China has been proactive when it comes to snapping up offshore oil projects abroad, with a $16bn deal signed in Nigeria this year and a major exploration deal in the Philippines. We look at China’s international oil ambitions. We also examine what recent discoveries mean for Guyana and whether it has moved beyond ‘frontier country’.

President Trump’s decision to open up Alaska to more oil exploration has prompted both upset and delight but what does the future of oil actually look like for the region? Elsewhere, as the move towards renewables continues, we plot some of the key locations that have now banned drilling, and those still pursuing it.

Also, the UK Oil and Gas Innovation Centre announced £640,000 in funding for the University of Aberdeen’s work on technologies to improve offshore drilling. We learn about the implications for drilling in the North Sea and beyond. And after years of downturn,  signs of recovery are gradually emerging for the offshore support market. We ask if the recovery can last.

Finally, we talk to Terra Drone about how drones could help during oil spills and examine whether oil and gas firms have a legitimate role to play in supporting decarbonisation in light of Oil and Gas UK’s roadmap to offset emissions. 

In this issue

China’s international offshore oil footprint 

Willing to take risks in places others often won’t, China is a keen financer of global offshore oil and gas projects. Where can China’s money be found and what are the benefits and drawbacks of its foreign investment? Heidi Vella investigates.

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Offshore Guyana: no longer frontier country? 

New major oil discoveries in offshore Guyana have propelled the country from a mere frontier to an oil and gas hot spot. But with elections looming and all eyes focused on the oil prize, Heidi Vella asks what these new finds will mean for Guyana, and how will they be exploited?

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The future of Alaska’s oil 

US President Donald Trump recently opened one of Alaska’s great wildernesses up to oil exploration. The question of who will do the drilling and who will receive the majority of profits is up for debate, while the measure itself will still have to get through environmentalists in the courts. So what does the future of oil look like in a land on the frontlines of climate change? Scarlett Evans finds out.

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Shifting sands: mapping the areas turning on or off oil

In recent years, countries have banned oil and gas for environmental reasons and to pursue renewables; at the same time, other nations are actively embarking on new oil and gas exploration as they seek to grow their economies and build energy security. Yoana Cholteeva maps key locations that have stopped drilling and the ones opening to it.

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Inside the University of Aberdeen’s offshore drilling of the future project 

In August, the UK Oil and Gas Innovation Centre announced £640,000 in funding for the University of Aberdeen’s Centre for Applied Dynamics Research (CADR). Scarlett Evans talks to Vahid Vaziri, a research fellow at the University of Aberdeen and CADR member, about the innovative partnership.

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Recovery room: is the offshore services market bouncing back?

After years of decline as demand plummeted, signs of recovery are gradually emerging for the offshore support market. Julian Turner talks to Mhairidh Evans, principal analyst, upstream supply chain research at Wood Mackenzie, about the oil price, sustainability and securing project financing.

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Eye in the sky – the role of drones in oil spill management

Having eyes on the ground, is essential to any effective disaster management plan. Having them in the air, however, looks set the be the next big thing in the offshore oil and gas industry. Andrew Tunnicliffe considers the critical role drones can play after an oil spill.

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UK offshore industry’s “blueprint for net-zero”: cleaning house or greenwashing?

Oil and Gas UK has released a report into how the industry can contribute to the UK’s target of net-zero emissions by 2050, but doubts remain about the body’s commitment to limiting harmful emissions. Here, representatives from OGUK and the Union of Concerned Scientists give their perspective on the roadmap.

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Next issue preview

The mass construction of solar panels across the world’s deserts has long been touted as a solution to the energy crisis, but the solution has rarely proven practical so far. So what needs to be done for it to be viable?

China and South Korea have plans to build an ocean-floor power network to connect their electricity grids and create a pan-Asian electric power system. We investigate the merits of the idea. And with biopower’s eco-credentials dependent on its fuel, we look at palm oil’s use in biofuel and what it means for regulation.

Elsewhere, with the collapse of Evo Morales’ regime in Bolivia, we consider the impacts of political uncertainty on one of South America’s few countries with access to nuclear power. We also speak to experts to find out what role mountains could play in long-term energy storage.

Finally, we examine Nigeria’s new electrification grant, improving utility billing management and a virtual reality nuclear waste removal crane.