Category Archives: Oceans

Norway: Little Knowledge on Northeastern Barents, NPD Says

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The Norwegian Government has decided that the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate will map the geology in the northeastern part of Norway’s new sea area in the Barents Sea. According to the plan, the seismic surveys will start this summer and continue into 2013. This will provide important knowledge regarding possible oil and gas resources in this area.

“We have very little knowledge concerning the geology in the northeastern Barents Sea. In order to know more about the resource potential, we need more data,” says Sissel Eriksen, exploration director in the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate.

On 15 September 2010, Norway and Russia signed the agreement relating to maritime demarcation and cooperation in the Barents Sea and Arctic Ocean. The agreement entered into force on 7 July 2011.

On the Norwegian side, the Government has started an opening process with the aim of awarding production licenses in the southeastern sector of the Barents Sea. The geological mapping started last summer and will continue until this summer.

Earlier this year, the NPD entered into contracts regarding two vessels that will acquire seismic data both in the southeastern sector of the Barents Sea, in the sea area around Jan Mayen and in Nordland IV and V this summer.

“The plans to also map the northeastern sector of the Barents Sea mean that we need more capacity to acquire seismic. This assignment has been submitted for tender,” says Eriksen.

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India unease as China debates naval base in Seychelles

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China’s ministry of defence said the Seychelles would allow naval vessels to take on supplies in anti-piracy campaigns, but initiative is likely to viewed with unease in India.

Daniel Bardsley (Foreign Correspondent) and Suryatapa Bhattacharya

BEIJING // China is considering an offer from the Seychelles to set up a supply base for its naval ships, in a move to be closely watched by India.

Details of Beijing‘s tie with the Indian Ocean archipelago come as the Chinese navy holds sea trials for its first aircraft carrier and continues making double-digit defence spending increases that are strengthening the country’s naval power.

China’s naval ambitions are a concern for many of its neighbours, especially given the assertiveness Beijing has shown in recent maritime disputes with Japan in the East China Sea, and Vietnam and the Philippines over the South China Sea.

State media quoted the defence ministry as saying that the port in the Seychelles was still under consideration, while the Chinese authorities reaffirmed the country’s policy of not stationing troops overseas.

“China’s position is clear. China has never set up military bases in other countries,” said the foreign ministry spokesman, Liu Weimin.

China’s ministry of defence said the Seychelles would allow naval vessels to take on supplies, while Chinese ships were assigned to anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden.

The Chinese navy has previously taken on supplies in Oman, Yemen and Djibouti when carrying out missions against pirates from Somalia, Reuters reported yesterday.

“According to escort needs and the needs of other long-distance missions, China will consider taking supplies or recuperating at appropriate ports in the Seychelles and other countries,” said a defence ministry statement. But Joseph Cheng, a regional political analyst at the City University of Hong Kong, said it was “to be expected” that China would develop more advanced centres to support its growing navy.

He added that initially these would simply be supply bases of the kind proposed in the Seychelles but repair facilities would likely be developed later.

The issue of Chinese naval activity in the Indian Ocean is of particular interest to India, which has long-standing border disputes with China and is deeply suspicious of the country’s close ties with its archrival, Pakistan.

There was no official reaction from India’s government yesterday, but The Times of India said China’s initiative “was bound to create a degree of unease in New Delhi”.

Retired Brigadier Rumel Dahiya, the deputy director general of the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses in New Delhi, said the move would go beyond a piracy-related issue.

“This is clearly a case of China trying to establish a greater base in the Indian Ocean. They are expanding their reach,” he said.

Christian Le Mière, a research fellow for naval forces and maritime security at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, said India may view any agreement with the Seychelles as “indicative of Chinese naval expansionism into India’s back yard”.

“It is not necessarily a direct threat to India, in much the same way that Diego Garcia [a US navy base] is not a direct threat to India currently. Arguably Chinese counter-piracy efforts are beneficial for global trade and hence for Indian interests as well,” he added.

The China Daily newspaper said the invitation from the Seychelles was issued during a visit by Liang Guanglie, the defence minister, earlier this month. It was the first time a Chinese defence minister has visited in 35 years. The Chinese navy has grown in recent years from a coastal protection force to one spanning the globe, sending ships as far as the Caribbean on goodwill missions and into the Mediterranean to escort vessels evacuating Chinese citizens from the fighting in Libya.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka said yesterday it was “true friends” with China because of the military assistance Beijing provided during the island’s bloody civil war.

China’s influence in Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nepal and other surrounding countries is also a sensitive subject with India.

Also yesterday, US officials were investigating an American military drone that crashed at an airport on the Seychelles. It is used to target Al Qaeda-linked militants in Somalia.

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The Lone Icebreaker: U.S. Sovereignty in the Arctic

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Tyler Davis

The United States Coast Guard is being left behind in the Arctic. While countries such as Russia are building up their icebreaker fleet and actively increasing their presence in the Arctic, the United States is losing its only form of sovereignty in the region.

On December 1, Rear Admiral Jeffrey M. Garrett, U.S. Coast Guard, testified before Congress on protecting U.S. sovereignty in the Arctic. He stated in Second Line of Defense that “the Icebreaker fleet represents the main surface presence that the U.S. can exert in what is essentially a maritime domain in the Arctic Ocean.” Yet today, the Coast Guard has an icebreaker fleet of only three ships. Worse yet, two of these ships are out of commission due to maintenance work and will not be available for at least seven more years.

The lone icebreaker in commission is the USCGC Healy, which conducts all types of missions from search and rescue to navigational aid to scientific research. Though the ship has been effective at its job in the Arctic, it is designed to break through ice of only medium thickness; for ice of heavy thickness, the Healy is absolutely useless. And like the other two icebreakers, it is quickly aging.

Without efforts to modernize the fleet, the future of the U.S. national maritime interest and security in the Arctic is looking pretty bleak. Icebreakers are a necessity in the region, and without them the U.S. might as well throw in the towel. These ships are key to year-round access to the Arctic and are the only U.S. insurance policy for future hazardous events. If something happens to the Healy, then the United States would not only lose access to the region but would not be able to react to potential oil spills and would become less effective in search-and-rescue missions.

Complicating matters even further, ice in the Arctic is melting, producing more ocean area for the transportation of goods and services in the region. Essentially, whoever best utilizes this route will control trade and transportation of goods and materials in the upper hemisphere. With all other nations around the Arctic building their icebreaker fleets and exploiting the key transportation route that connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, the United States is falling behind.

In order to create an icebreaking fleet to maintain U.S. presence in the region, the Administration should look toward privatizing the fleet. Allowing private companies to own and operate the U.S. icebreaking fleet and perform national security functions would not only allow for crucial modernization but also save federal dollars and expand U.S. capabilities in the Arctic. This is particularly important at a time when the government is looking to cut corners in federal spending.

Ultimately, something must be done. If the U.S. does not act fast, it will come in last in the race for the Arctic.

Tyler Davis is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please visit: http://www.heritage.org/about/departments/ylp.cfm

Posted in American Leadership

Aker Solutions Plans to Strengthen its Footprint in Northern Norway

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As the chase for oil and gas moves further north, the oil services industry follows. Today Aker Solutions, a Norwegian multinational provider of services related to engineering, construction, maintenance, modification and operation announces plans to establish a large engineering office in Tromsø as part of the company’s northern Norway strategy.

Aker Solutions announces plans to establish a large engineering office in Tromsø.

The new office will gather knowledge and expertise related to the northern region. It will become involved in engineering and maintenance and modification projects on the entire Norwegian continental shelf and abroad, and be an integral part of Aker Solutions’ international competence network.

“We believe in the reserves potential on the Norwegian continental shelf and in the Arctic. If the marked continues to develop positively and we are successful in our efforts to win work with customers in the region, we believe that we will have a substantial engineering hub in the North with 2-300 employees in three to five years,” says executive chairman of Aker Solutions, Øyvind Eriksen.

The establishment of the Tromsø office is part of Aker Solutions’ overall strategy to increase the company’s footprint in the northern regions of Norway, driven by an increasing number of interesting field development opportunities offshore northern Norway and in the Barents Sea.

Aker Solutions have worked closely with suppliers in northern Norway for many years. The Tromsø office will now develop a sourcing strategy for Aker Solutions in northern Norway and further strengthen our relationships with suppliers in the north.

Tromsø  becoming increasingly involved in oil & gas

Tromsø is the largest city in this part of Norway and a regional centre with good connections to other key locations in the north and to other Aker Solutions offices in Norway. The university in Tromsø is becoming increasingly involved in oil and gas related research and education programmes, which is expected to fit well with Aker Solutions’ future competence requirements.

Elsewhere in northern Norway, Aker Solutions is in the process of building up a subsea service base – housing engineers, technical staff and field operators – in Hammerfest to support the Goliat subsea field development. Aker Solutions has also recently acquired the Narvik-based well technology business X3M Invent. Aker Solutions is also considering establishing an engineering office in Sandnessjøen to support the company’s modifications and operations services business.

“In June the Norwegian government announced a petroleum policy that clearly spelt out an expectation to the oil industry that activity at sea should have ripple effects on land through job and value creation. We support this drive because it makes business sense to both us and our customers,” adds Øyvind Eriksen.

Aker Solutions is currently looking for suitable permanent office premises in the city. Recruitment for engineers for the Tromsø office will also start this winter.

Aker Solutions today has offices and operations in the following Norwegian locations: Arendal, Asker, Bergen, Egersund, Fornebu, Hammerfest, Horten, Kristiansand, Kristiansund, Lier, Midsund, Moss, Narvik, Oslo, Porsgrunn, Stavanger, Trondheim and Ågotnes.

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Rosneft ‘door closed’ in Barents

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Russia’s military has reportedly barred the way for state oil company Rosneft to gain exploration access to three prospective areas in the Barents Sea.

Steve Marshall & News reports 28 November 2011 09:19 GMT

Rosneft has had its applications for three licences covering the Severny, Papaninsky and Mezhdusharsky Vostochny structures rejected by Russia’s mineral extraction agency Rosnedra after objections were raised by the Ministry of Defence, a Rosnedra source, quoted in Russian media, was reported as saying by the Barents Observer.

The three tracts, located south-west of the Novaya Zemlya archipelago, are prospective for oil and gas, with Severny reported to hold 26.6 billion barrels of oil equivalent, while Mezhdusharsky and Papaninsky are believed to contain 2 billion boe and 559 million boe respectively.

Rosneft also had its bid to explore the Severo-Barentsevoye field turned down due to ongoing state mapping of the area.

Conflicting interests among Russian state bodies have historically stalled decisions on exploration and development of Barents acreage, with fields discovered in the 1970s still undeveloped.

The Russian military sees the Barents as a strategically important area because it provides ice-free access to the North Atlantic and Arctic Ocean. The might Northern Fleet, based on the Kola Peninsula, has its bases on the Barents coast.

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