11/5/2014: Assistant Commandant for Prevention on domestic oil and gas production

Last week, the North American Marine Environment Protection Association hosted a conference in New York, Rear Adm. Paul Thomas was a keynote speaker.

Thomas, assistant commandant for prevention policy, was asked to provide a regulatory review at the NAMEPA conference. Thomas shared what he sees as the most significant factors influencing maritime governance today and into the future. Maritime Commons will present an excerpt of the key takeaways from Thomas’ remarks in a three-part series.

His comments shared in this post are focused the domestic oil and gas production boom. Read the other two posts for additional summarized comments on the greening of the maritime industry and the complexity cycle.

Delivered by Rear Adm. Paul Thomas

Domestic energy boom

We have seen double digit percentage increases in both oil and gas production over the past five years; a trend that is predicated to continue for at least another five years with production remaining very high for decades.

It is not just oil and gas; it is all of the bi-products and manufacturing that comes with it including production of chemicals and the associated manufacturing including plastics and other materials.

Liquefied natural gas exports will soon begin out of Texas, and many more export terminals are in the works. LNG exports are projected to grow to the tune of a hundred of ships per week – even more according to some.

Gas fueled vessels and gas fueling infrastructure is a very near reality, and represents a win-win solution for many who operate for prolonged periods in the North American Emissions Control Area.

New crude oil trading routes are developing south bound on the inland rivers. East bound along the gulf coast, on the Hudson, the Saint Lawrence Seaway, and soon on the Great Lakes, and traffic has increased along both the East and West Coasts.

Our shipyards are producing one new tank barge per day, we are building new Jones Act tankers, and the world’s first gas fuel container ships.

These are exciting time with tremendous opportunity.

But there are real challenges here as well.

The most significant challenges speak to our capacity. The capacity of our ports and waters, our shipyards, locks and terminals which are stretched to be sure, but so too is our capacity to provide qualified, properly experienced and rested mariners.

There are challenges in our capacity to respond when needed to incidents, particularly in areas where crude oil was not previously present and so Oil Spill Response Organizations and the rest of the response community are limited.

And there are challenges in our capacity to provide maritime governance in terms of developing timely and relevant standards, and the people who understand and can help ensure compliance with those standards.

So, the domestic energy production and transport boom is the first factor that I think will influence the future of maritime governance in the United States and, quite frankly, in many parts of the world because the technological advances that have allowed the renaissance we have seen in the US, are just as applicable and just as effective elsewhere.

In addition to this post about domestic oil and gas production, be sure to read the other two posts with Thomas’ remarks from the NAMEPA conference.

Greening of the industry 
Complexity cycle

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