Monthly Archives: December 2011
Focused on supporting natural gas fueling in North America, investors, including Boone Pickens, have invested a total of $150 million in Clean Energy Fuels Corp., North America’s leading provider of natural gas fuel for transportation.
The investments resulted from the exercise of Mr. Pickens’ warrants to purchase 15 million shares of the company’s common stock at $10 per share. Mr. Pickens purchased 1.5 million shares and transferred the balance to existing investors RRJ Capital, Seatown Holdings and Chesapeake Energy Corporation, as well as Chief Capital LP, an investment vehicle wholly owned by energy investor Trevor Rees-Jones.
“These investments bring the total invested or committed to Clean Energy to $450 million during 2011,” said Andrew J. Littlefair, President and CEO of Clean Energy. “We see this as a tremendous affirmation of both Clean Energy as the leader in natural gas vehicle fueling in America and our America’s Natural Gas Highway initiative that is expanding natural gas fueling infrastructure in cities throughout the country.”
“We have a significant program underway to develop CNG and LNG fueling stations serving fleets in the long-haul, regional and port trucking markets, as well as for solid waste, transit, airport and municipal transportation nationwide,” noted Littlefair.
Currently priced up to $1.50 or more per gallon lower than diesel or gasoline (depending upon local markets), the use of natural gas fuel reduces costs significantly for vehicle and fleet owners, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions up to 30% in light-duty vehicles and 23% in medium to heavy-duty vehicles. Additionally, natural gas is a secure North American energy source with 98% of the natural gas consumed produced in the U.S. and Canada.
- USA: Clean Energy Gets USD 150 Million Investment
- USA: Clean Energy Supports Proposed Federal Legislation That Would Expand Use of Gas Fuel for Transportation
- USA: Clean Energy Partners with Quarles Petroleum to Add Gas Fueling Service
- USA: Clean Energy Supports 2011 NAT GAS Act
- USA: Clean Energy CEO Says Supporting Gas for Transportation Will Create Over 400,000 New Jobs
- Compressed natural gas plans may spur vehicle growth (newsok.com)
- Natural gas fueling plans may spur vehicle growth. (azdailysun.com)
- Noble Energy Discovers Significant Gas Discovery Offshore Cyprus (mb50.wordpress.com)
By John Tabin
Cairo (CNN) — Several rights groups, including three U.S.-based entities, were raided in Cairo and other Egyptian locations on Thursday in what one source called a push by police to “show some muscle.”
Police conducted 17 raids of nongovernmental organizations, targeting at least 10 groups across the country, Egypt’s general prosecutor’s office said. The targeted groups included U.S.-based Freedom House, the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the International Republican Institute (IRI).
The actions were part of an investigation into allegations that groups may have received illegal foreign funding and have been operating without licenses from the Foreign Ministry and local ministries, according to Adel Saeed, spokesman for the general prosecutor’s office.
But the leaders of the U.S.-based organizations and the U.S. State Department condemned the raids and called on Egyptian authorities to allow the groups to resume their work.
“This action is inconsistent with the bilateral cooperation we have had over many years,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Thursday. Washington has called on Egyptian authorities “to immediately end the harassment of NGOs (and) NGO staff, return all property and resolve this issue immediately.”
Freedom House urged the Obama administration to “scrutinize the $1.3 billion that the United States annually provides the Egyptian military to fund arms purchases and training.”
“In the current fiscal environment, the United States must not subsidize authoritarianism in Egypt while the Egyptian government is preventing NGOs from implementing democracy and human rights projects subsidized by the U.S. taxpayer,” said Charles Dunne, Freedom House’s director of Middle East and North Africa programs.
The NDI and IRI, loosely affiliated with the Democratic and Republican parties and chaired by Madeline Albright and John McCain, respectively, are funded in part by the US government, through the National Endowment for Democracy. In effect, the Egyptian government’s actions represent US military aid being used to undermine the effectiveness of US civil society aid. It’s worth expounding on the stakes here.
Egypt is in the midst of a democratic transition where Islamists (including the radical Salafists) have had much success at the ballot box. Jamie Kirchick recently talked to free-market oriented liberal activists leary of the direction that post-Mubarak Egypt; his American Interest article is difficult to summarize, but this part is relevant to today’s news:
Counterintuitively, [activist Amr] Bargisi believes that the best hope for a liberal Egypt, given the circumstances, is if the Muslim Brotherhood gets the opportunity to steward the country. This is because the job of ruling Egypt right now is unenviable, and that whichever force comes to power is bound to lose popular support. This scenario, then, may provide sufficient time for genuine liberal ideals to take hold and for a true democratic opening to form. Bargisi tells me that there are three conditions, however, for this to happen. The first is that the international community must take a “lukewarm attitude, not too hostile, not too welcoming”, to a Brotherhood-led Egypt. “Too hostile helps the Islamists; too welcoming helps the Islamists”, he says.
Second, is that the West, and the United States in particular, should move away from the realm of “day-to-day” politics-full of rank opportunists and poseurs, in Bargisi’s opinion-and instead “focus on civil society, think tanks, independent movements, political groups.” And for this civil society to flourish, the military must “stand as a guard on democracy” and give up its “chauvinism.” But most important is that those Egyptians opposed to the instantiation of a clerical state need to know as clearly as their Islamist opponents in which direction they want to take the country. “There must be some kind of vision for what the country should look like, and in this complete vagueness, the Islamists will win”, Bargisi tells me.
Today’s raids obviously get in the way of the second condition — improving civil society — but they also get in the way of the third condition; training political parties to define their views on issues is a big part of what the NDI and IRI do. Some liberals hope that the military can stand at a bulwark against unfettered, tyrannous Islamism, but now we see the military regime continuing and even expanding on Mubarak-era policies of actively suppressing liberal opposition. This does not bode well.
If the regime doesn’t comply with Nuland’s call for an immediate change in course, military aid needs to be at least partially halted, if only briefly. Letting this stand with no tangible consequences is asking for trouble.
- Tensions rise as Egyptian forces raid American NGOs in Cairo (dailymail.co.uk)
- Egyptian Security Forces Raid Offices of NGOs in Cairo (businessweek.com)
- US ‘deeply concerned’ after Egypt raids NGO offices (csmonitor.com)
- US price tag on Egyptian revolution? (rt.com)
|This week the SubseaIQ team added 2 new projects and updated 11 projects. You can see all the updates made over any time period via the Project Update History search. The latest offshore field develoment news and activities are listed below for your convenience.|
- Noble Energy Discovers Significant Gas Discovery Offshore Cyprus (mb50.wordpress.com)
- UK: Talisman Selects Helix Well Ops for Subsea Works on Its Assets (mb50.wordpress.com)
- Shell Awards Subsea 7 with Two Gulf of Mexico Contracts (mb50.wordpress.com)
- Worldwide: Project Field Development News (mb50.wordpress.com)
- USA: Shell Sets World Record for Deepest Subsea O&G Well at Perdido Development (mb50.wordpress.com)
“Today’s ruling is a blow to ratepayers, businesses, and municipalities who are being asked to bear billions of dollars in new electricity costs when other green energy alternatives are available at a fraction of the cost.
The good news is the increasingly clear reality that Cape Wind will never be built. Cape Wind has been denied FAA approval, has been denied critical Federal loan guarantees, has no utility willing to buy half its power, and cannot find investors. Those facts alone render this decision moot.”
- SJC confirms Cape Wind-National Grid power deal (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- After favorable court ruling, company chief says Cape Wind construction could begin within a year (boston.com)
- SJC Confirms Cape Wind-National Grid Power Deal (boston.cbslocal.com)
- SJC upholds DPU ruling approving sale of Cape Wind power to National Grid (boston.com)
- Cape Wind Power-Purchase Deal Upheld (earthtechling.com)
- Growing Cape Wind Opposition Brings Windfall Funds to Environmental Group (indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com)
- USA: Fight for Nantucket Sound Continues (mb50.wordpress.com)
Stone Energy Corporation today announced the closing of the previously announced acquisition of deep water assets from BP Exploration & Production Inc. (BP), which include BP’s 75% operated working interest in the five block deep water Pompano field in Mississippi Canyon, a 51% operated working interest in the adjacent Mississippi Canyon block 29, a 50% non-operated working interest in the Mica field, which ties back to the Pompano platform, and interests in 23 deep water exploration leases located in the vicinity of the Pompano field.
The stated purchase price of $204 million was adjusted under the agreement to $167.6 million, after adjusting for the effective date of July 1, 2011. The final purchase price is subject to further adjustments for the subsequent period through the closing date.
Stone’s preliminary review of the estimated proved reserves relating to the acquired properties indicated estimated proved reserves of approximately 17 million barrels of oil equivalent (Boe) as of December 28, 2011, which were approximately 83% oil. Stone’s preliminary estimate of the asset retirement obligation associated with the properties is approximately $60 million. The Pompano platform is a production hub with seven producing leases, currently producing at an average rate of approximately 3,300 Boe per day, net to Stone. The production hub has production capacity of 60,000 barrels of oil per day and 135 million cubic feet of gas per day, which could allow for potential processing of additional third party production.
- USA: BP Sells Stake in Pompano and Mica Offshore Fields to Stone Energy (mb50.wordpress.com)
- Stone Energy Corporation Announces Close of Acquisition of BP’s Pompano Field Working Interest (prnewswire.com)
- USA: BP Confirms Significant Resource Extension for Mad Dog Complex (mb50.wordpress.com)
- Offshore Lists Top 5 Offshore Field Development Projects (mb50.wordpress.com)
- US eyes first BP criminal charges over Gulf oil spill, report (telegraph.co.uk)
- USA: EMAS Wins Gulf of Mexico Subsea Contract from BP (mb50.wordpress.com)
- USA: The Bedford Report Releases Equity Research on BP and ATP Oil & Gas (mb50.wordpress.com)
- USA: BP Sells Stake in Pompano and Mica Offshore Fields to Stone Energy
- Energy XXI Closes Acquisition of Gulf of Mexico Shelf Properties From ExxonMobil
- USA: Energy XXI to Acquire Gulf of Mexico Shelf Properties From ExxonMobil for $1.01 Billion
- USA: EPL Buys GoM Assets from Stone Energy
- USA: BP Buys Gulf Of Mexico Assets from Shell
Posted By Josh Rogin
As the violence in Syria spirals out of control, top officials in President Barack Obama‘s administration are quietly preparing options for how to assist the Syrian opposition, including gaming out the unlikely option of setting up a no-fly zone in Syria and preparing for another major diplomatic initiative.
Critics on Capitol Hill accuse the Obama administration of being slow to react to the quickening deterioration of the security situation in Syria, where over 5,000 have died, according to the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights. Many lawmakers say the White House is once again “leading from behind,” while the Turks, the French, and the Arab League — which sent an observer mission to Syria this week – take the initiative to pursue more aggressive strategies for pressuring the Assad regime. But U.S. officials said that they are moving cautiously in order to avoid destabilizing Syria further, and to make sure they know as much as possible about the country’s complex dynamics before getting more involved.
But the administration does see the status quo in Syria as unsustainable. The Bashar al Assad regime is a “dead man walking,” State Department official Fred Hof said this month. So the administration is now ramping up its policymaking machinery on the issue. After several weeks of having no top-level administration meetings to discuss the Syria crisis, the National Security Council (NSC) has begun an informal, quiet interagency process to create and collect options for aiding the Syrian opposition, two administration officials confirmed to The Cable.
The process, led by NSC Senior Director Steve Simon, involves only a few select officials from State, Defense, Treasury, and other relevant agencies. The group is unusually small, presumably to prevent media leaks, and the administration is not using the normal process of Interagency Policy Committee (IPC), Deputies Committee (DC), or Principals Committee (PC) meetings, the officials said. Another key official inside the discussions is Hof, who is leading the interactions with Syrian opposition leaders and U.S. allies.
The options that are under consideration include establishing a humanitarian corridor or safe zone for civilians in Syria along the Turkish border, extending humanitarian aid to the Syrian rebels, providing medical aid to Syrian clinics, engaging more with the external and internal opposition, forming an international contact group, or appointing a special coordinator for working with the Syrian opposition (as was done in Libya), according to the two officials, both of whom are familiar with the discussions but not in attendance at the meetings.
“The interagency is now looking at options for Syria, but it’s still at the preliminary stage,” one official said. “There are many people in the administration that realize the status quo is unsustainable and there is an internal recognition that existing financial sanctions are not going to bring down the Syrian regime in the near future.”
After imposing several rounds of financial sanctions on Syrian regime leaders, the focus is now shifting to assisting the opposition directly. The interagency process is still ongoing and the NSC has tasked State and DOD to present options in the near future, but nothing has been decided, said the officials – one of whom told The Cable that the administration was being intentionally cautious out of concern about what comes next in Syria.
“Due to the incredible and far-reaching ramifications of the Syrian problem set, people are being very cautious,” the official said. “The criticism could be we’re not doing enough to change the status quo because we’re leading from behind. But the reason we are being so cautious is because when you look at the possible ramifications, it’s mindboggling.”
A power vacuum in the country, loose weapons of mass destruction, a refugee crisis, and unrest across the region are just a few of the problems that could attend the collapse of the Assad regime, the official said.
“This isn’t Libya. What happens in Libya stays in Libya, but that is not going to happen in Syria. The stakes are higher,” the official said. “Right now, we see the risks of moving too fast as higher than the risks of moving too slow.”
The option of establishing a humanitarian corridor is seen as extremely unlikely because it would require establishing a no-fly zone over parts of Syria, which would likely involve large-scale attacks on the Syrian air defense and military command-and-control systems.
“That’s theoretically one of the options, but it’s so far out of the realm that no one is thinking about that seriously at the moment,” another administration official said.
Although the opposition is decidedly split on the issue, Burhan Ghalioun, the president of the Syrian National Council, earlier this month called on the international community to enforce a no-fly zone in Syria.
“Our main objective is finding mechanisms to protect civilians and stop the killing machine,” said Ghalioun. “We say it is imperative to use forceful measures to force the regime to respect human rights.”
Is the U.S. bark worse than its bite?
Rhetorically, the administration has been active in calling for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step aside and protecting the rights of Syrian protesters, despite the lack of clear policy to achieve that result. “The United States continues to believe that the only way to bring about the change that the Syrian people deserve is for Bashar al-Assad to leave power,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said on Dec. 21.
On Tuesday, Dec. 27, the administration hinted at stronger action if the Syrian government doesn’t let the Arab League monitors do their work. “If the Syrian regime continues to resist and disregard Arab League efforts, the international community will consider other means to protect Syrian civilians,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner said in a statement.
The Syrian National Council (SNC), the primary organization representing the opposition, has been very clear that it is seeking more than rhetorical support from the United States and the international community. An extensive policy paper titled, “Safe Area for Syria,” edited by SNC member Ausama Monajed, laid out the argument for armed intervention by the international community to aid Syrian civilians.
“The Syrian National Council (SNC) is entering a critical phase in the Syrian revolution whereby the hope of a continued campaign of passive resistance to an exceptionally brutal and unrestrained regime is becoming more and more akin to a suicide pact,” Monajed wrote.
But Washington is uncomfortable acting in concert with the SNC: Officials say there is a lack of confidence that the SNC, which is strongly influenced by expatriate Syrians, has the full support of the internal opposition. U.S. officials are also wary of supporting the Syria Free Army, made up of Syrian military defectors and armed locals, as they do not want to be seen as becoming militarily engaged against the regime — a story line they fear that Assad could use for his own propaganda, officials said.
There is also some internal bureaucratic wrangling at play. This summer, when the issue of sending emergency medical equipment into Syria came up in a formal interagency meeting, disputes over jurisdiction stalled progress on the discussion, officials told The Cable. No medical aid was sent.
So for now, the administration is content to let the Arab League monitoring mission play out and await its Jan. 20 report. The officials said that the administration hopes to use the report to begin a new diplomatic initiative in late January at the U.N. Security Council to condemn Assad and authorize direct assistance to the opposition.
The officials acknowledged that this new initiative could fail due to Russian support for the Assad regime. If that occurs, the administration would work with its allies such as France and Turkey to establish their own justification for non-military humanitarian intervention in Syria, based on evidence from the Arab League report and other independent reporting on Assad’s human rights abuses. This process could take weeks, however, meaning that material assistance from the United States to the Syrian opposition probably wouldn’t flow at least until late February or early March. Between now and then, hundreds or even thousands more could be killed.
There is also disagreement within the administration about whether the Arab League observer mission is credible and objective.
“This is an Arab issue right now, and the Arab League is really showing initiative for the first time in a long time,” said one administration official.
“[The Arab League monitoring mission] is all Kabuki theatre,” said another administration official who does not work directly on Syria. “We’re intentionally setting the bar too high [for intervention] as means of maintaining the status quo, which is to do nothing.”
Andrew Tabler, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said that the administration was caught off-guard by how the opposition became militarized so quickly. The administration’s message had been to urge the opposition to remain peaceful, but that ship has now sailed, he said.
“We have a pretty strong policy of not engaging the Syria Free Army directly, because earlier it was agreed that peaceful protesters had the moral high ground over the regime and were more able to encourage defections,” he said. “But there was no clear light at the end of that peaceful protest strategy. We assumed, incorrectly, that the civil resistance strategies used in Egypt and Tunisia were being adopted by the Syrian opposition, but that didn’t happen.”
Most experts in Washington have a deep skepticism toward the Arab League monitoring mission. For one thing, it is led by a Sudanese general who has been accused of founding the Arab militias that wreaked havoc in Darfur. Also, many doubt that 150 monitors that will eventually be in Syria can cover the vast number of protests and monitor such a large country.
The Assad regime has also been accused of subverting the monitoring mission by moving political prisoners to military sites that are off-limits to monitors, repositioning tanks away from cities only when monitors are present, and having soldiers pose as police to downplay the military’s role in cracking down on the protesters.
“It seems awfully risky for the U.S. to be putting its chips all in on that mission,” said Tony Badran, a research fellow with the conservative Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “There never was a serious mechanism for it to be a strong initiative.”
Badran said that the Arab League monitoring mission just gives the Assad regime time and space to maneuver, and provides Russia with another excuse to delay international action on Syria.
“Now you understand why the Russians pushed the Syrians to accept the monitors,” he said. “It allows the Syrians to delay the emergence of consensus.”
Brian Katulis, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, said the administration is trying to balance the value of protecting civilians with the interests of trying to ensure a measure of stability in Syria.
“The biggest thing is extensive consultation with as many international allies as possible. That’s another feature of this administration,” said Katulis. “And when change does come to Syria, the Syrians have to own it.”
National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor did not respond to requests for comment.
- The US must ratchet up pressure on Syria | Matthew Brodsky (guardian.co.uk)
- Activists: Syrian troops kill 9 despite monitors (goerie.com)
- Arab League monitors head to Syrian opposition stronghold – CNN (edition.cnn.com)
- US: Assad’s Syria a ‘dead man walking’ (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- White House warning: Assad must end crackdown or face ‘additional steps’ (jta.org)
- Syria frees 755 prisoners as observers tour Homs (theglobeandmail.com)
- Protest could be turning point in Syrian unrest (smh.com.au)
Noble Energy, Inc. announced today a natural gas discovery at the Cyprus Block 12 prospect, offshore the Republic of Cyprus. The Cyprus A-1 well encountered approximately 310 feet of net natural gas pay in multiple high-quality Miocene sand intervals.
The discovery well was drilled to a depth of 19,225 feet in water depth of about 5,540 feet. Results from drilling, formation logs and initial evaluation work indicate an estimated gross resource range(1) of 5 to 8 trillion cubic feet (Tcf), with a gross mean of 7 Tcf. The Cyprus Block 12 field covers approximately 40 square miles and will require additional appraisal drilling prior to development.
Charles D. Davidson, Noble Energy’s Chairman and CEO, said, “We are excited to announce the discovery of significant natural gas resources in Cyprus on Block 12. This is the fifth consecutive natural gas field discovery for Noble Energy and our partners in the greater Levant basin, with total gross mean resources for the five discoveries currently estimated to be over 33 Tcf. This latest discovery in Cyprus further highlights the quality and significance of this world-class basin.”
Davidson went on to say, “We would like to thank the Government of Cyprus for their productive cooperation and support in achieving an important outcome for the people of Cyprus and Noble Energy. We look forward to working closely with the Government of Cyprus to develop this discovery in a manner that maximizes value for all stakeholders.”
Noble Energy operates the well with a 70 percent working interest. Delek Drilling and Avner Oil Exploration will each have 15 percent, subject to final approval by the Government of Cyprus.
- Noble Energy Announces Significant Natural Gas Discovery Offshore Republic of Cyprus (prnewswire.com)
- Cyprus: Offshore gas find gets investor interest (sfgate.com)
- Cyprus: Offshore gas find gets investor interest (seattlepi.com)
- Cyprus to Press Ahead with Offshore Drilling Despite Turkish Objection (mb50.wordpress.com)
- Cyprus Oil and Gas (mb50.wordpress.com)
- Cyprus’ FM briefs US officials on gas development (mysanantonio.com)
Norway based, international oil services group Aker Solutions is about to open North America’s most advanced drilling equipment simulator in Houston, Texas. The simulator will be available to rig operators with the objective of making offshore drilling operations safer and more cost effective.
Aker Solutions is investing USD 2.5 million in the new state-of-the-art drilling equipment simulator, which will be available 24/7 for North American based rig operators and oil companies. It will double the capacity of the current training centre located in Katy near Houston. The new drilling simulator is expected to be officially opened early 2012.
“This will be the most advanced drilling simulator in North America and we will double our training capacity when it is ready for use. It will have dedicated staff who can provide round-the-clock service on Aker Solutions’ complete range of topside drilling equipment. We look forward to start working with our customers in this new and upgraded centre,” says Glenn Ellis, head of drilling technologies for Aker Solutions in the US.
Aker Solutions is one of the world’s top providers of drilling equipment packages and technologies for deepwater drilling operations. Using advanced 3D visualisation technology, the company has developed the market leading drilling simulators, which are already in operation in Brazil, Singapore, Norway and South Korea, in addition to Houston. A new simulator is also being prepared in Baku, Azerbaijan.
The centrepiece of the 9,800 square foot training centre is a new 240 degree domed simulator. Its dome-shaped screen, combined with utilization of actual drilling control systems software, creates a realistic environment that emulates what is experienced on a rig. Each specific rig is meticulously recreated as a virtual asset, including all rig equipment and control systems. This offers the possibility of onshore training and detailed operational planning, with the same signal treatment, in virtual environments that are identical to those that will be experienced offshore.
The training centre’s extensive server systems are made up of 88 individual servers, which provide enough capacity to run simulations on two drilling rigs simulator systems simultaneously. A manual switchover solution allows quick change of the rig configuration in the simulator to ensure maximum simulator utilisation.
“A realistic, real-time visualisation of drilling operations enables rig operators to learn to make better and faster decisions. The result is safer operations, more efficient drilling and increased rig uptime. This simulator technology certainly allows us to offer superior training facilities for our clients and our own employees,” adds Glenn Ellis.
- Aker Solutions Plans to Strengthen its Footprint in Northern Norway (mb50.wordpress.com)
- Norway: Aker Solutions to Supply Production Equipment for Brynhild Project (mb50.wordpress.com)
- Re-inventing subsea intervention to keep economics above water (mb50.wordpress.com)
- Feds approve Murphy drilling project using Helix emergency equipment (mb50.wordpress.com)
- UK: Key Oil Majors, Plexus Team Up to Develop New Subsea Wellhead (mb50.wordpress.com)
- Norway: Aker Proposes Aker Floating Production Acquisition (mb50.wordpress.com)
- Norway-based Aker Solutions Increases its Middle East Presence with X3M Acquisition (mb50.wordpress.com)
- UK: Aker Solutions to Supply Subsea Modules for Western Isles Project (mb50.wordpress.com)