Daily Archives: May 3, 2011
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.
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.
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.”
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).
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.
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.
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.
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).
Technip was awarded a 10-year master agreement by BP Exploration and Production, Inc. The agreement covers the design, procurement and construction of hulls and mooring systems for Spar(1) platforms to be located in the Gulf of Mexico, as well as the design of top tension risers(2) for dry tree units.
This award follows a design competition and confirms Technip’s leadership in Spar technology, secured over time through the construction of 14 of the 17 existing Spars worldwide.
Technip’s operating center in Houston, Texas, will execute the agreement. It stipulates that the Spars will be fabricated at the Group’s yard in Pori, Finland, where 12 of Technip’s 14 Spars have already been manufactured.
Within the framework of this agreement, pre-front-end engineering design activity for the Mad Dog Phase II Spar has already begun. The front-end engineering design for this project is scheduled to commence in the second semester of 2011.
by Brett Clanton Posted on May 3, 2011 at 11:25 pm
The Chevron Genesis platform in the Gulf of Mexico (AP file photo/Mary Altaffer)
As the global offshore oil and gas industry meets in Houston this week, leaders say they are aware the reputation of their business is still bruised after the BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill and that motorists and politicians are fuming over $4 gasoline prices.
But they cautioned Washington against overreaching with new regulation and taxes, stressing the enormity of the challenge ahead in meeting the world’s surging energy needs.
“We cannot afford to have emotions control business and policy decisions,” Zuhair Hussain, vice president of Saudi Aramco’s drilling and workover unit, said during a panel discussion Tuesday at the 2011 Offshore Technology Conference.
With global energy demand expected to rise 40 percent by 2035, industry must be unencumbered to invest in finding more resources and developing new technology, said other panelists.
“You can’t be emotional about our business based on gas prices,” said Ali Moshiri, president of Chevron Corp.’s Africa and Latin America exploration and production company.
But Obama administration officials and oil company executives agreed that last year’s Macondo well blowout, which killed 11 workers and launched the nation’s worst oil spill, gave the industry a major image problem that could take years to quash.
Christopher Smith, U.S. deputy assistant energy secretary, noted that “blowout preventer” and “fracking” have become familiar words since the Deepwater Horizon disaster and amid controversy surrounding the fracturing process used to unlock natural gas. And that’s not a good thing, he said.
“These terms have entered into the public consciousness in a way that is going to be a net negative for industry and for government as we try to advance our goals,” Smith said.
But government, industry and environmentalists can work together on shared goals, such as advancing safe development of natural gas, he said.
Farouk Hussain Al Zanki, CEO of Kuwait Petroleum Corp., described a key lesson industry should take away from events of recent months, including the Gulf oil spill and Japan’s tsunami-triggered nuclear power plant disaster.
“Energy safety has moved to the forefront of industry challenges,” he said.
Dave Payne, Chevron’s vice president of drilling and completions, said the damage from the spill will be particularly long-lasting.
“A large percentage of the American public doesn’t understand our business,” he said. “We have not regained trust. It will take us years as an industry to get to where we need to be.”
He cautioned against an adversarial relationship between federal regulators and the offshore drilling industry. We “need a partnership with government,” he said. “We cannot work at loggerheads with the government and be successful.”
In an afternoon panel on the Gulf spill, speakers explored specific ways that the industry could learn from the blowout last year.
One big lesson: The data streaming from the seafloor to the drilling rig may not be displayed in the best way to help workers make quick decisions.
There’s a concern that amid a barrage of data, “someone working in real time has to tease out” what’s relevant “and make real consequential decisions on the fly,” Smith said.
The oil and gas industry can take cues from how information is presented to pilots in airplane cockpits and engineers in nuclear reactors, he said.
“Instead of relying on a person who is smart and quick and who has that intestinal fortitude to stop work on a $350 million rig,” Smith said, the airlines and nuclear industry use more checklists and automation.
Chevron’s Payne said industry stalwarts likely would resist safety checklists, but acknowledged they could go a long way to improving safety offshore.
“We need to start bringing procedures and checklists into our business,” he said. “We have an opportunity to work together as an industry and hold each other accountable.”
OTC attendance so far is up about 10 percent from last year, when 72,900 came to the four-day annual event, said Stephen Graham, OTC’s associate managing director.
INO-80, a joint project development between Inocean AS and COSCO Shipyard Ltd. INO-80 is a compact dynamically positioned drillship with large free deck areas, designed for year-around operations in ultra deep waters. The vessel has well planned utility arrangement with safe and reliable material handling. The hull is shaped for cost efficient and easy fabrication, as well as for challenging conditions during station keeping and transit. INO-80 features for exploration, appraisal and development drilling.