Cruise Ships in the News: How Safe is Your Vacation?
In light of the recent grounding of the cruise liner Costa Concordia, many people are pondering that next cruise ship vacation. It seems the problem may not only be with the Captain, but also with ill prepared crew. According to the CLIA, “U.S. Coast Guard inspections include conducting plan reviews of each cruise ship before construction is even started, inspecting the ship at the ship yard during construction, conducting a comprehensive initial Control Verification Examination upon delivery, and annually conducting a Certificate of Compliance examination (with quarterly re-inspections) for compliance with both federal and international regulations. This oversight system means, for example, if the U.S.
More Investments Needed Form Offshore Inspections in Brazil
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.
Scientists Study Chemical Data from Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill
A recent study published in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, comprising a collection of data from the Deepwater Horizon Spill in the Gulf of Mexico tells a compelling story. The lead author on the study “Chemical data quantify Deepwater Horizon hydrocarbon flow rate and environmental distribution,” Thomas Ryerson, a NOAA research chemist, brought together 14 scientists from varying backgrounds and organizations. The new study provides scientists with an overview of oil and gas distribution from the spill. The study shows where the oil and gas were released and how those compounds were broken down and released into the environment.
Oil Rigs as Artificial Reefs
Offshore Oil platforms at some point reach an end in their production lives and are generally decommissioned. This is a costly operation costing the operators between 4 and 10 million dollars. The Department of the Interior Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) issued new decommissioning regulations in 2010. The regulation (NTL 2010-G05) requires wells that have not been used for the last five years to be to be permanently abandoned, temporarily abandoned, or zonally isolated within 3 years after Oct. 15, 2010. If wells are zonally isolated, operators have 2 additional years to permanently or temporarily abandon the wellhead. Plus, platforms and supporting infrastructure that has been idle for five or more years must be removed within 5 years as of the Oct.
Deep Sea Mining: The New Frontier
Prospecting for metals beneath the oceans surface is not entirely new. During the 1960’s and 70’s the ocean floor mining of manganese nodules was a popular practice, but there is now a new branch of marine mining in deep-sea volcanic areas that are seeing a rise in interest. As technology changes and evolves allowing us to reach, work, and harvest in the world’s deepest parts of the ocean, mining companies are now turning their attention to seafloor massive sulphides (SMS), rocky ore deposits containing copper and gold. There are several companies using ROV technology that are at the forefront of deep sea mining including Neptune Minerals an Australian based company, and Nautilus Minerals based in Canada.
HROV Nereus Extends Deep Sea Exploration
The Hybrid Undersea vehicle known as Neurus, named after the mythical deity with a fish tail and man’s torso took WHOI nine years to design and build. In 2009 Nereus dove to the deepest abyss, the Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench, a dive to 36,000 feet with ambient pressures reaching over 1,000 times that of surface pressure. The hybrid vehicle know as an HROV can work as a free swimming vehicle or may be tethered to the ship by cable, making wide area ocean surveys and close up sampling and investigation of the sea floor possible. In its autonomous mode the vehicle is able to fly pre-programmed missions over the ocean floor to gather remote data. “Much of the ocean’s depth remains unexplored.
Virgin Oceanic Designs New One Person Submarine
Virgin Oceanic’s new submarine will carry one crewmember, weighing in at 8,000 lbs. the sub is designed to dive to depths of 37,000 feet (7 miles), while cruising at between 2.2 and 3 knots. It can descend or ascend at a rate of 350 feet per minute, and provides life support for up to 24 hours. It is made with the latest in composite technology and a completely unique flying wing to literally fly within the ocean environment. Adventurer Steve Fossett had intended to complete the first solo dive to the depths of the Mariana Trench. Sir Richard’s, a close friend and fellow explorer of Fossett commissioned the sub in an effort to finish what Fossett set out to accomplish. The vehicle is a unique design constructed from carbon fiber and titanium.
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute to Extend Alvin’s Diving Capacity
In the next generation of Alvin, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute plans to design a submersible that can reach depths beyond the present limit of 4,500 meters. Dan Fonari, a scientist that studies deep-sea volcanoes, and has been on more than 100 Alvin dives said, “ Right now Alvin allows us to see 63 percent of the ocean, we want to see 98 percent.” That would require descending to depths in excess of 4 miles. The current proposal is for a next generation submersible that could go deeper and stay down longer with more room and better viewing ports. In 2004 the National Science Foundation awarded WHOI $22.91 million dollars. WHOI manages the National Deep Submergence Facility…
Chevron’s Frade Spill Fiasco
The deep water oil spill off the coast of Rio de Janeiro at the Frade field in the Campos Basin, is definitely being contained. The amount of oil spilling from the fracture on the seafloor has greatly diminished but there is still much cause for worry. To begin with the oil slick will most likely hit some of the coast in the form of tar balls, as happened at the Deepwater Horizon tragedy at the GOM. What has exasperated the population and authorities alike is the lack of truthfulness from Chevron, which has withheld information, edited images of the spill in order to try to decrease its significance, simply lied about the number of vessels used in the cleanup efforts and disrespected cleanup procedures by throwing sand on the spilled oil instead of effectively skimming out of the water.
Using AUV Technology Beneath the Ice
Studies using Autonomous Underwater Vehicles to navigate relative position to icebergs, as well as mapping the underside of ice flows is not new, but it does have its challenges. AUVs have been operating under the ice for a number of years now. Because icebergs translate and rotate through inertial space, standard vehicle navigation methods are unable to provide iceberg-relative position estimates. AUVs currently use a combination of measurements including dead-reckoning, and acoustic transponder networks, or velocity measurements from a Doppler velocity logger for navigation and control. Coastal sea-ice conditions can change rapidly, and are complex.