Volcanic ash cloud strands ICIS editors abroad

flights Rex.jpgThe volcanic ash cloud which has closed UK air space has left various ICIS London editors stranded across Europe and the US, kicking their heels and sadly unable to return to work.

The Blog’s occasional guest contributor, Ed Cox of ICIS Heren, finds himself stranded in Norway with nothing better to do than to complain to the Blog. Here he writes his “Home thoughts from abroad – Norway” …

That is just typical. You go to Norway for an all expense business trip and what happens? Only the biggest volcano in Iceland in three hundred years, ensuring that the weekend back home in Blighty is missed. People are saying it could take anywhere from two days to two years for the dust to clear.

This message then is a distant report from a country covered in volcanic dust. But it’s not all bad. We have been invited by a Norwegian agency keen to promote the nation’s enormous energy offering. This means back-to-back wine tasting evenings (17 different varieties in two nights) and a 16 course tasting dinner tonight that can’t be far behind Heston Blumenthal standard. I just hope the cloud doesn’t lift too soon.

It had been an utterly memorable trip in any case. Yes the helicopter ride may have been cancelled due to the volcano activity but we still got an excellent boat ride past the world’s first free standing offshore wind turbine by the name of ‘Hywind’. We got a tour of the massive Karsto gas processing plant – the biggest in Norway and a provider of much of the gas we use for heating/cooking purposes across Europe. And we had time to check out the amazingly complex control rooms too.

My abiding memory of Norway was going to be the enormous, huge pot of cash that comes from the oil and gas industry and the equally large generosity that comes with it. That has been slightly overshadowed by recent events, although I am assured the event organisers will fund our remaining days here, however many they may number.

But no, my abiding memory of this trip now stems from a conversation I had with a hitherto rather untalkative press agent for Statoil who – after nine of the ten wines on offer – revealed the Norwegian’s deep love of English football. Not only was one of his colleagues back in the 1990s a fan of Wolverhampton Wanderers, the best team in the world, but he also named a number of offshore oil and gas prospects after the 1975 team. Hence the ‘Richards’ prospect after the legendary John Richards. What an honour. Am I the first Wolves fan to discover this? I hope so. One thing is for sure – I will have time to ponder this in the coming week, months, years…..

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