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HOT Port news from GAC

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Your daily news service from ports around the world.

In this HOT PORT NEWS, read about:

  • United Kingdom, Aberdeen – Elgin Platform incident update
  • South Africa, all ports – Amendments to Terminal Operating Guidelines
  • United States, Mississippi River, Louisiana – Carollton Guage at 12 feet and rising
  • United States, all ports – Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement
  • Qatar, all ports – TATA Communications Gulf Cable System
  • India, Mumbai – Availability of anchorages during monsoon period

DATE: March 30, 2012 – COUNTRY: United Kingdom – PORT: Aberdeen – Elgin Platform incident update

The UK Department of Energy & Climate Control (www.decc.gov.uk) yesterday (29 March) issued an update of the incident at the Elgin Platform in the North Sea, as follows:


Following the safe evacuation of all crew from the Elgin platform on Sunday 25 March work continues by TOTAL, the operator of the field, to assess the options available to deal with the continuing gas release. The situation remains stable.


Using the best data currently available, TOTAL believes the gas is being released from the well system to the environment at the platform deck level, and therefore above water. TOTAL is working on the belief that a failure of the well system has caused gas to enter another part of the well not normally designed to handle gas. The point of entry has been estimated at a point 4, 000m below the seabed and this is allowing gas to travel contained within the well system to the platform. There is no evidence that gas is being released below sea level.


TOTAL is considering two options to tackle the gas release: * a Drilling a relief well – TOTAL are mobilising two drill rigs to drill a well to intersect the main well and then shut off the flow of gas. * a Blocking the well with “heavy mud” – using a mixture containing mineral compounds to be pumped into the well to suppress the flow of gas.


DECC and HSE inspectors are fully updated and briefed in person at daily meetings with TOTAL at TOTAL’s emergency response unit in Aberdeen. The Department of Energy and Climate Change convened a Government Regulators’ Group yesterday with Government bodies and departments including experts from DECC, the Health and Safety Executive, Maritime and Coastguard Agency, Marine Scotland and Marine Lab to ensure the UK Government’s response, advised by the Scottish Government’s agency Marine Scotland, is coherent and joined up during this incident. That group will now meet on a regular basis to consider TOTAL’s actions and the Government’s response to the incident. Clearly this is a very concerning incident but we should recognise that so far the response from TOTAL and Government agencies has been very effective. Everyone has been evacuated from the platform safely and TOTAL are looking at options to stop the release of gas as quickly as possible.


TOTAL has confirmed in their latest update to the Government’s inspectors today that the flare remains lit but observations from the latest aerial surveillance suggest that the flame appears to be reducing in size. There have been reports, following an interview with Good Morning Scotland on Monday, that Energy Minister Charles Hendry said it was possible to remotely switch off the flare. This was a faithful statement of the information as he was briefed but it has become apparent that this information was misinterpreted. The Minister would like to make clear the flare cannot actually be switched off remotely. TOTAL has assured the Government the platform is designed so the flare is located in a position where the prevailing wind blows the gas release away from it. Weather conditions remain favourable for the foreseeable future. While alight, the flare remains a risk and TOTAL is considering options for extinguishing it directly if it does not go out itself. Three possibilities have been proposed – using a helicopter to drop water or other material to extinguish the flame or using fire fighting vessels, if their fire monitors are capable of reaching the height of the flare. A third option is to extinguish the flare by purging with nitrogen depending on safe access to the platform.


Aerial surveillance is being conducted three times a day. The latest observations found that that the sheen has spread to an area of 22km x 4.5km and the maximum volume of gas condensate in the water is 3.8 tonnes. DECC’s view is that there remains no substantial risk to the environment. …UNQUOTE.

For information about operations in the UK North Sea contact GAC Shipping (UK) at agency.aberdeen@gac.com

DATE: March 30, 2012 – COUNTRY: South Africa – PORT: all ports -Amendments to Terminal Operating Guidelines

Transnet has advised of amendments to Terminal Operating Guidelines that will come into effect on 1 April 2012.

For details of the amendments or information about operations in South Africa contact GAC Shipping South Africa at shipping.capetown@gac.com

DATE: March 30, 2012 COUNTRY: United States PORT: Mississippi River, Louisiana Carollton Guage at 12 feet and rising

The Carrollton gauge indicates a Mississippi River stage of 12 feet on the rise.

1. In accordance with 33 CFR 161.65, the Governor Nicholls Harbor Traffic Control Light 94, Gretna Harbor Traffic Control Light 97 and the Westwego Traffic Light 102 remain energized.

2. The Harbor Traffic Control Lights are located at: Governor Nicholls Light, MM 94.3, AHP, LDB, LMR (LLNR 13855/34770), Gretna Light, MM 96.6, AHP, RDB, LMR (LLNR 13880/34795) and the Westwego Traffic Light, MM 101.4, AHP, RDB, LMR (LLNR13950).

3. The Governor Nicholls Light 94 and the Gretna Light 97 are not operating.

4. Downbound vessels check in with Vessel Traffic Service Lower Mississippi River (call sign “New Orleans Traffic”) not lower than Huey P Long Bridge, MM 106.1, AHP (SHIPS and TOWS) and the Marlex Terminal, MM 99.0, AHP (SHIPS and TOWS).  Upbound vessels check in with “New Orleans Traffic” not higher than the Algiers Canal Forebay, MM 88.0, AHP (SHIPS), Industrial Canal, MM 92.7, AHP (SHIPS and TOWS) and Crescent Towing Smith Fleet, MM 93.5, AHP (TOWS).

5. Towing downstream on a hawser between Julia Street (MM 95.3) and Desire Streets (MM 93.5) is prohibited without an assist or tail vessel without permission from COTP New Orleans.  COTP permission may be requested to and granted by VTS LMR.

6. Title 33 CFR 165.803, Paragraph (M) requires stricter barge fleeting standards on the Lower Mississippi River.

For further information, contact the following:

Coast Guard Vessel Traffic Service Lower Mississippi River (24 hours): (504) 365-2230 Coast Guard Sector New Orleans Command Center (24 hours): (504) 365-2543 Coast Guard Sector New Orleans Waterways Management:  (504) 365-2280

(For information about operations in the USA contact GAC USA at usa@gac.com)

Source: U.S. Coast Guard, Sector New Orleans, Marine Safety Information Bulletin Volume XII Issue: 28 dated 29 March 2012

DATE: March 30, 2012 – COUNTRY: United States – PORT: all ports -Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement

The U.S. Coast Guard has announced a Notice of Availability of a Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (FPEIS) for the rulemaking entitled “Standards for Living Organisms in Ships’ Ballast Water Discharged in U.S. Waters”.

The FPEIS provides an assessment of the potential environmental impacts associated with the establishment of a ballast water discharge standard for the allowable concentration of living organisms in ships’ ballast water discharged in waters of the United States.

The standard will be used to approve ballast water management methods that are effective in preventing or reducing the introduction of non-indigenous species via discharged ballast water into waters of the United States.

Comments will be considered submitted on or before April 23, 2012.

The Final Rule, FPEIS Notice of Availability and FPEIS are available at the Maritime Exchange USCG web page  at http://www.maritimedelriv.com/Port_Security/USCG/USCG.htm

For information about operations in the USA contact GAC USA at usa@gac.com

DATE: March 30, 2012 – COUNTRY: Qatar – PORT: all ports -TATA Communications Gulf Cable System

The TATA Communications Gulf Cable System was installed in the Gulf region in 2011.

Cable ships cleared each route with a grapnel, then installed the cable. In some areas, the cable ships towed a sea plow and buried the cable.

All vessels are asked to avoid using grapnels, anchors and other seabed gear within 1/2 mile of the cable. To lean more about this cable, contact SubCom at the numbers listed below.

(For further details or information about operations in or off Qatar contact GAC Qatar at qatar@gac.com)

Source: Qatar Ministry of Business & Trade Circular No.0010/2012

DATE: March 30, 2012  -COUNTRY: India – PORT: Mumbai -Availability of anchorages during monsoon period

The foul weather season has been declared from 25 May to 31 August.

During this period, the anchorage are of inner harbour is restricted to a line which is normally North of Sunk Rock Light House position. Hence, the number of anchorages would be restricted due to non-availability to the South of this line.

Mumbai Port Trust will try and accommodate as many vessels as possible but may have to deny anchorage facilities due to non-availability. The cargo working anchorage will be allotted on a first-come-first-serve basis, while other anchorages will be allotted for short periods only for those vessels which have specific work at Mumbai. Vessels which have got no employment will not be allowed a lay-up anchorage and hence are strongly exhorted to find monsoon shelter elsewhere.

Small tugs, barges and other small vessels which are covered under the Inland Water Act are also advised to seek shelter in minor ports in consultation with MMB.

(For information about operations in India contact GAC India at india@gac.com)

Source: Mumbai Port Trust Circular dated 28 March 2012

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