California Declares State of Emergency Following Oil Spill

By MarEx 2015-05-21 11:25:11

California governor Edmund G. Brown issued an emergency proclamation for Santa Barbara County in the wake of an oil spill that occurred Tuesday near Refugio State Beach. The declaration was made in an attempt to speed up the allocation of funds for the cleanup effort.

According to CNN reports, up to 105,000 gallons of oil may have spilled in the area with 21,000 reportedly going into the Pacific Ocean. The area affected by the spill now extends along 9 miles of coastline.

“This emergency proclamation cuts red tape and helps the state quickly mobilize all available resources,” said Governor Brown. “We will do everything necessary to protect California’s coastline.”

The area where the spill occurred is home to the California least tern and the western snowy plover, two birds listed under the federal Endangered Species Act. Currently the California Office of Spill Response and Prevention is working closely with several governmental agencies to clean up beaches and help wildlife that may have been affected by the spill.

The state is also coordinating six boom boats, three 65-foot collection vessels and hand crews to assist with cleanup efforts. Around 3,000 feet of containment boom has been put in place, and over 272 responders are participating in the cleanup efforts. So far, about 6,000 gallons of oil have been skimmed from the ocean.

The Santa Barbara Coast was also the scene of a massive oil spill in 1969, which was the largest to have occurred at the time, and now ranks as the third largest in U.S. history.

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Scientists: BP Oil Spill Spurs Dolphin Die-off

By Reuters 2015-05-21 11:02:10

A record dolphin die-off in the northern Gulf of Mexico was caused by the largest oil spill in U.S. history, researchers said on Wednesday, citing a new study that found many of the dolphins died with rare lesions linked to petroleum exposure.

Scientists said the study of dead dolphins tissue rounded out the research into a spike of dolphin deaths in the region affected by BP Plc’s oil spill that was caused by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion.

Millions of barrels of crude oil spewed into Gulf waters, and a dolphin die-off was subsequently seen around coastal Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

“Dolphins were negatively impacted by exposure to petroleum compounds,” from the spill, said Stephanie Venn-Watson, a veterinary epidemiologist at the National Marine Mammal Foundation and lead author of the study published in the scientific journal PLOS ONE.

“Exposure to these compounds caused life-threatening adrenal and lung disease that has contributed to the increase of dolphin deaths in the northern Gulf of Mexico,” she added.

More than 1,200 cetacean marine mammals, mostly bottlenose dolphins, have been found beached or stranded since the spill, according to NOAA, which has declared an ongoing “unusual mortality event” under 1972 Marine Mammal Protection Act.

To understand the cause of death, researchers compared tissue samples from 46 dolphins in areas affected by the spill with 106 dolphins that were not exposed.

One-third of the oil-exposed dolphins suffered rare adrenal damage, consistent with petroleum exposure, the study found.

Yet only seven percent of the dolphins away from the spill had similar adrenal disease, which would hurt their ability to produce critical hormones and make them vulnerable to stressors, researchers said.

Dead dolphins near the spill were more likely to have lung damage and pneumonia, researchers found, explaining the mammals would have inhaled contaminants coming up for air near the water’s surface.

“These dolphins had some of the most severe lung lesions I have ever seen in wild dolphins throughout the United States,” said Kathleen Colegrove, the University of Illinois-based lead veterinary pathologist for the study.

Yet BP questioned whether other factors were to blame.

“The data we have seen thus far, including the new study from NOAA, do not show that oil from the Deepwater Horizon accident caused an increase in dolphin mortality,” said Geoff Morrell, BP’s senior vice president for U.S. communications, in a statement.

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Natural Gas Imports Hits Lowest Level in Decades

By MarEx 2015-05-21 10:16:38

U.S. net imports of natural gas decreased 9% in 2014, continuing an eight-year decline. As U.S. dry natural gas production has reached record highs, lower domestic prices have helped to displace natural gas imports. Net natural gas imports (imports minus exports) totaled 1,171 billion cubic feet (Bcf) in 2014, the lowest level since 1987.

Imports by pipeline from Canada account for nearly 98% of all U.S. natural gas imports, and were the main driver of the decrease in total imports. Net imports from Canada represented 7% of total U.S. natural gas consumption in 2014, down from 11% in 2009.

U.S. natural gas exports also decreased in 2014, but at a slower rate than the decrease in imports, and were still 9% above the previous five-year average. Natural gas exports to Mexico, which account for nearly 50% of U.S. natural gas exports, increased 12% in 2014.

Net imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in 2014 totaled 43 Bcf, down 54% from the level in 2013 and continuing a five-year decline. LNG exports increased from 2013 levels, but not enough to offset a nearly 40% decrease in total LNG imports in 2014.

Net imports of natural gas have varied significantly around the country. New production from shale and other tight resources has helped to displace imports in certain regions. EIA’s most recent analysis of natural gas imports and exports highlights regional trends in natural gas trade:

  • Inflows of natural gas from Canada were equivalent to 50%-80% of New York’s natural gas consumption as late as 2008. In 2014, however, outflows of U.S.-produced natural gas through pipelines that crossed into Canada through New York state exceeded inflows of Canadian gas through pipelines into that state, as increased production from the Marcellus region outpaced regional demand.
  • Pipeline outflows of natural gas crossing into Canada through Michigan and Minnesota exceeded inflows of natural gas, but inflows increased and outflows decreased in 2014, likely because of increased demand during the winter months of 2014.
  • Natural gas exports to Mexico through pipelines crossing the international border in Texas, California, and Arizona increased to a record 706 Bcf in 2014 to meet increasing demand from new natural gas-fueled power plants in Mexico. Higher production of natural gas from the U.S. Gulf Coast and the Eagle Ford Shale in southern Texas contributed to the increase in exports to Mexico.

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DFDS raises forecast after strong 1Q15

DFDS, the listed Danish ferry and logistics group, has raised its full-year operating profit forecast after cutting net loss in 1Q15 on economic recovery on its key markets and cheaper bunkers, the company said in a statement.
Group net loss narrowed to DKK23 million (USD3.4 million) in 1Q15 from
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Hoegh LNG cuts loss and eyes more FSRUs

Hoegh LNG (HLNG), the Oslo-based listed gas carrier company controlled by the Leif Hoegh group, has cut its loss in 1Q15 and says it plans to continue to grow its floating storage and regasification unit (FSRU) business.
Group net loss narrowed to USD2.4 million in 1Q15 from USD4.5 million in the
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Lloyd’s Register CEO resigns

Lloyd’s Register CEO Richard Sadler has resigned, the classification society has announced.
Sadler had been in the role for eight years and will be replaced by the current CFO Alastair Marsh at the end of 2015.
Sadler’s tenure has seen LR’s yearly turnover reach GBP1 billion (USD1.5 billion).
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BP Settles Deepwater Horizon Partner Claims

By Reuters 2015-05-21 04:10:02

BP has settled with oilfield services provider Halliburton and contract driller Transocean cross claims related to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, the worst offshore disaster in U.S. history.

BP still faces a potential fine of up to $13.7 billion under the U.S. Clean Water Act.

Transocean, which owned the Deepwater Horizon rig, had settled its Clean Water Act liability for $1 billion. The U.S. government never sued Halliburton under the Act, one person familiar with the case said.

“We have now settled all matters relating to the accident with both our partners in the well and our contractors,” BP spokesman Geoff Morrell said in an email.

Transocean said BP would pay the company $125 million in compensation for legal fees it incurred, adding the companies will mutually release all claims against each other.

The company added BP will also discontinue its attempts to recover as an “additional insured” under Transocean’s liability policies that will accelerate the company’s recovery of about $538 million in insurance claims.

Transocean also said it would pay about $212 million to a fund set up to pay out claims to people and businesses harmed by the spill, subject to the approval by U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.

“We applaud Transocean for adding to the settlement funds established in the Halliburton settlement to help compensate people and businesses for their losses,” said co-lead plaintiffs’ attorneys, Stephen Herman and James Roy.

Transocean said it intends to make the payments using cash on hand.

In September, a U.S. judge ruled that BP was mostly at fault and that Transocean and Halliburton were not as much to blame.

Halliburton, which did the cementing work for BP’s well, had earlier blamed BP’s decision to use only six centralizers for the blowout that spilled millions of barrels of oil for 87 days.

Halliburton said in September that it reached a $1.1 billion settlement for a majority of claims related to its role in the oil spill.

London-based BP has already taken $43.8 billion in pretax charges for clean-up and other costs.

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Nippon Foundation announces major financial support for enhanced World Maritime University

The Nippon Foundation, a Japanese philanthropic organization that promotes social innovation, has said it is willing to establish a US$100 million endowment fund to support expansive and innovative activities at the World Maritime University (WMU). Based in Malmo, Sweden, the WMU is a postgraduate maritime university founded by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in 1983…

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