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U.S. House Rejects Offshore Drilling Plan

July 26, 2012


The U.S. House of Representatives rejected H.R. 6168 today. This bill would have implanted President Obama’s offshore drilling plan that would place 85 percent of America’s offshore energy resources locked under U.S. control.

Directly after, the House approved H.R. 6082, that would replace Obama’s plan with a robust energy plan that offers 29 lease sales in areas thought to have oil and natural gas resources. This will create tens of thousands of new jobs and will also increase American energy production.

            U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski introduced bipartisan legislation to expand American offshore energy production with a revised leasing plan spread out over five-years to provide revenue sharing to all participating coastal states. The Offshore Petroleum Expansion Act of 2012 is supported by many states, including Virginia, Louisiana and Oklahoma.

            The Obama Administration announced its proposed 2012-2017 plan for offshore lease on June 28 and it is now undergoing a mandatory 60-day congressional review. The decision made today in the House calls for review in the plan if it intends to pass in the future.

Growth in Offshore Expansion Brings Wage Pressure

July 19, 2012


As the offshore sector continues expanding internationally, higher salaries are being paid to employees. This puts wage pressure on other industry segments such as classification societies and port state administrations. The increase in demand for specialists in the offshore sector is the main reason for the widening wage gap with other parts of the industry, since government employers fix many of the salaries.

Europe’s offshore expertise may be in short supply if more is not done to create higher stability between the specialists and offshore industry workers. Since many EU nationals’ salaries are being undercut by other employers outside of the EU, many personnel will be less attracted to working as surveyors in classification societies. Many of the international crews are more cost-competitive, making many of the EU participants in the offshore market face the potential to be out priced.

“We are obviously in favor of an international workforce,” says Spinnaker Business Development Director Teresa Peacock. “Some of our clients have raised concerns that a plentiful supply of lower cost crew may jeopardize the EU’s ability to provide skilled personnel for the offshore sector in the future.”

This issue does not just face the industry as a whole, but also an issue for each country individually. Employers with greater finances must cooperate with the industry so that it does not hurt the industry as a whole. The ability for EU employees to compete in a demanding international environment will be key for the EU to keep up with their experienced workforce in the future.

China Opposes Vietnamese Maritime Law Over Sovereignty Claim

June 26, 2012

Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun summoned Vietnamese Ambassador to China to discuss the recent passing of a Vietnamese maritime law that extends the country’s jurisdiction to islands claimed by China. The Vietnam National Assembly passed the “Vietnamese Law of the Sea,” that describes China’s Xisha Islands and Nansha Islands as being within Vietnam’s sovereignty and jurisdiction.


Since China has indisputable sovereignty over the islands, Vietnam has infringed upon China’s sovereignty. The Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) has been violated by Vietnam’s unilateral action.


“Vietnam’s action is illegal, invalid and detrimental to peace and stability in the South China Sea,” said Zhang, indicating that China will firmly safeguard its national sovereignty.


China requests that Vietnam remove its ships in order to secure relations and not jeopardize the peace and stability of the South China Sea. Vietnam has not taken any action yet, so China will just have to wait to see how this controversy plays out.

Norway Oil Workers Strike Forcing Rig Shutdown

June 14, 2012


At least five of Norway’s oil and gas rigs will be shut down due to a strike from Norway’s Safe Union against Baker Hughes.


The strike may be the first step to initiate a larger strike in Norway’s dominant export oil sector. The National Mediator set June 23 as the deadline for this year’s wage settlement between unions and the oil industry and the failed negotiations over Statoil’s ending of an early pensions deal. If another strike follows, it could result in a shut down of Norway’s daily production of 3.8 million barrels of oil.


Members of the union Safe are striking because their worker’s benefits were reduced by Bake Hughes. According to a deal between the union and oil rigs, workers won’t begin their strike until the operations are shut down in a safe manner.


Safe leader Hilde-Marie Rysst stated, “We are appalled by the arrogance and complete lack of respect of the basic principles of Norwegian labor which Baker Hughes has demonstrated to our members.” Yet, the Norwegian Oil Industry Associated claims that Baker Hughes offered the same agreement to Safe members as it offered to its 550 other employees, but the union wants to keep their previous agreement.



The Costa Concordia to be Salvaged

May 23, 2012
Costa Concordia

Plans for the Removal

The Costa Concordia, the cruise ship that struck a reef off the coast of Giglio Island on the night of January 13 is set to be removed from the water by the beginning of 2013. Titan Salvage, a company based in Pompano Beach, Florida, won the bid to remove Concordia’s wreckage. The salvage company plans to use water-filled cisterns to weigh down the above-sea side of the cruise liner in order to remove it from the water and tow it for demolition.

Capt. Richard Habib, Titan Salvage’s managing director, said the goal is to “use brains, (and) not as much brawn” to remove the Concordia without having it sink into much deeper water. He said the most difficult challenge in the procedure is to “roll the vessel upright on a platform and to safely float it” to a port yet to be selected by Italian officials.

“The magnitude of the job … is something unprecedented,” Habib told reporters at a news conference.

The Costa Concordia was carrying some 4,200 people when it veered too close to the coast and struck the jagged reef. Gashed on one side, the ship began listing on its side and came to rest on the shallow rocky seabed just off the Tuscan shore, resulting in 32 fatalities.

Currently, the Italian captain of the Concordia is under house arrest while prosecutors scrutinize him for possible manslaughter and abandoning ship while the evacuation was still in progress. Prosecutors argue that the captain steered the ship dangerously close to the island in a publicity stunt, while the captain insists the reef didn’t appear on navigational charts.

Source: CBS News

100 Years, The Titanic Sinks in Atlantic (but has it in the minds of modern-day cruise operators?)

April 16, 2012
 April 14, 2012 marks 100 years since the sinking of the Titanic

April 14, 2012 marks 100 years since the sinking of the Titanic

April 14, 2012 marks 100 years that the “unsinkable” passenger ship, known as the Titanic, sunk to the bottom of the North Atlantic Ocean. There were 2,224 passengers on the Titanic and 1,514 of them lost their lives that tragic evening. Today, in modern-day cruising we wonder if a lesson has been learned from the fortuitous wreckage in 1912.

Now there are more lifeboats on board- enough to fit more than the number of passengers aboard. Captains and operators use radios for communication with other ships and use radar and fathometers to detect any signs of danger, like an iceberg. But somehow, ships still seem to collide with islands or ground on charted reefs, even in the clearest of weather. Perhaps it isn’t flaws in technology or communication but simply negligence, complacency and hubris that play the largest factors. These characteristics override all preventative and remedial measures available.

Other factors that increase the risk of accidents are fatigue, stress and pressure from satisfying vacationers on board by sailing close to shore, maintaining high-speed, cutting corners and engaging in other practices that increase risk. Most of the accidents on cruise ship these days do not usually result in causalities, but when they do, everyone protects themselves and blames anybody and everybody else (usually the person on the scene). It has become incumbent that owners and operators take the blame and walk the walk in desperate situations and accidents. It is worth backing up and supporting officers, masters and operators when they are being cautious. Also, spending the additional costs is necessary to do the right thing when unforeseen accidents come out of clear waters. Mastering the technology and mechanical attributes of a cruise ship still does not guarantee an “unsinkable” ship.

If problem persists, we have learned nothing from the Titanic- even 100 years later!

BP & The Health Settlement Details… Many Questions, Some Answered

March 14, 2012

The health settlement negotiated between BP and private plaintiff attorneys makes thousands of new people eligible for compensation from the oil spill. But what exactly are the medical problems that qualify for reimbursement? Does everyone who needs treatment qualify? What degree of exposure to the disaster do victims have to have?

The health program is available to 90,000 people including cleanup workers, government workers, costal residents and wetland residents who lived within a mile of wetlands for at least six months between the day of the accident and the end of 2010, though it is not clear who qualifies as a spill responder. Also, people who became ill after vacationing at the beach do not qualify and would need to file their own suit.

The health deal makes tens of thousands of people who could not file health claims under the Gulf Coast Claims Facility eligible to do so under the settlement.

Compensation for specified physical conditions include people who experienced things such as skin problems, respiratory problems, eye irritation, headaches or stomach ailments. Compensation level increases if people had medial help or can demonstrate they have developed a chronic condition since the spill.  Participants in the medical settlement will receive many tests every three years for 21 years to determine whether there have been any changes in their medical condition.

People who later manifest conditions have a right to mediate with BP or to sue BP. They do not have to prove BP is liable, just that there is a link between their condition and exposure to oil or dispersants.

A program is included in the settlement called, The Gulf Coast Region Health Outreach Program, which will create a $105 million program to increase the capacity for delivering physical and mental health care in coastal communities. These benefits will be available to anyone, regardless if they are part of the settlement. The program will create a specialist referral network to help diagnose and treat oil spill-related illnesses. The goal of this program is to expand access to communities, create links to specialty care and increase the level of coastal clinics to federally qualified health care facilities to serve Medicare and Medicaid patients.

Even though the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 does not include personal injury as cause of action, plaintiffs pursued the argument in court under maritime law.  But this agreement from BP into the health settlement means they accept the concept that there will be medical costs from the spill. That’s noteworthy of them.

Information from this post was taken from The Times Picayune, March 11, 2012. For more information on this article, Click Here.

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