Australia’s Fremantle port up for sale

Plummeting ore prices and lost royalties have forced the Western Australian government to include its prized container terminal and general cargo port of Fremantle in a AUD5 billion (USD4 billion) state assets fire sale.
The proposed sale was announced as part of the state budget on 15 May.

Alpine Eternity incident raises concern

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) has expressed concern over an incident where a Singapore-flagged tanker was fired at by a number of Iranian vessels.
On 14 May, oil products tanker Alpine Eternity was fired at by some small craft in international waters off the United Arab

Singapore Wants Investigation into Shooting Incident

By MarEx 2015-05-18 00:00:06

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) said on Monday that it has requested the Iranian maritime authorities to investigate an incident last week when Iranian vessels fired shots at a Singapore-flagged tanker in the Gulf.

Alpine Eternity, the vessel that came under fire, had collided with an Iranian oil drilling platform in March, which triggered a call from Iran to its neighbors to seize the ship and hand it over to Iran.

Singapore’s MPA said that it requested its Iranian counterpart prevent future recurrences, as the freedom of navigation and free flow of commerce are of critical importance to Singapore and other countries.

“Such interference with navigational rights is a serious violation of international law,” it said in a statement, adding that Singapore was deeply concerned by such actions.

“As to the collision on 22 March 2015 (Singapore time) involving Alpine Eternity and an oil platform located in the Persian Gulf, the ship manager, Transpetrol Ship Management Pte Ltd, had reported the incident to MPA on March 23, 2015. As the flag administration of Alpine Eternity, MPA had immediately commenced a marine safety investigation into the incident in accordance with the International Maritime Organization’s Casualty Investigation Code, and the investigation is still in progress.”


Coal Seam Gas Outperforming Offshore LNG

By Wendy Laursen 2015-05-17 19:38:31

The world’s first coal seam gas LNG train saw its first cargo delivered in January 2015. Over the next three years, the start-up of this first train from Australia’s Queensland Curtis LNG (QCLNG) will be followed by the commissioning of another 13 trains.

But, says Adele Long, Upstream Analyst at Wood Mackenzie, there has always been concern about the success of the project amongst the wider LNG community, as the concept has not truly been tested before.

“Comparatively there was a higher level of confidence in Australia’s conventional projects Gorgon, Wheatstone and Ichthys. But so far, the conventional Australian LNG has been disappointing.”

These projects are between seven and 18 months behind their original schedule. “Inpex reports that the Ichthys project is around 68 percent complete,” says Long. “First LNG is still targeted for end-2016, but we take a more conservative view and model a mid-2017 start. For Inpex, the biggest project challenges are managing four massive subprojects separately and then bringing them together to be tied-in at the same time.

“There are significant challenges associated with managing the installation of one of the world’s longest subsea pipelines, extending 889 kilometers (552 miles), construction of the FPSO, the world’s largest semi-submersible centralized production platform (CPF) and two LNG trains. Given the significant level of activity in Korean shipyards, driven by other mega-projects, not least Prelude FLNG, management of the construction of the CPF and FPSO has been especially difficult, and we believe these critical-path items are behind schedule.”

Wheatstone is around 60 percent complete. “It is arguably a simpler project, and with a three month head-start on construction, we had expected that it would be more advanced that Ichthys,” says Long. “However, dredging and complex site preparation had delayed construction at the site. We anticipate first LNG in mid-2017 against Chevron’s end of 2016 direction.

“Similar to Ichthys, keeping the fabrication of the central processing platform and topsides on track will be essential for the project timeline. In March 2015, development drilling was delayed around a month because of rig damage suffered following a cyclone.”

Shell continues to target a 2017 start for Prelude. Wood Mackenzie predicts first cargo will be delivered by September 2017 assuming some delay to the construction of the vessel and the lengthy commissioning required for a FLNG. “A lag of even a few months would impinge on the summer cyclone season, requiring start-up to be postponed until 2018,” says Long.

Chevron is now targeting a start date of the end of 2015 for Gorgon. Construction at Gorgon has been hindered by logistics and productivity challenges.

Wood Mackenzie expects Ichthys, Wheatstone and Prelude to suffer cost overruns, cushioned slightly due to the weakening Australian dollar and more favorable labor market conditions. By 2017, the three projects are expected to add 21 mmtpa to Australia’s LNG exports.

More coal seam gas projects are expected to start-up in 2015 following QCLNG including the Santos-operated GLNG and the Origin-ConocoPhillips-operated APLNG project. “Both these projects are largely on schedule and expected to start-up in the third quarter of 2015,” says Long. “Both projects have reached the critical commissioning phase with gas entering the plants in the first quarter of 2015.”

The second half of 2015 will see a train each to be delivered from GLNG, QCLNG and APLNG.

Long says that while coal seam gas projects have seen a shift in schedules, they have stuck much more closely to their original timelines, and their construction projects may prove to be more successful than those of their offshore counterparts.


Turtle Gets 3D Printed Jaw Reconstruction

By Wendy Laursen 2015-05-17 17:14:31

A loggerhead turtle has been given a 3D-printed prosthetic jaw after it was struck by a propeller in Turkey.

Loggerheads are endangered, and the accident shattered the turtle’s jaw, leaving it unable to eat on its own.

Veterinarians, surgeons and researchers at the Sea Turtle Research, Rescue and Rehabilitation Center at Pamukkale University in Turkey partnered with biotechnology company BTech to devise a titanium jaw that could save the animal’s life.

The project took two months of research and the first of its kind operation to fit the jaw took two-and-a-half hours.

BTech creates medical-grade implants, models and prostheses for people. The company used the Mimics Innovation Suite from Materialise to create a 3D model of the affected areas of the turtle’s jaw.

The researchers are optimistic because the turtle’s body has not rejected the prosthetic jaw, but it is not yet recovered enough to be returned to the wild.

There are seven species of sea turtle globally, four of which are endangered. Loggerhead turtles can live up to 70 years and are found in the Atlantic, Indian, Mediterranean and Pacific.

Images: Facebook


Russia Wants $1 Billion for Failed Mistral Deal

By Reuters 2015-05-17 16:51:29

Russia wants 1.163 billion euros ($1.32 billion) from France in compensation for cancelling a contract to deliver two Mistral helicopter carriers, a Russian source close to the negotiations said on Friday.

French President Francois Holland has come under pressure from his Western allies not to deliver the Mistrals because of Russia’s role in the Ukraine crisis.

He discussed the 2011 contract worth 1.19 billion euros with Russian President Vladimir Putin last month and Moscow has said it is willing to accept financial compensation if Paris does not fulfill the deal.

The source said Russia was eyeing 1.163 billion euros, confirming a report on Friday by Russian daily Kommersant, which also said Paris was offering to pay 785 million euros.

“The 1.163 billion euros figure is a touch below the value of the contract,” said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The source added that while Russia had not paid all of the contract’s value, it had incurred additional expenses on personnel training, organizing production of parts for the vessel in Russia among other outgoings.

The spokesman for the Kremlin reiterated on Friday Russia was ready to accept financial compensation if France scraps the delivery and added that the issue was not a major headache in relations between the two countries.

“The principle is the following – either the goods or the money,” the spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters, adding that Putin and Hollande had agreed to this basic approach.

Peskov did not comment on the details of the Kommersant report, which also said France wanted to resell the two Mistrals before compensating Russia while Moscow wanted to see the money before a third country gets the vessels.

“Both Mistral helicopter carriers were built for the Russian navy, for our helicopters, our control systems, our infrastructure. These vessels cannot be given away to some third country now under any circumstances, this is a matter of state security,” Russia’s Interfax news agency quoted senior defense ministry official Yury Yakubov as saying.

Speaking separately in Belgrade on Friday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia and France had agreed a basis for settling the dispute and that it was now being dealt with on a “legal and commercial” level.

Rosoboronexport, Russia’s state-owned arms exporting firm, which signed the contract for the two Mistrals in 2011, declined to comment.


Iranian Ship Carrying Aid, Activists to Yemen

By Reuters 2015-05-17 16:43:31

An Iranian cargo ship carrying aid and activists crossed into the Gulf of Aden on Sunday and will reach Yemen’s Hodaida port on May 21, Iranian media reported, in a challenge to Saudi-led naval forces controlling Yemeni waters.

A coalition of Arab countries led by Saudi Arabia has imposed searches on all ships trying to enter Yemen in a bid to prevent weapons being smuggled to the Iran-allied Houthi rebel group which controls much of the country, including Hodaida.

Iranian officials last week said they would not allow the Saudi-led forces to inspect the Iran Shahed, which is under military escort, and warned of war if the cargo ship was attacked.

“After entering the Gulf of Aden today… we expect to be in the confines of Hodaida port early on May 21,” the Iran Shahed’s captain, Massoud Ghazi Mirsaid, was quoted as saying by state news agency IRNA.

Iran says the ship is carrying food aid, medical volunteers and seven Western activists, one of whom was identified by the Tasnim news agency as Caleb Maupin, a native of Ohio who has campaigned against war and the U.S. financial system.

“If they prevent (the ship from docking), which is likely, this is a major human rights violation,” Tasnim quoted Maupin as saying in an interview on board the ship.

The presence of foreign activists has previously complicated plans to intercept ships carrying them. Israel faced criticism in 2010 when its forces raided a Gaza-bound flotilla, resulting in the deaths of nine Turkish activists on board. A 10th Turk died in May 2014 from wounds sustained in the incident.

Maupin also criticized a plea from his native United States that Iran redirect the ship to Djibouti, where the United Nations is coordinating relief efforts.

Reuters ship tracking data showed the Iran Shahed located off the coast of eastern Yemen at 1110 GMT, heading west towards the Bab el-Mandeb strait, one of the world’s busiest oil shipping routes.

Yemen’s Vice President Khaled Bahah said on Sunday his administration favored an extension of a five-day ceasefire expiring in the evening but this would depend on the situation on the ground.