Author Archives: rja4

Heriot-Watt University: Oil-hungry bacteria could clean up the next big oil spill

Scientists at Heriot-Watt University have cracked the genetic code of the marine bacteria that helped ‘eat’ the oil spilled from the Deepwater Horizon disaster, information that could aid clean-up efforts for the next major spill.

Dr Tony Gutierrez was in the US at the time of the disaster and was able to perform experiments with samples from oil-contaminated waters of the Gulf of Mexico shortly after the Deepwater Horizon spill occurred – samples that contained key species of bacteria that fed on the oil.

Experiments with the samples revealed that certain bacteria had thrived on the oil that gushed into the Gulf, by devouring the oil as a preferred food source. Continue reading

Sea Mammal Research Unit: Research Fellow Position

SMRU are seeking to appoint a post-doctoral research fellow for a period of one year.  The successful candidate with be based in the Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU) within the School of Biology.

The project is funded by INSITE – the Influence of man-made Structures In the Ecosystem – an oil and gas industry-sponsored initiative committed to developing the independent scientific evidence-base needed to improve understanding of the influence of man-made structures on the ecosystem of the North Sea.
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The Seabird Group: Population and breeding dynamics of European Shags

Congratulations to Martin Huebeck, SOTEAG’s resident seabird monitoring officer, who has recently published an article in the journal Seabird.

Huebeck, M., Mellor, R.M., Gear, S., and Miles, W.T.S.  2015.  Population and breeding dynamics of European Shags Phalacrocorax aristotelis at three major colonies in Shetland, 2001-2015.  Seabird, 28: 55-77.

The paper can be accessed from Seabird the annual journal from the Seabird Group.  The journal contains papers and short communications on seabird biology, conservation, identification, and status. Continue reading

The Scotsman: New Shetland gas field ‘could supply 100 per cent of demand’

Production at newly opened gas fields in Shetland could meet 100 per cent of Scotland’s average gas demand, analysts have claimed.

Natural gas began flowing from the Laggan-Tormore fields earlier this month after more than £3.5 billion spent developing the deepwater site by French energy group Total.

Output is expected to climb to the equivalent of 90,000 barrels of oil a day from Laggan-Tormore and processed at the nearby Shetland Gas Plant before being pumped to the mainland. It will supply around two million households – or 8 per cent of the UK’s gas needs over a lifespan of 20 years.

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The Handbook of Environmental Chemistry: Oil Pollution in the North Sea

Springer have recently published an ebook titled Oil Pollution in the North Sea (Editor: Angela Carpenter) as part of The Handbook of Environmental Chemistry series.

The book offers a review of measures taken at different levels to prevent oil inputs to the North Sea from sources such as shipping and oil installations. A range of data from satellites, remote sensing, aerial surveillance, in-situ monitoring, oil spill sampling and beached bird surveys presents a comprehensive portrait of trends in oil pollution over many years. To access the ebook please follow the link above.

SOTEAG’s resident seabird monitoring officer, Martin Huebeck was consulted and co-wrote a chapter within this volume: Beached Bird Surveys in the North Sea as an Instrument to Measure Levels of Chronic Oil Pollution.

The book will provide essential reference material on tools and techniques for monitoring oil pollution.

Energy Voice: Shell and BP join other blue chips to support to new global climate agreement

Blue-chip companies, including Shell and BP, have given their strong support for the adoption of a new global climate agreement at the UN Climate Change Conference this December in Paris.

In a statement organised by the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES), the companies called for “a more balanced and durable multilateral framework guiding and strengthening national efforts to address climate change.”

The Paris agreement, the companies said, should commit countries to undertake nationally determined efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; provide strong transparency to hold countries accountable; require periodic renewal of national contributions to progressively strengthen the global effort; and facilitate global carbon markets.

“We recognize the rising environmental, social, economic, and security risks posed by climate change, and that delaying action will result in greater risks and costs,” the statement said.

The full article can be accessed on the Energy Voice pages.

MASTS: MASTS Oil & Gas Forum internships

Two, 3 month internships are being offered by the MASTS Oil and Gas Forum in conjunction with CEFAS in Lowestoft. Each internship is being offered with a stipend of £3k.

One internship will look at the “Comparison of Substitution Status of Chemical Substances under REACH and OSPAR Legislation” whilst the other will look at “Degrading the un-degradable“.
For more information on each of these internships please contact the MASTS team at

The closing date for applications is 15.30 on Friday 15th January 2016.

Oil and Gas UK: New oil spill response guides launched

Offshore oil and gas operators now have access to four new response implementation guides (RIGs) to assist any required responses to oil spills in the North Sea.

A UK industry group launched in the wake of 2010’s Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, proposed the development of a toolkit containing information on the different methods for countering spillages on the UK Continental Shelf.

The new RIGs will provide guidance on the aerial monitoring of a spill, shoreline response, decanting of oil, and waste management.

The full description of the guides can be found at the Oil and Gas UK web site Oil and Gas UK oil spill response guides.

SOTEAG: Oil and Gas Environmental Seminar

SOTEAG will be at the Oil and Gas UK Environmental Seminar on the 25th November 2015.

Oil and Gas UK Environmental Seminar

During the 2015 ASM speakers from regulating bodies, science, and industry will discuss the precautionary principle, and the importance of using solid evidence and science in marine management and planning across aspects of offshore operations including use of chemicals, modelling and in decommissioning.

SOTEAG will be present  to network and engage with other environmental professionals and provide information on the world class model that SOTEAG employs to offer independent scientific monitoring and expert advice.

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