Beaufort Sea News

27 Nov 2019

Steel Cut for Canada-bound Double Hull Oil Barge

Photo courtesy of Robert Allan Ltd.

On October 10, 2019 the steel cutting ceremony took place at Jiangsu Jinling Shipyard, Co. Ltd. in Yizheng, China (a subsidiary of the Nanjing Jinling Shipyard) for four oil/deck cargo barges being constructed for the Government of the Northwest Territories in Northern Canada.Steel blocks will be constructed at the Yizheng shipyard and then barged approx. 50 kilometers up the Yangtze River to Nanjing Jinling Shipyard for final assembly. Following steel cutting the construction is expected to take 9 months…

03 Dec 2018

Coast Guard Icebreaker Completes 129-day Arctic Deployment

The USCG Icebreaker Healy  (CREDIT NyxoLyno Cangemi USCG)

The crew of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy returned home Friday to their homeport in Seattle following a four-month deployment in the Arctic. In addition to providing presence and access in the Arctic during the 129-day summer deployment, the Healy crew completed three research missions in partnership with the National Science Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Office of Naval Research, conducting physical and biological research in the Arctic Ocean.

07 May 2018

Study Calls to Reduce Ship Speed for Arctic

Sea ice along the east coast of Banks Island in the western Canadian Arctic. Photo credit: UVic researcher William Halliday, a co-author of the new study led by UVic marine biologist Lauren McWhinnie.

In the Arctic, marine mammals such as belugas and bowhead whales rely on a quiet environment to communicate and forage. But as Arctic sea ice shrinks and shipping traffic increases, vessel disturbance could very likely impact their social behaviours, distribution and long-term survival, warns a new study led by University of Victoria marine biologist Lauren McWhinnie. Published in the peer-reviewed journal Ocean and Coastal Management, the study calls for precautionary measures…

30 Jan 2018

Alaska Requests Limits on US Offshore Drilling

© eqroy / Adobe Stock

Alaska Governor Bill Walker said on Tuesday he has asked U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to pare back a Trump administration plan for oil and gas leasing off the state's coast. While Walker supports offshore oil development, he said the Interior Department should focus on the most prospective areas off Alaska – the Beaufort and Chukchi seas in the Arctic and Cook Inlet in southern Alaska – and drop all others from the leasing plan. In asking for proposed lease sales to be dropped…

27 Dec 2017

BSEE Oversees Spudding of New Oil Well in Arctic

Photo: Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement

Italian oil producer Eni began drilling the new well off the north coast of Alaska, becoming the first company to do so since 2015, reports Reuters. "New oil exploration in Arctic federal waters is underway this week with the spudding of a new oil well from an existing man-made island in the Beaufort Sea. Two Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) personnel were on-hand Monday ensuring compliance with approved permits, federal regulations and safety standards as Eni U.S.

27 Dec 2017

Eni Begins Drilling Oil Well in Alaska's Beaufort Sea

(Photo: BSEE)

Italian oil producer Eni this week began drilling a new well in U.S. waters off the north coast of Alaska, becoming the first company to do so since 2015, federal regulators said on Wednesday. The oil and gas firm is working from an artificial island in the Beaufort Sea about three miles off Oliktok Point in the Arctic Ocean. The well is expected to run more than 6 miles (10 km) long. The project could result in 20,000 barrels a day of oil production, according to regulator U.S.

25 Oct 2017

Robert Allan Receives Meritorious Achievement Award

Bob Stewart, P.Eng., President of EGBC with Rob Allan (Mike Crane Photography)

Rob Allan was presented with the Meritorious Achievement Award as one of the President’s Awards conferred by Engineers & Geoscientists British Columbia (EGBC) on October 20, 2017 at their Annual Award Gala held in Whistler, BC. This award is given annually to a member of the Association who has achieved distinction and outstanding goals associated with his/her profession. Allan has over 45 years of experience in the design of commercial workboats of all types, but especially high-performance tugboats for tanker escort and offshore terminal operations.

13 Jul 2017

Trump Administration Approves Eni Plan to Drill Offshore Alaska

Image of sea ice in the Beaufort Sea, acquired on 3 June 2017 by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument, on board the Aqua satellite. (Photo: NASA)

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.

11 May 2017

Robert Allan Ltd.: The Place that Launched 1,000 Tugs

figure 7

Over the last few years, as the design output from Robert Allan Ltd. to the global tugboat community began to border on the prodigious, we were often asked, “How many tugs has your company designed?” Until very recently we really did not have a good handle on that number, so the answer was usually either “a lot” or “many hundreds”, neither of which were particularly illuminating. So a search was begun late in 2016 to review our archives and try to determine the tug tally much more precisely. Would we rival Helen? Where did it all begin?

20 Mar 2017

OP/Ed: Obama’s Arctic Decision Undercut His Own Legacy

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

On December 20, 2016, in an 11th hour unilateral action designed to cement his environmental legacy, President Obama withdrew 3.8 million acres in the north and mid-Atlantic Ocean and 115 million acres in the U.S. Arctic Ocean (including the entire Chukchi Sea and a significant portion of the Beaufort Sea) from future oil and gas leasing. Unlike the five year moratoria announced by Canada, President Obama touted these closures as “permanent.” Not only does this short-sighted decision threaten the economic lifeline of Alaska, U.S. energy leadership and U.S.

06 Mar 2017

Ice Kings: Model Testing Ship-ice Interactions

The CCGS John G. Diefenbaker model remotely-controlled by a former icebreaker captain while it was being tested in the ice tank. (Photo: National Research Council of Canada)

Model testing ship-ice interactions in the St. In a cavernous room in the heart of a research center in St. John’s, Newfoundland at 8 am, the air temperature is -20 C while the water temperature is hovering at zero. National Research Council of Canada (NRC) staff are preparing the Ice Tank to test the integrity of a newly designed ship’s hull and propulsion system by subjecting a model to a battery of maneuvers and encounters with ice. One of the largest in the world, the Ice Tank is 90m long, 12m wide, and 3m deep.

21 Dec 2016

Arctic Drilling Ban Gives Canada Leg Up -US Lawmakers

© ggw / Adobe Stock

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.

20 Dec 2016

White House ‘Playing Politics’ Arctic Drilling Ban -AEC

Lucas Frances, (Photo: Arctic Energy Center)

The Obama Administration announced that it will ban offshore oil and gas development throughout much of the U.S. Arctic. Under the authority of a provision in a 1953 law, the decision designates "the bulk of the Arctic” indefinitely off limits. Commenting, Lucas Frances, spokesperson for the Arctic Energy Center, said, “This is a deeply frustrating development and one that will mean a bleak economic future for Alaska. After the White House cited a lack of industry interest in the Arctic for removing the region from the offshore leasing program…

21 Dec 2016

Obama Bans New Drilling off Alaska, Part of Atlantic Shore

(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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.

22 Nov 2016

Crowley Sells Ice-breaking Cargo Barge to Tagiuk

Crowley Marine Services has sold a 205’ x 90’ x 15’ former ice-strengthened, icebreaker / cargo barge, Arctic Endeavor, to Tagiuk LLC., the ship broker Marcon International, Inc. reported. The 3,029mtdw barge was built in 1982 by Gunderson Bros. to support resupply sailings to ports in the Arctic while being pushed by two 2,100HP Point-Class tugs. The barge was unique in having a wide spoon shaped bow tapering aft from 90’ at its widest point at frame 25, a tapered hull under the waterline and a reinforced ice step. The Arctic Endeavor was converted in 1999 by Duwamish Shipyard to an ABS +A1, ice classed, double-hull oil response barge for use in the Beaufort Sea, northeast of Deadhorse, Alaska. The barge was laid up in Puget Sound at the time of the sale.

21 Oct 2016

Changing Spill Risk in a Changing Arctic Landscape

Dagmar Schmidt Etkin

Industry analyst and environmental consultant Dagmar Schmidt Etkin, PhD, takes a hard look at a rapidly shifting operational landscape in the Arctic. Always an honest broker of information, Etkin tells it like it is. Oil spill risk is present anywhere that oil is present in reservoirs, or is transported, consumed, stored, and handled in some way. The Arctic is no exception. Not only are there oil reserves in the Arctic, some of which are being or will soon be considered for exploration and production, there is also oil being transported as cargo or as fuel to Arctic communities.

31 Aug 2016

Arctic Sea Ice Melt Continues

Average sea surface temperature measured by satellites using thermal emission sensors, which produce global data adjusted after comparison with ship and buoy data, and sea ice concentration derived from NSIDC near-real-time data for August 7, 2016. Also shown are drifting buoy temperatures at the ocean surface (colored circles); gray circles indicate that temperature data from the buoys are not available. (Credit: M. Steele, Polar Science Center/University of Washington)

As of August 14, Arctic sea ice extent is tracking third lowest in the satellite record, according to the National Snow & Ice Data Center (NSIDC). The southern route through the Northwest Passage appears to be largely free of ice. Despite a rather diffuse ice cover in the Chukchi Sea, it is unlikely that Arctic sea ice extent this September will fall below the record minimum set in 2012. As of August 14, Arctic sea ice extent was 5.61 million square kilometers, the third lowest extent in the satellite record for this date and slightly below the two standard deviation range.

05 Aug 2016

Is it a Ship or Iceberg?

Small iceberg off the port bow of Canadian Coast Guard ship Louis St-Laurent. (Photo: Canadian Coast Guard)

Developing the capability to discriminate between ships and icebergs in northern latitudes is a common interest shared by Canada’s Department of National Defense (DND) and the oil and gas industry. For DND, the focus is on ship detection for maritime security, whereas oil and gas companies are interested in detecting icebergs to ensure primarily the safety and also the productivity of offshore exploration and production operations. The Polar Epsilon and Polar Epsilon-2 applied…

31 Jul 2016

Arctic Sea Ice Melt at Higher Level

Image: National Snow and Ice Data Center

Sea ice is decreasing in the Arctic but year-to-year variability in sea ice extent is large. Ice extent is influenced by atmospheric circulation, with temperatures dictating ice melt, and winds shifting the ice, reports the Nature. According to National Snow and Ice Data Center, through the first half of July, Arctic sea ice extent continued tracking close to levels in 2012, the summer that ended with the lowest September extent in the satellite record. The stormy weather pattern that characterized June has persisted into July.

19 Jun 2016

Hundreds of Scientists Urge Obama to Halt Arctic Oil Drilling

Photo Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

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

09 Jun 2016

Arctic Sea Ice Sheds Weight in May

A May 21, 2016 satellite view of the Beaufort Sea off the coast of Alaska and Canada shows highly fragmented sea ice. Source: LANCE System/NASA/GSFC via National Snow and Ice Data Center

Arctic sea ice hit a record low in May 2016 as scientists discovered the first-ever link between melting ice in Greenland and a phenomenon known to warm the area faster than the rest of the Northern Hemisphere. According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colorado, sea ice extent across the Arctic was 4.63 million square miles, which was an astonishing 224,000 square miles below the previous record low for the month of May, set in 2004. Data published…

24 Apr 2016

ExxonMobil Starts Production at Point Thomson

Point Thomson reservoir holds an estimated 8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 200 million barrels of natural gas condensate, a high quality hydrocarbon similar to kerosene or diesel Courtesy ExxonMobil

ExxonMobil said today it has started production at its Point Thomson project, the first company-operated project on Alaska’s North Slope. Central pad facilities are designed to initially produce about 5,000 barrels per day of condensate and 100 million standard cubic feet per day of recycled gas. The recycled gas is re-injected for future recovery. At full rate production, the facility is designed to produce up to 10,000 barrels per day of natural gas condensate and 200 million cubic feet of recycled gas. It is anticipated to reach that level when the west pad well is online in a few months.

23 Dec 2015

Arctic Coast Guard Forum: Eyes and Ears Up North

Sailors aboard the fast attack submarine USS Seawolf (SSN 21) inspect the boat after surfacing through Arctic ice. Seawolf conducted routine Arctic operations. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

On October 30, 2015, at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut, the heads of eight agencies fulfilling the functions of Coast Guard of Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, the Russian Federation, Sweden, and the United States signed a Joint Statement formally establishing the Arctic Coast Guard Forum (ACGF). The ACGF is an independent, informal, operationally-driven organization. It is not bound by treaty, but will work in cooperation with the Arctic Council to foster safe, secure, and environmentally responsible maritime activity in the Arctic region.

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