MODEC sees asset integrity as solution

Facing short-term headwinds from the drop in oil prices and intense competition, Japanese floating production systems lessor MODEC said it will develop asset integrity to overcome the challenges.
The company, which has clinched seven FPSO projects since 2010, is banking on its experience in

China Agrees Port, Rail Projects in Russia

By Reuters 2015-05-11 00:05:40

A China Railway Construction Corp Ltd (CRCC) unit has signed a memorandum of understanding to build rail and port projects in Russia, the firm said in a stock exchange statement on Monday.

The agreement was one of a series signed between China and Russia on the sidelines of a visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to Moscow to mark the anniversary of the end of World War Two in Europe.

China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) said it had agreed with Russian firm Tuva Energy Industrial Corporation LLC (TEIC) to consult on and help source funds from Chinese institutions for projects including a 410 km (255 miles) track across the central southern part of Russia from Elegest to Kuragin.

The other projects comprise a railway line connecting the Tuvan Republic, in the same area of Russia, to western China, and a port project in eastern Russia.

CECC said the firms would sign a contract for general contracting once the projects obtained financing. It did not say what the deals were worth.

Last week, Russian Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov said the countries would invest one trillion roubles ($19.7 billion) in a rail link between Moscow and the Russian city of Kazan to be completed by 2020. Putin said the level of Chinese investment would be around 300 billion roubles.


Belize Reconsiders Offshore Drilling Ban

By Wendy Laursen 2015-05-10 19:09:50

The Central American nation of Belize has drafted far reaching regulations that could see almost all of its territorial waters made available for oil and gas exploration. The move has angered some concerned about the potential threat to the world’s second largest coral reef and the world heritage listed Great Blue Hole.

The regulations would allow drilling near the Great Blue Hole, a 124 meter deep sinkhole which is visible from space. The UNESCO protected site was listed as one of the top 10 dive locations in the world by Jacques Cousteau.

Fierce debate about offshore oil and gas production erupted in the country in 2010 after the Deepwater Horizon spill, and in 2013, the Belize Supreme Court banned offshore drilling due to safety and environmental concerns. The judge involved was concerned by a lack of experience amongst some of the local companies interested in the industry.

Tourism accounts for half of Belize’s economy, and environmental groups are concerned about the adverse impact of oil spills. However a government report released earlier this year indicated that drilling rigs could boost marine life by acting as artificial reefs.

Environmental group Oceana has been vocal in the country for a number of years and was instrumental in the 2013 moratorium. In 2012 their “people’s referendum” found that around 95 percent of the 30,000 people who voted (about 10 percent of the nation’s population) were against offshore exploration and drilling.

The government’s new draft petroleum exploration guidelines are yet to be refined,and are expected to form part of a national policy that will be presented to the Belize Cabinet.

According to local media, Princess Petroleum is the only country that currently has an oil exploration concession in Belize. It includes large areas of onshore and offshore Belize, but Princess has not commenced drilling onshore and has abandoned drilling offshore. The company’s concession expires in October.


MOAS Rescues 100 Migrants a Day

By MarEx 2015-05-10 17:39:40

Search and rescue charity Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) assisted in the rescue of almost 700 people since its vessel Phoenix set sail on May 2.

MOAS has partnered with Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) which provides support to the MOAS mission and post-rescue medical care. The two NGOs combine to create the only private search and rescue service in the Mediterranean.

It is feared that 2015 will be the deadliest year yet for those risking the Mediterranean crossing. So far this year an estimated 1,750 have drowned compared to 96 deaths during the same period last year.

Since May 2nd, MOAS rescued three boats containing people fleeing from Africa and the Middle East and was asked to carry out the disembarkation of a fourth group of people rescued by another vessel.

MOAS is conducting rescues in the Mediterranean Sea for six months this year during the peak of the crisis. MOAS assisted 3,000 migrants last year when it was at sea for 60 days between August and October 2014.

“This year MOAS is seeing twice as many people rescued as last year,” said Christopher Catrambone, the co-founder of MOAS along with his wife Regina.

“The most shocking part of this ongoing tragedy is the sheer number of children, including unaccompanied children, making this dangerous crossing. It’s harrowing to imagine what these children have witnessed since leaving their homes, sometimes all the way from Syria.”

“We are very proud to be adding our professional crew and resources to the other rescue assets in the Mediterranean, most of which are commercial vessels having to face the brunt of the soaring numbers of boats in distress. Everyone is working around the clock and while commending them for their dedication we must stress that in order to save lives effectively the EU needs a dedicated search and rescue operation,” he added.

The latest rescue by MOAS saved 118 people from Syria, Somalia and sub-Saharan Africa: 80 men, 13 women and 25 minors, including nine children under five.

The operation was conducted in Force 5 swells and took almost two hours to complete.

It began when Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre Rome directed MOAS to search for a small wooden boat in distress. The Phoenix immediately dispatched a Schiebel Camcopter S-100 to search the area and managed to quickly locate the boat, discovered by the Schiebel operators to be 14 miles from its estimated position. This rapid pin-point accuracy allowed the crew of Phoenix to prepare for the rescue and medical issues.

The migrants had been sent out to sea at 3am from the coast of Libya and were scared but generally in good shape.

The Italian Coast Guard, through MRCC Rome, then requested that MOAS in partnership with MSF take on board an additional 101 persons, and disembark all the migrants in Sicily.

These rescues took place just hours after Phoenix finished disembarking another 473 people in Pozzallo, Italy. The migrants were rescued on two separate boats within 24 hours of Phoenix’s departure on May 2.

The 20 person team aboard the Phoenix includes a professional crew of camcopter operators, search and rescue professionals, medics and mariners.

MOAS’s innovative use of two high-speed Schiebel Camcopter S-100 drones on board Phoenix has already yielded excellent results. They have had nine hours of flight time in the past week and assisted during night-time rescues, ensuring that nobody is left behind.

“MOAS is providing state-of-the-art search and rescue but we are also providing post-rescue care through our partnership with MSF. In addition, we are coordinating our efforts with other vessels effectively to save lives,” said Director Brig. Ret. Martin Xuereb.

“This year we are grateful for the support of MSF, Schiebel and OGI, among others and we look to donors to extend our mission year round,” he added.

Those brought on board by the MOAS rescue crews were given an initial triage by the MSF medical team who treated conditions including diabetes, dehydration, conditions related to pregnancy, skin infections and injuries sustained during beatings and violent attacks. All those rescued receive food, water and other essential items onboard the Phoenix.