Frontier Energy is the world's first publication, eNewsletter and website to focus on the oil & gas and shipping operations in the Arctic and other environmentally challenging and harsh, ice-affected regions. These are among the industry's most environmentally sensitive, challenging and remote areas to be involved with, pushing at the boundaries of technology and human resourcefulness.


Untitled Document

East Coast Canada expects major offshore investment

5 December 2019

TheNewfoundland and Labrador province in eastern Canada is expecting a new $4 billion wave of offshore oil and gas exploration in the next few years,Kallanish Energyreports.

The deepwater hunt off Newfoundland and Labrador is targeting what energy companies are hoping will be the province's next major oil project.

"There's an unprecedented level of interest for offshore East Coast Canada," Jim Keating, executive vice president of Offshore Development at Nalcor Energy, a Newfoundland and Labrador Crown corporation that holds minority equity rights in three offshore projects, said.

The new interest is due to new geoscience work and changes in how offshore bidding is conducted, he said.

The province has four producing oil projects: Hebron, Hibernia, Terra Nova and White Rose. The primary operators are ExxonMobil, Husky Energy and Suncor, with Chevron and Equinor also involved.

Operations are located roughly 210 miles off the island of Newfoundland in water about 328 feet deep.

Researchers win award to assess impact of Arctic oil spills

5 December 2019

Researchers from the Asper School of Business have won the highly coveted "KLU Young Researcher Best Paper Award", presented at theAnnual Conference of the International Association of Maritime Economists (IAME) 2019.

Scholars Mawuli Afenyo, Adolf K.Y. Ng, and Changmin Jiang won for their paper, "A method for assessing the socio-economic impact of oil spills in Arctic waters."

The method they develop, coined Socio-Economic Model for the Arctic, or SEMA, will improve the accuracy in assessing the socio-economic impacts of oil spills due to intensified shipping in the Arctic. The model offers probabilities for best and worst-case scenarios for oil spills after accounting for variables such as the type of vessel and oil spilled during shipping.

"SEMA will be very useful in shaping Arctic shipping policy," the researchers note, noting that the model they developed can be updated and adjusted to fit specific situations and incorporate new scientific information gained from discoveries made at, for instance, theChurchill Marine Observatory, which UM plans to open in late fall 2020.

MacArtney Germany delivers ice-safe camera for icebreaker

5 December 2019

MacArtney Germany has designed and delivered an underwater ice camera system for the research vessel, the R/V Polarstern - a German icebreaker embarking on a global climate mission to investigate and research previously inaccessible regions during an Arctic winter.

The MOSAiC International Arctic Drift Expedition, led by the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, will collect vital data on climate change over the course of the year.

With a total of 600 scientists from 19 nations taking part over the course of a year, the expedition will complete research on top and beneath the Arctic ice shield, to better understand how changes in the Arctic impact global climate change.

Delivered from MacArtney operations across the globe, the under-ice camera system comprises of several components including LUXUS HD cameras and LUXUS High Power LEDs, powered by 550 metres of hybrid cable. The package additionally includes an EMO Mini-T Multiplexer and TrustLink stress termination completed with OptoLink and SubConn®connectors.

Baltic port plans huge investment to boost capacity

5 December 2019

The Port of Gdansk, Poland Baltic port aims to build a €2.8bn port in a bid to double its cargo volumes from 50m in 2019 to 100m tonnes a year.

Marcin Osowski, vice president for infrastructure at the port authority, described 'Central Port' as the biggest maritime investment project in Europe.

"The Port of Gdansk grew by 20% in 2018 and 9%already this year and we are on target to exceed 50m tonnes of cargo for the first time, up from 40m in 2017," he said. "But our ultimate ambition is to grow cargo to 100m tonnes. Critical to that is our current infrastructure investment programme of €591m and our plans for the new Central Port."

Mr Osowski said the proposals for Central Port include building 19km of operational quays, 8.5km of breakwaters, nine terminals, four turning areas and three approach fairways. He said the terminals could be used for containers, passengers, offshore operations, LNG operations and shipbuilding.

Murmansk to be integrated better into Northern Sea Route

5 December 2019

The management ofthe Murmansk commercial sea port plans toservice ships onthe Northern Sea Route according to General Director Alexei Rykovanov, reports

"We look atthe prospects ofdeveloping the Northern Sea Route favourably. When the development program is implemented we will undoubtedly accept and service the ships which will be loaded atthe Murmansk commercial sea port and totravel eastward," said Rykovanov.

Earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin issued an instruction toincrease the cargo traffic onthe Northern Sea Route to80 million tons a year by2024.

"Our goal tosignificantly boost the freight traffic and bring it upto 80 million tons by2025 onthe Northern Sea Route alone was outlined inthe 2018 Address tothe Federal Assembly. Just 10 to15 years ago, this figure looked absolutely outof reach, whereas today it is a realistic, carefully calculated and concrete goal," the President said inApril 2019.

China's Vitus Bering to leave Murmansk

5 December 2019

A Chinese-built bulk ship, Vitus Bering, has left the Murmansk Commercial Seaport (MCSP), afterthe first loading, onNovember 30, Port Director Alexei Rykovanov said.

The ice-class bulk ship, ARC 5 Vitus Bering, sailed empty tothe MCSP viathe Northern Sea Route inearly November.

"This is the first time she is being loaded. Packed withcoal, the ship will head forAmsterdam. She is an ice-class ARC 5 ship and this makes it possible forher owner toposition itself onthe northern freight market asa worthy participant. It was important forthem totake their first cargo onboard inthe north- either inDudinka or inMurmansk," he pointed out.

The Vitus Bering will be loaded witha total of93,000 tonnes ofcoal.

Equinor takes over Barents Sea project from OMV

4 July 2019

In separate statements the companies said Equinor would assume responsibility for the development of the 440m barrel field, with OMV picking up as operator again once the field came on stream.

Wisting is considered to be at the limits of the industry's capability due to its location and geological conditions; before the recent announcement, OMV had aimed to approve a development concept next year.

The field lies 310 km north of the coastal town of Hammerfest in an ice-prone location, with little or no daylight for part of the year. The water depth is 400 meters, and the reservoir is unusually shallow, at around 250 meters below the seabed, resulting in low pressure levels. It is thought the shallowness of the reservoir may heighten the risk of hydrocarbons leaking to the seabed when water is injected into the field. However, OMV has drilled six wells, prompting it in January to enthuse about the field's "increased potential".

China's Vitus Bering to leave Murmansk


A Chinese-built bulk ship, Vitus Bering, has left the Murmansk Commercial Seaport (MCSP), afterthe first loading, onNovember 30, Port Director Alexei Rykovanov said.

The ice-class bulk ship, ARC 5 Vitus Bering, sailed empty tothe MCSP viathe Northern Sea Route inearly November.

"This is the first time she is being loaded. Packed withcoal, the ship will head forAmsterdam. She is an ice-class ARC 5 ship and this makes it possible forher owner toposition itself onthe northern freight market asa worthy participant. It was important forthem totake their first cargo onboard inthe north- either inDudinka or inMurmansk," he pointed out.

The Vitus Bering will be loaded witha total of93,000 tonnes ofcoal.

Rosneft to create cluster to tap huge Arctic energy reserves

4 July 2019

Russia's oil major Rosneft said it will start developing a cluster of oil fields in the Arctic region, which is believed to hold some of the world's largest remaining untapped oil and gas reserves.

According to the head of Rosneft Igor Sechin, preliminary estimates suggest that, starting from 2027 the deposits could annually produce up to 100 million tonnes of oil.

"The resources of the Russian Arctic (considering only from the above-ground part) are estimated at up to 10 billion tons of oil equivalent. We are embarking on their development," Sechin said on Thursday at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF).

Russia falls behind Europe in Arctic research, Chilingarove

4 July 2019

Russia is falling behindEurope inexploring the Arctic, said Russian Special Presidential Representatives forInternational Cooperation inthe Arctic and Antarctic Artur Chilingarov.

"We are falling behinda bit. The MOSAiC project (an international multi-purpose floating observatory forresearch onthe Arctic climate)... they will anchor their research icebreaker Polarstern toan ice floe this year," Chilingarov said recently onthe sidelines ofa research conference onthe North Pole 2020 drifting polar station.

A similar Russian expedition will begin in2020. During such expeditions, an icebreaker is anchored toan ice floe and remains moored asthe floe drifts.

Russia to expand Arctic shelf upstream no sooner than 2035

4 July 2019

Russian companies will be able toexplore new oil and gas fields and extract hydrocarbons onthe Arctic shelf no sooner than2035, according toPresident ofthe Union ofOil and Gas Producers ofRussia Gennady Shmal.

"I believe that withthe Arctic shelf, it will be only after2035. Today we are not yet ready: there is no technology, equipment, legislative documents; what have we togo on? Equipment is the main thing; we need it tobe very reliable," the expert told RIA Novosti onthe sidelines ofthe 6th Future Leaders Forum ofthe World Petroleum Council.

According toGennady Shmal, Russia does not invest enough inresearch. "There will be no technologies withoutit," he concluded. In addition, the expert believes it is necessary toexplore the shelf.

Gazprom Oil's Prirazlomnoye field is now the only field onthe Russian Arctic shelf where hydrocarbons are extracted. Exploration began inDecember 2013.

Helicopter NMR prepares to detect Arctic oil spills
4 July 2019

Exploiting the Earth's magnetic field, researchers in the US and Canada have developed a new way to technique any potential pollution from increased shipping in the Arctic, reports the US-based Society of Chemistry.

The team, including Albuquerque, US-based NMR innovators ABQMR and their Dallas-headquartered compatriot oil giant ExxonMobil, built a giant coil 6m in diameter that folds up into a transport container. Once unfolded, spill-seekers can suspend the coil from a helicopter, rest it gently on Arctic ice, then use it to send radio-frequency pulses and detect the resulting NMR signals. The scientists have shown that this coil can detect the equivalent of an 8mm-thick layer of oil in a few minutes, explains ABQMR scientist Eiichi Fukushima.

The research is needed because our current climate emergency includes shrinking summer Arctic ice, increasingly enabling oil tankers to pass through, risking spills and environmental damage. Spill-seekers have considered oil detectors including drone submarines or trained dogs. However these were 'too invasive or too slow or, in the case of placing personnel on ice, presented too much danger to the personnel', Fukushima explains.

Canada takes stronger stance on ownership of 'North Pole'

4 July 2019

Canada has joined Russia and Denmark in arguing that science is on their side in laying claim to almost half a million square miles of underwater Arctic territory, based on the extent of its continental shelf - including the geographic North Pole.

At the center of the debate is the 1,100-mile-long (1,800 kilometers) Lomonosov Ridge, a region at a depth of around 5,600 feet (1,700 m) that runs near the pole and bisects the Arctic Ocean. To establish their case, Canadian officials have submitted a 2,100-page report to a scientific committee of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), detailing the size and shape of the continental shelf along Canada's Arctic coastline.

China seeks 'to play constructive role in Arctic'

23 May 2019

China will work with all parties to play a constructive role in the Arctic as the United States warned about Beijing's involvement in the region, said the foreign ministry, reports Reuters.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said Russia was behaving aggressively in the Arctic and China's actions there had to be watched closely as well, amid growing divisions in the polar region over global warming and access to minerals.

Speaking as he arrived in northern Finland for a meeting of nations with territory in the Arctic, Pompeo said China appeared to have national security aims there, and Russia's activities, including plans for new shipping channels from Asia to northern Europe, deserved a closer look.

In Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Pompeo's criticisms "were totally out of sync with the facts".

He told a daily news briefing, "It is inconsistent with the general trend of peaceful cooperation in the Arctic, completely confuses right with wrong, and has ulterior motives."

Arctic matters don't only concern those countries in the Arctic, but have global significance, and China will not get involved in matters that purely concern those countries, he added.


Arctic LNG 2, TechnipFMC sign EPC contract
23 May 2019

Russian energy company Novatek reports that that its joint venture Arctic LNG 2 and TechnipFMC has signed a contract on engineering, procurement, supply, construction and commissioning of an integrated liquefied natural gas facility with annual liquefaction capacity of 19.8m tonnes under the Arctic LNG 2 project. The contract terms provide for the launch of the first train of the project in 2023.

"The team, which implemented the unique Yamal LNG project in record time and on budget, has now joined an even larger and more innovative project," noted Novatek's chairman Leonid Mikhelson. "We are confident that the accumulated experience of mutual cooperation on the construction of LNG plants in the Arctic zone will also ensure the successful and timely implementation of our new project ArcticLNG2," says the company.

The Arctic LNG 2 project envisages constructing three LNG trains at 6.6m tonnes per year each, using gravity-based structure (GBS) platforms.

Chinese gas drilling team reports gas find in Russia

23 May 2019

Chinese gas drilling rig the Nan Hai Ba Hao, in cooperation with Russia's Gazprom, has found a large natural gas deposit in the Kara Sea, bringing the total it has identified in the area over the past decade to more than 1.2 trillion cubic meters, reports the Barents Observer.

The rig, which weighs 15,469 metric tons has been transported from the South China Sea to the Russian Arctic two years in a row.
In 2017, it drilled in the Leningradskoye license area of the Kara Sea, and the following year in the nearby Rusanvoskoye area.

Gazprom has confirmed that the Rusanvoskoye drilling discovered 390.2 billion cubic meters of gas. The discovery has been named after Soviet Energy Minister Vassily Dinkov and is located about 100 kilometers off the west coast of the Yamal Peninsula.

Oil output from Norway slips and stalls

23 May 2019

Norway's oil production slid further in April, by 1.4% from March levels and 7.5% from a year earlier, to 1.73 million bpd, according to official statistics published Wednesday, as the industry grapples with technical problems and errors in its Arctic expansion. For the first four months of 2019 the country's oil production was 9% lower than the same period a year earlier, averaging 1.8 million bpd, down some 200,000 b/d from a recent annual peak of 2 million bpd in 2016, figures from the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) showed, reports Platts.

Norway's oil output is expected to regain ground with the start of production from the giant Johan Sverdrup field, expected in November; Sverdrup is expected to take 12 months to reach its first-phase target of 440,000 bpd.

But the industry, and state-controlled Equinor, are suffering a spate of technical difficulties that suggest it is struggling to manage legacy output.

Lukoil pilot tests absorbents, oil spill response system
23 May 2019

Lukoil has secured approval from Russia's State Expert Review Agency for its oil spill response technology.

This is a new development based on the use of absorbents and biotechnologies and is designed specifically for marine and freshwater ecosystems in the Arctic region.

Pilot testing proved that the process is effective, Lukoil said, and can be applied in real-life conditions.

In the Arctic regions, the harsh environment hinders application of conventional oil containment and skimming techniques, the company explained.

Its new technique harnesses what it terms as 'special biologicals' for marine, fresh and mesohalobiotic environments. These biologicals do not form toxic compounds in air or water, and no harmful substances are used to produce them.

News in Brief ...

23 May 2019

* The Canadian Marine Advisory Council (CMAC) is inviting comments on changes to marine safety and security regulations by attending regional or national meetings of theCMAC. Thegrouprepresents parties with an interest in shipping, navigation and marine pollution concerns, advising the government on issues and opportunities related to marine safety and security, and release reports each year based on our findings. Five regionalCMACmeetings take place in the Pacific, Ontario, Quebec, Atlantic, and Prairie and Northern regions.

* Senior executives from Russia's Gazprom and Austria's OMV have met to discuss gas supplies and the Nord Stream 2 pipeine which runs under the Baltic Sea. Among other things, the meeting participants discussed the ongoing exports ofRussian gas toAustria, noting that gas exports tothe country continue togrow in2019and the pace isaccelerating. To date, 1,290 kilometers ofpipes- 52.6%ofthe gas pipeline's total length- have been laid inthe Baltic Sea.

* Russian authorities have approved Lukoil's oil spill response technology. Based on the use of absorbents and biotechnologies, the company's new development is designed for marine and freshwater ecosystems of the Arctic region. As the pilot testing proves, the technology, that has already acquired nine patents, is effective and can be applied in real life conditions. The distinctive property of the technology is in specific strains of microorganisms that can be used in the Arctic regions, where application of conventional oil containment and skimming techniques is hindered by the harsh environment, said the company.

Equinor plugs dry well in the southeastern Barents Sea

21 February 2019

Norway's Equinor Energy AS, operator of production licence 857, has ended it work drilling wildcat well 7132/2-1 in the Barents Sea as it was dry.

The well was drilled about 175 kilometres north of Vardø, in the southeastern part of the Barents Sea.

The primary exploration target for the well was to prove petroleum in reservoir rocks from the Middle and Early Jurassic Age (the Stø, Nordmela, Tubåen and Fruholmen formation). The secondary exploration target was reservoir rocks from the Early Cretaceous and Late Triassic Age (upper part of the Snadd formation).

In the primary exploration target, well 7132/2-1 encountered about 15 metres of sandstone reservoir with good reservoir quality in the Støformasjonen. In the Nordmela, Tubåen and Fruholmen formation, the well encountered about 25 metres of sandstone reservoir with very good reservoir quality.

This is the first exploration well in production licence 857. The licence was awarded in the 23rd licensing round in 2016.

Greater Castberg TopSeis survey in the Barents Sea

21 February 2019

Seismic companies CGG and TGS is to run a Greater Castberg TopSeis survey in the Barents Sea. The survey is 5,000 sq km, and will be acquired and processed with the latest developments of CGG's TopSeis acquisition and imaging technology.

The survey will include the highly prospective Castberg area, and cover existing and newly awarded licenses in addition to open acreage with several play models in multiple geological layers. The acquisition is expected to commence late Q2 2019 with final delivery to clients in Q4 2020. The project is supported by industry funding.

Kristian Johansen, CEO, TGS, said: "Greater Castberg will expand the great TGS data coverage in the Barents Sea. The survey sits in the right place of the Barents Sea, and production licenses will start producing from this area in 2022. The area calls for high-technology solutions, and a tailor-made solution for this area is created in close collaboration with the clients and within the JV."

PAME launches Arctic shipping database

21 February 2019

Arctic Council's Working Group on the Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment (PAME) launched a comprehensive Arctic shipping activity database. The launch is a significant milestone in PAME's work to improve knowledge of historical Arctic ship traffic activity and various factors that affect such activity, such as sea ice extent, meteorological and oceanographic conditions, and international regulations. The database will allow authorized users to analyze vessel traffic patterns, fuel use, and air emissions, among other economic and environmental conditions. The database includes archived information from 2005 to 2018 and will be updated regularly. Information contained in the ASTD database includes:

  • Number of ships in the Arctic, distances sailed, and hours operated
  • Location of ships, ship routes, and ship speed
  • Ship types, including size and flag
  • Pollution measurements from ships, including CO2 emissions
  • Other environmental information such as sea ice extent
For more information, click

Alaskans mull over future of drilling in the state

21 February 2019

Alaskans for and against drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge offered their opinions during the final public scoping session held in the state by the federal government earlier this week.

The US Department of Interior's Bureau of Land Management hostedthe public meeting specifically to address the draft environmental impact statement for the Coastal Plain Oil and Gas Leasing Program, which the bureau made available for public review and comment this past December.

A year ago, US senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska introduced a rider into the GOP tax bill to open the coastal plain to oil and gas leasing, and changed the purpose of the refuge to also "provide for an oil and gas program on the coastal plain."

Federal law requires environmental assessments with public input before any lease sales can be held.

Study shows melting ice sheets will disrupt climate

21 February 2019

Water entering the oceans from melting ice sheets could cause extreme weather and a change in ocean circulation not currently accounted for in global climate policies, a new study published today finds.

The study, published in the journal Nature this month led by Victoria University of Wellington's Antarctic Research Centre and involving an international team of scientists from Canada, the UK, Germany and the USA used climate models to simulate what might happen when water from melting ice sheets enters the Earth's oceans.

This is the first study to use highly detailed models of both ice sheets combined with observations of recent ice sheet changes from satellites. This combination creates more reliable and accurate predictions than has been achieved previously.

Co-author Kaitlin Naughten, a modeller from British Antarctic Survey says: "Even with the Paris Agreement to combat climate change, there will still be some melting of the Greenland and Antarctic Ice Sheets.Thiswill take thousands of years to fully play out,so predicting sea level rise as early as 2100 is actually a very short timescale, and a very difficult modelling problem".

Finnish President to speak about Arctic Security

21 February 2019

The President ofFinland will deliver a report onsecurity inthe Arctic atthe Munich Security Conference, the Finnish presidential office reports.

"President ofthe Republic ofFinland Sauli Niinisto will take part inthe international security conference inMunich onFebruary 15-17. Niinisto will deliver a keynote speech onthe security ofthe Arctic," the report says.

Also, the Finnish President will take part ina panel discussion onarms control and hold bilateral meetings, the report said.

Russia's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov will also take part inthe conference.

News in Brief ...

21 February 2019

* Economic projects will prevail oversocial projects inRussia's Far East and the Arctic inthe short-term, Deputy Prime Minister envoy tothe Far Eastern Federal District Yury Trutnev said.

* The department forcomprehensive Arctic studies has been established atSiberian Federal University inKrasnoyarsk, department head Yury Zakharinsky said.

"Our tasks include organizing studies ofthe Krasnoyarsk Territory's Arctic regions, providing administrative support forArctic projects, selecting high-priority projects and training personnel forthis territory," Zakharinsky said. There are also plans toinvolve the university ininternational and national educational projects, he added.

Canada's Suncor Energy restarts operations at Terra Nova ...

6 December 2018

Canada's Suncor Energy has restarted production at its Terra Nova FPSO located offshore Newfoundland and Labrador.

The Terra Nova FPSO was shut downfor repairs before a major storm struck in November, which subsequently affected productionon several of Canada's offshore facilities; repairs were completed but Terra Nova remained shut down during the storm and did not start until inspections were complete.

Canada's C-NLOPB industry regulator says production startup of the Terra Nova FPSO started Dec. 2 with a slow and controlled production restart process.

Also, Husky Energy SeaRose FPSO remains shut after spilling about 250 cm of oil as a result of the severe weather conditions off Canada.

... Husky Energy continues sampling at South White Rose

6 December 2018

Canada's Husky Energy initiated a water sampling program on Monday, November 26 and have completed sampling at around 50 locations in and around the spill area of the SeaRose FPSO.

The company continues to develop a plan to deal with the separated subsea flowline connection. This plan must be approved by the C-NLOPB before being implemented.

Vessel inspections at the South White Rose Extension are continuing at least twice daily.

Shutdown maintenance activities are ongoing at the SeaRose FPSO, but all drilling and production operations remain suspended. Husky Energy shut in production at the White Rose field Thursday, November 15 due to operational safety concerns resulting from severe weather. The release occurred during restart procedures on Friday, November 16. Husky was in the process of resuming operations as conditions returned to normal operating parameters, and after safety checks were completed.

Arctic Shipping Company opts for Maritime Connect

6 December 2018

Russia's Arctic Shipping Company has chosen Maritime Connect from international telecommunications group Orange Business Services to keep its cargo ships connected to the network while at sea. The new contract follows the successful completion of a pilot with the shipping firm, and the service is now deployed on six of its vessels. The Arctic Shipping Company specializes in cargo transportation, including along the Northern Sea Route, which runs from the Barents Sea, near Russia's border with Norway, to the Bering Strait between Siberia and Alaska.

Maritime Connect combines multiple networks, including satellite, to ensure connectivity for the cargo ships wherever they are - even on the high seas. It gives the crew the ability to work in a single virtual corporate network, essentially turning vessels into full-fledged 'offices at sea'. Network connectivity is especially important for safety on the difficult Northern Sea Route. For example, the ship is able to easily access updated ice conditions and keep its electronic mapping system up-to-date while underway. Despite the harsh environmental conditions, this route helps shorten shipping time.

Latest Yamal LNG tanker leaves South Korea yard

6 December 2018
A new ice-breaking liquefied natural gas (LNG) tanker of the Arc7 class, Boris Davydov, has left a South Korean shipyard and set course for Sabetta, the Arctic Russian port of Novatek's Yamal facility, according to Refinitiv shipping data, reoprts Reuters. Georgiy Brusilov, another newbuild Arc7 tanker which left the Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering shipyard a month ago, has been stationary at the mouth of Obskaya Gulf just north of Sabetta for a week. Yamal needs the ice-breaker tankers to ship LNG out of the Arctic waters especially during the winter months so the new vessels will enable the facility to raise output by increasing the shipping capacity. Refinitiv data shows the Georgiy Brusilov should enter Sabetta on Dec. 6 while Boris Davydov should arrive on Dec. 24, although these date can change.

Arctic oil and gas exploration becoming an issue for UK

6 December 2018

The UK government was warned that the policy falls short on both UN Sustainable Development Goals and the principles of the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement.

It comes despite an official document on the UK's Arctic policyearlier this year stating that the region's "significant hydrocarbon reserves" could play "a major role" in providing oil and gas for decades to come, reports PoliticsHome.

"While decisions on how to regulate oil and gas activities are matters for relevant national authorities to determine, the UK Government supports the use of the highest possible standards," it said.

But the Commons Environmental Audit committee's report said the Government, which "remains a key player in its protection", should "acknowledge the incompatibility" of its stance.

They call on ministers to "bolster" commitments to protecting the region in line with international agreements, including creating sustainable communities and to set a net-zero target on emissions "by 2050 at the very latest."

The MPssaywhile rapidly melting ice allows increased shipping and mining opportunities, ministers shouldpress for an internationalban on heavy fuel oils as soon as is "technologically feasible" given they riskleading to a "dire" situation throughoil spills and pollution.

Russia to invest $4 billion to build Arctic port along NSR

6 December 2018

Plans for building a sea port in on one of Russia's northernmost areas have been brought back to life. The $4 billion project in the Nenets region is key to the country reported Russia Today. The project has reportedly been included in Moscow's list of major investment projects on transport and infrastructure development. The new port, which will be located in the small Nenets settlement of Indiga, will be operated year-round. The annual cargo turnover is set to reach 70 million tons, 50 million tons of which will account for coal shipments, extracted from Russia's biggest coal mining area in the Kuznetsk Basin, located in southwestern Siberia.

However, the sea port will be financed by both private investors and state support. Private investors are expected steer RUB 60 billion into the project with the remaining RUB 198 billion to be provided by the Russian government. The new northern port will require the creation of necessary land-based infrastructure. The project is planned to include construction of a new railroad connecting Indiga with the Western Siberian city of Surgut.

Wellhead installation starts at Lukoil's Vladimir Filanovsky
23 August 2018

Russian oil company Lukoil has completed transportation and started installation of the substructure for the wellhead platform (mini offshore ice-resistant fixed platform) at the Vladimir Filanovsky field in the Caspian Sea.

The wellhead platform is designed to produce and gather crude oil, as well as to supply it to the central processing platform of the first stage of the field. The wellhead platform is being built as part of the third stage of the field, which is implemented to develop the Western part of the reservoir and maintain stable production plateau.

The substructure for the wellhead platform was built at the Galaktika shipyard in Astrakhan and transported to the installation site via the Volga-Caspian Shipping Canal.

Lukopil-Nizhnevolzhskneft, a wholly owned subsidiary of the oil company, is currently building the topside for the wellhead platform at its construction and assembly yard.

Start of crude oil production at the wellhead platform is scheduled for 2019.

Lukoil drills production well in Yury Korchagin field

23 August 2018

Russia's Lukoil energy group has completed drilling of the first production well from the wellhead platform at the Yury Korchagin field in the northern part of the Caspian Sea. The well was drilled within the second field development stage implemented to involve into production the Eastern part of the field.

The single-bore well with horizontal completion was drilled from a jack-up rig. The measured depth of the well is 5,217 meters, the reach is 4,235 meters. The well's initial flow rate is approximately 500 tonnes of crude oil per day. The use of a lower completion system with multi-position inflow control valves provides for the most efficient use of the well's potential. The development of the field is carried out in two stages. The first includes a fixed offshore ice-resistant platform with a drilling facility, a living quarter platform and an offshore trans-shipment facility.

The second stage includes a wellhead platform (mini-platform), as well as a multi-phase intra-field pipeline and power cable connections with the fixed offshore ice-resistant platform of the first stage.

Gazprom leads global capex to 2025, says GlobalData

23 August 2018

Gazprom, China Petrochemical Corp (Sinopec), and Royal Dutch Shell are the top spenders on planned and announced projects among all oil and gas companies across oil and gas value chain by 2025. Gazprom tops the list with estimated capital expenditure (capex) of U$160bn expected to be spent on 84 oil and gas projects globally. Sinopec and Royal Dutch Shell follow with $87bn (74 projects) and $86bn (91 projects), according GlobalData, a data and analytics company. The company's report: 'H1 2018 Top Global Oil and Gas Companies Planned Projects and Capital Expenditure Outlook' shows that in the upstream sector, Shell leads among companies with an estimated capex of US$58bn to be spent on 53 planned and announced production fields globally. Petrobras follows with $48bn spent on 33 fields and Gazprom will be in third position with US$40bn to be spent on 22 fields.

Norwegian politics turns focus on drilling around Lofoten

23 August 2018

Backing down on drilling off Norway's Lofoten islands could also threaten the search for 16 billion barrels of oil and gas that lies beneath the Barents Sea, the country's energy minister said, according to Norwegian media reports. The warning comes amid increasing signs that Labor, the nation's largest party , is starting to give in to a push to shield the sensitive islands from exploration. Oil companies such as Equinor ASA have said access to the area, thought to hold about 1.3 billion barrels of oil and gas, is vital to prolonging Norway's oil age.

"If the environmentalists win this one, the focus will quickly move to the Barents Sea," Petroleum and Energy Minister Terje Soviknes, who represents the Progress Party in the Conservative-led government, said in an interview Friday.

Danish shipping line Maersk to sail vessel along NSR

23 August 2018

Danish shipping line Maersk Line is set to sail its first container ship via the Northern Sea Route, above the Arctic Circle and along Russia's northern coast. The 3,596-teu Venta Maersk, newbuild ice-class ship 3,596-teu will leave Vladivostok bound for St Petersburg, with an expected arrival time of around September 20. The Northern Sea Route stretches from the Bering Strait between Russia and the US along the far north of Russia to its exit close to Norway.

During the coming months, the Venta Maersk and four sister newbuilds Vayenga Maersk, Vuoksi Maersk and Vilnia Maersk - will join Vistula and Volga in enhancing a number of Seago Line (a Maersk subsidiary) services in the North Sea and Baltic Sea.

The new ships are the world's largest ice-class container vessels, designed specifically for withstanding operations in winter conditions as cold as -25 degrees °C.

Apart from their stronger hull, they are characterized by high-refrigerated cargo intake with 600 reefer plugs as perishables make a large share of cargoes moved.

Arctic seminar from Fraunhofer Institutes at SMM

23 August 2018

At this year's SMM conference in Hamburg, Germany-based reserch group Fraunhofer Institutes and industrial partners will share their latest findings regarding 'Shipping Under Extreme Conditions'.

The Fraunhofer Waterborne Forum will address the safety and security of people, environment and machinery while operating in the Arctic passages.

Presentations on Arctic operations will be supplemented by a discussion and a demonstration of the exhibits at the Fraunhofer SMM stand.

The agenda for the seminar 'Shipping Under Extreme Conditions: Safe Operations in the Arctic Passages' includes sessions on Sea Management issues including navigating in ice and sensitive waters, and Prof. Dr Holger Heuerman, from the University of Applied Sciences, Aachen will present on 'Harmonic Radar Assisted SAR under Extreme Sea Conditions'.

The event will take place on Wednesday, September 2 at SMM, and will cost Euro190 to attend. For more information, click here.

Norway announces new production licences in Barents Sea

21 June 2018

Norway's Ministry of Petroleum and Energy is offering 12 new production licences to 11 companies in the 24th licensing round. Three licences are in the Norwegian Sea and nine licences are offered in the Barents Sea.

"Two of the new licences are located in deep water, in the western part of the Norwegian Sea. It is encouraging that the industry wants to explore these frontier areas of the shelf," said Director Exploration Torgeir Stordal.

Stordal also finds the interest in acreage in in the eastern part of the Norwegian Sea positive; "If discoveries are made, this area can contribute important additional resources to the existing infrastructure".

Nine production licences are being offered in the Barents Sea. These are in geological provinces that have been subject to less exploration until now. Two of the new licences are additional acreage to existing production licences.

"Our analyses show that the largest undiscovered resource potential on the Norwegian Continental Shelf is in the Barents Sea. We also believe that this is the area on the Shelf most likely to deliver large discoveries," said Stordal, who is pleased with the outcome of this round.

"Although no new areas have been opened for exploration, as was the case before the 23rd licensing round, more production licences are offered in the 24th round. This shows that the Norwegian Continental Shelf is attractive to the industry".

The 24th licensing round was announced 21 June last year. The Ministry of Petroleum and Energy announced 102 blocks/parts of blocks, of which 9 were in the Norwegian Sea and 93 in the Barents Sea. Nearly half of this acreage is now included in the offers issued today; all 9 blocks in the Norwegian Sea and 38 blocks in the Barents Sea.

IMO recognises second Arctic satellite provider GMDSS

21 June 2018

The London-based International Maritime Organization (IMO) recognised US satellite communications company Iridium as the second service provider for Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS).

This international recognition enables Iridium to enter the market for the IMO-required distress communications system alongside the current provider, UK-based Inmarsat, which has been the sole service provider since 1979.

The International Mobile Satellite Organization, which oversees the system for IMO, will work with Iridium to finalize the details of a Service Provider Agreement and address implementation details. Expected to begin service by Jan. 1, 2020, Iridium will provide global coverage that includes both Polar Regions, a critical addition that will cover expanding Arctic shipping and polar tourism.

Aker Arctic completes autonomous vessel ice tank test

21 June 2018
An autonomous ship model has been successfully tested in Aker Arctic's ice model test laboratory in Helsinki, Finland. In the demonstration test the ship model was able to detect obstacles in the ice tank utilizing onboard sensors, maneuver around them without operator input and moor itself automatically to a target pier. The test was carried out in ice free waters.

DALO chooses SARIS to support SAR operations

21 June 2018

The Danish Acquisition and Logistics Organization (DALO) has bought a major new upgrade of BMT's SARIS, the search and rescue planning tool that helps save lives, plan searches and minimise danger at sea.

The upgrade will consist of a deployment of 20 licenses primarily to Denmark but also including Greenland and the Faroe Islands. A large part of the upgrade will include capacity for ongoing in-house training, with initial training being delivered by BMT.

SARIS technology is designed to help locate targets, whether it be people or objects, lost at sea. The tool is the product of over 20 years' experience working with the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency and other well-renowned coastguard authorities around the world. SARIS utilities BMT's expertise in marine environmental software systems and is a sister application to its industry leading navigation and manoeuvring simulator, REMBRANDT.

Saudi Aramco set to start talks with Novatek over LNG2 ...

21 June 2018

Saudi Aramco is reportedly starting talks with Novatek to join the Russian's company's Arctic LNG 2 project, Interfax quoted Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak as saying.

"We know that such talks are under way between Saudi Aramco and Novatek. On the whole the government is in favour of such investments, such joint projects. These are commercial talks, they cannot be resolved in one day," said Novak, who added he expected to discuss the matter with his Saudi counterpart, Khalid al-Falih.

In May, French major Total agreed to take a 10% stake in Novatek's planned 19.8 mtpa Arctic LNG 2 plant on Russia's Gydan Peninsula.

Novatek chief executive Leonid Mikhelson said the deal would close in early 2019 and that the project's FEED stage is scheduled to be concluded by the end of this year.

Mikhelson said Arctic LNG 2 would cost $25.5 billion, putting the value of Total's 10% stake at $2.6 billion. He added Novatek plans to retain a 60% share.

... Chinese interest in LNG2 also registered

21 June 2018

Novatek is also gaining growing support for its new grand Arctic initiative. The Arctic LNG 2 looks set to get investments also from China.

Russia's Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak confirms that talks are being held with the Chinese, reported the Independent Barents Observer.

"We are talking about the Arctic LNG 2 project, [...] and Chinese partners, among them the CNPC, are interested," Novak said.

The comment was made during last week's summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Qingdao, China.

From before, project developer Novatek has struck a deal with energy major Total. The French company gets 10 percent of the project and will later have the possibility to increase its stake by another five percent.

The Arctic LNG 2 has a total development cost of $25.5 billion. It is based on the resources of the Utrennoye natural gas field, a 1,58 billion cubic meters deposit located on the eastern shore of the Gulf of Ob.

Details added to US plans to boost Alaska spending

21 June 2018

The US government has pledged to spend $4m on infratstructural project in Alaska, and while the plans have largely been welcomed , there is some oppostions. Drilling opponents gathered outside of last week's Anchorage and Fairbanks hearings about the proposed lease sales to protest the plan, reports Reuters.

Interior spokeswoman Heather Swift, in an email, said the $4 million "will be used to support six projects designed to improve and construct existing outbuildings, facilities and research operations."

That work will include improvements to facilities located outside the refuge, in the Inupiat village of Kaktovik and at Galbraith Lake along the Trans Alaska Pipeline corridor, she said in the email.

The $4 million appropriation for Arctic refuge projects is one of the largest single items in a total of $50 million in planned DOI construction spending.

"The President is a builder, he loves to build and he loves our public lands, so it is a natural fit that the Trump Administration is dedicating so much attention to rebuilding our aging Fish and Wildlife Service infrastructure," Secretary Ryan Zinke said.

A partnership of three companies is seeking to do seismic surveys in the refuge starting this winter. The consortium included SAExploration and two Alaska Native corporations.

US Department of Interior officials consider ANWR drilling

26 April 2018

US Department of Interior officials have mapped out their first steps toward allowing drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in Alaska. The four-page notice of an environmental review, scheduled for publication in tomorrow'sFederal Register, sets the stage for oil and gas leasing within the 19-million-acre refuge, says Science.

Drilling would be limited to the 1.6-million-acre coastal plain. The region is believed to hold large oil and gas resources but also provides habitat for species like the polar bear and Porcupine caribou.

"Developing our resources on the coastal plain is an important facet for meeting our nation's energy demands and achieving energy dominance," said Interior's assistant secretary for land and minerals management, Joe Balash. "This scoping process begins the first step in developing a responsible path forward. I look forward to personally visiting the communities most affected by this process and hearing their concerns."

Gazprom to focus on technology for Arctic opportunities

26 April 2018
Russia's Gazprom Neft's pioneering Arctic oil projects are not going to be held back by international production cuts, although output growth will no longer be the company's main driver as it focuses on other metrics such as technology, its strategy and innovations head, Sergey Vakulenko, said reports Platts.
At a briefing in London, Vakulenko said Gazprom Neft, the oil-focused subsidiary of energy giant Gazprom, wanted to become an industry "benchmark," measuring up against international rivals on criteria such as safety, efficiency and particularly technological prowess, which it aims to bring to bear at legacy fields and frontier tight oil and shale projects, reported Platts.
Gazprom Neft has been at the forefront of Arctic oil projects, particularly since ExxonMobil's withdrawal from the area due to sanctions. It has almost reached its overall production target for 2020 of 100 million mt/year, with production last year of 89.8 million mt (roughly 1.8 million b/d).
The company,Russia's fourth-largest oil producer, is considering more than 10 new exploration projects to ensure that its output after 2020 maintains current record levels.

Statoil ceo confirms Askeladd project approval

26 April 2018
Speaking at the release of Norwegian oil company Statoil's annual results, Eldar Sætre, President and CEO said, "Following strong results from our improvement work we have a lower cost base, enabling us to capture high value from higher prices and deliver solid earnings across all segments. We continue our strong operational performance, and international production was record high. The cash flow from operating activities was very strong and above $7bn dollars in the quarter. We have reduced our net debt ratio from 29.0% to 25.1% after paying for Martin Linge, says Eldar Sætre, President and CEO of Statoil ASA. "In addition, Johan Sverdrup and our project portfolio are progressing according to plan and we have delivered the development plan for the Askeladd project for approval," said Sætre. It is expected that the Snøhvit area of the Barents Sea, the company is expected to develop the 1981 Askeladd discovery during 2020-2021, helping maintain production through the subsea facilities for the years ahead.

Russia's Admiralty to build platform for Arctic research

26 April 2018

St. Petersburg, Russia-based Admiralty Shipyards has signed a contract withthe Federal Service forHydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring (Roshydromet) todesign and build the Project 00903 North Pole ice-resistant self-propelled platform forArctic research.

"This unique platform will be the first vessel ofthis class capable ofoperating year-round inice conditions," Roshydromet head Maxim Yakovenko told the media afterthe contract was signed. He added that the platform should be operational inthree years.

Admiralty Shipyards CEO Alexander Buzakov said": "The unique feature ofthe platform is that it will be able todrift onthe sea forup totwo years withoutcalling atports. The vessel will have enough fuel and food fortwo years and will have a helipad forMi-8," Alexander Buzakov said. He added that the technical project documents and basic design would be created jointly withthe Vympel Design Bureau.

The platform's specifications are: length 67.8 meters, width 22.5 meters, deadweight around7,500 tons, a power unit ofup to3,600 kW, and speed atleast 10 knots.

Under the contract, Admiralty Shipyards is todeliver the platform toRoshydromet in2020.

US and Finland seeks to strengthen security in the Arctic

26 April 2018

US President Donald Trump and Finnish President Sauli Niinisto issued statements saying it was necessary tostrengthen security inthe Arctic, following a meeting in Washington DC.

"The leaders discussed Finland's plans forits remaining time asChair ofthe Arctic Council. Both leaders affirmed that it is essential toincrease security inthe Arctic," a joints statement said.

The White House did not specify what means the US will use todo this. Political experts had warned aboutpossible competition betweenthe countries inthe Arctic due totheir growing commerce and defense interests (Russia, the US, Canada and others) aswell asChina, which, while not an Arctic state, also wants toexpand its presence inthe region.

IACS works on Polar Code and cyber security

26 April 2018

The International Association for Classification Societies (IACS) is aiming todeliver a set of 12 guidelines covering cyber security practices in the shipping industry by the close of this year and present them to IMO, said the current IACS chairman and DNV-GL CEO Knut Ørbeck-Nilssen.

IACS is working within the IMO on several issues including ventilation in totally enclosed lifeboat; approval of lifeboat live-saving equipment and fire protection equipment and developingalternative ways to address standards.

On cyber security, Ørbeck-Nilssen said: "We are developing a risk model that can serve as a basis for managing cyber risk for vessels, and we will, during the course of this year, develop recommended practices that will help the industry address many of these challenges," Mr Ørbeck-Nilssen said.

HSBC to stop funding new Arctic E&P projects

26 April 2018

International bank HSBC will stop providing financing or provide financial services for new offshore oil and gas projects in the Arctic, greenfield oil sands projects and coal-fired power plants as part of its efforts to support a transition to a low-carbon economy.

The move, announced in the bank's latest update of its energy policy, will apply globally except for three countries where projects may be given specific dispensation if no reasonable energy alternative can be found.

Daniel Klier, Group Head of Strategy and Global Head of Sustainable Finance, HSBC, said: "Our updated energy policy reflects HSBC's ambition to help our customers make the transition to a low-carbon economy in a responsible and sustainable way".

UK sets out Arctic development plans: Beyond the Ice

12 April 2018

The United Kingdom government has published it thoughts on the developing its involvement in Arctic region research projects, environmental protection, future shipping lanes aswell asthe development ofthe energy infrastructure. The plans are reflected inthe second edition ofthe report 'Beyond the Ice: UK policy towardsthe Arctic,' published bythe British Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Polar Regions Department. The document's first edition was published in2013.

According tothe report, the Arctic remains a promising region inthe context ofeconomic development, environmental protection projects and investment inits future prosperity.

The document prioritises the followingthree main aspects: maintaining the UK's global influence, protecting the Arctic population and environment aswell asfacilitating regional prosperity.

The document's authors note that the UK respects the rights ofthe Arctic Council's eight member-countries and cooperates withthem. The report notes that the UK is one ofthe most active and influential non-Arctic countries, and that it will seek to maintain this status. To read the report, clickhere.

CNSOPB greenlights BP search offshore Nova Scotia

12 April 2018

The Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board (CNSOPB) has given the green light to BP Canada Energy Group ULC (BP Canada) allowing the drilling unit, theSeadrill West Aquarius, to enter Canada-Nova Scotia waters and continue with preparatory work in advance of its planned drilling of an exploration well.

This initial authorisation limits the scope of work to preparatory activities on board the Seadrill West Aquarius, and may include the mobilisation of additional supplies and equipment to the drilling unit. It does not permit BP Canada to commence the drilling of the exploration well.

"We are confident that BP Canada has sufficiently met all regulatory requirements so that the drilling unit may enter the Canada-Nova Scotia offshore area and carry out preparatory work in advance of drilling operations," said Stuart Pinks, CNSOPB CEO. "Vessels and equipment, along with necessary plans and procedures, were appropriately reviewed to ensure that all preparatory activity will be conducted in a safe and environmentally responsible manner."

Lundin Norway kicks of drilling in the Alta discovery

12 April 2018

Lundin Norway has commenced drilling well 7220/11-5 on the Alta discovery in PL609 in the southern Barents Sea. Following drilling, the well will be used for extended well testing.

The Alta discovery is located in PL609 in the southern Barents Sea, lies 160 km from the Norwegian coastline. The discovery was made in 2014 and three successful appraisal wells have been completed to date. The adjacent Gohta discovery located in PL492 is considered a possible joint development opportunity together with the larger Alta discovery. The combined gross contingent resource range for the Alta and Gohta discoveries is estimated to between 115 and 390 MMboe.

A 700 metres long horizontal well will be drilled in the oil zone, which will improve the lateral geological understanding of the Permian-Triassic karstified and fractured carbonate reservoirs.

The semi-submersible drilling rigLeiv Eirikssonwill be used for the drilling and testing at Alta. Drilling and testing is expected to take 140 days.

Lundin Norway is the operator of PL609 with a 40% working interest. The partners are DEA Norge and Idemitsu Petroleum Norge with 30% working interest each.

Elbrus logistics support ship joins Russia's Northern Fleet

12 April 2018

The lead vessel intheElbrus(Project 23120) multi-functional logistics support class has started service withRussia's Northern Fleet, Captain First Class Vadim Serga, head ofthe Northern Fleet's press service, told reporters.

TheElbruscombines the properties ofa rescue tug and transport ship. It can transfer cargo toshore and other ships inhigh latitudes withan ice thickness ofover half a meter. The vessel is equipped witha pressure chamber fordecompression ofdivers, and therefore can participate inrescue operations and provide medical assistance todistressed submariners.

"The Project 23120 lead multi-functional logistics support vessel, theElbrus, held the Russian Navy auxiliary fleet flag-raising ceremony today atthe Northern Fleet main base inSeveromorsk. From now on, the ship is listed inthe group ofsupport vessels ofthe united strategic command ofthe Northern Fleet," Serga said.

TheElbrus, built atSt. Petersburg's Severnaya Verf shipyard, has been conducting a series ofat-sea tests inthe Barents Sea sincethe beginning ofSeptember 2017.

IMO's influential MEPC discusses HFO and emissions

12 April 2018

This week the International Maritime Organisation's Marine Environment Protection Committee has been discussing climate change-related issues, including how to put into place the first-ever agreement to limit greenhouse gas emissions from shipping. The ship emissions issue has proved difficult for the IMO to find agreement. On the agenda this week is discussion on how to regulate heavy fuel oil usage in the Arctic.

Over the week, the committee will be presented with several papers addressing heavy fuel oil, including one that proposes banning its use in the Arctic. Another paper summarizes the work that has been done by the Arctic Council's Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment working group. All of the papers-including those that are expected to propose mitigation measures that fall short of a ban-will be considered by IMO member states before a subcommittee makes recommendations. As a meeting of the International Maritime Organization's Marine Environment Protection Committee opens today in London (MEPC72), the Clean Arctic Alliance called on IMO member states to support a proposal to ban heavy fuel oil (HFO) from Arctic shipping, said the Clean Arctic Alliance.

The proposal, co-sponsored by Finland, Germany, Iceland, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden and the US, calls for a ban on HFO, and is one of several papers on HFO use in the Arctic to be discussed at MEPC as it considers "development of measures to reduce risks of use and carriage of heavy fuel oil as fuel by ships in Arctic waters".

SCF Group gets $252m long-term credit facility for tankers

12 April 2018

Russian shipping companySovcomflot (SCF Group) has signed a new $252m seven-year credit facility with a consortium of six leading international banks, which includes: ABN AMRO Bank; BNP Paribas; Citibank; ING Bank; KfW IPEX-Bank, and Société Générale.

The funds will be used to finance a series of six Aframax tankers, the first-ever such vessels purpose-designed to be powered by LNG, currently under construction and due for delivery from Q3 2018 to Q2 2019. The vessel will adopt cleaner-burning LNG as a primary fuel for Aframax tankers.

Each 114,000-deadweight tanker will have an ice class 1A hull, enabling safe year-round export operations from regions with challenging ice conditions, such as the Baltic. Two vessels will work exclusively for Shell under time-charters for up to ten years, while Shell will also provide LNG fuel for all the six tankers in the series across North West Europe and the Baltic.

Rosatom floats idea of unmanned vessels for Arctic

12 April 2018

Rosatom, Russia's State Atomic Energy Corporation takes another step forward positioning itself as a lead player in developing the Arctic. A recent study made in cooperation with All-Russian Scientific Research Institute of Experimental Physics (VNIIEF) paves the way for how future shipping in icy waters can be made more cost-effective and safer, reports the Independent Barents Observer.

The study, first reported by RIA Novosti, says it will be possible to make significant improvements on the hull of the ships if they can be constructed without thinking about providing space for crew members.

Cargo can be placed in the bow, the dimensions of the vessels will be optimized in a more favorable way, all making the voyage more effective in Arctic waters. Still, one of the powerful nuclear powered icebreakers will sail first opening the ice for a convoy of unmanned vessels en route either to or from a domestic Arctic port or in transit between Asia and Europe.

A next step in the study will be to develop digital models and make model simulations of such autonomous cargo ships, said Rosatom.

Statoil chooses Kværner for Johan Castberg topsides

15 February 2018

Norwegian oil giant Statoil has awarded Kværner the contract for the Johan Castberg topsides. The contract includes the construction and installation of the topside structure for the floating production, storage and offloading vessel (FPSO) to be located on the Johan Castberg field in the Barents Sea. The contract has a total value of about NOK 3.8 billion ($500,000). The development work will take place at several yards along the Norwegian coast.

"This is one of the large pieces of the Johan Castberg puzzle, and is a key component of the FPSO. The contract includes building a total of ten modules, a flare boom and central pipe rack. The international competition for the contract has been tough, and we look forward to working closely with Kværner in the years to come. Norwegian suppliers have again demonstrated their competitiveness," says Torger Rød, Statoil's senior vice president for project management control.

Work along the coast

Kværner will utilise a number of yards along the Norwegian coast for the construction work. Yards in Sandnessjøen, Verdal, Stord and Egersund will all be used.

Rosneft and Gazprom Neft start drilling at Messoyakhsky

15 February 2018

Messoyakhaneftegaz, a joint venture ofRosneft and Gazprom Neft, has completed the construction ofits first deep well atthe Vostochno-Messoyakhskoye field inthe Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Area and plans tolaunch 10 more deep wells in2018.

"The initial inflow of250 metric tons ofoil per day has confirmed the high potential ofdeveloping the deep strata ofthe Messoyakhsky fields," the company's statement reads. The new well is 3.3 km deep and 4.4 km long. The information received will help inmaking a decision onthe further drilling ofdeep deposits onthe mainland Arctic, according tothe statement.
The deposits belong tothe Lower Cretaceous deposits formed 136 million years ago and contain lighter oil thanthe main reservoir underdevelopment located 800 m belowthe surface. "In 2018, Messoyakhaneftegaz plans tolaunch 10 more deep wells," the companies said.

European Commission rules on Norwegian tax

15 February 2018

Norway's tax rules for the oil industry do not constitute state aid, its finance ministry told European competition officials.

The competition watchdog of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) is investigating the tax regime following a complaint by Norwegian environmental group Bellona, reports Reuters.

Environmental groups, including Greenpeace, have also mounted a legal battle in Norway to try to stop the government from expanding exploration areas in the Arctic.

"The Ministry maintains that the Norwegian rules on reimbursement of exploration costs and interest on carry forward of losses ... do not constitute state aid under Article 61 of the EEA Agreement, and are therefore in compliance with the EEA (European Economic Area) law," the ministry said in a letter.

Norway allows companies to deduct 78% of their exploration costs from taxable income. Since 2005, companies without taxable income have been reimbursed for the value of this benefit directly in cash.

Bellona's complaint focuses on those provisions for the up-front cash flow reimbursement of exploration costs, which the organisation argues are in breach of state aid rules of the EEA, noted Reuters

This has so far amounted to over Nok100bn ($12.54 billion). In 2014 alone, the government paid Nok14.2bn in reimbursements to the petroleum sector

Falkland Island exploration takes a step closer

15 February 2018

IMO's sub-committee on Navigation, Communications and Search and Rescue is expected to discuss a joint Russia and the US proposal to develop a new two-way shipping route should be set up in the Bering Strait and Bering Sea.

In a rare example of co-operation between these two nations, they want to establish six two-way routes and six precautionary areas in the region in response to increasing levels of Arctic shipping traffic, its is reported.

The next meeting of the committee will meet in London between 19-23 February 2018.

Rosneft plans to export Arctic gas under threat

15 February 2018

The Energy Committee in the lower house of the Russian parliament has concluded that Rosneft should not be allowed to export natural gas. The state company requested permission to engage in exports of liquified natural gas from its projected Pechora LNG plant, reports the Independent Barents Sea Observer.

According to the legislators, an export permission to Rosneft could result in enhanced competition between Russian companies in the lucrative European energy marked and consequently be in conflict with the interests of Gazprom, the Russian natural gas monopoly company.

«This would contradict with the strategic interests of the country in the field of energy policy», the Committee says in a statement.

Rosneft has over the last years acquired a major number of new production licenses and boosted its reserves of natural gas both onshore and offshore. However, without the export permission, the the company will not be able to sell it abroad.

Canada begins military exercises in Nunavut region

15 February 2018

The Canadian military will hold the Operation NUNALIVUT training exercises inthe Arctic region Nunavut.

A 350-strong contingent fromthe 1st Canadian Mechanized Brigade, army reserve and Canadian Rangers formed mainly fromCanadian indigenous people, aswell asa combat diving team, will take part inthe drills, which are planned forMarch 11-13.

"Operation NUNALIVUT is an opportunity forthe Canadian Armed Forces towork inthe most northern regions ofthe country and improve response efficiency invarious emergencies, [which can happen] inthe Arctic," TASS reports citing the press release fromthe Canadian Department ofNational Defense.

In particular, duringthe exercise the team will train inunder-ice diving, patrolling, rescue operations and survivability inthe harsh Arctic conditions.

Oil exploration wells spudded offshore Arctic in Beaufort Sea

28 December 2017

Officials from the United States Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) witnessed the spudding of an exploration well offshore Alaska in the Beaufort Sea, and oversaw compliance with approved permits, federal regulations and safety standards as Eni U.S. Operating Co. Inc. began new well operations from Spy Island Drillsite in state waters.

"The Arctic is an important component of the Administration's national energy strategy, and today's news is great for America as the United States advances toward energy dominance," said Interior's Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management Joe Balash. "Interior is actively working with a number of Alaska Native partners, who rely on the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas for their subsistence way of life, to ensure a healthy environment for today and future generations."
The spudding of the well follows the Bureau's Nov. 28 approval of Eni's Application for Permit to Drill, and a pre-drill inspection Dec. 6-10. During a pre-drill inspection BSEE examined drilling equipment, assessed overall readiness, tested key safety devices, and verified lease stipulations and environmental mitigation measures.

"The Arctic offshore is an important part of the federal Outer Continental Shelf," said BSEE Director Scott Angelle. "BSEE will be at the forefront working with operators to promote safe and environmentally-sustainable operations."

Green light for the Nansen Legacy polar research project

28 December 2017

Norway's enormous Nansen Legacy project is designed to generate more knowledge about marine areas in the Arctic. The project aims to provide a better scientific basis for management of these areas.

Ten Norwegian research institutions are joining forces to study the complex relationships in the northern Barents Sea. The Nansen Legacy project ["Arven etter Nansen"] will be Norway's largest marine research project, with a budget of NOK 740 million.Researchers in the Nansen Legacy project will collaborate across disciplines and institutions to gain insight into the impact of the climate and anthropogenic activity on the marine ecosystem.

"This knowledge will enable us to manage Arctic resources responsibly in the future. More accurate measurements will yield better weather forecasting and ensure safer traffic," says project manager Marit Reigstad at UiT The Arctic University of Norway.

"Major changes are taking place in the Arctic and knowledge plays an increasingly important role in our ability to ensure sustainable development. Norway has a responsibility as well as the potential to generate much of the knowledge needed. That is what makes this initiative so vital," says John-Arne Røttingen, chiefeExecutive of the Research Council of Norway.

Russia's Rosneft, BP agree to jointly tap Arctic oil and gas

28 December 2017

Russian energy giant Rosneft and its shareholder BP have agreed to jointly develop oil and gas deposits in Russian Arctic Yamal-Nenets region,

The deal covers the Kharampurskoe and Festivalnoye license areas with total reserves exceeding 880 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas, reports Reuters.

Rosneft said the project involved developing reserves of "the Cenomanian deposit, pilot production and subsequent full-scale development of the Turonian deposit the Russian company said.

Rosneft is increasingly developing its natural gas production, aiming to increase output to 100 bcm a year in 2020 from 67 bcm in 2016.

US Coast Guard official discusses Arctic shipping policy

28 December 2017

Mike Emerson, director of marine transportation systems at the United States Coast Guard, presented a keynote address on Arctic waterways management at the recent 11th Annual Arctic Shipping Summit in London.

Emerson discussed the Arctic Coast Guard Forum, which aims to demonstrate collaborative value, as evidenced by the success of the multi-national Arctic Guardian Search and Rescue Exercise that was conducted offshore Iceland in September. Looking forward, Emerson said he anticipates increasing interest from countries outside the Arctic Circle to participate more fully in the Arctic Coast Guard Forum, as well as Arctic Council decision-making.

As Arctic sea ice recedes, a direct sea route from Europe to Asia is opening up along the coast of Russia, and Emerson said he expects the Northwest Passage across North America to follow suit.

"With more navigable waters, we can expect more shipping activities, and greater demands for waterways management," Emerson said. "The US Coast Guard is (therefore) engaging peer agencies across both borders in developing joint proposals for ship routes and areas-to-be-avoided in waterways that we share with Russia and Canada. These efforts, and a fresh focus on charting, polar codes, and acquisition of ice-capable assets are immediate priorities for ensuring marine safety and security."

Russia's USC constructs and ice-strengthened vessels

28 December 2017

Russia's United Shipbuilding Corporation is currently building 12 icebreakers and ice-strengthened vessels navigable inthe Arctic atan intensified pace due tothe heightened attention tothe Northern Sea Route, company president Alexei Rakhmanov, confirmed recently.

"Construction of12 icebreakers and ice-strengthened vessels (is) underway. Three ofthem are powerful nuclear-powered icebreakers ofthe LK-60 class," said Rakhmanov.

According to Rakhmanov, parallel withthe construction ofthe icebreakers "the United Shipbuilding Corporation has been upgrading its facilities inthe northwest ofRussia. This is, amongother things, aimed atproviding forthe production ofthe Lider advanced nuclear-powered icebreaker witha capacity of120 MW".

EMGS reports mulSeati-client sales in the Barents

21 December 2017

Electromagnetic Geoservices ASA (EMGS) has entered into data licensing agreements related to 3D CSEM multi-client data in the Barents Sea in Norway. The agreements represent combined revenues of approximately $1.4m.

Together with its wholly owned subsidiary Electromagnetic Geoservices Canada Inc. have initiated preparations for carrying out a pre-funded multi-client survey west of Newfoundland, Canada. The survey represents a minimum level of revenues to EMGS of around $2.5m.
The survey is expected to be completed by the end of this year.
The company uses proprietary electromagnetic (EM) technology to support oil and gas companies in their search for offshore hydrocarbons. EMGS supports each stage in the workflow, from survey design and data acquisition to processing and interpretation.
EMGS operates on a worldwide basis with offices in Trondheim, Oslo, Houston, Villahermosa, Rio de Janeiro and Kuala Lumpur.

Shipping traffic set to boom in Arctic over next decade

2 November 2017

Shipping traffic through Russia's Arctic waters will increase four-fold by 2025 on the back of a projected rise in exports of oil and gas to markets in Asia and Europe, Russian officials said during addresses to the Arctic Circle conference, held in Reykjavík, Iceland.

The projected increase, to a volume of between 35 million and 40 million tonnes, comes as Russian and foreign investment along the country's northern coast grows, says Global Trade.

One project alone, the $26 million Yamal Natural Gas plant, is expected to reach full production capacity of 16.5 mt next year. The gas is to be transported to markets in Europe and Asia by a fleet of 15 tankers, said Yuri Kostin, the deputy head of the Russian agency responsible for administering the Northern Sea Route. Moscow's projection also factors in exports from other natural resource extraction projects that are in various stages of development, including oil drilling, said two other shipping experts. Lawson Brigham, a University of Alaska Fairbanks professor and Nasuhiko Otsuka, of Hokkaido University's Arctic Research Center, who were part of a panel with Kostin, said they consider the projections realistic, but cautioned that the volume of traffic is closely tied to the price of commodities, in particular oil.

Northern Sea Route sees increase in shipping violations

2 November 2017

During the first ten months of 2017, the Russian Northern Sea Route (NSR) Administration recorded 88 violations of its Rules of Navigation committed by 84 vessels. This represents approximately 15-20% of all ships traveling the route this summer.

Violations range from procedural violations, such as failure to notify authorities when entering and exiting the route, to deviations from approved routes or entering the route without permission, to operating in ice conditions that exceed vessel specifications.

Nearly half of all violations fell into this last, and according to experts, most serious category. "These violations will increase the risk of incident or accidents of course. I'm particularly concerned about the operations beyond vessel capability as these represent a very serious risk," explains Dr. Simon Walmsley, Marine Manager of WWF International. "The fact this is 15-20% of all vessels is very concerning, as this looks like fairly common practice."

The NSR has witnessed a number of accidents and incidents over the past decade. Earlier this year the Danish bulk carrier Nordic Barents collided with the nuclear icebreaker Vaygach, but fortunately neither ship's seaworthiness was affected.

US Treasury seeks further sanctions against Moscow

2 November 2017

The US Treasury Department has announced a new set of sanctions against Moscow, banning American companies and individuals from taking part in Russian energy projects related. The US Treasury Department has announced a new set of sanctions against Moscow, banning American companies and individuals from taking part in Russian energy projects related to deepwater, Arctic offshore or shale oil exploration and production, reports RT.

"The Director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control has determined, in consultation with the Department of State, that the following activities by a US person or within the United States are prohibited... the provision, exportation, or re-exportation, directly or indirectly, of goods, services (except for financial services), or technology in support of exploration or production for deepwater, Arctic offshore, or shale projects," a statement from the organisation said.

In particular, the document prohibits helping Russian oil companies that already face sanctions in exploration or production for deepwater, Arctic offshore, or shale projects abroad which are to be initiated after Jan. 29, 2018 and where Russian holdings are 33 percent or more.

Norwegian, Russian Prime Ministers talk Arctic cooperation

2 November 2017

Russian and Norwegian Prime Ministers Dmitry Medvedev and Erna Solberg have met to discuss expanded practical cooperation across the Arctic region, according to local reports.

Solberg called Medvedev onthe telephone and offered her condolences inconnection withthe recent death ofRussian citizens ina Mi-8 helicopter crash nearSvalbard (Spitsbergen) Archipelago. Medvedev thanked the Government ofNorway fororganizing the search-and-rescue operation that included a team fromRussia's Ministry forCivil Defense, Emergencies and Disaster Relief.

"The heads ofgovernment noted the importance ofstrengthening practical cooperation inthe Arctic region and emphasized their mutual interest inexpanding Russian-Norwegian ties," the press service report noted.

Russian Security Council says 'Situation in the Arctic is stable'

2 November 2017
Although the situation in the Arctic remains stable and predictable, the efficiency of government management should be enhanced, says a report Security Council's Interdepartmental Commission for Strategic Planning, RIA Novosti reports.
"Russia controls almost one-third of the entire Arctic territory, and we must ensure the sustainable development of Russia's Arctic zone. First of all, we need to create modern transport, energy and information infrastructure, resolve the issues related to resource and industrial development, and improve living standards of the peoples of the North," Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev told a meeting of the commission.
The Interdepartmental Commission for Strategic Planning described the Arctic situation as stable and predictable in the context of actively developing multi-lateral cooperation between Russia and other Arctic states. A new version of the state program Social and Economic Development of the Russian Arctic Zone has been adopted.

China looks to boosts its icebreaker presence in Arctic

2 November 2017

China will double the frequency of Arctic expeditions to once a year from this year, the State Oceanic Administration (SOA) said.

China's ice breaker, the Xuelong (Snow Dragon) returned to base in Shanghai in October after 83 days on the Arctic rim, completing its eighth Arctic expedition.

Rapid changes in the Arctic have an influence on climate, ecology, social and economic development in China, Lin Shanqing, deputy director of the SOA, said while explaining why the country will increase the Arctic research.

Arctic shipping routes which have been opened by thawing in the region, are significant to China as the economy depends heavily on maritime transport, Lin said.

The routes are the shortest maritime trade connecting northeast Asia with Europe and North America.

"Our polar explorations will help understanding, use and protection of the Arctic," Lin said. "Melting ice in the Arctic, the most vulnerable area to climate change, has been far beyond expectations. Our knowledge is far from sufficient."

Norway mulls oil moratorium in key Arctic region

21 September 2017

Norway's ruling Conservative Party is willing to abstain from oil and gas exploration in a key Arctic region for another four years, in return for continued parliamentary support for its minority government, Reuters reports.

The fish-rich waters surrounding the Lofoten, Vesteraalen and Senja region have for years been off limits to drillers as a way for governments to secure backing for their broader agendas from parties focused on protecting the environment.

Oil producers, including Statoil, Aker BP and Lundin Petroleum, have long sought access to explore near the islands, believing more than a billion barrels of oil could be found.

Since Heading2013, the government of the Conservatives and the populist Progress Party has relied on the backing of the smaller Liberal Party and the Christian Democrats in return for keeping the area oil-free.

Molodtsov: develop Russian shelf despite oil price changes

21 September 2017

Russia needs toprospect foroil and gas onthe continental shelf despiteoil price fluctuations, Russian Deputy Minister ofEnergy Kirill Molodtsov said, speaking atthe 13th RAO/CIS Offshore 2017 International Conference and Exhibition forOil and Gas Resources Development ofthe Russian Arctic and Continental Shelf.

"The Prirazlomnaya platform was developed in1993, when a barrel ofoil cost $9. Should we stop our projects? Sixty years ago, when we were thinking aboutWestern Siberia, everyone said this was not right and that we should stop. Does this mean that we should now stop our shelf projects? Even the Prirazlomnoye field operates and produces the Arctic Oil (ARCO) brand. It produces high-quality light oil that trades well againstour current Urals brand inRotterdam," Molodtsov noted, while replying toa question aboutoptimal oil prices forrecouping shelf projects.

"If they tell us tomorrow that the shelf is our main asset, then we would be ready toaccomplish this task. We are ready tooperate onSakhalin, inthe Okhotsk Sea, and we can prepare towork inthe Arctic zone, which we are studying actively... We are gaining experience. Ladies and gentlemen, we need this today," Molodtsov explained.

Rosneft tows heavy iceberg in the Arctic

21 September 2017

State-owned Russian oil giant Rosneft has towed an iceberg weighing overone million metric tons inthe Arctic, the company's Vice President Andrei Shishkin said atthe 13th RAO/CIS Offshore 2017 International Conference and Exhibition forOil and Gas Resource Development ofthe Russian Arctic and Continental Shelf. The iceberg weighs 13 times more thanthe one which sunk the Titanic.

Shishkin says: "A unique technology tochange an iceberg's direction throughexternal force has been tested inRussia forthe first time. The company's experts have successfully towed an iceberg weighing overone million metric tons. This is the first such experience inthe Russian Arctic and an outstanding event inthe world."

"Rosneft is working todevelop and introduce new equipment and technologies foroperations inextreme natural climate conditions. It would not be an exaggeration tosay that the development ofthe Arctic, interms oftechnologies, new equipment and engineering, probably even compares withspace exploration and, maybe even costs more," Shishkin noted.

US moves closer to getting more icebreakers

21 September 2017

The U.S. Senate has passed a $692 billion defense authorisation bill that included provisions to bolster missile defense systems in Alaska and approval for building up to six Arctic icebreakers.

The legislation authorizes the Coast Guard to acquire up to six icebreakers. Currently, the military branch has two, although one is not operational. Russia, by contrast, has more than 40 icebreakers and more underway, according to Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan.

OMV successfully completes Barents Sea appraisal well

21 September 2017
OMV (Norge) AS, operator of production licence 537, has completed the drilling of appraisal well 7324/8-3 on oil discovery 7324/8-1 (Wisting) in the Barents Sea.
The well was drilled about two kilometres south of the discovery well 7324/8-1 and 315 kilometres north of Hammerfest. Discovery 7324/8-1 was proven in reservoir rocks from the Middle and Early Jurassic (upper part of the Realgrunnen sub-group) in 2013. Before appraisal well 7324/8-3 was drilled, the operator's resource estimate for the Wisting area was between 22 and 80 million standard cubic metres (Sm3) of recoverable oil equivalents.
The objective of the well was to collect data to reduce uncertainties as regards the recoverable volumes, as well as to perform a water injection test in reservoir rocks in the Stø formation and a seismic monitoring study, said the company.

Arctic responsibilities laid out at NEVA shipping event

21 September 2017

Developments in Arctic upstream and transportation projects are providing the main focal point for many at the top Russian shipping event NEVA in St Petersburg, and come at a pivotal time for both the economic and ecological prospects of the region. Export shipments of LNG from the Yamal peninsula are due to start shortly, with the lead vessel of 15 in the 'Yamal LNG fleet' recently completing the first unaccompanied voyage by a gas carrier through the Northern Sea Route by way of prelude. The LNG carrier Christophe de Margerie loaded cargo at the Snøhvit LNG export terminal in Norway, taking the NSR to deliver LNG to Boryeong in South Korea in 15 days versus 30 days via the Suez Canal.

Ultimately, close to 16.5million tons of LNG a year will transit through the port of Sabetta, built specifically for the project, representing a vital contribution to Russia's export economy.

Yamal is also a strategic development that brings with it environmental responsibilities that will be explored in full at NEVA 2017. A special Round table entitled 'International Arctic ecology cooperation horizons - Protection of Arctic seas' takes place in Conference Halls G25 - G27 on September 19, organised by the International Expert Council on the Cooperation in the Arctic, Centre for Strategic Assessment and Forecasts. This session will include a contribution from IMO Technical Officer Mikhail Gappoev.

Statoil and Eni award Bristow Barents Sea contract

21 September 2017

Statoil and Eni have awarded Bristow the contract for one SAR helicopter, and one transport helicopter, which can be converted to a SAR helicopter when needed. Both are Sikorsky S-92 helicopters.

Each contract has a duration of five years with options to extend by up to three years. It starts from September 2018.

The two helicopters will serve production, development and exploration operations in the Barents Sea for the two companies and for Statoil the contracts will be used in connection with the Johan Castberg field, pending an investment decision by the end of year.

The helicopters will also be used for drilling operations on the Snøhvit field, and in the company's exploration operations in the Barents Sea.

"These long-term contracts mean that Hammerfest will be an important helicopter base for us for many years to come. Hammerfest has the infrastructure and expertise to provide efficient helicopter services, and of particular importance, the helicopter base is close to our operations in the Barents Sea", says Philippe F. Mathieu, senior vice president for Joint Operations Support in Statoil.

EMGS reports multi-client sales in the Barents Sea

21 September 2017
Norway's Electromagnetic Geoservices ASA (EMGS) has entered into data licensing agreements related to 3D CSEM multi-client data in the Barents Sea in Norway. The agreements represent combined revenues of approximately $1.2 million.
3D CSEM surveys and data have an important place in the exploration workflow, working with seismic, petrophysical, and geologic data to develop a geological model as close to reality as possible. While seismic data is highly effective in providing operators with structural and stratigraphic information (trap and reservoir potential), EM data is strongly sensitive to hydrocarbon saturation and volume of the reservoir.

Petrofac awarded contract on Sakhalin Island

7 September 2017

Petrofac has been awarded a contract worth more than US$700 million by Sakhalin Energy Investment Company for its onshore processing facility (OPF) on Sakhalin Island. The project comprises a lump-sum engineering, procurement and offshore fabrication component, as well as a reimbursable element for construction and site services.

The scope of work includes inlet separation and feed gas compression facilities, a new flare system, utilities, substations and associated buildings, a temporary beach landing facility, refurbishment of the existing camp, temporary site facilities for Sakhalin Energy and Petrofac, as well as brownfield tie-ins to the existing OPF. With early engineering work already underway, the project will support Sakhalin Energy in maintaining its sustainable LNG capacity.

Sunder Kalyanam, Group Managing Director for Petrofac's Engineering & Construction Growth business said: "We have been executing projects in Russia since the 1990s and this marks our tenth in the country. Sakhalin Island is a very familiar location for Petrofac as our Sakhalin Technical Training Centre (STTC), established in 2008, has been helping meet increased local demand for competent personnel specialising in the oil and gas industry."

Sweden to relocate its Polar Research Secretariat to Luleå

7 September 2017

The Swedish Government has informed that the Swedish Polar Research Secretariat's office in Stockholm will be relocated to Luleå.

The move from Stockholm to Luleå will, according to the decision, be completed by 30 June 2019.

The management of the Secretariat will immediately start to work on a plan to ensure that the relocation can take place in such a way that activities can continue to function effectively both in the short and long term, said the government.

The Swedish Polar Research Secretariat has 30 employees. Luleå is the largest city in the northern Norrbotten region

Norway debates tax changes on developing remote Arctic

7 September 2017

Norway's government plans to make ta2017xpayers rather than oil companies pay special U.N. fees for any offshore production from remote Arctic regions, reports Reuters.

The plan could serve as an example for other nations looking to fund exploration of the seabed ever further from land.

It was criticized by opposition parties that want tighter limits on exploration in the fragile Arctic environment, days before an election in which the future of Norway's big offshore oil and gas sector is a major issue, reports Reuters.

Under Article 82 of the treaty, rich nations are due to pay up to 7 percent a year of the value of any production -- of oil, gas or other minerals -- from their continental shelves more than 200 nautical miles (370 km) from land to a fund to help developing nations.

The money would be channeled to poor nations via the United Nations' International Seabed Authority in Jamaica. The mechanism is untested as there is no production so far offshore.

The Oil and Energy Ministry included a warning about Article 82 when it offered parts of the Arctic Barents Sea, more than 200 nautical miles from land, for exploration in the latest licensing round awarded in 2016.

Finland to host Arctic Council summit in May 2019

7 September 2017

A summit ofthe Arctic Council will be held inMay 2019, says Mikko Hautala, the Finnish ambassador toRussia. The venue ofthe summit has not been named.

"The summit is planned totake place atthe end ofour chairmanship, which is inMay 2019," Hautala, reports Novosti duringthe International Arctic Conference underthe aegis ofRussia's Security Council.

The Arctic Council chairmanship was passed overto Finland in2017.

Ampelmann white paper on Arctic access for Offshore Europe

7 September 2017

Netherlands-based offshore access specialists Ampelmann is one of the exhibitors at this week's Offshore Europe event in Aberdeen, Scotland with an interest in supplying the E&P sector working in the Arctic. The company has a track record of transferring more than 3.6million people and 2.6 tonnes of cargo which is transferred from ships to offshore structures in 200 individual projects, was formed ten years ago.

Ampelmann currently maintains a fleet of 60 operational systems which are used for transferring crews and cargo to offshore structures. These solutions are tailored to the needs of different market segments, sea states, cargo and crew loads and are used by the key international players.

Jan van der Tempel, founder and CEO of Ampelmann, "In the current offshore climate, being able to transfer staff members to offshore structures safely, affordably and efficiently is more important than ever. We help our customers limit downtime and reduce their project costs." To coincide with its 10-year anniversary, Ampelmann has published a whitepaper with a brief company history and other details. It contains information about existing and new developments in crew and cargo transfer solutions such as the A400, the L-type, the N-Type system created for Arctic operations and the A-type enhanced performance (AEP). This whitepaper also informs about the Ampelmann S-type which is being designed for use on medium and lightweight crew vessels with hull lengths of 50 m and larger.

Offshore Europe runs from the 5th - 8th September in Aberdeen. Find out more here.

Sokolov: Sovcomflot ready for privatization

7 September 2017

Sovcomflot, Russia's largest shipping company, is ready forprivatization, butno concrete decisions have been made yet, Russian Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov said.

"The Ministry ofEconomic Development and the Federal Agency forState Property Management (Rosimushchestvo) have not yet said it would happen this year. I can confirm our readiness and the intra-governmental procedures, butthe decision has not been made yet," Mr Sokolov said, answering a question aboutSovcomflot's possible privatization this year.

Earlier, the Ministry ofTransport submitted a statement tothe government onprivatizing the state company.

New exploration director in place for NPD

7 September 2017

Torgeir Stordal has been hired as the exploration director in the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate. Stordal (55) studied applied geophysics and has a Master of Science from the University of Bergen (1987).

He has worked for Shell since 1989. His roles at Shell have included geophysicist and geologist within exploration and field development. In recent years, he has held several management positions within exploration. During 2009-2013, he was the exploration manager in Norske Shell and has since held a global role within resource evaluation at Shell's headquarters in the Netherlands.

Stordal will take over from Sissel Eriksen, who will be leaving the management team after completing her rotation. Eriksen has been the exploration director in the NPD since September 2007.

Russia's Sibir icebreaker to be launched this September

20 July 2017

The Project 22220 universal series-built nuclear icebreaker Sibir, currently onthe stocks atthe Baltic Shipyard inSt. Petersburg, is tobe launched onSeptember 26, the Shipyard's Director General Alexei Kadilov told RIA Novosti.

"On September 26, we will launch the Sibir icebreaker," Mr. Kadilov said ashe presented the Baltic Shipyard's projects.

The Iceberg Central Design Bureau developed the engineering design in2009. The ship's dual-draft structure makes it possible touse it both inthe Arctic and also inthe mouth ofpolar rivers. The icebreaker will be used inthe western Arctic areas such asthe Barents, Pechora and Kara seas, and also inthe shallower waters ofthe Yenisei mouth aswell asin the Gulf ofOb.

Sibir is 173.3 m long and 34 m wide, witha gross tonnage of33.54 thousand metric tons. The icebreaker has a dual-reactor power unit withthe steam produced mainly bythe Ritm-200 new generation reactor specifically designed forthis ship.

The first-in-class Project 22220 icebreaker is the Artika that was launched onJune 16, 2016.

Statoil leads group that makes Barents Sea discovery

20 July 2017

Statoil and partners ENI and Petoro have made a small gas discovery in the Blåmann well, between the Snøhvit and Goliat fields in the Barents Sea. Recoverable volumes are estimated at 2-3 billion standard cubic metres (BCM), approximately 10-20 million barrels of oil equivalent (BOE). The well was drilled in licence PL 849, awarded in 2016 in Norway's Awards in Predefined Areas (APA) licensing round. Gas was found in a 23 metre column in the Stø formation. No oil volumes were encountered.

"We were exploring for oil and this is not the result we were hoping for," says Jez Averty, senior vice president for exploration in Norway and the UK.

"However, this gas discovery has the potential to contribute additional resources to the Snøhvit project," he notes.

The discovery is located in the Hammerfest basin, approximately 21 kilometres southeast of the Snøhvit field.

This is the second discovery in Statoil's 2017 Barents Sea exploration campaign, following the Kayak oil discovery announced on 3 July.

The well was drilled by the "Songa Enabler" semi-submersible drilling rig, which will now move on to the Hoop area to drill the Gemini North prospect in licence PL855, northeast of the Wisting discovery.

LNG carrier newbuilding gets Samson ropes

20 July 2017

High-modulus polyethylene (HMPE) Dyneema SK78 fibre mooring lines are being to Eduard Toll, the Teekay LNG-owned and operated ice-class LNG carrier that will deliver cargoes from the Yamal LNG project in the Russian Arctic. The ropes are manufactured by US-based specialist Samson Rope Technologies, according to reports.

The 172,000m³ newbuilding will be fitted with 12-strand construction Samson AmSteel-Blue 42mm diameter lines that are 275m long and fitted with durable Samson DC Moor-Gardchafe protection. Samson says AmSteel-Blue is designed to suit operations in the extreme low temperatures associated with the 16.5 million tonne a year Yamal LNG project.

Samson will provide additional services to Teekay LNG as part of its Samson Advantage package.The service agreement covers correct line installation, crew training, and maintenance support throughout the mooring lines' operating life.

Eduard Toll, formerly Daewoo Shipping & Marine Engineering (DSME) Hull 2423, is built to Arc 7 ice-class capability and features the GTT No 96 containment system and dual-fuel diesel electric propulsion. It is the second of 15 172,000m³, Arc 7 ice-class LNG carriers built to deliver cargoes from Russia's frozen north - and one of six that Teekay LNG has ordered in partnership with China LNG Shipping (CLNG).

Eduard Toll is under construction at DSME's Okpo shipyard. It is due for delivery this year, to enter service next year. Teekay LNG and CLNG say the six vessels have a fully built-up cost of some US$2.1 billion.

Novatek reported choosing Saipem for LNG deal ...

20 July 2017

Russian gas producer Novatek is expected to select Italy's Saipem to build offshore platforms for its second liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility in the Arctic, reports Reuters..

Novatek is aiming to produce as much LNG as the world's biggest exporter Qatar and is drawing up plans to build a second plant, known as Arctic LNG 2, on the Gydan Peninsula that juts into the Kara Sea.

"The contract is not signed yet, (but Saipem) are expected to become a subcontracting party for the Technip-Linde-NIPIGas consortium," Reuters reported.

A second source familiar with the details confirmed that Saipem was expected to work as a subcontractor to build the LNG units, which will be gravity-based platforms near the coast held in place on the seabed with ballast.

... as contracts getting signed for Arctic LNG

20 July 2017

In May, Novatek signed an agreement with Technip, Linde and the Russian Research and Design Institute for Gas Processing (NIPIGas) to design and develop gravity-based LNG facilities for Arctic LNG 2. Novatek has also agreed to buy Linde's licence for gas liquefaction technology for the plant, reports Reuters.

The fact that Novatek has now chosen all four main contractors suggests the Russian company is serious about proceeding with the project, which is expected to start operating in the early 2020s.

One source with direct knowledge of the matter said Novatek would start drilling its first exploratory gas wells in 2018.

Two more sources, one close to Saipem and a Western energy source, said the gravity-based structures should allow Novatek to build the plant more cheaply than its first Arctic LNG project at Yamal. They did not give an estimate of the savings.

Arctic LNG 2 is expected to have an output matching or exceeding Yamal. Its first line, which will produce 5.5 million tonnes of LNG a year, is expected to be launched later this year and Yamal will be producing 16.5 million tonnes by 2019.

For now, Russia has just one operational LNG facility, run by Gazprom on the Pacific island of Sakhalin.

Solovki conservation and research center Pomorye, Russia

20 July 2017

An Arctic center forstudying and preserving the Solovetsky Islands historical and cultural complex, included inthe UNESCO World Heritage List, will be set upat the Lomonosov Northern (Arctic) Federal University, said Sergei Gromovoy, head ofthe Agency forthe Development ofthe Solovetsky Archipelago inthe Arkhangelsk region.

"The idea tocreate this Arctic center emerged fairly recently. Its main aim is topreserve a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Solovetsky Islands historical and cultural complex. The center should be a kind ofa UNESCO department where specialists are trained and all these issues are discussed," Gromovoy said.

The Solovetsky Islands is an archipelago inthe White Sea offthe Onega Bay. It sprawls across347 square kilometers, which makes it the largest amongthe White Sea archipelagoes. The islands and the adjoining water area, five kilometers wide, form part ofthe Solovetsky State Historical, Architectural and Nature Museum-Reserve. The key attraction and spiritual center ofthe islands is the Solovetsky Stauropegic Monastery. The islands' historical and cultural complex has been onthe UNESCO World Heritage List since1992.

Statoil hope for spin Johan Castberg developments

29 June 2017

The overall operational support to Johan Castberg will have considerable spinoffs in north Norway, according to Norwegian oil giant Statoil.

Statoil has, on behalf of the licence partners, decided that the Johan Castberg operation will be supported by a supply and helicopter base in Hammerfest and an operations organisation in Harstad.

Expected to come on stream in 2022, the field will be operating for 30 years. We will invest around NOK 1.15 billion per year in operation of the field, amounting to around 1700 man-years nationally, of which around 500 will be performed in North Norway.

Johan Castberg is one of the largest projects in Statoil's portfolio yet to be developed. It will be an important contribution in further developing the northern petroleum activity.

A final investment decision regarding Johan Castberg is to be made towards the end of 2017. Johan Castberg development costs have been calculated at close to NOK 50 billion. The national employment during the development phase has been estimated at almost 47,000 man-years, of which close to 1800 will be in north Norway.

NorwaRussia's Sibir icebreaker to be launched this September

y's Gassco boss talks pipelines and Arctic gas

29 June 2017

Norway will deliver at least the same amount of gas by pipeline in 2017 as it did last year, when output was 108 billion cubic meters, the chief executive of Gassco, Norway's gas infrastructure operator said, reports Reuters.

Norway is Western Europe's largest gas exporter and Britain's top gas supplier, covering 40 percent of the country's gas needs in 2015.

"It is fair to assume that we will stay at the same high levels as we did in 2016 ... at least the same level," Frode Leversund said ', adding that in 2018 Norway could deliver the same 'high and stable' volumes as in 2017.

While no further capacity upgrades are expected at any of Norway's gas processing plants, Gassco has plans to enhance the technical integrity of the plants by improving its ageing systems.

"We have launched a big project now at Kaarstoe, for example. It costs about 800 million crowns ($94 million). These projects will be linked to the regular maintenance of the plants," Leversund said, adding that ongoing maintenance at Norwegian gas installations was going to plan.

Gassco also said the cost of a pipeline to connect Arctic fields to Norway's existing gas infrastructure was now lower than a 2014 estimate of NKr24 billion.

"The cost will be lower. The potential is there, absolutely ... That could be after 2020," he said, without giving a new estimate, reports Reuters.

A number of oil firms are exploring for hydrocarbons in the Arctic and a pipeline is one of several options under consideration to transport any gas found.

South Korea and Russia ways of Arctic co-operation

29 June 2017

South Korea and Russia are discussing ways to build economic bridges in the Russian Far East and Siberia, while looking beyond North Korea's current isolation to improve relations.

South Korea's foreign ministry said that Alexander Krutikov, the deputy minister for the development of the Russian Far East, and South Korean Deputy Foreign Minister Lee Jeong-kyu met to discuss ways to increase South Korean trade and investment in Russia.

Potential projects could include joint exploration of the North Pole, developing shipping channels that cross the Arctic Circle, shipbuilding and energy development. The two sides also agreed to establish a hotline between Seoul's trade agency KOTRA and Russia's Far East investment promotion arm.

Rosneft upbeat on further Arctic discoveries

29 June 2017

Igor Sechin, the head of Russian oil company Rosneft, said there were promising oil opportunities in the Arctic region, about a week after declaring a potentially significant find in the Laptev Sea. The company said the region holds at least a dozen promising reservoirs and that a number of new oil-bearing structures are emerging.

"We h ave identified a number of promising structures there," he said, reported TASS.

Sechin said in April more drilling is planned next year in the Arctic reaches of the Barents Sea, "and [we] will continue our work in the eastern Arctic."

Rosneft holds about two dozen license areas on the Arctic shelf. The company points to industry experts who suggest the region could account for as much as 30% of Russia's total oil production by 2050".

Salmanovskoye development project for Arctic LNG-2 approved

29 June 2017

The government ofthe Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Area inwestern Siberia, Russia has approved a project todevelop the Salmanovskoye (Utrenneye) oil and gas condensate field onthe Gydan Peninsula. Gas fromthis field will be delivered tothe planned Arctic LNG-2 liquefaction plant.

A project todevelop the startup facilities forthe Salmanovskoye (Utrenneye) oil and gas condensate field onthe Gydan Peninsula has been presented ina meeting inSalekhard. The project contractor is JSC Arctic LNG-2. Meeting participants agreed that the project could be considered legally permitted and incompliance withRussian law."

According tothe Yamal-Nenets department fornatural resources management, the Salmanovskoye (Utrenneye) field is located a substantial distance fromresidential areas or any oil and gas pipeline infrastructure.

"These startup facilities will not affect reindeer migration routes. The environmental impact review was comprehensively conducted withdue regard fornature conservation requirements and included an analysis ofsubsoil resources, the geological environment, soil, flora and fauna, the hydrosphere and air resources," a department representative said.

Arctic Development Commission meets in St. Petersburg

29 June 2017

Russia's State Commission forArctic Development is meeting today, June 29 under chairmanship of an onsite meeting ofthe Presidium ofthe State Commission forArctic Development.

The Commission will meet inSt. Petersburg onthe sidelines ofthe 8th International Maritime Defense Show (IMDS-2017), which will be held fromJune 28 toJuly 2. Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman Dmitry Rogozin will lead the discussions.

"The Commission will discuss plans tocreate a modern information and telecommunications infrastructure inthe Arctic, the Russian Arctic regions' energy security and a project tomark the external boundaries ofRussia's continental shelf inthe Arctic Ocean," according to the Commission. The meeting is being attended bythe heads offederal executive agencies and Russian Arctic regions and delegates frombusiness and research communities.

Legal dispute halts Statoil drilling in Barents Sea

1 June 2017

Statoil has interrupted drilling in the Barents Sea in the Arctic region after a court issued a temporary injunction in a technology dispute with a small Norwegian firm, a Statoil spokesman said, reports Reuters.

The Stavanger court has prohibited Statoil from using its Cap-X drilling technology after Norwegian firm NeoDrill said it was based on its patented Conductor Anchor Node (CAN) technology, which NeoDrill has been developing since 2000.

Statoil said it had to stop drilling its first exploration well in the Barents Sea this year, Blaamann, which was spudded about a week ago, while it tried to secure a lifting the injunction and prepared alternative plans if that effort failed.

Statoil stepped up exploration efforts this year, focusing on the Barents Sea. According to the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate the area could hold two-thirds of all undiscovered resources off the Norwegian coast.

"We are taking steps to comply with the decision. We are currently securing the (Blaamann) well and that will take a few days to complete," Statoil said.

Husky moves ahead with West White Rose project

1 June 2017

Canada's Husky Energy is moving forward with the West White Rose Project offshore Newfoundland and Labrador.

Husky and partners will use a fixed wellhead platform tied back to the SeaRose floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel.

First oil is expected in 2022 and the project is anticipated to achieve a gross peak production rate of approximately 75,000 barrels per day (bbls/day) in 2025, as development wells are drilled and brought online.

"Over the years the Atlantic business has provided some of the strongest returns in the Company's portfolio and West White Rose is the next chapter," said CEO Rob Peabody. "This project is of a scale approaching the original White Rose development and is able to use the existing SeaRose FPSO to process and export production.

With the tie-back to the SeaRose, incremental operating costs are expected to be less than $3 per barrel over the first 10 years, further driving down overall operating costs per barrel for the entire White Rose field as the project ramps up.

Husky has a working interest of approximately 70%. Project partners are Suncor Energy and Nalcor Energy.

Alaska-based 88 Energy pushes ahead with Project Icewine

1 June 2017

88 Energy is continuing to develop its Project Icewine, located onshore North Slope of Alaska. Icewine-2 4.5" production liner successfully cemented in place with the Arctic Fox rig demobilisation planned to start commence shortly.

Preparations are on track for execution of main stimulation in the third week of June, said the company adding that production testing remains on schedule for late June / early July

Final preparations for the main stimulation are underway, with execution expected towards the end of June with production testing remains on schedule soon after.

Dave Wall, managing director of 88 Energy, said: "The Alaska team have successfully completed the Icewine#2 well on schedule, after an effective adjustment to the completion plan, post the initial unsuccessful attempt to set the production liner. Everything is now lining up for execution of the main stimulation operation, with flow testing of the HRZ on target for late June."

Advanced Research Fund to develop Russia Arctic military

1 June 2017

Russia's Advanced Research Fund is set todevelop new-generation military equipment foruse inthe Arctic, its sources told RIA Novosti.

"The Advanced Research Fund will develop new-generation military equipment forthe Arctic. Today, advanced materials fornew equipment, communications systems and other potentially useful technologies that can operate inthe Far North are being developed underthe fund's projects".

The fund has already hosted a meeting ofan interdepartmental working group tocompile technical requirements forcombat equipment forservice personnel and toprovide Arctic units withmodern weapons, military equipment and robotic systems. A number ofspecialized meetings involving developers and clients are scheduled tobe held soon.

The abovemeeting, chaired byOleg Martyanov, a member ofthe Russian Military-Industrial Commission's Board, involved members ofthe Northern Troops expedition which has been exploring various Arctic routes since2008; this expedition unites scientists, developers ofcutting-edge technology forthe Far North and explorers.

Arctic shipping forum prepares to meet in London

1 June 2017
The Arctic Marine Shipping Best Practices Information Forum is meeting in London on June 5/6 to discuss and support effective implementation of the Polar Code by making publicly available at a web portal hyperlinks to information relevant to all those involved in safe and environmentally sound Arctic shipping, including vessels owners/operators, regulators, classification societies, marine insurers, and indigenous and local communities.

Examples of information that the planned web portal would hyperlink to are:
* Arctic Voyage Planning Guides (e.g., Canada's Arctic Voyage Planning Guide);
* Sea ice information (e.g., U.S. National Ice Center's Current Daily Ice Analysis);
* Marine insurance guidance (e.g., UK P&I Club's Arctic Shipping: P&I Insurance FAQ);
* Industry guidelines for safe operations (e.g., the Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators Wildlife Guidelines); and
* Search and rescue guidance (e.g., IMO Guidance on Minimizing Delays in Search and Rescue Response to Distress Alerts (MSC.1/Circ.1248)).

For more information click here.

China, Russia sign agreements on Arctic research

1 June 2017

China's State Oceanic Administration and research organizations fromsix other countries, including Russia, onThursday inked a number ofmemoranda ofunderstanding ina move topromote international cooperation onArctic studies, RIA Novosti reported citing the administration's statement.

On behalf of Russia, the documents were signed bythe Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute, which carries outcomprehensive studies ofthe planet's Polar regions. Similar MoUs have also been signed withNorway, the United States, Germany, Chile, and Argentina.

The signed documents aim toencourage and promote international cooperation onpolar studies and also boost the effectiveness ofresearch conducted inthe Arctic and the Antarctic. They cover various aspects ofthis work, including organizing inspections, putting inplace logistics, personnel and technical exchanges, and environmental issues.

Exploration records set to be exceeded in Barents Sea

27 April 2017

The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate is expecting a new record in the number of exploration wells in the Barents Sea this year. Fifteen wells are slated for drilling, two more than in the record year 2014.

"This is a significant increase, and shows a very positive development in the Barents Sea," said Director General Bente Nyland at the Barents Sea Conference in Hammerfest. An important milestone in 2017 will be to uncover the potential for discovering oil and gas in the south-eastern Barents Sea - a recently opened area that was awarded in the 23rd licensing round and where no exploration wells have yet been drilled. According to Nyland, this is where the probability of making a discovery is greatest.

This summer, Statoil will drill the first wildcat well to the northeast in the area, and this well will become very important in the work on mapping the geology in this part of the Barents Sea.

"The well could confirm whether there is petroleum in the area, and will provide us with invaluable knowledge about the subsurface," said the Direct General.

Statoil will also drill five/six wildcat wells in the Barents Sea. Lundin is also planning to drill two new wildcat wells and several appraisal wells in the Alta/Gohta area. Lundin has already made an oil and gas discovery in the Barents Sea this year. This has been named Filicudi, and it is estimated to contain between 5.5 and 16 million standard cubic metres of recoverable oil equivalents.

As of today, three new field developments are planned in the Barents Sea: Johan Castberg, Alta/Gohta and Wisting. Submission of the development plan for Johan Castberg is expected at the end of the year, and production is scheduled to start in 2022.

Russia plans floating laboratory for ice-breaker

27 April 2017

Russia's SCF Group (Sovcomflot) and the Admiral Nevelskoy Maritime State University (MSUN, Vladivostok) are to create a joint educational and research project entitled the "Floating Laboratory". It will be based aboard the newly launched Gennadiy Nevelskoy, an ice-breaking platform supply vessel (IBSV) owned by SCF. The agreement is the latest chapter in a long-term cooperation programme between SCF Group and the University.

Gennadiy Nevelskoy will host practical training for MSUN cadets, internships for MSUN faculty members, and research and educational programmes for post graduate students and young scientists. On the research side, the laboratory will focus on researching electric propulsion and the specifics of vessel equipment performance during ice navigation. Another goal of the project is to develop innovative solutions for the effective and safe vessel operation in the freezing seas of the Russian Far East and the Arctic. The vessels will continue to serve as an IBSV for Sakhalin-2 project.

Lukoil brings platform topside to the Caspian Sea

27 April 2017

Russian oil giant Lukoil has started transporting the topside of a fixed offshore ice-resistant platform (LSP-2), intended for Phase 2 of Vladimir Filanovsky field in the Caspian Sea.

A tugboat caravan will tow the topside, weighing over seven thousand tonnes, towards its destination in the Caspian Sea. The substructures of the platform were brought to the sea and installed in the summer of 2016.

Phase 2 of Vladimir Filanovsky field development provides for the construction of a fixed ice-resistant platform, an accommodation-topside platform and a crossover between the platforms, all being built at Astrakhan's shipyards.

The launch of the facilities of the second phase of development at V. Filanovsky field is set to be completed by the end of 2017.

Boost for Barents Sea reserves, perhaps double estimates

27 April 2017

Undiscovered oil and gas resources in the Barents Sea are twice as large as previously assumed, according to the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate.

The NPD has recently mapped the eastern part of the northern Barents Sea, an area of about 170,000 square kilometres, 10,000 square kilometres larger than the Norwegian part of the North Sea. A large part of this is located in the previously disputed area, and most of the new information has been collected after the demarcation line agreement with Russia entered into force in the summer of 2011.

The share of undiscovered resources in the Barents Sea has thus been increased from 50 to nearly 65 per cent of the total undiscovered resources on the Norwegian shelf.

The resources in the new area are estimated at 1.4 billion standard cubic metres of oil equivalents. This is equivalent to 14 Johan Castberg fields, and more than five times the Snøhvit field.

This figure is naturally associated with some uncertainty. It could turn out to be lower or it could be much higher," says Director General Bente Nyland, adding that about 60 per cent of the resources are likely liquids, and the rest is gas.

Lukoil drills first kilometer of its exploration well 1p on Taymyr

27 April 2017

Russian oil group Lukoil has drilled 1,000 meters of its first exploration well on the Vostochno-Taymyrsky license block. 374 meters of core samples from eight formations will be collected and analysed during drilling.

A most modern logging suite will be run to assess the reservoir properties of rocks and their saturation. A modular dynamic tester will be used which allows for quick and accurate measurements of formation pressure and collection of multiple fluid samples from several intervals.

"This exploration drilling project on the Zhuravlinaya area within the Vostochno-Taymyrsky license block is unique both for Lukoil and the whole country. Well design, drilling and testing involve innovative technologies and state-of-the-art equipment," said Ravil Maganov, first executive vice president of Lukoil.

The well program was developed by KogalymNIPIneft, Lukoil's engineering subsidiary. The drilling rig features such modern equipment ashigh-capacity triplex frequency-controlled pumps, an effective mud cleaning system and a top drive. All systems are controlled electronically," said Maganov.

BP plugs oil and gas well near Deadhorse, Alaska

20 April 2017

A damaged BP oil and natural gas well that had been venting gas vapours on Alaska's remote North Slope since April 14 has been brought under control, company and government officials said. No injuries or harm to wildlife were reported, and apparently only a limited amount of oil sprayed with the gas from the well, which lies near the town of Deadhorse. Still, environmentalists expressed concern about the leakage of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, according to local media reports.

A response team including state and federal agencies identified two leaks on the production well. One leak was halted on Sunday, officials said, and the second was repaired overnight.

"The leak has been completely stopped, both the crude leak and the natural gas leak, which is great news for the North Slope," said Candice Bressler, spokeswoman for the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, a state regulatory agency

European MPs reject calls for Arctic drilling ban

23 March 2017

Members of the European Parliament have rejected a proposal saying that the EU should work for a total ban on oil drilling in the Arctic.

The proposal was part of the European Parliament's report on an integrated EU policy for the Arctic, which was voted on in mid-March

A contentious part of the plant0MEPs voted to remove parts of the report that called for a future total ban on oil drilling and extraction of Arctic oil and gas, and that the EU should pressure international partners to put an end to offshore drilling in Arctic waters.

However, a paragraph supporting a ban on oil drilling in the icy Arctic waters of the EU and the EEA, a proposal without larger effect as Norway already bans drilling of icy waters, was passed.

The parliament's position is non-binding, but Norway has taken it very seriously nonetheless, following its recent release of over 90 exploration blocks in the Barents Sea.

Rosneft to start exploratory drilling in the eastern Arctic

23 March 2017

Russian oil company Rosneft, which owns 28 licenses onthe Arctic shelf withtotal hydrocarbon resources of34 billion tonnes ofoil equivalent (BOE), is planning a programme of exploratory drilling inthe eastern Arctic this year. On the continental shelf ofthe seas ofthe eastern Arctic, Rosneft owns licenses fornine sites inthe Laptev Sea, the East Siberian Sea and the Chukchi Sea.

According to a company spokesperson, in2016, Rosneft carried outan impressive volume ofintegrated geological and geophysical research indifficult Arctic and sub-Arctic conditions. "Over 35,500 running kilometers of2D seismic operations were completed, which exceeded the requirement oflicense obligations more thantwo-fold. Also, the company carried outover 5,000 square kilometers of3D seismic operations, which exceeds the license obligations. Around 207, 000 square kilometers ofaero-geophysical research were also conducted. As a result ofthe research, 0.8 million square kilometers ofthe Russian arctic shelf were explored," a Rosneft spokesperson said.

ENI pushes ahead with exploration plans in Beaufort Sea

23 March 2017

Italian energy company Eni has submitted an exploration plan to drill for oil in US federal waters in the Beaufort Sea.

This follows a ruling from the end of 2016 during the Obama administration which removed the Arctic Ocean from new oil and gas leasing for five years. However, Eni secured its leases before that decision was made.

The company currently holds 75 leases in federal waters in Beaufort and Chukchi Seas, according to its website.

Eni has already built a man-made gravel island four miles offshore in state waters. Drilling would extend from the island into federal waters.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is reviewing the exploration plan. If the federal agency deems the plan complete, it will begin a 30-day comment period before approving it.

Texas company Hilcorp is also moving through the regulatory process to drill for oil in federal Arctic waters from a gravel island it aims to build six miles offshore in the Beaufort Sea. The company expects to pump about 60,000 barrels of oil per day once commissioned.

Russia plans new materials test center in Novaya Zemlya

23 March 2017

A technology park fortesting new Arctic materials can be built onthe Novaya Zemlya Archipelago, Arkhangelsk Region Governor Igor Orlov told TASS atthe Russian Investment Forum inSochi.

"The Economic Development Ministry has expressed interest inthis project, which has also attracted the attention ofthe Ministry ofIndustry and Trade. Chairman ofthe State Commission forArctic Development Dmitry Rogozin has issued instructions tothis effect," Orlov said.

The governor said that existing infrastructure onthe archipelago could be used tocreate special grounds fortesting materials and equipment inArctic conditions.

The Russian Investment Forum is being held inSochi onFebruary 27-28. The program includes three themes: "New Regional Policy: Opportunities forDevelopment," "Improving Business Performance: Opportunities forGrowth," and "Projects forLife." TASS is the forum's general media partner and host photo agency.

Sea ice melt records new low for Arctic Ocean

23 March 2017

The extent of sea ice in the Arctic Ocean has set a new record low for the wintertime in a region strongly affected by long-term trends of global warming, U.S. and European scientists said, reports Reuters.

Sea ice around the North Pole expands to its biggest extent of the year in February or March after a deep freeze in the winter polar darkness and shrinks to the smallest of the year in September, at the end of the brief Arctic summer.

Arctic sea ice appears to have reached its annual maximum extent on March 7, the lowest maximum in the 38-year satellite record, according to the Colorado-based U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center.

On that date, the ice covered 14.42 million square kilometers (5.57 million square miles), 97,000 square kilometers below the previous lowest maximum that occurred on Feb. 25, 2015, reported the news agency.

The trend of shrinking ice around the North Pole in recent decades has been one of the starkest signs of climate change.

Two national parks planned for Russia's Arctic zone by 2020

23 March 2017

Russia plans tocreate two new national parks onits Arctic territory by2020, according toSpecial Presidential Representative forEnvironmental Protection, Ecology and Transport Sergei Ivanov.

"Before 2020, two new national parks will be established-Tsentralnochukotsky inthe Chukotka Autonomous Area and Khibiny inthe Murmansk Region aswell asMedvezhyi Ostrova (Bear Islands) reserve inYakutia," Mr Ivanov said atthe conference International Cooperation inthe Arctic: New Challenges and Vectors ofDevelopment."

Mr Ivanov said specially protected natural areas occupy a total of22.5 mln hectares inRussia's Arctic zone, including 6.5 million hectares ofwater area. The Russian Arctic is the habitat for80 percent ofthe entire region's biodiversity. This places special responsibility onRussia topreserve nature inthis area, Ivanov believes.

Oil find for Lundin on Filicudi prospect in southern Barents Sea

16 February 2017

Lundin Norway has made an oil and gas discovery in the main well 7219/12-1 and is presently drilling a sidetrack 7219/12-1A on the Filicudi prospect.

The wells are located in PL533 approximately 40 km southwest of Johan Castberg and 30 km northwest of the Alta and Gohta discoveries on the Loppa High in the southern Barents Sea.

The main objective of the well was to prove oil in Jurassic and Triassic sandstone reservoirs.

The semisubmersible drilling rig Leiv Eiriksson will after completion of the well on the Filicudi prospect in PL533 move to the Gohta discovery in PL492 to drill a second delineation well on this discovery.

Lundin Norway is the operator of both PL533 and PL492 and holds a 35% and 40% working interest in these respective licences.

European Parliament seeks to ban HFO from Arctic seas

16 February 2017

The European Parliament is urging the European Commission to look closely at banning ships from using heavy fuel oil on Arctic shipping routes, reports Platts.
A resolution adopted by the foreign affairs and environment committees this week called on the EU "to speak with one voice and push to keep the Arctic an area of cooperation."

Members of the European Parliament want the commission and member states "to work towards banning the use of heavy fuel oil in maritime transport, through the MARPOL convention," a statement from the European Parliament said.

"In case this does not prove feasible, the EU should take measures to prohibit the use and carriage of heavy fuel oil for vessels calling at EU ports."

Norwegian Arctic offshore activity busy throughout 2017 ...

16 February 2017

Explorers look set to drill a record number of wells in Norway's Arctic waters this year, undeterred by oil prices apparently stuck below $60 a barrel, reports Bloomberg

After making a discovery of as much as 100 million barrels of oil in the Barents Sea, Lundin Petroleum said this week that it wants to squeeze two more exploration wells into its programme this year, even if it means hiring an additional rig. That could push the total number of wells in the area to 16, two more than the record in 2014, according to forecasts from the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate, the industry regulator, and Rystad Energy AS, an Oslo-based consulting firm.

The Norwegian Barents may contain as much as half the country's unexplored resources, according to the NPD. Yet with crude still trading at half the highs it reached in 2014, the record drilling campaign sounds counter-intuitive. reports Bloomberg. Elsewhere in the Arctic companies such as Royal Dutch Shell are scrapping projects, and in Norway as a whole, the NPD forecasts an 11-year low in exploration activity, said the agency.

... Surge in Barents Sea exploration based on past successes

16 February 2017

A number of factors are converging to explain the surge in Barents exploration, according to Rystad project manager Simon Sjothun and Adam Wilson, an analyst at Edinburgh-based consultant Wood Mackenzie Ltd, reports Bloomberg:

  • Explorers are following up on recent successes by companies such as Statoil ASA, Lundin and OMV AG to add resources and build critical mass for developments. This, according to both WoodMac and Rystad, is the most important factor
  • The government awarded licenses in completely unexplored acreage for the first time in 20 years, near the Russian maritime border, stoking hopes of huge discoveries
  • The first oil field in the Barents Sea, Eni SpA's Goliat, started production last year; for all its delays and problems, the platform offers the infrastructure to process future discoveries nearby
  • Efficiency gains and lower supplier prices resulting from the market downturn have made both exploration drilling and field developments cheaper
  • Norway has a refund system for exploration expenses which makes high-risk prospects more attractive.

In addition, the remote area off the country's northern tip enjoys the benefits of the Gulf Stream, meaning that unlike the rest of the Arctic, it's largely ice-free.

The prospect industry observers will be watching most closely this year is Statoil's Korpfjell well near the Russian border. Rystad estimates that Korpfjell could contain as much as 10 billion barrels of oil and gas.Statoil, which will drill its first exploration wells in the Barents since a disappointing campaign in 2014, has sought to downplay the estimates. Lundin, a partner in the project, has said it can hold 'several billion barrels'

Tevo develops bronze propellers for Arctic

16 February 2017

Finnish company TEVO has "developed a cost-effective alternative for steel propellers," says the company. Tevo says it can design and manufacture an optimal bronze propeller construction from the vessel point of view for 1A Super (PC-6) class.

A bronze propeller designed for 1A Super class with optimized efficiency and noise characteristics has been verified in full-scale sea tests in the northernmost part of the Baltic Sea, particularly in harsh ice conditions of the northern part of the Gulf of Bothnia. The full-scale sea tests demonstrated durability of TEVO's bronze propellers in arctic ice conditions and prove that with the help of appropriate design a propeller can be optimized emphasizing, for example, ice-going properties or energy efficiency, said the company.

The aim of the nearly three-year-long project was to develop an arctic bronze propeller product family of one's own to meet the challenges of Arctic shipping.

AII report considers Arctic infrastructure development

16 February 2017

Arctic offshore oil and gas activity - if allowed - would bring significant fiscal resource and result in major infrastructure investment, according to a new policy study from the non-partisan Alliance for Innovation and Infrastructure (Aii).

Aii's report, Arctic Promise: Challenges and Opportunities in Realizing the Next Generation of U.S. Arctic Infrastructure is the first attempt to quantify the effects of infrastructure in the region, providing a panoramic appraisal of development in the Arctic to date. In addition to assessing the impact of existing projects, the paper goes on to highlight four proposed projects which it argues can bring a range of critical benefits to America's Arctic:

· Deep draft expansion at Port of Nome;
· Develop Port Clarence into a Maritime Support Base;
· Creation of a new dock at Cape Blossom;
· And enhanced Arctic military and maritime infrastructure.

"Infrastructure development in Alaska's Arctic region is critical to the United States' national security and geopolitical interests and will improve the health, safety and economic well-being of Alaska's Native population," says Aii Chairman Brigham McCown. "Aii believes that the four projects outlined in the paper would play an integral role in securing these important objectives, and would collectively help facilitate an estimated $6.3 billion in infrastructure investment into the region."

Aii's Executive Director Kevin Gluba, says that "constructive government policies would serve as a catalyst for sustained private sector investment in Alaska, allowing us to significantly improve the quality of life for Alaska's Native population while promoting our security interests in the region."

To read the report online clickHERE.

New Norwegian oil minster Terje Søviknes starts work

16 February 2017

Terje Søviknes (Progress Party) has been appointed Norway's Minister of Petroleum and Energy in Prime Minister Erna Solberg's cabinet. Søviknes replaces Tord Lien who has spent four years in the post.

Søviknes was born in 196 and is an aqua engineer of education, and has studied economics at the Norwegian School of Economics (NHH).

State secretary Kjell-Børge Freiberg and State Secretary Ingvil Smines Tybring-Gjedde will remain in their positions at the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy, along with Political Adviser Elnar Holmen.

Greenland bidding round fails to attract interest from explorers

5 January 2017

Despite attracting considerable attention initially, three on-shore drilling areas on Greenland's western coast, no bids have been received. The December 15 deadline to submit a bid for a 10-year permit to explore for oil on Disko Island and on the adjacent Nuussuaq Peninsula came and went without a single offer, reports Greenland newspaper Sermitsiaq.

This was the second time Greenland was offering onshore exploration licences. The first area, in Jameson Land, on the north-eastern coast, was opened in 2014. Other onshore drilling projects are also taking place in Alaska, Canada and Siberia, and these areas were seen as being in competition with the Greenlandic sites.

Also playing a role may have been the continued weakness in the price of oil. Today, the price of oil is around $60 a barrel. But, when the bidding round opened in September it was still hovering around $50 a barrel. Even so, Self-Rule Authority officials said they had been pleased with the number of people and the diversity of firms that turned up at meetings held earlier this year in London and Calgary to pitch the area, reported Sermitsiaq.

The lack of interest in exploring for oil on Greenland's western coast is not limited to this latest licensing round. On December 31, all nine of the current offshore licences to explore for oil and gas in Baffin Bay, near Disko Island and in the waters off Nuuk, are set to expire, and it is looking increasingly unlikely the firms holding them will move to renew them.

Part of the reason for not wanting to do so is that an extension typically obliges the licence-holder to carry out drilling activity, which costs in the neighbourhood of $1 billion per well.

Greenland licence areas affected in latest bid round

5 January 2017

Licence areas expected to be vacated from Jan 1, 2017:


"Atammik", 1,801km2, Nuuk West: Capricorn Greenland Exploration A/S, Nunaoil A/S.
"Lady Franklin", 1,401km2, Nuuk West: Capricorn Greenland Exploration A/S, Nunaoil A/S.
"Eqqua", 8,419km2 Disko West: Capricorn Greenland Exploration A/S, Nunaoil A/S.
"Naterneq", 11,071km2, Disko West: PA Resources AB og Nunaoil A/S.
"Qamut", 9,392km2, Baffin Bay: ConocoPhillips Global NVE Greenland Ltd, Nunaoil A/S.
"Anu", 9,991km2, Baffin Bay: Shell Greenland A/S og Nunaoil A/S.
"Pitu", 8,170km2, Baffin By: Capricorn Greenland Exploration A/S, Nunaoil A/S.
"Napu", 10,618km2, Baffin Bay: Shell Greenland A/S, Nunaoil A/S.
"Tooq", 11,802km2, Baffin Bay: Maersk Oil Kalaallit Nunaat A/S, Tullow Greenland Exploration Limited, Nunaoil A/S.


Active licence areas in eastern Greenland

"Amaroq", 2,630km2: ENI Denmark BV, BP Exploration Operating Company Ltd., DONG E&P Grønland A/S, Nunaoil A/S.
"Avinngaq", 2,548km2: Statoil Greenland A/S, Nunaoil A/S. "Umimmak", 2,220km2: Chevron East Greenland Exploration A/S, Greenland Petroleum Exploration Co. Ltd., Shell Greenland A/S, Nunaoil A/S.
"Nerleq", 2,634km2: Chevron East Greenland Exploration A/S, Greenland Petroleum Exploration Co. Ltd., Shell Greenland A/S and NUNAOIL A/S.
"Qialivaq", 2,260 km2: ENI Denmark BV, BP Exploration Operating Company Ltd., Nunaoil A/S

Unnamed/Jameson Land, 2,368: Greenland Gas and Oil A/S, Nunaoil A/S Unnamed/Jameson Land, 2,037: Greenland Gas and Oil A/S, Nunaoil A/S.

(Source: Bureau of Minerals and Petroleum)

Scheduled maintenance to shut Prirazlomnoye oil field

5 January 2017

Oil extraction to be suspended for three months at Prirazlomnnaya platform for equipment upgrades this summer

Gazprom Neft will suspend oil extraction atthe Prirazlomnoye oil field duringthe three summer months toupgrade equipment, the company's Board Chairman Alexander Dyukov told RIA Novosti.

"Extraction [at Prirazlomnoye oil field] will cease forthree months toupgrade the platform, which will improve its performance," Dyukov said. He said the upgrades would be conducted inthe summer and primarily byAmerican companies.

The oil field's production in2017 will total 2.5-2.6 million tonnes (compared to2.1 million tonnes in2016) despitethe three month suspension, Dyukov added.

The Prirazlomnoye oil field is the sight ofthe first and only petroleum production project onthe Russian Arctic shelf. Commercial development ofthe field was launched inDecember 2013. Since then, over10 million barrels ofoil have been transported toEurope, according toRIA Novosti. The field's recoverable oil reserves are estimated atover 70 million tonnes.

Lundin gets consent to drill exploration well in Barents Sea

5 January 2017

Lundin Norway AS (Lundin) has received consent to drill exploration well 7120/1-5 in the Barents Sea. The company is the operator for production licence 492, comprising blocks 7120/1 and 7120/2 in the Barents Sea. Norway's Petroleum Safety Agency (PSA) has given Lundin consent to drill exploration well 7120/1-5 in a prospect named Gohta. The well's coordinates will be:

71o56' 15.97" N; 20o14' 57.37" E.

The drilling location is around 185 kilometres north-west of Hammerfest. Water depth at the site is 368 metres. Drilling is scheduled to begin in late December 2016/ early January 2017 and estimated to last 73 days. There will also be a potential well test.

The well is to be drilled using the Leiv Eiriksson mobile drilling facility, owned and operated by Ocean Rig. The facility is a BINGO 9000 type, built in 2001. It is classified by DNV GL and registered in the Bahamas.

Germany open Arctic Office to to boost regional influence

5 January 2017
The rapid climate changes in the Arctic are no longer just the domain of scientists. The shrinking sea ice and collapsing permafrost coasts are now also becoming topics on the agenda of international politics and industry. To be able to offer direct scientific advice to decision-makers, the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) in Germany has now set up an office for Arctic affairs at its Potsdam site. The German Arctic Office officially started work on 1 January 2017 and draws its expertise from a network of scientists from all German research institutes working on Arctic topics.
Although Germany is not an Arctic country, it is one of the leading Arctic research nations. It is the aim of the German government to strengthen Germany's role in Arctic affairs. Due to the geopolitical, geo-economic and geo-ecological significance of the north polar region, which is changing particularly rapidly as a result of global warming, the German government endeavours to make the Arctic a key issue of German politics. "To do this, it requires a lot of scientific advice and support - which we as the German Arctic Office will provide," says Dr Volker Rachold.

Environmental data collection at Goliat completed by PSA

5 January 2017

Norway's Petroleum Safety Authority has carried out an audit of environmental data collection at the Goliat facility in the Barents Sea. Designed by the Norwegian-based Sevan Marine, the ENI-operated FPSO started production in March 2016.

Norwegian state regulations instruct the companies to equip the facilities with instrumentation for recording environmental data of potential significance for petroleum activities. In the Barents Sea, environmental data collection is particularly important due to the special climatic conditions and great distances between the facilities.

From 13 to 15 December 2016, with technical assistance from the Norwegian Meteorological Institute, the PSA carried out an audit of Eni's environmental data collection at the Goliat facility.

No non-conformities or improvement points were identified during the audit, said the PSA.

Stril Polar gets first Norway's first Polar Code certificate

8 December 2016

The platform supply vessel, Stril Polar, is the first Norwegian vessel to comply with new IMO Polar Code, through working with DNV GL and the Norwegian Maritime Directorate.

After being awarded the certification, Anne Jorunn Møkster, Managing Director of the vessel's Simon Møkster Shipping AS, said: "The strategy of Møkster Shipping has for many years been to operate in cold and rough waters as opposed to targeting warmer areas such as Brazil or Australia. Now that we have implemented the Polar Code for our offshore supply vessel Stril Polar, we have the opportunity to go into polar areas knowing that the safety of ship, crew and the environment is well taken care of. As a result of the good cooperation we have had with DNV GL, the Norwegian Maritime Directorate and our own insurance company we are very motivated to get more vessels certified to the Polar Code."

Canada pledges C$1.5bn to protect Arctic and other oceans

8 December 2016

The federal government announced a C$1.5 billion ($1.13bn) marine safety plan that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says will make Canada a world leader in protecting the Pacific, Atlantic and Arctic oceans.

The money will be spent over five years starting in 2017-18 and includes funding to create a marine safety system, restoring marine ecosystems and using new methods and research to clean up oil spills. The government says change will be seen as early as next year, such as opening a Maritime Rescue Sub-Centre in St. John's, N.L.

Trudeau said the funding will strengthen the Canadian Coast Guard, get tough on pollution from industry, fund coastal habitat restoration and create new legislation to increase responsibility for vessel owners.

US president-elect Trump meets with ExxonMobil chief

8 December 2016

Rex Tillerson, leader of the world's largest oil group Texas head-quarterd ExxonMobil was set to meet Tuesday with US President-elect Donald Trump with a view to discuss taking on the position of Secretary of State within the new administration.

In 2011 Exxon beat out BP and other competitors in a historic deal giving it access to Arctic and other deposits in Russia, while allowing state-owned Rosneft its first-ever access to energy projects in the United States.

But as Bloomberg noted at the time: "shortly after the venture discovered a billion-barrel crude field in the Kara Sea, the U.S. and European Union imposed sanctions" after Russia's invasion of Crimea. Lifting those sanctions would hit Exxon's bottom line". However, with Tillerson potentially taking a leading role in US politics, and the possibility of sanctions being lifted, US oil companies could restart exploration work.

ASRC applies to join Arctic Economic Council

8 December 2016

Alaska's Arctic Slope Regional Corporation has applied to the Arctic Economic Council (AEC) to be a Northern Partner, the first such organisation in the region to do so. The AEC's full member representation includes a diverse collection of business industries that operate in and outside of the Arctic.

"On behalf of Arctic Slope Regional Corporation, I am proud to submit the first application for membership as a Northern Partner," said Rex A. Rock Sr., president and CEO of ASRC.

The AEC was setup by the Arctic Council during the 2013-2015 Canadian chairmanship as an independent organization aimed at facilitating Arctic business-to-business activities and responsible economic development. The AEC's vision is to make the Arctic a favourable place to do business.

There are various levels of membership at the Arctic Economic Council. Larger businesses with their headquarters located within an Arctic state may apply to join the AEC family as a Northern Partner. The application will be reviewed by the AEC executive committee before being presented to the governance committee for final approval.

IMO publishes Polar Code in Spanish and French

8 December 2016

With the Polar Code coming into effect in a matter of weeks, the IMO has published the codes in Spanish and French languages. The guides are available here.

The code will come into effect in 2017 for new ships and 2018 for existing vessels.

Design group Atkins opens office in Baku

8 December 2016
Atkins, the design, engineering and project management consultancy, is opening a new office in Baku, expanding into Azerbaijan for the first time.
The office will initially support the activities of key oil and gas operators in the Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey (AGT) region with a particular focus on assets in and around the Caspian Sea. Atkins has been working with Azerbaijan since the 1990s albeit remotely from the UK, providing engineering and design consultancy services.

Study award for Wisting discovery in Barents Seas

8 September 2016
Sevan Marine has been awarded a study to evaluate its cylindrical hull design for application on the Wisting field development in the Barents Sea.
The study was awarded by OMV Norge who is screening various floating alternatives for developing the Wisting discovery.
The study completion is scheduled by year end 2016.
The Wisting discovery is located 310 kilometers from shore in the northern part of the Barents Sea at the Norwegian Continental Shelf. OMV Norge is the operator of Wisting (PL 537) with a 25% share.

Statoil increases stake in the Wisting prospect

8 September 2016

Statoil and independent oil company Tullow Norge have agreed on a transaction whereby Statoil will increase its equity in four licences on the Norwegian continental shelf (NCS). The transaction includes the Wisting discovery in the Barents Sea. "This transaction reflects our strong belief in the exploration potential on the Norwegian continental shelf and our commitment to create value in the Barents Sea," says Jez Averty, Statoil's senior vice president for exploration in Norway and UK.

Statoil is building an exploration portfolio in the Barents Sea through licensing rounds and transactions. Through this transaction Statoil becomes the biggest equity holder in the Wisting discovery, so far the only big discovery in the Hoop area of the Barents Sea.

Statoil "has a strong position in the Hoop area and sees further exploration potential which can bring synergies to the area," says the company.

"Statoil has developed new technologies such as the Cap-X subsea concept and promoted industry cooperation through the Barents Sea Exploration Collaboration (BaSEC) in order to deliver safe and efficient operations," says Averty.

The government's NPD estimates the Wisting discovery to contain 241 million boe of recoverable resources.

The agreement also gives access to interesting exploration prospects in the Norwegian Sea and the Barents Sea that will be matured for possible drilling in 2018.

Lundin mulls exploration drilling on Gotha discovery

8 September 2016

Lundin Petroleum is considering drilling an appraisal well at its Gohta discovery in the Norwegian sector of the Barents Sea later this year using the semi-submersible rig Leiv Eiriksson. The well is located in the western part of the Barents Sea, approximately 150 km from the nearest land is the South Island in Finnmark. The company is applying for an option on a sidetrack and up to two well tests.

The well planned to be drilled to a depth of 2,870 m.

The main well will be drilled vertically, with an option for a sidetrack and up to two well tests, depending on the well results. The well will be plugged and abandoned temporarily. The earliest expected to start date is December 2016 with a timescale of approximately 50 days plus 28 days for the sidetrack drilling campaign.

Putin calls for increased exploration for Arctic oil and gas fields

8 September 2016

Russian President Vladimir Putin has congratulated current and former workers ofthe oil and gas industry ontheir professional holiday and called onthem toexplore promising fields, including inthe Arctic, the Kremlin press service reported.

"Today, the workers ofthe sector have tofulfill serious, in-demand tasks, related toexploring promising fields, including inthe Arctic, ensuring reliability and environmental safety ofthe industry's infrastructure, implementing the latest technology, and maintaining a sustainable consumer supply both inRussia, and abroad," the presidential message ofcongratulations read.

Gazprom Neft in talks with China's CNOOC on Arctic deal

8 September 2016

Russian gas Gazprom Neft oil has offered the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) partnership on two Arctic Shelf license blocks - the Heysovskiy in the Barents Sea and the Severo-Vrangelevskiy (North-Wrangel) in the Chukchi Sea, according to Russian media reports.

In May, the Russian-Chinese intergovernmental commission discussed potential cooperation between Russia's fourth largest oil producer and the Chinese corporation.
Gazprom Neft "is continuing consultations with international companies that have the required competence to work on the shelf, including CNOOC," Kommersant newspaper reported. According to the newspaper, Gazprom Neft has previously tried to attract Japanese and Vietnamese investors to these projects. Exploration at the two license blocks in the Arctic started in August 2015.

Arctic ready helicopter showcased at Russian military fair

8 September 2016

Russian Helicopters, part of the government's Rostec corporation, will feature a full-scale sample of Mi-8AMTSh-VA at a private showing during the International Military and Technical Forum ARMY-2016 this month. The first batch of these helicopters is already being used by the Russian Defense Ministry and they are designed for a wide range of tasks in the Arctic.

Compared with the basic version of the Mi-8AMTSh, the new Arctic Mi-8AMTSh-VA has a number of design solutions related to its use in northern latitudes. Among its main design features is a unique technology of heating the oil system and transmission units. The system allows for a quick engine launch with autonomous and non-hangar helicopter storage at temperatures as low as -60°C.

"Technical solutions implemented in the Arctic version of Mi-8AMTSh-VA can be used not only in the interest of the Russian Defense Ministry but also for civilian projects. These helicopters might interest those who have businesses related to the Arctic region - such as oil and gas companies, exploration and transport enterprises," said Vladislav Savelyev, Director of Public Procurement and Military-Technical Cooperation at Russian Helicopters.
Based on the state contracts, the Russian Defense Ministry will receive a batch of Mi-8AMTSh-Vas already in 2016 and another batch is planned to be delivered in 2017. All phases of the State Defense Order, as before, will be completed by Russian Helicopters on time.

The helicopter is adapted for long distance flights. It is equipped with additional external fuel tanks that increase the flight range. To perform tasks in areas with no reference points and during the polar night the Mi-8AMTSh-VA has the latest flight navigation and radio communication equipment including digital autopilot and inertial navigation system that operates in the absence of satellite signals.

Sovcomflot presents Arctic paper to Arctic Council

8 September 2016

Arctic tanker specialist Sovcomflot presented a report on its experiences of providing transport for major projects in the Arctic region to the 6th International Meeting of the Arctic Council held earlier this month.

As a member of the Russian delegation, Mikhail Suslin, Sovcomflot's Vice-President and the head of its Safety and Quality Department, told the meeting that because major energy projects in the Russian Arctic, the role of the Northern Sea Route will continuously increase. The success of the these projects, including Varandey, Prirazlomnoye, Yamal LNG, and Novy Port, was made possible by the availability of modern energy shipping solutions, pioneered in Russia by Sovcomflot, that allow oil and gas extracted from the region to be transported safely, securely, and efficiently.

The report, "Secure and efficient transport solutions - key execution element of major projects in the Arctic Region. Practical experience of Sovcomflot for 2005-2016" highlighted the growth of shipping activity in the near future. Mr Suslin paid extra attention to the issue of navigation safety in polar latitudes and environmental protection in the Arctic region.

The meeting included representative from all the state-members of the Arctic Council (Russia, Denmark, Iceland, Canada, Norway, United States of America, Finland, Sweden) and a number of observer states (People's Republic of China, India, Korea, Singapore) sent their official representatives.

New Arctic logistics based planned for Kirkenes, Norway

11 August 2016

Logistics companies ASCO and Norterminal have revealed plans for new oil base on the Barents Sea coast. The base will be needed as oil companies start drilling in the Barents Sea as part of the 23rd Norwegian Licensing Round, said the ASCO Norway and Norterminal reads.

"We want to offer our customers a 'One Stop Shop' base, where they can getdelivered all services needed to support drilling in the Barents Sea east in one a place," said, Runar Hatletvedt, chief executive of ASCO Norway. Oil spill response, supply, loading and unloading of vessels, handling equipment, waste management, transport, customs clearance as well as indoor and outdoor storage will be handled from the base, he said

ASCO and Norterminal believe drilling in the newly opened parts of the Barents Sea could start in 2017. The 23rd License Round announced by the Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy in May this year includes ten new licenses, three of them located immediately along Norway's maritime border to Russia.

The two companies intend to develop the base at Leirpollen, a bay outside Kirkenes. Before that, they plan to use facilities in Kirkenes town.

KNOC rethinks Kazakh investment after mixed exploration results

11 August 2016
State-owned Korea National Oil Corp (KNOC) is in talks with the Kazakhstan government to leave an oil field project due to disappointing exploration results, a KNOC spokesman said, reports Reuters.
KNOC heads a Korean consortium that holds 27% of Kazakhstan's Zhambyl oil block on the coast of the Caspian Sea. The group has invested around $250 million on buying the stake and exploration since 2008.
"After discovering less oil reserves than expected, we are in discussions with our Kazakhstan counterpart to drop out of the oil field project," the spokesman said.
KNOC is currently waiting for approval from Kazakhstan's government to finalise its withdrawal, he added.
KNOC and its Korean consortium owns a 27% stake in the Zhambyl block, with the remainder owned by Kazakhstan's national oil company KazMyunayGas (KMG). KNOC holds a 9.45% interest in the joint operation for the oil field.
KNOC's spokesman said the consortium would abandon its stake if the talks were finalised, having intially acquired it for $85 million, reported Reuters.

Permafrost studies to resume on Russia's Gydan Peninsula

11 August 2016

Russian scientists will return tostudying the permafrost onGydan Peninsula atresearch sites inthe Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Area aftera 25-year break, reports the regional government press service. A previous research station, earlier used byscientists, was shut downin 1991.

On August 5, members ofthe research team sailed fromSalekhard aboardthe Mekhanik Kalashnikov. They will land inAntipayuta and will take a helicopter toa research station onLake Parisento. The scientists are carrying drilling equipment forcomprehensive geo-cryological studies.

The team wants toreactivate a comprehensive geo-cryological research station nearLake Parisento toestablish permafrost monitoring sites and look forarcheological sites.

The expedition involves scientists fromthe Center forArctic Studies, the Institute ofthe Earth Cryosphere atthe Siberian Branch ofthe Russian Academy ofSciences, the Trofimuk Institute ofPetroleum-Gas Geology and Geophysics atthe Siberian Branch ofthe Russian Academy ofSciences, and the Institute forWater and Environmental Problems ofthe Siberian Branch ofthe Russian Academy ofSciences.

Snøhvit drilling starts for gas storage facility in Barents Sea

11 August 2016

The Songa Enabler drilling rig has started drilling a new injection well for CO2 gas on the Snøhvit field off the far northern coast of Hammerfest. Next a production well will be drilled for replenishment of gas for Hammerfest LNG.

Snøhvit is still the only LNG project in the world capturing and storing CO2 separated from the well stream in a dedicated formation offshore.

So far more than four tonnes of CO2 from Snøhvit have been stored. The stored CO2 is being monitored in order to ensure that it does not mix with the main producing reservoir. A new CO2 injection well is now required.

After the new CO2 injector is installed, the rig will move on to drill the first new production well at Snøhvit since the field came on stream in 2007. The drilling campaign is planned to last until Christmas.

Prevents carbon leak

The CO2 solution project was established in 2013 in order to build and install a new CO2 injection well, replacing the original injector that over time would leak CO2 into the gas reservoir on the Snøhvit field.

Statoil prepares for Askeladd field development drilling

11 August 2016

Norway's Statoil's next big development step for Hammerfest LNG is the development of the Askeladd field, which is part of the plan for development and operation of the Snøhvit licence. It is expected to come on stream in 2020/2021. This development step will help ensure full utilisation of the capacity at Hammerfest LNG. Partners in the Snøhvit field include Norway's state-owned Petoro, French Total and Engie, and DEA Norge. Snøhvit is expected to produce until 2055. It has an annual capacity of 4.2 million tonnes of LNG.

Russia's Gazprom in the market for the 3D seismic equipment

11 August 2016

Russia's energy giant Gazprom is planning topurchase 3D seismic survey equipment forcarrying outwork intwo areas ofthe Kara and Barents Seas where the company is licensed toextract offshore gas, reports Sputnik.

"Fulfilling obligations underthe license bycarrying out3D seismic surveys bythe common depth point [CDP] method, aswell asthe carrying outa detailed survey ofthe geological structure ofthe identified prospective hydrocarbon object ... with the aim ofevaluating their oil and gas potential and the later setting upof exploration drilling," Gazprom documents said.

Surveys inthe Kara Sea will take place atthe Zapadno-Sharapovsky block and will span some 3,320 square kilometers (1,281 square miles). In the Barents Sea, surveys will take place at the Fersmanovsky block. Most depths are between 100 and 200 meters in the two blocks, with the Fersmanovsky bloc being deeper. Hydrocarbon deposits are estimated to be at depths between 1,000 to 4,200 meters.

Work will begin once a contract is signed withplans to complete surveys byNovember 2017. Equipment procurement applications have been submitted with the final decision expected on August 12.

Gazprom was authorised toexplore and develop a number of Arctic gas fields, including the Zapadno-Sharapovsky, Fersmanovsky, Demidovsky, Medvezhy and Ledovoye blocks, in 2013. The deposits are estimated to contain around 1.8 trillion cubic meters of natural gas in total.

Jacqueline Richter-Menge joins US Arctic Research Commission

11 August 2016

US President Obama has named engineer Jacqueline A Richter-Menge, research civil engineer at the US Army Corps of Engineers Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL) in Hanover, NH, to a four-year term on the US Arctic Research Commission (USARC). USARC is an independent federal agency that advises the President and Congress.

Richter-Menge replaces Charles Vörösmarty, Director, City University of New York Environmental Cross-Roads Initiative at the City College of New York, who has served on the USARC for eight years. Vörösmarty's varied academic and research interests, especially related to earth systems science and terrestrialwater, contributed significantly to the work of the Commission.

Richter-Menge is an expert in Arctic sea ice, who has made fundamental contributions to our understanding of the mechanical and physical properties of ice, from both laboratory and field experiments. She has led or participated in over 15 field programs to the Arctic, and formerly served as Chief, Snow and Ice Branch at CRREL. Her work improves projections of sea ice in support of near-real-time operations and on longer timescales.

Shell expresses development interest in Sakhalin gas field

14 July 2016

Global oil major Royal Dutch Shell is interested to take part in developing Russia's Yuzhno-Kirinskoye gas field offshore Russia's Sakhalin island, chief executive Ben van Beurden told Russia's Vedomosti daily newspaper. He added that expansion of the Sakhalin-2 LNG project in Russia's Pacific Island of Sakhalin may need gas both from that field and from the Sakhalin-1 project to succeed.

'There are many things we talk about with Gazprom. And, of course, we talk about that,' Shell head of operations in Sakhalin Olivier Lazare said late last year.

In late 2016, the United States restricted exports, re-exports and transfers of technology and equipment to the Yuzhno-Kirinskoye field. The sanctions were imposed just weeks after media cited Shell officials as saying the firm was considering Yuzhno-Kirinskoye as part of an asset swap deal with Gazprom, announced in June.

According to Gazprom's plans, Yuzhno-Kirinskoye will pump first oil in 2018.


Arctic search equipment regulations ready for sign-off

14 July 2016

Energy companies that hunt for crude in icy Arctic waters will have to stash extra equipment nearby and take other potentially costly steps meant to prevent oil spills in the fragile, remote region under regulations the Obama administration imposed this month, reports Bloomberg.

The first-ever Arctic-specific rules for offshore drilling will govern any new oil exploration in the area as melting ice makes it easier for energy companies to plumb once-frozen waters at the top of the globe.Industry leaders, who lobbied against the regulations when they were proposed in 2015, said the mandates will discourage development in U.S. Arctic waters estimated to contain 24 billion barrels of oil.

"We believe there to be billions of barrels of oil there, and we are an economy that is going to need oil for decades to come," Erik Milito, a group director at the American Petroleum Institute, said before the rules were released. For oil companies considering where to target exploration dollars, "it's going to come down to whether or not investment in this region, which should be promoted, makes sense given the other opportunities that exist around the world," he said, reported Bloomberg.

For full report, click here.

AUV heads under the ice in Antarctica

14 July 2016

A new underwater robot that will help scientists answer important questions about the Antarctic is due to arrive in Tasmania in early 2017, through a contract awarded to International Submarine Engineering (ISE).

Capable of diving to depths of 5,000 meters and travelling over 100 kilometres under meters of thick ice, the 'Explorer' class autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) will be programmed to collect data on research missions.
The AUV is funded by the Antarctic Gateway Partnership-a $24 million Special Research Initiative of the Australian Research Council that aims provide new insights into the role of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean in the global climate system-and by the Australian Maritime College (AMC), a specialist institute of the University of Tasmania.
AUV co-ordinator Peter King said: "The Explorer is engineered for deployment in challenging, under-ice conditions. At seven meters long and weighing around two tonnes, its duration is exceptional and can travel over 140 km-or for 24 hours-without needing to be re-charged.
"It's also highly customisable, and the engineering team will fit it with a full suite of instruments, including a tool for collecting samples from below thick ice-shelves."
For more information on the Antarctic Gateway Project, click here.

Arctic Council ratifies pollution agreement

14 July 2016

Formal ratification process has been completed on the "Agreement on Cooperation on Marine Oil Pollution Preparedness and Response in the Arctic," by the Arctic Council.

In 2013, Ministers of the eight Arctic states signed the agreement have completed conducted one exercise, hosted by Canada in 2014, under the Agreement. The second exercise is ongoing under the leadership of the U.S.

The first exercise under the Agreement consisted of a communications exercise. In September 2015, the US hosted a workshop at its Coast Guard Headquarters to prepare for the second exercise. The workshop addressed the identification of the highest-risk Arctic spill scenarios, and reviewed lessons learned from the 2014 Canadian-led exercise. In June 2016, a tabletop exercise was held in Montreal, Canada, alongside the first EPPR meeting of the year.

Among its other benefits, the June 2016 exercise was an opportunity for participants to develop working relationships with their counterparts in other federal, state and local agencies across the Arctic Council. Further exercises are planned for the chairmanship of Finland (2017-2019).

European Commissions seeks soft footprint across Arctic

14 July 2016
f there is one place in the world where climate change is plainly visible, it is the Arctic region, writes the European Commission's department of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries as it seeks to role in developing the region with a lighter touch. "The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world. The winter ice has lost an area of over one million square kilometres - the size of France and Germany combined.
"The impact is increasingly clear in Europe too: the drier summers, the shorter winters, the frequent floods and storms we have been experiencing of late - all are a product of this massive Arctic thaw, which alters ocean currents and weather patterns on a global scale".
To read the full article, click here.

Polarcus prepares for Norwegian-Barents Sea project

14 July 2016

Seismic company Polarcus has received a Letter of Intent for an XArray(TM) project in the Norwegian-Barents Sea for an undisclosed client.

The survey is due to commence in August 2016, after required authorization has been obtained, and will run for approximately 4 weeks.

This extends the Polarcus North West Europe campaignand replacesthe previously announced project in Moroccowhichwill no longer be acquired by the company.

Gazprom develops Bioros for oil spill cleanup

14 July 2016

Russia's Gazprom has commissioned a new production unit to develop its news proprietary product Bioros, aoil biodegradation agent, inSt. Petersburg.

The new substance was developed byGazprom Vniigaz, the company's core research center, operated by Safe Technologies. Bioros isaninnovative product for oil spill cleanup.
The product is effective at low water temperature.

Safe Technologies Industrial Group isaRussian enterprise that comprises anumber ofcompanies focused onthe design and construction ofenvironmental, industrial and chemical facilities, aswell asonthe development ofwaste management solutions.

Biodegradation agents remove oil spills using special microorganisms, which feed onoil products (oil, fuel oil, diesel fuel, lubricants, etc.), air, and water, thereby cleaning upsoils, sub-soils, and water sources.

Thoughts about organising risk in Arctic oil production

14 July 2016

A new research paper from Russisa entitled 'Between everything and nothing: Organising risks and oil production in the Russian Arctic' written by Nadezda Nazarova from Norway's Nord University looks the issue of risk across the region. Published by Elsevier, the paper starts: 'The presence of a developed and visible risk management and/or risk governance (RG) system has been highly institutionalised and discoursed in all kinds of modern activities. Based on the case of an oil-producing company operating in the Russian Arctic, the purpose of this paper is to challenge the organising (everything) capability of the risk concept showing that RM may exist between the everything-nothing extremus. By advocating the practice-based approach to organisational RG, the paper studies how the concepts of risk are used (or not used) in handling hazardous activities among different groups of professionals in a nature-exposed context.

Click here for more.

Gazprom Neft ships Yamal oil via Arctic Gates sea terminal

2 June 2016

The first year-round shipments ofYamal oil via the Arctic Gates oil-loading terminal has taken place from the Cape Kamenny settlement inthe Yamal Peninsula (Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug). Gazprom chief executive Alexey Miller and Gazprom Neft ceo Alexander Dyukov both attended the event. The Novoportovskoye oil and gas-condensate field, the most significant inYamal, interms ofreserves, islocated 700 kilometres from onshore pipeline infrastructure: the reason for the first ever shipments ofYamal oil inthe history ofRussia's oil and gas industry being made bysea.

Production of6.3 million tonnes ofcrude per year isexpected asearly as2018. Plans for the further development ofthe field will beconfirmed before end-2017

The Novoportovskoye field islocated inthe southeast ofthe Yamal Peninsula, some 250 kilometres north ofNadym, and 30kilometres from the coast ofthe Gulf ofOb. Recoverable C1and C2hydrocarbon reserves are estimated atmore than 250 million tonnes. Field development isbeing management byoperator Gazprom Neft PJSC.

The 'Novy Port oil isclassified as"medium-gravity crude", and has alower sulphur content (ofaround 0.1percent) than Urals-blend crude.

The possibility ofdespatching oil bysea during the winter season was confirmed byGazprom Neft asearly as2011, following apilot voyage byanuclear icebreaker from the port ofSabetta (inthe north-east ofthe Yamal peninsula) toCape Kamenny. Russia's first ever experience ofdespatching oil from Yamal bysea took place in the summer of 2014.

Total signals Arctic activity reduction

2 June 2016

French oil and gas company Total has signalled its intent to reduce its presence in the Arctic region in a new report, entitled 'Integrating Climate into our Strategy.

Patrick Pouyanne, chairman and ceo of Total said that the UN climate talks titled COP21 was a 'watershed (moment). There will be a "before" and "after" COP21. Despite the current instability worldwide, 195 countries managed to unite around an ambitious climate agreement.

The 2°C scenario highlights the fact that a part of the world's fossil fuel resources cannot be developed. Total's growth strategy takes this into account, he said

"In today's challenging production environment, we are prioritizing our projects and focusing on moderately priced production and processing assets that meet the highest environmental and safety standards.

"On that basis, in 2015 we decided to reduce our exposure in Canada's oil sands, which are particularly expensive to develop and operate.

"We also confirmed that we do not conduct oil exploration or production operations in the Arctic ice pack," said Puoyanne.
Read the full report here.

Norwegian 'spyship' makes Kirkenes its home port

2 June 2016

Norway's new so-called spy ship Marjata (the forth intelligence vessel in a row with the same name) is making its home port at Kirkenes and will be utilised to track increasing Russian military activity.

Built at a cost of NOK1.5 billion (€160 million) the new intelligence vessel is one of the most expensive military investments in Norway in modern times.

High North of strategic importance for Norway, reports the Independent Barents Observer.

Morten Haga Lunde, Chief of Norway's military intelligence, said earlier this winter that the new "Marjata" represents renewal and innovation in many ways.

"But also a tradition through continuation of our presence in the Barents Sea. Control with the development in the High North is of strategic importance for Norway.

"The Parliament's decision to invest in a new intelligence vessel is an important signal that Norwegian presence in the north is of high priority," Lunde said.

Studying cores from northeastern Barents Sea

2 June 2016

One thousand metres of shallow stratigraphic drill cores are now being studied with a magnifying glass, tape measure and hydrochloric acid in the core store in Stavanger following a recent drilling campaign by the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate. Seven shallow wells were drilled in the north-eastern Barents Sea.

"We are learning a lot. Once these studies have been completed, we will understand much more about the geology in these sea areas," says geologist Andreas Bjørnestad, who participated in the drilling expedition with the vessel Bucentaur last year.

The vast majority of these drill cores are from reservoir rocks. The samples taken from the shallow wells are complete cores from the seabed, containing both source and reservoir rocks.

The drill cores measure between five and seven centimetres in diameter and are split lengthwise. They provide a quick overview of rock types and sedimentary structures. The cores may be used for research in a number of areas, for instance sediment types, stratigraphy, sedimentation environment and climate variations.

The northeastern Barents Sea is not opened for petroleum activity. Only the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate may map unopened areas on the Norwegian shelf.

Norway releases research funds for polar studies
2 June 2016

The Research Council of Norway is investing up to Nok30m in funding research projects into polar regions with an initial focus on the Antarctic area. Projects are expected to run for between three to four years and around eight such projects are expected to be funded under this scheme.

The Polar Research programme (POLARPROG) is the Research Council of Norway's most important funding instrument for achieving wide-ranging, high-quality Norwegian polar research, says the Council. The programme "will help to fulfill Norway's special responsibility to generate new research-based knowledge in and about the polar regions. Knowledge is essential both for enhancing our understanding of the climate system and ecosystems, and in the context of policy implementation, responsible resource management and industrial activity,' added the Council.

For full details, click here.

Statoil cancels West Hercules drilling rig contract

26 May 2016

Norwegian oil major Statoil has, on behalf of the Aasta Hansteen licence, decided to cancel the contract with Seadrill for the West Hercules drilling rig.
On contract with Statoil since 31 January 2013, the rig has carried out an exploration campaign offshore Newfoundland, Canada for the past 18 months.

According to the original plan the Aasta Hansteen licence was to take over the rig in the second quarter of 2016 for a drilling campaign to be started around 1 July 2016.
In the autumn of 2015 it was decided to postpone the Aasta Hansteen field start-up one year until the last half of 2018, and consequently the field drilling programme will also be postponed.

One of the reasons is that it is not preferable to complete the wells too early before production start-up.
The contract for West Hercules was originally to expire on 31 January 2017.

European Commission lays out policy proposal for Arctic region

28 April 2016

The European Commission has adopted a policy proposal to guide the actions of the European Union as it stakes a claim for influence across Arctic region.

The EU will step up its existing action and engagement in the region with 39 actions focussing on climate change, environmental protection, sustainable development and international cooperation.

The particular importance of research, science and innovation is reflected across these priority areas.

Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, said: "A safe, sustainable and prosperous Arctic not only serves the 4 million people living there, our European Union and the rest of the world. Because the Arctic is also crucial in terms of regional and global security, and a strategic component of our foreign policy."


... region becoming vital for strategic and commercial interests

28 April 2016

Karmenu Vella, EU Commissioner for Environment, Fisheries and Maritime Affairs, said: "We impact on the Arctic and the Arctic impacts on us. Global weather patterns, our oceans, ecosystems and local biodiversity - the Arctic influences them all. While increasing human development is inevitable, it is in our hands to do it in a sustainable way. We have to do this in full respect of the livelihoods of those who live in the region and by protecting its most valuable resource: the environment."

The Joint Communication takes into account existing EU legislation, including the commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as well as ongoing and forthcoming EU activities and projects. It also builds on and complements the Arctic policies of the EU Member States.

The proposed actions will now be discussed with the EU Member States in the Council and the European Parliament.

The report can be accessed here.

Offshore platforms can survive sea ice, says BSEE research

28 April 2016

The US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), and the University of Alaska, recently completed a research study to see whether current offshore structural designs can successfully survive sea ice demands under extreme Arctic conditions.

The objective of the study, "Reliability-Based Sea Ice Parameters for Design of Offshore Structures," was to produce information that would supplement current standards and recommendations such as ISO 19906 Standard: Petroleum and Natural Gas Industries - Arctic Offshore Structures, to provide additional sea ice information for the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas.

Over a two-year period, researchers gathered data from 16 seasons of ice measurements from the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas. This data provided sufficient comparisons of various sea ice parameters, such as first and last ice occurrence, level of ice, rubble fields, ridges and ice movement. After a full analysis, the research team was able to analyze a range of annual values to develop averages and draw conclusions.

The study identified critical keel depth and provided an assessment of the suitability of the current ISO 19906 recommendations for estimating global ice forces on offshore structures. The Following the collection of additional data, analysis and thorough review of recorded events, the researchers concluded that it appears the current standard of practice cited in ISO 19906 is conservative for current structural design parameters and is capable of surviving the demands from sea ice.
The full study can be read here.

OMV drills successful appraisal well for Wisting, Norway

28 April 2016

Austria's OMV has successfully completed drilling and testing of the Wisting Central II appraisal well in the Barents Sea. The horizontal well was drilled in the Wisting field, about 310 km north of the Norwegian town of Hammerfest. Wisting is the northernmost oil discovery in Norway. Wisting Central II is the fifth well in the production license PL537, which was awarded in the 20th licensing round in 2009.

The well objectives were to confirm the potential of the discovery by proving the presence of hydrocarbons in the undrilled Wisting Central South and Central West segments, and to prove the technical concept of long-reach horizontal wells in a shallow reservoir, about 250 meters below seabed. The possibility to drill such wells is needed to establish the basis for a viable development of the Wisting discovery. A well test was performed and flow rates reached just above 5,000 boe/d.

The well was spudded on January 15, 2016, by the semisubmersible rig Transocean Spitsbergen. The well test was finalized end of March and the well will now be permanently plugged and abandoned.

OMV (Norge) AS as operator has 25% share in the PL537 license. Joint venture partners are Petoro (20%), Idemitsu (20%), Tullow (20%) and Statoil (15%).

Russian ice-class vessel Murman on duty atPrirazlomnaya

28 April 2016

Russian ice-class vessel Murman is to be located at the production Prirazlomnaya rig operated by Gazpromneft Shelf producing oil atthe onthe Russian Arctic Shelf. Murman is a multi-purpose vessel, registered in Murmansk and carrying a Russian flag.

The vessel will be onpermanent emergency standby around the platform to ensure safe oil production.

The icebreaker class 6 multi-purpose vessel Murman is designed rescue and icebreaking operations in waters covered with ice of up to 1.5 m thick, fighting of fire at floating and onshore facilities, oil spill response activities.

Gennady Lubin, director general, Gazpromneft Shelf, said: "The number of wells built at the oil field and the volume of oil shipments is increasing. Deployment of the Murman will help us maintain safe production and shipment of raw hydrocarbons".

The vessel has a length of 87.75 m, a beam of 19.1m and draft of 6.52 m.

Initially discovered in1989, the Prirazlomnoye oilfield islocated inthe Pechora Sea, 60kilometres from the shore. Production started in December 2013 and the oil is traded as named Arco.

API calls for opening up of Arctic to exploration

28 April 2016

The American Petroleum Institute has called on the US administration to maintain and promote the country's oil and natural gas development through the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management's (BOEM) 2017-2022 offshore programme and open up the Arctic area for to explorers, said API Group Director of Upstream and Industry Operations Erik Milito.

"Rising U.S. production has dramatically increased our ability to protect consumers and the U.S. economy from energy shocks even within a low price environment," said Milito. "The nation's long-term energy security can only be ensured with a lasting commitment to expanding offshore oil and natural gas development to new areas."

In 2010, over 30% of the oil and 11% of the natural gas produced in the Unitedwas produced in the Gulf of Mexico, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

"Knowing that oil and natural gas will be needed for many more decades to come, the Department of the Interior should promote robust development of U.S. offshore energy resources and recognize the Arctic and Gulf of Mexico as core components of the five year program."

Barents Sea group positive on Arctic exploration

24 March 2016
Ice, extreme temperatures and a vulnerable environment are all surmountable challenges as drillers set out to hunt for oil in a new area of Norway's Arctic Barents Sea, according to Statoil and other explorers, reports Bloomberg.
Studies by Statoil and 15 other companies such as Shell show there have been only a "few days" of sea ice in the northernmost blocks since 2003, and south of that even less, said Aashild Tandberg Skjaerseth, chair of the Barents Sea Exploration Collaboration, a venture set up by the companies.
It's also unlikely that any spill would reach the polar ice cap as oil and sea ice tend to drift in the same direction, she said.
"Our main conclusion is that there is no health, environmental or safety challenge that is so significant that it can't be appropriately mitigated," Skjaerseth said. The findings were handed over to authorities this week and will be distributed soon by the Norwegian Oil & Gas Association, a lobby group.
Norway is opening more of the Barents Sea off its northern tip to oil explorers as it seeks to boost national crude production that's dropped by half since 2000.
Statoil, Eni Norge, Lundin Norway, OMV and GDF SUEZ agreed last year to collaborate on solving operational tasks tied to exploration in the Barents Sea.
The Barents Sea Exploration Collaboration called (BaSEC) will initially last for three years. The project will cover the Barents Sea, but with a special focus on the areas included in the 23rd licencing round. "We are taking operational responsibility seriously and have connected leading companies with operations in the Barents Sea to work together to find good and robust solutions for the tasks we see ahead, especially considering the new areas that have been opened in the Barents Sea south-east," says Statoil's Irene Rummelhoff, senior vice president for exploration in Norway.

Russia's Arctic tanker Akademik Pashin to be floated out in April

24 March 2016

The Arctic tanker Akademik Pashin will be floated outin April, RIA Novosti reported, citing Deputy Defense Minister Dmitry Bulgakov. Work is currently underway onthe ship's propeller-rudder system, and the tanker is tobe launched bythe end ofMarch 2016.

"The Arctic-class tanker Akademik Pashin will be floated outin April 2016," the deputy minister said.

Work onthe ship will continue afterit is inthe water..

"The Arctic-class tanker Akademik Pashinn ofProject 23130, which is being built asan auxiliary ship atthe Nevsky Shipyard, is more than65 percent finished. We are planning the acceptance ceremony forlate 2016 or early 2017," Bulgakov said.

Overall length: 130 meters;
Overall width: about21 meters;
Top speed: 16 knots;
Endurance 60 days;
Crew: 24 persons;
Class: Russian Maritime Register ofShipping.

Cheshire well operations suspended offshore Nova Scotia

24 March 2016

Eight large sections of styrofoam floats have fallen from the drillship Stena IceMAX operating offshore Nova Scotia, Canada as rescue teams wait for the right weather conditions to retrieve them. The Cheshire well is operated Shell Canada, and lies 225 kilometres offshore.

The abandoned floats broke loose from a pipe used for drilling operations, following an incident earlier this month that has suspended Shell Canada's search for oil off Nova Scotia's coast, reported CBC News.

"Until such time as the board is satisfied that operations can proceed safely, drilling will remain suspended," said Kathleen Funke, spokesperson for the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board (CNSOPB). Crews aboard the Stena IceMAX drill ship disconnected a roughly 2,000-metre pipe from the subsea well head and began moving the pipe away.

Beneath the surface, the well's blowout preventer had already engaged and the riser had been flushed with water, so no oil or drilling fluid escaped.

However, the riser is still currently lying on the ocean floor.

After the riser sank, Shell workers noticed nine 'buoyancy modules" bobbing on the surface, a spokesperson for the CNSOPB said. The board is responsible for overseeing exploratory and resource recovery operations off the coast, on behalf of the federal and provincial governments.

Shell Canada has been investigating how the riser broke loose from the surface ship. CNSOPB is closely monitoring the investigation, and says it will not let operations resume until it's complete.

Shell Canada in Nova Scotia

Exploratory wells approved in October 2015.

Cheshire well is the first of two.

7,532 metres: Goal depth for Cheshire well.

6,700 metres: Depth reached by March 5, 2016.

Nine buoyancy modules initially afloat.

One module recovered.

Nova Scotia Energy Minister, Michel Samson, visits IceMAX drillship

24 March 2016
In October, 2015, Shell began drilling the first of two deep-water wells in the Shelburne Basin, about 250 kilometres offshore Nova Scotia. In January, 2016, Nova Scotia Energy Minister, Michel Samson, visited the IceMAX drillship. Read the Minister's first-hand account of his tour, here.

Russia's Gazprom Neft pumps 10millionth barrel fromPrirazlomnoye

24 March 2016

Russia Gazprom Neft has pumped its 10-millionth barrel ofoil produced atthe Prirazlomnoye oilfield- located onthe Russian Arctic Shelf inthe Pechora Sea and currently under development byGazpromneft Shelf. Shipment ofthis landmark barrel was completed bythe Mikhail Ulyanov tanker on10March, the 22nd consignment since commercial production started atthe field.

Product is exported from the Prirazlomnaya rig iseffected bytwo double-hulled ice-class (Arc6) oil tankers, the Kirill Lavrov and the Mikhail Ulyanov, able toguarantee the safe delivery ofcrude produced. Both were built atthe Admiralty Shipyards, StPetersburg, specifically toensure the year-round transportation ofoil produced atthe platform under Arctic conditions and launched in2009.

Gennady Lubin, Executive Director, Gazpromneft Shelf, said: "The 10-millionth barrel ofoil isamajor landmark, proving that oil production onthe Arctic Shelf can beboth safe and viable. Weare pushing ahead with opening upthe Prirazlomnoye field, with the production and shipment ofhydrocarbons running toschedule."

Initially discovered in1989, Prirazlomnoye oilfield islocated inthe Pechora Sea, 60kilometres from the shore. Recoverable reserves are estimated at 70million tonnes.

Total and China oil firm sign strategic agreement

24 March 2016

While attending the China Development Forum in Beijing at the invitation of the Chinese government, Patrick Pouyanné, Chairman and CEO of French oil giant Total, signed a strategic cooperation agreement with Wang Yilin, Chairman of China National Petroleum Company (CNPC), on March 20 to extend the two companies' existing collaboration.

In the past ten years, Total and CNPC have formed a number of partnerships involving such major projects as the Sulige gas field in Inner Mongolia, China , Yamal LNG in Russia, Kashagan in Kazakhstan as well as projects in Iraq and Brazil.

Greenpeace activists target Transocean Spitsbergen rig in Barents Sea

10 March 2016

Environmental activists from Greenpeace are currently protesting against Austrian oil company OMV's exploratory drilling in the arctic waters of Norway's Barents Sea. The protest is happening 300 km north of the Norwegian city Hammerfest, The semisubmersible rig Transocean Spitsbergen has been contracted for the work.

Greenpeace Activists from Germany, Hungary, Austria and Norway, based on the nearby Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise, held banners with the message "No Arctic Oil", while a similarmessage was displayed on a LED Banner hanging off the Arctic Sunrise itself.

Lukas Meus, Arctic Campaigner from Greenpeace Austria, said: "This exploration rig is just one example that showcases the ongoing threat to the Arctic coming from oil companies. Despite the fact that big companies like Shell have withdrawn from arctic areas like Alaska after spending billions and billions of dollars failing to find any oil, there are others like OMV who are sneaking into the far north under the cover of darkness, hiding the fact from the public that they are risking major damages to the environment. That's why the Arctic Sunrise is here: to expose OMV's reckless attempts to find oil in these freezing arctic waters."

OMV started its exploration drilling in January 2016.

Opening of Ilisimatusarfik Research Center for Arctic Oil & Gas

10 March 2016

Open invitation to the opening of the Research Center for Arctic Oil & Gas

Ilisimatusarfik, the University of Greenland, has created a three-year professorship to research the social, political and economic aspects of oil and gas related activities in the Arctic.

The opening takes place at Ilisimatusarfik, Ilimmarfik building at Wednesday 16 March at 13:00- 16:00 in the Auditorium at Ilimmarfik, and we look forward to many participants.

The research center opens with presentations from the two professors who are heading up the research of the center.

The two professors are:

  • Anne Merrild Hansen - Professor of Social Science, Arctic oil and gas studies
  • Rachael Lorna Johnstone - Professor in Law, Arctic oil and gas studies
The project will research and studies on the social, political and economic aspects of oil and gas related activities in the Arctic at Ilisimatusarfik.

Northern Lights can cause interference to E&P efforts in Arctic waters

10 March 2016

The spectacular Aurora Borealis northern lights which are often observed over the Arctic sky can technical problems for oil and gas explorers in the region.

The PhD thesis of Inge Edvardsen, a student at the University of Tromsø, Norway says that the northern lights pose a major challenge for the Arctic oil industry. According to Edvardsen, the magnetic sensors, which help control the direction of the drilling instruments, are affected in areas with much northern lights. That increases the likelihood on imprecise drilling, Edvardsen notes. The further north, the more imprecise the drilling, the research publication states.

In order to better cope with the challenge, Edvaldsen proposes to install measurement instruments on the sea bottom, as an addition to current land-based measurement stations.

Fleet Xpress trialled in Antarctic waters

10 March 2016

Satellite communications provider Inmarsat together with Global Marine Networks and Network Innovations, has successfully trialled Fleet Xpress in Antarctic waters, installed on board the adventure cruise ship Ocean Nova.

Fleet Xpress, the hybrid Ka and L-band service using Inmarsat's Global Xpress network, delivers the world's first globally available high-speed broadband service from a single network operator.

"This trial marks another important milestone for the launch of Fleet Xpress. By testing Fleet Xpress in such harsh conditions we are pushing the boundaries of what we can offer," said Ronald Spithout, president of Inmarsat Maritime.

The trial was successfully conducted on board the 1992 built ice class Ocean Nova, owned by Nova Cruising Ltd and operated by Nova Logistics, a polar expedition specialist.

"Our customers rely on us to provide cutting-edge satellite services," said Dr Luis Soltero, Chief Technology Officer of Global Marine Networks, which offers a range of internet based services, hardware and software to commercial clients.

"Antarctica requires low-horizon satellite views through heavy cloud cover and precipitation. Fleet Xpress successfully overcame these conditions," he added

Dolginskoye oilfield to open in Russian Arctic soon

10 March 2016

Russia's Gazprom Neft is expected to open its Dolginskoye oilfield in the near term to become the second working oi and gas operation onthe Russian Arctic shelf, Deputy Minister ofEnergy Kirill Molodtsov said ata conference onthe Arctic and shelf projects, RIA Novosti reported.

"We are expecting the Dolginskoye oilfield tobecome our next operational deposit onthe Arctic shelf," Molodtsov noted. The Prirazlomnoye oilfield inthe Pechora Sea is so far the only functioning local shelf deposit.
Gazpromneft-Sakhalin, asubsidiary ofGazprom Neft, has started drilling anew exploration well inthe Dolginskoye field onthe continental shelf inthe Pechora sea. The work was carried carried out during the ice-free months of2014 and will involved drilling asingle well toadepth of3,500m and conducting afull range ofgeological investigations.
The Dolginskoye oil field lies inthe middle ofthe Pechora Sea, 120km south ofthe Novaya Zemlya archipelago and 110km north ofthe mainland. The field was discovered in1999; the sea isapproximately 35-55m deep inthe field area.

Det norske acquires Noreco's Norwegian portfolio

3 March 2016

Norwegian oil company Det norske oljeselskap has agreed with Noreco Norway to buy its Norwegian license portfolio, including a NOK 45 million ($5.2m) cash balance.
The license portfolio consists of seven licenses on the Norwegian Continental Shelf, including a 20% interest in the Gohta discovery (PL492) in the Barents Sea. Noreco's 4.36% interest in the Enoch field is not included in the transaction.

"Following the recent acquisition of both Svenska Petroleum Norway and Premier Oil's Norwegian subsidiary, this take-over of Noreco Norway underlines Det norske's belief in, and commitment to the Norwegian Continental Shelf", said Karl Johnny Hersvik, CEO of Det norske.

Oil production at Prirazlomnoye field grows 150% in 2015

3 March 2016

In 2015, over800,000 metric tonnes ofcrude oil was produced atthe Prirazlomnaya platform, which is 150% more thanwas produced onthe Russian Arctic shelf in2014, reports Gazprom Neft Shelf.

"In 2015, we not only reached the planned number ofnew oil wells and the volume ofoil production, butalso managed toensure production safety onthe shelf inthe extreme Arctic conditions," Gazprom Neft Shelf general director Gennady Lyubin said.

He said plans call fordoubling oil production in2016 and added that compliance withsafety and environmental regulations will be the priority.

Over 1.1 million metric tons ofoil was shipped fromthe Prirazlomnoye field in2014-2015. There are currently two extraction wells and one injection well operating atthe field.

The Prirazlomnoye oil field is located inthe Pechora Sea, 60 km offthe coast. The prospective oil reserves exceed 70 million metric tons. This is the world's first offshore oil rig inthe Arctic. Production started inDecember 2013.

Russia's energy producers chief calls for more upstream investment

3 March 2016

Given the low oil prices, Russia should focus onfield exploration, Gennady Shmal, president ofthe Union ofOil and Gas Producers ofRussia, said atthe international conference "Arctic and Shelf Projects: Prospects, Innovations and Development ofthe Russian Regions," held in February.

"The oil price situation gives us unexpected breathing space, which we should use tocarry outfield exploration," Shmal said.

"Only 50 percent ofour main oil source, onshore Western Siberia, has been explored," Shmal said. He believes the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Area has "huge potential interms ofboth gas and oil". Development should be continued inthe Kara Sea, onSakhalin Island and inthe Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Area.

Arctic ice melting faster than thought, says green group

3 March 2016

The Arctic is thawing even faster than lawmakers can formulate new rules to prevent the environmental threat of heavy fuel oil pollution from ships plying an increasingly popular trade route, reports Reuters.

Average Arctic temperatures are rising twice as fast as elsewhere in the world, and the polar ice cap's permanent cover is shrinking at a rate of around 10% per decade. By the end of this century, summers in the Arctic could be free of ice.

As the ice melts, traffic of ships carrying cargoes of gas, coal and diesel through the region has increased. Russia, in particular, is keen to expand shipping through the Arctic given its rich natural resources and efforts to cut costs. It aims to cut journey times between Europe and Asia by 30 to 40%, reports Reuters.

"It is time for regulators to wake up and realize that the Arctic is melting away right in front of us," said Whit Sheard of the Circumpolar Conservation Union green group.

Novatek looks to Japan for Barents Sea investment

3 March 2016

Russian gas company Novatek invites Japanese business toinvest ina wharf inthe Barents Sea, which is part ofa larger project toproduce liquefied natural gas (LNG) inthe Arctic, the company's chief said Monday, reports Sputnik news agency.

"We'd liketo invite Japanese companies totake part inthe implementation ofthis major project," Novatek CEO Leonid Mikhelson said ata Russia-Japan trade and industry forum inTokyo.

Mikhelson said that construction works inthe city ofMurmansk inthe Kola Peninsula, innorthwestern Russia, were set tobegin later this year and totake aroundthree years tocomplete. The project is estimated tocost $500 million.

Novatek has been given the go-ahead fromthe Russian authorities tobuild a string ofhigh-capacity facilities inthe Kola Bay toproduce liquefied natural gas.

"For this reason, Novatek plans tobuild a wharf inthe Murmansk region, which will serve asa platform forsharing and localizing know-how technologies inRussia," the company's chief executive said.

It is also building an LNG production plant inthe Yamal Peninsula, further tothe east alongthe Russian Arctic coast, withanother LNG factory tobe constructed inthe Gydan Peninsula, reports Sputnik.

Russia's Lukoil updates oil field developments across region

3 March 2016

Russian oil company Lukoil has updated its expectations of several of its fields across the region. The company has increased recoverable reserves of the Vostochno-Lambeyshorskoye field in the eatern Republic of Komi by more than six times to 42.218 million tonnes.

The field was discovered at the end of 2011 and back then its initial recoverable reserves (C1+C2) were estimated at 6.948 million tonnes of oil. Seven exploration wells were drilled over the past four years in accordance with the approved exploration program of PJSC Lukoil, with the total of 26,000 meters of rock drilled.

Meanwhile, the company has begun the first stage of exploration activities at the Vostochno-Taimyrsky license block in the Krasnoyarsk region ahead of time. This stage of exploration includes 2D seismic acquisition of 2,421 line kilometers and drilling of an exploration well.

Seismic equipment and crews are being mobilized to the site. During the 2016 season, the seismic survey will cover the area of 1,000 line kilometers.

And in the Baltic Sea, Lukoil has been granted the right to use a subsoil block which includes the D33 oil field in the Baltic Sea for upstream work

The D33 field was discovered in 2015. An exploration well there was drilled from a Russian-made jack-up drilling rig.

The field contains recoverable oil reserves of 21.2 million tonnes.

Shell's US chief to leave company in March

25 February 2016

Marvin Odum, head of Royal Dutch Shell operations in the US is leave Shell at the end of March having spent 34 years with the company. Odum was in charge of Shell US operations during its recent activity in Alaska/ Arctic waters.

The Arctic was "a big bet," Odum said this week, according to US news reports. "If the oil that we had hoped was there -- and probably was there at some point in geological history -- in the quantities we were looking for, this would have been a fabulous success," he said.

Although disappointed in the outcome, Odum said, he was still proud of the Alaska project because Shell "ultimately executed a very technically successful exploration program" in an area about 1,000 miles from the nearest deep-water port and as US regulations were evolving.

Bruce Culpepper, an executive vice president who has been overseeing human resources in the Americas, will become the U.S. chairman and the president of Shell Oil on April 1.

For nearly eight years, Odum served as the U.S. face of Shell, testifying about industry tax deductions on Capitol Hill and proclaiming the company's support for pricing carbon-dioxide emissions.

Odum will be replaced Bruce Culpepper, currently Executive Vice President HR, Unconventional Resources and Regional Coordination.

Offshore support vessel Magne Viking get IMO Polar Code listing

25 February 2016

The offshore support vessel AHTS Magne Viking has been approved to operate within the new IMO Polar Code foll0wing a successful test by After a classification company DNV GL and the Danish Maritime Authority. Magne Viking is owned by Viking Supply Ships, based in Gothenburg, Sweden.

The process has included updates of vessel and equipment, as well as providing the required documentation.
"As this vessel was already winterized and built for operation in cold climate, most of the additional requirements in the Polar Code were already fulfilled before we started the implementation process," says Andreas Kjøl, Project Director at Viking Supply Ships.

The IMO Polar Code is mandatory for all SOLAS vessel entering Arctic and Antarctic waters from 1 January 2017. The Code is an add-on to existing IMO codes where the main requirements are related to safety (SOLAS) and protection of the environment (MARPOL). DNV GL will, on behalf of the Flag Authorities, issue the Polar Ship Certificate for vessels complying with the new code.

RS is authorised to survey ships for compliance with Polar Code

25 February 2016

The Russian Maritime Register of Shipping (RS) has been authorised by the Ministry of Transport of the Russian Federation to carry out surveys of ships flying the flag of the Russian Federation for compliance with the International Code for Ships Operating in Polar Waters (Polar Code).

Upon authorization of the Maritime Administration of the Russian Federation, RS will carry out surveys for compliance with the Polar Code of passenger and cargo ships as well as offshore installations registered in the Russian National Shipping Register, bareboat-charter register, Russian International Shipping Register or the register of ships under construction. The RS authorisation will cover approval of documentation, performance of the prescribed surveys and issue of a Polar Ship Certificate.

From 1 January 2017, the Polar Code requirements will apply to new ships constructed on or after this date. The ships constructed prior to this date shall comply with the Polar Code not later the date of the first renewal (special) or intermediate survey after 1 January 2018.

Arctic shipping, commercial opportunities and challenges, report

25 February 2016

The findings of the report conclude that major opportunities for the maritime sector exist if the ice cover on the Arctic Ocean continues to decline. The sector of dry bulk and offshoring are currently the sectors with the largest potential as the Arctic hosts and abundance of the natural resource.

The results from the quantitative study on the feasibility of liner shipping across the NSR indicate that Arctic liner shipping may become economically feasible around 2040, if the ice cover continues to diminish at the present rate.

The possibility of a major expansion of the maritime activities within the sectors of bulk, offshoring and liner shipping before mid-century rests upon several crucial assumptions which are all subject to major uncertainties.

These uncertainties include the hazardous environmental conditions, port and infrastructure availability and high costs of operation compared to the southern shipping lanes.

To read the full report click here.

Canada Arctic law changes to be imposed Feb 26

25 February 2016

Two years after passing the Canadian passing The Energy Safety and Security Act(ESSA), a range of changes are it is due to come into force on February 26. Passed in 2014 by the Harper government, introduced changes to the liability regimes governing Canada's offshore oil and gas industries. These changes include increasing the amount of security required to be provided to $100 million, raising the cap on absolute, or no-fault, liability from $30 million ($40 million in the Arctic) to $1 billion and empowering offshore regulators to issue administrative monetary penalties.

The Energy Safety and Security Act (the Act) contains amendments to the Canada Oil and Gas Operations Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act, along with the federal Accord Acts governing exploration and production offshore Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador, notes Canadian law firm Osler.

Since the legislation was passed, the offshore regulators (the National Energy Board, the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board and the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board) have issued draftregulationsandguidelinesin respect of the changes implemented by ESSA.

"The Act raises to $1 billion the cap on liability, without proof of fault or negligence, for damages caused by a spill. Previously, these caps had been $30-million offshore in Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia and $40 million in the Arctic. Unlimited liability in the case of fault or negligence remains. In addition, an operator seeking authorization to drill offshore must demonstrate that it has the financial resources to meet the greatest of the liability obligations it will assume," notes Osler.

Kongsberg Arctic class CCTV chosen for Canadian patrol vessels ...

18 February 2016

Kongsberg Maritime has been selected by L-3 MAPPS to provide the CCTV system for the Royal Canadian Navy's (RCN) new class of Arctic Offshore Patrol Ships (AOPS). L-3 MAPPS is one of the Tier 1 suppliers to Irving Shipbuilding, Prime Contractor delivering the AOPS vessels as a part of the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy (NSPS). Kongsberg Maritime has over 70 employees in Dartmouth, Vancouver and St. Johns, 190 employees in the UK and approximately 4,600 total across the world.

"Further to our recent CCTV supply for the Halifax-class frigates IPMS upgrade we are delighted to be able to leverage from our proven marine & naval camera technologies to support L-3 MAPPS, Irving Shipbuilding and RCN on the prestigious AOPS Program which is a key milestone in the renewal of Canada's combatant fleet," said David Fleming, Camera Systems Manager for Kongsberg Maritime.

Forming a key part of the Integrated Platform Management System (IPMS), the CCTV system will provide the crew with real time video surveillance to assist with mission critical operations as well as providing increased safety, security and situational awareness on board the new build AOPS vessels.

The first Arctic Offshore Patrol Ship is scheduled to be delivered in 2018.

US Coast Guard starts process for new Polar Class icebreakers

14 January 2016
The US Coast Guard is to host an Industry Day to attract interest from shipbuilders and designers interested in participating in a new 'Polar Class Icebreaker Replacement Program'. Currently the US has just one heavy icebreaking cutter, the USCGC Polar Star. By contrast, Russia has 41 icebreakers and four under construction. The Industry Day is expected to take place in MArch. The announcement was made by Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft at the Surface Navy Association symposium 2016 in Arlington, Virginia, USA on January 13. Speaking at the event he said that the icebreaker would fulfuilll several roles including a floating command post to a vessel capable of operating unmanned systems in an Arctic environment. For more information, click here.

Gazprom Neft commissions first bilateral well in Yamal

14 January 2016

Russia's Gazprom Neft has completed drilling ofthe first bilateral production well onthe Yamal Peninsula. The project isbeing undertaken atthe Novoportovksoye oil and gas condensate field, development ofwhich isbeing managed byGazpromneft Yamal, asubsidiary ofGazprom Neft.

Vadim Yakovlev, First Deputy CEO, Gazprom Neft, said: "This marks the first ever bilateral well tobedrilled under Arctic conditions. The experienced gained will allowus tostart building wells ofmore complex construction atthe Novoportovskoye field, including increasing the length ofhorizontal sections to2,000metres. Greater well production capacity will, inturn, increase the economic viability ofdeveloping this field."

Shipments bysea from Cape Kammeny have been identified asthe optimum solution for the exporting crude. The first opportunity for despatching oil bysea during the winter season was confirmed byGazprom Neft asearly as2011, following apilot voyage byanicebreaker from the port ofSabetta (inthe north-east ofthe Yamal peninsula) to Cape Kammeny.

The characteristics ofthis new Yamal oil place itinthe "light" category, with low sulphur content: ataround 0.1percent, this exceeds the quality not just ofUrals blend, but also Brent crude. Total production volumes atthe Novoportovskoye field since the start ofdevelopment in2012 now stand atmore than 500,000 tonnes ofoil.

Faroe Petroleum spuds Kvalross well in Barents Sea
14 January 2016

Faroe Petroleum, the independent upstream oil and gas company focussed on Norway and the UK, has started drilling the Kvalross exploration well 7224/2-1 (Faroe 40%).

Licence PL611, which contains the Kvalross prospect, lies in the Norwegian Barents Sea to the south of OMV's significant Wisting and Hanssen oil discoveries. The well will test two independent targets including: the Kvalross prospect with significant oil and gas resource potential within Lower Triassic Klappmyss Formation clinoform reservoir; and the Kvaltann prospect which has additional oil potential within a Mid-Late Triassic Snadd Formation channel.

Graham Stewart, ceo at Faroe Petroleum, said: "This well will test two independent structures in a highly prospective area in the Norwegian Barents Sea. Kvalross is on trend with and just to the South of OMV's significant Wisting and Hanssen discoveries and will use the (Transocean Arctic), the same rig as was used to make the Pil and Bue discoveries last year."

Licence PL611 was awarded to Faroe in May 2011 in the Norwegian 21st Licensing Round together with co-venturers Wintershall Norge AS (40% and operator) and Petoro AS (20%). The Kvalross well is being drilled using the Transocean Arctic drilling rig and the results will be announced when drilling operations are complete.

Gazprom's Miller outlines Russian giant's upstream plans

14 January 2016

Gazprom takes the leadership position inthe Russian petroleum industry, said the Russia giants'. Chairman Alexey Miller, in his New Year's address. "Wehave been efficiently developing the Prirazlomnoye field inthe Arctic shelf. InNovember the amount ofoil output reached one million there and this vividly demonstrates that weoperate this complex and extremely promising region inaproductive and safe manner.

Gazprom isalso focused on developing its position inthe European gas market having signed shareholders agreement toconstruct the Nord Stream 2gas pipeline.

This new gas transmission route placed under the Baltic Sea will substantially boost the reliability ofgas supply toEurope for decades tocome, he said. "Inorder tofeed gas into Nord Stream 2we are creating gas transmission infrastructure across Russia. Wehave already set to constructing its key part- the Ukhta- Torzhok-2gas pipeline having great importance not only for gas export, but also for developing gasification inRussia's northwest".

The project for gas supply toChina via the eastern route isinfull swing, said Miller. The Power ofSiberia gas pipeline isalso under construction. "This year we've started pre-developing the Chayandinskoye field andinitiatedthe Amur gas processing plant construction, which ismeant tobethe largest and the most technically advanced gas processing facility inRussia".

Miller also mentioned the construction for the Gates ofthe Arctic offshore offloading terminal that would pave the way for year-round oil supplies from the Novoportovskoye field inYamal.

Speakers invited to submit abstracts for ATC 2016

14 January 2016

Speakers have until 28 January to submit abstracts for consideration for the Arctic Technology Conference 2016 in St. John's Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada.

ATC delivers a multidisciplinary program covering all aspects of Arctic activity which willoffer unprecedented communication and collaboration opportunities about challenges and solutions for the global exploration and development of onshore and offshore Arctic basins.

There are five themes and for the conference including Geology and Geophysics - Arctic and Sub-Arctic Basins; Exploration and Production; Physical Environments; Logistics; and Regulatory Environment and Social Responsibility and speaker are invited to submit in any of these areas that meet professional expertise and interests. For more information click here.

Rockhopper and partners move ahead with Sea Lion prospect

14 January 2016

Rockhopper Exploration, the UK-based oil and gas junior with interests in the North Falkland Basin has completed it pre-FEED work for Phase 1a of the Sea Lion development and award the of FPSO FEED contract to SBM Offshore.
Preferred contractors selected for the provision of the various subsea system facilities - subsea FEED contract awards are expected during the first quarter of 2016.

A draft Field Development Plan has been prepared and submitted to the Falkland Island government.

Phase 1a of the Sea Lion development definition phase is complete and the company has upped its estimation of the oil commercialised increased from 160million barrels to 220m bbls recoverable, while peak production has been increasing from approximately 60,000 to 85,000 bbls per day and field life increased from 15 to 20 year.

Premier Oil is the operator of the project with a 36% stake, with Falkland Oil and Gas holding a 40% stake and Rockhopper Exploration holding the balance.

Sam Moody, CEO at Rockhopper said: "The huge improvements to the project, combined with the award of the FPSO FEED and finalisation of the commercial terms with Premier allows us to keep moving the Sea Lion project towards a sanction point in mid 2017 despite the low oil price environment.

"With the merger with Falkland Oil & Gas due to complete shortly, this news adds further momentum to activity in the basin as a whole."

Currently, Premier Oil is project operator with a 36% stake, Falkland has a 40% stake and Rockhopper Exploration holds the balance

Keen response by industry to Norway's 23rd bid round

10 December 2015

Some 26 oil and gas companies have applied for blocks in Norway's new 23rd licensing round, officials have said, in areas that include parts of the Barents Sea along a previously disputed maritime border with Russia.

Russian oil companies OAO Rosneft and Lukoil PJSC are among the bidders.

"It's a good sign for the future petroleum activity in the high north that a broad selection of companies compete for new acreage in the Barents Sea," said Norway's petroleum and energy minister Tord Lien.

Oslo offered 57 blocks to industry in January, the majority in and around the Barents Sea. Some 34 blocks are in the south-eastern Barents Sea, in parts disputed by Russia until a 2010 border agreement. It marks the first new area to be opened to exploration in Norway since 1994.Another 20 blocks are located in other parts of the Barents Sea and three in the Norwegian Sea.

Other applicants include majors like Statoil, BP, Shell and ConocoPhillips, plus smaller and mid-size firms such as Dong Energy and Lundin Petroleum, as well as the Norwegian units of Dea and EON SE, both acquired by Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman.

The blocks are to be awarded in the first half of next year and the government hopes to see first drilling in the new areas in 2017.The number of blocks in the 22nd licensing round was 86.

Arctic to account for just 3.5% of Russian output by 2030

10 December 2015

Production on Russia's Arctic shelf will only account for 3.5% of the country's total oil output by 2030, a leading local energy expert has said.

Vasily Bogoyavlensky, research director at the Oil and Gas Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, said 2030 production is forecast to reach only 18 million tonnes per year, citing the results of a recent study.

"According to [an] over optimistic forecast, if the development of all open fields begins, [the] best-case scenario is that in 2030 we will reach 18 million tonnes, which is 3.5% of our annual production," he said, cited by news agency Tass.

White House hopeful plan to ban Arctic drilling

10 December 2015

US presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders has outlined his plans to tackle climate change, including a complete ban on Arctic drilling.

Other measures include similar bans on offshore oil drilling and fracking for gas, and a halt to crude oil and liquefied natural gas exports, as well as a moratorium on nuclear power plant license renewals.

The US senator said that the climate change problem is one being perpetuated by the "billionaire fossil fuel lobby."

Analysts said the measures read like an environmentalist's wish list. Sanders is up against rival Hillary Clinton in the contents for the Democratic Party nomination.

US watchdogs probe Chukchi Sea environmental studies

10 December 2015

The US Department of Interior's Office (DoI) of the Inspector General completed an investigation this week into "allegations of potential scientific integrity misconduct" linked to environmental studies on Shell's recent Chukchi Sea drilling.

It was responding to complaints about the "manipulation of scientific analysis" and "findings by a non-scientist manager for political purposes" in a supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS) drafted by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM).

The suggestion is the environmental studies may have been pushed through under political pressure.

The Inspector General determined that while non-scientist managers did edit the draft environmental report they did not change the scientific analysis or finding

"We also found that upper management did establish an expedited timeline for completing the SEIS, but DOI Chief of Staff Tommy Beaudreau, who established the timeline, informed us he did not do so to benefit industry," a December 7 bulletin by the DoI stated.

It noted that during its investigation, several current and former BOEM employees said that the expedited timeline had resulted in departures or retirements of various agency employees, although no further details were given.

Viking unveils new offshore life saving suit

10 December 2015

Denmark's Viking Life-Saving Equipment is launching a new generation anti-exposure suit, which can also function as an immersion suit, to protect against hypothermia in the event of falling into the water.

The suit is designed for crew protection on marine applications including offshore support vessels and fast rescue boats in a range of geographic regions and climatic conditions.

"We have provided anti-exposure and immersion suits for offshore and other marine markets for many years," said Soren Hansen, Viking product manager for personal protective equipment.

"We have now further upgraded the design of our suits to enhance both ergonomics and performance, employing some interesting new technologies to help achieve these aims. The result is a more comfortable suit, with added functionality, that improves usability in a wide range of circumstances and locations."

The new suit is manufactured primarily from GORE-TEX, a waterproof, breathable fabric, for instance, but also includes more stretchy Neoprene fabric panels around the knees and lumbar region.

The company plans to start marketing the new suit in early 2016.

US Senator calls for new oil and gas leasing terms

3 December 2015

US Senator Lisa Murkowski (pictured) told a Senate hearing this week that Washington should review its Arctic oil and gas leasing plans in light of the departure of major investors like Shell and Statoil.

The Senator called for Arctic-specific lease terms longer than the 10-year average duration for other federal offshore leases due to the uniqueness and complexities of the region.

"We all know that the physical environment in the Arctic is tough," she said, cited by Alaska Dispatch News. "But it was not the environment that prompted these decisions. It was, to a large degree, the regulatory environment, which continues to deteriorate."

Shell cited an uncertain regulatory climate as one of the reasons for its decision to halt further work offshore Alaska following the completion of the Burger J exploration well in the summer.

Longer lease terms are justified, she said, because of the seasonal nature of the Arctic which limits potential drilling and other activity in the area. "I believe that a new paradigm is in order," she added.

Novatek announces Yarudeyskoye oil field start up

3 December 2015
Novatek announces Yarudeyskoye oil field start up

Novatek has announced the start of commercial production at the Yarudeyskoye oil field in northern Russia.

Production is expected to rapidly reach a level equivalent to approximately 3.5 million tons of crude oil on an annualised basis, it said in a December 1 statement. Nefte Petroleum Limited is a partner on the project.

The field's infrastructure includes a central oil treatment facility, oil and gas gathering systems, a pumping station, and crude oil and gas pipelines linking the field to the trunk pipeline systems, as well as 36 production wells.

Leonid V. Mikhelson, chairman Novatek's management board, said it marks the completion of his company's first major crude oil development project. "We have successfully ramped up our liquids production over the past three years, and the Yarudeyskoye field allows us to sustain double-digit growth rates next year, as well as to contribute substantially to our free cash flow generation," he said.

"The field's high quality reserve base and the application of state-of-the-art drilling and completion technologies enabled us to ensure record high flow rates as well as very low per unit development and lifting costs."

Wärtsilä to power new Antarctic support icebreaker

3 December 2015

Wärtsilä has announced a new contract to provide propulsion solutions for a French icebreaker that is currently being built and scheduled for delivery in 2017.

The 72 metre polar logistics vessel is being built for Terre Australes et Antarctiques Françaises (TAAF) and the French Polar Institute (IPEV), and will be operated by the French Navy. It will carry out its first supply mission to the Dumont d'Urville station in Antarctica in winter 2018.

Under the contact, Wärtsilä will supply four Wärtsilä 20 main engines, two stainless steel propellers and shaft lines, reduction gears, NOR emissions after treatment systems, and one tunnel thruster.

The ship, which will accommodate 60 people, will have a cargo capacity of 1,200 metric tons, and be fitted with a helideck large enough for two helicopters.

Lundin still keen on Arctic potential

3 December 2015

Lundin Petroleum remains as keen as ever on the Arctic, with company executives hoping to replicate their big Johan Sverdrup discovery in the Barents Sea where the firm is currently very active.The 2010 Johan Sverdrup find is estimated to contain up to 3 billion barrels of oil equivalent.

Lundin's chief executive Alex Schneider (pictured) told the Financial Times in an interview last week: "The Barents Sea is the answer, it's like going into a new country. We are only scratching the surface."

The company remains highly active drilling in the area despite the setbacks that have hit others in the Artic region, including Shell's disappointing well in the Chukchi Sea in the summer. Statoil has also said that it does not plan to drill any Barents Sea wells during 2016.

But Lundin, which has already made one big find in its Alta field and a smaller one in the Gohta region of the Barents Sea, seems undeterred with more wells to come next year."The southern Barents Sea is ice-free, it's similar to the North Sea, it's not a difficult area," Schneiter told the FT. "What is missing there is the infrastructure."

Yamal LNG in bonds issue as financing draws closer

3 December 2015

Yamal LNG has issued 75 billion rubles ($1.16 billion) of 15-year bonds as part of the withdrawal of the second tranche of the National Welfare Fund of Russia's (NWF) financing package, part of the Russian government's support for the gas export project.

The proceeds will be used for further plant construction on the Yamal peninsula, Yamal LNG said in a statement. The project groups Russia's Novatek (60%) with France's Total (20%) and China National Petroleum Corporation (20%).

However, the deal could pave the way for a much greater third party financing, experts reckon.

Moody's Investors Service rated Yamal LNG's bond issuance as "credit positive", opening the door to external funding."The successful issuance indicates that external creditors' approvals are in place and paves the way for external creditors to fully fund Yamal LNG on a project finance basis from 2016 limiting Novatek's exposure to this project as the key shareholder," it said in a bulletin.

Yamal LNG has so far committed less than half of the total estimated $27 billion project cost. The group is currently negotiating a substantial project financing to bankroll the remainder of the project, with Chinese banks reportedly heavily involved.

Alaska's Greater Mooses Tooth 1 project is a go

26 November 2015

ConocoPhillips Alaska has approved funding for its Greater Mooses Tooth 1 (GMT1) development in the National Petroleum Reserve Alaska (NPRA).

It means production start-up is now anticipated in late 2018, reaching 30,000 bpd at peak.

"GMT1 is expected to cost approximately $900 million gross and follows our recent successful completion of the CD5 project," said Joe Marushack, president of ConocoPhillips Alaska. "We are pleased to have been able to work through key permitting issues with the Corps of Engineers and BLM that now allows us to move into the development phase."

The development will include a new gravel pad, a 7.7 mile road, facilities and pipelines, with nine wells to start and capacity for up to 33 wells. Oil will be processed through the existing Alpine Central Facility.

Construction will begin in early 2017 and continue into 2018, with first oil planned for late that year.

ConocoPhillips Alaska holds a 78% interest in the project alongside Anadarko with 22%.

Statoil to quit Alaska

19 November 2015

Norwegian oil company Statoil is to quit Alaska citing "recent exploration results in neighbouring leases", a reference to Shell's disappointing Burger J well.

It said in a statement that the leases in the Chukchi Sea "are no longer considered competitive within Statoil's global portfolio, so the decision has been made to exit the leases." It will also close its office in Anchorage.

The decision means Statoil will exit 16 operated leases, and its stake in 50 leases operated by ConocoPhillips, all in the Chukchi Sea. The leases were awarded in the 2008 lease sale and expire in 2020.

Statoil's executive vice president for exploration, Tim Dodson said: "Since 2008 we have worked to progress our options in Alaska. Solid work has been carried out, but given the current outlook we could not support continued efforts to mature these opportunities."

But, like Shell, the company does not rule out a return at a later date.

Dodson said the studies, research and activities that have taken place in Alaska in recent years have given the company skills and expertise that can be leveraged in other opportunities in northern environments in the future.

"Our understanding of the challenges and opportunities has increased considerably over the last years. This gives Statoil a unique position and experience which the company will continue to apply going forward," he said.

Yamal LNG closing in on finance deal

19 November 2015

A deal to bankroll the 16.5 million tons Yamal LNG project could be signed off next month, Russian deputy prime minister Arkady Dvorkovich (pictured) has said.

"All the basic questions have been addressed," he told reporters at an intergovernmental energy cooperation commission in Beijing. "Now all the basic conditions have been agreed on, so we expect the signing to take place in December."

The gas export project is led by Russia's Novatek and France's Total, alongside China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) and the Silk Road Fund, a Chinese investment fund.The estimated cost of the whole venture is estimated at round $27 billion, which will include a large amount of external debt.

China can play a leading Arctic role, says Russian minister

19 November 2015

Russia's deputy energy minister Anatoly Yanovsky wants to see more Chinese firms take a role in developing the country's Arctic oil and gas deposits.

He told state news agency RIA Novosti that talks are ongoing between Russian oil company Rosneft and China to explore potential opportunities in the region."The topic is in discussion at the company level," he was quoted as saying. "As far as I know, Rosneft is negotiating [with China]."

In early September, China Oilfield Services Limited (COSL) signed deals with Rosneft and Norway's Statoil to drill two exploration wells in the Sea of Okhotsk.

Chinese firms are already participating in the Yamal LNG project, with Chinese banks set to play a key role in financing the scheme after Western credit sources dried up in the wake of sanctions over Ukraine.

Industry dives into sub-arctic Canada

19 November 2015

There was plenty of appetite among the big international names for the latest East Coast Canada bid round.Key winners for blocks off Nova Scotia and Newfoundland included BG, Chevron, BP, Statoil and Exxon Mobil.

Statoil - just as it was departing offshore Alaska - said that it had secured six exploration licences in the Flemish Pass Basin, offshore Newfoundland, and two offshore Nova Scotia in the awards.

The offshore Newfoundland licenses total 14,670 sq km, and are located in an area in proximity to the Statoil-operated Bay du Nord discovery. The Nova Scotia acreage covers 6,500 sq km approximately 250 km from Halifax.

Tim Dodson, Statoil's executive vice president for exploration called the blocks "frontier areas".He said: "The significant exploration investment offshore Newfoundland will provide Statoil an opportunity to further advance our established exploration position in this region through a step-wise approach, while in Nova Scotia, we are able to apply the exploration knowledge and experience we have gained globally and in the North Atlantic specifically."

Statoil holds a strong position in the Flemish Pass Basin. The new licences are in an area near to previous discoveries: Mizzen in 2009, and the Harpoon and Bay du Nord discoveries of 2013.

Shell's Arctic boss to leave the company

19 November 2015

Ann Pickard, Shell's executive vice president for the Arctic who oversaw the recent offshore Alaska drilling campaign, is to leave the company in February 2016.She will join the board at Houston-based engineering and construction giant KBR Inc.

Pickard (pictured) was appointed to her Arctic role in 2012 after the company's previous exploration plans floundered, when the Kulluk rig ran aground in rough weather.Shell has now put its offshore Alaska drilling plans on hold citing disappointing well results and high costs after completing the long-awaited Burger J exploration well.

KBR chairman Loren Carroll said in a statement that Pickard was a "qualified executive" who would "make an immediate and positive impact to our Board."

Shale production, renewables challenge Arctic investment

19 November 2015

US oil companies are reassessing costly commitments to the Arctic in light of domestic shale production, the growth of renewable energy technology, and climate change concerns.

That's the message from Amy Myers Jaffe, executive director of energy and sustainability at the University of California, who took part in a Wall Street Journal panel discussion recently.

She told the panel that these things are "prompting some large energy companies to reconsider the viability of their expensive mega projects that take a long time to build before they produce oil and gas - including drilling in the Arctic, Caspian and some deep-water locations."

ConocoPhillips cleared to drill Greater Mooses project

29 October 2015

The US Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has approved a drilling permit for the proposed Greater Mooses Tooth Unit oil and gas development project (GMT1), led by ConocoPhillips Alaska.

GMT1 is owned by ConocoPhillips (78%) and Anadarko Onshore E&P LLC (22%).A final investment decision on the $900 million scheme, which could yield up to 30,000 bpd at peak, is expected later this year.

The move clears the way for the first oil and gas production from federal land in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska.In a statement, BLM director Neil Kornze said it was a collaborative effort to ensure responsible development that will provide a new source of oil for the trans-Alaska pipeline.

But the project, first proposed a decade ago, has faced multiple delays due to environmental and community considerations.US Senator Lisa Murkowski said: "Mitigating impacts to subsistence and local communities is critically important to responsible development, but the protracted process and requirements GMT-1 has been subject to must not be a precedent for development" in the reserve.

The roughly 23 million-acre National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska is the largest single block of federally managed land in the USA.

US Arctic port plans now on hold

29 October 2015

Plans for a deepwater Arctic port off Alaska have been put on hold following Shell's decision to abandon drilling work in the area.

The Army Corps of Engineers has now suspended a study into building the facility, which would have provided shelter for large oil and gas support ships operating in the Arctic region.

Shell ended its exploration in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas recently after finding oil but not in sufficient quantities to merit the cost and complexity of development.

"During the next 12 months, the Corps and its partners will monitor Arctic activities to determine if there may be the potential for federal interest in continuing the study," the Corps said in a statement.

It was exploring the possibility of creating a port at Nome Harbor, about 550 miles northwest of Anchorage, by expanding it and deepening it to 28 feet.

In the wake of Shell's departure, the US government has also scrapped petroleum lease sales in Arctic waters scheduled for 2016 and 2017.

Most recently, Shell confirmed this week that it is to abandon another key project, the 80,000 bpd Carmon Creek oil-sands project in Alberta after walking away from its Arctic drilling programme.

Cammell Laird secures polar research ship contract

29 October 2015

British ship builder Camel Laird is to build a new polar research vessel after being a handed a £200 million contract by the UK government.

The vessel is due for delivery in 2018. It will secure the UK's position as a world leader in polar research, according to the country's science minister Jo Johnson.

The ship, which will operate in both Antarctica and the Arctic, will be the first British-built polar research vessel with a heli-deck and will be able to endure up to 60 days in sea-ice.

Alaska drill site CD5 produces first oil

29 October 2015

ConocoPhillips Alaska has commenced first oil production at its $1 billion CD5 drill site, part of the Alpine field (pictured), the company announced on October 27.

CD5 is the second new ConocoPhillips North Slope drill site to come on stream this month. First oil was announced at the Kuparuk Drill Site 2S (DS2S) on October 12. It marks the first commercial oil development on Alaska Native lands within the boundaries of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPRA).

"First oil at CD5 is a landmark for our company, Kuukpik Corporation, Arctic Slope Regional Corporation and for Alaska. This announcement is the culmination of more than 10 years of work and collaboration with key stakeholders, including the residents of the nearby village of Nuiqsut," said Joe Marushack, president of ConocoPhillips Alaska.

Four wells are now complete at CD5, with development plans calling for 11 more wells by early 2017. Peak gross production is anticipated at 16,000 bpd.DS2S is expected to add about 8,000 barrels of oil per day gross at peak production.

CD5 is located approximately 8 miles from the Greater Mooses Tooth 1 (GMT1) development, Conoco's next key project in the area

Gazprom Neft advances Ob Sea offshore oil terminal

8 October 2015

Gazprom Neft has completed pre-construction work on its Arctic terminal in the Yamal Peninsula. The offshore facility, in the Ob Sea, near Cape Kammeny, will facilitate year-round oil exports from the nearby Novoportovskoye field.

All pre-construction works are expected to be completed in 2015, the company said in a statement, with full testing of the Arctic terminal due to commence in early 2016.

Gazprom Neft first deputy chief executive, Vadim Yakovlev, said it marked a major step forward in the sale of year-round shipments of Novy Port oil to European customers. The terminal will have a capacity of more than 8.5 million tonnes of crude per year.

"Commercial production at Russia's Novoportovskoye field from early 2016 will mark the emergence of a new, northernmost outpost in oil production, unique in its operating conditions, infrastructure and transportation facilities," said Yakovlev. "Supplies from Novy Port are expected to reach two million tonnes as early as 2016, and we expect to be producing more than four million tonnes here from 2017."

Recoverable reserves at the Novoportovskoye field, which lies within the Arctic Circle, comprise more than 250 million tonnes of crude and condensate, and more than 320 billion cubic metres of gas.

More Alaskan lease sales set for November 18

8 October 2015
New Alaskan lease sales are planned for next month by both state and federal authorities.

Alaska's Department of Natural Resources will hold its annual North Slope, Beaufort Sea and North Slope Foothills area-wide oil and gas lease sales on November 18. The US federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will also offer leases in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska (NPR-A) the same day.

The state is offering total offshore and onshore acreage of 7.7 million acres, with bids to be received by November 13; the BLM is making 143 tracts available across 1.5 million acres.

"This annual lease sale was planned with careful consideration to balance the exploration and development of oil and gas resources with the protection of wildlife habitat and subsistence activities, such as fishing and hunting, of rural residents and Alaska Natives," said BLM Alaska director Bud Cribley.

The NPR-A, which comprises the largest single block of federally managed land in the US, contains an estimated 896 million barrels of recoverable oil and 52.8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, according to the US Geological Survey.

Alaska's economy could suffer after Shell departure

8 October 2015

Shell's decision to pull the plug on its offshore Alaska adventure following disappointing well results could harm the state's economy, financial analysts have warned.

The ratings agency Moody's said this week that Shell's decision to halt its drilling project in the Chukchi is "credit negative" for Alaska, potentially harming the state's future economic prospects. Alaska's credit rating is AAA-negative.

The agency says Shell's efforts to tap offshore oil would have provided indirect benefits to Alaska's economy through job creation as well as improved viability of the under-utilised Trans-Alaska Pipeline System.

Shell's Alaska decision may undermine future offshore licensing

8 October 2015

Oil consultancy Wood Mackenzie said last week that Shell's decision to abandon its offshore Arctic exploration plans is likely to dent further interest in the region.

On September 28, Shell announced that it would not pursue further exploration at the Burger field in the US Chukchi Sea. Although the company found oil and gas, it said the results were not sufficient to justify further activity.

Wood Mackenzie said this spells bad news for planned lease sales next year and beyond."The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has scheduled lease sales in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas in 2016 and 2017 respectively," it said in a bulletin. "However, with Shell's results casting deep uncertainty over the viability of the US Arctic, we expect extremely low levels of participation and interest, with this decision potentially deferring all exploration in Alaska's federal waters."

Norway's Goliat project 'needs $100 a barrel' for success

8 October 2015

Norway's giant Goliat project, which is set to enter production this year, may require an oil price of $100 per barrel if it is to be deemed economic, one oil analyst said this week.

"Looking at the whole project, I believe we must see an average oil price of nearly $100 a barrel in order for the project to see a good return," Christian Yggeseth, an analyst with Arctic Securities, a financial institution, told broadcaster NRK. Crude oil is currently trading at less than $50 a barrel.

The project, jointly owned by Eni and Statoil, is the first oil project to be built in the Norwegian Barents Sea.

It is also reported to be running over budget to the tune of around $2 billion, according to Norwegian newspaper Stavanger Aftenblad, citing figures to be released in connection with the 2016 national budget on Wednesday.

Shell to cease Alaska offshore search as Burger J well disappoints

1 October 2015

Shell has announced that it will halt further exploration work off Alaska after seeing disappointing results from its Burger J well in the Chukchi Sea.

The well, located 150 miles from Barrow, Alaska, in about 150 feet of water, did show oil and gas but not in sufficient quantities to merit further action.

"Shell will now cease further exploration activity in offshore Alaska for the foreseeable future," the company said in a September 28 statement. "This decision reflects both the Burger J well result, the high costs associated with the project, and the challenging and unpredictable federal regulatory environment in offshore Alaska."

Shell said that it safely drilled the well to a total depth of 6,800 feet "in a basin that demonstrates many of the key attributes of a major petroleum basin".It added that for an area equivalent to half the size of the Gulf of Mexico, the basin remains "substantially under-explored".

Marvin Odum, director, Shell Upstream Americas, said his company still sees longer term potential in the basin, "and the area is likely to ultimately be of strategic importance to Alaska and the US."

Shell retains a 100% working interest in 275 Outer Continental Shelf blocks in the Chukchi Sea.

88 Energy to drill Icewine-1 exploration well

17 September 2015

Australia's 88 Energy has is preparing to drill its Icewine project on Alaska's North Slope.

The Australian-listed group announced last week that its wholly owned subsidiary, Accumulate Energy Alaska (AEA), had signed a rig contract with Kuukpik Drilling.

"Kuukpik Rig 5 will be utilised for the upcoming Icewine-1 exploration well, which is on schedule for spud in October 2015," 88 Energy said in a statement. "The rig is a winterized rig with a telescopic mast rated for 400,000 pounds that is well suited for the drilling of Icewine #1."

Dave Wall, 88 Energy's managing director, said the company was now fully funded for the well, with a rig in place, and is now chasing down any final permits required.

Kuukpik Rig 5 has drilled remote exploration wells in all areas of the Alaskan Arctic, including the Barrow Gas Fields, Umiat, NPRA and an offshore ice island in the Beaufort Sea.

Rosneft to add to its Arctic fleet

17 September 2015

Rosneft has placed orders with the Far Eastern Shipbuilding and Ship Repair Center (FESRC) for two ice-class support vessels for its growing Arctic business.

The vessels are to be built at the Zvezda Shipyard, in keeping with Moscow guidelines to keep ship building and other manufacturing local where possible.

Rosneft chief Igor Sechin said: "We started implementation of the task set by the Russian President to localise the manufacturing of marine facilities in the Far East, and we expect that other license holders working at offshore license blocks, and shipping companies will follow our example."

The contract also includes an option for a further two similar vessels

Arctic Economic Council Secretariat opens in Tromsø

17 September 2015

The Arctic Economic Council (AEC) Secretariat has been officially opened in Tromsø, Norway.

The group held its founding meeting in Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada in September 2014. A year later, on September 8, 2015, representatives gathered again in Tromsø to formally inaugurate the new Secretariat.

The Arctic Council approved the creation of the AEC last year "to foster sustainable development, including economic growth, environmental protection and social development in the Arctic Region."

Speaking at the launch event, Norwegian Foreign Minister Børge Brende said: "The Arctic must remain a region of peaceful cooperation, stability, respect for international law and sustainable development of resources. The Arctic Council is a vital contributor to this end."

AEC chairperson Tara Sweeney added: "It's time to get to work."

Shell quits climate change project amid Arctic drilling row

17 September 2015

Shell has walked away from a Prince of Wales climate change project which it helped to found amid its controversial drilling work in the Arctic.

The company is currently drilling off Alaska in the Chukchi Sea area.

The firm's exit from the Prince of Wales's Corporate Leader Group was announced in a short note on the climate change programme's website, based at Cambridge University.

It read: "As of September 2015 longstanding member Royal Dutch Shell is no longer a member."

According to reports, there had been a falling out with other companies associated with the initiative unhappy about Shell's Arctic exploration.

Canada's offshore Arctic rules may stifle development work

17 September 2015

Offshore drilling rules for Canada's Arctic may "stifle" future development work in the area, a government internal briefing report has suggested.

It suggests the current rules do not provide incentives for drillers to proceed with production after discovering oil.

The advice, cited in a Reuters report, was prepared for the government by Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Minister Bernard Valcourt.

It follows lobbying by Imperial Oil and other companies seeking concessions on existing legislation.

The right-leaning Conservative government said in July it would review the legislation, known as the Canada Petroleum Resources Act.

The note said that Imperial and its partners ExxonMobil and BP requested extensions on two existing licences last December to drill in the Beaufort Sea. Chevron was another name cited in the document as seeking changes to the law.

Svalbard identified as a possible refugee location

17 September 2015

A group of Norwegian politicians has put forward the idea of sending refugees to remote Svalbard.

The Atlantic archipelago is one of the world's most remote areas and is currently inhabited by more polar bears than people. The current population of human inhabitants is just 2,600.

Some officials think the move would boost the local economy and have urged leaders to explore the idea in greater detail.

China's Silk Road Fund to join Yamal LNG team

10 September 2015

Russia's Novatek has signed a framework agreement with China's Silk Road Fund (SRF) that will see the Chinese investment group take a 9.9% stake in the Yamal LNG project.The $1.4 billion deal was first discussed in August and signed during a visit by President Vladimir Putin to Beijing.

Following the completion of the deal, the shareholder structure of Yamal LNG will be Novatek (50.1%), Total (20%), CNPC (20%) and SRF (9.9%). SRF is a $40 billion Chinese fund focused on energy and infrastructure projects worldwide.

"We welcome SRF's entrance into the Yamal LNG project as another step forward in the mutually beneficial cooperation with our Chinese partners in the development of gas projects in the Russian arctic region," Novatek chairman Leonid V. Mikhelson said in a September 3 statement.

China is expected to assist in project financing the Yamal LNG venture because of difficulties in accessing western credit markets in the wake of the Ukraine standoff.

SRF president Wang Yanzhi said he considered the Arctic project to be "one of the most prospective and competitive LNG projects in the world".He added: "We hope our entrance into the project will facilitate an expedited closing of the project's general external financing, as well as contribute to further development of the Chinese-Russian cooperation in the energy sector".

The Yamal LNG project envisages the construction of an LNG plant with annual capacity of 16.5 million tons per annum taking gas from the South-Tambeyskoye field.

TMK moves pipelines to Russian gas project

10 September 2015

Pipelines group TMK announced this week that it has now supplied this year's product quota to Yamal LNG.In 2014 the two sides signed a contract for the supply of pipeline products through to 2020 for the huge gas export scheme.

"This year, 1,748 tonnes of cold-resistant pipe, including 1,716 tonnes of premium products, have been delivered to Yamal LNG under a seven-year contract," a TNK statement read.

The shipments included casing pipe and tubing pipe of various diameters, plus connections and accessories, all made at TMK's Volzhsky, Sinarsky and Orsk machine building plants.

Barents Sea seismic in demand

10 September 2015

EMGS has reported more interest in its Barents Sea seismic data.The company said it has entered into "two new data licensing agreements with two oil companies" for the provision of 3D EM data from EMGS's multi-client data library over the Barents Sea and the Norwegian Sea.The seismic package is worth USD 1.6 million, it added.

EMGS has plenty of experience in the area. Five years ago it secured pre-funding from Statoil for an extensive multi-client 3D EM survey in the Barents Sea, ahead of Norway's 21st exploration licensing round. This followed earlier seismic work in the Barents Sea area during 2008.

Russian spy ship nears Shell's Alaska drill fleet

10 September 2015

A Russian spy ship was spotted last week close to the Noble Discoverer, one of the rigs contracted by Shell for its Alaska drilling campaign.

Shell is currently exploring in the Chukchi Sea area, north of the Bering Strait between Alaska and Russia.

A Pentagon spokesman, Jeff Davis, confirmed the sighting to CNN. "We are aware of the Russian vessel Kurily sailing in the vicinity of the Noble Discoverer. We recognise the rights of all sovereign nations to freely navigate in international waters."

The US Northern Command was alerted to the Russian vessel's presence after the US Coast Guard was first informed, CNN reported, although no American defence assets were deployed.

The Noble Discoverer (pictured) is one of two rigs being used by Shell for its Alaska drilling alongside Transocean's Polar Pioneer

Rosgeologia commences Kara Sea seismic work

10 September 2015

Russian seismic firm Rosgeologia has commenced a new project to collect fresh data across the Baydarata Bay of the Kara Sea.

The survey will cover an area of approximately 20,000 sq km and is expected to be completed by the end of 2017.

Rosgeologia's client list includes the likes of Gazprom, Rosneft and Lukoil, as well as international operators.

Obama's Alaska visit highlights Arctic cause

3 September 2015

US President Barak Obama, visiting Alaska this week, has called for new investments in the region to to enhance safety and security in a changing Arctic.

As well as a pledge to build more icebreakers (see story below), it could include a new deepwater harbour north of Dutch Harbor, located on the Aleutian Chain, to provide a safe haven for vessels transiting the US Arctic region.

New maritime mapping studies are also planned for areas now open to shipping as a result of increased melting sea ice, involving the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the US Coast Guard.

The president also outlined a number of key marine and land-based environmental projects during his visit.

US icebreaker strategy emerges

3 September 2015

During his Alaska visit, President Obama also outlined plans to overhaul the US icebreaker fleet in a bid to keep up with Russia's growing ambitions.

He said his administration will propose to accelerate the acquisition of a replacement heavy icebreaker to 2020 from 2022, begin planning for construction of additional icebreakers, and call on Congress to work with it to provide sufficient funding.

"These heavy icebreakers will ensure that the US can meet our national interests, protect and manage our natural resources, and strengthen our international, state, local, and tribal relationships," a Whitehouse statement read.

Currently, the US fleet is down to the equivalent of two fully functional icebreakers and only one heavy-duty icebreaker. Russia, on the other hand, has 40 icebreakers and another 11 planned or under construction.

"The growth of human activity in the Arctic region will require highly engaged stewardship to maintain the open seas necessary for global commerce and scientific research, allow for search and rescue activities, and provide for regional peace and stability," the statement added.

"Accordingly, meeting these challenges requires the US to develop and maintain capacity for year-round access to greater expanses within polar regions."

Oil price challenge for Arctic upstream projects

3 September 2015

Gazprom Neft deputy director Vadim Yakovlev has said his company remains committed to the Arctic even though project economics remain extremely challenging.

In an interview on the company's website, cited by the Barents Observer, he said that Gazprom Neft will press on with further development plans in the area despite oil prices dropping again recently.

The company estimates that its Prirazlomnoye field - Russia's first and currently only offshore Arctic oil project - requires a price of around $50-60 per barrel to be profitable.

Other companies face the same challenge, including Statoil and Eni in the Norwegian Arctic. The pair's Goliat project - due on stream later this year - could need an oil price closer to $90 to be economic, according to some sources.

North Energy eyes Russia's Barents Sea

3 September 2015

Norwegian oil company North Energy is eyeing up Russia's Barents Sea.

In its 2014 annual report, the company makes its ambitions known. It is already partnering Russia's Lukoil on upstream projects on the Norwegian side of the Barents Sea, but now seems keen on working on the other side of the border.

In the report, cited by RIA Novosti, it states: "The goal of North Energy business is then exploration, development and production of oil and gas on the Norwegian continental shelf and in the Russian sector of the Barents Sea, as well as providing the possibility of ownership or participation in companies with similar activities, including through subsidiaries."

Norway's Arctic border with Russia caught in migration spotlight

3 September 2015

The Arctic region has become embroiled in Europe's growing refugee crisis.

Norwegian press reported last week that more than 100 Syrian asylum seekers have crossed the country's Arctic border from Russia in recent months.

The refugees are reportedly using bicycles to bypass a law that makes it illegal either to cross the border on foot or to give someone without papers a lift in a vehicle.

The Storskog border station, two hours drive from Murmansk, is Norway's only legal border crossing with Russia.

Shared emergency response resources for northern Norway

27 August 2015

Eni Norge has signed a mutual assistance agreement with the Norwegian Coastal Administration (NCA) for the pooling of support vessels on the Goliat field, the first of its type in the country.

Andreas Wulff, Eni Norge's external communication manager, said the agreement will provide better oil spill protection in a sensitive region, as well as making available to both sides access to optimal towing capability

"It represents a strengthening of the capacity both within oil spill protection, towing and search and rescue operations off the coast of West Finnmark."

The Goliat field will be the first oil field to come on stream in Norway's Barents Sea when it starts production this year. It is being developed by operator Eni Norge and Statoil.

Assistance provided to Eni by the NCA is restricted geographically to the Goliat field and adjacent areas along the West Finnmark coast, said Johan Marius Ly, director of the NCA's Department for Emergency Response.

"This is an effective way to make use of shared oil spill protection resources," he said in a statement. "Our goal is mutual utilisation of vessel capacity permanently stationed in the area in the event of unforeseen incidents and suspensions in operations."

Russia's Lukoil making inroads into the Arctic

20 August 2015

Russia's second biggest oil company Lukoil looks to be making progress in its quest to access more Arctic upstream opportunities, securing the East Taimyr oil field against rival bidder Rosneft.

The field is on the northern tip of Taimyr, a peninsula between the Kara and Laptev Seas, where Rosneft is already active.

Local press said Lukoil paid the equivalent of around $30 million for the project, which was offered for tender by the Russian Natural Resources Ministry.The company is keen to break the hold on the region by Rosneft, and another rival firm, Gazprom.

Clinton speaks out against Alaska offshore drilling

20 August 2015

Democratic presidential hopeful Hilary Clinton has spoken out against offshore exploration in the Arctic, breaking ranks with President Barack Obama.

Just days after Obama gave the green light for Shell to drill deeper on its Chukchi Sea acreage, Clinton commented on social media that offshore Alaska exploration was just too risky.

"The Arctic is a unique treasure," she said via twitter. "Given what we know, it's not worth the risk of drilling."

The Clinton team later said that she was specifically referring to offshore work, as opposed to the longstanding exploration and production onshore Alaska's North Slope.

Shell gets nod to drill deeper

20 August 2015

Shell is drilling deeper into its Burger J prospect in the Chukchi Sea off Alaska after being given the final green light by Washington.

The company has been active in the area for several weeks but had to wait for the return of a vessel carrying vital safety equipment before it could drill into deeper zones.

US environmental officials are monitoring the work closely. "Activities conducted offshore Alaska are being held to the highest safety, environmental protection, and emergency response standards,'' said Brian Salerno, director of The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), which issued the final permit.

Studies suggest that more than 20% of the world's undiscovered oil and gas resources could be found buried in the Arctic.

Statoil boost for Arctic cycling event

20 August 2015

Statoil has confirmed that it will continue to sponsor the Arctic Race of Norway, a unique cycling event in the country's far north, as part of its commitment to the environment.

With the 2015 race underway, the company has agreed a new contract to be the race's main sponsor for the next three years. The race takes place through some of Norway's most beautiful countryside.

"Northern Norway is an important focus area for Statoil," said Reidar Gjærum, Statoil's senior vice president for corporate communication. Race experts say the event would not be possible without the group's support. "We want to help promote the region and drive industrial development and growth," said Gjærum.

Cairn Energy still keen on Greenland

20 August 2015

Despite its lack of success in the field there so far, Cairn Energy's chief executive Simon Thomson has said his company remains keen on Greenland.

The company has spent more than $1 billion exploring Greenland's offshore to date, but without any commercial find.

Speaking in an update this week, Thomson said the company is not likely to drill any further wells until it has brought in a partner to share the cost.

He said the North Sea currently presents good opportunities following the slide in oil prices.

New US sanctions target Sakhalin gas field

13 August 2015

The US has stepped up its sanctions against Russia's energy sector, targeting the Yuzhno-Kirinskoye field in the far east of the country, which forms part of the Sakhalin 3 project.

The sanctions restrict exports, re-exports and transfers of technology and equipment to the field. The move could dent Shell's plans to expand links with Russian gas giant Gazprom.

In June, the two sides signed an agreement to develop a strategic alliance in the gas sector. The development of Sakhalin-3 is regarded as central to that alliance.Shell and Gazprom are already partners on the existing Sakhalin 2 LNG venture.

"It is clear that this is a signal to Shell: don't go into new projects, deal with existing ones," an executive at a Russian energy company who works on projects in Sakhalin was quoted as saying by Reuters, on condition of anonymity.

Last year, the US imposed sanctions on an Arctic project that Russian oil major Rosneft planned to develop with ExxonMobil, effectively forcing the two companies to suspend drilling despite the discovery of oil


Dynagas picked for Yamal LNG fleet

13 August 2015
Privately owned Greek shipper Dynagas will take on five of the new build icebreakers planned for Russia's Yamal LNG project.

The gas export scheme, now being built on the remote Yamal peninsula, involves 16 new icebreakers to enable year-round navigation and access to the port at Sabetta.All of the Dynagas vessels are under order in South Korea, each with a capacity of 172,000 cubic metres and collectively worth an estimated $1.5 billion.

Other shippers involved in the icebreaker fleet include Sovcomflot, a consortium of Teekay LNG and China LNG Shipping, and another pairing of Mitsui OSK Lines with China Shipping Development. Yamal LNG is expected to commence first gas exports in 2017.

Lundin Petroleum lines up more Barents Sea wells

13 August 2015

Lundin Petroleum is planning more wells this year as part of its Barents Sea exploration campaign off Norway's northern coast.

The second Alta appraisal well is ongoing, it announced in a second quarter financial presentation released August 5.And there are two remaining prospects for 2015: Neiden, to the north of Alta, and Ornen, further out to the east.

Gross prospective resources at Neiden (PL609) are estimated at 200 MMboe and for Ornen (PL708), some 350 MMboe. Lundin is the 40% operator of both the Alta discovery and the nearby Gohta discovery

Shell prepares to drill into deeper zones

13 August 2015

With drilling work already underway off Alaska's northwest coast, Shell has now applied to federal authorities for a permit to enter deeper oil-bearing rock with its maiden 2015 well in the Chukchi Sea.

Shell was limited from drilling too deep by the federal Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement because equipment was not on hand to handle a possible well blowout.

The equipment is located on the Fennica icebreaker (pictured) which suffered hull damage last month, but has since been repaired and is now on its way back to the drill site.Officials say the emergency equipment must be on hand and available for use within 24 hours.

The Fennica is expected to arrive back in the drilling area this week.

US export policy shift could open more Alaska exploration

13 August 2015

New legislation to permit US oil exports could also pave the way for more drilling off Alaska too.

The US Senate's energy committee last week passed a bill to repeal US crude export limits. It means a full vote on the export policy turnaround could take place in Washington later this year.

The Offshore Production and Energy National Security Act aims to repeal oil export limits but also calls for new lease sales and more drilling offshore Alaska.The bill was introduced by Alaskan Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski (pictured), the energy committee's chairperson.

Shell drilling of Burger J prospect now underway off Alaska

6 August 2015

Drilling is now underway by Shell at the Burger J prospect in the Chukchi Sea, offshore Alaska. It follows a last minute hitch when the icebreaker Fennica was forced to return to port for repairs. The vessel is now on its way to the drill site.

"In the days to come, the team aboard the Transocean Polar Pioneer will work to complete the top portion of the well in anticipation of drilling to total depth once the Fennica arrives on site," Shell said in a brief statement.

"We remain committed to operating safely and responsibly and adding to Shell's long history of exploration in offshore Alaska," it added.

Greenpeace activists attempted to block the Fennica in one final protest as the ship set sail from Portland to rejoin the Shell fleet.

The Burger J well is the first of a potential two-well Shell campaign off Alaska this summer.

Russia stakes new UN claim for Arctic territory

6 August 2015
Russia has renewed a bid to get the United Nations to recognise a huge 1.2 million square kilometre swathe of the Arctic shelf that it lays claim to.

The country made a similar claim in 2001, which was rejected because of insufficient evidence, and opposition from other Arctic states. It also placed its flag on the Arctic seabed in 2007 in a much publicised, but controversial, move.

But Moscow says the latest claim is backed by fresh scientific data. "Ample scientific data collected in years of Arctic research are used to back the Russian claim," the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement.

The other Arctic states - the USA, Canada, Norway, Denmark - are also keen to assert their own territorial claims in the region.

Scientists and geologists believe the Arctic could hold up to a quarter of the world's undiscovered oil and gas reserves.

Last week, Moscow also announced that it was to strengthen its naval forces in the Arctic as it steps up interest in the region.

Canada considers Arctic drilling lease extensions

6 August 2015

Canada is also to look into extending the duration of Arctic drilling licenses. It follows a similar move by the USA to also explore the idea.

Officials are keen due to the challenges of drilling in harsh conditions while meeting strict safety requirements, which severely limits the actual time operators can spend working in the field.

The Canadian government is pondering the law change in response to industry lobbying to extend licenses that expire in 2020 for seven years.

Imperial Oil said only last month that it needed more time before it could drill an exploratory well in the Beaufort Sea, alongside partners BP and ExxonMobil.

Critics argue that the move could cost the state millions of dollars in new cash deposits from the major oil companies.

Repsol drilling reveals 'significant potential' in Alaska

11 June 2015

Spanish oil group Repsol has announced that it has completed a two well drill programme on Alaska's North Slope, with promising results. In a statement, it said the wells add to "encouraging" results from previous campaigns that indicate an area of "significant potential".

Production tests yielded good quality crude from multiple pay zones. The Qugruk 8 (Q-8) well flowed 30 degree API gravity crude at rates of up to 2,160 bpd. The Qugruk 301 (Q-301) horizontal well yielded rates as high as 4,600 bpd.

"The positive news from this year's exploration campaign, combined with the recent changes in the state's tax structure, make Alaska a compelling area to continue to invest and generate the potential for development," said Luis Cabra, Repsol's E&P executive vice president.

Repsol operates the concession area alongside partners, 70 & 48 LLC, a subsidiary of Armstrong Oil and Gas, and GMT Exploration Co.

Kharyaga production fall dents local economy

11 June 2015

Reduced oil output from Russia's Kharyaga field is adversely impacting the local Nenets economy. Local authorities there control a 10% stake in the project through the Nenets Oil Company (NOC). According to newspaper Vedomosti, 2014 production from the field dropped 5% to a total of 1.5 million tons, while investments and operational costs spiked.

Total is the operator, alongside partners Statoil, Zarubezhneft and NOC. It has lowered its annual peak production estimates for the field from 3,5 million tons to 1,9 million, according to reports.

Small oil discovery for Lundin Norway

11 June 2015

Lundin Norway AS has made a small oil discovery northwest of the Snorre field in the North Sea with the 33/2-2 S well in production licence 579.

The company is now concluding the drilling of the wildcat well, drilled about 40 km northwest of Snorre, and 180 km west of the Flora field. The well - the first in block 579 - encountered oil over an interval of about 173 metres. No recoverable resources have been estimated so far. It was drilled by the Bedford Dolphin rig, which will now drill wildcat well 16/4-9 S in production licence 359, on behalf of Lundin.

Russia begins resupply of its Arctic bases

11 June 2015

Russia is busy loading up its remote bases in the Arctic with fresh supplies, local news sources have reported.

One vessel loaded with food, technical equipment and other items set off for Ostrovnoy, a closed military town located on the eastern end of the Kola Peninsula, the Barents Observer said, citing a press release from the Northern Fleet.

More ships are to follow, a mix of navy and civilian vessels. Among the places to be supplied are newly reopened bases at Franz Josef Land, Novaya Zemlya, New Siberian Islands and Severnaya Zemlya, the report said.

US must invest in new icebreaker fleet

11 June 2015

The US must invest in new icebreakers if it is to tap the Arctic's emerging oil potential, according to experts.As Russia commits to a new fleet of icebreakers (it already has over 20 heavy icebreakers), the US risks missing out, insiders say.

The Polar Star, built in the 1970s, is currently the US Coast Guard's only heavy icebreaker.

Speaking to Alaska Dispatch News, Shiva Polefka, an Arctic specialist at the Center for American Progress, said it is an area Washington should prioritise immediately."Our GDP is at least eight times that of Russia. And yet we say we can't afford an icebreaker. We just need to make it a priority," he said

Lukoil ponders East Tymyr oil terminal idea

11 June 2015

Lukoil may be ready to develop a new Arctic oil terminal, according to reports. The company hopes to copy its successful Varandey project, and is squaring up to rival Rosneft in a bid to develop the East Taymyr (Vostochno-Taymyrsky) structure, on the northern tip of the Taymyr peninsula near Russia's Arctic coast.

The newspaper Vedomosti reported that if Lukoil wins the rights to develop the field it could hook it up to a coastal terminal, much like Varandey on the coast of the Pechora Sea, where millions of tons of tons of oil is exported through Arctic waters.

Moscow is expected to pick between the two oil rivals this August.

USA takes over Arctic Council leadership

30 April 2015

The United States has taken over the chairmanship of the Arctic Council from Canada following last weekend's summit in Iqaluit.

US Secretary of State John F. Kerry, the new Chair of the Arctic Council, outlined his country's plans for the group during its two-year leadership stint.The US theme, One Arctic: Shared Opportunities, Challenges and Responsibilities, will focus on issues including climate change, safety, security and stewardship, and improving living conditions for Arctic communities.

"There's only 'one Arctic' and all of us - the United States, other nations, indigenous peoples, and Arctic communities - must join together to ensure responsible stewardship of this incredible region," Kerry told the summit.Two new regional task forces will also be set up, one covering arctic marine cooperation and another on telecommunications infrastructure.

Absent from the meeting was Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavroy.It was the first Arctic Council biennial meeting he has missed in more than a decade and comes at a time of heightened tensions between Russia and the West over Ukraine and the Crimea.He cited a scheduling change, with Russia's environmental minister, Sergei Donskoir, attending in his place.

New icebreakers for Gazprom Neft's Novy Port project

30 April 2015

Aker Arctic and Vyborg Shipyard are to design and buid two new icebreakers for Gazprom Neft's Novy Port project.

The vessels will be based on the Aker ARC 130 A design and used in the oil terminal operated by LLC Gazprom Neft Novy Port in the Gulf of Ob.

The new icebreakers will be 122m long, with a combined propulsion power from the three azimuth thrusters at 21.5 MW.

The ships will be classified by the Russian Maritime Register of Shipping.

Russian military to build first icebreaker in decades

30 April 2015

Russia has commenced work on a first military icebreaker for decades. The new vessel, named Ilya Muromets, is now under construction at St. Petersburg's Admiralty Shipyards and scheduled for completion in 2017.

It will be part of the Russian Navy's Northern Fleet and will deploy troops and escort transport convoys to supply bases and airports within the Arctic region, the shipyard said in an online press release.

Tugboat crew commended for bravery during Kulluk rescue

30 April 2015

The US Coast Guard has recognised a lifeboat crew for its "professionalism, courage, and flawless performance in extreme conditions" during the emergency rescue of the Kulluk rig off Alaska in 2012.

Officials praised the crew of Crowley's Prevention and Response tugboat, Alert, for its part in the rescue operation off the drill barge in the southern part of Kodiak Island when it was working for Shell.

The tug arrived on scene to find the Kulluk adrift at 4.5 knots in rough seas, and caught a trailing line from the rig to commence tow. But with 54-foot seas and 40 to 50 knot winds, the Alert was being pushed back toward the Kodiak Island shore. A day later, it was ordered to release the tow wire.

The tugboat is typically used for tanker escorts to and from Alaska's Alyeska Valdez Marine Terminal.

Floating nuclear power stations for remote mining sites

30 April 2015

A Canadian company has proposed the use of floating nuclear power plants to meet rising energy demand in the country's far north.Arctic towns, cities and mine sites are typically powered by diesel generators, which carry high fuel costs and heavy pollution.

At a recent mining event in Iqaluit, Dunedin Energy Systems flagged the example of Russia's OKBM, which is building a floating nuclear power plant, due for delivery next year in the Siberian port of Pevek.It will have two modified naval propulsion reactors to produce 70 MW of electricity or 300 MW of heat, far in excess of most arctic diesel plants.

Dunedin executives told delegates that the floating nuclear option could deliver more power quickly to remote arctic sites and with reduced environmental impact.

Goliat arrives in Barents Sea

30 April 2015

The Goliat floating production storage and offloading vessel has arrived in the Barents Sea following its voyage from a South Korean dockyard. The FPSO was successfully floated off the heavy vessel transport, Dockwise Vanguard, in a fjord outside Hammerfest.

The platform will now be temporarily moored in Ersvika, six km south of Hammerfest, where work to complete preparations for tow out to the Goliat field will begin.This will include inspections, tests and checks of all systems and equipment.Tow out to the field in the Barents Sea is expected in early May, with first production on stream by mid-year.

Greenpeace activists board Shell fleet bound for Alaska

9 April 2015

A small band of Greenpeace activists have climbed aboard a vessel carrying a Shell rig that could be used for Arctic drilling later in the year.

Six campaigners boarded the Blue Marlin, a heavy lift ship carrying the Polar Pioneer rig, to protest at Shell's plans to drill in Alaska this summer. The ship is currently hauling the rig from Singapore to Seattle across the Pacific Ocean. The incident occurred 750 miles northwest of the Hawaiian Islands.

The protesters have set up a makeshift camp on the underside of the Polar Pioneer's main deck."We're here to highlight that in less than 100 days Shell is going to the Arctic to drill for oil," one of the group said in the statement. "Shell's actions are exploiting the melting ice to increase a man-made disaster. Climate change is real."

Shell, which hopes to drill in the Chukchi Sea off Alaska's northwest coast later this year if it receives clearance, has applied to the courts to remove the activists.

Russian nuclear submarine fire at Arctic naval dock

9 April 2015

An investigation is underway following a fire onboard a Russian nuclear submarine docked at an Arctic naval shipyard.The fire on the Orel submarine has now been put out, according to local news reports.

The vessel was undergoing repairs at the Zvezdochka shipyard, near Arkhangelsk, when the fire took place.No weapons or nuclear fuel were on board at the time of the incident and there were no reports of any casualties.

Yevgeny Gladyshev, a spokesperson for the shipyard, also said that no environmental or radioactive contamination had occurred. The Orel's nuclear reactor had been shut down prior to the blaze."Smoke is no longer coming out, only steam," he was quoted as saying by Interfax news agency.

Prudhoe Bay no longer biggest US oil field

9 April 2015

Alaska's Prudhoe Bay has slipped from first place to third in the list of America's top oil fields, according to a new report by the US' Energy Information Agency.The two largest oil fields are named as two areas in Texas at the forefront of the country's shale oil revolution: Eagleville, in the state's Eagle Ford Shale Play, and the Spraberry Trend Area. Prudhoe Bay lagged behind in terms of both oil reserves and production.

According to the report, Top 100 US Oil and Gas Fields, Prudhoe Bay's production averaged 79,080 million barrels in 2013, some distance behind Eagleville at 238,050 million barrels.The EIA said the Spraberry Trend Area produced 99.78 million barrels in 2013.

First discovered in 1967, Prudhoe Bay helped inspire Alaska's oil boom and the construction of the trans-Alaskan oil pipeline. The field held the number one spot in the last top 100 ranking which used data from 2009.

Kuparuk River was the only other Alaskan field to make it in the top 10 this time recording production in 2013 of 29,487 million barrels.Other Alaskan oil fields (Milne Point and Alpine) dropped positions in the new list, while the only one to buck the trend was Nikiutchuq, which jumped up to number 65 in the rankings.

Arctic sea ice maximum reaches lowest extent on record

9 April 2015

Arctic sea ice extent for March averaged 14.39 million square km, the lowest for the month since satellite records began, the US National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) reported this week.

The figure is 1.13 million square km below the 1981 to 2010 long-term average of 15.52 million square km.

NSIDC said Arctic sea ice reached its maximum extent for the year on February 25 at 14.54 million square km (5.61 million square miles). "This year's maximum ice extent is the lowest in the satellite record," it noted.

"After reaching its seasonal maximum, the beginning of the melt season was interrupted by late-season periods of ice growth, largely in the Bering Sea, Davis Strait and around Labrador."The monthly average Arctic sea ice extent for March was the lowest in the satellite record, it added.

NSIDC is part of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder, and receives some support from NASA

Sovcomflot steel-cutting ceremony for new Arctic tanker

9 April 2015

Work has begun on SFC Group's (Sovcomflot) latest reinforced ice class Arc-7 Arctic shuttle tanker, following a steel-cutting ceremony at a South Korean yard. The vessel is being built at Samsung Heavy Industries in Pusan.

The tanker is the first in a series of three ordered by Sovcomflot under a long-term time charter agreement to transport oil from the Novoportovskoye field. Construction of the first tanker is scheduled to be completed in 2016.

Representatives of SCF Group, the Russian Maritime Register of Shipping and Lloyd`s Register were all present at the steel-cutting ceremony.

A new world for US Coast Guard

26 February 2015

New threats, operational demands and climate change mean the US Coast Guard faces more pressures than ever before according to USCG chief Admiral Paul Zukunft. In his 2015 State of the Coast Guard address at USCG's HQ in Washington, DC, Zukunft said "there is no question: the United States Coast Guard is operating in a world unlike ever before."

He cited geopolitical instability, budgetary constraints, the transformation of industries and governments by digital technology and the ongoing opening of Arctic waters. The commandant outlined how America's Coast Guard will meet today's challenges while preparing for the complexities that remain ahead.

"I will take decisive action to alleviate the strain of an austere budget environment and will make tough decisions in the face of our increasing demands," said Zukunft. "Through investing in our people, the recapitalization of our aging cutter fleet, including acquisition of the Offshore Patrol Cutter and sustainment of front-line operations, the Coast Guard will return more operational value on every dollar."

The speech will add to the debate about the looming capacity gap in America's ice-breaking fleet, with only one heavy icebreaker currently in active service. The Coast Guard has said that independent analysis shows it needs three heavy and three medium icebreakers to cover the nation's anticipated needs in the Arctic and Antarctic but budget constraints continue to impede procurement.

Rosneft seeks Arctic licence extensions

26 February 2015

After last year's headline-making oil strike in the Kara Sea, which was drilled quickly to beat looming sanctions, Russian oil giant Rosneft is now requestingpermission for extensions of up to two years on its licences in Arctic waters. According to regional press reports, Rosneft, which is subject to Western sanctions imposed in response to Russia's role in the Ukraine conflict, has written to the Russian authorities for permission to postpone exploration activities, citing the pull-out of foreign partners and the resulting challenges of securing investment.


Statoil plans up to six wells offshore Newfoundland & Labrador

26 February 2015

Statoil plans to drill up to six exploration wells offshore Eastern Canada during its current 15 month campaign, with the bulk of the wells focused around its Bay du Nord discovery.

The Norwegian oil giant's exploration chief Tim Dodson told reporters last week that one well has already been drilled and the rig has moved to the next prospect. Well results will not be released immediately, said Dodson.

Statoil has already found up to 800 million boe at its Bay du Nord and Mizzen discoveries offshore Newfoundland & Labrador.

Authorities investigate incident at Goliat oilfield

26 February 2015

Norway's Petroleum Safety Authority is investigating an incident in which a worker fell overboard from the Scarabeo 8 working on the Goliat field in the Barents Sea. After being recovered by the Esvagt Aurora, the person involved was sent to Hammerfest Hospital with minor injuries. The area around the accident site has now been cordoned off and activity suspended.

API considers new Arctic offshore rules

26 February 2015

The American Petroleum Institute's director of upstream, Erik Milito, said the industry body is carefully reviewing Washington's proposed Arctic offshore regulations.

'The safe and responsible development of oil and natural gas in the Arctic is critical to our economy and national security,' said Milito. 'We are reviewing these rules to ensure they offer a realistic path for energy production in the Arctic. Failure to develop these resources would put America's global energy leadership at risk at a time when Russia and other Arctic nations are forging ahead."

The API is concerned about the requirement for a second rig to be on standby to respond to a potential blow-out in Arctic waters; it believes alternative methods, such as using a capping stack, could achieve the same season relief and same safety and environmental protections without the "unnecessarily burdensome" requirement of having two rigs on site for a single well.

Gazprom Neft makes first winter shipment of Novoportovskoye crude

26 February 2015

Gazprom Neft has made its first ever winter shipment of oil from the Novoportovskoye field on the Yamal Peninsula, with 16,000 tonnes of crude oil shipped to European consumers by oil tanker, escorted by an atomic icebreaker. Over 50 thousand tonnes of oil is to be shipped during the winter delivery period which will finish in May this year. Atomflot provides the icebreaker support for Gazprom Neft's tankers along the North Sea route.

Crowley Maritime awards Alaska student scholarships

26 February 2015

Crowley Maritime, which specialises in maritime services in the Arctic, has awarded fourThomas B. Crowley, Sr., Memorial Scholarshipsto University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) students. The students - John Oulton, Shamariah Hale, William Kelly and Elizabeth Lindley - were chosen for their outstanding academic records and each received US$2,500 toward tuition. Preferences for Crowley-funded UAF scholarships are given to students from rural Alaska from Crowley-served communities throughout the state.

BOEM releases updated EIS for controversial Chukchi Sea lease sale...

19 February 2015

The Department of the Interior has released the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (FSEIS) for Chukchi Sea Lease Sale 193, the 2008 oil and gas lease sale off Alaska that has been mired in legal challenges. In response to a federal court order, the FSEIS updates the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management's (BOEM) estimates of the full range of production levels from offshore oil fields that might be developed in the Chukchi Sea as well as the related potential environmental effects of the lease sale.

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell said the updated analysis was "a major step toward resolving the 2008 oil and gas leases that have been tied up in the courts for years". The original EIS for the sale was published in 2007, ahead of the 2008 sale which saw companies, including Shell, bid highly for exploration acreage. Subsequent legal challenges and federal court decisions remanded the sale back to Washington's BOEM for further analysis and in early 2014 the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) suspended all of the Chukchi Sea leases issued in Lease Sale 193.

The FSEIS is based on the best available data - including actual leasing records, current geological information and consultation with the public and tribal governments in Anchorage, Fairbanks and a number of Chukchi Sea communities - to estimate the highest amount of production that could reasonably result from Lease Sale 193; this is higher than in previous analyses.

The scenario used in the FSEIS assumes the discovery and development of two prospects and represents a "high case" of oil and gas activities that could result from the lease sale. It assumes combined oil and condensate production of 4.3 billion barrels and gas of 2.2 TCF to be produced via eight Arctic-class design platforms and 589 wells over a time frame from exploration to decommissioning of 77 years. environmental groups warn of "recipe for disaster"

19 February 2015

Environmental campaigners pointed out that the new analysis also increases the risks of large oil spills as a result of offshore activity in the Chukchi Sea. Friends of the Earth climate campaigner Marissa Knodel said that with a 75% chance of a large oil spill, the decision to proceed with drilling in the Arctic would be a "recipe for disaster".

"It is unconscionable that the federal government is willing to risk the health and safety of the people and wildlife that live near and within the Chukchi Sea for Shell's profits," said Knodel.

Following the publication of the FSEIS, there will be at least a 30-day waiting period before a final decision can be made on the lease sale. If then approved, BOEM and BSEE would need to review a company's specific exploration plan, an application for permit to drill and other materials before any exploration activity could occur.

Seattle signed up as home port for Shell's Arctic drill plans

19 February 2015

The Port of Seattle has inked a two-year lease to allow Foss Maritime to use Terminal 5 on the Seattle waterfront as the base for Shell's Arctic drilling ambitions in the Chukchi Sea, according to local press reports.

Despite low oil prices and cuts in its capex plans, the Anglo-Dutch supermajor is keen to resume drilling in the Alaskan Arctic this summer, pending permits and approvals. News of the Port of Seattle deal has angered local green groups

Goliat sets sail for Norway

19 February 2015

As we reported last week, the Goliat platform is now aboard the Dockwise Vanguard, the world's largest heavy lift vessel. Now the giant vessel and its FPSO load, pictured above, have started their journey to northern Norway. Goliat will be the first oil field to come on stream in the Barents Sea and will be produced using the world's largest and most sophisticated cylindrical Floating, Production, Storage and Offloading (FPSO) facility, which was built at the HHI yard in South Korea. The journey from Korea to Hammerfest in northern Norway will take about 60 days, with expected arrival by early April ready for first oil in the summer

Antarctic rescue highlights value of Polar Star heavy icebreaker

19 February 2015

The US Coast Guard's only active heavy icebreaker has rescued a fishing vessel that had been trapped in Antarctic ice 900-miles northeast of McMurdo Sound for nearly two weeks. The
Antarctic Chieftain, an Australian-flagged fishing vessel, had damaged three of its four propeller blades in the ice . It was rescued by the USCG Cutter Polar Star, which broke through 150 miles of thick Antarctic ice and navigated around massive icebergs to reach the trapped vessel and its 26 crew.

The icebreaker's crew navigated through difficult weather conditions during the five-day rescue operation including heavy snow fall, high winds and extreme ice conditions. "I doubt any medium icebreaker could have made the rescue since we had to go on turbine to get through the multiyear ice that appeared to be as thick as 20 feet in places. The amount of icebergs in the region suggested that the area was extremely hazardous to navigation," said Captain Matthew Walker, the commanding officer of Cutter Polar Star. "This rescue demonstrates the importance of our nation's only active heavy icebreaker in the Polar Regions."

"There were some very happy sailors aboard Antarctic Chieftain upon our arrival," said Walker. "The ice conditions that we found the fishermen in were dire, more so if Antarctic Chieftain had to stay much longer."

The crew of Polar Star was deployed to McMurdo Station, Antarctica, as part of Operation Deep Freeze, which provides military logistical support to the US Antarctic Program managed by the National Science Foundation. They will now return to their home port of Seattle.

Rosneft hails 154% reserves replacement

19 February 2015

Russian oil giant Rosneft has reported that an independent audit of its reserves and resources by DeGolyer & MacNaughton confirms it has proven reserves of almost 34 billion barrels of oil equivalent, with a reserve replacement ratio last year under SEC rules of 154 %. This is a level that would be the envy of many Western oil majors, struggling to replacement production. Rosneft's company's reserves were up 3% on 2013 and it has a hydrocarbon reserve life of 24 years.

Igor Sechin, Rosneft's boss, said the company had "once again confirmed its status of the world leader in terms of reserves". "During the past 6 years, the Company has been steadily replacing over 100% of its production with new reserves and is going to continue this practice," said Sechin.

Lundin used the Island Innovator to drill the Alta discovery

15 January 2015

The oil price continued its precipitous descent this week, with benchmark Brent briefly crashing to US$45 per barrel. This is inevitably bad news for high cost projects in the Arctic that looked marginal at US$100 per barrel oil prices and are now on ice until economics improve.

The Statoil-led Johan Castberg field in the Barents Sea, for example, has suffered serial delays since 2013 while the oil giant, having failed to add material new reserves in the area, seeks to slash costs to push the project over the line. The company drilled extensively in the Barents Sea last year but results were, at best, mixed and regional watchers are waiting to see how much it will bet on the region in 2015: details are expected at the capital markets day on February 6.

Despite the gloom cast by the price rout, the industry is holding firm on some Barents Sea projects. Sweden's Lundin Petroleum, for example, plans to drill four wells there in 2015. The company has set a pre-tax exploration budget for 2015 of US$320 million, of which 85% will be spent in Norwegian waters where it plans to drill seven exploration wells. This will include two exploration wells in the Barents Sea, targeting the Ornen prospect in PL708 and the Neiden prospect in PL609, plus two appraisal wells follow-up last year's Alta discovery in PL609.

"We believe it's unrealistic that oil prices will stay at these levels forever," said Lundin's chief executive Ashley Heppenstall in a phone interview with Bloomberg. "Ultimately, the viability of the Barents Sea will be driven by how much resources are actually found."


Proposed terminal at Veidnes remains on the drawing board

15 January 2015

Preliminary talks between Lundin Petroleum and Statoil about a joint development of Barents Sea resources in order to justify an onshore oil terminal in Arctic Norway have come to naught. Lundin's CEO Ashley Heppenstall confirmed this week that the distances between its Alta and Gohta discoveries and Statoil's stalled Johan Castberg project are simply too great to warrant joint development.

The Norwegian authorities are keen for an onshore oil terminal in the High North to act as hub infrastructure to unlock further discoveries in the remote region. But the costs of developing Johan Castberg, where there are between 450 and 650 million barrels of oil, via a pipeline to an onshore terminal are prohibitive and Statoil has been rethinking development scenarios, including an FPSO solution. Alta is estimated to host 85 million to 310 million barrels and Gohta holds 60 million to 145 million barrels of oil.

WoodMac: NCS faces 25% cut in upstream spend in 2015

15 January 2015

Investment in Norway's upstream sector is predicted to slump by 25% in 2015 to around NOK136 billion (US$22 billion) as oil price volatility hits exploration, deals and development spend. According to Wood Mackenzie's annual review of Norway's upstream oil and gas sector, it was business as usual in 2014 as oil prices remained high for most of the year, leading to busy exploration, record M&A activity and appetite for acreage remained high.

Malcolm Dickson, North Sea analyst for Edinburgh-based Wood Mackenzie, said Norway was a global exploration hotspot in 2014, with 59 exploration and appraisal wells drilled, the same as in 2013, resulting in the discovery of 817 million boe, close to the 10-year average. But, he said, the results were "lacklustre": of the 44 exploration wells drilled, only four were clear commercial discoveries

NPD rethinks northern Barents geology

15 January 2015

The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate has released new studies into the geology of Svalbard and the northern Barents Sea region. The NPD says the view that sand and shale deposited around the Arctic archipelago derives from an earlier microcontinent, a kind of sunken Atlantis called Crockerland, is mistaken. According to NPD geologist Bjørn Anders Lundschien: "Nothing suggests that such a land mass ever existed."

The geologists now believe that the sand found around the islands originated to the south-east, from the highlands and mountain chains in Russia's Ural region. The NPD has staged a number of expeditions to and around Svalbard since 2006, collecting and analysing data together with Norwegian, Russian, Polish and British research institutes. Data from this fieldwork is presented in the latest NPD Bulletin.

Greenland oil exploration on ice...

15 January 2015

The collapse in the oil price is the final nail in Greenland's near-term exploration ambitions. Statoil, GDF Suez and Dong Energy have ended their projects there while Shell, Maersk and Cairn Energy have sought two-year extensions before committing to further expensive exploration. Perhaps most symbolic of this shift has been the closure of Cairn energy's office in Greenland: the Edinburgh-based company invested billions in fruitless wildcatting in these frontier waters and is now focusing its cash on northwest Africa, where it recently made a major oil strike off the coast of Senegal. Chinese take on Greenland iron ore mine

15 January 2015

Greenland's newly established coalition government has approved a change in ownership of the company that has the rights to exploit iron ore in western Greenland. Hong Kong-based General Nice Development Limited is now the owner of London Mining Greenland, which was awarded the licence in 2013 but went bankrupt last year after its operations in Sierra Leone were hit by the Ebola epidemic. The Greenland government said London Mining Greenland will keep its name and headquarters in Nuuk.

Noble fined US$12 million over Shell's Arctic campaign in 2012...

11 December 2014

The fall-out from Shell's ill-fated Arctic campaign of 2012 continues, with contractor Noble Drilling fined US$12.2 million after it was charged with environmental and maritime crimes for its operation of the drillship Noble Discoverer and the drilling unit Kulluk.

Noble pleaded guilty to eight felony offenses, has agreed to implement a comprehensive Environmental Compliance Plan and will be placed on probation for four years. Noble’s parent corporation, London-based Noble Corp, will implement an Environmental Management System for all of its Mobile Offshore Drilling Units worldwide.

Key offences include knowingly failing to maintain an accurate Oil Record Book and an accurate International Oil Pollution Prevention certificate, knowingly failing to maintain a ballast water record book, and knowingly and willfully failing to notify the US Coast Guard of hazardous conditions aboard the Noble Discoverer. 

During the 2012 drilling season, Noble was the operator and bare boat charterer of the drillship and the conical-shaped Kulluk, which ran aground off the coast of Unalaska when it broke free from its tow in bad weather en route to Seattle. The Noble Discoverer suffered failures with its main engine, its propeller shaft and other equipment and Noble negligently discharged machinery space bilge water from the drillship into Broad Bay, Unalaska, creating a sheen on the water.

Shell and Greenpeace respond to the latest legal challenges

11 December 2014

In response to the federal court charges, Shell issued a statement to local press saying company officials were disappointed by the events that took place in 2012 but that the plea agreement confirmed Noble had taken steps to investigate the incidents and improve its training and environmental compliance.

“While Noble has worked to resolve all of the issues and has appropriately accepted responsibility, we’ve made clear that their actions in 2012 are not acceptable,” said Shell.

Greenpeace Arctic, which has been a vocal campaigner against Shell's ambitions in the Arctic, said the charges were the clearest indicator yet that Shell failed to manage its contractors safely.  "Letting Shell back into such a precious and risky environment as the Arctic would be sheer madness, yet that’s what Shell wants to do next summer,” said Greenpeace campaigner Ian Duff.

In August 2014, Shell submitted new plans to the US administration that could pave the way for its return to drilling in the Chukchi Sea offshore Alaska in summer 2015.

Russia readies northern military preparedness

11 December 2014

Russia's Defence Ministry has completed its third Arctic military installation, on Alexandra Land island, as Moscow ramps up its northern defences. The other two bases are onWrangel Island andCape Schmidt inthe Chukchi Sea close toAlaska.

President Vladimir Putin has championed theincreasing militarization ofArctic inrecent years, calling inApril fora unified Arctic military command structure.  Earlier this week, Russian news agency Tass reported that the forces of the Western, Central and Eastern Military Districts will be transferred to the new united strategic command in the Arctic by December 15. The entire Northern Fleet will be transferred to the command, a high-ranking defence ministry source told TASS. Bythe end of2015, Russia hopes torestore all formerly Soviet Arctic defence installations tofull operational use.

Kristin Færøvik appointed MD of Lundin Norway

11 December 2014
Lundin Petroleum has appointed a new head in Norway following the news that current boss of Lundin Norway Torstein Sanness will retire in April 2015.  Sanness will assume the role of chairman of Lundin Norway with Kristin Færøvik taking on the role of managing director.  Færøvik was previously the Managing Director of Rosenberg WorleyParsons AS, the Norwegian arm of the global engineeering group where she was responsible for over 600 employees.  Previously she was MD of Marathon Petroleum in Norway, responsible for the development of the Alvheim field, as well as holding several positions within BP in Norway.

Navy boss highlights growing importance of the Arctic in US policy

11 December 2014

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus met with senior research personnel and faculty members at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, home to the International Arctic Research Center, last week to discuss the role of the US Navy in the Arctic. 

"We in the Navy have a particular interest (in the Arctic) because our responsibilities increase as the Arctic changes," said Mabus. "As sea levels rise, as ice melts, our role in terms of freedom of navigation, in terms of search and rescue and in terms of scientific exploration, increases pretty dramatically."

Mabus, who has also visited Sweden, Finland and Norway to strengthen relationships with fellow Arctic Council nations, said the Arctic is “only going to gain importance, particularly for the US Navy."

As Frontier Energy has reported before, however, Washington's increased focus on Arctic issues, and the growing traffic in Arctic waters as the sea ice retreats, has not been matched by investment in naval hardware, with the US ice-breaker “fleet” significantly weakened by long-term underinvestment. 

New studies highlight glacial ice loss in Antarctica

11 December 2014

With the World Meteorological Organisation reporting that 2014 is on track to be the warmest year on record, new research has shown that melting Antarctic glaciers that are large enough to raise worldwide sea level by more than a metre are dropping a Mount Everest's worth of ice into the sea every two years.  A study released by researchers at the University of California, Irvine and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, published in Geophysical Research Letters, confirms that ice loss from the Amundsen Sea glaciers has accelerated sharply over the past two decades. In some cases, glaciers reached speeds of more than a third of a mile in a year as they approached the Amundsen Sea, where they either merge into a floating ice shelf, or become icebergs.

A second study published in Science by the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research in Germany found that the shallow waters in the Amundsen and nearby Bellingshausen Seas have been warming over the last three decades as warmer water shoals – or rises closer to the surface – in many spots. 

Papp lays out America's Arctic Council priorities

4 December 2014

As America readies to take over from Canada as chair of the Arctic Council, the White House is preparing the ground with a PR push.  The US Department of State's special representative on the Arctic, appointed by Secretary of State John Kerry this summer, is Admiral Bob Papp, the former head of the US Coast Guard.  This week Papp contirbuted to the White House blog, setting out his vision for US Arctic policy. He is keen to position the Arctic as a strategic part of the American story, pointing out that what happens in the Arctic can impact the nation as a whole. “The entire country experienced abnormal weather as the result of a storm that passed through the Bering Sea in Alaska earlier this month,” he writes. “The future of America is inextricably linked to the future of the Arctic.”

He points out that while he's a sailor, not a scientist, he has “seen first-hand the dramatic changes taking place across the region”.

“As an Arctic nation, we have a moral obligation to use our human, financial, and scientific resources to help those in the region find ways to adapt to these changes, and to significantly reduce the pollutants driving global climate change,” writes Papp, a sentiment that may surprise those who may have expected the US to follow Canada's pro-development stance on Arctic issues.

Instead Papp has identified three key issues to focus on during the two years the US leads the Arctic Council:  Arctic Ocean safety, security, and stewardship; Economic and living conditions of Arctic communities; Climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Gazprom Neft hails horizontal drilling landmark in Yamal Peninsula

4 December 2014

Gazprom Neft has become the first oil operator inRussia todrill ahorizontal borehole of1,500metres. The well, onthe Yamal Peninsula, stretched for 4,200 metres, with 91percent ofthe horizontal section running through the oil-saturated and high permeability Novoportovskoye formation, which yields high flow rates without the application offracking.  Testing is expected to complete in early 2015.

Full development of this formation could involve up to 90 wells with horizontal sections ofupto1,500metres.  The three-year plan for development ofthe field from 2014 through 2016 envisages the construction offive cluster pads and drilling of60wells.  InOctober 2014 Gazprom Neft completed the first season of oil shipments from Novy Port bysea: in 2016 a new terminal will be completed allowing oil to be dispatched year-round.

Walker takes over as Alaska governor

4 December 2014

Alaska has a new governor, Bill Walker, who takes the helm at an interesting time for the resource-rich state.  There's ongoing debate about opening Alaskan waters to exploration, the US$45-US$65 billion is at a crucial pre-FEED stage, oil prices are tanking and climate change remains a pressing concern for the Arctic state. Walker also joins at a time when Arctic issues are gaining greater prominence in national life as the US takes over chairmanship of the Arctic Council in April 2015. He and his Democratic Lt Governor ByronMallott – who together formed the “unity ticket” that defeated former Gov Sean Parnell - are now working on the preliminary budget provided by Parnellbefore submitting their own budget by December 15.  Already there are changes, with Walker planning to accept the federal money to expand Medicaid that the Parnell administration rejected.

Greenland begins coalition talks

4 December 2014

Greenland has also been to the polls, with the governing Siumut party finishingjust ahead of the Arctic island's main opposition group in parliamentary elections in the semi-autonomous Danish territory.  The social-democratic Siumut won 34.3% of the votes, just ahead of the left-leaning Inuit Ataqatigiit on 33.2%. Eachparty got 11 of the 31 seats in Inatsisartut, or Parliament, with the Democrats winning four seats and newcomer Partii Naleraq takingthree. The business-orientedAtassut party got 2 seats.

This means a coalition needs to be formed to handle the serious economic challenges facing the Arctic country after a mining boom failed tomaterialize and oil exploration came back empty-handed.

The elections were held 18 months ahead of time after formerSiumut Premier Aleqa Hammond, a key advocate of resource development to drive economic growth and independence, stepped down after admitting she usedgovernment funds privately.

TGS to expand coverage of 3D electromagnetic data over the Barents Sea

4 December 2014

Norway's TGS and Electromagnetic Geoservices ASA have expanded their previous cooperation agreement in the Barents Sea, with seismic group TGS set to partner EMGS to acquire electromagnetic (EM) data over ten new blocks in the Nordkapp and Tiddly areas.

The new 3D EM data will be acquired by the Atlantic Guardian in a survey supported by industry funding.

"As the 23rd Norwegian licensing round approaches, it is imperative for clients to have high quality, integrated EM and seismic data available," said  Stein Ove Isaksen, senior VP eastern hemisphere for TGS

Polar Star en route to Antarctica

4 December 2014

Statoil under pressure as prices fall

4 December 2014

Falling oil prices are putting more pressure on Statoil, which has been stalling key projects and shedding excess rig capacity in order to conserve cash to pay dividends.  With oil prices down by more than a third since June, the company has delayed key projects and cancelled expensive rig contracts, mainly in Norway and Angola. The shares have been under pressure as the company has battled high costs and poor exploration results, including a string of high profile wells in the Barents Sea, where its Johan Castberg field remains on hold as the company seeks ways to improve the economics of the marginal development. 

Analysts at consulting firm GlobalData said further progress in the frontier  Barents Sea will require oil prices of around US$110 per barrel and further tax breaks to support development in this remote region. 

"For the Barents Sea project to progress, oil prices must return to levels of around $110 per barrel, if no tax allowances are forthcoming from the Norwegian government, to achieve a full-cycle net present value of $318 million and an internal rate of return of 11.1%,” said Matthew Ingham, GlobalData's Upstream Analyst covering Europe.  “Assuming that Johan Castberg is sanctioned in 2015, Statoil will aim to commence production in 2020, two years behind schedule."

UK Parliaments examines Arctic issues

9 October 2014

The UK House of Lords Committee on the Arctic this week held a “bumper day of evidence” on shipping, energy and Russia's role in the Arctic. 

Witnesses called on by the committee were, among others, Lord Fairfax of Cameron, Chairman of Sovcomflot Overseas Holding, Rob Hindley, lead specialist in Arctic technology at Lloyd’s Register, Tom Paterson, Senior Vice-President at Fednav and a series of academics including Professor Mike Bradshaw, Professor of Global Energy at Warwick Business School, Dr Richard Powell, Associate Professor of Human Geography at the University of Oxford and Professor Frances Wall, Associate Professor in Applied Mineralogy, University of Exeter.

The Arctic Committee will publish its final report on the impact of Arctic sea ice change on British foreign policy by March 2015.

DWF partner wins prestigious Lloyd's List Global Award for Arctic work

9 October 2014

Michael Kingston, insurance partner at DWF, has been announced as Maritime Lawyer of the Year at the prestigious Lloyd’s List Global Awards, which review outstanding contributions to the global shipping community.  Michael's work on risk, opportunity and best practice in the Arctic and Antarctic in particular has contributed to these issues being moved to the forefront of industry and governmental agenda. In August 2014 Michael was invited by the US Navy and US space agency NASA to assist their understanding of how satellite missions can reduce risk and enable safer navigation in Polar waters. Michael recently reported for Frontier Energy on the status of the IMO's Polar Code and will provide another update in our forthcoming issue.

Polar cruise operators develop hydrographic crowdsourcing system for safer navigation

9 October 2014

The Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO), the International Association for Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) and Lindblad Expeditions have developed a new system that allows cruise operators to share years of depth soundings from the Arctic and Antarctica.The hydrographic crowdsourcing system allows operators to share seafloor depth information, both historical and present. In some areas of Antarctica and the Arctic, official sea-charts are limited and these historical crowdsourcing files are considered extremely valuable add-ons to the official hydrographic charts.

Captain Leif Skog of Lindblad Expeditions, a long-time member of IAATO and one of the institutors of AECO, said: “It has taken considerable work and time to set up this system but now ten years of continuous, historical, hydrographic data are available, including hundreds of mud maps from the Arctic and Antarctica covering most expedition destinations”.

 “We are very happy that the industry associations, through joint effort and cooperation, are able to contribute to enhancing safe navigation in polar waters”, said Dr. Kim Crosbie, Executive Director of IAATO.

Rosneft plans Kara Sea return...with or without Exxon

9 October 2014

The Universitetskaya-1 wildcat in the Kara Sea found “almost a billion barrels of oil” and exceeded expectations, according to a Bloomberg interview with Rosneft boss Igor Sechin. The Rosneft CEO, who is a target of the US sanctions regime imposed for Russia's role in the Ukraine crisis, said the well was “of exceptional significance, showing that Western Siberian deposits continue into the Arctic.”

Rosneft was the lead partner in the well, the most northerly well drilled in the world, with US oil giant ExxonMobil holding a 33 per cent stake.  The well was drilled in record time and require a US Treasury exemption to allow the oil companies to secure the well and comply with new US sanctions targeting Russia's Arctic oil ambitions. Sechin, however, told Bloomberg that Rosneft would go it alone if Exxon is forced to withdraw from the project.

“Of course we will do it on our own and attract the necessary technologies and different partners who don’t have limitations on cooperation,” said Sechin. “But, as I said, we won’t stop working with Exxon. The project’s operator is our joint venture with Exxon and we’re not planning on changing the venture’s ownership structure...They will always have the possibility of returning to the project, as soon as the regulatory bodies allow.”

Sechin said Rosneft plans to return to its Kara Sea licences in the next drilling season.  He pointed out that the Universitetskaya is just one of more than 30 structures identified on the acreage. ‘‘We’ll continue drilling here next year and the years after that,’’ he said. 

Alaska lease sales set for November 19

9 October 2014

Federal and state agencies will hold jointly scheduled oil and gas lease sales next month for territory across Arctic Alaska.  The Alaska Division of Oil & Gas and the US Bureau of Land Management have scheduled lease sales for November 19:  TheAlaska sales will open state territory on the the central North Slope, in the Brooks Range foothills and in near-shore waters of the Beaufort Sea while the BLM sale will offer leases in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska on the western North Slope.

Russia ends Arctic 30 investigation

9 October 2014

Russia’s Investigative Committee (IC) has ended a year-long investigation into the September 2013 Greenpeace protest against Gazprom Neft's oil activities in the Pechora Sea. The Greenpeace protest made headlines around the world after the arrest of the “Arctic 30” group of campaigners and journalists. The group were released under an official amnesty in December 2013 and their ship, the icebreaker Arctic Sunrise, pictured here, was released in June 2014.

Rosneft hails "Victory" in the Kara Sea

2 October 2014

Rosneft has drilled the northernmost well in the world, Universitetskaya-1, and claimed a major oil discovery. The well was drilled in record breaking time - one and a half months - in order to allows its JV partner ExxonMobil comply with recently imposed US sanctions that target Russia's Arctic oil ambitions. The well was drilled in 81 metres of water in the East-Prinovozemelskiy-1 licence area in the Kara Sea, some 250 km off the mainland.

A pilot borehole was drilled using the West Alpha rig and horizontal drill samples were collected. Rosneft boss Igor Sechin said this was the first oil/gas-condensate field in the new Kara sea oil province. He said the first extraction of oil is comparable to the Siberian Light oil and estimated the resource base to be 338 bcm of gas and more than 100 million tons of oil. "This is an outstanding result of the first exploratory drilling on a completely new offshore field," said Sechin, who said the new field would be named Pobeda, which means victory.

The giant Universitetskaya structure stretches for 1,200 km with a 550 metre high hydrocarbon trap, with the potential to host more than 1.3 billion tons of oil equivalent. And this is just one of some 30 structures identified in this part of the Kara Sea, where the total resource base could be as much as 87 billion barrels.

US puts climate change at heart of Arctic Council agenda

2 October 2104

The US State Department's special US representative to the Arctic, Admiral Robert Papp Jr, the recently retired head of the US Coast Guard, said climate change will be a main priority for the US when it takes over chairmanship of the Arctic Council next year. In a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Papp said it "is imperative to address the effects of climate change before it's too late".

Papp said the US would pursue conservation in the Arctic with the same drive as John F. Kennedy's call to send a man to the moon after the Soviet Union's launch of Sputnik. "We have an obligation to protect this area of our earth for future progress, for the people that live there," he added.

If it weren't for the "warming of the Arctic," Papp said, no one would be up there exploring, shipping cargo or drilling for oil and gas, which is why the council will need to set more "actionable items and goals."

Papp laid out broad details of the programme that Secretary of State John Kerry will oversee as chairman of the council from next Spring, citing three main themes: ocean governance, climate change mitigation and adaptation and improvement of the economic and living conditions of Arctic residents.

Alaska to build new ferries

2 October 2014

Two new Alaska Class day ferries are to be built by Vigor Industrial at Ketchikan, Alaska for US$101 million. The two ferries will be owned and operated by Alaska Marine Highway System to serve the Lynn Canal route between Juneau, Haines and Skagway.

"These vessels will be the largest ships ever built in Alaska," said Governor Sean Parnell said, who noted this would be a major boost for the local economy. "This has been our intent during the entire process and will help create hundreds of new year-round jobs at the Ketchikan shipyard, while helping Ketchikan develop a highly capable workforce, not only for the growing marine economy of Southeast Alaska, but with skills that can translate into work across the state," said the Governor.

The vessels will be 280 feet long, seat up to 300 passengers and carry 53 standard vehicles. Scheduled for delivery in 2018, the ships will incorporate a modified hull and design to improve passenger comfort during rough weather.

ConocoPhillips uses Alaska's export exemption to ship oil to Korea

2 October 2014

A ConocoPhillips tanker full of North Slope crude is on its way to South Korea, the first oil export from Alaska in a decade.

Alaska's North Slope region has been exempt from the overall ban on nearly all crude oil exports since 1996, but no shipments have left since 2004. By exporting the crude, the state of Alaska and ConocoPhillips are expected to realise a higher value for the oil.

Alaskan Senator Lisa Murkowski welcomed the news and said she hoped lower 48 oil will soon follow. The Republican senator is keen to see the US ease its 40 year ban on crude exports in the rest of the country, where shale drilling has led to a surge in production.

EMGS licenses more Barents Sea data

2 October 2014

Norway's Electromagnetic Geoservices ASA (EMGS) has entered into a data licensing agreement with an international oil company. The US$3.7 million contract covers the provision of 3D EM data from EMGS's multi-client data library for the Barents Sea. This data library now covers 42,000 sq km.

It builds on a similar data-licensing agreement worth US$3.5 million. CEO Roar Bekker said the library was providing value for new and existing clients in the Barents Sea. "An increased acceptance of EM as a value-adding exploration tool in the region, and our vast coverage coupled with customer's success, bode well for the future," said Bekker.

PSA OKs Saturn well in Barents Sea

2 October 2014

Norway's Petroleum Safety Authority has given Statoil consent to drill the Saturn prospect in PL230 in the Barents Sea. The drill will use the Transocean Spitsbergen, which the Norwegian oil giant has kept busy in the Barents Sea all summer. The well, which is expcetd to spud later this month, will drill in 232 metres of water some 116 km from the nearest land at Kinnarodden in Finnmark.

Harper says Franklin "laid foundations of Canada's Arctic sovereignty"

11 September 2014

Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper has hailed the discovery of one of the ships belonging to the ill-fated Franklin Expedition which was lost in 1846. Harper said the Victoria Strait Expedition has "solved one of Canada's greatest mysteries" and was a "truly historic moment" given that Franklin's expeditions laid the foundations of Canada's Arctic sovereignty.

Sir John Franklin led the two ships and 129 men in 1845 to chart the Northwest Passage in the Canadian Arctic. The expedition's disappearance became one of the great mysteries of the age of Victorian exploration, with tales of terrible conditions and cannibalism.

Sonar images from the waters of Victoria Strait, just off King William Island, show the wreckage of a ship on the ocean floor. It is not yet known whether the discovery, made using an ROV, is HMS Erebus or HMS Terror.

The discovery comes in the sixth year of Canadian-led searches for the vessels. This year's Government-backed expedition involved Parks Canada, the Royal Canadian Geographical Society (RCGS), the Arctic Research Foundation (ARF), the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG), the Royal Canadian Navy and the Government of Nunavut. The Canadian government began searching for Franklin's ships in 2008 as part of a strategy to assert Canada's sovereignty over the Northwest Passage as melting polar ice makes the fabled northern short-cut accessible.

Papps seeks Alaskan input in US Arctic policy

21 August 2014

The newly appointed US special Arctic representative, former Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Robert Papp, has issued a call for ideas about policies that should be promoted at the Arctic Council when the nation assumes chairmanship next year.  The US is due to take over the rotating chairmanship from Canada in Spring 2015.

Speaking in Anchorage, Alaska, Papp said a major goal for him would be to convince the American public that the Arctic is important to the nation.  The meeting was attended by representatives of state and local governments, tribes, community groups, academia and business.

Read the next issue of Frontier Energy, out next week, for an interview with Bruce Harland of Crowley Maritime and US representative to the new Arctic Economic Council.

Kongsberg wins Johan Castberg contract

21 August 2014

Kongsberg Oil & Gas Technologies AS has been awarded a contract to deliver an Extended Concept Study and Pre-Front End Engineering Design (FEED) for Statoil's stalled Johan Castberg project in the Barents Sea. Statoil and its partners paused the project last year because of marginal economics and concerns about costs.  Kongsberg will perform design optimisations, value engineering on alternative technical solutions and mature the design further, for delivery by June 2015.

"This is an important break-through for KONGSBERG in providing integrated pre-FEED engineering services on both flowlines and risers for a major development projects", said Pål Helsing, President of Kongsberg Oil & Gas Technologies.

NOAA, Coast Guard in joint Arctic oil spill simulation research

21 August 2014

Washington's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)  and the US Coast Guard are conducting a simulation-based research exercise designed to bolster security and environmental protection in the Arctic.  USCG researchers aboard the Healy icebreaker are set to simulate an oil spill and test unmanned airborne and underwater sensing technologies.

The NOAA team will evaluate systems for oil spill reconnaissance and mapping and fly the Puma unmanned system to measure the extent of the simulated oil spill scenario during the month-long Arctic Shield operation.

NASA to research Arctic summer sea ice melt

21 August 2014

NASA is due to start flights over the Arctic later this month to study the effect of sea ice retreat on Arctic climate. The Arctic Radiation IceBridge Sea and Ice Experiment (ARISE) will conduct research flights through to October 1st , covering the peak of summer sea ice melt.

This is NASA's first Arctic airborne campaign designed to take simultaneous measurements of ice, clouds and the levels of incoming and outgoing radiation, the balance of which determines the degree of climate warming. The campaign team will fly aboard NASA’s C-130 aircraft from Thule Air Base in northern Greenland for the first week and from Eielson Air Force Base near Fairbanks, Alaska, through the remainder of the campaign.

Canada tests search and rescue capabilities offshore Baffin Island

21 August 2014

Canada's armed forces are undertaking search and rescue exercises in the Baffin Island region of Nunavut.  Operation NANOOK 14 will involve more than 800 participants, including personnel from all branches of the Canadian Armed Forces as well as federal and territorial governments, a ship from the Royal Danish Navy, and a surveillance aircraft from the US Navy.

Two scenarios will take place off the coast of Baffin Island in the Davis Strait and York Sound: a search and rescue exercise involving a simulated fishing vessel in distress in the Davis Strait and a simulation involving a 50 passenger cruise ship grounded due to mechanical difficulties in York Sound.

Arctech lands US$380m Sovcomflot contract

14 August 2014

Arctech Helsinki Shipyard has secured an order worth US$380 million from Russian shipping giant Sovcomflot for three ice-breaking stand-by vessels. The ships will be built to serve Sakhalin Energy, the operator of the Sakhalin II project off the Russian East Coast, with delivery between September 2016 and March 2017. This contract builds on a previous order from Sovcomflot in April 2014 for a larger PSV.

The ice-breaking stand-by vessels are designed for stand-by and rescue duties and for oil spill recovery as well as for the transfer of low flashpoint fuels. Measuring 95m in length and 22m in breadth, with propulsion power of 13,000 kW, the vessels will operate in thick drifting ice in temperatures as cold as -35 C° and will be able to proceed independently in 1.5m thick ice.

These orders from Sovcomflot take the number of icebreakers under construction at the yard to six: it is also building a 16 MW icebreaker for the Russian Ministry of Transport and and LNG icebreaker for the Finnish Transport Agency.  In Spring 2014 it delivered the world's first oblique icebreaker, the multipurpose emergency and rescue vessel NB 508 Baltika, to the Russian Federal Agency of Sea.

Aker Solutions boss mulls sanctions-related “lost market opportunities”

14 August 2014

EU and US sanctions on Russia could see Norway's Aker Solutions miss out on opportunities in the newly opening Russian Arctic.  Speaking at an EGM to approve the demerger of the Norwegian engineering giant to focus on its subsea and engineering businesses, chairman  Oeyvind Eriksen said “if the political situation continues and the sanctions are long-term, they will mean lost market opportunities.”

“Russia is one of the world’s biggest oil and gas producers, with large resources not least in the Arctic region, which is part of the core competence of Aker Solutions,” said Eriksen. “I hope the political situation is clarified quickly, and not only for commercial reasons.”

While Norway isn't a part of the EU, its government said it would comply with the sanctions, which have been designed to target Russia’s energy, finance and defence industries as the conflict between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian government forces escalates.

Rosneft and ExxonMobil spud Kara Sea well

14 August 2014

The sanctions, including a ban on the transfer of technology for deepwater and Arctic oil exploration, come as Rosneft and its US partner ExxonMobil began drilling the Universitetskaya-1 wildcat in the Kara Sea.  This is the northernmost well in the Russian Federation and was hailed by Rosneft boss Igor Sechin, himself on the sanctions list, as “the most important event of the year for the global oil and gas industry”.

Symbolic of the national importance of this Arctic campaign, the signal to begin drilling was given by Russian President Vladimir Putin in a video link to the Kara Sea. 

“As a result of this work we hope to discover a new Kara Sea oil-bearing province,” said Sechin. “Developing of the Arctic shelf has a huge multiplicative effect on the whole Russian economy.”

The well is being drilled using North Atlantic Drilling's West Alpha rig, which travelled more than 1,900 miles to reach the drill site in the East Prinovozemelskiy-1 Licence Area. The giant Universitetskaya structure could host more than 1.3 billion tons of oil equivalent and is one of just 30 structures identified on Rosneft's three East Prinovozemelskiy areas in the Kara Sea, where the resource tally could be 87 billion barrels or 13 billion tonnes of oil equivalent.

Wärtsilä Corp wins another Arctic supply contract

14 August 2014

Wartsila has won a second design order for its new series of Arctic platform supply vessels.  The latest order is for a multi-purpose platform supply vessel being built by Tersan Shipyard in Turkey on behalf of US-based Tidewater Inc. The vessel is scheduled for delivery in 2016. There is an option for further three similar vessels.

A key element in the award of this contract was Tidewater’s requirement for a compact design yet with a high deadweight for maximum cargo capacity. Operational efficiency and reduced fuel consumption were among the other reasons why the Wärtsilä solution was selected. The vessel is designed to fit three Wärtsilä 8-cylinder in-line Wärtsilä 26 main engines, propulsion systems, a ballast water management system, and inert gas generators. The ship will be strengthened and equipped for Arctic conditions, with the hull and propulsion in compliance with DNV ice class ICE 1A.

Statoil completes disappointing Hoop area campaign

14 August 2014

Statoil's controversial exploration campaign in the Hoop area of the Barents Sea has finished for this year.  The Norwegian oil giant, which was involved in a stand-off with Greenpeace about its plans to drill the most northerly wells in the Barents, said its third and final well has made a small gas discovery at the Mercury prospect in PL614.  The company also made a small gas find at the Atlantic prospect while the Apollo well was dry.  The company had been hoping to find significant reserves in the Hoop area after its partner in neighbouring block, OMV of Austria, last year made a play-opening discovery with the Wisting Central wildcat in PL537.  OMV added to its tally there this year with a discovery on the Hanssen prospect.

Irene Rummelhoff, Statoil senior vice president for exploration on the Norway continental shelf, said the company was “naturally disappointed” with the outcome of its operated wells but pointed out that “is a frontier area of more than 15,000 square kilometres with only six wells completed to date”.

“We know from experience that exploring for hydrocarbons in the Barents Sea takes time and stamina,” said Rummelhoff.

Next-generation nuclear-powered icebreakers set for delivery from late 2017

14 August 2014

The next-generation nuclear-powered Russian icebreakers scheduled to be put into operation in 2017-2021 have been named “Arctic,” “Siberia” and “Ural”.  Rosatomflot Director General Vyacheslav Ruksha told agency reports that the first vessel will be in operation no later than the end of 2017.  The first LK-60 nuclear icebreaker, the largest of its kind, is being constructed at the Baltiysky Zavod shipyard. The contract is valued at more than US$1 billion. The ships will be able to navigate through ice up to almost three metres thick.

Rosneft steps up Arctic infrastructure investment

31 July 2014

Rosneft plans to set up a land base to support its offshore projects in the western Arctic. According to the acting governor of Murmansk Region Marina Kovtun, in comments reported by Russian news agencies, the Russian oil giant plans to use the shore of the Kola Bay to establish a shore base at the existing Shipyard 82 along with new production plants for subsea fittings, concrete blocks, a heliport, logistics, warehousing and trans-shipment facilities.

The investment is likely to create 2,000 new jobs over the next five years, said the governor. "The large-scale implementation of Rosneft projects creates the environment for economic stability of the entire region," Kovtun was reported as saying.

It comes as Rosneft, under threat of sanctions as the West steps up pressure on Moscow over the crisis in Ukraine, prepares to spud its first well, Universitetskaya-1, in the Kara Sea as part of a joint venture with ExxonMobil.

Crystal Cruises plans luxury cruise through NWP in 2016
31 July 2014

Reduced sea ice is tempting more cruise ships to venture into the Arctic, prompting experienced mariners to voice concern about the risks of increased traffic in these challenging waters. Los Angeles-based Crystal Cruises will be the first luxury cruise line to offer a cruise through 900 miles of waterways from Anchorage in Alaska through the Northwest Passage to the Atlantic Ocean and on to New York City.

Departing in August 2016, the Crystal Serenity and its escort vessel will use low sulphur marine gas oil fuel and the escort will carry additional safety and environmental protection equipment, including a helipad.

Crystal President Edie Rodriguez said the company's inaugural Northwest Passage would offer guests "the opportunity to begin a new story of thrilling adventure" while Executive Vice President Thomas Mazloum said the company had spent two years "diligently gathering the field experts, information, resources, and support to ensure an epic experience that is exceptionally rewarding and safe for guests and crew, and respectful of local lands and cultures".

But maritime experts have expressed concerns about the challenges of reacting should something go wrong given the remote location, the unpredictable sea and ice conditions, and the lack of search and rescue infrastructure in the region.

News of Crystal's NWP ambitions come as passengers on a cruise ship run by Arctic Adventures had their trip to Greenland and the Canadian Arcticcut short because of engine trouble. The Sea Adventure's secondary engine encountered mechanical difficulties off the west coast of Greenland and the ship is being put into the the shipyard in Nuuk for repair.

Statoil ready for another spin of the drillbit in the Barents Sea

31 July 2014

Statoil has got the greenlight from the NPD to start drilling a third wildcat in the Hoop area of the Barents Sea.

The wellbore 7324/9-1 will be drilled from the Transocean Spitsbergen, pictured right, in PL614. Statoil operates with 60% alongside Idemitsu Petroleum Norge with 40%. The well will be drilled about 20 km southeast of the 7324/8-1 oil discovery and about 300 km north of Hammerfest.

WWF Canada releases Beaufort Sea oil spill scenario research

31 July 2014

WWF-Canada has released new research mapping a range of oil spill scenarios in the Canadian Beaufort Sea. The wildlife campaign group said it was sharing the research, which was conducted by RPS Applied Science Associates, to help advance discussions about development in the Canadian Arctic, informing northern residents and decisions-makers about the potential impacts of spills so they can make well-informed choices to reduce these risks.

The research used sophisticated computer modelling to estimate the spread and fate of future potential oil spills associated with increased ship traffic and offshore petroleum exploration and development in the Beaufort Sea.

Various scenarios were analyzed for four types of oil spills - shipping spill, trans-boundary spills, shallow water blowouts and deep water blowouts - resulting in a total of 22 scenarios of unique oil spills, mapping their spread, the potential impact on the water and shoreline, and interaction with the sea ice, wildlife and ecologically significant areas in the region.

"This is an issue of great concern. Development in the Arctic is fraught with risks, and drilling for oil in the Beaufort Sea is exceptionally risky, especially in deep waters," said David Miller, President and CEO of WWF-Canada. "We want to ensure that Beaufort Sea communities and other decision-makers have the best possible information to shape their choices. This work will help ensure that we all can see how even minor spills can have major impacts, and that these potential consequences are fully considered in planning decisions."

Frank Pokiak, chair of the Inuvialuit Game Council, said "one spill in the Beaufort would be devastating to the Inuvialuit and the marine species and wildlife that we harvest".

OMV adds to Hoop area resource tallywith Hanssen oil discovery

10 July 2014

OMV Norge has struck oil in the Hoop area of the Barents Sea, with its wildcat on the Hanssen prospect 315 km north of Hammerfest finding up to 50 million boe of recoverable resources. This was the third well in PL537, about 7 km northwest of last year's breakthrough Wisting Central oil discovery, and takes the confirmed resource in the Wisting area to 200-500 million boe.

Jaap Huijskes, the Austrian company's board member for E&P, said he was "excited about the confirmation of the potential of the Wisting area". The well was drilled in 417.5 metres of water and terminated in the Middle Jurassic Snadd Formation at a depth of 1,679 metres.

The well encountered a 20-25m gross oil column in the main target (Stø Formation), which showed good reservoir properties. The well also encountered hydrocarbon-bearing sandstones in the Late Triassic and Middle Triassic (Snadd Formation) but in poor reservoirs. Extensive coring and sampling have been carried out in all hydrocarbon bearing formations.

A short interval was tested and produced at rates of more than 2,000 bpd of oil and 325,000 cf/d of gas. Joint venture partner Tullow Oil said it anticipates that production rates from future development wells would be significantly higher. Tullow's exploration director Angus McCoss said the Hanssen discovery gives "further confidence that we are on track towards proving up a major new commercial oil resource"

Preliminary calculations estimate the Hanssen discovery in the Stø Formation to be between 20 and 50 million boe of recoverable resources, largely oil. The well, which was drilled by the Transocean Barents, will now be permanently P&A.

OMV operates with 25% on behalf of Petoro, Idemitsu, Tullow (each with 20%) and Statoil (15%). The partners plan to drill the Hassel and Bjaaland wells in the eastern part of the Wisting cluster next year.

Polarcus busy in the Barents Sea

10 July 2014

After a successful winter campaign in West Africa, the high spec Polarcus Asima seismic vessel has arrived in the North Sea and has been mobilised for two 4D surveys for Statoil in the Norwegian and Barents Seas.

She is not Oslo-listed Polarcus' only ship working these northern waters: the Polarcus Nadia is acquiring the 3,000 sq km of high-density broadband Fedynsky 3D survey in the Russian Barents Sea.

Greenpeace takes "Save the Arctic" campaign to LEGO

Greenpeace has taken its protest against Shell's Arctic drilling ambitions to those companies with ties to the oil giant. This includes the toy company LEGO: 16 million Shell-branded LEGO sets have been sold or given away at petrol stations in 26 countries. Greenpeace's latest campaign involved setting up mini 'Save the Arctic' protest scenes at locations around the world, showing LEGO figures protesting against Shell.

NOAA updates Arctic nautical chart

10 July 2014

"This chart is important to the Arctic economy, providing navigational intelligence for the vessels shipping zinc and lead concentrate from Red Dog Mine and offers vastly more navigational information than the only other available chart of the area," said Rear Admiral Gerd Glang, director of NOAA's Office of Coast Survey. "The shipping season from the terminal only lasts about 100 days, so maritime efficiency is vital, and this chart will improve shipping safety during that time."

In operation since 1989, Red Dog Mine, a joint operation between Inupiat-owned NANA Regional Corp and a subsidiary of Canadian mining group Teck Resources, is about 50 miles inland. The terminal uses self-loading barges to ferry the ore concentrates to the deep draft ships anchored several miles offshore.

Previously, the only official nautical chart available to transit the nearshore area was on the 1:700,000 scale, whichshows one depth measurement within three nautical miles of the approach to Delong Mountain Terminal. The new NOAA chart offers a much more usable 1:40,000 scale coverage, with updated shoreline measurements and newly acquired NOAA hydrographic information. It shows dozens of depth measurements, representative of thousands of soundings, to give the mariner accurate depths for navigation.

This is NOAA's third new Arctic chart issued in the past three years, building on charts of Alaska's Kotzebue Harbor, issued in 2012, and the Bering Strait North, issued in 2013.scription

Gazprom begins production drilling at Novoportovskoye

10 July 2014

Gazprom has started production drilling at its Novoportovskoye field in the Russian Arctic Yamal-Nenetsk Autonomous Region, with nine wells due to be drilled this year. A three-year development plan atNovy Port, scheduled torun to2016, envisages the construction offive multi-well pads and the drilling of60wells.

Over the past year Gazprom Neft subsidiary Gazprom Neft Novy Port has completed apilot production project at the field, which included the first use of multi-stage fracking technology.

Some35,000 tonnes ofoil were transported from Novy Port inwinter 2014, much ofthis across winter ice roads, with the crude delivered tothe rail station atPayuta for onward shipment toend-users.

Harding wins contracts with Statoil and A.P. Møller Mærsk

10 July 2014

Safety equipment supplier Harding has landed framework agreements with Statoil and shipping giant A.P. Møller Mærsk. Statoil is Harding's biggest client on the Norwegian continental shelf, with more than 120 lifeboat systems in operation. Statoil has now entered into a framework agreement with Harding for the delivery of new lifeboat systems, modifications, maintenance and onshore services. The agreement has of five years, with an extension option for a further three plus three years.

A.P. Møller Mærsk has signed a framework agreement with Harding for the replacement of lifeboat hooks in its whole fleet. Initially, 82 vessels with a total of 164 lifeboats will be equipped with new hooks, which are vital components of the release systems for davit-launched lifeboats. With new hooks installed, the lifeboats will meet the new safety standards in the international MSC 1392 regulations. The framework agreement with A.P. Møller Mærsk also includes regular inspections of the life-saving equipment on all Mærsk vessels every fifth year, as well as the delivery of spare parts.

Antarctic sea anemone makes top ten new species discovery

10 July 2014

A sea anemone that lives under an Antarctic glacier has made the top ten of species discovered last year, according to the US's SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry's International Institute for Species Exploration.

An international committee of taxonomists and related experts selected the top 10 from among the approximately 18,000 new species named during the previous year. The annual list, established in 2008, calls attention to discoveries that are made even as species are going extinct faster than they are being identified. Scientists believe 10 million species await discovery, five times the number that are already known to science.

The sea anemone, Edwardsiella andrillae, lives under a glacier on the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica. It is not clear how the species withstands the harsh conditions in its habitat. It is the first species of sea anemone reported to live in ice. It was discovered when the Antarctic Geological Drilling Program sent a remotely operated submersible vehicle into holes that had been drilled into the ice. This revealed the presence of small creatures, less than 2.5 cm long with most of their pale yellow bodies burrowed into the ice shelf and their roughly two dozen tentacles dangling into the frigid water below.

Statoil gets NPD ok to drill next Hoop area well

19 June 2014

The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) has given Statoil the greenlight to drill well 7325/1-1 in the Barents Sea.  The well will be drilled using the Transocean Spitsbergen in PL 615 as part of Statoil's three well campaign targeting the Apollo, Atlantic and Mercury prospects in the promising Hoop area of the Barents Sea, where last year OMV made the Wisting oil discovery some 50 km to the south.  Statoil operates PL 615 with 35% alongside ConocoPhillips (25%), OMV (20%) and Petoro (20%).

Gazpromneft set to spud Dolginskoye exploration well

19 June 2014

Despite the attentions of Greenpeace, the GSP Saturn has arrived at the Dolginskoye field in the Pechora Sea to begin drilling work for Gazpromneft Sakhalin.  The Russian oil company plans to drill an exploration well to learn more about the field, which lies in waters 40 metres deep some 75 km off the coast of the Nenets Autonomous Region, where the local authorities approved the project in December 2013. Further drilling is planned for the ice-free summer seasons of 2015 and 2016.

The GSP Saturn was towed to the drillsite by a special Ice Class B vessel, accompanied by a rescue vessel, which will remain on duty 24-hours a day while the rig is operational.  Gazpromneft Sakhalin has also chartered four vessels specially designed for the Arctic environment to carry out ancillary drilling operations. “All of these are Ice Class and equipped with DP-2 dynamic positioning systems that allow them to maintain a fixed position for loading in extreme weather conditions,” the company said in a statement.

The GSP Saturn is authorised to drill on the Arctic shelf and, said the company, underwent “cutting-edge refurbishment” in 2009.  ABS inspected the unit in April 2014 and confirmed its compliance and the following month Lloyd's Register approved it for Arctic operations.The Russian Federal Service for Ecological, Technological and Nuclear Supervision (Rostekhnadzor) has also confirmed its compliance with Russian industrial and environmental safety.

The field was discovered in 1999 and is covered by 2D and 3D seismic and three exploration wells.  Recoverable reserves are currently estimated at over 200 million tonnes of oil equivalent.

ABB wins contract to power Yamal LNG carriers

19 June 2014

Swiss power and automation group ABB has secured a contract to supply electrical power and propulsion systems for the first of 16 Yamal LNG carriers, with options to equip 15 further vessels.  The contract is part of the Yamal LNG project, headed by Russian gas producer Novatek, to monetise gas from the Yamal peninsula north of the Arctic Circle in Northwest Siberia and deliver it to customers in Asia and Europe.  The LNG will be shipped out of Sabetta port using the new 170,000 cbm LNG carriers built to ice-breaking capability of ARC 7, an ice-class scale that goes up to 9.

Shipment will be made to Asia via the Northern Sea Route in summer months resulting in substantially reduced delivery times when compared to transit via traditional routes, as well as cutting fuel consumption and ship fuel emissions.

The ships are being built at Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering in South Korea.

ABB’s scope of supply includes turbochargers, generators, switchboards, transformers,

electric drives, propulsion control and the Azipod propulsion units that will power the vessels through the Arctic conditions, making them the most powerful LNG carriers in the world.  The design will allow ship operations in temperatures as low as -50 degrees Celsius.

“Operating LNG carriers in ice-locked waters year-round requires the highest standards in safety and efficiency,” said Veli-Matti Reinikkala, head of ABB’s Process Automation division. “Azipod propulsion has proved to be the technology of choice for more than 30 ice-going vessels, including shuttle tankers operating for Sovcomflot out of Varandey and for Norilsk Nickel’s ‘Arctic Express’ container ships.”

Statoil and Rosneft bosses discuss Arctic exploration projects

19 June 2014

The west's stand-off with Russia over its activities in Ukraine has not dented Statoil's appetite to do business with its oil companies.  This week the Norwegian oil company's CEO Helge Lund held talks with Rosneft president and chairman of the management board Igor Sechin about joint exploration projects in the Barents Sea and the Sea of Okhotsk, and development projects in the Samara region.

The latest talks build on a strategic cooperation agreement signed in May 2012 to jointly explore four blocks in the Barents Sea and the Sea of Okhotsk.

Eni Norge enters into agreement with DNV GL AS

19 June 2014

Eni Norge has hired DNV GL, the world's largest shipping and offshore classification society, to supply inspection services to the Goliat platform in the Barents Sea. The three year contract, with an option for a two-year extension, will involve planning and carrying out inspections of static equipment, load-bearing structures and offloading and anchoring systems aboard the Goliat FPSO during its operational life. Goliat is the first field to be developed in the Norwegian sector of the Barents Sea, and one of the biggest industrial projects ever undertaken in Northern Norway. The cylindrical Goliat platform is a floating production, storage and off-loading unit (FPSO), and is full of unique technological systems, specially adapted to conditions in the Barents Sea. The estimated reserves in the field are 174 million barrels of oil and 8 billion standard cubic metres of gas. Eni Norge operates Goliat with a 65% stake alongside Statoil with 35%.

Latest edition of National Geographic Atlas highlights Arctic ice loss

19 June 2014

The shrinking of the Arctic ice sheet in the upcoming 10th edition of the National Geographic Atlas of the World is one of the most striking changes in the publication's history, geographers say.  The reduction in multiyear ice – ice that has survived for two summers  - is so noticeable compared with previous editions that National Geographic geographer Juan José Valdés calls it "the biggest visible change other than the breakup of the USSR."

Since the late 1970's, the ice has retreated by 12% per decade, worsening after 2007, according to NASA. May 2014 represented the third lowest extent of sea ice during that month in the satellite record, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC).

Ice loss is accelerated in the Arctic because of a phenomenon known as the feedback loop: thin ice is less reflective than thick ice, allowing more sunlight to be absorbed by the ocean, which in turn weakens the ice and warms the ocean even more.  Because thinner ice is flatter, it allows melt ponds to accumulate on the surface, reducing the reflectiveness of the ice and absorbing more heat.

"You hear reports all the time in the media about this," Valdés said. "Until you have a hard-copy map in your hand, the message doesn't really hit home."

The multiyear ice is shown on the map as a large white mass. The maximum extent of sea ice—the pack ice that melts and refreezes with the seasons—is depicted as a line on the map, according to Rosemary Wardley, National Geographic's senior GIS cartographer. In the 10th edition, which will be released Septmber 30th, the multiyear ice is much smaller in area than on previous maps.

Rosneft-ExxonMobil research initiative completes its Kara-Winter Ice expedition

12 June 2014

Rosneft-ExxonMobil research initiative completes its Kara-Winter Ice expedition

The Arctic Research and Design Centre, a joint initiative of Rosneft and ExxonMobil, has completed its Kara-Winter-2014 Ice Expedition, the largest expedition in the Arctic Ocean since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Over 63 days scientists on the Yamal ice-breaker studied the Laptev, Kara, and East-Siberian Seas as well as conducting studies off the coast of Novaya Zemlya, Severnaya Zemlya archipelagoes, and De Long Islands.

There have been ice and meteorological measurements at 35 stations, 40 drifting buoys have been installed at ice fields and icebergs to allow constant monitoring of ice features and to determine their trajectory.

This was the first time when the physical and chemical properties and morphometric parameters of icebergs and hummocks of the Laptev Sea were studied, as well as water mass distribution, stream, and variability of temperature. Iceberg drift along Severnaya Zemlya archipelago was studied for the first time. Around 2,000 icebergs were recorded along the eastern coast of the archipelago and in Matusevich inlet the team discovered a giant iceberg measuring 3 km by 1 km.

The scientists used remote-piloted vehicles, a helicopter and ROVs to explore the sea floor. Scientists also observed oceanic mammals and birds in order to evaluate potential impact of oil production on Arctic nature and to develop environmental regulations for shelf development.

The data collected will be used to build 3D models of ice features to help Rosneft,  which plans to invest US$400 billion in its Arctic shelf programme over the next 20 years, determine safe points for exploration, design drilling platforms for oil production and choose the best routes for shipping hydrocarbons and possible offshore pipelines.

BP will use drones to survey Prudhoe Bay assets

12 June 2014

BP has got the greenlight to use an unmanned drone to provide day to day information about its assets on the Prudhoe Bay oilfield on Alaska's North Slope.  The Federal Aviation Administration has approved the use of AeroVironment's unmanned aircraft system (UAS) over a five year period. 
The contract marks the first time unmanned aircraft systems will perform routine commercial services over land in compliance with FAA regulations.

AeroVironment will use its proven Puma AE UAS, which is capable of up to 3.5 hours flight time per battery and has a wingspan of about nine feet, equipped with either a custom integrated LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) or its standard electro-optical and infrared sensor payload, to produce imagery and data for processing into 3D computerized models of roads, pads and pipelines at the Alaskan oilfield.

Tim Conver, AeroVironment chairman and chief executive officer, said the use of the UAS was a “safer, better and more cost-effective solution for managing critical infrastructure and resources”. “Integrated into BP’s routine operations, this new solution is now helping BP manage its extensive Prudhoe Bay field operations in a way that enhances safety, protects the environment, improves productivity and accomplishes activities never before possible,” he said.

The Puma AE’s ability to fly low, at 200 to 400 feet above ground level, and slowly, at less than 40 knots, provides BP with highly accurate location analytics capabilities to help manage its complex.
By surveying the 200 miles of roadways built to support North Slope activities the data and maps delivered by the unit will help drivers keep the drillrigs, that can span up to 28 feet wide, 132 feet long and weigh up to 3.5 million pounds, stay centered on the roadways, even in low visibility conditions.  There are also environmental benefits: its electric propulsion, low acoustic signature and small operating footprint mean the PUMA AE is suitable for ecologically sensitive areas.

EMGS stays busy in the Barents Sea

12 June 2014

Electromagnetic Geoservices ASA has received a signed contract from a repeat customer worth NOK10 million (US$1.7 million) for 3D EM data acquisition in the Barents Sea.  It will use the  BOA Thalassa to fulfill the contract.  This builds on earlier contracts to acquire 3D EM data in the region.
The company is also working with seismic company TGS on EM data in the Hoop area and the southeastern area of the Barents Sea.  The integration of 3D EM data and seismic data will help  reduce risk and improve discovery rates in the Barents Sea.

Last year, for example, OMV found oil at its Wisting Central prospect, its first wildcat in the Hoop area of the Barents Sea. OMV's partner in the well, Tullow Oil, said in September 2013 the discovery demonstrates the effectiveness of exploration techniques that combine shallow seismic and electromagnetic survey data.

Speaking last year, EMGS CEO Roar Bekker said the Wisting Central find once again proves our technology. “Our EM data now covers 15 exploration wells that have already been drilled in the Barents Sea,” he said. “The drilling results on all 15 wells match the conclusions from our predictions. This gives us a very strong value proposition."

Polarcus busy in Russian Arctic

12 June 2014

Seismic vessel Polarcus Nadia, pictured here, has left Kirkenes in northern Norway for a 3D seismic survey in the Russian sector of the Barents Sea.  Oslo-listed Polarcus, in collaboration with Russia's Dalmorneftegeophysica, will acquire 3,000 sq km of high-density broadband 3D data.

Arctic Sunrise goes free

12 June 2014

Greenpeace's ice-breaker Arctic Sunrise has been released by the Russian authorities.  The vessel had been in custody in Murmansk since September 2013 when 30 activists protesting against Gazprom's Prirazlomnaya oil platform in the Pechora Sea were arrested and held for three months.
The release of the ship last week came as a surprise as Russia's investigative committee has extended its investigation into the protest at the Prirazlomnaya platform by two months until July 24th.

Greenpeace International executive director Kumi Naidoo welcomed the release of the ship. “After months without proper maintenance our ship will need careful repairs, but like our campaign to protect the Arctic she will emerge better, fitter and stronger from this,” he said.

Canada lags on Arctic infrastructure and investment, warns report

12 June 2014

Canada could miss out on new development opportunities in the Arctic because of lack of infrastructure and investment, a new report warns.  The policy brief from Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), a Canadian think tank, says the Northwest Territories (NWT) is arguably the most promising economic region in the Canadian Arctic but to realize its full potential, national infrastructure planning and investment is urgently required.

In The Northwest Territories and Arctic Maritime Development in the Beaufort Area, authors John Higginbotham, a senior fellow at Carleton University, and Marina Grosu, a master's graduate at Wilfrid Laurier University, highlight the importanace of Arctic marine transport and infrastructure to sustainable development.   Yet, they say, Canadian federal economic support for development in the Arctic is “modest and fragmented by domestic Arctic governance issues, despite laudable goals in Canada’s Arctic Council program”.

The report recommends that Ottawa develops a comprehensive long-term plan and timetable for responsible Canadian Arctic maritime development, develops marine corridors, including strategic charting, harbour improvements, search and rescue and oil spill mitigation, aids to navigation and communications capabilities, provides more robust funding for the Canadian Coast Guard, lifts federal Canada-US bilateral Arctic marine cooperation to a new level, supports the creation of a Beaufort business council and examines the possibility of a joint North American Safe Arctic Marine Corridor Administration, similar to the St. Lawrence Seaway.

Rosneft acquires stake in NADL as it tees up rigs for Arctic campaigns

29 May 2014

Rosneft is to acquire a “significant equity stake” in North Atlantic Drilling Ltd, the harsh environment drilling subsidiary of Bermuda-based Seadrill.  It comes as the companies sign an agreement to work together offshore and onshore Russia through at least 2022, with Rosneft already hiring NADL for its first two wells in the Kara Sea in 2014/15 as part of its JV with ExxonMobil.  Overall, the agreement envisions initial employment of up to 9 offshore units to Rosneft with a total commitment of 35 rig years.

Alf Ragnar Lovdal, NADL's chief executive, said this was a “landmark transaction”. “The Russian market is one of the most attractive opportunities in the world and offers tremendous growth potential for North Atlantic Drilling,” said Lovdal. “By partnering best in class drilling with a supermajor who produces over 5 million barrels per day, we, after closing of this transaction, will have created a powerful force in the Russian market and for Arctic regions on a global basis.”

NADL, which listed on the NYSE in January 2014, has nine units in its fleet and is 74 per cent owned by Seadrill.

Australia approves new Hobart-based ice-breaker

29 May 2014

Australia's federal Government has approved the budget to procure a new icebreaker to be crewed and based in Hobart.  Minister for the Environment Greg Hunt said the new icebreaker would “further expand Tasmania’s role as the gateway to the Southern Ocean and Antarctica”.

The new ship will conduct deep-sea Southern Ocean research and sea-ice experiments, as well as deliver critical fuel and cargo to Australian stations in Antarctica.  The new vessel will replace the aging Aurora Australis, which has struggled to break through the thick ice in recent seasons.  The new ship will have an icebreaking capability of 1.65m of ice whilst maintaining a speed of three knots, will have a cargo capacity of at least 1200 tonnes, an increase of around 50%.  The new icebreaker is expected to be ready for operation in late 2019.

The Budget also commits A$9.4 million for 2014-15 to ensure the continued operation of Australia’s three Antarctic and one sub-Antarctic station maintaining Australia’s presence in the frozen continent.  A longer term strategy for Australia’s presence in Antarctica is currently being developed through the Government’s 20 Year Strategic Plan for Antarctic and Southern Ocean Research to be released later in the year.

Lundin spuds Gohta appraisal well
29 May 2014

Lundin Petroleum has started drilling a much-anticipated appraisal well of its Gohta discovery in PL492 in the Barents Sea.  The well lies 155 km northwest of the Norwegian coast and 5.7 km northwest of the original Gohta discovery well of 2013, which was a play-opener in the Barents Sea.  The main objective is to test the reservoir properties and hydrocarbon potential of the Permian carbonates in the Gohta karst Røye formation and the overlying Kobbe formation sandstones. The well is being drilled to a TD of 2,930 metres using the Island Innovator rig.

The Gotha discovery found a 25 metre gross gas column above a 75 metre gross oil column in karstified and dolomitized limestone and tested 4,300 bpd.  The Swedish company reckons the find could hold gross recoverable oil and gas resources of between 105 and 235 million barrels oil equivalent. 

Lundin Norway  operates with a 40% interest alongside Det norske oljeselskap with 40% and Noreco Norway with 20%.

UK set to commission new polar research ship

29 May 2014

Britain is to get a new state-of-the-art polar research ship after the Government agreed to commit funding more more than £200 million.  The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) is to commission the ship to keep the UK at the forefront of environmental research in both the Antarctic and the Arctic. The ship, which will be ready for operation by 2019, will have enhanced ice-strengthened capability and longer endurance than NERC's existing polar research ships which are coming to the end of their operational life.

Professor Duncan Wingham, chief executive of NERC, said the vessel would be equipped to support “oceanographic, marine ecosystem, geophysical and other research activities that help us make sense of the changing polar environments”.

Professor Jane Francis, director of British Antarctic Survey, which will operate the ship, said the ship will “offer a step-change in Britain's capability to deliver bigger and better science”.

Greenpeace tackles two Arctic-bound rigs

29 May 2014

Greenpeace activists have boarded two rigs bound for Arctic waters.  The GSP Saturn, which is due to work for Gazprom in the Pechora Sea, was occupied by 30 activists in the Dutch port of Ijmuiden before their removal.  In Norwegian waters, activists boarded the Transocean Spitsbergen, which is under contract to Statoil for the drilling of the Apollo prospects in the Hoop area of the Barents Sea, the most northerly well yet in the Barents.

Greenpeace is calling for a ban on oil drilling and unsustainable industrial fishing in the whole of the Arctic, as well as a protected sanctuary around the North Pole. Last year its attempt to board a Gazprom platform in the Pechora Sea led to the arrest of 30 activists and journalists, who made headlines around the world as the “Arctic 30”.

Statoil said it “respects the right for legal protests and believes it is important with a democratic debate on the oil and industry” and said it has been in dialogue with Greenpeace in recent months. “We have informed about our exploration plans in the Barents Sea and the emergency response setup for the operations on several occasions, and Greenpeace has been given the opportunity to explain their views and ask questions,” said Statoil in a statement, adding that it believes these kinds of actions against a rig in open waters are “irresponsible and illegal” because of the risks.

“The rig is now about 300 kilometres offshore and there is a dialogue between the crew onboard the rig and the activists,” the company added.

By Thursday morning, all the activists still on board had been removed and arrested.

New environmental review planned for Chukchi Sea leases

29 May 2014

The US Interior Department has laid out a timeline for completion of a new environmental review surrounding leases in the Arctic waters off Alaska.  Earlier this year a federal appeals court panel sided with environmental groups that claimed the government had failed to conduct proper environmental risk assessments before the Chukchi Sea lease sales, which netted US$2.7 billion from oil and gas companies.  The ruling prompted Shell, already under fire following the grounding of its Kulluk drilling unit offshore Alaska on new year's eve 2012, to abandon plans to return to the Arctic this summer.

Last week the government said the department's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is undertaking a new review and will update the modelling for the oil spill risk analysis. Plans call for publication of a draft report by early October and a final decision next March.

Read more here:

Polarsyssel to head to Svalbard this summer

22 May 2014

The state-of-the-art Arctic rescue and emergency vessel Polarsyssel is having equipment fitted in the Havyard shipyard in Leirvik, Norway. The hull of the 88 metre vessel was built by Cemre Shipyard in Turkey and will be completed at Havyard, before delivery to Icelandic shipping company Fafnir Offshore at the end of August.  It will then head north to work in the waters around Svalbard under a €4.4 million a year contract with the Svalbard Governor's office.  The ship replaces the Nordsyssel rescue ship and later this year will be joined by enhanced helicopter capacity in a bid to upgrade rescue services around the islands as tourism and fishing activities increase in these Norwegian Arctic waters.  The Polarsyssel will be operated by the Svalbard authorities six months of the year and for the rest of the year will work as a regular platform supply vessel.

The ship has an  ice-reinforced hull with ice class ICE 1B and Winterized Basic class.
Steingrímur Erlingsson, CEO of Fafnir Offshore, says they chose Havyard`s design because of low fuel consumption and the ship`s very efficient fins.

The Icelandic company has signed a NOK350 million contract for a second ice-class platform supply vessel from Havyard.  The vessel will be designed by Havyard Design & Solutions in Fosnavaag and will be constructed at Havyard Ship Technology`s yard in Leirvik, Norway. The vessel will be delivered in July 2015.

Antarctic ice sheet melting faster, says ESA...

May 22 2014

The Antarctic ice sheet is now losing 159 billion tonnes of ice each year, twice as much as when it was last surveyed, according to the European Space Agency's CryoSat satellite.  The polar ice sheets are a major contributor to the rise in global sea levels and these newly measured losses from Antarctica alone are enough to raise global sea levels by 0.45 mm each year.  Between 2010 and 2013, West Antarctica, East Antarctica and the Antarctic Peninsula lost 134, 3 and 23 billion tonnes of ice each year, respectively.  The average rate of ice thinning in West Antarctica has increased compared to previous measurements, and this area’s yearly loss is now one third more than measured over the five years before CryoSat’s launch in 2010. The findings were published in Geophysical Research Letters.

Imperial Oil seeks permission to drill deepest Arctic well

22 May 2014
Exxon Mobil's Imperial Oil subsidiary in Canada is mulling plans to drill the deepest offshore well ever drilled in the Arctic.  The filing to Canadian regulators didn't specify a well depth but press reports suggest it could be 24,000 feet.  The oil giant wants to drill some 110 miles off the coast of the Northwest Territories town of Tuktoyaktuk and will require a regulatory waiver to allow the drilling to go ahead despite the fact that, should there be a blow-out, it would be unable to drill a relief well during the Arctic's short summer drilling season.  Calgary-based Imperial has asked federal regulators to review an approach for plugging an out-of-control well that “does not include a same-season relief well” although no details have yet been released of the alternative method for killing a blow-out

West Antarctica glaciers “pass the point of no return”

22 May 2014

A new study by researchers at NASA and the University of California, Irvine, finds a rapidly melting section of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet appears to be in an irreversible state of decline, with nothing to stop the glaciers in this area from melting into the sea. According to glaciologist Eric Rignot of UC Irvine and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, the study, based on 40 years of obserbations, indicated the glaciers in the Amundsen Sea sector of West Antarctica "have passed the point of no return".

These glaciers already contribute significantly to sea level rise, releasing almost as much ice into the ocean annually as the entire Greenland Ice Sheet. They contain enough ice to raise global sea level by 1.2 metres and are melting faster than most scientists had expected. Rignot said these findings will require an upward revision to current predictions of sea level rise.

"This sector will be a major contributor to sea level rise in the decades and centuries to come," Rignot said. "The collapse of this sector of West Antarctica appears to be unstoppable. The fact that the retreat is happening simultaneously over a large sector suggests it was triggered by a common cause, such as an increase in the amount of ocean heat beneath the floating sections of the glaciers. At this point, the end of this sector appears to be inevitable."

Statoil responds to Barents Sea concerns

22 May 2014

Statoil's exploration VP for the Barents Sea has been responding to concerns about the oil giant's plans to drill the northernmost wells on the Norwegian Continental Shelf.   This summer the company will drill three wells in the Hoop area of the Barents Sea - Apollo, Atlantis and Mercury—with Apollo and Atlantis being the most northerly yet.  VP Dan Tuppen highlighted the company's experience of working in these waters for more than three decades, with Statoil involved in 98 of the 109 wells drilled in the Barents Sea.

He stressed that the waters will be ice-free over the summer months. “So the ice is not really the challenge, but rather the considerable distance from land and the associated logistics that complicate the operation,” he said. “Here we have learned a great deal from Newfoundland, Canada, and we also operated far from shore in a cold climate when we made the Bay du Nord discovery last year.”

To handle the distances, the company will have extra fuel tanks on the helicopters as well as improved survival suits and stricter regulations for warm clothing. It will also set up a telemedicine facility to enable the medic on board the rig to directly communicate with the hospital in Tromsø.

 Tuppen described the Hoop area as the “workable Arctic”, with little or no ice and where well-known technologies can be used. “At the time we are planning to drill, we expect the ice to be more than 100 kilometres from the drilling location,” he said, adding that should ice appear the rig will disconnect and depart from the site. “The monitoring systems will enable us to do this long before it becomes an issue.”

He also discussed oil response plans.  Should there be an incident and oil spill, the company could have the first external barrier would be in place within two hours and the second within 17 hours. He added this was a shallow reservoir with low pressure so doesn't face the same risks as BP's high pressure Macondo in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico.

US sanctions target Rosneft boss as Ukraine tensions remain high

1 May 2014

With tensions still high in Ukraine, the West is ratcheting up the pressure on Russia, this week extending sanctions to prominent allies of the Putin Government.

These include the head of Russia's largest oil producer Rosneft, with its CEO Igor Sechin now subject to US sanctions.

Western oil companies with close links to Rosneft are now weighing the implications of the latest sanctions - as well as the threat of more to come.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that further sanctions may force Russia to reconsider Western companies' participation in key industries, including energy.

Statoil, which this week released a strong set of Q1 results with a net profit of NOK23.6 billion (US$3.94 billion), said it was too early to say what impact the sanctions would have on its joint ventures with Rosneft, which include co-operation in the Russian parts of the Barents Sea and Sea of Okhotsk, heavy oil and shale explorations.

Other companies with ties to Rosneft include BP, which has a near 20 per cent stake in the Russian group, and ExxonMobil, where the companies are set to drill the Universitetskaya-1 wildcat this summer. Sechin said earlier this week that the Kara Sea drilling campaign with ExxonMobil was "unquestionably one of our key projects".

"Monetization of Russia's enormous resource potential in the offshore Arctic is the key priority for the Company," he said.

Hammerfest LNG leak had potential to cause loss of life

22 May 2014

A hydrocarbon leak at the Hammerfest LNG facility in nothern Norway in January could have been a serious accident and led to loss of life, according to an investigation by the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway. This incident occurred during the evening, when te process plant at Melkoya outside of Hammerfest, which takes gas from the Snohvit gas field in the Barents Sea, was in normal operation. It is thought about 250-750 kg of gas escaped through the stuffing box of a pump 25-PA-102B, where some wear was observed on one of the gaskets although its underlying cause was not indentified.

The incident didn't cause any injuries or material damage, although production was shut down for three days. But had the leak ignited, an explosion could have caused two fatalities, damaged equipment and structures and led to a lengthy shutdown, the PSA ruled.

The investigation identified one nonconformity with safety regulations – this related to the time which elapsed between the sounding of the alarm and the start of pressure blowdown.

Imperial Oil seeks permission to drill deepest Arctic well



Greenpeace accuses Total of Arctic oil hypocrisy

1 May 2014

Total, one of the few supermajors to publicly decry Arctic oil exploration for being too high risk, has felt the ire of environmental campaign group Greenpeace after it emerged the French oil giant had bought the first ever shipment of offshore Arctic oil. The green group has been tracking the Mikhail Ulyanov, pictured right, as it transports the crude from Gazprom's Prirazlomnaya oil platform in the Pechora Sea. Greenpeace International oil campaigner Ben Ayliffe said Total's action "smacked of hypocrisy".

In 2012 Total's CEO Christophe de Margerie told the FT that an Arctic oil spill would be a disaster and do too much damage to the image of the company.

TGS announces 2D reprocessing project in Barents Sea Southeast

1 May 2014

With industry interest high in the newly opened southeast portion of Norway's Barents Sea, TGS has announced it is reprocessing a 2D dataset in readiness for the Norwegian 23rd licensing round.

The underlying data, acquired in 2011 and 2012, is owned by the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) and covers an area of more than 18,000 km.

TGS has been applying the latest Clari-FiTM Totus processing solution to deliver seamless, fully de-ghosted broadband data, which will be available to holders of the original NPD data in Q3 2014.

"We are pleased to see continued strong demand from our customers for TGS' broadband processing solutions," said Stein Ove Isaksen, TGS senior VP, Eastern Hemisphere."The Barents Sea Southeast has been nominated for inclusion in the upcoming 23rd licensing round and access to high quality 2D seismic data will be an important tool for oil companies interested in this area."

NOAA's US$11 billion polar satellite programme on track
1 May 2014

Washington's climate agency is advancing its US$11 billion next-generation polar-orbiting environmental satellite system, known as JPSS, with the first of five advanced instruments completing a key review.

The instrument, known as the Clouds and the Earth's Radiant Energy System (CERES), was developed by Northrop Grumman and will help scientists understand the Earth's energy balance.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said it was on track to have the first of two planned satellites under the JPSS programme launch in 2017.

The ambitious programme is a priority for NOAA because the agency faces a potential gap in polar orbiting satellite coverage: it currently relies on a converted demonstration satellite for much of its real-time storm data yet this has a short life expectancy.

Navis Engineering delivers DP system for innovative icebreaker

1 May 2014

The successful launch of an innovative new ice-breaking rescue and emergency vessel Baltika is a coup for Navis Engineering, which supplied the dynamic positioning control systems. The state-of-the-art icebreaker, commissioned in early April, is fitted with the Nav DP4000 (DP System) and the Navis AP4000 Heading control system (autopilot).

Designed by Finnish company Aker Arctic, Baltikawas built by the Arctech shipyard in Helsinki. The new vessel involved a profound rethink in icebreaking capability: it can cut through ice at oblique angles of up to 45 degrees (forward and astern) in channels up to 50 metres wide - far wider than a conventional icebreaker of the same size.

Sea trials confirmed that dynamic positioning control and heading control systems met their declared performance of being accurate at 6 Beaufort Sea State and wind of 14 m/s to a positioning accuracy of 1 m and a heading accuracy of 1 degree, said Vantaa, Finland-based Navis in a statement this week.

Spike Exploration extends its Barents Sea footprint to the Hoop area

1 May 2014

Privately-owned Spike Exploration has increased its exposure to the Barents Sea through an asset swap with Tullow Oil. Spike, which is backed by private equity firm HiTecVision, is swapping a 15% stake in PL494/B/C in the North Sea for a 15% interest in PL722, which lies in the Hoop area of the Barents Sea where last year OMV made the breakthrough Wisting oil discovery. Work is currently underway to mature and rank prospects, ahead of a drilling decision in 2016.

"Following participation in the Barents Sea South-East seismic group shoot, purchase of multiclient seismic data and the acquisition of an interest in PL230, Spike is now increasing its Barents Sea presence further with the ambition to be an active player in this exciting region," said Spike's CEO Bjørn Inge Tønnessen.

Following the swap, the PL722 group of partners will consist of operator GDF Suez (30%), Spike Exploration (15%), Rocksource Exploration (20%), North Energy (20%) and Tullow Oil (15%).

First oil cargo from Prirazlomnoye

28 April 2014

Gazprom has loaded its first cargo oil from the Prirazlomnoye, the first commercial oilfield in Russian Arctic waters. Russian president Vladimir Putin gave the order to start loading oil via a tele-link with Gazprom chief Alexey Miller. The first cargo of 70,000 tons of crude is being delivered to customers in North West Europe by the specially built super ice-class double-hulled tankers Mikhail Ulyanov and Kirill Lavrov.

The field, which was at the centre of the Arctic 30 controversy, is produced via the Prirazlomnaya offshore ice-resistant stationary platform. The produced oil isstored inthe caisson with three-metre-high concrete walls covered with two-layer corrosion- and wear-proof clad steel plate. The caisson isable tostore some 94,000 tons ofoil.

"Gazprom has opened anew stage inthe development ofthe Russian oil industry," said Miller last week. "From this moment the return onthe investments inPrirazlomnoye will start."

The Prirazlomnoye oilfield lies in the Pechora Sea, 60km from the coast where there's an emergency centre in the Nenets Autonomous Area. Two special-purpose ice-breakers Yury Topchev and Vladislav Strizhov are always oncall safeguarding the waters near Prirazlomnaya. Gazprom says it has provision for oil containment booms, high-capacity oil skimmers, outboard oil-in-ice skimmers, anoil-in-ice recovery bucket and other facilities.

Putin calls for Arctic push

27 April 2014

PresidentVladimir Putins aid Russia should step up its presence in the Arctic and challenge other nations in exploring the world's largest untapped natural reserves.

His call will ruffle feathers among other Arctic nations following the Kremlin's recent activities in Ukraine's Crimea Peninsula. Russia sees the potential to power economic growth by developing energy resources in Arctic waters and reviving Soviet-era shipping routes.

"Over decades, step by step,Russiahas built up, strengthened its positions in the Arctic," Putin told a meeting of hisSecurity Councilin the Kremlin. "And our goal is not only to regain them, but also to qualitatively strengthen them."

NOAA releases Arctic Action Plan 2014

26 April 2014
Washington's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has released its Arctic Action Plan, which provides a roadmap so scientists, stakeholders and partners to make shared progress in monitoring, understanding, and protecting the region. The document provides an integrated overview of NOAA's diverse Arctic programs and how they support President Obama's National Strategy for the Arctic Region. The National Strategy, outlined last year, listed US priorities in the Arctic as security, responsible stewardship and international cooperation.

Russian oil companies back new maritime risk rating system

25 April 2014

A new maritime risk rating system for oil tankers has been launched by London-based International Maritime Risk Rating Agency (IMRRA), which uses complex mathematical calculations and shipping databases to identify, analyse and score risk for any given vessel. The new system has the backing of Lukoil, Primorsk Oil Terminal, Novorossiysk Commercial Sea Port, Gazprom Neft Trading, and OTEKO Group, which have together cumulatively shipped over half a billion tons of hydrocarbons per year under the Risk Rating System - with zero spillages and zero accidents.

Chairman of IMRRA, Captain Andrey Voloshin, said the new system was "completely unique" and based on risk rating models used in the financial markets. "It's this model that calculates the risk rating, which then goes out to the public in the form of a reliable figure," said Voloshin. "The division of risk factors enables our users to weigh and emphasise the factors that are more significant for the business and identify the key 'driving' factors that are controlling the result."

He added: "Our objective is to establish an industry standard that promotes better global shipping practices, places health and safety and regulatory peace-of-mind at the top of the agenda, while raising environmental expectations."

Alaska LNG moves to pre-FEED

25 April 2014

The Alaska Legislature has passed Bill 138, the key piece of legislation that sets the stage for the state to become an owner in the giant Alaska LNG project, which could cost up to US$65 billion. Governor Sean Parnell said this was "truly a historic moment for Alaskans".

The project will now move into the Pre-FEED phase to further refine the cost and engineering aspects of the project. Senate Bill 138 affirms the commercial agreement signed by the state, the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation (AGDC), the oil producers and TransCanada, and empowers AGDC to carry the state's equity interest in the project's infrastructure, particularly the liquefaction and marine facilities. Importantly, AGDC will continue to aggressively pursue the advancement of the Alaska Stand Alone Pipeline (ASAP) Project parallel to the Alaska LNG Project.

"SB 138 is a huge validation of the Legislature's decision to create an Alaskan-owned pipeline development company," AGDC President Dan Fauske said. "AGDC will now lead the state's participation in this exciting LNG export project, while continuing to advance ASAP, the smaller in-state alternative."

Fugro wins Barents Sea survey work

24 April 2014

Dutch group Fugro has been awarded a €3.6 million hydrographic survey contract by the Norwegian Hydrographic Service to cover more than 13,200 sq km of the Barents and Norwegian Seas. The award, which includes an option to extend the survey area by two-thirds, is part of Norway's MAREANO project, designed to fill knowledge gaps related to seabed conditions and biodiversity along the northern Norwegian coast and help with resource management of fishing and oil and gas exploitation.

The area in the Barents Sea is located at the northern-most part of Norway, near the Russian border, in water depths between 150 and 250 metres. In the Norwegian Sea the survey area is located 100 miles offshore with water depths between 400 and 800 metres. Data processing will take place onboard the survey vessel and at Fugro's processing centre in Bremen, Germany.

KCA Deutag wins Hebron contract

17 April 2014

Aberdeen's KCA Deutag has made its debut in Canada with the award of a multi-million dollar contract to supply drilling operations and maintenance services to ExxonMobil's Hebron oil development.

Hebron is a 700 million barrel heavy oilfield which lies in "Iceberg Alley" off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador. The field is due onstream in 2017. The KCA Deutag contract starts with a three year pre-operations phase, followed by a nine year operations and maintenance program, with option to extend.

Rune Lorentzen, president of offshore for KCA Deutag, said: "The award of our first contract in Canada by ExxonMobil Canada Properties is an excellent result. We look forward to continuing to develop a strong working relationship as we work on this project together."

Turnover of Russian Arctic sea ports falls 18% in Q1

17 April 2014
Russia's three Arctic basin ports, Murmansk, Arkhangelsk and Varandey, saw an 18% slide in cargoes over the first three months of 2014, with a quarterly turnover of 8.7 million tons. According to figures from Murmansk-based newswire Barents Nova, which is related to Norwegian state-owned trade promotion agency SIVAIM, the Port of Murmansk saw cargoes of 5.8 million tons, down 14.8% on Q1 2013, Port of Arkhangelsk down 7.4% at 1 million tons while Port of Varandey was up 16.6% at 1.4 million tons.

Another Barents Sea dry hole

17 April 2014

GDF SUEZ has plugged and abandoned a wildcat in PL607 in the Norwegian Barents Sea after it came back dry. The result is another blow for hopes that additional drilling would shore up volumes near Statoil's Johan Castberg discovery, which remains on hold while the Norwegian oil giant seeks ways to cut costs and firm up development economics.

GDF Suez's well was 65 km southwest of Johan Castberg, and found just traces of gas in the primary Upper Cretaceous target.

The well was drilled by the Transocean Barents, pictured here, which will now move to PL 537, also in the Barents, to drill for OMV.

ConocoPhillips to renew Alaska LNG exports

17 April 2014

Washington has given the greenlight for ConocoPhillips to renew LNG exports from its Kenai terminal in Alaska's Cook Inlet, after its previous permit lapsed in 2013. The US oil company will be able to export up to 40 BCF of gas from Kenai over the next two years.

'Today's announcement by DOE ... highlights the growth that's occurring in Cook Inlet, where there is now ample gas supply to both meet local needs and help out our friends overseas," said Alaskan Senator Lisa Murkowski.

Arctic oil JVs on track despite Ukraine crisis

17 April 2014

Tensions escalated in Ukraine this week as troops clashed with pro-Russian militants that had seized public buildings in the east of the country. Despite tough talk from western governments and the threat of further sanctions, there are, as yet, few signs that Western oil companies are retreating from their alliances with Russian oil giants in the Arctic.

This summer will see Kremlin-aligned Rosneft and Houston-based ExxonMobil start drilling in the Kara Sea while Norwegian oil giant Statoil, which also has a JV with Rosneft, declared it is "business as usual". Lars Christian Bacher, Statoil's head of development and production international, told the Reuters news agency that the activities it has underway with Rosneft in Russia "are continuing as before".

Rosneft-Exxon survey work underway in Russian Arctic

10 April 2014

The Arctic Research & Design Centre, a joint venture between Rosneft and ExxonMobil, has started its Kara-Winter-2014 Expedition, with the Yamal ice-breaker leaving the Port of Murmansk for a 55-day survey of the Laptev, Kara and East Siberian Seas. This is the largest ice expedition by the sea area coverage and duration since the collapse of the USSR. The studies are to be conducted in winter to determine the ice as well as weather and water mass conditions. For the first time iceberg drift will be studied by means of placing buoys on their bodies and engineering surveys will be conducted for the East Siberia and Laptev Seas.  The expedition will also use satellites, a helicopter, an unmanned air drone, an underwater camera and buoys.
The expedition route runs along some of the least explored sea areas of the Arctic Ocean and the knowledge gained will be used to support exploration and subsequent oil and gas field facility design activities. Marine mammal and bird observations will be conducted to help develop environmentally friendly Arctic oil and gas exploration and production technologies.

FedNav deploys drones to help polar shipping

10 April 2014

Montreal-based Fednav has become the first shipping company to employ drones, or Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAV), to help navigate ice-bound seas on a commercial voyage. The Umiak I, one of Fednav’s most powerful icebreakers, used a variety of video-equipped drones to scout ahead of the vessel in the ice-covered waters of the Labrador Coast. The goal was to provide the captain and officers with detailed real-time visual information on the local ice conditions.

The company's subsidiary Enfotec, which provides advanced ice imagery and analysis based on the latest radar and satellite technology to vessels operating in difficult ice conditions, says the drones deliver critical high-quality, short-range visual observations that allow navigators to see beyond the normal horizon for strategic navigation. The bulk shipping company trialled the emerging technology off the Labrador Coast, where navigators have to contend with the challenges of thick first-year ice that is heavily deformed under wind-induced pressure as well as remnants of multi-year and glacial ice that are embedded in the ice cover.

“The use of UAVs is proving to be extremely beneficial to identify many ice features that should be avoided ahead of the vessel, as well as identifying open water leads to improve voyage efficiency,” says Thomas Paterson, a senior VP at Fednav, which operates three powerful ice-breaking bulk carriers that support Canada's northern mines. “In addition, the deployment of drones fitted with top-quality cameras, gives the ice navigator another useful aid when making important decisions while transiting heavy ice regimes, and in turn, improved safe navigation."

You can see a video of the drone in action here

Falkland Islands to retain favourable fiscal regime, says new report

10 April 2014

A new report predicts the attractive fiscal regime in the Falkland Islands, designed to encourage exploration in these remote waters of the Southern Atlantic, will remain stable through the short and medium term.    Research and consulting firm GlobalData said the ongoing uncertainties surrounding the Falkland Islands, including a delay in an FID on the Sea Lion project until 2015, as yet the only potentially commercial discovery in the region, and the Argentina situation, mean it is unlikely the Government will risk tampering with the fiscal regime.

“It is unlikely that detrimental changes would be made to the fiscal terms before any development has proven commercial and production has commenced,” said Mike McCormick, GlobalData's Upstream Analyst for Latin America. “This is particularly due to the high exploration costs in the area, as well as uncertainties surrounding the islands' relationship with Argentina.”

He highlights that wells to the north of the islands cost around US$50 million to drill and those to the south and east can cost upwards of US$100 million.And investment may be deterred as international oil companies keen to stake a claim to Argentina's Vaca Muerta shale prospect will steer clear of the Falklands out of fear of political and financial repercussions from Buenos Aires.

According to GlobalData, the most significant event related to the Falkland Islands' fiscal and regulatory regime in the medium term could be the Government's decision of when to re-open applications for production licenses, since large areas of the offshore area remain unlicensed.

Will Scargill, Upstream Fiscal Analyst for GlobalData, says: "It is likely that the application process will be re-opened if news from the current licenses generates significant interest, but this will depend on the results of drilling programs, such as that expected in early 2015. The long run could bring tougher fiscal terms if the sector undergoes substantial growth, but even then the regime is likely to remain comparatively attractive for its level of hydrocarbon potential."

BSEE tops up funding for oil spill response research

10 April 2014

Washington's Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) has announced that it is investing up to US$600,000 for targeted oil spill response research in drift ice conditions. The bureau called for white papers on new mechanical technologies for cleaning up oil spills in drift ice conditions that could be found in an Arctic environment and will select up to three designs for prototype development and testing at Ohmsett, the bureau's National Oil Spill Research and Renewable Energy Test Facility in New Jersey. White papers are due by April 21, 2014.

This is the third BAA from BSEE for oil spill response research proposals within the last year. The first announcement, with up to US$7 million in support, closed in January, while the second, announcing an additional U$5 million, closes today.

Coast Guard says Shell to blame for Kulluk grounding

10 April 2014

Poor risk assessment and management were among the factors that led to the grounding of a Shell drilling unit offshore Alaska in December 2012, according to a report released by the US Coast Guard.  Shell and Edison Chouest Offshore come under fire for their failure to assess and manage the high risks of undertaking a tow of the Kulluk, with its unusual conical-shaped hull, through Alaskan waters in winter. Damningly, the report says the decision to tow the Kulluk to Seattle at this time was influenced by Shell's desire to avoid tax because it believed the drilling unit would have qualified as taxable property had it still be in Alaskan waters on January 1st 2013

Other problems highlighted by the report include failures to report marine casualties and safety-related vessel issues, improper/illegal bridge and engineroom watch-keeping systems and potential evidence of negligent conduct aboard the OSV AIVIQ.  

The report recommends the US Coast Guard Commandant partner with the Towing Safety Advisory Council to establish a working group to draft and accept a task statement addressing, but not limited to, the issues raised by this marine casualty, the towage of mobile offshore drilling units in the Arctic marine environment and several other concerns.

Shell hires Endeavour Management for return to Chukchi Sea

3 April 2014

Shell has hired Houston-based Endeavor Management to provide support and advice ahead of resuming its controversial drilling campaign in the Chukchi Sea off Alaska. The Houston consultancy worked with Shell's Venture Team in 2013 to develop an Integrated Operations Plan, covering the full scope of operations in the Chukchi Sea, which was submitted to the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM). Shell Alaska has also utilized Endeavor to help them establish their development program for advisory personnel for ice management in support of their future drilling operations.

Bruce Crager, Executive Vice President of Endeavor Management, said many of its consultants were retired from the US Coast Guard with “many years of experience with Arctic operations and bring extensive expertise to bear on this project.”

Shell's 2012 drilling campaign in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas ended with a near miss when in early 2013 one of its drilling rigs, the Kulluk, ran aground while under tow.  The company decided against drilling in the 2013 summer season but had hired rig time for drilling in summer 2014.  By February 2014, however, under pressure to keep a lid on costs after its shock Q4 profits warning, Shell cancelled its drilling plans after the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled that the government had acted illegally in opening up nearly 30 million acres of US Arctic waters to oil exploration six years ago.  The case was knocked back to the district judge in Anchorage.

UN blocks Japan's whaling programme in the Antarctic

3 April 2014

The UN's International Court of Justice (ICJ) has ruled that the Japanese government must halt its whaling programme in the Antarctic.  The case was launched in May 2010 by Australia, which claimed the programme was commercial whaling in the guise of scientific research.  The ICJ has agreed, noting that Japan had caught some 3,600 minke whales since its current programme began in 2005, but the scientific output was limited. Japan said it would abide by the decision but added it "regrets and is deeply disappointed by the decision".

NSR ice-free for 125 days by 2050

3 April 2014

The Northern Sea Route could be ice-free for 125 days each summer by 2050, according to a UN climate panel.  “The Northern Sea Route (NSR) is predicted to have up to 125 days per year suitable for navigation by 2050,” said the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). “Increased shipping associated with the opening of the NSR will lead to increased resource extraction on land and in the sea, and with two-way commodity flows between the Atlantic and Pacific,” the IPCC said.

New research highlights West Antarctic glacial loss

3 April 2014

Six massive glaciers in West Antarctica are moving faster than they did 40 years ago, causing more ice to discharge into the ocean and global sea level to rise.  The research, from Washington-based American Geophysical Union, found the amount of ice draining collectively from those half-dozen glaciers increased by 77% from 1973 to 2013. Pine Island Glacier, the most active of the studied glaciers, has accelerated by 75% in 40 years while Thwaites Glacier, the widest glacier, started to accelerate in 2006, following a decade of stability. Jeremie Mouginot, a glaciologist at University of California-Irvine (UC-Irvine) who co-authored the paper, said almost 10% of the world’s sea-level rise per year comes from just these six glaciers.

Hunger and malnutrition an “emerging crisis” in Canada's Arctic

3 April 2014

It comes as a new report highlights growing hunger and malnutrition in Canada's Arctic territories, with calls for immediate action to stop an "emerging public health crisis."  The report from the non-profit Council of Canadian Academies found that Aboriginal households across Canada experience food insecurity at a rate more than double that of non-Aboriginal households - 27%  versus 12% while households with children have a higher prevalence of food insecurity than households without children. A 2007-2008 survey indicated that nearly 70% of Inuit preschoolers aged three to five lived in food insecure households, and 56% lived in households with child-specific food insecurity. Preliminary evidence also indicates that more women than men are affected.

The expert panel warned there is no silver bullet solution, and that addressing the problem would require a range of holistic approaches. “To fully understand the issue of food security, consideration must be given to the many factors that influence life in the North, such as environmental change, culture, governance, and economies,” said Dr Harriet Kuhnlein, Chair of the Expert Panel.

Yellowknife meeting agrees new Arctic Economic Council

3 April 2014

Senior officials of the eight nation Arctic Council, meeting in Yellowknife last week, agreed on the creation of an Arctic Economic Council (the AEC) to foster sustainable development in the region.  The Council said the aim of the AEC include economic growth, environmental protection and social development in the Arctic Region with strong participation from indigenous businesses. Arctic Council members first approved of the initiative at a ministerial meeting in Kiruna, Sweden in May 2013, when Canada took over the council’schairmanship.  Greenpeace has accused the Council of pursuing a “pro-oil agenda” under Canada's chairmanship.

SBI delivers modified support vessel to US ice-breaker Healy

3 April 2014

SAFE Boats International, which is based just outside Seattle in Washington state and has a 104 boat contract with the US Coast Guard, has delivered a harsh environment support craft, the Cutter Boat-Over the Horizon-IV (CB-OTH-IV) POLAR, to the 420-foot ice breaker, USCG Cutter Healy. The vessel has a reinforced hull, SBI’s patented collar system, 480hp inboard diesel engine with a water jet, tactical communications equipment and unique lifting accommodations for launch and recovery. It will support cutter missions in open water and operates as a critical support craft with a mission scope of law enforcement, security, search and rescue, and environmental protection of natural resources. The delivery comes as the USCG’s seeks to maintain a polar presence due to an increase in commerce and traffic in the Arctic and Antarctic.

Alaska now accounts for less than 7% of US crude oil production

3 April 2014

Five states and the Gulf of Mexico supplied more than 80%, or 6 million barrels per day, of oil production in the USA last year.  According to the latest figures from the EIA, Texas alone provided almost 35% of US crude oil production, followed by North Dakota with 12%, California and Alaska at close to 7% each and Oklahoma at 4%. The federal offshore Gulf of Mexico produced 17%.

Total crude oil production grew 15% in 2013 to 7.4 million barrels per day, led by production gains in Texas and North Dakota which both have booming shale industries. In the three years since 2010, North Dakota's crude oil output has grown 177% and Texas's output 119%, the fastest in the nation.

The Gulf of Mexico, Alaska, and California, which together in 2008 supplied nearly half of the country's crude, provided less than one-third of national output in 2013.  Alaska last year introduced a controversial new tax break for oil producers in a bid to stem the declines in output.

Norwegian Environment Agency wants limit on Barents Sea licensing

3 April 2014

There are signs of discord in Oslo after the head of the Norwegian environment Agency said the country should withdraw more than a dozen blocks from the upcoming Barents Sea licensing round.  Ellen Hambro, director general of the agency, which advises the Government but cannot block its decision, also said the country shouldn't award any more blocks to the north until there's been more rigorous assessment of ice conditions.

"It is necessary to have a thorough scientific process to set a limit to the ice edge, which also covers the more extreme years," said Hambro. "The northernmost blocks nominated in the southern Barents Sea ... are located in areas where there may be ice."

"Before such a limit is set, no blocks further north in the Barents Sea south should be awarded," she added.

Norway plans to award 61 blocks in its new area licencing round, including 54 in the Barents Sea. Companies have been exploring the Barents Sea for decades: Snohvit, the first commercial development came onstream in 2007 and Eni's Goliat oilfield is targeted for first production in late 2014.  Exploration activities have gradually been creeping north: OMV made the northernmost discovery last year and Statoil's exploration targets for 2014 will take it further north still. Greenpeace, which calls Statoil an "Arctic aggressor", said this year's exploration plans could threaten Bear Island.

Exxon Valdez 25 years on...Greenpeace targets Kara Sea rig

27 March 2014

This week marks the 25th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska. The disaster in 1989 occurred when the Exxon Valdez oil tanker hit a reef and began spilling 11 million gallons of oil into Alaska's Prince William Sound, wreaking devastation that made headlines around the world.
The disaster prompted many changes in how the industry handles oil shipments in these sensitive environment: all tankers in Prince William Sound must be double-hulled by the year 2015, there is increased monitoring and support of tankers navigating these waters and oil spill response and readiness has been vastly improved since 1989.

Exxon Valdez is the spectre that hangs over all talk of development in Arctic waters and to mark the anniversary of the spill Greenpeace climbers this week scaled the Seadrill-owned West Alpha semi-submersible, which is under contract to ExxonMobil for drilling in the harsh waters of the Kara Sea in the Russian Arctic this year. The US supergiant is exploring these remote and challenging waters with its JV partner Rosneft of Russia. In 2013 the two companies signed an agreement to create and fund the Arctic Research Center, an investment commitment of US$450 million, to build on current best practice and create more environmentally safe and efficient technologies for Arctic operations.

GNWT takes over onshore oil and gas regulation

27 March 2014

April 1st will see the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) assume responsibility for the regulation of onshore oil and gas activities in the NWT outside of the Inuvialuit Settlement Region and the Norman Wells Proven Area. The National Energy Board will provide the GNWT will technical services and advice to support projects and the transfer of records post-devolution.

World's largest jack-up joins Maersk Drilling rig fleet

27 March 2014

The world's largest jack-up has been named at a cereony at the Keppel FELS shipyard in Singapore. The Maesrk Intrepid is the first in a series of four ultra harsh environment jack-ups to enter the Maesrk Drilling fleet as part of a total investment of US$2.6 billion. The rig, which has been designed for year-round operation in the North Sea, will now join Total on a four year contract worth US$550 million drilling the demanding and complex wells on the Martin Linge field in the Norwegian North Sea.

Gazprom Neft joins Arctic Oil Spill Response JIP

27 March 2014

Gazprom Neft has become the first Russian company to join the Arctic Oil Spill Response Technology Joint Industry Programme (JIP) run by the world’s largest oil and gas companies.  The four-year JIP was launched in December 2012 to carry out research in several areas, including studying the fate of dispersed oil under ice, dispersant testing under realistic conditions as well as oil spill detection and mapping in low visibility and ice. Vadim Yakovlev, First Deputy CEO of Gazprom Neft, said the JIP would help the company “employ international best practice and global expertise in constant improving environmental security systems in the Arctic.”

Gazprom Neft will this summer drill an exploration well atthe Dolginskoye field in the Pechora Sea, having already started producing oil from the Prirazlomnoye field in December 2013, the project which was at the centre of last year's high profile protest by Greenpeace.

Ice cracks close navy's ice camp in Alaska

27 March 2014

Cracks in polar sea ice north of Alaska have forced an early end to the US Navy's Ice Camp Nautilus, which was supporting submarine exercises in Arctic waters. The ice camp was a temporary structure built into the ice floe north of Prudhoe Bay especially for Ice Exercise 2014.

Large shifts in wind direction created instabilities in the wind-driven ice floes of the Arctic Ocean, leading to multiple fractures in the ice near the camp which prevented the use of several airfields. "The rapidly changing conditions of the ice, along with extremely low temperatures and poor visibility hampered helicopter operations and made sustaining the runway potentially risky," the Navy said in a statement.

The Virginia-class attack submarine USS New Mexico, pictured here surfacing through Arctic ice as part of ICEX-2014, and the Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Hampton will continue to gather data and conduct ice-related exercises until they transit out from under the ice.
Submarines have conducted under-ice operations in the Arctic regions for more than 50 years. USS Nautilus made the first submerged transit to the North Pole in 1958. The US Submarine Force has completed more than 120 Arctic exercises with the last being conducted in 2012.

Crowley wins H&S recognition for its work in Alaska

27 March 2014

Florida-headquartered Crowley Maritime Corporation’s petroleum distribution group in Alaska has been recognized by Shell Oil Products as the 2013 Health, Safety, Security & Environment (HSSE) wholesaler of the year. As Shell’s sole wholesale distributor in Alaska, serving 17 Shell-branded retail stations, privately-owned Crowley faces unique challenges including remote locations, harsh environments, a diverse product and customer base, limited supply options and large fluctuations in seasonal demand.

“Safely delivering product to Shell retailers across 475 miles of Alaskan highway network requires the support of Crowley’s entire organization - from dispatchers to mechanics to drivers – all personnel are focused on safe, efficient operations,” said Bob Cox, vice president, petroleum distribution, Alaska.

The company was also named Alaska Trucking Association’s “Safe Fleet of the Year” in 2013 , having driven 125 trucks, 1.8 million miles while delivering 100 million gallons of fuel with zero reportable accidents.

Arctic Council officials meet in Yellowknife

27 March 2014

This week Senior Arctic Officials from the Arctic Council met in Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories.  The meeting will include an outreach event in the community of Dettah to enable discussion between Arctic Council representatives and community members on climate change adaptation, followed by a community feast.

A number of issues will be on the agenda, including reducing short-lived carbon pollutants, actions to respond to a changing Arctic, the IMO's work to develop a mandatory Polar Code for shipping, scientific cooperation and the establishment of a circumpolar business forum, the Arctic Economic Council. Canada's Arctic Council Minister Leona Aglukkaq has previously said the new economic council will facilitate business opportunities and “contribute to a stable, predictable, transparent business climate”.

Canada is currently chair of the Arctic Council and its theme is Development for the People of the North, with a focus on responsible resource development, safe Arctic shipping and sustainable circumpolar communities.  This has led to charges by Greenpeace that under Canada's leadership the Arctic Council is pushing a pro-oil agenda.

Anchorage files suit for ANWR exploration plan
21 March 2014
Alaska has announced it is suing the Obama administration for rejecting the state's exploration plan for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The legal suit was launched after the US Fish & Wildlife Service refused to consider the State's exploration plan for the coastal plain, or 1002 Area, of the ANWR.

The State's exploration plan was submitted to the Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell in July 2013, calling for 3D seismic to provide more information about the potential resources of the area.

"It is both disappointing and disturbing that the Obama administration, which claims that it is pursuing an 'all of the above' energy policy, is afraid to let the people of the United States learn more about ANWR's oil and gas resources," said Governor Sean Parnell.

"The modern technology that we are seeking to use is responsibly utilized all across the North Slope with extremely limited environmental impact, and would dramatically improve our understanding of ANWR's resources."

European Parliament calls for North Pole sanctuary
20 March 2014
The European Parliament has passed a resolution calling for the establishment of a sanctuary around the North Pole. The resolution of the European Union Arctic strategy could go as far as banning oil companies and fishing fleets from the region "without the prior establishment of appropriate regulatory mechanisms" and supported "the development of a network of Arctic conservation areas and, in particular, the protection of the international sea area around the North Pole outside the economic zones of the coastal states."

Greenpeace welcomed the move with Neil Hamilton, senior political adviser polar at Greenpeace Norway, saying this could "be the biggest conservation zone in existence, protecting fish stocks, ice-dependent species, and a huge variety of cold water species".

Arctic trade routes an "emerging risk" says insurer
19 March 2014
German insurer Allianz has flagged the opening of new shipping routes through Arctic waters as an emerging risk in its annual Safety & Shipping report. Shipping casualties in the Arctic have increased to an average of 45 per year during 2009 to 2013, from only seven between 2002 and 2007, Allianz said.

Other emerging risks include the use of mega-ships, such as Maersk's "Triple E class", and the increasing use of greener fuels such as LNG because of the lack of knowledge in handling the new fuels.

Operation IceBridge resumes collection of Arctic ice data
18 March 2014
NASA's Operation IceBridge is getting underway again to provide valuable data on rapidly changing areas of polar land and sea ice. NASA's P-3 research aircraft, pictured here leaving its hanger in Virginia for Thule Air Base in Greenland, will run flights to capture data that can be used to build detailed bedrock, calculated Arctic sea ice thickness and volume and improve understanding of the rate at which glaciers in Greenland are flowing into the sea.

The first part of the 2014 campaign will focus on sea ice in the Arctic Ocean north of Greenland and in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas north of Alaska. The remainder of the campaign will turn to measuring ice surface elevation and thickness at many of the Greenland Ice Sheet's outlet glaciers, which are channels of ice that flow from an ice sheet, constrained on its sides by bedrock. The P-3's extensive instrument suite features a new component this year - a spectrometer that measures ice albedo, or reflectivity.

Safety improvements legacy of Canadian helicopter crashes
18 March 2014
Last week marked the anniversaries of two fatal helicopter crashes 24 years apart in the waters off Newfoundland and Labrador. The crashes of a Cougar 491 on March 12, 2009 and a Universal helicopter on March 13, 1985 claimed the lives of 23 workers, with one survivor.

As a result of post-crash recommendations, safety improvements have been made, including a dedicated Search and Rescue response capability at Cougar Helicopters, with "wheels up" in 15-20 minutes; a new simulator for Helicopter Underwater Egress Training; enhanced Basic Survival Training; and improvements in helicopter transportation suits, with a requirement that every individual must have a properly fitted suit and underwater breathing apparatus attached to the suit.

Efforts continue in a number of areas, including research and development into side floatation on helicopters and sea state measurement. The Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB) is currently working on a multi-tiered, performance-based Safety Oversight Management System. An operational safety review of Cougar Helicopters is also underway and the next generation of helicopter transportation suits is being tested.

The C-NLOPB said there is no doubt that part of the legacy of those lost in these tragedies includes improved safety for those who travel to and from offshore installations. "While the risk of such travel can never be totally eliminated, the C-NLOPB remains committed to working with its partners in Canada and around the world in the hope of preventing another accident," the organisation said in a statement.

RS surveys Russia's new class of powerful icebreaker
17 March 2014
Russian classification society, the Russian Maritime Register of Shipping (RS), has performed a survey of the forged blanks of a new generation RITM-200 reactor vessel for the lead dual draft nuclear icebreaker Arktika, one of the most powerful icebreakers in the world.

This new design of icebreaker can vary draft and operate both in deep waters of western Arctic areas such as the Barents, Pechora and Kara Seas, as well as in shallow waters of river estuaries, such as the Yenisey's mouth and the Gulf of Ob.

The icebreaker will be capable of breaking heavy ice of up to 2.8 metres thick. Two more icebreakers of this series are planned to be built to RS class in the future.

During the construction of the icebreaker, RS experts will perform survey of hull, machinery, equipment, devices, radio navigation and electrical facilities, automation equipment in compliance with RS rules, RS-approved project documentation as well as with the applicable requirements of international codes and conventions. Upon the completion of construction, Saint Petersburgh-based RS will continue survey of the icebreaker under operation.

The Russian classification society is a world-leader in nuclear icebreakers, with five nuclear-powered vessels currently operated under the RS survey: Rossiya, Taimyr, Vaygach, Yamal and 50 Let Pobedy.

GSP Saturn to join Gazprom Neft in Pechora Sea in May
16 March 2014
Romanian drilling company Grup Servicii Petroliere has confirmed its jack-up GSP Saturn will mobilise to the Russian Arctic in May. The company won a two-year contract plus one year option with Gazprom Neft in December 2013 to undertake drilling on the Dolginskoye field in the Pechora Sea and the south-eastern part of the Barents Sea.

The contract initially named the GSP Jupiter for the job in 2013 but the work was postponed and then reassigned to the GSP Saturn, which the company's CEO Gabriel Comanescu said is one of its most technologically advanced MODUs.

Greenpeace worried by Statoil's planned Apollo well
16 March 2014
News of the Barents Sea seismic award comes as environmental campaigners begin to ramp up their opposition to drilling in Norwegian waters this far north. Greenpeace Norway is already scrutinising the planned 23rd licensing round, which will open up new areas of the Barents Sea, as well as opposing oil company plans to continue pushing northwards in the search for oil

OMV's 2013 Wisting oil discovery in the Hoop area of the Barents Sea has provided encouragement for Statoil, which this year plans to drill the northerly Apollo and Atlantis prospects some 50 km further north.
Following a study with the Norwegian Meteorological Institute last year, Greenpeace claims an oil spill from Statoil's northernmost drill site could hit the ice edge in only 14 days, and the nature reserve Bear Island in 80 days.

WesternGeco and PGS pick up Barents Sea seismic work
14 March 2014
Seismic companies WesternGeco and PGS have been awarded contracts to acquire 3D data over 13,700 sq km of the south-eastern Barents Sea ahead of Norway's 23rd licensing round. The work has been awarded by Statoil as operator of a joint venture of 33 oil companies interested in licensing these undrilled waters.

Work is expected to start in April and will continue through until September, with processing work to run through until summer 2015. The oil companies have collaborated on this coordinated seismic survey to reduce costs and impacts on fishing industry.

Dry well in the southwest Barents Sea – 7016/2-1

22 October 2013

Eni Norge, operator of production licence 529, is about to complete drilling of wildcat well 7016/2-1. The well was drilled in the Barents Sea about 185 kilometres southwest of the Snøhvit field and 160 kilometres northwest of Tromsø. The objective of the well was to prove petroleum in Eocene and Paleocene reservoir rocks (the Sotbakken Group). The well did not encounter reservoir rocks in the Sotbakken Group. The well is dry.

Data acquisition has been carried out. The well is the first exploration well in production licence 529. The licence was awarded in the 20th licensing round. The well was drilled to a vertical depth of 4025 metres below the sea surface and was terminated in the Upper Palaeocene. Water depth is 1366 metres. This is the first deepwater well in the Barents Sea. The well will now be permanently plugged and abandoned.

Well 7016/2-1 was drilled by the Scarabeo 8 drilling facility, which will now proceed to production licence 229 in the Barents Sea to drill production wells on the Goliat field, where Eni Norge is the operator.

Second CGG BroadSeis survey in Barents Sea

9 October 2013

French seismic company CGG has completed a second BroadSeisTM multi-client survey offshore Norway. The survey covers a 2,300 km2 area in the Barents Sea. Fast-track processing deliverables will be available by the end of 2013 and final processing products by August 2014.

This second BroadSeis 3D survey is located in the south-eastern part of the Barents Sea adjacent to the recent eastward extension of Norwegian territory as a result of the border agreement between Norway and Russia. New data is required to assess the petroleum potential in this region.

The Barents Sea BroadSeis survey follows on from CGG’s recent first BroadSeis multi-client survey offshore Norway which targeted the Halten Terrace. The industry has shown strong interest in this new multi-client data acquired with CGG’s broadband technology and initial results just released show a significant improvement in the imaging of deeper targets.

Jean-Georges Malcor, CEO, CGG, said: "CGG regards Norway as an important region for the expansion of its multi-client activities and is working on several new projects including the Barents Sea survey. Our geologists are optimistic about this region’s oil potential and we consider it to be a strong candidate for inclusion in Norway’s 23rd licensing round set to take place in the second half of 2014. Our recently expanded team of multi-client experts in Norway drew on their extensive knowledge of the Barents Sea region to design this BroadSeis survey and we are convinced that the resulting images will enhance the industry’s geological understanding of this promising region."

Oil find near Snohvit in Barents Sera
2 October 2013

Lundin Norway, operator of production licence 492, has completed drilling of wildcat well 7120/1-3. The well was drilled about 35 kilometres northwest of the Snøhvit field.

The primary exploration target for the well was to prove petroleum in Middle and Early Triassic sandstone rocks (Snadd formation) and in Permian limestone (Røye formation). The secondary exploration target was to prove petroleum in Middle Triassic reservoir rocks (Kobbe formation).

In the primary exploration target, the well encountered a gross oil column of about 75 metres and a gross gas column of about 25 metres in limestone rocks in the Røye formation. The reservoir quality was better than expected. The reservoir rocks encountered in the Snadd formation are of expected reservoir quality, but the formation was aquiferous.

Preliminary calculations of the size of the discovery are between 10 and 23 million standard cubic metres (Sm3) of recoverable oil and between 8 and 15 billion standard cubic metres of recoverable gas. The results confirm for the first time recoverable oil and gas in a Permian play in the Norwegian part of the Barents Sea. Further delineation of the discovery is planned.

A successful formation test has been carried out in the Røye formation. The maximum production rate was 683 Sm3 oil and 222300 Sm3 associated gas per flow day through a 44/64 inch nozzle opening. The gas/oil ratio is 190 Sm3/Sm3. This is the first successful test in Permian limestone rocks on the Norwegian shelf.

The well is the first exploration well in production licence 492. The licence was awarded in APA 2007.

The well was drilled to a vertical depth of 2515 metres below the sea surface, and was terminated in the Røye formation in Permian. Water depth is 342 metres. The well will now be permanently plugged and abandoned.

Well 7120/1-3 was drilled by the Transocean Arctic semi-submersible.

Statoil and Husky reveal east coast Canada discovery
26 September 2013

Statoil Canada and co-venturer Husky Energy have announced that the first Bay du Nord exploration well has discovered between 300 and 600 million barrels of oil recoverable. The Bay du Nord discovery, located approximately 500 kilometres northeast of St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, was announced in August. A sidetrack well has been completed this week and confirms a high impact discovery. Additional prospective resources have been identified which require further delineation.

The Bay du Nord discovery is Statoil's third discovery in the Flemish Pass Basin. The Mizzen discovery is estimated to hold a total of 100-200 million barrels of oil recoverable. The Harpoon discovery, announced in June, is still under evaluation and volumes cannot be confirmed at this stage.

The Bay du Nord well encountered light oil of 34 API and “excellent Jurassic reservoirs with high porosity and high permeability,” said the company.

"It is exciting that Statoil is opening a new basin offshore Newfoundland," says Tim Dodson, executive vice president of Statoil Exploration. "This brings us one step closer to becoming a producing operator in the area."

"With only a few wells drilled in a large licenced area, totalling about 8,500 square kilometres, more work is required," adds Dodson. "This will involve new seismic as well as additional exploration and appraisal drilling to confirm these estimates before the partnership can decide on an optimal development solution in this frontier basin."

The successful drilling results from the Flemish Pass Basin demonstrate how Statoil's exploration strategy of early access at scale and focus on high-impact opportunities is paying off. As an early player in the area, Statoil has confirmed its understanding of the basin and has opened a new oil play offshore Canada. The Flemish Pass has the potential to become a core producing area for Statoil post-2020.

All three discoveries are in approximately 1,100 metres of water. Mizzen was drilled by the semi-submersible rig Henry Goodrich (2009). The Bay du Nord and Harpoon wells were drilled by the semi-submersible rig West Aquarius (2013).

Statoil is the operator of Mizzen, Harpoon and Bay du Nord with a 65% interest. Husky Energy has a 35% interest.

Barents Sea gas find by Statoil and partners

23 September 2013

Norway’s Statoil with its partners Eni Norge and Petoro made a gas discovery in the Iskrystall prospect in PL608 in the Barents Sea. Well 7219/8-2, drilled by the drilling rig West Hercules, has proved an approximately 200 metre gas column. Statoil estimates the volumes in Iskrystall to be between 6 and 25 million barrels of oil equivalents (o.e.).

Iskrystall was the second of the four prospects to be drilled in the Johan Castberg area this year with the aim of proving additional volumes for the Johan Castberg field development project. The first prospect Nunatak resulted in a small gas discovery.

"Our main goal was to find oil in Iskrystall, but unfortunately it did not materialize. We still believe we can prove more oil resources in the Johan Castberg area and will continue our exploration effort with two more wells in the Skavl and Kramsnø prospects", says Gro G. Haatvedt, senior vice president exploration Norway.

A comprehensive data acquisition program was performed in the Iskrystall well including coring, wire line logging and fluid sampling. This gives valuable geological information about the Johan Castberg area.

Statoil and the partners in the Johan Castberg project in the Barents Sea decided in June 2013 to delay the investment decision for the project to further mature the resource base and field development plans for the project. In addition there are uncertainties in the tax frame work for the project. It is necessary to conclude the remaining exploration wells and ongoing work on field development plans, until the partners are ready to make an investment decision for the project.

After completion of Iskrystall, the West Hercules rig will move back to the production license 532 to drill the Skavl prospect. Skavl is situated approximately 5 km south of the Skrugard discovery (now part of Johan Castberg).

Statoil is operator for production licence 608 with an ownership share of 50%. The licence partners are Eni Norge AS (30%) and Petoro AS (20%).

Nordic Yards wins icebreaker deckhouse contract
3 September 2013
Germany-based Nordic Yards has been awarded the tender for the construction of a deckhouse for a Russian icebreaker. The contract for the fabrication of a deckhouse as part of the superstructure for the icebreaker LK-25 was concluded between the St. Petersburg Baltic Shipyard, which is part of the Russian state-owned United Shipbuilding Corporation OSK, and Germany's Nordic Yards. According to the terms of the contract, the deckhouse weighs 2,500 tonnes and is fully fitted out. The keel-laying for the icebreaker Viktor Tschernomyrdin, also known as Project 22600, took place on October 10th, 2012 in dock at the Baltic Shipyard. The total cost of the project is around RUB 7.94 billion (about EUR 200 million). The delivery of the ship to the Russia's state-owned seaports agency Rosmorport is planned for December 2015.

Oil find offshore east coast Canada for Statoil
2 September 2013
Statoil has made a third discovery of crude oil in the Flemish Pass Basin, offshore Newfoundland. The discovery was made on the Bay du Nord prospect (EL1112), located approximately 500 kilometres northeast of St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. This discovery is the second discovery for Statoil offshore Newfoundland this year. In June, a discovery was made at the Harpoon prospect, which is located approximately 10 kilometres from Bay du Nord.
"The success of Bay du Nord is the result of an ambitious and targeted drilling campaign in the Flemish Pass Basin," says Statoil Exploration executive vice president Tim Dodson. "This discovery is very encouraging."
Statoil is the operator of Bay du Nord and Harpoon with a 65% interest. Husky Energy has a 35% interest.

NPD maps north-eastern Barents Sea

31 July 2013

The mapping of the new Norwegian sea area in the eastern Barents Sea which started in 2012 is set to be continued. The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) started acquisition of 2D seismic in the north-eastern Barents Sea.

According to the plan, the acquisition will take place for two and a half months. The NPD is conducting the acquisition on assignment from the government. Only the NPD is allowed to acquire seismic data in areas that have not been opened for petroleum activity. The acquisition is part of the authorities’ work to gain an overview of potential petroleum resources on the Norwegian shelf.

The acquisition activity, which is a 2D seismic acquisition, is being carried out by the Artemis Atlantic seismic vessel, operated by the company Dolphin Geophysical.

Lundin Petroleum spuds exploration well on the Gohta prospect in the Barents Sea
17 July 2013
Swedish independent oil company Lundin Petroleum has spudded an exploration well 7120/1-3 in PL492 in the Barents Sea. The well will target the Gohta prospect, which is located some 150 km northwest of the Norwegian coast (185 km northwest of Hammerfest) and 65 km south of the Johan Castberg discovery.

The main objective of well 7120/1-3 is to prove the presence of hydrocarbons in Permian and Triassic reservoirs.
Lundin estimates the Gohta prospect to have the potential to contain unrisked, gross prospective resources of 108 million barrels of oil equivalent (MMboe) in the Gohta Snadd prospect and 118 MMboe in the Gohta Karst prospect.

The planned total depth is 2,429 metres below mean sea level and the well will be drilled using the drilling rig Transocean Arctic. Drilling is expected to take approximately 65 days.

Lundin Petroleum, through its wholly owned subsidiary Lundin Norway, is the operator and has a 40& working interest in PL492. The partners are Det norske oljeselskap ASA with 40% and Noreco Norway AS a 20% working interest.

Russia's Rosneft starts seismic in Okhotsk Sea
4 July 2013

Russia enery giant Rosneft has started seismic prospecting at the license blocks Lisyansky, Kashevarovsky and Magadan-1 in Okhotsk Sea in the country’s far east. Rosneft holds geological study at the blocks jointly with its partner Statoil of Norway. Currently 2D seismic along with shipborne gravity magnetic survey are planned for the blocks. The data is to be collected by geophysical methods from a specialized research vessel Academik Fersman. The works will cover a total of 10,000 linear kilometers: 5,300 km on the Lisyansky licensed block, 2,000 km on the Kashevarovsky block and 2,700 km on Magadan-1. Environmental and fishery research are to be performed at all the three blocks in 2013 by LLC Environmental Company of Sakhalin, a contractor for this work. Another planned environmental protection measure is studying the subsea wellhead of the Khmitevskaya-2 well drilled on the Magadan-1 block in the 90's.

Two carriers to be built for Yamal LNG
21 June 2013

Russian energy company Novatek has signed a cooperation agreement with, Sovcomflot and Vnesheconombank to build two LNG carriers for Yamal LNG project. Vnesheconombank will manage project financing, while Sovcomflot will operate the tankers as a bare-boat charterer and a technical manager. Novatek will now tender for the construction of the vessels with delivery scheduled for 2016. Yamal LNG project will export 16.5 million tonnes per annum based on the feedstock resources of the South-Tambeyskoye field. According to the PRMS reserve standards, the proven and probable reserves of the South-Tambeyskoye field as of 31 December 2012 were appraised at 907 billion cubic meters of natural gas. The Project also requires the construction of transport infrastructure including a sea-port and an airport located at Sabetta (north-east of the Yamal Peninsula). Yamal LNG is currently owned by Novateck(80%) and Total (20%).

Norway’s 22nd offshore round offers 24 production licences
17 June 2013

Norway has awarded 24 production licenses in the 22nd licensing round – 20 in the Barents Sea and four in the Norwegian Sea. Twenty-nine companies will be offered participating interests, while 14 companies will be offered operatorships.

Two of the 24 production licences are extensions to existing production licences.

Although activity levels in the petroleum industry on the Norwegian continental shelf are currently high, it is crucial to maintain exploration levels to ensure future activity through the discovery of new resources. The new production licences awarded in the 22nd licensing round will only begin contributing to production in 10 to 15 years’ time.

Twenty-three of the 24 production licences on offer lie north of the polar circle. Twenty of the licences relate to the Barents Sea.

“Interest in our northernmost seas has increased in recent years. We are now laying the foundation for long-term and efficient exploration of our northern seas, in both the Barents Sea and Norwegian Sea. This will promote further growth and employment not only in the north of Norway but also in the rest of the country,” says Minister of Petroleum and Energy Ola Borten Moe.

The 22nd licensing round was announced on 26 June 2012, and comprised 86 blocks in the Barents Sea and Norwegian Sea. By the application deadline on 4 December 2012, 36 companies had applied for production licenses.

NOIA 2013; Play on the Edge

14 June 2013

NOIA 2013; Play on the Edge
June 17 – 20, St John’s Newfoundland

NOIA’s, Newfoundland & Labrador Oil & Gas Industries Association, annual conference and exhibition kicks off this Monday with over 1,100 delegates and speakers expected to attend. The focus of this year’s event will be on oil and gas developments offshore east coast Canada and how the region can get further involved in supporting activity in the Arctic region. Lessons learnt from the Deepwater Horizon accident and subsequent response will also be debated with environmental and safety the main issues discussed. The city of St John’s is well located for upstream activity as it goes further north to the deeper, colder and very challenging environments in the Arctic Region.

Delegates will hear from a high level range of industry experts including Malcolm Maclean, senior vice-president of Husky Energy; Atle Aadland, vice president of Statoil Canada Offshore and Andrew Barry, president of ExxonMobil Canada. Francois Durvye, chief economist of Schlumberger will give a presentation discussing how one of the world’s biggest service companies assesses the market outlook for the world’s oil and gas markets.

The conference will provide updates on all the major regional offshore projects including Hebron and will hear from Amy Myers Jaffe is a leading expert on the geopolitics of oil, energy, security, and risk and author of a new book published by Cambridge University Press, titled ‘Oil, Dollars, Debt, and Crises’.

Established in 1977, and now with more than 600 members, NOIA is Canada's largest offshore petroleum association. NOIA’s core members provide products and services for the petroleum industry and associate members represent operators, trade associations, educational institutions and government bodies.

For more details about the event, click here.

Polar Code for shipping expected in 2016 - IMO
6 June 2013

A Polar Code regulating shipping in the high Arctic, where maritime traffic is expected to increase as the ice cap recedes, is due to be implemented in 2016, the U.N. shipping agency said, reports Reuters. Shipping along the Arctic northern sea route is set to grow more than 30-fold over the next eight years and could account for a quarter of the cargo traffic between Europe and Asia by 2030. “We are preparing a mandatory code for polar navigation,” Koji Sekimizu, secretary-general of the United Nations International Maritime Organisation (IMO), said this week. “It will be operational in 2015 (and) will probably be implemented in 2016.” The code aims to ensure safe navigation in a fragile ecological environment, where infrastructure is few and help in case of an accident is far away.

“A new code will govern all technical requirements covering design and operations,” Sekimizu told reporters.“It will ensure the competence of seafarers … We will ensure that unless we have trained competent seafarers on board to navigate, then that vessel cannot be allowed to navigate.” With global warming thawing sea ice, the route, which runs along Russia’s northern coast and links Europe with ports in East Asia, is opening for longer and longer each year.

Gazprom increases Arctic search efforts
28 May 2013

Nearly two dozen applications have been sent to Russian regulators to explore for reserves in the Arctic, energy company Gazprom said, reports UPI. Gazprom said it sent applications to subsurface resources agency Rosnedra for 20 licenses for blocks in the Barents, Kara, East Siberian and Chukchi seas. Gazprom said parts of the Russian continental shelf haven't been explored well. It estimated the continental shelf could hold as much as "100 billion tonnes of fuel equivalent, of which some 80% is (natural) gas." The company this year produced its first volumes of oil from the Prirazlomnoye oil field in the Pechora Sea using a stationary platform designed specifically for operations in Arctic conditions. Melting Arctic sea ice is exposing areas believed to hold deposits of oil and natural gas. Greenpeace campaigners last year occupied the Prirazlomnoye oil rig, saying it was trying to stop "the destruction of the planet'". Gazprom said it was looking to tap into the estimated 527 million barrels of reserves in the Pechora Sea. Regarding its ambitions, the company said it was paying "special attention" to safety issues as it looks to tap into Arctic reserves.

Alaska seeks money and support for ANWR search
23 May 2013

Alaska would put up $50 million to share the costs of a seismic program and exploration planning that would be part of a new oil and gas resource assessment in the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Governor Sean Parnell, reports Platts. "The Department of the Interior is now developing a long-range conservation plan for ANWR and it is disappointing to us that an updated oil and gas resource assessment is not included in this," Parnell, a Republican, said during a press briefing in Washington, which was available on teleconference.

"Alaska has always offered its geologic expertise to the department and now we are offering financial resources," Parnell said.The state's offer, which must be approved by Alaska's legislature, is one-third of the estimated cost of a proposed winter three-dimensional seismic program the state is suggesting, Parnell spokeswoman Sharon Leighow said. The remaining funds could come from the federal government or the private sector, she said.

In the 1980s, oil and gas companies contributed to a two-dimensional seismic program in ANWR's coastal plain, a 1.5-million-acre section of the Arctic refuge, which totals 18 million acres overall.

The federal Alaska National Interest Lands and Conservation Act, which created the Arctic refuge in 1980, kept the so-called "Section 1002" coastal plain out of a wilderness designation on most of the refuge because of its oil and gas potential.

Technip awarded two subsea contracts in Canada

8 May 2013

International cpontracting firm Technip was awarded by Husky Oil Operations two contracts, with a combined substantial value, for the planned subsea tieback of the South White Rose Extension field. The field is an extension of the White Rose field, located in the Jeanne d’Arc Basin, approximately 350 kilometers southeast of St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. The first contract will be executed in 2013 and will include the supply and installation of gas injection flowlines, umbilicals, and subsea structures. The second contract will take place in 2014 and will cover the supply and installation of flowlines and subsea structures to support oil production and water injection.Technip’s operating center in St. John’s will perform the management and engineering of both projects, with various materials and equipment being supplied from within the Group and local supply chain. Knut Boe, Senior Vice President of Technip’s North Sea-Canada Region, commented: “These two awards reinforce Technip’s continuous involvement in Atlantic Canada’s offshore oil and gas projects. They also mark a new step in the relationship between Technip and Husky Oil Operations, for whom we successfully completed the subsea production system contract for the White Rose field development in 2005.”

Total spuds Norvarg appraisal well in Barents Sea
2 May 2013
Drilling of an appraisal well on the Total-operated Norvarg discovery in PL 535 in the Barents Sea has started, reports junior partner North Energy. The site lies in 377 metres of water about 275 kilometres north of the Hammerfest LNG plant on Melkøya.Being drilled by Ocean Rig's Leiv Eiriksson semi, it is expected to take 69-104 days. The main objective of the well is to prove up the volume potential in the north-eastern segment of the Norvarg closure. The partners in the licence are Total (operator - 40% interest), North Energy (20%), Det Norske (20%), Valiant Petroleum Norge (13%) and Rocksource Exploration Norway (7%). The Barents Sea is now a key frontier exploration region, boosted by Statoil's 2011 Skrugard discovery, followed by Total's Norvarg discovery. Total is now developing the Martin Linge field, which is expected to come onstream in 2016 and become one of the group's major hubs in the region.

Premier Oil selects Aker Solutions for Solan work
11 April 2013

Aker Solutions has won a £30m ($46m) contract to provide hook-up, commissioning and facility management services to Premier Oil at the operator's Solan field development, west of Shetland. The hook-up project will see two subsea production and two subsea injection wells tied back to a fixed production platform located in block 205/26a of the UK North Sea, the first of its kind west of Shetland. The platform, which will not be permanently manned, will produce oil that will be stored in a subsea tank before being exported via an oil-offloading system to shuttle tankers. The contract is valid for three years from first oil, with two one-year extension options. Work will be led from Aker Solutions in Aberdeen. First oil is expected in the fourth quarter of 2014. The UK government’s Department of Energy and Climate Change approved Premier's plans for the Solan oil field in April 2012. Once brought online, Solan is expected to produce 40 million barrels of oil at an initial rate of 24,000 barrels per day.

New Arctic group formed

17 April 2013

The non-profit forum, Arctic Circle, will hold its first meeting in Reykjavik, Iceland's capital, in October. Such a gathering is needed, Iceland President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson said, because, while most countries have a stake in the melting of Arctic ice, only eight - Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland,Norway,Russia, Sweden and the United States - are members of the Arctic Council, an intergovernmental group set up in 1996. Some non-Arctic countries can observe the deliberations, but they have no formal voice on the Council about sustainable development and environmental protection in the region, reports Reuters. The group’s first meeting of the Arctic Circle will take place at the Harpa Reykjavík Concert and Conference Center from October 12-14, 2013. Also, China and Iceland signed a free trade agreement this week, offering financial support to the small North Atlantic country for its recession-battered economy and giving Beijing another foothold in its drive for influence in the Arctic.

Gazprom and Shell team up for Arctic search
8 April 2013

Russian energy giant Gazprom's oil arm and Royal Dutch Shell PLC are planning to jointly develop two sections of Russia's Arctic shelf in the Chukchi and Pechora Seas, Russian Natural Resources Minister Sergei Donskoi said. The agreement between Shell and Gazprom Neft is expected to be signed on April 8. The companies are preparing to sign an agreement that will cover joint offshore drilling in the Russian Arctic as well as shale oil projects onshore in Western Siberia. Mr Donskoi said the terms of the deal are likely to be the same as for other foreign firms that have partnered with state-controlled oil company Rosneft, including Exxon Mobil, Interfax news agency reported. Those deals see the foreign firms provide capital for initial exploration in exchange for one-third of eventual production. State oil giant Rosneft has struck a series of deals with the likes of ExxonMobil, Statoil and ENI for Arctic exploration and last month confirmed it was also now looking at projects with BP, its 20pc shareholder. The companies have yet to comment publicly on the proposal.

Russia and China edge towards gas agreement
2 April 2013

Russia's gas giant Gazprom expects to reach an agreement on the price of gas to be supplied to China via the eastern route in June, and sign a deal by the end of this year, Gazprom chairman Viktor Zubkov said in an interview.

"I think that some time in June, the final price [of gas to be supplied to China] will be determined, and by year-end, all the documents regarding the agreed supply volumes and the price will be signed," Zubkov said, reports Platts. At the end of March,
Gazprom and China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) signed a memorandum of understanding on Russian pipeline gas supplies via the eastern route from East Siberia.
Under the 30-year deal, supplies are expected to start in 2018 at a rate of 38 billion cubic meters/ year, with a possibility to increase volumes to up to 60 bcm/year, Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller said at the time, adding that there is a possibility of pre-payment for the gas supplies.

Ratings agency Fitch noted that the gas deal "will dramatically improve [Gazprom's] position in Asian gas markets, which is currently represented only by a 50% share in the 9.6 million mt/year Sakhalin-2 project."

Gazprom had previously expected to sign a final contract on supplies of 30 Bcm/year of pipeline gas over 30 years via the so-called western route, from West Siberia to western China, in mid-2011, but that project was repeatedly delayed as the parties failed to agree on a gas price, reports Platts. Earlier this year, Gazprom also approved a decision to build a three-train, 15 million mt/year LNG plant in the Russian Far East near Vladivostok, with the first train to be commissioned in 2018, and plans to supply LNG from there to Asian markets.

WWF question UN's approach to Arctic shihpping
28 March 2013
After a year’s delay, the United Nations body tasked with developing polar shipping regulations has recommended provisions to address the environmental impacts of Arctic shipping – but they don’t go far enough, says conservation organization WWF. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) met last week to shape the Polar Code, a legally binding set of rules for shipping in polar regions. Although the final Polar Code won’t be adopted this year, recommendations made now will strongly influence the environmental provisions of the final Code. “The provisions proposed on environmental protection issues are simply too weak”, says Lars Erik Mangset, Advisor for WWF-Norway. “Major risks, like acute pollution from heavy fuel oil, are not even addressed. And although the Polar Code is legally binding, many of the most pressing issues have been placed in the voluntary section of the code or deferred to later discussions, potentially outside the Code.” Rapid warming in the Arctic has led to the opening up of commercial sea routes in the region. While destination ship traffic in and out of the Arctic is expected the greatest traffic increase the next decades, transport over the Northern Sea Route (above Russia and Scandinavia) has seen substantial growth over the past few years and is in particular being targeted as a route for tanker and bulk traffic. Increased traffic in these waters, coupled with the fact that the Arctic is up to 95% unsurveyed and chart coverage is generally inadequate for coastal navigation, means that the risks of operating should be matched with suitable precautionary measures in order to protect the environment. For example, banning the use and carriage of heavy fuel oil in sensitive areas would reduce the environmental impacts of a spill significantly. “Arctic shipping will expand massively in the next few decades. The recommendations are disappointing, but they are not yet set in stone. Arctic countries have an opportunity now to advocate world-class environmental protection measures, which this region needs and deserves”, says Dr. Simon Walmsley, Marine Manager for WWF-International. Solid international and domestic legislation, respectively in the Antarctic and in Canada, sets a good precedent. Canada already in place close to zero-tolerance limit on oil and oily discharge and other waste streams from ships, and has advocated for similar provisions in the Polar Code. This is a positive precedence for other Arctic states to follow. WWF is calling on IMO member states to commit to meaningful environmental protection in the Polar Code, through a ban on heavy fuel oil in the Arctic, as well as heightened restrictions on operational discharges, carbon emissions and the spread of alien species in ballast water.

Shelll preparations for Alaska questioned by US government
18 March 2013
Royal Dutch/ Shell was not fully prepared when it launched its trouble-plagued Arctic offshore drilling program last year, and the oil company also fell short in overseeing key contractors in the effort, according to a newly released US. The report follows a 60-day review by the Interior Department that focused on problems the energy giant experienced with its drilling vessels and a spill containment vessel. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said the company will have to submit more comprehensive plans before it would be allowed to operate in the Arctic again.  Secretary Salazar, says: "We have said all along that exploration in the challenging and sensitive environment of the Arctic must be done cautiously and subject to the highest safety and environmental standards. This assessment took a close look at Shell and the problems they encountered offshore Alaska last year, and makes important recommendations that Shell should follow as it resumes its Arctic program." 

Kvaerner wins EPC contract for Hebron GBS project

12 March 2013

ExxonMobil Canada has the option for Kvaerner's joint venture company Kiewit-Kvaerner Contractors to provide the full scope of engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) services for the Hebron Project gravity based structure (GBS), offshore east Canada. The contract value for Kvaerner's share of the full EPC contract is approximately $1.5 billion and includes work conducted to date on the Hebron project. The work will be performed in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, with engineering in St. John's and construction at the Bull Arm fabrication yard. The completed GBS will be installed at the Hebron field on the Grand Banks in the Atlantic Ocean located 350 kilometers offshore from St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. First oil is anticipated by the end of 2017.

Repsol, Alliance starat gas production in central Russia
7 March 2013

TGS to run 3D seismic in Barents Sea

7 March 2013

Norwegian seismic company TGS is kicking off its the Europe 2013 acquisition season with two 3D multi-client surveys in the Norwegian Barents Sea; Finnmark Platform 2013 (FP13) covering 3,500 km2 and the Hoop to Fingerdjupet 2013 (HF13) covering 8,600 km2. Data from both surveys will be processed utilizing TGS' Clari-FiTM broadband processing technology. The HF13 survey will also tie-in TGS' successful Hoop 3D in the east. The FP 13 survey is scheduled to start this month and will be acquired by the Geo Barents towing 8 streamers. The HF13 survey is scheduled to commence in early Q2 2013 and will be acquired by the Oceanic Challenger with 12 streamers. Data processing for both surveys will be performed by TGS and initial data will be available to clients during Q3 2013. The surveys are supported by industry funding.

New Trans-Arctic shipping routes navigable by mid-century
6 March 2013

Recent historic observed lows in Arctic sea ice extent, together with climate model projections of additional ice reductions in the future, have fuelled speculations of potential new trans-Arctic shipping routes linking the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, according to the US-based National Academy of Sciences (NAS). However, numerical studies of how projected geophysical changes in sea ice will realistically impact ship navigation are lacking. To address this deficiency, NAS researchers have analysed seven climate model projections of sea ice properties, assuming two different climate change scenarios and two vessel classes, to assess future changes in peak season (normally September) Arctic shipping potential. By around 2050, changing sea ice conditions are expected to enable increased September navigability for common open-water ships crossing the Arctic along the Northern Sea Route over the Russian Federation, robust new routes for moderately ice-strengthened (Polar Class 6) ships over the North Pole, and new routes through the Northwest Passage for both vessel classes. Although manyother non-climatic factors also limit Arctic shipping potential, these findings have important economic, strategic, environmental, and governance implications for the region.

Canada invites Arctic drilling interest

5 March 2013

Canada invited oil and gas companies to nominate drilling lands in the country's Arctic archipelago for inclusion in a future property auction and said one small oil field that was discovered in the tax-dollar-fueled exploration rush that swept the region 40 years ago will also be up for grabs, reports Reuters. The government's nomination process asks oil companies to select blocks of land they would like to see posted for bidding in a future auction. The remote region, part of Canada's Nunavut territory, has been little explored since the 1970s, when high oil prices, protectionist energy policies and government grants encouraged oil companies to drill there. That exploration boom led to the discovery of 16 fields containing 300 million barrels of oil and 14 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, including the 12-million barrel Bent Horn field, reports Reuters. The field, on Cameron Island about 1,600 kilometers (1,000 miles) south of the North Pole, produced 2.8 million barrels of crude from 1985 to 1996 before it was abandoned by Petro-Canada, the former government-owned oil company acquired by Suncor Energy Inc in 2009. The government gave notice that Bent Horn would be included in the next drilling-rights auction. The call for nominations runs until April 24.

Darwin well spudded in Barents Sea
4 March 2013
Spanish oil company Repsol has spudded the Darwin well in the Barents Sea. (7218/11-1) (Faroe 12.5%). The Darwin prospect is located on the Veslemøy High in the frontier western part of the Barents Sea approximately 60 to 80 km to the south west of the recent significant Statoil Skrugard and Havis oil discoveries. Multiple targets have been identified on 3D seismic and this well will test the main Darwin prospect and contribute towards further de-risking of the large upside potential in the remainder of the licence area. The drilling operations are being operated by Repsol Exploration Norge AS (20%) utilising the Transocean Barents semi-submersible drilling rig. The other joint venture partners are Faroe Petroleum (Faroe 12.5%). Talisman Energy Norge (12.5%), Marathon Oil Norge (10%), RWE Dea Norge (15%), Det norske oljeselskap (10%) and Concedo (20%). 

ConocoPhillips hit by Alaska drilling challenge
1 March 2013

A US Army Corps of Engineers permit giving US oil major ConocoPhillips access to leases within the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska has been challenged in federal court by seven residents of Nuiqsut, the only village within the reserve, according to local reports. Through a lawsuit filed this week by non-profit environmental law firm Trustees for Alaska, the villages contend the Corps violated the Clean Water Act by not explaining why it reversed its original decision to deny ConocoPhillips' request for a bridge and above-ground pipeline access across the Colville River. The lawsuit also claims the agency did not consider new information about the effects of petroleum development. Nuiqsut residents in an announcement of the lawsuit said petroleum development on the Colville River Delta is harming their subsistence life of hunting and fishing.

Shell postpones offshore Alaska drilling in 2013
1 March 2013

Shell will not drill for oil offshore Alaska's Arctic this year following a series of high-profile setbacks in 2012. The company is now focused on repairing its two drillships ready and answers to U.S. federal investigators. The postponement of Shell's drilling in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas comes after the company said in February 2013 its two Arctic offshore rigs would head to Asia for repairs an upgrades. At the same time, ConocoPhillips reaffirmed that it will continue with its own plans to drill one or two exploration wells in the Chukchi Sea in 2014, and expected to submit more information on it to the federal regulator by the end of March. Shell has spent more than $4.5 billion searching for oil in Alaska's Arctic seas since it won licences to drill in 2005. Yet its season last year was delayed by problems with equipment, and 2012 then ended dramatically with the grounding of the Kulluk drillship in a storm, while it was towed south for the winter.

New figures for SE Barents Sea and Jan Mayen

28 February 2013

The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate’s (NPD’s) mapping of the southeastern Barents Sea and the area surrounding Jan Mayen will result in an approximate increase of 15 per cent in the estimates of undiscovered resources on the Norwegian shelf. This corresponds to about 390 million standard cubic metres (Sm3) of oil equivalents (o.e.). The figures were released as part of the government’s work to open these areas to oil and gas exploration. The mapped area in the south-eastern Barents Sea along the Russian border constitutes about 44000 square kilometres. The NPD’s calculations show that expected resources total approx. 300 million Sm3 o.e., with an uncertainty range of 55 – 565 million Sm3 o.e. This means that the most pessimistic estimates lie at the low end of the spectrum, but that the petroleum volumes present could be considerably greater. Most of the resources in this part of the Barents Sea are expected to be gas. About 15% are expected to be oil. In the resource analysis for the south-eastern Barents Sea, the NPD assessed the probability of discovering oil and gas in various geological areas. The Bjarmeland Platform furthest north and the Fedinsky High in the east are considered to be pure gas provinces, while the Nordkapp Basin, Tiddlybank Basin and Finnmark Platform are considered to be combined oil and gas provinces. On the Fedinsky High, there is a possibility of petroleum deposits that span across the border between Norway and Russia.

Wildcat Darwin well spudding this quarter

26 February 2013

A Barents Sea wild cat well is scheduled to be spudded in March by operator Repsol Exploration Norge. Well no 7218/11-1 (Faroe 12.5%) is located on the Veslemøy High in the frontier western part of the Barents Sea approximately 70 kilometres to the south west of Statoil’s recent Skrugard and Havis oil discoveries. This is a high impact wildcat well targeting a large closure at multiple levels and is expected to spud in Q1 2013. Junior oil company Faroe Petroleum has a 12.5% stake in the well.

LNG approval for Shell's Pacific Coast plant
25 February 2013

Final approval for a license to export LNG export license from a Royal Dutch Shell planned LNG export plant on British Columbia's Pacific coast, reports Reuters. The approval, which was expected, was given this week by Canadian Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver and allows exports of up to 670 million tonnes of LNG over the 25-year period covered by the license, or 3.23 billion cubic feet of gas per day. The license was given to LNG Canada Development Inc, a Shell-led consortium that includes Mitsubishi Corp, PetroChina and Korea Gas Corp. While a number of LNG plants have been proposed for the northern British Columbia coastline, the license is only the third given out by Canada, reports Reuters. Kitimat LNG, co-owned by Apache Corp and Chevron Corp was granted a license in 2011, while privately owned BC LNG Export Cooperative received one early last year.

Inocean offers new ice-class drillship design
20 February 2013

Inocean has developed an Arctic-ready drillship, based on the company's INO-80 concept. The new unit has been named IN-ICE, by the Norwegian/ Polish maritime design and engineering outfit. The ship is completely enclosed and winterized, is environmentally friendly, and has enhanced logistics/ storage facilities, says Inocean. The ice class is for a substantially extended drilling season for a large part of the Arctic – with a PC-4 ice class. “This gives us the opportunity to keep a conventional bow for operations in rough open water wave conditions, as well as to implement a moderate stern for aft-way operations in managed ice,” says Jørgen Jorde, Project Manager for Inocean. “We envisage the stern more optimized for avoiding ice into the moon pool than for ice breaking, but also because drilling operations in Arctic areas are expected to be conducted primarily in ‘managed ice’. “Positioning will be done through ‘thruster assisted turret mooring in the shallow parts of the operational area, and by DP in the deeper parts,” says Jorde. As there is a lack of experience with drilling operations in heavy ice conditions with a floating drilling unit, in addition to the limited qualified rescue- and oil collection concepts in ice, Inocean believes a heavy ice class (e.g. PC-1/2) will not come into use for some years yet. “We are very aware of the environmental challenges related to Arctic Operations and all the requirements that will apply for activities in this area. This aspect has been crucial for the development of our IN-ICE concept,” says Jorde.


Rosneft and Exxon ink closer ties
18 February 2013

Rosneft and ExxonMobil have agreed to expand their cooperation under their 2011 Strategic Cooperation Agreement to include approximately additional 600,000 square kilometers (150 million acres) of exploration acreage in the Russian Arctic, and potential participation by Rosneft in the Point Thomson project in Alaska. They have also agreed to conduct a joint study on a potential LNG project in the Russian Far East. The agreements, which include plans to explore seven new blocks in the Chukchi Sea, Laptev Sea and Kara Sea, were signed by Igor Sechin, president of Rosneft and Stephen Greenlee, president of ExxonMobil Exploration Company, in the presence of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The license blocks include Severo-Vrangelevsky-1, Severo-Vrangelevsky-2 and Yuzhno-Chukotsky blocks in Chukchi Sea, Ust’ Oleneksky, Ust’ Lensky and Anisinsko-Novosibirsky blocks in Laptev Sea and Severo-Karsky block in Kara Sea, which are among the most promising and least explored offshore areas globally. A separate Heads of Agreement was signed providing Rosneft (or its affiliate) with an opportunity to acquire a 25 percent interest in the Point Thomson Unit which covers the project of developing a remote natural gas and condensate field on Alaska’s North Slope. It is estimated that Point Thomson contains approximately 25 percent of the known gas resource base in Alaska’s North Slope.

Barents Sea blocks named in new Norway search blocks
15 February 2013

Norway’s Ministry of Petroleum and Energy has announce the APA (awards in pre-defined areas) 2013, with blocks in the North Sea, the Norwegian Sea and Barents Sea. The application deadline for is 12:00 a.m. hrs on Wednesday, 11 September 2013. The awards are planned to be made in early 2014. The predefined areas (APA boxes) have been extended with more blocks since APA 2012, with new areas are in the Norwegian Sea. Applications can be made for any blocks or parts of blocks within the predefined areas which are not already included in a licence at the closing date for application. This entails that acreage which is relinquished in the application period is regarded as announced at the time of governmental approved relinquishment. For more details, click here.

Dolphin Geophysical firms up and extents GC Rieber seismic vessel contracts
15 February 2013

Dolphin Geophysical of Norway has entered into two heads of agreements with GC Rieber Shipping, the Norwegian offshore support company, for two high-end 3D seismic vessels. The first vessel, Geo Atlantic, is an existing 3D seismic vessel built in 2002 which will be upgraded by the owner to a 14 streamer seismic vessel at a yard in Singapore. The vessel is expected to be delivered to Dolphin in late 2013. The agreement has a fixed contract term of three years and 6 months, with additional options for 2+2 years extensions. The second vessel, newbuild, is a top-end 22-streamer 3D seismic newbuild vessel with highest ice-class, to be constructed at Kleven yard in Norway and expected delivery to Dolphin in March 2015. The vessel is based on an upgraded version of the proven design used for Polar Duke and Polar Duchess. The agreement has a fixed contract term of five years, with additional options for 2x3 years extensions. As part of the two new charter agreements, Dolphin has extended the firm contract term for Polar Duchess with 2 years to give a total initial firm period of 5 years. At the same time, Dolphin says it intends to redeliver Artemis Arctic following the expiration of its fixed contract term.

Kleven wins ice-class seismic vessel build contract

15 February 2013

Norwegian shipbuilder Kleven has won a contract with GC Rieber Shipping for the building of an advanced ice-class seismic vessel. The vessel is actype ST 324 XT from Skipsteknisk, and will be delivered from Myklebust Verft yard in March 2015. The contract value is worth around NOK700 million (US$126m) and includes an option for a second vessel. The advanced seismic vessel will meet ice class ICE 1A*, providing a solid base for operations in Arctic areas, says Kleven. Irene Waage Basili, chief executive of GC Rieber Shipping says this is, “a unique competence in operations in harsh environments has always been GC Rieber Shipping’s trade mark. In order to offer our customers the best solutions for demanding operations in vulnerable waters, quality, safety and environment is on top of our agenda." Kleven has 15 vessels on order, at a total value of around NOK8.1 billion.

US to identify emerging research questions in the Artcic
14 February 2013

The Polar Research Board (part of US-based National Academy of Sciences) has named the people and companies whom will make up an committee hoping to answera key question – ‘Emerging research question in the Arctic’. The study will include a community workshop to be held in Alaska in late spring of 2013, and the Committee's report is expected to be released by spring 2014. The committee membership is: Co-Chair: Stephanie Pfirman, Barnard College; Co-Chair: Henry Huntington, Pew Charitable Trusts; Carin Ashjian, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution; Jennifer Francis, Rutgers University; Sven Haakanson, Alutiiq Museum and Archaeological Repository; Robert Hawley, Dartmouth College; David Hik, University of Alberta; Larry Hinzman, University of Alaska, Fairbanks; Amanda Lynch, Brown University; Michael Macrander, Shell Alaska; Gifford Miller, University of Colorado, Boulder; Kate Moran, NEPTUNE Canada; Ellen Mosley-Thompson, The Ohio State University; Samuel Mukasa, University of New Hampshire; Thomas Weingartner, University of Alaska, Fairbanks. More information about the committee members can be found here.

Buccaneer starts gas production at Kenai Loop, Alaska

13 February 2013

Buccaneer Energy has started production production from its 100% owned Kenai Loop # 4 well and is currently producing at an initial rate of 2.0 million cubic feet per day (mmcfd). The long term deliverable production rate from the Kenai Loop # 4 well is estimated to be 3 - 4 mmcfd, says the company. The gas production is in addition to the Company’s current production of 6.5 mmcfd from the Kenai Loop # 1 well. The majority of the current total production of 8.5 mmcfd (1,400 boepd) is being sold to the local gas utility Enstar. Buccaneer hope that permanent facilities will be completed by the end of April and once permanent production facilities are in place, it is anticipated that the Kenai Loop field’s total production rate may be increased to 10-11 mmcfd (1,666 – 1,833 boepd). This represents a near 100% increase over the average production rate achieved in 2012.

Shell to take damaged Alaska drillships to Asia for repair
12 February 2013

Royal Dutch Shell is to tow its two drill vessels from Alaska to Asian drydocks for significant repairs. The extra time needed for repairs may delay the energy super-group’s drilling plans for 2013. In addition, it may cause the Obama administration to rethink its Arctic exploration policy, which is currently a hot topic in Washington. “We have not made any final decision on 2013 drilling in Alaska,” said Curtis Smith, Shell’s spokesman in Alaska. “The outcomes of inspections and the scope of repairs needed in Asia will decide that.” Shell’s Kulluk drilling rig ran aground on an Alaskan island on New Year’s Eve and the drillship Noble Discoverer experienced propulsion problems pulling into Seward, Alaska last November. Inspections of the 29-year-old Kulluk conical drilling unit have revealed hull damage that warrants major repairs and further assessments, Shell said. The Discoverer is destined for a shipyard in Korea, and Shell is planning on sending the Kulluk to an undetermined Asian shipyard with a suitable dry dock, said spokesman Curtis Smith. Shell used the Kulluk and Discoverer to drill the first half of two wells in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas last summer, seven years after buying drilling leases in the region for $2.2 billion.

Barents Sea port concept chosen for Skrugard and Havis fields
12 February 2013

Statoil and its partners have chosen a development concept for the Skrugard field in the Barents Sea. The concept includes a floating production unit with a pipeline to shore and a terminal for oil from the Skrugard and Havis fields at Veidnes outside Honningsvåg in Finnmark, in the Barents Sea. The field is scheduled to come on stream in 2018, with Skrugard and Havis assets having a common infrastructure. Production from the two fields will be tied in to a semi-submersible floating installation through a subsea production system located in about 380 metres of water. The production is estimated at almost 200,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day. In 2011-2012 Statoil and its partners discovered Skrugard and Havis, which are two independent structures within the same licence and represent the Skrugard field development. 400-600 million barrels of recoverable oil have been proven in this area.

Top US energy senator Murkowski publishes 20/20 report
11 February 2013

Abundant, affordable, clean, diverse and secure energy is in the U.S. national interest. So finds a report on the future of the country's energy system published on Monday by Senator Lisa Murkowski, the highest-ranking Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, reports UPI. "Energy 20/20: A Vision for America's Energy Future" is a thoughtful attempt to discuss some of the energy choices and opportunities the United States will face by the end of the decade. Murkowski's report starts from the premise "energy is good" and the consumption of energy is and will remain the basis for rising living standards. It is positive towards the development of fossil fuels like oil, gas and coal -- natural for a Republican from the hydrocarbon-producing state of Alaska. Murkowski devotes only 31 pages out of 122 to fossil fuels. There are also intelligent sections dealing with renewables, nuclear, investment in gas and electricity transmission infrastructure, efficiency and links with water use as well as the need for regulatory reform (Click here for report.). Murkowski's recommendations included promptly approving the proposed Keystone XL crude oil pipeline project's cross-border permit, opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge's coastal plain for leasing, and reforming permitting processes for energy, natural resources, and infrastructure projects.

Tax and safety concerns for Arctic – Ernst & Young

7 February 2013

Interest in the Arctic is growing among the Big Oil operators, despite limited infrastructure, high royalties and taxes and safety concerns in the harsh environment that continue to challenge commercial success, according to an Ernst & Young report published this week. (Click here for report.)

Approximately 61 large oil and natural gas fields have been discovered so far within the Arctic Circle — 43 are in Russia, 11 in Canada, 6 in Alaska and 1 in Norway. Royal Dutch Shell, one of the first companies to attempt drilling in the U.S. Arctic, hasinvested $5 billion in the effort, but has faced regulatory, environmental and technical challenges.

Now changes n the oil industry may work against it, Ernst & Young said.

Shell started buying its US Arctic leases to drill in Alaska’s Beaufort and Chukchi seas in 2005, banking that the U.S. desire for energy security would trump environmental concerns. The shale oil and gas boomin North America, however, has made the perceived need for complicated Arctic explorationless pressing.

Shell frames Arctic work as a race for international resources. “The Arctic is really a global issue, not an Alaska issue,” said Marvin Odum, president of Shell North America, at a Shell technology conference in January. “There are a number of companies going into the Arctic. Russia, for example, has big plans to go in and explore and go after that very massive resource space.”

Argentina vows to prosecute Falklands oil explorers

7 February 2013

Argentina stepped up its row with Britain over the Falklands with its foreign minister thanking God for the decline of the British Empire and vowing to prosecute oil firms exploring off the remote South Atlantic islands, reports Reuters. In a defiant news conference, held in London on February 6 but conducted in Spanish, Hector Timerman called Britain the "greatest colonial empire from the 19th century ... that thank God has been defeated worldwide".

He insisted the islands' roughly 3,000 British inhabitants should not be referred to as Falklanders, but as "British inhabitants of the Malvinas islands", the name Argentina uses for the remote territory some 300 miles off its coast. Britain fought a 10-week war to eject Argentinian forces who invaded the islands in 1982. The Falklands are part of Britain's self-governing territories, and Buenos Aires has ramped up efforts to stake its claim to the territory as London-listed firms seek to tap oil and gas deposits around the islands.

A referendum on the Falklands' future is scheduled for March, a vote in which the islanders are almost certain to choose to remain British, and which Timerman likened to asking Israeli settlers whether they want to be Israeli or Palestinian. Argentina has tried to deter ships from travelling to the Falklands, banning Falklands-flagged ships and other vessels involved in trade with the islands from stopping at its ports, report Reuters. On Wednesday Timerman vowed to take legal action to stop energy firms from exploring for oil and gas around the islands, accusing them of stealing Argentine resources and not being capable of guarding against accidental oil spills.

"We will continue the legal action against the oil companies who are doing hydrocarbon-related exploration activities in the south Atlantic, because they are stealing part of the natural resources of Argentina," he said. Argentine hostility has not deterred companies and the islands are set to start producing their first oil in 2017. Rockhopper Exploration has formed a $1 billion partnership with Premier Oil to pump oil from its find north of the islands. Last month, another British firm, Borders and Southern Petroleum, said its gas condensate discovery in the Falkland Islands was also commercially viable.

Former Mobil Oil executive named US Interior Secretary

7 February 2013

US president Obama has nominated Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI) chief executive Sally Jewell to head the Interior Department. The choice of Jewell, who began her career as an engineer for Mobil Oil and worked as a commercial banker before heading a nearly $2 billion outdoors equipment company, represents an unconventional choice for a post usually reserved for career politicians from the West. Jewell replaces Ken Salazar in the post. The Department of the Interior oversees more than 500m acres (202m hectares) of national parks and other public lands. It is responsible for 1bn acres offshore, including Alaska.

Greenpeace activists sentenced in New Zealand
7 February 2013

Actress Lucy Lawless says her sentence for boarding a drilling ship while protesting against Shell's oil exploration plans is "a total victory". Lawless and seven other Greenpeace activists were sentenced on February 7, 2013 to community work and ordered to pay reparation after earlier pleading guilty to being unlawfully on a ship, reports the News Zealand Herald. The group were arrested last February after they boarded the Noble Discoverer at the Port of Taranaki and spent 77 hours up a 58-metre tower in protest against Shell's oil exploration operation in the Arctic. In New Plymouth District Court this morning, Judge Allan Roberts sentenced each of the activists to 120 hours of community work and ordered them to each pay $651.44 in reparation to the port. But the protesters avoided paying more than $600,000 in reparation to Shell Todd Oil, the joint venture between Shell and Todd Energy which contracted the ship. The reparation to Shell Todd Oil had been sought by police but was dismissed by Judge Roberts.

Greenpeace urges debate on purpose of Arctic Council's lack of spill response

4 February 201
As the Arctic Council’s environment ministers meeting this week in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden, influential environmental campaign group Greenpeace has questioned the group’s lack of commitment to a comprehensive oil spill clean up plan. “The agreement isn’t currently on the agenda, but we’re hoping to change that, says Greenpeace. The group has a been given a leaked draft document covering co-operation on marine oil pollution preparedness and response in the Arctic, and says: “With any luck, leaking this document will encourage sanity to prevail, and give the working group an opportunity to revise the document before it's adopted by foreign ministers in May. “We hope civil servants realise what a useless document it currently is. At the moment it only shows one thing: no nation or company is adequately prepared to deal with an oil spill in the far north. “So the question remains: will the Arctic Council do its job and actually protect this unique region from the likes of Shell and Gazprom? We’ll be watching very closely,” says the group.

Norway ruling party to back Arctic islands drilling

1 February 2013

Norway's ruling Labour Party is set to support oil exploration off a pristine northern archipelago, bringing to a head controversy over drilling in the Arctic in the run up to elections this year reports Reuters. The seas off the Lofoten islands, perched some 200 km (124 miles) north of the Arctic Circle, have unique cold water reefs and are the spawning grounds of the world's largest cod stock. The islands are also popular with tourists. But the seabed may hold some 1.3 billion barrels of oil equivalent, making it a prime area of interest for oil firms, such as Norway's Statoil, which has pushed for the areas to be open to drilling as oil production in the North Sea tapers off. Two years ago, and after months of dispute, Labour struck a deal with its small coalition partners to forbid oil exploration off the islands until the parliamentary term ends in 2013. "Given all the knowledge we have of the area, we believe it is a natural step to conduct an impact assessment study," Helga Pedersen, Labour's deputy leader, told Reuters. They will also lobby members of the Labour Party, which has to formally adopt the new policy at its party conference in April. "Drilling in Loften ... not only threatens precious natural resources, it also threatens several thousands jobs in the fishing and tourism industries," said Nina Jensen, head of the Norwegian branch of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). With Labour's new stance, Norway's top three parties all now support drilling around Lofoten but government support is not yet ensured.

China wins friends on Arctic Council
30 January 2013
Norway has said it is ready to accept China as an observer in the Arctic Council, following the recent Arctic Council meeting in Tromsø, Norway. After a political dispute over Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace prize in 2010, Norwegian foreign minister Espen Barth said the matter was not relevant to Arctic Circle issues. "We want people to join our club. That means they will not start another club". Sweden foreign minister Carl Bildt added: "The Arctic Council should be the arena for Arctic issues.”
 China had earlier won support from Iceland for it pitch to become an Arctic Council observer. The Arctic Council consists of the eight Arctic countries and six non-Arctic countries have so far been admitted as observers. Twelve countries and organizations are currently applying for observer status. These include China, Italy, Japan, Korea, Singapore, India and the EU.

Deep Panuke suffers small fire offshore Canada

30 January 2013

A small fire hit the Encana-operated Deep Panuke platform offshore east coast Canada in mid-January, said the regulatory body, the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board. Safety officers have visited the platform twice since January 19th, when a blaze broke out and was contained within an electrical cabinet in the emergency switchboard room (ESR) platform. The CNSOPB, along with the certifying authority Lloyd’s Register, have confirmed that necessary electrical repairs have been completed, and that the CO2 fire suppression system has been tested and put back in service. Natural gas from Deep Panuke will be processed offshore and transported, via subsea pipeline, to Goldboro, Nova Scotia for further transport to market via the Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline. First gas is expected from Deep Panuke in 2013.

Barents Sea oil exports fall
29 January 2013

Oil shipments from Nenets, Arkhangelsk and Murmansk regions in northwestern Russia to the European markets continue to drop for the second year in a row. While 14,8 million tons were exported by tankers through the Barents Sea in 2010, it dropped to 11,9 tons in 2011 and 11 million tons last year. The amount of oil is down, but the numbers of vessels grow by 10 percent to 301, nearly one tanker per day, shows the statistics provided to BarentsObserver by the Norwegian Coastal Administration’s Vessel Traffic Service in Vardø. The traffic center is located on Norway’s easternmost point to Russia and has a panorama view of all voyages along the coast. They have a special focus on risk transports, like oil, reports BarentsObserver. 2012 was the first year when oil tankers from Asia to Europe used the transit lane along Russia’s northern coast. Three vessels transported aircraft fuel from South Korea to Finland via the Northern Sea Route and a LNG tanker sailed the opposite route, from Hammerfest to Japan.

ConocoPhillips urges more Arctic opening
28 January 2013

ConocoPhillips, the US oil and gas group, has urged Norway to open up more of its Arctic waters for development just months before a vote in the parliament in Oslo on whether to push ahead with such a move. “There is certainly potential for greater Arctic activity in Norway,” said Steinar Vaage, president of ConocoPhillips Europe, reports the Financial Times at the Arctic Frontiers conference held in Tromso, Norway. “We would like to see Norway open more areas,” he said, adding the country had a number of important advantages over others, such as ice-free waters, access to the European natural-gas market and a highly skilled workforce. Mr Vaage, whose company has been active in oilfields in the Norwegian sector of the North Sea for many years, said ConocoPhillips intended to remain a significant player and wanted to expand into new areas, including the Barents Sea. “Currently about 40 per cent of Norway’s continental shelf is closed for exploration,” he told the Arctic Frontiers conference of scientific, business and policy figures, adding it was estimated those areas contained about two-thirds of the undiscovered resources remaining on the Norwegian continental shelf.

Top US safety official positive on Arctic exploration

23 January 2013

Tom Hunter, chairman of the US-governments Ocean Energy Safety Advisory Committee, says if Arctic exploration and drilling is done at a measured pace, learning and improving “it can be done in a balanced way and effectively” He said he is happy for oil companies to continue to explore and develop in the Arctic with a lot of oversight, regulatory and legislation coverage and a “lot of engagement with stakeholder , particularly in the local community. I am not uncomfortable if it proceeds in a very balanced way and with a significant amount of oversight by the regulatory organisations with the federal government, and a lot of engagement with the stakeholders in the local area there,” said Hunter. His comments were made during the Platts Energy Week conference and can be seen here. Hunter worked closely with BP during the 2010 Macondo oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Cairn plans offshore Greenland drilling to restart in 2014
23 January 2013

Cairn Energy is to postpone exploration offshore Greenland and focus its drilling efforts in 2013 in the North Sea, and off the Atlantic coast of Morocco. The Edinburgh-based oil exploration and production firm is to wait until summer 2014 before re-starting its drilling efforts in Greenland waters on the Pitu Baffin Bay block and elsewhere to the south of the island. Cairn works there in partnership with Norwegian energy company Statoil and Greenland’s national oil company Nunaoil. This year, Cairn should complete analysis of data from other exploration blocks off the west coast of Greenland, and will then seek exploration investment partners. Simon Thomson, the chief executive of Cairn Energy, said: "Our balance sheet strength means we are funded for all planned exploration and development, whilst retaining the flexibility to consider further opportunities”.

Nordic yards wins icebreaker contract

8 January 2013

Wismar, Germany-based shipyard Nordic Yards, has signed a contract to build two ice-breaking rescue and salvage vessels, sized 86 metres long and 19 metres wide. The contract is worth Euros 150 million ($196 m). The vessels have been ordered Russian Ministry of Transport and will support vessels transiting the Northern Sea Route in the Arctic particularly around Murmansk in north-western Russia and in Sakhalin Island in the far east of the country. The vessels will be used for patrols and rescue operations in offshore oil and gas fields. They can be used both for icebreaking operations in harbours and waters with an ice thickness of one metre as well as for fire-fighting and combating oil spills from the sea. Due to their specialised equipment, the vessels can study the ocean floor and damaged objects in water depths of up to 1,000 metres. Delivery is planned for spring 2015.

Shell prepares to tow refloated Kulluk

7 January 2013

A salvage and rescue team has refloated the Kulluk drilling rig that ran aground last week offshore Alaska island. Towing is expected today (January 7) during daylight hours, Alaska time. Ongoing aerial and onboard inspections by recovery and response teams assessing the Shell-owned Kulluk drillship through the weekend confirmed the vessel remains firmly aground and stable with no sign of environmental impact and no leakage of the diesel fuel or hydraulic fluid stored onboard the vessel.
The US Coast Guard and Shell hope the rig can be towed from its grounding site on the coast of tiny Sitkalidak Island to a sheltered bay nearby, so experts can make a better assessment of its sea worthiness.“Following this initial step forward, we will continue to remain cautious while we assess the Kulluk’s condition,” said Martin Padilla, incident commander for the Kulluk responders. “We will not move forward to the next phase until we are confident that we can safely transport the vessel."”Sean Churchfield, Shell's Alaska ventures manager, has said salvage teams found no signs of breaches to any of the Kulluk's fuel tanks and only one area where seawater leaked onboard. The tow plan has been approved by government regulators.
The rig had been en-route for winter maintenance near Seattle when it grounded on December 31.

Iceland awards offshore exploration permits

7 January 2013

Iceland has awarded two licences for oil and gas exploration and production in the waters off the north east coast of the Atlantic island. The licences have gone to Faroe Petroleum and Valiant Petroleum, with Norway taking a 25% stake in both through state-owned oil firm Petoro. Experts have predicted the Arctic could be the next major oil-producing region. Iceland is hoping it will be able to generate much-needed revenues from any discoveries of oil and gas. "This is of course an important step, [as] these are the first real licences that we believe will be used, and they call for extensive research in the area," said Steingrimur Sigfusson, Iceland's Minister of Industries and Innovation."The Norwegian participation is also important - we think that it strengthens the matter in every way, not least to have the support of Norway and its massive knowledge in this field."

Ice affects Bohai Bay production

7 January 2013

Temperatures in China have plunged to their lowest in almost three decades, cold enough to freeze coastal waters and trap 1,000 ships in ice, official media said at the weekend. Oil and gas production at the prolific northern Bohai Bay has also been hit, with up to 13 ice breakers being deployed to help free stuck vessels and maintain production. Since late November the country has shivered at an average of minus 3.8 degrees Celsius, 1.3 degrees colder than the previous average, and the chilliest in 28 years, state news agency Xinhua said, citing the China Meteorological Administration. Bitter cold has even frozen the sea in Laizhou Bay on the coast of Shandong province in the east, stranding nearly 1,000 ships, the China Daily newspaper reported.

DNV and GL to merge

21 December 2012

Norway-based DNV and Germany-based GL classification societies have agreed to merge and will be known as the DNV GL Group. It will be one of the world’s leading ship classification societies and risk experts in the oil and gas, renewable energy and power sectors, and among the global top three within management system certification.

“The merger rests on a strong strategic rationale, and responds to challenges of increased globalisation, rapid technological change and the need for sustainable development. Our customers will benefit from an increased service offering and global competence base as well as one of the densest networks,” says DNV’s Group CEO, Henrik O. Madsen, who will be the CEO of the combined new company. “The merger with DNV supports our long-term goal of being recognized as one of the most respected technical assurance and advisory companies in the world," adds GL Group CEO, Erik van der Noordaa.

Canadian tug gets Ecospeed coating

26 November 2012

The 31-meter tug boat Ocean Raymond Lemay has been coated with Ecospeed on the Isle-aux-Coudres in Quebec, Canada. The vessel is owned by Ocean Group,which supplies harbour towing services in a number of ice-affected ports including Quebec, Montreal, Toronto. Ecopseed is a specially developed coating designed to handle very cold and abrasive conditions. Ocean Raymond Lemay is both an Ice Class and a Firefighting Class vessel, The ship is also used to open up the frozen passageways in ports during the winter season. Ecospeed is developed and marketed by Antwerp, Belgium-based Hydrex.

Polar Foundation meets in Brussels ..
26 November 2012

A high level meeting of scientists, indigenous group, explorers, policy makers, diplomats and politicians, business representatives raised a number of Arctic issues at the heart of Europe in Brussels, led by Arctic explorer and founder of The Polar Foundation, Alain Hubert led a two day summit, A topical issue raised at The Arctic Futures 2012 meeting was how the European Union could work with the Arctic Council, the eight-country group of Arctic nations. "The time has come to work together, constructively and with determination on the future of the Arctic," said Maria Damanaki, the European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, who argued for more cooperation between the EU and Arctic states. Speaking at Arctic Futures, Damanaki said: The EU itself is "an Arctic actor by virtue of three Arctic states, Denmark, Finland and Sweden," she said - "four, if Iceland accedes to the EU." Keynote speaker Caroline Broun, economic officer for environment, science and technology at the US mission to the EU, gave the US view of Arctic co-operation: "The thing people have to remember is that, in the US, we do not have any national legislation on climate issues. We also work closely in the US with the private sector. "We are very different from the EU which, on issues such as emissions trading, has a 'top-down' approach. wever, all this is not to say that significant efforts have not been made. They have and they paid off. In the US we just work on more diverse levels than in Europe." German glaciologist Reinhard Drews was presented with the prestige €150,000 InBev-Baillet Latour Antarctica Fellowship for his proposal to investigate how melting ice shelves could contribute to increased ice flow, during a gala reception at the summit. A full report of the meeting will be published in Issue 3 of Frontier Energy, to be published in November.

... as European Union seeks seat at Arctic table
26 November 2012

The European Parliament's industry committee has thrown out attempts to introduce a moratorium on offshore oil and gas drilling in the Arctic, overruling a contrary vote by its environment committee cast in September. This week's key vote in the industry committee instead proposed a new directive to ensure that companies have "adequate financial security" to cover the liabilities that could be incurred by any accidents. Drilling companies would also have to submit to national authorities a safety hazard and emergency response report at least 24 weeks before starting operations. The EU is seeking a role in the Arctic because three EU countries have territory in the Arctic - Denmark, Finland and Sweden - while Iceland is an EU candidate. Last week, speaking at the Arctic Futures Symposium Gunnar Wiegand, a director at the EU's External Affairs Action S, said that he hoped EU legislation could inspire Arctic nations to firmer environmental legislation. "The acquis [accumulated legislation] in the Arctic Council doesn't go as far as any of the environmental legislation of the EU," he said. Elsewhere, Norway's deputy oil and energy minister, Per Rune Henriksen, said that for the EU to claim jurisdiction over the Arctic by banning drills there "would almost be like us commenting on a camel operations in the Sahara."

Iceland awards exploration permits
7 January 2013
Faroes Petroleum working offshore Iceland

Iceland has awarded two licences for oil and gas exploration and production in the waters off the north east coast of the Atlantic island. The licences have gone to Faroe Petroleum and Valiant Petroleum, with Norway taking a 25% stake in both through state-owned oil firm Petoro. Experts have predicted the Arctic could be the next major oil-producing region. Iceland is hoping it will be able to generate much-needed revenues from any discoveries of oil and gas. "This is of course an important step, [as] these are the first real licences that we believe will be used, and they call for extensive research in the area," said Steingrimur Sigfusson, Iceland's Minister of Industries and Innovation."The Norwegian participation is also important - we think that it strengthens the matter in every way, not least to have the support of Norway and its massive knowledge in this field."

Sovcomflot launches ice-breaker Vitus Bering

2 January 2013

Russian shipping group Sovcomflot has launched the Vitus Bering, the first ship in a new series of multi-functional icebreaking supply vessels ordered from Arctech Helsinki Shipyard Oy (a joint venture of United Shipbuilding Corporation and STX Finland). The Vitus Bering series was ordered following an agreement signed in December 2010 following Sovcomflot winning a tender with Exxon Neftegas Limited (operator of the Sakhalin-I project). Sovcomflot will provide two new supply vessels on a long-term charter to the company-operator of the project for the year-round servicing of the Arkutun-Dagi platform. The construction of the Vitus Bering series is a joint project involving both Russian and Finnish shipbuilders. Around 90% (by weight) of the structural components for the vessels were produced in Russia at Vyborg Shipyard (part of ÎÀÎ OSK). Final hardware installation will be carried out by OAO OSK in Saint-Petersburg and will include navigation systems from Russian manufacturer Transas, as well as a Glonass satellite navigation system. Both vessels will be registered in Russia, will sail under the flag of the Russian Federation and will be manned by Russian crews. Future plans include the continued construction of a series of multifunctional icebreaking supply vessels at OAO OSK enterprises for work on the Sakhalin-II project (operated by Sakhalin Energy).
 According to maritime tradition, the lead ship in the series was given the name of a distinguished figure – Russian explorer of the Far Eastern seas, the Danish-born Captain-Commodore Vitus Bering.

Main particulars
Deadweight: 3,950 tonnes

Maximum length: 99.2m

Beam size: 21.7m

Maximum depth: 7.9m

Crew members: 22

ABB wins $35 million order for Russian icebreaker
26 November 2012

ABB, the power and automation technology group, has won a $35 million order from the Baltic Shipyard Ltd. to supply powerful propulsion and energy efficient electrical systems for a new icebreaker vessel under construction for Russia's state shipping company Rosmorport FSUE. 
The 25 megawatt (MW) line diesel-electric icebreaker is the next-generation multifunctional diesel-electric icebreaker. The navigation area of the icebreaker is the Northern Sea Route, the Arctic seas and estuaries of rivers discharging into the Arctic Ocean. The icebreaker is able to proceed continuously both ahead and astern at the speed of 2 knots in compact ice field up to 2m thick with 20 cm of snow cover and temperatures as low as minus 35 degrees Celsius. Delivery is due to start in 2013 and the vessel will be delivered to Rosmorport in 2015.
ABB will provide integrated power generation and distribution systems, thruster motors, fire-fighting pump motors as well as 25 MW propulsion systems. The propulsion system of the vessel features two Azipod® thruster units (power output 2 x 7,5 MW) and one centerline arranged shafting with a fixed pitch propeller generating additional 10MW output. All Azipod propulsion units for this project are specifically designed for extreme Arctic ice class RMRS Icebreaker-8.

Second Alaska NPRA sale planned for November
26 November 2012

US interior secretary Ken Salazar has launched a lease sale scheduled for November 7 in Anchorage to make available some 400 tracts covering 4.5 million acres in the NRPA for oil and gas leasing. This follows a December 2011 sale involving 283 tracts and about 3 million acres. In August, Salazar announced a long-term management plan for NPRA that Alaska Senator Mark Begich and the rest of the Alaska delegation objected to because of its restrictions on acreage available for development and options for a pipeline corridor. Alaska-based senator Mark Begich welcomed the decision to hold a second NPRA lease sale. At the same time, Begich continues to push the Obama administration to revise its proposed management plan for the NPRA to ensure development of new oil and gas projects and a pipeline to carry oil from Alaska's Arctic offshore to the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. However, a group of senators have voices their concern about the sale, wrtign a letter to interior secretary Ken Salazar, urging him not to schedule new Arctic Ocean lease sales until a plan is in place that prioritizes protection of the Arctic's fragile and abundant marine ecosystem. The letters were signed by several senior politicians including Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Senators Richard Durbin (D-IL), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), addresses the 2012-2017 Outer Continental Shelf drilling programme. The senators ask Secretary Salazar to ensure that exploration and drilling would not harm either the Arctic ecosystem or opportunities for subsistence by the people of Alaska's Arctic coast by deferring any additional Arctic Ocean lease sales from the five-year schedule.

© Renaissance Media Ltd , All Rights Reserved

About Us

Contact Us





Terms & Conditions

Privacy, Cookies & Anti-Spam Policy