Maersk Drilling Axes Dozens of Staff
Maersk Drilling USA is laying off 84 employees who work aboard the Maersk Viking (UDW drillship), located in the Gulf of Mexico, and report directly to the company’s office in Houston, Houston Chronicle reported quoting data sent to the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC). The employees, who received notification of the layoffs on Jan. 12, report to the company's office at 2500 CityWest Boulevard. They will continue to work for the next two months until their employment is terminated, according to the WARN notice.
Harvey Soaks Louisiana as Houston Struggles With Flooding
Tropical Storm Harvey bore down on Louisiana on Wednesday, pouring down more water after setting rainfall records in Texas that caused catastrophic flooding and paralyzed the U.S. energy hub of Houston. The storm that first came ashore on Friday as the most powerful hurricane to hit Texas in more than 50 years has killed at least 17 people and forced tens of thousands to leave their deluged homes. Damage has been estimated at tens of billions of dollars, making it one of the costliest U.S. natural disasters. There is some relief in sight for Houston, the fourth most populous U.S. city, with forecasters saying five days of torrential rain may come to an end as the storm picks up speed and leaves the Gulf of Mexico region later in the day.
Oil Drillers Group to Fight U.S. Export Ban
More than a dozen U.S. oil producers have joined to lobby the federal government to reverse the 40-year-old ban on U.S. crude exports, a move that supporters hope would create jobs and boost national security, a spokesman for one of the companies and a lobbyist for another one said on Friday. Producers for American Crude Oil Exports, or PACE, is the first lobbying group to form on reversing the ban. "The end game here is legislative repeal of the ban," said a lobbyist for one of the member producers, who did not want to be named because the group was only recently formed. Congress passed the trade restriction in the 1970s after the Arab oil embargo caused fears of domestic oil shortages.
Superior Energy Included as 2013 Top Workplace
Superior Energy Services has been named one of Houston’s 2013 Top Workplaces by the Houston Chronicle for the second year in a row, announced David Dunlap, Superior Energy Services’ President and CEO. The list honors 150 workplaces in the Houston area ranging from small companies with less than 150 employees to large companies employing more than 500 people. This is the second year for Superior Energy Services to receive recognition within in the “Top Large Companies” category. The results are based on an employee survey conducted by Workplace Dynamics LLC.
Battleship 'Texas' Closes for Repairs
Historic Battleship Texas closes for a week's repairs after persitent underwater leakage Ship manager Andy Smith told the 'Houston Chronicle' the ship will remain open to visitors this weekend, but is set to close Monday, reports Associated Press. The battleship, which fought in World Wars I and II and now serves as a memorial and museum to those who sacrificed their lives, will likely remain closed through June 22. The battleship developed a leak last weekend that quickly flooded the bilge areas beneath the engine room. Officials said Friday that the battleship was still taking on water, but the amount decreased from about 850 gallons per minute to about 100. Smith says salvage and dive teams will inspect the hull Saturday to come up with a repair plan.
Extra Time for Deep-Water Leases
The Obama administration will give oil and gas companies an extra year to develop their deep-water leases to make up for delays caused by last year's Gulf spill and the subsequent moratorium on some offshore drilling. According to a government official, the extensions will be available for non-producing leases in at least 500 feet of water that expire before Dec. 31, 2015. Source: Houston Chronicle
The Next Oil Boom: Brazil’s Lula Field
According to a report from the Houston Chronicla, Brazil's quest to remake itself into a global oil superpower is gaining momentum on a giant ship anchored about 200 miles south of Rio de Janeiro in the deep waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Crews on a tanker-like vessel recently began extracting the first barrels of oil from a giant field known as Lula, more than three miles below. A vast network of nearby "pre-salt" reservoirs are estimated to hold 50 billion to 100 billion barrels of oil — enough to turn Brazil into one of the world's top five producers of crude. (Source: The Houston Chronicle)
Halliburton Expects Leaner Days in Gulf
According to a July 19 report from the Houston Chronicle, despite a severe pullback in drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, Halliburton reported an 83% jump in profit and said it added 1,700 jobs in the second quarter, thanks to an increase in land-based drilling activity in North America and improved business abroad. But the company, with dual headquarters in Houston and Dubai, said it expects to feel the financial pinch of the government's six-month deep-water drilling moratorium and a slowdown of shallow-water drilling as soon as this quarter. (Source: The Houston Chronicle)
Storm May Thwart BP Well Containment
According to a June 25 report from the Houston Chronicle, a tropical weather system heading for the Gulf of Mexico threatened to halt operations at the BP well leak site and send oil gushing unabated into the ocean. If a storm reaches the Gulf, oil containment operations and the drilling of relief wells to plug the leaking Macondo well will have to be stopped and equipment redeployed to safe areas. The tropical system is forecast to reach the southwestern Gulf of Mexico by early Monday, June 28. (Source: Houston Chronicle)
Offshore Support Businesses Feel Moratorium Pinch
According to a June 19 report from the Houston Chronicle, hundreds of Houston companies that provide specialized equipment and services to the offshore oil and gas industry are worrying about the prospect of the new deep-water drilling ban going forward as planned. Those include not just the giants like Halliburton, Schlumberger and National Oilwell Varco, but also a vast number of small and lesser-known shops. Alexander/Ryan Marine & Safety Co. in east Houston, reported to the Houston Chronicle that it derives 60% of its $35m in annual revenue from the Gulf. It supplies lifeboats, firefighting systems and other safety equipment for offshore drilling rigs and production platforms. (Source: Houston Chronicle)
Federal Regulators New Drilling Rules
According to a June 8 report from The Houston Chronicle, the Obama administration imposed new safety requirements Tuesday for offshore drilling, paving the way for energy companies to resume oil and gas exploration in shallow waters after private inspectors sign off on their operations. The move effectively lifts a ban on shallow-water drilling, though companies could spend weeks or months trying to comply with the mandates for new equipment testing and other safeguards before they can resume operations less than 500 feet below the surface of the sea. Although the new safety rules apply to oil and gas exploration in all federal waters, a ban on drilling in deeper depths will continue for at least six months. (Source: The Houston Chronicle)
Blowout Preventer Technology in Question
According to a May 23 report from the Houston Chronicle, the Deepwater Horizon disaster has raised questions about the adequacy of blowout preventers, invented nearly 90 years ago, which remain the oil and gas industry's last line of defense in controlling runaway wells. The incident has cast doubt on whether the technology of the blowout preventer, or BOP, has kept pace with the industry's rapid expansion into more complicated deepwater fields. (Source: Houston Chronicle)
Gustav Threatens Offshore Production
Forecasts say that Tropical Storm Gustav could regain hurricane strength and affect major offshore oil and natural gas production areas in the Gulf of Mexico also portend a significant threat to onshore energy sites, the Houston Chronicle reported. As they prepare for a possible hit from Gustav, operators of such facilities hope improvements they made in rebuilding after the 2005 storms will improve their odds of weathering the next one. Oil futures rose $1.87 to $118.14 a barrel Wednesday on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Natural gas increased 20.7 cents to $8.485 per million British thermal units. In preparation for the storm, offshore drillers began securing wells, pulling up equipment and bringing workers ashore on Wednesday.
Dove, Larsen Look to Syrian Waters
Dove Energy and its partner Larsen Oil and Gas are repotedly negotiating with the Syrian Petroleum Company and the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources for a license to drill exploration wells in Syrian waters.Last year Syria offered four blocks offshore Syria with a total area of 5,000 square kilometers, according to a Bloomberg report in the Houston Chronicle. Dove, which started work in Syria three years ago in partnership with Norwegian oil company DNO International ASA, will invest between $5 million and $10 million on exploration in the coming 18 months in Syria. (Source: Houston Chronicle)
RSA Invests in Shipbuilding Firm
The Retirement Systems of Alabama has become the largest investor in Signal International, with a $100m purchase of shares in the shipbuilding firm that will move its headquarters from Pascagoula, Miss., to RSA's new skyscraper in Mobile. RSA bought about $100m worth of shares in the $240mcompany, the company said. Signal builds and repairs ships and offshore oil rigs. The firm employs about 3,000 people in Mobile, Pascagoula and in the Texas cities of Houston, Port Arthur and Orange. In the next six to nine months, Signal will move its headquarters from Pascagoula to the 35-story RSA Battle House Tower. The company leased 6,000 square feet of office space. RSA was approached about the purchase by Washington, D.C.-based ACON Investments.
Port Approves Nearly $15M in New Contracts
Houston port commissioners approved about $15m in new contracts for the Bayport container terminal, mostly for dredging to accommodate larger vessels. That $12.8m contract went to Orion Construction. The job includes dredging to the east and west of the wharves and construction of new mooring points. The Port of Houston Authority Commission also approved a $1.25m change order to an existing Orion dredging contract for the Bayport cruise terminal. Orion requested the additional money after encountering tires and debris in the dredge area, which complicated the job, port officials said. The first phase of the cruise terminal, which is under construction, is scheduled to open in the spring of 2008. The first phase of the container terminal opened earlier this year.
Third Bayport Berth to be Redesigned
TOOA third berth planned at the new Bayport container terminal will be redesigned, after larger than expected ships began calling at the facility. Bayport's lead tenant, CMA CGM, is bringing vessels of almost 1,000 feet long. The Port of Houston Authority was not aware the French company would be using the 998-ft. ships at Bayport. Previously, CMA CGM mostly had been using 950-ft. vessels, which could more easily be accommodated. The Port of Houston Authority Commission approved a contract increase of more than $480,000 Tuesday for Dannenbaum Engineering to cover the additional design work for the expansion. The planned Berth 3 wharf will be 332 feet longer to provide berthing space for two ships. Additional dredging and moorings also are needed due to the larger ship sizes.
Sub to Probe Sunken Ship
Greek rescuers will deploy a robot submarine to search for the bodies of two French tourists believed to have drowned when a cruise ship sank off a resort island in the Aegean Sea last week, reported the Houston Chronicle. The ship's captain blamed the accident on sea currents that swept the Sea Diamond onto a charted reef off the island of Santorini, tearing a hole in the ship's hull. According to reports, more than 50 tons of the ship's fuel leaked after the sinking, some of which has washed ashore. An oceanographic vessel is expected to arrive on the island to deploy the unmanned sub in an attempt to locate the missing passengers and the ship's voyage data recorder, the Merchant Marine Ministry said.
Fitch Affirms Carnival's A-Ratings
Fitch Ratings affirmed Carnival Corp.'s issuer default rating, bank credit facility and senior unsecured debt at an investment grade of "A-," due to its strong liquidity position. The rating service also affirmed the Miami-based company's short-term debt at "F2," which indicates a relatively low credit risk. Fitch said possible negative influences include cyclical softness in Caribbean demand, Carnival's shareholder-friendly capital allocation decisions, a potential consumer-driven economic slowdown, and volatile fuel prices. Fitch said that the company's recent joint venture agreements with European tour operator TUI AG and Spanish travel company Iberojet, as well as its proposed sale of the Windstar Cruises brand, are unlikely to affect its ratings.
EU Clears Thales, DCN Shipbuilding Combo
France's two main warship makers, DCN and Thales SA, won EU approval to combine their shipbuilding businesses, boosting the prospect of wider consolidation in Europe's fragmented naval sector. The French government has backed the deal, in which state-owned naval shipyard DCN is buying Thales' shipbuilding activities in France _ excluding its parts-making business. Thales has taken a 25 percent stake in DCN, with the option of raising the stake to 35 percent over the next two years. The European Commission said its investigation showed the deal would not cause antitrust problems because the two already cooperate closely and a number of effective rivals would remain standing.
Gulf of Mexico's Tahiti is an Island of Steel
Soon there will be more than one Tahiti in ocean waters, but this one won't be a romantic Pacific honeymoon destination with white sand beaches and mesmerizing waterfalls. Instead, this Tahiti will be Chevron Corp.'s 100,000-ton island of high-powered steel and iron floating in 4,000 feet of water in the Gulf of Mexico, reports the Houston Chronicle. The company aims to place Tahiti above its oil field of the same name about 190 miles south of New Orleans this summer and, by mid-2008, begin producing 125,000 barrels of oil each day from more than 20,000 feet below the seabed. Tahiti's journey from discovery to production -- like that of platforms run by other companies -- has been a multi-year process.
GlobalSantaFe Open to Merger or Acquisition Prospects
Offshore driller open to mergers GlobalSantaFe Corp., the world's second-largest offshore driller, is open to merger or acquisition prospects, which would be healthy for the drilling industry, according to the company. Transocean, also based in Houston, is the world's largest offshore driller by sales. Source: Houston Chronicle
Hornbeck Announces 4Q Results
Hornbeck Offshore Services Inc., said earnings this year should be between $2.19 per share and $2.68 cents per share. The company said it expects a first-quarter profit of between 42 cents per share and 55 cents per share. Analysts estimate 60 cents per share. Hornbeck Offshore expects operating expense to rise 25 percent, due to increases in labor costs, insurance and shipyard repair and maintenance costs, while current rates for its offshore supply vessels and tugs and tank barges will remain constant. Source: Houston Chronicle