Huge Offshore Potential Reported in Alaska’s 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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Cause of FPSO Explosion that Killed 9 Revealed

By Kathryn Stone 2015-06-12 11:53:28

Petrobras has completed its investigation of a FPSO explosion earlier this year that claimed the lives of nine people.

The explosion occurred following a natural gas leak aboard the Cidade de São Mateus February 11 while the ship was anchored in the Camarupim oil field in the Espirito Santo Basin about 75 kilometers (46.5 miles) northeast of Vitoria, Brasil.

Nine people died in the accident and 26 others were injured. The event was the most serious oil and gas incident to happen in Brazil in the past 14 years.

The report announced today reveals that the deadly incident was caused by series of technical failures and poor decision making. Specifically, it cited a failure to follow proper fluid pumping procedures as well as the installation of an incompatible piece of equipment as the main causes of the explosion. Workers were also sent to the pump house after the alarm was triggered without prior procedural training.

The Petrobras report is intended to improve industry safety standards and avoid incidents of the same nature in the future. The completed analysis was submitted to several governmental agencies that have collaborated with Petrobras over the course of the investigation, including the National Oil, Natural Gas and Biofuels Agency (ANP), the Federal Police and the Civil Police. BW Offshore, the operator of the Ciudade de São Mateus has begun sharing the report with others in the energy industry.

Petrobras has gone on to deny any prior knowledge of the failings laid out in today’s report.

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Chinese 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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