Cuba, US Sign Oil Spill Deal before Trump Inauguration
Cuba and the United States agreed on Monday to jointly prevent, contain and clean up oil and other toxic spills in the Gulf of Mexico, as they rush to conclude deals before President-elect Donald Trump takes office. U.S. Charge d'Affaires Jeffrey DeLaurentis, upon signing the agreement, said it was one of a series of deals to protect the shared marine environment of the two neighboring countries separated by just 90 miles (145 km) of water. Trump has threatened to scrap a still-fragile detente between the two countries unless Cuba makes further political and economic concessions. U.S.
US Pacific Command Renamed in Symbolic Nod to India
The U.S. military on Wednesday renamed its Pacific Command the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, in a largely symbolic move underscoring the growing importance of India to the Pentagon, U.S. officials said.U.S. Pacific Command, which is responsible for all U.S. military activity in the greater Pacific region, has about 375,000 civilian and military personnel assigned to its area of responsibility, which includes India.“Relationships with our Pacific and Indian Ocean allies and partners have proven critical to maintaining regional stability,” U.S.
Florida Ports Drop Plans to Ink Pacts with Cuba
The news comes as Cuba watchers are looking closely for signs of how the United States' fragile detente with Cuba will fare under President Donald Trump. "Disappointed some (Florida ports) would enter into any agreement with Cuban dictatorship," Scott wrote on Twitter on Wednesday. "I will recommend restricting state funds for ports that work with Cuba in my budget. Port authorities along the U.S. Southern coast are strong proponents of increased trade and travel with Cuba, and some have expressed interest in using Mariel, located on the northwest coast of the Caribbean island, as a transshipment hub. The Ports of Everglades and Palm Beach had been planning to sign agreements with Cuba during the visit of a Cuban trade delegation this week but said they decided to withdraw the deals.
Mississippi Ports Eye Cuba, Ink Pacts in Havana
The Mississippi ports of Pascagoula and Gulfport signed agreements in Cuba on Monday with an eye to future business and with a Republican U.S. senator from the state looking on, despite concerns President Donald Trump might backtrack on improved relations. Senator Thad Cochran is the only Republican among five U.S. senators and a U.S. representative on a three-day visit to the Communist-run Caribbean island to discuss relations and explore business opportunities. The agreements were signed during a business forum to explore future trade attended by Cochran. “There is great potential for business between these ports and Cuba due to the geographical proximity and the excellent fluvial and maritime ways Mississippi has…
Dinh-Zarr to Serve as NTSB Acting Chairman
Christopher A. Hart’s term as Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board concluded on schedule Wednesday and Vice Chairman Bella Dinh-Zarr will serve as the agency’s acting chairman. Hart will remain at the NTSB, applying his transportation safety expertise in the capacity of a board member. The NTSB has five board members, each nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate to serve five-year terms. By statute, a board member is designated by the President as Chairman and another as Vice Chairman for two-year terms. The Chairmanship requires separate Senate confirmation.
Yemen Forces Prepare to Move on Main Port
Yemeni government forces and their Arab allies are massing north and south of the Houthi-held Red Sea port of Hodeidah despite United Nations and aid groups warnings that a military operation there would put millions of civilians at risk. Hodeidah port and province is controlled by the Iran-aligned Houthis and has been the entry point for 70 percent of Yemen's food supplies as well as humanitarian aid. The country has been torn by more than two years of civil war that pits the armed Houthi group against the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, which is backed by a Saudi-led Arab alliance. More than 10,000 people have been killed in the conflict and hunger is widespread.
CBP Withdraws Obama-proposed Jones Act Changes
U.S. Customs and Border Protection has withdrawn an Obama-era proposal to modify a law that governs shipping, which would have revoked waivers that make it easier for oil and gas operators to skirt restrictions, according to an agency bulletin published Wednesday. For nearly 40 years the CBP has provided exemptions to the Jones Act, which mandates the use of U.S.-flagged vessels to transport merchandise between U.S. coasts. The exemptions have allowed oil and gas operators to use often cheaper, tax-free, or more readily available foreign flagged vessels. The CBP has weighed revoking these waivers after President Barack Obama's administration proposed to put them on the chopping block two days before President Donald Trump took office.
EPA Paves Way for Stalled Mine in Alaska
U.S. environmental regulators have cleared the path for a stalled copper and gold mine in Alaska by agreeing to settle current lawsuits and other issues over the project, which had drawn environmental concerns over its potential impact on the world's largest sockeye salmon fishery. U.S. The Pebble Limited Partnership mining company had filed a lawsuit against the EPA under the previous administration of Democratic president Barack Obama, which had sought to block it. Backers of the project had been hopeful that Obama's Republican successor, Donald Trump would allow it to proceed. Shares of Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd , which owns the massive Pebble deposit, have surged since Trump won the U.S. election back in November. Trump took office Jan. 20.
U.S. Warship Challenges Beijing in South China Sea
A U.S. Navy warship sailed within 12 nautical miles of an artificial island built up by China in the South China Sea, U.S. officials said on Wednesday, the first such challenge to Beijing in the strategic waterway since U.S. President Donald Trump took office. The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the USS Dewey traveled close to the Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands, among a string of islets, reefs and shoals over which China has territorial disputes with its neighbors. China said its warships had warned the U.S.
Trump Administration Approves Eni Plan to Drill Offshore Alaska
Eni US will become the first energy company allowed to explore for oil in federal waters off Alaska since 2015 after the Trump administration this week approved a drilling plan on leases the company has been sitting on for 10 years. The approval is conditional on Eni getting other state and federal permits, which in past cases are generally granted once BOEM gives the green light. "We know there are vast oil and gas resources under the Beaufort Sea, and we look forward to working with Eni in their efforts to tap into this energy potential," said BOEM's acting Director Walter Cruickshank.
European Oil Majors Enter U.S. Offshore Wind Markets
Statoil, Shell, DONG Energy turn to U.S. offshore wind; oil firms bring big budgets, offshore tech and risk experience. Some European oil majors have made inroads into the emerging U.S. offshore wind energy market, aiming to leverage their experience of deepwater development and the crowded offshore wind arena at home. Late entrants to the offshore wind game in Europe, which began with a project off Denmark 25 years ago and is now approaching maturity, they are looking across the Atlantic at what they view as a huge and potentially lucrative new market.
Repsol Suspends Drilling on Vietnam Oil Block Disputed by China
Spain's Repsol said it had suspended oil drilling in a block off Vietnam, where the prospecting in South China Sea waters claimed by China had infuriated Beijing and brought Chinese pressure on Vietnam to stop. Tension has been growing between Vietnam and China over energy development in the waterway, where extensive Chinese claims are challenged by five Southeast Asian countries and disputed by the United States. Repsol's chief financial officer, Miguel Martinez, said work had been suspended off Vietnam, according to the transcript of a conference call with analysts last week. "We are working with the PetroVietnam and with the Vietnamese authorities and the only comment is that right now, operations have been suspended," he said.
Cyber Threats Prompt Return of Radio for Ship Navigation
The risk of cyber attacks targeting ships' satellite navigation is pushing nations to delve back through history and develop back-up systems with roots in World War Two radio technology. Ships use GPS (Global Positioning System) and other similar devices that rely on sending and receiving satellite signals, which many experts say are vulnerable to jamming by hackers. About 90 percent of world trade is transported by sea and the stakes are high in increasingly crowded shipping lanes.
US Destroyer Challenges China's Claims in South China Sea
A U.S. Navy destroyer carried out a "freedom of navigation operation" on Thursday, coming within 12 nautical miles of an artificial island built up by China in the South China Sea, U.S. officials told Reuters. The operation came as President Donald Trump's administration seeks Chinese cooperation in dealing with North Korea's missile and nuclear programs and could complicate efforts to secure a common stance. The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the USS John S. McCain traveled close to Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands, among a string of islets, reefs and shoals.
FMC's Doyle to Exit Commission in January, 2018
Today, the Office of Commissioner William P. Doyle of the U.S. “Last week, I notified The President of the United States Donald J. Trump of my intention to leave the Federal Maritime Commission effective January 3, 2017. It has been an honor and a privilege to continue serving in the Trump Administration. I thank President Barack Obama for nominating and appointing me twice as a Commissioner. “I am proud to have worked alongside my fellow Commissioners and with such a dedicated and hardworking Commission staff.
Trump Aims to Open Nearly All US Offshore to Oil Drilling
The Trump administration on Thursday proposed opening nearly all U.S. offshore waters to oil and gas drilling, a move aimed at boosting domestic energy production that sparked protests from coastal states, environmentalists and the tourism industry. The effort to open previously off-limits acreage in the Atlantic, Arctic and Pacific oceans comes less than eight years after BP Plc's Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico - the largest in American history. The disaster…
US Prepares High-seas Crackdown on N.Korea Sanctions Evaders
The Trump administration and key Asian allies are preparing to expand interceptions of ships suspected of violating sanctions on North Korea, a plan that could include deploying U.S. Coast Guard forces to stop and search vessels in Asia-Pacific waters, senior U.S. officials said. Washington has been talking to regional partners, including Japan, South Korea, Australia and Singapore, about coordinating a stepped-up crackdown that would go further than ever before in an attempt to squeeze Pyongyang’s use of seagoing trade to feed its nuclear missile program, several officials told Reuters.
U.S. Considers Venezuela Oil Sanctions
The Trump administration is considering sanctioning a Venezuelan military-run oil services company and restricting insurance coverage for Venezuelan oil shipments to ratchet up pressure on socialist President Nicolas Maduro, a U.S. official said. With Maduro running for another term in an April election that Washington and its allies oppose as a sham, the United States is weighing sanctions that would target Venezuela’s vital oil sector beyond what has been done before, the official told Reuters on Wednesday. Some measures could come before the vote and others could be imposed afterwards.
Obama Looks to Block Arctic, Atlantic Drilling
U.S. President Barack Obama is preparing to block the sale of new offshore drilling rights in much of the U.S. Arctic and parts of the Atlantic, Bloomberg reported, citing two people familiar with the decision. Obama's move, which could come as soon as today, will give him the liberty to withdraw U.S. waters from future oil and gas leasing, Bloomberg said on Monday. It said Obama was expected to invoke a provision in a 1953 law that had been used sparingly until now to preserve coral reefs and marine sanctuaries. Related actions by Canada may be announced around the same time, Bloomberg added.
Obama Bans New Drilling off Alaska, Part of Atlantic Shore
U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday banned new oil and gas drilling in federal waters in the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans, in a push to leave his stamp on the environment before Republican Donald Trump takes office next month. Obama used a 1950s-era law called the Outer Continental Shelf Act that allows presidents to limit areas from mineral leasing and drilling. Environmental groups said that meant Trump's incoming administration would have to go court if it sought to reverse the move.
Arctic Drilling Ban Gives Canada Leg Up -US Lawmakers
U.S. lawmakers on Wednesday slammed an agreement made with Canada to ban offshore Arctic drilling, saying Ottawa's plan to review its ban every five years gives Canada a leg up on energy exploration. U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday announced a ban on new oil and gas drilling federal waters in the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans, while Canada instituted a similar ban in its Arctic waters. Unlike the United States, where the ban is indefinite, Canada said it will review its restrictions every five years.
Port Everglades to Deepen, Widen Channels
The Port Everglades Navigation Improvements Project has received federal authorization for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to move forward with deepening and widening the Port's navigation channels as part of the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act signed into law December 16, 2016, by President Barack Obama. The project is currently in the preconstruction engineering and design phase, and can now proceed through the permitting and federal funding processes.
Obama's Arctic Ban and Aftermath
US President Barack Obama has permanently banned offshore oil and gas drilling in the "vast majority" of US-owned northern waters. Vowing that his successor won’t be able to reverse his actions, President Obama on Tuesday used executive authority to permanently ban new offshore drilling in federally owned waters off the Atlantic coast and in the Arctic Ocean. The majority of the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas and the entirety of the Canadian Arctic are now off limits for future offshore oil and gas leasing. According to ADN, President Obama's Dec. Much of the policy and planning the U.S.