Daily Archives: February 10, 2012

USA: NOAA Celebrates 150th Anniversary of USS Monitor Launch

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NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries today launched a new website highlighting the 150-year history of the USS Monitor on the anniversary of the ship’s launch.

The website takes viewers from the iconic warship’s construction through its recovery to recent science expeditions undertaken to protect its legacy. The website, also offers students, teachers and history enthusiasts a variety of education materials and a calendar of upcoming events celebrating the Monitor.

This is a momentous year for an influential piece of American history,” said David Alberg, superintendent of NOAA’s Monitor National Marine Sanctuary. “While today marks the 150th anniversary of the launching of the USS Monitor, we will continue to mark important dates throughout the year, including the Battle of Hampton Roads and the sinking of the USS Monitor, through special public events.”

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Designed by Swedish-born engineer and inventor John Ericsson, the USS Monitor was a Civil War-era Union ironclad warship that revolutionized naval warfare with innovations such as its low profile, iron armored deck, and rotating gun turret. The Monitor is best known for its battle with the Confederate ironclad CSS Virginia off Hampton Roads, Va., on March 9, 1862. Their battle marked the first time iron ships clashed in naval warfare and signaled the end of the era of wooden warships.

The year 2012 marks the 150th anniversary of the USS Monitor

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France: Total Allocates Billions for Upstream in 2012

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French oil major Total said today it intended to continue to actively manage its asset portfolio with, in particular, a program of non-strategic asset sales.

The 2012 budget for organic investments is $24 billion , of which more than 80% will be dedicated to the Upstream.

In the Upstream, Total expects in 2012 to implement its strategy to accelerate production growth and increase the profitability of its asset portfolio.

The ramp-up of Pazflor in Angola and the start-up of several major projects, including Usan in Nigeria, Angola LNG, and Bongkot South in Thailand, will contribute to  production growth in 2012 and to achieving the objective of growing production by 2.5% per year on average between 2010 and 2015.

“The successful start-up of the Pazflor field in Angola was the crowning achievement of an important year for Total. This start-up and the ones to follow will ensure a return to production growth in 2012 and the years to come”, Chairman and CEO Christophe de Margerie said.

After launching Ichthys in Australia, announced at the start of  this year, Total said it intends to continue work on the drivers for post-2015 growth by preparing to launch, notably, projects in West Africa, Russia and Canada.

Income Soars

The Group today announced 2011 adjusted net income of $15.9 billion which is an increase of 17 per cent when compared to full year results from 2010.

Commenting on the results de Margerie said:

“In a period of economic slowdown, ongoing tensions on the global oil supply supported the Brent price above 110 S/b in 2011. This environment has been favorable for the Upstream, but it was difficult for the Downstream activities, notably in Europe. In this context, the Group posted a 17% increase in earnings, expressed in dollars, compared to 2010. With its track record of operational excellence, the Group also confirms its constant improvement in safety performance.”

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U.S. Shale Gas Exports Face Hurdles, Former Exxon CEO Says

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By Kari Lundgren – Feb 10, 2012 4:55 AM CT

Political constraints and concern production gains at shale fields aren’t sustainable will hinder the development of liquefied natural gas export plants in the U.S., former Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) chief Lee Raymond said.

“There is going to be a big debate in the U.S. as to whether or not they’re going to permit the export of liquefied natural gas,” Raymond said in an interview in Oslo yesterday. “Even if you get past the politics, you have to test whether or not the resource base is sufficient.”

New techniques to access the natural gas trapped in shale rocks, including the use of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, have transformed the U.S. into the world’s largest gas producer. Estimates suggest fields in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Texas may contain as much as 862 trillion cubic feet of the fuel, enough to supply the U.S. for over thirty years at current consumption.

Politicians including Democrats Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon and Representative Edward Markey of Massachusetts have said exports may raise domestic gas prices. In allowing exports, the U.S. may be “trading away the enormous economic advantage of having large, low-cost domestic natural gas supply,” Wyden said in an e-mailed statement on Jan. 6. “It’s going to be a little while before people are really confident that there is going to be a sufficient amount of gas for 30 years to support the construction of an LNG plant,” said Raymond, who stepped down in 2005. “I’m frankly not sure that we have enough experience with shale gas to make the kind of judgment you’d have to make.”

Global Supply

Some gas-industry players are confident the U.S. will become a major exporter. BG Group Plc (BG/) said yesterday that the U.S. will be able to supply about 9 percent of global liquefied natural-gas output by the end of the decade. The U.K.’s third- largest gas producer said the U.S. will have the capacity to export about 45 metric million tons of LNG a year from 2020.

Rising production of natural gas has driven down prices and is leading owners of import terminals to explore exports. Cheniere Energy Inc. has proposed a liquefaction facility at its Sabine Pass terminal, which would be the first new North American export project since 1969. BG has a preliminary agreement to take gas from Sabine Pass.

The cost of building an LNG (LNG) terminal runs to billions of dollars. Cheniere’s Sabine Pass terminal will have a capacity of 9 million tons a year. Construction costs at projects underway in Australia, have reached $4,000 a ton of capacity, according to analysts at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co.

‘Huge Investments’

“If you build any LNG, from a producer’s point of view, you can only do that from an economic point of view if you’re assured that you have a long-term competitive supply because these are huge investments,” Raymond said.

Exxon, the world’s largest energy company by market value, is pursuing shale exploration in Argentina, Poland and the U.S. The company said earlier this month that two exploratory wells drilled in a Polish shale formation last year weren’t commercially viable. The gas discovered failed to flow in sufficient quantities Texas-based Exxon said Feb. 1.

“There’s lots of shale around the world, but just because it has the name shale on it doesn’t mean it’s something that would be economic to try to develop by the technique being used largely in the U.S.,” Raymond said.

Production of shale gas in China would be a “real game changer,” the former executive added. “China is run by engineers, it’s not run by politicians.”

“They’re technically competent and they approach things in the same way a good engineering group at a major oil company would approach things,” he said.

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