July 2017 UK Project Management Round Up


Good news: The Kraken Oil Field; New extension to the Victoria and Albert Museum; HMS Queen Elizabeth; Bad news: BREXIT update; Grenfell Tower fire in West London and comments on emergency response projects

By Miles Shepherd

Executive Advisor & International Correspondent

Salisbury, England, UK



You will see that this issue of your favourite online PM journal is special. Your editor, David Pells, has brought you fifty-nine editions and this is the sixtieth. My own record is somewhat less and this is the fifty-first report on the PM world from a UK perspective. I will try to make this report a little different from others this year but events in UK are dominated by matters that I have reported over list last year – the General Election, BREXIT and a serious project failure in the aftermath of a devastating fire. Although much depends on your personal perspective, none of this news is good but as always, there is some good news if you look for it. But as project managers, we need to analyse events and learn lessons.

THE GOOD NEWS               

The good news is that several long-term projects have come in more or less successfully. First, the Kraken oil field has begun production. This $2.5 billion development lies to the east of the Shetland Isle, off Scotland’s north coast. The operator, Enquest, reports that the project was delivered on time and at well under the $3.2 billion budget. Experts estimate that Kraken could produce around 5% or the North Sea output by the time it hits peak production sometime in 2019. The field is estimated to hold about 135 million barrels and although first discovered in 1985, was not developed as the heavy oil it holds is more difficult and therefore expensive to extract. However, case the changing price of oil couple with the improvements in extraction techniques resulted in a revised business that shows the field is an economic proposition. Deliver rate is expected to be up to 50,000 barrels per day by 2019 and has an estimated life of 25 years.

Next up is the opening of the new extension to the Victoria and Albert Museum in London’s Exhibition Road quarter. Rising from the ashes of a failed project in 2004, the new extension has come in on time and on budget at £54.5 million. The museum suffered major embarrassment in 2004 when it failed to secure funding of £100 million despite eight years of fundraising. It was unable to implement Daniel Libeskind’s Spiral design which took after the then recently completed Bilbao Guggenheim. The Spiral was a vast tower of tumbling boxes, which some experts considered to be of questionable worth as exhibition space despite its sensational impact.

This may have been a blessing in disguise as the Spiral would have offered a series of fairly small galleries with lots of connecting stairs). The requirement that emerged was a less grandiose extension that provided one very large gallery where temporary exhibitions could be staged. The result opens as I write and consists of a new plaza surmounting a huge underground gallery.

The Sackler Courtyard

The museum lies in a heavily built-up site and is a Grade 1 listed building. The five year project was undertaken while the museum was fully operational. Design was by London-based architect Amanda Levete, the new Sackler Gallery is rated as a game-changing addition to the museum’s arsenal of exhibition spaces.

New underground gallery. Courtesy V&A Museum

The most visible change is the new-look Aston Webb Screen. This masked the old boiler rooms but the old solid fascade has been replaced with a permeable colonnade, based on the architect’s original vision, to create a second entrance to the museum and connect the Science and Natural History Museums on Exhibition Road. The new gates, provide security at night and preserve the memory of the Second World War bombs that dug holes in its façade.

Beyond the grade I listed screen, lies the world’s first “porcelain courtyard” — a link to the V&A’s spectacular ceramics collection. In the Courtyard 11,000 handmade tiles, with red and yellow decoration apparently representing “urban flowers” provide a spectacular open space that is intended to sparkle in the rain and glow in the sun.

While on the subject of history, there is further news of a continuing project in the Stonehenge World Heritage site. Now actually at Stonehenge, but at Avebury some 20 miles away…


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About the Author


Salisbury, UK




Miles Shepherd is an executive editorial advisor and international correspondent for PM World in the United Kingdom. He is also managing director for MS Projects Ltd, a consulting company supporting various UK and overseas Government agencies, nuclear industry organisations and other businesses. Miles has over 30 years’ experience on a variety of projects in UK, Eastern Europe and Russia. His PM experience includes defence, major IT projects, decommissioning of nuclear reactors, nuclear security, rail and business projects for the UK Government and EU.   Past Chair and Fellow of the Association for Project Management (APM), Miles is also past president and chair of the International Project Management Association (IPMA). He is currently a Director for PMI’s Global Accreditation Centre and is immediate past Chair of the ISO committee developing new international standards for Project Management and for Program/Portfolio Management. He was involved in setting up APM’s team developing guidelines for project management oversight and governance. Miles is based in Salisbury, England and can be contacted at [email protected]

To view other works by Miles Shepherd, visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at http://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/miles-shepherd/.