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Offshore Oil & Ocean Engineering


November 2013 Issue

Alaska Oil Outlook
Alaskan oil production peaked in 1988 at around 2 million barrels per day and has been falling since, possibly down to 510,000 barrels per day this year, according to Douglas-Westwood. Virtually all of this production flows through the 800-mile Trans-Alaska Pipeline (TAPS) to Valdez in southern Alaska. But TAPS is struggling, operating below a quarter of its capacity, with fears that it will lose its viability below 300,000 barrels per day.

In the wake of the run-up in oil prices before the recession, Alaska's governor at the time, Sarah Palin, brought in a 75 percent tax rate from 2007. This stalled investment, and production decline rates increased to nearly 7 percent from 4 percent a decade earlier. The current governor, Sean Parnell, reduced the top tax rate to 35 percent. This brought promises of investment by BP (London, England) and ConocoPhillips (Houston, Texas).

However, expectations remain modest at best to reduce declines to 20,000 barrels per day/year from the current 40,000 barrels per day pace. If expectations are met, TAPS will reach the 300,000 barrels per day threshold in 2024, rather than 2020.

Shell (Hague, Netherlands) plans as much as 1.8 million barrels per day from Alaska's Outer Continental Shelf, 40 percent more than Gulf of Mexico production today. Cost to first oil is $40 to 60 billion, and initial production will be in 2025.

Tower Fabrication Delivered for Santos Basin Lay System
IHC Engineering Business (IHC EB), based in Stocksfield, England, has reached a pivotal point in the construction of a 300-tonne capacity flexible pipe-lay system destined for the Santos basin deep waters off the Brazilian coast. A key stage of the project has been achieved with the delivery of the 150-tonne tower fabrication, one of the key structures of the system, to IHC EB's Port of Tyne facility ahead of a six-month outfitting and testing period.

The completed lay system is scheduled to be installed on the Brazilian-built, SapuraKencana (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)-Seadrill (London, England)-operated vessel in late 2014.

The IHC EB system consists of three distinct packages of work: an underdeck product handling system, tower system and vessel deck systems.

The tower structure fabrication has been produced by Allerton Steel (Northallerton, England). The Fabricator has produced the major tower sections in its Northallerton facility over the past four months, expending some 1,200 hours per week at the peak of the fabrication phase.

Work for Allerton culminated in a month on site at Port of Tyne where the major sections were joined and subjected to final machining operations.

Alongside the tower system, IHC EB is also making progress on the vessel deck system equipment. Both will be complete by the early 2014 delivery requirement.

BMT to Replace MIS/MAS for Shell's GOM TLP Fleet
Shell (Hague, Netherlands) has selected BMT Scientific Marine Services (Escondido, California) to implement the replacement of marine instrumentation and advisory systems (MIS/MAS) across Shell's Gulf of Mexico (GOM) tension-leg platform (TLP) fleet.

The updated systems will use BMT's WinMon data acquisition software to implement the MIS functions to monitor, log and display data from the existing suite of sensors. The system performs data quality monitoring and processing and provides storage of measured time series and derived operational information. The validated information is then passed to the Marine Advisory System, and key stability metrics are collected and archived by the Marine Instrumentation System.

BMT previously worked on similar Shell MIS/MAS systems, including Perdido, Gumusut and Olympus.

Fugro Will Help Develop Brazil's Block BM-C-33
Under a contract awarded by Repsol Sinopec Brasil (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), Fugro (Leidschendam, Netherlands) is to provide geophysical, geotechnical and metocean services to support the development of Block BM-C-33 offshore Brazil and its associated export routes.

The multidisciplinary project includes a marine survey campaign, which involves Fugro's newest FSSV65 offshore survey vessel, MV Fugro Brasilis, along with the multipurpose survey vessel MV Geo Prospector and an AUV. The geotechnical workscope includes jumbo piston coring and cone penetration testing together with data processing, while meteorological and oceanographic (metocean) data will be acquired during a 12-month measurement program.

The contract value is approximately 40 million Brazilian real, and work is expected to commence in the third quarter of 2013.

Located in the deepwater Campos Basin, Block BM-C-33 is in water depths ranging from 2,600 to 2,900 meters.

Osiris Builds Bibby Athena Due to Customer Demand
Osiris Projects (Bromborough, England) has begun building on a sister ship to Bibby Tethra, named Bibby Athena, to be launched in winter 2014. The vessel will mirror the capabilities of Bibby Tethra with a few subtle changes to reflect the company's development into shallow geotechnical sampling and more challenging offshore market.

Although Bibby Athena will be the same overall length as Bibby Tethra at 27.5 meters, the vessel will benefit from a number of enhancements, including an increased deck crane capacity of 10.87 tonnes and improved internal layout. The addition of two forward Schottel (Spay, Germany) pump jets and larger aft electric Schottel drive motors will provide DP1 capability, and an increased generator size will provide 850 kilovolt-amps of electrical power.

To maximize efficiency, Bibby Athena will be permanently mobilized with a dual-head multibeam system, greatly improving the productivity of bathymetric data acquisition, and a water treatment facility will be added to extend offshore endurance. A double-drum main winch with two cable sizes will allow deployment of multiple systems without the requirement for remobilization. A larger online survey lab will improve the volume of data processing and initial quality control that can take place on board, reducing the amount of processing required at the head office.

As with Bibby Tethra, Bibby Athena will be built by Socarenam (Boulogne-sur-Mer, France) in Boulogne over 15 months.

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