Call to Ban California Drilling Expansion

By Reuters 2015-05-27 19:27:28

Environmentalists urged California regulators on Wednesday to reject a proposed expansion of the only offshore drilling operation still permitted in state waters along the Santa Barbara coastline, seizing on public outrage over last week’s nearby oil spill.

Privately owned Venoco Inc is seeking permission to drill on 3,400 acres (1,400 hectares) of the sea floor within a state-designated coastal sanctuary adjacent to the company’s current offshore lease site. It said the plan would increase petroleum production by 6,400 barrels a day.

That additional capacity, like the crude petroleum already being pumped from Venoco’s 50-year-old Platform Holly, would ultimately be added to oil supplies carried through the pipeline that burst on May 19 about 20 miles (32 km) west of Santa Barbara.

The spill last week dumped as much as 2,400 barrels (101,000 gallons, or 382,000 liters) of crude onto a pristine stretch of shoreline and into the Pacific, leaving slicks that stretched over nine miles (14 km) along the coast. Two state beaches were closed indefinitely, along with fishing in the area.

The spill also prompted the California Lands Commission to postpone its first public hearing on Venoco’s offshore drilling proposal, originally slated for Tuesday, to June 24.

On Wednesday, the conservation group Center for Biological Diversity sent a letter calling for the Lands Commission to deny Venoco’s application to drill on tracts of the sea floor placed off-limits to new energy development under a 1994 state law.

Venoco’s proposal cites an exception under the statute that allows for adjustment of an existing offshore mineral lease to encompass oil reserves left out of its original boundaries.

But opponents said the commission instead should order decommissioning of Platform Holly, which was built in 1965 and sends oil to shore through a subsea pipeline that is itself 45 years old.

Petroleum from Venoco’s rig ultimately is added to refinery-bound supplies that get pumped through the failed 28-year-old transmission line owned by Texas-based Plains All American Pipeline that caused last week’s spill.

“It would be a grave mistake for the state to approve a project that will feed more crude into a pipeline system that just spewed thousands of gallons of oil into the Pacific,” said Miyoko Sakashita, the Center for Biological Diversity’s oceans program director.

Venoco, which operates mostly in Southern California but is based in Denver, had no immediate comment.


NSA Looks to Maritime Laws for Internet Regulation

By Reuters 2015-05-27 15:00:09

The U.S. National Security Agency chief called on Wednesday for an “open, reliable and safe” Internet governed by international rules akin to the Law of the Sea, while deflecting critics who say NSA spying has undermined public trust in the cyberworld.

Admiral Michael Rogers spoke a few days after the U.S. Senate rejected a bill to extend spy agencies’ bulk collection of Americans’ telephone records, putting the programme in doubt shortly before its expiry on June 1.

Addressing a cyberwarfare conference in Estonia, Rogers adopted the diplomatic language of a grassroots online governance activist, hailing the Internet’s openness and value as a shared, public good.

“I’d like to see if we can create something equivalent to the maritime world in the cyber world that enables us to keep moving information, keep moving commerce, keep moving ideas on a global basis,” Rogers told a largely military audience.

“Can we create a ‘global commons’, so to speak, that enables open, reliable, safe and resilient communications, a flow of information and ideas?” he said. “(This should be) in a framework that maximises its use for all of us.”

He contrasted his view, which he said reflected U.S. government policy, to those of countries which argue that the Internet should be governed by the same rules of national control prevailing in sovereign states for centuries.

The deeply secretive NSA’s brief is to monitor information and data from foreign countries, and the Internet has given it unprecedented insights into the daily activities of billions of phone and computer users worldwide.

But the Internet’s decentralised and anonymous nature has also left citizens vulnerable to cyberattack by everyone from teenage vandals to criminals to military forces.

Critics in the audience welcomed Rogers’ embrace of certain open Internet principles but questioned the NSA’s role in massive surveillance of web surfing habits around the world.#

They also challenged calls by Rogers and other top U.S. and British officials to weaken encryption by enabling legally authorised wiretapping of the Internet.

Richard Hill, a former staff member of the United Nations’ International Telecommunications Union, said Roger’s comments were “exactly contrary” to U.S. policy that seeks only cooperation furthering Washington’s security agenda.

Rogers acknowledged that U.S. military strategy views cyberspace as another theatre of operations similar to land, sea and outer space.

Asked to respond to a recently announced cyber warfare non-aggression pact between China and Russia, he said he had not read the details but was not too concerned since nation states routinely entered into agreements on a variety of subjects.


Efficient Technology: Just Add Oil and Water

By Kathryn Stone 2015-05-27 13:17:10

A New Zealand ferry company is bending the old rule of never mixing oil with water in an effort to find more fuel efficient technology.

The Interislander ferry Arahura is currently running trails using Fuel Oil Emulsion (FOE) technology, which combines oil and water in a process that leads to more complete engine combustion with less harmful waste discharge. The company is experimenting with the technology in the hopes of increasing the operating efficiency of vessels across its entire fleet.

Multiple industry studies have shown that FOE significantly reduces NOX and particulate matter emissions in engines using the technology. In addition to the environmental and financial saving associated with FOE, the reduced emissions also contributes to safer working conditions and results in cooler running engines that require less maintenance.

Malcom Sims, the engineer in charge of the project seemed hopeful about FOE’s capabilities saying “The outcome looks as though it could reduce our use of fuel and the level of emissions as well as giving a significant financial saving.”

The current trial will take place over a three month period and is a follow-up to a 2013 demonstration, which showed significant promise for the technology. In the first trial FOE showed fuel savings between three to five percent, which could slash fuel consumption by up to 2 million liters a year.

If the trials prove successful, Interislander may look into adopting the technology across all its vessels. Sims stated that, “While these are still early days, there is definitely scope for potentially installing the technology across the fleet.”

The 13,621 gross-ton Arahura was chosen for the study because of its over three-decade operational history. According to Interislander, the vessel provides a reliable platform that will allow the tests to be carried out in a controlled manner.

FOE technology can be easily applied to already existing vessels as no engine modification is required to utilize the technology. Additionally, the fuel emulsion can created just prior to combustion by combining oil and water with an additive that allows the emulsion to form and remain stable.

Funding for the project is being provided by an Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority grant, which encourages business to carry out demonstration projects on emerging efficient technologies that could have widespread applications. The current trial is being independently monitored and consists of a one-month baseline test with traditional fuel to use as a comparison.


Chilean Strike Hits Imports and Exports

By MarEx 2015-05-27 14:31:02

A customs strike in Chile that began last week has started to affect exports and imports, particularly in the perishable goods markets.

The strike by customs officials, who say they want the government to approximately double their workforce, began on May 20, and the union says it will continue indefinitely until an agreement is reached.

It rejected a government proposal for a smaller increase in the workforce at the weekend.

“We have had dialogue but it has been tense … what we want is a signal that this will be resolved in the short term but that hasn’t arrived,” Jorge Thibaut, secretary general of the national association of customs workers (ANFACH) said to journalists on Wednesday.

Ports in particular have been affected by the strike. Last Friday there were reports of up to 900 trucks with problems accessing Valparaiso port facilities and wait times for truck drivers were estimated at over 30 hours.

The president of the Fruit Exporters Association of Chile (Asoex) Ronald Bown Fernandez expressed his concern over the situation by urging the government and custom officials to find a quick solution to conflict. According to Asoex, Chile exported over two million tons of fresh fruit last season through the Port of Valparaiso and neighboring Port of San Antonio. Fernandez estimated that the financial losses due to shipping problems were around $16 million. Chilean exporters of fruit such as apples and grapes were hit in February by a port strike on the U.S. West Coast.

Additionally, the Salmon Chile Group has stated that their industry has seen over $30 million in losses as a result of the strike.

Miners said late on Tuesday that the impact to their industry to date had been minimal.

“In the northern zone there have been no great difficulties and in the central zone, the move has led to delays in loading our products, but we have been able to comply with our contracts,” said a spokeswoman for Codelco, the world’s No. 1 copper producer.

Codelco’s main mines in central Chile are El Teniente and Andina.

Small business owners in the South American country have also complained that crucial import stocks were being held up.


Union: Callao box ops affected

Replacement labour used by APM Terminals (APMT) to fill in for striking dockworkers at Peru’s Port of Callao has started to affect container operations, according to the labour union’s spokesman.
Juan Carlos Vargas, spokesman for the Peruvian dockworkers’ union SUTRAMPORPC, disputes APMT’s

Arab Forces Strike Yemen Port

By Reuters 2015-05-27 09:26:26

Arab warplanes and ships bombed Yemen’s largest military port in the Red Sea city of Hodaida on Wednesday, a local official said, in the most serious attack on the country’s navy in over two months of war.

The city and its military bases are aligned with the Iran-allied Houthi militia, Yemen’s dominant force, which a Saudi-led coalition has bombed since March 26 to try to reverse an expansion of Houthi power across the country in recent months.

“The naval base was bombed by aircraft and ships. Large parts of it were destroyed and two warships were hit, and one of them, named Bilqis, was destroyed and sank onto its side, and five gunboats shelled the administrative buildings of the base,” the official told Reuters by telephone from the city.

Residents of the Houthi-controlled capital Sanaa reported air strikes on military camps loyal to the group on Wednesday.

Houthi forces shelled the southern city of Aden, a bastion of resistance against their advances into Yemen’s south, and local fighters built on gains against the Houthis in recent days by seizing their last military post in the nearby city of Dalea.

Sunni Muslim states fear the Shi’ite Houthis are a proxy for the influence of their archrival Iran in the Arabian Peninsula.

Yemen’s exiled government in Saudi Arabia has said the group must recognize its authority and quit Yemen’s main cities before any talks.

The United Nations said on Tuesday U.N.-backed negotiations which were set for May 28 in Geneva had been postponed.

“The secretary-general is disappointed that it has not been possible to commence such an important initiative at the soonest possible date and reiterates his call for all parties to engage in United Nations-facilitated consultations in good faith and without preconditions,” U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Tuesday.


Freighter Evacuated Amid Explosion Fears

By Kathryn Stone 2015-05-27 10:13:31

German emergency officials have evacuated the crew and rescue personnel from a North Sea freighter amid mounting concerns of an explosion onboard the vessel.

The 32,722 dwt Purple Beach was carrying fertilizer between the U.K. and Germany on Monday when crew members reported smoke in the ship’s hold. The fire was brought under control, but then reignited on Tuesday forcing the 22 man crew along with emergency personnel to abandon the 192 meter (630 foot) vessel. Authorities have stated that the vessel is still on fire Wednesday and that it is in danger of exploding.

However, in its latest press statement the Central Command for Maritime Emergencies Germany (CCME) has said that efforts to reduce smoke in the area have been successful and that the organization is working with the shipping company to adapt an existing firefighting plan to allow rescue crews back onboard the ship. Additionally, authorities have ordered all other vessels to avoid the 5 km radius surrounding the Purple Beach.

Currently, the freighter is located off the coast of Bremerhaven and residents of the German city have been warned to keep doors and windows locked to avoid harmful fumes. As of today 36 people have been hospitalized for inhaling toxic gas, though no life-threating symptoms have been reported.


Tugboat Capsizes Leaving Two Dead

By MarEx 2015-05-27 11:23:16

Two seaman have died after their tugboat sank off Busan, South Korean Yonhap News Agency reports.

The incident occurred around 12:30pm, May 26 when the 22-ton 97 Samyoung was towing another vessel. The towing cable the 97 Samyoung was using snapped suddenly, hitting the side of the tugboat, causing it to capsize in an area near Dudo Island.

Both men onboard were thrown into the water and rendered unconscious. The 53-year old captain and the other crewman were taken to a local hospital, but were later reported to have died.

Korean authorities have installed oil booms to prevent any possible pollution to the surrounding area. An investigation has also been launched to determine the exact cause of the incident.


Dispatches No. 246

Last Week:

19-20 May Liverpool, Monalisa 2 Project meeting at MOTORWAYS of THE SEA, Capt. Kuba Szymanski representing InterManager.

This Week:

Administration work

Looking forward:

02 June Oslo, InterManager Executive Committee Meeting 

04 June … (Read more…)