Monthly Archives: March 2014

It’s all in the numbers.

Then and now.

No tears shed, as usual, for jack.

Merchant Navy

Helix’ Floating Production Unit Loses Power in Gulf of Mexico Resulting in Emergency Disconnect


Or, DP Three isn’t what it’s  supposed to beee!!

Helix ESG Producer I FPU

The Helix Producer 1 (HP-1), a former Baltic Sea train ferry, now floating production unit in the Gulf of Mexico, was forced to hit the emergency disconnect button and shut-in production while on location at the Phoenix Field in Green Canyon Block 237 yesterday.

Talos Energy, the operator of the field notes in a statement that the vessel, owned by Helix Energy Solutions Group, “experienced a power outage at 1:45 p.m. CST on Friday while testing the ship power management system.”

Prior to the emergency disconnect, the vessel was producing at a rate of 13,500 barrels of oil per day while dynamically positioned in 2000 feet of water. Less than a gallon of hydrocarbons were released into the environment, the company notes.

Talos adds that although electrical power has since been restored, production has not yet resumed while an investigation into the incident is launched by the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, Helix ESG and Talos Energy.

The following is an image of the disconnectable turret on the HP-1.

helix producer 1 turret

Dis-connectable Transfer System on board the HP-1


Interesting stuff from gCaptain this morning.


For the past nine years or so, the U.S. Army has been using giant bladders to store the fuel needed to run their vehicles in Afghanistan.  Exposed to the elements day and night they are still in good condition according to rubber and plastics specialist ContiTech.

The concept of storing fuel in giant bladders has recently caught the attention of the offshore oil and gas industry, particularly Kongsberg, Statoil, Lundin, Det Norske and the Norwegian Research Council.

When offshore oil and gas fields are created, the produced oil has to be delivered to shore either via pipeline or to some sort of floating storage facility like an FPSO.

Considering the surface of the sea can be quite hostile from a corrosion and fatigue standpoint and people are needed to man these facilities, as well as the ever-present risk of collision at sea, engineers are pondering the question, “why does this storage facility need to float?”

In a presentation today in Houston, Kongsberg notes they have been doing some looking into this and are working on a new concept involving a “Flexible Subsea Storage Unit” where processed crude oil from a subsea oilwell is routed to a giant, 125,000 barrel bladder on the seafloor, protected inside a 30 meter tall dome.

Subsea Storage Unit

Subsea Storage Unit (SSU) via Kongsberg

Kongsberg notes this new system would be largely maintenance-free and be completely unaffected by the weather or surface ice conditions found in the arctic.  In addition, the dome that protects and houses the collapsable bladder would include an integrated leak detection system and because it would be open to the pressure of the surrounding seawater, there would be no issues with regard to hydrostatic pressures at depth.

Additionally, because there would be no oil/water interaction, there would be no emulsification layer formed.

Once filled, a buoy would then be used to transfer the crude from the unit to a tanker as shown in the following image:

Subsea Storage Unit

Rendering courtesy Kongsberg

In a conversation with DNV GL Executive Vice President Arthur Stoddart he notes that this concept, although interesting, will likely not be for everyone.

He brings up the point that in some areas, the conditions of the seafloor may not be conducive for such a storage facility and he also notes that such a system would absolutely have to work at all times with little to no maintenance.

Perhaps its possible that one day such a type of storage facility will replace FPSOs as a means to store hydrocarbons from a producing well before being transferred to a ship.  For now however, the engineers at Kongsberg as well as their industry colleagues are working to perfect the concept.


The following article from gCaptain earlier today.

The German owner of the MV Danio has been ordered to pay $120,000 over the ship’s grounding last year off the U.K.’s Northumberland coast, a relatively small amount compared to what could have been a potentially disastrous situation.

In March 2013, the 262-foot MV Danio spent nearly two weeks hard aground on the environmentally sensitive Farne Islands after running aground March 16, 2013. Severe weather hampered initial attempts to pull the vessel of the rocks, but the ship was eventually re-floated 12 days later with no damage to the environment.


An investigation later revealed that prior to the grounding some of the six-man crew had fallen asleep while on watch. With the bridge alarm turned off, the ship sailed for about 90 minutes before eventually running hard aground on the rocks.

In January, the owner of the ship, Germany’s Cux Ship Management, pleaded guilty to failing to maintain a proper look-out on board the vessel and having an alarm safety system which was not switched on, according to a report from BBC. The firm has now been ordered to pay £72,000 for safety breaches and cost of cleanup, for a total of almost US $120,000, the BBC report said.

“It is clear to me the shocking failure to comply with regulations led the vessel to sail on automatically,” said Judge Brian Forster, according to BBC. ”The potential for disaster was obvious as it sailed on silently at night, with no lookout, with the threat to other vessels at sea.”

Allatsea comments

What the author seems to have failed to address is the fact that when a chap has drunk half a case of Nelson Mandela during the watch it’s very easy indeed to nod off, especially if it’s been a long tiring day in the first place. Here at  we see this tabloid twaddledosh as yet another example of ‘gutter’ press, cheap and cheerful, ‘expose’ journalism. Shame on the BBC :o), shame on gCaptain for re-printing it and yes, shame on for re-re-printing it.

(that’s enough vitriol for one post…Ed)

maersk viking drillship


According to data obtained by gCaptain, a dozen newly-built offshore drilling rigs will commence operations in the Gulf of Mexico (GoM) this year while five newbuilds have signed contracts outside of the GoM.

For the drilling contractors who own the 31 un-contracted rigs scheduled for delivery between now and the end of 2015, the pressure is certainly on.

For some drilling contractors who have played their cards right, this could be just a bump in the road to get past, however the future does not appear to get much brighter in the coming years, particularly in the GoM.

By mid-2014, the number of contracted rigs in the GoM will drop to 42 assuming no contracts are renewed for existing rigs between now and then.  By 2016, the number drops precipitously to 36 and then 33 by mid-2016.

A situation is developing where a flood of newbuild rigs coming on the market in 2014 and 2015 will be competing for contracts with about 10 rigs scheduled to come off contract in the Gulf of Mexico over that same period.  With more rigs competing for finite contracts, day rates will most certainly fall.

Worldwide, it’s a similar story as upwards of about 50 rigs will be finishing up their contracts between now and the end of 2014.   Wells Fargo Securities estimates that about half of those rigs will gain contracts.

Besides facing the spectre of falling day rates, experienced personnel will also be needed to crew these rigs and provide the required shoreside support, labor which will be in extremely high demand (and thus expensive) over that period.

ExxonMobil and other major oil companies predict significant increases in world energy needs in the future, particularly from deep water, however for drilling contractors, time will tell if the increase in energy needs will support the additional rig capacity that will be flooding into the market soon.

The following are the rigs, in alphabetical order, which will be delivered in 2014, and the companies they will be contracted to:

  • Atwood Advantage (Noble Energy)
  • Deepwater Invictus (BHP)
  • Maersk Valiant (ConocoPhillips/Marathon)
  • Maersk Viking (ExxonMobil)
  • Noble Sam Croft (Freeport-McMoRan)
  • Noble Tom Madden (Freeport-McMoRan)
  • Ocean Blackhawk (Anadarko)
  • Ocean Blackhornet (Anadarko)
  • Pacific Sharav (Chevron)
  • Rowan Reliance (Cobalt)
  • Rowan Resolute (Anadarko)
  • West Neptune (LLOG)

The following are the rigs scheduled for delivery in 2014, but have not yet gained contracts (in order of delivery dates)

  • West Saturn
  • Pacific Meltem
  • Maersk Deepwater Advanced 4
  • Maersk Venturer
  • Ocean BlackRhino
  • ENSCO DS-8
  • West Jupiter
  • Dalian Developer
  • COSL Prospector
  • Sevan Developer
  • West Carina
  • Brava Star
  • Ocean BlackLion
  • Opus Tiger 1

Following on from the Budget relaxation of pension lump sum rules,


this cartoon from the Telegraph put an alternative slant on it.

In the allatsea case, the name ‘Poundland’ can replace ‘Lamborghini’.

The four day trip to Rotterdam to look at two vessels turned into a 3 day trip to look at one, but it was a big one, so to speak. Hassle free throughout, all grateful for that. Five and a half months sitting on an ever growing behind does little to hone match fitness.

In the not so distant past, any trip out of or into a London airport meant using a chauffeur service (eg a taxi with the driver wearing a suit), all very civilised but expensive and not always fret free. With HS1, Stratford and London City airport in the mix, it can be very slick and simple to use public transport.

The F50 touched down at LCY just after 1600 0n Wednesday and he walked through the door of the Towers at Margate two hours later. Impressed or what? He was.

The surveys consist of hours of questions and walk-arounds and scrutiny. The more complex the kit (eg ROVs, helidecks, DP3 systems, J Lays etc) the longer the days, the greater the number of questions. Simple stuff, just lots of it. But whatever, it’s always been a great mystery as to why it takes longer to write it all up than it ever does to actually, ‘do it’. Puzzling. It must be him. Dyslexic perhaps?

He works ‘part time’ now and is paid pro-rata the salary rate. It’s not the wonga that some desire but it suits. He was unsure at first but the reality of it is starting to sink in. It’s OK, it’ll do and maybe, it’s the most prudent path to take.

Monday, HS1, LCY, Antwerp. Freighter survey. Should be doable in a day. Overnight in a local hotel, back to Blighty at sparrow’s fart the following morning. Bash out the preliminary findings, change bag, back on the train to town, south-west Smoke this time. Hotel, two days of HIRA, bundle tows. Home Friday night. Back in the groove.

It’s like he was never away at all.

Not a lot of people know that.

If an item, whatever it may be, is to be transported by sea and it’s too big to fit into a standard shipping container (a teu), then it’s regarded as ‘out of gauge’.

By whom is it so regarded? Well, seemingly, in the world of offshore construction, just about everybody!

The owners, the shippers, the insurers and the end users. The insurers especially, get to call the shots in these matters and insist that any ‘out of gauge’ shipments are subject to ‘MWS’. The warranty surveyor gets involved with each shipment. Lifting plans, transport plans, rigging stresses, load stresses, sea fastening, vessel suitability surveys, attendance and C of A issue for loadout, sailaway and discharge, they’re all required. It’s a big old to-do and it’s a relatively new requirement. The shippers and cargo handlers aren’t used to producing the vast amounts of paperwork and calculations required for approval, they very often produce low grade or un-acceptable procedures and it can all get a bit fraught.

Imagine a large ship at the quay, it’s ‘downtime’ or waiting time is a large amount of wonga per hour. A missing piece of documentation can prevent an approval, delays result and tempers shorten. It’s not nice, really not nice to be caught in the middle but it happens frequently. So be it. That’s what the money’s paid for, dotting the ‘I’s and crossing the ‘T’s.

That’s one of the main reasons allatsea took 6 months off (without pay, sniff; public sector it may have been different, not in the real world though…sigh), he just got fed up with being caught in the middle. When a chap has spent his entire life doing any and everything to be ‘liked’, to spend the best part of a year upsetting folk in the line of duty was all too much for such a delicate and sensitive chap. It did great damage.

General advice then, if you want to be loathed then the obvious career choices of policeman, tax inspector, politician etc aren’t the only choices you can make, MWS is in there too….right up at the front.

On a positive note, bottles of gin were available in Aldi’s today for £13, Villa beat Chelsea, the Scots got botty raped by Wales and seallat found a £20 note in the change draw. Life is good.

The first of the year, of the winter in fact. Thick fog,  on and offshore Margate, horrid. Visibility around 100 metres at best. Very glad to be tucked up in the the towers and not out there navigating the grey chilly waters. Come to think of it, glad not be on the roads either. M25? Seventy miles an hour, in crap vis, no choice to go slower, two  metres off the tattooed lunatic in his 42 tonne truck on one side and suicidal BMW pratt one metre on the other side. No thankyou.

After a 6 month sabbatical it’s back to work at the weekend, Rotterdam, suitability surveys. Tedious to say the least but needs must. The allatsea backside is getting firmly wedged into a chair and it’s time to prise it out and boot him out of the door into workforalivingland. As part of the morphing back into a human being process, the trusty bicycle has been dusted down, tyres pumped, drive chain cleaned and oiled and ridden for six  long puffing, aching  miles between Westgate-Margate-Westgate-Westbrook. At the risk of sounding like a gushing school boy after his first visit to a footy match (or similar), it was bloody great. Thoroughly enjoyed it. More to come. A re-born, waif-like seaatall is on the way.

Where to, he’s no idea.