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Could humble bacteria hold the key to de-risking offshore oil & gas exploration?

snap

 Date: 6th October 2016
 
Publication: Offshore Technology
An ongoing genome research project at the University of Calgary has been awarded significant funds from the Canadian government to develop so-called ‘microbiological tests’ that will use bacteria to indicate the presence of hydrocarbons. Leader of the research, Casey Hubert, discusses why he thinks bacteria and genome research could save the offshore oil and gas industry.

TomTom’s Tomaso Grossi on the potential of self-driving technology in Asia

Date: 17th October 2016

Publication: Tech Wire AsiaTech Wire Asia

IN August, the first self-driving taxis in Asia were rolled out in Singapore by nuTonomy. The cars only navigated a 2.5 sq. mile district, but their pilot run firmly marked the beginning of the self-driving car movement in the Asia Pacific.

Self-driving cars are no longer a futuristic idea. Uber, Volvo, Ford, Toyota and even Chinese search engine Baidu have all announced plans for self-driving cars.

Wealth Minerals: betting on Chile’s lithium reserves

salar

Date: 5 September 2016

Publication: Mining Technology

Mineral resource company Wealth Minerals has shifted its focus to acquiring new lithium assets in Chile, bringing on-board Notable Chilean mining executive Marcelo A Awad, formerly of Chilean state-owned Codelco, to negotiate new acquisitions. Awad spoke with Heidi Vella to discuss Wealth Minerals’ move into the nascent Chilean lithium mining market.

Get smart: Five of the best and most used ‘smart city’ apps

Date: 29 August 2016

Publication: Tech Wire Asia

To tackle growing congestion issues due to increasing populations, many Asian cities, such as Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Jakarta and Manila, have begun morphing into ‘smart cities’.

The environmental and economic impacts of closing a nuclear power plant 

diablo_canyon

Date: 8 August 2016

Publication: Power Technology

A new study has investigated the economic and environmental costs of closing nuclear generating capacity, using the closure of San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) California as its case study. Co-author of the report Lucas Davies, an associate professor at the Haas School of Business and Faculty Director at the Energy Institute at Haas, discusses his findings and thoughts on the woes currently facing the nuclear power industry.

The endless devastation caused by illegal mining 

Date: 8 August 2016

Publication: Mining Technology 

rsz_huarayo_mina_ilegal_chico_trabajando.jpg

Illegal mining has grown to such vast proportions it is now a scourge comparable to the global drug trade, according to several newly published reports. This shadow industry is responsible for human rights abuses, large-scale environmental destruction and illicit revenue streams estimated to range from $12bn – $48bn according to the UNEP, but how can it be stopped?

Is zero fatalities in the US mining industry possible?

Date: 15 August 2016

In 2015 the US mining industry recorded its safest year on record but it is yet to achieve a year with zero fatalities. Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of labour for mine safety and health at the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), the industry’s chief safety regulator, discusses how the newly launched fourth iteration of the Rules to Live By standard aim to help improve the industry’s safety record.

Diamonds are forever: can Anglo American revive De Beers’ fortunes?

venetia

Date: 26 July 2016

Publication: Mining Technology 

 The price of rough diamonds has been steadily declining since 2014 and the industry is facing increasing competition from the synthetic diamond industry. Despite this, mining giant Anglo American has decided to retain leading diamond supplier De Beers, in which it owns an 85% stake, while dramatically restructuring and selling many of its other assets. Heidi Vella-Starr asks, what is behind Anglo’s thinking and can it turn around the fortunes of De Beers?

Copper, Codelco and Chile

chile-6

Date: 4 July 2016

Publication: Mining Technology 

Codelco, the largest copper-producing company in the world, is battling to stay profitable as it attempts to forge ahead with $18bn of essential investment, including at Chuquicamata. However, with copper prices remaining on the downturn, and many financially risky projects in the pipeline, can Codelco retain its position as the number one copper producer?

Will France overtake the UK as Europe’s tidal power leader?

Date: 2 June 2016

Publication: Power Technology

France is fast keeping up with its biggest competitor in tidal power – the UK – with one of the world’s first grid-connected tidal turbine arrays expected to happen this summer offshore of North Brittany. Will this be the project that makes France the tidal power industry leader?

Can fully automated drilling technology finally win over the offshore oil industry?

Date: 6 June 2016

Publication: Offshore Technology

In its latest Technology Outlook report, risk management company DNV GL highlighted fully autonomous drilling as a technology it expects oil and gas companies to implement by 2025. The technology has well-known safety and cost benefits, so why is not already an established industry standard?

What is shaping the future of phosphorus? 

match

Date: 9 June 2016

Publication: Mining Technology 

Phosphorus is a fundamental component of life and an irreplaceable ingredient in fertilizer. Substantial phosphate reserves are known to exist, but fears over future supply still remain – so what are the forces shaping the availability of phosphors, and could there be supply constraints ahead?

The big bang: coordinating the world’s biggest mine blast

Date: 1 June 2016

Publication: Mining Technology 

Daunia Open Cut coal mine in Queensland, Australia, recently broke the world record for the largest electronic detonator blast ever, firing a whopping 5,665 detonators in 2,683 blastholes, using BME AXXIS digital detonation system.

Offshore Uruguay: South America’s New Frontier

Date: 10 May 2016

Publication:  Offshore Technology

After years of minimal activity and lacklustre investment, Uruguay’s offshore industry is finally gaining momentum following spudding of the country’s first offshore well by Exxon Mobil and Total last year. With BG and Tullow Oil also holding interests in the region, Uruguay is being touted as South America newest offshore frontier. IHS analysts Michael Dyer and Claudia Pessagno share their expert insights on Uruguay’s fledgling offshore industry.

Shutting down the Gulf of Mexico

Date: 27 April 2016

Publication: Offshore Technology

Ageing infrastructure in the mature US Gulf of Mexico offshore market is boosting decommissioning activities, and low oil prices are likely to accelerate that trend. We profile the challenges of decommissioning in the Gulf of Mexico, and the region’s rigs-to-reefs programme.

Maintaining the solar industry

Solar array maintenance costs are at their lowest point yet, making large-scale solar projects more economically competitive than ever – but what is solar array maintenance and why are costs declining?

Should cyanide still be used in modern-day mining?

After several high-profile leaks and spills, the use of cyanide in mining operations is facing increasing public opposition with some countries banning it completely. The toxic chemical is still widely used for the processing of certain ores, most notably gold, but should cyanide be phased out of mining, and what are the alternatives?

World’s first floating wind farm: the key to broadening wind power’s reach?

In 2016 Norwegian oil giant Statoil will begin construction of the world’s first floating wind farm, The Hywind Pilot Park. With fFloating wind turbines are touted as the solution to overcoming some of the key stumbling blocks faced by new offshore wind projects, if so if it proves ’s a commercial success, Hywind could be the first of many.

Flotation maestro: an audience with the inventor of the Jameson Cell

Inventor and engineer Graeme Jameson has given the mining industry added value and netted the Australian coal sector more than A$36bn in exports with his breakthrough Jameson Cell technology. This year Jameson was honoured with one of the Australian Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science, but it’s the commercialisation of a new first-of-a-kind technology that is capturing most of his attention today. Mining Technology speaks to the man himself to find out more.

Miracle Fare or a Fad Too Far? 

Today we’re surrounded by an ever growing range of potions that promise to make us look younger, beverages that stop us absorbing fat, and foods that claim to lower cholesterol better than doctor-prescribed medicines. More and more of these alleged youth and health-enhancing foods – also known as medicinal foods or nutricosmetics because they appear to bridge the gap between food for nutrition and food to fix, change or enhance our body – have found their way onto supermarket shelves in recent years.

Making the mark: what the Watermark mine says about mining approval in Australia

Shenhua protest

After a staggering seven years, the controversial Watermark coal mine in New South Wales (NSW), Australia, has secured conditional federal approval, subject to strict conditions. Considering the public opposition, political wrangling, litigation and long approval time frame Watermark has faced, what hurdles should mining companies now expect to overcome when trying to secure a coal mining lease in modern-day Australia?

Removing cyanide from modern mining

The use of cyanide in mining operations is facing increasing public opposition, with some countries banning it entirely. So should the toxic chemical be phased out of processing, and what are the alternatives? Heidi Vella reports.

Offshore CCS: projects leading the way

Offshore carbon capture and storage (CCS) first started in the early 70s; however the technology is still fairly nascent with only a few projects now fully developed. But as many countries start to clamp down on carbon emissions in a bid to fight global climate change, development of offshore CCS has seen increased investment, resulting in some promising projects in the pipeline – here are some of the most innovative.

Better Together

Oilfield services giant Schlumberger and computing multinational IBM are jointly creating an end-to-end solution for improving integrated production operations. Heidi Vella finds out how the technologies of these industry titans will complement each other in the offshore sector.

Biopower!

algae-building
Algae powered building in Germany

As the bid to combat climate change becomes more urgent, innovative plant-based power sources from algae artificial forests, are increasingly being explored. Heidi Vella asks is the future is going to be biopowered.

How virtual reality will become an everyday technology

VR

“Virtual reality was once the dream of science fiction. But the internet was also once a dream, and so were computers and smartphones,” Mark Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook page last year when he announced his company had purchased Oculus VR, the world leader in virtual reality technology.

Nature vs industry: should oil & gas exploration offshore Belize go ahead?

Belize's new legislation would allow oil exploration near the UNESCO-recognised Great Blue Hole.
Belize’s new legislation would allow oil exploration near the UNESCO-recognised Great Blue Hole.

The Belizean government’s recent proposal to open up its waters to offshore oil and gas exploration licenses has raised concerns over damage to the country’s UNESCO World Heritage recognised barrier reef system and tourism industry. With few already proven oil reserves, is the high environmental risk of oil exploration worth taking?

New EU law targets conflict minerals, but will it work?

Mining in the DRC. Pic courtesy Responsible Sourcing Network.
Mining in the DRC. Pic courtesy Responsible Sourcing Network.

If passed, a new EU law will help to put an end to the use of ‘conflict minerals’ in EU manufacturing. The draft law is similar to the US’s Dodd-Frank 1502 clause, which requires tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold imported from conflict zones, to be certified ‘conflict free’. As the EU prepares to set out the terms of its new law, what lessons should it take on board to help end this deadly trade.

A country divided: the complexities of Australia’s uranium mining industry

Trial well field for in-situ recovery at Honeymoon, South Australia. Image courtesy of Geomartin.
Trial well field for in-situ recovery at Honeymoon, South Australia. Image courtesy of Geomartin.

While Queensland recently took the decision to reinstate a ban on the mining of uranium, Western Australia has done the opposite by repealing a long-standing ban in a move to kick-start the industry. But why such different approaches? We speak to industry representatives and experts to find out more about Australia’s contradictory approach to uranium mining.

What next for Russia’s offshore oil and gas?

ExxonMobil and Rosneft have made deals to develop oil reserves in the Kara Sea.
ExxonMobil and Rosneft have made deals to develop oil reserves in the Kara Sea.

Russia hosts vast offshore oil and gas resources, estimated to be up to 100 billion mt of oil equivalent. But Western sanctions, a lower oil price and a lack of technological capabilities are stalling development of these resources. Three analysts discuss what the future holds for Russia’s offshore oil and gas industry.

A little goes a long-way: how small-scale sustainable energy is transforming lives

The mountainous region of North West Pakistan where the Sarhad Rural Support Programme (SRSP) has brought hydro power. Credit: SRSP
The mountainous region of North West Pakistan where the Sarhad Rural Support Programme (SRSP) has brought hydro power. Credit: SRSP

The 2015 annual Ashden Awards showed that grassroots sustainable energy provided to off-grid communities, often forgotten about by big business, can create jobs, pay for education and transform lives.

Uncovering Africa’s ‘looting machine’ with author Tom Burgis

Financial Times journalist Tom Burgis has written a book detailing what he calls
Financial Times journalist Tom Burgis has written a book detailing what he calls “the systematic theft” of Africa’s natural resources and connected wealth. Speaking to Heidi Vella-Starr, he talks about his reasons for writing the book and explains the mining industry’s role in Africa’s complex “looting machine”

Financial Times journalist Tom Burgis has written a book detailing what he calls “the systematic theft” of Africa’s natural resources and connected wealth. Speaking to Heidi Vella-Starr, he talks about his reasons for writing the book and explains the mining industry’s role in Africa’s complex “looting machine”

Resurrecting Maluku steel plant in the DRC – is it possible?

Maluku Steel Plant as it is today.
Maluku Steel Plant as it is today.

A US-based businessman has a dream to reboot a steel mill in the chaotic and investor-averse environment of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Against all the odds, can he succeed?

Corruption, CSR and the miners – what is needed to create change?

The Choc vs HudBay Minerals case involves allegations of gang rapes and murder carried out by its HudBay mine security personnel.
The Choc vs HudBay Minerals case involves allegations of gang rapes and murder carried out by its HudBay mine security personnel.

Canadian mining companies are under pressure to improve their corporate social responsibility (CSR) record in developing countries. But, as consultant Bonnie Lyn de Bartok of MacCormick International Mining Consultancy explains, for this to happen there needs to be more cohesive CSR guidelines, as well as better government and investor oversight.

Climate change mitigation: how should the oil industry join the debate?

van Beurden told colleagues and peers to make their voices heard ‘by members of government, by civil society and the general public’. Image courtesy of Pikolas.
van Beurden told colleagues and peers to make their voices heard ‘by members of government, by civil society and the general public’. Image courtesy of Pikolas.

Climate change mitigation discussions will reach a peak at the UN climate change conference in Paris this November, with the resulting policy set to shape global energy policy for years to come. As the provider of around 80% of the world’s energy, fossil fuel companies must play a role. But as, paradoxically, one of the biggest CO2 emitters, how can the industry credibly inform the debate?

Understanding risk: taking cues as corruption and scandal overtake Petrobas

Oil platform P-51, the first 100-percent Brazilian oil platform.
Oil platform P-51, the first 100-percent Brazilian oil platform.

The Petrobras Brazil corruption scandal is one of the biggest to come out of the oil and gas industry to date. Toby Duthie, co-founder of Forensic Risk Alliance, a forensic accounting firm specialising in corruption investigations, gives his expert insight into the scandal and its possible ramifications for the wider oil and gas industry.

Ageing nuclear plants – are they safe by today’s standards?

Nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania, United States.
Nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania, United States.

Last year the Swiss nuclear regulator requested that the Convention on Nuclear Safety mandate that the safety of existing nuclear power plants should be in line with standards for new nuclear power plants. In February the Convention declined. Was it right to do so?

Powering Pakistan – the case for and against UCG in the Thar Desert

Plans for underground coal gasification (UCG) in the Thar Desert of Pakistan – a region prone to drought and famine – have drawn fierce criticism from experts and NGOs. Critics say UCG technology is experimental and risks polluting life-sustaining groundwater, but the government is forging ahead regardless. So how should this integral resource be developed, if at all?

Brits abroad – finding cleantech investment in Silicon Valley

16 hand-picked UK-based cleantech start-ups attended. Image courtesy of CandC2015.
16 hand-picked UK-based cleantech start-ups attended. Image courtesy of CandC2015.

Breaking foreign markets and securing foreign finance is vital for many UK-based cleantech start-ups, but how should such companies go about selling their products overseas? We find out from participants and organisers of the government-backed Clean and Cool Mission, who have recently returned from an entrepreneurial trip to San Francisco’s Silicon Valley, the heartland of cleantech.

Meltdown – can US nuclear compete with shale gas and subsidised renewables?

Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station, Oak Harbor, Ohio. Image courtesy of Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station, Oak Harbor, Ohio. Image courtesy of Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The US nuclear industry is struggling to survive in tough US electricity markets flooded with cheap natural gas and subsidised renewables. Industry insiders say action must be taken now to reverse this decline or the country will face dire consequences for climate change goals and energy security – but what needs to be done?

Is it possible to provide energy access for all and avoid climate change? Yes…

From 1981 to 2011, household electricity access in India, where around 400 million people live without electricity access, improved from about 25% to between 67 and 74% of the population, an increase of approximately 650 million people. Image courtesy of Jose Conejo Saenz.
From 1981 to 2011, household electricity access in India, where around 400 million people live without electricity access, improved from about 25% to between 67 and 74% of the population, an increase of approximately 650 million people. Image courtesy of Jose Conejo Saenz.

Expanding household electricity access in developing countries will not significantly increase carbon emissions, according to a study from the Institute for Applied Systems Analysis. Study author senior researcher Dr Shonali Pachauri explains why.

Haiti’s gold – is the country ready to exploit its unearthed riches?

Northern Haiti's Massif du Nord metallogenic belt. Image courtesy of Eurasian Minerals.
Northern Haiti’s Massif du Nord metallogenic belt. Image courtesy of Eurasian Minerals.

Haiti is believed to have enough gold to lift the earth-quake hit country out of poverty. But as the government, with assistance from the World Bank, works to exploit these treasures civil society groups are keen to ensure it is done responsibly, with many asking: is Haiti ready for widespread mining?

UK budget 2015: Osborne backs oil & gas with tax cuts

Uk ministerial budget box.
Uk ministerial budget box.

UK Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne has announced what he says amounts to £1.3bn of support for operators on the UK continental shelf (UKCS) in response to industry lobbying over fears of investment decline due to rising costs and a lower oil price.

Interconnectors: the key to bringing more renewables to the UK grid?

The TuNur project, which is a partnership between British renewables investor Low Carbon, developer Nur Energie and Tunisian investors, with funding from the African Development Bank, would transport the energy via a 600km cable from Tunisia to Italy, where it has already secured approval for a grid connection.
The TuNur project, which is a partnership between British renewables investor Low Carbon, developer Nur Energie and Tunisian investors, with funding from the African Development Bank, would transport the energy via a 600km cable from Tunisia to Italy, where it has already secured approval for a grid connection.

UK energy regulator Ofgem is assessing five new interconnector projects that could result in renewable energy being transported between the UK and Europe, with other projects proposed between the UK and Africa. Could vastly increasing grid interconnection be the UK’s ticket to a low carbon future?

Decommissioning Indonesia’s oil rigs: a vast but challenging market

Resting between the Indian and Pacific oceans in South East Asia, Indonesia is a vast equatorial archipelago of 17,000 islands, extending 5,150km east to west.
Resting between the Indian and Pacific oceans in South East Asia, Indonesia is a vast equatorial archipelago of 17,000 islands, extending 5,150km east to west.

Indonesia’s oil rig decommissioning market has huge potential with over 450 oil rigs, many already 20 years old, set to be dismantled in the near future. However, outdated contracts and a lack of legislative guidance and clarity means the market has thus far been stagnant.

Taxed out the game – is the UK’s fiscal regime killing the offshore oil & gas industry?

BP's Andrew platform in the North Sea. Image courtesy of BP.
BP’s Andrew platform in the North Sea. Image courtesy of BP.

Oil & Gas UK say fiscal reforms for operators in the UK continental shelf are not enough to sustain the industry in the long-term, especially in light of a low-oil price. Are tax breaks needed to save the industry or is the current downturn something it should be able to weather alone?

Offshore Caribbean – a resource filled paradise?

Map of the Caribbean courtesy of U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
Map of the Caribbean courtesy of U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

Brimming with sun-drenched islands and a booming tourist trade, the Caribbean isn’t an obvious offshore oil and gas hub, yet many Caribbean countries have been trying to lure oil companies to prospect their shores for years – and finally some companies are taking notice. Is this tourist’s hotspot set to become a new offshore oil and gas hub?

Offshore Lebanon – will the Levant Basin be a blessing or a curse?

Map of the Levant Basin.
Map of the Levant Basin.

Government delays, ongoing maritime border disputes and geopolitical instability have marred Lebanon’s bid to exploit its share of the gas-rich Levant Basin. But with the government keen to create supply security for its energy-poor nation, can Lebanon put aside age-old feuds for the sake of its gas riches?

Platts London Oil Forum – what’s behind the oil price fall?

shell oil

Increased supply, better innovation, slow growth in key markets and America replacing OPEC as the swing producer have all contributed to the fall in oil price, oil industry executives heard at the Platt’s London Oil Forum 2015. We report all the key analysis from the event.

Atlas Copco reveals newly upgraded engineering workshop in UK

Compressors in Atlas Copco's newly renovated workshop.
Compressors in Atlas Copco’s newly renovated workshop.

Senior Atlas Copco staff came together this week to unveil the spoils of the company’s £680,000 investment into its UK engineering workshop. The managers and directors also revealed their expectations for the division in light of the low-oil price and slowing North Operations.

The EPA’s clean power plan: innovation or devastation?

Big Bend Coal Power Station in Apollo Beach, Florida, US.
Big Bend Coal Power Station in Apollo Beach, Florida, US.

The Environmental Protection Agency want to enable a 30% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030, but its proposed regulations have caused controversy in the US and among industry associations.

Future outlook: the offshore oil & gas industry in 2015

Image courtesy of Luiz Baltar.
Image courtesy of Luiz Baltar.

What can the offshore oil and gas industry expect in terms of CAPEX spending, regional hotspots, oil prices and potential challenges in 2015?

Addressing conflict minerals – China publishes ‘groundbreaking’ guidelines

China’s Permanent Representative to the UN and then President of the Security Council chairs a meeting on the violence in eastern DRC, October 2008.
China’s Permanent Representative to the UN and then President of the Security Council chairs a meeting on the violence in eastern DRC, October 2008.

For the first time ever a Chinese commerce institution has publicly endorsed international supply chain due diligence recommendations for Chinese companies working abroad. Global Witness senior advisor Lizzie Parsons explains why this is a ‘groundbreaking’ move in the long-standing battle to end conflict minerals.

Hollywood-style deepwater diving suit set for offshore oil & gas industry

Canada-based Nuytco Research’s Exosuit, which enables deep-water diving without the need for risky decompression, could make subsea construction safer and cheaper for offshore oil and gas companies.

Overcoming altitude – Ausenco recognised for challenging Andes project

Australia-based project manager Ausenco has won an award for deploying innovative solutions to overcome adversity at a challenging mining project located in the lofty heights of the Andes in north-east Peru. Mining Technology spoke to one of Ausenco’s project managers to find out more.

Roundtable – What’s holding back gender diversity in the utilities industry?

As the utilities industry enters a new era, gender diversity will be key to providing new perspectives and ideas. So why are women still so under-represented? Key female industry figures, including the first female chair of the World Energy Council, discuss the problem of gender diversity in utilities.

Wage war – should Australian miners exercise ‘wage restraint’?

As the Australian mining boom experiences a dip, miner’s wages have come under attack from the likes of BHP Billiton’s President Dean Dalla Valle as being too high compared to other countries. In the face of a string of job losses, should Australian miners exercise ‘wage restraint’ or is it up to mining companies to make operations more cost efficient?

Empowering women and girls with clean energy

Empowering women through clean power technologies has been put firmly on the agenda thanks to recent events held by the United Nations and Ashden Awards. So how is clean tech changing lives and how can it be scaled up to game-changing levels?

Blowing the whistle – should offshore oil & gas workers be better protected?

Fours years after the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill devastated the Gulf of Mexico, a bill to protect offshore oil and gas whistleblowers who expose health and safety violations on rigs is still waiting to be enacted by the Senate. As industry begins to drill deeper and deeper, should this bill be passed to protect workers’ lives, break down the industry’s culture of silence and mitigate the chance of another oil spill devastating the region?

Cartel culture – Mexico’s war against illegal mining

Mexico’s organised crime epidemic has infiltrated the mining industry to an unprecedented extent, making mining in Mexico anything but ‘business as usual’. So why are Cartels, more commonly associated with drug trade, switching to iron ore, and at what expense?

Houston’s Norwegian invasion – life in the oil and gas epicentre of the world

Norwegians have been flocking to Houston to cash in on their reputation as offshore oil industry innovators, with over 150 Norway based businesses now set-up. But what is the Nordic-American relationship really like and what challenges have Norwegians faced doing business in Houston?

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