Wednesday, November 14, 2018

No oil for BP and no gas either

The off again / on again exploration for oil, starting in the 1960s, with only a brief interlude of actual oil production, will once again come to a halt. BP and Hess (50/50 partners) did not find any commercially viable quantities of oil or gas in the Aspy D-11 well that was spudded in April.

That well, drilled by the rig  West Aquarius went to 7400 meters (in 2771 meters of water) experienced some difficulties, including the need to drill a sidetrack well, and had to extend the rig's coasting license from  October 15 to December 31.  Nevertheless the results were not positive and operations came to a halt earlier this month. The rig will now be going back to Newfoundland where it will drill for Exxon Mobil in the Flemish Pass starting next year.

Troms Sirius now idled at pier 9B in Hailfax.

Horizon Maritime dedicated three support vessels to the project, their own Horizon Star and the two chartered Tidewater boats Troms Sirius and Lundstrom Tide. The latter two will presumably be returned to Tidewater unless more work can be found for them. Both were brought under Canadian registration in the spring to work on the BP well.

Lundstom Tide will also be out of work.

Related News: 
Offshore gas has also had an equally dismal history with both installations on their last legs and now working on decommissioning. Supply vessels work in and out of Halifax to support that activity. 

Secunda / Siem has Siem Hanne, Venture Sea, Trinity Sea and Burin Sea working out of Halifax, but Burin Sea departed earlier this week for St.John's.

Trinity Sea making a sunset arrival in Halifax last week.

Atlantic Towing has Atlantic Condor working at Deep Panuke with Atlantic Tern on standby, but it has been tied up in Halifax for several days.

A "near miss" when some heavy equipment broke lose has resulted in shut down of work on one of the decommissioning operations on the rig Noble Regina Allen. The rig is contracted to plug 22 wells for Exxon Mobil.


Tuesday, November 13, 2018


The first visit of a new Loire class French navy tug is marked today with the arrival of Rhône, second in the series after the class named vessel, Loire A602.

Weather turned blustery later this afternoon and rain filtered the view of the ship as it arrived.

The French Defence Procurement Agency will take delivery of two more of the class in 2019, namely Seine A604 and Garonne A605.

Rhône is designated A603, and classed in French terminology as BSAH, "batiment de soutien et d'assistance hauturier" [meaning offshore support and assistance] indicating its multi-functional role as a deep sea towing and rescue tug. It is also equipped to deal with port work, carrying a 300m pollution barrier, supporting twelve divers and transporting weapons and ammunition. It will of course also conduct sovereignty patrols and courtesy visits as did its predecessors, and carry disaster relief aid when needed.

Its main job however is to be available to tow nuclear submarines in case of major damage, and to retrieve the towed arrays when they enter port. It was designed to tow a nuke at 5 knots in sea state 7 (9 meter seas). The Loire class are twin screw vessels with 80 tonne bollard pull, from 7200 bhp main engines. They carry equipment for dynamic positioning DP1 and firefighting FiFi-1

By the time Rhône got up into clearer conditions the tug At;antic Willow was coming alongside to assist it into its berth at HMC Dockyard.

This not the first Canadian port for the ship. It visited Esquimalt in Victoria, BC in late September.

Procurement for the French navy has taken an interesting path with the naval design office working closely with private industry to apply commercial vessel design to semi-military functions such as coast guard, police and customs.

In June Rhone replaced Tenace A669 aged 40, then the oldest ship in the French Navy and one of class of three tugs in the French navy. The last of those predecessors to call in Halifax was Malabar A664. A third tug, Centaure A674 was sold to the Turkish navy, but damaged beyond repair in a drydock accident in 2013. They were built to the same design as the German civilian tug Hamburg which was broken up in 1986 with irreparably damaged engine and gear box.

For more on that class see an older post:

Theodore Too - still smiling

Theodore Too arrived safely back in Halifax this morning - still wearing a smile.

After encountering some mechanical issues on its return from Saint John, the vessel had repairs in Meteghan and then made the long haul around the southern tip of Nova Scotia and back to Halifax, where it tied up at the Svitzer Canada dock.  This was a temporary stopover, before moving on to its winter residence at Mill Cove in Bedford Basin.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Not really tug news

We don't report fake news at Tugfax but we do report news about fake tugs.Our favourite fake tug being of course Theodore Too, that well known tourist attraction built as a life size version of a tiny tug from the children's television series of the same name.

Much to the disappointment of many, the "tug" was transferred to Saint John. NB for the 2018 summer season, where no doubt it entertained many, including cruise ship passengers. On November 2,  with the end of the cruise ship season, it was en route back to Halifax when it had problems with its gear box in the Bay of Fundy. Not a nice place for any vessel to have a problem. It called for assistance from the CCGC Westport, the Coast Guard lifeboat stationed at the port of the same name on Brier Island, at the end of Digby Neck. The Westport towed Theodore Too through Petite Passage, then on the Meteghan, NS where repairs could be made.

Theodore Too sails past George's Island where a building "keeps its eyes" on the channel.

Several charming newspaper accounts wrote of Theodore Too as a living thing - a rare example of anthropomorphism in journalism, but somehow appropriate under the circumstances. However the situation could have turned ugly and I am sure that the master of the boat, a seasoned seafarer, acted with excellent judgment in calling for assistance in a real emergency.

High winds since the incident have likely prevented the boat's return to Halifax (or possibly Lunenburg).

Another vessel, that might not be classed as a tug by some, has left Halifax for Newfoundland - and probably not on its own hull. Since it is fitted with towing bitts, I can classify it as a tug, though it did not see much service in that role.

Walrus at its usual berth in Woodside, with its registration number (painted incorrectly, with an extra "1" ) on the bow.

Registered under the small boat category, it did not have an official name, but a registration number: C14939NS. It was owned by Waterworks Construction Ltd of Dartmouth and was usually seen tied up at their facility next to the Woodside ferry terminal. It was known as Walrus but that was a purely unofficial name, and may even have been inherited from its original owners, believed to have been some branch of the Canadian government. It has an aluminum hull, and is credited with 540 bhp, but that seems excessive.

Out for a pleasure cruise - one of the few times I saw Walrus in action.
New owners are P.D.Industries Ltd of Cape Broyle, NL. a small community on the Avalon Peninsula, about midway between St.John's and Cape Race.