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Drilling company gets charged with Environmental crimes in Alaska

Noble Drilling (U.S.) LLC was charged with environmental and maritime crimes for operating the drill ship Noble Discoverer and the drilling unit Kulluk in violation of federal law in Alaska in 2012, the Department of Justice announced. Under the terms of a plea agreement filed in federal court today, Noble will plead guilty to eight felony offenses, pay $12.2 million dollars in fines and community service payments, implement a comprehensive Environmental Compliance Plan, and will be placed on probation for four years. In addition, Noble’s parent corporation, Noble Corporation plc, headquartered in London, England, will implement an Environmental Management System for all Mobile Offshore Drilling Units (MODUs) owned or operated by Noble Corporation plc and its direct and indirect subsidiaries worldwide. Noble Drilling (U.S.) LLC was charged in an eight-count Information with knowingly failing to maintain an accurate Oil Record Book and an accurate International Oil Pollution Prevention certificate, knowingly failing to maintain a ballast water record book, and knowingly and willfully failing to notify the U.S. Coast Guard of hazardous conditions aboard the drill ship Noble Discoverer. At the time of the offenses, the Noble Discoverer was operating under contract with Shell Offshore, Inc. and Shell Development, Ltd. for ...

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EIA launches new tool for crude oil import analysis

EIA released a new U.S. Crude Oil Import Tracking Tool that allows policymakers, analysts, and the public to more easily track trends in crude oil imports. Users can sort and display crude oil imports by month or year, by crude type (i.e., light, medium, heavy), country source, port of entry, processing company, processing refinery, and more. The tool features graphing and mapping capabilities and a built-in help function. Recent and forecast increases in domestic crude production have sparked discussion about how rising crude oil volumes will be absorbed. To date, a primary mechanism for absorbing increased production has been the displacement of imported crude oil, which has fallen from 8.9 million barrels per day (bbl/d) in 2011 to 7.5 million bbl/d in August 2014. This tool sheds light on the adjustments to imports being made in response to growing production of crude oil within the United States. It is one part of EIA's ongoing effort to assess the effects of a possible relaxation of current limitations on U.S. crude oil exports, which is another avenue to accommodate domestic production growth. EIA is undertaking further work on this larger question, and expects to issue more analysis reports over the coming months. ...

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BOEM and NOPP launch Arctic Ecosystem Study

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and National Oceanographic Partnership Program (NOPP) partners announced the award of a broad Arctic study that will investigate the interrelationship among the physical, biological, chemical and social science components of the Beaufort Sea ecosystem from Barrow, Alaska, to the Mackenzie River delta in Canadian waters. The Marine Arctic Ecosystem Study (MARES) is an integrated ecosystem research initiative coordinated and planned by BOEM in conjunction with its federal and private sector partners: U.S. Arctic Research Commission, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System, Marine Mammal Commission, National Science Foundation, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Office of Naval Research, and Shell Oil Company. “BOEM is pleased to join our Federal and industry partners to undertake this forward-looking project,” said BOEM Acting Director Walter Cruickshank. “With widespread interest in the Arctic, including potential oil and gas leasing and development, we’re looking to significantly expand our knowledge of the Beaufort Sea ecosystem to inform our decision-making.” The MARES study is taking place under the NOPP, which brings together federal agencies, academia, industry, and non-governmental organizations to support ocean research. The award recipient, Stantec Consulting Services, Inc., will lead a team of U.S. and ...

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USCG and EPA take action on SECA enforcement and compliance

The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) and EPA will soon take action to ensure compliance with the forthcoming 0.10 percent fuel sulphur limits in the North American and U.S. Caribbean Sea Emmission Control Areas, or ECAs. “We will be coordinated in our efforts to ensure compliance with the new requirements effective 1 Jan, 2015,” said Rear Adm. Paul Thomas, assistant commandant for Prevention Policy at U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters. “That includes working with EPA to actively check for compliance and taking appropriate enforcement action.” The USCG will continue to check Bunker Delivery Notes and other records during Port State and Flag State visits to vessels. The USCG and EPA are developing plans for joint boardings of vessels as well, that will include fuel oil sampling and in-the-field screening for sulphur levels. “Working closely with our partners at the Coast Guard, we’re stepping up our compliance efforts and will take targeted enforcement actions when necessary,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “Making sure that everyone plays by the rules will help level the playing field for companies that comply, while reducing harmful air pollution in coastal and inland communities.” Maritime Commons will continue to provide updates as ...

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LNG bunker fuel network gets designed for U.S. Gulf Coast

LNG America announced an agreement with Buffalo Marine Service, Inc. (Buffalo Marine) to cooperate on the design of an LNG bunker fuel network for the U. S. Gulf Coast region. LNG America is developing a hub-and-spoke delivery system for LNG as fuel for the marine market and other high horsepower applications. Ultimately, LNG America will establish a robust delivery infrastructure to ensure the secure and safe delivery of LNG as fuel in major US ports. Buffalo Marine is one of the premiere bunkering companies in the Gulf of Mexico with over 50 vessels dedicated to bunkering in the region. The agreement will incorporate Buffalo Marine’s logistical, commercial, and administrative expertise regarding bunkering operations with LNG America’s experience with LNG as fuel for high horsepower applications; understanding of the emerging demand for LNG as a bunker fuel; and overall business-development efforts related to LNG bunkering. “Combining the bunkering experience of Buffalo Marine with our LNG experience and our progress towards building the infrastructure necessary to support LNG bunkering will help us to provide the best possible service to the emerging LNG fueled marine customers while using the best safety practices available from both industries,” said Keith Meyer, President and CEO of ...

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Offshore Oil Platform gets fined for oil pollution

Offshore Oil Platform Owner to Improve Safety and Operations in Gulf of Mexico Following Unauthorized Oil Discharges / EPA and Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement secure settlement in first joint judicial enforcement action under Clean Water Act and Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act Under a settlement agreement with the United States, ATP Infrastructure Partners, LP (ATP-IP) will pay a $1 million civil penalty and perform corrective measures to resolve claims by the U.S. under the Clean Water Act and the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) of unauthorized discharges of oil and chemicals from an oil platform into the Gulf of Mexico, announced the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of Justice, and the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE). This is the first joint judicial enforcement action involving EPA and BSEE claims in response to alleged violations of both the Clean Water Act and OCSLA. The United States’ complaint, which was filed in February 2013, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, alleges that oil and an unauthorized chemical dispersant were discharged into the Gulf of Mexico from ATP-IP’s oil and gas production platform known as the ATP ...

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