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.

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Kvaerner wins industry funding for Arctic subsea R&D project

12 June 2014

A Kvaerner-led R&D project to develop subsea separation and storage facilities in Arctic and harsh environment areas has won funding from the Research & Development Corporation of Newfoundland and Labrador (RDC) and Statoil Canada. The aim is to develop a concrete system to secure subsea oil separation and storage in waters where weather and ice conditions make traditional surface storage facilities unsuitable.

"We are very pleased that our R&D proposal was selected by RDC and Statoil,” says Bjørn Gundersen, executive vice president of Kvaerner's Concrete Solutions business area. “It shows the continued relevance of concrete as a building material for the oil and gas industry, and is an opportunity to research the application of concrete in subsea developments. Concrete is particularly attractive now that the industry moves further north in harsh, ice infested and inhospitable environments".

The work will be carried out by Kvaerner's organization in St. John's, Newfoundland, supported by Kvaerner's subject matter experts in Oslo, Norway. The project is due to complete in Q1 2015.


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: http://www.adn.com/2014/05/23/3483394/interior-releases-timeline-for.html#storylink=cpy


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

 

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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 http://www.fednav.com/en


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. www.pnas.org


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 Shttp://cdn.sansir.net/SiteFiles/Public/23/Temp/51bdf931-c0f7-45f8-9f26-7f8619dbaa01.jpgervice, 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.


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