May 17, 2020

More than 10,000 Oil Workers Protest in Colombia

workers
union
labor
riot
Admin
2 min
More than 10,000 oil sector workers in Colombia protest Canadian employer Pacific Rubiales Energy.  Production falls.
Part of Eastern Colombias oil sector shut down this week as workers went on strike amidst protests over the laying off of hundreds of contractors. Cana...

Part of Eastern Colombia’s oil sector shut down this week as workers went on strike amidst protests over the laying off of hundreds of contractors.  Canadian oil firm Pacific Rubiales Energy operates the region’s large Rubiales oil field, but has left workers dissatisfied with the conditions of the industry. 

The labor dispute was initially triggered by the firing of 1,100 oil contractors by Cepcolsa—Colombian subsidiary of Spanish multinational CEPSA and regional partner with state-controlled Ecoptetrol

The work stoppage resulted in violent riots, which left six people injured and seven vehicles set on fire.  Riot police were deployed to subdue the protests, which involved both employees of regionally operating multinational oil firms and area residents aiming to take back control of Rubiales.  Spokespersons for the labor groups say police used excessive force in trying to put down the protests.

According to the president of the CUT labor federation, Tarsicio Mora, contract workers were fired after unionizing to demand better working conditions, pay and social benefits. 

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Pacific Rubiales Energy claims that other armed groups joined the protests and briefly occupied the company’s production facilities on Tuesday.  The company was forced to halt production, leading to an output shortfall of 177,000 barrels per day, 67 percent of which belongs to Ecopetrol and the Colombian government in the form of royalties. 

Colombian Vice President and former labor leader, Angelino Garzon, is mediating the dispute and has been meeting with local and regional authorities, as well as oil industry and labor representatives.  Initial attempts at conflict resolution failed, with labor Unions citing increased social ills such as prostitution, environmental and water quality degradation as a result of oil exploration and production in the region.  Garzon is urging an immediate end to the protests while encouraging oil companies not to take reprisals against workers and labor leaders. 

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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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