Monday, August 14 2000

MMS releases FPSO draft

FPSO's--floating storage production and offloading systems--look to have successfully passed the first barrier to their use in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico. A draft environmental impact statement (EIS) released lat week by the U .S. Minerals Management Service (MMS) finds that potential site-specific impacts are essentially the same as with other deepwater development and production systems. Most of the risk of oil spills is associated with the shuttle tankers that would service the FPSO, not the FPSO itself, and that risk is comparable to the risks from other deepwater systems and from pipelines. Excluding FPSO's would not reduce cumulative environmental impacts because other systems would be used in its place. The analysis did find that emissions associated with shuttle tankers could exceed air quality exceedances in the Breton Class 1 Area. The draft EIS is limited to the Central and Western Gulf of Mexico planning areas.

The draft EIS considered a generic FPSO system and operation, as well as a range of technical variations. The "base case" evaluated is a permanently moored, double-hulled, ship-shaped FPSO that can store up to 1 million barrels of crude oil. The seafloor well equipment and onboard production equipment are the same kind used with other deepwater production facilities. The crude is offloaded to shuttle tankers for transport to Louisiana and Texas ports or to the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port (LOOP). Associated or produced gas is piped ashore.

Several alternatives, including a No Action alternative, were also studied in this programmatic EIS that examines fundamental issues associated with industry's proposed use of FPSO's in the Western and Central Gulf of Mexico OCS planning areas. The approach is generic and not site specific. It does not study or approve any specific site; specific-site proposals would have to undergo review by MMS and the Coast Guard, as well as the affected States for consistency with their Coastal Zone management plans, and would require permits from the Environmental Protection Agency.

This newly released draft EIS, prepared in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act, is released for review by appropriate State officials, the general public, industry, and various organizations. Minerals Management Service is opening an official comment period from now until October 10, 2000, for receiving comments from the general public and all interested parties. The MMS will consider all comments in drafting the final environmental impact statement and in making a decision on permitting the use of FPSO's in the Gulf of Mexico.

Copies of this draft environmental impact statement are available at no charge from the Minerals Management Service, Gulf of Mexico OCS Region, Public Information Office, 1201 Elmwood Park Blvd., New Orleans, LA 70123, telephone 504-736-2519. Copies can also be inspected at principal libraries along the Gulf Coast and in a number of inland cities.

Hearings will be held at the following locations:
ALABAMA, MOBILE on Monday, September 18, 2000; 6-8 p.m.
Adams Mark Hotel
64 South Water Street
Mobile, Alabama

LOUISIANA, NEW ORLEANS on Tuesday, September 19, 2000; 6-8 p.m.
Radisson Inn New Orleans Airport
2150 Veterans Boulevard
Kenner, Louisiana

LAKE CHARLES on Thursday, September 21, 2000; 6-8 p.m.
Best Western Richmond Suites
2600 Moeling Street
Lake Charles, Louisiana

TEXAS HOUSTON on Wednesday, September 20, 2000; 6-8 p.m.
Radisson Hotel and Conference Center, Hobby Airport Houston
9100 Gulf Freeway
Houston, Texas

Aker Maritime wins FPSO contract
The first contract for an FPSO in the U.K. sector of the North Sea for almost three years has been awarded.

Talisman Energy (UK) Limited has given Aker Maritime's UK yard Aker McNulty an extensive contract for the development of the Blake field and the tie-in of this to Bluewater Bleo Holm floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel. T

The contract is worth around $22.5 million to $30 million and includes engineering, hook-up, installation and commissioning. Aker McNulty will fabricate and install a new water injection module, a produced water/cooling medium module, a new compression package, as well as upgrade the existing process separators and perform other modifications to the Bleo Holm. The Newcastle yard will be assisted by its sister company Aker Oil & Gas Technology in Aberdeen to carry out the detailed engineering design.

The Bleo Holm production, offloading and storage ship will be temporarily demobilized from the Ross Offshore Oilfield during 2001 and brought to Aker McNulty's South Shields facility for the modifications. The total installation of new equipment and materials is approximately 1,200 metric tonnes and the water injection capacity will be doubled.

It is anticipated that the Bleo Holm will re-commence production on Ross and commence production on Blake within 120 days after demobilization.

Cable layers for Maersk
Four new cable laying vessels for Maersk Supply Service were named today at Volkswerft Stralsund GmbH in Stralsund, Germany .

The 105 m long, 20 m beam vessels each have a 6,000 tonne cable carrying capacity.

MÆRSK RECORDER will be delivered to A.P. Møller in September 2000, MÆRSK REPEATER in October 2000, MÆRSK RESPONDER in November 2000 and MÆRSK RELIANCE in January 2001.

On delivery all four vessels will enter long-term contracts with Global Marine Systems Limited for world-wide installation and maintenance of subsea fiberoptic cables.

MARAD names Associate Administrator for Shipbuilding
Acting U.S. Maritime Administrator John E. Graykowski has announced the appointment of Jean McKeever as Associate Administrator for Shipbuilding. The post was created late last year to combine the Maritime Administration's main shipbuilding-related functions under a single manager.

As Associate Administrator for Shipbuilding, McKeever will be responsible for overseeing MARAD's naval architecture, marine engineering, production costs, productivity improvement, financing guarantees and tax deferral ship financing funds services.

"Jean McKeever is the right person for an important job," Graykowski said. "Her experience, expertise and business acumen will help us build on the progress made in recent years, while we continue to streamline and improve our service to America's vital shipbuilding and related maritime industries."

McKeever has served 25 years in various financial and analytical positions, most recently as the deputy director of the agency's Office of Ship Financing. She began her career in MARAD's Office of Subsidy Contracts and later served as branch chief of two financial divisions--Subsidy and Capital Assets Management.

She holds a bachelor's degree from Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Mass., and an M.B.A. from Frostburg State University in Frostburg, Md.

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