Ship Seizures Broaden Piracy Challenge

March 31, 2009

Two ship seizures in the Indian Ocean in recent days appear to indicate that pirates have broadened their focus beyond the heavily patrolled Gulf of Aden.

Pirates hijacked two chemical tankers: the Bahamian-flagged, Norwegian-owned vessel Bowasir March 25 and the Panamanian-flagged, Greek-owned Nipayia March 26, a Navy spokesman confirmed. Bowasir and its 23-member crew were operating more than 380 nautical miles southeast of Kismayo, Somalia. Nipayia and its 19 merchant mariners were pirated 490 nautical miles east of Mogadishu, the official said. The seizures were the farthest yet from the Gulf of Aden, where the U.S. Navy 5th Fleet and the international community stepped up patrols after piracy soared last year. “This appears to be a new round of attacks well off the east coast of Somalia vs. in the Gulf of Aden where we had seen the majority of attacks last year and in 2009 to date,” the official said. The latest hijackings expand the pirates’ operating area, creating what the official called “a monumental challenge” to those working to prevent piracy. “To put the challenge into geographic perspective, the area involved off the coast of Somalia and Kenya as well as the Gulf of Aden equals more than 1.1 million square miles,” he said. “That is roughly four times the size of the U.S. state of Texas or the size of the Mediterranean and Red Seas combined.”

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ExxonMobil cheers Bass Strait flows

March 31, 2009

ExxonMobil will next month celebrate 40 years of oil and gas production from the Bass Strait off the Australian state of Victoria.

It has been four decades since the first gas from Bass Strait was piped to homes and businesses in Melbourne via the company’s processing plant at Longford.Now, almost four billion barrels of crude and seven trillion cubic feet of natural gas have been produced since the first well was drilled in the Strait. “The future remains bright for ExxonMobil’s Bass Strait operations, its dedicated workforce and the Victorian community with the multi-billion dollar Kipper and Turrum projects set to begin in 2011,” the company said today.

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Ultra deepwater drilling rig named ‘Ensco 8501’

March 31, 2009

Keppel FELS Limited, Singapore, has named an ultra-deepwater semisubmersible ‘Ensco 8501’.

This is the second in a series of seven deepwater semis to be constructed by Keppel FELS for Ensco International Incorporated (Ensco), USA. ‘Ensco 8501’ will be chartered by Noble Energy (Noble) and Nexen Petroleum (Nexen). The first deepwater rig, ‘Ensco 8500’, was delivered in June 2008.‘Ensco 8501’ was named in the presence of Senior Minister of State (SMS) for National Development, Grace Fu, by Lanita C Weisinger, wife of Don Weisinger, Drilling Manager (Southern Region) at Noble Energy.“Despite the global financial turmoil and volatile oil prices, the long-term outlook for the oil and gas industry remains good, with sustained energy demand coming from both developed and emerging economies,” said SMS Fu. “For this reason, national and international oil companies are continuing with their exploration and production investments to boost future reserves. However, competition is expected to be very stiff. To thrive, offshore companies…have to stay focused on managing the market changes with flexible and innovative measures.”

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CSCL joins the fray in cutting capacity

March 31, 2009

Shanghai: China Shipping Container Lines Company will cut capacity for the first time this year as sea-cargo slows amid the global recession, Bloomberg reports.

China’s second-biggest container carrier plans to reduce capacity by four per cent by returning leased vessels, Chairman Li Shaode said. The shipping line slumped to its first half-year loss since listing in 2004 in the second half as US and European consumers pared spending on Asian-made goods amid the recession. The company’s expects sales this year to fall 15 per cent, it said in a Shanghai stock exchange statement Friday.”2009 is a critical year,” Li said. “Whether we can walk out from the bottom of this valley depends on the global economy and trade.”The company plans to raise rates from next month to pare losses, managing director Huang Xiaowen said.

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Aker to deliver work-over system for Kristin field

March 31, 2009

OSLO: Aker Solutions has been awarded a contract by StatoilHydro for the delivery of a complete work-over system for subsea trees at the high-pressure/high-temperature (HP/HT) Kristin field in the Norwegian Sea.

The contract value is approximately NOK 330 million (US$48.64 million). The contract party is Aker Solutions subsidiary Aker Subsea AS.The work scope includes engineering, procurement, manufacturing and testing of a complete work-over intervention system, including tools. The system equipment will be engineered and manufactured out of Aker Solutions’ facilities at Fornebu and Tranby, Norway. Deliveries of the equipment are scheduled to be finalized in May 2010.The contract is a call-off from the frame agreement signed between StatoilHydro and Aker Solutions in the third quarter of 2007. The delivery is for StatoilHydro’s Kristin Tool Pool & Exploration and Production North unit. This is the third work-over system Aker Solutions will be delivering to StatoilHydro’s Kristin field, which is a HP/HT field with temperatures up to 180 degrees Celsius and pressures up to 15,000 psi.

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Carbon Trust gives funding to Pure Marine Gen

March 30, 2009

BELFAST, UK: U.K. government-backed company the Carbon Trust has awarded Belfast-based company Pure Marine Gen over GBP 153,000 (US$219,368) to accelerate development of its wave energy converter.

The company’s DUO WEC converter concept aims to improve the efficiency with which energy is captured from the sea by harnessing power from the vertical and horizontal motion of waves. The funding will be used to conduct mathematical modeling, carry out a series of tank tests and produce design drawings for a prototype. In the long term, Pure Marine Gen plans to develop devices with a capacity of over 2 MW each. When deployed in large arrays, these could have a generating capacity of over 500 MW.The Carbon Trust is looking for other technologies with significant carbon saving potential to receive up to GBP 500,000 (US$716,948) of grant funding through its Applied Research scheme. Three open calls are held each year, with the current deadline April 16.

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US deploys anti-missile ships before N.Korea launch

March 30, 2009

SEOUL – The United States plans to deploy two missile-interceptor ships from South Korea on Monday, a military spokesman said, days ahead of a North Korean rocket launch seen by many as a test of its longest-range missile.

The launch presents the first significant challenge by the prickly state to U.S. President Barack Obama, who makes his first major international appearance this week at the G-20 summit where he will discuss Pyongyang’s intentions with global leaders including Chinese President Hu Jintao. The United States, however, has no plans to shoot down the rocket in a test seen by Washington as part of Pyongyang’s goal to eventually develop an intercontinental ballistic missile, U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates said on Sunday. “I would say we’re not prepared to do anything about it,” Gates said on “Fox News Sunday”. “If we had an aberrant missile, one that looked like it was headed for Hawaii, we might consider it,” he said, adding the Pentagon does not believe North Korea can put a warhead on the missile or reach the U.S. West Coast.U.S. Forces Korea plans to dispatch two Aegis-equipped destroyers currently at the South Korean port of Busan, a spokesman said without offering further details. Local media quoted informed sources as saying the vessels with sophisticated radar will monitor the launch. Japan deployed two missile-intercepting vessels to waters off its west coast at the weekend. The North Korean rocket is supposed to drop booster stages to the east and west of Japan. Government officials said Tokyo is poised to shoot down debris that poses a threat to its public.

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