Thursday, October 11, 2012

Cousins of The Kimberleys and a price too high | Independent Australia

Cousins of The Kimberleys and a price too high | Independent Australia:

Contributing editor-at-large Tess Lawrence introduces an article by Geoffrey Cousins on the controversial James Price Point gas hub. “There are merely a handful of men capable of instilling fear in the corporate badlands,” Tess writes — and Geoff Cousins is surely one of them.


  1. A few of todays headlines:

    The environmental and fishing groups argue that noise from the seismic blasts could disrupt the lives of marine animals that rely on sound to travel, feed, mate, and communicate and could lead to the beachings and deaths of whales.

    So far the department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has received over 29,000 public comments related to petitions opposing the seismic tests.
    The tests are to be performed by a vessel that trails evenly spaced hydrophones in its wake as compressed air is blasted downward by the vessel’s airgun. The resulting sound waves, as high as 250 decibels, are far greater than the sound emitted by a jet engine upon takeoff, Oceana notes.

    Once the sound waves hit the ocean floor, the hydrophones register echoes that reflect the densities of materials like gas and oil within the seabed.
    the intensity and frequency of the airgun blasts: they will be fired every few seconds around the clock and can continue for several weeks. The waves “reverberate around the ocean, and they create this massive acoustic footprint” – loud enough to travel thousands of square miles, said Mr. Huelsenbeck of Oceana.
    Animals like whales decline slowly once their hearing is gone, making it difficult to link a death directly with the seismic tests, he added.

    Oceana also points to seismic testing conducted in 2001 off Sakhalin Island in Russia that was associated with the departure of endangered gray whales from a primary feeding area.

    In other cases, the connection between seismic testing and effects on animals is less certain, as with the mass beaching of 900 long-beaked common dolphins and porpoises in Peru this year. The government ruled out the sound waves as a cause, but a marine veterinarian and conservationist who examined many of the corpses found bleeding and fractures in the middle ear — the type of trauma that could result from intense noise.

    Beyond environmental concerns, the ocean expanse also supports an annual $11.8 billion dollar fishing industry. Oceana has helped to mobilize opposition from fishing associations that worry that the sonic blasts could displace commercially valuable fish stocks or damage eggs and larvae.


    Well today we know. Coast Guard samples show the new oil sheen matches samples taken from the Deepwater Horizon spill. That puts BP and Transocean on the top of the list for potential costs associated with this new problem.

    The observed sheen size has varied over time depending upon the conditions present. Samples of the sheen were taken by USCG Marine Safety Unit Morgan City Sept. 26 and sent to the USCG Marine Safety Lab in New London, Conn.

    Separately, US Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) on Oct. 11 called for a full undersea survey of the Macondo site to be posted live on the internet.

    Hurricane Isaac uncovered limited amounts of residual oil associated with the Macondo spill, BP said in September, adding that the Macondo oil had been buried in isolated stretches of shoreline where BP had been cleaning before Isaac made landfall


  2. Nigerian farmers sue Royal Dutch Shell at The Hague

    Royal Dutch Shell PLC long argued that the case, which was launched in 2008, should be heard in Nigeria and still maintains the Dutch court should not have jurisdiction.

    Lawyers for the Nigerians argue that key policy decisions by Shell are made at its headquarters in The Hague and that means the Dutch court can rule in the case.

    Four villagers and environmental group Friends of the Earth say Shell pipeline leaks fouled fish ponds, farmland and forests in three villages in the Niger Delta, Goi, Oruma and Ikot Ada Udo.
    An earlier Dutch court ruling accepted Shell's assertion that the leaks were caused by sabotage, but lawyers for the plaintiffs argue that the judges should revisit that decision, saying the pipe was seriously corroded.

    They added that Shell did not clean up the spills quickly enough.

    “Shell did not do enough to prevent the oil spreading and damaging the plaintiffs' land,” the villagers' lawyer, Channa Samkalden, told the court. “Shell did not act as a careful oil company.”


    Eni Hints at Shell Tie-Up for Giant Gas Find in Mozambique

    "Shell is one of our major partners worldwide...we always talk with Shell," said Mr. Descalzi at a press conference in London to detail Eni's upstream activities. "Shell could be a wonderful partner."

    The Eni executive also said the company would be "comfortable" talking with Exxon Mobil Corp. on the sale of part of its 70% stake in an offshore Mozambique block.


    WoodMac: Global gas players face new supplies, diverse sources in near term

    Global natural gas supplies that have reached market or will shortly are greater than in a generation, Wood Mackenzie’s Noel Tomnay told OGJ in an exclusive interview at Gastech in London this week.

    These new volumes and the diversity of their sources—US shale gas, Western Canada shale, and offshore Mozambique—offer potential buyers a range of supply options they have not had for some time, Tomnay said.

    Australia, with its high costs especially for labor, is likely to take a back seat to the new supply arenas, at least until its costs come down. THERE WILL BE NO FINAL INVESTMENT DECISSIONS ON AUSTRALIAN LNG PROJECTS IN THE NEAR FUTURE, Tomnay said.


    BHP, Exxon move on Scarborough gas

    Speaking in Melbourne, Exxon Australia President John Dashwood said a decision on how best to exploit the field could be taken before the end of 2013.
    Scarborough is located in remote, rough seas which were long thought to make the field unviable as a stand-alone gas project, despite estimates it contains 10 trillion cubic feet of gas. It was expected to be sold into Woodside's Pluto gas plant, but recent nearby discoveries by BHP appear to have changed the economics of development.

    ''The challenge on Scarborough is finding a concept that is economically viable given the challenging nature of the resource. We are doing evaluations on a number of different concepts including a floating platform,'' Mr Dashwood said.
    But Mr Dashwood said Australia's booming LNG industry ''ought to be worried'' about the prospect of American producers undermining local exports to Asia.

    A revolution in shale and coal seam gases over the past decade has created a gas glut in the US, prompting fears that American producers could soon start exporting to Asia en masse