Daily Archives: January 6, 2012

Norway: STX OSV Delivers Platform Supply Vessel to Solstad

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Solstad Offshore ASA (SOFF) has today taken delivery of “Normand Arctic” from STX OSV AS, Langsten. “Normand Arctic” is a large LNG fuelled plat­form supply vessel (PSV).

The vessel will be trading in the North Sea for Statoil for a firm period of 3 months with additional 5 montly options.

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Germany: SAL’s MV Lone Becomes DP Class II Vessel

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The MV “Lone” has completed her upgrade from DP class I to DP Class II. The Heavy Lift vessel, which is part of the SAL fleet, was upgraded during the month of December in the dry-dock of the German shipyard Norderwerft (Sietas Group) in Hamburg.

With this configuration, her unrivalled service speed of 20 knots and her service capability the MV “Lone” is equipped to undertake ambitious projects within the oil and gas industry as well as offshore wind farms.

SAL, which belongs to the Japanese “K”-Line Group and is one of the leading international carriers specialising in the transportation of heavy lift cargos, owns the MV “Lone” and her twin MV “Svenja” which has a DP class I capability. These two vessels, each with a combined crane capacity of 2000 MT, can claim to possess the largest lifting capability for this type of vessel in the world and both feature a high transit speed of up 20 knots.

Dynamic Positioning (DP) is the automatic control of the vessel in its three axes of freedom (surge, sway and yaw). A DP class II certification, which the MV lone now holds, means that as a result of the equipment specification of the vessel a loss of position will not occur in the event of a failure of any single piece of critical equipment. During offshore installations where workers on platforms and other ships are involved this fact, guaranteed under all but exceptional circumstances, ensures maximum safety for personnel and equipment.

“The MV ‘Lone’ stands for SAL’s future strategy: the specialization on ships with high crane capacity and state-of-the-art technology ,” says Lars Rolner, CEO of SAL. “The installation of the DP2 system ensures an optimal capability within the highly complex area of oil, gas and wind offshore projects.”

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USA: Cummins Introduces New 4000 hp Diesel Marine Engine QSK95

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Cummins Inc, a leading manufacturer of diesel engines for the commercial marine industry, is going to introduce the new QSK95 engine with 4000 hp (2983 kW) output as the most powerful high-speed diesel configured for marine propulsion and auxiliary generator sets.

The 95-liter, 16-cylinder engine, revealed today at the Seymour Engine Plant, is designed ready to meet EPA Tier 4 low-emissions regulations taking effect in 2014.

The QSK95 will allow Cummins to meet our customers’ growing power requirements, while meeting increasingly more stringent global emissions,” said Jenny Bush, General Manager– Cummins Commercial Marine Business. “It also strengthens Cummins position as a global player in the commercial marine industry by allowing us to enter new market segments.”

The QSK95 offers flexibility in power configurations for propulsion, auxiliary, genset and diesel electric applications, and with ratings from 3200 hp to 4000 hp (2386-2983 kW), the QSK95 provides an ideal solution for high-hour, hardworking vessels such as tugs, inland waterway towboats, offshore support vessels, passenger transport, dredges, short sea cargo and coastal tankers.

While achieving a power output previously exclusive to medium-speed marine engines, the QSK95 brings the advantage of a lower capital cost, a more compact installation and exceptional fuel efficiency. Extended service and more cost-effective rebuilds add a further economic advantage.

The QSK95 is easily integrated with Cummins C Command Elite Premium and Elite Plus class-approved panels. C Command instrument panels include a selection of monitoring and display options to help operators protect and enhance engine operations and manage operating costs by logging critical operating parameters such as engine load, duty cycle, speed and fuel consumption, while providing diagnostic and prognostic capabilities. A common point of connection in the customer interface box simplifies the link between engine electronics and vessel systems.

The QSK95 meets IMO Tier II and EPA Tier 3 emissions standards with highly efficient fuel injection and clean combustion. For highly emissions-regulated areas around the world, the QSK95 will lead the way forward for 4000 hp (2983 kW) marine engines to achieve EPA Tier 4 emissions using Cummins own exhaust aftertreatment systems. This uniquely integrated solution will offer more efficient packaging and will reduce space constraints.

The QSK95 has been engineered for environmental stewardship, meeting Green Passport requirements for zero disposal impact. Further, the Cummins ELIMINATOR™ oil filtration system eliminates the need for lube oil filters, while on-engine fuel filter replacement cartridges make for more cost-effective maintenance and disposal. Customers can feel confident knowing that the teams working on QSK95 projects bring with them years of commercial marine experience.

With countless successful globally coordinated projects to our credit, the technical teams assigned to QSK95 marine projects will work closely with the customer, shipyard and naval architect to ensure long-term benefit,” said Geoff Conrad, QSK95 Account Executive – Cummins Commercial Marine Business. “We are looking forward to working with our current and prospective customers on QSK95 opportunities and projects.”

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Alaska Governor, BP, Conoco and Exxon Discuss LNG Export

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Governor Sean Parnell met yesterday in Anchorage with the chief executive officers from BP, ConocoPhillips and Exxon Mobil​ to discuss alignment between the three companies on commercializing the North Slope’s vast natural gas reserves.

The meeting took place at the request of Governor Parnell after he publicly called on the three companies – the major lease holders for gas reserves on the North Slope – to work together on developing a liquefied natural gas (LNG) project that focuses on exporting Alaska North Slope gas to Asia’s growing markets.

The governor invited the three CEOs to meet with him to discuss the opportunities for commercializing North Slope gas and the project’s importance to Alaskans.

We had a productive discussion about how to get alignment between the companies and grow Alaska’s economy through oil and gas development,” Governor Parnell said. “I made it clear that we want to see progress on commercializing Alaska’s gas for Alaskans and markets beyond.”

The Parnell administration is targeting LNG exports to Asia given increasing demand there.

Governor Parnell and the CEOs – Bob Dudley of BP, Jim Mulva of ConocoPhillips and Rex Tillerson of Exxon Mobil – met for two hours. During the meeting, the CEOs briefed the governor on the extensive work they’ve been doing in response to his request.

I appreciate the willingness of the chief executives to come to Alaska to discuss the important topic of commercializing North Slope gas,” Governor Parnell said. “For a gas project to advance, all three companies need to be aligned behind it. This meeting is an important step, but much work remains.”

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Beneath Growth, a Sea of Poison

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Mike Brownfield
January 6, 2012 at 10:40 am

Today’s jobs report from the Department of Labor was encouraging news for the U.S. economy. It shows that 200,000 jobs were created and the unemployment rate ticked down from 8.7 percent to 8.5 percent. Jobs were created in every sector of the economy save one — government! This report is consistent with other economic indicators and shows that the economy is finally coming out of its malaise. But like any reports, they must be put into context. The creation of 200,000 new jobs is solid growth and above the 130,000 to 150,000 new jobs that must be created to keep up with population growth.  However, this doesn’t mean happy times  are here again.

There are not enough Americans working or looking for work. In fact participation in the labor force is at its lowest point in 30 years as many potential workers are not yet even attempting to find jobs. Moreover, at this stage in a recovery, new jobs should be surging instead of averaging less than 140,000 for the last three months. So all is not well and President Obama should not check the “mission accomplished” box. In fact, Obama’s painful economic policies will only serve to further hamstring America’s economic engine, thereby preventing a truly strong, vibrant economy that the country is capable of having.

The President single-handedly unleashed another poison pill on Wednesday with the White House’s announcement that he will exact another illegal, unconstitutional end-run around Congress with the appointment of three new members to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) without Senate approval, all of whom are union officials. Here’s why that matters.

The NLRB is a five-member board that is responsible for investigating unfair labor practices, creating labor-related rules, and conducting elections for labor union representation. Last year the NLRB enacted measures shortening union elections to as little as 14 days, limiting employees’ ability to hear from both sides before they vote, allowing unions to cherry-pick which workers in a company can vote on unionizing, and preventing workers from insisting on a secret ballot in union drives, as Heritage’s James Sherk explains. These measures will make it much easier for unions to organize workers — but at the expense of workers’ rights. If workers want to join a union they have that right — management gets the union it deserves — but the government should not limit their rights in order to press workers into unionizing.

Prior to the President’s appointments, the NLRB had only three sitting members, with the one member’s term ending at the end of 2012. Were the NLRB to go down to two members, it wouldn’t have a quorum to conduct its business, meaning that the President’s Big Labor agenda couldn’t be enacted. Now, though, the President has appointed three new members who will undoubtedly carry out his agenda without any checks or balances.

And that agenda is to bolster America’s unions — a key constituency and political force standing behind the President. Unfortunately, their goal is not primarily to protect workers. The trouble is that the Big Labor agenda is fundamentally at odds with the pro-growth agenda that America is so thirsty for. Sherk explains:

Unions make businesses less competitive and discourage investment. This reduces job growth. Studies show that jobs fall by 5-10 percent at newly organized firms. Going forward, employment grows by three to four percentage points more slowly at unionized businesses than at otherwise identical non-union companies.

In short, America is witnessing President Obama put his Big Labor allies before workers, all in the guise of taking action on behalf of the American people. America’s job creators are sitting on the sidelines, as well, watching as this President takes actions that serve only to inject more poisonous uncertainty into the economy.

Apart from the economic ramifications of the President’s actions, the American people should also remember that his NLRB appointments are a blatantly unconstitutional, tyrannical abuse of power. The U.S. Constitution requires that the President receive the advice and consent of the Senate when making appointments — a requirement that President Obama entirely set aside in order to advance his agenda.

Today, the President may say he is finding success in fighting for the American worker, but in truth he is fighting for his political allies. Beneath the surface of his populist rhetoric, his policies are poisoning strong economic growth. And for the President, the Constitution is collateral damage.

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Marubeni Buys Eagle Ford Shale Assets (USA)

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Marubeni Corporation announced that Marubeni Eagle Ford Limited Partnership, a U.S. subsidiary of Marubeni, has entered into an agreement with Dallas based Hunt Oil Company, one of the world’s largest privately-owned independent oil and gas companies, to acquire a 35% working interest in the Eagle Ford shale oil and gas play covering approximately 52,000 net acres of oil and gas leases located in Texas.

The Project has plans for several hundred wells to be sequentially drilled for 5 – 10 years, with total development costs (including acquisition costs on Marubeni’s share basis) of approximately U.S.$ 1.3 billion. In addition, Marubeni and Hunt have agreed to jointly acquire additional acreage in the Eagle Ford shale oil and gas area.

The Eagle Ford oil and gas shale play currently produces high-quality light crude oil, and is one of the most attractive and promising shale oil and gas resource plays in the U.S. Marubeni said that it believes that this Project, including future expansion and the potential new businesses associated with it, will become a solid base for Marubeni providing a strong cash flow and profit on the mid- to long-term basis. The company’s position in the Eagle Ford is believed to be prospective, and Hunt, the operator of this Project, has extensive experience and expertise in the development and operation of a number of oil and gas shale plays including the Bakken located in North Dakota in the United States.

Marubeni has positioned its energy and mineral resources business, including oil and gas exploration and development, as a strategically important business area, and has already been involved in projects in the Gulf of Mexico, the North Sea (U.K.), India, Qatar and the Niobrara Shale Oil (U.S.), which started its initial oil production in October, 2011. As the result of this Project, Marubeni’s total acreage for shale oil play is approximately 72,000 net acres, which makes Marubeni the largest acreage holder among Japanese firms.

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Radio reporter shot to death in Brazil after receiving threatening phone calls

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By Natalia Mazotte/SH

Brazilian journalist Laécio de Souza was shot to death the afternoon of Tuesday, Jan. 3, in the metropolitan area of Salvador, the capital city of the state of Bahia, reported G1. Police said the radio reporter had received threats on his cell phone minutes before he was killed, according to the news site Itaberaba Notícias.

Witnesses said two men shot the journalist while he worked to construct a storage facility for the local community on his property, according to Agência Estado. Souza was shot three times and died on the spot.

Police have not released a motive for the crime, but initial findings indicate that local drug traffickers were upset with the journalist’s plans to construct a social project on his land, reported the newspaper A Tarde.

Souza was a local news reporter for the radio station Sucesso FM, and he aimed to run for city council, according to Correio 24 Horas.

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Shale Drilling boosts South Texas sales tax revenues

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By Mike D. Smith
Posted January 2, 2012 at 6:32 p.m.

CORPUS CHRISTI — Cities across South Texas are coasting atop rising sales tax revenues strongly driven by two factors: retail and shale.

The Texas Comptroller‘s Office allocated more than $4 million to Corpus Christi in December.

The payment brings the city’s yearly total to more than $62.7 million, or 12 percent higher than what the city received by late 2010, figures show.

Monthly sales tax revenue payments are staggered. The December figures reflect taxes collected in October, which vendors reported in November.

Retail activity has shown an increase, but the totals also show impacts of Eagle Ford Shale drilling more than 50 miles away are rippling into the city, interim Finance Director Constance Sanchez said.

“That would be the different companies that are needed for the Eagle Ford Shale and they’re buying equipment and things they need for that,” Sanchez said.

For the city’s fiscal year, which began Aug. 1, the city has collected 11.9 percent more revenue than what was collected during the same time in 2010 and 7.4 percent above what the city budgeted, Sanchez said.

While the city is happy with the positive difference, the windfall doesn’t mean officials can relax headed into the next budget season.

Property tax revenue increased at a much lesser rate than in previous years, Sanchez said. Preliminary property values will arrive in April.

Even with cuts, some city expenses have also increased such as utilities and contractual obligations, Sanchez said.

“We have to take all this into account,” Sanchez said. “It’s really too soon to say things are looking good because of the overall big picture.”

Eagle Ford’s effects are more pronounced in some of the cities at or near the heart of production.

George West in Live Oak County, for example, received a monthly allocation of more than $57,000, which is 56 percent higher than December 2010’s payment.

Through the December payment, George West is up 54 percent with more than $616,000, figures show.

Beeville‘s monthly allocation increased about 40 percent over December 2010, and the city is up 26 percent in collections with about $3.4 million.

Alice, away from the heart of drilling activity in Jim Wells County, continues to enjoy the retail and other side benefits of drilling as hotels are built and stores expand.

Alice’s allocations top $15.3 million, which is 44 percent higher than by the same time in 2010.

Statewide, the Comptroller‘s Office remitted $478.3 million to local governments in December — a year-to-year increase of 9.7 percent.

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