Category Archives: Atlantic Ocean

The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world’s oceanic divisions.

“Atlantic”, “North Atlantic”, “South Atlantic”, and “Atlantic Basin” . For other uses, see Atlantic (disambiguation), North Atlantic (disambiguation), South Atlantic (disambiguation), and Atlantic Basin (disambiguation).

Obama administration advances plan for seismic research along Atlantic coast

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Posted on March 28, 2012 at 12:01 am by Jennifer A. Dlouhy

The Obama administration will announce Wednesday that it is advancing a plan to allow new seismic research designed to help identify hidden pockets of oil and gas in Atlantic waters along the East Coast.

The move by the Interior Department is the beginning of a long path that eventually could lead to new offshore drilling off the coast from Delaware to Florida.

Senior administration officials who spoke exclusively to the Houston Chronicle confirmed the plan on condition they not be identified ahead of the official announcement.

The plan could mean new work for Houston-based seismic firms, which likely would conduct some of the first such surveys of the region in decades.

The announcement comes as President Barack Obama tries to assuage concerns about rising oil and gasoline prices ahead of the November election, amid Republican criticism that his energy policies have sent costs higher.

The administration had signaled plans to allow Atlantic seismic research before the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill stalled approval of offshore activities.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar will announce the plan in Norfolk, Va. at Fugro Atlantic, a company that conducts geotechnical and marine research.

Future seismic research in the Atlantic waters could help guide decisions about where to allow drilling leases and equipment that generates renewable energy, such as wind turbines.

But it would be at least five years before the government sold any leases in Atlantic waters. Interior Department plans governing those decisions through 2017 do not include lease sales  in the region.

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.

Energy companies use the data to plan where to buy leases and how to prioritize projects. But they know little about what lies below federal waters along the East Coast. Existing seismic surveys of the area are more than 25 years old and were conducted with now-outdated technology.

Oil industry officials have downplayed the significance of allowing seismic surveys along the Atlantic Coast, noting the government makes no guarantee that it will let them drill. That skepticism also could limit the market for seismic research firms.

But the administration has said that collecting the data for different regions — even if they aren’t targeted immediately for development — is key to understanding their potential. Obama asked the Interior Department to speed up its search for Atlantic resources in May 2011.

Wednesday’s action takes the form of a federally required draft statement on the environmental effects of seismic surveys in the outer continental shelf along the East Coast.

The public will have a chance to weigh in on that draft environmental impact statement during hearings along the East Coast.

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Scientists Conduct Expedition of Atlantis Massif in North Atlantic Ocean

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Scientists recently concluded an expedition aboard the research vessel JOIDES Resolution to learn more about Atlantis Massif, an undersea mountain, or seamount, that formed in a very different way than the majority of the seafloor in the oceans.

Unlike volcanic seamounts, which are made of the basalt that’s typical of most of the seafloor, Atlantis Massif includes rock types that are usually only found much deeper in the ocean crust, such as gabbro and peridotite.

The expedition, known as Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) Expedition 340T, marks the first time the geophysical properties of gabbroic rocks have successfully been measured directly in place, rather than via remote techniques such as seismic surveying.

With these measurements in hand, scientists can now infer how these hard-to-reach rocks will “look” on future seismic surveys, making it easier to map out geophysical structures beneath the seafloor.

“This is exciting because it means that we may be able to use seismic survey data to infer the pattern of seawater circulation within the deeper crust,” says Donna Blackman of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, Calif., co-chief scientist for Expedition 340T.

“This would be a key step for quantifying rates and volumes of chemical, possibly biological, exchange between the oceans and the crust.”

Atlantis Massif sits on the flank of an oceanic spreading center that runs down the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

As the tectonic plates separate, new crust is formed at the spreading center and a combination of stretching, faulting and the intrusion of magma from below shape the new seafloor.

Periods of reduced magma supplied from the underlying mantle result in the development of long-lived, large faults. Deep portions of the crust shift upward along these faults and may be exposed at the seafloor.

This process results in the formation of an oceanic core complex, or OCC, and is similar to the processes that formed the Basin and Range province of the Southwest United States.

“Recent discoveries from scientific ocean drilling have underlined that the process of creating new oceanic crust at seafloor spreading centers is complex,” says Jamie Allan, IODP program director at the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), which co-funds the program.

“This work significantly adds to our ability to infer ocean crust structure and composition, including predicting how ocean crust has ‘aged’ in an area,” says Allan, “thereby giving us new tools for understanding ocean crust creation from Earth’s mantle.”

Atlantis Massif is a classic example of an oceanic core complex.

Because it’s relatively young–formed within the last million years–it’s an ideal place, scientists say, to study how the interplay between faulting, magmatism and seawater circulation influences the evolution of an OCC within the crust.

“Vast ocean basins cover most of the Earth, yet their crust is formed in a narrow zone,” says Blackman. “We’re studying that source zone to understand how rifting and magmatism work together to form a new plate.”

The JOIDES Resolution first visited Atlantis Massif about seven years ago; the science team on that expedition measured properties in gabbro.

But they focused on a shallower section, where pervasive seawater circulation had weathered the rock and changed its physical properties.

For the current expedition, the team did not drill new holes.

Rather, they lowered instruments into a deep existing hole drilled on a previous expedition, and made measurements from inside the hole.

The new measurements, at depths between 800 and 1,400 meters (about 2,600-4,600 feet) below the seafloor, include only a few narrow zones that had been altered by seawater circulation and/or by fault slip deformation.

The rest of the measurements focused on gabbroic rocks that have remained unaltered thus far.

The properties measured in the narrow zones of altered rock differ from the background properties measured in the unaltered gabbroic rocks.

The team found small differences in temperature next to two sub-seafloor faults, which suggests a slow percolation of seawater within those zones.

There were also significant differences in the speed at which seismic waves travel through the altered vs. unaltered zones.

“The expedition was a great opportunity to ground-truth our recent seismic analysis,” says Alistair Harding, also from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and a co-chief scientist for Expedition 340T.

“It also provides vital baseline data for further seismic work aimed at understanding the formation and alteration of the massif.”

The Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) is an international research program dedicated to advancing scientific understanding of the Earth through drilling, coring and monitoring the subseafloor.

The JOIDES Resolution is a scientific research vessel managed by the U.S. Implementing Organization of IODP (USIO). Texas A&M University, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University and the Consortium for Ocean Leadership comprise the USIO.

Two lead agencies support the IODP: the U.S. National Science Foundation and Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.

Additional program support comes from the European Consortium for Ocean Research Drilling, the Australia-New Zealand IODP Consortium, India’s Ministry of Earth Sciences, the People’s Republic of China’s Ministry of Science and Technology, and the Korea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources.

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Halliburton Charters Island Captain for UK Operation

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Norway’s Island Offshore reports that Halliburton has chartered the Company’s Island Captain as a well stimulation vessel on a 2 months firm contract.

The vessel will be operating on the Clipper South field in the Southern North Sea. The Island Captain is with this joining Island Commander and Island Patriot as the 3rd well stimulation vessel from IO, with a 4th vessel going into operation in January 2013.

“We are very happy to have made this deal with Halliburton and feel confident that the vessel will perform to the charterers’ expectations,” reads Island Offshore’s statement.

The Island Offshore Group is currently operating a fleet of 17 vessels ranging from Platform Supply vessels, Anchor Handling Vessels, Subsea Construction Vessels to Light Well Intervention Vessels. The group has several vessels under construction.

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Baker Hughes Bringing High-End Well Stimulation Vessel to North Sea

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Baker Hughes Incorporated, announced that its subsidiary has chartered a new state-of-the-art pressure pumping vessel that will provide offshore stimulation services to Maersk Oil in the North Sea. Upon completion, scheduled for late 2013, the Blue Orca(TM) will become the eighth vessel in the Baker Hughes fleet.

“We are pleased to be working with Maersk Oil as we expand our current fleet into the North Sea,” said Art Soucy, Baker Hughes’ President of Global Products & Services. “Our full cadre of world-class stimulation vessels offers customers the capacity, performance and redundancy for round-the-clock operations that are needed in today’s offshore plays. We are committed to operating safely and efficiently while continuing to build on our pressure pumping market leadership and the challenging offshore environments where operators need us to be.”

The Blue Orca will be rated to 15,000 psi and will offer among the largest fluid and proppant carrying capacities in the world. It will provide 15,000 hydraulic horsepower pumping capacity and the ability to pump at rates well in excess of 60 bpm. Engineering work on the marine and stimulation systems has already begun.

“Stimulation of long horizontal wells is one of Maersk Oil’s key technologies and vital for economic development of our tight chalk reservoirs,” said Mary Van Domelen, Maersk Oil’s Stimulation Team Leader. “We appreciate the opportunity to work with Baker Hughes to deliver a new state-of-the-art stimulation vessel and look forward to welcoming the Blue Orca to the North Sea.”

The Blue Orca will join Baker Hughes’ other stimulation vessels – including the company’s newest additions to the Gulf of Mexico: Blue Tarpon and the Blue Dolphin. The vessels support offshore completion operations and will be equipped to support high-rate and high-volume multi-zone fracturing operations.

“Our pressure pumping vessels offer enhanced safety systems with redundant back-up blending and pumping capabilities,” said Lindsay Link, Baker Hughes’ President of Pressure Pumping.When it comes to performing multi-zone, high-rate, high-pressure completions, our vessels are reliable, efficient and minimize delays in high-cost offshore environments, where time is of the essence for the operators on behalf of whom we are working.”

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USA: Broadwater Shelves LNG Plan

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Broadwater Energy said that it has decided not to go forward with any aspect of its LNG project, the company said in a letter to U.S. FERC.

Broadwater also asked the Commission to vacate its previous authorization for the LNG project.

The company is a joint venture by TransCanada Corporation and Shell Oil, and it planned to build a floating storage and regasification unit (FSRU) attached to a yoke mooring system about 9 miles off Long Island and 10.5 miles off Connecticut, with a maximum regasification capacity of about 9 million mt of LNG per annum.

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Norway to Power Offshore Platforms from Land?

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The operators and licence holders for the Johan Sverdrup, Dagny, Draupne and Luno fields in the North Sea will study setting up a hub for the supply of electrical power from land. The study will form the basis for a decision on electrification.

The study, which has been initiated by the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy, is headed by Statoil and involves the operators Lundin and Det norske oljeselskap, as well as the other licence holders. The work will comprise technical studies, such as concept planning, as well as commercial solutions for the electrification of the fields on the Utsira High. The intention is to create a framework for potentially setting up a company or partnership to own and operate the facilities that will feed the receiving platforms with power.

It is primarily the gigantic Johan Sverdrup discovery – together with Luno, Draupne and Dagny, including Eirin – that makes such a shared power solution possible. Preparations will be made for the possible subsequent tie-in of other installations on the Norwegian continental shelf.

The study will take in an offshore distribution platform located near Johan Sverdrup, with DC cables from land to the distribution platform and AC cables on to the receiving platforms. An analysis of the power situation at the potential land-based connection points will also form part of the study.

There will be the additional requirement for converters and transformers on the distribution platform and on land. AC cables will also be necessary and the existing switching station will need to be extended for connection to the grid network.

The progress plan for study will, to a large extent, be governed by the plans of those who will be in receipt of the power.

A concept will be selected, and the investment decision made,at the earliest in the fourth quarter of this year.

The decision to electrify will be taken by the licence holders/owners, on the basis of profitability, the official specifications and the conditions stipulated . Utsira Height can be well suited for electrification due to its considerable power needs, as well as the favourable distances and water depths involved.

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MacGregor Systems for New OSVs in Asia and Europe

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MacGregor bulk handling systems are to be installed on four offshore support vessels (OSV) of various types under construction in Asia and Europe.

In the last quarter of 2011 Cargotec secured contracts for MacGregor bulk handling systems for installation onboard four offshore support vessels (OSV) newbuildings belonging to two different owners; one in the UAE (two vessels) and the other in Spain (two vessels).

At the end of November, Grandweld Shipyards in the United Arab Emirates ordered MacGregor bulk handling systems for two anchor-handling tug/supply (AHTS) vessels, hull Nos 389 and 390. They will handle cement, barite and bentonite for their owner Halul Offshore Services Company, in Doha, Qatar. Equipment for both vessels is scheduled for delivery at the end of June 2012.

In December Cargotec received an order for MacGregor bulk handling systems to be installed on two PSVs (hull Nos 446 and 447) under construction at Astilleros Balenciaga S.A. in Spain, for North Star Shipping in Scotland, UK. The vessels will operate in the North Sea and will handle cement, barite and bentonite. The equipment is scheduled for delivery in June and November, 2012.

“For the owners, it was important that the vessels were fitted with simple and well proven bulk handling technology, with a solid track record,” says Pankaj Thakker, Cargotec Sales Manager, Marine Selfunloaders. “Each installation will feature dust-free operation and low power consumption, making these some of the most environmentally-friendly systems available today.”

Bulk handling systems are standard equipment for offshore support vessels, enabling them to perform their supply role. The main task of such a system is to receive cargo, store and discharge it. MacGregor can offer operators two main system types: one uses a more conventional method where the storage and discharge of cargo is carried out using pressured tanks; and the other uses the hopper and blow pump concept.

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UK: Largest Contract in Odfjell Drilling’s History

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Odfjell Drilling has been awarded a significant pre-contract award with BP for the provision of a new build, semi-submersible drilling unit for use in the UK’s West of Shetland region. The contract value is approximately $1.2 billion, excluding options, and represents the largest contract in Odfjell Drilling’s 40 year history.

The new unit will be involved in drilling in the Schiehallion and Loyal fields and will form a key part of the Quad 204 development. The full contract, which is subject to approval by the Quad 204 Partnership, will have a fixed duration of 7 years and is due to start in Q4 2014.

In July 2011 BP announced a decision to progress a major re-development of the Schiehallion and Loyal oil fields to the west of the Shetland Islands.

Schiehallion and Loyal have produced nearly 400 million barrels of oil since production started in 1998 and an estimated 450 million barrels of resource is still available. The investment of circa £3 billion in the re-development of the fields will take production out to 2035 and possibly beyond.

President & CEO of Odfjell Drilling, Simen Lieungh states:

“This contract award from BP is of great importance and represents a solid contribution to the company’s further growth and is a recognition of Odfjell Drilling’s status as a reputable international drilling contractor. We have a track record of delivering new build units on time and on budget and this new build for BP will be the fifth new deep water unit for the company. We highly value our relationship with BP and look forward to developing this relationship further in the future.”

Jim Cowie, BP Vice President for Wells, said: “The Quad 204 partnership is making this major investment in its drilling capability in response to high future demand West of Shetland and a desire to invest in the latest equipment that can help deliver its business plans. This is an exciting development and one which builds on BP’s recent announcements concerning its investments in the North Sea. Odfjell Drilling is a safe, efficient and innovative drilling contractor that is performing well for BP in the North Sea and with Deepsea Stavanger offshore Angola.”

Fifth deepwater unit delivery

The new state of the art Sixth generation rig will be built in South Korea by Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME).

“The new rig for BP is of the enhanced GVA7500 harsh environment design and will be a sister rig of the Deepsea Atlantic and Deepsea Stavanger previously delivered to us by DSME. We are pleased to continue our collaboration with DSME, says Mr. Lieungh.”

Construction engineering has commenced and keel laying is scheduled for March 2013.

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