Oil And Gas News Resources For Contractors

We work with many Oil and Gas contractors and it’s important for us to keep up to date with the industry news.  This week, we thought we’d share our favourite Oil and Gas news resources.

BBC

The BBC regularly covers worldwide Oil and Gas issues, especially the North Sea and Scotland’s industry. They also have some great informative sections on this page, the future fuel section gives and in-depth look at what the future may hold for the energy generation, including fracking, alternative and nuclear.

Oil and Gas People

Oil and Gas People isn’t just a jobsite.  Their news section is regularly updated with summaries of the latest industry headlines.  They also partner with other industry specialists to provide a range of relevant services designed for the industry and are particularly active on social media channels, making it easy to keep up to date without needing to trawl the papers every morning.

Offshore Technology

This site will give you more technological news and info about the Oil and Gas sector, with the latest press releases and information on suppliers, products and services.  It’s particularly helpful if you’re looking for regular offshore news and information.

Your North Sea Oil News

This site is part of a larger worldwide Oil and Gas news website, but this section is relevant for those in (or interested in) the North Sea industry. The articles are updated regularly, as the news happens, so you’re likely to find a new story each day. If you are interested in the industry news in other geographical areas, such as Norway and Gulf of Mexico, there are also links for these.

Rigzone

This is another great source for North Sea Oil and Gas industry news, with similar articles to the above site. You can find extra information on this site about the world’s Oil and Gas companies as well as there being a job board.

Oil and Gas UK

The news here is about the trade association itself, with news about upcoming events and how the organisation is helping the industry as well as any information about government relations.

The Telegraph

The Telegraph is another regular news site which features great articles on Oil and Gas and the whole energy sector. They have regular industry updates, with historic articles also available. Most articles naturally focus on the UK’s industry but the most significant worldwide Oil and Gas stories feature too.

Are there any other sites you know of you’d like to share with us? Let us know in the comments section or via Twitter.

Energy Contractors’ Events Calendar

Since launching our new energy professionals package last week, we’ve been looking into some upcoming events for freelancers and oil and gas/energy contractors.

National Freelancers Day – November 21st 2013

http://www.nationalfreelancersday.com/

This event is happening in LSO St Luke’s, in London’s Old Street on Thursday 21st November 2013 from 6.15pm onwards. There are a number of great guest speakers including keynote speaker Karren Brady who features on The Apprentice as one of Lord Alan Sugar’s aides and is regarded as one of the most powerful women in the world.

Others speaking at the event include Nick Ferrari, known for his breakfast radio show on LBC 97.3, Sue Lawley who is hosting the freelancing debate and Isabel Oakeshott political editor at the Sunday Times.

As well as the talks and debates there is a spread of drinks, food and music.

Oil & Gas UK Roadshow – November 22nd 2013

http://www.oilandgasuk.co.uk/events/event.cfm?frmEventID=566

You may be attracted to this event (taking place in Norwich) if you’re interested in ‘hearing Oil & Gas UK share its vision for ensuring a sustainable long term future for the UK industry supply chain’.

Matching oil supply and demand: rising to the challenge – 3rd December 2013

http://www.energyinst.org/events/view/1012

This one day conference in London will be looking at “outlooks for oil supply, including unconventional sources; prospects for demand; economic, political and environmental factors driving the forecasts; and management and mitigation strategies to ensure security of supply.” (See more: energy institute events here.)

Subsea North East Oil & Gas Networking Lunch with Aker Solutions – December 17th 2013

http://www.nofenergy.co.uk/n25-events/8e5105f2ebc740d3afaed32b674ea789.html

“At this networking lunch you will hear a presentation that will include: A company overview, details of current/future projects, supply chain requirements, how to engage and key contacts” You can take an exhibition stand with you or visit as a member or non-member. It takes place in Hardwick Hall in N-E England.

Oil & Gas UK Exploration Conference – February 4th 2014

http://www.oilandgasuk.co.uk/events/event.cfm?frmEventID=568

This one day conference starts at 8.30am  and takes place in London. It will “focus on lessons from oil and gas exploration on the UKCS with a view to encouraging further success across the sector. Delegates will hear from the successful explorers of the last ten years.”

Oil and Gas mobility Summit – February 10th – 14th 2014

http://www.oilandgasmobilitysummit.com/

“The Oil & Gas Mobility Summit is the only event in Europe that focuses on innovation, strategies and communication technologies applicable within the Oil and Gas industry.” It features talks from, Oskar Wols an Enterprise Solution Architect from Shell and David Lloyd and IS Portfolio Manager from GDF Suez E&P UK. The event takes place in the Kensington Close Hotel in London.

 

Books And Magazines For Contractors

What do you read?  Fiction, history, biographies?  I doubt many of us would have ‘Business Guides’ or ‘Self Improvement’ titles at the top of our reading list, but if you can make the time, there are a few publications out there which could be really relevant and actually change your perspective on what creates a successful freelancer.

We’ve put together a reading list for contractors (including a couple of magazines and online publications if you really don’t have much time to spare) which, we believe, could help your freelance business grow or at least make sure you stay up to date with the industry news that could have a direct impact on you and your business.

Rework

This book was a New York Times bestseller and promises to show you a faster, easier and better way to succeed in business than your bog standard advice. It preaches focus and perspective.  Advocating focus on the ‘bigger picture’ and money-making activities, rather than worrying about the little things.

You can buy the book here: http://www.amazon.com/Rework-ebook/dp/B002MUAJ2A/

Authors : Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

The 4-Hour Workweek

Why did you start freelancing?  A better work life balance by any chance?   It’s one of the top reasons cited by newcomers to the contracting and freelance market.  In reality the commitment needed to be a successful contractor or freelancer can overshadow everything else in your life.  The 4-Hour Week seeks to teach you ways to reduce your work hours to a possible 4 hours a week! It discusses reducing 50% of your work flow by outsourcing, eliminating emails and other techniques. Sounds like fiction?  Why not give it a go and let us know how you get on.

You can buy the book here: http://www.amazon.com/4-Hour-Workweek-Expanded-Updated-ebook/dp/B002WE46UW

Author : Timothy Ferriss

Freelancing Matters

If you haven’t already discovered it, Freelancing Matters is available in print and online.  It’s created by PCG and covers the latest news and information for freelancers and contractors. The business blogs include information and advice on a variety of topics including managing your finances, technology, inspiration and start-up help. They also feature blogs on lifestyle and politics and have a weekly market report of the freelancing sector.

Read it here: http://www.freelancingmatters.com/

Freelancer Magazine

Freelancer magazine focuses on many of the same topics as Freelancing Matters. The website layout may not be the best but their blogs are informative and helpful and they frequently have guest posts which give a great change of perspective.

Read it here: http://www.freelancermagazine.com/

The Freelance Business Funnel

This is one for established freelancers who, although work is steady and finances are secure, may be struggling to keep everything else together and truly expand their business.  Branding, blogging, optimizing the business all take a lead in this book.  If you need help scaling your business this is the one to read.

Download this book for kindle, PC or other devices here: http://rockablepress.com/books/the-freelance-business-funnel

Author : Skellie

If you’ve read any of the books featured, we’d love to see your reviews via the comments box or perhaps you have a title of your own to recommend to a fellow freelancer or contractor?

October Contractor News Round Up

Your monthly round-up of October’s top contractor news.

The intention to hire contractors has doubled over the last year and trebled in the last two.

A study by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation has shown that clients’ intention to hire contractors had doubled over the last two years as well as 36% of them admitting that they planned to increase their use of contractors over the next three months. Not only that, but another third said they planned to increase their work with contractors over a 4-12 month timescale. Read more…

The number of British women freelancers has grown by a fifth over the last four years.

More great news in the growth of the contracting and freelance sector. The latest statistics show that there are 21% more female sole traders than there were back in 2008. Last year stats showed that 31% of all sole traders were women and Middlesex saw the highest rise (23%) in growth. Read more…

The outlook is positive for the construction industry.

In the UK construction industry, a number of limited companies are reporting they have increased orders and profit margins. These improvements in the market mean that firms are looking for ways to expand their business – whether that means adding new locations or branching out into new sectors like power and energy. Read more…

Contractor demand across Scotland is polarising.

IT, engineering and construction industries are surging well ahead of other contracting disciplines. All the signs of a contracting skills crisis are showing, as clients and recruiters are struggling to hire engineers and technicians. This news comes from the Bank of Scotland’s report on Jobs which highlights that growth is strong although the rate of growth slowed in the month of September, and in some sectors it dipped below the national average. Read more…

Contractors could be among the small businesses losing billions every year as a result of simple mistakes.

The study by Exact shows that as many as 1 in 5 small firms may have forgotten to invoice a client for goods or services more than once. This suggests that that some of these small companies could be hindering their success with inefficient internal processes. A quarter of these small businesses said they had forgotten to invoice for a job worth anything between £500 and £1000. Read more

Top Ten Freelancing Misconceptions

Making the decision to begin freelancing is definitely not one to be taken lightly. However, there are certainly a lot of misconceptions that come with the territory. We’ve taken ten of the most common presumptions and blasted them wide open, for a happy, successful freelancing career.

1 – Freelancing gives you a lot more free time

When you announce that you’ve made the decision to go freelance, you’ll undoubtedly be met with ‘supportive’ soon-to-be-ex colleagues gushing about the fact that ‘at least you won’t have any more early mornings!’.

Sadly, that’s not necessarily the case. Whilst some days you might be able to sneak in an extra half hour in bed, if you want to keep on top of things, you should be working the same office hours as everyone else. This is mainly so that clients can get hold of you, but it also gives you some structure to your day and keeps you in the habit of working 9 to 5.

2 – Being a freelancer makes you loads of money

We’ve yet to meet a freelancer who cashed in during their first few weeks of leaving their office job, so you will probably have to stick at it for a good while before you can afford that second home in the Caribbean.

Whilst some people do charge quite a high hourly rate, the reality is that you’re not working every hour of every day, so it’s a bit of a moot point. There’s also only a certain amount of work/clients that you can service on your own, so it’s important to take it just one step at a time.

 3 – Freelancing means you don’t have a boss

You may be glad to get rid of that stuffy CEO who is stifling your creative flow, but just because you’re a freelancer doesn’t mean that you don’t have anyone to report to.

Clients and others who are paying for your time are expecting a return on investment for their cash, so not doing the work you have agreed means that you’ll certainly have someone to answer to.

Not meeting deadlines is frustrating for those who are expecting a finished product, and it will also earn you a less than desirable reputation. Treat those who you are doing work for as if they are your boss, and it should help to keep you on track.

4 – Freelancing is much less stressful

Another regular misconception that a lot of people have is that freelancing is far less stressful than ‘regular’ employment. We hate to break it to you, but this one isn’t true either.

Your schedule hours are a lot more flexible, and you do have a certain amount of freedom, but these do not necessarily a walk in the park make.

Not only do you have to be constantly on the look out for new work, you also have to structure your own time, organise your workload and then find the time to do all that work… by yourself. There’s little delegation in the freelance world!

5 – Being a freelancer means you’re lonely

A life without colleagues isn’t the be all and end all, and freelancing doesn’t necessarily have to be a lonely profession.

Not having the constraints of office life means you can arrange to meet clients and other business contacts for lunch and coffee, getting you out of your homemade office.

Thanks to the wonders of social media, there are thousands of meet-ups around the country, so why not investigating what networking events and meet-ups are going on in your area? It’s a great way to meet new people, make friends and try and snare some new business!

6 – You have to take any work you can get

No-one wants to turn away business, but just because you’re a freelancer doesn’t mean that you have to accept that job for your Aunty Jackie’s sister’s brother’s new plumbing venture.

Don’t get us wrong, it’s lovely when people think you’re worthy enough of supporting their business, but just because you’re not based in a regular office job doesn’t mean that you have to take it.

We all like doing a couple of feel-good jobs for free to help out friends and family, but sticking to your professional network will probably mean more success on the new business side of things.

7 – Anyone can do it

Similar to the assumption that freelancing is easy, a lot of people think that it’s possible for anyone to be a freelancer. However, we’d have to disagree.

You need a variety of skills to be a freelancer, just as you need a variety of skill in any other job. Good time management and organisation skills are key, and you have to be confident in what you do and how well you’re doing it in order to win new business.

Freelancing isn’t just a job that you can fall back on, and if you don’t put in a considerable amount of effort, then it’s unlikely you will succeed.

8 – You don’t have to pay taxes

Getting yourself an accountant is one of the first things you should do when you become a freelancer, as registering as self-employed with HMRC can be confusing to say the least.

You need to take responsibility for both income and tax and National Insurance, which are calculated by reference to your profits as a stand-alone business.

Even beginning to think about tacking taxes by yourself can end up leaving you a bit frazzled, so we’d definitely recommend getting a professional in to help, at least while you’re finding your feet.

9 – Freelancing limits future career opportunities

A number of people worry about life after freelancing, but moving into self-employment doesn’t mean that you have to stay there for the rest of your life.

Being able to be successful as a freelancer shows a lot of skills, many of which will impress a potential future manager. Many freelancers also see job opportunities with people that they’ve worked for on a freelance basis, so often you don’t even have to go through the tedious application stage.

Depending on the length of your freelance career, you should have a number of happy clients who are willing to give you an excellent reference.

10 – Get as many clients as possible on your first day

Don’t worry if you haven’t filled your books on your first day. You need to make sure you’re dedicating time to nurturing your business, as well as finding new clients.

Taking a few hours to make your website look top notch, spending a little bit extra on the design for some business cards that are going to make you really memorable and writing up a business plan are all things that will benefit in the long run, and mean that you can continue to grow your business.

Creating A Home Office On A Budget

As a freelancer or contractor there’s a good chance you’ll need to work from home at least occasionally.  We all know how tempting it can be to just plonk yourself down on the sofa in front of the TV with your laptop but we also know that’s probably not going to lead to your most productive day!

Having an environment at home that you reserve purely for work will make a big difference to how effectively you can work from home.  I’m not talking about loft conversions or new structures in your back garden (I’ll get on to that later) but there are a few things you can do to create yourself a home office or work area without breaking the bank.

Space – Clearly you’re going to need to find or make space.  A spare room is perfect if you can make use of one but, if not, finding a crook or alcove within your home is the best idea, so you in some ways feel sectioned off from the rest of the house.

 

chair

 

Plan – It’s a good idea to make a plan of where you want things to go, measure out proportions and check where radiators and windows are. You don’t want to buy/move all your furniture before you’ve decided on a layout; you’ll be doubling the time you spend on setting it up!

Furniture – You’re going to need a chair and a desk – might sound like stating the obvious but choosing the right furniture is paramount for your occupational health.  Ikea do a great range in ‘office’ furniture if you want to buy new but you’ll almost certainly get better quality if you opt for something used.

Get organised – invest in or reallocate some storage.  A bookcase, filing boxes, wall mounted shelves – whatever works best in your space.  Anything to keep files and paperwork away from your ‘home’ environment or off the floor!

Lighting – Don’t overlook the importance of lighting.  Natural light during the day would be perfect, but not always possible.  You can find daylight bulbs in most DIY stores and a well-positioned lamp will help if you need a break from overhead glare.

Stay connected – Another obvious statement, but you’ll need an internet connection and either a land-line nearby or a good mobile reception.  All names have been changed, but ‘Robert’ could tell you a tale about the very smart log cabin type affair he constructed (at no small cost) at the end of his garden to be used as his home office.  Central heating, running water, no internet connection, no mobile coverage.  Lesson learned I think!

Personalise – Finally, make your space your own.  One of the key benefits to working from home is the level of control you have over your own environment.  We suggest you do more than the bare minimum to make the space habitable.  Even if it’s a particular photo or picture on a wall, personalising your space will definitely help you stay focused and inspired.

 

Time Saving Tips For Your Work Day

As a Freelancer or contractor you may find there just aren’t enough hours in the day. You probably have to multitask much of the day to get work completed on time. Here are some simple time saving tips to help you with the smaller tasks in your day.

Plan, plan, plan.

It instantly helps your work flow if you have a plan in place for your working day.  Various research shows that people are most productive during the first two hours of their working day so it’s a good idea to write your to do list the night before.  That way you can focus on ticking tasks off your list as soon as you start work.  Clearly your list is going to change almost hourly, but simply writing each item down will allow you to stay on track.

Take advantage of Voicemail and out of office

It’s not an easy discipline to adopt, but you’ll soon find that if you can allow voicemail to take the strain when you’re up against it you’ll be much more efficient.  Similarly, by logging out of email for an hour or two, you’ll be able to focus on completing tasks without the constant interruption of email alerts and the temptation to deal with them as soon as they drop into your inbox. Simply removing as many potential distractions as possible for set periods of time during your day will improve concentration and output.

Mobiles and tablets

If your contracts mean you need to travel a lot take advantage of (public) travelling times and waiting rooms. Even five minutes on a mobile device will mean one less email to respond to when you get back to the office.

Pick the right jobs

It’s sometimes tempting to take on jobs that don’t closely match your area expertise, particularly when you feel you could competently take them on.  Once these projects start you may find that you need to pick up extra skills or do more research to complete them. Stick to your area and you’ll complete work quicker and keep your clients happier.

Use productivity tools

You can download or use an online productivity tool to keep you on track.  They’ll help you to stay focused by limiting the amount of time you spend on ‘time-wasting’ websites. You can also use online time-tracking tools which will give the feeling of being monitored making it more likely for you to stay on track.

Don’t multitask

We’ve mentioned this before in our ‘managing multiple clients’ post, but as well as helping in that respect it will save you many wasted hours. Doing more than one thing at a time has been proven to be counter-productive , it can slow you down from distraction as well as making you more likely to make a mistake.

September Contractor News Round Up

Your monthly round-up of September’s top contractor news.

HMRC stalks Sanzar loan scheme contractors

A number of contractors who took pat in freelance work in the UK via offshore vehicles are being approached by HMRC, which is hitting them with UK income tax assessments designed to boost its low yield from such Employee Benefit Trusts.

To advisers have confirmed that the tax assessments, from between 2008-2010, are being received by UK based contractors due to their use of an EBT from Sanzar Solutions.

Contractors to benefit from fresh PCG strategy

The first in a line of good news for contractors this month, as it was revealed that contractors will benefit from greater representation, an elevated media profile and new membership benefits as a result of a new PCG strategy.

The Professional Contractors Group is implementing a fresh strategy, as they see freelancers and contractor as a vital element of the UK’s economic recovery.

BIBA reaffirms code commitment

BIBA says that it will give more consideration to developing and producing a code of conduct, after a strategic review found that members would like the association to ‘play more of a role in driving up the level of professionalism’.

Freelancing careers become more desirable

Whilst it may be news from across the pond, it’s great to hear that freelancing jobs are becoming more desirable. It’s a bit of a sweeping generalisation to say that what happens in America will happen over here, but hopefully it will be a sign of things to come in the UK too.

Apparently 30% of the US workforce is freelance, totaling a massive 42 million workers.

Contractors help 79% of organisations to meet strategic objectives

Good news for the sector, as it has been revealed that contractors now help 79% of the UK’s client and employer organisations to meet strategic objectives.

The report brings more good news; as over a third of clients plan to increase their contractor use over the next quarter, showing a hugely positive change in the sector.

HMRC investigations yield from SMEs up a third

New figures released this month revealed that an increased focus on small and medium-sized businesses is proving fruitful for the Revenue’s teams, with overall investigation income from SMEs up to £565m in 2012-2013. This was up from £434m from the previous year, totalling a rise of 31%.

Contractor demand at twelve year high

Results were released this month, revealing that during August 2013, contractor demand reached its highest level since December 2000. This saw the fourth consecutive month of growth in the industry, and agency billings grew at the strongest rate in fifteen y

Marketing For Contractors On A Limited Budget

We know that marketing for contractors can be tough if you’re trying to pull together interest on your own. This list is full of recommendations to help sell yourself and your business and hopefully retain and gain new clients and contracts on a tight budget.

Customer recommendations, friends and family

The best way and the cheapest way to get your name out there is via recommendations from clients to their peers.  Word of mouth is the most reliable and trustworthy way for customers to find a business they’d be happy working with. Favourable words from a family member or friend will also usually ensure that a potential customer will at least check you out, whether or not they decide hire you for the job.   Incentive schemes for clients that refer you are a great way of increasing recommendations, while rewarding your clients in the process.

Testimonials

Along the same lines, testimonials are free and tremendously powerful.  Very few of us would make a significant investment on a product, book a hotel or holiday or even read a book without reading a few reviews first.  You can display testimonials on any marketing materials you produce, business cards and websites.

Website/blog

If you need to market your business, having a website and/or a blog is crucial.  Aside from recommendations, most new business relationships now begin via an online search of some kind.  Simply put, a website is how people will find you.  Having an internet base for your business can also act as a host for portfolios and/or testimonials.  Hosting a website and a domain can cost from as little as £30 a year.

Social Media

Social Media is rapidly taking over as the new home of marketing and advertising, with big brands and corporations investing heavily in advertising and generating a following. Social Media can also work well on a smaller, more targeted scale.  If you are just beginning on Social Media it’s good to start by setting up a Facebook and Twitter page, inviting clients and friends to like or follow the accounts to get you started. The bonus with Social Networks is that they are all completely free. Once you’ve got the hang of tweeting, it’s a good idea to look into getting involved with local business hashtags to create discussions and recommendations.

Local events

Talking of local business, you’ll find there are a multitude of local networking events around the UK which will allow you get to know valuable people who can pass on knowledge of your skills to potential clients as well as giving you leads on others who they suspect may need your business. These networking events are usually only £10-£20 per event so you could dip in and out when you feel they are or aren’t working for you.

Seasonal greetings

Keeping in contact with clients and leads is a great way of marketing yourself. Send out seasonal messages and show an interest in keeping in contact with your client as well as reminding them of your services. Seasonal discounts and promotions also work well to secure new customers.

Focus on your niche

Being a contractor or freelancer means it can be hard to stand out amongst the bigger players. It’s a good idea to carve out a niche and focus on that in all of your marketing promotions. Having a niche as a smaller business is a great way to gain local supporters and wider appeal. Use this to help brand yourself and use that brand whenever you market yourself.

August Contractor News Round Up

Your monthly round-up of August’s top contractor news.

Small and Medium enterprise interest in freelancers is growing. The appeal of a short-term solution without having to shell out large employment costs. Hiring freelancers is becoming much more cost-effective for the companies. A report for the second quarter of the years shows that rises in specific industries ranged from 9.2% (logo design) up to a whopping 23% in the accounting sector. This shows that the self-employed are increasingly permanent fixtures in the everyday lives of some businesses. Read more…

Contractors are soon to have a say on their benefits and expenses. A report published by the Office of Tax simplification has identified ‘quick wins’ on how expenses and other tax dispensations can be dealt with. It reports that the P11D form and filling process will be subject to further work as it is known to be widely misunderstood. There will also be a ‘wholesale review’ of the current benefits and expenses.  The chair of the Association of Recruitment consultancies, Adrian Marlow said: “…Simplification of the tax system would probably result in removing the risk for agencies relating to the more extravagant tax avoidance schemes currently on offer. Therefore, this review can only be good for agencies, workers and the recruitment industry in the long run.” Read more…

According to a new jobs report, contractor vacancies in Scotland have reached a 31-month high. The decline in contractor availability paired with billings rising at their slowest pace since March of this year points toward an emerging skills crisis in Scotland. This means that there are just not enough suitably skilled contractors to meet demand. The biggest rise in demand and fall in applicants was seen in Aberdeen and its oil and gas industry, confirming that the industry is booming but the availability of skills is not. Read More…

HMRC have created a new scheme designed to help small companies and contractors/freelancers with their tax disputes. Following a two year trial HMRC have created a national team of trained facilitators to help resolve disputes using the ‘Alternative Dispute Resolution Service’. For a while now the service has helped businesses and individuals in disputes by being the middle man and helping each party understand each other and decide on an agreement.  Richard Summersgill HMRC’s Director of local compliance said: “Evidence has shown that by using the simple ADR service many disputes can be significantly shortened and resolved without recourse to Tribunal.” Read more…