Archive for 01/06/2012

gCaptain –

Any attempt by Iran to disrupt the flow of oil through the Strait of Hormuz would be “illegal and unsuccessful”, U.K. Defence Secretary Philip Hammond will say Thursday. In advanced extracts of a speech he is due to give in Washington, Hammond will say disruption to the flow of oil through the strait would threaten regional and global economic growth and it was in all interests that the arteries of global trade are kept open.

“The [U.K.] Royal Navy will continue to play a substantial role as part of the Combined Maritime Forces, both at the Headquarters in Bahrain, and through our mine counter-measure vessels which help maintain freedom of navigation in the Gulf,” he will say, according to the extracts. Iran, the world’s fourth largest oil producer, has threatened to block oil deliveries through the Strait of Hormuz if global powers impose sanctions on the country’s oil industry over its nuclear activities.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration said last week that the strait carries about 20% of all oil traded worldwide.

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gCaptain – 

European trader Vitol has provisionally chartered a supertanker to ship North Sea Forties crude to Asia loading early January, in what could be at least the third such arbitrage voyage in just over a month, according to a shipbroker and traders.

Vitol provisionally booked the Very Large Crude Carrier (VLCC), Great Lady, to ship 270,000 metric tons, or around 2 million barrels, of Forties crude loading at Hound Point Terminal, Scotland, on Jan. 3.

A Singapore-based trader said the cargo may be loaded a few days later.

Exports of more North Sea crude will likely firm the European market, somewhat offsetting the bearish impact of Petroplus Holdings AG (PPHN.PB) recently shutting down three refineries.

The latest fixture would mean that a total of 6 million barrels of Forties will have left the North Sea for Asia between in just over a month.

Differentials in the North Sea market jumped on Tuesday as Shell sold two Forties cargoes to Vitol, one at a premium of 80 cents a barrel to Dated Brent, compared with quotes at discount of 15-30 cents for mid-January loading cargoes in the previous session.

The latest booking highlights rising crude flow from the West to East after resumption of Libyan crude exports, as Asian refiners try to take advantage of a surplus European market.

Cargoes of Brent-linked Russian Urals were also seen chartered to head to Asia in recent weeks.

Another cargo of North Sea crude will likely be shipped to Asia late January. Statoil ASA (STL.OS) was heard to have provisionally chartered VLCC Front Champion at $6.10 million for Jan. 21-23 loading from Mongstad port in Norway for shipping 2 million barrels to South Korea.

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Whale heads and tales

Posted: 01/06/2012 in all marine news

Maya Yamato – 

It’s a Saturday morning at Herring Cove Beach in Provincetown, Mass., the farthest point on the Cape.

I am sleepy, hungry, and slightly dehydrated, but we are on a schedule dictated by the tides.

The salty breeze wakes me up as I trudge through the sand in my steel-toed boots toward the stranded whale.

Many people assume that because I work with whales, I must have a glamorous job involving being at sea with a permanent tan.

In reality, I’m more likely to be swimming in whale than swimming with whales. I study hearing in baleen whales—the big, often endangered whales that include blue whales and North Atlantic right whales.

We believe these whales are great listeners, possibly calling to each other over hundreds of miles.

Unfortunately, it’s getting harder for them to hear each other in our increasingly noisy oceans. Imagine living next to an airport, with no doors to close and no earplugs to block the constant roar of airplanes jetting over your head.

This may be similar to the surroundings of our local whales, which have feeding grounds across from Boston Harbor, one of the busiest shipping centers on the U.S. East Coast.

When I was in high school, I visited one of these feeding grounds, the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary just north of Provincetown.

I went out on a research vessel for the first time and did a mini-project on noise pollution and dolphins.

We recorded background noise levels using underwater microphones and compared these noise levels to what was known about dolphins’ hearing capacities.

I was a participant of the Aquanaut Program, funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to get high school students interested in science.

Sure enough, I got interested. I also learned that if I wanted to investigate the effects of noise pollution on baleen whales, I couldn’t because we lacked basic data on what range and frequencies they can hear, and even how sound gets to their ears.

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