Shore Power Too Expensive for Hong Kong

By Wendy Laursen 2015-05-28 20:22:44

Hong Kong’s Environmental Protection Department has said that if shore power facilities were built at Hong Kong’s new Kai Tak cruise terminal they would be significantly underutilized. Therefore, plans for building the facilities will not go ahead.

The terminal, built on the tip of the former airport runway, can accommodate two Oasis class vessels at a time as well as three medium-sized vessels.

The department has stated that only five of 60 cruise terminals in the Asia Pacific are considering shore power, and that only 35 international cruise ships, about 16 percent, are expected to be equipped to use such facilities. Most of these vessels sailed in North America, not Asia.

The South China Morning Post reports that a study was undertaken by Hong Kong’s Electrical and Mechanical Services Department in 2013 to look at the feasibility of installing shore power at Kai Tak. It estimated that construction of shore power facilities would cost $40 million (HK$315 million) and would take 60 months. It would then cost $1.8 (HK$14 million) a year to operate.

“The survey findings suggest that setting up onshore power supply is not a priority task among cruise ports in the Asia Pacific region and this will likely remain so in the foreseeable future,” the department said.

CAN Disappointed

Hong Kong’s Clean Air Network (CAN) is very disappointed. According to the 2012 emission inventory for Hong Kong published by the Environmental Protection Department, ocean going ships became the number one source of inhalable suspended particulates, nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide in Hong Kong.

Cruise ships accounted for 2.4 percent of SO2, 0.9 percent of NOx and 1.5 percent of particulate matter respectively, says CAN.

As estimated by Hedley Environmental Index in 2014, air pollution caused 2,616 premature deaths and 32.657 billion in lost (Hong Kong) dollars. Thus, we can calculate that by installing onshore power supply, the death number could be reduced by 42 and HK$523 million could be gained annually, said CAN in a statement.

CAN CEO Sum Yin Kwong says, “The government tends to calculate cost benefits without considering external social costs. Comparing similar community projects such as spending 600 million for a gymnasium, the building of onshore power facilities is certainly worthwhile in order to protect public health.”

CAN says the government should seize the opportunity to be the forerunner in Asia and attracts shore-power-capable cruise ships to come by providing the facilities.

MarEx reviewed the views of various ports around the world on the benefits of shore power here.

New Sulfur Regulations

It is expected that most cruise ships will find it more cost-effective to switch fuels at berth. The Hong Kong Marine Department is implementing a new low-sulfur regulation for ocean-going vessels moored or anchored at a berth in Hong Kong waters from July 1, 2015.

Lloyd’s Register explains, the Air Pollution Control (Ocean Going Vessels) (Fuel at Berth) Regulation (Cap. 311AA) requires vessels to use compliant fuels while at berth in Hong Kong when operating main engines (except when used for the propulsion of the vessel), auxiliary engines, boilers or generators. The requirement does not apply during the first hour after arrival and the last hour before departure.

Under the regulation, compliant fuel means low-sulfur fuel with a sulfur content not exceeding 0.5 percent by weight, LNG or any other fuel approved by the Hong Kong authority. Exemptions may be granted for emission abatement technologies.

After the Regulation enters into force on July 1, 2015, masters and owners of any OGVs using non-compliant fuel while at berth in Hong Kong may be liable to a maximum fine of $200,000 and imprisonment for six months. Masters and owners who fail to keep the required records may also be liable to a maximum fine of $50,000 and imprisonment for three months.


Petrobras Cancels Vessel Leases, Schahin to Sue

By Reuters 2015-05-28 21:10:56

Brazil’s state-run oil company Petrobras canceled leases with Schahin Petroleo e Gas SA for five offshore oil drilling and production vessels after a cash crunch forced the ship leaser to remove the equipment from service for nearly a month, Schahin said on Thursday.

The decision, if upheld, will result in the loss of more than 1,000 related jobs, Schahin said, while creditors and investors stand to lose more than $4 billion. Schahin said it plans to sue Petrobras, as the oil company is known, to reinstate the contracts.

Petrobras said in a e-mailed statement that the cancellations were due to a contractual breach.

Petrobras has been trying to slash costs in the face of falling oil prices, soaring debt and record losses related to poor planning and fallout from a giant price-fixing, bribery and political kickback scandal.

In the lower oil price environment, Petrobras, the world’s most indebted oil company, and third most indebted non-financial company, faces a market with a growing number of unused vessels and falling day rates. Deepwater drillships that rented for $500,000 or $600,000 a day several years ago can now be leased for $400,000 or less, according to industry sources.

The five Schahin vessels are the drillships Cerrado Sertão and Lancer and the semi-submersible oil production platforms Amazônia and Pantanal. All had been on long-term leases.

Schahin said it was forced in early April to temporarily pull these vessels from service with Petrobras for nearly a month and move them to port after a lack of cash to pay debt led a creditor to seek the sale of assets. The creditor was leasing the Pantanal and Amazônia to Schahin.

In late April, after renegotiating a $1 billion reduction in debt Schahin informed Petrobras that the ships were ready for service. On May 21 Petrobras canceled the leases, Schahin said.


Brazil Makes Large Oil Discovery

By Reuters 2015-05-28 21:13:10

Brazil’s state-run Petrobras, Portugal’s Galp and Brazilian oil companies QGEP Participações SA and Barra Energia have confirmed that the giant Carcará offshore find extends far beyond the initial discovery, Barra said in a statement.

Drilling in the 3-SPS-105 well in the Carcará N evaluation well about 250 km south of Rio de Janeiro has discovered light oil at 31 degrees on the American Petroleum Institute scale, Barra said. The oil is contained in a continuous column of oil bearing rock that is at least 358 meters (1,175 feet) tall.

The discovery shows the oil-bearing rock is connected to the previous Carcará find in the same BM-S-8 block. The block is 66 percent owned by Petroleo Brasileiro SA, as Petrobras is known. Petrobras is also the operator.

Galp Energia SGPS SA owns 14 percent, QGEP owns 10 percent and Barra owns 10 percent.

Discovered in 2012, Carcará was found to have up to 400 meters of continuous and connected oil reserves with excellent porosity and permeability. At the time it was the biggest oil column ever found in Brazil’s subsalt region, an area where large oil resources are trapped deep beneath the seabed by a layer of mineral salts.

The Carcará N well confirmed the size of the column discovered at Carcará and show similar porosity and permeability, suggesting that the area, if and when it is declared commercial, will be able to produce large amounts of oil.

The group plans to reenter the Carcará NW evaluation well west of Carcará N in the second half of the year, Barra said. The well has been drilled to the base of the salt.

In January 2013, a QGEP official said that the area’s wells will likely produce up to 35,000 barrels of oil a day each, a large amount for such offshore fields and similar to that at Petrobras’ successful Lula field.

The Carcará N well was drilled to a depth of 6,178 meters by Odebrecht Oil & Gas’s ODN II drillship.


U.S. Renewable Energy Consumption Hits 80 Year High

By MarEx 2015-05-28 15:23:15

Renewable energy has hit the highest rate of usage in over 80 years. In 2014 renewable energy accounted for 9.8% of total domestic energy consumption. This marks the highest renewable energy share since the 1930s, when wood was a much larger contributor to domestic energy supply.

Renewable energy use grew an average of 5% per year over 2001-2014 from its most recent low in 2001. The increase over the past 14 years was in part because of growing use of wind, solar, and biofuels. Wind energy grew from 70 trillion Btu in 2001 to more than 1,700 trillion Btu in 2014. During the same period, solar energy (solar thermal and photovoltaic) grew from 64 trillion Btu to 427 trillion Btu, and the use of biomass for the production of biofuels grew from 253 trillion Btu to 2,068 trillion Btu. Hydroelectricity was the largest source of renewable energy in 2014, but hydro consumption has decreased from higher levels in the mid-to-late 1990s. Wood remained the second-largest renewable energy source, with recent growth driven in part by demand for wood pellets.

In 2014, slightly more than half of all renewable energy was used to generate electricity. Within the electric power sector, renewable energy accounted for 13% of energy consumed, higher than its consumption share in any other sector.

The industrial sector used 24% of the nation’s renewable energy in 2014. Nearly all of that renewable energy was biomass, which included wood, waste, and biofuels used in manufacturing processes as well as in the production of heat and power. The production of biofuels results in energy losses and co-products, which are also included in industrial consumption of renewables.

About 13% of the renewable energy used in the United States is now consumed in the transportation sector, which experienced the largest percentage growth in renewable consumption from 2001 to 2014. The growing demand for liquid biofuels, including both ethanol and biodiesel, pushed renewables to nearly 5% of the sector’s energy consumption in 2014.

A greater use of wood for home heating and steadily growing installation of solar systems are the main contributors to increasing renewable energy consumption in residential buildings and, to a lesser extent, in commercial buildings.


California Pipeline Owner Receives Oil Cleanup Order

By MarEx 2015-05-28 17:09:18

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Coast Guard have issued a joint federal Clean Water Act order to ensure the cleanup of heavy crude oil leaked from a pipeline near Refugio State Beach, Santa Barbara County, Calif. The order requires Plains Pipeline, L.P. (a.k.a. Plains All American Pipeline), the pipeline owner and operator, to continue its cleanup work inland, beachside, and in the ocean, to contain the oil and prevent further shoreline contamination.

The order establishes federally enforceable timelines and cleanup requirements for the long-term response action that will be required to clean up the largest coastal spill in California in the last 25 years.

“Our action today is to make sure the oil response work continues until the Santa Barbara County coastline is restored,” said Jared Blumenfeld, the EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “Working closely with our local, state and federal partners, we will see this cleanup through to the end.”

“The Coast Guard will maintain its course to completion,” said Capt. Jennifer Williams, Unified Command Federal On-Scene Coordinator. “While this defines Plains Pipeline as the responsible party, federal and state agencies will continue to work alongside the responsible party and maintain our priority of safety of the public, personnel and the environment.”

Since the 24-inch pipeline ruptured on May 19, with an estimated 105,000 gallons of heavy crude inside, trained cleanup crews have been working to capture and remove oil that has leaked from the pipeline, seeped into the soil, and reached the shoreline and ocean. The Coast Guard and EPA mobilized immediately after notification of the spill and integrated into a Unified Command with California Department of Fish & Wildlife’s Office of Spill Prevention and Response and Santa Barbara County’s Office of Emergency Management.

The federal agencies expressed appreciation for the critical role played by the state and county in their collaboration to protect California’s coast. Nearly 1,000 people have participated cooperatively under the Unified Command. On the ocean, 2240 feet of hard boom and 1840 feet of sorbent boom have been used, and 10,060 gallons of oily water have been recovered from skimming operations. Crews on land have removed 310 cubic yards of oiled vegetation, 760 cubic yards of oiled sand and 2,610 cubic yards of oiled soil.

The compliance order requires Plains to:

· Continue oil removal and site control operations currently underway until a work plan is approved

· Submit to the Coast Guard and EPA and by June 6 a written work plan for response activities, including plans for sampling and analyzing air, water, rocks and soil

· Ensure no more oil is released into the environment

· Clean up all remaining oil and petroleum contamination at the release and oil-impacted areas

EPA and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration will be investigating the cause of the pipeline failure, and will continue to investigate the environmental impacts of the spill with our federal, state and local partners.


Strike Ends at Israel’s Biggest Ports

By Reuters 2015-05-28 13:50:25

Israeli dockworkers ended a two-day strike on Thursday that had shut down the country’s two main seaports in protest at the creation of new foreign-run ports.

Some 2,400 workers had walked out of the ports of Ashdod and Haifa as union leaders went underground and for most of Thursday defied orders from labor courts to return to their posts. Some 40 ships were left waiting to be unloaded.

Israel’s transport minister had threatened to declare a state of emergency and the workers could have faced criminal charges, before both port workers’ unions agreed to end the strike.

“They will return to work in the coming hours,” a spokesman for Ashdod port told Reuters.

The government, frustrated by labor disputes that have disrupted Israel’s trade arteries for years, signed contracts with two foreign companies on Thursday to operate terminals adjacent to the state-run ports of Ashdod and Haifa.

China’s Shanghai International Port Group (SIPG) will operate a private port in Haifa and the Netherlands’ Terminal International Ltd (TIL), owned by the shipping giant MSC, will run a port to the south in Ashdod.

The government says the new ports will lower the cost of goods across the board.


‘Death Ship’ Inquest Begins

By Kathryn Stone 2015-05-28 14:11:08

An Australian coroner’s court is holding an inquest this week to follow up on foul play accusations surrounding the 2012 deaths of two mariners aboard the infamously dubbed ‘death ship’.

On Thursday the court began hearing witness testimony regarding the deaths of two Pilipino crewmen who both died within a two week span onboard the Sage Sagittarius, a Panama-flagged coal carrier owned by NYK Lines. The case has been shrouded in suspicion as crew members have been reluctant to speak out regarding the deaths. Council assisting in the inquest spoke today of strong mistrust and conflict among the crew in the period leading up to the men’s death as well as a culture onboard the ship that promoted silence.

According to Australian news reports, the wife of Hector Collado expressed fear over cooperating with the investigation or inquest. However, Nelia Llanto, widow of one of the deceased men, did testify today via video link. She painted a picture to the court of her husband as happy, healthy and unwilling to engage in risky behavior that could have led to his death. Additionally, forensic pathologist Dr. Brian Beer spoke to the court of a suspicious 20mm (about .8 inch) laceration on the second victim’s scalp, which appeared unrelated the man’s fall down a flight of stairs.

This week’s inquest is investigating the circumstances of two of three mysterious deaths that occurred in six-week period between August and October 2012 on what media sources have dubbed the ‘death ship’.

Cesar Llanto, the chief cook on the Sage Sagittarius was the first man onboard the vessel to die, after he disappeared August 30 in an area off of northern Queensland, Australia. A second man, Hector Collado, the chief engineer aboard the vessel fell 11 meters (36 feet) down a stairwell to his death while the Sage Sagittarius was docked at the Port of Newcastle in New South Wales.

The situation intensified when a superintendent for the Japanese ship manager, Hachiuma Steamship, boarded the vessel to ensure the safety and welfare of the crew, but also was found dead after being crushed by a conveyor belt. However, since the third death occurred in Japanese waters it falls outside the scope of the Australian inquest.

In November 2012 shortly after the incidents occurred, International Transport Workers’ Federation coordinator Dean Summers stated that, “I haven’t seen in all my years at sea, anything that resembles this. I haven’t seen two [deaths], let alone three, so closely together.” The Maritime Union of Australia called the circumstances surrounding the deaths, ‘highly suspicious’ and suggested the first man met his death through foul play after he complained about poor pay and conditions on the ship.

Former Federal Minister Peter Morris, who headed up the 1990s Ship of Shame Report dealing with safety issues and crew treatment, has said that the Sage Sagittarius situation displays telltale signs of things the report came across including intimidation, mistreatment and forced silence. He added that low labor crew from foreign countries are often the most exploited seafarers.

The inquest is set to continue tomorrow in front of Deputy State Coroner Freund.


Ship Strikes Pearl Harbor Memorial

By Kathryn Stone 2015-05-28 10:12:49

A vessel struck the docking area of the USS Arizona Memorial Wednesday morning, shutting down tours at the historic Pearl Harbor memorial site.

The crash occurred yesterday when the Hospital Ship USNS Mercy and a civilian tug were maneuvering in Pearl Harbor. According to initial Navy reports, it was the tug boat that hit memorial site, however an investigation has been launched to determine the exact circumstances of the allision.

Most of the damage caused by the incident appears to be localized to the visitor docking area and concrete connecting the dock to the memorial facilities. The National Park Service reports that divers have not seen any damage to the USS Arizona herself.

The U.S. Navy Region Hawaii issued a statement late Wednesday night indicating that memorial site would currently be shut down to vistors. “Due to safety concerns, visitors are not being allowed to disembark at the USS Arizona Memorial. Instead, visitors are able to board the Navy’s white boats and travel to Battleship Row to view the USS Arizona Memorial from a distance.”

The floating dock to the facility has been removed and the Navy and Park Service are still conducting an assessment of the damage. Repairs have already begun on the memorial and the Navy hopes to have the docking area fixed by June 4.

The USS Arizona Memorial commemorates the 1,177 sailors and marines who were killed during the Japanese bombing attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. The memorial sits atop the sunken wreckage of the battleship and can only be accessed by sea. Over one million people visit the site annually.