investing in research and technology development that holds promise for reducing the impacts on air, land and water. We anticipate spending more than $300 million in heavy oil technology research and development over the next five years to improve economic and environmental performance."

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AMEC Awarded FEED for £600m Gateway Underground Gas Storage Project

AMEC, together with Parsons Brinckerhoff and Senergy, has been appointed by Gateway Storage Company to undertake the front-end engineering design (FEED) for both the offshore and onshore elements of the £600 million Gateway offshore underground gas storage scheme.

The Gateway storage scheme will be located in the East Irish Sea, approximately 25 kilometres (15 miles) offshore, south west of Barrow-in-Furness. The current phase of the project will provide 1.5 billion cubic metres of storage capacity, with the possibility of expansion in the future.

The work over the next 12 months will support a commitment to construction of the facility at the end of 2010 and enable the commencement of gas storage services for the UK market in 2014.

The Gateway offshore gas storage development will use offshore caverns and will enable gas to be delivered, stored and then returned to the UK's national transmission system, providing a more flexible and secure energy supply.

"I am delighted that the award of this contract demonstrates our all round energy capabilities" said Neil Bruce, Executive Director of AMEC. "This challenging and ground-breaking project couples our considerable FEED expertise on traditional offshore projects with our leading process capability".

Andrew Stacey, Director of Gateway Storage said: "The detailed engineering design work, and the tender process for the main construction contracts that will follow later this year, will support a commitment to construction at the end of this year and the first storage services to start during 2014. We are delighted to have the depth of experience that AMEC, Parsons Brinckerhoff and Senergy offer us and look forward to working with them in order to deliver the much needed Gateway facility."

AMEC is a focused supplier of high-value consultancy, engineering and project management services to the world's natural resources, nuclear, clean energy, water and environmental sectors. With annual revenues of over £2.6 billion, AMEC designs, delivers and maintains strategic and complex assets for its customers. AMEC's Natural Resources, Power & Process and Earth & Environmental businesses employ almost 22,000 people in around 40 countries worldwide.

The Gateway Project:
The £600m storage facility will add new capacity equal to approximately 30% of current UK storage capacity, sufficient to meet five days of Britain's average gas demand.
Gateway will be built in salt caverns approximately 750m beneath the surface of the seabed and located 15 miles offshore, south west of Barrow-in-Furness. The Gateway facility will be connected to the National Gas Transmission Scheme (NTS) via a new pipeline to a gas compression station adjacent to the existing Morecambe gas terminals at Barrow.
Gateway Storage secured consent from the UK Government in November 2008 and from Barrow Council in June 2008, and a site licence agreement from the Crown Estate in 2007.
Gateway Storage is a company that was formed to develop the gas storage project and is managed by Stag Energy. Stag Energy is an independent company, headquartered in Edinburgh. The company, established in 2002, has extensive experience of managing the development, construction and operations of gas storage and power generation projects in the UK and overseas.

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Alliance Engineering and Statoil USA E&P Inc Sign Gulf of Mexico Frame Agreement

Wood Group's Alliance Engineering has signed a frame agreement with Statoil USA E&P Inc to provide engineering and design services for Statoil's upcoming Gulf of Mexico prospects. The frame agreement includes topsides engineering, design, and project management services for production facilities and field development studies.

"For more than a decade, Alliance has built a great reputation for engineering and designing world-class topsides production facilities for deepwater projects, in the Gulf of Mexico and internationally," said Edmund Lunde, president of Alliance. "This frame agreement gives us an opportunity to team with Statoil to share best practices, and to collaborate on existing and future Gulf of Mexico deepwater development projects."

Alliance Engineering provides highly optimized concept-to-completion custom engineering solutions for the oil and gas industry. Some of the largest and most visible projects in the world compose Alliance's impressive offshore and onshore project portfolio. With an emphasis on quality initiatives and cost-effective engineering, Alliance has been on the cutting edge of engineering services for all customers worldwide.

Alliance Engineering a Wood Group company offers unique services and expertise for three energy market segments: Deepwater, Shelf / FPSO, and Onshore, with offices in Houston and Denver.

Wood Group is an international energy services company with approximately $5bn revenues, employing 28,000 people worldwide and operating in 50 countries. The Group has three businesses - Engineering & Production Facilities, Well Support and Gas Turbine Services - providing a range of engineering, production support, maintenance management and industrial gas turbine overhaul and repair services to the oil & gas, and power generation industries worldwide.

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Jacobs Receives Contract from Hyundai Engineering for New Sulphur Recovery Unit

Jacobs Engineering Group today that it received a contract from Hyundai Engineering Co., Ltd. (HEC) to license and design its proprietary SUPERCLAUS(R) technology for a desulphurization unit at a new gas plant in Turkmenistan. The unit will be integral to the gas plant operated by state-owned Turkmengas, which produces, processes, and exports all gas reserves.

South Korea-based HEC will design and build the new gas plant, which is scheduled to be operational in 2012. Gas produced from this plant will be supplied to China. Turkmenistan's natural gas reserves, with estimates ranging from 4 to 14 trillion cubic meters, are the fourth largest in the world.

Jacobs introduced SUPERCLAUS(R) technology in 1985 and now has over 200 units in operation. The technology nearly eliminates sulphur from the production process, resulting in cleaner fuels with minimal gaseous emissions and lower energy consumption.

In making the announcement, Jacobs Group Vice President Robert Matha stated, "As a leader in desulphurization technology, we are proud to support HEC in providing environmentally friendly, clean fuels."

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Technip sticks with Utec

French engineering giant Technip has extended its master service agreement with Utec Survey for a further two years.

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Chevron Restructuring Reflects New Downstream Dynamics

A lingering recession and a sharp downturn in demand for gasoline and diesel fuel are forcing U.S. oil giant Chevron Corp. to overhaul its global refining business in a sweeping plan that includes laying off workers and possibly closing or selling some refineries around the world.

In a video message to employees, Mike Wirth, executive vice president for Chevron's global downstream business, announced a restructuring of the company's refining business that will include trimming its work force by a yet-to-be-determined number.

Wirth did not discuss the fate of assets or markets. Further details about the reorganization will come in March and the plan will be fully in place by the third quarter, company spokesman Lloyd Avram said Tuesday.

"There is excess capacity and shrinking demand, so to make our downstream operations more profitable long-term we are reducing the size and complexity of our downstream operation. That means fewer positions and fewer employees," Avram said.

The company's downstream business employs 18,000 worldwide. That includes 8,200 in the U.S., 900 in Texas and 700 in Houston's supply and trading group.

Downstream typically refers to operations after oil and natural gas is extracted, such as transmission, refining and retail marketing.

Chevron, the second-largest U.S. oil company after Exxon Mobil Corp., employs more than 60,000 in all its operations worldwide and does business in more than 100 countries.

The announcement of the restructuring comes on the heels of an earnings update last week in which Chevron warned that income from its downstream operations would be sharply lower. The company said refining margins -- the difference between the cost of crude oil refiners use and the price they get for the products they make from it -- were down in some markets by as much as 59 percent. Chevron, based in San Ramon, Calif., releases its fourth-quarter earnings Jan. 29.

Houston's ConocoPhillips said in an interim earnings report Tuesday that it expects a drop in refining margins from the third to the fourth quarter, and that fourth-quarter refining margins in most regions will drop year-over-year as well.

That report and the Chevron downsizing represent the latest blows to the embattled U.S. refining sector, which has seen refining margins shrivel amid excess inventories of fuel, greater global production capacity and falling demand at the pump.

Market is changing

Changing market fundamentals underlie the shift: U.S. motorists are turning to more fuel-efficient vehicles and driving less. At the same time, governments are requiring greater use of renewable fuel sources, such as ethanol.

The new dynamics are forcing refiners to scuttle expansion plans, idle units and close plants.

Meanwhile, major oil companies have to spend more to develop new oil and natural gas resources as they push into more complicated geological formations, deeper waters and emerging regions around the globe.

Fadel Gheit, a managing director and senior analyst with Oppenheimer & Co. in New York, said Chevron's plans were not surprising and that other refiners likely will follow. Five U.S. refineries closed last year as the recession stunted demand.

"Chevron is looking at the longer term," Gheit said. "It's not knee-jerk. It's a well-thought-out strategic shift, because these decisions are not made lightly. If they decide to trim head count, shut down plants, these things are permanent."

Has left some areas

Most analysts agree that refining's profitability may never return to acceptable levels for certain companies. In recent years, Chevron has pulled out of unprofitable markets, selling downstream holdings in Brazil, Kenya and Uganda.

"Chevron is recognizing the reality of that situation and is choosing to withdraw somewhat from its refining portfolios and concentrate on other assets that are further upstream in their portfolio," said Ken Stern, managing director for the petroleum and chemical practice at LECG, a New York based economic and financial consulting firm.

"Chevron is recognizing the reality of that situation and is choosing to withdraw somewhat from its refining portfolios and concentrate on other assets that are further upstream in their portfolio," said Ken Stern, managing director for the petroleum and chemical practice at LECG, a New York based economic and financial consulting firm.

In the U.S., Chevron owns refineries in Pascagoula, Miss; Salt Lake City; Honolulu; and El Segundo and Richmond, Calif. internationally, it owns three additional plants, in Singapore, Thailand and South Korea, and has stakes in 10 other refineries across the world, Avram said.

Other major oil companies have said they are considering their options for some of their refineries.

ConocoPhillips has said it may consider selling less- sophisticated and less- competitive operations. Royal Dutch Shell is also reviewing the possible sale of some of its plants in Europe.

Meanwhile, Valero Energy, Sunoco and other independent refiners, which only operate refineries and do not have exploration and production units, have announced plans to close or sell U.S. refineries.

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Shell & Big Oil's Exploration Challenge

The oil business used to be simple. Find oil. Drill hole. Sell oil. Buy Stetson and private jet.
These days, you have to corral an army of engineers in the desert to build an enormous factory to transform natural gas into a liquid to be used like oil. The capital cost of Royal Dutch Shell's Pearl gas-to-liquids plant in Qatar is a cool $18 billion or more -- 10% of its market capitalization. Like Chevron's Gorgon liquefied natural gas project offshore Australia, it shows what big integrated oil companies are capable of.
But have they neglected bread-and-butter exploration for lower risk, lower return engineering projects? Certainly, investors are unimpressed. A decade ago, the international oil companies (IOCs) accounted for 79% of energy sector market capitalization and nearly all its net income. Today the figures are 53% and 62%, according to Sanford C. Bernstein. Shell trades at a discount of 13% and 36% respectively to the 2010 forward price earnings multiples at Petroleo Brasileiro and BG Group. But their estimated five-year average output growth is 5% and 9% compared with Shell's 3%, around the IOC average.
If there is a premium on growth, why have the IOCs not spent more on exploration? The question is a little unfair. The majors are so big they spend billions simply replacing the barrels they produce. Geopolitics and resource nationalism have narrowed growth options.
It takes a big discovery to move the needle. Shell more than doubled its exploration budget to $1.4 billion between 2004 and 2008 when it represented 3% of net cash from operations. But contrast that with the 16% of net cash from operations spent by the smaller BG which has made exciting finds offshore Brazil, alongside Petrobras, and West Africa. That's why Bernstein analyst Neil McMahon questions whether IOC executives have sufficiently examined the merits of exploration over one-off engineering marvels. Facilities like Pearl have to be built on giant, long-life gas fields which are rare.
Intriguingly, Shell, scaling back development of its Canadian high-cost tar sands operation, has bumped up its exploration budget to $3 billion, around 10% of capex. But could it spend even more? With their huge upfront cost sunk in 2011, Shell's two Qatar projects will generate $4 billion a year in cash flow. They will be nicely geared to any rise in oil prices at a modest unit cost of $6 per barrel of oil equivalent. Few IOCs may be as well placed as Shell to take on more exploration risk.

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Worker Dies at Houston Refinery

A worker died Friday morning at LyondellBasell Industries' oil refinery in Houston after an apparent fall. Details of the accident, which occurred at approximately 8:30 a.m., were still being gathered at press time. But company spokesman David Harpole did not say it did not happen in any operating areas of the plant, and that production at the 268,000-barrel-per-day complex was never suspended, nor were there any chemical releases.

The Lyondell employee's name was being withheld pending notification of family members.
Though fatally injured at the refinery, he was taken to Memorial Hermann Hospital at the Texas Medical Center. Harpole said the incident was isolated and that no other workers appeared to be harmed.
He said it is "standard practice" for the Rotterdam, Netherlands-based chemical and refining giant to investigate the situation.

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Oil slips on China demand fears
Oil fell towards $74 a barrel today after China implemented a clampdown on lending, rekindling concern that tightening moves by the world's second-largest oil user may limit demand.
News wires Tuesday, 26 January, 2010, 05:18 GMT
Crude approached a one-month low after the Chinese move, which analysts said was a setback for the bullish view in oil markets that puts the prospect of rising Asian demand ahead of the market's weak current fundamentals.
"The fundamental link to current prices is weak -- hence oil prices need at least some general optimism that boom times are around the corner," Olivier Jakob, analyst at Petromatrix, told Reuters.
"That general optimism depends a lot on China's consumption, saving the rest of the world and that will be somewhat challenged by the Chinese government trying to regulate the formation of bubbles."
US oil was down 76 cents at $74.50 by 1206 GMT, having traded as low as $74.14. On Friday, it touched a one-month intraday low of $74.01. Brent crude fell 65 cents to $73.04.
Crude oil futures have fallen by more than 6% in January set for their first monthly decline since July last year.
China implemented its planned increase in required reserves for some banks today, sources told Reuters. Asian stocks fell, copper slipped and the dollar gained. European shares lost ground.
Highlighting fears that a global recovery may be sputtering, South Korea reported weaker-than-expected growth in the fourth quarter and the UK came out of recession in the fourth quarter, but with a lower growth rate than expected. Standard & Poor's cut its rating outlook on Japan.
Economic reports this week have also raised doubts over the strength of the US recovery. The Federal Reserve is not seen indicating that it will raise its benchmark rate any time soon when it meets this week.
The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), the Fed's policy-setting group, begins a two-day policy meeting today.
Oil inventories in the US, the top oil consumer, are expected to rise further in reports due this week. Crude stocks probably rose by 1.7 million barrels, a Reuter’s poll of analysts showed on Monday.
The survey also forecasts gasoline stockpiles probably climbed 1.4 million barrels and distillates, which include heating oil and diesel, were predicted to have fallen 1.4 million barrels.
Industry group American Petroleum Institute issues its weekly inventory report on Tuesday at 2130 GMT. The government's Energy Information Administration (EIA) follows on Wednesday.
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