Impact Study Delivered for Nicaraguan Canal

By Reuters 2015-06-01 18:16:03

A long-awaited study on the impact of the proposed $50 billion Nicaraguan waterway by a British consultancy has been delivered, a canal official said on Monday, the first major milestone since a symbolic groundbreaking six months ago.

The social and environmental impact study by the consultancy, Environmental Resources Management Ltd, will be discussed by an inter-institutional commission in June, before being voted on by the canal commission in July, Telemaco Talavera, spokesman of the government canal commission, said.

The 172-mile (278 km), Chinese-backed project, which the Nicaraguan government says will be operational by 2020, is one of the world’s most ambitious infrastructure schemes, but has been met with widespread incredulity.

Hong Kong-based HK Nicaragua Canal Development Investment Co Ltd (HKND Group), which is controlled by Wang Jing, a Chinese telecom mogul well connected to China’s political elite, owns the concession to build and operate the canal.

“In summary, ERM says that the project offers potential benefits for the environment and the people of Nicaragua,” Talavera told state media, without giving more details.

ERM spokesman Manuel Roman said on state media that the company was not for or against the project, adding that the study had highlighted the potential challenges of the scheme for the government and HKND to decide how to proceed.

After a chiefly symbolic groundbreaking ceremony in Managua last year, from which members of the international media were barred, Wang Jing said the environmental study would be finished by the first quarter of 2015, with excavation work beginning by the end of September.

Nicaraguan presidential spokesman Paul Oquist said in December that feasibility studies, including a McKinsey report that experts say will define interest in financing the canal, would also be ready by April.

In January, the U.S. embassy in Managua said it was concerned by a lack of information surrounding the canal, calling for all relevant documents pertaining to the project to be made public.

If completed, the canal could give China a major foothold in Central America, a region long dominated by the United States, which completed the Panama Canal a century ago.

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Stranded Tanker Arrives in Port

By Kathryn Stone 2015-06-01 12:44:22

The disabled Afromax tanker Lady M finally arrived at the Port of Las Palmas Sunday after being stranded two weeks following an onboard fire.

The 115,418 DWT fuel tanker, owned and operated by Atlas Maritime, was carrying around 90,000 tons of fuel when a May 14 fire struck the vessel, disabling its engines. The incident occurred about 500 nautical miles off the Azores Islands.

Following the fire, the Lady M was denied entry into port until inspectors could determine the condition of the vessel and that it matched descriptions from the owner. According to European Union law, petroleum tankers are forbidden from docking in foreign ports without receiving prior permission. While ascertaining the exact situation onboard, the Coast Guard ordered the vessel to stay at a location about 60 miles off the Coast of Gran Canaria.

Greenpeace Spain expressed concern over this action last Friday citing that the Lady M was carrying 13,000 tons of oil more than the Prestige vessel, which in 2002 resulted in the largest oil spill for both Spain and Portugal. The organization urged Spanish authorities to permit the vessel entry in a nearby port to avoid any potential spill of the ‘dangerous cargo’.

Four tugs assisted in bring the vessel into the Port of Las Palmas Sunday and the port authority has reported that the hull is in very good condition and not at risk of spilling oil. On Monday the Lady M was subsequently transported to the Reina Sofia dock for repairs, which are expected to take between 10 and 15 days.

The vessel was traveling from the Perisan Gulf to Texas when the fire was reported and is set to resume course once repairs are completed.

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Chevron Moves Big Foot Platform After Damage

By MarEx 2015-06-01 20:24:19

Chevron Corporation has advised that the Big Foot tension-leg platform (TLP) will be moved to sheltered waters from its location in the deepwater U.S. Gulf of Mexico following damage to subsea installation tendons.

The tendons were pre-installed in preparation for connection to the Big Foot TLP. Between Friday, May 29 and Sunday, May 31, 2015, several tendons lost buoyancy.

The Big Foot TLP was not connected to any subsea wells or tendons at the time of the incident and was not damaged. There are no producing wells at Big Foot at this time. There were no injuries and there has been no release of any fluids to the environment.

Damage to the tendons, which are not connected to subsea wells and are used to attach the TLP to the seafloor, is being assessed.

The $5 billion platform has a production capacity of 75,000 barrels of oil and 25 million cubic feet of natural gas per day, with living quarters for as many as 200 crewmen.

First production will not commence in late 2015 as planned, said Chevron in a statement.

The Big Foot field was discovered in 2006 and has an estimated total recoverable resources limit of over 200 million barrels of oil equivalent which Chevron plans to extract over the course of 35 years. The water depth at the field is around 5,200 feet (1,500m).

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Chinese Passenger Ship Sinks, Hundreds Missing

By MarEx 2015-06-01 19:58:49

A passenger ship carrying 458 people, many elderly tourists, sank in China’s Yangtze River on Monday night during a storm and only 12 people had been rescued so far, state media said.

Premier Li Keqiang was heading to the scene of the accident in central Hubei province, the official Xinhua news agency said.

Xinhua, citing the Yangtze River navigation administration, said those rescued from the Eastern Star included the ship’s captain and engineer, who said the vessel sank rapidly after being caught in what it said was a cyclone.

Among those on board the ship were 406 tourists, aged from around 50 to 80, on a tour organised by a Shanghai tour group, and 47 crew members, the People’s Daily said on its microblog.

The newspaper said the boat had the capacity to carry more than 500 people.

The vessel was heading to southwest China’s Chongqing city from Nanjing, capital of east China’s Jiangsu Province. It sank at around 9:28 p.m. local time in the Jianli section of the river.

The Yangtze River navigation administration could not be reached for comment.

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