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USA: Expro Wins TCP Contracts in Gulf of Mexico

Leading international oilfield services company Expro is celebrating two significant contract wins with Murphy Exploration and Production and BP Americas Inc in the US offshore region.

The Murphy award is for a three-year campaign offshore Gulf of Mexico, while the BP win will see Expro working on a significant campaign in the same region.

Expro will provide tubing conveyed perforating (TCP) services and its drill stem testing (DST) packages for both projects.

Expro is one of the largest global providers of perforating services, providing slickline, e-line and tubing conveyed explosives services. It employs an operational workforce of highly trained and qualified DST and TCP personnel across the global bases. Expro personnel is backed up by perforation experts onshore. DST offers the fastest and safest method of evaluating the potential of a newly-discovered hydrocarbon-bearing formation.

Expro has been offering both services globally for more than 25 years.

Expro’s North America offshore vice president Geoff Magie, said: “These are significant wins for Expro as Murphy is a new customer for us and BP has never used our TCP services before. Murphy is pressing ahead with major development plans in the Gulf of Mexico and this award provides a platform for us to showcase our products and services and provide a quality service.

USA: Expro Wins TCP Contracts in Gulf of Mexico | Offshore Energy Today.

GoM Lease Sale: Apache Expands Presence in Gulf of Mexico

Apache Corporation announced it was the high bidder on 90 shelf and deep water blocks in the Central Gulf of Mexico offshore lease sale held by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) in New Orleans.

Of the 56 companies submitting bids for Gulf of Mexico acreage, Apache Corp. was ranked No. 1 overall for its 61 high bids on the shelf, while Apache Deepwater LLC, the company’s deep water arm, was ranked No. 4 overall with 29 high bids.

The sum of the combined high bids was nearly $96 million gross.

“We’re excited about these blocks and our expanding presence in the Gulf of Mexico,” said G. Steven Farris, Apache chairman and chief executive officer. “The Gulf of Mexico is integral to Apache’s long-term growth. The shelf provides some of the best margins, highest returns and most free cash flow, and the deep water has some of the best exploration potential of any region in our global portfolio.”

Bidding on acreage in the shelf was focused on areas where Apache is acquiring proprietary seismic data, along with moderate to deep exploration prospects based on recently acquired and reprocessed seismic data. Successful deep water bids were focused on Pliocene and Miocene trends where Apache has acquired a significant seismic data base. Deep water bid partners included Stone Energy, Samson, Noble, Repsol, Nexen and Ecopetrol.

“This was a very robust lease sale with premium acreage,” said Jon Jeppesen, executive vice president of Apache’s Gulf of Mexico regions. “These blocks strengthen our position on the shelf and in the deep water. In both areas, Apache has the fiscal wherewithal, technical prowess and experience to capture the value of these opportunities.”

The shelf and deep water Gulf of Mexico currently represents 15.5 percent of Apache’s overall daily production.

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U.S. Gulf of Mexico Oil and Gas Lease Sale Attracts USD 1.7 bln in High Bids

Yesterday, the Department of the Interior took the latest step as part of President Obama’s all-of-the-above energy strategy to expand safe and responsible domestic energy production, holding a 39 million acre lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico.

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced that the Central Gulf of Mexico oil and gas lease sale attracted $1,704,500,995 in high bids for tracts on the U.S. outer continental shelf offshore Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. A total of 56 offshore energy companies submitted 593 bids on 454 tracts covering more than 2,402,918 acres. The sum of all bids received totaled $2,602,563,726.

The lease sale builds on a series of actions taken by the Obama administration, including additional lease sales for both onshore and offshore areas for oil and gas development, to meet the President’s direction to continue to expand safe and responsible production of America’s important domestic resources.

“This sale, part of the President’s all-of-the-above energy strategy, is good news for American jobs, good news for the Gulf economy, and will bring additional domestic resources to market,” said Salazar, who opened the sale. “When it comes to domestic production, the President has made clear he is committed to expanding oil and natural gas production safely and responsibly, and today’s sale is just the latest example of his administration delivering on that commitment. The numbers speak for themselves: every year the President has been in office, domestic oil and gas production has increased, foreign imports of oil have decreased, and we are currently producing more oil than any time in the past eight years.”

The Central Gulf of Mexico Lease Sale 216/222, conducted by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), offered more than 39 million acres for oil and gas development on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf. The acreage included 7,434 tracts from three to more than 230 miles off the coast, in depths ranging from 10 to more than 11,200 feet (3 to 3,400 meters). BOEM estimates the economically recoverable hydrocarbons that could be produced as a result of the acreage offered ranges from 0.8 to 1.6 billion barrels of oil and 3.3 to 6.6 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

The sale builds on the successful Western Gulf of Mexico lease sale held by BOEM in December 2011 that made available more than 21 million acres – equal to an area the size of South Carolina – and attracted more than $337 million in high bids and included 20 companies submitting 241 bids on 191 tracts comprising over a million acres offshore Texas. In 2010, DOI offered nearly 37 million offshore acres to industry for oil and gas leasing.

“Before moving forward with Sale 216/222, we conducted a rigorous analysis of the environmental effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on the Central Gulf of Mexico,” said BOEM Director Tommy P. Beaudreau. “We have also continued a number of lease terms designed to ensure fair return to the American people and provide innovative incentives to promote diligent development of our nation’s offshore oil and gas resources.”

Yesterday’s highest bid on a tract was $157,111,000 submitted by Statoil Gulf of Mexico LLC for Mississippi Canyon, Block 718. Shell submitted the highest total amount in bonus bids, $406,594,560 on 24 tracts.

Lease terms for both sales included escalating rental rates to encourage faster exploration and development of leases as well as shorter lease terms for shallower water in order to encourage timely development. BOEM has increased its minimum bid requirement in deepwater to $100 per acre, up from $37.50 in previous Central lease sales. Rigorous historical analysis showed that leases that received high bids of less than $100 per acre have experienced virtually no exploration and development activities.

Lessees will have to comply with a series of important environmental stipulations, including requirements to protect biologically sensitive features, as well as marine mammals and sea turtles, and employ trained observers to ensure compliance and restrict operations when conditions warrant. These terms will help ensure an appropriate balance of responsible resource development with protection of the human, marine and coastal environments.

Each high bid on a tract will now go through a strict evaluation process within BOEM to ensure the public receives fair market value before a lease is awarded. This is the final Gulf Lease Sale scheduled in the current Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program: 2007-2012.

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Brazil: Odebrecht Takes Delivery of Delba III Rig

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Tug Fairmount Summit has delivered the new build drilling rig ODN Delba III safely from the Persian Gulf to a location offshore Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The total voyage over a distance of 10,625 miles was performed with an average speed of 6.0 knots.

ODN Delba III is a semi submersible drilling rig for deep water operations build in Abu Dhabi for Odebrecht Drilling Services, part of Odebrecht S.A., a leading Brazilian multinational.

Odebrecht contracted Fairmount Marine to tow ODN Delba III from Muscat, Oman, to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. For this job the Fairmount Summit was mobilized to the Persian Gulf. During the towage at a stop- over at Cape Town, South Africa, some cargo runs were performed by the also contracted Fairmount Fuji. This multi-purpose DSV/supply vessel had just returned to Cape Town after a survey job on the Atlantic Ocean. The towage of ODN Delba III was Fairmount Marine’s second successful operation for Odebrecht in a short period. Earlier Fairmount Marine performed the towage of semi submersible drilling rig Norbe VI, a sister unit of ODN Delba II, for Odebrecht.

Fairmount Marine is a marine contractor for ocean towage and heavy lift transportation, headquartered in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Fairmount’s fleet of tugs consists of five modern super tugs of 205 tons bollard pull each, especially  designed for long distance towing, and a multipurpose support vessel. Fairmount Marine is part of Louis Dreyfus Armateurs Group.

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FYI: The new politics of protest

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Matthew Sowemimo worked at the Sheila McKechnie Foundation, which trains emerging campaigners

The unprecedented scale of the government’s deficit reduction programme was always going to generated social protest. In this article I will also identify the features of some of 2011’s most effective political campaigns against the austerity programme and what they say about the wider state of our politics. The new wave of social activism will generate both challenges and opportunities for the labour movement.

Traditionally people with the lowest incomes have lacked a political voice equivalent to the stake they have in policies designed to redistribute wealth and to provide them with services like housing that they could not secure from their own resources.

Many would argue that people on low incomes are bearing the brunt of the government’s austerity programme. So have those with most at stake been at the forefront of popular protest against the government’s policies?

The student protestors dominated protest at the early stage of the spending cuts and conform to the established pattern of those with the greatest levels of social capital and educational levels being the most assertive in representing their views.

Conversely, the initial overspill of protest from the student movement to the arguably more important issue of the scrapping of the education maintenance allowance (EMA) was not sustained. The demographic of EMA beneficiaries was notably poorer and more drawn from ethnic minorities that the student protestors.

The one social group adversely affected by the welfare cuts who took part in popular protests in some numbers were disabled people. However as in many past occasions significant numbers of disabled people are part of national networks of large charities, like Scope and Radar.

Many of these charities have invested considerable resources in mobilising disabled people and supporting their political advocacy. However individuals affected by the housing benefit reforms and the household cap on benefits have lacked any national visibility.

By contrast, the National Trust-led campaign against the government’s forestry proposals was powered by thousands of affluent voters writing protest letters.

The fact that policies like the housing benefit reforms have not led to direct mobilisation of the communities directly affected by them is aggravated by the fact that these groups are far less likely to turnout in general elections.

Barack Obama’s community activism in Chicago was based on the belief that policymakers would become more responsive to poor peoples issues if those voters were brought into the political process. Obama’s own election as a United States senator was an ‘aftershock’ of long term political and electoral re-engagement of poor communities.

The protests that have been most effective are those that have focused on wider systemic political and economic issues rather than defensive campaigns reacting to specific cuts.

UKUncut and the Occupy campaigns effectiveness can be seen in the way they featured high up news schedules; how they sustained their media impact and that they shifted the terms of debate. UKUncut’s campaign challenged the central tenet of the government’s argument that there is no alternative to its spending cuts.

Both campaigns demonstrate the ability of online campaigning to reach out to large numbers of unaffiliated people around a clear focus and to do so in short time frames. Prior to the cuts, grassroots campaigns like Plane Stupid, have used the agility that comes with not having large formalised decision making structures to sometimes steal a march on large campaigning charities.

In the 1990s Adam Lent and I argued that national protest movements formed in areas like gay rights and foreign policy in part as a result of political disaffection with the conservatism and caution of the Labour Party leadership.

The Occupy campaign’s challenge to the City of London about its past and ongoing role in the financial crisis has taken place at a time when Labour is undergoing an agonising reassessment of its record in office, including its policies towards the banking sector. Occupy’s stance on the City of London was clear and urgent and quickly generated quite significant levels public approval.

As a result, Ed Miliband and Vince Cable found themselves acknowledging the force of Occupy’s core political case. Occupy’s experience shows that social movements can expand the political space for progressive politics.

However, the vibrant new social movements pose a challenge for Labour.

The youthful face and energy of groups like UKUncut serve as a sharp contrast to the ageing profile and falling membership of the trade unions and Labour Party. The more social movements are seen to set the agenda on fundamental questions about the economic and political system, the less relevant Labour may seem.

However social movements, by going where mainstream political leaders initially fear to tread, can prepare the ground for stronger progressive commitments.

Occupy Wall Street’s messaging, ‘we are the 99 per cent’, provided a countervailing force to the reactionary Tea Party by channelling popular discontent over the banking bailouts through progressive politics. Within weeks President Obama realigned his political message to argue for a greater contribution from wealthy Americans to pay down the deficit.

Labour needs bold and vibrant social movements not only to help prepare its path to power but also to govern effectively.

This year will see new potential policy conflicts that could rally protest and there will be a further test of whether those who are most socially marginalised absorb more pain without protest.

2012 is likely to see renewed pressure from within the Conservatives part of the coalition to abandon or water down climate change commitments, particularly as growth continues to stagnate. This year will see a new wave of benefit cuts come into force just at a time when unemployment is rising.

Will the newly established internet-driven loose and informal campaign groups become more structured mass movements with memberships that systematically take part in ongoing actions, or are the days of the mass mobilisation of groups like the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament now a thing of the past?

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Brazil: Deep Sea Supply Takes Delivery of New PSV

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Deep Sea Supply, an international operator of offshore supply vessels has taken delivery of the newbuilding platform supply vessel (PSV), Sea Brazil, from STX OSV in Brazil.

A naming/launching ceremony was held on November 15 in STX OSV shipyard in Niteroi, Brazil.

The vessel is of STX 09 CD design, 87,9 meters long with ability to accommodate a crew of 26.

To see the vessel launching ceremony please follow the enclosed link.

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Scientists Find Parts of Megacontinent Gondwana in International Waters West of Australia

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Australian scientists exploring areas of the Indian Ocean said Thursday they had found sunken parts of the megacontinent Gondwana which could offer clues on how the current world was formed.

The two “islands” were found on the remote sea floor in international waters 1,600 kilometres (1,000 miles) west of Australia during a surveying trip last month.

Their rocks contained fossils of creatures found in shallow waters, meaning they were once part of the continent at or above sea level rather than created by undersea volcanic activity, said Sydney University geophysicist Jo Whittaker.

She called it an exciting discovery which would hopefully shed light on how Gondwana broke into present-day Australia, Antarctica and India between 80 and 130 million years ago.

Whittaker, one of the key researchers, said she was particularly interested in exploring India’s drift first northwest and then sharply north, where its northeast coast, once joined to Australia, smashed into Eurasia, forming the Himalayas.

We have a fairly good idea where those continents were but we don’t exactly know, the eastern Indian Ocean is one of the more poorly explored parts of the world’s oceans in terms of tectonics,” she told AFP.

So it will help us figure out the plate kinematic motions that led to India moving away from Australia and heading up off to crash into Eurasia.”

Samples of sandstone and granite dredged from a steep cliff on one of the islands, about 2,000 metres (6,600 feet) below the ocean surface, are to be dated but the research team believe they are up to one billion years old.

The rocks will also be compared with samples from Australia’s west coast to try to determine where exactly the islands broke away from.

Similar matching was not possible with India because the relevant coast was now “smashed into the Himalayas somewhere,” said Whittaker.

India’s east coast was once adjacent to what is now modern-day Antarctica.

She likened the continental separation to pulling something “a bit gooey” apart and said the fragments, which are a fraction of the thickness of normal continental crust and combined about the size of Scotland, were the “little pieces that got left behind.”

These pieces are probably not as thick as (continental crust) so they sit a little bit lower in the water, like something floating in the bath essentially,” she said.

Whittaker added that the fossil find was extremely lucky given the vastness of the area they were dredging.

We’re excited to actually get some really good samples and very clear cut continental rocks which show that (the islands) are little fragments of Gondwana that were left behind as India moved away from Australia,” she said.

Plate tectonic theory is a relatively young science which was only recognised in the 1950s and experts were still trying to establish what made the continents move and change direction, she added.

Australia was moving northwards at a speed of about seven centimetres (2.75 inches) a year, likely due to a subduction zone along the Indonesian coastline where two plates met that was linked to the destructive 2004 earthquake and tsunami.

Antarctica, on the other hand, was not moving at all and Whittaker said discoveries like the Gondwana islands were critical.

It’s very significant, it’s not every day you discover two large continental fragments on the ocean floor,” she said.

Together with some of the other data this has the potential to change how we’ve been modelling that part of the world and that timeframe.

(terradaily)

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USA: Cape Wind Opponents Get Lot of Donations

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Cape Wind’s main opposition group said contributions to its cause surged by 22 percent last year as its donor base broadened amid rising concerns about the offshore energy project’s cost.

The Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound raised $1.8 million in 2010, up from $1.4 million in 2009, according to the nonprofit’s federal tax return. Emboldened by a recent court victory and rejection of U.S. loan backing for the 130-turbine project, the group said it’s on track for another fundraising gain in 2011.

“We’re definitely seeing a resurgence of support. We’re definitely on the upswing,” said Audra Parker, the Alliance’s CEO. “The better people feel about our momentum, the better our fundraising will do.”

The Hyannis-based group is trying to keep up with skyrocketing legal bills — $1.3 million last year compared to $500,000 in 2009 — through a series of direct mailings to its 5,000-strong donor base and summertime cocktail receptions catering to deep-pocketed supporters on the Cape and Islands. Money has also flowed in via Facebook and Twitter.

“The legal expenses have been huge,” said Parker, a Barnstable resident who joined the group in 2003 and became CEO in 2009. “We’ve shifted phases from more of a regulatory process to court cases.”

The Alliance’s donations fell by half in 2009 to the lowest level since the group started in 2002. But the cash comeback started after details about Cape Wind’s cost to ratepayers — an estimated $2.7 billion over 15 years — emerged when state utility regulators approved the project in November 2010.

“That really changed the playing field, where it was once a Cape and Islands issue … and now it’s become really a statewide issue,” Parker said. “We definitely have more donations coming in … from off-Cape and from individuals who are very upset about the high cost of power.”

By Greg Turner (bostonherald)

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