Daily Archives: February 20, 2012

USA: Shell’s Chukchi Sea Oil Spill Response Plan Approved

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On February 17, 2012, the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) approved Shell’s Oil Spill Response Plan (OSRP) for the Chukchi Sea.

Approval of the Plan is another major milestone on the path to drilling in the Alaska offshore this summer and further validates the huge amount of time, technology, and resources Shell  says it “has dedicated to assembling an Arctic oil spill response fleet second to none in the world.”

Specifically, Shell’s OSRP includes the assembly of a 24/7 on-site, nearshore and onshore Arctic-class oil spill response fleet, collaboration with the U.S. Coast Guard on both assets and response planning, and newly engineered Arctic capping and containment systems that will be tested before drilling commences.

“We recognize that industry’s license to operate in the offshore is predicated on being able to operate in a safe, environmentally sound manner. Shell’s commitment to those basic principals is unwavering. Our Alaska Exploration Plans and Oil Spill Response Plans will continually be guided by our extensive Arctic expertise, solid scientific understanding of the environment and world-class capabilities,” said Pete Slaiby, VP Alaska.

Consistent with new regulatory requirements implemented in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Shell was required to prepare for a worst case discharge nearly five times that of their previous plan, to include planning for adverse weather conditions, and to develop special equipment and strategies that could respond to a loss of well control and a spill.

Shell has committed to provide for the following emergency contingencies: (1) the availability of a capping stack to shut off any flow of oil if other shut-off systems fail; (2) the capability to capture and collect oil from that stack; and (3) access to a rig capable of drilling a relief well that could kill the well, if necessary. The ready availability of a capping stack and an oil collection system are new commitments that apply lessons learned from the Deepwater Horizon tragedy to offshore oil and gas production activities.

Shell has proposed drilling up to six wells in the Chukchi Sea during the next two summer open water seasons within the Burger Prospect, located about 70 miles off the coast in approximately 140 feet of water.

“After an exhaustive review, we have confidence that Shell’s plan includes the necessary equipment and personnel pre-staging, training, logistics and communications to act quickly and mount an effective response should a spill occur,” said BSEE Director James A. Watson. “Our staff will maintain vigilant oversight over Shell to ensure that they adhere to this plan, and that all future drilling operations are conducted safely with a focus toward spill prevention.”

The approval issued Friday does not authorize Shell to begin drilling; Shell must still seek and obtain approval from BSEE for well-specific drilling permits prior to commencing operations, and BSEE would inspect and approve equipment that has been designed and deployed for the effort, including Shell’s capping stack, before activities could go forward.

Shell has also filed a OSRP for operations in the Beaufort sea. “The Beaufort Oil Spill Response Plan has been filed and is still being reviewed. It’s our understanding that review will be complete in the near future.” said Shell in a statement.

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USA: Technip Rings Tubular Bells

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Technip has received a lump sum contract by Hess Corporation for the development of the Tubular Bells field, located in the Mississippi Canyon area of the Gulf of Mexico at a water depth of approximately 4,500 feet (1,370 meters).

The contract covers the design, engineering, fabrication and subsea installation of more than 28 miles (45 kilometers) of flowlines, steel catenary risers, pipeline end terminations, piles and structures.

Technip’s operating center in Houston, Texas will perform the overall project management. The flowlines and risers will be welded at the Group’s spoolbase in Mobile, Alabama.

Offshore installation is scheduled to be completed with the Deep Blue, one of Technip’s deepwater pipelay vessel, during the first half of 2013.

On October 25, 2011, Hess announced it would proceed with the development of the Tubular Bells field. Total estimated recoverable resources for Tubular Bells are estimated at more than 120 million barrels of oil equivalent. The development is estimated to cost $2.3 billion.

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Australia: Shore ASCO to Build Darwin Marine Supply Base

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ShoreASCO Consortium, which includes Asco Holdings, Macmahon Contractors and Capella Capital has been awarded a contract to design and construct the world-class Darwin Marine Supply Base, worth approximately $110 million.

Macmahon Contractors will construct the base which will include three marine berths with water, fuel, chemical and drilling mud connections, hard stand and lay down areas, warehousing, waste management facility, storage capacity for drilling muds, chemicals, water and fuel, office space and associated facilities.

Chief Executive Officer of Macmahon, Nick Bowen, said the project was a fantastic opportunity for Macmahon and continues the Company’s delivery of major infrastructure in the Northern Territory. “The supply base will bolster Darwin and the Territory’s reputation as the port of choice for servicing the needs of the offshore industry and is opportunity for Macmahon to establish another piece of major infrastructure, critical to supporting the Territory’s growth,”

The base will be operated by ShoreASCO for up to 20 years. Construction is expected to start in April 2012 and is expected to be complete by the end of 2013.

Paul Henderson, the current Chief Minister of the Northern Territory, Australia has welcomed the signing of the contract, saying the construction would begin in the coming months on the base which would cement Darwin’s position as a major oil and gas hub.

The Minister revealed that Oil & Gas majors have already shown interest in the Marine Supply Base: “Already major players have come on board to take advantage of our world class Marine Supply Base with ConocoPhillips to use if for their existing operations, INPEX confirming they will using  the base during their multi-billion gas development and Shell confirming they will use it to  service their floating LNG plant in the browse basin.”

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Norway: STX OSV Brevik Shipyard Hands Over PSV Island Captain

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On Thursday the 16th of February, Island Offshore (IO) took delivery of the MV Island Captain, the newest addition the growing IO fleet. The godmother for the vessel is Mrs. Tonje Tiley from ConocoPhillips.

The MV Island Captain’s sister vessel, the MV Island Centurion was delivered in October 2011. The two vessels are number 5 and 6 in the series of UT 776 CD design vessels built at STX OSV Brevik.

The two vessels will commence a 7 year firm contract plus options with Schlumberger as well stimulation vessels in 2013, and will undertake a major mobilization prior to this. Island Patriot and Island Commander are currently engaged as well stimulation vessels.

Vessel Particulars:

  • Type: PSV – DP 2
  • Design: UT 776 CD
  • Yard: STX OSV Brevik AS

Class: DNV +1A1, E0, SF, Supply Vessel Basic, DK(+), HL(+), LFL*, DYNPOS AUTR, CLEAN DESIGN, COMF-V(3), ICE-C, OILREC, NAUT-OSV(A)

  • L.O.A.: 93,0 m
  • Width: 20,0 m
  • DW: 4.000t
  • Deck area: 1.000 m2
  • Accommodation: 39 persons
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Iranian ships reach Syria, China warns of civil war

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By Khaled Yacoub Oweis and Erika Solomon
AMMAN/BEIRUT | Mon Feb 20, 2012 6:16am EST

(Reuters) – China’s main newspaper accused Western countries of stirring civil war in Syria and two Iranian warships docked at a Syrian naval base, underscoring rising international tensions over the near year-long crisis.

Despite pursuing a sustained military crackdown on the opposition in cities across the country, President Bashar al-Assad forged ahead with plans to hold a referendum at the end of the week.

Activists in the western city of Hama said troops, police and militias had set up dozens of roadblocks, isolating neighborhoods from each other.

“Hama is cut off from the outside world. There is no landlines, no mobile phone network and no internet. House to house arrest take place daily and sometimes repeatedly in the same neighborhoods,” an opposition statement said.

Government troops extended their control on Hama after an offensive last week that concentrated on northern neighborhoods on the edge of farmland that have provided shelter for Free Syrian Army rebels.

The rebel fighters have been attacking militiamen, known as shabbiha, while avoiding open confrontations with armored forces that had amassed around Hama.

Government forces also maintained their siege of pro-opposition neighborhoods of Homs, south of Hama on the Damascus-Aleppo highway. Opposition activists reported sporadic morning shelling of Baba Amro district.

Security forces also mounted a campaign of arrests and raids in two suburbs of Deraa city and loud gunfire was heard, activists said. The reports could not be independently verified.

The Monday actions followed a weekend which saw one of the biggest demonstrations yet in the capital as the pro-democracy uprising against Assad’s 11 year-rule neared its first anniversary.

Security forces have killed at least 5,000 people, according to human rights groups, in a campaign to crush the revolt while the Assad government says it has lost more than 2,000 soldiers and security agents in what it describes as a struggle against foreign-backed terrorists,

The conflict has also pitted Western and Gulf-led Arab powers against Assad allies Russia, China and Iran.

The former have condemned Assad for the bloodshed and called for him to step down. Beijing and Moscow say all sides are to blame for the violence and the crisis should be resolved through talks, not foreign intervention.

China’s Communist Party mouthpiece the People’s Daily, in a front page commentary on Monday, said: “If Western countries continue to fully support Syria’s opposition, then in the end a large-scale civil war will erupt and there will be no way to thus avoid the possibility of foreign armed intervention.”

A Chinese envoy met Assad in Damascus on Saturday and backed his plan to hold a referendum this coming Sunday on a new constitution which would lead to multi-party parliamentary elections within 90 days.

Syria’s official SANA news agency said about 14,600,000 people throughout the country were eligible to take part in the referendum. The West and Syrian opposition figures have dismissed the plan as joke, saying it is impossible to have a valid election amid the continuing repression.

WESTERN FEARS

Assad has ruled Syria for 11 years after succeeding his father Hafez on his death. The Assad family belongs to the Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shi’ite Islam, in a majority Sunni country, and there are fears the uprising could break down into a full sectarian conflict.

Meanwhile two Iranian naval ships docked at the Syrian port of Tartous on Saturday, Iran’s state-run Press TV reported. The ships were said to be providing training for Syrian naval forces under an agreement signed a year ago.

Iranian Defence Minister Ahmad Vahidi, quoted by the semi-official Fars news agency, said: “Our ships passed through the Suez canal and it is Iran’s right to have a presence in international waters.”

With Shi’te-led Iran already at odds with the United States, Europe and Israel over its nuclear program, the deployment was

likely to add to Western concerns that the Syria crisis could boil over into a regional conflict if it not resolved soon.

Foreign ministers at a G20 industrialized and emerging nations meeting in Mexico were increasingly worried about whether a peaceful solution could be found.

“There is grave concern about the fact that existing structures of the United Nations have not delivered an outcome,”

Australia’s foreign minister, Kevin Rudd, told reporters in Los Cabos, Mexico.

The West has ruled out any Libya-style military intervention but the Arab League, led by Saudi Arabia, has indicated some of its member states were prepared to arm the opposition.

In Washington the senior U.S. military officer, General Martin Dempsey, said intervening in Syria would be “very difficult” because it was not like Libya.

Syria’s army is very capable, with a sophisticated, integrated air defense system and chemical and biological weapons, Dempsey said. It was also not clear who or what the fragmented opposition was exactly, he said.

A so-called “Friends of Syria” conference is scheduled to take place in Tunisia this Friday, bringing together Western and Arab powers.

Australia’s Rudd said the group aims “to place maximum pressure on president Assad to go, to end the butchery that we see day by day unfolding in Syria and to make sure we have a durable and peaceful political transition.”

(Additional reporting by Khaled Yacoub Oweis in Amman, Parisa Hafezi in Tehran; Susan Cornwell in Washington; Krista Hughes in Los Cabos, Mexico; Editing by Giles Elgood)

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