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Friday, April 19, 2019

Chukchi Sea News

Amber Thomas, interim Business Operations Manager for Anchorage. (Image: Foss)

Cook Inlet Tug & Barge Announces Interim Manager

Project Manager to Temporarily Lead Alaska Operations. Cook Inlet Tug & Barge (CITB), an independently managed subsidiary of Foss Maritime Company, announced that Foss project manager Amber Thomas has been selected as interim Business Operations Manager for Anchorage. Beginning January 2, Thomas will serve as the central point person for administrative and commercial operations, leading all shoreside activities in Anchorage and Seward. Thomas will take on the temporary position while the search continues for a new president to replace former CITB head Ben Stevens.

Photo: ExxonMobil

Arctic: ExxonMobil Exits, Rosneft Goes Ahead

Russian state oil company Rosneft will continue geological explorations in the Arctic offshore zone after ExxonMobil quits the joint projects, reports TASS. The report qouted Natural Resources Minister Sergey Donskoy saying that the Arctic licenses will remain with Rosneft and the company "plans to continue to operate there". Exxon Mobil  decided to withdraw from the joint projects with Rosneft in late 2017 after Washington issued a legal act expanding against Russia. According to the document, in 2013 and 2014 Exxon Mobil and Rosneft created various entities for operations in oil exploration.

Photo Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Hundreds of Scientists Urge Obama to Halt Arctic Oil Drilling

Nearly 400 scientists from more than a dozen countries signed a letter urging U.S. President Barack Obama to take the Arctic Ocean out of the next federal offshore lease sale plan, thus ruling out the possibility of offshore drilling in the Arctic in the near future. Scientists from 13 countries have signed the letter saying global warming will be accelerated by burning oil found in the Arctic Ocean. “No new oil and gas leasing or exploration should be allowed in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas in the foreseeable future,” the scientists said.

High Correlation of Biomass to Species Diversity in Northern Chukchi Sea - BOEM Study

Last summer, researchers began a five year study to monitor biodiversity in the Arctic Chukchi Sea from an ecosystem perspective, looking at microbes, whales and everything in between. health and critical ecosystem services that contribute to human life. Monitoring it improves our ability to interpret and forecast changes. The unprecedented effects of climate change combined with strong seasonal cycles and increasing human activities in the Arctic make this region particularly important to monitor.

Fennica, an icebreaker vessel deployed by Shell in the Arctic (Photo: Arctia Shipping)

Shell Withdraws from Arctic Exploration

Royal Dutch Shell has abandoned its Arctic search for oil after failing to find enough crude in a move that will appease environmental campaigners and shareholders who said its project was too expensive and risky. Shell has spent about $7 billion on exploration in the waters off Alaska so far and said it could take a hit of up to $4.1 billion for pulling out of the Chukchi Sea for the "foreseeable future". The unsuccessful campaign is Shell's second major setback in the Arctic after it interrupted exploration for three years in 2012 when an enormous drilling rig broke free and grounded.

Photo: N. Scott Trimble / Greenpeace

Shell Arctic Drilling "Risky"

Former BP PLC Chief Executive John Browne said fellow FTSE 100 giant Royal Dutch Shell PLC is risking its long term reputation and finances by deciding to drill n the Arctic, the BBC reported. Both Browne and Shell Chief Executive Ben van Beurden gave interviews to BBC for a Radio 4 documentary concerning climate change, where Browne said Shell should not be prioritising the Arctic as an area for exploration for a variety of reasons, especially in the current downturn. "I'm not chairman of Shell.

MSV Fennica. Photo by Arctia Shipping

Shell Readies to Drill in Arctic, Seeks Modified Permit

Shell has informed the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) that it is set to restart its controversial hunt for Arctic oil, three years after the company’s last ill-fated venture north, reports The Guardian. “Fennica, the safety vessel and icebreaker, is in the Chukchi Sea, drilling continues, and we have requested the permit to drill deeper in this exploration well,” said a spokeswoman for the company. Meanwhile, Royal Dutch Shell PLC has applied to amend…

MSV Fennica. Photo by Greenpeace

Shell Moves Ahead in Arctic with Exploratory Well

Shell Oil's icebreaker MSV Fennica weaved through nine remaining protesters hanging from the St. Johns Bridge and made its way toward the Pacific Ocean. Authorities have removed protesters dangling from a bridge and in kayaks in Oregon, allowing an icebreaker to get through and head toward the Arctic, The Associated Press reported. Demonstrators had been trying to stop the Fennica from leaving Portland, Oregon, and heading for an oil drilling operation, the AP reported. The ship had tried to leave earlier Thursday, but was forced to turn around by the protesters dangling from the bridge.

Kayaktivists demonstrate in front of the Fennica in Portland Harbor (Photo courtesy Portland Ecofilm Festival)

'Kayaktivists' to Launch Blockade of Shell Icebreaker

A small group of protesters and activists are gathering at the Cathedral Park boat ramp in Portland, preparing to stay for a 24-hour vigil as they wait for Royal Dutch Shell Oil's icebreaker ship, the MSV Fennica, to depart from Portland for the Arctic, reports Reuters. Following the lead of protesters in Seattle who tried to block ships headed for Shell's planned oil exploration in the Chukchi Sea, the Portland "kayaktivists" said they would conduct a vigil overnight on the Willamette River, which runs through downtown Portland.

MSV Fennica. Pic by Arctia Shipping

Green Groups Ask U.S. to Stall Shell's Final Arctic Permits

Ten environmental groups say a missing icebreaker should be a deal-breaker for Arctic offshore drilling by Royal Dutch Shell PLC off Alaska's northwest coast and urged the U.S. government not to grant final permits to Shell, reports Reuters and AP. The groups in a letter that under Shell's exploration plans, the U.S. Interior Department cannot allow it to begin exploring for oil in the Chukchi Sea off northern Alaska while the icebreaker, the Fennica, is unavailable. The icebreaker is a key part of Shell's exploration plan and spill response plan, said attorney Mike LeVine of Oceana.

Pacific Walrus

Shell's Arctic Drilling a Threat for Pacific Walrus

A number of environmental groups are asking the Department of the Interior to rescind permission Shell has been granted to begin exploratory drilling in the Arctic this summer because the company's plan would not protect the walrus. Shell's plan would violate federal rules limiting how closely a company can drill multiple wells, Earthjustice argued in a letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, sent on behalf of 10 other groups. The rules, issued in 2013 by the Fish and Wildlife Service under the Marine Mammal Protection Act…

Arctic Challenger. Photo by Royal Dutch Shell

Shell Barge Arrives in Alaska

The Arctic Challenger, an oil spill containment barge, that had left Bellingham, north of Seattle, and was headed toward Dutch Harbor, in Unalaska, off mainland Alaska,  reached port in Alaska on Wednesday, June 10, for a brief stop before heading to the Chukchi Sea to support exploratory oil drilling. The vessel is moored on the Aleutian Islands in Dutch Harbor, where the U.S. Coast Guard is beefing up its patrols in case activists show up at the fishing community to protest Royal Dutch Shell’s plans to drill this summer, according to KTUU TV.

Image credit: The Climate Desk

Environmentalists Sue BOEM over Shell Plan to Drill in Arctic

Ten major environmental groups filed a lawsuit on June 2 challenging the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management's (BOEM) approval of Royal Dutch Shell's exploration plan for drilling in the Chukchi Sea this summer. The lawsuit seeks a review of permits granted to Royal Dutch Shell PLC by the BOEM for exploratory drilling in the Chukchi (chuk-CHEE’) Sea off Alaska’s northwest coast. Shell paid $2.1 billion for its Arctic leases. The oil giant intends to drill six exploratory wells this summer at a site about 75 miles northwest of the Alaska hamlet of Wainwright.

Photo: Greenpeace USA

Anti-Arctic Drilling Activists Hold 'Shell No' Protest in Seattle

Seattleites took a dramatic stand, er paddle, against Arctic oil drilling. Local Native Americans and concerned citizens took to kayak and canoe and surrounded a giant, Arctic-bound Royal Dutch Shell oil drilling rig currently making a layover in the Port of Seattle. The group that planned the event, called the “Paddle in Seattle,” said Saturday’s demonstration began a three-day “massive peaceful resistance,” the Associated Press reports. The group plans to block access to the oil giant’s rig parked in the Port of Seattle’s Terminal 5 and delay preparations for drilling on Monday.

Environment Friendly Port of Seattle

Seattle Flotilla Protests Shell's Arctic Drilling Plans

Hundreds of activists in kayaks and small boats fanned out on a Seattle bay on Saturday to protest plans by Royal Dutch Shell to resume oil exploration in the Arctic and keep two of its drilling rigs stored in the city's port. Environmental groups have vowed to disrupt the Anglo-Dutch oil company's efforts to use the Seattle as a home base as it outfits the rigs to return to the Chukchi Sea off Alaska, saying drilling in the remote Arctic waters could lead to an ecological catastrophe.

NOAA, NASA & BOEM to Monitor Biodiversity

NOAA, NASA and the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) have joined together to support three demonstration projects that will lay the foundation for the first national network to monitor marine biodiversity at scales ranging from microbes to whales. The projects, to be funded at approximately $17 million over the next five years, subject to the availability of funds, will demonstrate how a national operational marine biodiversity observation network could be developed.

ConocoPhillips Put Arctic Drilling Plans on Hold

Regulatory uncertainty leads ConocoPhillips to call a halt to its 2014 Chukchi Sea exploration drilling plans. ConocoPhillips say it will put its 2014 Alaska Chukchi Sea exploration drilling plans on hold given the uncertainties of evolving federal regulatory requirements and operational permitting standards. The company has determined it would not be prudent at this time to make the significant monetary commitments needed to preserve the option to drill in 2014. “While we are confident in our own expertise and ability to safely conduct offshore Arctic operations…

Oil Majors Expand Far North Exploration Projects

Rosneft and ExxonMobil agree to collaborate in the search for offshore energy in the Russian Arctic & Far East,  and Alaska. The two companies have agreed to expand their cooperation under their 2011 Strategic Cooperation Agreement to include an additional approximately 600,000 square kilometers (150 million acres) of exploration acreage in the Russian Arctic and potential participation by Rosneft (or its affiliate) in the Point Thomson project in Alaska. They have also agreed to conduct a joint study on a potential LNG project in the Russian Far East.

Rig Kulluk On Tow: Photo credit USCG

Shell's Arctic Drilling Hiatus

Both of Shell's offshore drill rigs used during last year's oil exploration season to be transported to Asian shipyards for inspection and repair. The decision suggests the Kulluk and the Noble Discoverer -- Shell's only drilling rigs for the Arctic -- need major work and calls into further question whether Shell will be able to resume drilling in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas this year. Two federal investigations are under way into Shell's Alaska operations, reports the 'Anchorage Daily News'.

Map courtesy of NSIDC

Northern Sea Route Partly Blocked Although Sea Ice Near Minimum

So far this year only the southern passage has opened despite record low levels of Arctic sea ice. According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, the current extent is 760,000 square kilometers (293,000 square miles) below the previous record minimum extent in the satellite record (4.17 million square kilometers or 1.61 million square miles) which occurred on September 18, 2007. This difference is larger than the size of the state of Texas. The ice extent currently tracks nearly 50% below the 1979 to 2000 average minimum extent.

Shell's First Arctic Drill Attempt Suffers a Hiccup

A drill-bit from 'Noble Discoverer' touched sea floor in the US Chukchi Sea, but drilling soon had to cease as sea ice began to encroach. As a precautionary measure and in accordance with our approved Chukchi Sea Ice Management Plan, Shell has made the decision to temporarily move off the Burger-A well to avoid potentially encroaching sea ice. Once the ice moves on, the Noble Discoverer will re-connect to anchors and continue drilling. Shell uses a combination of satellite images, radar and on-site reconnaissance to monitor ice movement.

Arctic Voyage Underway for Both Shell Drillships

In the last week, both of Shell’s drill ships departed Unalaska for the Arctic. The Noble Discoverer drill rig, which made headlines when it dragged anchor and almost came aground on Airport Beach in June, is bound for the Chukchi Sea. The Kulluk drill ship is now halfway to the Beaufort Sea. But the drilling season is already almost over, with only a month left to drill in the Chukchi, and two months left in the Beaufort, and for that reason Shell is asking the government for more time.

Photo credit USCG

Coast Guard Icebreaker Begins 2012 Arctic Missions

U.S. Coast Guard Cutter 'Healy' begins the first of three Arctic missions scheduled during 2012. Healy departed its homeport of Seattle July 30, for a deployment that will include three missions that support scientific research in the Arctic. After a brief stop in Dutch Harbor for logistics and to welcome aboard the 38 members of the HLY-12-01 science party, the cutter continued its northbound transit through the Bering Strait to the Chukchi Sea. The first science mission the Healy crew is scheduled to conduct is a part of the Chukchi Sea Offshore Monitoring in Drilling Area (COMIDA) project…

Photo credit:antarctica.gov.au

Chinese Icebreaker Transits Northern Sea Route

The icebreaker 'Xuelong' made the Arctic Ocean passage from China through to Norwegian waters. The Chinese icebreaker completed the Arctic North-East Passage marking the first such voyage by a Chinese vessel and opening an Arctic route connecting the Pacific and the Atlantic for future Chinese science expeditions. In completing the voyage, the icebreaker Xuelong or Snow Dragon channeled through five marginal seas of the Arctic Ocean: the Chukchi Sea, the East Siberian Sea, the Laptev Sea, the Kaka Sea and the Barents Sea.

Icebreaker 'Fennica': Photo credit Wikimedia CCL

Arctic Alaska Bound Units of Shell Fleet Set Sail

Units of Shell's oil drilling fleet leave Dutch Harbor for the Arctic Ocean. The Aiviq anchor-handler has begun the long sea journey, bearing some of the massive anchors that will be set to hold the drilling rig Noble Discoverer in place as it drills a well in the Chukchi Sea, Shell informs the 'Alaska Dispatch'. The ice-breaker Fennica , which will deploy a sound-recorder to establish an acoustic footprint of the anchors being set, also left Dutch Harbor. It will provide baseline…

Arctic Shield 2012: USCG Mounts Historic Arctic Effort

While it seems that half the world is monitoring the oil and gas exploration activities of Royal Dutch Shell (Shell Oil) on the United States outer continental shelf (OCS) in waters of the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas off the north coast of Alaska, another historic event is occurring in those same waters: Arctic Shield 2012. The US Coast Guard is assembling its largest ever effort in the Arctic during the period July through October 2012. The Coast Guard has been gradually expanding its presence in the Arctic over the past four years.