Category Archives: Atlantic Ocean
MacGregor, part of Cargotec, has won a contract to deliver a 250-tonne SWL active heave-compensated (AHC) subsea crane for the 120m construction vessel, Island Intervention. The crane was ordered by Marine Procurement Ltd, part of the US company Edison Chouest Offshore.
An existing vessel operated by the US/Norwegian partnership between Edison Chouest Offshore and Island Offshore requires greater lifting capability; a MacGregor 250-tonne SWL AHC subsea crane fulfils the upgrade requirements. Island Intervention is currently operating in the North Sea for the US/Norwegian partnership between Edison Chouest Offshore and Island Offshore. The vessel works in the offshore construction market and was delivered by Norwegian yard Ulstein Verft in 2011; its current lifting capacity is 140 tonnes.
“The vessel simply needs a bigger crane for the jobs that it undertakes,” says Frode Grøvan, Director, Sales and Marketing for Advanced Load Handling. “The order confirms the trend that we see of subsea modules getting larger and heavier, therefore requiring operators to equip their vessels with ever more capable cranes.”
“At MacGregor, we have the expertise necessary to ensure that retrofit projects like this run smoothly and successfully, with downtime kept to a minimum.”
- Huisman to Deliver Well Intervention System for Helix’s Q7000 (mb50.wordpress.com)
Helix Energy Solutions Group’s new T1200 burial and trenching unit is quickly establishing a positive track record following the completion of an oil and gas project in the North Sea. The T1200 features a 1,200hp jet trenching spread, capable of burying product in water depths to 3,000m (10,000ft).
T1200 was deployed to bury a 14km long (8.7 mile), 10 inch export pipeline that included a 3 inch piggyback methanol line. The project specialization called for the line to be buried 2m (6.5ft) deep, with one meter of covering fill. The subsea trenching unit’s water jetting system trenched and simultaneously buried the pipeline under 1.4m (4.5ft) of sand in a continuous run that took just 48 hours.
The successful project is the T1200’s first oil and gas operation, and proves the versatility of the asset which has also been deployed to trench and bury high voltage undersea cables used to transport electricity from offshore wind farms to onshore power stations.
The T1200, operated by Helix ESG’s robotics subsidiary, Canyon Offshore, performed its first trenching job in early July 2012 at the Sheringham Shoal offshore wind farm trenching and burying an approximately 700m (2,300ft) long power cable between the wind turbines. Out of the 80 sections required in the field, the T1200 trenched and buried 37.
The T1200 was built in the UK by Forum Energy Technologies’ Perry Slingsby Systems ROV brand. The T1200’s design was based around the time proven T750 trencher( also owned and operated by Canyon Offshore) but has over 50 percent greater power and the capacity to trench larger diameter products (36 inches) to burial depths of 3m (10ft) depending on soil strength.
- ROV Support Vessel Grand Canyon Completes Sea Trials (Norway) (worldmaritimenews.com)
Helix Energy Solutions Group’s newbuild charter ROV support vessel, Grand Canyon, recently completed sea trials and is ready to begin operations in the North Sea. During the sea trials the vessel’s propulsion system, dynamic positioning system and all her cranes were tested.
The vessel recently completed its outfitting in Norway after the initial hull construction was completed in Turkey. Grand Canyon is capable of launching five ROVs at once and will be operated by Helix ESG’s robotics subsidiary, Canyon Offshore.
The vessel will be the new home for another recently completed asset, the T1200 trenching unit. Used primarily to bury large diameter power cables leading from offshore windfarms, the T1200 is also capable of working on oil and gas projects to bury production pipelines.
The Grand Canyon was designed to provide a high capacity, stable working platform for lay, burial and general offshore construction work while still retaining a shallow draft, which is crucial when operating close to the coastline, and common in the renewable energy sector.Grand Canyon’s DP3 capability allows her to operate in any sector, providing offshore support in a wide variety of roles.
The vessel’s deck structure is specifically designed to accept trenching and flexible pipe or cable lay systems for safe and efficient mobilizations. A key focus throughout the design and build of Grand Canyon was to optimize the vessel and equipment design to facilitate efficient mobilizations.
- ROV Support Vessel Grand Canyon Completes Sea Trials (Norway) (worldmaritimenews.com)
- North Sea Rig Rates May Push Higher as Midwater Market Heats Up (gcaptain.com)
- UK: Helix Well Ops Charters Skandi Constructor from DOF Subsea (mb50.wordpress.com)
Two Pre-Season Storms Eyed in Atlantic, Pacific oceans, Could Cause Damages to Gas, Oil Projects in Gulf of Mexico
Storms that enter the Gulf of Mexico could damage and halt both operations and production of natural gas and oil development projects in the area. Just this March, according to a one-year progress report on the Obama administration’s Blueprint for a Secure Energy Policy, it said that the Gulf of Mexico is safely back to strong production after the much celebrated 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, otherwise known as the BP oil disaster or the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
Of the two pre-season storms spotted by the National Hurricane Center, the stronger one was found in the Pacific about 550 miles or 885 kilometers south-southwest of Acapulco, Mexico. In a weather bulletin, the center said it has a 50 per cent chance of becoming a tropical depression in the next day or two.
The one in the Atlantic, meanwhile, was 460 miles west-southwest of the Azores, with a 20 per cent probability of becoming a sub-tropical storm in the next two days.
The eastern Pacific and Atlantic hurricane seasons officially start on May 15 and June 1, respectively.
The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico flowed for three months in 2010. It is recorded as the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry. The spill, which stemmed from a sea-floor oil that resulted from the explosion of Deepwater Horizon, killed 11 men and injured 17 others, including massive damage to marine and wildlife habitats and to the Gulf’s fishing and tourism industries.
- Pacific Santa Ana Drillship Arrives in U.S. Gulf of Mexico to Work for Chevron (mb50.wordpress.com)
- 1st tropical depression of Pacific season forms (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- First tropical depression forms off the coast of Mexico ahead of official start of hurricane season (mega949.com)
- First tropical depression forms off the coast of Mexico ahead of official start of hurricane season (640whlo.com)
The company said the gas was originating thousands of meters below the sea bed, which engineers said might mean that a relief well – one possible option to stop the leak – could take months to drill.
“The leak is from a (gas) well that was plugged one year ago and from a rock formation in about 4,000 meters depth,” a company spokeswoman in Aberdeen said on Thursday.
A flare needed to relieve pressure in the platform by purging excess gas has continued to burn less than 100 meters from the leak, and engineers said changes in wind and weather could lead to an explosion.
“The wind is pushing the gas cloud in the opposite direction (from the platform). At this time, the circumstances are rather favorable,” Jacques-Emmanuel Saulnier, head of communication at Total said in an interview published on Total’s website.
“A gas cloud is always a fire hazard,” he added.
Total kept two fire-fighting ships in a state of readiness outside a two-mile exclusion zone, which was set up to protect marine traffic, a Total spokeswoman said.
The company has also brought in a robot vessel, not yet deployed, to scan the sea bed for signs of spillage, she said.
Total has not yet found a way to stop the gas leak. A team of international engineers assembled by the embattled French oil company are drawing up plans to tackle the leak and prevent the flare from coming into contact with the gas cloud, the spokeswoman said.
The platform is currently off limits to the engineers, however, given the toxic and explosive plumes pumping out of the wellhead.
The leak started on Sunday and forced the evacuation of all 238 workers from the platform, which sits in waters less than 100 metres deep and 240 km (150 miles) off the east coast of Scotland.
PRESSSURE SEEN FOR RELIEF WELL
Total warned on Tuesday it could take six months to halt the flow of gas. The company previously stated it hoped the leak would die down from natural causes as reservoir pressure drops.
“What we know is that the leak is not coming from a well dug by Total but from a naturally occurring pocket of gas located just above one of our wells,” said Total’s Saulnier.
The depth of the non-producing reservoir that is feeding gas to the Elgin platform via compromised layers of piping suggests, however, there is more gas present rather than less, piling pressure on Total to drill a relief well, an engineer with knowledge of the matter said.
Relief drilling would require boring through 4 kilometers of rock with painstaking mathematical precision, because it must intercept the gas pocket at exactly the right point, requiring constant alterations in course, the engineer said.
The leak, one of the biggest in the North Sea for decades, could well inspire tougher safety regulation in due course, according to experts. Britain’s health and safety watchdog said it was considering launching an investigation into the incident, while union officials said the frequency of offshore safety lapses had become intolerable.
Memories are still raw in the North Sea industry of the Piper Alpha platform fire 24 years ago, which killed 167 people in the world’s deadliest offshore oil disaster and led to a major regulatory overhaul.
Total as well as UK authorities have described the expected environmental impact from the plume of gas and a spreading sheen of light oil on the water as “minimal”, although environmental experts said much of the gas “cocktail” would be either flammable or poisonous at close quarters.
Total’s shares have lost about 9 percent in the wake of the incident. They were trading at 37.63 euros at 1305 GMT.
Analysts said the French oil major could face costs of up to $10 billion if its North Sea gas leak leads to an explosion and nearly $3 billion if it takes months to fix.
However, Jefferies securities and investment bank said in a research note that data that had emerged on the spill, which “has further convinced us that the spill consequences should be less than the most pessimistic market estimates and hence that the US$9.7 billion sell-off in the stock since Monday is overdone”.
- Fitch: Total Gas Leak ‘Not Another Deepwater Horizon’ (mb50.wordpress.com)
The gas has been flowing since Sunday, March 25th, when Total evacuated all the personnel from the Elgin platform. The precise cause of the gas leak, that has been flowing approximately 240 km east of Aberdeen, is yet to be identified.
According to The Telegraph, experts have warned that the gas cloud which can be seen is very flammable and they described the situation as a disaster waiting to happen because the flare on the Elgin platform is still ongoing.
Total explains that the flare is an integral part of the platform’s safety system, and it is used to safely evacuate all the remaining gas from the platform. The company says that the flare does not pose a threat, because the winds are taking the gas cloud away from the open flame.
“The wind is forecast to remain in its current direction for the coming days. You can be assured that this is being reviewed on a constant basis and should this change any impact is being assessed. In parallel we are investigating solutions to extinguish the flare if it does not burn out by itself.”
Elgin and Franklin are two high pressure/high temperature gas and condensate fields in the Central Graben Area of North Sea. Total E&P UK Limited owns 46.17% and is operator of both fields through its wholly-owned subsidiary EFOG and its average share of production was around 60,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day in 2011.
Elgin/Franklin facilities comprise two wellhead platforms, one on Elgin and one on Franklin and a Production/Utilities/Quarters (PUQ) platform. The PUQ is on the Elgin field and is linked to the Elgin wellhead platform by a 90-metre bridge.
- Fitch: Total Gas Leak ‘Not Another Deepwater Horizon’ (mb50.wordpress.com)
- Gas Leak at North Sea Elgin Platform (theoildrum.com)
- ‘One spark and another Piper Alpha on our hands’: Fears grow as explosive gas leak from ‘well from hell’ threatens repeat of Britain’s deadliest rig disaster (dailymail.co.uk)
- Total says finds source of North Sea gas leak (reuters.com)
The Obama administration’s announcement that it may allow seismic studies potentially paving the way for offshore drilling along the East Coast is political posturing designed to distract voters concerned about high gasoline prices, oil industry leaders and Republican lawmakers said today.
The administration’s move “continues the president’s election-year political ploy of giving speeches and talking about drilling after having spent the first three years in office blocking, delaying and driving up the cost of producing energy in America,” said Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash. “The president is focused on trying to talk his way out of what he’s done, rather than taking real steps to boost American energy production.”
At issue is Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s announcement in Norfolk, Va., this morning that the government is assessing the environmental effects of allowing seismic surveys along the mid- and south-Atlantic that could help locate hidden pockets of oil and gas. If ultimately approved, the studies by private geological research companies also could help guide decisions about where to place renewable energy projects off the coast.
The Interior Department is issuing a draft environmental impact statement that assesses the consequences of seismic research on marine life in the area. The Obama administration had planned to release a similar document in 2010, before the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
If the draft environmental assessment is finalized after public comments and hearings, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management could give companies permits to conduct the studies off the coasts of eight East Coast states.
Salazar said that if the geological research turned up promising results, that could open the door to offshore drilling in the area within five years, even though the administration currently has ruled out that kind of exploration before 2017. A government plan for selling offshore drilling leases from 2012 to 2017 does not include any auctions of Atlantic territory.
“If the information that is developed allows us to move forward in a quicker time frame, we can always come in with an amendment,” Salazar said. “We’re not prejudging that at this point in time. My view is … we need to develop information so we can make those wise decisions.”
Industry officials noted that under federal laws, it could take years for the government to revise the 2012-2017 leasing plan, even if federal officials decided to pursue Atlantic drilling.
Erik Milito, upstream director for the American Petroleum Institute, said the administration is repackaging old news and old plans to make it appear it is making real progress to encourage more domestic energy development.
“This is political rhetoric to make it appear the administration is doing something on gas prices, but in reality it is little more than an empty gesture,” Milito said.
Randall Luthi, the president of the National Ocean Industries Association, likened the administration’s announcement to giving the industry “a canoe with no oars, since there are no lease sales planned anywhere off the East Coast.”
If allowed to conduct seismic surveys, geological research firms would ultimately give the resulting information to the government and sell it to companies eager to analyze the data.
But Milito questioned whether seismic companies would pursue the work, given that some of their best customers — oil companies — wouldn’t be able to use it to plan offshore drilling for years, if at all.
“Without an Atlantic coast lease sale in their five-year plan, the administration’s wishful thinking on seismic research has no ultimate purpose,” Milito said. “The White House has banned lease sales in the Atlantic for at least the next five years, discouraging the investment and job creation, and ultimately production, which would make seismic exploration valuable.”
Still, at least six companies already have told the government they want to conduct seismic research along the East Coast.
“We have gotten significant expressions of interest from companies in contracting for these seismic surveys,” said Tommy Beaudreau, the director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. “I am confident that, assuming the process continues on the track we anticipate, that there will be significant interest next year in conducting these surveys.”
Geological research uses seismic waves to map what lies underground or beneath the ocean floor. The shock waves — which some environmental advocates say may harm marine life — map the density of subterranean material and can gives clues about possible oil and gas.
Seismic studies also help identify geologic hazards and archaeological resources in the seabed — information useful in determining the placement of renewable energy infrastructure as well as oil and gas equipment.
The existing seismic surveys of the Atlantic coast are decades old, and in the years since, “there have been enormous technological advances,” Salazar noted.
“We do need to have seismic moving forward so we can really understand what the resource potential is,” Salazar added.
- Obama administration advances plan for seismic research along Atlantic coast (mb50.wordpress.com)
- Obama officials rip into GOP gasoline bills (mb50.wordpress.com)
The ratings agency added that even in the event of a shutdown of the whole Elgin field, it believes that Total is likely to retain its ‘AA’ credit rating as it has the cash resources to more than cover any associated costs.
“The Elgin leak is a surface gas leak rather than an underwater oil leak, making its potential for environmental damage far lower than in the Deepwater Horizon case,” said Fitch in a press statement Wednesday. “These sorts of accidents are often difficult to resolve and unpredictable; nonetheless, in our view the potential is low for this leak to escalate to a crisis on the scale of Deepwater Horizon. Total’s preliminary assessment suggests there has been no significant impact on the environment and the use of dispersants has not been considered.”
However, Fitch added that it had considered a “worse-than-base-case” scenario where Total may have to shut down the Elgin field to stop the gas leak. “This would imply the loss of a producing field that is worth, in net present value terms, EUR 5.7 billion [$7.6 billion] according to third-party valuations. Were the field to become permanently unusable it would cost Total EUR 2.6 billion [$3.5 billion] and the company might have to compensate its partners for the remaining EUR 3.1 billion [$4.1 billion],” Fitch said.
On Tuesday Dow Jones reported a source saying that the proximity of vessels owned by Transocean and Rowan to the Elgin platform may sway Total’s decision in hiring a firm to drill relief wells to cap the leak.
Currently, Transocean’s Sedco 714 (mid-water semisub) is drilling for Total in the North Sea, while a Rowan jack-up rig was used for drilling work at Elgin.
Total said Tuesday it is studying all options and could take time to make a decision, while dismissing reports that claimed the company had indicated it could take up to six months to drill a relief well.
“They are not details that have come from us at all,” a Total spokesperson told Rigzone Tuesday morning, explaining that the company did not yet have a timescale in place regarding the drilling of a relief well.
Meanwhile, Royal Dutch Shell reported Tuesday that it removed oil workers from two of its North Sea rigs due to the proximity to Total’s Elgin/Franklin platform.
In a statement, Shell said it had reduced personnel on its Shearwater platform and the nearby Nobel Hans Deul drilling rig. Drilling operations on the Noble Hans Deul (400′ ILC) rig, which is located offshore Scotland 138 miles east of Aberdeen, have been suspended and the wells “left in a safe state,” said Shell.
“While the move is purely precautionary and primarily driven by the prevailing weather conditions, and both facilities remain operational, it has been decided to reduce numbers to a more manageable level until the full situation surrounding the Elgin leak has been established,” said a Shell spokesperson.
Shell also reported Tuesday that it is using the downtime as an opportunity to conduct maintenance on one of its rigs.
“Further to the precautionary safety measures we took yesterday following Total’s gas leak at Elgin, we have no brought forward plans to carry out maintenance at Shearwater. This will take place from today, starting four days ahead of schedule. We are therefore shutting down production in a controlled manner,” said a Shell spokesperson.
Total reported Monday that it had evacuated the Elgin platform’s crew and reported that all 238 personnel had been accounted for.
A former engineer, Jon Mainwaring is an experienced journalist who has written about the technology, engineering and energy industries. Email Jon at email@example.com.
- North Sea oil rig: Mystery gas leak forces workers to be evacuated amid fears of explosion (dailymail.co.uk)
- Well from hell: Gas rig abandoned in North Sea after massive leak (mirror.co.uk)
- North Sea Gas Leak May Take Months To Plug (news.sky.com)