Rolls-Royce hit by further setback to fixing Boeing 787 engines

As of late February, Rolls-Royce said 35 Boeing 787s were grounded globally due to engine blades corroding or cracking prematurely. (AFP)
Updated 20 September 2019

Rolls-Royce hit by further setback to fixing Boeing 787 engines

  • The company faces £1.6 billion ($2 billion) in extra costs and disruption as a result of the engine problem
  • As of late February, Rolls said 35 787s were grounded globally due to engine blades corroding or cracking prematurely

Rolls-Royce will take longer than expected to fix problems with its Trent 1000 engine, frustrating efforts to get Boeing 787s grounded by the glitch flying again and knocking the British company’s shares.
Rolls-Royce, whose engines power large civil and military planes, said on Friday it had sped up turbine blade replacement for some models, leading to additional removals and delaying a reduction in the number of grounded aircraft to single figures until the second quarter of 2020.
The company faces £1.6 billion ($2 billion) in extra costs and disruption as a result of the engine problem, which is due to the poor durability of components, and the latest delay spells further frustration for its customers and investors.
Rolls-Royce, whose customers include more than 400 airlines, 160 armed forces and 70 navies, said in August that it would spend another £100 million to fix the issue.
“We perceived a risk that further action would be required, potentially leading to higher costs being incurred ... today’s announcement that guidance for the Trent 1000 cash costs in 2019 and 2020 remains unchanged comes as a relief,” Jefferies analysts, who rate the stock as “buy,” said.
Rolls-Royce CEO Warren East said in August that a target of fewer than 10 aircraft on the ground at the end of the year might take a bit longer to achieve as a result of an additional repair load resulting from faster deterioration of a blade on the Trent 1000 TEN.
The Trent 1000 TEN is the latest version of an engine that has had a problematic entry into service. As of late February, Rolls said 35 787s were grounded globally due to engine blades corroding or cracking prematurely.
“We deeply regret the additional disruption that this will cause our customers and we continue to work closely with them to minimize the impact on their operations,” Rolls-Royce said.
Airlines have faced disruptions because of the groundings, with Norwegian Air’s strategy switch to prioritize profits over growth hampered by the global grounding of Boeing’s 737 MAX aircraft and long-running problems with Rolls-Royce’s engines on Boeing Dreamliners.
Singapore Airlines has also grounded two 787-10 jets fitted with the Trent 1000 TEN engines.
Rolls-Royce is keen to avoid further problems with the engine and in March dropped out of the race to power Boeing’s planned mid-market aircraft.


Virus crisis threat to oil platform removal decommissioning

Updated 6 min 52 sec ago

Virus crisis threat to oil platform removal decommissioning

  • Environmentalists fear that companies will seek to leave structures in place

LONDON: Oil companies are being forced to cut spending due to a fall in global oil prices, threatening funds earmarked to dismantle old off-shore rigs, despite environmental risks.

A drastic drop in revenue caused by the coronavirus outbreak has forced majors such as Total, Royal Dutch Shell and BP cutting or defering expenditure by billions of dollars.

Decommissioning platforms is not “one of their top priorities,” according to Sonya Boodoo, an analyst at Rystad Energy.

She told AFP the allocated budgets for such activities would likely decrease by at least 10 percent over the next two years.

Before the outbreak, the UK Oil and Gas industry association estimated that firms planned to dedicate £1.5 billion ($1.9 billion) per year up to 2027 on decommissioning infrastructure in the North Sea.

The bill would have been the largest for any country in the world, analysts note, as hundreds of installations will need attention in the coming decades.

“Many of the UK’s platforms were built and designed during the 1970s,” Romana Adamcikova, an analyst at Wood Mackenzie, said in a report earlier this year. “Little thought would have been given to how those structures would be removed at the end of their life.

“Now, the environmental impact of decommissioning has become a thorny issue.”

UK Oil and Gas has counted 1,630 wells set to be dismantled in the next decade in British waters — the equivalent of nearly one rig every two days and requiring more than 1.2 million tons of concrete and steel to be removed.

Since 1998, the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic, known as OSPAR, prohibits leaving in place — either wholly or in part — disused offshore installations.

But even after surface structures are removed, the seabed can still be littered with the industry’s detritus.

OSPAR also sets out a process for considering exemptions, known as “derogations,” to the prohibition which allows operators to ask to leave some structures in place in certain scenarios.

The aging Brent oil field, discovered in 1971 and located 180 kilometers northeast of the remote Shetland Islands, is a prime example of the controversy the issue can generate.

Brent is a benchmark for international crude oil prices that, after nearly 50 years of pumping, finds itself at the center of contention within OSPAR, which comprises 15 individual governments as well as the 27-member European Union.

Shell, who has exploited the field since 1976, has said it wants to leave in place parts of four decommissioned platforms, which would include 40,000 cubic meters of sediment containing about 11,000 tons of oil.

The firm said it had explored potential re-use options, such as carbon dioxide storage and wind farms, but did not consider them “credible” due to the age and distance from shore of the Eiffel Tower-sized platforms, OSPAR said.

The operator considered there to be minimal environmental and safety legacy risks from leaving them in place, it added.

But the plans provoked a furious reaction from environmental campaigners.

Greenpeace activists stormed two of the structures in October to display banners reading: “Clean up your mess, Shell!“

Meanwhile, Germany led an outcry at a special OSPAR meeting in the same month, branding the plan “absolutely unacceptable.”

It asked the company to at least set out proposals to clean the structures.

Greenpeace’s David Santillo, a University of Exeter honorary research fellow. said: “If you allow for the option to leave it in place, almost certainly it will stay in place.”