Marine Technology Reporter Blogs

Safe Bunkering for LNG – A Challenge to Global Growth

December 26, 2013

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A limiting factor to the increase in the use of LNG fueled ships on a larger scale is the lack of LNG bunkering infrastructure worldwide, with exceptions being northern European countries which have been at the forefront on maritime LNG fuel development, such as Norway and Sweden. DNV GL recently launched a Recommended Practice for authorities, LNG bunker suppliers and ship operators, which provides guidance on how LNG bunkering can be done in safely and efficiently. According to DNV GL, LNG-fuelled ships have logged over 130 ship-years of operation in Norwegian waters. In some parts of the world, operators, suppliers and regulators have gained experience in all aspects of LNG-fuelled ship operations in recent years.

O&G reserves in the South China Sea: Tempers Flaring

November 28, 2013

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Geopolitical location, an abundance of fish and huge O&G reservoirs make the South China Sea (SCS) particularly attractive to the countries that all lay claim to parts of it, such as China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand and Cambodia. While the Chinese National Offshore Oil Company (CNOOC) estimates the SCS holds around 125 billion barrels of oil and 500 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in uncorked reserves, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates the SCS contains only approximately 11 billion barrels of oil and 190 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in proven and probable reserves, although the EIA admits this figure could increase pending geological surveys of peripheral locations.

The Importance of Airborne Geophysical Surveys for O&G Exploration

November 25, 2013

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Airborne Magnetotelluric (MT) geophysical surveys are currently used worldwide to explore the deep structure and composition of the earth’s crust. The MT method is based on well-established theories published in the US, France and Russia and supported by successful field operations worldwide. The MT technology is recognized as having been developed by French geophysicist Louis Cagniard and Russian geophysicist Andrey Nikolayevich Tikhonov in the early 1950s. With almost continuous advances in instrumentation, processing and modeling since then, MT has become one of the most important tools for deep Earth research by academia and industry.

The Future of Maritime LNG Propulsion

December 23, 2013

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The use of liquid natural gas (LNG) as a marine fuel is increasing as new environmental regulations are enacted and bunkering facilities are expanded. Some forecast predict that around 10,000 vessels could be adopting LNG propulsion by 2020 compared to less than 100 today and classification society Det Norske Veritas had predicted that LNG would become the dominant fuel source for all merchant ships within 40 years. The main reason for this expected growth is because of strict emission regulations requiring the reduction of sulfur oxides (SOx) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) to 0.1 percent in Emission Control Areas (ECAs) by 2015 and 0.5 percent globally by 2020.

New Pre-salt Bidding Dependant on Industry Development

December 29, 2013

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The Brazilian Government has decided that any future bidding rounds involving pre-salt blocks will only be launched according to the local industry capability to supply the demand in equipment and services needed by the sector. Local industry has been struggling to keep up with the demand placed by O&G players already involved in pre-salt E&P in Brazil, which are all Petrobras partners, such as BG and others. A study is being done by the Brazilian government to define which is the adequate exploration rhythm for pre-salt development that will allow local industry to keep up with demand realistically. This is an important initiative by the Brazilian government because it will allow sector of local industry to develop technologies and services required by the deepwater pre-salt players.

Small Cetaceans in Desperate Situation

December 13, 2013

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Small, lesser-known species of cetaceans, such as the baiji (or Yangtze River dolphin) may not survive the next decade. The same holds true for Hector’s Dolphins (Cephalorhynchus hectori) and Maui’s Dolphins (Cephalorhynchus hectori maui) in New Zealand. In New Zealand’s case, three international scientific bodies have repeatedly urged the New Zealand Government to protect the world’s smallest and rarest dolphins from extinction. But the calls by the International Whaling Commission (IWC), the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and the Society for Marine Mammalogy (SMM) have not been heeded. Recently the SMM, the pre-eminent body of international marine mammal scientists…

Shell’s Huge Prelude FLNG Hull Launched

December 10, 2013

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The hull of Shell's Prelude was floated in South Korea. When construction is complete, Prelude will be the largest floating facility ever created, weighing more than 600 thousand tons. It will be moored off Northwest Australia for natural gas production at Shell’s Prelude field beginning in 2017, and will operate for 25 years off Australia. The area where the Prelude FLNG will operate at the Browse Basin has a yearly cyclone season from November to April, but the Prelude has been designed to withstand such conditions. It is hoped the facility will be able to produce enough gas to power a medium sized city. The Prelude FLNG cannot strictly be described as a ship as it needs to be towed to its destination rather than travelling under its own power.

Abrolhos Islands - Reefs, Humpback Whales and Oil

December 7, 2013

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Portuguese explorers were the first to arrive at the Abrolhos National Marine Park., having named the islands and sailed along the Caravelas Rivers since 1503. The name Abrolhos is short for open your eyes in Portuguese, and is an indication of the dangers to navigation in the area, which has numerous reef and rock formations just shy of the surface of the sea or even awash, and is dotted with shipwrecks. In 1987, a small remnant humpback whale population was discovered during the Marine Park’s implementation and thus Abrolhos was suggested as the species’ main “nursery” ground on the Western South Atlantic. The Humpback Whale Project was then created to promote research and protection for these mammals in Brazil.

Future Bodes Well For Eco-Friendly Container Ships

December 2, 2013

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A new survey of 60 shipping companies reports that shipping companies may be changing how they fuel up. The report, by HSH Nordbank, claims that stricter regulations from the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) could cause shipping companies to cease the use of heavy fuel oil (HFO) and retrofit existing container ships to be powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG). Of the companies surveyed, 75% of the companies reported they were researching new ways of improving fuel efficiency while 29% said they were already in the process of retrofitting to LNG. Currently, the worldwide shipping industry contributes 2.7% of all greenhouse emissions. MARPOL Annex VI, which goes into effect January 2015, states that sulphur oxide (SOx) emissions must decrease significantly.

The Pelotas Basin Oil Province Revelation

December 2, 2013

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Pre-salt and post-salt exploration in the Campos, Santos and Espirito Santo basins along Brazil’s southeast margin has yielded extraordinary success, while their southern sister, the relatively unknown Pelotas basin, has seen little attention for over the last ten years, despite displaying clear direct hydrocarbon indicators in previous seismic surveys. However, a new 2D seismic program acquired in 2013 by Spectrum Geo Multi-Client is revealing new evidence for sand-rich systems and oil plays, making the deepwater Pelotas basin an excellent choice for blocks to be nominated in Brazil’s upcoming 13th bidding round, which may take place sometime in 2014.

New Airborne Survey Technology

November 22, 2013

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Airborne geophysical surveying is a process of measuring the variation in several key physical or geochemical parameters of the Earth. The most important parameters measured are conductivity, magnetic susceptibility, density, and radioactive element concentration. Any change in the Earth's near-surface that causes a measurable change in these parameters presents a potential application for airborne geophysics. Since 2000 CGG has been offering high-end airborne survey capability through the global merger of the leading airborne geophysical survey companies, which then joined the CGG group in 2013. CGG’s new time-domain electromagnetic solution maps shallow to deep geology in one pass.

Reeling In China's Unregulated Fishing Practices

November 22, 2013

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As the need for ocean-based protein sources grows more and more every year, so does the need to regulate the fisheries where these protein sources come from. A study published earlier this year by a group of researchers from the University of British Columbia reported that China may be grossly underreporting the amount of fish caught in what's known as "distant water fishing" practices, i.e. fishing that occurs over 200 nautical miles offshore from the country's border, an area known as a country's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). This presents an issue for the global community as it attempts to gather accurate numbers on how much fish is left.

Atlantic Ocean Lionfish Epidemic

February 2, 2014

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Lionfish - Pterois volitans (red lionfish) and Pterois miles (devil firefish) - are venomous, voracious and fast reproducing fish that are not native to the Atlantic Ocean and have no known predators, other than human beings. If Lionfish are not hunted and killed by human beings, they can potentially destroy 90% of any reef they attack. “The lionfish invasion is probably the worst environmental disaster the Atlantic will ever face,” said Graham Maddocks, president and founder of Ocean Support Foundation, which works with the government and research agencies to help reduce the lionfish population in Bermuda. Lionfish were first recorded decades ago and their population has grown quickly. They can produce 30,000 to 40,000 eggs every few days and are sexually mature when they are 1 year old.

Offshore Climate Engineering Comes A Little Closer To A Reality

November 18, 2013

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In the last few days, as death tolls in the Phillipines following Typhoon Haiyan have neared 4,000, many ponder the link between climate change and a future replete with more frequent and intense hurricane activity. Coincidentally, discussions between the world's most affluent countries about how to tackle the issue of a warming climate have only worsened. Japan, who recently announced the opening of new wind and solar power sources, announced that they will cut their carbon emissions just 3.8% by 2020. Canada and Australia have made similar proclamations. Which begs the question: if we can't lower carbon emissions, are efforts to artifically manipulate our climate a possibility?

Japan Erects Offshore Wind Farm in Shadow of Fukushima

November 13, 2013

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Japan unveiled a new wind farm off the coast of Fukushima last week. Only thirteen miles offshore from the Fukushima Daichi nuclear power station, the same nuclear station that notoriously attracted the world's attention during the 2011 Japanese tsunami, the new wind farm is expected to produce upwards of one gigawatt from 143 wind turbines. For comparison, the now-inoperable Fukushima Daichi nuclear power plant could provide 4.4 gigawatts. Marubeni Corp, one of the trading houses leading the project - which is funded by the government - hopes that the move will be a bellwether to promote wind power along other parts of Japan's coastlines. Japan's wind energy potential is predicted to be 1,570 gigawatts or five times the current national electricity output.

OTC Brasil 2013 – Petrobras Geology & Geophysics Expertise

November 13, 2013

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During the OTC Brasil 2013 there were daily panel session, which covered some interesting themes. On Wednesday, October 30th, the panel session: Perspectives on E&P in the South Atlantic, had as one of its panelists Petrobras’ E&P Director, José Miranda Formigli Filho, known throughout Brazil simply as Formigli. According to Formigli, Petrobras’ knowledge of geology and geophysics (G&G) was vital for the national operator to meet the technological challenges and reach its exploratory success in deepwater pre-salt and post-salt E&P. Formigli estimated that by 2020 the pre-salt production will represent 50% of Petrobras’ output with the potential to reach some 31 billion barrels boe. By 2035, some 39 million barrels per day of new crude oil supply will be needed.

Japan’s Small Cetacean Overkill

November 12, 2013

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According to the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), an independent organization committed to bringing about change that protects the natural world from environmental crime and abuse, over a million toothed whales, dolphins and turtles, have been killed in direct hunts in Japan in the past 70 years. Catch limits set by the Government of Japan for 2013 permit the killing of 16,655 small cetaceans. This represents the largest directed hunt of cetaceans in the world. A comprehensive analysis of the available scientific data demonstrates unequivocally that there are grave concerns regarding the sustainability of these hunts. Nine small cetacean species are targeted in Japan’s coastal hunts, which take the form of small-type coastal whaling, hand harpoon hunts and drive hunts.

NOAA: "There is no solid mass of debris from Japan heading to the United States"

November 13, 2013

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A slew of news reports have been published this past month alleging that a "Texas sized" field of debris is making its way to the shores of California. The debris field, caused by the 2011 Japanese tsunami, is on some accounts, said to be toxic but other reports suggest otherwise. At the time of the tsunami, the debris field contained 5 million tons of debris from Japan, but now? Who knows how much has sank, how much has broken up, or - perhaps - how much has been consumed. Most reports are claiming that there's at least 1.5 million tones but this number is as controversial as any other. In 2012, marine debris from the Japanese tsunami was a topic of intense scrutinization.

Submarine ridges in the South Atlantic - Important Source of Iron

November 6, 2013

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At the slow-spreading mid-Atlantic ridge in the South Atlantic Ocean an iron cloud spreads for more than 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) across the Atlantic from west of Namibia, Africa, to northeast of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The iron-rich waters flow 1,500 to 3,500 meters (4,921 – 11,482 feet) beneath the surface of the ocean. The complete extent and shape of the iron plume remains to be discovered. “We had never seen anything like it,” said Mak Saito, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute scientist and lead author of the study.” “We were sort of shocked—there’s this huge bull’s-eye right in the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean. Hydrothermal vents…

Underwater Railway Links Europe and Asia Together

November 5, 2013

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Last week an underwater railway opened in Istanbul, Turkey that will allow passengers to travel underwater between Europe and Asia. The Marmaray Tunnel, an 8.5 mile long tunnel located 190 feet below the surface, is expected to shuttle 1.5 million passengers back and forth between the Bosphorus strait. Nicknamed the "project of the century", the tunnel was initially proposed by an Ottoman sultan over 150 years ago. Initial plans were designed by architects in 1891 but were never followed through. Due to the archaeological discovery of a 4th century Byzantine port, the project - which began in 2004 and expected to end in 2009 - was delayed four years. The opening of the Marmaray Tunnel is only one part of the entire Marmaray project.