Daily Archives: November 3, 2011

Iran Opens 500mln euro Credit Line for Cuba

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TEHRAN (FNA)- Iran has allocated a credit line of 500 million euros (about 685 million US dollars) to Cuba.

Abel Salas, vice president of Cuba‘s National Institute of Water Resources, announced the allocation Wednesday at a meeting with Iran’s deputy energy minister in Tehran, Tehran Times reported on Thursday.

Salas expressed the hope that some parts of the credit line would be used for the reconstruction of Cuba’s energy system.

Iran and Cuba signed a protocol for economic and trade cooperation in September during Iranian Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi‘s visit to Havana. The protocol stipulated that Iran would expand its credit to Cuba from 270 million to 680 million US dollars.

It also included accords on the two countries’ collaboration in industry, energy, trade, health, finance, biotechnology and hydraulics.

Iran has been producing equipment for rail systems and synthetic media for the Cuban market under a 2009 agreement. The expansion of credit will also support the program.

Iran has in recent years expanded friendly ties with Latin America, specially in economic, trade and industrial fields.

Since taking office in 2005, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has expanded Iran’s cooperation with many Latin American states, including Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Brazil and Cuba.

The strong and rapidly growing ties between Iran and Latin America have raised eyebrows in the US and its western allies since Tehran and Latin nations have forged an alliance against the imperialist and colonialist powers.

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Bill Gates advises Uganda on oil cash

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Microsoft founder Bill Gates

Published On: Thu, Nov 3rd, 2011

The world’s second richest man and one of its most influential philanthropists will today advise the G20 to ask government to make details of Uganda’s oil agreements public.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates is also expected to ask the G20 to ensure that government declares the money it receives from its oil resources. Mr Gates’ comments come a day after a parliamentary ad hoc committee started investigating allegations of corruption and unfair agreements in Uganda’s largely opaque oil sector which is expected to generate $2 billion per year at peak production, compared to a national budget of $3 billion.

“This oil revenue should have a huge impact on the government’s ability to address the needs of millions of poor Ugandans,” Mr Gates will today tell leaders of the G20, which include the world’s richest and most powerful countries. “However, we have no insight into the country’s oil leasing arrangements, and, as a result, Ugandan citizens have no means to protect their interests.”

Mr Gates’ comments on Uganda are part of a report on financing global development he has written for the G20 meeting at the request of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who currently holds its rotational leadership. The full report will be published today.

Mr Gates has closely been following developments in Uganda where his Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is a major donor to health projects, and is keen to see Uganda’s oil money spent transparently on social and economic development.

Ms Winnie Ngabiirwe of Publish What You Pay Uganda, a pro-transparency pressure group, said yesterday: “For a long time now, Ugandans have asked our government to do exactly what Mr Gates is asking for. Unfortunately, our government has continued to dismiss our concerns, treating the oil and gas sector with the highest level of secrecy. Making agreements accessible to Ugandans, and publishing what the country is earning is an important step necessary for fighting against corruption and embezzlement.”

Energy Minister Irene Muloni told Daily Monitor yesterday that there was no need to worry since the oil industry in Uganda is young. “All the appropriate laws will be put in place. Uganda’s oil resources will be adequately managed,” she said, advising this newspaper to seek President Museveni’s view over Mr Gate’s presentation.

Tullow Oil is in final stages of farming down two-thirds of its interest in Uganda’s oil fields to France’s Total and China’s CNOOC. In July 2010, the US passed the Dodd-Frank Act, which calls for all oil, gas and mining companies listed in the US to publish their payments to foreign governments.

This would include CNOOC, which is listed in the US, but not UK-listed Tullow.
However, last week the European Commission proposed a new law which would implement the same requirement for all 27 EU member countries.

If adopted, Tullow and Total would have to publish their payments to Uganda unless government passes a secrecy law making it explicitly illegal for any oil, gas or mining company to publish information about their activities in Uganda.

Mr Gates is also expected to encourage Uganda to sign up to the Extractives Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and gives an example of Ghana, which used the initiative to raise minimum mining royalties from three to six per cent. “The problem is that EITI is a voluntary initiative, and only five African countries are currently compliant, although more are working towards it,” Mr Gates says. “All G20 countries should require the mining and oil companies listed on their stock exchanges to disclose payments to governments.”

By John Njoroge, Daily Monitor

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Port Fourchon plays a critical role

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Chett Chiasson
Contributor

Ask anyone on the bayou if they know about Port Fourchon, and you’ll no doubt get a yes. “That’s where my daddy works.”

“That’s where we launch our boat.” “That’s where oil comes from.”

But when you ask the average person how Port Fourchon works or what the Greater Lafourche Port Commission does, the answer is not so clear. Most people don’t know what a great gem we have here in our community, so here is a brief rundown: who we are, what we do, how we’ve worked our way into being one of the nation’s most important economic engines and why it is vital to keep that engine running.

The Greater Lafourche Port Commission is a political subdivision of the state of Louisiana, formed in 1960 and governed by a nine-member board, the only elected port commission in the state of Louisiana.

They represent a constituency that is comprised of the 10th ward of Lafourche Parish, which is essentially from the Intracoastal Waterway in Larose south to the Gulf of Mexico.

We have 37 employees that do an outstanding job of handling the day-to-day operations, maintenance and administration of Port Fourchon and the South Lafourche Leonard Miller Jr. Airport. The commission operates predominantly as a “landlord” providing basic infrastructure to its tenants.

We construct roads and waterlines, dredge channels, construct bulkheads and provide basic land at Port Fourchon.

We provide basic airport infrastructure like a runway, parallel taxiway, road access, waterlines, etc. Once the basic infrastructure is in place, the commission leases the property to businesses looking to serve the needs of industry.

At both the port and now the airport, the commission operates with its mission statement in mind: to facilitate the economic growth of the communities in which it operates by maximizing the flow of trade and commerce. We do this to grow our economy and preserve our environment and heritage.

ABOUT US

Port Fourchon sits at the mouth of Bayou Lafourche, where it empties into the Gulf of Mexico and is easily accessible from any area in the Gulf. Located near the end of La. 1, Port Fourchon is in the center of one of the richest and most progressive industrial areas in the Gulf region.

We are constantly expanding to meet the needs of business and industry. Under the direction of the commission, the port is fortunate to have the knowledgeable leadership, available land and irrefutable logistical advantage that enable it to be the nation’s premier port for the continued support of oil-and-gas activity in the Gulf of Mexico.

Port Fourchon has grown from humble beginnings in 1960 into 1,700 acres in the most efficient location to service the needs of the Gulf oil-and-gas industry, with state-of-the-art facilities that exist nowhere else in the world.

The port’s tenants provide services to 90 percent of all Gulf deepwater activity and about 50 percent of drilling rigs in the entire U.S. Gulf, both shallow and deepwater. This activity, coupled with Port Fourchon being the service base for the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port, means that Port Fourchon plays a strategic role in furnishing this country with about 18 percent of its entire oil supply.

The South Lafourche Leonard Miller Jr. Airport in Galliano has proven to be a valuable element of the transportation system of Lafourche Parish and the state. Recognizing the potential major importance of the SLA in providing air transportation services to support the continued development of Port Fourchon and offshore mineral exploration and production, the Port Commission acquired the SLA in 2001. The GLPC also acquired the 1,200 acres surrounding the airport, which is open for industrial development and industrial housing. The airport has rapidly increased aircraft traffic since completion of its 6,500 foot runway with 75,000 pound wheel-load capacity, resulting in a 300 percent increase in jet traffic. We continue to expand the airport, with plans to add new navigational aids, hangars and taxiway.

In January 2010, after working for the commission since September 2005, I was afforded the opportunity to become the executive director, only the second person to do so since the port’s inception. I knew it would be a challenge, with the tough economic times the country had been in, all of the construction projects we were involved in at the port and airport and the planning of the port’s 50th anniversary celebration, but never did I imagine what would be coming. Obviously, I am talking about the terrible tragedy of April 20, 2010, when the Deepwater Horizon exploded, killing 11 men and causing the worst oil spill in our nation’s history.

Port Fourchon was at the epicenter of the response, recovery and subsequent cleanup effort for this disaster. Since facilities at the port were the base for the Deepwater Horizon, the evacuated rig workers were brought to Port Fourchon en route to getting back to their families.

With that began the influx of media and all that entails. Once it was realized that there was a major problem with the well and the oil was being emitted uncontrolled, we were tasked with preparation.

We began working with Lafourche Parish President Charlotte Randolph and her emergency preparedness staff to formulate a plan of action for protecting the parish’s coastline and keeping the vital economic activity at Port Fourchon operational throughout cleanup and waterway closures.

We spent countless hours meeting and planning, coordinating breach closures and ways to continue keeping Belle Pass, the port’s main waterway, open even though oil was approaching. When we knew that it was only a matter of time before we saw oil impacting our coast, we offered the commission’s Port Fourchon Operations Center for response collaboration efforts.

At that point, our Ops Center became the Lafourche Parish Emergency Operations Center for the oil-spill response. Our approach to the response was not “us against them,” but “How can we help?” That proved to be very successful. The collaborative group was comprised of the United States Coast Guard, BP, Governor’s Office of Homeland Security, Louisiana National Guard, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Lafourche Parish Government, Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office, Port Fourchon Harbor Police and Port Commission executives.

THE MORATORIUM

Just when we were beginning to get a handle on the oil spill, the president and his administration decided to issue an arbitrary six-month moratorium on drilling and permitting in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico.

This action brought our region, a region of constant growth and record low unemployment that was not seeing much negative impact from the struggling national economy, to a screeching halt. Knowing that the tenants of Port Fourchon were going to be severely impacted by the federal government’s careless actions, the Port Commission proactively chose to freeze escalation fees and reduce basic land rental rates by 30 percent for one year.

This action served its purpose effectively, even though it meant millions of dollars of lost revenue for the port commission, because it helped our port tenants, especially the small, growing companies, to have a little breathing room to develop their financial strategies and to cope with the sudden moratorium-induced loss of current and future business. It was scary to many of us when the cranes stopped moving in Fourchon. We wanted to let our tenants know that we were right there with them in the trenches, fighting against the one-two punches of oil spill and moratoriums.

The moratorium was lifted on Oct. 12, 2010, and despite a horde of new regulations, rules, processes and acronyms, still no permits were issued for deepwater drilling. Moratorium became “permitorium.”

To this day, permit issuances for both deepwater and shallow water activities remain few and far between. Based on the Department of Interior’s own statistics, permits for deepwater activities are 40 percent off the mark, shallow-water permits are 60 percent down, and overall turnaround time for all permits is 40 percent slower. I, for one, believe that this is unacceptable.

These permitting issues that continue to inhibit the oil-and-gas industry have a cascading effect on this nation as a whole, not just “Big Oil,” as the Obama administration would say. It starts at the top with the oil-and-gas companies, then gets transferred through the supply chain.

The industry purchases supplies, equipment, high-end technology, geological and other services from vendors in every corner of the United States. It reaches each household in some form or fashion. The downturn in energy exploration and production in the Gulf of Mexico has affected not only Port Fourchon but the entire country.

Because of the importance of the oil-and-gas industry to our way of life, the commission helped organize the Gulf Economic Survival Team. This organization, through the leadership of Department of Natural Resources Secretary Scott Angelle, has been instrumental in facilitating what progress has been made on the permitting front. GEST and its Executive Director Lori Leblanc must be applauded as they have brought industry executives and BOEMRE staff together in an attempt to work out the regulatory/permitting issues. There is a still huge “activity gap” between the regulatory regime’s willingness and ability to issue much-needed permits and the oil-and-gas industry’s capabilities to invest in the energy security of our nation.

MOVING FORWARD

According to a study commissioned by GEST, if the bureau could close the “activity gap,” 2012 could see 230,000 American jobs, $44 billion added to the U.S. gross domestic product, $12 billion in tax and royalty revenues, 400,000 barrels more of oil produced per day, and a reduction of $15 billion in imported oil costs to the nation. In a time in this country when we have a jobs problem, a revenue problem, a spending problem and an energy problem, the answer is clear. Issue the permits now! There are thousands of workers in Port Fourchon who just want to see the cranes moving again.

Obviously, the last two years for the commission, Port Fourchon, and its tenants have been a roller-coaster ride. Personally, it has been an enormous learning experience. From federal, state, and local agency head visits to television interviews and testifying at congressional hearings, the first two years of my tenure as executive director have molded the future and set a path for what is to come.

We at the commission stand ready and able to tackle any challenge that comes our way.

We do this with the mindset of what is best for our community. That is why in looking toward the future, we plan to continue to expand Port Fourchon and the South Lafourche Leonard Miller Jr. Airport.

The issues we currently face will be resolved, and we stand poised to capitalize on the activity that will follow. We will continue to support our tenants in every way possible as a sign of appreciation for the prosperity that they have given to our community. Port Fourchon works. Period!

Chett Chiasson is the executive director of Port Fourchon.

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USA: TDW Plans to Open Global Pipeline Integrity Center

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T.D. Williamson, Inc. (TDW), a leading provider of pipeline equipment and services, has announced plans for the creation of a Global Pipeline Integrity Center in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Once complete, this world-class showcase facility will combine the TDW inline inspection engineering, manufacturing, operations, service center, and data analysis functions in one location. Situated close to the airport in the Salt Lake International Center, this new site will double the current TDW footprint in Salt Lake City and is indicative of the ongoing TDW investment in inline inspection.

Our goal is to create a Global Pipeline Integrity Center that not only houses our inline inspection capabilities but that also leverages the total breadth of TDW technologies,” says Eric Rogers, Director of Pipeline Integrity Solutions for TDW.

In addition to serving as a global hub for inline inspection, the center will showcase TDW pigging products, including launchers and receivers, and pipeline services, such as cleaning and non-destructive testing.

“This new facility will also enable future growth, including the addition of a data center, customer and employee training facility, and pipeline test equipment for inline inspection tools,” Rogers adds.

TDW offers a wide range of inline inspection technologies. Advanced KALIPER® 360 technology is specifically engineered for use in newly constructed pipelines to provide geometry baseline information. TDW also offers high resolution deformation (DEF) tools for locating, sizing and determining orientation of diameter reductions or expansions. Magnetic flux leakage (MFL) tools provide detection and sizing of internal and external metal loss in liquid lines, and GMFL tools do the same for gas pipeline environments. SpirALL™ MFL (SMFL) technology is designed to detect longitudinal defects in a pipe body or longitudinal weld seam in conjunction with additional technologies available on TDW multiple dataset platforms. XYZ Mapping service provides the precise centerline profile of a pipeline in latitude, longitude and elevation. TDW is also conducting extensive research into Residual Field and Low Field Magnetism technologies for mechanical pipeline damage prioritization.

“Our technologies are constantly evolving and expanding,” says Rogers. “Our ability to combine technologies and generate multiple data sets in a single inspection makes defect discrimination more accurate and efficient than ever before. Our new facility will enable us to continue the proud tradition of TDW innovation.”

Plans call for the new TDW Global Pipeline Integrity Center to open its doors during the first half of 2012.

About T.D. Williamson, Inc.

A world leader in pipeline equipment and services, TDW delivers a comprehensive portfolio of safe integrity pipeline system solutions for onshore and offshore applications, including hot tapping and plugging, pipeline cleaning, integrity inspection, pigging and non-tethered plugging pig technology for any pressurized piping system, anywhere in the world.

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US Oil-Spill Response Cos Seek Permission to Operate in Cuban Waters

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by  Tennille Tracy

Several U.S. companies are asking the Obama administration for permission to respond to potential oil spills in Cuban waters, a top offshore drilling regulator said Wednesday, hoping to overcome embargo restrictions that currently limit their ability to do so.

The companies’ requests coincide with a growing concern among oil-industry experts who say the U.S. embargo on Cuba could cripple the ability of spill-containment companies to respond to potential spills that start in Cuban waters but then move to U.S. shores.

Speaking at a congressional hearing Wednesday, Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement Director Michael Bromwich said several companies have asked the U.S. Commerce Department for licenses that would allow them to use subsea well containment systems and other types of equipment to respond to spills in Cuban waters.

Bromwich said he had “a high level of confidence” the Commerce Department would approve the licenses, in large part because it had already issued separate approvals for oil-spill containment systems and cleanup items. U.S. government agencies “are very much on alert, looking for the licenses [applications] as they come in and my understanding is that they’re giving them very rapid attention and they’re approving them as promptly as they can.”

The administration’s efforts are not without controversy. The chairman of the House Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee, Rep. Doug Lamborn (R., Colo.), said Wednesday that he is concerned “this administration will weaken the U.S. embargo on Cuba.”

Earlier in the week, the head of the House Foreign Affairs Committee sent a letter to President Barack Obama asking him to do more to prevent Cuba’s oil-drilling plans. “This scheme endangers U.S. security and environmental interests, and will enrich the Cuban regime,” Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R., Fla.), a Cuban-born American, said.

Many environmental and oil-industry experts have taken a different approach and have urged the administration to give broad flexibility to U.S. companies that are equipped to respond to spills.

They contend Cuba will pursue oil exploration, regardless of whether the U.S. disapproves, so the U.S. should simply prepare for possible accidents.

Cuba’s offshore drilling plans get under way in coming months when Spanish company Repsol starts to conduct exploratory drilling off the country’s northern coast. Repsol is transporting a Chinese-built rig to be used for the exploration work.

Repsol has voluntarily agreed to allow U.S. officials to inspect the rig before it enters Cuban waters. The company has also agreed to comply with U.S. drilling standards.

Copyright (c) 2011 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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