Offshore Technology Focus: Issue 48

In this issue: Shell’s struggle with efficiency, what the South China Sea ruling means for the Philippines, a look at Maersk’s XL Enhanced drilling rigs, tackling oil leaks on the UKCS, noise control for offshore installations, locating hydrocarbons with genomic science, and more.


The Permanent Court of Arbitration has ruled that China’s territorial claim to the vast majority of the South China Sea is invalid, boosting the Philippines’ right to develop oil and gas deposits off its west coast. But with China rejecting the ruling, will the country be able to access foreign technology and expertise in a tense and high-risk environment? We find out why the race for exploration of reserves in the region may turn into a waiting game.

Also in this issue, we take a look at Shell’s strategy following shaky second quarter results, find out how Canadian researchers are using genomic science to locate hydrocarbon reserves with the help of bacteria, and take a look inside Maersk’s XL Enhanced jack up drilling rigs.

Plus, we investigate whether the growing problem of oil and gas leaks on the UKCS is a result of better reporting or cause for concern, explore the ins and outs of healthcare insurance for offshore workers, and hear from Wakefield Acoustics about noise control solutions for offshore installations.

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In this issue

Storm Warning
Following shaky second quarter results in the wake of Shell’s £35bn takeover of BG Group, analysts are questioning the company’s ability to bounce back from low oil and gas prices. Julian Turner talks to Professor Christian Stadler of Warwick Business School about culture, asset sales and the future of Big Oil.
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The Long Game
The Permanent Court of Arbitration has ruled that China’s territorial claim to the vast majority of the South China Sea is invalid, boosting the Philippines' right to develop oil and gas deposits off its west coast. But will the Philippines be able to develop its resources without Chinese support? Dr Gareth Evans investigates.
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Useful Little Organisms
An ongoing genome research project has been awarded significant funds to develop microbiological tests that will use bacteria to indicate the presence of hydrocarbons. Heidi Vella-Starr finds out more from research lead Casey Hubert.
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Deepwater Titans
Maersk is currently building the fourth of its XL Enhanced drilling rigs, which it claims are the most advanced jack-up rigs in existence. Nnamdi Anyadike investigates how these massive structures will handle demanding and complex well drilling operations in the North Sea.
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Safety in Numbers
Oil and Gas UK’s annual health and safety report reveals a rise in offshore oil and gas leaks on the UK Continental Shelf, but is this simply the result of better reporting or are accidents actually on the increase? Julian Turner finds out.
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Gap in the Market
A gap in the healthcare insurance market for offshore oil and gas workers has been spotted and brokers are moving in to take advantage of it, as Nnamdi Anyadike finds out.
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Noise Control
Noise induced hearing loss remains one of the most prevalent injuries in the offshore sector, but significant strides are now being made to address these issues, as Rob Lomax of Wakefield Acoustics tells us.
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Next issue preview

Some North Sea oil and gas operators, including China’s CNOOC and Chevron UK, have been accused of using offshore tax havens to protect their profits from the British Treasury. With the companies denying the allegations, we investigate whether the industry need to change its financial arrangements.

We also learn from Io Oil & Gas Consulting how the industry can capitalise on existing knowledge and take a look at the latest oil and gas exploration expenditure data from Australia to find out how the downward trend Down Under can be reversed. 

Plus, we speak to subsea robotics company Rovco about its work for the oil and gas sector, and find out from Scottish engineering consultancy Ramboll Oil and Gas UK how ditching traditional subsea projects in favour of unmanned platforms could unlock billions of barrels of oil in the North Sea.

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