R-Squared Energy Blog

Pure Energy

Britain’s Impending Energy Crisis

In case you missed the story yesterday in the Economist:

How long till the lights go out?

North Sea gas has served Britain well, but supply peaked in 1999. Since then the flow has fallen by half; by 2015 it will have dropped by two-thirds. By 2015 four of Britain’s ten nuclear stations will have shut and no new ones could be ready for years after that. As for coal, it is fiendishly dirty: Britain will be breaking just about every green promise it has ever made if it is using anything like as much as it does today. Renewable energy sources will help, but even if the wind and waves can be harnessed (and Britain has plenty of both), these on-off forces cannot easily replace more predictable gas, nuclear and coal power. There will be a shortfall—perhaps of as much as 20GW—which, if nothing radical is done, will have to be met from imported gas. A large chunk of it may come from Vladimir Putin’s deeply unreliable and corrupt Russia.

Many of Britain’s neighbours may find this rather amusing. Britain, the only big west European country that could have joined the oil producers’ club OPEC, the country that used to lecture the world about energy liberalisation, is heading towards South African-style power cuts, with homes and factories plunged intermittently into third-world darkness.

For more background on Britain’s situation, see also The looming electricity crunch.

I thought about these issues a lot when I lived in Scotland. Britain is clearly facing a crisis, and how they address it will be instructive to those of us who are concerned about energy shortages. I always said that Britain will ultimately conclude that they have to have a lot of new nuclear power, but it looks like that recognition won’t come in time to help them. So what’s the answer? They start ramping coal back up – breaking those green promises – or they start to suffer power outages. What do you think they will do? As I have said before, when the power starts to go out, environmental concerns will fly out the window. Sure, people like the idea of not burning coal. But will they give up power 6 hours a day to achieve that? I don’t think too many of them will.

Of course there is still natural gas from Russia, and I think they are going to have to roll the dice in the short term and hope Russia doesn’t hold them hostage. Longer term, LNG terminals would seem to make sense to me, but they don’t seem to be a part of the discussion here.

Ultimately, I think Britain will behave as the rest of the world will behave when faced with energy crunches. They will find that renewables can’t step up and fill the gap, and so they will roll out conservation measures and make do with whatever it takes to avoid crippling power outages: No matter if it takes coal, natural gas, or the blubber from baby seals. This is how I expect the world to respond when renewable dreams meet the reality of power shortages.

August 7, 2009 Posted by | coal, electricity usage, energy crisis, natural gas, Russia, Scotland, United Kingdom | 43 Comments

A Melancholy Goodbye

It’s actually been an entire month of melancholy for me – ever since my family got on the plane to fly back to the U.S. on February 2nd. Today marks four weeks without them. But then yesterday was my last day of work, and I said my goodbyes to a team that I was very fond of – and an employer that has treated me well. And after this weekend, I say my goodbyes to Aberdeen. These are the things on my mind as I prepare to leave.

What I Will Miss

The Lush Green Hills

Scotland is green year round. When the weather cooperates, it is a walker’s paradise. Not a weekend goes by that I don’t find myself climbing around the many foot paths around my area. In fact, I am planning on taking a final loop this afternoon – walking past sheep pastures and forests that look like they were plucked out of Lord of the Rings. And I was always in awe when I thought of all of the history underfoot.

The People

The natural beauty of Scotland and the friendliness of the people are what persuaded us to move here. I captured my reflections of the people and the country in an essay documenting a vacation we took here in 2000. At the time, my wife and I said that if a job ever came up in Scotland, it would be very difficult to turn down.

Here is an example of what I am talking about. This morning, I sold my car to a dealership about 15 miles from Aberdeen. I took a bus back into town, and I was unfamiliar with the route. I asked the bus driver a question about the stops, and upon hearing my accent I immediately got 10 helpful replies from the people on the bus. They all wanted to make sure that I got to my destination, and on 3 separate occasions when someone was getting off the bus, they stopped at my seat and gave me some additional directions. When I finally got off the bus, several other people got off at the same time and an elderly woman offered to walk me to my destination. That is a classic example of my interactions with the people of Scotland – truly some of the nicest people in the world.

My Team





What can I say about my team? For the past year I have been surrounded by some of the finest process engineering minds I have ever encountered. I don’t exaggerate when I say that I probably learned more from them than they learned from me. I wanted to poach them all off to my new company, but I didn’t think my employer would appreciate that very much. So, I left them alone, but some day I may reach out and tap them on the shoulder.

Now, a brief word about the people I worked with, in no particular order. I am sure I am leaving some deserving people out, but hopefully nobody will take offense.

Paul – One of the nicest guys I have ever met (even if he was still getting me to approve P&IDs as I was walking out the door), and an engineer with an incredibly bright future. Also a new father. Enjoy every minute with her, Paul. It seems like only yesterday that my daughter was born, and she turns 14 next week.

Sowjanya – It’s been a pleasure watching Sowjanya develop as an engineer over the past year. She never complained – even over the tedious stuff – and always did good work. Keep in touch and I will tell you about my trip to your homeland in a couple of weeks.

Nicola – Low key, soft spoken, and capable of handling any job. Confident, without the slightest bit of cockiness. Like myself, Nicola stands at some forks in the road, and I will be interested to see which one(s) she takes.

Ghavam – Holds the record for the fastest ever time from walking in the front door on his first day to being at his desk working. I think it took about 15 minutes; I didn’t even introduce him to everyone before throwing a load of work at him. Told me that he reported to his family after that first day that his new team lead looked like Tom Cruise. My wife wonders if he needs glasses. 🙂 Also proved to me that Americans can in fact travel to Iran – even though there are travel restrictions in place.

Emad – Very competent and very persistent. Doesn’t let small details slip by. Like Ghavam, Emad has an incredible amount of diverse experience for a senior engineer, and I said on many occasions that these two senior engineers were the core of the team. They did a great job mentoring the younger engineers, and the quality of their work was greatly appreciated by the more senior engineers. Emad also showed me how much it can snow in Iran – and this was news to me.

Zairin – A bundle of energy who reminds me a lot of me early in my career. Always takes the time to form his own conclusions, and will challenge the work of those many years his senior. I value that kind of skepticism greatly.

Mark and Ghader – I didn’t know you for very long, but from what I saw the group is in good hands with you two. I had to interview these guys under false pretenses. I was looking for a “principal process engineer”, which is a very senior level guy. But what I was really looking for – but couldn’t tell anyone – was a replacement for me.

Jen – Always cheerful and smiling, no matter how many P&IDs we stacked in front of her. Performed a critical role for the group, and doesn’t get enough praise for the job she does.

Dave – Took me under his wing, and taught me the ropes of an upstream design house. Those lessons lasted right up until the end. Dave is from Shetland, and as a joke I used to tell people that’s where I was from when they detected that my accent is definitely not Scottish. I never managed to fool anyone, but I definitely caused some double-takes.

Reza – A true friend with whom I have much in common. Also a good family man, and I empathize strongly with his separation from his family. Maybe some day I will take him up on the offer to fly back home, see Tehran, and meet his family.

Phil – More knowledge than Perry’s Chemical Engineers’ Handbook. Phil is not known as “Yoda” for nothing. Would also have made a great lawyer, as he can be difficult to pin down at times.

Keith, Graham, and Neil – All taught me valuable lessons about management that I will carry with me for the rest of my career. I predict that at least one of you is headed for the pinnacle. I know you will keep the company moving forward.

What I Won’t Miss

Winding, Narrow Roads

It is a miracle that I survived driving here. The roads are very narrow and winding, incredibly dark at night (which lasts for 16 hours in the winter), and braved by bicyclists with death wishes. Several times I have come around a blind curve in dark and rainy conditions to find a bicyclist in the middle of the road. And the Scots will drive on these roads as if they are on the freeway. Almost daily I had a situation that had me bracing for impact – and I did in fact scrape up a vehicle for the first time in over 20 years. And no matter how many times I tried to encourage others to adopt the practice of driving on the right as we do in the U.S. – by doing so myself – it just never caught on.

Erratic Customer Service

This isn’t restricted to Scotland, but here’s an example of what I am talking about. I contacted my insurance company this week, and told them that I needed to cancel the car insurance because the car had been sold. “No problem,” I was told. But since we were only 7 months into a 12 month term, and I was going to be leaving town shortly, I called back to see what my options were for a refund. “Oh, there’s no refund,” I was told. “In fact, you owe us 26 pounds. You see, you were entitled to a 24 pound refund, but the cancellation fee is 50 pounds.” I was flabbergasted. I told him then to just forget it and let the policy run out. “Too late, I have already processed the cancellation.” So I asked why on earth he would do that when it cost more to cancel the policy than it would to just let it run out. “Because you asked me to. But don’t worry, we have applied your refund toward the 50 pounds, so you only owe us 26 pounds.” Yeah? Try collecting it.

Unpredictable Weather

In every place I have lived, the locals think their weather is particularly erratic. You surely know the phrase “Don’t like the weather? Just wait a few minutes.” I have heard that phrase from Oklahomans, Texans, Montanans, Kansans, New Yorkers, Virginians, Norwegians, and Germans. Well, I have been around a bit, and when Scots say it, believe it. I can recall one of my first days at work, it was nice and sunny. I thought “Shaping up to be a nice day.” Within 30 minutes it was snowing hard. 30 minutes later it was sunny again. After a bit here came the snow again.

Take this morning, for instance. I got up, looked out, and saw not a cloud in the sky. I was worried that the weather was going to be bad, because the wind had blown so hard during the night that I thought the roof was going to come off of the house. I had to take a large load of things to the recycling center, and it was bright enough that I needed my sunglasses. Ten minutes later, as I was standing outdoors shoving bottles, cans, and newspapers into the receptacles, the wind was blowing 40 miles an hour and it was raining. Twenty minutes later, I had to put the sunglasses back on. That was followed by rain, and now in the early afternoon it is sunny again (but windy). So one thing I learned here is to never set expectations that it is going to be a sunny, rainy, cold, warm day – by what it is doing at any particular moment.

That’s it. Goodbye Aberdeen. It’s been a pleasure.

March 1, 2008 Posted by | Aberdeen, Scotland | 78 Comments

A Melancholy Goodbye

It’s actually been an entire month of melancholy for me – ever since my family got on the plane to fly back to the U.S. on February 2nd. Today marks four weeks without them. But then yesterday was my last day of work, and I said my goodbyes to a team that I was very fond of – and an employer that has treated me well. And after this weekend, I say my goodbyes to Aberdeen. These are the things on my mind as I prepare to leave.

What I Will Miss

The Lush Green Hills

Scotland is green year round. When the weather cooperates, it is a walker’s paradise. Not a weekend goes by that I don’t find myself climbing around the many foot paths around my area. In fact, I am planning on taking a final loop this afternoon – walking past sheep pastures and forests that look like they were plucked out of Lord of the Rings. And I was always in awe when I thought of all of the history underfoot.

The People

The natural beauty of Scotland and the friendliness of the people are what persuaded us to move here. I captured my reflections of the people and the country in an essay documenting a vacation we took here in 2000. At the time, my wife and I said that if a job ever came up in Scotland, it would be very difficult to turn down.

Here is an example of what I am talking about. This morning, I sold my car to a dealership about 15 miles from Aberdeen. I took a bus back into town, and I was unfamiliar with the route. I asked the bus driver a question about the stops, and upon hearing my accent I immediately got 10 helpful replies from the people on the bus. They all wanted to make sure that I got to my destination, and on 3 separate occasions when someone was getting off the bus, they stopped at my seat and gave me some additional directions. When I finally got off the bus, several other people got off at the same time and an elderly woman offered to walk me to my destination. That is a classic example of my interactions with the people of Scotland – truly some of the nicest people in the world.

My Team





What can I say about my team? For the past year I have been surrounded by some of the finest process engineering minds I have ever encountered. I don’t exaggerate when I say that I probably learned more from them than they learned from me. I wanted to poach them all off to my new company, but I didn’t think my employer would appreciate that very much. So, I left them alone, but some day I may reach out and tap them on the shoulder.

Now, a brief word about the people I worked with, in no particular order. I am sure I am leaving some deserving people out, but hopefully nobody will take offense.

Paul – One of the nicest guys I have ever met (even if he was still getting me to approve P&IDs as I was walking out the door), and an engineer with an incredibly bright future. Also a new father. Enjoy every minute with her, Paul. It seems like only yesterday that my daughter was born, and she turns 14 next week.

Sowjanya – It’s been a pleasure watching Sowjanya develop as an engineer over the past year. She never complained – even over the tedious stuff – and always did good work. Keep in touch and I will tell you about my trip to your homeland in a couple of weeks.

Nicola – Low key, soft spoken, and capable of handling any job. Confident, without the slightest bit of cockiness. Like myself, Nicola stands at some forks in the road, and I will be interested to see which one(s) she takes.

Ghavam – Holds the record for the fastest ever time from walking in the front door on his first day to being at his desk working. I think it took about 15 minutes; I didn’t even introduce him to everyone before throwing a load of work at him. Told me that he reported to his family after that first day that his new team lead looked like Tom Cruise. My wife wonders if he needs glasses. 🙂 Also proved to me that Americans can in fact travel to Iran – even though there are travel restrictions in place.

Emad – Very competent and very persistent. Doesn’t let small details slip by. Like Ghavam, Emad has an incredible amount of diverse experience for a senior engineer, and I said on many occasions that these two senior engineers were the core of the team. They did a great job mentoring the younger engineers, and the quality of their work was greatly appreciated by the more senior engineers. Emad also showed me how much it can snow in Iran – and this was news to me.

Zairin – A bundle of energy who reminds me a lot of me early in my career. Always takes the time to form his own conclusions, and will challenge the work of those many years his senior. I value that kind of skepticism greatly.

Mark and Ghader – I didn’t know you for very long, but from what I saw the group is in good hands with you two. I had to interview these guys under false pretenses. I was looking for a “principal process engineer”, which is a very senior level guy. But what I was really looking for – but couldn’t tell anyone – was a replacement for me.

Jen – Always cheerful and smiling, no matter how many P&IDs we stacked in front of her. Performed a critical role for the group, and doesn’t get enough praise for the job she does.

Dave – Took me under his wing, and taught me the ropes of an upstream design house. Those lessons lasted right up until the end. Dave is from Shetland, and as a joke I used to tell people that’s where I was from when they detected that my accent is definitely not Scottish. I never managed to fool anyone, but I definitely caused some double-takes.

Reza – A true friend with whom I have much in common. Also a good family man, and I empathize strongly with his separation from his family. Maybe some day I will take him up on the offer to fly back home, see Tehran, and meet his family.

Phil – More knowledge than Perry’s Chemical Engineers’ Handbook. Phil is not known as “Yoda” for nothing. Would also have made a great lawyer, as he can be difficult to pin down at times.

Keith, Graham, and Neil – All taught me valuable lessons about management that I will carry with me for the rest of my career. I predict that at least one of you is headed for the pinnacle. I know you will keep the company moving forward.

What I Won’t Miss

Winding, Narrow Roads

It is a miracle that I survived driving here. The roads are very narrow and winding, incredibly dark at night (which lasts for 16 hours in the winter), and braved by bicyclists with death wishes. Several times I have come around a blind curve in dark and rainy conditions to find a bicyclist in the middle of the road. And the Scots will drive on these roads as if they are on the freeway. Almost daily I had a situation that had me bracing for impact – and I did in fact scrape up a vehicle for the first time in over 20 years. And no matter how many times I tried to encourage others to adopt the practice of driving on the right as we do in the U.S. – by doing so myself – it just never caught on.

Erratic Customer Service

This isn’t restricted to Scotland, but here’s an example of what I am talking about. I contacted my insurance company this week, and told them that I needed to cancel the car insurance because the car had been sold. “No problem,” I was told. But since we were only 7 months into a 12 month term, and I was going to be leaving town shortly, I called back to see what my options were for a refund. “Oh, there’s no refund,” I was told. “In fact, you owe us 26 pounds. You see, you were entitled to a 24 pound refund, but the cancellation fee is 50 pounds.” I was flabbergasted. I told him then to just forget it and let the policy run out. “Too late, I have already processed the cancellation.” So I asked why on earth he would do that when it cost more to cancel the policy than it would to just let it run out. “Because you asked me to. But don’t worry, we have applied your refund toward the 50 pounds, so you only owe us 26 pounds.” Yeah? Try collecting it.

Unpredictable Weather

In every place I have lived, the locals think their weather is particularly erratic. You surely know the phrase “Don’t like the weather? Just wait a few minutes.” I have heard that phrase from Oklahomans, Texans, Montanans, Kansans, New Yorkers, Virginians, Norwegians, and Germans. Well, I have been around a bit, and when Scots say it, believe it. I can recall one of my first days at work, it was nice and sunny. I thought “Shaping up to be a nice day.” Within 30 minutes it was snowing hard. 30 minutes later it was sunny again. After a bit here came the snow again.

Take this morning, for instance. I got up, looked out, and saw not a cloud in the sky. I was worried that the weather was going to be bad, because the wind had blown so hard during the night that I thought the roof was going to come off of the house. I had to take a large load of things to the recycling center, and it was bright enough that I needed my sunglasses. Ten minutes later, as I was standing outdoors shoving bottles, cans, and newspapers into the receptacles, the wind was blowing 40 miles an hour and it was raining. Twenty minutes later, I had to put the sunglasses back on. That was followed by rain, and now in the early afternoon it is sunny again (but windy). So one thing I learned here is to never set expectations that it is going to be a sunny, rainy, cold, warm day – by what it is doing at any particular moment.

That’s it. Goodbye Aberdeen. It’s been a pleasure.

March 1, 2008 Posted by | Aberdeen, Scotland | 20 Comments

A Melancholy Goodbye

It’s actually been an entire month of melancholy for me – ever since my family got on the plane to fly back to the U.S. on February 2nd. Today marks four weeks without them. But then yesterday was my last day of work, and I said my goodbyes to a team that I was very fond of – and an employer that has treated me well. And after this weekend, I say my goodbyes to Aberdeen. These are the things on my mind as I prepare to leave.

What I Will Miss

The Lush Green Hills

Scotland is green year round. When the weather cooperates, it is a walker’s paradise. Not a weekend goes by that I don’t find myself climbing around the many foot paths around my area. In fact, I am planning on taking a final loop this afternoon – walking past sheep pastures and forests that look like they were plucked out of Lord of the Rings. And I was always in awe when I thought of all of the history underfoot.

The People

The natural beauty of Scotland and the friendliness of the people are what persuaded us to move here. I captured my reflections of the people and the country in an essay documenting a vacation we took here in 2000. At the time, my wife and I said that if a job ever came up in Scotland, it would be very difficult to turn down.

Here is an example of what I am talking about. This morning, I sold my car to a dealership about 15 miles from Aberdeen. I took a bus back into town, and I was unfamiliar with the route. I asked the bus driver a question about the stops, and upon hearing my accent I immediately got 10 helpful replies from the people on the bus. They all wanted to make sure that I got to my destination, and on 3 separate occasions when someone was getting off the bus, they stopped at my seat and gave me some additional directions. When I finally got off the bus, several other people got off at the same time and an elderly woman offered to walk me to my destination. That is a classic example of my interactions with the people of Scotland – truly some of the nicest people in the world.

My Team





What can I say about my team? For the past year I have been surrounded by some of the finest process engineering minds I have ever encountered. I don’t exaggerate when I say that I probably learned more from them than they learned from me. I wanted to poach them all off to my new company, but I didn’t think my employer would appreciate that very much. So, I left them alone, but some day I may reach out and tap them on the shoulder.

Now, a brief word about the people I worked with, in no particular order. I am sure I am leaving some deserving people out, but hopefully nobody will take offense.

Paul – One of the nicest guys I have ever met (even if he was still getting me to approve P&IDs as I was walking out the door), and an engineer with an incredibly bright future. Also a new father. Enjoy every minute with her, Paul. It seems like only yesterday that my daughter was born, and she turns 14 next week.

Sowjanya – It’s been a pleasure watching Sowjanya develop as an engineer over the past year. She never complained – even over the tedious stuff – and always did good work. Keep in touch and I will tell you about my trip to your homeland in a couple of weeks.

Nicola – Low key, soft spoken, and capable of handling any job. Confident, without the slightest bit of cockiness. Like myself, Nicola stands at some forks in the road, and I will be interested to see which one(s) she takes.

Ghavam – Holds the record for the fastest ever time from walking in the front door on his first day to being at his desk working. I think it took about 15 minutes; I didn’t even introduce him to everyone before throwing a load of work at him. Told me that he reported to his family after that first day that his new team lead looked like Tom Cruise. My wife wonders if he needs glasses. 🙂 Also proved to me that Americans can in fact travel to Iran – even though there are travel restrictions in place.

Emad – Very competent and very persistent. Doesn’t let small details slip by. Like Ghavam, Emad has an incredible amount of diverse experience for a senior engineer, and I said on many occasions that these two senior engineers were the core of the team. They did a great job mentoring the younger engineers, and the quality of their work was greatly appreciated by the more senior engineers. Emad also showed me how much it can snow in Iran – and this was news to me.

Zairin – A bundle of energy who reminds me a lot of me early in my career. Always takes the time to form his own conclusions, and will challenge the work of those many years his senior. I value that kind of skepticism greatly.

Mark and Ghader – I didn’t know you for very long, but from what I saw the group is in good hands with you two. I had to interview these guys under false pretenses. I was looking for a “principal process engineer”, which is a very senior level guy. But what I was really looking for – but couldn’t tell anyone – was a replacement for me.

Jen – Always cheerful and smiling, no matter how many P&IDs we stacked in front of her. Performed a critical role for the group, and doesn’t get enough praise for the job she does.

Dave – Took me under his wing, and taught me the ropes of an upstream design house. Those lessons lasted right up until the end. Dave is from Shetland, and as a joke I used to tell people that’s where I was from when they detected that my accent is definitely not Scottish. I never managed to fool anyone, but I definitely caused some double-takes.

Reza – A true friend with whom I have much in common. Also a good family man, and I empathize strongly with his separation from his family. Maybe some day I will take him up on the offer to fly back home, see Tehran, and meet his family.

Phil – More knowledge than Perry’s Chemical Engineers’ Handbook. Phil is not known as “Yoda” for nothing. Would also have made a great lawyer, as he can be difficult to pin down at times.

Keith, Graham, and Neil – All taught me valuable lessons about management that I will carry with me for the rest of my career. I predict that at least one of you is headed for the pinnacle. I know you will keep the company moving forward.

What I Won’t Miss

Winding, Narrow Roads

It is a miracle that I survived driving here. The roads are very narrow and winding, incredibly dark at night (which lasts for 16 hours in the winter), and braved by bicyclists with death wishes. Several times I have come around a blind curve in dark and rainy conditions to find a bicyclist in the middle of the road. And the Scots will drive on these roads as if they are on the freeway. Almost daily I had a situation that had me bracing for impact – and I did in fact scrape up a vehicle for the first time in over 20 years. And no matter how many times I tried to encourage others to adopt the practice of driving on the right as we do in the U.S. – by doing so myself – it just never caught on.

Erratic Customer Service

This isn’t restricted to Scotland, but here’s an example of what I am talking about. I contacted my insurance company this week, and told them that I needed to cancel the car insurance because the car had been sold. “No problem,” I was told. But since we were only 7 months into a 12 month term, and I was going to be leaving town shortly, I called back to see what my options were for a refund. “Oh, there’s no refund,” I was told. “In fact, you owe us 26 pounds. You see, you were entitled to a 24 pound refund, but the cancellation fee is 50 pounds.” I was flabbergasted. I told him then to just forget it and let the policy run out. “Too late, I have already processed the cancellation.” So I asked why on earth he would do that when it cost more to cancel the policy than it would to just let it run out. “Because you asked me to. But don’t worry, we have applied your refund toward the 50 pounds, so you only owe us 26 pounds.” Yeah? Try collecting it.

Unpredictable Weather

In every place I have lived, the locals think their weather is particularly erratic. You surely know the phrase “Don’t like the weather? Just wait a few minutes.” I have heard that phrase from Oklahomans, Texans, Montanans, Kansans, New Yorkers, Virginians, Norwegians, and Germans. Well, I have been around a bit, and when Scots say it, believe it. I can recall one of my first days at work, it was nice and sunny. I thought “Shaping up to be a nice day.” Within 30 minutes it was snowing hard. 30 minutes later it was sunny again. After a bit here came the snow again.

Take this morning, for instance. I got up, looked out, and saw not a cloud in the sky. I was worried that the weather was going to be bad, because the wind had blown so hard during the night that I thought the roof was going to come off of the house. I had to take a large load of things to the recycling center, and it was bright enough that I needed my sunglasses. Ten minutes later, as I was standing outdoors shoving bottles, cans, and newspapers into the receptacles, the wind was blowing 40 miles an hour and it was raining. Twenty minutes later, I had to put the sunglasses back on. That was followed by rain, and now in the early afternoon it is sunny again (but windy). So one thing I learned here is to never set expectations that it is going to be a sunny, rainy, cold, warm day – by what it is doing at any particular moment.

That’s it. Goodbye Aberdeen. It’s been a pleasure.

March 1, 2008 Posted by | Aberdeen, Scotland | 10 Comments

Renewable Energy Tempts Workers

I saw an interesting little story today from The Glasgow Herald. I can’t find an online version, so here it is:

Renewable Energy Tempts Workers

By Mark Williamson

More than half of the skilled staff working in the oil and gas industry may be interested in switching to work for renewable energy, according to a survey which could heighten concerns about skills shortages for North Sea firms, writes Mark Williamson. In an online survey, Eden Scott found that 52% of respondents who were employed by oil and gas firms said that they had considered or were considering a move into the renewable energy sector.

The recruitment firm said almost one in five, 19%, of those respondents who were already working in the industry had come from oil and gas. The findings may concern North Sea industry leaders following repeated complaints that firms have been struggling to get enough skilled staff. Other sectors that had proved to be fertile sources for candidates for renewable energy companies included telecoms, aerospace, engineering, power generation, consultancy and nuclear.

Among people who said they were considering moving into renewable energy, some 71% said they thought the industry had good long-term prospects while 68% cited technical interest and 63% highlighted green concerns. Eden Scott said the number of jobs in renewable energy in Europe was predicted to increase from 30,000 to 200,000 across Europe in the next five years.

Interesting times ahead for the oil industry. I see the manpower shortage getting worse and worse, which is of course one of the issues leading to Peak Lite. Am I one of the 52% who has considered it? Of course. I have considered it several times.

I find LS9 appealing, but not living in California. Ditto for Tesla Motors. I found Range Fuels interesting (and I was talking to Vinod Khosla about this when my current assignment came up), but I didn’t want to live in Georgia. And I find Choren very intriguing, but don’t like the idea of living in Houston. (I also know some of the key Choren players, and they are quite a likeable bunch). I think all of the above have good prospects, yet each one had or has something that for me is a show-stopper. But I can see why people are drawn to the field.

November 28, 2007 Posted by | manpower, North Sea, Scotland, United Kingdom | 29 Comments

What a Return Trip to Scotland

Off topic, but on June 30th my family and I flew from Dallas back to the U.K. We had a connecting flight at Gatwick in London, and then we were to fly on to Aberdeen. I talked to my in-laws just as I was about to get on the plane in Dallas, and they acted like they wanted to say something. What I didn’t know is that just before we got on the plane, terrorists had apparently tried to blow up the Glasgow International Airport in Scotland. My in-laws had seen that scroll across the screen on CNN just as we were about to climb on a plane for Scotland.

On the way over, we didn’t know anything had happened. We kept catching bits from the flight attendants. One of them told me that Gatwick was going to be very nasty. And boy, was it ever. We landed with an hour and a half to go until our connection. We were told that the queues would take much longer than that. After waiting in line for about 40 minutes, I told one of the people managing the queue that our flight was just about to close. They then rushed us to the front of the line for passport control, but then we still had several layers of security to get through. I am certain that I don’t ever want to fly again when the terror alert is at the highest level.

We knew that we had passed the time that our flight was to leave, but we rushed to the gate anyway. Thankfully, it was delayed just a bit, and we got on just as they closed the doors. The flight attendants were very nervous. They wouldn’t let anyone stand in line for the bathroom. My wife had a shawl, and they asked if she had anything underneath it. But it wasn’t until we landed in Aberdeen that I grabbed a paper and we found out what had happened. And there were police all over the Aberdeen Airport, and news crews were doing interviews. And now my kids are terrified that I have just moved them to a dangerous place, and my extended family is highly concerned as well.

One funny thing happened on the flight from Dallas to London. A flight attendant came over to me, and said that a couple 4 rows back had asked if he could get my autograph. I looked at him quizically, and he said “They thought you were Tom Cruise.” My wife thought this was hilarious, and wondered if they were legally blind. (In fact, I think she got a little bit too much enjoyment out of it, but given the long flight I decided to let her have her fun). The flight attendant got a big kick out of it as well, and he called me Mr. Cruise for the rest of the flight. But I should point out that I am taller and younger, but poorer than Mr. Cruise. I am also not as good an actor, but I bet he isn’t much of a chemical engineer.

For the record, this is me:

This is not Tom Cruise at Buckingham Palace

And this is Tom Cruise:

The Real Tom Cruise

I could see how someone could get us confused. 🙂 Especially if they were legally blind.

July 1, 2007 Posted by | Scotland, terrorism, Tom Cruise | 11 Comments

What a Return Trip to Scotland

Off topic, but on June 30th my family and I flew from Dallas back to the U.K. We had a connecting flight at Gatwick in London, and then we were to fly on to Aberdeen. I talked to my in-laws just as I was about to get on the plane in Dallas, and they acted like they wanted to say something. What I didn’t know is that just before we got on the plane, terrorists had apparently tried to blow up the Glasgow International Airport in Scotland. My in-laws had seen that scroll across the screen on CNN just as we were about to climb on a plane for Scotland.

On the way over, we didn’t know anything had happened. We kept catching bits from the flight attendants. One of them told me that Gatwick was going to be very nasty. And boy, was it ever. We landed with an hour and a half to go until our connection. We were told that the queues would take much longer than that. After waiting in line for about 40 minutes, I told one of the people managing the queue that our flight was just about to close. They then rushed us to the front of the line for passport control, but then we still had several layers of security to get through. I am certain that I don’t ever want to fly again when the terror alert is at the highest level.

We knew that we had passed the time that our flight was to leave, but we rushed to the gate anyway. Thankfully, it was delayed just a bit, and we got on just as they closed the doors. The flight attendants were very nervous. They wouldn’t let anyone stand in line for the bathroom. My wife had a shawl, and they asked if she had anything underneath it. But it wasn’t until we landed in Aberdeen that I grabbed a paper and we found out what had happened. And there were police all over the Aberdeen Airport, and news crews were doing interviews. And now my kids are terrified that I have just moved them to a dangerous place, and my extended family is highly concerned as well.

One funny thing happened on the flight from Dallas to London. A flight attendant came over to me, and said that a couple 4 rows back had asked if he could get my autograph. I looked at him quizically, and he said “They thought you were Tom Cruise.” My wife thought this was hilarious, and wondered if they were legally blind. (In fact, I think she got a little bit too much enjoyment out of it, but given the long flight I decided to let her have her fun). The flight attendant got a big kick out of it as well, and he called me Mr. Cruise for the rest of the flight. But I should point out that I am taller and younger, but poorer than Mr. Cruise. I am also not as good an actor, but I bet he isn’t much of a chemical engineer.

For the record, this is me:

This is not Tom Cruise at Buckingham Palace

And this is Tom Cruise:

The Real Tom Cruise

I could see how someone could get us confused. 🙂 Especially if they were legally blind.

July 1, 2007 Posted by | Scotland, terrorism, Tom Cruise | Comments Off on What a Return Trip to Scotland

What a Return Trip to Scotland

Off topic, but on June 30th my family and I flew from Dallas back to the U.K. We had a connecting flight at Gatwick in London, and then we were to fly on to Aberdeen. I talked to my in-laws just as I was about to get on the plane in Dallas, and they acted like they wanted to say something. What I didn’t know is that just before we got on the plane, terrorists had apparently tried to blow up the Glasgow International Airport in Scotland. My in-laws had seen that scroll across the screen on CNN just as we were about to climb on a plane for Scotland.

On the way over, we didn’t know anything had happened. We kept catching bits from the flight attendants. One of them told me that Gatwick was going to be very nasty. And boy, was it ever. We landed with an hour and a half to go until our connection. We were told that the queues would take much longer than that. After waiting in line for about 40 minutes, I told one of the people managing the queue that our flight was just about to close. They then rushed us to the front of the line for passport control, but then we still had several layers of security to get through. I am certain that I don’t ever want to fly again when the terror alert is at the highest level.

We knew that we had passed the time that our flight was to leave, but we rushed to the gate anyway. Thankfully, it was delayed just a bit, and we got on just as they closed the doors. The flight attendants were very nervous. They wouldn’t let anyone stand in line for the bathroom. My wife had a shawl, and they asked if she had anything underneath it. But it wasn’t until we landed in Aberdeen that I grabbed a paper and we found out what had happened. And there were police all over the Aberdeen Airport, and news crews were doing interviews. And now my kids are terrified that I have just moved them to a dangerous place, and my extended family is highly concerned as well.

One funny thing happened on the flight from Dallas to London. A flight attendant came over to me, and said that a couple 4 rows back had asked if he could get my autograph. I looked at him quizically, and he said “They thought you were Tom Cruise.” My wife thought this was hilarious, and wondered if they were legally blind. (In fact, I think she got a little bit too much enjoyment out of it, but given the long flight I decided to let her have her fun). The flight attendant got a big kick out of it as well, and he called me Mr. Cruise for the rest of the flight. But I should point out that I am taller and younger, but poorer than Mr. Cruise. I am also not as good an actor, but I bet he isn’t much of a chemical engineer.

For the record, this is me:

This is not Tom Cruise at Buckingham Palace

And this is Tom Cruise:

The Real Tom Cruise

I could see how someone could get us confused. 🙂 Especially if they were legally blind.

July 1, 2007 Posted by | Scotland, terrorism, Tom Cruise | 5 Comments