October 2010 - SPED in the UK & Eire
By the time you read this the SPED Annual General Meeting will be over. I am looking forward to it and to meeting your Board again. As you might expect I am making a short presentation to them. We can report greatly increased awareness of SPED in the UK. Revenue to go with that awareness has not yet followed.
I ask all readers of SPED Update for personal recommendations to UK piping colleagues from North American members. My market research still shows that construction activity in the UK & Europe for process plants to be down, but pick up is expected next year. Such an upturn is more than likely to based on electricity generation from Gas/LNG, coal with carbon capture and later nuclear.
UK Process News
The Chief Executive of Oil & Gas UK, a UK trade body gave a brilliant talk to my professional mechanical engineers body. He outlined the huge success of the North Sea operations. Very safe since the Piper Alpha tragedy in 1988. £420bn ($600bn) of earnings with negligible leaks from 7000 wells. And no government subsidy, just heavy taxes.
The UK Government Minister for Energy spoke at the Carbon Capture & Storage Seminar I organised for the middle of October. He does seem to understand the need to build more generating capacity soon. The social and economic upheavals of major power outages that without action, are expected to begin in the middle of this decade. The previous government’s politically correct reliance on heavily subsidised wind is now seen to be disappointing.
The second day of the CCS seminar was devoted to case studies of real projects and a surprising number in the USA, who we in Europe tend to think of only oil consumers. But of course you use much coal and other fossil sources.
As Chair of the Organising Committee I sat down with 7 MPs and discussed the Seminar. My points were:-
- The overriding Seminar message was that the issues were not technical but regulatory and commercial. One telling remark of a major CCS and wind player was that no matter the outcome of his technical CCS work, the business will choose wind since it is paid well for producing and for standby.
- Can the CCS plants operate in a rapidly varying market? The seminars answer was “yes”.
- Infrastructure and the duration of liability all figured highly in the papers as well. The need for Government action being the common theme.
- There were dozens of examples given of successful transportation and storage. The technical interface between these is not rocket science and the work developing the processes is going on apace. Stripping out carbon is also commonplace. There were a sizeable number of people who feel that the demonstration projects which link up the three phases are at best a means to keep the focus on the CCS topic. And as indicated above even if successful will not result in investment in the present climate. With the right electricity wholesale market, they would be developed.
- My overriding impression was that EOR was a key economic component and capacity is unlikely to be an issue for many years if not decades.
- The Health & Safety Executive (the Governments safety watchdog over industry) dwelling on CO2 issues puzzles me, after working next door to a large CO2 plant of ICI 50 years ago. If you stand on front of a high pressure line of ANY fluid and it ruptures you are in big trouble, so do not get too near and design the pipe not to burst.