LNG carrier anchored in Homer, Alaska, with engine trouble: USCG

US Coast Guard leogoThe United States Coast  Guard says it is monitoring repairs aboard the liquid natural gas carrier Excel in Homer, Alaska, Friday, May 1.

According to a news release from Coast Guard Sector Anchorage,  USCG issued an order for the vessel to remain anchored in Kachemak Bay near Homer after the 908-foot, Belgium-flagged vessel experienced a loss of propulsion due to a failed engineering gasket while inbound to Cook Inlet Monday.

The Excel was bound for the existing LNG facility, the Kenai LNG Plant, located in Nikiski on the Kenai Peninsula, in Alaska. The state of Alaska is planning to expand the LNG facilities there, and that site is a potential rival for British Columbia’s LNG export plans.

The Coast Guard release says:

The Excel was examined by Coast Guard inspectors from Marine Safety Detachment Homer, Tuesday, who conducted a Port State Control annual exam and verified the engineering gasket was replaced.

While preparing to get underway Wednesday, the vessel experienced an automated engineering casualty and canceled its voyage until a Bureau Veritas (BV) classification surveyor could arrive and verify the engineering casualty was fully resolved. After arriving aboard the vessel, the class surveyor directed the vessel’s crew to test the automated engineering system and deduced that the casualty was a product of a faulty engine order telegraph; a device used on ships for the pilot on the bridge to order engineers in the engine room to power the vessel at a certain desired speed. Coast Guard Sector Anchorage issued another order for the vessel to remain in Kachemak Bay.

Friday, the vessel was allowed to continue sailing to her destination at the ConocoPhilips LNG plant in Nikiski after additional safety measures were implemented. As part of the safety measures, the tug Stellar Wind escorted the vessel from Kachemack Bay to Nikiski and a second tug, the Glacier Wind, stood by in Nikiski to assist with docking operations.

The Excel completed her voyage and safely moored at the ConocoPhilips pier in Nikiski at approximately noon Friday where it remains until permanent repairs are verified by the class surveyor and Coast Guard inspectors.

“Ensuring safe navigation in Western Alaska, particularly in Cook Inlet, is one of my highest priorities,” said Capt. Paul Mehler III. “Our crews worked closely with the Southwest Alaska Pilots Association, the class surveyor and towing vessel industry to coordinate a safe and secure transit of the Excel from Kachemak Bay to Nikiski. The weather was also in our favor with clear skies, light winds, and steady ebb tide during the transit in Cook Inlet.”

Kenai LNG
The Kenai Alaska LNG plant (ConocoPhillips)


The LNG export plant at Nikiski was built in 1969 by Phillips Petroleum and Marathon Oil. Phillips later merged with Conoco and subsequently purchased Marathon’s 30 per cent share. The Nikiski plant sent  LNG shipments to Japan  from 1969 to 2010 under long-term contracts with Tokyo Gas and Tokyo Electric, when the contracts expired.

In 2011 ConocoPhillips announced that it would be ceasing LNG exports from Kenai and preserving the plant for potential future use.

With the LNG rush, market conditions changed and the the plant resumed making LNG in early 2012 and exported four cargoes to Asian customers over the course of that year.

In March 2013, the export licence expired and the LNG plant was put on standby.  As interest in LNG grew, and at the urging of the state of Alaska,  in December 2013 ConocoPhillips Alaska applied to resume LNG exports and the U.S. Department of Energy  approved the resumption in April, 2014.  ConocoPhillips says it  received authorization to export a total of 40 BCF of liquefied natural gas over a two-year period from 2014 through 2016.

The Alaska LNG project is  “a proposed $45 to $65 billion liquefied natural gas export project – it would be the largest single investment in Alaska history. The project has the potential to create between 9,000 and 15,000 jobs during the design and construction phases; plus approximately 1,000 jobs for continued operations. In addition to generating billions of dollars in revenue for Alaska, the project will provide access to natural gas for Alaskans.” The project’s participants are the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation (AGDC) and affiliates of TransCanada, BP, ConocoPhillips, and ExxonMobil.

First of six LNG shipments delivered at Nikiski
Alaska Journal of Commerce, May 2014

Alaska LNG fact sheet. (PDF)

Kenai LNG fact sheet (PDF)

Four energy giants update multi-billion dollar Alaska LNG development plans

Energy company logos

An alliance of four energy companies has updated plans for a multi-billion dollar, ten-year liquefied natural gas megaproject that would take gas from Alaska’s North Slope for shipment to Asia through the oil port at Valdez.

Three of the companies, Exxon Mobile, ConocoPhillips and BP already have operations on the North Slope. TransCanada,which is already planning to build a gas pipeline for the Kitimat Shell project, would be the fourth partner and also work on the pipeline.

Map of Alaska LNG project The four companies filed a letter on October 1 with Alaska Governor Sean Parnell outlining the plans, The governor’s office released the letter today.

The companies told Gov. Parnell that their efforts would result in “a megaproject of unprecedented scale and challenge; up to 1.7 million tons of steel, a peak construction workforce of up to 15,000, a permanent workforce of over 1,000 in Alaska, and an estimated total cost in today’s dollars of $45 to $65+ billion.”



Related:Alaska governor meets with three energy CEOs to push North Slope LNG exports to Asia

The letter goes on to say that TransCanada’s recently completed non-binding solicitation of
interest in the project and that company “has publicly reported interest from potential shippers and major players from a broad range of industry sectors and geographic locations.” (An expression of interest, of course, doesn’t mean that buyers will actually sign contracts, as the Kitimat LNG partners are finding out)

It appears from the letter that the North Slope producers are, in the long term, worried about diminishing oil reserves and are now, like energy companies around the world, looking at cashing in on the natural gas boom.

This opportunity is challenged by its cost, scale, long project lead times, and reliance upon interdependent oil and gas operations with declining production. The facilities currently used for producing oil need to be available over the long-term for producing the associated gas for an LNG project. For these reasons, a healthy, long-term oil business, underpinned by a competitive fiscal framework and LNG project fiscal terms that also address AGIA issues [an Alaska state agency], is required to monetize North Slope natural gas resources. The producers look forward to working with the State to secure fiscal terms necessary to support the unprecedented commitments required for a project of this scope and magnitude and bring the benefits of North Slope gas development to Alaska.

Over the past few months, the partners have, according to the letter:

•Developing a design basis for the pipeline, including areas of continuous and discontinuous permafrost
•Investigating multiple ways to remove and dispose of CO2 and other contaminants
•Assessing use of existing and addition of new Prudhoe Bay field facilities
•Mapping multiple pipeline routing variations
•Assessing multiple pipeline sizes
•Providing for at least five in-state gas off-take points
•Completing preliminary geohazard and marine analysis of 22 LNG site locations
•Developing a design basis for the required LNG tanker fleet
•Evaluating multiple LNG process design alternatives
•Confirming a range of gas blends from the Prudhoe Bay and Point Thomson fields can generate a marketable LNG product

The letter concludes:

Our next steps are to complete the concept selection phase and work with the State to make meaningful progress on the items detailed above. This work is critical as we consider decisions to progress the next phases of an LNG development project.

Alaska’s North Slope natural gas resources must compete in the global energy markets in order to deliver state revenues, in-state energy supplies, new job opportunities and other economic benefits to Alaskans. While North Slope gas commercialization is challenging, working together, we can maintain the momentum toward our shared vision for Alaska. We will continue to keep you advised of our progress and stand committed to work with the State to responsibly develop its considerable resources.

Alaska LNG fact sheet
A fact sheet on the Alaska LNG project sent to the state governor by the project partners.


LNG partners letter to Alaska governor  (PDF)

Alaska governor meets with three energy CEOs to push North Slope LNG exports to Asia

Alaska Governor Governor Sean Parnell met with the chief executive officers from BP, ConocoPhillips and Exxon Mobil on January 5, 2012, to discuss alignment between the three companies on commercializing the North Slope’s vast natural gas reserves.

A news release from the governor’s office says Parnell asked  “the three companies – the major lease holders for natural gas reserves on the North Slope – to work together on developing a liquefied natural gas (LNG) project that focuses on exporting Alaska North Slope gas to Asia’s growing markets.”

The  release says that governor is targeting LNG exports to Asia to serve the growing demand for natural gas. That would make an Alaska LNG export terminal a rival to the three projects at Kitimat and another proposed project in Oregon.

Parnell and the CEOs – Bob Dudley of BP, Jim Mulva of ConocoPhillips and Rex Tillerson of Exxon Mobil – met for two hours. During the meeting, the governor’s release says, the  CEOs briefed the governor on the extensive work they’ve been doing in response to his request. After meeting with the governor, the three CEOs briefed members of the Alaska state legislature.


Governor Sean Parnell met in Anchorage Jan. 5, 2012, with the chief executive officers from BP, ConocoPhillips and Exxon Mobil to discuss alignment between the three companies on commercializing the North Slope’s natural gas reserves.(Alaska governor's office)

“I appreciate the willingness of the chief executives to come to Alaska to discuss the important topic of commercializing North Slope gas,” Parnell said. “For a gas project to advance, all three companies need to be aligned behind it. This meeting is an important step, but much work remains.”

The Associated Press reports that Parnell wants the companies to unite under the framework of the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act, which gave TransCanada Corp. an exclusive state license to build a pipeline and up to $500 million in state incentives.

AP says TransCanada has been working with Exxon Mobil to advance the project but has yet to announce any agreements with potential shippers.

TransCanada has focused most of its attention on a pipeline that would deliver gas to North American markets through Alberta to Canada and the Lower 48 states. TransCanada has also proposed a smaller pipeline that would allow for liquefied natural gas exports through a terminal at the oil export port of Valdez. A rival project, a joint effort of BP and ConocoPhillips that also would have gone through Canada, folded last year.

The Alaska Journal of Commerce reports BP and ConocoPhillips believe a major liquefied natural gas project is the best option for marketing North Slope gas, quoting the chief executive officers of the two companies Robert Dudley of BP and James Mulva of ConocoPhillips.

“Given the outlook with shale gas in the Lower 48, it looks like LNG has the best potential. We’re not saying the pipeline (to Canada) is impossible,” but a pipeline to southern Alaska to an LNG plant appears to have the best prospects, BP CEO Dudley told reporters following the meetings with Parnell and legislators.
ConocoPhillips’ Mulva agreed with Dudley. “We believe LNG is the best alternative for North Slope gas, far better than any alternatives,” Mulva said.



Who Are America’s Top 10 Gas Drillers? ProPublica


Who Are America’s Top 10 Gas Drillers?

by Nicholas Kusnetz ProPublica, Sep. 1, 2011, 4:12 p.m. ET

Natural gas–often touted as an abundant, comparatively clean source of domestic energy–has come under intensifying public scrutiny in recent months, with U.S. federal regulators and reporters challenging some of the industry’s rosy business projections.

The Securities and Exchange Commission is probing whether gas companies have exaggerated their reserves [1] and have adequately disclosed the risks to investors from drilling’s potential environmental damage [2]. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has requested similar information [3] from several companies.

Natural gas production has grown steadily in the United States since 2006, reaching new highs this year. But who are the leaders in this burgeoning field?

More than 14,000 oil-and-gas companies, many of them small businesses, were active in the United States in 2009, according to the Energy Information Administration. But multinational giants like Exxon Mobil and BP now produce much of the nation’s gas. The 10 biggest drillers account for one-third of all production, data from the Natural Gas Supply Association and the EIA show. The 40 largest producers pump more than half of all domestic natural gas.

We’ve compiled a list of the top 10 drillers in the country, ranked by their daily natural gas production, and pulled together some key facts about their operations. Though there are other ways to measure these companies–revenue, market capitalization, reserves–industry experts say production numbers give the best snapshot of today’s landscape and also separate drillers’ gas operations from oil.

The list features both “integrated” oil-and-gas giants, such as Exxon Mobil, which refines and sells gasoline around the world, and “independents,” such as Chesapeake Energy, which are primarily in oil and gas exploration and production. Though industry P.R. initiatives often emphasize independent mom-and-pop drillers [4], most of the companies on our list are Fortune 500 corporations.

Much of the growth in gas production has come from drilling into shale formations, which provided 23 percent of the nation’s gas in 2010, according to the EIA. Our list shows how integrated behemoths have expanded into this area as production has become proven, sometimes by swallowing up independents that led the way. Last year, Exxon (No. 8 in 2009) bought XTO (No. 2 in 2009) [5] to catapult to the top of the list. Also last year, Chevron (No. 9) bought Atlas Energy [6] (No. 50 in 2009 and an early entrant into Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale).

1. Exxon Mobil

The biggest natural gas producer is also the country’s biggest oil company and one of the most profitable corporations in the world. Exxon has operations in every continent but Antarctica. Its oil and gas operations range across several states, from Pennsylvania to Colorado, and it also has wells in the Gulf of Mexico and off the California coast.

With the purchase of XTO, Exxon produces nearly 50 percent more gas than its closest competitor. Earlier this year, Exxon began running ads touting natural gas as a safe [7], clean source of domestic energy. About two-thirds of the company’s domestic reserves are now in natural gas, with the rest in oil.

Average Daily Natural Gas Production: 3.9 billion cubic feet.

Revenue, 2010: $370 billion.

Reserves, 2010: 8.9 billion barrels of oil (2.3 billion in the U.S.), 2.1 billion barrels of bitumen (none in the U.S.), 681 million barrels of synthetic crude (none in the U.S.), 78.8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas (26.1 trillion in the U.S.).

Executive Compensation, 2010: Rex Tillerson, Exxon’s chairman and CEO since 2006, received almost $29 million in total compensation.

2. Chesapeake Energy

Chesapeake calls itself the most active driller in the country, with operations in 15 states, from the Rockies to Texas to Pennsylvania. The company is a good example of how “independent” doesn’t necessarily mean small. As of last year, the company owned an interest in 45,800 wells, of which 38,900 were primarily gas wells.

Chesapeake has built itself as a gas company, but it is increasingly looking for “liquids-rich plays,” according to its annual report. Gas wells generally produce oil and other hydrocarbon liquids as well in varying amounts, depending on the geologic formation. With oil prices high and gas prices low, many companies are seeking more wells that are oil- and liquids-rich, particularly in North Dakota, southern Texas and Pennsylvania.

Average Daily Natural Gas Production: 2.6 billion cubic feet.

Revenue, 2010: $9.4 billion.

Reserves, 2010: 14.3 trillion cubic feet of gas equivalent (10 percent of that is oil or other liquids, converted to the equivalent volume in gas).

Executive Compensation, 2010: Aubrey McClendon, the chairman and CEO, is also the company’s founder. He has the unusual option of purchasing a small stake in every well the company drills [8]. He received $21 million in total compensation.

3. Anadarko

Anadarko is one of the biggest independent oil and gas producers in the country, with exploration or production work in all major domestic drilling areas as well as in South America, Africa, Asia and New Zealand. The company was a minority owner in BP’s Macondo well, which exploded last year, killing 11 people and spilling more than 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico [9].

Worldwide, natural gas makes up just over half of Anadarko’s reserves, but 87 percent of the new wells it drilled in the United States last year were gas wells. Like many other companies, Anadarko is increasingly looking for oil- and liquids-rich production this year.

Average Daily Natural Gas Production: 2.4 billion cubic feet.

Revenue, 2010: $11 billion.

Reserves, 2010: 749 million barrels of oil and condensate (458 million in the U.S.), 320 million barrels of natural gas liquids (307 million in the U.S.), 8.1 trillion cubic feet of gas, all in the United States.

Executive Compensation, 2010: James Hackett, the chairman and CEO, received $24 million in total compensation.

4. Devon Energy

Devon is an independent driller primarily active in the United States and Canada. The company is in the process of divesting operations in Angola and Brazil, its only holdings outside of North America.

More than 90 percent of Devon’s U.S. reserves are in natural gas, with most of that lying in Texas’ Barnett Shale. Like its peers, however, Devon says that this year it will focus on drilling in areas rich with oil and other liquids.

Average Daily Natural Gas Production: 2 billion cubic feet.

Revenue, 2010: $9.9 billion.

Reserves, 2010: 681 million barrels of oil (148 million in the U.S.), 479 million barrels of natural gas liquids (449 million in the U.S.), 10.3 trillion cubic feet of gas (9 trillion in the U.S.).

Executive Compensation, 2010: J. Larry Nichols, the chairman, received almost $19 million in total compensation. John Richels, president and CEO, received almost $18 million.

5. BP

Fortune lists BP as the fourth-largest corporation in the world. The company drills in 29 countries and sells its products in 70. While BP is headquartered in London, 42 percent of the company’s assets are in the United States. BP reported a $3.7 billion loss last year after spending nearly $41 billion on cleaning up the Gulf oil spill and compensating those who were affected.

The company remains primarily an oil producer, with about 40 percent of its reserves in natural gas.

Average Daily Natural Gas Production: 1.9 billion cubic feet.

Revenue, 2010: $297 billion.

Reserves, 2010: 10.7 billion barrels of oil (2.9 billion in the U.S.), 42.7 trillion cubic feet of gas (13.7 trillion in the U.S.).

Executive Compensation, 2010: Chief Executive Robert Dudley received $1.7 million in total compensation.

6. Encana

Encana is one of the largest independent gas companies in the world, with operations mostly in the western United States and Canada, where it is based. The company has focused almost exclusively on gas.

Average Daily Natural Gas Production: 1.8 billion cubic feet.

Revenue, 2010: $8.9 billion.

Reserves, 2010: 93.3 million barrels of liquids (38.5 million in the U.S.), 13.8 trillion cubic feet of gas (7.5 trillion in the U.S.).

Executive Compensation, 2010: Randy Eresman, president and CEO, received $10 million in total compensation.

7. ConocoPhillips

ConocoPhillips is currently an integrated oil corporation, but it recently announced plans to split into two companies, one focused on refining, the other on production [10]. The company has listed acquiring more shale reserves in North America among its top strategic goals over the past couple of years and drills in several western states, as well as in Louisiana and Arkansas. It is exploring for shale gas in Poland and has operations in six continents.

Average Daily Natural Gas Production: 1.6 billion cubic feet.

Revenue, 2010: $198.7 billion

Reserves, 2010: 3.4 billion barrels of oil and natural gas liquids (1.9 billion in the U.S.), 1.2 billion barrels of bitumen (none in the U.S.), 21.7 trillion cubic feet of gas (10.5 trillion in the U.S.).

Executive Compensation, 2010: James Mulva, chairman and CEO, received almost $18 million in total compensation. John Carrig, who retired as president in March, received more than $14 million.

8. Southwestern Energy Co.

Southwestern is another independent driller that focuses exclusively on natural gas. The company has operations in Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania, with most of its production coming from the Fayetteville Shale formation underlying parts of Arkansas.

Average Daily Natural Gas Production: 1.3 billion cubic feet.

Revenue, 2010: $2.6 billion.

Reserves, 2010: 1 million barrels of oil, 4.9 trillion cubic feet of gas.

Executive Compensation, 2010: Steven Mueller, president and CEO, received $5.7 million in total compensation.

9. Chevron

Chevron is the second-largest oil company in the country, and the third-biggest company overall in terms of revenue. It has been building its gas reserves recently, most notably with the purchase of Atlas Energy, an active shale gas driller. Still, more than 60 percent of the company’s worldwide reserves are in oil.

The majority of Chevron’s oil and gas production comes overseas. Domestically, Chevron operates in seven states, including Pennsylvania, Texas and California, and in the Gulf of Mexico.

Average Daily Natural Gas Production: 1.3 billion cubic feet.

Revenue, 2010: $198.2 billion.

Reserves, 2010: 6.5 billion barrels of oil and other liquids (1.3 billion in the U.S.), 24.3 trillion cubic feet of gas (2.5 trillion in the U.S.).

Executive Compensation, 2010: John Watson, chairman and CEO, received $16 million in total compensation.

10. Williams Energy

Williams is an independent producer focused largely on natural gas. It owns 13,900 miles of pipelines, which it says deliver 12 percent of the natural gas consumed in the United States. The company recently announced plans to separate its exploration and production activities from its other operations.

Williams has holdings in many of the major shale basins across the country, from Pennsylvania to North Dakota to Texas. The company also owns interests in several international companies.

Average Daily Natural Gas Production: 1.2 billion cubic feet.

Revenue, 2010: $9.6 billion.

Reserves, 2010: 4.3 trillion cubic feet equivalent (3 percent of that is oil or other liquids, converted to the equivalent volume in gas).

Executive Compensation, 2010: Alan Armstrong, president and CEO, received $2 million in total compensation.

Sources: The production numbers are from the Natural Gas Supply Association and reflect the average for the first half of 2011. Revenue figures are from the companies’ 2010 annual reports and reflect total revenue from all sources, not just gas production. Revenue may include sales and other income and may not be adjusted for taxes. Reserves numbers are from the companies’ annual reports. Bitumen and synthetic crude represent oil from Canadian tar sands or other unconventional reserves. The compensation information is from Forbes and Bloomberg Business Week.

Editor’s Note: Encana, company number six in Pro Publica’s list, is a partner in the Kitimat LNG  (KM LNG) project.

Micro organisms played key roles in Exxon Valdez, BP cleanup: study

Environment Link

A study by the U.S. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory is reporting that microbes, mostly  bacteria, but also archaea (single cell organisms without a cell nucleus) and fungi, played key roles in mitigating both the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska and the  BP Deep Ocean Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

In a news release, Terry Hazen, microbial
ecologist with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) says, “Responders to future oil spills would do well to mobilize as rapidly as
possible to determine both natural and enhanced microbial degradation
and what the best possible approach will be to minimize the risk and
impact of the spill on the environment.”

Hazen, who leads the Ecology Department and Center for Environmental
Biotechnology at Berkeley Lab’s Earth Sciences Division and  has studied
microbial activity at both spill sites, published the paper with colleagues in Environmental Science & Technology. The paper is titled “Oil biodegradation and bioremediation: A tale of the two worst spills in U. S. history.”

The authors say that hydrocarbons have been leaking into the marine environment for millions of years and so “a large and diverse number of microorganisms, including bacteria, archaea and fungi, have evolved the ability to utilize these petroleum hydrocarbons as sources of food and energy for growth.”

Such microorganisms are only a small part of a pre-spill microbial community in any given ecosystem. Hazen says in both the Exxon Valdez and the BP Deepwater Horizon spills, the surge in the presence of crude oil sparked a sudden and dramatic surge in the presence of oil-degrading microorganisms that began to feed on the spilled oil.

“In the case of the Exxon Valdez spill, nitrogen fertilizers were applied to speed up the rates of oil biodegradation,” Hazen says. “In the case of the BP Deepwater Horizon spill, dispersants, such as Corexit 9500, were used to increase the available surface area and, thus, potentially increase the rates of biodegradation,” he says.

According to the study, within a few weeks of the spill, about 25 to 30 per cent of the total
hydrocarbon in the oil originally stranded on Prince William Sound
shorelines had been degraded and by 1992, the length of shoreline still
containing any significant amount of oil was 6.4 miles, or about
1.3 per cent of the shoreline originally oiled in 1989.

Microorganisms also played a similar role in the Gulf of Mexico Deep Ocean Horizon disaster, despite major differences in the temperature, environment, ocean depth and length and type of spill, the study says.  Hazen and his research group were able to determine that indigenous
microbes, including a previously unknown species, degraded the oil plume
to virtually undetectable levels within a few weeks after the damaged
wellhead was sealed.

The study concludes that decisions as to whether to rely upon microbial oil biodegradation or whether to apply fertilizers, dispersants, detergents and/or/other chemicals used in environmental cleanup efforts, should be driven by risk and not just the presence of detectable hydrocarbons.

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“Call the Americans.” Canadian Coast Guard cutbacks now an issue in the US Senate

The Coast

The controversy over the Harper government’s cutbacks to Canadian Coast Guard resources on both west and east coasts  has now become an issue in the United States Senate.

While most of the media attention last week was on Newfoundland, where there are fears not only of moving the search coordination centre from the island to Trenton, and the possible privatization of the entire search and rescue service, the cutbacks on the northern coast of British Columbia have yet to become a national story, even though the conservative government is increasing its promotion of tanker traffic from Pacific ports.

Now the issue has come to attention of  Senator Maria Cantwell, a Washington Democrat, who is raising alarm bells in the Senate about the dangers of tanker traffic, the possibility of a spill and  the probable inadequacy of the Canadian response to any major shipping accident along the coast.


Cantwell’s main concern is upgrading the ability of the United States Coast Guard to respond to such an accident, “This is a major threat to our region,” Cantwell said at hearing on July 20 of the Senate  Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard Subcommittee. “It seems that Canada’s oil spill response plan in the Pacific Northwest is to call the Americans.  …Obviously any such spill in the narrow and heavily populated waters of the Puget Sound or Strait of Juan de Fuca would cause tens of billions of dollars in damage and impact millions of my constituents. … I think it deserves a very robust oil spill response plan.”

Cantwell  says she secured a commitment  from  Rear Admiral Paul F. Zukunft, Assistant Commandant for Marine Safety, Security and Stewardship for the United States Coast Guard, to have the U.S. Coast Guard perform an extensive analysis of cross-border readiness and ability to respond to potential spills given the potentially dramatic increase in oil tanker traffic along the U.S.-Canada maritime border off Washington state.

After the BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Cantwell pushed a bill through the U.S. Congress  that, strengthens oil spill protections for Puget Sound and other U.S. coastal waters. The bill, which was signed into law by President Barack Obama on October 15, 2010, includes  provisions that significantly enhance oil spill response and prevention to protect valuable coastal communities and their economies.

Cantwell’s news release  says

The legislation expands the oil spill response safety net from Puget Sound out to the entrance of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, ensuring that Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca have spill response teams and equipment in place. The bill further reduces ship and tanker traffic in the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary; enhances spill prevention efforts on vessels transporting oil; and establishes a stronger role for tribes.

Cantwell also fought to include a provision that requires tug escorts for double-hulled tankers in Prince William Sound. Approximately 600 oil tankers and 3,000 oil barges travel through Puget Sound’s fragile ecosystem annually, carrying about 15 billion gallons of oil to Washington’s five refineries. The Strait of Juan de Fuca also has significant outbound tanker traffic originating in Vancouver and carrying Canadian oil. Prior to the 2010 Coast Guard Reauthorization Bill, American industry only had to position oil spill response equipment in Puget Sound, leaving the busy shipping lane in the Strait of Juan de Fuca unprotected.

Cantwell’s provision extended the “high volume port area” designation west to Cape Flattery. As a result, oil spill response equipment, such as booms and barriers, are now prepositioned along the Strait, supplementing the response equipment already in place in Puget Sound.

An oil spill in waters in Washington state interior waterways could be devastating. According to the Washington State Department of Ecology, a major spill would have a significant impact on Washington state’s coastal economy, which employs 165,000 people and generates $10.8 billion. A spill would also severely hurt our export dependent economy because international shipping would likely be severely restricted. Washington state’s waters support a huge variety of animals and plants, including a number of endangered species, all which would be harmed by a spill.

Cantwell says she was successful in protecting a tanker ban in Puget Sound.  Former  Alaskan Repuiblican Senator Ted Stevens attempted to overturn the then 28-year-old protections authored by former Senator Warren Magnuson limiting oil tanker traffic in the Puget Sound. In 1977, Senator Warren Magnuson had the foresight to recognize the great risk that oil supertankers would have on the waters of Puget Sound. He put his findings into law and essentially banned supertankers in the Puget Sound by prohibiting the expansion of oil terminals in Puget Sound.

Enbridge, environmentalists agree

The inadequate Canadian Coast Guard resources in the Pacific region bring rare agreement between Enbridge which wants to build the controversial Northern Gateway pipeline and the project’s environmental opponents.

While Enbridge maintains that safety systems it plans would make a tanker accident a rare event, when officials were questioned at last September’s public meeting in Kitimat, they said Enbridge was worried about Coast Guard resources on the west coast.   They said that Enbridge’s emergency planning scenarios call for it to take 72 hours for the Canadian Coast Guard to respond with its meagre equipment from Victoria and Vancouver to a tanker accident in Douglas Channel.  The Enbridge team admitted under questioning from the audience that the company would urge to Canadian government to call on US Coast Guard resources from Alaska and as far away as California in the event of a major spill, confirming Sen. Cantwell’s statement to the subcommittee that Canada would “Call the Americans.”

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No real need for pipeline between oilsands and West Coast: bureaucrat: Vancouver Sun

Vancouver Sun

A multi-billion dollar pipeline project that would link the oilsands region to the coast of British Columbia offers new export capacity that the Canadian industry does not really need, senior bureaucrats have told the federal government… 

 The details of the federal assessment were released in over 300 pages of internal documents from Natural Resources Canada, obtained by Postmedia News, which also noted rising public opposition to Enbridge’s proposed project over concerns about oil spills that could plague pristine natural habitat on land and water — especially in light of recent accidents such as BP’s Gulf Coast well blow-out and an Enbridge crude oil pipeline rupture and leak into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan.

Editor’s note The Sun says Environmental Defence of Toronto filed the original Access To Information request.

Time for Alaska, Big Oil to lay gas line cards on the table : Anchorage Daily News

Anchorage Daily News

Column by Paul Jenkins

Time for Alaska, Big Oil to lay gas line cards on the table

It is time for TransCanada, Exxon and the state to lay their cards on the table; time to tell Alaskans whether their natural gas pipeline project is deader than Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

To almost nobody’s surprise, BP and Conoco Phillips yanked the plug on their Denali gas line project, an effort to build a $35 billion, large-diameter natural gas pipeline from Alaska’s North Slope to points south. Who could blame them? The companies said that after more than three years and $165 million they could not drum up enough binding “ship-or-pay” agreements to secure financing.

BP, ConocoPhillips Halt Proposed $35 Billion Alaska Gas-Pipeline Project: Bloomberg


BP, ConocoPhillips Halt Proposed $35 Billion Alaska Gas-Pipeline Project

BP Plc  and ConocoPhillips dropped plans for a $35 billion Alaska natural-gas pipeline, once proposed to be the largest private construction project in U.S. history, because they didn’t get enough customer interest.

The companies will withdraw an application seeking federal approval to build a pipeline to bring gas from Alaska’s North Slope to U.S. and Canadian markets, according to a statement today…

Halting Denali leaves one competing pipeline proposal, backed by TransCanada Corp. (TRP) and Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM), to bring 4.5 billion cubic feet of gas a day from Alaska’s North Slope… 

The two pipeline projects are not the only ways to sell North Slope gas, said Steve Rinehart, a spokesman for BP Alaska. Other options include liquefying the gas for transport to other markets by tanker, he said.

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