As InnovOil headed to press, the energy markets were still coming to grips with the reality of a so-called “Brexit."
Brent crude prices fell by around US$3 in the days following the June 23 vote, although they showed signs of a rebound by June 28.
London-headquartered super-majors such as Royal Dutch Shell and BP pledged to respect the vote (though both had been in favour of Remain), while many others preferred not to make any political statement whatsoever. Yet BP did appear to echo the feelings of many in the energy industry and beyond when it noted: “It is far too early to understand the detailed implications of this decision and uncertainty is never helpful for a business such as ours.”
Indeed, uncertainty is perhaps the key concern for oil and gas producers.
The risk of another Scottish independence referendum is also likely to exert further pressure on the already-beleaguered oil hub of Aberdeen. Even with the promise of its recent City Region Deal, large investments may well be deferred until a clearer path emerges – surely not good news for Europe’s oil capital.
Industry sage Sir Ian Wood was quick to silence naysayers, telling Energy Voice: “We are at the beginning of a recovery, and the industry is undoubtedly in better shape than it was two years ago. Europe is not heavily engaged in our industry’s legislation and regulation, except in relation to safety and environment, and I believe this is unlikely to change.”
Generally, that analysis is correct. While analysts have acknowledged that poor short-term visibility represents an additional problem for those readjusting to fluctuating oil prices, they are broadly assured that there will be few significant changes in the long term.
Though it does not spell the death knell of the industry, such uncertainty is not good news for innovation. Start-ups and new technologies may find it even more difficult to find industry support for disruptive ideas and confusion is already rising over future access to European markets. Perhaps more troublingly, it raises serious questions over the funding of UK academic research, the bedrock of much of the ground-breaking and fundamental work in the energy and technology sectors.
That work is important. In this issue, to take one example, we speak with Dr Tony Gutierrez of Heriot Watt University, whose recent research into the genetic code of ocean-dwelling bacteria could help disaster response teams tackle future oil spills.
Inside our supplement, we also look at some of the programmes, technologies and trends in Production Optimisation, speaking with NOV, Honeywell, Repsol and the University of Austin’s Professor Mukul Sharma.
Casting our eyes towards the disruptive end of the spectrum, Dan Purkis of Well-SENSE Technologies outlines his revolutionary plans for intervention tools, and explains the potential of his Fibre Line Intervention (FLI) concept.
All this is featured, as well as a look at HUD-enabled diving helmets, the technology behind Maersk Oil’s Culzean project, Lloyds Register Energy’s thoughts from OTC 2016, and much more.
Despite uncertain times, we wish all of our readers a pleasant July and August. For now, the team and I are pleased to present the July edition of InnovOil.