Daily Archives: February 22, 2012

How nuclear icebreakers work and the reversible ships that will replace them

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The intense agitating power of the Azipods can actually help break ice from underneath

The Arctic North end of Russia is believed to hold as much as a quarter of all the world’s oil deposits – an utterly monstrous economic prize, hidden in one of the toughest and least hospitable environments on the planet. Getting to this prize, and then transporting it back to refineries, is a monolithic task that requires one of the most awe-inspiring pieces of machinery man has ever built – the nuclear icebreaker. Purpose-built to the point of being almost unseaworthy on the open waves, these goliaths smash their way through 3-meter (10-foot) thick ice crusts to create viable pathways for other vessels – but fascinating new technologies could mean the days of the dedicated icebreaker are numbered.

Where there’s a well, there’s a way. An oil well, that is. Black gold. Texas tea. And some of the world’s richest reserves of the stuff are buried beneath the beds of the Berents sea, North of Russia and well into the Arctic Circle. It’s estimated that this area holds somewhere around a quarter of all the oil reserves in the world.

But it’s an area that gets no sun at all for at least one day every year, and which is so cold that the sea itself freezes over with 2-meter (6.5-foot) thick ice for more than two thirds of the year. When it’s not frozen over, there’s 12-meter (40 foot) waves to deal with. It’s one of the world’s most extreme environments; inhospitable doesn’t even begin to cover it.

Getting resources like oil and natural gas out of the earth – and safely back to shore – would be prohibitively expensive, if the prize wasn’t worthwhile. Where these sorts of quantities of fossil fuels are concerned, however, all bets are off and just about any expense can be justified.

… and the expense we’d like to take a look at today is the nuclear-powered icebreaker – a vessel whose sole task is to smash its way through packed sea ice and clear a path for other ships to follow in.

It’s a specialist job that boats have been designed to tackle since the 1830s – and it’s interesting to note that while today’s enormous icebreakers generally use nuclear power to generate the immense thrust needed to power through the ice fields, in other ways the design hasn’t changed too much for nearly 200 years.

Read more . . .

Rosatomflot to Construct World’s Largest Nuclear Icebreaker

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Rosatomflot has revealed its plans to construct an LK60, the largest and most powerful nuclear icebreaker ever built, that will be deployed in the Northern Sea Route. Vyacheslav Ruksha, General Director of Rosatomflot, says to BarentsObserver.com that the estimated cost for a new icebreaker is € 1.1 billion (approx $ 1.4 billion) and is already included in Rosatomflots’s 2012 budget.

The tender for a new icebreaker will be announced this summer and the construction contract will probably be signed in September. If everything goes according to plan, the construction will commence by the end of 2012 and the newbuild might be ready for traffic by 2018.

Russia is the major player in deploying nuclear icebreakers for shipping in the Arctic and other freezing seas. The company wants to develop its fleet that would be a key element of the Northern Sea Route infrastructure thus the new generation nuclear icebreaker is being designed.

The LK60 icebreaker is designed to maneuver through three meters of ice with its supreme power of 60 MW. This is exactly what Rosatomflot needs to open the Northern Sea Route for commercial traffic all year around. Her draught varies ranging from 8.5 m to 10.8 m. The new design features maximum width of 34 meters, compared to the maximum of 30 meters width at the Arktika class vessels. Such a design will be capable of providing support to larger tankers through the northern sea route.

The LK60 icebreaker will replace one icebreaker of the Arktika class and one icebreaker of Taimyr class.

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Norway: Little Knowledge on Northeastern Barents, NPD Says

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The Norwegian Government has decided that the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate will map the geology in the northeastern part of Norway’s new sea area in the Barents Sea. According to the plan, the seismic surveys will start this summer and continue into 2013. This will provide important knowledge regarding possible oil and gas resources in this area.

“We have very little knowledge concerning the geology in the northeastern Barents Sea. In order to know more about the resource potential, we need more data,” says Sissel Eriksen, exploration director in the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate.

On 15 September 2010, Norway and Russia signed the agreement relating to maritime demarcation and cooperation in the Barents Sea and Arctic Ocean. The agreement entered into force on 7 July 2011.

On the Norwegian side, the Government has started an opening process with the aim of awarding production licenses in the southeastern sector of the Barents Sea. The geological mapping started last summer and will continue until this summer.

Earlier this year, the NPD entered into contracts regarding two vessels that will acquire seismic data both in the southeastern sector of the Barents Sea, in the sea area around Jan Mayen and in Nordland IV and V this summer.

“The plans to also map the northeastern sector of the Barents Sea mean that we need more capacity to acquire seismic. This assignment has been submitted for tender,” says Eriksen.

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Report: Obama Administration Is Giving Away 7 Strategic Islands to Russia

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Posted by Jim Hoft on Saturday, February 18, 2012, 12:32 PM

May 1881 US explorers approached Jeannette Island and Henrietta Island and claimed them for the United States. According to some US individuals, including the group State Department Watch, eight Arctic islands currently controlled by Russia, including Wrangel Island, are claimed by the United States. However, according to the United States Department of State no such claim exists. The USSR/USA Maritime Boundary Treaty, which has yet to be approved by the Russian Duma, does not address the status of these islands nor the maritime boundaries associated with them.

The Obama Administration is reportedly giving away Wrangell, Bennett, Jeannette and Henrietta islands in Alaska to Russia. The federal government drew the line to put these seven Alaskan islands on the Russian side

Former senatorial candidate Joe Miller broke this story at World Net Daily:

The Obama administration, despite the nation’s economic woes, effectively killed the job-producing Keystone Pipeline last month. The Arab Spring is turning the oil production of Libya and other Arab nations over to the Muslim Brotherhood. Iraq is distancing itself from the U.S. And everyone recognizes that Iran, whose crude supplies are critical to the European economy, will do anything it can to frustrate America’s strategic interests. In the face of all of this, Obama insists on cutting back U.S. oil potential with outrageous restrictions.

Part of Obama’s apparent war against U.S. energy independence includes a foreign-aid program that directly threatens my state’s sovereign territory. Obama’s State Department is giving away seven strategic, resource-laden Alaskan islands to the Russians. Yes, to the Putin regime in the Kremlin.

The seven endangered islands in the Arctic Ocean and Bering Sea include one the size of Rhode Island and Delaware combined. The Russians are also to get the tens of thousands of square miles of oil-rich seabeds surrounding the islands. The Department of Interior estimates billions of barrels of oil are at stake.

The State Department has undertaken the giveaway in the guise of a maritime boundary agreement between Alaska and Siberia. Astoundingly, our federal government itself drew the line to put these seven Alaskan islands on the Russian side. But as an executive agreement, it could be reversed with the stroke of a pen by President Obama or Secretary Clinton.

The agreement was negotiated in total secrecy. The state of Alaska was not allowed to participate in the negotiations, nor was the public given any opportunity for comment. This is despite the fact the Alaska Legislature has passed resolutions of opposition – but the State Department doesn’t seem to care.

The imperiled Arctic Ocean islands include Wrangell, Bennett, Jeannette and Henrietta. Wrangell became American in 1881 with the landing of the U.S. Revenue Marine ship Thomas Corwin. The landing party included the famed naturalist John Muir. It is 3,000 square miles in size.

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Swire Acquires Norway’s Subsea Specialist

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Swire Pacific Offshore Operations (Pte) Limited (SPO) today announced the acquisition of Seabed AS, based in Bergen, Norway.

Seabed AS was founded in 2008 by Mr Hans Martin Gravdal, who has more than 30 years of experience within a wide range of subsea operations. Mr Gravdal and his team will continue with the company which is to be renamed Swire Seabed AS.

Along with the acquisition, SPO will take ownership of Seabed Worker, the 88m state of the art Multi-Purpose Support Vessel, and the high-specification subsea ROVs held by Seabed AS.

Neil Glenn, Managing Director of SPO, said, “We are very pleased to announce the acquisition of Seabed, through which we will increase our capabilities and extend the range of services we are able to offer to our customers. We look forward to working closely with Mr Gravdal and his team in Norway as they continue to grow and develop the business.”

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Ezion to Provide Service Rig for Operations Offshore Myanmar

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Singapore’s Ezion Holdings Limited  has sealed a charter contract with a value of up to USD 118 million over a 3 year period to provide a service rig to be used by a European based multinational oil company to support its oil and gas activities in offshore Myanmar.

The Service Rig is expected to be deployed and working in the field of Yadana before the end of 2012 after its refurbishment and upgrading. Ezion said that the project would be funded through internal resources as well as bank borrowings.  The charter will not have a material impact on the Group’s earnings per share or net tangible assets per share for the financial year ending 31 st December 2012.

Ezion owns one of the largest and most sophisticated class of Multi Purpose Self Propelled Jack up Rigs (“Liftboats”) in the world and one of the first to promote the usage of Liftboats in Asia & Middle East. Ezion’s Liftboats are used mainly for well servicing, commissioning, maintenance and decommissioning of offshore platforms.

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Norway: GMC Yard to Modify AMC Connector

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The AMC Connector, the largest and most advanced cable- and pipe-laying vessel for deep ocean operations has arrived to Stavanger, Norway, to undergo modifications. The vessel will be docked at GMC Yard in Buøy outside Stavanger until March 11th 2012.

The 156-meter long multi-purpose vessel, AMC Connector, is an advanced ship with a high cargo capacity, a variety of special equipment and more than 190 kilometres of cable length. GMC Yard will modify the ballast tanks and building sponsoons under the hull. Work to be carried out includes adding a new auxiliary keel, installing a new stabilising tank and a new VLS tower on the vessel.

“The job is shared between GMC Yard, STX in Florø and the ship owner, Aker Marine Contractors. All already have workers on site for the stay in Buøy, says Operations Manager Kjell Olsen of GMC Yard. A total of 200 people are engaged in modifying the AMC Connector in this period.”

GMC Yard has docking capacity for vessels up to 280 meters, and the AMC Connector has no problem fitting into the large Dock 2 at Buøy. The vessel will be used for laying the power cable from land to the Goliath-field in the Barents Sea.

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Oil Search Plans Substantial Investment in PNG

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Papua New Guinea-focused Oil Search plans to make substantial investments in 2012.

“The company will spend an estimated U$2.2 billion in-country, on PNG LNG Project related activities and on an extensive gas and oil exploration, appraisal and development programme,” Oil Search said in a statement Tuesday.

The exploration and appraisal work is aimed at finding more gas for a future expansion of the 6.6 million tonne per annum PNG LNG plant as well as proving up gas reserves for the Gulf Area LNG opportunity.
Oil Search sees Gulf Area LNG as a valuable long term growth opportunity as the company could potentially become a participant in two LNG projects or even an LNG project operator.

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