Petrovietnam Acquires Chevron’s Offshore Assets

By MarEx 2015-06-19 00:31:31

Vietnam Oil and Gas Group (Petrovietnam) has acquired 100 percent of the shares in Chevron’s companies operating assets in Vietnam’s offshore shelf.

The companies include Chevron Vietnam (Block B), holding a 42.38 percent operating interest in the production sharing contract (PSC) covering Blocks B and 48/95, Chevron Vietnam (Block 52), holding a 43.40 percent operating interest in the PSC covering Block 52/97 and Chevron Southwest Vietnam Pipeline Company, holding a 28.7 percent working interest in a pipeline project that would deliver natural gas from offshore to gas users in Vietnam.

Since 1996, exploration in Blocks B, 48/95 and 52/97 offshore Vietnam has been intensive and wide ranging within the area covered by the PSCs. The contract area covers 3,200 square kilometers of the Malay – Tho Chu basin, southwest of Vietnam, with water depths ranging from 60 to 80m.

As a result, important gas discoveries were made that were declared commercial in 2002 with agreement on a joint development agreement reached in 2007. Estimates reviewed and approved by Vietnamese authorities include initially in-place gross gas at 6.008 tcf (170 bcm), 4 mcm condensates (25.5 mstb) and recoverable gas reserves (2P categories) at 3.78 tcf (107 bcm), 2 mcm condensates (12.65 mstb).

These gas reserves will increase when additional exploration is conducted in the remaining contract area. Petrovietnam thanked Chevron for its efforts in discovering and proving this large gas resource.

The Block B – O Mon project is designed to transport gas from Block B and 48/95 and Block 52/97 in waters southwest of Vietnam to the O Mon, Kien Giang power plant hub and to supplement gas supply to the Ca Mau gas fertilizer hub. Total investment for field development and construction of the gas – power project utilizing gas from Block B & 48/95 and Block 52/97 is estimated to exceed $10 billion and respond to the need to increase capacity beyond 4000 MW. The series of projects will strongly contribute to the development of the western region of the South.

Nguyen Xuan Son, Chairman of the Members’ Council of Petrovietnam, stated: “The Block B gas project is Petrovietnam’s main oil and gas project. The project is of major significance, contributing to ensuring the energy security of the country and promoting the socio-economic development of the region.

“The construction and operation of the series of projects to exploit, transport, and process gas and the construction and operation of power plants will stimulate the socio-economic development of the western provinces of the Southern region, contribute to the protection of the environment by using clean fuel, stabilize national power resources, and create an opportunity to linkup with the gas transportation networks of countries in the region,” he said.

“Petrovietnam’s completion of the acquisition of Chevron’s assets in Vietnam will facilitate the acceleration of field development and the implementation of the component projects in order to make gas more quickly available to serve the development needs of the national economy.”

Joint venture partners and the government of Vietnam have approved the acquisition which will become effective from 17 June 2015.

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Unsung Heroes of World War II Storm Capitol Hill

By MarEx 2015-06-18 16:35:37

A delegation of World War II Merchant Marine veterans is “storming the Hill”, visiting with members of Congress in the Capitol as they seek to raise awareness and gain greater recognition of their important service as part of the “the fourth arm of our defense”.

Now in their 80s and 90s, the men might not move as quickly or have the strength they did more than 70 years ago during their wartime service, but they remain just as patriotic and are fiercely determined in advocating on behalf of the surviving Merchant Marine veterans.

Military and political leaders including Eisenhower, Churchill, and MacArthur praised their service and credited the Merchant Marine for their important role in the Allied victory.

They risked their lives, facing attacks by U-boats and enemy planes and traveling through mined waters. As many as 9000 mariners were killed – and thousands more maimed and injured – during the war. In fact, the casualty rate among the Merchant Marine was higher than for any branch of our armed forces in World War II.

However, despite their dedicated wartime service to our nation, Merchant Marine veterans were not eligible for the benefits others received under the G.I. bill. This means they never received the college tuition subsidies, the home loan guarantees or other provisions of the G.I. Bill that helped millions of veterans transition seamlessly into civilian life and lifted many of their families into the middle class.

Merchant Mariners were even excluded from Veterans Day and Memorial Day events.

Only in 1988, following a class-action lawsuit, were they recognized as veterans, entitling them to care at VA hospitals.

On Tuesday morning, the group met with Congresswoman Janice Hahn (CA-44), who has introduced the Honoring Our WWII Merchant Mariners Act of 2015 (H.R. 563) and has been a leading advocate for them in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Congresswoman Hahn said, “I am honored to advocate on behalf of these great Americans. The World War II Merchant Mariners are true heroes, and after meeting this group and hearing their compelling stories, I am even more determined to pass legislation that would provide them with recognition and honor they have long been denied as well as compensation for their wartime service and vital role in our military victory.”

The men shared stories of how they and their colleagues transported vital supplies and equipment to troops overseas, of their ships being sunk by torpedoes and their fellow Mariners who never made it home. They also talked about the indignity and injustice they experienced over the many years after their service, not being credited for their work and the risks they endured and not being recognized as veterans, unlike those whom they served alongside and supported.

Clint Quirk, 91, from Arizona, said, “Like many, I couldn’t pass the physical, but I wanted to help with the war effort.” He dropped out of college and joined the Merchant Marine. At one point, he wound up manning the gun on his ship and serving as the shooter, despite not being enlisted in the military or having combat training.

Charles Mills, from Texas, who will celebrate his 95th birthday while in Washington, DC, explained that the Navy assigned 16 gunners per ship, not enough to man all the guns, so commanders assigned mariners to those duties. “Merchant Mariners became part of the gun crew and therefore combat veterans but didn’t receive combat pay or benefits.”

Eugene Barner, 89, from Kansas, recalled being anchored at Okinawa preparing invasion forces when the atomic bomb was dropped on Japan and later sailing into Tokyo harbor and going ashore seeing the devastation. (His mother was like Rosie the Riveter, working in a Kansas plant where B-25 bombers were produced.) He is proud of his service and the role he and other Merchant Mariners played during the war and hopes H.R. 563 will pass into law. “Recognition would be very important,” he explained. “We were denied veteran status for forty years.”

Charles Mills agrees, adding, “Merchant Mariners were promised to be part of the G.I. bill. I expected to be able to rely on the G.I. bill to go to college. But we weren’t included.” Decades after this disappointment, he explains that by supporting H.R. 563, “We are trying to get benefits we feel entitled to from the government in lieu of what we lost. And we also welcome the respect this would bring us.”

He notes that unlike the U.S., our allies including Great Britain, France and Canada compensated maritime veterans or gave them pensions.

Gabriel Frank, 87, from New York grew up in group homes after his mother died when he was 6. While in high school, he shined shoes and worked in factories. Virtually penniless, hungry and without a home, he got permission to join the Merchant Marine when he was 16 and served a total of twenty three years including during both World War II and the Korean War. He thanked Congresswoman Hahn for introducing legislation to honor WWII Merchant Mariners, telling her “You have a lot of compassion.” He added, “Our shipmates never came home. H.R. 563 will rectify the injustice that has faced the Merchant Marine.”

Morris Harvey, a Florida resident who serves as president of the American Merchant Marine Veterans, said, “Many of our members are living on very low incomes. They have outlived their savings and now live off of Social Security. H.R. 563 would go a long way in helping these men and their families. It would provide a one-time payment of $25,000 to the qualified surviving WWII Merchant Marine Veterans, an estimated five thousand veterans. And it would provide recognition long denied the Merchant Marine Veterans who served proudly and patriotically.” He added, “The cost of this legislation shouldn’t even be an issue as it would have cost much, much more – billions of dollars – if the Merchant Marine Veterans had received benefits after the war equal to other veterans.”

In addition to meeting with Congresswoman Hahn and other Representatives and Congressional staff, the group attended an event on Capitol Hill held by a veterans organization and a Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation subcommittee hearing and were introduced and acknowledged warmly at both events.

A film crew accompanied the group during their Capitol Hill visit for a forthcoming documentary called The Sea is My Brother. (The trailer for that film can be viewed at https://vimeo.com/117332721 )

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London P&I Club Calls for Improved Onboard Awareness

By MarEx 2015-06-18 16:10:20

The London P&I Club has called for greater familiarization by ships’ officers and crews with the testing requirements relating to Voyage Data Recorders after two recent claims incidents investigated by the club’s loss prevention team revealed VDR malfunctions.

In both claims, when the VDR data had been retrieved and analyzed, it was apparent that certain required sensors were not feeding data to the VDR unit at the material time. This led to delay in the analysis of the incidents, and to loss of important claims handling information.

The club notes that masters and operators should already be aware of the requirements for the annual testing of VDR equipment prescribed under SOLAS 5 Regulation 18, which stipulates that VDR systems, including all sensors, should be subjected to an annual performance test. Such tests should be conducted by an approved testing or servicing facility to verify the accuracy, duration and recoverability of recorded data. In addition, tests and inspections should be conducted to determine the serviceability of all protective enclosures and devices fitted to aid location, and a compliance certificate retained on board.

Ian Barr, claims director with the club’s management team, says, “Analysis of a small selection of VDR operators’ manuals by the club has shown that, in general, VDR units have a means of ascertaining that they are receiving data from the required sensors. It seems that the provision of LED lights in combination is a popular method of communicating such information to the operator, along with the provision of individual error codes.

“Ships’ officers who are responsible for such equipment should ensure that they are fully conversant with the error codes / indications in the appropriate VDR operating manual. Consideration should also be given to the routine assessment of such indicators and / or test sequences as deemed appropriate.”

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Mega Offshore Wind Farm Inaugurated in Wales

By Kathryn Stone 2015-06-18 12:26:19

The world’s second largest offshore wind farm was officially inaugurated in Wales today.

The £2 billion ($3.2 billion) Gwynt y Môr wind farm, located eight miles off of Liverpool Bay, consists of 160 wind turbines made by Germany’s Siemens AG. It will produce enough electricity for around 400,000 residential households annually, making it the world’s second largest offshore wind energy producer.

The project has been in development since 2003, while construction has been underway since 2012. In total, the wind farm stretches over an 80 square kilometer (31 square mile) area. Each turbine rises 150 meters (492 feet) above sea level and has a steel foundation weighing in at 700 tons. The turbines were installed by installation vessels in waters up to 28 meters (92 feet) deep. Additionally, contractors installed two massive offshore stations and around 134 kilometers (83 miles) of onshore cable.

Carwyn Jones, First Minister of Wales said: “Gwynt y Môr is a huge achievement and will continue to bring a number of benefits to the North Wales region. Local companies have been among those to benefit during construction and the site will bring high quality employment and opportunities for years to come.”

The Gwynt y Môr project provided a significant boost to the Welsh economy during the construction phase, with over £90million in business opportunities allocated to Welsh firms. Additionally, the wind farm will create and support 100 skilled engineering jobs in the Wales area.

Today’s celebrations were held at Gwynt y Môr Operations & Maintenance base, which was newly constructed at the Port of Mostyn.

The wind farm is a joint investment between RWE (60%), Stadtwerke Munchen (30%) and Siemens (10%). The new wind project has made RWE to the third largest player in the European Offshore Market. RWE AG’s Chief Executive Officer, Peter Terium said, “the expansion of renewable energy is one of our main growth areas. We currently expect to invest over £1 billion ($1.6 billion) up to 2017 in growing renewables, with wind power at the forefront of that investment.”

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