New Rice University Study Supports Lifting Ban on US Oil Exports

Rice-oilexportLifting the 40-year-old export ban on U.S. crude oil would have far-reaching effects on pricing, energy security and energy sector investment, according to new research from the Center for Energy Studies at Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy in Houston.

The study, "The US Crude Oil Export Ban: Implications for Price and Energy Security," was presented today at a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., by Kenneth Medlock, the center's senior director and the paper's author.

Medlock's research assessed a wide range of crude oil prices, from $30 per barrel to $150 per barrel, whereas previous studies looked a narrow range of high prices only. This, along with the fundamental approach taken in the study, distinguishes it from previous studies. The study highlights, among other things, the importance of addressing this policy issue even in the current low-price environment.

Over the past decade, innovative techniques involving the use of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing have triggered unprecedented increases in production of crude oil, natural gas and natural gas liquids from shale.

"The United States has recently experienced an unprecedented surge in domestic crude supply, thanks to significant production increases from areas like the Bakken and Eagle Ford shale formations," Medlock said. "The production surge has led to a large decline in U.S. crude oil imports. The trade balance effects extend to petroleum product markets where, due to stagnant domestic demand, the U.S. has become a net exporter of petroleum products over the last few years."
Medlock found that lifting the ban would level the playing field for the U.S., as it faces continued discounted domestic crude oil prices relative to internationally traded crudes. In fact, the study shows that because the majority of light tight oil produced from U.S. shale formations is of higher quality than both WTI and Brent, if it were exported it would fetch higher prices than WTI and Brent in the international market, he said.

In the wake of the domestic supply surge, Medlock said there is an increasing realization that the U.S. refining infrastructure was not originally designed to handle the domestic crude qualities that are increasingly available. And given the ban on crude oil exports, he said this has prompted concerns that domestic crude oil prices are becoming increasingly discounted relative to internationally traded crudes.

"In turn, this could dampen U.S. upstream investment. Opening foreign markets to U.S. crude would facilitate new investments in the upstream and midstream sectors, as domestic oil prices would move into greater parity with other international crudes," he said.

"Studies that focus on the differential between WTI and Brent effectively underestimate the 'discount' that is being realized by the higher-quality light oils produced from shale," Medlock said. "The implication is that earlier studies likely underestimate the impact on U.S. shale production from removing the oil export ban. Our study includes a statistical analysis that explains what the relationship would be between the prices of crudes of different qualities in an unconstrained setting without an export ban, which is important to providing a more accurate projection of the impact of current U.S. policy."

Data also shows that the U.S. refining sector has backed out the lighter crude imports through substituting the domestic light shale oils. In fact, with growing shale oil production, refiners are now backing out imported crude oils heavier than WTI and the shale oils, he said. However, since those refineries made previous investments to process the heavier crudes, they will only switch to lighter shale oils if those shale oils are priced competitively with the heavier crudes they would normally buy, which means they must be discounted relative to international prices.

"Counterintuitive to some, removing the ban generates distinct energy security benefits," Medlock said. Some have argued that crude oil exports would increase gasoline prices in the U.S. However, because refined products, such as gasoline, can be freely exported, the prices of refined products sold in the U.S. are in parity with international refined product prices. Thus, the discounted prices of oil produced in the U.S. are not reflected in U.S. gasoline and refined product prices. Thus, removing the crude export ban, although it would raise the price of crude oil domestically, would not increase the price of gasoline in the U.S.

The full study provides an in-depth analysis of the U.S. energy security benefits of ending the restrictions on oil exports. Specifically, the research shows that removing the ban yields positive impacts by providing a more stable and secure source of oil to the world. That greater stability would lessen price volatility that U.S. consumers face and thus improve U.S. energy security. The study also shows the positive implications for overall market function, investment capital inflows and economic activity.

HBW Resources and CSA Ocean Sciences Announce Global Strategic Partnership to Perform Risk Assessments for Offshore Projects

hbwHBW Resources, LLC (HBW), an integrated strategic consulting and advocacy firm focused on energy and transportation issues, and CSA CSA LogoOcean Sciences Inc. (CSA), a firm specializing in services related to environmental impacts of activities throughout the world, have announced a global strategic partnership to perform a variety of services in support of offshore commercial projects worldwide. This new offering will combine HBW's unique skills in consulting and advocacy for energy and transportation projects with CSA's offshore environmental expertise to present a combined level of global capabilities that is unmatched.

Through this strategic partnership, HBW and CSA will jointly pursue a number of commercial opportunities, including non-technical risk assessments utilizing HBW's PRIME+ platform for offshore projects. HBW Resources established the PRIME + (Project Risk, Intelligence, Mitigation and Evaluation) process as a way to proactively identify and map non-technical risks to energy and infrastructure projects, prioritize them according to their likelihood and impact, and allow for proactive mitigation and management of project risks.

The combined service, PRIME + H20, will assess non-technical risks associated with offshore projects, quantify and qualify those risks in terms of impact to projects and likelihood of occurrence, and develop implement mitigation strategies to avoid those risks.

"Non-technical risks account for 73 percent of cost and schedule failures for energy projects today," said Jack Belcher, executive vice president, HBW Resources. "We are pleased that our strategic partnership with CSA Ocean Sciences will provide the unique ability to deliver unmatched risk assessments and other services to offshore projects that will avoid and mitigate those risks and associated cost and schedule failures."

"By combining CSA Ocean Sciences offshore technical and environmental expertise with HBW's energy, government and regulatory expertise, our partnership will offer the offshore industry an unprecedented ability to identify and mitigate risk and provide valuable service to our clients, said Al Hart, Executive Vice President of CSA. "Our PRIME + H20 and other service offerings will provide companies a safe harbor in the uncertain offshore environment we face today."

CSA offers a wide range of marine services, including environmental impact analyses worldwide, drawing upon the extensive knowledge of its qualified personnel in addition to the techniques, facilities, equipment, and business considerations of applied sciences and technologies. Over the last 45 years, CSA has successfully conducted approximately 2,500 studies for more than 500 clients, including the oil and gas industry; engineering/surveying firms; utility companies; law firms; land development companies; and local, state, federal, and international government agencies.

Eni: New Successes in the Exploration Activities in Indonesia and Libya

Potential of Indonesian Merakes gas finding upgraded 
- New gas discovery offshore Libya, in the Bahr Essalam South exploration prospect

enilogoEni has completed post drilling studies on the Merakes-1 gas finding, located in the Indonesia deep offshore East Sepinggan Block, which indicates significant upside gas potential. Eni is the operator of the East Sepinggan Block with an 85% interest.

The new studies upgrade the potential of Merakes from previously estimated 1.3 TCF up to 2 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of gas in place. The well was drilled in October 2014 in 1,372 meters water depth, encountering a 60 meter section of high quality sandstones. Eni will bring forward the appraisal program to evaluate the possible fast track development of the finding, optimizing synergies with the near Jangkrik field, also operated by Eni.

The East Sepinggan block is located offshore of East Kalimantan (Borneo), 170 kilometers south of Bontang LNG plant and just 35 kilometers south of Jangkrik field.

Eni has been operating in Indonesia since 2001 and currently holds a large portfolio of exploration, production and development assets which have an increasing importance in contributing to the overall growth of the company. Eni's average equity production in the Country amounts to 17,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day.

Additionally, Eni has made a significant discovery of gas and condensates offshore Libya, in the Bahr Essalam South exploration prospect in Area D, 82 kilometers from the coast and 22 kilometers from the production field of BahrEssalam. Eni, through its subsidiary Eni North Africa BV, is operator of Contract Area D with 100% working interest in exploration phase.

The discovery was made through the B1-16/4 well, drilled at a water depth of 150 meters, which encountered gas and condensates in the Metlaoui Formation of Eocene age. During the production test, constrained by surface facilities, the well produced 29 million square cubic feet per day (mmscfd) and above 600 barrels per day (bbpd) of condensate with "64/64' choke size. In a producing configuration the well is estimated to deliver in excess of 50 mmscfd and 1,000 bblpd of condensate. The proximity to the Bahr Essalam infrastructures will allow a quick development of this new discovery.

Eni is currently active in the country's offshore with three drilling rigs used in the exploration and initial delineation of Contract Area D's discoveries.

This exploration success further confirms the enormous potential of Libyan gas resources. The future development of Libyan resources will allow supporting the growth of the domestic consumption and industry, while maintaining Libya's position as a strategic supplier for Italy and Europe. Eni started production in 2004 from the area D fields of Wafa and Bahr Essalam, which supply gas destined for domestic markets and Italy via the Greenstream sealine. These fields also yield high percentages of associated liquids.

With an important string of development projects in its pipeline, both ongoing and planned, Eni aims at capitalizing the significant commercial discoveries made in past years in Area D, and is undertaking an important exploration program to support the constantly growing domestic demand. This discovery in the Bahr Essalam South exploration prospect very well fits with such project pipeline. Eni's domestic deliveries grew from around 1 billion square cubic meters (Bscm) in 2009 to 4.3 Bscm in 2014, with the potential of reaching 6.2 Bscm in 2015.

Eni has been present in Libya since 1959 and currently produces approximately 350,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day in the country.

IKM Ocean Design Awarded Zeepipe IIA Gooseneck Spool and Retrofit Hot Tap Tee EPC Contract

Statoil has awarded the EPC Contract for the Zeepipe IIA Gooseneck Spool and Retrofit Hot Tap Tee to IKM Ocean Design. The contract has a duration of approximately 18 months for the completion of detailed design/engineering, procurement and construction. The work starts immediately.

IKMOceanDesignGina Krog Field Layout (Illustration by Statoil)

The Gina Krog Field is an oil and gas field located approximately 30 km north of the Sleipner A installation in 116 m water depth. The Gina Krog field is owned by PL029, PL048, PL029B and PL303 and is located within both 15/6 and 15/5 blocks. Injection gas to the Gina Krog Field will be supplied through a 16" pipeline connected to the 40" Zeepipe IIA pipeline via a 12" spool. The connection will be by hot-tapping and tie-in to a 40"x12" retrofit tee. The installation will be diverless by utilizing Statiols hot tap equipment at the PRS base in Haugesund. This installation is the second of its kind worldwide, however first of its kind on a larger trunkline.

Zeepipe is a natural gas transportation system to export North Sea natural gas to the receiving terminal at Zeebrugge in Belgium. Zeepipe II A is a 303 km long 40" pipeline from Kollsnes gas processing plant in Norway to Sleipner, and has been in operation since 1996. The capacity of Zeepipe II A is 26.3 billion cubic meters per year.

FMC Technologies and Technip to Launch Forsys Subsea

ForsyslogoFMC Technologies, Inc. and Technip have signed an agreement to form an exclusive alliance and to launch Forsys Subsea, a 50/50 joint venture that will unite the skills and capabilities of two subsea industry leaders. This alliance will redefine the way subsea fields are designed, delivered and maintained.

Bringing the industry's most talented subsea professionals together early in the project concept phase, Forsys Subsea will have the technical capabilities, products and systems to significantly reduce the cost of subsea field development and provide the technology to maximize well performance over the life of the field.

By combining the industry-leading technologies of the parent companies, Forsys Subsea will reduce the interfaces of the subsea umbilical, riser and flowline systems (SURF) and subsea production and processing systems (SPS). It will also simplify the seabed layout, reducing complexity, accelerating time to first oil, and maximizing sustainable peak production. This unique combination will drive a new, step-change approach to how equipment designs and installation methods converge in a new generation of subsea architecture.

Gathering the expertise and experience of its parent companies, Forsys Subsea will focus on:

• Early involvement in the concept selection phase of front-end engineering and design, when ability to influence cost is greatest.

• Integrated life-of-field well surveillance, monitoring, data interpretation and advisory services.

• Joint R&D to drive technological innovations that will boost efficiency and further reduce development costs.

In addition, the alliance will be uniquely positioned to deliver and install a seamless subsea infrastructure from seabed to topside by eliminating interfaces and by integrating SPS with SURF, attaining the highest reliability and uptime and the lowest total ownership cost available in the industry.

"The world needs new sources of oil, and deepwater holds the greatest promise of meeting this demand. But these sources are expensive to develop, and operators will not pursue them unless they can significantly reduce costs," said John Gremp, FMC Technologies Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer. "This requires not just incremental improvements, but step changes and new ways of thinking. Service providers must be involved at the project concept stage, provide innovative technology that reduces costs, standardize processes and equipment for greater efficiency, and execute flawlessly. The creation of Forsys Subsea with an industry leader such as Technip embodies this new way of thinking to a degree that's never been done before."

"In today's fast-changing environment, clients require closer relationships with, and more integrated solutions from, their partners of choice. This imposes a new way of working in the industry," said Thierry Pilenko, Technip Chairman and CEO. "Beyond products, we need to design optimized development concepts. Beyond concepts, we need to be strongly focused on the practicalities of project execution. Simplicity, standardization, innovation, technological creativity and delivering tangible results to clients — this is exactly what Forsys Subsea is about, and we are delighted to make this step a reality with FMC Technologies."

After closing and upon launch of the joint venture, Forsys Subsea will have a workforce of 320 people and will be supported by the 58,000 employees of FMC Technologies and Technip. The company will be headquartered in London, with regional hubs in Oslo, Houston, Paris, Rio de Janeiro and Singapore.
The leadership team of Forsys Subsea will include Rasmus Sunde (FMC Technologies) as CEO, Alain Marion (Technip) as Chief Technology Officer (CTO), Arild Selvig (FMC Technologies) leading front end engineering and Gerald Bouhourd (Technip) leading life of field.

FMC Technologies and Technip will have 50/50 ownership of Forsys Subsea. The transaction is subject to regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions.

Statoil Appoints Chief Operating Officer

Statoil-Opedal 225aAnders Opedal (photo) is appointed executive vice president and takes on a new position as chief operating officer (COO) in the corporate executive committee (CEC) on 1 April.

Opedal will be responsible the corporate improvement programs and for driving operational efficiency across Statoil's business areas.

"I am pleased to announce that Anders assumes this new position in the CEC. He will be a driving force in our effort to further improve the safety and efficiency of our operations. I really look forward to his contribution to develop a highly profitable, competitive and resilient Statoil," says president and CEO Eldar Sætre.

Anders Opedal comes from the position as senior vice president of projects in Statoil's Technology, Projects and Drilling business area, where since 2010 he has been responsible for Statoil's approximately NOK 300 billion project portfolio. Previously he has held a range of positions in drilling and well, procurement and projects. Anders Opedal joined Statoil in 1997 as a petroleum engineer in the Statfjord operations.

"We must prepare for challenging times ahead. Uncertainty and volatility will remain a key part of our business environment. Against this backdrop, I have decided to establish a COO role to drive our corporate-wide efforts to strengthen safe and efficient operations across Statoil. The current line accountability for the safe, efficient and reliable operation of our assets remains unchanged," says Sætre.

Over the last few years Statoil has continuously improved its safety performance, and the serious incident frequency (SIF) for 2014 was at an all-time low. Statoil started to address the cost and efficiency challenge of the industry well ahead of the downturn in the oil price seen over the last few months.

The staffs and services project, strong prioritization of spending levels, organizational efficiency projects in the line (OE), and last but not least the Statoil technical efficiency program (STEP), are examples of how Statoil have been addressing this fundamental challenge of efficiency and competitiveness.

"The COO will play a key role in the further development of Statoil. I want Anders to lead the process of reviewing the corporate operating model with emphasis on simplification and efficiency," says Sætre.

Anders has an MBA from Heriot-Watt University and an engineering degree from NTH. He lives in Sandnes, Norway.

Innovative Motion Compensated Crane In Operation

Barge-Master-T40-with-platform-MRBarge Master successfully delivered its first Barge Master T40 (BM-T40) motion compensated knuckle boom crane. The BM-T40 is installed on the 'Walk to Work' vessel the Kroonborg of Wagenborg and compensates for sea induced vessel motions in roll, pitch and heave directions at the base of the crane, up to 3 meters significant wave height. The video shows the innovative motion compensated crane in action.

The BM-T40 is designed for offshore support vessels that are used to transfer small loads and personnel to (unmanned) offshore oil and gas platforms or wind turbines. The BM-T40 features a small footprint and is designed to compensate for sea induced motions of a knuckle boom crane with a lifting capacity of 15mT at a 10 meter radius or 5mT at a 20 meter radius up to 35m height. Typical loads include hoses, tools, spare parts, maintenance equipment, small wind turbines and solar panels weighing 1.5mT to 5mT. The BM-T40 is also perfectly suited for ballasting or grouting operations. Besides the suitability of safely lifting loads, the T40 is manriding certified for safe personnel transfer.

Wagenborg will use the motion compensated crane to service and maintain NAM/Shell gas production platforms in the North Sea. Oil & Gas platforms have become smaller and more flexible during the last forty years. They no longer have a resident crew or helicopter pads which means frequent journeys to and from the platform by ship in order to perform maintenance work. With the new 'Walk to Work' vessel these operations are executed in a safer, more efficient and effective manner. The vessel is unique because multiple functions are combined for the first time. The vessel can accommodate 20 crew members and 40 service technicians, chemicals can be stored and transferred, and thanks to the Barge Master T40 system materials can be transferred safely with wave heights of up to 3 meters. Through utilizing new technology, NAM is able to safely continue harvesting gas on the North Sea.

Barge Master develops and produces motion compensation systems for the marine and offshore industry. The Barge Master T40 is based on the same principle as the Barge Master T700 motion compensation platform: roll, pitch and heave motions are actively compensated, while surge, sway and yaw are fixated. The motion compensation systems are developed together with Bosch Rexroth.

UTEC Wins 3-year Master Service Agreement for North America

Martin-OCarroll-UTEC1UTEC Survey, an Acteon company, has announced award of a 3-year Master Service Agreement (MSA) with Technip, North America.

The award confirms a three-year extension to its current North America MSA with Technip, an agreement which encompasses a full range of survey services including, but not limited to, pre-lay and as-built surveys, pipeline and flexible installation support, acoustic and laser spool-piece metrologies and shore based dimensional control services.

UTEC has held Technip's North America MSA for projects operated out of Houston since 2008 and the latest announcement is viewed as an important development in the relationship between the two companies.
Commenting on the news, UTEC's Americas Regional Manager, Dave Ross, said: "UTEC continues to grow its reputation in both North America and overseas, and this award further underlines the company's position as a market leader."

UTEC CEO Martin O'Carroll added: "We are pleased to reinforce our long-term relationship with Technip by providing global capabilities, key core values and teams of highly skilled and motivated people who safely deliver high quality services to a growing number of key clients all over the world."

Bibby Offshore Continues Success in South East Asia

Bibby Offshore, a leading provider of subsea installation and services to the offshore oil and gas industry, continues its success in South East Asia with the announcement that its Asian Division, Bibby Offshore Singapore ('BOS'), has secured a contract with the Moattama Gas Transportation Company ("MGTC").

MGTC, a joint venture between Total (operator), Unocal, PTT-EP and Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise, has appointed BOS to provide ROV pipeline inspection, remedial work and associated project management on its South East Asia asset offshore Myanmar.

Bibby Offshore will supply its DP2 ROV support vessel, Bibby Spring. The vessel is equipped with dual ROVs, including the latest 150HP, 3000m-rated SMD Quasar, and complemented by a Lynx lightweight ROV suitable for dive support, inspection and repair.

Bibby-Offshore-ROVSV-Bibby-Spring1Bibby Offshore ROVSV, Bibby Spring

The 60 day project on the Yadana field in the Andaman Sea commenced on 16 February 2015, and will be carried out in water depths of up to 146 meters.

Peter Hughes, Managing Director at BOS said: "Bibby Offshore has a longstanding relationship with Total, the majority stakeholder in the MGTC partnership, with a track record spanning more than a decade of successfully delivering a high standard of service on the company's North Sea asserts.

"This contract validates our ability to successfully deliver subsea projects, and Bibby Offshore Singapore is delighted to be building on our working relationships in the South East Asia region."

Earlier this year, BOS secured a contract with Singapore based subsea service provider Seascape to provide ROV services for its DP2 dive support vessel the Windermere, further highlighting the company's continued success in Asia.

Bibby Offshore has enjoyed steady growth since 2003 and now employs more than 1,450 people onshore and offshore worldwide, with offices in Aberdeen, Liverpool, Newcastle, Singapore, Trinidad, Houston, and Norway. The company has an international fleet of seven subsea support vessels and 17 ROVs, and will continue to add to its fleet to meet demand.

Core Grouting Services Completes Pipeline-Free Span Project in Trinidad and Tobago

Core-Grouting-Services-equipment-on-vessel1Core Grouting Services, an Acteon group company, has successfully completed a pipeline-free span rectification project in Trinidad and Tobago. Core installed grout bags at several subsea locations beneath a pipeline at water depths of 120-to-150 m.

Free spans on subsea pipelines are spans of the pipeline unsupported by the seabed and pipelines with long free spans are subject to increased fatigue loads and reduced pipeline integrity.

One method for correcting free spans is to install grout bags in the free span to support the pipeline. Grout bags are fabric formworks, which are positioned on the underside of the pipeline and then filled with a cement-based grout from a mixing and pumping unit situated on a support vessel. Once the bag is full, the flexible tether line is cut, activating the self-sealing valve on the grout bag inlet.

Ivan Harnett, managing director, Core, said, "Our client identified more than 50 locations on its subsea 24-in. pipeline where free spans required correcting with grout bags. We designed and manufactured customised grout bags to fit the free span locations, and the installation of the grout bags at the identified locations brought known freespans under the allowable design limit. Because of the water depth and remote location, the grout bags were positioned by ROVs. We also supplied bag deployment frames, which enabled the bags to be lowered to the seabed and successfully positioned by the ROV."

Training Specialist Launches Pioneering Offshore Health Program

imorph, the Aberdeen-based specialist training and change management provider, has launched Gloe, an innovative training program based at tackling the issues behind the growing problem of obesity facing the nation - and the offshore industry.

Caroline-Hughes-imorphIt is a sensitive issue, which regularly hits the headlines. The Step Change HSSG (Helicopter Safety Steering Group) recognizes that whilst this issue is not exclusive to the offshore industry, the sector does have a duty to ensure it sets workers up to succeed in the offshore environment, with health and well-being as crucial factors.

It is clear that whilst operators are aware of this issue and do work to ensure that nutrition programs based on low calorie and low fat eating are available offshore, statistics and recent news suggest that - as with most weight reducing measures – these measures just aren't working.

Addressing the full spectrum of challenges associated with changes to diet and lifestyle, Gloe aims to improve both the health and consequent work output of offshore personnel - whatever their size - by creating a sustainable health programme, developed by imorph's behavioural change experts, in conjunction with nutrition consultant Dr Chris Fenn.

Caroline Hughes, director at imorph (photo), is enthusiastic about the fundamental changes the course can bring to the industry and beyond: "Gloe is a really exciting development for the oil and gas industry, as it's the first course truly aimed at creating a more energised, more productive and generally healthier workforce, which brings almost immediate health and cost benefits to the companies who undertake the training.

"It's not just about weight loss, and it's definitely not a lecture. It's about practical adjustments to existing routines, and in an industry so driven by routine, those changes are almost impossible to sustain without the knowledge and behavioural change support Gloe offers."

With 25 years' experience, Chris Fenn understands the benefits nutrition and habit can have upon a work force: "Obesity is linked with well-known health risks, and can significantly reduce quality of life and work. It can result in the psychological challenges of depression, stress and self-consciousness – all of which can affect interpersonal relationships, performance and attendance at work.

"At this crucial time for the oil and gas industry, a healthy work force performing at its optimum level is one of its greatest assets."

Fugro Americas for Offshore Survey Services

Fugro-Americas---IMG 728811Fugro took delivery of the Fugro Americas, a new-build shallow draft survey vessel, on March 18th 2015. Custom designed to Fugro's specifications, the vessel is fitted with the latest geophysical survey equipment and houses some of the most advanced instrumentation in the field.

The Fugro Americas is optimised for working in the Gulf of Mexico, but she is also suitable for other geographical areas, being permanently mobilised and available for rapid deployment to locations throughout North and South America as well as the Caribbean.

The 59 metre-long vessel is capable of carrying out a wide range of offshore services including high resolution geophysical and light geotechnical surveys in water depths of up to 4,500 metres. Fugro Americas is built to operate Fugro's new 4,500 metre-rated Hugin 1000 Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV), Echo Surveyor VII, which was delivered in December 2014. Specialist equipment on the new survey vessel includes a dynamic positioning system and state-of-the-art survey systems, including a deep water EM302 multibeam echosounder to be used for gas seep surveys.

The Fugro Americas meets stringent industry safety and environmental standards and was built by Thoma-Sea Marine Constructors in Louisiana, with supervision by Fugro Marine Services.

World's Largest Construction Vessel Ready for Action with KONGSBERG DP, Bridge and Automation Systems

Following its inauguration ceremony in Rotterdam on 27th February 2015, Allseas' Pioneering Spirit will start its first job offshore Norway this summer with an integrated Dynamic Positioning (DP) and maneuvering system based on state-of-the art Kongsberg Maritime technology. The Kongsberg Maritime delivery includes forward and aft bridge systems in addition to an extensive automation network and the HiPAP subsea position reference system.

Eight years in the making, Allseas' Pioneering Spirit single-lift vessel is the largest construction vessel in the world. Kongsberg Maritime has been involved with this ground-breaking project from near the very start, having been selected by Allseas to provide the Dynamic Positioning system for Pioneering Spirit (then Pieter Schelte) early in 2008.

Pioneering-Spirt-500x285Allseas' Pioneering Spirit single-lift vessel is the largest construction vessel in the world. Image courtesy of Allseas.

Pioneering Spirit's role as a platform installation, decommissioning and pipelay vessel demands the most comprehensive, reliable and feature rich DP and maneuvering system available. With sea trials already completed in summer 2014, Kongsberg Maritime's Class 3, fully redundant DP system and other vital systems will next be put through their paces this summer, when Pioneering Spirit starts its first and particularly challenging project, the removal of the 'Yme' platform topsides in the North Sea.

The Kongsberg Maritime integrated Dynamic Positioning and maneuvering concept for Pioneering Spirit relies on a distributed and open system design, which employs a fully backed-up system-wide standardized communication network. The communication network integrates the K-POS Dynamic Positioning, K-Thrust thruster control, K-Bridge Navigation and K-Chief machinery automation systems, into a complete solution with unique positioning and maneuvering capabilities required for Pioneering Spirits complex operations.

Pioneering Spirit features two fully equipped redundant Kongsberg Navigation bridges with Multi Function Displays (MFD); forward and aft (in separate fire zones). The K-Bridge system utilizes new Radar Transceiver interface technology distributing radar signals from the eight radar transceivers on a Local Area Network (LAN). This enables the possibility for long cable runs (500m) allowing for locating two radars in each 'corner' of the Pioneering Spirit. The K-Bridge system is delivered with innovative new features such as the ability to combine radar images from multiple radar transceivers and display them as a single composite picture. This eliminates blind sectors and provides a 360 degree view around the vessel.

Kongsberg Maritime has also provided subsea position reference systems to ensure the accuracy of the Kongsberg Maritime DP, including the industry standard HiPAP high precision acoustic positioning system.

Marine Safety Seals Manufacturer Roxtec New Deal with World’s Biggest Tidal Turbine

Safety seal manufacturer Roxtec has provided its waterproof sealing solution to the largest and most powerful tidal turbine in the world.

Roxtec-411Manchester based Roxtec UK managing director Graham O'Hare (photo) said the deal with Scotrenewables Tidal Power Limited involved Roxtec supplying the new SR2000 2MW floating turbine which is 65m long, 3m diameter and weighs 550 tons. Once launched later this year, the SR2000 will undergo an intensive demonstration program at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC), following which it will be offered to the global tidal industry as a technology with the lowest cost of energy in the sector.

Mr O'Hare said Roxtec, which exports to 70 countries, was delighted to be at the forefront of developing new technology for such an innovative project in the progressive tidal power industry. He said Roxtec's super strong watertight seals have been installed to protect the turbine's vital control systems from flooding and water ingress over a 20-year period.

"The turbine was built in Orkney and at the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast, and Roxtec provided support at both locations throughout the project," he said. "We have sealed a high volume of multiple electrical control and instrumentation cables of various sizes on the turbine through every bulkhead between sections. Importantly we could offer the highest standards of certified waterproof bulkhead seals. The cabling in the turbine is extensive and runs its entire length through ten compartments inside the floating hull, and also cable sealing within the generator nacelles, and over an exposed section linked to topside power, control and communication equipment.
"Drawing on our many years' experience in the marine and renewables sector we have been able to provide support throughout the process from planning to installation to ongoing maintenance.

"Going forward our seals are designed to be flexible with easy maintenance access and spare capacity for upgrades. This is important because the project is still in test phase and changes may be required. But our sealing solutions have been designed so changes can be carried out easily at low cost. This is in stark contrast to many traditional seals which can be onerous, costly and time-consuming to maintain and upgrade."

Mr O'Hare said during the planning phase Scotrenewables designers were able to deploy Roxtec's innovative Transit Designer computer software. 

"Our software is a highly effective tool for engineers wanting to save time," he said. "It is the most advanced of its kind on the market and enabled their team to produce detailed drawings, quickly and simply, of cable and pipe locations which makes the installation process faster."

Mr O'Hare said Roxtec is keen to win more work in the tidal sector building on its formidable track record in the renewable sector worldwide.

"Roxtec was chosen for this project because we are industry leaders in sealing solutions for the renewables sector, where we have been used in over 40 offshore windfarms in Europe," he said. "Customers have confidence in our meticulous engineering and testing of sealing products which are the best in the world at helping protect people and assets from a range of hazards. We have a fantastic product and service to offer the tidal power and wider renewables industry."

Roxtec is also able to pass on its expertise via its new CPD (Continuing Professional Development) accredited seminars program which examines sealing cables and pipes, covering legislation, industry standards and best practice.

Automatic Fire Suppression Cost-Effective for Long Haul

seafireCommercial mariners, often far offshore and away from assistance, rely on their vessel to keep them safe. Automatic pre-engineered marine fire suppression systems from Sea-Fire provide 24/7 security. Crew, passengers, vessel and cargo are all protected—at a price point that makes sense.

Over the serviceable life of a Sea-Fire installation, there is a cost benefit to investing in a long-term solution. Other set-ups may initially be less expensive, but they typically utilize a lesser suppression fluid that is being phased-down due to existing or future legislation, including EU F-gas regulation. As shortages of the agent increase, so will maintenance costs. When it is no longer available, the installation becomes obsolete.

Sea-Fire systems use 3M™ Novec™ 1230 Fire Protection Fluid. With 3M's 20-year global Blue Sky Warranty, it won't be impacted by legislation. Environmentally-responsible Novec 1230 won't deplete the ozone and has a global warming potential of 1 over 100 years.

Safe for human exposure, this highly-effective vapor stops the combustion process and removes heat energy until the fire cannot sustain itself. Electrically non-conductive and non-corrosive, it's residue-free and won't damage valuable equipment.

Each fixed-installation Sea-Fire pre-engineered system with Novec 1230 is designed and tested for a specific compartment space volume, from 25 cu. ft. up to 1,800 cu. ft.
Individual cylinders are sized and super-charged with nitrogen for maximum efficiency, and the nozzles are tuned for the exact discharge rate. Installations can utilize manual release or automatic thermal activation. The latter is critical for high-risk areas where crew spend little time, such as engine and machinery rooms.

Systems are equipped with a pressure switch for cylinder supervision and to control other functions, such as fans and engine shutdowns. Pre-engineered solutions easily incorporate with other Sea-Fire equipment, such as detection modules and sensors.

A world leader in marine fire suppression, Sea-Fire has provided commercial mariners peace of mind for over 40 years. The company designs and manufactures high-performance fire detection, suppression and ventilation equipment for vessels of all sizes.

PIRA Energy Group's Weekly Oil Market Recap for the Week Ending March 22nd, 2015

piraNYC-based PIRA Energy Group reports that Long haul trucking has been losing market share to rail since 2002. In the U.S., there was another record U.S. commercial stock level. In Japan, crude stocks and finished product stocks built. Specifically, PIRA's analysis of the oil market fundamentals has revealed the following:

Lower U.S. Diesel Prices Should Limit Further Long Haul Trucking Loses to Rail
Long haul trucking has been losing market share to rail since 2002 when diesel prices averaged $1.75/gallon. This note estimates that diesel prices no higher than $3.25/gallon should stem any further erosion of long haul trucking's competitive position through 2016 even though momentum has set in for rail to displace long haul and possibly medium haul trucking on a long term basis.

Another Week, Another Record U.S. Commercial Stock Level
Total commercial stocks built last week to yet another new record high. With a small draw this week last year, the year-over-year surplus widened again. Crude built again this week. The four major refined products drew and all other oils were flat. The crude stock surplus versus last year stands at 82.7 million barrels. The four major refined products surplus widened to 30.3 million barrels, and the all other oils surplus widened to 45.8 million barrels above last year. Of that "other oil" excess, 43.7 million barrels is in propane & other NGL stocks.

Japanese Crude Stocks and Finished Product Stocks Build, Runs Ease
Crude runs eased again as maintenance continues to pick up its pace. Crude stocks built slightly due to a higher import figure. Finished product stocks also built, notably gasoil, naphtha, and fuel oil, though there was a strong end-of-season draw on kerosene. The indicative refining margin remained strong.

Tight Oil Operator Review
Weak oil prices dominated fourth quarter results and the outlook for 2015. The effect of falling prices rippled throughout the production chain, both on an operational and a financial level. For the companies covered, capex guidance for 2015 was 35% lower than 2014 capex on average. Simultaneously, technology and productivity improvements continued in 4Q14, and are expected to accelerate in 2015. The consensus seems to be a target of a 10% reduction in costs from efficiency gains, and a further 20% cost reduction from service price deflation. PIRA expects U.S. shale oil production to flatten out and slightly decline in 2Q15.

LPG Prices Drop with Season Change
LPG prices fell as U.S. inventories rose for the first time in 14 weeks. April propane futures for Mont Belvieu delivery fell to 50¢/gal, a 6.6% decrease on the week. Butane also lost ground as seasonal gasoline blending demand evaporates. LPG prices should remain under pressure as demand is set to continue decreasing as winter conditions continue to fade.

Manufacture of Ethanol- blended gasoline Jumps
Ethanol-blended gasoline manufacture soared to a 12-week high 8,676 MB/D the week ending March 13, from 8,434 MB/D in the previous week. Inventories declined for the third consecutive week, dropping 353 thousand barrels to 20.8 million barrels.

The information above is part of PIRA Energy Group's weekly Energy Market Recap - which alerts readers to PIRA's current analysis of energy markets around the world as well as the key economic and political factors driving those markets.

DW Monday: Floating Wind Turbines - A Game Changer for Offshore Wind?

Dougl-west.MondayWe're not competing with fixed foundations, we're just creating the future. And that future's not that far away." CEO, Principle Power, EWEA 2015

Several floating wind turbines have been installed in recent years, with operational turbines in Norway, Japan and Portugal. Floating turbines have several benefits over their conventional counter-parts – firstly, they are more economically efficient, as onshore assembly and the ability to tow them into place reduces the need for costly heavy-lift vessels or specialized WTIVs. Secondly, floating turbines can be installed in deeper water (often further offshore) alleviating concerns of visibility from the coast. Thirdly, greater offshore distance increases wind exposure, resulting in comparatively higher electricity generation. We ask, however, whether floating wind turbines will be utilized globally as governments seek to meet renewable energy quotas?

Successful installations provide hope to those championing floating wind turbines. The WindFloat project in Portugal, is a particularly interesting example – currently supporting a 2MW turbine, 6km from shore. WindFloat refers to the floating support structure, which allows wind turbines to be installed in water depths exceeding 40m. The structure comprises three columns, each is fitted with water entrapment plates at the base, resulting in improved motion performance and allowing the use of conventional wind turbines atop the structure. WindFloat has been operational for three years and by end-2014 had delivered 12GWh of renewable electricity to the Portuguese grid, with no issues to date. Other successful projects include Hywind and Sway prototype projects in Norway, and a number of pilot projects in Japan.

DW's Offshore Wind Database shows at least nine floating projects are likely to come online by 2020, totaling 225MW – a further six projects in the pipeline provide upside potential. However, these technologies require significant investment and cooperation (WindFloat involved 60 suppliers), and each project is unique – standardization is key if floating offshore wind turbines are to be rolled out on a large scale. However, with some predictions that floating wind turbines could cut offshore wind costs in half, there are huge incentives for increased use of the technology.

Rachel Stonehouse, Douglas-Westwood London

ASCO Secures Long-Term Service Contract with BP

AscologoASCO announces the award of a contract by BP Exploration and Production to provide a range of integrated oilfield services to support its UK North Sea operations.

The comprehensive contract, which is worth in excess of £100 million, covers a variety of activities including: supply-base operations; warehouse operations; the provision of waste management and local freight forwarding services.

The 5 year contract with options will bring all ASCO's service lines together to provide a strong, cohesive delivery model focused on the provision of value and service excellence.

Craig Lennox, CEO – Europe at ASCO said: 'We are pleased to be building on a client relationship that spans more than 20 years. Maintaining this strong and successful connection with BP is a great achievement and we look forward to safely and efficiently delivering on this key contract.'

Oceaneering Announces Contract for Offshore Cape Three Points Development

OceaneeringlogoOceaneering International, Inc. (NYSE:OII) has announced that, as part of a consortium with GE Oil & Gas, it has secured a contract with ENI Ghana Exploration and Production, Ltd. and its partners, Vitol and GNPC, to supply equipment for the Offshore Cape Three Points (OCTP) Block Project development located off the coast of West Africa.

Oceaneering's scope of work under this contract is to supply electro-hydraulic, steel tube umbilicals totaling approximately 51 kilometers (32 miles) in length. This contract adds over $100 million to its Subsea Products backlog.

Product manufacturing is planned to be performed at Oceaneering's umbilical facility in Panama City, Florida and is expected to commence in the second quarter of 2015 and be completed in the fourth quarter of 2017.