May 17, 2020

50 Dead or Missing after Russian Oil Rig Capsizes

energy digital
Russian oil rig sinks
oil rig sinks in Russ
Admin
2 min
In stormy waters, Russia's Kolskaya oil rig capsizes and sinks, leaving 50 dead or missing at sea since Sunday
Thirteen people have been confirmed dead and dozens missing after a Russian oil rig flipped off the country's far east coast Sunday. The Kolskaya...

 

Thirteen people have been confirmed dead and dozens missing after a Russian oil rig flipped off the country's far east coast Sunday. The Kolskaya rig sank in just 20 minutes in waters 1,000 meters deep in its quest for oil and gas deposit discoveries on behalf of energy giant Gazprom.

President Dmitry Medvedev has ordered an investigation into the incident as regulations strictly forbid the towing of rigs in stormy conditions.

"The investigation is looking into safety regulation violations during the towing of the platform and a disregard of poor weather conditions as the main reasons for the incident, as there was a strong storm in the area," the Investigative Committee said in a statement.

The hope for finding the remaining missing 40 some persons is bleak, however. In addition to the difficulties of dealing with poor weather conditions, the Emergency Ministry has told the press that people can survive the cold waters for approximately six hours before hypothermia kicks in. Thus far, emergency officials have reportedly rescued only 14 workers and recovered four bodies.

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Poor infrastructure and short-cutting have caused many sea disasters in other Russian oil and gas operations over the years. As the world's largest energy producer, Russia's pushy efforts to step up offshore exploration will need serious evaluation moving forward. In addition to the nearly 50 dead or missing from Saturday's events, the country has become an inhospitable zone over the years that some believe to represent the world's worst ecological oil disaster.

Environmentalists estimate at least 1 percent of Russia's annual oil production, or 5 million tons, is spilled every year, which is equivalent to one Deepwater Horizon-scale leak about every two months, according to the Associated Press.

Though oil spills are less dramatic in Russia than in other places, they're far more numerous than any other oil producing nation in the world, literally occurring on a daily basis. Hopefully, this weekend's events will start bringing to light those companies responsible for poor infrastructure and management, and start holding those entities accountable.

 

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Jul 26, 2021

Ofwat allows retailers to raise prices from April

Ofwat
Utilities
water
prices
Dominic Ellis
3 min
Ofwat confirms levels of bad debt costs across the business retail market are exceeding 2% of non-household revenue

Retailers can recover a portion of excess bad debt by temporarily increasing prices from April 2022, according to an Ofwat statement.

The regulator confirmed its view that levels of bad debt costs across the business retail market are exceeding 2% of non-household revenue, thereby allowing "a temporary increase" in the maximum prices. Adjustments to price caps will apply for a minimum of two years to reduce the step changes in price that customers might experience.

Measures introduced since March 2020 to contain the spread of Covid-19 could lead to retailers facing higher levels of customer bad debt. Retailers’ abilities to respond to this are expected to be constrained by Ofwat strengthening protections for non-household customers during Covid-19 and the presence of price caps.  

In April last year, Ofwat committed to provide additional regulatory protection if bad debt costs across the market exceeded 2% of non-household revenue. 

Georgina Mills, Business Retail Market Director at Ofwat said: “These decisions aim to protect the interests of non-household customers in the short and longer term, including from the risk of systemic Retailer failure as the business retail market continues to feel the impacts of COVID-19. By implementing market-wide adjustments to price caps, we aim to minimise any additional costs for customers in the shorter term by promoting efficiency and supporting competition.”  

There are also three areas where Ofwat has not reached definitive conclusions and is seeking further evidence and views from stakeholders:   

  1. Pooling excess bad debt costs – Ofwat proposes that the recovery of excess bad debt costs is pooled across all non-household customers, via a uniform uplift to price caps. 
  2. Keeping open the option of not pursuing a true up – For example if outturn bad debt costs are not materially higher than the 2% threshold. 
  3. Undertaking the true up – If a 'true up' is required, Ofwat has set out how it expects this to work in practice. 

Further consultation on the proposed adjustments to REC price caps can be expected by December.

Anita Dougall, CEO and Founding Partner at Sagacity, said Ofwat’s decision comes hot on the heels of Ofgem’s price cap rise in April.

"While it’s great that regulators are helping the industry deal with bad debt in the wake of the pandemic, raising prices only treats the symptoms. Instead, water companies should head upstream, using customer data to identify and rectify the causes of bad debt, stop it at source and help prevent it from occurring in the first place," she said.

"While recouping costs is a must, water companies shouldn’t just rely on the regulator. Data can help companies segment customers, identify and assist customers that are struggling financially, avoiding penalising the entire customer in tackling the cause of the issue."

United Utilities picks up pipeline award

A race-against-time plumbing job to connect four huge water pipes into the large Haweswater Aqueduct in Cumbria saw United Utilities awarded Utility Project of the Year by Pipeline Industries Guild.

The Hallbank project, near Kendal, was completed within a tight eight-day deadline, in a storm and during the second COVID lockdown last November – and with three hours to spare. Principal construction manager John Dawson said the project helped boost the resilience of water supplies across the North West.

“I think what made us stand out was the scale, the use of future technology and the fact that we were really just one team, working collaboratively for a common goal," he said.

Camus Energy secures $16m funding

Camus Energy, which provides advanced grid management technology, has secured $16 million in a Series A round, led by Park West Asset Management and joined by Congruent VenturesWave Capital and other investors, including an investor-owned utility. Camus will leverage the operating capital to expand its grid management software platform to meet growing demand from utilities across North America.

As local utilities look to save money and increase their use of clean energy by tapping into low-cost and low-carbon local resources, Camus' grid management platform provides connectivity between the utility's operations team, its grid-connected equipment and customer devices.

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