U.S. Coast Guard Bill Passes House of Reps

By MarEx 2015-05-18 21:11:22

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2015 (H.R. 1987) by a unanimous voice vote on Monday. Congressman John Garamendi (D-Fairfield, CA), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure’s Subcommittee on the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, co-authored this bipartisan legislation and welcomed its passage.

The bill supports and strengthens the Coast Guard in its critical missions to save lives, safeguard our shores, and protect marine resources. “Some of the Coast Guard’s legacy cutters are fifty years old. These vessels are well beyond their estimated service life and have become increasingly unreliable and much more expensive to maintain and repair. We can, and we should, do better by our Coast Guard,” says Garamendi.

“The authorized funding levels for the Acquisitions, Construction and Improvement Account in this legislation will allow the Coast Guard to keep this recapitalization initiative on track.

“America’s Coast Guard and Merchant Marine play an indispensible role in our national security and economic prosperity. This bipartisan legislation supports their work and I applaud its passage,” said Garamendi. “H.R. 1987 would provide crucial budget stability for our Coast Guard, strengthening its ability to recapitalize its offshore fleets of ships and aircraft.

“The funding level, while far from ideal, will support this recapitalization and help the Coast Guard meet more of its mission goals. The bill also helps us find and implement best practices for meeting personnel needs, measuring performance and using new technology.”

Garamendi believes the bill directs the Secretary of Transportation to develop guidelines to promote the use of U.S. flag ships and U.S. mariners in the imminent export of LNG.

Details of the bill are available here.


Floating LNG Platforms Could Be Unmanned

By MarEx 2015-05-18 20:09:33

DNV GL has developed a new unmanned floating LNG concept that overcomes many of the challenges currently faced by those looking to unlock the potential of remote offshore gas fields.

Called Solitude, the concept demonstrates how technological advances can be combined into a solution that offers some 20 percent reduction in annual OPEX, only adding a few percent increase in CAPEX and at the same time increase the overall safety. Most of the technology needed is already within reach, says DNV GL.

FLNG technology is developing rapidly as part of the industry’s quest for resources in more remote waters. A number of concepts have been discussed, but only a few are currently under construction, as many oil and gas companies have experienced double-digit growth in both capital and operational expenditure over the last decade.

Foreseeing the need for more remote projects to be able to overcome even more challenging cost barriers, whilst still meeting increasingly stringent safety and environmental standards, DNV GL embarked on an Extraordinary Innovation Project to explore the future of LNG technology.

“Solitude has been developed with maintainability foremost in mind,” says Elisabeth Tørstad, DNV GL CEO Oil & Gas. “By changing the focus from maximum efficiency to maximum reliability, and selecting robust processing options with built-in redundancy, we were able to develop a solution that ensures production levels and boosts the economic viability of FLNG projects.”

Solitude makes use of advanced but mainly available technology to provide its power. Power that would otherwise be generated by high-maintenance gas turbines can for example be generated by fuel cells. This improves power generation reliability and reduces the unit’s environmental footprint.

Equipment throughout the FLNG is modularized and monitored from shore with much of the routine maintenance and fault correction carried out by self-programming autonomous inspection and maintenance units (robots). The topside has a system of rails that run along each process train, providing these robots with access to all the equipment.

Wireless sensor networks act as eyes, ears and noses, feeding information to a condition monitoring system that overseas fault detection, proactive maintenance and repair planning.

As there would be no one living on board or working on the topside during normal operation, the associated personal safety risks are eliminated. When people do enter for large maintenance campaigns, the topside would be prepared for a safe working environment. A new support and accommodation vessel concept and its associated docking system on the FLNG further boost the safety of interventions.

“Existing frontier oil and gas projects have resulted in tremendous technological developments, particularly in the subsea realm, and Solitude draws on this,” says Tørstad. “Operators are already controlling subsea installations and simple, fixed offshore installations from shore. Given the on-going advances in autonomous systems and remote operations, unmanned offshore installations are a natural development over the next few decades.

“While Solitude is a holistic concept, many of its solutions can be implemented independently – and some are already available today,” says Tørstad.

“These projects are our way of thinking out loud. Our aim is to present high-level concepts that can form a basis for discussion and be further developed in collaboration with the industry. We see Solitude as a new opportunity for the future.”


Shipping Resumes on St. Lawrence Seaway

By MarEx 2015-05-18 17:08:41

Ship traffic has resumed today after the Algoma Spirit, a 34,685dwt bulker, ran aground in the St. Lawrence Seaway Saturday afternoon, stopping all transportation over the weekend.

Shipping was halted Saturday afternoon and all day Sunday, following the incident. The Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation reports that the incident occurred around 4pm on May16 and that commercial navigation was officially suspended at 4:11pm. According to Canadian news sources, the vessel lost power and subsequently grounded near Cornwall, Ontario.

The ship was refloated Sunday shortly before midnight and two tugs escorted the Algoma Spirit to St.-Zotique Anchorage. No injuries or pollution resulted from the grounding and navigation on the waterway resumed early morning Monday. The SLSDC reports that “vessel traffic is currently moving normally”.

In late April a cargo ship named Juno that was carrying sugar from the Bahamas to Toronto ran aground on the U.S. side of the seaway. Traffic on the waterway ground to a halt then as officials rushed to refloat the vessel.


Iranian Warships Escort Yemen-Bound Cargo Ship

By MarEx 2015-05-18 15:26:48

Two Iranian warships have rendezvoused with the Yemen-bound Iran Shahed cargo ship in the Gulf of Aden, the vessel’s captain said in remarks published by Iran’s Tasnim news agency on Monday.

“The 34th fleet has made contact with us and told us that they will keep an active presence alongside the aid ship,” Massoud Ghazi Mirsaid was quoted as saying by Tasnim, referring to a destroyer and a support vessel in the Gulf of Aden.

The warships will escort the cargo ship all the way to the port of Hodaida in western Yemen, which it is expected to reach on May 21, Mirsaid added.

“Iran’s recent measures in the Strait of Hormuz have one clear message to Saudi Arabia. No one can ignore Iran’s key role,” said an Iranian official, who asked not to be named due to the sensitivity of the issue.

“Whether reformist or hardliner, Iranian leaders have consensus on securing Iran’s influence in the region,” said the official.

“They (the United States and its Gulf allies) don’t expect a key regional power like Iran to remain silent over its aid ship being prevented from entering Yemen.”

Tehran and Riyadh have long been locked in a proxy war, competing for regional supremacy from Iraq to Syria and Lebanon to Yemen, where Riyadh backs Yemen’s exiled government against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels.

In a bold operation by Gulf Arab states, the Saudi-led coalition backed by the West on March 26 began pounding Houthi rebels and allied army units that control much of Yemen as well as inspecting all ships in a bid to stop weapons smuggling.

Tehran denies training Houthi fighters and supplying arms, as claimed by Riyadh. The standoff has intensified since the coalition declared that it had to inspect all aid for Yemen including that sent by Tehran.


Seattle Port Sees Latest Shell Protests

By MarEx 2015-05-18 14:46:42

Around 200 protestors gathered Monday morning near Terminal 5 at the Port of Seattle to block access to a shell rig that will resume oil exploration activities this summer in the Arctic.

The protests today follow action over the weekend in which hundreds of activists in kayaks gathered on Seattle Bay holding signs saying “Shell No” and “Climate Justice.”

Seattle City Council Woman Kshama Sawant was among the protestors at the port this morning. She told KIRO Radio “I’m joining in solidarity with the environmental community. Any drilling of oil in the Arctic represents grave danger to all humanity.”

On her twitter page Sawant claims that elected leadership has failed Seattle and that the protest are a non-violent act of civil-disobedience meant to address the failure. Additionally, the politician states on her website that, “We know if we build a strong enough opposition, we can send this climate destroyer packing and unable to make the necessary repairs to return to the Arctic.”

The environmentalist community has been quick to condemn Shell’s plans of drilling in the Arctic due to concerns over a potential catastrophic spill that could be nearly impossible to clean up. Furthermore, they claim that drilling in the area could affect fragile, climate regulating sea ice in the region.

President Barrack Obama has come under intense scrutiny as well by many in Seattle and across the entire country. However, he has defended his decision in Shell’s favor by stating that in the wake of the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon disaster, “Shell is being held to extremely high standards for the drilling it’s planning northwest of Alaska in the Chukchi Sea.” Obama went on to say, “Based on those very high standards, Shell had to go back to the drawing board, revamp its approach and the experts at this point have concluded that they have met those standards.”

Last week, the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management gave conditional approval to Shell’s return to exploration in the Arctic, which was suspended after a mishap-filled 2012 season. Some Alaska lawmakers welcomed the decision because, they said, it would bring money and jobs to the state.

The Port of Seattle released a statement over the weekend saying that impacts to its facilities from the protests ‘are expected to be significant.’ However, a port spokesman noted that operations at Terminal 5 are minimal on Monday and the biggest reported delay was the shutdown of a road leading into the terminal.

Despite the opposition, Shell has said it was moving ahead with plans to keep the rigs in Seattle until mid-summer, when the drilling fleet and its crew plans to return to the Arctic.


Large claims, lower returns hit Skuld

Protection and indemnity (P&I) club Skuld saw its net result deteriorate to USD13.5 million last year, from USD29million in 2013.
The Oslo-based member of the International Group of P&I Clubs said the fall was due to a combination of reduced investment returns and high claims in its charterers’ P&I

Viking Officially Launches Ocean Cruises

By Kathryn Stone 2015-05-18 12:57:05

The Viking Star, the first ocean ship from river cruise giant Viking, officially launched Sunday following a ceremony attended by almost 20,000 in the vessel’s homeport of Bergen. The vessel’s launch marks the first new cruise ship line debut in over a decade. The 930 passenger, 47,800 ton Star Princess is the first that will operate under the newly formed Viking Ocean Cruises.

“We have always believed that cruising should be about connecting you to your destination – not just taking you to places on a map.” said Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking Cruises. “With our new ocean cruises, we have created a new kind of vessel that is smaller in size and smarter in design, offering an alternative to today’s mega liners.”

Viking River Cruises currently operates over 60 ships, including over a dozen new vessels. With the new ocean division of Viking Cruises the company is seeking to further penetrate the nearly $39.6 billion annual-revenue cruise industry. The vessel will most likely compete with other high-end lines, which also offer smaller-sized ships.

According to statements given to Cruise Critic, Viking Ocean Cruises has plans to launch a minimum of nine additional ships of the same design and scale in the coming years. Currently, the company has two other vessels under construction the Viking Sea and the Viking Sky, which are set to be delivered in early 2017.

The Viking Star embarked on her maiden voyage from Istanbul to Venice on April 15. Like her sister ships she will sail itineraries in Scandinavia, the Baltic and the Mediterranean.


Polar code adopted, sensitive sea area designated and work progressed on ballast water, energy-efficiency and air pollution implementation at IMO environment meeting

The Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) met for its 68th session from 11 to 15 May 2015.   The MEPC adopted the environmental requirements of the Polar Code and associated MARPOL amendments to make the Code mandatory; adopted amendments to MARPOL related to tanks for oil residues; designated an…


600 Maritime Jobs Lost Amid Low Oil Prices

By MarEx 2015-05-18 11:45:50

The Rolls-Royce marine unit is the latest group announcing job cuts amid increasing pressure of low oil prices.

The British engineering group said it would cut 600 jobs in its Norwegian-focused marine business in response to the lower oil price, a move it said would have a “broadly neutral” impact on 2015 profits. The company said that from 2016, the job cuts in marine would help generate 25 million pounds ($39 million) of benefits.

Employing 6,000 people, the unit builds propulsion systems, winches and anchors for ships, and depends on oil and gas-related customers for about 60 percent of its business. “The effect of low oil prices means we have to continue to look for further efficiencies,” Rolls-Royce Marine president Mikael Makinen said in a statement on Monday.

Between June 2014 and January of this year the price of Brent oil collapsed from $115 a barrel to $45 a barrel as supply swamped the global market. It was trading at around $67 a barrel on Monday, well below its 2011-14 average of around $108.

Earlier this year A.P Moller-Maersk announced it would cut 200 jobs in its Maersk Oil Unit and Royal Dutch Shell said that it would see a reduction of at least 250 employees in its UK North Sea operations. Additionally, BP, Chevron and Conoco Phillips have all seen jobs slashed amid falling oil prices.

Half of the 600 jobs Rolls-Royce job cuts would be in Norway, where the Marine unit’s main manufacturing facilities are located, with the other half at the company’s other global locations, Rolls-Royce said.


Pirates Attack Tanker off Malaysia

By Kathryn Stone 2015-05-18 10:51:09

The Malaysian-flagged tanker Oriental Glory was attacked by a group of 30 pirates on May 15, marking the seventh incident of fuel siphoning in Asia this year.

The roughly 3,000 dwt vessel had departed Labuan and was en route to Tanjung Manis when six fishing boats surrounded the tanker in an area of off Bruit Island in Malaysia. The armed men then forced the vessel to another location further south and siphoned approximately 2,500 tons of bunker fuel from the ship. After robbing the crew of personal effects, the pirates left the vessel.

All members of the crew are safe and have been transported to Tanjung Manis to aid in the piracy investigation.

This is the third piracy attack on Oriental Glory in under a year. In July of 2014 a team of 25 armed men carried out another fuel siphoning attack and in November the captain of the Oriental Glory managed to foil another incident.

The news comes as the anti-piracy organization ReCAAP has noted a strong increase in piracy for the first quarter of 2015, with severe incidents including fuel siphoning topping the list of organization’s concerns. The lower portion of the South China Sea, where the attack on the Oriental Glory took place, is a known hotspot for pirate activity.

ReCAAP has urged ships to be on heightened alert when traveling near the area and, Monday of last week Rear Admiral Lai Chung Han, Chief of Navy for Singapore, announced that his country, Malaysia and Indonesia are in discussions to heighten patrol efforts in the areas of the South China Sea most affected by piracy.