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May 2012 Issue

Rosneft, Exxon Mobil Form Joint Venture for Arctic Drilling
Rosneft (Moscow, Russia) and Exxon Mobil Corp. (Irving, Texas) agreed in April to form a joint venture to manage an exploration program in the Kara and Black seas. The initial cost of preliminary exploration is estimated at more than $3.2 billion.

The companies signed a series of agreements to implement a long-term strategic cooperation concluded in August 2011 to jointly explore for and develop oil and natural gas in Russia. The companies also set the terms for investments to be made by the partners in Russian offshore projects.

Exploration activity began in the Tuapse license Block in the Black Sea in Russia in September 2011. The seismic program is now 70 percent complete. Interpretation of data collected will be carried out following program completion, which is scheduled for the second quarter of 2012. Drilling of the first exploration well is planned for 2014 to 2015.

In the Kara Sea, plans are underway for seismic and environmental programs of East Prinovozemelsky blocks later this year in anticipation of a potential exploration well in 2014.

Rosneft President Eduard Khudainatov and Exxon Mobil Chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson said they were encouraged to proceed with these projects by the Russian government’s efforts to reform taxation of the high-potential oil industry sectors and improve investment conditions for foreign and Russian oil companies.

Neftegaz Holding America Ltd., an independent indirect subsidiary of Rosneft registered in Delaware, concluded separate agreements for the right to acquire 30 percent interest in 20 blocks held by Exxon Mobil in the Western part of the Gulf of Mexico.


WaveWalker Jack-Up Keel Laid at Netherlands Shipyard
The keel of the large walking jack-up barge WaveWalker, developed by Fugro Seacore (Falmouth, England) and Van Oord (Rotterdam, Netherlands), was laid in April at the Neptune Shipyard in Hardinxveld-Giessendam, the Netherlands.

WaveWalker 1 is designed to move and operate in rough seas, surf zones, beaches and other intertidal locations. A 50-50 joint venture company, WaveWalker BV, is being registered in the Netherlands, and the two companies are working on the design, construction and operation of the jack-up, which is set to begin operating in the field later in 2012 on drilling and blasting works for the new Brazilian Suape Outer Channel, a contract recently won by Van Oord. Different sections of the WaveWalker are now being assembled.

WaveWalker can be operated in conventional four-legged mode, or as an eight-legged self-contained walking jack-up platform, capable of bidirectional movement while elevated. It can be deployed for undertaking geotechnical site investigations, drilling, trenching, pipeline and cable laying, blasting and other underwater work. For example, WaveWalker can undertake drilling and blasting, and relocate without floating.

The development of the walking jack-up concept has been tested over 14 years by Fugro Seacore in heavy seas, surf and high winds.


Hydratight Repairs Damaged Pipe on Statoil Subsea Well Head
Hydratight (Darlaston, England) deployed its Morgrip connector to repair a 6-inch super duplex pipe located within a subsea manifold 340 meters under the surface of the North Sea, the company announced in April.

The repair for Statoil (Stavanger, Norway) was carried out to fix a damaged pipe on a subsea well head “Christmas tree” on the Troll C oil and gas platform, 100 kilometers northwest of Bergen, Norway. A mandrel and its 6-inch supporting pipe were pulled out of position during an operation, overloading the pipe and forcing the shutdown of an associated 10-inch line, halting production.

A 6-inch super duplex Morgrip end-connector had to be engineered to fit within the significant physical constraints of the damaged manifold. The pipe, which carries a mixture of water, oil and gas, was pressure-tested to 267 bar after the procedure and will be tested again periodically to make sure the pipe has not deteriorated.

The Morgrip successfully sealed the line in accordance with Statoil’s requirements. The pipe integrity was retained with no de-rating of the pipeline or deviation from original design.


Oil Spill Commission Report Criticizes US Congress Inaction
The Oil Spill Commission Action, an outgrowth of the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling, criticized Congress for failing to implement offshore safety and environmental reforms in a report card the commission published in April.

The report commends the industry and federal agencies, which received a B-level rating, for their improvements in the way offshore oil operations are carried out but faults Congress, which received a D, for showing too little support for these efforts.

“Although the administration and Congress have provided increases in funding for the Department of the Interior to operate its regulatory programs, Congress has taken no action to make the program self-funding,” commission members wrote in the report. “Nor has Congress taken action to adjust the existing unrealistic limits on liability and response funding.”

In the last session of Congress in 2010, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 3534, which incorporated many recommended changes from the commission, but the Senate took no action, the report said.

In this session neither branch of Congress has acted upon legislation that would implement commission recommendations. The House has passed bills (i.e., H.R. 1229, 1230 and 1231) containing provisions, such as requirements that offshore areas be leased without adequate review, running contrary to what the commission considers safe development of offshore resources.

The commission said it was impressed with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, adding it was pleased to see the Department of the Interior moving toward a risk management-based regulatory approach, similar to the United Kingdom’s “safety case.”


2013:  JAN | FEB | MARCH | APRIL | MAY | JUNE | JULY | AUG | SEPT | OCT | NOV | DEC
2012:  JAN | FEB | MARCH | APRIL | MAY | JUNE | JULY | AUG | SEPT | OCT | NOV | DEC

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