Category Archives: Arctic

This region of the planet, north of the Arctic Circle, includes the Arctic Ocean, Greenland, Baffin Island, other smaller northern islands, and the far northern parts of Europe, Russia (Siberia), Alaska and Canada.

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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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: EAB Rejects Appeals for Review of Shell’s Noble Discoverer OCS Air Permits

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Shell announced on its website that the Environmental Appeals Board (EAB) denied all petitions for review of Shell’s Noble Discoverer OCS air permits.

As a result, Shell has, for the first time, usable air permits that will allow the Noble Discoverer to work in the Alaska OCS beginning in 2012.

“Achieving usable permits from the EPA is a very important step for Shell and one of the strongest indicators to date that we will be exploring our Beaufort and Chukchi leases in July. That our air permits for the Noble Discoverer withstood appeal is a testament to the robust nature of the work we have done to have the smallest possible impact on the Arctic air shed and further validates that Shell is a company uniquely-positioned to deliver a world-class drilling program in the Alaska offshore.  We look forward to continued progress on the permitting front and remain committed to working with regulators and stakeholders to achieve all of the permits necessary to drill in 2012.” reads Shell’s statement.

Wilderness Society Director, Lois Epstein, recently expressed her opinion in which she assumed that neither Alaskans, the Nation nor Shell is, “ready to drill safely in the Arctic.” Ms. Epstein signed-on to a letter that claims Shell should be denied Arctic air permits because emissions from their  drilling rigs and oil spill response fleet will accelerate global warming.

Pete Slaiby, Shell Alaska VP responded that “Shell has been arctic-ready for years”, saying that Shell and others have successfully drilled over 35 wells in the Alaska offshore without incident and that “Shell, alone, has dedicated more resources to Arctic science in the last five years than all Federal agencies combined.”

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Major Oil And Gas Finds In northern Europe

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Written by: EurActiv
January 10, 2012

Norway’s Statoil has made a second big oil discovery in the Barents Sea in less than a year and predicted more discoveries to come in the region.

The new oil find, called Havis, may hold between 200 million and 300 million barrels of oil equivalent (boe). The new find combined with the previous and nearby discovery, Skrugard, could provide between 400 million and 600 million boe, Statoil said yesterday (9 January).

“This is extremely positive,” said John Olaisen, an analyst at the Carnegie investment banking firm in Oslo. “This is an important strategic asset in a new oil region, so this is very good … One could expect more oil finds in the region after this.”

A Shell and ExxonMobil joint venture, Nam, has also announced what it says is the largest on-shore gas field discovery in the Netherlands since 1995, near Ee, in Friesland.

Production at the South Metslawier site, which is estimated to hold 4 billion cubic metres of reserves, is expected to begin in the summer, and last until 2015.

The Norwegian find in the Barents Sea, followed a carve-up of the territory in 2010 between Norway and Russia.

The Arctic region holds 25% of the world’s hydrocarbons, according to the US Geological Survey.

Norway is the world’s eighth-largest oil exporter and the second-largest for gas, which has seen declining oil output since 2001, following a string of offshore discoveries made over the past year.

Finding oil in the Norwegian part of the Barents Sea had until recently proven to be very difficult.

Over the past 30 years oil companies have drilled 92 exploration wells but only a handful have proven to be hits – Skrugard, Statoil’s Snoehvit gas field, Eni’s Goliat oilfield and Total’s Norvarg discovery.

Statoil now expects to strike more oil in the region around Havis.”We believe we now understand (the geology) and have cracked the code in this area,” the company’s chief executive Helge Lund said.

“We think we will be able to make additional finds in this licence in the future,” he said.

Production at Havis is expected to begin before the end of the decade.

The partners in the latest oil find are Statoil (50%), Italy’s Eni (30%) and Norwegian state-owned firm Petoro (20%).

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BP, Shell to partake in arctic drilling inquiry, Telegraph says

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The Noble Discoverer drill ship is shown near Alaska. Shell Oil Co., plans to use the ship for drilling in the Beaufort Sea. (Photo courtesy of Shell Oil Co.)

by Bloomberg

BP Plc, Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Cairn Energy Plc are among companies that may be asked to provide information on drilling in the Arctic to the U.K.’s Environmental Audit Committee later this year, the Sunday Telegraph reported, citing Committee Chairman Joan Walley.

The committee’s Protecting the Arctic inquiry will include both onshore and offshore drilling in the Arctic Circle, the newspaper said.

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Norway: STX OSV Delivers Platform Supply Vessel to Solstad

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Solstad Offshore ASA (SOFF) has today taken delivery of “Normand Arctic” from STX OSV AS, Langsten. “Normand Arctic” is a large LNG fuelled plat­form supply vessel (PSV).

The vessel will be trading in the North Sea for Statoil for a firm period of 3 months with additional 5 montly options.

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