Brazil’s Subsalt Estimates Revised

By MarEx 2015-08-11 20:53:34

Brazil’s offshore subsalt fields may hold enough undiscovered oil and gas to supply the world’s current oil needs for over five years.

A new reserve estimate was presented at a conference in Rio de Janeiro by Professor Cleveland Jones and Dr Hernane Chaves of the National Institute of Oil and Gas at Rio de Janeiro State University.

The new estimate of at least 176 billion barrels of oil equivalent (boe) of undiscovered, recoverable resources of oil and natural gas is more than four times the 30 billion to 40 billion boe already discovered in the region.

The estimates supersede earlier ones published by the researchers and are around 50 percent higher.

“Naturally this is a dynamic process, and with more information our estimates can change, although we see that there is a solid foundation for the range mentioned,” says Jones. “We are not likely to see major deviations beyond the extremes of our estimates, above or below, and more likely will see a narrowing of those extremes, as more information is obtained on new discoveries and recent assessments of prior discoveries, as well as about the few dry or uneconomical findings.”

This region has attracted attention since the first major discoveries were confirmed by Petrobras, in 2006. Since then, discoveries in the region have ranked among the largest in the world in the last ten years, including Lula (formerly Tupi), Iara, Libra and others.

The discoveries have led to various estimates, from the Brazilian government and Petrobras, including figures ranging from 50 to over 300 billion barrels of recoverable oil in the Picanha Azul region. As none of the estimates were accompanied by supporting technical data, the researchers commenced their analysis in 2010.

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Shell Ready to Drill for Oil

By MarEx 2015-08-11 20:13:03

Shell said on Tuesday that it has told the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement it is ready to drill for oil now in the Chukchi Sea.

The Guardian reports that a spokeswoman for the company said: “Fennica is in the Chukchi Sea, drilling continues, and we have requested the permit to drill deeper in this exploration well.”

The Fennica had to return to the U.S. for repairs in July after puncturing its hull on shoals in Alaska’s Dutch Harbor. The vessel carries well blowout equipment required on-site before Shell is allowed to drill into oil-bearing horizons.

Wildlife Disturbance

Polar Pioneer commenced drilling in July and a second rig, Noble Discoverer, is on site but unable to operate. U.S. regulations prevent both rigs drilling at the same time, as it could create undesirable noise disturbance to local walrus populations.

The drilling is strongly opposed by environmental groups that say industrial activity will harm polar bears, walrus, seals and whales already vulnerable from global warming and shrinking summer sea ice.

The second rig is also required nearby in order to sink an emergency relief well to divert pressure from a blowout – a standard Shell has lobbied hard to water down, says The Guardian.

Coast Guard Resources Diverted

The U.S. Coast Guard has sent five ships to the area to ensure Shell meets its environmental and safety commitments. The vessels include the cutter Waesche which would otherwise be operating on drug trafficking missions in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico.

The Coast Guard has also set up a helicopter base in Deadhorse, Alaska, with two Jayhawk helicopters that would normally be on standby for search and rescue in Kodiak, reports Reuters.

In 2012, the last time Shell explored in the Arctic, Coast Guard helicopters rescued 18 Shell workers from the drilling rig Kulluk when it was out-of-control in stormy seas.

Shell’s drilling program is expected to be completed in October.

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1,500 Migrants Rescued in a Day

By MarEx 2015-08-11 19:31:22

The Italian Coast Guard rescued more than 1,500 migrants in seven different operations on August 10. The rescues occurred throughout the day off of the Libyan coast.

Over 200 women and 40 children were among those rescued. Irish and Swedish vessels also aided in the rescues. The rescued migrants were on board four inflatable boats and three barges. Four of the human traffickers involved have been arrested and authorities are searching for more.

Migrant rescues are becoming a near daily occurrence in the Mediterranean. On August 5, a fishing boat carrying about 700 migrants capsized in the Mediterranean Sea. More than 200 of the North African migrants died in the incident.

According to the International Organization for Migration, 2015 has had an inordinate amount of undocumented migration. More than 900,000 people have attempted to travel to Europe and over 2,000 have died.

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China Says Work Less, Cruise More

By MarEx 2015-08-11 19:23:43

China plans to build 10 cruise ship terminals and is encouraging workers to take cruises in a bid to boost tourism and consumption within the nation.

Xinhua reports that China’s State Council released a document on Tuesday saying the terminals would be built by 2020.

“Boosting investment and consumption for tourism is of great importance to improving quality of life and developing modern services,” stated the document.

All the country’s important tourist attractions and tourist cities should be staffed with professionals to provide tourism information by 2020, states the Council. Additionally, workers should be given more flexibility in summer so that they can take vacations using Friday afternoons, Saturdays and Sundays.

The news has caused a stir online, reports China Daily, with posts on Sina Weibo, a Twitter-like social networking site in China, being read by more than 25 million people.

“Long Live Premier Li. This should be implemented immediately,” said one person.

The State Council has officially promoted paid vacation for employees and is moving ahead with rules to make it mandatory. Currently, only about half of Chinese employees get paid vacation time.

China is expected to eventually become the largest cruise market in the world. From 2012 to 2014, the number of Chinese passengers grew 79 percent per year. In 2014, 697,000 passengers were from mainland China which is almost as many passengers as all other Asian markets combined (701,000).

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Southeast Asian Piracy at All-Time High

By MarEx 2015-08-11 18:25:26

Piracy and hijacking are hitting all-time highs in Southeast Asia as oil demand and a thriving black market continue to drive maritime attacks in the region.

According to PVI, a maritime security company, Southeast Asian pirates are targeting small tankers and siphoning fuel from their victims. Smaller tankers usually do not have adequate security in place to combat pirates. The total value and amount of siphoned oil cargo is unknown, but at least 20,270 metric tons of fuel has been lost this year at an estimated cost $10 million.

In July, Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP) said that incidents of piracy and armed robbery had risen 18 percent in the first half of 2015 when compared to the same time period in 2014. There were 106 incidents reported between January and June 2015 and just 90 last year.

Of the 106 vessels attacked, 11 were targeted in fuel and oil attacks. In February, the product tanker Lapin had 2,000 tons of fuel siphoned from it, which is the biggest recorded volume stolen this year.

The Singapore-flagged Joaquim was the latest victim of small tanker hijackings on August 8. The vessel was found the next day without the 3,500 tons of fuel it was transporting to Pulau Langwai, Malaysia. The missing cargo is valued at $700,000.

The Orkim Harmony hijacking in June is possibly 2015’s most serious. The attack was orchestrated by 13 pirates who boarded the vessel without alerting the crew, took command of the bridge and disabled the ship’s Automatic Identification System (AIS). The pirates also repainted the hull and altered the vessel’s name to avoid detection. The Orkin Harmony was found eight days later and eight of the pirates were arrested.

According to the PGI Risk Portal, a risk management solutions company, 11 percent of the world’s maritime hijacking took place in Malaysian and Indonesian waters. Though the majority of these robberies were small scale, it illustrates the growing trend in Asia.

Since April 2014, hijackings in the Malaccan and Singapore Straits have had common threads. The majority of these hijackings have been concentrated in highly congested areas that offer ideal opportunities for pirates to board tankers. There have been 13 reported hijackings in such areas in 2015.

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Seven Cruise Lines Violate Air Standards

By MarEx 2015-08-11 18:16:16

The Alaskan Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has penalized seven major cruise lines for emissions violations since 2010. The violations were revealed in Norwegian Cruise Line’s quarterly Security and Exchange Commission filing.

Carnival, Holland America Line, Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Silversea Cruises are the other six cruise lines being penalized. The DEC has issued 18 violations involving 48 instances of excessive emissions since 2010.

The cruise lines violated the Alaska Marine Vessel Visible Emission Standards, which concern the opacity of visible emissions from ships within three miles of shore.

Details of the violations have not yet been made public because the penalties are still being negotiated. According to DEC officials, the penalty is usually about $37,000 per incident.

In 2000, Royal Caribbean paid for a five-year $250,000 cruise ship opacity monitoring program to settle past opacity violations.

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Maersk Posts Three Minute Suez Canal Run Video

By MarEx 2015-08-11 15:37:14

Maersk Line posted a 3-minute time lapse of the M/V Adrian Maersk, 6,000 TEUs, passing through the newly expanded New Suez Canal.

The New Suez Canal was inaugurated by Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi in a ceremony held at the port city of Ismailiya on August 6.

The $8 billion project took 11 months to complete, included the widening and deepening of 35 kilometers of the existing Canal up to a depth of 24 meters, as well as digging and creating 37 kilometers of the so-called ”second lane,” running parallel to the existing Canal.

Egypt expects that up to 20,000 ships to transit each year. The new section is also projected to cut transit times from 20 to about 11 hours.

The Suez Canal accounts for roughly 7.5% of world sea trade and container vessels account for over 50% of the canal’s tonnage passage, according to Maersk Line.

Maersk had more than 1,400 transits in 2014, which accounts for 20% of the container transits through the canal. All Maersk Line’s Asia-Europe cargo goes through the Canal.

”The extension will enable larger vessels to transit, benefitting not only the shipping companies, but also our partners and world trade as a whole,” said Claus V. Hemmingsen, Maersk Group representative, who participated in the official opening of the Suez Canal along with COO of Maersk Line, Søren Toft.

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11 Fishermen Rescued By Crowley Vessel

By MarEx 2015-08-11 15:28:52

The Crowley-managed, USNS Impeccable (T-AGOS 23) ­– a Military Sealift Command (MSC) Impeccable class, ocean surveillance ship ­–rescued 11 fishermen struggling to stay afloat on a sinking vessel that had been adrift for five days in the South China Sea. While enroute to Subic Bay, Philippines, on July 19, Impeccable’s on-watch lookout spotted lights and debris floating in the water and numerous distressed mariners waving from atop the wheelhouse of a nearly submerged ship located approximately 100 nautical miles northwest of Cape Bolinao, Philippines.

Impeccable’s master, Capt. Robert Wiechert, maneuvered the vessel towards the stricken craft, and assessed that immediate assistance was required in order to save the stranded mariners.

The RHIB, manned by Chief Mate Wayne Robinson and Able Bodied Seaman Clifford Blackmon, made three trips to the sinking vessel and successfully rescued all 11 distressed mariners, four at a time. Within minutes of the final rescue trip, the derelict vessel completely sunk.

Once the mariners were safely aboard Impeccable, each was examined and treated for non-life threatening injuries by the ship’s medical department representative. They were also given the opportunity to take showers and were offered clean clothes, food and water for the one-day transit to port, where they were transferred ashore to the Philippine Coast Guard.

“This was a true team effort … [with] civilian mariners, security detachment, military detachment and SURTASS (Surveillance Towed Array Sensor System) operations center personnel working together to achieve an efficient rescue of all 11 fishermen. This was a prime example of team work between Crowley and military personnel working towards a common goal,” said Capt. Wiechert.

“Bravo Zulu (well done) to Captain Robert Weichert and the crew of USNS Impeccable for your superb performance in recovering 11 fishermen from a sinking vessel,” said Capt. Paul Harvey, USN commodore, Military Sealift Command Far East. “Your officers’ and crew’s professional actions assuredly saved their lives. The events conducted at sea displayed a superb performance of seamanship; especially noteworthy was the flawless coordination between the ship’s crew and [the] embarked security team.”

“The officers and crew of the Impeccable are fully trained and prepared to respond to a variety of marine incidents,” said Mike Golonka, vice president, Crowley government services. “In addition to meeting defined regulatory training requirements, crewmembers participate annually in company-sponsored safety programs, designed exclusively for mariners. The safety program provides training in survival tactics, shipboard firefighting, medical incidents and other relevant topics designed to give mariners the skills they need to survive in emergency situations such as this.”

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Panama Canal Workers’ Strike Averted

By MarEx 2015-08-11 15:20:10

The expansion of the Panama Canal may face another roadblock unless 6,000 construction workers get an eight percent raise. The workers are represented by the Grupo Unidos por el Canal (GUPC) consortium who is arguing that workers were due a raise July 1 per a contract with the Panamanian Construction Association.

The GUPC is also demanding a solution to the lack of transportation for workers as well as sanitary improvements. Labor action is expected this week on August 12 unless worker demands are met.

Negotiations between GUPC and the Panamanian government have been ongoing since June, but the protests didn’t until August 8. The workers currently earn between $2.90 and $3.37 per hour depending on skill level.

The strike would come just six days after Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and Spanish Deputy Prime Minister Manuel Chaves inaugurated the expansion project

The $5.5 billion expansion project, which has already been delayed by two work stoppages in 2014. The project is about 90 percent complete and is expected to open April 2016.

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Panama Canal Workers Strike

By MarEx 2015-08-11 15:20:10

The expansion of the Panama Canal may face another roadblock unless 6,000 construction workers get an eight percent raise. The workers are represented by the Grupo Unidos por el Canal (GUPC) consortium who is arguing that workers were due a raise July 1 per a contract with the Panamanian Construction Association.

The GUPC is also demanding a solution to the lack of transportation for workers as well as sanitary improvements. Labor action is expected this week on August 12 unless worker demands are met.

Negotiations between GUPC and the Panamanian government have been ongoing since June, but the protests didn’t until August 8. The workers currently earn between $2.90 and $3.37 per hour depending on skill level.

The strike would come just six days after Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and Spanish Deputy Prime Minister Manuel Chaves inaugurated the expansion project

The $5.5 billion expansion project, which has already been delayed by two work stoppages in 2014. The project is about 90 percent complete and is expected to open April 2016.

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