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Buchanan’s ESG Team have been providing advisory to Blancco Technology Group since 2020, when the Group first established its approach to ESG. The team has now produced four annual ESG reports for Blancco. Each year we have increased the sophistication of the disclosure, advanced the design of the report, and continued to build on the positive impact story. The effectiveness of this approach has been recognised, as last year’s award-winning report saw the business upgraded to an ‘AA’ rating by MSCI ESG Ratings. 

The report once again aligns to the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), as well as reporting financially material information as established by the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB). We also worked with the business to create a Social Strategy, both to illustrate the progress made and to set objectives for the coming year.

“I have worked with Buchanan’s ESG Team since 2020 when they first presented us with a clear strategy for managing ESG internally and communicating our impact externally. We wanted to embed ESG into our business and welcomed the opportunity to work collaboratively with such a dynamic agency to achieve this. Over the course of the last four years we have built a great relationship with team, and they have supported us at Blancco to navigate the ever-evolving ESG environment. They have increased the sophistication of our ESG disclosure with each of our reports, ensuring we are ahead of the curve on both regulatory requirements and the expectations of our shareholders. The work Buchanan have done in capturing our ESG approach and performance and communicating this to the capital markets has enabled us to win several ESG reporting awards and to be upgraded to an ‘AA’ rating on MSCI.”
by Adam Moloney, Chief Financial Officer, Blancco

View the report here

Norge Mining is a private mining company exploring Critical Raw Materials in Norway, including phosphate, vanadium, and titanium. Despite its early stage of development, Norge Mining was keen from the outset to ensure that its operations embedded the responsible business practices expected by stakeholders, against the backdrop of the EU Green Deal and Taxonomy which would be a natural target market.

For a third year running, Buchanan supported Norge Mining in the development of its latest Responsible Business Report, crafting all content and creative delivery to capture the sustainability story at the heart of its operations. The company’s disclosure highlights its commitment to establishing a low-carbon mining operation and the how its resources can help support global energy security and transition.

These credentials are underpinned by Norway’s energy grid that is powered by renewables, and the consideration of circularity through vertical integration by exploring the possibility of downstream processing, carbon sequestration, and hydrogen by-products as part of their pre-feasibility study. While their plans are still in development, emissions reduction and responsible waste management objectives are shaping their commercial strategies.

The dual language report produced in both English and Norwegian is benchmarked against the Global Reporting Initiative and demonstrates Norge Mining’s commitment to transparency throughout their operations, facilitating engagement with diverse audiences, spanning from local communities to national and international stakeholders. Buchanan is also retained as a specialist advisory member of their ESG Working Group and attendee of ESG Committee meetings.

View the report here

What’s the big deal?

By Christopher Jones, Partner

Once they have cut through the near impenetrable prolix, seasoned sustainability reporters may be thinking ‘What’s the big deal ? This is a consolidation of the best and most complex sustainability requirements from existing frameworks and standards’; following their review of the long-awaited drafts for both EFRAG’s European Sustainability Reporting Standards (ESRS) and IFRS’s International Sustainability Standard Board’s S1 and S2 papers. For those unfamiliar, the ESRS disclosures will be required for larger and listed EU companies (as well as those with significant operations within the EU) from January 2024. Meanwhile, the ISSB standards seems likely to be the government and stock exchange adopted ESG disclosure for the UK and other non-EU countries such as Norway in the next couple of years (if not a UK Taxonomy to match the EUs).

Much of the guidance deliberately builds on existing standards and frameworks from SASB and TCFD, but adds a unifying badge to this regulatory consolidation of general sustainability and climate risk disclosures. Buchanan’s review stumbled across a few inconsistencies and contradictions in the drafts, but it is ‘draft’ and there will be some leeway for reporters in their first few years of publications, as well as some settling down of the requirements. What’s clear is that the scope and granularity is going to be a challenge for those at the start of, or early on in their sustainability journey. But we hope that the ‘double materiality’ assessment enables companies to prioritise their disclosures and avoid many that just aren’t relevant or material.

So what is the big deal (apart from the fact your inbox is going to be inundated with invites to forums and roundtables to discuss these requirements from ‘professional’ service companies hoping to panic you into a £2,000 seminar event.)? The big deal is that the ‘financial materiality’ of your ESG risk and opportunity profile is the game-changing stipulation and drags sustainability disclosure out from the purview of your comms/IR/marketing departments and slams it down on the CFO’s desk. Hard. We’re witnessing the shift from sustainability being an exercise in supplementary corporate communications to one embedded within strategy, risk and financing management processes.

Finance teams will now need to provide clear quantifiable £££$$$EUR assessments of the impacts of primary ESG risks and opportunities, over short-, medium- and long-term time horizons, and be audited. The EU’s taxonomy regulation will also assess your overall eligibility for their ‘sustainability’ classifications which may or may not support your attractiveness to responsible investors.

Sobering, I know.

A number of thoughts may be flooding through your mind, not least ‘this is going to make the already demanding reporting obligations, even more onerous’. It’s clear that ESG risk assessment now needs to be part of your Audit and Risk oversight, if not already. Your sustainability strategy needs to fully align with your growth strategy and your non-financial performance measures require the same exacting internal reporting governance and mechanisms as financial metrics. Only then will they withstand the scrutiny that will come from the audit partner who’ll be running their rule over your previously unassured data.

Add to this the fact that your reporting boundary will also be expanded to cover material impacts related to the upstream and downstream value chain; and these assessments are no longer limited to matters within the company’s control. What might alert some is that these factors and their financial impacts will likely be included in future analyst coverage and sentiment, which had previously been limited to a secondary reputational consideration rather than influencing their core recommendations. So, whether this is a big deal or not will depend on your ESG disclosure progress to date and your company’s mindset towards sustainability integration. What’s for certain, non-financial performance is now…er…financial.

Buchanan’s ESG and Design Teams were engaged by The Rank Group plc once again to produce their annual Sustainability Report. As Buchanan provides ongoing ESG advisory to the business, the team were well placed to develop a report that demonstrates the progress the business has made in each of its four focus areas: Customers, Colleagues, Environment and Communities. Of particular focus this year has been the steps taken by Rank on its Net Zero pathway, which was spotlighted in the report and supported by more detailed disclosure against the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD).

The report’s design aligns with Rank’s other communications, reflecting how ESG is integrated across the business, whilst also being a visually distinct document that emphasises the Group’s purpose ‘to excite and to entertain’.

View the report here

Hunting plc’s Capital Markets Day at LSE

Hunting plc (Hunting) is a leading precision engineering services company in the oil & gas and wider energy and manufacturing sectors with a truly global presence. The Buchanan Energy team worked closely with Hunting to help define and position Hunting’s investment case ahead of the CMD held at the London Stock Exchange, highlighting robust financial results and an exciting forward outlook with a strong platform for growth in the energy transition.

During the event, Hunting’s executive management presented the Hunting 2030 Strategy, outlining the Company’s ambitions to expand in traditional energy, non-oil and gas markets like defence, medical and commercial space, and energy transition.

Watch the event here

Regearing the O&G Supply Chain to meet Net Zero

By Barry Archer, Director, Energy

At Offshore Europe 2023 in Aberdeen this month, there was determination and optimism within the oil and gas supply chain about a pivot toward new energy projects. This industrial shift is happening now and is set to continue in-step with declining hydrocarbon demand over the next couple of decades as energy consumption needs are increasingly met by low and zero carbon solutions.

The oil and gas supply chain, and the skills, capabilities and technologies that have been built up over decades are actively being leveraged and are an integral part of the success of new low carbon energy projects. In offshore wind the UK has the second largest capacity globally with almost 14GW coming from complex projects such as Hornsea, Dogger Bank and Seagreen.

This process is happening organically, where services and skills can be repurposed, and inorganically through M&A activity. Core competencies are being leveraged and added to, diversification into new business streams is expanding companies service offerings. The new energy market, with the likes of renewables (wind, solar, tidal, wave, biomass etc..), CCS and hydrogen, and the distribution infrastructure necessary to deliver energy to consumers, will need a robust and capable supply chain that can support their meaningful growth into the 2030s and 2040s, and beyond.

The UK oil and gas industry which today consists of 220,000 jobs, and in 2022 generated according to the latest OEUK economic report around £30bn in gross value added (c.1.5% of the UK economy) is a strategic asset for the UK that must be utilised.

The energy trilemma looms large over the energy transition discussion and is inescapable for all stakeholders. This is particularly true for policymakers who are steering the energy transition, and investors who are funding it. Moving from a hydrocarbon-based energy system to one based on low carbon technologies must be done while delicately balancing energy security, energy affordability and energy sustainability. It needs to be understood that a sudden change in one direction will have negative consequences for the economy.

The reality is that oil and gas will remain an important component of the UK’s energy mix into the next decade. The latest OEUK economic report notes that over 75% of all the UK’s energy consumed is still from oil and gas, with coal, renewables and nuclear making up the remainder. Just as the proportion of the oil and gas generated energy we all use will gradually decline, so to in step will the major source of revenues for oil and gas suppliers as new revenue streams develop and mature.

An agile, collaborative, and innovative approach from all stakeholders will be necessary given the need to develop new supply chains, technologies, and business models to successfully bridge to a net zero future, coupled with a need for long-term strategic planning to reduce investment risk.

Buchanan was delighted to join the 10th anniversary celebration of Bluefield Solar Income Fund (LON:BSIF) being listed on the London Stock Exchange. During its decade on the market, the FTSE250 company has witnessed the extraordinary transformation of the renewable infrastructure investment company sector as a whole, and itself now operates an 812MWp UK portfolio.

BSIF is a UK income fund focused, primarily, on acquiring and managing UK-based solar energy assets. As the first solar PV focused investment company to list on the Main Market of the London Stock Exchange, the IPO in 2013 represented a pioneering step in the investment company sector, and the Company has since expanded into the additional renewable sectors of onshore wind and battery storage technologies. BSIF was promoted to the FTSE250 index in September 2022, reflecting the Company’s significant growth over recent years.

Last week, two members of Buchanan’s energy team, Ben Romney (Partner and Head of Energy) and George Pope (Analyst), attended a site visit hosted by Beacon Energy at its flagship Erfelden development onshore, Southwest Germany. The purpose of the visit was to provide analysts and advisors in the sector with a detailed overview and tour of the SCH-2 drilling site, located adjacent to the Schwarzbach Production Facility. 

The timing of the site visit coincided with the ongoing drilling activities for the second development well, SCH-2, having spudded just a few days prior on the 19TH of June, the fully crewed rig, contracted from RED Drilling Services, is expected to take approximately 25 days and drill to a depth of 2,255m. By the end of July, Beacon Energy hopes to assess the success of the well in a 12-day testing period, once completed the SCH-2 well will be tied into the exciting Schwarzbach Facility before coming online as a producer.

Buchanan’s Energy team has been actively involved in advising Beacon Energy on their market-facing communications during their rebranding and Reverse Takeover (RTO) process, which enabled their relisting on the AIM market. Buchanan was delighted to take a group of analysts out to visit the site of Beacon Energy. During the visit, the attendees saw the critical SCH-2 well drilling, which has the potential to be transformative for Beacon in the success case. The Company’s investment story is highly topical given its role in Germany’s Energy Security. The well has generated significant local media traction following the Company’s efforts to demonstrate strong community and wider stakeholder engagement.

Read more here.

Ben and George thank their hosts Beacon Energy and their subsidiary, Rhein Petroleum GmbH, for their hospitality and for granting them the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the onsite operations.

Seplat Energy (Seplat) is a Nigeria based independent energy company with production, development, and exploration assets in Nigeria. This year, Buchanan worked with Seplat to deliver their 2022 Sustainability Report. We worked closely with Seplat’s sustainability team and key stakeholders throughout the business in Nigeria to articulate and present Seplat’s ESG performance and sustainability credentials.

We helped the company report against new disclosures including a detailed Climate Risk and Resilience report supported by our friends at specialist climate advisory firm, JS Global, to strengthen Seplat’s disclosure under the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD). The report also included Seplat’s inaugural communication of its progress on the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC). The report was developed with reference to the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI).

Click here to read the sustainability report.

Buchanan is very pleased to have completed work on the inaugural annual report for i(x) Net Zero, an AIM listed investment company, focused on the green energy transition.

The creative team worked closely with management to highlight the Company’s unique offering and explain how it provides investors with access to a range of investments working towards a net zero future.

“The team at Buchanan produced a first rate annual report under considerable time pressure. I am very happy with the end result and will be using it as marketing collateral with our key stakeholders.”

by Dmitri Tsvetkov, Chief Operating Officer i(x) Net Zero

View the report here

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