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NCE Live News Updates Monday 24 February: Government pushes Scottish energy plan

The UK government appears to be on a Scottish charm offensive announcing a raft of energy measures including boosting North Sea oil and gas recovery and making moves on a new carbon capture and storage scheme.

11am: Contract wins for Costain and Atkins in rail and roads.

Costain has landed a £75M deal to electrify the Edinburgh Waverly-Glasgow Queen Street Railway as part of an alliance to deliver the £650M Edinburgh to Glasgow Improvement Plan (EGIP).

The work comprises electrification of the main Edinburgh-Glasgow route, via Falkirk High, including route clearance works at Winchburgh Tunnel as well as rail infrastructure works at Glasgow Queen Street and Edinburgh Waverley Stations and extensions to intermediate platforms at Croy, Falkirk High, Polmont and Linlithgo.

Meanwhile Atkins has won four major transportation contracts across the south-central and south eastern United States.

Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has reselected Atkins as its state-wide prime consultant for toll-plaza planning, development, and implementation. Under the terms of the five-year, $10M (£6M) contract, Atkins will provide planning, development, infrastructure design and coordination, system installation, integration, and testing services for TxDOT’s toll and managed-lane facilities, which serve more than 160km of toll roads.

Atkins is also to carry out designs on highway widening projects in Florida for the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) and it will also work with the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) to carry out construction engineering and inspection (CEI) services for federally funded transportation projects state-wide to the end of 2015.

10am: Britain could see a £200bn boost from North Sea oil and gas production over the next 20 years, a government commissioned report has said.

An additional 3bn to 4bn barrels of North Sea oil and gas – an increase in production of one third – could be recovered if the recommendations of the report are fast-tracked the government said.

Energy and Climate Change secretary Ed Davey announced the report findings in Scotland, where he also visited Peterhead with prime minister David Cameron and deputy prime minister Nick Clegg to sign a deal with Shell to develop the next stage of its carbon capture and storage project at a gas-fired power station.

Report’s key recommendations

  • A new shared strategy for “maximising economic recovery (of oil and gas) for the UK”, with commitment from the government (HM Treasury and a new regulator) and the oil and gas industry.
  • Creation of a new arm’s length regulatory body to oversee and develop this programme of change and growth.
  • Greater collaboration by industry in areas such as development of regional hubs, sharing of infrastructure and reducing the complexity and delays in current legal and commercial processes.

The Department for Energy and Climate Change said that short-term prospects were good but that work on the UK’s Continental Shelf faces unprecedented challenges.

Production has fallen by 40% in the last three years, and the efficiency with which oil and gas is produced has fallen to 60%, costing the economy £6bn, it said, adding that gas would need to account for 70% of the energy mix to 2030.

“For many years the UK has supported the North Sea oil and gas industry and we have worked together to make this an economic success the whole country can be proud of,” said Cameron. “I promise we will continue to use the UK’s broad shoulders to invest in this vital industry so we can attract businesses, create jobs, develop new skills in our young people and ensure we can compete in the global race.”

Carbon capture and storage

  • Schemes at Peterhead and White Rose are being pursued under the government’s £1bn carbon capture and storage (CCS) competition. 
  • Around £100M of that funding is being invested now to support the detailed planning and engineering of the schemes
  • In late 2015, the projects will take final investment decisions with the government taking decisions shortly after on investing the remainder of the £1bn funding to support construction of up to two projects
  • With the award of the two contracts, the reserve projects announced in March 2013 will now be deselected

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