Seadrill Orders Harsh Environment Rig in South Korea
Seadrill, one of the world’s largest drilling contractors, has ordered a new harsh environment semi-submersible drilling rig from Hyundai Samho Shipyard in South Korea. The company explained the move by the current strong demand for high specification drilling units and Seadrill’s wish to benefit from such market conditions.
The new rig will be a sister rig of the harsh environment semi-submersible unit Seadrill’s subsidiary North Atlantic Drilling currently have under construction at Jurong Shipyard in Singapore.
It will be of a Moss CS60 design, N class compliant and will be able to meet the harsh and demanding weather conditions in the North Atlantic areas. In addition, the new rig will have premium ultra deepwater capabilities including water depth of up to 10,000 feet. The rig is scheduled for delivery in the fourth quarter 2014.
Total estimated project costs is less than US$650 million including a turn key yard contract with a back-end loaded payment structure. In addition, Seadrill has agreed a fixed price option for one further unit from the yard. Seadrill has already received charter interest in the firm unit. With the strong demand Seadrill feels it is likely that the option will be exercised. However, a final decision will not be taken before August 2012.
Seadrill’s construction program now totals 18 units, including 6 drillships, 2 harsh environment semi-submersibles, 5 tender rigs and 5 jack ups. In addition to the rigs under construction, Seadrill also controls several fixed price options at various yards.
Alf C Thorkildsen, Chief Executive Officer in Seadrill Management AS says in a comment: “Based on the enquiries we receive from the major oil and gas companies and the current high oil prices, we are comfortable that the aggregate demand for modern floaters will exceed the supply of available units for several years to come. We are pleased that the good relationships Seadrill and the Fredriksen group have with the top quality yards have allowed us to get access to attractive delivery slots at competitive terms. With an expected strong cash flow from our solid contract backlog we are well positioned to secure attractive financing for our new building program. As a result we remain positive to the prospects of continuing to show higher growth and deliver better operational and financial performance than our peers in an industry that looks very attractive for the years to come.”
- Strong Demand for UDW Drillships Spurs Seadrill to Order One More from SHI (South Korea) (mb50.wordpress.com)
- South Korea: Seadrill Confirms Samsung Drillships Contracts (mb50.wordpress.com)
Oil leaders, GOP allies, downplay administration’s seismic plans
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)
Norway: Naming Ceremony for Olympic Energy PSV
Last Saturday, on March 24th, a naming ceremony for Olympic Shipping’s new Platform Supply Vessel took place in Ålesund. The naming of the vessel, now called Olympic Energy was performed by Godmother Marianne Synnes.
After the ceremony, the ship was open to the public and about 1500 people used the chance to study the ship up close.
Olympic Shipping AS, STX OSV and the Training Office of Maritime Studies were represented at the deck, where those who were interested could get further information about the ship and job opportunities in the business. Olympic Energy is a PSV 06 LNG design, to be delivered from STX OSV, later this month. The vessel is designed as a platform supply vessel for worldwide operations and transport of general cargo for offshore industry.
The vessel is of environmental friendly design, with low resistance hull shape designed for high speed and low fuel consumptions. Its main engines are driven by liquefied natural gas.
- Brazil: Deep Sea Supply Takes Delivery of New PSV (mb50.wordpress.com)
- BP Hires PSV ‘Sea Brasil’ (mb50.wordpress.com)
- STX OSV Adds to their Backlog, DOF ASA Sends Newbuild Order for Subsea Construction Vessel (mb50.wordpress.com)
- Norway: STX OSV Delivers Platform Supply Vessel to Solstad (mb50.wordpress.com)
- Norway: STX OSV Brevik Shipyard Hands Over PSV Island Captain (mb50.wordpress.com)
USA: ECO Shipyard Christens New Icebreaker Built for Shell
Edison Chouest Offshore (ECO) Shipyard in Larose, Louisiana on March 24th 2012 held christening ceremony for Shell’s new 360 foot long icebreaker “Aiviq”. This new Arctic ice class anchor handler under construction for Shell is the largest and most advanced ship ever designed and constructed by ECO.
M/V Aiviq, the newest vessel being built by Edison Chouest Offshore, will be one of the most advanced and powerful U.S. non-military, ice breakers on the water. The vessel is being built to Polar Code 3 and measures 360′ long, 80′ wide, with a 29′ draft. Its primary mission will be to support offshore development in the Arctic. This vessel is the very first of its class to be built in the United States.
The vessel was ordered in July 2009 and is scheduled for delivery in April 2012. It is being built to American Bureau of Shipping A3 class—capable of breaking ice 1m thick at a speed of 5 knots. Her propellers are reported to have been specially designed to be quieter than normal, in order to be less disruptive to local marine life.
The price tag for the Aiviq will be around USD 200 mln. Its main task will be laying anchors for drilling rigs. Also, Aiviq will be equipped for the oil spill clean-up operations.
Brazil may shift jurisdiction of Chevron case
(Reuters) – A judge in Campos, Brazil, could shift the criminal charges filed against Chevron and drill-rig operator Transocean to Rio de Janeiro, a decision that would remove a crusading prosecutor from the case.
Eduardo Santos de Oliveira, a federal prosecutor based in Campos, in Rio de Janeiro’s interior, told Reuters on Friday a jurisdictional review is under way, which could delay any formal criminal indictment of the firms and their employees for weeks.
Oliveira filed criminal charges against Chevron, Transocean and 17 of their employees in Brazil this week for alleged crimes related to a November offshore oil spill in Brazil’s Frade field, which Chevron operates.
He pledged to seek maximum prison sentences of 31 years against the firms’ executives.
Federal judge Claudio Girão Barreto will consider whether the companies must post bonds in Campos or whether the case should be moved to Rio de Janeiro. The judicial review normally takes around ten calendar days.
The review does not alter the content of the criminal charges, but it could remove the case from Oliveira’s turf and hand it to another team of prosecutors.
The question of jurisdiction stems from the location of the alleged crimes in a deep-sea oil field beyond Brazil’s territorial waters but within its 200-nautical-mile “exclusive economic zone.”
Oliveira said the judge had asked him to appear in court on Monday with more details about the case.
“I think moving the case to Rio de Janeiro would be a mistake,” said Oliveira in a telephone interview. “Chevron and Transocean want you to believe this happened on some foreign ship or platform in international waters. But the crime happened under the seabed, in physical Brazilian territory.”
Some Brazilian officials, including Senator Jorge Viana of the government’s ruling party, have called Oliveira’s charges over-aggressive. Viana told Reuters this week that the case could damage Brazil’s oil industry.
A 20 billion reais ($11 billion) civil suit filed earlier by Oliveira in Campos against Chevron and Transocean, its drilling contractor at Frade, has already been shifted to Rio de Janeiro’s capital. A judge ruled in January that Campos wasn’t the proper jurisdiction for the civil case, Brazil’s largest-ever environmental lawsuit.
Chevron’s November leak of 2,400 to 3,000 barrels of oil at the Frade field was the result of a pressure kick during drilling. Oliveira has said Chevron’s drilling was reckless and unsafe. The companies deny the charges.
Amount of Coldest Antarctic Water Near Ocean Floor Decreasing for Decades
Scientists have found a large reduction in the amount of the coldest deep ocean water, called Antarctic Bottom Water, all around the Southern Ocean using data collected from 1980 to 2011. These findings, in a study now online, will likely stimulate new research on the causes of this change.
Two oceanographers from NOAA and the University of Washington find that Antarctic Bottom Water has been disappearing at an average rate of about eight million metric tons per second over the past few decades, equivalent to about fifty times the average flow of the Mississippi River or about a quarter of the flow of the Gulf Stream in the Florida Straits.
“Because of its high density, Antarctic Bottom Water fills most of the deep ocean basins around the world, but we found that the amount of this water has been decreasing at a surprisingly fast rate over the last few decades,” said lead author Sarah Purkey, graduate student at the School of Oceanography at the University of Washington in Seattle, Wash. “In every oceanographic survey repeated around the Southern Ocean since about the 1980s, Antarctic Bottom Water has been shrinking at a similar mean rate, giving us confidence that this surprisingly large contraction is robust.”
Antarctic Bottom Water is formed in a few distinct locations around Antarctica, where seawater is cooled by the overlying air and made saltier by ice formation. The dense water then sinks to the sea floor and spreads northward, filling most of the deep ocean around the world as it slowly mixes with warmer waters above it.
The world’s deep ocean currents play a critical role in transporting heat and carbon around the planet, thus regulating our climate.
While previous studies have shown that the bottom water has been warming and freshening over the past few decades, these new results suggest that significantly less of this bottom water has been formed during that time than in previous decades.
“We are not sure if the rate of bottom water reduction we have found is part of a long-term trend or a cycle,” said co-author Gregory C. Johnson, Ph.D., an oceanographer at NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle. “We need to continue to measure the full depth of the oceans, including these deep ocean waters, to assess the role and significance that these reported changes and others like them play in the Earth’s climate.”
Changes in the temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen, and dissolved carbon dioxide of this prominent water mass have important ramifications for Earth’s climate, including contributions to sea level rise and the rate of Earth’s heat uptake.
“People often focus on fluctuations of currents in the North Atlantic Ocean as an indicator of climate change, but the Southern Ocean has undergone some very large changes over the past few decades and also plays a large role in shaping our climate,” said Johnson.
The data used in this study are highly accurate temperature data repeated at roughly 10-year intervals by an international program of repeated ship-based oceanographic surveys. Within the U.S., the collection of these data has been a collaborative effort of governmental laboratory and university scientists, funded primarily by NOAA and the National Science Foundation. However, much of the data used in this study were measured by international colleagues.
“Collection of these data involves 12-hour days, seven days a week, of painstaking, repetitive work at sea, often for weeks on end with no sight of land. We are grateful for the hard work of all those who helped in this effort,” said Purkey.
- Is Antarctica getting warmer and gaining ice? (guardian.co.uk)
- This Enormous Mass Of Floating Antarctic Algae Can Be Seen From Space (businessinsider.com)