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Offshore Oil & Ocean Engineering


November 2012 Issue

No Drilling Without Emergency Response Plan, UK Says
Offshore oil and gas firms would have to submit hazard reports and emergency response plans before getting a license to drill under a draft law approved by the Energy Committee of the European Parliament in October.

The draft law, endorsed by a 48-7 vote, would replace the European Union (EU) member states' existing patchwork of laws and practices for offshore drilling activities. The draft will be negotiated with the Council of the EU, and then Parliament will put it to a plenary vote.

All drilling license applicants would need to prove their ability to remedy any potential damage. They would have to provide evidence of 'adequate financial security' to cover liabilities deriving from their drilling activities, and would not be authorized to start drilling until this was deemed valid by national authorities.

Drilling companies would be required to submit a report, describing the drilling installation, potential major hazards and arrangements to protect workers, before starting operations and, at the latest, 24 weeks before the planned start. Reports would be reviewed at least every five years.

Companies would also have to provide an internal emergency plan, which would give a full description of the equipment and resources available, action to be taken in the event of an accident and all arrangements made to limit risks and give the authorities early warning.

At the same time, EU member states would have to prepare external emergency response plans covering all offshore drilling installations within their jurisdiction.

Energy Committee members also inserted an amendment saying that the European Maritime Safety Agency would help the European Commission and EU countries to prepare and execute emergency response plans and to detect and control the environmental impact of any oil spill.

Gulf of Mexico Lease Sale To Offer 38 Million Acres
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management will offer 38 million acres in the Central Gulf of Mexico for oil and gas exploration and development, the U.S. Department of the Interior announced in October. The sale encompasses about 7,250 blocks located 3 to 230 miles offshore in water depths from 3 to 3,400 meters.

Proposed Lease Sale 227, scheduled to take place in New Orleans, Louisiana, on March 20, 2013, will offer all unleased areas in the Central Gulf of Mexico Planning Area offshore Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, and could lead to the production of 0.46 billion to 0.89 billion barrels of oil and 1.9 trillion to 3.9 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

This sale will build on two major Gulf of Mexico lease sales in the last year—a 21-million-acre sale held last December and a 39-million-acre sale held in June.

This will be the second sale under the Obama administration's Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2012 to 2017 and the first of five annual Central Gulf lease sales.

First Permanent Mooring Work For InterMoor in China
InterMoor (Houston, Texas) has completed its first permanent mooring work in the Lufeng oilfield, South China Sea, the company announced in October.

This project was also InterMoor's first for Chinese installation contractor China Offshore Oil Engineering Co. Ltd. (Tianjin, China).

During the five-month contract, InterMoor's work included project management, engineering, procurement and installation for a new buoy turret mooring system for the upgraded Nanhai Sheng Kai floating, storage and offloading unit in LF 13-2 field. Additionally, InterMoor installed 8-inch flexible flowline and riser between the buoy turret mooring system and the LF 13-2 wellhead platform.

'Owing to the diverse nature of the offshore work scope, the main challenge was interfacing with the main installation vessel, the Maersk Attender, to accommodate the project requirements,' Martin Kobiela, operations director for InterMoor Pte Ltd. (Singapore), said.

InterMoor also designed custom devices to handle the jacketed spiral strand wires. With no large storage reels on the anchor-handling tug supply vessel, the jacketed spiral strand wires were spooled on the main winches using custom winch adapters.

InterMoor and its sister company Offshore Installation Services (Aberdeen, Scotland) developed procedures so that operations could be performed while working with divers, ROVs and the anchor-handling vessel in close proximity to the buoy turret mooring system.

Bombs in Gulf of Mexico Pose Problems, Researchers Say
Millions of pounds of unexploded bombs and military ordnance that were dumped decades ago in the Gulf of Mexico, as well as off the coasts of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, could now pose serious threats to shipping lanes and the 4,000 oil and gas rigs in the gulf, said two Texas A&M University oceanographers.

This is well-known among people in marine science and oceanography, but the issue becomes more dangerous as traffic and the number of deepwater rigs increase.

William Bryant and Neil Slowey said the bombs are scattered over the gulf and also off the coasts of at least 16 states, from New Jersey to Hawaii.

Military dumping of unused bombs into the gulf and other sites started in 1946 and continued until 1970, when it was banned under an international treaty. It is unknown how many pounds of bombs were dumped. One estimate is around 31 million pounds, a figure Bryant thinks is conservative.

Photos show that some of the chemical weapons canisters, such as those that carried mustard gas, appear to be leaking materials and are damaged. The environmental effect of these weapons on marine life is not known.

'We surveyed some of them on trips to the Gulf within the past few years,' he noted. 'Ten are about 60 miles out and others are about 100 miles out. The next closest dump site to Texas is in Louisiana, not far from where the Mississippi River delta area is in the gulf. Some shrimpers have recovered bombs and drums of mustard gas in their fishing nets.'


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