Credit: Reuters/Nigel Roddis/Files LONDON | Mon Sep 23, 2013 12:28pm BST LONDON (Reuters) – British utility Centrica said on Monday it was calling off two gas storage projects after the government refused this month to help build stockpiling sites, dealing another blow to a sector needed to feed the country’s high winter demand. Centrica, which owns household supplier British Gas, said it would incur 240 million pounds in costs for scrapping its offshore project at Baird in the North Sea and putting its Caythorpe plan in east Yorkshire on hold indefinitely. “This decision was taken in light of weak economics for storage projects and the announcement by the UK government on 4 September ruling out intervention in the market to encourage additional gas storage capacity to be built,” Centrica said in a statement. The British government had said subsidising storage projects would be too expensive for taxpayers. Britain’s weak gas storage infrastructure was exposed earlier this year when an exceptionally cold and long winter depleted the country’s stockpiling facilities. Profits from running gas storage in Britain have dropped in recent years due to the shrinking price differential between summer and winter gas prices. Gas traders typically buy gas in summer when prices are low and sell it at a profit in winter, when higher demand lifts contracts, but that spread has tightened. Centrica this year sold capacity at the country’s largest storage site at a 30 percent discount compared to the previous year, making it economically unfeasible to build new sites. Gas storage operators in other western European markets have felt the same decline in interest in their business, which has forced them to offer financial sweeteners and more flexible terms. (Reporting by Brenda Goh and Karolin Schaps; Editing by Paul Sandle and Dale Hudson)

BoE’s Broadbent says UK growth may slacken

Isabella Exploration Well Farm-Out Ithaca has entered into an agreement with Euroil Exploration Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of Edison, to farm-out a 10% interest in UK licence P1820 which contains the Isabella gas condensate prospect.This transaction reduces Ithaca’s non-operated working interest in the licence from 20% to 10%. The farm-out agreement provides for Edison to pay its 10% working interest share of future licence costs in addition to a cash payment to Ithaca.When combined with the earlier Isabella farm-out transaction executed with Maersk Oil North Sea UK Limited, Ithaca is now carried for its forecast share of the Isabella exploration commitment well cost and will also receive additional cash beyond the carry. The P1820 licence was awarded in the UK 26th Offshore Licensing Round and covers blocks 30/6b, 30/11a and 30/12d in the UK Central North Sea.The licence work programme requires an exploration well to be drilled on the Isabella prospect by early 2015. Completion of the transaction is subject to normal third party and regulatory consents.Following completion, the Isabella partners will be Apache North Sea Limited (50%, Operator), Maersk Oil North Sea UK Limited (30%), Ithaca (10%) and Edison (10%). Edison is a major European energy company, with operations spanning the full energy supply chain, including oil and gas activities in Europe and Africa. – ENDS – Enquiries: Ithaca Energy Iain McKendrick +44 (0)1224 650 261 Graham Forbes +44 (0)1224 652 151 FTI Consulting Billy Clegg +44 (0)207 269 7157 Edward Westropp +44 (0)207 269 7230 Georgia Mann +44 (0)207 269 7212 Cenkos Securities Jon Fitzpatrick +44 (0)207 397 8900 Neil McDonald +44 (0)131 220 6939 RBC Capital Markets Tim Chapman +44 (0)207 653 4641 Matthew Coakes +44 (0)207 653 4871 About Ithaca Energy Ithaca Energy Inc. (TSX: IAE, LSE AIM: IAE) is a North Sea oil and gas operator focused on the delivery of lower risk growth through the appraisal and development of UK undeveloped discoveries, the exploitation of its existing UK producing asset portfolio and a Norwegian exploration and appraisal business centred on the generation of discoveries capable of monetisation prior to development. Ithaca’s strategy is centred on generating sustainable long term shareholder value by building a highly profitable 25kboe/d North Sea oil and gas company. For further information please consult the Company’s website About Edison: Edison, the oldest energy company in Europe and now part of the EDF Group (Electricite de France), has about 3,200 employees in more than 10 countries across Europe, Africa and the Middle East, with activities ranging from exploration and production of crude oil and natural gas to the production and sales of electric power and the marketing of natural gas. Edison’s Exploration & Production activities cover approximately 100 permits and concessions in Italy and abroad (Egypt, Norway, Falkland Islands, Algeria, Croatia, Israel, UK). About Oyster Petroleum: Formed in summer 2013, Oyster Petroleum is a new exploration and production company focused on the UKCS. The company is financially backed and fully funded by HitecVision, a leading international oil and gas investor. HitecVision has committed funds of USD150 million to Oyster Petroleum from its HitecVision VI L.P.

Credit: Reuters/Eddie Keogh LONDON | Mon Sep 23, 2013 7:02pm BST LONDON (Reuters) – A Bank of England policymaker defended the central bank’s decision to tie interest rates to the labour market, saying the outlook for growth and productivity were particularly uncertain despite a recent pick-up in Britain’s economic recovery. Ben Broadbent, one of nine members of the Monetary Policy Committee, said in a speech on Monday that the surprisingly strong acceleration in growth may settle down soon. “The economy is growing. It’s hard to say exactly how fast it’s growing,” Broadbent said in a speech to be delivered to the London Business School. Data so far for the third quarter had been strong and surveys suggested the private sector is growing at an annualised rate of about 5 percent, he said. But he warned that might prove an over-estimate and he cautioned that the recovery might not keep up its current pace. “Forecasters generally anticipate only around a third of changes in economic growth one year ahead, and we can be no more confident that the recovery can continue smoothly at this rate than in the view that it would never arrive,” he said. The BoE is seeking to nurture Britain’s economy back to health, and said in August that it would not consider raising interest rates from their record low 0.5 percent until unemployment fell to 7 percent, unless inflation threatens to pick up strongly. Financial markets have challenged the BoE’s view that unemployment will take more than three years to fall to that level from the 7.7 percent at which it stood in the three months to July. Broadbent said he was happy with the forecast but stressed that the BoE’s guidance did not represent an unconditional promise to keep rates unchanged for a fixed period of time. “If unemployment falls faster than we’re expecting either because productivity does less well … or because demand grows more strongly, it would be right to ask whether we should think about withdrawing some of the monetary stimulus currently in place,” he said. (Reporting by William Schomberg; Editing by Toby Chopra)

UK Debates Security vs. Privacy

Privacy By Jane Gray | September 22, 2013 Last Updated: September 22, 2013 11:59 pm Protesters rally outside the U.S. Capitol against the NSA’s recently detailed surveillance programs on June 13, 2013 in Washington, DC. The debate on government’s anti-terrorism efforts and civil liberties have been intensified in the U.S. and the UK after latest revelations by former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden suggesting that U.S. and UK intelligence agencies have cracked Internet encryption codes. (Win McNamee/Getty Images) You may also like Royal Mail Sell-off: Privitization Will Lead to Service 7 Days a Week, Not Worse Service Prince Harry Spends the Night in a Freezer (+Video) Prince William Leaving Armed Forces, Focusing on Charity LONDONThe latest documents revealed by former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden suggesting that U.S. and UK intelligence agencies have cracked Internet encryption codes has once again many people questioning the extent governments should be allowed to breach privacy in the name of security. The revelations, published by the Guardian, the New York Times, and ProPublica, show that with the ability to crack encryption codes, the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) and its UK counterpart GCHQ can potentially have access to peoples online data and transactions such as medical records, emails, and bank details. In the UK, the debate on governments anti-terrorism efforts and civil liberties had already been intensified recently after David Miranda, partner of the Guardian reporter who extensively covered Snowden, was held by authorities for 9 hours at the Heathrow Airport for questioning.