SoundingsDivers Embark on Unprecedented Polar Journey. An Analox Sensor Technology (Stokesley, England)-backed expedition, which aims to produce previously unseen footage of submarine Polar Regions, has set off. Under the Pole Part II—Discover Greenland has been inspired by innovative explorer and diver Jacques Cousteau. A small team of divers/explorers have now embarked on a journey that will see them spending 22 months crossing the Polar region, and Analox Sensor Technology (AST) has supplied the expedition with vital safety equipment (i.e., diving gas analyzers). In the first 20 days, the team reached Torshavn in the Faroe Islands, where they reported that they were awaiting a favorable weather window, which would allow them to reach Iceland. The plan is for the team to initially travel up the west coast of Greenland, using a polar sailing ship, before wintering on the ice, and finally crossing over the North Pole. As well as producing previously unseen footage, the team will carry out scientific projects. These include monitoring polar biodiversity and the polar environment, and reporting on the melting polar ice pack and the effects of global warming. The team will be diving using rebreather equipment, carrying trimix gas with them. The expedition can be followed at www.underthepole.com.
Clean Sea Project Pushes Limits of Oil, Gas Environmental Monitoring. Benefits to asset integrity and environmental monitoring of oil and gas installations will come from a project developed by Eni Norge (Stavanger, Norway) and Tecnomare (Venice, Italy) called Clean Sea (continuous long-term environmental and asset integrity monitoring at sea). The Clean Sea team has found answers to key issues, like the early warning of spills and leakages, with imaginative technological solutions using a Sabertooth hybrid AUV/ROV from Saab Seaeye (Fareham, England). They sought to overcome the shortcomings of environmental monitoring and inspection of oil and gas infrastructures; usually such work is restricted to an annual undertaking and typically involves supply vessels and various underwater systems. They recognized that the industry is moving into more challenging development areas, possibly in remote, hostile or environmentally sensitive places, where conventional methods may be unsafe or unsustainable. Clean Sea’s concept of interchangeable modules, E-PODs, is made possible through the open interface architecture of the Sabertooth. Each E-POD module is dedicated to a particular task, e.g., automatic water sampling, hydrocarbon leakage detection, chemical analysis, visual inspection and acoustic surveying. A selection of E-PODs can be readied for environmental monitoring during all phases of field development, typically: baseline monitoring before activity takes place; environmental impact monitoring during exploration and production; post-incident monitoring to record effects and environmental recovery; general spill and hydrocarbon leakage detection; and visual inspection of structures, manifolds and associated equipment. There is future potential for locating E-Pods on the seabed alongside the Sabertooth at its remote underwater docking station, where it will remain resident for a year, ready to be deployed as needed. This will give year-round access to locations normally inaccessible due to ice or exceptionally harsh weather, and offer safer monitoring in insecure geographical regions. A second phase of field tests will demonstrate the more complex functionalities of asset integrity tasks.
Global Floating Production Market Predicted to Reach $99 Billion. Douglas-Westwood’s new World Floating Production Market Report forecasts that between 2014 and 2018 $99 billion will be spent on floating production systems (FPS)—an increase of 138 percent over the preceding five-year period. The long-term growth in the sector is underpinned by the continued exploitation of deepwaters, marginal fields and fast-track/short-term deployments. Deepwater FPS deployments are expected to total $68 billion in value and account for more than two-thirds of the total spend. FPSOs form the largest segment of the market (80 percent) in terms of units installed and forecast capital expenditure over the 2014 to 2018 period. Latin America accounts for 29 percent of the 139 installations forecast and 38 percent of the projected capex. The FPS sector recovery following the 2008/2009 downturn continues steadily. A total of 54 units were ordered in 2011 to 2013 compared to 23 units ordered during 2008 to 2009. There has been little growth in the annual value of installed units over the last four years; however, 2014 is expected to show a significant increase in the value of units deployed. Utilization of FPSOs owned by leasing contractors has also improved since the last report, up three percentage points to 88 percent. The industry is, however, still coming to terms with a number of demand-side and supply-side issues, e.g., the industry’s record in terms of project execution has been poor, with most projects delivered late and significantly over budget.
Europe’s Marine Ecosystems Threatened by Multiple Pressures. Many of Europe’s marine species, habitats and ecosystems have been under threat for decades. As maritime economic activities are predicted to increase in the coming years, a new briefing from the European Environment Agency (EEA) argues that the cumulative impact of human activity should be better managed to avoid irreversible damage to ecosystems. Many European industries have growing cumulative impacts on the sea, including transport, fishing, offshore energy and tourism. Approximately two-fifths of the EU’s population—206 million people—live in a coastal area, and 23 of 28 member states have a coastline. According to analysis from the European Commission, member states must make urgent efforts and improve cooperation for the marine environment to reach good status by 2020, a target under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive. In the last 25 years, sea surface temperatures have increased approximately 10 times faster than in other similar periods during the previous century or beyond. The cumulative effect of different pressures is most important, the briefing notes, and many of these pressures are connected. Together these changes may be disrupting whole ecosystems.