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NEWS AND VIEWS DECEMBER 2004 

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New Year Greetings from the Editor

At the time of writing (January 8th 2005) it is most important to wish all our visitors a happy and prosperous 2005, and having done that I will ramble on a bit about a few other things.

Firstly I wait with baited breath for further contributions to the News and Views section and to the Features section. I know it is a bit more trouble to write  thousand words than to take a picture, but sometimes the results can be more stimulating. I have been receiving mixed messages from our readership, some of whom have enjoyed the change and some of whom would like to see the photo competition back, however virtually everyone likes Picture of the Day from around the world. The photo competition will be back in October this year.

Reading the financial pages of one of the broadsheets the other day I was interested to find that BLOGS are the new means of communication, and sometimes a source of revenue, and it occurred to be that the MMASS Offshore Review is probably a BLOG. It has not up to now been a source of revenue, but the potential is there, and one can see that if there was a financial return in it then we could employ a journalist to increase the content and quality, and everyone would be really pleased. The essence of the article was that everyone who was a frequent visitor to a particular specialist site has a specific interest and therefore any advertising is guaranteed to get to the target audience. It is certain that everyone who visits this site does so because they are interested in supply ships for one reason or another, and the advantage of the internet is that they can do so from anywhere in the world. Hence we are sending our free gifts to locations as diverse and Inverness and America, Canada and Korea, Newquay and New Zealand. If you would like to receive one, email us while stocks last.

As I said on the Picture of the Day page, we feel that the best thing we can do in the aftermath of the Indian Ocean disaster, is carry on as usual, in the interests of sanity. However we are contributing £500 to the Unicef fund, and it occurs to me that there may be a need for a "Mariners sans Frontiers" organisation. When-ever there is a disaster in the world emergency teams of one sort or another rush to the scene, but their skills are always directly related to the frontline tasks. And they always need support. There was a picture in the paper on Saturday of a ship being loaded with boxes of bottled water by "volunteers". The hold looked like a rubbish dump, and while it might have been quick to load by tipping the cargo out of the nets it was going to take for ever to discharge, particularly if the work was to be done by more "volunteers". We mariners have the sort of skills which could support those on the front line in many of these disasters. We would at least be capable of effectively organising the movement of cargo, and more - hiring ships, surveying ports, acting as pilots. If anyone else thinks such an idea has merit perhaps they would like to contact me.

Now - on with 2005 and a view from Ted Caucutt in British Colombia which reveals some extremely interesting facts.

Will drill rigs be operating in the waters off British Columbia anytime soon?

 The last well, Murrelet L-15, drilled by Shell from the Sedco 135F (now Petrobras XXII) reached a depth of 9467 feet on the 5th of May, 1969.  The entire drilling program of 14 wells ended with only non-commercial levels of oil off the Queen Charlotte Islands  and some indications of gas in the Tofino Basin.  That being said, The Geological Survey of Canada estimates there are 43 trillion cubic feet of gas and 10 billion barrels of oil under the waters of British Columbia, ten times more than the Hibernia field in the Atlantic. 

 Now consider this: In the Peace River area of northeastern British Columbia, crews drilled into a swamp called Ladyfern in the winter of 2000, and spent $10,000 CAD (,4,335) an hour for  helicopters to fly drill equipment into areas of the field unreachable in summer over the soft muskeg.  Ladyfern now produces 785 million cubic feet of gas a day, and should rise to a billion by year’s end. The newly discovered  Greater Sierra find is estimated at 5 trillion cubic feet and waiting in the wings are the Bowser and Nechako basins, with an estimated trillion cubic feet of natural gas each.  Coal bed methane throughout the province could add 50 trillion feet of recoverable gas.  Unlike the estimated 43 trillion cubic feet of gas that may be offshore, these enjoy relatively easy access by land.

 So why is the industry in such a hurry to see the 1972 Federal Moratorium on drilling lifted?  It is much easier to do now, unencumbered by environmental reviews and new regulations.  In the final analysis, it will be a political decision made when the federal and provincial governments, along with Aboriginal First Nations, sort out their jurisdictions.

 Ted Caucutt

Hot Seacor News

Its not often that we have hot news but we have some today. We hear that Havila have purchased the UK based Seacor fleet for about 85 million dollars. The five ships involved are the Stirling Tay, Stirling Spey, Smit-Loyd Fame, Stirling Pegasus, and Stirling Iona.

This who have followed the fortunes of these vessels will see that the residue of the Star Offshore fleet has changed hands again, and may wonder what the business of ship-owning is about - again. Stirling purchased the Star Offshore fleet when it was a group of middle aged but effective vessels and then added a number of VS483s to it. There-after they built three utility anchor-handlers before all the ships except for the Stirling Forth and Stirling Clyde were sold to Seacor together with the name. It was apparently seem at the time as being an expansion - a sort of march forward between an established British and an established American company. 

However, it was not long before the more effective units from the former Stirling fleet began to be disposed of and most of them are scattered all over the world. The two latest anchor-handlers for instance are in the Caspian being operated by BUE.

On the other side of the coin the Havila fleet has varied in size and quality over the years, and it is not long ago that numbers of their vessels were sold to Groupe Bourbon. For the British is will be sad if the crews of the former Seacor vessels are replaced by Norwegians.

Vic Gibson

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