Daily Archives: May 3, 2011

High-pressure deepwater well capping stack unveiled at offshore conference

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Helix Well Containment GroupThe Helix Well Containment Group’s new deepwater well capping stack, unveiled Tuesday at the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston. The new capping stack can handle pressures of up to 15,000 pounds per square inch, an improvement over the 10,000 psi model Helix completed in February.

By David Hammer
The Times-Picayune

The Helix Well Containment Group is a cooperative effort of 24 Gulf oil companies. They have banded together and invested in spill-response technology to convince the federal government that they could return to drilling in the deep sea and stop a leak like last year’s BP disaster, in which the massive device known as a blowout preventer failed to close in the well.

Helix Well Containment Group’s participating companies succeeded in getting several new wells approved in recent months, mostly because they had access to the consortium’s capping stack, something like a mini-blowout preventer that could attach to the top of a failed blowout preventer and block hydrocarbons flowing through it at pressures of up to 10,000 pounds per square inch.

At the annual Offshore Technology Conference in Houston today, Helix Well Containment Group unveiled a second capping stack model, which promises to safely shut in flows of up to 15,000 psi. That’s a significant increase in capabilities that the industry hopes can pave the way to deeper drilling.

Like the 10,000 psi model that was unveiled in late February — and led to the first new deepwater well permit approval a day later — the new capping stack will be housed in North Houston and can be at the site of a blowout offshore in less than 48 hours, according to Helix Well Containment Group.

The consortium’s well containment plan states that if there’s no debris blocking the well bore, the stack can be attached and shut off flow in three to four days. But other complications could delay final closure. If the capping stack is not enough to stop all flow and containment vessels and systems are necessary to carry oil to the surface, it could take as long as 17 days, consortium spokeswoman Danielle Allen said.

Michael Bromwich, the government’s top offshore regulator, said the 10 deepwater wells approved since Feb. 28 can all be shut in using only the capping stack.

The consortium’s second capping stack, which weighs 156,000 pounds, boasts a larger opening than others, something that should allow scientists to keep working on the insides of a busted blowout preventer even while shutting off the flow.

It’s one of the new components developed since last summer when a cap built on the fly by one of the consortium’s contractors, Helix Energy Solutions, finally shut in BP’s Macondo well, 87 days after its blowout preventer failed.

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A diagram of Helix Well Containment Group’s full capping stack and oil collection system.

In addition, the capping stack has ports for tubes to connect to ships on the surface, in case it needs to collect excessive oil flowing out. That containment system works in up to 8,000 feet of water and is being expanded to 10,000 feet this summer, Allen said.

Asked why Helix Well Containment Group is keeping its equipment in Houston when the vast majority of deepwater oil and gas prospects are off the Louisiana coast, Allen said the threat of hurricanes played a major role in the company’s decision.

“The Louisiana coast has some vulnerability in the event of a hurricane surge,” she said. “Houston is close enough to the port, but would not put it in the path of a hurricane surge and would allow for access to other ports via land.”

She also contended that most deepwater wells are about 200 miles from each deepwater Gulf port, but Macondo and some of the wells approved recently are about 100 miles from Port Fourchon.

Original Article

Ministry of Mines, Industry & Energy Approves MOU for LNG Train 2 in Equatorial Guinea

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Ophir Energy plc (Ophir), an Africa-focused upstream oil and gas company, notes the announcement released on 21 April 2011 by the Ministry of Mines, Industry & Energy of Equatorial Guinea of the approval and signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) relating to the commercial structure of the LNG Train 2 Integrated Project in Equatorial Guinea.

The MoU relates to the alignment of the gas producers, the owners of the gas pipeline infrastructure and the owners of  EGLNG Train 1 to develop and implement the LNG Train 2 Project (EGLNG2). Ophir has an established position offshore Equatorial Guinea with an 80% interest as Operator of Block R which covers 1,600km2 and contains the significant gas discoveries Fortuna and Lykos. In 2009 Ophir acquired 1,000km2 3D seismic survey data of the area and has a high impact drilling campaign in place for 2011.

“MALABO, 21 APRIL 2011 SIGNATURE OF MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING RELATING TO THE INTEGRATED PROJECT OF LNG TRAIN 2

The Ministry of Mines, Industry & Energy is pleased to announce that a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) has been approved and signed relating to the commercial structure of the LNG Train 2 Integrated Project in Equatorial Guinea. The MOU was signed by the Ministry of Mines, Industry & Energy, SONAGAS GE (the national gas company of Equatorial Guinea), the partners of Blocks O & I (Noble Energy, GEPetrol GE (the national oil company of Equatorial Guinea), Glencore, Atlas Petroleum and Osbourne Resources Ltd.), the partners of Block R (Ophir Energy and GEPetrol GE), the shareholders of 3G Holding Ltd (Union Fenosa Gas and GALP Energia) and the partners of EGLNG Holding Ltd.

(Marathon GE, Mitsui & Co. Ltd and Marubeni Gas Development Co. Ltd).

The signed MOU relates to the alignment of the gas producers, the owners of the gas pipeline infrastructure and the owners of EGLNG Train 1 to develop and implement the LNG Train 2 Project, using the resources necessary to carry out this Project. The planned FID for this project is 2012 with the first LNG in 2016.”

About Ophir

Ophir Energy plc is a UK incorporated holding company with interests in 17 oil and gas exploration projects in eight different African jurisdictions. The Group’s headquarters are located in London (England), with operational offices in Perth (Australia), Malabo (Equatorial Guinea), Dar es Salaam/Mtwara (Tanzania) and Dakar (Senegal).

Original Article

What Color is Obama?

Peter Landesman

There are many misguided souls who think President Obama is a a green environmentalist because he strives to limit offshore drilling and to halt the building of coal power plants.  However, Obama’s recent actions have shown that his motivation is not to protect nature’s health and beauty.

Sometimes in physics two different theories can explain the same observations.  If an experiment is found that only one of the theories predicts, that theory is deemed superior.

Two theories explain Obama’s effort to limit domestic production of hydrocarbons.  The first possible explanation for this effort is that Obama is an environmentalist.  He wants to keep our air clean and our beaches pristine.  The second is that the President is a redistributionist.  He wants to transfer American wealth overseas to poorer countries by forcing the United States to buy expensive foreign oil.

Which rationale explains Obama’s recent massive 3 billion dollar loan (through the U.S. Export-Import Bank ) to Ecopetrol, the Colombian national oil company, to expand its refining operation and the 2 billion dollar loan to Brazil’s state-owned Petrobras Oil Company?

The environmentalist theory does not account for this largess because apparently Obama does not care about the possibility of seagulls covered in oil and poisoned fish in Columbia or Brazil.

However, the redistributionist theory is superior and clarifies Obama’s motivation behind these generous loans.  Since the United States is being prevented from developing its hydrocarbon supplies, we will have to buy ever more costly oil and gas from Brazil and Columbia.  As Obama noted after his meeting with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, “We want to help with technology and support to develop these oil reserves safely, and when you’re ready to start selling, we want to be one of your best customers.”

Given the intensity of Obama’s desire to redistribute wealth in the United States, it is not surprising that redistributing wealth internationally is a fundamental goal of his foreign policy. This was also one of the aims of the recent defunct international climate conference.

The two loans to the South American countries are the beginning of a pattern to transfer wealth abroad regardless of the effect on environment.  If Obama keeps doing this, Obama President of the United States will have no serious opposition, like George Washington, in his quest to be Obama President of the New World Government.  But don’t be fooled:  a Green, Obama is not.

Original Article

Analysis: 100 years after boom, shale makes Texas oil hot again

By Selam Gebrekidan
Tue May 3, 2011 12:13am EDT

(Reuters) – A century after a gusher at the Spindletop field in Beaumont, Texas, ushered in the first U.S. oil boom, a quieter oil craze is underway 300 miles west in a chain of counties more famous for cattle than crude.

Over the past two years, some 30 companies have moved in to a shale prospect in South Texas called the Eagle Ford that could add 420,000 barrels per day (bpd) to U.S. crude oil production, nearly matching the output of OPEC member Ecuador.

The first phase of this latest boom has accelerated over the past year. Companies have hastened development of the estimated 3 billion barrels of shale oil across Eagle Ford by bringing in the horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing techniques that opened up North Dakota.

Where wildcatters and entrepreneurs pounced on the Spindletop boom at the start of the 20th century, engineers and business analysts are leading the charge to develop reserves under 20,000 square miles of cattle land in Eagle Ford.

Shale natural gas initially drew companies to the area, but as gas prices languished and crude surged, interest in the region’s crude potential grew.

To relieve a bottleneck producers say has begun to choke growth, pipeline companies in recent weeks committed more than $1 billion to add 940,000 barrels per day (bpd) of pipeline capacity by the end of 2012, according to Reuters estimates.

Texas, once the center of the oil world, fell on hard times as production declined and big energy companies looked overseas to expand and replenish reserves. After decades of decline, U.S. oil output is slowly rising again, largely due to shale reserves like the Bakken field in North Dakota and now Texas.

In April alone, top pipeline companies such as Enterprise Products, Nustar Energy and Koch pipelines announced five projects to build new crude and condensate lines or expand older ones, bringing the rising supply of high quality light, sweet oil to giant Gulf Coast refiners.

For now, truck drivers are working overtime to ferry oil from the region, which stretches across 22 counties in South Texas. Transport companies are retrofitting rigs, but often can’t find lodging for drivers as hotels and motels are booked a year in advance.

“The demand is really straining the trucking industry,” said John Esparza, president of the Texas Motor Transportation Association. “A lot of the capacity that existed a few years ago was cut during the recession. Now there is a spike in demand for a very specific type of truck.”

Explosive production growth will make the transportation infrastructure problem more glaring. Eagle Ford output has risen from nil two years ago to 71,000 barrels of oil per day, and will leap fivefold by 2015, according to energy consultancy Bentek.

“The growth …. clearly outpaces the capabilities of existing pipeline infrastructure,” says Joan Dunlap, spokesperson for Petrohawk Energy, one of the top four producers in Eagle Ford.

ConocoPhillips , which aims to triple its current output of 20,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day in the next few years, expects pipeline problems to be solved by 2013, the company said last week in its first-quarter earnings report.

FROM TWO DOZEN TO 2,000

The pace of development has picked up quickly since the first successful horizontal well was drilled in Eagle Ford in late 2008, when the Texas Railroad Commission had only 26 permits on record for the area.

The number shot up to more than a thousand in 2010, and the commission issued 562 permits in the first quarter of 2011 alone.

“The Eagle Ford is going from a non-event to being extremely active. We’re expecting a four to five times increase in permits and production in four years,” said Commissioner David Porter of the Railroad Commission of Texas, which regulates exploration companies operating in the state.

Original Article

Norway: Rem Offshore Orders LNG Powered Offshore Vessel at Kleven Maritime

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Kleven Maritime has signed a new contract with Rem Offshore for delivery of one LNG powered offshore vessel. With this new contract, Kleven Maritime’s order reserve increases to 9 vessels at a combined value of 3.3 billion NOK.

The vessel is of Wärtsilä Ship Design and is scheduled for delivery from Kleven Verft in Ulsteinvik in December 2012.

Kleven Verft is currently building two vessels for Rem Offshore and has previously delivered 11 ships to the company. It is thus a long running partnership which has now been extended with yet another vessel.

”This contract manifests Kleven Maritime’s position as a leading supplier of LNG powered vessels, and as the country’s largest Norwegian-owned shipbuilding group. It illustrates the positive result we achieve through close collaboration with customers over time, such as Rem Offshore,” says Ståle Rasmussen, Chief executive of Kleven Maritime.

Kleven has previously delivered 5 LNG powered ships, and has further three on the order book for future delivery. Through innovation and widespread use of robotics, Kleven Maritime is going against the flow and building an ever larger share of the ships in Norway.

“We are optimistic about the market going forward and will continue to target this market – LNG propulsion is environmentally friendly and progressive. In addition, the new ship has good capabilities for loading both on and below deck,” says Åge Remøy of Rem Offshore.

The vessel is of the type VS 499 LNG PSV with a length of 89,6 meters, beam 21.0 meters and a deck space of 1 030m2. Dead weight is around 6 500 tonnes. 4 engines with “dual fuel” propulsion (flexible switch between LNG and diesel propulsion) is environmentally friendly and fuel-efficient. Furthermore, the vessel is Light ice class (Ice C), equipped for oil recovery (Oil Rec NOFO 2009) and rescue missions (Standby Vessel).

Original Article

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