Category Archives: Engineering Contracts

Mexico May Allow Investment in Their Oil Industry

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto would like to change the Mexican constitution in order to allow private companies to invest it its oil industry. The ban on private investment has been in place since 1938 following worker protests against foreign owned oil companies when the then President, Lazaro Cárdenas, formed the state owned company Pemex by expropriating fields from US and British companies. Since then all stages of the energy chain from production, refining and distribution are the legal property of the people.

The forming of Pemex, a state oil monopoly, is a source of great pride to the Mexican people and they celebrate this on the 18th March every year and the company provides one third of government revenues. The downside is that this has led to years of under investment in the company and output has fallen by 25% over the past ten years. Mexico’s oil fields are drying up and they lack the equipment to explore for new reserves in deep water or to extract shale gas. Pemex’s oil pipelines are old and insufficient and are often drilled into by fuel thieves. A lot oil is is transported in tanker trucks which is a lot more expensive than using an oil pipe.

Mexico has to change it’s approach or risk becoming a net energy importer a few years down the line. They already allow private contractors to operate drills and wells, provide supplies and maintenance but these contracts are not attractive to investors. The President’s plan is to invite companies such as Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell to sign profit sharing contracts with Pemex where they could explore and extract oil and could also apply for permits for refining and transportation. These companies would have the equipment and expertise. However, these companies would normally have production sharing contracts where they can book reserves.

President Enrique Pena Nieto may well have the political clout to have the constitution changed but it remains to be seen if profit sharing rather than production sharing contracts will secure the right investors.

If you need a visa to work in IT, Engineering, Actuary or Finance Commonwealth Contractors may well be able to help.

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Sources for this article were the FT and Latino Fox News

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Business Bridge Visa Service for Astana in Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan was brought to the attention of the world by Sacha Baron Cohen in 2006 when he lampooned the country in his movie Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan. The Kazakhstan people were a little uneasy about the film but the government were delighted with the tenfold increase in visa applications from tourists. David Cameron’s visit there on Sunday to cut the ribbon on the opening of the world’s costliest (£89bn) oil project at Kashagan, on the Caspian Sea, may show the country in a more serious light and cement its status on the world stage as a rising economic power.

The Kashagan oilfield was discovered in 2000 and is twice the size of Greater London and estimated to contain 35 billion barrels of oil. However, it is a challenging environment to work in not least because the Kashagan is located in shallow water that freezes for five months of the year. Another problem is created by the large number of partner companies in the consortium which include Royal Dutch Shell, ConocoPhillips, Total, ExxonMobil, KazMunaiGas and Inpex. No one company has a big enough stake to take the lead and so the decision making process is slowed down.

The Prime Minister(PM) was accompanied on the two-day visit by a 33-strong business delegation with a mission to secure £700m worth of deals. Not all of the deals are oil related as the hope is to broaden the scope of investment and trade into new sectors, such as education, healthcare, retail and financial services. The PM said

Kazakhstan is on the rise, a dynamic country that is poised to become a high‑income country by the end of this decade. And a country that also wants to play a bigger role in the region and in the world, not just an emerging market but an emerging power. That is why I want to strengthen relations between our two countries to help us both to succeed in the global race.

Under the Bolashak (means future) Program more than 3,000 Kazakhs study in the United Kingdom. The PM talked about extending this and said that he wanted to attract the brightest and the best students to come to Britain.

The PM also wants to encourage Kazakh companies to invest in Britain. To help with visa applications he announced the piloting of a new visa service, called the Business Bridge, in the new capital of Astana for selected companies. Britain still processes visas in the old capital, Almaty, which is 60 miles away.

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IBM Smarter Cities

” On a smarter planet, we want to change the paradigm from react to anticipate” is the slogan of the IBM Smarter Planet global initiative which was started five years ago. IBM Smarter Cities is part of the smarter planet programme. The video Smarter Planet – a UK Introduction gives an idea of how it may impact on our lives.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A127XSYwzqY
With the arrival of Big Data, through the use of analytics, mobile technology, social business and the cloud it is now becoming possible to transform how enterprises and institutions operate. The embedding of sensors in cars, roads, cameras, roads, pipelines, appliances is happening and systems are beginning to ‘speak’ to each other which results in the capture of masses of data in backend systems. This data can be mined and analysed and if the queries are structured intelligently should produce information on better ways of doing or organising things.

The IBM Research – Ireland lab is IBM Smarter Cities Technology Centre and conducts research in water, energy, transportation, city fabric, risk, exascale computing, and marine environments in collaboration with top universities, cities, and industry partners. The leading academic institutions involved are Cambridge University, the Australian National University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne and Trinity College Dublin.

Researchers at NUI Maynooth have received €2.3m of funding for a major five-year project which will analyse how software and technology can influence life in a city. The focus will be on two cities: Dublin and Boston in the US. Boston is ranked number one on a global index of ‘smart’ cities while Dublin is a key technology hub in Europe. The research is  funded by a five-year ERC (European Reaserch Council) grant.

Some Findings on Dublin as a Smart City

  • A 2007 study of traffic congestion revealed that even though small if taken as a percentage of gross domestic product then Dublin was the world leader in this sphere over cities such as Manila, Dakar and Mexico City. The challenge was and still is to maintain the historic fabric of the city and  improve the transport network without any major re-development. Dublin City Council has been collecting and analysing data, in partnership with IBM and journey time information is now released and updated every minute.Residents can go online and find the quickest route to their destination. This is just the beginning and eventually people will be updated on problems via their mobiles while on route to their destinations and advice on alternative means of completing their journeys will be given which may be bicycle, tram, taxi or even on foot.
  • IBM’s vision for water is stated as

    Our vision is an intelligent, integrated, and instrumented water system for our cities of the future, where both the quantity and quality of our water resources is constantly being monitored, predicted, and optimized, from rain to drain and back again.

    The citizens of Dublin could vouch for the fact that even when there is a strong bond between rain and drain, over a prolonged period of time, that they still have water shortages. A Dublin City report states that 29 percent of the water produced never reaches the consumer due to water leaking from the city’s distribution system. This is due to the age of the network and many of the pipes are in such poor condition that they are prone to bursts, leaks and low water pressure. Replacing the infrastructure is a costly, time-consuming and disruptive especially when streets need to be dug up.

    To reduce the amount of water lost Dublin City Council in collaboration with IBM is combining analytics, sensor data, and optimization models to find the best places in the network to install pressure reducing valves. Once installed, the models recommend the best settings to minimize leakage while meeting the requirements of the city. Dublin’s Chapelizod area showed potential to reduce leakage up to 44 percent, allowing water providers to serve 15 percent more households without investment in more production capacity or adversely affecting consumers.

‘Garbage in garbage out’ still holds true so human intelligence is a requirement for digital smartness. There are and will be no shortage of jobs for big data scientists, big data analysts and others but there will be a shortage of suitably qualified people to fill the posts.

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Jobs for Oil, Gas & Renewable Energy Consultants in Aberdeen

A report published in Novemeber 2012 by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) revealed that Aberdeen was one of the three happiest locations in the UK – Oxford and Reading/Bracknell were the others – and the most contented in Scotland. With Aberdeen this is due in no small part to their second oil boom which continues to bring prosperity to the area.

In March 2013 the Scottish Government announced consent for the development of the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC) in Aberdeen Bay.The development of offshore wind, wave and tidal energy offers a new field of technology and expertise. Only 2% of residents claim benefits. Jobs are plentiful in Aberdeen, highly specialised and well paid. The skills are transferable to most places in the world.

The prosperity brings its own problems it seeems. “Aberdeen is the only place in the country that is suffering from the challenges of success rather than the problems of failure.” Robert Collier, CEO of the Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce told the Guardian. The biggest concerns are housing, transport and a shortage of skilled energy sector workers.

The housing shortage is so severe that it is difficult to get a bed in the youth hostel during the working week. If you do manage to book in to go walking in the hills you may find plenty of oil workers to chat to in the evenings. House prices in the area have more than doubled in the last ten years. For those who manage to ‘find their feet’ Robert Collier has encouraging news “We also have two very strong universities here, and 30% of all Scotland’s food and drink exports come from here. Our tourism and biosciences sectors are flourishing, and there is social and cultural hinterland beyond with great skiing facilities and the Cairngorms national park nearby.” There are plans to extend the airport runway, improve shipping channels and the entrance to Aberdeen Harbour, create an Olympic sized swimming pool and an iconic university library building.

In the opinion of PwC Aberdeen needs to recruit 120,000 skilled workers over the next 10 years or risk losing its place as one of the world’s great energy centres. Half the local industry’s workforce is aged over 45 and so just replacing them is a challenge in itself. With the planned and potential increases in activity there is the added challenge of recruiting these new people to work in Aberdeen while competing for staff with other oil and gas centres around the globe. There are and will be opportunities for consultants in oil, gas and renewable energy for the forseeable future.

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