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March 8, 2001

Floating LNG plants are feasible
Bouygues Offshore has announced the successful completion of the AZURE R&D project for the development of floating Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) facility concepts.

Bouygues Offshore was leader of a consortium of nine European companies including

  • M.W. Kellogg Ltd (MWKL),
  • Chantiers de l’Atlantique,
  • Fincantieri,
  • FMC Europe,
  • Gaz Transport & Technigaz (GTT; 30% owned by Bouygues Offshore),
  • Bureau Veritas (BV),
  • Registro Italiano Navale (RINA) and
  • Institut de Recherches de la Construction Navale (IRCN).

Five international oil and gas companies gave their technical and financial support to the project: Shell, TotalFinaElf, Chevron, Texaco and Conoco.

Performed with the support of the European Union’s Thermie program, the project addressed all technical issues in order to demonstrate that a fully floating LNG chain, from gas well to gas distribution network, is a safe and viable industrial proposal.

The 18-month work program called for designing floating liquefaction plants, floating LNG terminals and offshore LNG transfer systems. It included thorough testing of all the key components of the chain. The cryogenic storages involved are based on a membrane containment system, proposed by Technigaz and GTT.

For the liquefaction barge, two different scenarios were developed by MWKL. In South East Asia, a stand-alone gas field involving a 3 MMTPA capacity, based on a dual mixed refrigerant process cycle and in West Africa, a single processing train, involving a 1 MMTPA capacity with a nitrogen expander cycle for the liquefaction of the associated gas for a deep sea oil field.

The design for the floating receiving terminal located in Southern Europe was developed by Fincantieri, while the SN Technigaz regasification process was based on submerged combustion vaporizers with a LNG storage capacity of 200,000 m3.

The transfer of LNG in open seas can be performed safely in a tandem loading configuration, using the Boom-To-Tanker designed by FMC. A large scale model of this device was successfully tested, using motion data from basin tests.

The project included both steel and concrete hull designs for the LNG FPSO. Chantiers de l’Atlantique developed the steel hull options, while Bouygues Offshore designed the concrete hull alternative.

Safety assessment of the various facilities of the floating LNG chain was performed under the supervision of BV and RINA. The necessary safety criteria can be met by combining current engineering practices from the offshore industry with those of onshore LNG terminals.

Advanced computer tools were developed by IRCN to address the liquid motion of the slack LNG storage tanks. It was found that sloshing was not an issue and this was confirmed by testing performed by GTT (liquid motion tests and impact testing on membranes).

J. Ray MCDermott gets spar contract
J. Ray McDermott, Inc., a subsidiary of McDermott International, Inc. has been awarded a turnkey engineer-procure-construct-install contract to provide a spar platform for the Medusa Field Development Project, a deepwater development for Murphy Oil Corp., in the Gulf of Mexico. Financial terms of the contract are not being disclosed.

SparTEC, Inc., a subsidiary of J. Ray McDermott, will act as the general contractor and overall project manager for the design engineering, procurement, fabrication, installation and commissioning of the Medusa offshore production facility, which will be located in 2,223 feet of water in Mississippi Canyon Block 582.

J. Ray McDermott Engineering LLC will be responsible for the detailed engineering of the platform’s hull, mooring and topsides. J. Ray McDermott’s Jebel Ali Fabrication Yard, located in the United Arab Emirates, will fabricate the spar hull.

The topsides will be prefabricated into subassemblies at J. Ray McDermott’s TNG facility in Veracruz, Mexico, then assembled and outfitted at the company’s newly reopened Harbor Island Fabrication yard near Corpus Christi, Texas. The work at Harbor Island will be supported by the strategic alliance with Bay Ltd.

Mentor Subsea Technology Services, Inc., a unit of J. Ray McDermott, will be responsible for the design and procurement of the platform’s production risers. J. Ray McDermott will also be responsible for offshore installation, hookup and commissioning.

HAL picks names for first ships in new series
The first two ships of Holland America Line's next series of five new 85,000-ton cruise ships will be named the ms Zuiderdam and ms Oosterdam, respectively, taking their names from the south and east “Vista” points of the compass. The names follow the “-dam” naming tradition used for the company’s passenger ships since the late 19th century.

The five ships collectively are named “Vista Series,” to represent both the ships’ forward-looking design and the future direction of the company in expanding its leadership as the highest-rated premium cruise line.

The 951 ft, 1,848-passenger ships, under construction by Fincantieri Cantieri Navali S.p.A, are scheduled to be delivered in September 2002, July 2003, January 2004, September 2004 and May 2005. The five ships will increase Holland America’s lower berth capacity by 9,240, or 70 percent, to a total of 22,588.

The first ship, the Zuiderdam, will be deployed first on seven-day Caribbean cruises, then on seven-day cruises in Alaska.

The new vessels’ propulsion system includes a full-scale diesel-electric power plant, backed up by a gas turbine as an additional power source, giving the vessel the capability to operate on either diesel or gas turbine power. The ships also will use the Azipod propulsion system

Seacor to acquire Stirling Shipping
Seacor Smit Inc. has signed a letter of intent to acquire Stirling Shipping Company Ltd., a private U.K. company based in Glasgow, Scotland,

The price will be based on the adjusted assets less liabilities of Stirling Shipping at closing and is estimated at around $117 million, payable approximately 50% in cash, 20% in shares of Seacor common stock, 20% in loan notes and 10% in convertible notes. Stirling's long term debt is projected to be approximately $56 million at closing. The final price is subject to certain closing adjustments.

The acquisition will see Seacor acquire twelve vessels--all currently operating in the North Sea with an average age of 11.7 years--and contracts for the construction of two new vessels.

Nine of the twelve existing vessels are platform supply vessels and three are anchor handling towing supply vessels.

The new construction contracts are for two 15,000 bhp AHTS vessels at a total cost of around $46 million. The vessels will be built in the U.K. and are scheduled for delivery during the first half of 2002.

Seacor says it intends to retain Stirling Shipping's management and vessel crews.James Cowderoy, mnanaging director of Stirling Shipping, will join Seacor's senior management and will be nominated to serve on its board.

Teekay moves into shuttle market
Teekay Shipping Corporation has announced the acquisition through a wholly-owned subsidiary of 56% of Ugland Nordic Shipping (UNS) for approximately $123 million.The transaction builds the base for Teekay's entry into the shuttle tanker market through the acquisition of a controlling stake in the largest publicly traded shuttle tanker operator.

"We have identified the shuttle tanker market as an area of significant opportunity for Teekay consistent with our operationally-intensive and customer-focused operating strategy,"' said Bjorn Moller, president and CEO of Teekay. "Further expanding our services in the offshore marine market is a natural extension of our core competencies and will allow us to further broaden the services that we can offer to our customers on a global basis.''

Headquartered in Sandefjord, Norway, UNS is the largest publicly traded company in this sector controlling a modern fleet of 18 shuttle tankers, which includes four vessels recently purchased from Awilco and a newbuilding program for four vessels. Three of the vessels are jointly owned with Stena. The vessels have an average age of 7.5 years and operate primarily in the North Sea under fixed rate long-term contracts to customers such as Statoil/Navion, PGS and Exxon Mobil. In addition, UNS owns 17.3% of the publicly traded company Nordic American Tanker Shipping Ltd., owner of three Suezmax tankers on a long-term contract to BP Shipping (current market value of UNS' stake is $30 million).

Teekay acquired the 56% stake from the members of the UNS Board of Directors and several institutional investors. Teekay will promptly launch a mandatory bid for the remaining shares in UNS as required by Norwegian law.

CLIA members carried 6.9 million passengers last year
Nearly 6.9 million North Americans enjoyed cruising in 2000, an increase of 992,000 cruisers -- or 16.8 percent -- over the previous year, according to Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).

The increase is the largest single jump in passengers carried since the industry began reporting numbers in 1980. It more than doubles the previous high water mark set in 1986, when some 472,000 additional cruisers set sail.

The increase in passengers also outstripped the capacity growth during last year, with 11 percent new berths added to the North American cruise fleet. The industry capacity utilization was in excess of 90 percent.

Looking at 2001, CLIA estimates an increase in berths of about 8.5 percent, and passenger growth tracking at that rate as well. "Since 1980, the average annual growth in the industry has been about 8 percent,'' said James G. Godsman, president of CLIA, "and a conservative estimate would place increases for this year at the industry average."

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