A detailed scientific analysis of potential oil and gas deposits in the Arctic confirms that significant resource wealth could accrue to Canada, the U.S. and other northern nations, but identifies Russia as the biggest winner. In new findings, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) estimates the Arctic may be home to 13 percent of the planet’s undiscovered oil and 30 percent of its undiscovered natural gas reserves. The report was carried in this month’s Science magazine, and billed as the “first detailed, peer-reviewed geologically based assessment of natural resources in the region.”
A team of scientists at the USGS collaborated with international researchers to conduct the first-ever comprehensive assessment of undiscovered oil and gas reserves in the Arctic. The updated estimates of the North’s promising oil and gas resources comes as polar countries pursue their competing claims to vast areas of continental shelf under the Arctic Ocean. Nations whose borders lie within the Arctic Circle are Canada, Greenland/Denmark, Norway, Russia and the United States.
The researchers note the “most likely place for oil in the Arctic is offshore northern Alaska in the Chukchi Sea” — a zone where U.S. and Russian interests are likely to clash. Canada’s best bet for Arctic oil and gas is in the Beaufort Sea in a region near the disputed offshore boundary between Yukon and Alaska that cuts through a sediment-rich sea floor.
The more dramatic wealth of the Arctic lies in natural gas resources. The USGS estimates that the region contains three times as much undiscovered natural gas as crude oil, on an energy-equivalent basis.
Researchers say that deep ocean basins have relatively low petroleum potential, but the Arctic is one of the world’s largest remaining areas where oil and gas are accessible. Most of the reserves are projected to be offshore, in less than 500 metres of water.
Offshore oil exploration in the Arctic is still in its infancy, but ExxonMobil and other oil companies already have staked their claim and started drilling in the Mackenzie Delta, the Barents Sea, the Sverdrup Basin, and offshore Alaska.
The USGS survey does not address the economic risks or technological challenges of extracting the Arctic’s oil and gas.
A US warship intercepted a submersible believed to be linked to the drug trade off Colombia’s Pacific coastline, Colombian officials said Saturday. The USS Simpson, a guided missile frigate, immobilized the craft and detained four men aboard, the Colombian Navy said in a statement.
The move was authorized as part of an agreement interdicting sea crafts transporting drugs signed between Bogota and Washington.
The four Colombians aboard the “drug sub” opened the valves when they saw the Simpson and sank their vessel, the statement read, noting that such crafts can transport up to 12 tonnes of cocaine. The Colombian Navy has intercepted, sometimes with help from other countries, 39 submersibles, including six in 2009, thwarting “the transportation of more than 30 tonnes of cocaine abroad.”
Security officials report an increase in the use of locally-built submersibles which can be at sea for up to 14 days and have a range of up to 3,200 kilometers (2,000 miles). The vessels, often made of fiberglass, glide under the ocean surface with only the cockpit and the exhaust tubes extending above the water and are difficult to detect with radar or sonar.
The familiar model of Atlantic ocean currents that shows a discrete “conveyor belt” of deep, cold water flowing southward from the Labrador Sea is probably all wet.
New research led by Duke University and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution relied on an armada of sophisticated floats to show that much of this water, originating in the sea between Newfoundland and Greenland, is diverted generally eastward by the time it flows as far south as Massachusetts. From there it disburses to the depths in complex ways that are difficult to follow.
A 50-year-old model of ocean currents had shown this southbound subsurface flow of cold water forming a continuous loop with the familiar northbound flow of warm water on the surface, called the Gulf Stream. “Everybody always thought this deep flow operated like a conveyor belt, but what we are saying is that concept doesn’t hold anymore,” said Duke oceanographer Susan Lozier. “So it’s going to be more difficult to measure these climate change signals in the deep ocean.”
And since cold Labrador seawater is thought to influence and perhaps moderate human-caused climate change, this finding may affect the work of global warming forecasters. “To learn more about how the cold deep waters spread, we will need to make more measurements in the deep ocean interior, not just close to the coast where we previously thought the cold water was confined,” said Woods Hole’s Amy Bower.
Climatologists pay attention to the Labrador Sea because it is one of the starting points of a global circulation pattern that transports cold northern water south to make the tropics a little cooler and then returns warm water at the surface, via the Gulf Stream, to moderate temperatures of northern Europe. Since forecasters say effects of global warming are magnified at higher latitudes, that makes the Labrador Sea an added focus of attention. Surface waters there absorb heat-trapping carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. And a substantial amount of that CO2 then gets pulled underwater where it is no longer available to warm Earth’s climate.
“We know that a good fraction of the human caused carbon dioxide released since the Industrial revolution is now in the deep North Atlantic” Lozier said. And going along for the ride are also climate-caused water temperature variations originating in the same Labrador Sea location.
Oceanographers long thought all this Labrador seawater moved south along what is called the Deep Western Boundary Current (DWBC), which hugs the eastern North American continental shelf all the way to near Florida and then continues further south. But studies in the 1990s using submersible floats that followed underwater currents showed little evidence of southbound export of Labrador sea water within the Deep Western Boundary Current (DWBC).
Scientists challenged those earlier studies, however, in part because the floats had to return to the surface to report their positions and observations to satellite receivers. That meant the floats’ data could have been “biased by upper ocean currents when they periodically ascended,” the report added. To address those criticisms, Lozier and Bower launched 76 special Range and Fixing of Sound floats into the current south of the Labrador Sea between 2003 and 2006. Those “RAFOS” floats could stay submerged at 700 or 1,500 meters depth and still communicate their data for a range of about 1,000 kilometres using a network of special low frequency and amplitude seismic signals.
But only 8 percent of the RAFOS floats’ followed the conveyor belt of the Deep Western Boundary Current. About 75 percent of them “escaped” that coast-hugging deep underwater pathway and instead drifted into the open ocean by the time they rounded the southern tail of the Grand Banks. Eight percent “is a remarkably low number in light of the expectation that the DWBC is the dominant pathway for Labrador Sea Water,” the researchers wrote.
Studies led by Lozier and other researchers had previously suggested cold northern waters might follow such “interior pathways” rather than the conveyor belt in route to subtropical regions of the North Atlantic. But “these float tracks offer the first evidence of the dominance of this pathway compared to the DWBC.”
Since the RAFOS float paths could only be tracked for two years, Lozier, her graduate student Stefan Gary, and German oceanographer Claus Boning also used a modeling program to simulate the launch and dispersal of more than 7,000 virtual “e-floats” from the same starting point. “That way we could send out many more floats than we can in real life, for a longer period of time,” Lozier said.
Subjecting those e-floats to the same underwater dynamics as the real ones, the researchers then traced where they moved. “The spread of the model and the RAFOS float trajectories after two years is very similar,” they reported. “The new float observations and simulated float trajectories provide evidence that the southward interior pathway is more important for the transport of Labrador Sea Water through the subtropics than the DWBC, contrary to previous thinking,” their report concluded.
“That means it is going to be more difficult to measure climate signals in the deep ocean,” Lozier said. “We thought we could just measure them in the Deep Western Boundary Current, but we really can’t.
This past weekend, Marport lost a fervent supporter. We also lost a good friend.
He was known as a Good Samaritan – and in fact – Jeff Wheeler was returning home from a conference for small conservation charities when his motorcycle collided with a car.
Jeff, aged 40, died as a result of injuries he sustained this past Saturday near his home of Naramata, British Columbia. He was rushed to Penticton Regional Hospital, where he eventually succumbed to his injuries. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police have ruled out speed and alcohol as factors in the accident. The driver of the other vehicle did not sustain any injuries.
Jeff had a sharp business mind which took him into the world of finance and investment banking, most recently as a senior executive with Manulife Financial. While his work often involved significant travel, he kept a deep passion for his home and his family. Jeff’s top priority was always his wife, Laurie, and three daughters. He thrived on adventures with his family and always made a place for events that involved both family and friends.
Jeff will be greatly missed.
The Indian Navy added another asset to its littoral warfare fleet with the May 19 commissioning of its sixth India-built landing ship tank, the INS Airavat, in Kolkata. The ship was handed over by the builders, state-owned Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers, Kolkata, on March 30.
INS Airavat is the third ship of the Shardul class Landing Ship Tank and is the 132nd ship commissioned by the Indian Navy
The ship, designed for amphibious operations, will be able to carry 10 main battle tanks, 11 combat trucks and 500 troops, according to a Defence Ministry release. “With a significantly enhanced weapon package, latest control systems and better habitability conditions, Airavat delivers considerable punch and amphibious capabilities to the fighting prowess of the Indian Navy,” the release states.
INS Airavat will be a potent assault platform that can carry the Sea King helicopter and the Indian-made Dhruv advanced light helicopter. Airavat “is fitted with two indigenous rocket launchers to support successful amphibious operations,” the Defence Ministry statement said. “The threat from the air is dealt with through two anti-aircraft guns auto-controlled by optronic sights and shoulder-launched IGLA surface to-air missiles.”
Built at a cost of about $100 million, INS Airavat can operate at sea for 45 days and can also be used as a fleet tanker or for humanitarian and disaster relief missions.
India’s naval doctrine of 2004 directed the Navy to prepare for littoral warfare. The Navy plans to spend billions of dollars on sea- and shore-based assets to meet that goal.
India bought its sole landing platform deck, the INS Jalashwa – formerly the USS Trenton – from the United States in 2007. The 7,700-kilometer-range ship can carry 900 troops, six tanks, 2,000 tons of stores, four landing craft and six helicopters.
A major naval challenge is occurring in the undersea environment. Command of the seas depends on achieving and maintaining undersea superiority. In littoral waters and maritime chokepoints, this requires an ability to counter underwater mines, while in deeper waters the ability to counter submarines is paramount.
Future multi-dimensional maritime battle networks will likely include undersea combat networks. This will require that allied navies develop deployable undersea combat networks, consisting of surface vessels, submarines, small manned underwater vehicles, autonomous underwater vehicles and deployable sonar and sensor arrays, all operating in a network-centric underwater battlespace. These new requirements call for a robust and sustained undersea warfare research and development effort. Accordingly, navies should begin a concerted R&D program for these types of systems, as well as a new generation of littoral anti-submarine sonar systems.
Marport is a world leader in the design and development of Software Defined Sonar – a broadband, multimode sonar technology platform that uses programmable digital processors to provide the features needed for next generation underwater sensing, surveillance and communication applications.
Being a genuine broadband, multimode sonar system, Software Defined Sonar is not restricted to operation on a single frequency or proprietary transducers. As such, it can serve a wide variety of legacy sonar applications and can support rapid development and deployment of novel sonar solutions. The flexibility of the system’s software configurable “sonar computer” allows users to dynamically tune the transceiver from 1 kHz to 1.25 MHz. The system increases underwater tactical capability, improves functionality, enhances signal processing and substantially reduces costs – all while replacing racks of legacy sonar equipment.
The White Paper (in PDF format) can be downloaded by clicking the following link: Software Defined Sonar for the Network Centric Underwater Battlespace
On May 27 and 28, Marport will be exhibiting its Software Defined Sonar technology at the CANSEC (Canadian Security) Conference to be held in Ottawa, Ontario.
It is the tenth exhibition in the highly successful CANSEC series, which has demonstrated the value in bringing security practitioners together with their supporting industry counterparts. Recognizing the importance of national and continental security, this event will showcase innovative industrial capabilities and service offerings designed to further Canada’s objectives in meeting domestic and international security imperatives.
The show will feature product presentations and capability displays of Canada’s leading edge defence and security technologies to a wide audience that includes government agencies and departments with interests in security, public safety, risk mitigation, threat response and emergency planning.
Requests for meetings can be co-ordinated with Glenda Leyte. Glenda’s email is: firstname.lastname@example.org
“As a leading provider of high-performance underwater acoustic technology, Marport is introducing to market next-generation sonar systems based on their advanced Software Defined Sonar (SDS) signal processing system. Seeking a demonstration platform for these new systems, Marport investigated existing Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) technology, and identified a opportunity to develop an innovative new vehicle; the SQX-1 AUV.
The SQX-1 is a compact, lightweight AUV designed for search and survey applications in coastal waters up to 500 metres in depth. Employing a unique propulsion and control concept based on thrust vectoring, the SQX-1 is passively stable in pitch and roll, and features high manoeuvrability with capabilities such as hovering, and a zero-turning radius. Desiring a short to market lead-time, and necessitated by the unique features of the design, a rapid prototyping methodology was applied to the SQX-1 design cycle. The first phase of the design cycle dictates production of an “Alpha” prototype, developed to evaluate full-scale vehicle characteristics and to demonstrate the unique propulsion and control system. The development of this prototype and its key features are presented in this paper.”
David advises that over 40 people attended his presentation, and had plenty of questions. The SQX-1 generated a lot of interest, especially from the technical community. Most of the other AUV’s presented and discussed were “traditional torpedo designs”, so the Marport vehicle was definitely a point of much discussion.
David’s paper (in PDF format) can be downloaded by clicking the following link Prototype Development of the SQX-1 Autonomous Underwater Vehicle.
Agence France Presse quotes naval consultancy AMI International, whose analysts are forecasting that Asian states will spend $60 billion to modernize their navies in the next 5 years. That amount is very similar to the USA’s forecast spend over the same period. If the USA is excluded from calculations, it’s more than the forecast combined spend among all NATO states.
So, where’s the focus expected to be? And who is expected to lead?
AMI International VP Bob Nugent sees a focus on submarines, frigates and aviation-capable ships, as Asian countries begin to build navies for “blue water” use around the globe rather than focusing on local patrol.
China, Japan, and South Korea are expected to lead spending. South Korea has taken steps to maintain its world-leading shipbuilding capabilities despite the global downturn, capabilities that have become a national asset translating into on-time, on-budget delivery of very advanced navy ships. India is also making investments, Singapore maintains a very modern fleet, and Australia’s 2009 White Paper places more emphasis on the RAN. Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand are also expected to invest in modernization over the next 5 years.
AMI International VP Bob Nugent Nugent said, “Defense spending in Asia has proven stable over the last year and is expected to remain so. Looking at the global market, we’ve not seen the same cutbacks that are unfolding in Europe. In our view, this reflects greater macroeconomic stability and relatively less exposure to systemic and credit risk in most Asian economies as well as a recognition of how vital effective sea power is to national security and prosperity.”
On May 12th 2009, F/V Pacific Glacier re-entered the North Pacific fishing fleet, after a long overhaul and rebuilding effort – a consequence of severe fire damage in the Bering Sea during the 2008 A-season. The vessel was originally built at Todd Shipyard in Seattle as a supply boat and rebuilt by Mjellem & Karlsen in Norway in 1988. The 92 metre factory trawler is now fitted with advanced marine electronics designed to maximize its efficiency in navigation and fishing operations including a state of the art integrated bridge system allowing instant access of information, propulsion and fishing gear controls .
The F/V Pacific Glacier has been fitted with Marport’s Smart Catch® trawl monitoring solution including multi-function sensors for trawl door distance, depth, pitch and roll, a Trawl Explorer wireless net sounder with depth and temperature functions, a trawl speed sensor and multiple catch sensors. All Marport sensors have been integrated into the vessel’s high speed data network allowing multiple customized display presentations for instant access of trawling information, from multiple locations around the vessel.
A complete sea trial of trawl gear and monitoring equipment was successfully conducted in the Puget Sound in preparation to the start of the hake fishing season on the USA west coast.
Marport extends best wishes to the owners and crew for successful fishing. Welcome back to the fleet!