Marine Technology Reporter Blogs - spill

Brazil Coastal Monitoring

April 21, 2014

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Bounded by the Atlantic Ocean on the east, Brazil has a coast that is 7,491 km (4,655 mi) long. Offshore, numerous islands and archipelagos form part of Brazilian territory, such as Fernando de Noronha, Rocas Atoll, Abrolhos, Saint Peter and Paul Rocks, and Trindade and Martim Vaz Islands. Yet Brazil has no Coast Guard, the coast being patrolled by the Brazilian Navy, which does not have a mandate to make arrests, but which does keep in check illegal fishing. Costal policing would theoretically be done by the Federal Police. However, the reality is that they do not have anything near enough assets to patrol such a large coast. In terms of environmental monitoring…

25th Anniversary of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill

March 24, 2014

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On March 24, 1989 the oil tanker Exxon Valdez ran aground on Bligh Reef in Prince William Sound, Alaska, spilling an estimated 11 million gallons of crude oil across 1,300 miles of coastline. The tankers grounding and subsequent oil spill lead to one of the most thorough examinations of the effects of oil on the environment. While the vast majority of the spill area now appears to have recovered, pockets of crude oil remain in some locations, and there is evidence that not all resources affected by the spill have recovered to the previous state. No one anticipated any unusual problems as the Exxon Valdez left the Alyeska Pipeline Terminal at 9:12 p.m., Alaska Standard Time, on March 23,1989.

Oil Rig Ballast Control System Accidents

March 6, 2014

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Ballast control systems are a vital part of semi-submersible oil platforms. The ballast control system is made up of a network of pipes, valves, pumps, and tanks, which work as a liquid control system to keep the vessel at an even keel. Offshore drilling is an extremely risky undertaking, which is susceptible to accidents, which may cause human casualties and environmental disasters. One of the key systems necessary to keep oil rigs afloat, is the effective design of the user interface for the ballast control system, which significantly contributes to overall safety of a rig’s crew and the environment. The threat of disaster is the main reason to provide the operators with the most effective ballast control system possible. One such disaster occurred in 2001 aboard Petrobras’ P36 oil rig.

Brazil Launches Oil Spill Containment Plan

October 23, 2013

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Finally, after much criticism from environmentalists, politicians and even from oil industry executives, the Brazilian government launches a comprehensive oil spill contingency plan. Ironically, the PNC (National Contingency Plan), is being launched one day after the giant Libra pre-salt field auction. It’s hard to understand why the PNC wasn’t announced before the Libra auction, especially if it was ready, as it must have been. The PNC plan, according to the biggest Brazilian newspaper O Globo, had been ready and shelved in a Brazilian State Department office for over one year. Interestingly, the plan was announced one day after this same newspaper alerted that the Libra field was going to be auctioned without any oil spill contingency plan ready.

Asymmetrical Icebreaker - Arctic Multipurpose Vessel

September 21, 2013

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A new asymmetrical design for Arctic icebreakers is capable of opening larger paths for other ships to navigate in the harsh Arctic winter, this oblique icebreaker, NB 508, is being built by Finish shipbuilder Arctech in Helsinki. This icebreaker drifts sideways allowing it to cut a channel as much as 30% wider than channels made by conventional icebreakers that hit the ice head-on. The €76 million ($103 million) ship has been designed with an asymmetrical hull that inclines steeply and is heavily reinforced on its left side, to bear the brunt of the icebreaking. Although the ship can go faster in open water or while icebreaking head-on…

BP Capping Stack for Well Blowout Containment

September 16, 2013

Since the Deepwater Horizon tragedy in 2010 the industry has taken long strides in well control and well blowout containment. British Petroleum, having been directly involved in the accident at the Macondo well, was forced to look into a solution that would permanently seal the gushing deepwater well. However, even before they could come up with a permanent solution, BP needed to cap the well over the damaged BOP (Blow-out Preventer). This eventually took BP a few months to accomplish, yet using a large amount of engineering ingenuity a capping stack was manufactured which got the job done. Since at the time there was no off-the-shelf solution to capture the spilling oil straight from the BOP…

Subsea Well Response Project to be launched in Brazil

June 15, 2013

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With the continued increase in deepwater drilling off the coast of Brazil, it is good to see that Petrobras, Brazil’s national operator, will soon have a well containment device ready for immediate deployment in case of a deepwater blowout such as was experienced in the Deepwater Horizon tragedy at the GoM. According to a Petrobras drilling inspector who prefers to remain anonymous, the Brazilian super-major player believes that their well drilling and completion systems are totally reliable as long as their safety procedures are followed, however, they are taking no chances and have joined forces with other major operators to increase drilling, completion and production safety standards worldwide.

Identifying Oil Spill Origins

June 16, 2013

An interesting article by the leading Brazilian newspaper O Globo, signed by Journalist Marcio Beck, brings to light the need to urgently create a database with information on the “DNA” of oil produced in Brazilian fields. According to researchers from the Academia and from the O&G industry, this is essential in order to speed up the identification of those responsible for any given oil spill. According to the article, the basic characteristics found in the formation of an oil reservoir, such as types of stones, sediments and organic matter along with time, temperature and pressure conditions, which give a distinct DNA to each different oil reservoir. Therefore, it would be possible to identify from which field any given oil sample originated from.

More Investments Needed Form Offshore Inspections in Brazil

June 21, 2013

With the recent Chevron/Frade spill, which has been ongoing for over 25 days, new light was shed on the shortcomings of ANP (The national O&G regulator). To begin with the regulator has only spent around $2.5 million of its allotted $8 million budget for inspection of oil and gas E&P in Brazil. As stated by O Globo, Brazil’s leading newspaper, that amount is about what Petrobras spends yearly in coffee for its employees. Only 3% of the agencies total budged is destined for O&G inspections. All that will most likely change in the near future, hopefully. For this to change there needs to be a change of policy in the Brazilian government regarding the importance of O&G activities inspections.

Deepwater Oil Spill Containment System for Brazil

June 16, 2013

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Where is the Petrobras Deepwater Containment System? Brazil today arguably has the largest deepwater drilling program in the world and most probably the biggest all around drilling effort in the world to boot. In 2011 alone 162 new wells will be drilled in Brazil, an all time high and a 30% increase compared to last year. Of these, 53 wells will be drilled offshore. It´s safe to assume that over 20% of these will be in deepwater pre-salt or deepwater post-salt plays along the Santos, Campos and Espirito Santo Basins. When Petrobras first announced this significant increase in their drilling program scope, a lot was said about expectations for more large pre-salt finds, increase in production, new drilling technologies, logistics problems and solutions and ultimately, profit.

Unicontrol Active in Petrobras Rigs and FPSOs

June 16, 2013

Unicontrol Ltda is a Rutter subsidiary in Brazil that has been supplying automation and control systems and support services for Petrobras offshore rigs since the beginning of the decade. In 2007 Unicontrol successfully renewed its contract to provide support services to 32 Petrobras platforms operating in the Campos Basin, offshore Brazil. Valued at $3.5 million, the two year contract encompasses ongoing control systems maintenance and support for these platforms and carries the option to renew for an additional two years. “Our original contract with Petrobras began over four years ago when Unicontrol was successful in winning an initial two year $1.6 million contract…

The Abrolhos Islands O&G Reality

June 16, 2013

Abrolhos is short for open your eyes in Portuguese, an expression meaning beware, often used by Portuguese navigators when naming islands flanked by dangerous reefs. There is even a group of islands going by the same name along the west coast of OZ. Not only do these two places (In Brazil and Australia) have a name in common but both are also pristine islands officially protected as ecological preserves by the countries they belong to. Both are also flanked by major Oil & Gas E&P areas. The Brazilian Abrolhos is a whale haven and contains a wonderful yet fragile flora and fauna ecosystem, both on land and underwater. The place is thought to be one of the world´s coral matrixes…