Daily Archives: March 16, 2012
USA: ABS to Class Unique Arctic Containment System
The American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) has announced it will class the first-of-its-kind Arctic Containment System (ACS), which will serve all exploration activities in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas offshore Alaska. The ACS will be deployed in June 2012.
ABS explains that a modular oil containment system will be installed on the deck of the non self-propelled ice-strengthened barge following its conversion to a floating offshore installation The dedicated barge will remain unmanned and on standby until deployed. Then, assisted by a tugboat, its trained crew will be able to respond to an oil spill incident in the exploration areas in a matter of days.
Shell has plans to drill up to six exploration wells off the coast of Alaska, later this year and has contracted with Superior Energy, the operator of the ACS, for the containment system to be available during the summer drilling season. The containment system would be able to mitigate spillage in the time it takes to drill an intervention well.
The oil giant’s Arctic drilling plans have been facing strong opposition from environmental activists. Today, twenty Greenpeace activists boarded two icebreakers leased by Shell from Finland’s Arctia Offshore. Shell has leased the vessels to support its upcoming drilling operations offshore Alaska.
- USA: Shell’s Chukchi Sea Oil Spill Response Plan Approved (mb50.wordpress.com)
- BP, Shell to partake in arctic drilling inquiry, Telegraph says (mb50.wordpress.com)
President Obama signs Executive Order allowing for control over all US resources
On March 16th, President Obama signed a new Executive Order which expands upon a prior order issued in 1950 for Disaster Preparedness, and gives the office of the President complete control over all the resources in the United States in times of war or emergency.
The National Defense Resources Preparedness order gives the Executive Branch the power to control and allocate energy, production, transportation, food, and even water resources by decree under the auspices of national defense and national security. The order is not limited to wartime implementation, as one of the order’s functions includes the command and control of resources in peacetime determinations.
Section 101. Purpose. This order delegates authorities and addresses national defense resource policies and programs under the Defense Production Act of 1950, as amended (the “Act”).
(b) assess on an ongoing basis the capability of the domestic industrial and technological base to satisfy requirements in peacetime and times of national emergency, specifically evaluating the availability of the most critical resource and production sources, including subcontractors and suppliers, materials, skilled labor, and professional and technical personnel; – White House
Additionally, each cabinet under the Executive Branch has been given specific powers when the order is executed, and include the absolute control over food, water, and other resource distributions.
Sec. 201. Priorities and Allocations Authorities. (a) The authority of the President conferred by section 101 of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2071, to require acceptance and priority performance of contracts or orders (other than contracts of employment) to promote the national defense over performance of any other contracts or orders, and to allocate materials, services, and facilities as deemed necessary or appropriate to promote the national defense, is delegated to the following agency heads:
(1) the Secretary of Agriculture with respect to food resources, food resource facilities, livestock resources, veterinary resources, plant health resources, and the domestic distribution of farm equipment and commercial fertilizer;
(2) the Secretary of Energy with respect to all forms of energy;
(3) the Secretary of Health and Human Services with respect to health resources;
(4) the Secretary of Transportation with respect to all forms of civil transportation;
(5) the Secretary of Defense with respect to water resources; and
(6) the Secretary of Commerce with respect to all other materials, services, and facilities, including construction materials.
(e) “Food resources” means all commodities and products, (simple, mixed, or compound), or complements to such commodities or products, that are capable of being ingested by either human beings or animals, irrespective of other uses to which such commodities or products may be put, at all stages of processing from the raw commodity to the products thereof in vendible form for human or animal consumption. “Food resources” also means potable water packaged in commercially marketable containers, all starches, sugars, vegetable and animal or marine fats and oils, seed, cotton, hemp, and flax fiber, but does not mean any such material after it loses its identity as an agricultural commodity or agricultural product.
Executive Orders created for national defense and national preparedness are not new in American history, but in each instance they brought about a Constitutional crisis that nearly led standing Presidents to hold dictatorial power over the citizenry. During the Civil War, President Lincoln halted freedom of speech and freedom of the press, while at the same time revoking Habeas Corpus and the right to a fair trial under the sixth amendment. During World War I, when Congress refused to grant Woodrow Wilson extended power over resources to help the war effort, he invoked an Executive Order which allowed him complete control over businesses, industry, transportation, food, and other economic policies.
In both cases, it was only after the death of each President that full Constitutional powers were restored to the citizens of the United States.
The economy of the United States is based on the free flow of resources, energy, and the rights of consumers to buy and sell as they see fit. Any interference in this economic process quickly leads to shortages, rising prices, and civil unrest. The purpose of President Obama signing this new Executive Order is yet unclear, however, it may coincide with information coming out of Israel yesterday that plans for a tactical or strategic strike on Iran are accelerating. Oil prices in Europe rose over $3 a barrel for Brent crude after the Israeli actions, and US oil prices rose $2 for WTI.
The Obama administration appears to be preparing for a long drawn out war in the Middle East, or at the very least, an expected crisis that will require the need to override Constitutional authority and claim dominion over all resources in the United States under the guise of national defense. With the rise in Disaster Preparedness growing for both individuals and states leading up to yesterday’s Executive Order, the mood of the nation points strongly towards some event or disaster that will require massive preparations on a national as well as local scale.
Continue reading on Examiner.com
- Obama Prepares for “National Emergency”: nationalize everything (even you) w/o congressional oversight (atlasshrugs2000.typepad.com)
- Obama Prepares for “National Emergency”: nationalize everything (even you) w/o congressional oversight (kajunman.wordpress.com)
- Executive Order – National Defense Resources Preparedness | The White House (2012indyinfo.com)
- Obama Executive Order: Peacetime Martial Law! (Another shoe drops) (nebraskaenergyobserver.wordpress.com)
- Obama Signs Agenda 21-Related Executive Order (johnmalcolm.me)
- Obama issues Executive Order of effective Martial Law (genomega1.wordpress.com)
Analysis: Tapping oil from reserve may be trickier than ever
(Reuters) – The U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve is not quite as strategic as it used to be.
As President Barack Obama moves closer to an unprecedented second release of the U.S. emergency oil stockpile in a bid to bring down near-record fuel prices, experts say dramatic logistical upheavals in the U.S. oil market over the past year may now make such a move slower and more complicated.
Moving to tap the four giant Gulf Coast salt caverns that hold 700 million barrels of government-owned crude would still almost certainly knock global oil futures lower, delivering some relief at the pump for motorists and helping Obama in the November election if he can prevent gasoline from rising above $4 a gallon nationwide.
On Thursday, prices fell by as much as $3 a barrel after Reuters reported that Britain was set to agree to release stockpiles together with the United States later this year. UK officials said the timing and details of the release would be worked out prior to the summer, when prices often peak.
But the logistics of getting that crude oil to willing refiners are more complicated than ever.
The reversal of a major Texas-to-Oklahoma pipeline will lower the distribution capacity of the SPR’s largest cavern, according to John Shages, who oversaw the U.S. oil reserves during the Bush and Clinton administrations. A resurgence in domestic oil output and the potential closure of the East Coast’s biggest refinery is curtailing demand for crude.
There is little doubt that SPR oil would eventually find buyers, since it is basically auctioned to the higher bidder. But it may move more slowly than the government hopes.
“The logistical system in the United States is shifting,” said Guy Caruso, the former head of the Energy Information Administration. “That probably is going to cause SPR officials to rethink how that oil would be distributed especially in an extreme scenario.”
The mechanics of the release may prove almost as tricky for Obama as rallying international support for a second intervention in as many years, or fending off attacks from Republicans who will likely brand it as a pre-election gimmick.
The U.S. shale oil boom and rising imports of Canadian oil sands crude have transformed the U.S. energy landscape, with industry now scrambling to move a glut of oil from the center of the country down to the U.S. Gulf Coast — reversing historical trends that were the basis for the SPR’s original planning.
The nation’s emergency oil stockpile, created by Congress in the mid-1970s after the Arab oil embargo, was designed to transport oil primarily via pipeline from the Gulf to refineries in the area and to buyers further north.
“The fact that pipelines go south and not north is a major change,” says Edward Morse, global head of commodities research at Citigroup and a former energy expert at the State Department.
The Department of Energy says the SPR can distribute crude to 49 refineries with a capacity of more than 5 million barrels per day — about one-third the U.S. total — and five marine terminals. It is designed to be capable of releasing oil within two weeks of an order, and to sustain a rate of 1 million bpd for as long as a year and a half, enough to meet 5 percent of U.S. demand.
Today it can discharge oil at a maximum rate of 4.25 million bpd, just below its 4.4 million bpd design capacity, a department official said. The reduction was due to a damaged storage tank.
Industry analysts, however, are skeptical.
Morse says that the maximum rate now appears unachievable, and that logistical problems constrained the government’s release of 30 million barrels of oil last summer — its largest ever — in response to the disruption of Libyan oil supplies.
Oil from the reserves must compete with crude already being transported via pipeline or tanker, often on crowded waterways, so there may not be enough capacity in the system to immediately take in millions of additional barrels of oil.
The Energy Department released an average of 743,000 bpd last August.
The department said it conducts thorough assessments of commercial capabilities to move oil from the reserves on a routine basis and remains confident it could supply the market with 4.25 million bpd if needed.
Many analysts doubt that much would ever be needed at once.
“Absent a serious disruption of great magnitude, it is inconceivable that the U.S. would draw down its inventory of SPR at the maximum rate,” said Shages, who now runs his own firm, called Strategic Petroleum Consulting, LLC.
Even so, the system now has less flexibility.
The move to reverse the flow of the 350,000 bpd Seaway Pipeline to move crude oil from Cushing, Oklahoma, where there is a glut, to Gulf Coast refineries will almost certainly hurt the distribution capability of the SPR’s Bryan Mound storage tank in Freeport, Texas, says Shages.
Bryan Mound is the largest of the four sites, capable of holding about a third of the SPR’s total crude. About 43 percent of last year’s release came from Bryan Mound, data show.
After operator Enterprise Products completes the process of reversing the line by June, it will be limited to shipping crude via two Gulf of Mexico terminals and a system of local pipelines into Houston area refineries.
But Bryan Mound will still be able to discharge crude at a rate of 1.25 million bpd, according to an energy department official.
“When the pipeline is reversed, the distribution capability of crude from the SPR site will still be nearly 25 percent more than the site’s maximum drawdown rate, ensuring more than sufficient distribution capability,” the official said.
The Capline from Louisiana to Illinois, the largest such south-to-north pipeline, in theory has plenty of spare capacity since it has been running at less than a quarter of its 1.2 million bpd — but that is because a glut of Canadian and North Dakota crude is already sating the big Midwest refiners.
Meanwhile Gulf Coast plants are filling up on growing output from the Eagle Ford shale in Texas, reducing import demand. Because most U.S. crude oil cannot legally be exported, SPR supplies will typically only displace seaborne imports.
U.S. crude oil imports into the Gulf Coast region, known as Padd 3, fell 8 percent last year to below 5 million bpd, the lowest level since the 1990s.
Last year, at least some of the crude released from the SPR traveled further afield, beyond the Gulf Coast.
Tesoro, whose only refineries are on the West Coast, bought 1.2 million barrels, while East Coast refiner Sunoco bought 1.4 million barrels. Obama issued 44 waivers to the Jones Act to allow companies to use non-U.S. tankers for shipments last year.
But the East Coast looks a less likely market this year. Sunoco is set to close its 335,000 bpd Philadelphia refinery before June if it does not find a buyer. That could cut the region’s capacity to less than 700,000 bpd.
Ultimately the rate of release means little if you cannot get the oil quickly to those who need it most, says Mark Routt, a senior oil market consultant at KBR Advanced Technologies.
“To say that you have this drawdown capability, but you’re putting oil in places it doesn’t need to go, isn’t really helpful to the market,” Routt said.
(Editing by Russell Blinch and Jonathan Leff)
- Tapping oil from the SPR may be trickier than ever (business.financialpost.com)
- Is China’s SPR soaking up all the oil? (business.financialpost.com)
- Is The SPR Release Already Priced Into Oil Prices? (zerohedge.com)
- Obama, the politics of the SPR and energy (lack of) exploration! (politicsandfinance.blogspot.com)
- U.S. lawmakers worry about East Coast refining capacity – Financial Post (business.financialpost.com)
- Seaway – Echo terminal link planned (mb50.wordpress.com)
- A Brief History of the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve [OIL LOANS, OIL SALES] (ibtimes.com)