Of course the oil industry must change. But if we turn the taps off now, we risk turning the lights off too.

Of course the oil industry must change. But if we turn the taps off now, we risk turning the lights off too.

In the wake of COP26, a leading voice in the energy sector welcomes a new era… but says it CAN’T happen overnight.

By Jeanette Forbes, CEO of Blue Gentoo

Now that COP26 has drawn to a close, it’s absolutely right to get even more serious about climate change. That may sound strange coming from someone working in oil and gas but, believe me, it is the single most pressing item on the industry’s agenda. Not only because we know that we must urgently get to net zero to save our planet, but also because we must have a sustainable economic future too.

When we have fully transitioned away from fossil fuels, our industry must still have a purpose and a product. That is why the likes of BP, Shell, Total and others are transforming to become integrated energy companies.

That’s why SMEs in the supply chain are developing the technology and skills that are needed to support the energy transition, from transferring expertise honed in the harsh environment of the North Sea to offshore fixed and floating wind, to carbon capture, usage and storage, and hydrogen.

The oil and gas industry is a huge part of the solution to tackling climate change. Indeed, it will also fund the shift.

This is an industry that has given so much to Scotland and the UK, in taxes which have paid for our public services, in jobs which have supported livelihoods and generated spend in local economies, in the advancement of skills and technology and also in the support of education, sport, the arts and the third sector. The stark reality is that until we have reduced the demand for hydrocarbons and found a solution to ensuring energy supply so the lights don’t go off, we cannot simply turn off the taps in the North Sea tomorrow.

I’m old enough to remember the energy shortages of the past, when the coal miners went on strike. I was a teenager back then and I remember the lights going out, the central heating thermostats going off and having to light candles, gas lamps or take a torch to see whilst getting into bed.

I was born in West Yorkshire but married an Aberdonian and moved to the North-East. Back in 1988 I was working in the comms room of the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, at the time of the Piper Alpha disaster, when an explosion ripped through an oil platform killing 167 men. I took the first telephone call to ARI when Piper went up and my eight-hour shift became a 17-hour shift, like many others who were involved on that fateful night.

I remember sitting in my car sobbing the next morning at what I had just experienced. In the days and weeks after, it was like a veil had fallen over Aberdeen. The city was shrouded in sadness. It was during this time that I decided I wanted to work in oil and gas, to try to help make a change, to make it safer and more gender diverse.

Through sheer hard work and a little luck, the company I set up supports the industry, the economy and a considerable number of jobs. But one thing I have come to accept, living and working in the North East, is that when the oil price drops, the ripple effect across the whole economy, on jobs and families, is devastating.

Stopping Cambo will not just impact on jobs in the industry; the knock-on impact means shops, restaurants, taxi drivers will all suf­fer. It’s also worth pointing out that the disposable income generated by the industry does not just benefit Aberdeen, as workers come from other areas up and down the UK.

Another element of job losses or uncertainty is that people downsize their homes, impacting on the housing market and property prices, they take their children out of private education and nurseries as they can no longer afford the fees.

Commercial property in Aberdeen looks very dif­ferent today due to the downturn. Big buildings on the outskirts of Aberdeen are being vacated to smaller ones in the city centre. What’s going to happen to these bigger buildings if more jobs are lost? There’s already considerable downsizing going on. I’ve experienced many downturns as a result of the cyclical nature of our industry. But the downturns get longer, and their bite gets deeper.

If we switch off oil and gas and move to green projects too quickly, before they are economically viable, we won’t just have another downturn. We’ll have an economic disaster, and not just in Aberdeen.

I’ve felt for a long time there is a disconnect between the Central Belt and the North-East, which is now getting wider. Political rhetoric, such as ‘Stop Cambo’, is damaging and disingenuous.

In the North-East, we understand that we’re on a journey. That’s why it’s called the energy transition. It won’t happen overnight, and it must be accelerated, but it can only be driven at pace if industry and government work together.

It’s time for some serious education about the demand for hydrocarbons – it’s not just about fossil fuels for transport, it’s about petrochemicals that are used in our daily lives, from clothing to toothbrushes and contact lenses.

During the pandemic, where would we have been without the energy to power the generators in hospitals, pumping oxygen into the lungs of the desperately sick? The plastic aprons, masks, vials and the syringes that have been used to deliver life-saving vaccines?

Yes, we must be working faster and harder to bring forward new cleaner, greener energy sources, but we must also be able to meet existing demand, using fields like Cambo and ensuring that we develop these fields in a way that dramatically reduces emissions.

With demand to ensure our energy supply and security unlikely to be met by other sources in the shortterm, and with demand for all those products I mentioned unlikely to reduce suf­ficiently in the nearterm, we must produce domestic hydrocarbons. The alternative is to import them at a much higher cost to the environment.

Losing out on the jobs and technological innovations which can be derived from Cambo and other fields is not only economic suicide, it will also impact on our ability to transition at scale and at pace.

Decimating a supply chain that can help deliver the energy transition at this time before the new green opportunities and jobs exist is simply cutting off our nose to spite our face. We can’t ignore the economic realities of the times as we try to rebuild from the pandemic. Not developing Cambo is not the answer.

This industry is transitioning. If people could only see the things I’m seeing – the innovation and the transformation – they’d be blown away. It’s time for government and industry to come together to appreciate this, educate the wider public and have a debate on how we use the oil and gas industry to tackle the climate emergency, rather than simply throw it all away.

Switching off oil and gas today would see the fatal erosion of our knowledge base and, one of our greatest strengths, our skilled people who develop the technology and services which are exported all over the world.

I don’t want my grandchildren to ask me why I didn’t do anything about climate change. I want them to see it was the oil and gas industry, long part of the problem, that became the solution. That through its innovation and digitalisation, it drove the energy transition.

As an industry, we’re working hard to deliver net zero and are all on board supporting the new era of energy. Just let us play our part, rather than curtail us with inaccurate rhetoric.

Originally published in The Scottish Mail on Sunday, 21 November 2021

Technology acquisition enhances firm’s services

Technology acquisition enhances firm’s services

Oil and gas technology firm Blue Gentoo said yesterday it had made a “significant” investment in its future with the addition of business acquired from chemical monitoring and management specialist Lux Assure.

Blue Gentoo, based in Inverurie, Aberdeenshire, said the “five-figure sum” acquisition of Lux’s Ommica technology had already created three jobs in a new subsidiary.

The deal was signed by Blue Gentoo chief executive Jeanette Forbes and her counterpart at Lux, Emma Perfect.

Both businesswomen are widely recognised for their strong commitment to encouraging more women to take up careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics-related industries.

Edinburgh-based Lux developed Ommica in its research laboratory and introduced it to the market four years ago.

The analytical kit allows users to accurately determine the concentration of mono-ethylene glycol and methanol concentrations in produced oil and water, which is important when exporting into pipeline systems and oil tankers.

It is claimed better process management using Ommica can add $3 to $4 to the value of every barrel of oil produced.

According to Blue Gentoo, sales of Ommica have steadily increased year-on-year by providing an easy-to-use, on-site chemical analysis to replace a time-consuming laboratory-based alter-native. The patented product is now sold in five continents.

Ms Forbes said the purchase was a “good strategic fit” with the new owner’s digital gas hydrate management business.

She added: “Blue Gentoo has technology which monitors, detects and manages gas hydrate risk in pipelines using real-time sensors and machine learning.

“Many of the customers for this technology are also customers of Ommica, so we now have more innovative tools to satisfy their needs.”

The acquisition comes just two years after Blue Gentoo was formed on Scottish Enterprise’s inaugural Grey Matters programme.

It is also only a year since the firm completed the Oil and Gas Technology Centre’s TechX Pioneer technology incubator programme.

Founders Phil Bremner, Chris Oliver and Chika Uduma have steadily built up the business, partnering with Hydrafact – a Heriot Watt University spin-out – and working with Aberdeen University’s computer science department on a machine learning research and development project.

Blue Gentoo aims to tackle the problem of gas hydrates, which are a challenge for all upstream gas producers.

They occur when gas reacts with water in a pipeline, often resulting in concrete-hard ice plugs which block pipelines, stop production and are extremely hard to remove.

Gas producers spend billions of pounds a year trying to reduce the risk of gas hydrates but the current approach is expensive, imprecise and inefficient.

Credit: Original post at – https://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/fp/business/north-of-scotland/1895628/technology-acquisition-enhances-firms-services/

CEO Joins Pioneering Penguins – June 2019

CEO Joins Pioneering Penguins – June 2019

One of Aberdeen’s most respected and seasoned entrepreneurs is swapping her role as head of her family business for the challenges of a high growth new start business.

Jeanette Forbes, of PCL group, is joining the board of Blue Gentoo Ltd as CEO to help drive the business forward and scale it up for growth.

Jeanette Forbes said “ I’m excited by the potential that companies like Blue Gentoo have to improve on embedded industry practices. The future is digital and Blue Gentoo is at the forefront of this – deploying machine learning and digital analytics to tackle an old problem in a new way (and releasing significant value for its customers as a result). We know the challenges faced in bringing new technology to market and in convincing people of the benefits of change and I’m looking forward to this challenge. My hope is that Blue Gentoo will help secure the future of the oil and gas industry in Scotland and create challenging and interesting career paths for those involved”

Blue Gentoo was hatched 2 years ago on the inaugural Grey Matters business incubator programme (run by Elevator for Scottish Enterprise). The company founders, Phil Bremner, Chris Oliver and Chika Uduma have steadily built up the business and the brand since then, partnering with Hydrafact, a Heriot Watt University spin out company, and working with Aberdeen University Computer Science department on a machine learning R&D project.

Chris Oliver, co-founder and CFO said “Jeanette’s appointment is a high point for Blue Gentoo. Her track record in growing businesses is impressive as is her commitment to promoting careers in science, technology and engineering.  I’ve followed Jeanette’s achievements over many years and look forward to working with her to set the direction for Blue Gentoo and help it deliver on its potential”

The company gained prominence last year, when it was selected to join the first OGTC TechX Pioneer programme, which aims to fast track the impact that technology-based start-ups can have on the industry. This gave the company greater prominence among local oil and gas operators, which should lead to initial field trials in the coming months.

Blue Gentoo addresses the problem of gas hydrates, which are a challenge for all upstream gas producers. Gas hydrates occur when gas reacts with water in a pipeline and can result in concrete-hard ice plugs, which block pipelines, stop production and are extremely hard to remove. Gas producers spend billions of pounds each year trying to reduce the risk of gas hydrates but the current approach is expensive, imprecise and inefficient.

Blue Gentoo has technology which monitors and manages gas hydrate risk using real-time sensors and machine learning, and this has the potential to transform the industry’s approach, reducing hydrate risk and delivering huge cost savings.

Intelligent Hydrate Platform (iHP)

Intelligent Hydrate Platform (iHP)


The Oil & Gas Innovation Centre (OGIC) have recently announced the signing of a new industry project which sees the University of Aberdeen partnering with Blue Gentoo to develop the Intelligent Hydrate Platform (iHP).  Phil Bremner, a University of Aberdeen alumni, founded Blue Gentoo after a long career in the oil & gas industry and saw the benefits to building a mutually beneficial relationship.

Innovation, collaboration and business growth

Blue Gentoo were in the first Grey Matters cohort at Elevator in Aberdeen, a successful entrepreneurship initiative which aimed to harness the experience, knowledge and innovation of senior oil and gas professionals who are either facing redundancy or have been made redundant. They have also been chosen as one of 10 technology start-ups selected for OGTC’s prestigious TechX Pioneer technology accelerator programme.  This collaboration represents the latest stage in a success story of innovation and business growth in Aberdeen.

The Challenge and the Project

The industry challenge is to prevent hydrate formation, a major subsea flow assurance problem faced during the extraction of hydrocarbons using high-pressurised pipelines positioned in cold waters.  The most reliable technique to address hydrate formation is to remove water in oil and gas pipelines with dehydrators such as MonoEthylene Glycol (MEG). This project will automatically control MEG injection by monitoring hydrocarbon parameters, calculating both the MEG required and any subsequent injection adjustments in real time and without routinely human intervention.

University of Aberdeen’s Expertise

The expertise and research ability within the School of Natural & Computing Sciences at the University of Aberdeen is well placed to collaborate with Blue Gentoo to achieve iHP project outcomes.  Dr Ernesto Compatangelo and Prof Wamberto Vasconcelos will develop and implement Artificial Intelligence technologies for use within industrial-quality software to provide a suite of management functionalities.  This will allow iHP to learn effective human and computer-devised injection strategies for hydrate prevention, reusing them in the appropriate circumstances and providing a detailed justification of the adopted strategy.

“This project has the potential to solve a real industry challenge and the fit between Blue Gentoo and the team at the University of Aberdeen was quickly evident. It’s vitally important that support is given to small technology-focused businesses, so they can help push our industry forward.”

Ian Phillips, CEO of OGIC

The University team’s experience gave us great confidence in the end product.  From the initial meeting we got the sense that this was the right team for us to work with. Our hope is that this project will also offer students and researchers an opportunity for work post project and certainly gives Blue Gentoo a unique product that will have a significant impact within the O&G industry on a global basis.”

Phil Bremner, CEO, Blue Gentoo


Credit: Original post at – https://www.abdn.ac.uk/business-info/blue-gentoo-974.php

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