The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

Friday, 15 November 2013

EnQuest to develop £4bn Kraken oil field off Shetland

A £4bn investment in a major oil field off Shetland has been given the go-ahead.

The Kraken field, which is estimated to contain nearly 140m barrels of oil, is majority-owned by Aberdeen-based EnQuest.

The construction phase of the project is expected to support 20,000 jobs.

EnQuest also expects to take on an average of about 1,000 operational jobs in the UK for each year of Kraken's 25-year life.

The development, which was approved by the Department of Energy and Climate Change, is the largest investment announced in the UK North Sea this year.

Kraken’s two heavy oil fields will receive tax allowances introduced by the UK government in a bid to stimulate investment in the sector.

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said: “This is a big investment that will create jobs and boost the British economic plan.

“It is also evidence that our efforts to create a competitive tax regime that gets the most oil and gas out of the North Sea are working.”

EnQuest chief executive Amjad Bseisu described Kraken as “a transformational project” for the company”

“Companies like EnQuest are the future of the North Sea,” he said.

“It is only by combining our skills and expertise with fiscal incentives, such as heavy oil allowances, that really substantial projects like Kraken are possible.”

Kraken is located about 125km (77 miles) east of the Shetland Islands.

The field, which will consist of 25 wells, is estimated to contain 137 million barrels of oil.

Gross peak oil production is expected to be more than 50,000 barrels per day, with first oil production planned for 2016/2017.

EnQuest has a 60% interest in Kraken. Its partners in the development are Cairn Energy and First Oil.

Minister for Energy, Enterprise and Tourism Fergus Ewing (pictured above) also welcomed the announcement. He said: “I had the pleasure of meeting with EnQuest in September this year and I warmly welcome this announcement of £4 billion investment in the Kraken field east of Shetland and the job creation and supply chain opportunities it will bring. This follows on from a host of significant investment announcements recently - unequivocal evidence of the faith that the oil & gas industry has in the future of the North Sea as an oil producing province.”

“This is also clear evidence that new opportunities still exist in the sector. Scotland’s industry-led Oil and Gas strategy sets out an overall theme of maximising resource recovery through a focus on industry led innovation, skills and supply chain growth. With up to 24 billion recoverable barrels with a potential wholesale value of £1.5 trillion, more than half of the resources in the North Sea, by value, still to be extracted, it is clear that the industry will make an important contribution to the Scottish economy for decades to come.”

Scotland Day in Doha

First Scotland Day in Qatar showcases Scottish culture

Minister for External Affairs, Humza Yousaf, welcomed enthusiastic guests to the first ever Scotland Day in the Middle East region joining expats and local Qataris to celebrate traditional and contemporary Scottish culture. 

[Pictured: Scotland’s Minister for External Affairs Humza Yousaf (far right) meets children at celebrations in Doha for Qatar’s first Scotland Day.]

The event, which was organised by the British Council, marked the end of the Minister’s five-day visit to the Middle East to strengthen Scotland’s ties with the Gulf States and promote Scotland as a great place to visit and do business. 

Guests tasted Scottish delicacies including smoked salmon, cheeses and natural mineral water against a backdrop of stunning photographs of Scotland at the reception, two weeks ahead of St Andrew’s Day. 

The event was held at the spectacular Katara Cultural Village, where expats and local Qataris heard Scottish musicians including the Ross Ainslie and Jarlath Henderson Band who played to a packed house at the event. Guests were also able to try traditional ceilidh dancing and take part in an Orcadian Strip the Willow. 

Minister for External Affairs, Humza Yousaf said: “Scotland Day was a fantastic opportunity to showcase our distinctive and diverse cultural landscape – from contemporary art and music to ceilidh dancing – and our wonderful food and drink.

“There are strong links between Scotland and the Gulf States, and celebrating Scotland Day together gave us a chance to build on these still further, taking an important step in deepening the friendship between Scotland and Qatar. 

“The day also marked the beginning of the international celebrations of St Andrew’s Day - we want everyone with a Scottish connection or a love of our country to join us and enjoy our traditional and contemporary culture and our fabulous food and produce.

"As we move towards 2014, a year that will see Scotland host the Ryder Cup, welcome the world to the Commonwealth Games and hold a referendum on Scotland’s independence, international interest in us is growing and we are keen to share our experience with our friends around the world.” 

Martin Hope, Director of British Council Qatar said: “The first Scotland Day in Doha has been a massive success and was enjoyed immensely by a truly international audience. 

“There’s a sizable Scottish community based in Qatar so it is great that both Qataris and Scots have the opportunity to share in and appreciate the diverse cultural offerings each country has to offer. 

“The Qatar UK 2013 year of culture is all about strengthening ties between Qatar and the UK and we look forward to this sharing of cultures continuing as the friendship between Qatar and the UK continues to deepen.”

Mr Yousaf has visited the UAE and Qatar this week to build stronger ties between our governments, our businesses and our people across the Middle East region. 

Thursday, 14 November 2013

South Ayrshire honours The Royal Regiment of Scotland

South Ayrshire Council yesterday (Wednesday 13 November 2013) granted the Honorary Freedom of South Ayrshire to The Royal Regiment of Scotland. 

To mark this very special occasion, of 400 soldiers returning home after their third tour of Afghanistan, the servicemen and women paraded through Ayr town centre on Wednesday 13 November 2013. Cheers, clapping and shouts of good luck filled the air as the 250 servicemen and women were acclaimed by the public who lined the streets to show their support and join in the celebration.  

The parade coincided with the troops returning from their third recent tour and it was an opportunity to welcome them home and celebrate their achievements. 

As South Ayrshire Provost, Helen Moonie, who played a pivotal role in the Honorary Freedom Ceremony, and is a great advocate of supporting past and present servicemen and women said: “The Honorary Freedom of Ayr is our way of saying thank you to all our brave service personnel."

The troops formed a parade in Pavilion Road which included a brass band, and a military pipe band. The parade led by their Shetland pony mascot marched past the Cenotaph at Wellington Square, through the town where the Depute Lord Lieutenant John Dalrymple-Hamilton and South Ayrshire Provost Helen Moonie took a salute at the Wallace Tower. 

Along with dignitaries at the Wallace Tower were representatives from South Ayrshire secondary schools, who were also invited to attend the ceremony at the Auld Kirk.

The parade marched to the Ayr Auld Kirk where at a very special ceremony, conducted by the Rev David Gemmell (pictured above) and Rev Colin MacLeod, Army Padre, the Freedom Roll was signed by Eileen Howat, South Ayrshire Council’s Chief Executive who said: “This is a great way to recognise the contribution of the armed forces personnel. They are in good company as this honour was previously given to people such as Andrew Carnegie, Sir Winston Churchill and US President Dwight D Eisenhower, HMS Gannet and RAF Prestwick.”

The Freedom Roll was signed by Eileen Howat, Chief Executive of South Ayrshire Council and Lieutenant General Andrew Graham CB, CBE.

After the ceremony the parade marched to Ayr Town Hall where Provost Moonie hosted a civic reception to mark the occasion and there was a medal presentation by the General Graham to some of the soldiers. 

The Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Robin Lindsay said: “2 SCOTS are delighted to be home from a hard tour and to be reunited with our loved ones.  However, our thoughts have been and will continue to be with the families of the three soldiers who were killed on operations. 

“We have been overwhelmed by the exceptional support received from local communities over the past six months.  It is an honour to accept the Freedom of South Ayrshire on behalf of the Royal Regiment of Scotland.”

A selection of photographs taken at the event is available on Flickr - CLICK HERE

South Ayrshire Council is a Founder Member of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Soaring demand pushes house prices higher across Scotland

RICS October 2013 UK Residential Market Survey

House prices jumped once again last month as increasing interest from would-be buyers outstripped the amount of properties coming onto the market, according to October’s RICS Residential Market Survey. 

The proportion of chartered surveyors reporting price rises hit a five year high, as the net balance of respondents reporting rises jumped to 54 percent. This is the highest reading since September 2007 and demonstrates the impact that the imbalance between supply and demand is having on the market. 

Sarah Speirs (pictured above), Director RICS Scotland, commented: “The housing market is gathering momentum and buyer numbers are on the rise across Scotland. That said, the number of homes currently up for sale is still nowhere near enough to keep up with demand and – in order for the market to function correctly – this imbalance urgently needs to be addressed. If we are to create a more sustainable market, it is critical that many more good quality homes are built in areas where people want to live.”

With the housing market showing consistently positive signs in recent months, demand for rented accommodation in Scotland is rising more modestly than previously. A net balance of only thirteen percent of respondents reported rises in interest from potential tenants during October. 

Looking ahead, respondents are optimistic that the currently flourishing market is set to continue, with expectations for both future prices and future transaction numbers remaining steady over the coming three months. 

Kevin J Macdonald MRICS, Graham and Sibbald, commented: “This year has seen a marked increase in numbers of purchasers looking to buy and prices being paid, with many properties also now taking less time to sell than had previously been the case. The reintroduction of closing dates is a further positive sign.”

RICS housing market survey is the longest running monthly survey of house prices in the UK, collecting data since January 1978.  The survey is cited by the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee at its monthly interest rate setting meetings.

RICS is the world’s leading qualification when it comes to professional standards in land, property and construction.

In a world where more and more people, governments, banks and commercial organisations demand greater certainty of professional standards and ethics, attaining RICS status is the recognised mark of property professionalism.

Over 100,000 property professionals working in the major established and emerging economies of the world have already recognised the importance of securing RICS status by becoming members.

RICS is an independent professional body originally established in the UK by Royal Charter. Since 1868, RICS has been committed to setting and upholding the highest standards of excellence and integrity – providing impartial, authoritative advice on key issues affecting businesses and society. RICS is a regulator of both its individual members and firms enabling it to maintain the highest standards and providing the basis for unparalleled client confidence in the sector.