Frontier Energy

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Exploration & technology



Offshore structures JIP

Norwegian Sea

Dynamic Positioning Arctic challenges

Natural GAS

Compression technology




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Exploration & technology



Offshore structures JIP

Norwegian Sea

Dynamic Positioning

Arctic challenges

Natural GAS

Compression technology



On the cover The view from the bow of a Russian icebreaker as it moves through ice affected waters in the Antarctica

IN THIS ISSUE Features 06 CANADA In this special report, our writers and contributors look at some of the issues facing Canada’s Arctic ambitions, including offshore east coast development; R&D at Memorial University; we also report on important companies projects including Rutter Inc and Irving Shipbuilding

14 GAS COMPRESSION Researching and developing technology to compress natural gas on the seabed and send it straight to shore - as an alternative to installing a large offshore platform - has been a long-term goal for the offshore industry. Here Aker Solutions considers how it might become a reality

16 FLOATING STRUCTURES Classification Society DNV and partners are working on an Arctic technology JIP, aiming to change the way we think and approach design in the Arctic and other similarly harsh environments

18 STATOIL & POLARLED Norwegian state oil company Statoil is developing the Aasta Hansteen field which lies above the Arctic Circle, using a 480 km pipeline to connect itself with other producing fields and landfall

19 CONFERENCE REPORT A major conference held in

Cover Photo: Shutterstock

Norway this March shone light on the various political, technical and management issues that face companies and countries aiming to work in Arctic waters

20 DYNAMIC POSITIONING Ice is a major challenge to shipowners, with Arctic engineers and scientists are working on strategies to overcome the challenges of dynamic positioning in harsh, ice-affected waters

22 ICE PROTECTION Belgium’s Hydrex has developed its Ecospeed paint for marine hulls for long life and protection against ice scour

Regulars 04 NEWS Greenland’s new government halts exploration; Shell delays return to Alaskan Arctic; Offshore vessel Aleksey Chirikov heads for Sakhalin; Western Geco runs seismic in Barents Sea; Canada’s Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board seeks explorers: Falklands seismic search; Shell and Gazprom team up for Russia Arctic search

24 EVENTS Frontier Energy’s comprehensive events listing helps you plan your calendar and highlight your industries key upstream, shipping, scientific and research conferences, exhibitions and events

22 MARINE Many industry executives believe current Canadian and American government policies, regulations and investment in support of Arctic maritime infrastructure and resource development are inadequate. Includes major icebreakers of the world chart

24 INSIGHT Climate change is opening a northern bonanza for oil, rare earths, and even fish, but experts speaking at the recent American Association for the Advancement of Science event Science and Society: Global Challenges warned that US policy in fields ranging from the environment to Arctic diplomacy may be adapting too slowly to emerging challenges SPRING 2013 01



“Arctic Ocean drilling has come under intense scrutiny”

hile many people believe there is an inevitability to oil and gas production in the Arctic Seas similar numbers believe, or hope, that it won’t happen. However, record ice melts over the past few years in the Arctic suggest that these opposing views might not have an Arctic ice pack to worry about in a few decades time. Indeed, The United Nations’ Environment Programme said recently that the Arctic needs to be better protected from a rush for natural resources as melting ice makes mineral and energy exploration easier. In the short term, companies are reconsidering exploration plans. Royal Dutch/ Shell has postponed further exploration offshore Alaska until at least 2014, as it deals with a string of enquiries by various US agencies and departments into its operations. Respected oil and gas major ConocoPhillips has announced it will postpone exploratory drilling plans in Alaska’s Chukchi Sea in 2014, and Norway’s Statoil has also shelved exploration plans in Alaska’s Arctic. Campaigners have welcomed the news, saying that drilling in such sensitive locations is too risky and has huge implications for wildlife and indigenous people. Access to prospective drilling zones is complicated and weather conditions hazardous. However, technology and engineering companies are continually working on understanding the myriad challenges thrown up by working in a globally important parts of the world, from understanding ice and iceberg formation to understanding how we, as human beings, perform in such cold isolation. Shell will have learnt a huge amount of vital, invaluable information about operating under such extreme conditions, useful for itself and the industry. It’s up to the oil and marine industries, environmental campaigners and government to work together to ensure all interested parties have a say in how, over the coming years and decades, the resources are developed safely and precious eco-systems face minimum disturbance.

Arctic Council

Formed in 1996, the Arctic Council is a high-level forum for political discussions on common issues to the governments of the Arctic States and inhabitants. Its Ministerial meeting this scheduled for May is set to be its most interesting, and controversial, to date. The group’s membership consists of eight member nations with Arctic territories — Canada, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, the Russian Federation and the United States — and six permanent indigenous participants, including the Inuit Circumpolar Council. Currently, The Arctic Council has six ‘observers’, including France and Germany, whom council members have decided can contribute to their work. As Sweden’s chairmanship of the group comes to an end and Canada takes over the reigns, there are signs that the makeup of the group will change significantly. China is among 14 states and organisations, which have applied for observer status, including Japan, the European Union, China, India, Greenpeace and the Association of Oil and Gas Producers. The future makeup of the Council will have a direct bearing on how quickly the Arctic is developed and interest in membership demonstrates just how important the region is for, not only the world’s energy, but environment and climate. It will be an interesting meeting, and a crucial time for the Arctic and its Council!

Editor Bruce McMichael Publisher Stephen Habermel Design & Layout In The Shed Ltd © 2013 All material strictly copyright, all rights to editorial content are reserved. Reproduction without permission from the publisher is prohibited. The views expressed in Frontier Energy do not always represent those of the publishers. Every care is taken in compiling the contents, but the publishers assume no responsibility for any damage, loss. The publisher, Renaissance Media, assumes no responsibility, or liability for unsolicited material, nor responsibility for the content of any advertisement, particularly infringements of copyrights, trademarks, intellectual property rights and patents, nor liability for misrepresentations, false or misleading statements and illustrations. These are the sole responsibility of the advertiser. Printed in the UK. ISSN 2047-3702 Published by Renaissance Media Ltd, c/o Maynard Heady LLP, Matrix House, 12-16 Lionel Road, Canvey Island, Essex SS8 9DE. Registered in England & Wales. Company number 5850675.

Bruce McMichael, Editor


Fram is not only the Norwegian word for ‘Forward’, it is also the name of the one of the first ice-strengthened and most famous polar exploration vessels of the late 1800s and early twentieth century. It was captained by Norwegian explorer, Fridtjof Nansen, a Norwegian explorer, scientist, diplomat, humanitarian and Nobel Peace Prize laureate. Sharing his polar travel experiences with fellow adventurers and scientists, his technology innovations in equipment and clothing influenced a generation of subsequent Arctic and Antarctic expeditions. The word encapsulates what we aim to bring you with the magazine – a forward looking guide to the future of oil, gas and shipping activities in the Arctic and other ice-affected regions while keeping environmental protection and safety at the heart of operations.

Get connected! Follow us at for the latest news and comment SPRING 2013 03


The newly-elected Greenland government has postponed issuing new licenses to oil companies looking to drill in its Arctic territory. Commenting on the news, Jon Burgwald, Arctic Campaigner for Greenpeace in Denmark, said: “This is a major step towards protecting Greenland from a catastrophic oil spill, but more still needs to be done to protect the unique local environment. Almost all of west Greenland is already open for oil drilling, so the threat of a catastrophic oil spill in areas like Baffin Bay remains.” The government also states: UÊ ÕÀÀi ÌÊiÝ« À>Ì Ê> `ÊiÝÌÀ>VÌ Ê«iÀ ÌÃÊv ÀÊ ÊiÝÌÀ>VÌ ÊÜ Ê stay in force, but the government will be reluctant towards granting new permits UÊ ÊÀià ÕÀViÊ Ì À }ÊÃÞÃÌi ÊÜ ÊLiÊVÀi>Ìi`° UÊ, Þ> ÌÞ]ÊÜ V Ê ÃÊL>Ãi`Ê ÊÜ À `Ê >À iÌÊ«À ViÃ]ÊÜ ÊLiÊ>``i`ÊÌ ÊÌ iÊ existing legislation. The fee may be increased depending on project size. UÊ ÊÃÕ«iÀÛ Ã ÀÞÊÜ Ì ÊÌ iÊ«>À > i ÌÊÜ ÊLiÊVÀi>Ìi`]ÊÜ V ÊÜ Ê maintain parliamentary supervision of mineral resources. UÊ Ê« > ÃÊvÀ ÊV «> iÃÊà > ÊLiÊ«ÕL V ÞÊ> Õ Vi`Ê> `ÊvÕ Ê transparency in the administration must be ensured. UÊ"vvà ÀiÊ `ÕÃÌÀÞÊÃ>viÌÞÊ« > ÃÊv ÀÊi Û À i ÌÊ> `ÊÃ>viÌÞÊ Ê}i iÀ> Ê must be publicly available. Elsewhere, UK-based Cairn Energy is already active offshore Greenland and has drilled eight exploration wells offshore Greenland to date. It will make a decision on its plans to drill another well in 2014 subject to the necessary approvals later this year.




The number of geologically defined areas thought by the US Geological Survey to have potential for petroleum lying north of the Arctic Circle

Icebreaking supply vessel built by Arctech Helsinki Shipyard was named after famed Russian navigator Aleksey Chirikov

Aleksey Chirikov heads for Sakhalin Arctic offshore vessel NB 507 has been officially named after Russian navigator Aleksey Chirikov at Arctech Helsinki Shipyard, in Finland. The vessel has been delivered to Russian shipping company Sovcomflot before it sailed to the Sakhalin area in Far East Russia, where it will supply the Arkutun-Dagi oil and gas field. Arctech has built two Arctic offshore supply vessels for Sovcomflot in this series. This latest delivery was ordered in December 2010. The first vessel of the series, NB 506 Vitus Bering was delivered to the client in December 2012, reaching its destination in March 2013. “The Aleksey Chirikov, will operate in the Far Eastern seas in a region that has been gaining increasing economic importance for Russia over the last several years,” said Esko Mustamäki, Managing Director of Arctech Helsinki. Both vessels are 99.9 m in length and 21.7 m in breadth. Their four Wartsila-supplied engines have the total power of 18,000 kW and the propulsion power of 13,000 kW. As multipurpose vessels, these vessels are capable of carrying various type of cargo and they are equipped for fire fighting and rescue operations.

Photo: Arctech Helsinki Shipyard

Greenland halts new drilling

Sisimiut in Greenland pictured in summer

Alaska search delays Royal Dutch/ Shell will not drill for oil in Alaska’s Arctic seas this year, following a series of high-profile setbacks in 2012. The postponement of Shell’s drilling in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas was followed by the company sending its two Arctic offshore rigs to Asia for repairs and upgrades. ConocoPhillips has also postponed its own plans to drill one or two exploration wells in the Chukchi

Sea in 2014, and Norway’s Statoil has also shelved exploration plans in Alaska’s Arctic. Shell has spent more than $4.5 billion searching for oil in Alaska’s Arctic seas since it won licences to drill in 2005. Yet its season last year was delayed by problems with equipment, and 2012 then ended dramatically with the grounding of the Kulluk drillship in a storm, while it was towed south for the winter.

04 SPRING 2013

WesternGeco has begun acquisition of its Ice Bear 2 multi-client 3D survey in the western Barents Sea using its new IsoMetrix marine isometric seismic technology. The isometric inline and crossline sampling delivered by the IsoMetrix technology will provide high-resolution broadband imaging in this geologically complex area, said the company. “The Ice Bear 2 survey, which is supported by industry prefunding, will improve the understanding of play potential and economic viability for hydrocarbon production in the region,” said Celine Blachere, vice president, Europe, Africa, Russia and Caspian, WesternGeco. Ice Bear 2 lies to the north of the WesternGeco Bjørnøya Ice Bear and West Loppa 3D seismic survey areas where the Havis and Skrugard discoveries were made. Exploration and production activities in the region have increased as a result of these and other discoveries in the area.

Photo: Shutterstock

WesternGeco in Barents Sea


recorded in the




–68ºC (–90.4ºF) in Siberia

Number of wells planned for the Norwegian sector of the Barents Sea

If all the ice in the Arctic melted, the global sea level would rise about 24 feet. If all the ice in the Antarctic melted, it would rise about 200 feet.

5.4 million sq. miles The surface area of the Arctic Ocean, which is more than the area of Europe


The ARCTIC CIRCLE marks the region above which, for at least ONE DAY A YEAR, there is ALL-DAY SUNSHINE in the summer and 24-HOUR DARKNESS in the winter


The distance in miles between the North Pole and the Arctic Circle

Number of countries extending into the Arctic:

The number in 30 years that Russian

natural gas supplies will flow to China via the eastern route, agreed in a Gazprom/ China MoU

Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Source: Norwegian Government, Daily Express, Arctic Council Canada and the USA (Alaska)

Russian partners Royal Dutch/ Shell and Russian gas giant Gazprom have agreed to team up for upstream activity in Russia’s Arctic shelf and a section of deep-water shelf abroad, and develop shale oil opportunities. “Gazprom and Shell already partner in the Russian shelf development. The new accords enable us to explore the potential of our joint capabilities,” said Alexey Miller, Gazprom chairman. The companies will set up a joint venture to deal with new projects for oil shale exploration and development in the Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Area. The joint venture where each company will hold a 50 per cent stake will be registered in Saint Petersburg. Besides, Gazprom Neft and Shell assume that Salym Petroleum Development with shareholding split on a parity basis will operate new projects at the first stage of cooperation.

A Gazprom employee working in -37deg C

Lotofen study

Falklands seismic A joint venture including FOGL, the oil and gas exploration company focused on searching south and east of the Falkland Islands, in the southern Atlantic Ocean has completed a 3D seismic survey over the Diomedea Fan area using the Ramform Sterling vessel. Over the next two years FOGL plans to invest US$160m in exploration offshore the Falkland Islands acquiring over 10,000km2 3D seismic date. The survey was operated by Noble Energy on behalf of the joint venture, which includes Edison International and FOGL The data is now being processed by seismic company PGS, owner of the Ramform Sterling, and will be available in late 2013. A second 3D seismic survey, also using the Ramform Sterling, started in April. This survey will cover a minimum area of 1,000 square kilometres and will target a number of prospects and leads in FOGL’s southern licence area, immediately to the west and north-west of UK junior Borders and Southern Petroleum’s Darwin gas-condensate discovery. The jv is also currently reviewing tender offers with respect to a third 3D seismic survey to be acquired in the northern licence area in late 2013. Starting in mid-2014, FOGL’s partner Noble Energy is expected to drill three or four exploration wells.

Scotian hopes Canada’s Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board (CNSOPB) has issued a call for interest to explore six parcels on the central and eastern Scotian shelf, offshore eastern Canada, in water depths that are generally less than 100 m. A deadline of mid October, 2013 has been set. Successful bidders will be awarded an Exploration Licence “The Call for Bids NS13-1 area was one of the first regions to be explored on the Scotian Margin in the early 1970s,” says Stuart Pinks, Board chief

executive. “This early exploration effort established that a working, oil prone hydrocarbon system existed and the recently completed Play Fairway Analysis highlights this region as having significant oil potential. Parcel 1 includes the undeveloped Penobscot oil discovery which is estimated to contain 65 million barrels of oil in place. There are two undrilled geological structures also with oil potential directly adjacent to the Penobscot discovery.”


Benefits r Exclusive news r Events calendar r Targeted audience

Norway has cleared the way for an environmental impact study in a key area in an environmentally sensitive area in its Arctic lands. At the same time, oil and gas exploration in the waters around the Lofoten islands just above the Arctic circle is becoming one of the most contentious issues for parliamentary elections in September. Oil companies have not previously been able to search for hydrocarbons in the area as it hosts important fishing grounds with huge cod stocks and is an important area for tourists. Norway’s oil production will fall to a 25-year low this year as North Sea fields mature. Even a series of recent big finds, like the giant Johan Sverdrup field which could hold over 3 billion barrels of oil, will only slow the decline, hence waters further north are now being considered for upstream activity.


Work boats wait for the spring thaw on the east channel of the Mackenzie River near Inuvik, Northwest Territories

Hedging Bets: oil and gas in the Canadian Arctic Higher hydrocarbon price levels and new technology, coupled with optimistic resource appraisals at the turn of the millennium, have made the Canadian Arctic an attractive prospect for oil and gas multinationals, writes Andreas Ă˜sthagen


stimates suggest that approximately 35% of Canada’s remaining marketable resources of natural gas and 37% of remaining recoverable crude oil lies in northern Canada. Of particular interest are the offshore resources present in the Canadian part of the Beaufort Sea, located just off the coast of the Northwest Territories. While this region of Canada is attracting the interests of a range of new players, both commercial and political, interest on its own is not sufficient for any rapid development to take place. As this article will outline, there are several factors that may restrict the viability of Canadian Arctic oil and gas despite its ostensible opportunities.

Historic development Canadian Arctic oil and gas development started with the discovery of the Norman Wells oil field in 1920, but onshore activity in the region did not intensify until oil was found in 1968 across the border at Prudhoe Bay in Alaska. In this period offshore exploration in the Beaufort Sea also

06 SPRING 2013

intensified. A total of 86 wells were drilled from 1972 until 1989; an impressive number given the harsh conditions and uncertain commercial prospects of the area. However, although several Canadian companies had been active in promoting the petroleum potential of the Beaufort Sea, the Arctic was mostly abandoned from the mid 80s as oil prices fell and transportation of any findings became problematic.

Renewed interest Lease sale rounds were conducted in 2002 and 2004 by the Canadian federal government, which is responsible for offshore development of the Beaufort Sea. Chevron Oil Company acquired leases in the Mackenzie Delta for a relatively small fee during that time, while in 2007 Imperial Oil won the bid for a larger area further offshore. BP did the same in 2008, with Chevron following suit in 2010. As the Deepwater Horizon incident in the Gulf of Mexico began to unravel in 2010, Canadian authorities imposed a halt on all Arctic drilling until the National Energy Board (NEB) had conducted an Arctic Offshore Drilling Review. Released

in December 2011, the Review introduced a more stringent set of guidelines to which any company operating in the region would need to adhere. Beyond these rigorous operating standards, however, three additional challenges have the potential to hinder further lease development in the Canadian Arctic: t 1SJDF MFWFMT

The Canadian Arctic, particularly the Mackenzie Valley Delta and adjacent offshore fields in the Beaufort Sea, is expected largely to contain natural gas deposits. The Henry Hub natural gas spot price for the North American market, however, has seen a remarkable shift the last decade. Following the relatively low level of $2.36 per MMBtu of natural gas in December 1999, prices rose and alternated between $4.47 and $13.42 from late 2002 to 2009. In 2010, a relatively sudden boom in domestic shale gas production led the United States to embark on a path to self-sufficiency in natural gas. Price levels have dropped accordingly. Between 2010 and 2011, gas cost around $4 per MMBtu, while in 2012 it hung between $1.95 (April) and $3.54 (December). This has led to

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Chairman: Henrik Hannus, Vice President – Deepwater and Arctic Solutions Aker Solutions

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Well control management in ice-affected regions

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Towards automated well control in the Arctic

s Trond Spande, Business Development Manager, Tranberg/Thermon

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s Hans Christian Krarup, Country Director and Associate, Golder Associates

Concrete platform solutions for the Arctic – applications and benefits Understanding the influence of human factors in drilling and well operations

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Winterisation of offshore drilling rigs

Arctic Oil & Gas Series

Developing ice management strategies to protect drilling operations

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A red pumpjack operating in Alberta, Canada


Any development of the Canadian Beaufort Sea is dependent on finding viable options for transportation for extracted resources. Canada never built a pipeline equivalent to the TransAlaska Pipeline System in the United States, as indigenous and environmental concerns halted the process of building a comparable gas pipeline through the Mackenzie Valley in the 1970s. Stretching from the Northwest Territories of Canada to North American gas markets, the proposed Mackenzie Valley Pipeline would cover roughly 743 miles of Canadian territory to connect to the existing continental gas pipeline system. However, the future of the project remains uncertain: current North American gas prices do not warrant investment and permits are still pending. Indeed, it is fair to say that Canada’s Mackenzie Valley Pipeline faces considerable economic and political challenges and therefore acts as barrier to investments in Canadian Arctic gas production. LNG facilities onshore have been mentioned as an alternative, but current price levels also render this option uncertain. t 3FHJPOBM BOE GFEFSBM JOUFSFTUT

At the regional level, the Northwest Territories’ interests in offshore development of the Beaufort Sea do

08 SPRING 2013

not constitute a particularly strong driver in themselves. The region is not heavily dependent on revenues from oil and gas given that current production levels remain low. Additionally, local communities in the region have focused extensively on developing mineral deposits instead of oil and gas. With the success of the diamond mines in the Northwest Territories, sentiment tends to favor mineral extraction, which is perceived to provide greater direct benefits in terms of revenues and labor. Given that regional interests do not

Canada’s Mackenzie Valley Pipeline faces considerable economic and political challenges constitute a strong driver for further expansion in the Beaufort Sea, the decision to open for offshore lease sales and approve exploratory drillings is more closely linked to federal interests in Ottawa. These interests play into the fact that Canada is emerging as an international heavyweight in oil and gas production due to the presence of tar sands in Alberta and petroleum production in the provinces of New Brunswick and Newfoundland. A federal push to develop costly and remote Arctic gas fields is therefore not inevitable, since Canada is not dependent on these resources for domestic energy supply. Although players at both the regional and

federal levels openly favor oil and gas development in the Arctic, there is less leveraging of these interests in comparison to other parts of the Arctic in which oil and gas discussions are taking place.

Conclusion By contrast to oil and gas development in the European Arctic and other areas of North America, development in the Canadian Arctic appears less defined in terms of commercial viability. Moreover, regional and federal-level interests are vocalised less strongly than those encountered in neighbouring Alaska. Should large quantities of recoverable oil or gas be discovered in the near future, this situation may change rapidly. Nonetheless, the challenges described above – relating to price levels, transportation, and a lack of national interest – will continue to weigh upon development in the short to mediumterm. It is reasonable to conclude that development of the Canadian Arctic is still only a possibility and not a given, even in the context of strong and increasing commercial and political interest.

The article is based on an ongoing study that the author is conducting within the international research programme Geopolitics in the High North. For more please go to It was published courtesy of The Arctic Institute,

Photos: Shutterstock

questions concerning the commercial viability of Canadian Arctic gas projects, in which the cost of extraction often does not warrant activity.


Irving Shipbuilding’s primary location Halifax Shipyard with three Royal Canadian Navy Halifax-Class frigates at the quayside (December 2012)

*SWJOH definition contract T

he Canadian government has signed a $288 million contract with Irving Shipbuilding for Arctic/Offshore Patrol Ships (A/OPS). The definition contract will allow Irving Shipbuilding to design the ships and their electronics and mechanics up to a production level. A separate contract will be awarded for the construction of the ships, which is expected to begin in 2015. The first ship will not be operational until 2019, and the fleet will not be fully operational until 2023 — a full 17 years after Prime Minister Stephen Harper pledged during the 2006 election to acquire three icebreakers.

Photo: Irving Shipyard

Long term focus “Our focus over the next 30 months is on producing a detailed ship design that delivers best value to Canada, while ensuring we meet the government’s 2015 deadline to cut steel for the first ship – this is vital to our customer, our current workforce and their families,” said Ross Langley, vice chairman of Irving Shipbuilding. Irving is expected to begin tendering for C$300 million ($292m) in infrastructure upgrades at the Halifax Shipyard, to prepare the yard to build the AOPS vessels in 2015, as well as the larger combat ships currently scheduled to begin production in 2020.


Memorial University, in St John’s Newfoundland

Drs. Christina Bottaro, Kelly Hawboldt and Erika Merschrod are measuring contaminants in harsh marine environments, especially oil-in-water

Protecting our Oceans, one polymer at a time


rom the moment the first drop of oil is spilled in a marine environment, the potential for devastation is huge. The speed and accuracy of the response is critical to minimize the harmful effects, and Memorial University, researchers are doing their part to ensure our ocean resources are protected. The chief investigators of the Microfluidic Sensor project are Drs. Christina Bottaro and Erika Merschrod of the Faculty of Science’s Department of Chemistry, and Dr. Kelly Hawboldt of the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science. This project aims to develop micro-fluidic sensor technology to measure contaminants in harsh marine environments, especially oil-in-water. The core technology involved is molecularly imprinted polymers (MIPs) and accompanying sensing systems which can be deployed for oil spill monitoring and fate analysis, or incorporated into the online analysis of produced water and tracking of oil spills in the marine environment. “Unlike the bulk of online systems or oil-spill tracking systems, we are targeting components of the oil that are most problematic in the environment due to their toxicity and/or persistence, which means they don’t readily biodegrade and

10 SPRING 2013

bio-accumulate in animals and plants,” explained Dr. Hawboldt. The primary advantage of the small MIP-based devices is their sensitivity and selectivity. When deployed into a marine environment, the MIPs will only detect targeted compounds, such as phenols, heavier polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and other compounds that are toxic to the marine environment, while avoiding irrelevant compounds, ensuring accuracy.

The speed and accuracy of the response is critical to minimize the harmful effects “That way produced water treatment or oil spill response systems can be tailored to focus on the contaminants of concern. Since the sensors are small and simple, they can be used anywhere samples need to be collected, and they can function in cold temperatures and under ice cover,” said Dr. Hawboldt. The long-term goal is to use the platform technology for the commercialization of new biosensor applications in medicine, biotechnology and civil defense. For Dr. Hawboldt, the most exciting

part of all of this is being at the front end and in a position to prevent the negative impacts before they occur. “This funding will not only lead to innovative sensors, but also delineate the contaminants of concern in produced water and oil spills. We will be better able to treat and respond to these events. This is especially true in harsh environments where compounds may disperse quickly, and therefore are difficult to measure, but still have an impact on the marine environment. In detecting these compounds, we will be able to better assess the environmental impacts and address them through treatment and mitigation,” she said. This project, with a total estimated cost of $3 million, received approximately $2.1 million from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency’s Atlantic Innovation Fund. This funding supports advancements in Newfoundland and Labrador’s ocean technology cluster, IT industry and medical research fields.

This article is published with kind permission of Research Matters magazine, Memorial University, St John’s, Newfoundland

Photos: Memorial University

Research at Memorial University in St John’s, Newfoundland is using advanced materials technology to minimise the problems caused by oil leaks and spills, writes Jackey Locke


Kvaerner wins EPC contract for Hebron GBS project


xxonMobil Canada Properties has released the option for Kvaerner’s joint venture company Kiewit-Kvaerner Contractors to provide the full scope of engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) services for the Hebron roject gravity based structure (GBS). The contract value for Kvaerner’s share of the full EPC contract is approximately $1.5 billion and includes work conducted to date on the Hebron project. The Hebron oil field lies offshore Newfoundland in the Jeanne d’Arc Basin southeast of the city of St. John’s.


Water depth

93 m

Height of GBS

120 m

(Mean Sea level)

Diameter of GBS Base 130 m Shaft diameter

35 m


132,000 m3


(density 300 kg/m3)

Post tensioning steel

3,400 t

Steel skirts

400 t

approx. 40,000 t

Mechanical Outfitting 8,000 t (Piping systems & structural steel)

Well Slots



Length of Topsides

130 m

Width of Topsides

64 m

Height of Topsides (excluding derrick and flare)

40 m

Topsides Operating Weight

65,000 t

Crude oil production


Image: Kvaerner

1000’s of barrels/day (kbd)

Water production

200-350 kbd

Water injection

270-470 kbd

Gas handling

215-300 million standard cubic feet/day


Persons On Board (POB) 220

The authorization to proceed with the full EPC contract follows the substantial completion of the Front End Engineering and Design (FEED) and site preparation contract awarded 9 November 2010 and the authorization of 25 April 2012 to proceed with detailed engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) related services throughout 2012. The work will be performed in Newfoundland, with engineering in St. John’s and construction at the Bull Arm fabrication yard. The completed GBS will be installed at the Hebron field on the Grand Banks in the Atlantic Ocean located 350 kilometers offshore from St. John’s. Canada. First oil is anticipated by the end of 2017. “We are very pleased that (Peter Kiewit Infrastructure) Kiewit-Kvaerner Contractors has been selected to deliver the Hebron GBS. This is a strategically important project for us and we believe it confirms our strong position within arctic technologies in general and gravity based structures (GBS) in particular”, says Bjørn Gundersen, executive vice president in Kvaerner, responsible for concrete solutions. Kvaerner has a long track record for offshore concrete structures, with a series of concrete structures, both fixed and floating designed, constructed and installed on the Norwegian Continental shelf between 1971 and 1993. Recent offshore concrete projects by Kvaerner include substructures for two platforms, installed in 2005 east of Sakhalin in Russia

for Sakhalin Energy; the Adriatic LNG terminal installed in 2008 outside Venice in Italy, and the Arkutun-Dagi GBS for the Sakhalin-1 project constructed in Nakhodka, Russia and delivered to Exxon Neftegas Limited in June 2012.

Hebron development The Hebron oil field is located offshore Newfoundland and Labrador in the Jeanne d’Arc Basin 350 kilometres southeast of St. John’s. The field was first discovered in 1980, and is estimated to contain 660-1,055 million barrels of recoverable crude oil. The field will be developed using a stand-alone concrete gravity based structure (GBS). The structure will consist of a reinforced concrete structure designed to withstand sea ice, icebergs and meteorological and oceanographic conditions. It will be designed to store approximately 1.2 million barrels of crude oil. The Bull Arm site is the primary construction site for the GBS. The GBS will support an integrated topsides deck that includes a living quarters and facilities to perform drilling and production. A substantial portion of the topsides will be engineered and fabricated in Newfoundland and Labrador, and the integration will be performed at the Bull Arm Site. The project includes offshore surveys, engineering, procurement, fabrication, construction, installation, commissioning, development drilling, production, operations and maintenance and decommissioning.

Hebron’s GBS, artists impression SPRING 2013 11


ICE TECHNOLOGY Canada-based integrated technology company Rutter Inc can be described as an ‘information’ company, focused on the maritime and offshore oil and gas businesses


ased in St John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, on the east coast of Canada, Rutter specialises in radar and sensors aimed at understanding complex maritime environments. Through the company’s latest, significant acquisition of Germanybased OceanWaveS in October 2012, Rutter added another dimension to add to its traditional ice navigation, oil spill and small target detection products, incorporating the WaMoS wave and current information into it’s portfolio and also using information to develop the predictive capabilities of the group’s existing sigma products. Fraser Edison, President and Chief Executive Officer at Rutter, says, “We are looking at a range of opportunities to grow the company, perhaps by forming partnerships or buying complementary companies”. Rutter is already investing locally in Canada and in Germany. OceanWaveS is focused on the development and supply of radar-based wave and surface current measurement technology. “We are also pleased to have a German-based operation which provides Rutter with a technical center and physical presence closer to European customers” he added. “The team at OceanWaveS is working on integrating it with our hardware and software technologies to save space on a ship’s bridge. The first integrated products should be available by the end of 2013.”

Sense and understand The focus has been on developing technology and expertise that enables shipping offshore and energy companies to sense and understand how the sea around their assets is behaving and to make plans to manage problems, for example ice floes and other small targets in the sea, for example small, fast moving pirate boats offshore the coast of Africa. Elsewhere, the company has recently trialled ice edge discrimination, open water detection and navigation in icy waters technology and techniques with the US Coast Guard.

12 SPRING 2013

The company is also testing fleet-wide selection of oil spill detection capability with a national oil company, and with a geophysical survey company for fleet-wide selection of small target detection capability.

Ice management With increasing numbers of vessels transiting ice-affected waters, it is becoming increasing important to understand how the ice the ships encounter is formed. Layers of ice that have been frozen over several years is referred to as multi-year ice and is significantly harder to push through than fresh, first year ice. “At Rutter we are working on technologies that will be able to identify different types of ice formations enabling a ship’s captain, for example, to understand the strengths

Saving space on a vessel’s bridge or in an oilrig’s control rig, is incredibly important and depth of the ice his vessel must deal with,” says Fraser. “We need to understand the history of such ice.” There is a reference in the ice management section about the differences between first year and multi-year ice where Fraser says, “We need to know the history of this ice. I think that it might be a bit broad to suggest we will know the history, really we want to know the physical characteristics of the ice”. As the shipping and energy industry increasingly moves into more hazardous and frontier areas, interest is growing in developing equipment that can merge wave and current data and sea conditions, and oil spills. “Today’s weather conditions are not what we’re used to in such seas, and so companies are seeking new ways of interpreting prevailing sea conditions,” says Fraser. “Oil spills are culturally and economically sensitive events and our work is increasingly coming from governments and regulatory

bodies,” says Fraser. Rutter and its sigma S6 and WaMoS products are operating in number of diverse markets and environments: UÊÃÕÀÛiÞ }Ê vvà ÀiÊ Àii > ` UÊ Ì À }ÊÌ `iÃÊ vvà ÀiÊ Vi > ` UÊ«>ÌÀ }Ê vvà ÀiÊ Ì>ÀVÌ V> UÊ Ì À }Êv ÀÊ Êë ÃÊ ÊÌ iÊ ÀÌ Ê-i> UÊ `i Ì vÞ }Ê> `ÊÀi« ÀÌ }Ê Ê«>V Ê ViÊ (small targets) in the Atlantic Ocean off Newfoundland and Labrador UÊ«À ÌiVÌ }Ê ÃÌ> >Ì ÃÊvÀ Ê« À>ÌiÃÊ off Africa UÊ«À ÌiVÌ }ÊÀi} ÃÊ Ê À>â ]ÊÌ iÊ Õ vÊ of Mexico and Spain where the offshore industry is adjacent to culturally, socially, and economically sensitive areas where a spill could be devastating UÊÜ À }ÊÜ Ì Ê >À iÊÃi à VÊ companies to spot ocean debris that might damage towing gear and streamers. The company’s active R&D programme currently includes on multi-year ice discrimination, and seeking ways of extending the capabilities of X-band radar and keep pace with the industry as it pushes to more remote and wilder frontiers. The company is expected to release a series of new products that perform multiple functions off a single computing platform, bringing operational efficiencies to vessel owners and operators. Saving space on a vessel’s bridge or in an oilrig’s control room, is incredibly important to ensure space is used effectively. “For example, we will soon deliver a full integration of sensor and system information that will provide remote monitoring and management capability for a fully autonomous drilling platform,” says Fraser. The signal received by the radar has hardly changed since its commercialisation in the 1940s, says Fraser. “It’s how the signal is unravelled, processed and analysed that has changed hugely. This is the business in which Rutter is involved - managing this data in new, innovative ways and presenting our clients with the information they need to make decisions in complex and challenging environments.”

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GAS RESERVES Compression test pit


ccording to the US Geological Survey, the Arctic holds 90 billion barrels of oil in reserves plus 47 trillion cubic metres of gas. But ice-infested waters, combined with reservoirs hundreds of miles from shore, make oil and gas field developments a huge physical and technological challenge. Due to the ice and freezing cold, oil companies will, in many cases, have to rule out platforms on the surface of the sea. The answer is to instead put the platform on the seabed. It means you can operate the field under ice and you are not dependent on operating the facility in a very difficult environment. Moreover, subsea compression in the Arctic reduces risk because it means there are no people offshore, no helicopter flights, and no supply vessels. The first major step towards locating a subsea compression system on the 14 SPRING 2013

seabed is the Ormen Lange subsea gas compression pilot project. At Nyhamna, on the west coast of Norway, a large pit is currently playing a vital part in a 25-year long technology saga. Inside the pit and submerged under

The answer is to put the platform on the seabed

water sits the world’s first full-scale subsea processing and compression system. It is in the middle of a two-year rigorous test programme to ensure it can meet the demands of one of the toughest challenges ever set by the offshore industry. The pioneering subsea system, a large and highly sophisticated equipment

package some 120 feet (36m) long and weighing over 1000 tons, is the pilot subsea compression plant for the giant Ormen Lange gas field, which supplies 15% of the UK’s gas requirements. Ormen Lange, operated by Norske Shell, came onstream in September 2007 and reached plateau production in November 2009, delivering up to 2.5 billion cubic feet (70 million m3/d) of gas and 32,000b/d of condensate to the Nyhamna processing plant in mid-Norway. At present, the reservoir has sufficient natural pressure to drive the hydrocarbons to shore, but that pressure will steadily decline, and later this decade gas compression will be required to boost pressure and maintain the flow. Before this happens, a critical decision must be made: should gas compression be achieved conventionally by locating compressors on the topsides of a new offshore platform, or could gas boosting

Photos: Aker Solutions

Developing technology to compress natural gas on the seabed and send it straight to shore - as an alternative to installing a large offshore platform - has been a long-term goal for the offshore industry. Now that goal is one step closer to becoming reality as final testing is well underway for the full scale Ormen Lange subsea compression pilot, designed and built by Aker Solutions. The technology could be the key to unlocking the Arctic’s oil and gas reserves, writes Matt Corbin, managing director, Aker Solutions’ UK subsea business


be achieved entirely subsea by using the breakthrough technology promised by the subsea pilot plant? The benefits of opting for subsea compression for Ormen Lange or any other gas field are numerous. Capital and operating costs of a subsea station are more economical than those for a new deepwater compression platform. Another key advantage is that by locating the compression system on the seabed near to the subsea gas wells, the back pressure exerted on the gas reservoir will be much reduced, enabling greater production to be achieved.

Full-scale pilot Subsea compression is not a new concept, but despite the concept being mulled over by the industry for decades, it was not until 2006 that Aker Solutions won the first contract to take development forward by designing and building the first full-scale pilot system. The Ormen Lange pilot was built throughout 2010 at Aker’s Egersund offshore construction yard, in a new purpose-designed fabrication hall. The pilot consists of eight large subsea modules, grouped to form process, control and high voltage power systems. Together these make up a single full-sized compression train. The modules for the pilot contain the essential equipment for solving the technology challenge. The entire system was put through months of testing at Egersund, before being disassembled and shipped to Nyhamna for reassembly in the 42 x 28 x 14m deep test pit, where it is currently being put through its paces on ‘live’ Ormen Lange gas and condensate. At the heart of the pilot is our GasBooster compression module, housing a compressor, a compact 5m high vertical centrifugal machine which will operate at 11,000rpm. The compressor and its high speed electric drive motor are housed in a single, hermetically sealed enclosure which is pressurised with a barrier system to keep the motor and compressor spaces separate, and also to ensure clean operating conditions for the motor and bearings.

Process know-how As important as the compressor and its reliable operation are to the project, it’s also our wider expertise that have been brought to bear on bringing together all

Compression station under construction

of the many new components necessary specifically for the Ormen Lange pilot is to create the overall system. One example long. High on that list are the variable speed drives (VSDs) for the compressor is the technology for achieving liquid and pump, which would be controlled separation and boosting. from shore by signals sent through the A characteristic of all gas compressors fibre optics in the seabed power cable. As is that they have a limited tolerance to gas production rates and pressures from the volume of liquids in the incoming the Ormen Lange reservoir change over gas stream, which therefore must be time, the VSDs will regulate the speeds of controlled. The solution is to remove the drive motors the bulk of the by varying the liquid condensate supplied voltage before it reaches the Arctic gas fields and current compressor, raise frequency, thus will benefit from subsea gas its pressure and enabling the inject it back into compression technology compressor duty the gas export line to be changed and downstream of the the LiquidBooster compressor. pump speed to be regulated to control the Separation of the condensate is liquid level in the separator. achieved in a 3m diameter vertical And so to Nyhamna, where all of the separator upstream of the compressor. ingenuity and engineering effort that The condensate is routed to an Aker has gone into the Ormen Lange pilot, is Solutions’ LiquidBooster pump which currently being tested. In February 2011, feeds the liquids into the high pressure a purpose-built 900t process module export gas line for transportation to which is designed to simulate a range shore. The separator also contains an of flow conditions, including slugs, was Aker Solutions system for removing sand shipped to the test site, so the pilot could from the incoming well fluids to prevent be tested. The Nyhamna test loop has sand building up inside the vessel and to capacity to deliver up to 530 million protect the compressor. standard cubic feet (15 million Sm3/d) The sand is pumped by the of gas per day, 11,300 barrels (1800 LiquidBooster into the gas export line to Sm3/d) per day of condensate, 16MW be carried to shore by the gas flow. of electrical power and 580-2250 psi operating pressure. Power play The Ormen Lange pilot is the first and The Ormen Lange pilot is ‘all electric’ best opportunity the industry has had – there are no hydraulically operated to prove that subsea gas compression is components. The full compression station the future. would be electrically operated and There is no doubt that Arctic gas fields controlled, with around 58MW of power will benefit from subsea gas compression being transmitted from shore through a technology. By the time the real Arctic subsea power cable at 132 kilovolts, which fields in the ice-infested waters are ready would be stepped down by transformer to for development, the technology will be 22 kilovolts at the subsea station. there for platform-free production. The list of sophisticated electrical components that had to be developed SPRING 2013 15


Ice affects design loads


DNV’s Per Olav Moslet

16 SPRING 2013

n order to ensure a common, transparent and documented approach to achieving acceptable safety levels for offshore structures in coldclimate regions a DNV-led joint industry project (JIP), ICESTRUCT, has worked since 2009 to develop a designer-friendly and reliable framework based on the ISO 19906 Arctic Offshore Structure standard. Per Olav Moslet, Arctic technology research programme director at DNV, explains that, “The governing design loads for offshore structures in Arctic areas are usually based on interaction with ice, and it is very important that these loads and their effects are treated consistently. Due to the lack of a common industry approach for floating structures in ice, it has previously been difficult for designers to establish the appropriate design loads effects. “Because of its nature, ice can generate considerable loads, and structures designed for Arctic operations may look different to structures in open seas. However, ice loads and associated load effects should be treated in the same way as any other environmental load when designing a structure since, in principle, an Arctic offshore structure is no different from any other offshore structure when

it comes to assessing adequate structural strength,” says Moslet. This has JIP has developed a methodology for determining ice load effects. Rather than having a specific custom-made Arctic design practice for ice loads, the methodology developed in the JIP is consistent with existing methods for determining other environmental load effects. Consequently, the existing offshore design practice that has been used for several decades in the North Sea and elsewhere can be used for the design of offshore floating structures in ice. “The advantage of the new DNV framework is that the same design practice can be used irrespective of the type of structure and environment – Arctic or open sea. That said, the nature and variability of the ice and its complex interaction with structures need to be taken into account,” Moslet says. Further advantages are: UÊ ÊÀiV } Ã>L iÊ>««À >V Êv ÀÊ offshore designers who are familiar with conventional open water design practice. UÊ/ iÊ`ià } iÀÊ vÊ> Ê ÀVÌ VÊ vvà ÀiÊ structure who has no specialised knowledge of ice mechanics is provided with a basis for determining characteristic ice load effects.

Photos: DNV

The oil and gas industry has lacked adequate and transparent design practices for floating structures in ice-covered Arctic waters. Now, Norway’s DNV and key industry players are developing an enhanced design framework for such structures, adapted from existing and established design practices used for open waters in other harsh areas. The approach represents a shift in Arctic design philosophy


UÊ `>«Ì>L iÊÌ Ê> ÊÃÌÀÕVÌÕÀiÊÌÞ«ið UÊ/ iÊ`ià } iÀÊ ÃÊ ÌÊÀiµÕ Ài`ÊÌ Ê actually perform probabilistic analyses, since the framework provides simplified deterministic solutions that take uncertainty into account.

Broad industry co-operation Since 2009, the ICESTRUCT JIP has focused on developing designerfriendly methods for determining Calling time on design load problems characteristic loads and load effects on fixed and floating offshore structures in conformance with the ISO 19906 determine the maximum load effect arising standard. However, the ISO 19906 from the contour ice states. Predetermined, standard does not provide any guidance on tabulated factors can then be used to the design of floating structures in ice, so scale from the maximum load effect to the results of this JIP are considered to be the characteristic load effect. This is a a contribution to the further development conventional methodology used for other of design standards and best practices in offshore designs, and its introduction the Arctic offshore design community. to Arctic offshore design practices The JIP received wide industry support simply represents a shift in Arctic design and sponsorship from oil companies, philosophy in line with that of the rest of yards and engineering companies, the offshore engineering community. including Transocean, Shell, Statoil, Standard offshore structure design ENI, Repsol, SBM Offshore, Daewoo practices build on the concepts of Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering, a characteristic load effect and a Hyundai Heavy Industries, Multiconsult, characteristic structural resistance (or Keppel Offshore and Marine, Marin, capacity) separated by a safety margin Huisman using safety factors, Equipment and which ensure Dr. techn. Olav that the specific Structures designed for Arctic Olsen. In addition, design achieves the operations may look different valuable work-inrequired structural kind contribution to structures in open seas reliability. The have been provided characteristic by several key load effect should international not be exceeded more than once during universities and companies such as Prof. a reference period, often called the Ove T. Gudmestad, Prof. Karl Shkhinek, return period. The design equation takes Aker Arctic and the Hamburg Ship Model uncertainties into account, based on Basin (HSVA). The project ended in results from probabilistic models of the December 2012. environmental conditions and interaction The results from the JIP will become processes. Hence, the uncertainties are public a year later in December 2013. taken into account in a systematic and DNV has already received interest from well-proven way, leading to a design with ISO for considering the information from the desired reliability. the JIP in the update of the ISO 19906 These concepts have previously not Arctic Offshore Standard which were a been applied properly to the design of central part of the project. Based on the floating structures in ice. This is mainly results, DNV is currently developing a because no systematic probabilistic Recommended Practice to assist designers modelling has been carried out for these for determining characteristic loads and structures. This is also the reason why load effects for fixed and floating Arctic there are few references in standards offshore structures. The Recommended and best practices to “characteristic load Practice is expected to be sent out for a effects” for floating structures in ice. Until wide industry hearing in January 2014. now, there has been no industry guideline

Design contours The framework is based on the use of environmental design contours that define a set of ice states. The designer must

on how the designer should determine relevant characteristic ice load effects, says DNV.

Arctic co-operation DNV and Statoil have launched a competence programme to enhance the two organisations’ knowledge about particular Arctic challenges. “Due to Arctic-specific risks such as remoteness, darkness, ice and low temperatures, it is utterly important to take a stepwise approach in which we learn and improve from the experience gained. Our complementary roles as operator and risk-management expert in challenging environments are the best reason for sharing best practices and enhancing our own expertise,” says Knut Ørbeck-Nilssen, COO DNV Norway, Finland and Russia. The growing interest in the commercial use and exploitation of Arctic resources is driven by the high demand for energy. To be able to meet the particular Arctic challenges with sound knowledge and safe technologies, Statoil and DNV launched its Arctic Competence Escalator (ACE) programme. This has been developed to enhance the expertise of our own specialists and to share and improve solutions for specific Arctic issues. “We will implement the ACE Programme as a joint effort because we have similar ambitions and backgrounds. We have a long history of successful technology collaboration. Although this is an internal programme, we aim to share our developments with the industry,” says Ørbeck-Nilssen. “Statoil already has many years of experience of Arctic offshore operations, for example in the Barents Sea and at Newfoundland in Canada. But the Arctic is a highly diverse part of the world and operating in the more challenging areas, with longer distances, lower temperatures and ice-covered waters, may require enhanced knowledge and solutions. I hope the ACE programme will be an important driver in obtaining these. Deep insight matched with respect for the Arctic’s particular conditions will be necessary to manage the risks in this promising but sensitive part of the world,” says Morten Karlsen, head of Statoil’s Arctic Technology Research Programme. SPRING 2013 17


Sealing solutions

High tech O-Rings seals

Precision Polymer Engineering (PPE) address the sealing issues facing oil and gas exploration in hostile environmentst

is based on the continual development of financial and health and safety new elastomer materials combined with implications for exploration companies. exceptional levels of customer service and A number of seal manufacturers have technical support. their elastomers tested to the NORSOK Last year PPE launched a new range M710 Annex A (ageing of elastomeric of low temperature elastomers with one materials) standard to predict the il and gas engineers are faced material specifically developed for oil and useful life of seal materials in sour with the continual problem gas applications. Perlast ICE G90LT is the gas environments. The minimum test of how to extract oil and gas first and only perfluoroelastomer (FFKM) parameters are 2% H2S and a minimum from evermore demanding environments, on the market that of three test safely and cost effectively. The main simultaneously temperatures which problems faced by engineers are extreme offers low are “above service The higher the temperature the high pressures, extreme high and low temperature temperature” more aggressive the chemical temperatures, explosive decompression capability down to with no actual and aggressive chemicals which can attack -46°C (-51°F), high temperatures attack on the elastomer the equipment and components used in pressure and rapid specified. the upstream process. gas decompression Temperature has a For nearly 40 years, this has been (RGD) resistance, as well as superior significant effect on the results. The higher the battleground for Precision Polymer chemical resistance including high the temperature the more aggressive the Engineering and the company is now concentration sour gas. chemical attack on the elastomer. at the leading edge of developing and Sour gas (hydrogen sulphide or H2S) As a general rule, for each 10°C manufacturing specialist sealing solutions can have very detrimental effects on increase in temperature, the rate for hostile environments, especially for elastomers, non-resistant elastomers will of chemical reaction doubles. Therefore use in the oil and gas industry. Founded in become hard and brittle, losing their engineers must be satisfied that the elastic properties and their ability to seal, NORSOK certified sealing material they 1975, and based in the UK, PPE has sales ultimately leading to seal failure which have selected is tested to a temperature offices and dealers in North America, can have significant environmental, which is representative of their “real life” Europe and Asia. The company’s success service conditions. PPE have recently received independent test results for a number of their leading PPE in Houston oil & gas materials grades, including Perlast ICE G90LT, conducted at elevated temperatures and high concentrations Precision Polymer Engineering (PPE) has opened a new test and customer support facility in north Houston, Texas. (25%) sour gas with outstanding results. The new 7,232 sq ft sales, customer support, warehousing, training and test facility consists These tests parameters are more of office space, meeting rooms, a test and material analysis facility (including high pressure representative of real-life service test equipment backed up by all the test and analysis facilities in the UK) warehousing and a conditions and seek to find the limits customer support centre. PPE will also be delivering regular courses on “Elastomer technology of the elastomer’s capability and give & seal design for oil and gas applications” in the training suite. The vision is to provide world engineers a level of comfort for the design class technical and engineering support focusing on solving advanced sealing problems, limits in a given sealing application. materials support and test facilities at the heart of the US oil and gas industry.


The company recently appointed Eric L Crawford as a material analyst and applications engineer Kelly O’Brian, both of whom will be based at the company’s Houston office. PPE also has plans to further recruit specialist engineers to further expand the range of services in the city.

18 SPRING 2013

PPE: 5FM : contact the PPE Application Engineering department.


A Russian icebreaker sails in ice-affected waters

RACING TO THE NORTH POLE “To those on the panel and those on the floor, I encourage the conversation to be vigorous. This is a debate,” said Dominic Ziegler, Asia editor of The Economist when addressing delegates aboard the polar ship Fram on the eve of the magazine’s Arctic Summit in Oslo

Photo: Shutterstock


he summit brought together over 200 scientists, policymakers, industry leaders and environmentalists to debate the big issues concerning the High North: the profound impact of climate change, the chase for natural resources, the emergence of new trading routes and the need for responsible governance. The meeting was intended to focus attention on the Arctic’s pressing issues and to encourage constructive thinking in the lead-up to the next ministerial meeting of the Arctic Council in May 2013. James Astill, political journalist, opened the event by saying: “46 vessels travelled the Arctic Sea Route in 2012 where the a few years before there were only two. This demonstrates how fast development is in the region, and changes in the Arctic will have global consequences. This summit matters a great deal because we [stakeholders in the Arctic] need to keep speaking to one another”. And stakeholder collaboration was certainly one of the key themes that arose throughout this two-day event. The Economist’s special report “The Melting North” asserts that the risks of Arctic conflict have been exaggerated. Yet speakers and delegates alike stressed that the development of the Arctic will remain harmonious only if the Arctic states, including Russia, the United

States, Canada, Norway, Denmark, Iceland and Finland, converse openly on all regional issues, both the challenges and the opportunities.

Risk management Sergey Frank, Chief Executive Officer of Sovcomflot, said, “Nearly 22% of the world’s undiscovered oil and gas reserves are in this area”, but drilling for oil comes with hazardous risks, from the technical challenges of producing offshore hydrocarbons to the difficulties of cleaning up eventual oil spills.” Henrik O. Madsen, Group Chief Executive Officer, DNV Group, stressed the importance of managing risks. He said: “The Arctic is a varied and complex area where there is no such thing as onesolution-fits-all. Strong emphasis must therefore be put on risk management and on reducing the probability for unwanted incidents to happen in the first place. Both risk-based regulation and innovative technologies will have to be part of such an approach. In addition, appropriate preparedness systems for minimising the potential consequences should a mishap occur must also be strengthened.”

Trade Routes If the Northern Sea Route is properly developed with investments

in infrastructure, it could revolutionise global trade since it cuts the distance by Western Europe and East Asia by a third. The implications of this could be immense, re-drawing the global map of shipping. Huigen Yang of the Polar Research Institute of China commented that “There is special significance to China with regards the Northern Sea Route. It will mean shorter distances to Chinese ports and lower C02 emissions.” If true, that would be welcome news to many environmental experts. But the route still throws up plenty of challenges. Christian Bonfils, Partner and Managing Director, Nordic Bulk Carriers A/S, despite seeing the potential in the region doesn’t believe that it will rival the Suez canal just yet.

The ice-free Arctic The area of Arctic land covered by snow in early summer has shrunk dramatically in recent decades. James Astill probed our environmental experts on the topic, asking Stefan Rahmstorf, Professor of Physics of the Oceans, Potsdam University; Ellen Baum, Senior Climate Scientist, Clean Air Task Force (CATF); and Rear Admiral Jonathan White, Director of the US Navy’s Task Force on Climate Change, for their predictions on when summers in the Arctic will for the first time become icefree. Their responses ranged from 2023 to 2040—sooner than many experts until recently dared predict. The Arctic, one of the least explored regions on the planet and also one of the coldest, is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet. The debate about its future is only growing. SPRING 2013 19


A Russian ice breaker working in Arctic waters




n open water, dynamic positioning (DP) involves a series of computer controls that issue position-related commands to maintain a ship’s position and heading. There, it is a well-known strategy used for many years. But in the arctic, DP philosophies and strategies are different and also include ice-management.

Not open water Dr. Walter L. Kuehnlein, director of Sea2ice Ltd and Polar and Arctic Science & Technology Symposium coordinator 20 SPRING 2013

at the American Society of Mechanical Engineers’ (ASME) Ocean and Offshore Arctic Engineering Conference, says that most of the industry that operates in light to moderate ice conditions (ice-covered waters) is focusing on DP. “Positioning ice-breaking and drilling vessels in thick, moving ice is much different than in open water. You need other vessels to manage the ice,” he says. Instead of using ‘normal engineering’ principles to design structures and vessels to withstand the forces of the maximum

expected waves, the concept of dynamic positioning relies on a captain who is breaking and managing the ice. The concept of autopilot can’t survive on its own; a vessel needs to have operations to lower the forces so the system can deal with them. “In open water, if you increase a vessel’s thrust, you immediately see a reaction. In ice, you only see a reaction if you have surpassed the breaking load of the ice. Even if you increase the thrust by as much as 50%, if you’re not above the

Photos: Shutterstock

Ice is a major challenge to shipowners, and Arctic engineers and scientists are researching ways to overcome the challenges of dynamic positioning in ice, writes Debbie Sniderman


Arctic waters present special challenges to DP vessels

breaking point of the ice, you won’t see a reaction,” he explains. Typically, a second ice-breaking vessel accompanies a drilling or other vessel about a mile ahead. It travels from side to side or forward and backward to pre-break the ice. Sometimes a third icebreaking vessel also is needed to further break the pre-broken pieces into even smaller floes before the vessel that does dynamic positioning can stand. Tugs pull icebergs (or pieces of them) that approach the DP vessel aside and change their course by 1-2 degrees to avoid collisions. Staying in position when ice starts to move is a problem. It’s nearly impossible, and the forces required to do so are much higher than in open water. Kuehnlein mentions the ice forces in one ice field in the North Sea has more than 10,000 tons horizontal load. In these extreme cases and in heavy ice conditions, forces needed to stay in position are more like 50 to 100 times greater than in open water. No propulsion system can deliver such a pull, so vessels are connected to strong mooring systems. The biggest problem is that ice rapidly moves and it changes direction.

Dealing with ice Many things are necessary for dynamic positioning in ice. Firstly, Kuehnlein says you have to develop tools that can foresee what ice will come from different

directions and models that show which ice will approach you for up to two hours in the future so you know your advance power requirements. Next, the vessels must have a modified shape with inclined (not vertical) sidewalls, as you need vessels that can turn around, almost on a spot in ice. You have to have an ice-breaking strategy and philosophy for various scenarios. If ice movement stops, normally (in open water, if the current

Staying in position when ice starts to move is a problem stops) you wouldn’t do anything, you would just stay there. In ice, you have to break as large an area around you. If it starts to move again, it may move in a totally different direction and you need a pre-broken area to turn the bow towards the drifting ice in a short time. With DP, there is a lot of activity and preparing. In open water, you relax. In ice, you work hard to move in a new direction, and constantly move backward and forward. But, in ice, you don’t have an ‘overshoot angle’ problem that you do in open water; when you drop the power, you stop immediately. With DP, you commonly reduce power slowly from 100%.

Challenging but possible DP work is important and needed now. Drilling for mineral resources in light to moderate ice conditions could be done with dynamic positioning. Kuehnlein says the industry made a little progress on in the 1980s, but they didn’t have the technologies of today. “Now, the entire operation is different; we need to have evacuation systems, possibilities for oil recovery, spill containment, other vessel requirements and means in place to handle disasters. It’s challenging now, but we couldn’t have succeeded 20 to 30 years ago”. The community working on these issues has a few hundred people. The demand is increasing much faster than the knowledge, which Kuehnlein says can be a problem. “We have much less experience with dynamic positioning in ice than with it in open water. The models are rougher, but they need to be more robust than in open water. It’s a big challenge. In ice you need 10 times more power, but have 10 times less experience and 10 times fewer people. It’s 1,000 times more complicated,” he adds.

Debbie Sniderman is CEO of VI Ventures LLC (, a technical consulting company. This article appears courtesy of ASME. SPRING 2013 21


Ice guard T

o protect such ice-going vessels Ecospeed, part of the Belgiumbased Hydrex Group, has developed a glass-flake reinforced surface treated composite (STC). The coating is non-toxic is thus practical for ice trading vessels where toxic anti-friction coatings are rapidly scraped off and deposit their toxic ingredients in what are often particularly sensitive environments. W&R Shipping converted its existing fleet to Ecospeed and specced Ecospeed as the coating for newbuilds ordered. Based in Zwijndrecht, The Netherlands, W&R Shipping provides ship and fleet management services and builds multi-purpose vessels in China, partly on commission.

Trading in ice Wim van Eck, of the shipping company, has spent most of his seafaring career as a captain, trading mainly in the northern Europe and the Baltic Sea. “Of course we always were confronted with the fact that in the winter time when you were sailing through the ice your paint was gone and so you had to do something about it in the summer time,” he explains. “You had to drydock in order to repaint. “I first saw Ecospeed used on a German (company-registered) Interscan vessel, says Wim. It was “in almost exactly the same situation as we are and had had the same problems we had.” Having read of the success Interscan was having with Ecospeed on similar vessels, also trading in Baltic and Northern European ice every winter, W&R decided to try Ecospeed. The first vessel to be converted to Ecospeed was the Crownbreeze. Like the other W&R vessels, the vessel previously had a high abrasive specialty ice coating. “I can’t say that the earlier coating worked very well,” says Wim. “When it was new it was not too bad, but of course you get a lot more chipping than with Ecospeed, so every docking you have to touch it up and it gets rougher.” Crownbreeze came into service in 22 SPRING 2013

December 1999, and by August 2007 it was time for her second intermediate survey – her third drydocking. “We knew that sooner or later we were going to have to do something, so we decided to go with Ecospeed.” They removed what remained of the existing high abrasive coating and applied Ecospeed to the entire underwater hull and rudder. The Thea Marieke followed in the wake of the Crownbreeze with an Ecospeed application in 2008. Those were the two where the original coating was replaced. Subsequently, the Crown Mary and the Tina both had Ecospeed applied at newbuild stage, the optimum time to apply the coating. Wim explains that, from a preparation point of view, he found it easiest to apply Ecospeed to new steel. The required surface preparation is easier to accomplish at the shipyard in the construction stage than in drydock after the ship has been in service for some time. Proper preparation and application are vital to the success of the Ecospeed coating. The only ship of the W&R fleet not currently coated with Ecospeed is the Monica, an older vessel which may be sold in the future.

Results The Crown Mary went to drydock in June 2012 after two and a half years’ sailing in ice with Ecospeed. “There was some small mechanical damage but nothing really major,” says Wim. “We

The Crownbreeze docked in an ice-affected port

The Crown Mary at sea

didn’t need to do anything with the hull paint in drydock.” The Crownbreeze was docked in 2009 and again in 2012, five years after the Ecospeed was applied. Nothing had been done with the paint in the 2009 drydocking. Because of the different dock block positions, the 2012 drydocking was an excellent opportunity to coat the parts of the hull previously missed due to the dock block position when the Ecospeed was originally applied. “We touched up a total of about 90 sq. m. of the hull which has a total area of about 2,000 sq. m. 60-70% of that was the dock blocks and the remainder was mechanical damage mainly from poor fendering in some of the ports the ships visit.” With the new ships, Wim insists that they are reblocked before the coating is finished so that there are no gaps in the coating as a result of the dock blocks, but with ships already in service the time and expense prevent that. Based on the experience with touching up the paint on the first two ships in drydock, Wim is working out the most efficient way to get the touch-ups done for future drydockings. The next opportunity will be with the Thea Marieke which will be drydocked in 2014. By then she will have sailed for six years with Ecospeed and Wim is very interested to see how the hull coating has held up.

Photos: Hydrex & W&R Shipping

There are many ways of protecting a ship’s hull as it ploughs through ice-affected waters. Key to shielding bare metal is a well treated outer surface


NOIA Conference 2013

Play on the Edge June 17 - 20, 2013 St. John’s, Newfoundland

NOIA’s Annual Conference is the region’s largest, most important oil and gas industry event, with over 1,100 delegates and internationally renowned speakers, it is a must-attend event for anyone wishing to do petroleumrelated business in east coast Canada. Oil and gas exploration is going farther, deeper, colder and the Arctic Region is the next frontier. Well positioned to meet the challenges of working in this harsh environment, Newfoundland and Labrador is the ideal location to examine the prospects and opportunities arising as oil and gas companies look north for future development. The Conference will include project updates and outlooks from the region’s operators and will provide unparalleled networking opportunities to delegates. Visit for conference details.

Arctic Ocean Acidification May 6 – 8, 2013 Bergen, Norway The Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP), the Institute of Marine Research, the Norwegian Institute for Water Research, the Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research, and the University of British Columbia, Canada, host a conference to consider Arctic Ocean acidification. Topics will include response of Arctic Ocean to increasing CO2 and related changes in the global carbon cycle, social and policy challenges and future developments.

the Arctic, staging areas outside the Arctic that support Northern development, and vessels and technology that are difficult to map but need to be measured for future decision-making.

OTC 2013 May 6 – 9, 2013 Houston, Texas, USA Founded in 1969, the Offshore Technology Conference is the world’s foremost event for the development of offshore resources in the fields of drilling, exploration, production, and environmental protection. OTC is held annually at Reliant Center in Houston. Each year, OTC attracts more than 80,000 attendees from 110+ countries and 2,500 exhibiting companies.

32nd Conference on Ocean, Offshore and Arctic Engineering June 9 – 14, 2013 Nantes, France OMAE 2013 is a forum for researchers, engineers, managers, technicians and students from the scientific and industrial communities from around the world to meet and present advances in technology and its scientific support. Following on the tradition of excellence of previous OMAE conferences, more than 900 technical papers are planned for presentation.

Private Sector Transportation in the Arctic May 30, 2013 Seattle, USA Hosted by the Institute of the North, the workshop at the Bell Harbor International Conference Center in Seattle, Washington focuses on three critical areas of Arctic development; private sector assets and infrastructure in

Port and Ocean Engineering under Arctic Conditions June 9 – 13, 2013 Espoo, Finland This event is an important part of the Arctic engineering conference calendar, with POAC a mainstay of arctic engineering conferences and typically attracts over 150 participants to each conference.

EAGE Annual Conference June 10 – 13, 2013 London, UK The 75th EAGE Conference & Exhibition incorporating SPE EUROPEC 2013 is the largest and most comprehensive geoscience event in the world. The five-day programme consists of a large

24 SPRING 2013

conference and a technical exhibition presenting the latest developments in geophysics, geology and reservoir/petroleum engineering. AGU Science Policy Conference June 24 – 26, 2013 Washington, DC Hundreds of Earth and space scientists, students, policymakers, and industry professionals will discuss key Earth and space science topics that address challenges to our economy, national security, environment, and public safety. This meeting will focus on the science that helps inform policymakers’ decisions related to energy, natural hazards, technology and infrastructure, climate, oceans, and the Arctic. The event is hosted by American Geophysical Union (AGU) MIOGE 2013 June 25 – 28, 2013 Expocentre Moscow, Russia MIOGE is the largest and most recognised oil and gas trade event in Russia and Central Asia. For the past 20 years, MIOGE has become the traditional meeting place for the world’ leading oil and gas companies to converge and build new business partnerships with local trade operators and suppliers. Rosneftegaz, LUKOIL and Gazprom, plus many others, have previously participated. RAO/ CIS Offshore September 10 – 13, 2013 St Petersburg, Russia The 11th International Conference and Exhibition for oil and gas resources development of the Russian Arctic and CIS Continental Shelf. RAO/CIS Offshore is held on a biennial basis and brings together government officials, experts from Russian and foreign companies for discussion of the most important aspects of the Arctic and continental shelf offshore development.

3rd Arctic Science Conference September 18 – 20, 2013 Scott Polar Research Institute Cambridge, UK This three-day conference aims to bring together UK Arctic scientists of all natural science disciplines to present and discuss recent findings. We welcome presentations on atmosphere, biology, ecology, geology, marine and terrestrial cryosphere, modern climate and palaeo-climate, oceans; their various interactions, and observations and modelling. Richness, Resilience, and Responsibility 8 – 10 October, 2013 Akureyri, Iceland The Arctic is sometimes described as the last frontier in the development of energy resources. The Institute of the North’s Arctic Energy Summit will explore energy as a fundamental element of the sustainable development of the Arctic as a lasting frontier. Central to this concept is how a focus on richness, resilience and responsibility will provide a pathway for sustainable energy development in the Arctic and for Arctic communities. AEE 2013 SPE Arctic & Extreme Environments 15 – 17 October, 2013 All Russian Exhibition Center, Pavilion 75, Moscow SPE Arctic & Extreme Environments is the oil & gas industry’s “must attend” event in the 2013 calendar. An integral part of the event, the conference, will feature speakers representing the world’s leading innovative companies from within the oil and gas industry.

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Viking on board

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Arctic Futures SEARCH & RESCUE



Canadian ice-breaker clearing ice in the Grand River, Ontario WINE AZ AG NME

Frontier Energy is written for the fast growing international oil and gas industry market operating in harsh, ice-affected regions with a focus on the Arctic region. Published quarterly, with a weekly eNewsletter, our readers are kept up-to-date with the latest news and analysis around the technical, commercial, political and cultural aspects of operating in ice environments, many of which are only now opening up to exploration and the search for hydrocarbons. As the world’s first magazine to be focused on this sector, Frontier Energy is essential reading and will help to keep you ahead of your competitors, informed on strategic decisions, and up to date on the latest technical and R&D issues

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Crashing THROUGH


he Arctic region stands at the cusp of tremendous economic development. Efficient, secure, environmentally sensitive marine transportation systems and smart public infrastructure could facilitate offshore and onshore energy, mineral, ecotourism and local community development, believes Canada’s Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), the Canadian consultancy, reporting on the Arctic Marine Corridors and Resource Development Round Table held in Ottawa, Canada. However, many industry executives believe current Canadian and American government policies, regulations and investment in support of Arctic maritime infrastructure and resource development are inadequate. “There is an urgent need for strengthened, comprehensive and innovative national Arctic economic development policies, and Canada-US federal, regional and corporate co-operation in the Arctic,” says CIGI. Public leadership and private investment, through the development of smart and strategic transportation infrastructure, is urgently needed in the North American Arctic to drive development and facilitate economic activity. One key aspect of Arctic development is icebreaker capacity. “An imbalance exists between marine corridor development and icebreaker capacity,” says CIGI. As part of a forward-looking and comprehensive Arctic strategy, the Russian Federation is building new nuclear and conventional icebreakers to add to what is already the largest icebreaker fleet in the world. Russian Arctic policies target expanded offshore resource exploitation and the establishment of the Northern Sea Route as the pre-eminent transArctic marine highway. Russia recently introduced legislation that codifies and administers the Northern Sea Route. Meanwhile, Canada and the United States have only one operational medium-sized icebreaker apiece (see chart opposite). Both North American nations’ plans for vessel retirement, refurbishing and new construction will influence the details of this picture, but not the striking imbalance of planned capacity, notes CIGI. While Russia’s Northern Sea Route has physical advantages over its North American counterpart, the question that arises is whether the emerging Russian monopoly over trans-polar commercial marine transportation and rules is in North America’s economic or security interests. Public leadership and private investment, through the development of smart and strategic transportation infrastructure, is urgently needed if the North American Arctic is to benefit from development and facilitate economic activity, concluded the roundtable. Centre for International Governance Innovation, CIGI

Photo: Shutterstock




Akademic Trioshnikov (2011)

Varanda (2008)

Pacific Endurance (2006)

Kapitan Dranitsyn (1980 refit 1999)

Pacific Endeavor (2006)

+ 5 under construction + 8 planned

Yermak (1974)

Fesco Sakhalin (2005)

Vasiliy Golovnin (1988)



Kigoriak (1978)













N L-60 (Estimated 2016)


Taymyr (1989)

L-60 ( 2015)

Vladislav Strizhov (2006)

Yuri Topchev (2006)


St. Petersburg (2008) Kapitan Sorokin (1977 refit 1990)

Moskva (2007) Vladimir Ignatyuk (1977 refit 1982)

Talagi (1978)


Alexey Chiriov (2013)

Akademik Federov (1987)

Dudinka (1970)


Oden (1989)

Ymer (1977)

Frej (1975)

Vidar Viking (2001)

Tor Viking II (2011)

Balder Viking (2011)

Nordica (1994)

Fennica (1993)

Kontio (1987)

Louis st. Laurent (1969 refit 1993)

Terry Fox (1983)

John G.Diefenbacher (Estimated 2017)

Amundsen (Estimated return 2013)

Henry Larsen (1988)

Des Groseillers (1983)


Project 2260 (2015)

Ikaluk (1983)

Tor (1964)

Pacific Enterprise (2006)

Kapitan Khlebnikov Kapitan Nikolayev (1981) (1978) B


Admiral Makarov (1975)



L-60 (Estimated 2017) B





L-110 (Estimated 2017) Vitus Bering (2013)


Vaygach (1990)




Yamal (1993)





Rossiya (1985 refit 2007)





Sovetskiy Soyuz (1990 refit 2014)




50 Let Pobedy (2007)




Krasin (1976)


Project 21900M (Estimated 2015)

Project 21900M (Estimated 2015)

Smit Sakhalin (1983)

Dikson (1983)

Mudyug (1982)

Magadan (1982)

R-70202 (2013)

R-70202 (2014)

R-70202 (2015)

R-70202 (2016)

Project 21900M (2015)


Atle (1974)


Otso (1986)


Sisu (1976)


Urho (1975)


Voima (1954 refit 1979)


+ 1 planned



Polar Sea (Inactive 2011)

Polar Star (Estimated return 2014)

Healy (2000)

Aiviq (2012)

Pierre Radisson (1978)

Nathaniel B. Palmer (1992)



Brage Viking (2012)



Magne Viking (2011)


Loke Viking (2011)


Njord Viking (2011)


Xue Long (1993)

+ 1 planned



Power Plant




+ 1 planned





≥ 20,000 BHP < 45,000 BHP

Name (year constructed or refit)

≥ 10,000 BHP < 20,000 BHP


Botnica (1998)

Tarmo (1963)

Polarstern (1982)

Polar Research Vessel (Estimated 2016)

Under Construction

Name (anticpated completion)


Name (anticpated completion)

NOTES Government owned or operated


Shirase (2009)

Unavailable N Nuclear Power B Designed for Baltic use Been to the North Pole*

* Courtesy of Robert K. Headland – Scott Polar Research Institute

Araon (2009)

Data derived from various sources Updated:


Agulhas II (2012)



+ 1 planned

Name (year constructed or refit)

Power Plant

Almirante Oscar Viel (1967)


≥ 45,000 BHP Power Plant

Aurora Australis (1990)

CHILE Chart courtesy of US Coast Guard,

COLOR GUIDE Name (year constructed or refit)



KEY Vessels were selected and organized based on their installed power measured in Brake Horse Power (BHP). Vessels with less than 10,000 BHP were not considered to be capable of independent arctic operation. Vessels are ordered by age, youngest first, within power groupings. Vessel outlines reflect relative sizes.

Almirante Irizar (estimate return 2012/13)



Polar Support Vessel (Estimated 2014)

20 February 2013

An electronic copy of the most current chart is located at:


Svalbard (2002)

Polar Research Vessel (Estimated 2015)

Direct Questions and Comments to: LCDR Mike Krause- 202 372-1540 e-mail: OR LCDR Ben Morgan- 202 372-1541 e-mail

Developed and maintained by USCG Office of Waterways and Ocean Policy (CG-WWM)

INSIGHT The Arctic feels far removed from daily life

Icebergs offshore Jokulsarlon, Iceland

The Arctic resource boom


he expert assessment was a mix of optimism and measured concern: where some accounts have predicted a new era of geopolitical conflict or even a militarized Arctic, the speakers instead suggested that international cooperation in science and diplomacy is already reducing the risk of conflict in the region. Of greater concern may be a lack of US preparation to deal with the coming changes: rapid advances in development, threats to indigenous populations, and accelerating climate change so powerful that some researchers warn that it could destabilize climate patterns across much of the globe. The decline in the Arctic’s summer ice cover is “definitely outpacing what a lot of our worst-case climate models have been suggesting would we continue to warm the planet,” said Julienne Stroeve, a researcher based at the US National Snow & Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado. “The changes are happening a lot faster than expected and there are a lot of implications for governance and (resource) exploration.” “I don’t think we have a strategy, an agreed-to national plan,” added Heather A. Conley, senior fellow and director of the Europe Program at Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. “How much are we going to develop the Arctic? How much are we going to protect it? We’re going to be testing the system across the Arctic and testing international cooperation to make sure that we can work together and not at cross-purposes”.

Resources, transit, and migration The Arctic is one of Earth’s regions most severely affected by climate change. While many parts of the planet are expected to warm by 2 degrees Celsius by the end of the century, Stroeve said, warming in the Far North could reach 6 or 8 degrees in that time. Among the 4 million people who live in the Arctic region, many are already seeing dramatic disruptions. Climate change means more extreme, unpredictable weather, including bigger storms that cause floods and coastal erosion. Reduced ice on coastal waters and on inland rivers makes transportation in search of food more difficult, and migration patterns for game and fish are shifting. According to Stroeve, the rate of decline for Arctic sea ice has been linear-until the past few years, when the pace of melting accelerated. Areas off the coasts of Alaska and Siberia that 28 SPRING 2013

used to be covered permanently by ice are now becoming open water in summer. Climate models suggest that the Arctic Ocean will become ice-free in summer by 2050, she said, while other models say it could happen even more rapidly, as early as 2020. For most people in more populated parts of the planet, the Arctic feels far removed from daily life. Still, even from a distance, it’s evident that far-reaching changes are underway. Last summer, news reports detailed how sea ice levels in the Arctic had reached yet another new record low. In November, a Norwegian tanker ferried a load of liquid natural gas to Japan across an Arctic route that is usually frozen at that time of year. And in Greenland, Conley said, the number of Chinese mining workers in the decades ahead is likely to outstrip the country’s current population of 57,000. At first glance, the receding sea ice would seem especially alluring to oil and gas companies that, Hamilton pointed out, have been producing oil and gas near or above the Arctic Circle for nearly 90 years. The U.S. Geological Survey has concluded that about a quarter of the Earth’s remaining hydrocarbon potential lies in the Arctic. About 70% of it is gas, and 30% oil. But Jed Hamilton, senior Arctic consultant at ExxonMobil’s Upstream Research Company, said it’s too simple to think that receding summer ice will lead to a massive new rush of oil and gas exploration and drilling. The projects still face enormous challenges: severe winter weather, including crushing sea-surface ice floes; technical and engineering challenges in getting the crude or gas to refineries and to market; and huge production and transportation costs. “In the end,” he said, “Arctic hydrocarbon resources will have to compete with other energy sources and must demonstrate favourable economics under a long-term price forecast in order to be developed.” He offered a sobering example: ExxonMobil and its partners are beginning development of a 1 billion-barrel oil field off the northeast coast of Canada. “It will take us five years and north of $10 billion to develop that field,” he said. The oil will be extracted over a period of 40 years, he added, “and when all is said and done and people have spent their entire careers on that project, that 40 years of production will satisfy 12 days of world demand right now.” While the Arctic oil and gas projects are challenging, Hamilton suggested that, over time, escalating global demand for energy of all types will drive prices higher. And that will create strong incentive to undertake such projects.

Photo: Shutterstock

Climate change is opening a northern bonanza for oil, rare earths, and even fish, but experts speaking at the recent American Association for the Advancement of Science event Science and Society: Global Challenges warned that US policy in fields ranging from the environment to Arctic diplomacy may be adapting too slowly to emerging challenges

NEW FRONTIERS! NEW TECHNOLOGY! NEW CHALLENGES! to the oil & gas and shipping operations in the Arctic and other challenging ice-affected regions. Each issue will offer an exclusive insight into the technologies being used to overcome the challenges of this unique environment. Supported by a weekly e-newsletter, and up-dates on all the latest developments.

For editorial enquiries, contact Bruce McMichael

Connect with your existing customers and reach new ones through the pages of the Frontier Energy.


Frontier Energy is your essential guide to these new markets!

NEXT ISSUE Summer 2013

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SPE Arctic and Extreme Environments Technical Conference and Exhibition 15 – 17 October 2013 All Russia Exhibition Center, Pavilion 75, Moscow, Russia c Over 1400 professionals from 26 countries* c Largest technical conference and exhibition dedicated to Arctic and Extreme Environments c Industry leaders offer insights into innovation and new technologies across 3 days on the exhibition floor c Featuring a Technology Incubator and Science Zone *Data from SPE Arctic and Extreme Environments 2011

Exhibiting and sponsorship opportunities Exhibition space is selling out fast. Contact us today to discuss how working with SPE Arctic and Extreme Environments can deliver powerful results to your business plans. Contact us today: Email: Phone: +44 (0)20 8439 8890 Organised by:

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