is taking a short rest from the column because he is currently overwhelmed
by the day job, so those who have opened the page hoping to be able to view
his excellent summary of what has been happening this month will be
disappointed. This is more a view of what I can see from my window.
curious to report that amongst all this gloom and doom there was only one
vessel available yesterday in Aberdeen, and when I returned from the shops
this afternoon there was nothing visible in the dock except for a single
this mean anything? Good question. It is curious that at a time of minimal
rig and ship utilisation and a consequent low level of day rates, the oil
price remains high. Those of us working in this business always used to be
happy when petrol prices went through the roof because it meant that we were
going to stay in work, but now the norms seem to have been discarded.
Perhaps the answer to this conundrum lies with the possible oil production
of Iraq - this is not my idea, but seems to be one which is gathering
momentum amongst financial commentators in America. And if we go back to the
spring of this year, it seemed that there would be a short sharp
conflict followed by a lengthy and productive peace. The oil companies must
have imagined that the tap would be turned on in the Iraqi oilfields
resulting in an unlimited supply under the direct control of the US majors.
Why bother with exploration in more legislatively difficult and
environmentally adverse areas of the world.
course things have not turned out quite as expected, and it appears that it
will be years before Iraqi oilfields and pipelines cease to be vulnerable to
attack by factions opposed to the Americans, or if it comes to that any
government of that country which has a close relationship with them. At the
same time things seem to be just a little less stable in Saudi Arabia, and
it is not getting any easier to work in several other parts of the world.
And - just when it seemed that things were getting better in the former
Soviet Union the government has taken on the largest Russian oil company
resulting in at the very least a loss of confidence.
- taking all this into account perhaps it is not such a bad idea after all
to look for oil in countries where there is social stability.
So lets be a bit more optimistic
On the inner pages of some of the papers last month it was reported that
Mohamed al Fayed was considering the possibility of purchasing an oil rig
and opening it to the public.
His idea is that this would increase the likelihood that the British public
would visit his estate in the highlands.
who work in the offshore oil industry may be a bit bemused by the idea that
anyone would want to visit an oil rig except for money, but who knows. There
are now coal mines open to the public, steel works have been turned into
activity centres and railway stations have been turned into shopping
rig owners may be polishing their paintwork and preparing to unweld the
doors of a number of units currently lying unloved in the upper reaches of
the Cromarty Firth. Such a plan would at least remove a rig from the market
without it having to be taken away and cut up into pieces. How much could he
charge. Would people be willing to pay extra to visit the crown, or to
participate in the excitement of a basket transfer. The possibilities seem
to be endless.
Loss of a Support Ship
A few days ago the Stevns Power turned over and sank with all hands off the
coast of Nigeria. It is probably thirty years since such a misfortune
occurred in the offshore industry.
Stevns Power was originally one of the Maersk B Class built around 1975 and
much envied by most supply vessel crews for their compact design, engine
power and winch capabilities. For those not familiar with the design they
were built as anchor-handlers and so had a short deck and carried little
cargo underdeck, or on deck.
and other like them soon lost popularity because of their limited
capacity and became tugs and barge support vessels. The Stevns Power had
been supporting a barge called to Castoro Otto, originally, we think the
ETPM 1601, and at the time of the disaster was laying its anchors.
turned over in sight of a number of other vessels, and it seems almost
impossible to believe that no-one survived.
Everyone working out there will, I have no doubt, suffer some distress when
they learn of this event. Its sad that such things still happen, on a fine
day, doing a job that the ship had done many times before.
would like to know how the event occurred and how similar misfortunes can be
avoided in the future., and it would be good to know who is going to carry
out the investigation. It was registered in Denmark so one assumes that the
Danish Maritime Authorities will be interested, but will the Nigerian
Government claim jurisdiction, and in any case will the results of any
investigation eventually be published anywhere?
I had been away for a few days last week and was only alerted to the
StevnsPower misfortune by Oddgeir Refvik who has contributed many
photographs to the site, and who was distressed that newspapers in both
Norway and Denmark had used his picture of the Stevns Power without
permission. When we get a line to the photo editors of these papers we will
be having a word with them. People take all sorts of steps to prevent
unlicensed use of their pictures - none of which we have employed so far,
because making them impossible to reproduce also reduced the pleasure of
looking at them. How-ever, in an effort to discourage unauthorised use of
people's photos we have put more warning messages on the site.
I try to keep sight of the fact that we originally set up this website with
the intention of promoting our tank cleaning systems. And I am pleased to
say that we have made some sales, and been offered opportunities to quote
due to the site. Even so it probably takes up a disproportionate amount of
our time, and sometimes I think we might do a little less. It has therefore
been very heartening to receive emails and phone calls complaining about the
non operation of the webcam. It makes us realise that we are approeciated.
seems to have become stuck on 14th October,
and even though I start it up every morning and try to upload something,
nothing happens. We are trying to fix it, and considering upgrading to
something better, but that would use a phone line at least part of the time.
It might have to wait until I have got over the pain of paying BT large
amounts of money to increase our phone lines capacity.
interim measure I am trying to put a new picture of the day up every
morning. Our former General Manager, George Craigen, who used to manage this
part of the site has returned to seafaring and those who have been looking
will see that we are now doing something different. George only took pics of
new ships or vessel which had not been to Aberdeen before, or items of
special interest, and a picture he took of the Waverley is included in a
book about its refurbishment and return to work. George also saved all the
pictures and files them so you could, and still can, see every picture he
approach is slightly different. We now take any ship lucky enough to pass
the window in the morning and the pic only remains accessible until the next
one replaces it. If you want to see what is happening you have to look every
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