Ship safety centre opens in Vancouver

A shipping safety centre has been established in Vancouver, Canada, to promote research into the highest standards for safe and responsible maritime transportation.
The Clear Seas Centre for Responsible Marine Shipping has received contributions of more than USD3 million each from the Canadian

Venezuela Recalls Ambassador Over Offshore Dispute

By Reuters 2015-07-07 16:53:58

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said this week he was recalling the country’s ambassador in neighboring Guyana for consultations amid an escalating row over oil exploration in a disputed offshore territory.

The OPEC nation in June demanded that Guyana halt exploration being carried out by Exxon Mobil Corp off the coast of the region known as the Essequibo, weeks after Exxon said it had found oil.

“It takes a lot of patience to process, digest and not vomit when one reads and hears the statements against Venezuela … by the current president (of Guyana),” Maduro said in a speech to parliament dedicated to the issue. He also ordered the foreign ministry to conduct a full review of bilateral relations.

He ruled out the possibility of armed conflict, but described recently elected Guyanese President David Granger as a “hostage of Exxon Mobil.”

Exxon, consulted about the issue in the past, has said its policy is to follow host countries’ and international law, and that border conflicts are a matter for governments to resolve.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday offered to help resolve the dispute.

The Essequibo, a sparsely populated region of thick jungle, encompasses an area equivalent to around two-thirds of Guyanese territory. It functions in practice as part of Guyana and shows no discernible trace of Venezuelan influence, according to visitors to the area.

Guyana says Caracas agreed to relinquish the Essequibo following a ruling by an international tribunal in 1899, but that Venezuela later backtracked on that decision.

Venezuela says the 1899 ruling was unfair and insists the territory is still in dispute. Maps in Venezuela usually describe the Essequibo as the “reclamation zone.”


Damaged Icebreaker is Shell’s Latest Arctic Setback

By MarEx 2015-07-07 16:37:55

Royal Dutch Shell’s plan to drill in the Arctic hit another snag when the Finnish icebreaker M/V Fennika was forced to return to port after an underwater gash was found in its hull. The breech is three feet long and nearly half inch wide. The company is being advised if the repair can be done onsite or whether it will require drydocking

The setback is significant as the vessel was transporting the essential capping stack, which is used to contain an oil flow in the event of an accident. Oil experts say that if both primary and secondary blowout prevention equipment fails during drilling, the capping stack is the last line of defense against an oil spill. This vital piece of equipment is required to be onsite at Shell’s drilling activities in the Arctic.

The gash was discovered shortly after it left Dutch Harbor, Alaska last Friday, but the cause is still unknown. A Shell spokesman stated that damage to the vessel will most likely not interfere with its drilling plans, provided the repairs are minor. But, if the vessel’s repairs are extensive, it may require the oil company to obtain new drilling authorizations from the U.S. government.

The M/V Fennica is one of 29 vessels and one of two icebreakers that will operate in the Chukchi Sea during the summer months. The icebreakers are there to prevent floating ice from complicating drilling operations on the Noble Discoverer.

Shell’s Arctic drilling program has faced a number of setbacks including lawsuits and widespread environmentalist demonstrations. Over past two months, activists have staged frequent protests, which included efforts to prevent drilling equipment from arriving in Alaska.

In the most recent roadblock, the U.S. has forbidden Shell from drilling more than one well at a time due to a 15 mile buffer zone required between rigs. Shell is waiting for one final permit in order to begin drilling in the Arctic this month.