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December 2011 Issue

Companies Work to Set UK Decommissioning Guidelines
A study aiming to inform U.K. government guidelines on environmentally responsible methods for decommissioning offshore pipeline bundles will be launched in Aberdeen, Scotland, in November.

The study was secured with assistance from ITF (Aberdeen) with membership support for the project. It will be led by project management and engineering consultancy Project Development International Ltd. (Maidenhead, England), with assistance from eight operating companies.

There are a growing number of North Sea offshore installations due to be decommissioned in the next few years, a topic that has been the focus of extensive discussion within the oil and gas industry. However, there is no guidance for the industry on decommissioning pipeline bundles. The study, ITF said, aims to provide a basis for the Department of Energy and Climate Chance and stakeholders to assess decommissioning proposals.

More than 470 offshore installations, 10,000 kilometers of pipelines, 15 onshore terminals and about 5,000 wells constitute part of the North Sea infrastructure, which will need to be decommissioned at an estimated cost of £20 billion to £25 billion.

Pipeline bundles allow all of the flow lines, water injection, gas lift, chemical injection and control systems required for a subsea development to be incorporated into one carrier pipe. This offers a number of benefits, including protection against external hazards, a reduction in the pipeline corridor and cost savings.

"Pipeline bundles may only represent a small percentage of the total length of installed pipeline in the North Sea, but it is essential they are decommissioned in a safe and environmentally responsible manner," said Anthony Onukwu, senior technology analyst from ITF.

A variety of factors, including the type of pipeline and individual circumstances, have to be considered when assessing the options for decommissioning a subsea pipeline, ITF said. In some cases pipelines may be decommissioned in-situ, although complete removal may be the preferred option depending on the circumstances.

Pipeline bundles may also present particular issues when it comes to decommissioning that require specific consideration, ITF said. For more information, visit www.pdiusa.com.

Tritech Debuts Rise and Anchor Chain Monitoring System
At the Offshore Europe conference in September, Tritech International Ltd. (Aberdeen, Scotland) announced the development of its Riser and Anchor Chain Monitoring System (RAMS), a 360° riser and anchor chain monitoring system for FPSOs that is deployed beneath the vessel and monitors the presence, integrity and position of mooring lines and risers from a single sonar head.

Tritech said the system has been extensively tested and the accuracy of the system has shown to be effective in its deployment on Teekay Corp.'s (Vancouver, Canada) Petrojarl Foinaven FPSO on the U.K. Continental Shelf. RAMS was developed in conjunction with BP plc (London, England), which had a requirement for an automated system able to monitor the series of bend stiffeners, umbilicals and risers on an FPSO.

RAMS is deployed beneath an FPSO's turret in the center of the risers and mooring chains. Tritech said that through its multibeam sonar array, RAMS provides simultaneous real-time updates on the status of all lines, with continuous recording and data export. For more information, visit www.tritech.co.uk.

Salazar Announces 2012 to 2017 Offshore Development Program
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced in November the proposed OCS oil and gas leasing program for 2012 to 2017. The program, Salazar said, makes more than 75 percent of undiscovered technically recoverable oil and gas resources estimated in federal offshore areas available for exploration and development.

It schedules 15 potential lease sales for the five-year period, 12 in the Gulf of Mexico and three off the coast of Alaska. The program includes lease sales in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas, but these sales are scheduled late in the five-year period to facilitate further scientific study, data collection and longer term planning for spill response preparedness and infrastructure.

The proposal suggests that any lease sales in the Arctic be tailored to protect sensitive environmental resources, including those accessed by native Alaskans for subsistence uses. The program will be open for public comment and consideration.

The leasing plan was seen as not enough by those in the industry. Randall Luthi, president of the National Ocean Industries Association, said the plan was "ill-conceived" and not in line with the administration's plan to reduce oil imports one-third by 2025. Though not unexpected, Luthi said excluding Virginia's coastal waters from lease sales was a "particularly disturbing omission." For more information, visit www.doi.gov.

Pew Survey Finds Partisan Divide Over Alternative Energy, Drilling
About 58 percent of Americans surveyed believe that their government should allow more oil and gas drilling in U.S. waters, according to a November telephone survey of 1,005 U.S. adults by the Pew Research Center for People and the Press and the Washington Post.

The percentage of Americans supporting more drilling has recovered to 63 percent, about halfway up from its drop to 44 percent in June 2010, when the Deepwater Horizon oil spill was uncontained. The survey numbers in November had a strong partisan divide, with 77 percent of Republicans and 46 percent of Democrats favoring more drilling.

The survey found declining support for federal investments in alternative energy, dropping to 68 percent support from a high of 82 percent in April 2009. In alternative energy, the partisan divide of support flips. About 83 percent of Democrats favor federal support of alternative energy while 53 percent of Republicans expressed support for alternatives. For more information, visit www.people-press.org.


2012:  JAN | FEB | MARCH | APRIL | MAY | JUNE | JULY | AUG | SEPT | OCT | NOV | DEC
2011:  JAN | FEB | MARCH | APRIL | MAY | JUNE | JULY | AUG | SEPT | OCT | NOV | DEC

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