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Editorial comment

2010 was a year of many events, both happy and tragic. The year opened with two devastating earthquakes. One hit Haiti on 21st January with a magnitude of 7.0, leading to mass devastation and a cholera outbreak. The second was of an 8.8 magnitude and hit Chile, causing a huge tsunami, which lead to further destruction. On 15th April, the notorious Icelandic volcano started spilling ash, delaying flights all over the world and causing travel chaos. The biggest disaster to strike the oil and gas industry was the Deepwater Horizon platform explosion on 20th April that killed 11 people and resulted in an oil leak from the Macondo well that was finally blocked on 19th September.

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However, 2010 was also home to some celebratory events. The February Winter Olympics were held in Vancouver and Whistler, Canada; Spain won the 2010 FIFA World Cup (a happy event for some); on 13th October the last of the 33 Chilean miners, trapped underground since 5th August, was rescued and CERN researchers encased 38 antihydrogen atoms for a 6th of a second on the 17th November, the first time humans have ever successfully trapped antimatter.

COP 16 was held at the end of 2010 in Cancun, Mexico from 29th November – 10th December. Datamonitor Group predicted the outcome of COP16 in a statement on 25th November saying that it would ‘not deliver significant progress on the world climate agenda and instead serve to prepare the ground for subsequent meetings in 2011.’ In this case, the predictions were proved incorrect. The conference concluded with a modest amount of success and the development of ‘the Cancun Accords, a series of documents that will provide the basis for efforts to confront climate change after the Kyoto Protocol expires.’1 Included within the accords are a US$ 30 billion fund to aid nations who are currently active in helping combat the effects of global warming and a Green Fund worth approximately US$ 100 billion a year to help countries implement adaption and mitigation measures.

Predictions as to what will happen this year in industry, finance, even your favourite soap opera, are by no means few and far between. And the same is true when it comes to the oil and gas industry. Bank of America Merrill Lynch is just one organisation that made several predictions during the last few months of 2010 with regards to the oil and gas industry in their Global Energy Weekly reports. They believe that the ‘US natural gas balance will remain weak in 2011 as record production continues to depress prices.’ They also predict that ‘global oil demand will hit a new record in 2011’ and oil prices will average at US$ 85/bbl but could hit US$ 100/bbl. Deloitte has also made predictions for 2011 in two reports, ‘Energy Predictions 2011’ and ‘Oil & Gas Reality Check 2011’. Claude Illy, Partner and Head of Corporate Finance Oil & Gas, at Deloitte Asia Pacific, highlighted some of the predictions, stating that ‘Asia Pacific [will become] a hotbed of oil and gas activity, we envisage further uptrend in upstream acquisitions by Asian national oil companies, particularly in unconventional resources and in LNG.’

What does 2011 actually have in store for us? Well, we’ll have to wait and see…I can however let you know what Hydrocarbon Engineering has lined up for you this year. Our Catalyst Review is in this issue and the usual Pump and Valve, Sulfur and World Reviews are scheduled for later in the year. We are also introducing a Compressor Review in our August issue. Nancy Yamaguchi will be providing a series of regional reports looking at the US, India and Japan, to name but three. We’ll also be presenting our key refining issues in March, June and September, our standout petrochemicals issues in April and July and the key gas issues in May, October and November.

Happy New Year!