MARCH 15, 2013 — Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar yesterday announced the findings of a Departmental review of Shell's 2012 Arctic operations. Salazar ordered the review in January (see earlier story) after a string of problems hit Shell's drilling program in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas.
Post-season grounding of Kulluk was one of a string of problems to beset Shell's 2012 Alaska operations
The review focused on Shell's inability to obtain certification of its containment vessel, the Arctic Challenger, on a timely basis; the deployment difficulty of the Arctic Challenger's containment dome; and on what Interior calls "serious marine transport issues" associated with both of Shell's two drilling units, the Noble Discoverer and the Kulluk, including the grounding of the Kulluk off Kodiak Island during a towing operation.
Last month, Shell announced it would pause its exploration drilling activity for 2013 in Alaska's Beaufort and Chukchi Seas to prepare equipment and plans for a resumption of activity at a later stage (see earlier story).
The review team, led by Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management Tommy Beaudreau, included senior staff from several bureaus at the Department of the Interior as well as other federal agencies. The review team met with representatives from Shell as well as key contractors that Shell retained for work related to its Alaska operations, the State of Alaska, the Mayor of the North Slope Borough, and the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation. The review team also sought information from a broad range of other stakeholders and experts, including representatives from the oil and gas and maritime industries and conservation non-governmental organizations. The Department retained the international consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC) to provide expertise and support in reviewing issues related to safety and operational management systems.
The assessment found that Shell entered the 2012 drilling season without having finalized key components of its program, including its Arctic Challenger containment system, which put pressure on Shell's operations and schedule and limited Shell from drilling into oil-bearing zones last summer. Weaknesses in Shell's management of contractors on whom they relied for many critical aspects of its program – including development of its containment system, emission controls to comply with air permits, and maritime operations – led to many of the problems that the company experienced.
"Shell simply did not maintain strong, direct oversight of some of its key contractors," said Beaudreau. "Working in the Arctic requires thorough advance planning and preparation, rigorous management focus, a close watch over contractors, and reliance on experienced, specialized operators who are familiar with the uniquely challenging conditions of the Alaskan offshore. In some areas Shell performed well, but in other areas they did not, and Alaska's harsh environment was unforgiving."
On February 27, 2013, Shell announced it has decided to pause its exploration drilling activity for 2013 in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas to focus on preparation of equipment and plans before resuming its Arctic exploration program.
The report recommends that the company should submit to the Department a comprehensive, integrated plan describing every phase of its operation from preparations through demobilization. The report also recommends that Shell complete a full third-party management system audit that will confirm that the company's management systems are appropriately tailored for Arctic conditions and that Shell has addressed the problems that it encountered during the 2012 drilling season.
The report also stresses the critical need for coordination – across the federal government and with State and local partners, as well as with companies, local communities and other stakeholders. It notes, as a success of the 2012 season, Shell's extensive efforts to communicate and minimize conflict with Alaska Native communities that rely on the ocean for subsistence use.
"We have held Shell to very high standards specific to the Arctic, including the requirement for in-theater subsea containment systems capable of responding in the event of an emergency, and coordinating across the federal government to review and oversee Arctic exploration," said Deputy Secretary of the Interior David J. Hayes, Chair of the Interagency Working Group on Domestic Energy Development and Permitting in Alaska, established by the President. "The report confirms that we need to continue using a cautious, coordinated approach that adopts specialized practices for conducting drilling and related operations in the Arctic."
In its conclusions, the report reinforces that an Arctic-specific model is necessary, and it recommends continuing work on safety and environmental practices appropriate for the Arctic. Shell's 2012 drilling program was subject to a number of Arctic-specific conditions and standards, such as requiring deployment of subsea containment systems as a prerequisite to drilling into hydrocarbon-bearing zones, limitations on the Chukchi Sea drilling season to provide time for open-water emergency response, a blackout on drilling activity during the subsistence hunts in the Beaufort Sea, and surrounding vessels with pre-laid boom during fuel transfers.
"Our findings reinforce the importance of taking a regionally-specific approach to offshore oil and gas exploration the Arctic," said Beaudreau. "We must recognize and account for the unique challenges of this region, which holds significant energy potential, but where issues like environmental and climate conditions, limited infrastructure, and the subsistence needs of North Slope communities demand specialized planning and consideration."
In addition to Interior's report, the U.S. Coast Guard is undertaking a comprehensive marine casualty investigation regarding the recent grounding of the drill rig Kulluk. The Coast Guard also provided technical assistance for the Interior report.
"We thank the U.S. Coast Guard for their collaboration in support of our report, and look forward to reviewing their findings as well," said James Watson, Director of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.
For a copy of the assessment, click HERE.
MAY 3, 2013 — Eleven years after the launch of its first Articulated Tug-Barge (ATB), Crowley Maritime Corporation christened its 17th ATB, the Liberty/750-3, yesterday at the VT Halter Marine Shipyard in Pascagoula, Miss. The tugboat and 330,000-barrel petroleum tank barge are the final vessels to be built in a more than $1 billion, decade-long ATB construction program undertaken by Crowley to expand the company's U.S.-flag petroleum services fleet.
Crowley's Vice President of Procurement Wendy MacDonald christens the Liberty
"We set out to offer customers the safest, most reliable petroleum transportation services many years ago by pairing our operational expertise with these safe and innovative vessels," said Tom Crowley, company chairman and CEO. "It fills us with great pride and satisfaction to see our vision come to fruition, and to deliver for our customers."
More than 70 guests, including vessel crewmembers, representatives from VT Halter Marine and Marathon Petroleum joined Crowley in celebrating the milestone, which included the time-honored tradition of breaking a champagne bottle over the hull of each vessel. Crowley's Vice President of Procurement Wendy MacDonald had the honor of christening the tug, Liberty, while Marathon Representative Kathleen Peiffer christened the barge, 750-3.
The Liberty/750-3 is the third in its class to be built for Crowley. The first, the Legacy/750-1, was christened in November 2011 and the second, the Legend/750-2, was christened in Tampa last year. Both vessels are currently at work along the U.S. Gulf Coast. The 750-Class barges have a capacity of approximately 330,000 barrels and are 45,000 deadweight tons and 600 feet in length. All three barges were built by VT Halter Marine in Pascagoula. The 16,000 horsepower tugs, Legend, Legacy, and Liberty, were constructed by shipbuilder Dakota Creek Industries, Inc. in Anacortes, Wash.
Crowley's ATB fleet also includes four 550-class, 155,000-barrel ATBs, and ten 650-class 185,000-barrel ATBs. As a whole, the ATB fleet has received several Chamber of Shipping of America environmental and safety awards, as well as recognition in several major trade publications for its innovative technology.
In recent months Crowley has also added two U.S.-flag, 330-000-barrel product tankers built at Aker Philadelphia Shipyard to its petroleum fleet.
Tom Crowley with sponsors and vessel crew
OCTOBER 11, 2012 — Wärtsilä says that its Aquarius EC ballast water management system (BWMS) has been granted Basic Approval by IMO's Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) during its recent 64th session in London.
The initial application for Basic Approval of the Aquarius EC system was submitted through the Dutch Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate (ILT) in September 2011 and was reviewed by the Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environment Protection (GESAMP) ballast water working group in April 2012.
"We are absolutely delighted to reach this milestone. Credit is extended to the whole Wärtsilä ballast team and our strategic partners, all of whom have approached this in a very diligent and professional manner," says Dr. Joe Thomas, Director, Ballast Water Systems, Wärtsilä Environmental Solutions.
Gaining IMO Basic Approval is the first step towards full IMO Type Approval, and focuses on the fundamentals of the technology including toxicity and environmental impact. The next stage, IMO Final Approval, examines full scale prototype test data and required supporting documentation on aspects such as risk and safety to the ship, crew, general public and the environment.
Application for IMO Final Approval was submitted immediately following the MEPC decision on Basic Approval. A key element of the Final submission was an investigation on the impact of the treated ballast water on uncoated and coated materials typically used in marine and offshore construction. This comprehensive package of information was reviewed by ILT and eminent Dutch experts prior to submission. Final Approval is expected to be endorsed at MEPC-65 in 2013, after completingthe mandatory review by GESAMP. IMO Type Approval is expected shortly thereafter.
Aquarius EC is a modular ballast water management system, providing, says Wärtsilä, a safe, flexible and economical process for the treatment of ballast water.
Ballast water treatment with an Aquarius EC system is achieved through a simple and efficient two stage process. Upon uptake the sea water is first passed through a back washing filter (first Stage) and then the filtered sea water passes through a static mixer, where the disinfectant generated from the side stream electrolysis unit (second stage) is injected to ensure a maximum level of 10 ppm in the treated ballast water.
During discharge the filter is bypassed and residual concentration of TRO in treated ballast water is monitored before being discharged overboard. If required, treated ballast water is neutralized by injecting sodium bisulfite into the main ballast line during discharge. Neutralization effectiveness is continuously monitored to ensure compliance with MARPOL discharge limits.
Wärtsilä offers the Aquarius EC and Aquarius UV, which both became part of the portfolio following the acquisition of Hamworthy plc in January 2012, in addition to the MARINEX UV ballast water management system, which has been jointly developed and marketed with Trojan Technologies since 2010.
FEBRUARY 8, 2012 — Damen Shiprepair Brest, France, continues to recover market share in the LNG repair business, following Damen's acquisition of the former Sobrena, just under a year ago.
The shipyard has been well respected for its LNG expertise and is getting another opportunity to demonstrate it with the arrival this month of the 89,880 cu.m, Teekay owned and managed Arctic Spirit.
The ship which is scheduled to stay in the Brest shipyard for three weeks, is one of the few LNG carriers with an IHI SPB Prismatic Tank Cargo Containment System, which makes it a somewhat special and highly complex vessel.
Damen Shiprepair Brest Managing Director, Jos Goris comments: "We are very pleased and proud that an industry major such as Teekay has proven confidence in our yard."
Late last year, Shell and Hyproc also chose to drydock LNG carriers at the yard.
Able to carry out drydocking, refit and repair works, Damen Brest is determined to become a reliable and long-term business partner for the LNG community.
"We have a very clear and open business concept which is built on transparency, mutual trust and customer service. In the current challenging climate we understand that our clients need to perform more than ever and the selection of the right shipyard plays an important role in being successful," says Mr Goris.
In the past the shipyard carried out more than 100 LNG carrier refit projects. Damen Shiprepair Brest is confident that it can continue to show the LNG community that the shipyard has the expertise and experience needed to serve this specialist sector.
The closure of the then Sobrena in September 2011 meant there was little competition in the Northwest European region for LNG drydocking and repair. However, says Mr. Goris, most LNG carrier owners and managers trading in the region have indicated that they are willing to support fresh alternatives.
"We are very confident that the LNG community will support us with more bookings and at sustainable price levels," says Mr. Goris.
"Damen Shiprepair Brest is very keen to bring healthy competition to the market again," he says. "We are aware that there is some heavy discounting going on, but would question whether such low rates will benefit the LNG sector in the long-term."
During the first nine months of operations as part of the Damen Shipyards Group, Damen Shiprepair Brest has serviced more than 40 vessels from majors such as Knutsen, Odfjell, Hyproc, STASCO, Columbia Ship Management, Louis Dreyfus Armateurs, Northern Marine Management, Wallem, Bourbon and CMA-CGM.
Damen Shiprepair Brest offers a broad range of services to key markets and for any vessel type, including LNG tankers, oil tankers, semi-submersibles, shuttle tankers, FPSO's, offshore construction vessels, jack-up rigs, ro-ro vessels and ferries.
The well-established repair yard has modern facilities and three graving docks, as well as several repair berths. The largest dry dock measures 420 m x 80 m and is one of the biggest in Europe, allowing the yard to accommodate almost any vessel in the world. The highly skilled workforce numbers 220 people.
FEBRUARY 11, 2013 — New Orleans headquartered Harvey Gulf International Marine LLC reports that it has signed a $100 million four year charter with DOF Subsea for its 310 ft multipurpose construction vessel Harvey Deep Sea. The vessel is presently under construction at Eastern Shipbuilding in Panama City, Florida. When completed this summer, the U.S. flag, Jones act compliant vessel, with its NOV AHC 165 ton crane, will be capable of delivering 100 tons of cargo to a 10,000 feet water depth.
In another development, Harvey Gulf said that it has now signed an agreement with Bollinger Shipyards to stretch five of its recently acquired OSV's from 230 feet to 270 feet in length, increasing their deck space to 10,000 square feet and cargo capacities to 10,000 barrels of liquid mud plus 10,000 cubic feet of dry bulk.
Harvey Gulf founder and CEO, Shane Guidry, commented "I am excited to not only expand our fleet and vessel capacities, but also keep this work and these jobs right here in Louisiana."
With the new contracts, Harvey Gulf will have vessels under construction or conversion at four different shipyards two in Louisiana, one in Florida and one in Mississippi.
The OSV stretches are not the only deal Harvey Gulf has agreed with Bollinger. It has also entered into an agreement to sell Bollinger one of its two dry docks, measuring 320 ft x 120 ft x 12 ft, with 9,000 long tons lifting ca
And in yet another development, Harvey Gulf also reports that it has signed a $100 million dollar for a four year charter with DOF Subsea for its 310 ft multipurpose construction vessel Harvey Deep Sea. The vessel is presently under construction at Eastern Shipbuilding in Panama City, Florida. When completed this summer, the U.S. flag, Jones act compliant vessel, with its NOV AHC 165 ton crane, will be capable of delivering 100 tons of cargo to a 10,000 feet water depth.
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