Shell Abandons Chukchi Sea Drilling Activities

By MarEx 2015-09-28 01:23:48

Shell has issued a statement on the Burger J exploration well, located in Alaska’s Chukchi Sea, saying the well will be abandoned.

The Burger J well is approximately 150 miles from Barrow, Alaska, in about 150 feet of water. Shell drilled the well to a total depth of 6,800 feet this summer in a basin that demonstrates many of the key attributes of a major petroleum basin. For an area equivalent to half the size of the Gulf of Mexico, this basin remains substantially under-explored.

Shell has found indications of oil and gas in the Burger J well, but these are not sufficient to warrant further exploration in the Burger prospect, the company said. The well will be sealed and abandoned in accordance with U.S. regulations.

“The Shell Alaska team has operated safely and exceptionally well in every aspect of this year’s exploration program,” said Marvin Odum, Director, Shell Upstream Americas. “Shell continues to see important exploration potential in the basin, and the area is likely to ultimately be of strategic importance to Alaska and the US. However, this is a clearly disappointing exploration outcome for this part of the basin.”

Shell will now cease further exploration activity in offshore Alaska for the foreseeable future. This decision reflects both the Burger J well result, the high costs associated with the project and the challenging and unpredictable federal regulatory environment in offshore Alaska.

The company expects to take financial charges as a result. The balance sheet carrying value of Shell’s Alaska position is approximately $3 billion, with approximately a further $1.1 billion of future contractual commitments.

Shell holds a 100 percent working interest in 275 Outer Continental Shelf blocks in the Chukchi Sea. Operations will continue to safely de-mobilize people and equipment from the Chukchi Sea.


Preparing for the E.U.’s MRV Regulation

By MarEx 2015-09-27 18:08:39

The MRV (Monitoring, Reporting and Verification) regulation aims to quantify and reduce CO2 emissions from shipping and will create a new kind of benchmarking system in Europe. DNV GL has prepared an overview of how MRV will affect the maritime industry and what shipping companies need to do to achieve compliance.

The regulation in a nutshell

The European Commission (E.C.) is bringing emissions from shipping into its 2009 climate and energy package. MRV is designed to progressively integrate maritime emissions into the E.U.’s policy for reducing domestic greenhouse gas emissions (E.U. regulation 2015/757). MRV requires ship owners and operators to annually monitor, report and verify CO2 emissions for vessels equal to or larger than 5,000 GT and which call at any E.U. port. The results will be published on a regular basis. Entered into force on July 1, 2015, the regulation will become fully effective on January 1, 2018.

Shipping companies will need to prepare a monitoring plan by August 31, 2017, at the latest, for each of their ships that falls under the jurisdiction of the regulation. They will have to monitor and report the verified amount of CO2 emitted by their vessels on voyages to, from and between E.U. ports and will also be required to provide information on energy efficiency parameters.

Data collection will start on a per-voyage basis from January 1, 2018. Once the data is verified by a third-party organization and sent to a central database, presumably managed by the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), the aggregated ship emission and efficiency data will be published by the European Commission by June 30, 2019 and then every consecutive year.

Monitoring and reporting

Shipowners will have to monitor the following parameters on a per-voyage basis:

• Port of departure and port of arrival, including the date and hour of departure and arrival

• Amount and emission factor for each type of fuel consumed in total

• CO2 emitted

• Distance travelled

• Time spent at sea

• Cargo carried

Transport work

In addition to the companies reporting annually aggregated figures for the parameters, the data is to be used to calculate and report average energy efficiency.

The basis for the calculation of CO2 emissions will be the fuel consumption for voyages starting or terminating at any E.U. port. Fuel consumption shall be determined and calculated using one of the following methods:

• Bunker Fuel Delivery Note (BDN) and periodic stock takes of fuel tanks

• Bunker fuel tank monitoring on board

• Flow meters for applicable combustion processes

• Direct CO2 emissions measurements


Accredited verifiers will have three key tasks:

1. to verify ship-specific monitoring plans,

2. to verify that the annual ship-specific emissions reports comply with the monitoring plans and

3. to verify that the figures contained in the annual ship-specific emissions reports are accurate.

Presently, no companies have been granted accreditation, as criteria remain under development by the E.C. It is clear that the E.C. will not only consider class societies as potential verifiers, but will also add other organizations to the list.


August 31, 2017 – Companies are to submit ship-specific monitoring plans to verifiers for approval

January 1, 2018 – Per-voyage monitoring to start

April 30, 2019 – Verified annual emission reports submitted to the E.C.

June 30, 2019 – Emission data made publicly available by the E.C.

This cycle will then repeat for subsequent years.

Outstanding issues

A number of issues governing the implementation of the regulation remain to be settled. These include details of cargo monitoring and efficiency calculation, the inclusion of AIS-based verification, criteria for accreditation of verifiers and the development of monitoring plans and reporting templates. Industry stakeholders, including DNV GL, are providing input to the E.C. through the European Sustainable Shipping Forum (ESSF). The E.C. plans to publish documentation for the outstanding issues towards the end of 2016.

Recommended actions for DNV GL customers

The practical impact of the MRV regulation on owners and operators is not yet fully clear. There will be a need to monitor and report data, but the exact formats and templates for doing so are not yet available. Nevertheless, it would be advisable for ship owners and operators to prepare for MRV ahead of time and start considering how to best fulfil the forthcoming monitoring and reporting obligations for their own ship as well as their shore systems and routines ahead of time. Steps such as developing the mandated monitoring plan as well as examining how to best collect, aggregate and report fuel consumption and transport work data for their ships are particularly important.

More information is available here.


World Tourism Day: Celebrating a Billion Opportunities

By MarEx 2015-09-27 17:50:30

Under the theme “One billion tourists, one billion opportunities,” World Tourism Day, September 27, emphasizes the impact of the sector on economic growth, job creation and development.

The U.N. Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, stated in his message on the occasion: “Let us work together to maximize the immense potential of tourism to drive inclusive economic growth, protect the environment and promote sustainable development and a life of dignity for all.”

With five consecutive years of growth, tourism has been a major contributor to the economic recovery, creating jobs and opportunities for communities in many parts of the world. With an increase of four percent in international tourist arrivals in the first semester of 2015, the sector follows an increasing trend that is estimated to reach 1.8 billion international tourists by the year 2030.

“Every time we travel we are part of a global movement that has the power to drive inclusive development, to create jobs and to build the sustainable societies we want for our future,” said UNWTO Secretary General, Taleb Rifai in his World Tourism Day message. “This movement also contributes to build mutual understanding and to safeguard our shared natural and cultural heritage,” he added.

A transformative force, tourism brings livelihood opportunities and helps alleviate poverty, making a genuine difference in the lives of millions of people. At present, international tourism contributes $US 1.5 billion to global trade representing 30 percent of the world’s service exports, a share that goes up to 45 percent in Least Developed Countries (LDCs). Tourism also plays a key role in fostering multicultural understanding and contributing to the preservation of cultural and natural heritage.

This linkage is particularly relevant as the international community prepares to adopt the post-2015 agenda with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) where tourism has been identified as a sector that “creates jobs and promotes local culture and products.”

World Tourism Day has been celebrated on September 27 since 1980. This date coincides with the anniversary of the adoption of the UNWTO Statutes on September 27, 1970.


Global Tourism Industry Deserves More

By MarEx 2015-09-27 17:26:23

The huge potential of the tourism sector for inclusive growth and job creation, particularly in developing countries, justifies a greater share of trade-related development assistance. That’s one of the main messages of a new report by the International Trade Centre (ITC) and the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) called Tourism and Trade: A Global Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Just 0.78 percent of Aid for Trade disbursements went to tourism in 2013, even though the sector accounts for six percent of developing countries’ exports and around four percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in low-income countries. More Aid for Trade funding should be allocated to the sector, ITC and UNWTO say in their joint report, and tourism projects should be bigger.

The study underscores the importance of tourism to sustainable development. The report finds that the sector may not be able to reach its full potential to deliver sustainable and inclusive growth without strong, coordinated action around tourism export strategies that take full account of the different policy frameworks governing the flows of travellers, services, goods and foreign direct investment. The report illustrates the importance of trade, investment and visa policies to tourism from two perspectives – the tourist journey and the tourism value chain.

Another key finding is that open trade policies cutting across a wide range of sectors – not just transport and the hospitality industry – can facilitate tourism. These sectors range from financial and insurances services, to make it easier for tourists to access local currency or their own bank accounts, through to health, education and communications.

In recent decades, tourism has enjoyed rapid expansion and geographic ‎diversification, becoming one of the fastest-growing economic sectors worldwide. The tourism industry now ranks fourth among worldwide export sectors – behind only fuels, chemicals and food – and accounts for fully 30 percent of global services trade. UNWTO says domestic and international tourism expenditure generated US$ 1.5 trillion last year, adding 10 percent to global GDP and representing one out of every 11 jobs worldwide.

Tourism is the top export of about a third of developing countries, which play an increasingly important role in the sector. Emerging and developing economies register 45 percent of all international tourist arrivals today, and this share is forecast to reach 57 percent by 2030. Tourism is an important driver of economic growth in these countries and is employment intensive, with linkages into many other parts of the economy. The industry also contributes directly to poverty reduction – notably among women.

Tourism has, therefore, a key role to play in maximizing the contribution of trade in services to development, job creation and the achievement of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and the proposed Sustainable Development Goals, the ITC-UNWTO report says.

That means tourism, which appears to be highly under-represented in Aid for Trade flows, according to the report, requires a bigger piece of the Aid for Trade pie. And tourism projects, which receive about US$ 500,000 on average, well below the amount spent on projects in most other sectors, must be more comprehensive, reflecting the industry’s full value chain.

Increased coordination among donors and implementing agencies can help to design and implement more comprehensive tourism projects that are more effective in enhancing tourism’s contribution to sustainable development, the report says. It is in this context that ITC and UNWTO have entered into a strategic partnership in order to aggregate the two organizations’ resources and competencies, to share perspectives in the process of rethinking a joint approach to Aid for Trade in tourism, and to generate greater donor interest in funding tourism activities for the benefit of developing countries.

“We need to put more trade in the tourism community and more tourism in the trade community so that the two synergize their actions for sustainable, inclusive growth,” said ITC Executive Director Arancha González. “This ITC-UNWTO report does just that.”

The report is available here.


Study Finds 25 Percent of Fish Eat Rubbish

By MarEx 2015-09-26 01:18:57

Roughly a quarter of the fish sampled from fish markets in California and Indonesia contained man-made debris, plastic or fibrous material, in their guts, according to a study from the University of California, Davis, and Hasanuddin University in Indonesia.

The study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, is one of the first to directly link plastic and man-made debris to the fish on consumers’ dinner plates.

“It’s interesting that there isn’t a big difference in the amount of debris in the fish from each location, but in the type, plastic or fiber,” said lead author Chelsea Rochman, a researcher at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. “We think the type of debris in the fish is driven by differences in local waste management.”

The researchers sampled 76 fish from markets in Makassar, Indonesia, and 64 from Half Moon Bay and Princeton in California. All of the fragments recovered from fish in Indonesia were plastic. In contrast, 80 percent of the debris found in California fish was fibers, whereas not a single strand of fiber was found in Indonesian fish.

Indonesia has little in the way of landfills, waste collection or recycling, and large amounts of plastic are tossed onto the beaches and into the ocean. The problem is made worse by a lack of purified drinking water that forces its residents to drink bottled water.

“Indonesia has some of the highest marine life richness and biodiversity on Earth, and its coastal regions, mangroves, coral reefs and their beaches, are just awash in debris,” said co-author Susan Williams, a professor with the UC Davis Bodega Marine Laboratory who has worked on projects in Indonesia for the past several years. “You have the best and the worst situation right in front of you in Indonesia.”

Meanwhile, the U.S. has highly advanced systems for collecting and recycling plastics. However, most Californians wash their clothing in washing machines, the water from which empties into more than 200 wastewater treatment plants offshore California. The authors theorize that fibers remaining in sewage effluent from washing machines were ingested by fish sampled in the state.

“To mitigate the issue in each location, it helps to think about local sources and differences in waste management strategies,” Rochman said.

The scientists emphasize that the plastic and fibers are found in the fishes’ guts. That means humans are likely to ingest the debris only if the fish is eaten whole, as it is in Indonesia, or such as with sardines and anchovies, rather than filleted. However, researchers are still studying whether chemicals in plastic can transfer into the meat.

The study is available here.


Da Nang is New Conduit for Ivory Trafficking

By MarEx 2015-09-26 00:58:17

A string of high profile ivory busts over the past month has unexpectedly focused attention on Da Nang as a new entry point for the illegal ivory trade in Vietnam.

Three successive seizures at the Tien Sa port in Da Nang – with two weighing 500 kg or more – stand in sharp contrast to previous ivory seizures that have taken place in either Hai Phong port or Mong Cai province, further north in the country.

Records in the Elephant Trade Information System (ETIS) show that from 2009 to 2014, 80 percent of the large-scale ivory seizures occurred at Hai Phong, with the remainder taking place in HCM City and Mong Cai.

However, on August 13 Customs at Da Nang port seized a shipment of almost 600 kg of elephant ivory and 142 kg of rhino horns declared by a local company as marble and imported from Mozambique.

This was followed by a seizure on 21st August of over two tons of ivory inside a container full of timber from Nigeria. The recipient of this shipment was the same as the one in the August 13 seizure of rhino horns and elephant ivory.

On August 25, Customs in Da Nang seized 1,023 kg of tusks and over four tons of pangolin scales that reportedly arrived from Malaysia, making this the third ivory bust in the city in two weeks. The tusks were hidden among sacks of beans in a shipment weighing nearly 20 metric tons.

The confiscation of a large amount of ivory, pangolin scales and rhino horn by authorities shows the vigilance of Vietnam customs, says environmental organization TRAFFIC. However, it is worrying as it also points to Da Nang as a new port of entry for illegal wildlife trade in Viet Nam.

“With ivory and other wildlife smuggling at the forefront of global attention and enforcement efforts, traffickers are constantly exploring new routes and ports to exploit in the movement of illicit goods. The seizures in Da Nang are a perfect illustration of this,” said Madelon Willemsen, TRAFFIC’s Head of Office in Vietnam.

“Although some ivory processing in Vietnam does take place and may actually be increasing, the evidence suggests that most of the raw ivory imported into Vietnam is re-exported to China using land routes over the terrestrial border in the far north. Thus, trafficking through Da Nang represents increased transport costs as it is much further away from the Chinese border than the port of Hai Phong where most seizures of transit trade in the past occurred,” said Tom Milliken, TRAFFIC Elephant and Rhino Programme Leader.

It is unclear how long traffickers have been using this port to move goods, but the vigilance shown by the Vietnam Customs should continue, and their efforts will go a long way in reducing elephant poaching, says the organization.

TRAFFIC hopes investigations into local companies will yield the information required to cripple smuggling syndicates and urges a multi-agency, as well as international approach in dealing with this organized crime.

China Taking Action

Representatives from Chinese government agencies, associations and foreign embassies today attended a workshop in Beijing organized by WWF and TRAFFIC to reflect upon the recent United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) resolution on “Tackling Illicit Trafficking in Wildlife”.

The U.N. resolution, adopted on 30th July this year, marks an extraordinary milestone in the global fight against wildlife crime. Co-sponsored by 86 countries including China and adopted by all 193 UN member states, the resolution reflects an unprecedented level of support from the global community for concrete actions to curb this serious transnational organized crime.

The historic resolution also represents a unique opportunity for countries to take concrete actions to reduce demand for threatened wildlife products by “using targeted strategies in order to influence consumer behavior”.

Representatives at the special workshop, which was co-sponsored by the United Nations Association of China, discussed a series of measures to fulfil China’s commitments under the resolution, including enactment of the national strategy for wildlife conservation in the 13th Five-year Plan, amendment of the Wildlife Conservation Law, prohibition of the transport and delivery of illegal wildlife products, steps to combat the illegal online trade, improvements to international and inter-agency law enforcement collaboration, and efforts to reduce demand for illegal wildlife products.

“As a responsible country, China has done a lot to curb wildlife crime and played a key role in the adoption of this historic resolution: it is now down to all U.N. member states to take action to implement it,” said Lo Sze Ping, CEO of WWF China. “WWF and TRAFFIC look forward to the rapid and effective application of this resolution, and stand ready to assist where possible in its successful implementation.”

“TRAFFIC has been monitoring the global illegal wildlife trade for many years and helping formulate solutions to reduce the demand for illegal wildlife products. If called upon, we would be more than willing to assist the Chinese government to achieve these shared objectives,” said Zhou Fei, Head of TRAFFIC’s China office.

Over recent years, there has been a surge in illegal trade in wildlife, including elephants, rhinos, tigers and some precious timber species – increasingly orchestrated by organized criminal syndicates. In Africa, up to 30,000 elephants are killed each year for their ivory tusks, while a record 1,215 rhinos were poached for their horns in South Africa last year. In Asian range states, parts of at least 1,590 tigers were seized between 2000 and April 2014.