High VLGC rates unlikely to persist

While freight rates to haul LPG on very large gas carriers (VLGCs) continue to exceed USD100 per tonne, this situation is untenable.
IHS Energy’s Waterborne Commodity Intelligence, which tracks seaborne LPG movements, said in a recent report that congestion in Indian ports, especially Haldia, has

Chinese yards’ new orders down 78.1%

Chinese shipyard new orders slumped 78.1% year on year (y/y) to 6.63 million dwt from January to April, the China National Association of Shipbuilding Industry (CANSI) said.
The orderbook of the Chinese shipbuilders fell 6.8% y/y to 139.96 million dwt at the end of April, or 6.3% down from 31

Explosion Tool Could Help Disaster Investigations

By MarEx 2015-05-21 22:01:58

Disaster investigators and emergency personnel may find themselves better able to assess and respond to terrorist attacks and industrial accidents with the aid of a new computational tool that determines the energy from explosions near the Earth’s surface.

Computing the energy yield of an explosion just below, at, or above the ground poses difficult challenges, while deep-underground blasts are more readily evaluated. The new capability could help investigators figure out what types of explosives were used in such near-surface detonations and how much damage was done to structures, said Michael Pasyanos of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, California, leader of the team that came up with the technique. It could also help emergency planners anticipate which areas are likely to be most affected if an explosion were to occur, he added.

Starting from seismic signals produced by explosions, the new tool can estimate the energy released by military ordnance, mining events, industrial accidents, plane crashes, terrorist attacks and other close-to-the-Earth explosions.

Pasyanos and his colleague Sean Ford calibrated the new tool using a series of controlled surface explosions at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico in 2012.

As a first test of the new approach, the developers analyzed a deadly explosion which reportedly killed dozens of regime soldiers in the Syrian civil war in May 2014. Syrian rebels claimed to have detonated 60 tons of explosives in a tunnel under a military base in northwest Syria, which sent debris hundreds of feet into the air and destroyed the western entrance of the base. Pasyanos and his colleagues used data from seismic stations in Turkey that recorded the explosion, along with information about the geology of the area and news reports, to estimate the yield of the event.

Explosions near or on the surface release energy in many different forms including heat, noise and seismic waves. The seismic and acoustic signals produced can provide some information about magnitude, but they only represent a fraction of the total energy released in a blast.

The new method uses the relationships between these various forms of energy and the signals from the blast to calculate the total energy output. It also takes into account how the energy and the signals produced vary if the same amount of explosive is detonated at different depths relative to the surface or even slightly above it. For instance, an explosion hundreds of feet underground will generate different forms of energy and different signals than an explosion on the surface.

Having established these relationships using known explosions, scientists can process a seismic signal with the new method to calculate the total energy of an unfamiliar explosion.

The new research builds on a technique Pasyanos and his colleagues developed for determining the energy released by underground explosions like nuclear tests. The researchers modified this technique to take into account how proximity to the Earth’s surface affects the different types of energy and signals produced by an explosion.

“It essentially makes this method applicable to a totally new class of events than what we had traditionally been looking at,” Pasyanos said.

As in the case of the Syrian blast, the new tool can be used over large distances, Pasyanos explained, allowing scientists to calculate yields of explosions that occur hundreds or thousands of kilometers away from a seismic station. “We think that this could be applicable to a large class of problems,” he said.

Keith Koper, an associate professor of geology and geophysics at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, said the new study shows the tool works well but needs additional testing. If the new technique passes additional tests, it could be a very important tool for investigators, law enforcement officials and others who need to understand the energy released by different near-surface explosions, said Koper, who was not involved with the new study. Seismometers around the world are continuously capturing signals from these types of events, he noted.

“I think it is something that really could be used in the future when there’s different kinds of accidents or whether there’s a terrorist attack or whatever it is that causes a big boom,” Koper said. “I think this could be one of the tools that is going to be really valuable for people who are doing a forensic investigation of whatever incident it is.”


Quantifying Arctic Shipping Risks

By Wendy Laursen 2015-05-21 18:38:02

A study published by a Danish researcher has put a number on the risks faced by shipping in Greenland’s waters. The estimated probability that a ship, crew or cargo will be exposed to a dangerous situation is 3.533 percent and the estimated probability for a critical situation such as a capsize is 2.232 percent.

The models developed show the correlation between different hazards a ship, crew and cargo could be exposed. The likelihood of each hazard has been evaluated on its own and in different scenarios with other hazards with the aim of providing greater insight into how dangerous situations develop.

“It is my hope that the model can be a tool in predicting and preventing incidents that can be a threat to the environment and anyone working in the maritime industry,” says the researcher Pernille Gemynthe of the Technical University of Denmark. “The model can be used when establishing the standards for the Polar Code, as the model gives an insight from a sailors’ perspective. The insurance industry can hopefully use it to initiate the necessary changes to the ships, in order to increase their safety.”

Gemynthe believes the analysis has relevance to Arctic shipping and also shipping globally. She has drawn from her own experience to some extent. “I am a former navigator who has upgraded my education in order to also gain perspectives from shipbuilders and legislators. I have tried to combine both worlds in order to get the best overall estimates for the model. I believe that many previous attempts at making legislation, regulations and different standards have often been made by people that only have the point of view from one of those worlds, typically not the one from the ships. By combining both I believe that it gives a better understanding of how the real world is.”

The combined analysis is achieved by analysing quantitative and qualitative data. A risk analysis was undertaken which described the different situations in-depth, explaining the individual situations and the links between them in order to get an overview of the possibility for the numerous combinations that could occur. The qualitative data was gathered from interviews carried out with current and former sailors who have experience sailing in the waters of Greenland.

Some of the risks included in the model analysis are:

Risk Likelihood (percent)

Damage to hull 5.199

Collision with ice 6.184

Collision with ship 0.602

Traffic 20.652

Bad weather 10.634

Grounding 2.519

Beset in ice 6.669

Breakdown 4.365

Sinking or capsizing 1.761

Bad seamanship 3.374

Inadequate route plan 2.406

The study is available here.


New Wind Technology Doesn’t Need Turbines

By Wendy Laursen 2015-05-21 18:21:36

Vortex Bladeless, a Spanish start-up, has proposed a new way of harnessing energy from wind that doesn’t require turbines.

The new system generates electricity using the swaying of masts, which move magnets placed in a joint near the masts’ base. Vortices of air are formed along the structure, and this energy is used to generate electricity.

The system consists of a fixed mast, a power generator a semi-rigid fiberglass cylinder. The power generator is made using magnetic couplings, so no friction is generated and lubrication is not required.

The company claims that this means the costs of a Vortex system is much lower than traditional wind turbines – about half the construction cost and about 20 percent of the maintenance costs.

The lack of blades also means the system is quieter than traditional systems and less likely to kill birds.

The company has two models in development, a +1MW model for utilities and a domestic 4kW model. Funding, so far, has come from a Repsol Foundation Grant, a loan from the Spanish Government and venture capitalists in Spain (Spanish Angels). In February of this year, Vortex Bladeless relocated to Boston. Here their development team is working with Harvard University.

The company says that the expected growth for wind energy is anticipated to be up to 600GW by 2020, with a substantial increase in offshore installations. A crowdfunding campaign will be launched on June 1.

People commenting on the system on social media have had mixed reactions to the technology. “It just doesn’t intercept enough area of wind or create large enough movements for a cost-efficient generator,” said one person.

“Looks like it could be adapted to ocean wave use as well,” says another.