Bellingham Activists Down From Anchor Chain

By MarEx 2015-06-12 18:02:46

Two activists protesting plans by Royal Dutch Shell to resume drilling for oil in the Arctic dangled for several hours on Friday from the anchor of one of the company’s vessels in Washington state before coming down voluntarily, the Coast Guard said.

The women used camping gear and hammocks to attach themselves to the massive chain on the barge in Bellingham, Washington, north of Seattle, the activist group ShellNo said.

They dangled from the vessel, the American Trader, for about five hours after climbing on the anchor chain in the early morning, the Coast Guard said.

Both are students at Western Washington University, KIRO-TV reported.

The women reportedly came down of their own accord.

The U.S. Coast Guard assisted the protesters who were taken to Coast Guard Station Bellingham where local Police officers placed them under arrest.

“Coast Guard personnel have an excellent working relationship with our partner law enforcement agencies, and together we are committed to the safety of life at sea,” said Lt. Cmdr. Justin Noggle, chief of enforcement at Sector Puget Sound. “We will continue to enforce those laws and regulations necessary to ensure the safety of the maritime public.”

The Coast Guard has established a 100-yard safety zone around Arctic drilling and support vessels while moored or anchored, and a 500-yard safety zone while those vessels are transiting. Safety zone violations can result in a maximum civil penalty of $40,000 for each entry into the zone or day the individuals violated the zone.

Last month, activists chained themselves to a different Shell vessel in Bellingham, the Arctic Challenger. That vessel, an oil spill containment barge, pulled out of the port this week and was the first of the Arctic drilling fleet headed to Alaska, a Shell spokeswoman said on Thursday.

Protesters around Washington have staged ongoing demonstrations over Shell’s intention to resume drilling for fossil fuel in the Arctic, one of the most environmentally sensitive regions in the world, saying a spill would be destructive to the ecosystem and extremely hard to clean up.

Shell maintains that it has a robust safety and cleanup plan should a spill occur. Shell representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The oil giant, which is still awaiting several federal permits before it can return to the Beaufort and Chukchi seas off Alaska, has said it was continuing to prepare a drilling rig docked in Seattle for the trip north this summer.

The rig has been an epicenter of protests both on land and water, with demonstrators attempting to block workers from reaching the rig. Last month, hundreds of people in small boats and kayaks surrounded the rig in the Port of Seattle.

ShellNo and other groups have vowed to form a flotilla to try to stop the rig from leaving Seattle’s Elliott Bay in coming weeks.

Anchor Chain Picture Source: Facebook

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LA, NZ and Guangzhou Establish Ports Alliance

By MarEx 2015-06-12 20:59:16

The Port of Los Angeles has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Ports of Auckland, New Zealand, and Guangzhou, China, at a Tripartite Ports Summit sponsored by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and the City of Los Angeles.

The document establishes the Tripartite Ports Alliance, which represents a new level of cooperation between the three port authorities that had initially committed to working more closely together in November 2014.

Los Angeles, Guangzhou and Auckland are sister cities and strategic trading partners that share similar economic goals. The newly formed alliance provides a platform for growing trilateral cooperation to foster trade, innovation and investment opportunities between the public and private sectors of the three regions.

Objectives within the memorandum of understanding include sharing of best practices and expertise; strengthened communication and collaboration on investments, technologies and environmental policies and working together to enhance capabilities of each port in order to boost their respective regional economies.

“We commend Mayor Garcetti’s leadership and foresight in helping to form this alliance during his trade mission to Asia last year,” said Ambassador Vilma Martinez, Los Angeles Harbor Commission President. “The Port of Los Angeles looks forward to collaborating with the ports of Auckland and Guangzhou on a series of initiatives, including promoting commercial and business opportunities as well as sharing innovative best practices.”

Held in Los Angeles, the two-day Tripartite Summit focused on business-to-business matchmaking for key sectors, including transportation, infrastructure development and design, retail and consumer products, biomedical technology, among other sectors. Mayor Chen Jianhua of Guangzhou and Mayor Len Brown of Auckland have brought leading high-level government and business delegations to the event. The summit is the first of three to be held under the Alliance.

The Port of Los Angeles has a strong commitment to developing innovative strategic and sustainable operations that benefit Southern California’s economy and quality of life. As North America’s leading seaport in terms by container volume and cargo value, the Port of Los Angeles facilitated $290 billion in trade during 2014. Port operations and commerce facilitate more than 148,000 jobs (about one in 12) in the City of Los Angeles and 531,000 jobs (or one in 16) in the five-county Southern California region. The San Pedro Bay Ports support more than one million California jobs and 3.1 million nationwide.

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Owner Sees Disappearance of Second Tanker

By Kathryn Stone 2015-06-12 17:22:50

The sister ship of a product tanker hijacked by pirates less than two weeks ago has been reported missing off the coast of Malaysia.

The 7,301 dwt Orkim Harmony fell out of communication around 9:00pm June 11 as it passed approximately 17 nautical miles southwest of Pulau Aur, Malaysia. All subsequent attempts to contact the tanker proved unsuccessful. Both the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency and the Indonesian Navy have deployed patrol boats to search for the tanker.

The Orkim Harmony was reportedly carrying 6,000 metric tons of petrol when it disappeared and was comprised crew members from Indonesia, Malaysia and Myanmar.

This is the second incident involving product tankers owned by Orkim Ship Management in under two weeks. On June 4 armed pirates hijacked the Orkim Victory within a couple miles of the Harmony’s last known location, stealing over 770 metric tons of Automotive Diesel Oil (ADO).

It is not known whether the Orkim Harmony has fallen victim to pirates, however the area around Singapore and the Straits of Malacca are a known hotspot for pirate activity. In particular, ‘very significant’ incidents including fuel syphoning have been on the rise in Southeast Asia throughout 2015. This year has already seen more severe incidents of piracy than all of 2011-2014 combined for the same period.

Anti-piracy watchdog ReCAAP stressed Friday that “ship masters and crew are advised to exercise enhanced vigilance when transiting the area.”

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Royal Caribbean Halts Korean Calls Following Outbreak

By MarEx 2015-06-12 15:53:16

Royal Caribbean has stopped calls to South Korean ports following the outbreak of a severe respiratory infection in the Asian country.

The cruise line announced that four of its vessels will cancel stops until South Korea can contain a Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) outbreak that has killed 13 and infected 126. Mariner of the Seas, Voyager of the Seas, Quantum of the Seas and SkySea Golden Era were all diverted away from South Korea this week. Passengers onboard the affected ships will be offered either an extra day at sea or a stop at an alternative port.

South Korean ports have also launched quarantine procedures for ships arriving from the Middle East and elsewhere.

MERS is a respiratory condition whose symptoms include coughing and shortness of breath. In extreme cases it can prove fatal by causing respiratory and organ failure. The South Korea outbreak is the largest outside Saudi Arabia, where the disease was first discovered in 2012. Reports of the infection have caused thousands of school closures and has stirred fears in Asia of a repeat of a 2002-2003 scare when Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) killed about 800 people worldwide.

The outbreak is not thought to be airborne, but is instead spread by close contact. The CDC said that it does not recommend anyone changing their travel plans because of MERS.

Royal Carribean has stated that it is continuing to monitor the situation in South Korea. It is also taken preventative measures to screen passengers that are sailing near the affected areas.

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Huge Offshore Potential Reported in Alaskan Arctic

By MarEx 2015-06-12 14:40:46

Alaskan crude oil production has been slashed down to nearly a quarter of what it was two decades ago. However, the state’s Arctic offshore regions potentially hold tremendous stores of recoverable crude oil on par with or exceeding other major U.S. regions, according to a new U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) report.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management estimates that the Chukchi Sea, off the northwest coast of Alaska, contains 2 to 40 billion barrels of unproved technically recoverable crude oil resources. Additionally, the area is estimated to hold between 10 to 210 trillion cubic feet of unproved technically recoverable natural gas resources.

Technically recoverable resources include oil and natural gas that can be produced based on current technology, industry practice, and geologic knowledge. More than half of Alaska’s unproved technically recoverable crude oil resources are in the North Slope Offshore. However, other areas such as the Central North Slope have historically been the most exploited.

The 23.8 billion barrels of potential, recoverable crude oil in the North Slope Offshore is also on par with or exceeds unproved technically recoverable crude oil resources in other oil-rich regions in North America. The Bakken formation in North Dakota comes is estimated at 22.8 billion barrels, and the Eagle Ford formation in Southern Texas is believed to have around half the resources of the North Slope Offshore at 10.3 billion barrels.

Royal Dutch Shell has begun to exploit the potential of the North Slope Offshore by obtaining drilling leases in the Chukchi and Beafort Seas. Just today Shell sent the Arctic Challenger to Dutch Harbor in preparation of exploratory drilling beginning July.The EIA estimates that Shell’s efforts may help to offset future declines in crude oil production from other state and federally managed resources in the region.

Current Alaska oil and natural gas activity is concentrated in three main regions: North Slope Offshore, Central North Slope, and South Alaska.

  • The North Slope Offshore encompasses the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas. Except for the Northstar field, which spans both federal and state waters in the Beaufort Sea, most of the production, including the Nikaitchuq field and other smaller producing fields, is located in state waters in the Beaufort Sea.
  • The Central North Slope includes the Alpine, Kuparuk River, Milne Point, Prudhoe Bay, and West Sak fields, as well as the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A) and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). According to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), there are 212 oil and natural gas leases in the NPR-A but no producing units. Oil and natural gas exploration and production are not allowed in the ANWR.
  • In South Alaska, ongoing oil and natural gas activity is located in the Cook Inlet area

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China Conducts Maritime Drills amid Territorial Disputes

By Reuters 2015-06-12 09:13:41

China’s sole aircraft carrier conducted exercises on Friday, the navy said without specifying its location, amid escalating disputes over maritime territory with some of China’s Asian neighbors.

The Liaoning conducted drills and tests in the “relevant sea” along with carrier-based fighter jets after setting sail from the coastal city of Qingdao, the navy said.

China wants to develop an ocean-going “blue water” navy capable of defending the growing interests of the world’s second largest economy as it adopts a more assertive stance in territorial disputes with neighbors in the South China and East China seas.

China had worked to boost its pilots’ skills with fighter jets, including the Shenyang J-15, in recent years, the statement added, saying the navy had tested the power, war-readiness and technological capabilities of its aircraft.

The Liaoning, a Soviet-era ship bought from Ukraine in 1998 and refitted in China, has long been a symbol of China’s naval build-up.

Successfully operating the 60,000-ton Liaoning is the first step in what state media and some military experts believe will be the deployment of domestically built carriers by 2020.

China claims most of the South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. The Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam have overlapping claims. China also disputes sovereignty of islands in the East China Sea with Japan.

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