Statoil turns to compression for Norway hubs Jan 1, 2011 Jeremy Beckman • London
Orginal article here

Statoil has committed to compression for three of its main gas production centers on the Norwegian shelf. It aims to prolong output from existing fields under development, and to prepare the facilities for new roles as regional hubs.

The largest project in monetary terms is a subsea compression system for the Åsgard field complex on the Haltenbanken in the Norwegian Sea, where water depths range from 240-310 m (787-1,017 ft). Aker Solutions has the $552-million equipment contract, which includes a subsea compressor manifold station and template, three compressor trains, electrical control systems, HV power distribution, and topside tie-ins.

In the same region, Statoil has put a tag of $368 million on its plan to install a new compressor module on the Kristin platform, designed to introduce lower pressure production. This, the company says, will lift reserves recovery from the Kristin and Tyrihans fields by up to 115 MMboe, and will extend life from these fields and others in the area through 2029-2034. The new equipment should be installed during summer 2013, entering service the following spring.

Finally, in the North Sea, Bergen Group Rosenberg will build and install a compressor module on the Kvitebjorn platform. Statoil describes this as a “pre-compression” project, allowing for production with reduced wellhead pressure. Fabrication is under way on the gas turbine-driven compressor, which should be installed between 2012-2014. Gas from Kvitebjorn is piped to Kollsnes in western Norway. Bergen Group’s $161-$242-million contract includes an option for tie in of a condensate pipeline to the Valemon platform, also currently under construction.

UK majors add platforms

Major operators in the UK central North Sea have embarked on incremental developments. Total plans to install a new platform on the West Franklin field in blocks 29/5b and 29/4d in the high-pressure/high-temperature gas-condensate region. The aim is to produce 85 MMboe of fresh reserves via a new platform and initially three wells, which will be linked to the existing Elgin/Franklin production facilities. Total estimates the cost at $1 billion, and expects to deliver 40,000 boe/d when the platform starts up in 2013.

Apache Corp. has ordered a new satellite oil production platform for mid-2012 for the Forties field, which will be bridge linked to the Forties Alpha platform. OGN Group’s Hadrian Yard close to Newcastle in northeast England, will build the facility under a $242-million contract. It will provide Apache with 18 new slots for drilling development wells, along with HP gas compression for artificial lift and dehydration. Apache estimates Forties has a further 173 MMboe of remaining proved reserves, and is looking to maintain daily oil output at around 60,000 b/d through 2013 and beyond. AMEC, which used to run Hadrian, will manage modifications to Forties Alpha.

Hess extends South Arne

In the Danish North Sea, Hess and its partners DONG Energy, Noreco, and Danoil have approved a Phase III development of the South Arne field in license 07/89. The proposed scheme, designed to extract a further 15 MMboe, involves drilling and stimulation of 11 new wells, and adding two new wellhead platforms to the north and alongside the existing South Arne facility. One of the first contracts to be awarded was a pipeline bundle, which Subsea 7 will fabricate and install in 2012, linking the two new platforms. The field is in a water depth of 60 m (197 ft).

DONG recently made a new oil discovery in the Solsort prospect in license 4/98, drilled by the Maersk Resolute. Three side tracks also were drilled to define the limits of the find, all with positive outcomes.

Apollo shines for Lundin

Lundin Petroleum says its recent oil discovery well on the Apollo prospect in the Norwegian North Sea could be in the range of 15-65 MMboe. Well 16/1-4 was drilled by the Transocean Winner on license PL338 to target an extension of the Jurassic reservoir associated with Det norske oljeselskap’s Draupne find. But results suggest only a limited part of Draupne extends into the license.

At the Palaeocene (Heimdal formation) and Cretaceous levels, two oil columns were encountered. The well also penetrated 60 m (197 ft) of good-quality Cretaceous sands below the oil-water contact, suggesting potential up-dip of the discovery. It is not clear, however, whether Apollo could feature in Lundin’s plan for the Greater Luno Area development, which is expected to go forward later this year.

Studies re-assess Irish fields

Providence Resources has become operator of the Barryroe oil discovery in the North Celtic Sea off southern Ireland. The company says the partners will commission a new 3D seismic survey early in 2011, the results of which will help preparations for an appraisal/pre-development well. Discussions are under way with other consortia on the Irish shelf concerning a rig slot.

Independent analysts have estimated the field’s recoverable contingent resources at 59-144 MMbbl. Barryroe’s crude is waxy, and its reservoir architecture is complex, but Providence says this could be addressed via horizontal, artificially lifted well completions.

Providence also operates the 1981 Spanish Point discovery in 400 m (1,312 ft) water depth, 170 km (105 mi) off western Ireland in the Porcupine basin. Newly interpreted 3D seismic and wide-ranging modeling studies suggest 100-200 MMboe could be recoverable. Field development could involve drilling six to 14 fracture-stimulated wells, with potential plateau production of 30,000 b/d of oil and 250 MMcf/d of gas.

In the St. George’s Channel basin separating Ireland from Wales, the company has signed an optional agreement whereby Star Energy would farm into 50% of Standard Exploration License SEL 1/07. The permit is in 90 m (295 ft) water depth, and contains the mapped extension of Marathon’s 1994 Dragon gas discovery offshore west Wales, and the deeper-lying Orpheus and Pegasus prospects. Star would earn the farm-in right by conducting subsurface studies on Dragon, then participating in an appraisal well.

Tertiary starts drilling on Lappland gold project, original article here
Fluorspar and gold miner Tertiary Minerals plc said a drilling rig is being mobilised this week to its Kiekerömaa gold project in the Lappland Greenstone Belt in northern Finland. 

Drilling will test the Kiekerömaa gold mineralised zone previously discovered by Finnish company Outokumpu in 1997.

Eight holes are planned over a 300m strike length, subject to initial drill holes achieving acceptable core recovery.

Drilling is expected to take four weeks with assay results becoming available eight weeks after completion.

Chairman Patrick Cheetham said, ‘Whilst our key focus is on the objective of becoming a major European supplier of fluorspar, a portion of the funds recently raised has been reserved for drilling on the company’s gold projects.

‘The gold mineralised zone at Kiekerömaa has not been tested by diamond drilling until now and the swampy ground requires that it be drilled in winter when the ground is frozen.

‘We are keen to get this drilling programme under way to allow time this winter for a follow-up round of drilling if initial results are favourable.’

Shares were up 0.5p at 11.75p.

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Shackleton’s whisky stands up to test of time

Radio New Zealand, 19 January 2011 Original article here

Bottles of whisky encased in Antarctic ice for more than 100 years have been found to be in good condition after being returned to Scotland from New Zealand in a private jet.

The three bottles were slowly thawed at the Canterbury Museum in New Zealand and opened in August last year.

Eleven bottles of Mackinlay brand whisky dating from 1896, made by the Whyte & MacKay company, were discovered at the hut of Sir Ernest Shackleton in 2006.

The Shackleton expedition was unsuccessful and the base and the whisky were abandoned in 1907.

On Tuesday, Whyte & MacKay’s master blender Richard Patterson drew out a sample by syringe and judged the whisky only by smell, as no one has yet been allowed to taste it.

“My initial reaction is very, very interesting, but I must wait and see. It’s that lovely rich, golden colour.

“This is a whisky that’s been kept stable for these number of years and I think when Sir Ernest Shackleton tasted this it was a great honour for him, as it is an honour for me too.”

The original recipe for the blend no longer exists, but distillers hope they can replicate it.


Copyright © 2011, Radio New Zealand


Feeding The Robotic Guardians Of The Arctic Seas

Strategy page January 19, 2011. Original article here

Although the Cold War ended in 1991, the U.S. and Canada still maintain a string of radar stations from Alaska to Greenland. The system, originally called the DEW (Distant Early Warning) Line, was built in the 1950s, to detect Russian bombers or reconnaissance aircraft coming in. Right across the Arctic Ocean, and the North Pole from the northern coast of North America, is the north coast of Russia. Right across the pole is the shortest distance (for aircraft or ballistic missiles) from Russia to North America.

After the Cold War ended, Canada took over control of the entire system, which is now managed from an underground facility in Ontario. The U.S. still picks up 60 percent of the cost, and has access to information the radars collect.

Even as the Cold War was ending, the DEW line was already being replaced by a system consisting mostly of unmanned radar stations (which cut operating expenses 50 percent and spared many Canadian and American air force personnel periods of duty on the coast of Arctic Ocean). The new North Warning System (NWS) consists of 15 manned long range radars (11 in Canada), and 39 unmanned radars (36 in Canada). This radar system covers an area 5,000 kilometers long and 300 kilometers deep. The DEW line was much longer (going from the Aleutian Islands to Iceland) and deeper (there were two more radar lines farther south, north of the U.S. border.

The DEW Line and the NWS give no warning of ballistic missile attacks, so a different system, using ground and space based radars, has been developed over the last half century. But you still want to know what aircraft are out there over the cold Arctic seas.

A civilian firm provides most of the logistic and technical services to maintain the radars, their generators and communications equipment of the NWS. This costs about $63 million year. The unmanned radars are marvels of automation, built with many redundant systems, so the radars can remain operational until maintenance crews can be flown in from one of the five support bases. This is particularly difficult during the long, cold and dark Winters.

Alaska whalers will wear white float coats for spring hunt

The Associated Press

STEPHANIE AGUVLUK / The Associated Press Eskimo whalers wear float coats on the Chukchi Sea north of Wainwright. The whale hunters have traditionally worn white as camouflage, forgoing the use of life jackets because they've been unavailable in white. When the whaling season arrives this spring hunters from 11 coastal villages will wear the white float coats.

Published: January 17th, 2011 09:46 PM
Last Modified: January 18th, 2011 02:32 PM

Gordon Brower has been hunting bowhead whales for most of his 47 years, forgoing life jackets because no one made them in white, the only color that would work as camouflage on Alaska’s icy Arctic coast.

Now the whaling captain from the nation’s northernmost town of Barrow and other Eskimo whalers have begun to wear personal flotation devices, custom-made in the white they’ve traditionally used to make them more invisible to their massive prey.

When the subsistence whaling season arrives this spring, more Alaska Native hunters from coastal villages will be outfitted with the white float coats being distributed through a safety program that’s been greatly expanded since its debut last year. A couple dozen whalers also will receive white float pants.

Brower’s crew was among whalers who tried the coats last year. On the first trek out with the new gear, the crew landed a 30-ton bowhead.

“Everything kind of lined up in a straight line and the stars were with us, and we got a whale,” he said, noting the only glitch with the coats is the noise they make in extremely cold weather. “Other than that, I think they work pretty good. We were happy to use them.”

The coats are the result of efforts by the Coast Guard, the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium and Burnaby, British Columbia-based Mustang Survival Corp., which makes flotation and extreme climate protection products. The whalers’ coats have a nylon shell and flotation foam filling, which also offers protection against the frigid conditions faced in the Arctic.


Mike Folkerts, a recreational boating safety specialist with the Coast Guard, was participating in a mission to Barrow in 2009 when he noticed the town’s main grocery and general store had no life jackets for sale. Local whalers told him life jackets were too bright and would scare away the animals. He asked if they would wear the jackets if they were available in white.

The hunters said sure.

Folkerts called a couple companies, including Mustang, that sent prototype samples, which Folkerts showed to the whalers.”They loved them,” he said.

There is no federal or state requirement to wear a life jacket in a recreational boat unless the person is under 13, although life jackets on board are required, he said.

The Coast Guard can’t purchase equipment to give to the public, so Folkerts turned to the tribal health consortium. The organization tapped $12,000 of its own funds and ordered 52 coats from Mustang, distributing them among whalers in Barrow and two other villages.

It was an apt connection.

One of the consortium’s areas of interest is reducing the disproportionate rate of drownings among Alaska Natives.

Between 2000 and 2006, Alaska Natives accounted for 179 drowning deaths in the state, or 45 percent of the 402 such deaths in that period, although they represented less than 18 percent of Alaska’s population at the time, according to Hillary Strayer, the organization’s injury prevention specialist.



Drowning deaths are a rarity among whalers, who are extremely safety conscious, according to Folkerts.

But Brower has seen his share of tipped boats over the years. He points out that his boat is only 24 feet long, while whales can be more than twice as long, averaging a ton per foot.

“Once in a great while, somebody has lost their lives,” he said. “The potential is always there, especially when you are attempting to harvest a whale and the animal is a big animal.”

As far as Strayer is concerned, whalers are role models. She’s hoping they inspire others to start wearing life jackets.

“They are pillars of their community,” she said. “They’re really looked up to.”



For the upcoming spring whaling season that begins in April when bowheads are heading north, the consortium is distributing 96 coats among crews from the remaining villages that are members of the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission, which represents 11 communities.

Four crews, including Brower’s, will get the float pants.

The funds for this year’s effort came from a $15,000 donation from Shell Oil and almost $11,000 from Conoco Phillips, an oil producer on the North Slope, where some of the whaling villages are located. Shell has offshore oil exploration projects in the region.

Representatives of the companies said the donations stemmed from their support of the subsistence lifestyle of Natives in the area and the companies’ devotion to safety.

“If outfitting North Slope whalers with traditional-looking, but effective, float coats saves a life, that’s a behavioral change that we’re proud to be part of,” Shell’s Alaska spokesman Curtis Smith said.

Russia to draft program for Arctic shelf exploration by 2012

Russia is first in the world in natural gas reserves (24 percent of the total) and 7th in oil reserves (6 percent), but these resources are not renewable

02:44 14/01/2011© RIA Novosti. Vladimir Baranov

Original article here

The Russian government will develop by 2012 a state program for prospecting and extracting mineral resources on Russia’s Arctic shelf, Secretary of the Russian Security Council Nikolai Patrushev said.
“The Security Council discussed this issue during a recent meeting and instructed the government to finish drafting and adopt by the end of 2011 a long-term state program for prospecting and extracting mineral resources on Russia’s Arctic shelf, Patrushev said in an interview with the Rossiiskaya Gazeta daily published on Friday.
Russia is first in the world in natural gas reserves (24 percent of the total) and 7th in oil reserves (6 percent), but these resources are not renewable.
According to Russia’s Natural Resources Ministry, the country is already exploring 75 percent of its oil and gas deposits on the continent. Many of these deposits register 50-percent depletion and low extraction coefficient (30 percent).
“In these circumstances, Russia’s continental sea shelf becomes a major source of energy supplies, and its exploration assumes an enormous strategic and economic significance,” Patrushev said.
Russian experts estimate recoverable oil and gas resources on the continental shelf at 100 billion tons of reference fuel.
The new program will help focus the efforts of the state and the leading Russian energy companies on efficient exploration of deposits on the continental shelf, Patrushev said.

MOSCOW, January 14 (RIA Novosti)