ConocoPhillips Gets “Please Explain” Letter

By MarEx 2015-08-20 17:27:55

The Petroleum Safety Authority of Norway has completed its investigation into two incidents which occurred on the Eldfisk complex on August 6-8, 2014, and written a “please explain” letter to ConocoPhillips.

The highest emergency shutdown level (yellow ESD – abandon platform) was initiated on the Eldfisk complex and Embla on the morning of August 6. This caused total loss of power and all systems shut down on the Eldfisk A, Eldfisk FTP and Embla installations, while Eldfisk E lost main power.

The ESD was unplanned. Its direct cause was the technical failure of an electronic component combined with a design error.

When restarting production after the ESD, a blowdown valve remained in the open position. It should have been reset to the closed position as part of the start-up procedure. That caused produced oil to flow into the flare system, on into the drain system and from there to the sea.

At dawn on August 7, oil was observed on the sea. Production was not shut down until 13.30 on August 7, since the size of the oil slick was increasing. The oil spill is estimated to have been in the order of 50-70 cubic meters.

The PSA’s investigation of the incident has identified several breaches of the regulations of a technical and operational character. Some of the technical nonconformities relate to Eldfisk FTP’s condition at the time of the incident.

Eleven non-conformities were identified by the investigation. These relate to:

• risk management during start-up of production after the emergency shutdown

(yellow ESD)

• off-duty periods

• safety clearance when restarting production

• procedures

• robustness against single errors and faults in safety systems

• verification of design requirements for the safety systems before start-up and


• lack of independence between control and shutdown functions for level measurement

• barrier management, risk assessments and analyses in connection with modifications

• updating of documentation in connection with modifications

• consequence classification of systems and equipment

• maintenance program for the drain system.

Two improvement points were also identified:

• performance requirements for emergency response

• training and drills.

The facility has subsequently been shut down and now functions primarily as a bridge support.

The PSA has written and asked the operator ConocoPhillips to describe how it intends to deal with the nonconformities. ConocoPhillips has until September 15 to respond.

The full investigation report is available here.


Greek PM Resigns

By MarEx 2015-08-20 16:50:03

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has resigned and along with his government to seek a clear mandate for early elections on September 20.

In a televised speech, he told the nation that he felt he needed to allow the nation to vote on the financial bailout compromise with the EU.

“The present parliament cannot offer a government of majority or a national unity government,” Tsipras told Pavlopoulos during a meeting on Thursday night.

Government sources cited by the official news agency ANA said he had proposed elections on September 20. The resignation comes after a divide within the governing left-wing party over the terms of the country’s latest bailout.

In recent parliamentary votes, a number of Syriza’s 149 lawmakers have withheld their support for laws pushed by Mr. Tsipras’s government to secure a new bailout from Europe.

In an Aug. 14 vote to approve Greece’s latest loan package, worth €86 billion over three years, 32 Syriza deputies voted no while another 11 abstained. The package passed, thanks to support from opposition parties.

Energy Minister Panos Skourletis said Thursday that the government should go for elections as early as possible. “The political landscape must clear up. We need to know whether the government has or does not have a majority.”


Crazed Mariner Detained

By MarEx 2015-08-20 15:05:42

Portuguese Navy officials arrested a crewman aboard the Liberian-flagged M/V Celine after receiving reports that the mariner brandished an axe and threatened to set fire to the wood pulp the vessel was transporting to North Africa’s Ceuta port.

The Special Forces unit received distress signals from the 4,757 dwt cargo ship about 50 nautical miles west of Setubal. Officials are not sure what angered the mariner but he had a falling out with his crewmembers early in the voyage. The crewmembers took refuge in the ship’s bridge while awaiting rescue.

The Celine was built in 2011 and is owned by Turkey’s Vento Deniz Isletmeleri. The ship owner has decided not to press charges and the mariner is being repatriated to Turkey.


U.S. Navy Models Piracy

By MarEx 2015-08-20 14:52:04

Maritime piracy has experienced a resurgence recently, and the U.S. Navy has developed a method of identifying pirate ships before they strike. The Navy Research Laboratory’s (NRL) new model combines weather and wave analysis with maritime piracy behavior profiles of a specific region to predict when commercial vessels are most at risk.

The profiles are based on the type of vessels typically used by regional pirates, their attack speed and the speed in which they return to their hideouts. Pirates primarily use small, fast watercrafts that are highly vulnerable to high winds and rough seas. The system also analyzes wind and wave data to determine the conditions in which vessels are most susceptible to attack.

The pirate model predicts the track of pirate attacks as a function of time under the impact of environmental constraints. The NRL states pirates typically attack in areas with higher shipping density and when seas are relatively calm. Wind is also a deterrent in the frequency of attacks. Pirates generally attack ships when they are vulnerable and the weather conditions are favorable.

The U.S. Navy states piracy costs the U.S. maritime industry about $16 billion annually. The NRL report models could be particularly vital in slowing Southeast Asian piracy. Piracy in the region is reaching all-time highs as oil demand and the thriving black markets fuel attacks.

In July, Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP) said incidents of piracy and armed robbery had risen 18 percent in the first half of 2015 when compared to the same time period in 2014.

Click here to read the NRL’s full report.


Tianjin Operations Too Close for Comfort

By MarEx 2015-08-20 14:43:34

One week after the explosions that killed more than 114 people, Port Tianjin is resuming operations. But shippers do not appear to be willing to restart operations at the port. Automakers Toyota, Volkswagen and BMW are diverting shipments to Dalian and Shanghai ports. About forty percent of China’s auto imports enter through Tianjin.

The explosion exposed safety issues regarding hazardous chemical storage and shipments at the port, which are near residential areas. The warehouse at the center of the explosions was too close to schools, highways and a hospital. There were also two other chemical storage facilities in the area that are too close to the protected areas.

China’s national safety regulations forbid establishing large warehouses storing hazardous chemicals within a kilometer of public and residential buildings as well as transportation lines.

Government officials are unsure how Riuhai Logistics Co Ltd, which transports and stores chemicals at the port, got its operations license within the one-kilometer of the protected zone. There is speculation that Riuahi may have bribed officials to obtain the licenses.

Riuhai’s executives have been arrested for falsifying permits. Investigations reveal the company handled hazardous chemicals from October 2014 to June 2015 without proper licenses.

Tianjin’s Port Group has denied ties to Riuhai beyond the port. But, reports indicate that the Port Group is one of the organizations that approved Riuhai warehouse facilities. The Port Group typically decides what companies operate in the port.

The Tianjin Municipal Transport Commission has issued notices that the port cease handling commercial vessels transporting hazardous substances.