PSA inspects Transocean Leader semi-sub

first_imgThe Transocean Leader semi-submersible drilling rig was issued with an Acknowledgement of Compliance (AOC) by the PSA in December 2004. As a step in the follow-up of the rig owner’s compliance with regulatory requirements and the preconditions for the AOC, the PSA has conducted an audit in the logistics domain. It covers materials handling, lifting equipment and the safe use thereof.The audit was carried out between 21 and 28 August 2014, in the form of a meeting with the rig owner, Transocean Offshore Ltd NUF (Transocean), followed by verification on board Transocean Leader while it was operating for Statoil on the Njord field.The audit revealed non-conformities relating to: Management and follow-up of safe use of lifting equipment; Management of “enterprise of competence” verification; Unsecured lifting equipment; Technical conditions.In addition, improvement points were detected in connection with: Elastic forerunners for MOB boat; Practical performance of lifting operations; Hinged deck hatches; Emergency operation of lifting equipment.[mappress]Press Release The Petroleum Safety Authority (PSA) has carried out an audit of the Transocean, in respect of logistics on the Transocean Leader semi-submersible drilling rig.last_img read more

The new frontier

first_imgGlobalisation has been firing on all cylinders over the last three decades, largely led by US purchasing power and the huge growth seen in the emerging markets – China especially. As economies grow, the importance of reliable and sophisticated infrastructure also increases. Effective transport systems, dependable energy and modern communications are essential to enable goods and services to be bought and sold across the globe.This has benefited the construction industry which has expanded to meet the infrastructure demands of a more globalised world. The downside, however, is that disputes are common in the construction industry. Projects can be knocked off course by a multitude of factors – construction does not always go to plan and large sums are often at stake. Research by the global consulting engineer Arcadis has shown that the value of the average construction dispute rose by almost 60% last year, reaching $51m, compared to $32m in 2013.Where issues arise that cannot be resolved between the parties, those parties will often turn to formal dispute resolution proceedings. Court-based litigation used to be the preferred method but, as our 2015 International Arbitration Survey conducted by Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) in partnership with White & Case found, international arbitration is now conclusively the preferred form of dispute resolution for cross-border disputes in the construction industry. But why is this?A neutral venue can be chosen, thereby avoiding any perceived home advantageThe research has revealed that 90% of the respondents favoured international arbitration over other forms of dispute resolution, a marked increase from 73% in 2006 (QMUL’s first international arbitration survey).As the research shows, there are a number of reasons for this, namely, the greater enforceability of arbitral awards, the flexibility of the process and the ability to avoid legal systems. However, one of the most attractive features for those involved in construction disputes is the ability to have disputes heard by individuals with extensive construction industry expertise.Construction disputes sit at the apex of two complex, highly technical and constantly evolving disciplines: construction and engineering and the law.Very few jurisdictions have specialised construction courts (the Technology and Construction Court in England is a notable exception), so parties that choose to resolve their disputes by litigation run the risk of having their case heard by a judge who may have limited experience of construction. In international arbitration, where parties can select arbitrators with specialist technical knowledge and industry expertise, there is a greater likelihood of achieving a decision that takes account of all relevant issues.International arbitration also allows the parties to select the jurisdiction in which the dispute will be resolved. The place or “seat” of arbitration can be anywhere around the world, irrespective of whether it has any connection to the parties or the project. A neutral venue can be chosen, thereby avoiding any perceived home advantage.Historically, London and Paris have been the most preferred venues. However, reflecting the growing importance of Asia for inward and outward investment in large infrastructure and construction projects, the study showed that Hong Kong and Singapore have gained significant momentum and are closing the gap. Such projects, often being extremely large, complicated and costly, are fertile ground for disputes. As such, we are seeing more Asian parties involved in large construction disputes and the Asian arbitral forums have devoted considerable effort to attract these sorts of disputes.Although London and Paris continue to be both the two most used seats and the two most preferred seats, as legal counsel favour tried and tested venues, Singapore was considered the most improved seat over the past five years, with Hong Kong following closely behind.In addition to the place of arbitration, parties can also choose which institution hears their dispute. In our research we asked respondents to choose their three preferred institutions and just over two-thirds included the International Chamber of Commerce in their answer, and more than one-third included the London Court of International Arbitration, mirroring the results from the 2010 International Arbitration Survey. However, as with the seat of arbitration, Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre and the Singapore International Arbitration Centre came in third and fourth.As the cost of large-scale construction projects rise into the billions, so do the value of the disputes that arise out of them and the decision as to how to resolve them is critically important. Our study shows that international arbitration is fast becoming the norm for resolving construction disputes.Michael Turrini is a partner (construction) in global law firm White & Caselast_img read more

Unravelling quantitative easing

first_imgFinancial markets don’t like surprises, so the long-awaited start of the unwinding of the US quantitative easing (QE) programme confirmed last week has been signalled since the beginning of the year. If the policy can be successfully reversed without triggering unwanted side-effects like the 2013 “taper tantrum” – when investors panic-sold bonds and caused a fall in global markets – then similar changes can be expected in the UK and Europe. The scale of QE programmes is mind-boggling – QE has led to a quadrupling of the value of assets on the US government balance sheet to $4.2tr (£3.09tr), equivalent to $13,000 (£9,600) per person. Meanwhile, the European Central Bank continues to purchase €60bn (£53bn) of assets per month, while the UK’s QE programme remains capped at £435bn. Even though no new money is being pumped into US or UK bond markets, the impact of recycled investment continues to keep demand for gilts at elevated levels, suppressing interest rates and encouraging other investors to seek better returns from more risky assets such as corporate bonds and infrastructure investments.Many construction clients have been major beneficiaries of QE, but I suspect the wider industry is less aware of how the system has worked in practice, sustaining demand and price levels. QE does involve “printing money”, although the effects are communicated through financial markets rather than through direct spending programmes. By using new money created by central banks to buy new and existing government bonds, QE increases levels of demand for gilts and as a by-product helps to push down long-term interest rates. Pension funds and other long-term investors have focused much more of their money into capital-intensive sectors such as infrastructure and propertyOutside of the bond purchase loop, investors benefit from lower interest rates but must look for riskier investments than government bonds to secure an acceptable return. Because of QE, pension funds and other long-term investors have focused much more of their money into capital-intensive sectors such as infrastructure and property, while small-scale investors such as buy-to-let landlords have benefited from low interest rates and a sparkling housing market. In practice, the major beneficiaries of QE have been asset owners, including pension funds, house-owners and infrastructure businesses. The less well-off have been expected to rely on a “trickle-down” resulting from a little more investment and a little more spending. Construction has been a major beneficiary of this effect – with strong order books and high levels of inflation.So, what could the impacts of a change in QE policy be? Lessons learned from the global market crash in 2013 mean that unwinding must be slow – taking perhaps a decade or more to shift some of the holdings of government debt onto corporate balance sheets. At the same time, the “end of austerity” would require increased public-sector borrowing – increasing the supply of new debt to markets just as demands for investment spending on infrastructure and the retooling of modern economies ramps up. If all goes well, GDP growth will continue to accelerate, interest rates will start to rise in response to inflationary pressures and the level of demand for investment in new assets will be sustained. But if there is a blip, then the balance between the supply of assets and demand for them could change, reversing an eight-year bull market. This all sounds very long term and hypothetical. However, the impacts of QE since 2009 have been anything but. Accordingly, how could the unwinding of QE impact on construction markets and future levels of demand? The answer is quite a lot. Low finance costs and rising asset values are closely interlinked – not only in property markets, but also in infrastructure where costs of borrowing have become an increasingly sensitive element of project viability. Thames Tideway and the recent successful offshore wind auction have both benefited from low funding costs that reflect in part the need for investors to accept higher levels of risk to secure a reasonable income. Similarly, higher interest rates would reduce affordability in the housing market.Whatever form the next generation of government intervention takes, it will be delivered without the QE cushionRising asset values have insulated construction markets from many negative impacts of austerity seen in the public sector. Access to QE-supported markets has been a saving grace for construction since 2009, not only because it has increased levels of demand, but also because rising asset prices have helped clients to absorb higher levels of input cost inflation in construction than other sectors.  In effect, QE has allowed construction to continue its low productivity path because asset-owning clients have been insulated by rising asset prices.Domestic politics requires that any stimulus that takes the place of QE is aimed at the many, rather than the few. The lifting of salary caps, for example, will be a positive move for millions of public sector workers, but inevitably will have a wider impact on tax and spending decisions. Such choices will also influence future investment priorities for the public sector, which would become a more important source of funding and finance. Without the safety valve of rising asset values, it will be less easy for construction firms to deliver value to their clients. Whatever form the next generation of government intervention takes – whether it is focused on replacement infrastructure like the US, or targeted at solving the housing crisis – it will be delivered without the QE cushion. Weaning construction away from this support so that it can most cost-effectively deliver future investment programmes will be the primary legacy of the unravelling of current policy.last_img read more

Heideveld housing upset

first_img Heideveld residents protest outside a house they claim is being illegally occupied. 1 of 2 The community also complained of shoddy workmanship at the housing project. This baths concrete, which is meant to secure it, collapsed. A group of Heideveld residents have accused the housing project under way in the area, of being riddled with corruption, alleging that the community liaison officer (CLO), Ivan Wrenn, took a R20 000 bribe in order to secure a house for someone.Mr Wrenn, however, has denied the allegations, and was scheduled to attend a disciplinary hearing convened by the contractor, by whom he is employed, yesterday Tuesday May 2.Residents have demanded an investigation after a woman, who is apparently from Strand, moved into a house which they claim belongs to another beneficiary and, on Tuesday April 25, the residents protested outside the house in question – 67 Helderberg Close.The group also allege that people as young as 22 years of age, were allocated houses, when others who had been on the City’s housing waiting list for many years, had still not been accommodated.They’ve also expressed their unhappiness over the shoddy workmanship of the construction teams.Pastor Matthew Booysen, who was part of the project steering committee of this housing development, said problems arose when they started questioning things.“As far as we understand, 85 percent of these houses had to go to Heideveld residents. “Then we were told only 75 percent of the locals will get houses here,” Mr Booysen said. “We know of 11 members of one family, who used to live in a nearby informal settlement, who were all given houses. Another thing they failed to implement, is that five percent of the houses had to go to pensioners who are currently living in an upstairs flat, and whose health is not that good any longer. There are people who already own property, that also moved in. There are illegal occupants here. We are tired of corruption. The City of Cape Town must evict all illegal occupants as soon as possible, or the community will evict them,” Mr Booysen said.Soraya Peters said she had to “fight” in order to be allocated a house in this project.“I have been on the housing waiting list for 31 years, but some people who applied in 2002 were allocated houses here. I had to fight my way for my right for a house. I continuously went to the local housing office to make my case heard,” Ms Peters said.Zelda Demas, also a former project steering committee member, said when rumours made the rounds that an illegal had occupant moved in, she approached the woman.“She initially told me that it was a cancellation house. That the original owner no longer wanted it. “After some prodding, we have her on video and audio, admitting that she paid Mr Wrenn an amount ofR20 000 for the house. “The people working high up in the housing directorate know nothing about what is happening on the ground, and we want them to come out here and investigate these matters,” said Ms Demas.The group claim the “original owner” had all his signed-up paperwork in order, with the property’s erf number, and all other details.They claim the paperwork shown to them by the current occupant, is completely different to what they and the other man, who claims ownership of the house, have.Suzette Little, mayoral committee member for area north, said there was no way that two people could lay claim to the same house.Ms Little explained: “It is important to understand the system of allocation correctly. With housing projects in general, beneficiaries are initially given a temporary allocation against an erf number until the construction programme becomes clear. “Once the programme is known, the project team will know which blocks (and therefore erf numbers) will be constructed first. Only then can the final allocation be done since a fair methodology needs to be followed. “Those earliest on the database, the aged, and special needs cases are usually housed first and therefore allocations must change to enable this.“No house can be allocated to two people at once. “At the start of a project, provincial government authorities allocate numbers to erven prior to erven receiving their registered numbers. “Once the erven is registered with the surveyor-general, the erf numbers may change, but even so the same number cannot be allocated to more than one beneficiary.”She confirmed that 85 percent of the houses are earmarked for people from the area.When asked about the allegation of corruption, Ms Little added: “The City will investigate all the allegations and do a survey to confirm whether the allegations have merit.”The woman who moved into the house refused to comment, saying she would wait until after Mr Wrenn’s “hearing”, which was scheduled to take place yesterday (Tuesday May 2). Mr Wrenn told Athlone News he had felt sorry for the woman, who told him she and her children had had no place to stay, but denied that he took any money from her.“The house is a cancellation house. This lady asked me for temporary accommodation. I felt sorry for her because she told me she and her children have nowhere else to go. I told her she can stay in the house just for one month. “I thought that the month might give her a chance to find alternative accommodation, because she told me they have nowhere to go. “I want to clear my name, I never took any money from her. It was a mistake to allow her to move into the house. “At the time, I didn’t think it would be a problem, now my sympathy towards her, got me into trouble,” Mr Wrenn said.center_img The community also complained of shoddy workmanship at the housing project. This baths concrete, which is meant to secure it, collapsed.last_img read more

Betsy DeVos clears another hurdle in early morning Senate vote

first_img Author: CNN Published: February 3, 2017 9:05 AM EST Do you see a typo or an error? Let us know. Betsy DeVos clears another hurdle in early morning Senate vote center_img (CNN) The Senate voted early Friday to advance President Donald Trump’s education secretary nominee Betsy DeVos to a final confirmation vote, which is expected Monday.The vote was 52 to 48 along party lines.Senators convened at the unusual, early hour — 6:30 a.m. ET — because of Democratic stalling tactics that reflect their unhappiness with Trump’s cabinet picks and the overall confirmation process.DeVos has come under fire from Democrats and two key Republicans for her positions on public and charter schools, as well as statements made during her confirmation hearing last month.Despite losing support from Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, she is expected to be confirmed Monday with the help of Vice President Mike Pence, who will be in the chamber to break an expected 50-50 tie.Collins and Murkowski, who both have said they intend to vote against DeVos’ final conformation, voted to end the debate and advance her confirmation, as expected.In an impassioned show of opposition, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer implored other senators to “look into their conscience” over the weekend and reconsider their support for DeVos, saying she is “one of the worst nominees that has ever been” brought before the Senate.“Sometimes loyalty to a new president demands a bit too much,” he said. “With this nominee it does.”Following the vote, Sen. Patty Murray, a Democrat from Washington State and the ranking member on the education committee that held a hearing on DeVos’ nomination, took to the Senate floor to deliver a 25-minute speech blasting the nominee, a Michigan billionaire, not only on her positions but over questions about her finances and conflicts of interest.Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander, the chairman of the education committee, also appeared on the floor to defend DeVos, citing her work in the conservative education reform movement over the years. “I’m pleased to support her,” he said, adding that he looks forward to the final vote on her nomination early next week.In an interview with CNN after the vote, Sen. John Cornyn of Texas — the No. 2 Republican in the Senate — said the Democrats’ concerns weren’t “particularly fair” and argued that their ties to teachers unions are influencing them politically.“If people think our public education system is perfect, then I guess they don’t think we need to have any changes or any choices for students and their families,” he said. “I certainly think we do.” SHARElast_img read more

Butler-Sloss condemns advice cuts

first_imgRemoving funding for a service that helps litigants in person on the day wide-ranging legal aid cuts take effect will create ‘absolute disarray’ in the courts, a former head of the family division has warned. The Citizens Advice Bureau at the Royal Courts of Justice assists litigants in person at the High Court, Court of Appeal and Principle Registry. The money it gets to fund the service will end on 1 April, following the Legal Services Commission’s decision to axe Community Legal Service grants. The Advice Services Alliance and Law Centres Network will also lose funding, together saving the government £655,317. On the same day as the grants end, thousands of people will be removed from legal aid eligibility as the cuts in the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act come into effect. This is expected to vastly increase the number of litigants in person. Lady Butler-Sloss (pictured) told the House of Lords yesterday that the RJC CAB did work of ‘significance and importance’. ‘Having been a judge in the court for many years, I had personal experience of the advantages of the bureau looking after unrepresented families in my court,’ she said. She asked if Lord McNally, the legal aid minister, understood that taking away its core funding at this time ‘is going to leave the public and the courts in absolute disarray’. Labour’s former legal aid minister Lord Bach asked McNally why a decision had been taken that would put at risk ‘three highly respected and proven organisations’ that have a ‘superb record’ of helping disadvantaged people get access to justice. He questioned the government’s motives saying: ‘Is it just coincidence that these changes to legal aid are coming at precisely the same time as radical reform of the welfare system is about to begin? ‘Or is it, as seems much more likely to some of us, deliberate government policy to link these two things so that if mistakes are made as a result of welfare reform – as they will be – there will cease to be any effective legal remedy for many people.’ Defending the cut, McNally said the original three-year contracts to the groups had been extended twice, but that the grants were not used to provide direct advice to people who qualify for legal aid and that could no longer be afforded. With a limited budget, he said ‘hard decisions’ had to be made and funding limited to those giving ‘sharp-end’ legal aid advice. ‘Quite simply, the days when large amounts of government funds were available for these bodies are over and we all have to face that fact,’ he said.last_img read more

Lying and incompetent solicitor had ‘arrogant disregard’ for clients’ affairs

first_imgA solicitor who repeatedly lied to clients and later to the SRA as he sought to cover up his mistakes has been struck off the roll. David Kingsley Wedge misled clients into thinking their cases were progressing, assuring them steps had been taken which he had failed to take, the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal heard.Several complaints were made to the Solicitors Regulation Authority, which told a hearing of the SDT that Wedge had lied to clients and then misled the regulator during its investigation. The tribunal found allegations of dishonesty proven against the solicitor of 17 years, who did not attend the hearing and was not represented.In judgment, the tribunal said: ‘Much of [Wedge’s] conduct was motivated by his desire to cover up his incompetence and his failure to properly progress matters in which he had been instructed. He had displayed a wilful disregard of his professional obligations in the broadest sense. Further, he had an arrogant disregard of his clients’ affairs.’The tribunal heard that, in a child access case, Wedge asserted that his client’s ex-wife had refused to engage with proceedings, when in fact the solicitor had sent her no letters. The tribunal said the client lost a year of contact with his daughter, who wrongly believed her father had not wanted to see her. The client had paid a large amount of his monthly income in legal fees and was left in debt and suffering from depression.In another matter, Wedge misled a client pursuing solicitors for professional negligence, telling him counsel had been instructed when this was not true. This client was ultimately unable to progress the negligence claim.The tribunal said Wedge was in a position of fiduciary duty to his clients, but he ‘abused that position and took advantage of it’.Wedge, 48 this year, had emailed the tribunal to say he was sorry for any distress or upset he caused, which was unintentional, and he would have run the practice differently with hindsight. He had been suffering significant health issues due to stress at the time of the misconduct. The tribunal struck Wedge off and ordered him to pay £15,972 costs.last_img read more

Barrister suspended for not holding practising certificate

first_imgA barrister who carried out reserved legal activities for almost six years without a valid barristers’ practising certificate has been suspended.Bernadette McGurk faced an independent disciplinary tribunal following charges of professional misconduct brought by the Bar Standards Board.The tribunal found that McGurk carried out reserved legal activities on behalf of the Crown Prosecution Service between 1 August 2012 and 11 February 2018 without authorisation.The tribunal also found that by not holding a valid practising certificate, McGurk failed to take reasonable steps to manage her practice competently and in such a way as to achieve compliance with her legal and regulatory obligations.Director of professional conduct at the BSB, Sara Jagger, said: ‘The tribunal’s decision to suspend Ms McGurk serves as a warning to barristers of the serious consequences that can flow from failing to comply with their practising obligations.’The tribunal’s decision is open to appeal.last_img read more

GySEV orders Desiro Mainline EMUs

first_imgEUROPE: GySEV has awarded Siemens a contract to supply five Desiro Mainline electric multiple-units by May 2016. The EMUs are to be deployed on services across the border between Hungary and Austria, from Fertöszentmiklós to Neusiedl am See and from Deutschkreutz to Wulkaprodersdorf and Eisenstadt. Siemens was awarded the €30·7m contract without a tender, as there is a requirement for compatibility with the Desiro ML units previously ordered by ÖBB.last_img