Four Things Every Contractor Knows To Be True

Life as an engineering contractor comes with its ups and downs. For every stretch away from your family there is a degree of flexibility and a sense of teamwork and camaraderie, all combining to make the life of a contractor particularly unique. It’s a rocky terrain, with many peaks and troughs that only fellow contractors can really understand.

In honour of that most special of bonds, we’ve compiled a list of the 4 things every contractor knows to be true

1.       Everyone thinks you have just LOADS of free time

Okay, so you may not necessarily work 9 to 5 and maybe you get two weeks of rest time if you’re working on a rig, and that certainly has its bonuses.  That’s what the majority of non-contractors focus on all the time, but it isn’t where the story ends.

Anyone who has worked on an oil and gas rig or on a major construction site knows what a 12 hour shift feels like, or the tedium of not seeing your friends and family for a number of weeks at a time. So yeah, a longer run of time off has its distinct benefits, but hard work and long hours pay for that flexibility.

2.       Paperwork, paperwork, paperwork

And what do people imagine you’re doing with all that fictional free time you have on your hands? Relaxing with a spot of gardening? Cracking in to that book you’ve been dying to read? Yeah, maybe not. Try a stack of paperwork instead!

If you’re a freelancer you’ll know that there is always paperwork in which significant time must be invested. Whether it’s at the start of a new project, or some nice tax forms to sift through, there are always contracts to be reviewed and assessed.  Who would have thought the difference between ‘of services’ and ‘for services’ would become such a key preoccupation?

3.       Friends are the family you choose

The experience of freelancing or working as a contractor has the benefit of being able to meet and work with lots of people. The bonus of project based work is the camaraderie that is often established when a group of different personalities are thrown together with one common goal.

If you’re working away on a project, it’s likely you’re going to spend the best part of 24 hours a day, every day, for 2-3 weeks at a time with the same group of people. Meal times, time spent working and leisure time – you’re going to get to know the people around you pretty fast.  Sometimes this can highlight annoying habits, but it can also lead to a bond of shared experience that’s hard to break.

4.       There’s nothing like a pint at the end of a tough shift

When it comes to the crunch and there’s a looming deadline, a tight turnaround or an emergency task, noses get to the grindstone and the work gets done. That’s what contractors are hired for, to bring their expert skills and specialist knowledge to tough and demanding work.

But one thing all contractors know is that a crisp, cool pint after the hard work is over, whether you’re coming back onshore or you’ve put the finishing touches to a construction job, is a fine reward. There really is nothing like a pint at the end of a tough shift.

Do you agree with our list of list of contracting truths? What parts of your life as a contractor do you absolutely love? And what do you find is often misunderstood? Tell us in the comments below!

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Five Dangerous Places to Work In The Oil and Gas Industry

Without a doubt, the oil and gas industry is one of the most important and lucrative industries in the world. It is a commodity we all rely on, and securing the production and global transportation of oil is never far from the top of the international diplomatic agenda.

It is precisely the level of importance that we place on gas and oil that makes the industry one fraught with tension and inherent risk. From unstable political environments, declining economies and kidnap risks, we took a look at five of the most dangerous places to work in oil and gas.

1.       Iraq

Oil rich and politically volatile, even over ten years since the US invasion Iraq presents danger to oil and gas industry workers. Kidnapping is a real threat in Iraq, with the country’s own Deputy Oil Minister having been kidnapped in 2007. With the rise of jihadist group ISIS in recent months, there seems to be little indication that tensions in the region are dissipating.

2.       Colombia

Colombia became an oil exporter in the 1980s, but has been subject to right-wing paramilitary group abuses for a number of decades. Controlling most of the illegal cocaine trade throughout the country, paramilitary forces are reported to be responsible for massacres, rapes and kidnappings throughout the country.

3.       Tanzania

The east African nation has significantly developed its oil and gas exploration efforts in the natural reserves off the country’s south coast. However, piracy has become a significant issue in the area, with Somali pirate activity on the increase in the country’s waters over the last five years, some of which has directly targeted petroleum exploration efforts.

4.       Venezuela

Venezuela has one of largest proven oil reserves in the world and is one of the major exporters of oil, travelling as far and wide as China and India.  Violence is rife in Venezuela, with carjacking, kidnapping and armed robberies occurring with alarming regularity. Venezuela also sees a high amount of drug trafficking activity, with much of neighbouring Colombia’s illegal cocaine trade passing through the country.

5.       Libya

Having the largest oil reserves in Africa, Libya is an attractive proposition due to its proximity to Europe. However, escalating violence throughout the country following the 2011 civil war that overthrew Muammar Gaddafi, including the attack on the US embassy in 2012 and the recent unrest that saw armed groups try to seize control of the country’s airports; Libya appears to be rife with conflict.

Do you have any experience as a contractor travelling to any of these, or other, high risk locations?  How do you prepare and do you have any advice or tips for other contractors who may be considering taking on contracts in dangerous locations?

Tell us about your experiences via the comments box.

 

If an engineer ruled the world…

Humans. We’re logical creatures, aren’t we? Think of how far we have advanced past our closest relatives in the animal kingdom. We’ve built sprawling metropolises, plunged to the depths of the ocean, and we’ve even put a man on the moon.

But that’s only half the story, isn’t it? We’re not the rational, logical beings we often believe ourselves to be. How do we account for butter that won’t spread, toast that burns on one side and the ends of sellotape sticking together? So much of the world is irrationally thought out, rushed and well, mildly irritating. This got us wondering exactly what kind of utopia of efficiency and design we would live in if an engineer was running the show.

1.       If you’re not part of the solution…

From engineering tube trains to space stations, from wireless communication to sleek smart phones that house a whole building’s worth of capabilities, engineers are solution-focused individuals. Finding elegance in the mix of design and functionality, an engineer who ruled the world would never settle for ‘good enough’.

2.       The light bulb that never breaks

Let’s face it, no engineer on the face of the planet would design and create something so necessary to modern life that breaks every few months. The urge to create and perfect would lead to a revolution in how we see everyday commodities. Rather than creating goods that break in order to increase demand, an engineer would focus on creating the perfect, elegantly designed version of – well, pretty much anything.

3.       ROBOTS!

You can’t look me in the eye and say that robots wouldn’t be advancing in every corner of this earth if an engineer was in charge. The World Cup? Forget about it, International Robot Wars would be what we tune in to every four years… and how much more exciting would that be?!?

4.       Lots of bridges – just because!

If you could build a bridge, you would, right? From the Romans and their aqueducts right through to the sleek modernity of The Millennium Bridge, everyone loves a good bridge and nobody more so that the people with the ability to create them – engineers!

5.       Curiosity thrilled the cat

The world is still so full of mystery, with so much left still to discover, if an engineer ran the world we’re sure that curiosity would be the highest praised quality anyone could have – the desire to continuously learn, push limits and expand horizons would be a cultural norm. Smart really would be the new sexy! Let’s be honest, if Steve Wozniak hadn’t been a little curious about this computer fad in a California garage in the mid-70’s, Apples would just be another fruit.

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Mind the Gap – does engineering have female trouble?

Sir James Dyson, of the eponymous vacuum empire and all-round British engineering national treasure, recently wrote an opinion piece for The Telegraph about the engineering skills crisis the UK is currently facing. In it he deals specifically with the fact that the country’s young women are still not entering the science, technology, engineering and mathematical (STEM) industries to the same degree young men are.

Summer is the time that both the A-Level and GCSE results are released; whereby thousands of 16 to 18 year olds find out in which direction their future is headed. It’s an exciting and tense time where careers and lives are forged in the furnace of our current education system and much ink has been spilled on the fact that young women, when choosing their post-secondary school education, are less inclined toward STEM subjects.

But why is this? If we are seeing a dramatic shortage in engineers, putting our economy, and our ability to create, in jeopardy then why is such a large portion of our workforce not motivated to join the weird and wonderful world of engineering?

In Dyson’s article he cites recent comments made by University of Glasgow psychology reader Dr Gijsbert Stoet. Stoet believes that the push toward generating more female engineers, physicists and computer scientists is a futile pursuit due to insurmountable, ‘innate differences’ between the genders. He contends that women are natural carers and are drawn to careers in the arts, while boys are better suited to the sciences and mathematics.

Isn’t Stoet just reinforcing unhelpful gender stereotypes? If we keep saying that women are ‘naturally’ less interested in scientific subjects and subsequent careers, then surely this is destined to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Why would we choose to ignore this untapped wealth of potential?

There have been a number of studies conducted, including the Through Both Eyes report by grassroots organisation Science Grrl in 2013, that suggest that there is a long-standing cultural perception that the world of science and engineering is the domain of men and there are simply no places for women. This extends to attitudes in the home, at school and from wider society in general.

The report cites the long held and factually inaccurate idea that women’s brains are somehow unable to process factual, scientific information in the same way as men factors as a particularly damaging stereotype. There is also some concern that accurate, gender-aware but gender-neutral career guidance is not widely available on the vocational pathways down which STEM subjects can lead.

It is clear from recent reports that British engineering is under threat and the country is at risk of losing a generation of creative, technical and innovative minds. It would seem that deeply embedded societal messages about the ‘traditional’ roles that women are expected to fulfil is seriously damaging the attempt to engage intelligent young women in education to reach their full potential in the STEM industries.

If the reported figures, that the percentage of female A-Level physics students has remained a consistently low 20% for the last 20 years, then we are doing a huge disservice to young women, and the great tradition of British engineering, by allowing culturally engrained stereotypes to keep women distanced from careers in science, engineering and technology. It is clear that if we want to win the battle against outmoded thinking, quell our fear about the growing skills shortage and boost our economy then we must start to empower young women and provide them with a real choice, before it’s too late.

Are you a woman in engineering? Have you faced any blocks, culturally or institutionally, to your career in your chosen industry? We’d love to hear your opinion in the comments below!

Fracking Opponents – Justified or Misinformed?

David Cameron has recently announced his support of Fracking in the UK, yet there are still many protests taking place at proposed Fracking sites in the UK (the highly publicised protests at Barton Moss being just one example). These protestors have serious concerns about the effects of Fracking on the environment and the the way it could impact the lives of those living near to the proposed sites. So, what are the specific concerns and are they founded in truth, science or experience? Here we take a look at some of the worries and how seriously you should be taking them.

Wear from drilling operations

Currently wear on well casing from the fracking process is a problem that does need solving. Not only does the wear on the casing cause higher costs around the need for replacement or fixing but it can also be a contributory factor in any water and ground contamination that may occur.

There are suggestions and reports that a new way of managing the casing on the wells could prevent such contamination. The new suggestion is using cement to prevent the risk of contamination. Currently in America, cement is used to fill the gap in freshly drilled gas wells between the earth and the casing which is supposed to fill any cracks which would allow contamination to occur. However for it to be effective it must fill the entire space surrounding the well, from top to bottom, it is also important for workers to wait at least 8 hours for the cement to harden.

The issue is that often workers will not wait or will not pump enough cement to coat the well which has been attributed to cost saving measures.  This is possibly due to a lack of experience in the field (which we’ll cover next) and can lead to cracks forming in the cement and therefore contamination.

Lack of experience or expertise

There are other worries that those working, or planning to work on fracking sites in the UK may not be prepared or experienced enough at the scale that the operation requires. When this lack of experience happens the consequences can lead to other issues, such as those mentioned above.

This is obviously a problem with an easy answer, training and strict measures on site will ensure that contamination fears are quashed. That said, regulation and legislation remain a large area of concern among those opposing fracking in the UK.

Water contamination

We mentioned this earlier and how it can occur and there are obvious reasons for those living around potential fracking site to be concerned.  Many iof these concerns can seem justified by the fracking industry in the US where 6% of wells in a Pennsylvania region have sprung, and reported some sort of leak.

Leaks are potentially very hazardous as carcinogenic chemicals are used in the extraction process and allowing them into groundwater can affect wildlife and nearby water supplies.

The contamination to the supply can cause long term health problems for those exposed. Surveys on the chemicals used have shown damage to skin, sensory organs and in more extreme cases, effects on the brain and cardiovascular harm.

More work still needs to be done to see the definitive effects of Fracking on human health as well as environmental health, but with increased regulation and training, again this is something which can be addressed.

Environmental costs – large amounts of water use

There’s no denying that the large amount of water used in the fracking process can have a great environmental impact. For each well millions of gallons of water is used and obviously transporting such a large amount of water to a site will have significant environmental impact, especially from emissions, and will also put a large strain on local resources.  The counter argument is that the natural gas that is extracted has a far lower carbon footprint as an energy source than oil or fossil fuels which far outweighs the environmental impact the extraction process may have.

Tremors

One of the most well documented and publicised worries surrounding fracking is the risk of tremors or earthquakes. Some recent tremors have been attributed to nearby fracking sites, which scientists call ‘induced seismic events’.  Although  an increase in the amount of Fracking could lead to an increase of tremors, most earthquakes do only measure as small magnitudes on the scale.

Regulation

There have been previous worries that regulation of the fracking industry in the UK had been outdated and that new legislation was needed to make sure fracking was safe and that appropriate steps were being taken to minimise any issues such as leaks.

With regulations in place to ensure a safer practice this will not be an issue in the future and will in turn lead to less risk of environmental damage. Parliament are looking into new terms for regulation for the onshore oil and gas industry which should help implement best operational practice.

 

Sources: http://www.wearepowershift.org/blogs/cement-fracking-solution, http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/health/case_studies/hydrofracking_w.html, https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=8&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CHIQFjAH&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.parliament.uk%2Fbriefing-papers%2Fsn06073.pdf&ei=eJJWU9-EIfGT0QWniYHYBA&usg=AFQjCNEhFud3UZQwOgaejL-C96qG9g0DSg&sig2=20ZgtBZSRCw7KqHOoLsrRQ&bvm=bv.65177938,d.d2k

False Self-Employment Legislation For Recruiters

We’ve already looked at the new legislation regarding false self-employment and how it could affect contractors but we thought we’d also give an insight into the potential impact on those recruitment agencies that will now have to deal with worker compliance.

As we said previously:

“The legislation HMRC plans to put in place will implement a new way to check up on sole traders and contractors. The plans mean that the matter of compliance passes hands to the recruitment agency rather than the intermediary (as mentioned above); this is because the agencies converse directly with clients and have more influence over how the worker is paid.”

How a recruitment firm is affected depends entirely on their interaction with contractors, freelancers and the self-employed.  Effectively, recruitment agencies placing contractors onto assignments will now be responsible for compliance matters relating to the tax and NI contributions made by their freelancers and contractors. Agencies will now have to be more vigilant when putting contractors in for client work and will have to consider various criteria in order to remain compliant.  First, will the worker be under supervision, control or direction as to the way they work? Is the worker providing their services personally? Is the worker remunerated for providing their services? (one man limited companies are exempt) Finally, is the pay already taxed as employment income?

Here’s a more in-depth look at the criteria from Brookson:

Is the worker subject to (or does the client have the right of) control, supervision or direction as to the manner in which duties are carried out (this test is not defined in legislation and has very little case law interpreting it and so is hard to disprove).  HMRC’s opening position is that all workers will be subject to control and it is the responsibility of the recruitment agency to prove otherwise.

Is the worker providing their services personally (this will always be the case).

Is the worker remunerated as a consequence of providing their services (this applies if the individual receives payment directly linked to the work they do).  HMRC have confirmed that one man limited companies (PSCs) are excluded from this legislation providing the worker is a director and or shareholder of the company and remunerates themself by way of salary and/or dividends.

Is the remuneration not already taxed as employment income (this means that if the worker is employed by the agency or an umbrella company and their pay is subject to PAYE then the legislation will not apply).

So, if all of these conditions are met by the recruitment agency then they must take control of deducting tax and paying National Insurance for all of the payments for their worker’s services. Also to be aware of is the proposed statutory returns and record keeping requirement which needed to be in place since April 6th 2014, though the first return is not to be made until November 1st 2014.

HMRC will be challenging agencies which continue to use self-employment providers who claim to have circumvented legislation by using Managed service company legislation.

To sum up, Recruitment agencies will need to be aware how their contract workers are being paid, which will require vigilant monitoring. This will make preferred supplier lists even more important to them; so they understand who they are working with.

Those that remain risk free for the recruitment agency in terms of tax and National Insurance liability are contractors employed directly by the agency and paid by PAYE, those employed by a compliant umbrella company that pays them employment income and also those engaged via their own limited company which pays them a salary.

If the contractor is in contact with anyone in the supply chain on a contract for their services then recruitment agencies really need to consider the action they will take as in this situation they would be liable for PAYE if HMRC’s assumption that the worker is controlled cannot be disproven.

The Best Energy Savings Apps And Gadgets For Contractors

With the ever present fluctuation in pricing between the big six energy companies, we decided to take a look at some of the best energy saving gadgets you can use in your home and office.  We’re also reviewing the most useful smartphone apps that will help save you money and lower your carbon footprint.

Apps

GridCarbon

This App is available on iPhone and Android phones/tablets and is extremely useful in lowering your carbon footprint. The app shows graphs which have regularly updated information on demand for electricity through the day. The app ensures you know when to use your electricity during off peak hours, which are determined by the carbon intensity of the supply. The graphs are simply laid out with traffic light themed colours to make it easier to follow. Using your electricity during off-peak hours will significantly lower your carbon footprint.

chargers

Eco charger

Eco Charger gives you a way of keeping tabs on your phone or tablet’s energy, especially when charging, and allows you to increase the length of your battery life as well as saving energy. The app simply notifies you buy way of an alarm when your battery is fully charged.  the alarm will continue to sound until you unplug your device from the charger.

FuelGood

Fuel Good is available on both Android and Apple phones and tablets, and it can help you to save money when using your car. You begin by selecting the make model and year of your car and, based on averages, it will begin to help you save money on fuel consumption. It keeps track of journeys and gives helpful tips on how to make your trips more fuel-efficient. Some reviews say the app is unreliable but it has since been updated, so hopefully stability issues have been fixed.

Standby Energy Cost Calculator

Not exactly a catchy name, but the app gets past that with its usefulness. It can tell you just how much energy you’re wasting by leaving a particular product on standby.

Apps and Gadgets

 

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Nest

The Nest thermostat and app haven’t officially launched yet in the UK but a launch is apparently imminent. The thermostat has a beautiful design and simple interface and secondly is truely innovative.  Once installed it will begin to pick up the habits of the dwellers and when you are in or out of the house and adjust the heating accordingly. The app connects to the thermostat, allowing you to control it from out of the house.  The only issue with this product (apart from it not being released yet!) is that it is a little pricey, but that is fairly understandable being the first wifi enabled thermostat on the market. Conversely, the energy savings are reported to be about 10-25%, so it could be a worthwhile investment. Watch out for this one.

Gadgets

Battery Wizard

The Battery Wizard is a handy recharging gadget that will recharge normal batteries up to ten times. It also recharges rechargeable batteries.  It works with regular AA, AAA, C, D and 9v batteries, so all of the most common types are covered. The device will help you reduce waste, as well as saving you money from its low running costs.

 

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Energy Monitors

Energy monitors come in all shapes, sizes and prices depending on the features. They’ll help to reduce energy costs and  carbon footprint by monitoring which appliances in your home or office are costing you the most money, so you can do something about them. Once you’ve made changes, a monitor will tell you how much money you’re saving.

So there we have it, some great apps and gadgets to help you save energy and money. If you have any suggestions let us know by leaving a comment below or tweeting us @Kingsbridgeprof

Skills shortages around the world

We keep hearing about the worsening crisis of skills shortages in the UK, especially in the Oil and Gas and engineering industries. The fact of the matter is, if the crisis continues it may prevent businesses from taking advantage of economic recovery.  It’s not only the UK that’s suffering, many other territories are affected by a skills shortage in a variety of industries which is affecting their economy also. We’ve decided to take a look at the (potentially global) crisis to see what skills are lacking and where, and what plans are in place to bridge the gaps.

The UK

In a recent survey of over 90,000 employers it was shown that 1 in 5 job vacancies remained unfilled due to a lack of skilled applicants. This statistic accounts for 22% of vacancies overall, which equalled 146,200. That’s risen from 91,400 from two years previously.

The shortages are evident in trades like plumbing, health and social care, those with foreign language skills, manufacture and construction. The main reason for these shortages is a lack of skill in communication, literacy and numeracy. It can also be attributed to the fact that employers are hiring employees with a higher level of skill and knowledge than what’s actually required for the role, which can often lead to bored and unmotivated employees.  Low paid- low skill jobs don’t appear as desirable for British workers; this also adds to skill shortages. However, immigrants from eastern European countries are increasingly happy to take these jobs which helps to fill the job market.

Other issues may be that companies aren’t investing as much as they should in training and development; during the recession cutbacks were likely to have been made to this particular work initiative. A public push of the importance of role training and development within the media would help to ensure that workers are progressing and learning new skills to become proficient in their industry.

Looking at the disciplines that are suffering most from the shortages on the surface it seems we need to encourage more young people to pursue subjects like science, technology, engineering and maths to help fill future roles in the industries that are currently suffering.

Australia

The skills shortages in Australia are mainly linked to the mining industry; in the past few years much of the debate about the shortages has focussed on the need for migrant workers to come to Australia to fill the open jobs.  The current plan is to boost immigration intake by 30,000 a year to meet the skills shortages. Back around the early 2000s there was a mining boom which set of a massive growth in mining employment, but since the middle of 2012 it’s seen a huge downturn in growth suggesting that a lack of skills are beginning to affect the industry.

Similarly the engineering industry in Australia looks set to suffer a skills shortage in 2014. A slowdown in major infrastructure projects has led to companies focussing on smaller projects which have then led to senior workers moving overseas to gain the right job for their skills, or even retiring.

The lack of engineering and other skills in Australia will require targeted policies from Government and industry to support an effective approach to training, attracting and retaining the right sort of talent.

Europe

A recent report has shown that around a third of companies in Europe are struggling to find employees with the correct skills for available jobs. Of those vacancies over a quarter of employers said that they were unable to fill entry level jobs over the last year. For some this caused major business issues which could have been detrimental to their future.

Across the EU of the economically active population, 10.9% were unable to find work and for those under the age of 25 the figure rises to 23.6%. The countries with the highest unemployment rates showed the highest skills shortage, which suggests that there is a problem with educating and getting young workers involved in the industries suffering with shortages.

The report did show that the employers struggling did not engage enough with the education system and that those educating were wholly too optimistic of their students’ chances of finding work. For the shortages to cease there would have to be greater collaboration between educators, businesses and policymakers. A suggestion has been made to offer students’ financial support when studying for courses with a strong employment record and also for more businesses to sponsor students in their studies. As well as offering greater flexibility for those studying whilst working.

So there we have it a look at just some of the skills shortages around the world. With a push for greater links between the education and industry it is likely that the skills gap will begin to close. We’d love to hear your opinion, leave a comment below or tweet us @kingsbridgeprof.

Kingsbridge’s Introductory Guide To Fracking

What is it?

You’ll be familiar with the fact that we can find oil and gas buried deep in the earth, and it’s accessed via drilling.  Fracking, or to give it its full name ‘hydraulic fracturing’, extracts gas from shale (a sedimentary rock) deposits and is a much more complex process when compared to ‘traditional’ gas and oil drilling.

During the extraction process fluid (water) is injected into existing cracks in rocks until they break open and create larger breaks in the rock formations. Oil and Gas from surrounding shale moves into the cracks and is forced down into a bored well, from where it can be extracted. The diagram below shows the basic principals.

fracking diagram

In the modern version of fracking at least a million gallons of high pressure water can be used per ‘frack’. It’s this method of fracking that has been proposed for UK sites.

Who wants to get involved and what are the regulations?

The companies in the UK that are involved with onshore exploration for shale gas deposits are listed below:

The UK law which governs gas and oil licensing dates all the way back to the 1960s and many have concerns about its relevance today.  There are elements of the fracking process which would not be regulated under current law and those opposing Fracking argue that the inadequate regulation means there is no enforcement when measuring flowback and waste water from fracked wells. Even Cuadrilla, one of the most prominent drilling organisations in fracking, has called for better regulation for fracking in the UK.

What impact will it have?

Positive

Fracking helps drilling firms get to difficult-to-reach resources of oil and gas. Looking at previous case-studies, fracking in America has significantly boosted domestic oil production and subsequently given America and Canada gas security for 100 years. It has helped to lower gas prices and has created the opportunity to generate electricity at half the CO2 emissions of coal.

In the UK it is believed that shale gas and fracking could be significant in securing  future energy needs.  A more recent report from the Energy and Climate Change Committee last year has supported the above theory, but suggests that fracking may not affect gas prices in the UK.

Negative

Much of the controversy surrounding fracking comes down to environmental worries. The process of fracking requires millions of gallons of water which usually wouldn’t be available onsite and would need to be transported, which has a high environmental cost. There are also worries of pollution; that carcinogenic chemicals used may contaminate nearby groundwater if they escape the fracking site. Many people from the industry suggest that pollution results only from bad practice rather than from proven fracking techniques. Other worries are that fracking can cause tremors or earthquakes (there have been previous reports of two small tremors in Blackpool at fracking sites) The industry answer is that the quakes will only be noticeable to a few and will not cause damage.

Finally, environmental campaigners say that fracking is distracting the government and energy firms from investing in sustainable renewable energy and is causing further reliance on oil and gas.

Fracking, like many other energy extraction techniques, has its positives and negatives; with advances in its regulation and investment from energy companies it looks set to be a popular choice for the UK government in creating new oil and gas reserves as we go into 2014.

You can follow updates on UK fracking news from our Twitter account @KingsbridgeProf and let us know your opinion on the practice.

Kingsbridge’s Oil And Gas Predictions For 2014

The UK:

2014 could be the year that the UK moves more towards shale gas with the British Government giving out the next round of exploration licenses this year, as well as being granted extra exploration licenses from Norway for oil in the North Sea.

The first nuclear power plant for 20 years is to be built, which also suggests a new period of growth, creating some 25,000 jobs and it should help to tackle the current engineering skills shortage.

More good news for those in the oil and gas sector as it is predicted that the boom in new jobs will also see a wage rise.  68% of oil and gas workers saw a pay rise in 2013, so it’s a positive feeling for the industry in terms of employment. Confidence in the oil and gas industry is strong and likely to increase; the majority of workers are confident that tax breaks will continue to boost investment and interest in the sector.

If Scotland were to claim Independence from the United Kingdom this year it would have a major effect on the North Sea Oil industry. Alex Salmond has increasingly focused his economic case for independence around the North Sea Oil reserves, telling Scots that the remaining reserves could be worth £300,000 per person. However the ‘black gold’ will be fiercely fought over by London and Edinburgh politicians, if it were split via the North Sea border then 90% of the revenues would go straight to Scotland. It is unlikely that England’s politicians would sit back and let this fly as revenues from the North Sea reserves are so high. It will certainly be worth keeping an eye on what the feeling is north of the border.

The US:

It’s likely that the US Shale gas revolution will continue strongly into 2014 and beyond. The US could even become energy self-sufficient by 2015 which could cause huge shifts in the global energy market.

We could also see an increase in development in the production of natural gas and oil. This will again increase chances to work in the sector and open up job opportunities throughout the coming year.

Worldwide:

Advances in technology and improvement in techniques for well-completion could mean steadily increasing recovery rates for shale oil and gas wells across the world in 2014. Those who believe in the Peak Oil theory will continue to ignore this. In the same vein ‘Peak Oil’ will not arrive in 2014.

Overall with an increase in interest and action with fracking it looks set to be a strong year for the oil and gas industries, especially as there will be an abundance of new jobs and investments within the sector. We’ll be keeping up to date with all the relevant oil and gas news throughout the year, so keep an eye on our Twitter account @KingsbridgeProf.