Page 29: of Marine News Magazine (January 2011)

Vessel Construction & Repair

Read this page in Pdf, Flash or Html5 edition of January 2011 Marine News Magazine MN 29 drilling and production. “In normal times, this port caters to 90% of the deepwater rigs in the Gulf and also services shallow-water rigs,”

Chiasson said. “About 99% of our activity is oil and gas, and fishing accounts for the rest.” The port is a host for the Louisiana Offshore Oil

Port or LOOP — an entry point for domestic offshore and foreign oil for distribution to U.S. refiners.

Offshore Clients Grapple with

Safety Rules

Vessel builders say they're affected as oil companies contend with new safety rules. This fall, BOEM issued offshore regulations, including a safety rule governing all stages of drilling new wells. Rules regarding blowout preventers were tightened.

Operators are now required to have deepwater-well construction and flow processes independently reviewed. And new workplace rules require that operators have a so- called Safety and Environmental

Management System in place to reduce errors that cause accidents.

Many safety practices that were vol- untary before BP's spill are now mandated.

Since meeting new rules can be costly, some smaller drilling compa- nies will struggle to pay for compli- ance. And still more rules will be unveiled in 2011 as federal panels investigating the BP accident make recommendations.

The biggest oil companies can delve into their pockets to cover new safety costs, however, and they plan to keep tapping into huge oil reserves in waters of more than 1,000 feet deep. In July, four companies active in the deep Gulf — Exxon Mobil,

Chevron, Shell and Conoco-Phillips — decided to spend $1 billion to build a containment system in case of future spills. That system won’t be in place for awhile, however.

Chevron Plans to Invest Heavily in the Gulf

Chevron Corp. and foreign part- ners announced plans in December to invest $4 billion to develop the

Big Foot field, discovered earlier and located 225 miles south of New

Orleans in depths of 5,200 feet. The facility is slated to be on stream in 2014. And in October, Chevron said it would spend $7.5 billion to devel- op the Jack and St. Malo fields, located near each other about 280 miles southwest of New Orleans, at 7,000 feet deep.

Strong Oil Prices a Bright Spot

Gulf vessel builders weathered a downturn in the economy in recent years. “Oil prices did not weaken the way they normally do during a glob- al recession,” so that was a plus for drilling clients who operate interna- tionally, Bollinger said. Crude oil prices dropped in late 2008 but rebounded and were hovering below $90 a barrel in late 2010. The U.S. recession officially ended in mid- 2009 though it may not feel like it.

The global recession wound down in late 2009, indicators show.

Bollinger said “we did not see any meaningful increase in the availabili- ty of quality workers in this region during the recession. We normally expect to see more, quality workers available” during an economic slide.

Even with the oil spill and limited offshore drilling, the jobless rate in late 2010 in both Louisiana and

Texas was 8.2% and below the national average.


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