One of the most important jobs on an oil rig is that of ballast control operator. It is an arguably tedious task in good times. But in bad times, it becomes an extremely challenging exercise of keeping hundreds of men alive and tens of thousands of tonnes of steel, worth hundreds of millions of dollars, upright.
In December 2005, I had the chance the step into a simulator at Transocean’s training centre in Aberdeen, Scotland. The facility trains offshore workers heading to the rough, cold, medium-depth waters of the North Sea, rather than those working on the deep water rigs in the hurricane-prone Gulf of Mexico. On ultra deep water rigs, such as Transocean’s Deepwater Horizon, which exploded last week in the Gulf of Mexico, the ballast control operator’s job is done by dynamic positioning operators. There are other differences too, not least because the training I got was five years ago. But the scenarios I was put through ran the gamut, from Gulf Coast hurricanes to floating icebergs in Arctic waters.
The trip came shortly after Hurricane Katrina whipped through the rigs and platforms of the Gulf of Mexico and highlights the dangers and pressures of the life and death decisions made on a rig in trouble.
The head of Saudi Aramco, Khalid al-Falih, made a rather dramatic statement in a speech last week. The nation, the world’s biggest net oil exporter*, would have to divert a large chunk of its production capacity away from global markets and towards its own domestic needs,
Al-Khalil said Saudi Arabia would have to take some 3m barrels per day of oil off the global market by 2028, if the country does not become more energy efficient.
The leak from site of the deadly Gulf of Mexico oil rig explosion is five times bigger than estimated – 5,000 barrels a day, not 1,000 as previously thought. Meanwhile the US Coast Guard is likely to burn off some of the surface slick on Thursday, after carrying out a test burn on Wednesday with BP.
The burning, as The New York Times reports, is a relatively well-established way of removing leaked oil. (The photo above is from a joint Canadian-American test carried out in Newfoundland in 1993.)
Angola overtook Saudi Arabia as China’s largest crude oil supplier in March, a month in which China’s imports rose to their second highest level on record, according to Petroleum Intelligence Weekly.
China’s third largest provider was Iran. Here is more from PIW:
Crude imports in March rose nearly 29 per cent to 4.98m b/d, the second highest on record. Angola was top supplier, shipping over 1m b/d, nearly double the volume last March. Saudi Arabia slipped to second spot with 760,700 b/d while Iran was third with 524,800 b/d. Total Mideast volumes were 2.25m b/d, or 45% of overall deliveries, while African cargoes comprised 35.8 per cent. China’s total imports in the first quarter of this year averaged 4.62m b/d, up 29 per cent year-on-year. The higher imports have been attributed to increased domestic refining capacity as well as robust economic growth, which was 11.9 per cent in the first quarter.
|China’s Top 10 Crude Suppliers
Last week we wrote about the counter-intuitive finding (for Brits, at least) that the UK is by no means the worst offender when it comes to lengthy approval processes for wind projects.
Unfortunately that report only looked at EU members – and as some commenters pointed out, the US would probably fare much worse. The country’s first offshore wind project, Cape Wind, has just been approved for installation off the Cape Cod coast — although with several revisions, including reducing the number of turbines from 170 to 130. And it only took nine years.
- Saudi Arabia global oil exports to wane post-2010
- Why burning leaked oil works
- And what happens to the oil already skimmed off the sea surface
- “The automobile is a transient stage in the evolution of mankind’s ability to transport oneself”
- Why Graham dumped the Democrats on climate
- The Libya-UK energy question, updated