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Caribbean Sea – Wikipedia

Posted: January 16, 2017 at 11:58 pm

The Caribbean Sea (Spanish: Mar Caribe French: Mer des Carabes Dutch: Carabische Zee) is a sea of the Atlantic Ocean in the tropics of the Western Hemisphere. It is bounded by Mexico and Central America to the west and south west, to the north by the Greater Antilles starting with Cuba, to the east by the Lesser Antilles, and to the south by the north coast of South America.

The entire area of the Caribbean Sea, the numerous islands of the West Indies, and adjacent coasts, are collectively known as the Caribbean. The Caribbean Sea is one of the largest seas and has an area of about 2,754,000km2 (1,063,000 sq mi).[1] The sea’s deepest point is the Cayman Trough, between the Cayman Islands and Jamaica, at 7,686m (25,220ft) below sea level. The Caribbean coastline has many gulfs and bays: the Gulf of Gonve, Gulf of Venezuela, Gulf of Darin, Golfo de los Mosquitos, Gulf of Paria and Gulf of Honduras.

The Caribbean Sea has the world’s second biggest barrier reef, the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef. It runs 1,000km (620mi) along the coasts of Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras.[2]

The name “Caribbean” derives from the Caribs, one of the region’s dominant Native American groups at the time of European contact during the late 15th century. After the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus in 1492, the Spanish term Antillas applied to the lands; stemming from this, “Sea of the Antilles” became a common alternative name for “Caribbean Sea” in various European languages. During the first century of development, Spanish dominance in the region remained undisputed.

From the 16th century, Europeans visiting the Caribbean region identified the “South Sea” (the Pacific Ocean, to the south of the isthmus of Panama) as opposed to the “North Sea” (the Caribbean Sea, to the north of the same isthmus).[3]

The Caribbean Sea had been unknown to the populations of Eurasia until 1492, when Christopher Columbus sailed into Caribbean waters on a quest to find a sea route to Asia. At that time the Western Hemisphere in general was unknown to Europeans. Following the discovery of the islands by Columbus, the area was quickly colonised by several Western cultures (initially Spain, then later Portugal,[citation needed]England, the Dutch Republic, France, Courland and Denmark). Following the colonisation of the Caribbean islands, the Caribbean Sea became a busy area for European-based marine trading and transport, and this commerce eventually attracted pirates such as Samuel Bellamy and Blackbeard. (See Piracy in the Caribbean)

Due to the abundance of sunshine, year-round tropical temperatures moderated by the almost constant trade winds and the great variety of scenic destinations to visit, during the second half of the 20th century and on into the 21st the Caribbean Sea became a popular place for tourism.

As of 2015[update] the area is home to 22 island territories and borders 12 continental countries.

The Caribbean Sea is an oceanic sea largely situated on the Caribbean Plate. The Caribbean Sea is separated from the ocean by several island arcs of various ages. The youngest stretches from the Lesser Antilles to the Virgin Islands to the north east of Trinidad and Tobago off the coast of Venezuela. This arc was formed by the collision of the South American Plate with the Caribbean Plate and includes active and extinct volcanoes such as Mount Pelee, the Quill (volcano) on Sint Eustatius in the Caribbean Netherlands and Morne Trois Pitons on Dominica. The larger islands in the northern part of the sea Cuba, Hispaniola, Jamaica and Puerto Rico lie on an older island arc.

The geological age of the Caribbean Sea is estimated to be between 160 and 180 million years and was formed by a horizontal fracture that split the supercontinent called Pangea in the Mesozoic Era.[5] It is assumed the proto-caribbean basin existed in the Devonian period. In the early Carboniferous movement of Gondwana to the north and its convergence with the Euramerica basin decreased in size. The next stage of the Caribbean Sea’s formation began in the Triassic. Powerful rifting led to the formation of narrow troughs, stretching from modern Newfoundland to the west coast of the Gulf of Mexico which formed siliciclastic sedimentary rocks. In the early Jurassic due to powerful marine transgression, water broke into the present area of the Gulf of Mexico creating a vast shallow pool. The emergence of deep basins in the Caribbean occurred during the Middle Jurassic rifting. The emergence of these basins marked the beginning of the Atlantic Ocean and contributed to the destruction of Pangaea at the end of the late Jurassic. During the Cretaceous the Caribbean acquired the shape close to that seen today. In the early Paleogene due to Marine regression the Caribbean became separated from the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean by the land of Cuba and Haiti. The Caribbean remained like this for most of the Cenozoic until the Holocene when rising water levels of the oceans restored communication with the Atlantic Ocean.

The Caribbean’s floor is composed of sub-oceanic sediments of deep red clay in the deep basins and troughs. On continental slopes and ridges calcareous silts are found. Clay minerals likely having been deposited by the mainland river Orinoco and the Magdalena River. Deposits on the bottom of the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico have a thickness of about 1km. Upper sedimentary layers relate to the period from the Mesozoic to the Cenozoic (250 million years ago to present) and the lower layers from the Paleozoic to the Mesozoic.

The Caribbean sea floor is divided into five basins separated from each other by underwater ridges and mountain ranges. Atlantic Ocean water enters the Caribbean through the Anegada Passage lying between the Lesser Antilles and Virgin Islands and the Windward Passage located between Cuba and Haiti. The Yucatn Channel between Mexico and Cuba links the Gulf of Mexico with the Caribbean. The deepest points of the sea lie in Cayman Trough with depths reaching approximately 7,686 m (25,220ft). Despite this, the Caribbean Sea is considered a relatively shallow sea in comparison to other bodies of water.

The pressure of the South American Plate to the east of the Caribbean causes the region of the Lesser Antilles to have high volcanic activity. There was a very serious eruption of Mount Pele in 1902 which caused many casualties.

The Caribbean sea floor is also home to two oceanic trenches: the Cayman Trench and Puerto Rico Trench, which put the area at a high risk of earthquakes. Underwater earthquakes pose a threat of generating tsunamis which could have a devastating effect on the Caribbean islands. Scientific data reveals that over the last 500 years the area has seen a dozen earthquakes above 7.5 magnitude.[8] Most recently, a 7.1 earthquake struck Haiti on January 12, 2010.

The hydrology of the sea has a high level of homogeneity. Annual variations in monthly average water temperatures at the surface do not exceed 3C. Over the past fifty years the Caribbean has gone through three stages: cooling until 1974; a cold phase with peaks during 1974-1976 and 1984-1986 then; a warming phase with increase in temperature of 0.6C per year. Virtually all temperature extremes were associated with the phenomena of el Nio and la Nia. The salinity of sea water is about 3.6% and its density is 1.0235-1.0240 103kg/m3. The surface water colour is blue-green to green.

The Caribbean is home to about 9% of the world’s coral reefs covering about 50,000km2 (19,000sqmi), most of which are located off the Caribbean Islands and the Central American coast.[9] Among them stands out the Belize Barrier Reef with an area of 96,300 ha which was declared a World Heritage Site in 1996. It forms part of the Great Mayan Reef also known as the MBRS and being over a thousand km in length is the world’s second longest. It runs along the Caribbean coasts of Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras.

During the past ten years,[when?] unusually warm Caribbean waters have been increasingly threatening Caribbean coral reefs. Coral reefs support some of the most diverse marine habitats in the world, but they are fragile ecosystems. When tropical waters become unusually warm for extended periods of time, microscopic plants called zooxanthellae, which are symbiotic partners living within the coral polyp tissues, die off. These plants provide food for the corals, and give them their color. The result of the death and dispersal of these tiny plants is called coral bleaching, and can lead to the devastation of large areas of reef. Over 42% of corals are completely bleached and 95% are experiencing some type of whitening.[10]

The habitats supported by the reefs are critical to such tourist activities as fishing and diving, and provide an annual economic value to Caribbean nations of $3.1-$4.6 billion. Continued destruction of the reefs could severely damage the region’s economy.[11] A Protocol of the Convention for the Protection and Development of the Marine Environment of the Wider Caribbean Region came in effect in 1986 to protect the various endangered marine life of the Caribbean through forbidding human activities that would advance the continued destruction of such marine life in various areas. Currently this protocol has been ratified by 15 countries.[12] Also several charitable organisations have been formed to preserve the Caribbean marine life, such as Caribbean Conservation Corporation which seeks to study and protect sea turtles while educating others about them.[13]

In connection with the foregoing, the Institute of Marine Sciences and Limnology of the National Autonomous University of Mexico, conducted a regional study, funded by the Department of Technical Cooperation of the International Atomic Energy Agency, in which specialists from 11 Latin American countries (Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Dominican Republic, Venezuela plus Jamaica) participated. The findings indicate that heavy metals such as mercury, arsenic and lead, have been identified in the coastal zone of the Caribbean Sea. Analysis of toxic metals and hydrocarbons is based on the investigation of coastal sediments that have accumulated less than 50 meters deep during the last hundred and fifty years. The project results were presented in Vienna in the forum “Water Matters”, and the 2011 General Conference of said multilateral organization.[14]

The Caribbean weather is influenced by the Gulf Stream and Humboldt Current ocean currents.[16] The tropical location of the sea helps the water to maintain a warm temperature ranging from the low of 2126C (7079F) by the season.

The Caribbean is a focal area for many hurricanes within the Western Hemisphere. A series of low pressure systems develop off the West coast of Africa and make their way across the Atlantic Ocean. While most of these systems do not become tropical storms, some do. The tropical storms can develop into Atlantic hurricanes, often in the low pressure areas of the eastern Caribbean. The Caribbean hurricane season as a whole lasts from June through November, with the majority of hurricanes occurring during August and September. On average around 9 tropical storms form each year, with 5 reaching hurricane strength. According to the National Hurricane Center 385 hurricanes occurred in the Caribbean between 1494 and 1900.

Every year hurricanes represent a potential threat to the islands of the Caribbean, due to the extremely destructive nature of these powerful weather systems. Coral reefs can easily be damaged by violent wave action, and can be destroyed when a hurricane dumps sand or mud onto a reef. When this happens, the coral organisms are smothered and the reef dies and ultimately breaks apart.

The region has a high level of biodiversity and many species are endemic to the Caribbean.

The vegetation of the region is mostly tropical but differences in topography, soil and climatic conditions increase species diversity. Where there are porous limestone terraced islands these are generally poor in nutrients. It is estimated that 13 thousand species of plants grow in the Caribbean of which 6.5 thousand are endemic. For example, guaiac wood (Guaiacum officinale), the flower of which is the national flower of Jamaica and the Bayahibe rose (Pereskia quisqueyana) which is the national flower of the Dominican Republic and the ceiba which is the national tree of both Puerto Rico and Guatemala. The mahogany is the national tree of the Dominican Republic and Belize. The caimito (Chrysophyllum cainito) grows throughout the Caribbean. In coastal zones there are coconut palms and in lagoons and estuaries are found thick areas of black mangrove and red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle).

In shallow water flora and fauna is concentrated around coral reefs where there is little variation in water temperature, purity and salinity. Leeward side of lagoons provide areas of growth for sea grasses. Turtle grass (Thalassia testudinum) is common in the Caribbean as is manatee grass (Syringodium filiforme) which can grow together as well as in fields of single species at depths up to 20 metres. Another type shoal grass (Halodule wrightii) grows on sand and mud surfaces at depths of up to 5 metres. In brackish water of harbours and estuaries at depths less than 2.5 metres widgeongrass (Ruppia maritima) grows. Representatives of three species belonging to the genus Halophila, (Halophila baillonii, Halophila engelmannii and Halophila decipiens) are found at depths of up to 30 metres except for Halophila engelmani which does not grow below 5 metres and is confined to the Bahamas, Florida, the Greater Antilles and the western part of the Caribbean. Halophila baillonii has been found only in the Lesser Antilles.[17]

Marine biota in the region have representatives of both the Indian and Pacific oceans which were caught in the Caribbean before the emergence of the Isthmus of Panama four million years ago.[18] In the Caribbean Sea there are around 1,000 documented species of fish, including sharks (bull shark, tiger shark, silky shark and Caribbean reef shark), flying fish, giant oceanic manta ray, angel fish, spotfin butterflyfish, parrotfish, Atlantic Goliath grouper, tarpon and moray eels. Throughout the Caribbean there is industrial catching of lobster and sardines (off the coast of Yucatn Peninsula).

There are 90 species of mammals in the Caribbean including sperm whales, humpback whales and dolphins. The island of Jamaica is home to seals and manatees. The Caribbean monk seal which lived in the Caribbean is considered extinct. The solenodon is endangered.

There are 500 species of reptiles (94% of which are endemic). Islands are inhabited by some endemic species such as rock iguanas and American crocodile. The green iguana and the blue iguana both endemic to the island of Grand Cayman are endangered. The Mona ground iguana which inhabits the island of Mona, Puerto Rico, is endangered. The rhinoceros iguana from the island of Hispaniola which is shared between Haiti and the Dominican Republic is also endangered. The region has several types of sea turtle (loggerhead, green turtle, hawksbill, leatherback turtle, Atlantic ridley and olive ridley). Some species are threatened with extinction.[19] Their populations have been greatly reduced since the 17th century – the number of green turtles has declined from 91 million to 300,000 and hawksbill turtles from 11 million to less than 30,000 by 2006.[20]

All 170 species of amphibians that live in the region are endemic. The habitats of almost all members of the toad family, poison dart frogs, tree frogs and leptodactylidae (a type of frog) are limited to only one island.[21] The Golden coqui is in serious threat of extinction.

In the Caribbean 600 species of birds have been recorded of which 163 are endemic such as the tody, Fernandina’s flicker and palmchat. The American yellow warbler is found in many areas as is the green heron. Of the endemic species 48 are threatened with extinction including the Puerto Rican amazon, yellow-breasted crake and the Zapata wren. According to Birdlife International in 2006 in Cuba 29 species of bird are in danger of extinction and two species officially extinct.[22] The black-fronted piping guan is endangered as is the plain pigeon. The Antilles along with Central America lie in the flight path of migrating birds from North America so the size of populations is subject to seasonal fluctuations. In the forests are found parrots, bananaquit and toucans. Over the open sea can be seen frigatebirds and tropicbirds.

The Caribbean region has seen a significant increase in human activity since the colonisation period. The sea is one of the largest oil production areas in the world, producing approximately 170 million tons per year.[23] The area also generates a large fishing industry for the surrounding countries, accounting for half a million metric tons of fish a year.[24]

Human activity in the area also accounts for a significant amount of pollution, The Pan American Health Organization estimated in 1993 that only about 10% of the sewage from the Central American and Caribbean Island countries is properly treated before being released into the sea.[23]

The Caribbean region supports a large tourist industry. The Caribbean Tourism Organization calculates that about 12 million people a year visit the area, including (in 19911992) about 8 million cruise ship tourists. Tourism based upon scuba diving and snorkeling on coral reefs of many Caribbean islands makes a major contribution to their economies.[25]

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Offshore drilling – Wikipedia

Posted: January 8, 2017 at 8:10 pm

Offshore drilling is a mechanical process where a wellbore is drilled below the seabed. It is typically carried out in order to explore for and subsequently extract petroleum which lies in rock formations beneath the seabed. Most commonly, the term is used to describe drilling activities on the continental shelf, though the term can also be applied to drilling in lakes, inshore waters and inland seas.

Offshore drilling presents environmental challenges, both from the produced hydrocarbons and the materials used during the drilling operation. Controversies include the ongoing US offshore drilling debate.

There are many different types of facilities from which offshore drilling operations take place. These include bottom founded drilling rigs (jackup barges and swamp barges), combined drilling and production facilities either bottom founded or floating platforms, and deepwater mobile offshore drilling units (MODU) including semi-submersibles and drillships. These are capable of operating in water depths up to 3,000 metres (9,800ft). In shallower waters the mobile units are anchored to the seabed, however in deeper water (more than 1,500 metres (4,900ft) the semisubmersibles or drillships are maintained at the required drilling location using dynamic positioning.

Around 1891, the first submerged oil wells were drilled from platforms built on piles in the fresh waters of the Grand Lake St. Marys (a.k.a. Mercer County Reservoir) in Ohio. The wells were developed by small local companies such as Bryson, Riley Oil, German-American and Banker’s Oil.

Around 1896, the first submerged oil wells in salt water were drilled in the portion of the Summerland field extending under the Santa Barbara Channel in California. The wells were drilled from piers extending from land out into the channel.[1][2]

Other notable early submerged drilling activities occurred on the Canadian side of Lake Erie in the 1900s and Caddo Lake in Louisiana in the 1910s. Shortly thereafter wells were drilled in tidal zones along the Texas and Louisiana gulf coast. The Goose Creek Oil Field near Baytown, Texas is one such example. In the 1920s drilling activities occurred from concrete platforms in Venezuela’s Lake Maracaibo.

One of the oldest subsea wells is the Bibi Eibat well, which came on stream in 1923 in Azerbaijan.[3][dubious discuss] The well was located on an artificial island in a shallow portion of the Caspian Sea. In the early 1930s, the Texas Co., later Texaco (now Chevron) developed the first mobile steel barges for drilling in the brackish coastal areas of the Gulf of Mexico.

In 1937, Pure Oil (now Chevron) and its partner Superior Oil (now ExxonMobil) used a fixed platform to develop a field 1 mile (1.6km) offshore of Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana in 14 feet (4.3m) of water.

In 1938, Humble Oil built a mile-long wooden trestle with railway tracks into the sea at McFadden Beach on the Gulf of Mexico, placing a derrick at its end – this was later destroyed by a hurricane.[4]

In 1945, concern for American control of its offshore oil reserves caused President Harry Truman to issue an Executive Order unilaterally extending American territory to the edge of its continental shelf, an act that effectively ended the 3-mile limit “freedom of the seas” regime.

In 1946, Magnolia Petroleum (now ExxonMobil) drilled at a site 18 miles (29km) off the coast, erecting a platform in 18 feet (5.5m) of water off St. Mary Parish, Louisiana.

In early 1947, Superior Oil erected a drilling and production platform in 20 feet (6.1m) of water some 18 miles (29km) off Vermilion Parish, La. But it was Kerr-McGee Oil Industries (now Anadarko Petroleum), as operator for partners Phillips Petroleum (ConocoPhillips) and Stanolind Oil & Gas (BP) that completed its historic Ship Shoal Block 32 well in October 1947, months before Superior actually drilled a discovery from their Vermilion platform farther offshore. In any case, that made Kerr-McGee’s well the first oil discovery drilled out of sight of land.[5]

When offshore drilling moved into deeper waters of up to 30 metres (98ft), fixed platform rigs were built, until demands for drilling equipment was needed in the 100 feet (30m) to 120 metres (390ft) depth of the Gulf of Mexico, the first jack-up rigs began appearing from specialized offshore drilling contractors such as forerunners of ENSCO International.

The first semi-submersible resulted from an unexpected observation in 1961. Blue Water Drilling Company owned and operated the four-column submersible Blue Water Rig No.1 in the Gulf of Mexico for Shell Oil Company. As the pontoons were not sufficiently buoyant to support the weight of the rig and its consumables, it was towed between locations at a draught midway between the top of the pontoons and the underside of the deck. It was noticed that the motions at this draught were very small, and Blue Water Drilling and Shell jointly decided to try operating the rig in the floating mode. The concept of an anchored, stable floating deep-sea platform had been designed and tested back in the 1920s by Edward Robert Armstrong for the purpose of operating aircraft with an invention known as the ‘seadrome’. The first purpose-built drilling semi-submersible Ocean Driller was launched in 1963. Since then, many semi-submersibles have been purpose-designed for the drilling industry mobile offshore fleet.

The first offshore drillship was the CUSS 1 developed for the Mohole project to drill into the Earth’s crust.

As of June, 2010, there were over 620 mobile offshore drilling rigs (Jackups, semisubs, drillships, barges) available for service in the competitive rig fleet.[6]

One of the world’s deepest hubs is currently the Perdido in the Gulf of Mexico, floating in 2,438 meters of water. It is operated by Royal Dutch Shell and was built at a cost of $3 billion.[7] The deepest operational platform is the Petrobras America Cascade FPSO in the Walker Ridge 249 field in 2,600 meters of water.

Notable offshore fields include:

Offshore oil and gas production is more challenging than land-based installations due to the remote and harsher environment. Much of the innovation in the offshore petroleum sector concerns overcoming these challenges, including the need to provide very large production facilities. Production and drilling facilities may be very large and a large investment, such as the Troll A platform standing on a depth of 300 meters.

Another type of offshore platform may float with a mooring system to maintain it on location. While a floating system may be lower cost in deeper waters than a fixed platform, the dynamic nature of the platforms introduces many challenges for the drilling and production facilities.

The ocean can add several billion meters or more to the fluid column. The addition increases the equivalent circulating density and downhole pressures in drilling wells, as well as the energy needed to lift produced fluids for separation on the platform.

The trend today is to conduct more of the production operations subsea, by separating water from oil and re-injecting it rather than pumping it up to a platform, or by flowing to onshore, with no installations visible above the sea. Subsea installations help to exploit resources at progressively deeper waterslocations which had been inaccessibleand overcome challenges posed by sea ice such as in the Barents Sea. One such challenge in shallower environments is seabed gouging by drifting ice features (means of protecting offshore installations against ice action includes burial in the seabed).

Offshore manned facilities also present logistics and human resources challenges. An offshore oil platform is a small community in itself with cafeteria, sleeping quarters, management and other support functions. In the North Sea, staff members are transported by helicopter for a two-week shift. They usually receive higher salary than onshore workers do. Supplies and waste are transported by ship, and the supply deliveries need to be carefully planned because storage space on the platform is limited. Today, much effort goes into relocating as many of the personnel as possible onshore, where management and technical experts are in touch with the platform by video conferencing. An onshore job is also more attractive for the aging workforce in the petroleum industry, at least in the western world. These efforts among others are contained in the established term integrated operations. The increased use of subsea facilities helps achieve the objective of keeping more workers onshore. Subsea facilities are also easier to expand, with new separators or different modules for different oil types, and are not limited by the fixed floor space of an above-water installation.

Offshore oil production involves environmental risks, most notably oil spills from oil tankers or pipelines transporting oil from the platform to onshore facilities, and from leaks and accidents on the platform.[9]Produced water is also generated, which is water brought to the surface along with the oil and gas; it is usually highly saline and may include dissolved or unseparated hydrocarbons.

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Bitcoins Rally Crushed Every Other Currency in 2016. Heres …

Posted: December 17, 2016 at 12:44 am

Bitcoin, that nebulous digital currency that trades in cyberspace and is mined by code-cracking computers, emerged as a better bet this year than every major foreign-exchange trade, stock index and commodity contract.

The electronic coin that trades and is regulated like oil and gold surged 79 percent since the start of 2016 to $778, its highest level since early 2014, data compiled by Bloomberg shows. Thats four times the gains posted by Russias ruble and Brazils real, the worlds top two hard currencies.

After its 2008 creation, enthusiasts hailed bitcoin as the next big thingin foreign exchange markets and an obvious monetary evolution in an increasingly digital world. But by 2014, its value tumbled 58 percent as governments cracked down on its use and a major exchange lost account-holders funds.

There are a number of reasons the hard-to-track currency is staging a comeback now, from capital controls in places like China to isolationist rumblings in the U.K. and U.S. as well as, bitcoin supporters say, increased adoption by companies and consumers.

Bitcoin is coming into its own, says Tim Draper, a venture capitalist whos bought thousands of bitcoins over the years. There are starting to be consumer uses for bitcoin, and if people have any concerns about their own fiat currency — the rupee, for example — they flee to bitcoin as an alternate currency.

The rationale behind bitcoins booms and busts can be difficult to pinpoint, but heres what might be responsible for the cryptocurrencys stellar surge this year:

Global restrictions on sovereign currencies are playing a major role in driving increased bitcoin demand. The Chinese government, for example, made it more difficult for people to move the nations currency and spend it overseas, leading to trapped liquidity. Thats made bitcoin, which is not controlled by any government or central bank, more attractive.

Isolationist policies by some governments to restrict remittances are pushing consumers into bitcoin as well. U.S. President-elect Donald Trump said during his campaign that hed limit or halt remittances to Mexico until the Latin American nation agrees to pay for a border wall between the two countries.

The explosion of bitcoin supply growth is slowing, with so-called miners getting fewer electronic coins in exchange for letting the network use their computing power. The payment to owners of the computers that verify bitcoin transactions and record them in a public ledger known as the blockchain fell by half in the middle of this year.

More consumers are using bitcoins and more companies are accepting it as a means of payment. The use of bitcoins by investors and online shoppers is growing at a steady clip, with more than 1.1 million accounts known as wallets added in the third quarter, even with the second quarter and compared with 1.2 million a year earlier, CoinDesk says.

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Going into 2017, miner Marco Krohn sees more of the same. Many of the factors that drove bitcoin up this year will continue.

My personal expectation is that bitcoin will at least gain another 100 percent, said Krohn, chief financial officer of Hong Kong-based Genesis Mining, which deploys server farms to mine the currency.

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How the alt-right became racist, Part 2: Long before Trump …

Posted: December 11, 2016 at 7:41 am

While future neo-Nazi Richard Spencer was struggling with white nationalism in theworld of political journalism, most of the people who would later comprise the alt-rights online shock troops were involved in a different venture. They were fighting hard to make former Texas congressman Ron Paul the Republican presidential nominee, first in 2008 and again in 2012. Its more than uncanny how many current alt-right leaders backed the former Texas congressman in his quixotic bids to stop GOP mainstream candidates John McCain and Mitt Romney.

Pretty much all of the top personalities at the Right Stuff, a neo-Nazi troll mecca, started off as conventional libertarians and Paul supporters, according to the sites creator, an anonymous man who goes by the name Mike Enoch.

We were all libertarians back in the day. I mean, everybody knows this, he said on an alt-right podcast last month. After Pauls second campaign failed, Enochcompletely disengaged from politics, he added.

Paul was also the favorite of Paul Gottfried and Richard Spencer, the two men who created the term alternative right and formed the annual conference where old-school right-wing racists met and mentored young and disaffected conservativeintellectuals.

The Texas congressman was also the preferred candidate of Jared Taylor and the readers of his white nationalist website American Renaissance.

That feeling of admiration was apparently mutual. In the 1990s, Paul in his famously racist newsletters repeatedly promoted Tayloras part of a paleolibertarian strategy designed to attract racist white people. (Paul subsequently denied writing them, however.) Later on, American Renaissance wrote a featured article stating that the race-realist section of the blogosphere is one of the most enthusiastic sources of support for Mr. Paul and praised his good instincts on race, despite the fact that the author believed that Paul was no longer interested in catering to overt racists, as he formerly had.

Paul had nonracist supporters as well who would later become alt-right figures. (The self-described neo-Nazi types refer to them as alt-lite.) Libertarian radio host Alex Jones of InfoWars, a man famous for his belief in lizard people and his elaborate 9/11 conspiracy theories, dislikes being identified with the alt-right. But he is an important figure in the movements history and a key link from Ron Paul to Donald Trump.Today Jones is known today as an ardent Trump supporter but his affection for Ron Paul and his son, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, was even greater while they were runningtheir respective presidential campaigns.

In the 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns, Ron Paul was also by farthe preferred presidential candidate of the racist Politically Incorrect board known as /pol/ on 4chan. Throughout both of his unsuccessful runs, the forum served as a critical organizing portal and talent incubator for Ron Pauls youthful, tech-savvy supporters to pull off fundraising and digital feats that many political observers incorrectly attributed to hisofficial campaign staff.

The energy and enthusiasm of /pol/ and its associated imitators and rivals completely disappeared after Ron Pauls candidacies ended. He did manage to become a meme within the site, however. The digital shock troops who would later become the alt-right were waiting for someone to re-energize them.

Rand Pauls staff hoped that hed be able to build on his fathers success in 2016. It didnt happen, however. In somepart,that was because the senatorcouldnt galvanize the emergentalt-right afterhe started pushinganti-racist policies and rhetoric.

It was a roadthat the younger Paul headed down after he faced an uproar in 2010 for saying that he opposed the Civil Rights Acts public accommodation provision, which requires most private businesses to serve customers regardless of their race. Paul retracted the stance and began a minority outreach program. He also began telling his fellow Republicans that they could not remain a party exclusively for white people.

If were going to be the white party, were going to be the losing party, Sen. Rand Paul said in 2014,at an event commemorating the 50th anniversary of the law.

He has stuck to his new position, even in Republican presidential debates. Sen. Rand Paul has repeatedly embraced the campaign to equalize criminal sentencing, particularly for drug offenses, forwhites and nonwhites. He has also called for police to wear body cameras when on patrol and for local governments to stop using law enforcement as a revenue generator, both positions favored by Black Lives Matter activists and mainstream libertarians like those writing forReason magazine.

None of that went unnoticed by the online racists who formerly had supported RandPauls father, especially since they had found a new champion in Donald Trump, after he descended his golden elevator and denounced Mexico for sending drug dealers and rapists across the U.S. border. As one of them put it onhis personal blog:

Ron Pauls performance in the 2008 and 2012 elections was due to disaffected voters, including many White Nationalists who supported him, not ideological libertarians. All those people have since abandoned Rand Paul and thrown their support behind Donald Trump because of his foolish decision to go mainstream.

During the 2016 presidential election, Jones and his team supported the younger Paul for the GOP nomination until the very end ofhis short-lived bid.Shortly after Trump declared his candidacy,Jones top lieutenant created his own anti-Trump conspiracy theory,declaring the former television star to be a stooge for Democrats, designed to make the GOP lose to Hillary Clinton. InJanuary shortly before the Iowa caucuses, a distraught Jones pleaded with Paul to come up witha possible strategy to save his campaign.Id really like to see you as president,Jones said. How do we get you elected president?

With 16other Republican candidates competing in the Iowa caucuses, Pauls loss of the white nationalists doomed his chances in the Hawkeye State, where every sliver of vote share mattered greatly. In the words of an anonymous Paul campaign strategist quoted by Politico: Trump got in, Trump zoomed ahead, we collapsed, he had a massive impact in caging our people from us.

Return forPart 3: How the American conservative movement paved the way for white nationalism by embracing the Christian right

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How the alt-right became racist, Part 2: Long before Trump …

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Farallon Islands – Wikipedia

Posted: December 7, 2016 at 8:07 am

The Farallon Islands, or Farallones (from the Spanish faralln meaning “pillar” or “sea cliff”), are a group of islands and sea stacks in the Gulf of the Farallones, off the coast of San Francisco, California, United States. They lie 30 miles (48km) outside the Golden Gate and 20 miles (32km) south of Point Reyes, and are visible from the mainland on clear days. The islands are officially part of the City and County of San Francisco. The only inhabited portion of the islands is on Southeast Farallon Island (SEFI), where researchers from Point Blue Conservation Science and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service stay.[2] The islands are closed to the public.[3]

The Farallon National Wildlife Refuge is one of 63 National Wildlife Refuges that have congressionally designated wilderness status.[4] In 1974 the Farallon Wilderness was established (Public Law 93-550) and includes all islands except the Southeast Island for a total of 141 acres (57ha).[5]

The islands were long known by the name “Islands of the Dead” to the American Indians who lived in the Bay Area prior to the arrival of Europeans, but they are not thought to have traveled to them, either for practical reasons (the voyage and landing would be difficult and dangerous) or because of superstition (the islands were believed to be an abode of the spirits of the dead).[6][7][8]

The first European to land and record the islands was Spanish explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo in 1539, who named the islands “Farallones”, Spanish for cliffs or small pointed islets.[9] Cabrillo had departed from Puerto de Navidad in Mxico with two ships (three according to others): San Salvador, Victoria, and San Miguel, after which Catalina Island, Clemente and San Diego Bay were respectively named in this voyage. The expedition missed the entrance to San Francisco Bay, but it sighted and named nearby places such as “Punta de los Pinos” (Point Reyes), and “Bahia de los Pinos” (Monterey Bay).[10]

On July 24, 1579, English privateer and explorer Sir Francis Drake landed on the islands, in order to collect seal meat and bird eggs for his ship.[9] He named them the Islands of Saint James because the day after his arrival was the feast day of St James the Great. The name of St James is now applied to only one of the rocky islets of the North Farallones.

The islands were given the name “Los Frayles” (“The Friars”) by Spanish explorer Sebastin Vizcano, when he first charted them in 1603.

In the years following their discovery, during the Maritime Fur Trade era, the islands were exploited by seal hunters, first from New England and later from Russia. The Russians maintained a sealing station in the Farallones from 1812 to 1840, taking 1,200 to 1,500 fur seals annually, though American ships had already exploited the islands.[11] The Albatross, captained by Nathan Winship, and the O’Cain, captained by his brother Jonathan Winship, were the first American ships sent from Boston in 1809 to establish a settlement on the Columbia River. In 1810, they met up with two other American ships at the Farallon Islands, the Mercury and the Isabella, and at least 30,000 seal skins were taken.[12][13] By 1818 the seals diminished rapidly until only about 500 could be taken annually and within the next few years, the fur seal was extirpated from the islands. It is not known whether the northern fur seal or the Guadalupe fur seal were the islands’ native fur seal, although the northern fur seal is the species that began to recolonize the islands in 1996.

On July 17, 1827, the French sea captain Auguste Duhaut-Cilly sailed by the southernmost Farallon Island and counted the “crude dwellings of about a hundred Kodiaks stationed there by the Russians of Bodega…the Kodiaks, in their light boats, slip into San Francisco Bay by night, moving along the coast opposite the fort, and once inside this great basin they station themselves temporarily on some of the inner islands, from where they catch the sea otter without hindrance.”[15]

After Alta California was ceded by Mexico to the United States in 1848 with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, the islands’ environment became linked to the growth of the city of San Francisco. Beginning in 1853, a lighthouse was constructed on SEFI. As the city grew, the seabird colonies came under severe threat as eggs were collected in the millions for San Francisco markets. The trade, which in its heyday could yield 500,000 eggs a month, was the source of conflict between the egg collecting companies and the lighthouse keepers. This conflict turned violent in a confrontation between rival companies in 1863. The clash between two rival companies, known as the Egg War, left two men dead and marked the end of private companies on the islands, although the lighthouse keepers continued egging. This activity, combined with the threat of oil spills from San Francisco’s shipping lanes, prompted President Theodore Roosevelt to sign Executive Order No. 1043 in 1909, creating the Farallon Reservation to protect the chain’s northern islands. This was expanded to the other islands in 1969 when it became a National Wildlife Refuge.

The islands are the site of many shipwrecks. The liberty ship SS Henry Bergh, a converted troop carrier that hit West End in 1944, pieces of which can still be seen from the island today (all hands were saved). The USS Conestoga, a US Navy tugboat that disappeared with its 56 crew members in 1921, was found in 2009 and positively identified in 2016. (The Conestoga had sailed from nearby San Francisco, but the waters of the Farallons were never searched because the vessel was assumed to have traveled far out into the Pacific.)[16]

The islands have also been mentioned in connection with the schooner Malahat as one possible site for Rum Row during Prohibition.[17] The United States Coast Guard maintained a manned lighthouse until 1972, when it was automated. The islands are currently managed by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, in conjunction with the Marin-based Point Blue Conservation Science (formerly Point Reyes Bird Observatory – PRBO). The islands are currently the subject of long term ecological research. Today, the Farallones are closed to the public, although birders and wildlife enthusiasts can approach them on whale watching boats and the sail-training vessel Seaward out of Sausalito.[18]

From 1902 to 1913, the former U.S. Weather Bureau maintained a weather station on the southeast island, which was connected with the mainland by cable. The results of the meteorological study were later published in a book on California’s climate. Temperatures during those years never exceeded 90F (32C) or dropped to 32F (0C).[19] Years later, the National Weather Service provided some weather observations from the lighthouse on its local radio station.

Three people have successfully swum from the Farallones to the Golden Gate, with two more swimming to points north of the Gate. The first, Ted Erikson, made the swim in September 1967, with the second, Joseph Locke, swimming to the Golden Gate on July 12, 2014, in 14 hours.[20] The third person, and the first woman to complete the distance, Kimberley Chambers, made it in just over 17 hours on Friday August 7, 2015.[21]

The Farallon Islands are outcroppings of the Salinian Block, a vast geologic province of granitic continental crust sharing its origins with the core of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The block was torn off far to the south of its present position and rifted north by the movement of the Pacific Plate on which the islands rest. Other nearby examples of the Salinian Block include the Point Reyes Peninsula and Bodega Head. The San Andreas Fault, marking a boundary zone between the Pacific and North American Plates, passes a few miles east of the islands.

The ancient Farallon Plate is named after the islands.

The islands string northwestward from Southeast Farallon Island for 5 miles (8.0km). Their total land area is 0.16 square miles (0.41km2). The islands were initially exploited for bird eggs and fur seal skins, then used as a lighthouse station and a radio station. They have been protected in the Farallon National Wildlife Refuge, first established in 1909 with the Southeast Farallons added in 1969,[22] and contain the largest seabird colony in the U.S. outside of Alaska and Hawaii. The islands are part of the City and County of San Francisco, and are considered part of Supervisorial District One (Northwest), also called Richmond District.

Middle Farallon Island, 2 miles (3.2km) northwest of SEFI, is a 20-foot (6.1m) high guano-covered black rock about 65 meters in diameter, with an area of 3,362 m2. This island is informally known as “the pimple.”

North Farallon Islands, about 7km further northwest, consist of two clusters of bare precipitous islets and rocks 31 to 85 meters high, with an aggregate area of 28,270 m2

Some of those unnamed rocks however have Spanish names, such as Piedra Guadalupe, Peasco Quebrado and Faralln Vizcano.

5km WNW of the North Farallones is Fanny Shoal, a bank 3km in extent, with depth less than 55 meters, marking the northernmost and westernmost feature of the group, albeit entirely submerged. Noonday Rock, which rises abruptly from a depth of 37 meters, with a least depth of 4 meters (13ft) over it at low tide, is the shallowest point of Fanny Shoal. There is a lighted bell buoy about 1km west of Noonday Rock. Noonday Rock derives its name from that of the clipper ship that struck it on January 1, 1863 and sank within one hour.[24]

The banks northwest of Fanny Shoal are not considered part of the Farallon Islands anymore, and they are outside of U.S. territorial waters. About 25km northwest of Fanny Shoal is Cordell Bank, a significant marine habitat (3801N 12325W / 38.017N 123.417W / 38.017; -123.417). About halfway between Fanny Shoal and Cordell Bank is Rittenburg Bank, with depths of less than 80 meters (3753N 12318W / 37.883N 123.300W / 37.883; -123.300).

The Farallon Islands are an important reserve protecting a huge seabird colony. The islands’ position in the highly productive California Current and eastern Pacific upwelling region, as well as the absence of other large islands that would provide suitable nesting grounds, result in a seabird population of over 250,000. Twelve species of seabird and shorebird nest on the islands; western gull, Brandt’s cormorant, pelagic cormorant, double-crested cormorant, pigeon guillemot, common murre, Cassin’s auklet, tufted puffin, black oystercatcher, rhinoceros auklet, ashy storm-petrel, and Leach’s storm-petrel. Since the islands were protected, common murres, which once numbered nearly 500,000 pairs but suffered from the egg collecting, oil spills and other disturbances that had greatly reduced their numbers, recovered and climbed from 6,000 birds to 160,000. Additionally, since protection, the locally extinct rhinoceros auklet has begun to breed on the islands again. The island has the world’s largest colonies of western gulls and ashy storm petrels, the latter species being considered endangered and a conservation priority. The island also is the wintering ground of several species of migrants, and regularly attracts vagrant birds (about 400 species of bird have been recorded on or around the island).

Five species of pinniped come to shore on the islands, and in some cases breed. These are the northern elephant seal, harbor seal, Steller’s sea lion, California sea lion, and the northern fur seal (the last of which, like the rhinoceros auklet, began to return to the island again after protection).

American whalers took 150,000 northern fur seals (Callorhinus ursinus) from the Farallons between 1810 and 1813, followed by Russian fur hunters who lived on the Farallons and extirpated the pinnipeds from the islands. In 1996 West End Island became the fourth American northern fur seal rookery when a pup was born. The recolonizers bore tags from San Miguel Island in the Channel Islands. By 2006, nearly 100 pups were born.[25] The fur seals are aggressive and have displaced larger sea lions from their territory. The high count for 2011 was 476 individuals, a 69 percent increase from the year before.[26]

Several species of cetaceans are found near the Farallon Islands, most frequently gray whales, blue whales, and humpback whales. Blue whales and humpback whales are most frequently found near the islands in the summer and fall, when strong upwelling may support a rich pelagic food web. Killer whales are also found around the islands. Gray whales are reliably found near the Farallones during their spring migration north and the fall/winter migration south. Some gray whales may also be found during the summer, when a few whales skip the trip north to Alaska and spend the summer months off the coast of Canada and the continental United States.

In December 2005 one humpback was rescued from netting entanglement east of the Farallones by staff of The Marine Mammal Center.[27] The last sighting of another famous humpback, named Humphrey, was near the Farallones in 1991. The islands are in the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, which protects the feeding grounds of the wildlife of the refuge.

The elephant seal population attracts a population of great white sharks to the islands. In 1970 Farallon biologists witnessed their first shark attack, on a Stellers sea lion. During the next fifteen years, more than one hundred attacks on seals and sea lions were observed at close range. By the year 2000, biologists were logging almost eighty attacks in a single season.

While the males return annually, the females return only every other year, often with fresh, deep bites around their heads. The seasonal shark population at the Farallones is unclear, with estimates from thirty to one hundred. The Farallones are unique in the size of the great whites that are attracted. The average length of a full-grown great white shark is 4 to 4.8 metres (13.3 to 15.8ft), with a weight of 680 to 1,100 kilograms (1,500 to 2,450lbs), females generally being larger than males. Farallon great whites range between the “smaller” males at 13ft (4.0m) to the females, which generally range between 17ft (5.2m) to 19ft (5.8m). The largest accurately measured great white shark was a female caught in August 1988 at Prince Edward Island off the North Atlantic coast and measured 20.3ft (6.2m). A killer whale was recorded killing a great white near the Farallones in 1997.[29] Over the decades of study, many of the individual white sharks visiting the Farallones have been nicknamed, often based off their scars and appearances, such as Gouge, The Hunchback, The Jester, and Stumpy. Stumpy, an 18-foot female great white, in particular was well known for her appearance in the BBC documentary “Great White Shark” narrated by David Attenborough and stock footage of her attacks on decoys is often utilized in more recent documentaries, and another example, Tom Johnson, a 16-foot male white shark that was featured in an episode of the 2012 season of Shark Week called “Great White Highway” is believed to be the oldest living white shark so far documented returning to the Farallones, estimated at around 2530 years old.

Some individual sharks have been tagged and found to roam the Pacific as far as Hawaii and Guadalupe Island off Baja California, returning regularly to the Farallones every year in the autumn. Satellite tracking has revealed the majority of great white sharks from the Faralllones (and from other parts of California, Hawaii and the west coast of Mexico) migrate to an area of ocean dubbed the White Shark Caf, 1,500 miles (2,400km) west of Ensenada, Baja California. The peak of activity at this location is from mid-April to Mid-July, but some shark spend up to eight months of the year there.

According to a report in USA Today, it is the most rodent-dense island in the world, with an average of 500 Eurasian house mice occupying each of its 120 acres (49ha) and an amount of 60,000 total.[32]

From 1946 to 1970, the sea around the Farallones was used as a nuclear dumping site for radioactive waste under the authority of the Atomic Energy Commission at a site known as the Farallon Island Nuclear Waste Dump. Most of the dumping took place before 1960, and all dumping of radioactive wastes by the United States was terminated in 1970. By then, 47,500 containers (55-gallon steel drums) had been dumped in the vicinity, with a total estimated radioactive activity of 14,500 Ci. The materials dumped were mostly laboratory materials containing traces of contamination. Much of the radioactivity had decayed by 1980.[33]

44,000 containers were dumped at 3737N 12317W / 37.617N 123.283W / 37.617; -123.283, and another 3,500 at 3738N 12308W / 37.633N 123.133W / 37.633; -123.133.[33]

The exact location of the containers and the potential hazard the containers pose to the environment are unknown.[34] Attempts to remove the barrels would likely produce greater risk than leaving them undisturbed.[33]

Waste containers were shipped to Hunters Point Shipyard, then loaded onto barges for transportation to the Farallones. Containers were weighted with concrete. Those that floated were sometimes shot with rifles to sink them.[35]

In January 1951, the highly radioactive hull of USS Independence, which was used in Operation Crossroads and then loaded with barrels of radioactive waste, was scuttled in the area.[36]

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Farallon Islands – Wikipedia

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Offshore – Wikipedia

Posted: November 23, 2016 at 10:04 pm

Offshore (Engels: weg van de kust), ook wel als buitengaats of aflandig aangeduid, is de aanduiding van activiteiten die plaatsvinden op enige afstand van de kust, meestal gericht op exploratie en winning van olie en gas, maar in toenemende mate ook van windenergie en aquacultuur. Het is onder te verdelen in een mijnbouwdeel met olie- en gasplatforms en een maritiem deel, zoals duikondersteuningsschepen, platformbevoorradingsschepen, pijpenleggers en kraanschepen. De offshore begon vlak na de Tweede Wereldoorlog, aanvankelijk vooral in de Golf van Mexico in ondiep water. Tegenwoordig vindt onder druk van de afnemende beschikbare hoeveelheid olie dicht bij de kust een verschuiving plaats naar diep water.

Onder offshoretechniek wordt verstaan het ontwerpen, construeren en plaatsen van kunstwerken die dienstdoen bij industrile processen of publieke voorzieningen en de exploratie en winning van olie en gas op zee.

Exploratie bestaat uit meerdere fases. Aanvankelijk begon dit met geologische opsporing, waarbij vooral oppervlaktegegevens worden genterpreteerd. In het midden van de jaren twintig van de twintigste eeuw waren alle aan de oppervlakte liggende velden in de Verenigde Staten in kaart gebracht en had men andere methoden nodig om dieper gelegen velden te vinden. De methodes van deze geofysische opsporing die op zee bruikbaar zijn, zijn seismiek, gravimetrie en magnetisch onderzoek, dat wordt uitgevoerd met onderzoeksvaartuigen. Bij veelbelovende aanwijzingen wordt een exploratieconcessie aangevraagd om daarna proefboringen te doen. Deze exploratieboring moet uitsluitsel geven of een formatie werkelijk olie of gas bevat. Dit vakgebied is de petrofysica. Deze proefboringen worden in ondiep water uitgevoerd door hefeilanden en in diep water door boorschepen en half-afzinkbare platforms. Met behulp van structurele geologie wordt daarna de omvang van een olie- of gasvoorkomen vastgesteld. Als die voldoende is, kan een oliemaatschappij besluiten tot winning over te gaan. Hiervoor worden productieputten geboord.

Al aan het einde van de negentiende eeuw werd in Californi, waar veel olie op natuurlijke wijze naar de oppervlakte lekt (seeps), net uit de kust gebouwd vanaf pieren in olievelden aan de wal die zich voortzetten in zee. Begin twintigste eeuw werd ook begonnen met boren naar vooral gas in het Eriemeer, voornamelijk aan de Canadese kant. Enkele jaren later werd ook in het Caddomeer op de grens van Louisiana en Texas geboord vanaf houten platforms. In Venezuela werd vanaf de jaren twintig in het Meer van Maracaibo naar olie geboord, terwijl in de jaren dertig werd begonnen in de Kaspische Zee.

In de jaren twintig van de twintigste eeuw gebruikte men in de moerassen, meren en baaien van Louisiana de houten platforms om vanaf te boren. In deze overgangszone onder invloed van het getij begon Chevron gebruik te maken van bakken om het materiaal sneller te kunnen verplaatsen. Ter plekke liet men deze afzinken tot op de bodem van het ondiepe water om daarna te boren. De eerste bak die op deze manier te werk ging, was de Giliasso, genoemd naar Louis Giliasso die dit idee had ontwikkeld. De stabiliteit van deze bakken was echter beperkt, zodat de waterdiepte waarin dit gebruikt kon worden, beperkt was tot zo’n drie meter. In 1937 lieten Pure Oil en Superior Oil door Brown & Root het tot dan toe grootste platform van de Golfkust bouwen, nog steeds van hout. In 1946 bouwde Brown & Root een platform met stalen palen voor Magnolia Petroleum.

Dit was echter allemaal dicht bij de kust. Begin 1947 liet Superior 18 mijl uit de kust bij Vermilion Parish een platform bouwen. Een platform van Kerr-McGee wist echter in oktober enkele maanden voor Superior een olieput in productie te brengen. Dit gebeurde in Ship Shoal Block 32 voor de kust van Louisiana in de Golf van Mexico met Rig 16 aan boord van de Frank Phillips. Dit wordt wel beschouwd als het begin van de offshore-industrie.

In de jaren vijftig verplaatste de boring zich naar steeds dieper water en werden eerst bakken en tenders kleine scheepsvormige bakken gebruikt. Later werden platforms gebruikt die naar locatie werden gesleept en daarna afgezonken tot ze rustten op de zeebodem. Deze afzinkers waren een idee van John T. Hayward die voor Barnsdall Oil & Gas werkte. Hierbij werden de voordelen van bakken gecombineerd met die van platforms op palen. Door op de bakken kolommen te plaatsen met daarop het werkdek was de invloed van de golven beperkt en had men toch een verplaatsbaar platform. De eerste was de Breton Rig 20, die in waterdieptes tot 6 meter kon werken. Nadat olie-exploratie in de Golf stil had gelegen van 1950 tot 1953 vanwege de Tidelands controversy, begon Alden J. Laborde zijn eigen bedrijf Odeco om met financiering van Murphy Oil een nieuw type afzinker te bouwen dat geschikt was voor dieper water. Dit platform, de Mr. Charlie, kon in waterdieptes tot 12 meter werken. Dit rechthoekige type werd snel populair, maar ook snel daarna vervangen door de ultieme afzinker het kolomgestabiliseerde platform of flessentype, waarvan de eerste Rig 46 was van Kerr-McGee in 1956. Dit type kon boren in waterdieptes tot 55 meter.

In waterdieptes verder uit de kust konden ook deze platforms echter niet meer aan het werk. Al in de jaren dertig werd gebruikgemaakt van hefeilanden voor constructiewerkzaamheden op zee en ook bij de landingen in Normandi tijdens D-Day werd hier gebruik van gemaakt. In 1950 liet Leon B. DeLong een aantal hefeilanden bouwen voor radarinstallaties in waterdieptes van 20 meter. De mobiliteit was een groot voordeel en in 1954 lieten meerdere bedrijven hefeilanden bouwen, waaronder Rig No. 51 van The Offshore Company en Mr. Gus van Glasscock Drilling. Tegenwoordig kan er met hefeilanden in waterdieptes tot 120 meter geboord worden.

De eerste half-afzinkbare platform werd per ongeluk uitgevonden in 1961. Blue Water Drilling Company bezat de uit vier kolommen bestaande afzinkbare Blue Water Rig No.1, gebouwd in 1957. Ze gebruikten deze voor Shell Oil Company in de Golf van Mexico om in 25 meter diep water te boren met het onderste deel van de romp op de bodem. Omdat de pontons niet genoeg drijfvermogen hadden om het totale gewicht van het rig te ondersteunen werd het naar locatie gesleept op een diepgang tussen de bovenzijde van de pontons en de onderzijde van het dek. Men merkte op dat de bewegingen veroorzaakt door de deining op deze diepgang gering waren vergeleken met conventionele schepen. Blue Water Drilling en Shell besloten gezamenlijk het platform drijvend te gebruiken voor boring.

Sindsdien worden half-afzinkbare platforms specifiek ontworpen voor de offshore industrie. In 1963 werd het eerste echte half-afzinkbare platform gebouwd, de Ocean Driller van Odeco.[1] De grootste ramp met een half-afzinkbaar platform was het kapseizen van de Ocean Ranger, ook van Odeco, tijdens een storm op 15 februari 1982 op de Atlantische Oceaan, 315 kilometer zuidoost van St. John’s bij de Grand Banks, waarbij alle 84 bemanningsleden omkwamen.

Waar de waterdiepte in de Golf van Mexico geleidelijk toeneemt, is deze bij Californi al dicht bij de kust te diep voor platforms die op de zeebodem rusten. Om ook in deze wateren te kunnen boren, begon Shell in 1948 een consortium met Continental, Union en Superior (CUSS). In 1953 begonnen ze met proefboringen vanaf de verbouwde Submarex. Hierbij werd geboord vanaf een boorvloer over de zijde, wat problemen gaf met de slagzij. Hierop werd de CUSS I gebouwd, die boorde door een moonpool in de midscheeps. De CUSS I kon op ankers boren in waterdieptes tot ruim 100 meter.

De CUSS I werd overgenomen door Global Marine, die ook een serie grotere boorschepen liet bouwen. Bij grotere waterdieptes werd ankeren problematisch, en daarom maakte de CUSS I in 1961 tijdens Project Mohole een poging om door de aardkorst te boren in de Mohorovii-discontinuteit gebruik van schroeven om op positie te blijven bij een waterdiepte van zo’n 3500 meter, het begin van dynamic positioning. Desondanks maken nog veel boorschepen en semi-submersibles gebruik van ankersystemen, die lichter zijn geworden door over te stappen van kettingankers naar draadankers en zo bruikbaar zijn tot zeker 1500 meter en met vooraf geplaatste ankers tot nog minstens 1000 meter dieper.

De ontwikkelingen op de Noordzee begonnen pas later, mede door de zwaardere weersomstandigheden, maar vooral omdat gedacht was dat er niet voldoende olie en gas te winnen zou zijn. Daarnaast ontbrak internationale regelgeving over de verdeling van het continentaal plat. In 1958 werd het UNCLOS I verdrag (tegenwoordig onderdeel van het VN Zeerechtverdrag) afgesloten. In 1964 trad het in werking, zodat het continentaal plat van de Noordzee verdeeld werd tussen de aangrenzende landen. Op 29 mei 1959 werd in Kolham de Slochterse gasbel ontdekt, waarmee het vermoeden rees dat ook in de Noordzee aardgas zou zijn te vinden. Op 17 september 1965 boorde het hefeiland Sea Gem gas aan in de BP-concessie, om slechts enkele dagen later te kapseizen. De zware weersomstandigheden vereisten een aanpassing van de gebruikte technologie om veilig te kunnen werken.

Op 6 oktober 1973 brak de Jom Kipoeroorlog uit, waarna de OPEC een olie-embargo instelde voor de Verenigde Staten en Nederland, wat leidde tot de oliecrisis van 1973. Dit bleek een enorme stimulans voor de offshore-sector, vooral op de Noordzee.

Tegenwoordig is de offshore-industrie wereldwijd bezig met de exploratie en winning van olie en gas. Daarbij worden de Golf van Mexico, Brazili en West-Afrika wel gezien als de gouden driehoek, waarbij steeds meer de nadruk komt te liggen op diepwater ( 300 tot 2400 meter) en ultra-diepwater (meer dan 2400 meter).

De ontwikkeling van een olieveld bestaat uit meerdere onderdelen, waarvan het platform de meest zichtbare is, hoewel er ook velden zijn die geheel uit onderzeese installaties bestaan, zoals Ormen Lange. Daarnaast heeft een veld een infrastructuur, zoals olie- en gaspijpleidingen, waterinjectieleidingen, elektriciteitsleidingen en onderzeese installaties die aangelegd moeten worden. De constructie van platforms gebeurt grotendeels op werven aan de wal. De manier waarop deze daarna genstalleerd worden is onder andere afhankelijk van de grootte en de waterdiepte.

Met behulp van lanceerbakken kunnen jackets en compliant towers worden gelanceerd. Om kosten te reduceren nadat in 1986 de olieprijs was gedaald, werden jackets ontworpen die met een kraanschip konden worden genstalleerd. Omdat deze jackets niet ontworpen hoeven te worden voor de krachten die tijdens het lanceren optreden, kunnen deze lichter uitgevoerd worden dan gelanceerde jackets. Zwaardere jackets en compliant towers worden echter nog steeds gelanceerd.

Om op zee te hijsen, kan gebruik worden gemaakt van meerdere opties. Drijvende bokken werden al vroeg gebruikt. De komst van grote kraanschepen maakte constructie goedkoper.

De grootste kraanschepen worden gebruikt voor constructiewerkzaamheden in de offshore. De grotere schepen zijn vaak half-afzinkbaar, maar ook conventionele scheepsvormen (monohulls) worden gebruikt. Het verschil met een drijvende bok is dat de kranen kunnen roteren.

In 1949 liet J. Ray McDermott de Derrick Barge Four bouwen, een bak die uitgerust was met een 150 ton roterende kraan. Met het verschijnen van dit soort schepen veranderde de offshoreconstructie. In plaats van constructie in delen, kunnen jackets en dekken als modules aan de wal worden gebouwd. Voor gebruik in het ondiepe deel van de Golf van Mexico voldeden deze bakken voorlopig.

In 1963 liet Heerema een Noorse tanker, de Sunnaas, ombouwen tot het eerste kraanschip met een capaciteit van 300 ton in de offshore dat een echte scheepsvorm had, waarna het werd omgedoopt tot de Global Adventurer. Dit type kraanschip was beter geschikt voor de weersomstandigheden op de Noordzee.

Het in 1967 opgerichte Netherlands Offshore Company bracht in 1978 het eerste half-afzinkbaar kraanschip in de vaart, de Narwhal. Vanwege financile problemen werden de schepen van NOC verkocht aan McDermott, waarmee het bedrijf ophield te bestaan.

In datzelfde jaar liet Heerema ook twee half-afzinkbare kraanschepen bouwen, de Hermod en de Balder, elk met n 2000 shortton en n 3000 shortton kraan. Later hebben beide overigens een upgrade gekregen, zodat ze nu een grotere capaciteit hebben. Dit type kraanschip was veel minder gevoelig voor zeegang en deining, waardoor ook gedurende de wintermaanden kon worden gewerkt op de Noordzee. De grote stabiliteit laat ook toe dat er zwaarder getild kan worden dan met een monohull. De grotere werkbaarheid en capaciteit van de kranen bracht de installatietijd van een platform terug van een heel seizoen naar een paar weken. Waar de topside van een platform daarvoor opgebouwd moest worden uit vele kleine delen, kon deze nu veelal in een keer geplaatst worden, waardoor de totale constructie lichter uitgevoerd kon worden en een groter deel van het werk aan de wal plaats kon vinden en dus goedkoper was.

Genspireerd door dit succes werden gelijksoortige schepen gebouwd. In 1985 kwam de DB-102 in de vaart voor McDermott, met 2 kranen met een capaciteit van 6000 ton elk. Micoperi liet de M7000 bouwen in 1986 met twee kranen van 7000 ton elk.

Midden jaren tachtig was de hausse in de offshore echter over. De prijs van een vat olie daalde tot onder de $10 waardoor investeringen vrijwel tot stilstand kwamen en samenwerking gezocht moest worden. In 1988 werd een joint venture tussen Heerema en McDermott gevormd, HeereMac. In 1990 moest Micoperi een faillissement aanvragen. Dat gaf Saipem in het begin van de jaren zeventig nog een grote speler in de offshoreconstructie, maar eind jaren tachtig nog maar marginaal aanwezig de kans om in 1995 de M7000 over te nemen. In 1997 nam Heerema de DB-102 over van McDermott na beindiging van de joint venture.[2] Het schip werd omgedoopt in Thialf en na een upgrade in 2000 tot tweemaal 7100 ton is het het grootste kraanschip ter wereld.

Voor dekken met gewichten die kraanschepen niet aankunnen of wanneer deze niet beschikbaar zijn, wordt gebruikgemaakt van bakken voor float-overs. Het gaat hierbij over gewichten van enkele tienduizenden tonnen. De bak wordt hierbij tussen de poten van het jacket gebracht en daarna geballast totdat het overhangende dek op het jacket staat.

Gravity based structures worden met behulp van sleepboten naar locatie gebracht, waarna ze geballast worden tot ze op de zeebodem rusten. Deze techniek is vooral veel gebruikt in Noorwegen, waar veel platforms van het condeeptype staan. Ook drijvende platforms als FPSO’s, TLP’s, semi-submersibles en spars worden naar locatie gesleept om daar vervolgens afgemeerd te worden.

De infrastructuur van een veld bestaat naast een of meerdere platforms uit olie- en gaspijpleidingen, waterinjectieleidingen, elektriciteitsleidingen en onderzeese installaties.

Hoewel ook de kleinere leidingen en installaties door de grote pijpenleggers en kraanschepen worden aangelegd, wordt dit vaak gedaan door zogenaamde Offshore Support Vessels. Deze zijn uitgerust met een kraan die vaak enkele tientallen tot honderden tonnen kan tillen, dan wel met een A-frame waarmee installaties op de zeebodem kunnen worden uitgevoerd.

In ondiep water wordt in de Verenigde Staten ook gebruikgemaakt van liftboten, bootjes met eigen voortstuwing die zich kunnen opheffen zoals een hefeiland en meestal uitgerust zijn met een kraan.

Bij onderzeese pijpleidingen voor een platform wordt onderscheid gemaakt tussen de leidingen waarmee de olie en gas uit diverse putten naar het platform wordt getransporteerd de tie-backs en die waarmee het na behandeling naar de wal wordt getransporteerd de exportleidingen. Export kan ook met behulp van een shuttletanker, maar vindt vaak plaats met behulp van een pijpleiding. Deze worden gelegd met behulp van bakken waarvan de ankers continu verplaatst worden door ankerbehandelingssleepboten. Tegenwoordig zijn de grootste pijpenleggers schepen en voorzien van dynamic positioning. Er zijn verschillende methoden om pijp te leggen. Bij S-lay verlaat de leiding het schip horizontaal, bij J-lay verticaal. Bij reel-lay wordt de pijp gelegd vanaf een grote spoel.

Waar hefeilanden en boorschepen vooral gebruikt worden voor proefboringen en om de uiteindelijke putten te boren, kunnen deze na voltooiing daarvan vertrekken. Na installatie van een productieplatform die vaak booreilanden worden genoemd, hoewel de meeste niet kunnen boren wordt de winning daarmee voortgezet. De beweging naar steeds dieper water heeft een scala aan platforms opgeleverd. Bij grotere waterdieptes werden de normale jackets te groot en zwaar om economisch nog haalbaar te zijn. Waar deze jackets stijf zijn ontworpen om alle weersomstandigheden te kunnen weerstaan, werd voor grotere waterdieptes overgestapt op buigzame constructies, compliant towers die meegeven en daardoor lichter gebouwd kunnen worden. Voor nog grotere waterdieptes ging men over naar drijvende platforms:[3]

In de Verenigde Staten moet van de MMS een platform binnen een jaar na het buiten gebruik stellen worden verwijderd, tenzij gebruik wordt gemaakt van het alternatief volgens de Rigs-to-Reefs-wetgeving. In Europa was het dumpen van afval vanaf schepen en vliegtuigen aan banden gelegd door de Oslo-conventie van 1972, die later is vervangen door het OSPAR-verdrag. De Brent Spar-affaire zorgde voor een aanscherping van dit verdrag in 1998, zodat alle platforms in de Noordzee ontmanteld moeten worden, hoewel dit verdrag meer ruimte laat dan het Verdrag van Helsinki dat geldt voor de Oostzee. Een poging in 1996 om via het Verdrag van Londen het dumpen wereldwijd te verbieden mislukte.

Dit betekent dat er een ontmantelingsmarkt is van enkele honderden platforms op de Noordzee, hoewel deze markt riskanter is dan installatie. Aangezien er geen first oil is aan het einde van het project, is het al snel financieel aantrekkelijk voor een oliemaatschappij om investeringen naar achteren te verschuiven. Een aantal methodes en voorstellen voor ontmanteling zijn gebaseerd op het gebruik van dezelfde kraanschepen die ook voor installatie werden gebruikt.

Andere voorstellen baseren zich vooral op het catamaran-idee, waarbij tussen de twee rompen ruimte is uitgespaard. Deze U-vorm kan dan om een dek of jacket geplaatst worden, waarna ontballast wordt waarmee de constructie gelicht wordt. Andere voorstellen maken gebruik van hydraulische systemen en hijsdraden, eventueel gecombineerd. Voorbeelden zijn Versatruss, de Pieter Schelte van Allseas, de MPU Heavy Lifter van het inmiddels failliete MPU Offshore Lift en de Twin Marine Lifter. Hiervan bestaat alleen de eerste. De Pieter Schelte is nog in de ontwerpfase, de MPU Heavy Lifter wordt gesloopt voordat deze is voltooid en de Twin Marine Lifter is nog in de conceptfase.

Maritieme techniek houdt zich bezig met scheepsbouw en scheepvaart en richt zich ook op het transport van goederen en personen. Offshore is een vakgebied dat zich uit civiele techniek (de constructies), werktuigbouwkunde en scheepsbouwkunde heeft ontwikkeld. De laatste tijd verschuift het vakgebied meer naar de scheepsbouwkundige kant. Dit omdat offshore olie- en gasvelden zich op steeds grotere diepten bevinden. Hiermee komt de switch van ‘fixed platforms’ naar ‘floating platforms’; de laatste zijn vooral een scheepsbouwkundige aangelegenheid.

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Atlas Shrugged Movie Review & Film Summary (2011) | Roger Ebert

Posted: November 21, 2016 at 11:15 am

I feel like my arm is all warmed up and I dont have a game to pitch. I was primed to review “Atlas Shrugged.” I figured it might provide a parable of Ayn Rands philosophy that I could discuss. For me, that philosophy reduces itself to: “Im on board; pull up the lifeline.” There are however people who take Ayn Rand even more seriously than comic-book fans take “Watchmen.” I expect to receive learned and sarcastic lectures on the pathetic failings of my review.

And now I am faced with this movie, the most anticlimactic non-event since Geraldo Rivera broke into Al Capones vault. I suspect only someone very familiar with Rands 1957 novel could understand the film at all, and I doubt they will be happy with it. For the rest of us, it involves a series of business meetings in luxurious retro leather-and-brass board rooms and offices, and restaurants and bedrooms that look borrowed from a hotel no doubt known as the Robber Baron Arms.

During these meetings, everybody drinks. More wine is poured and sipped in this film than at a convention of oenophiliacs. There are conversations in English after which I sometimes found myself asking, “What did they just say?” The dialogue seems to have been ripped throbbing with passion from the pages of Investors Business Daily. Much of the excitement centers on the tensile strength of steel.

The story involves Dagny Taggart (Taylor Schilling), a young woman who controls a railroad company named Taggart Transcontinental (its motto: “Ocean to Ocean”). She is a fearless and visionary entrepreneur, who is determined to use a revolutionary new steel to repair her train tracks. Vast forces seem to conspire against her.

Its a few years in the future. America has become a state in which mediocrity is the goal, and high-achieving individuals the enemy. Laws have been passed prohibiting companies from owning other companies. Dagnys new steel, which is produced by her sometime lover, Hank Rearden (Grant Bowler), has been legislated against because its better than other steels. The Union of Railroad Engineers has decided it will not operate Dagnys trains. Just to show you how bad things have become, a government minister announces “a tax will be applied to the state of Colorado, in order to equalize our national economy.” So you see how governments and unions are the enemy of visionary entrepreneurs.

But youre thinking, railroads? Yes, although airplanes exist in this future, trains are where its at. When I was 6, my Aunt Martha brought me to Chicago to attend the great Railroad Fair of 1948, at which the nations rail companies celebrated the wonders that were on the way. They didnt quite foresee mass air transportation. “Atlas Shrugged” seems to buy into the fairs glowing vision of the future of trains. Rarely, perhaps never, has television news covered the laying of new railroad track with the breathless urgency of the news channels shown in this movie.

So OK. Lets say you know the novel, you agree with Ayn Rand, youre an objectivist or a libertarian, and youve been waiting eagerly for this movie. Man, are you going to get a letdown. Its not enough that a movie agree with you, in however an incoherent and murky fashion. It would help if it were like, you know, entertaining?

The movie is constructed of a few kinds of scenes: (1) People sipping their drinks in clubby surroundings and exchanging dialogue that sounds like corporate lingo; (2) railroads, and lots of em; (3) limousines driving through cities in ruin and arriving at ornate buildings; (4) city skylines; (5) the beauties of Colorado. There is also a love scene, which is shown not merely from the waist up but from the ears up. The man keeps his shirt on. This may be disappointing for libertarians, who I believe enjoy rumpy-pumpy as much as anyone.

Oh, and there is Wisconsin. Dagny and Hank ride blissfully in Taggarts new high-speed train, and then Hank suggests they take a trip to Wisconsin, where the states policies caused the suppression of an engine that runs on the ozone in the air, or something (the films detailed explanation wont clear this up). They decide to drive there. Thats when youll enjoy the beautiful landscape photography of the deserts of Wisconsin. My advice to the filmmakers: If you want to use a desert, why not just refer to Wisconsin as “New Mexico”?

“Atlas Shrugged” closes with a title card saying, “End of Part 1.” Frequently throughout the film, characters repeat the phrase, “Who is John Galt?” Well they might ask. A man in black, always shot in shadow, is apparently John Galt. If you want to get a good look at him and find out why everybody is asking, I hope you can find out in Part 2. I dont think you can hold out for Part 3.

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Elon Musk shares new details on plan to colonize Mars …

Posted: October 27, 2016 at 11:57 am

Elon Musk addresses the International Astronautical Congress, Sept. 27, 2016.

SpaceX

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has given more details about his plan to colonize Mars.

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Space entrepreneur and Tesla founder Elon Musk unveiled a plan this week for putting a permanent human colony on the red planet. Musk estimates i…

Musk answered what he called great questions in a RedditAsk Me Anything session on Sunday. Many of the questions were highly technical, coming from SpaceX fans who have been following Musks public plans for colonization since the beginning.

The session was a follow up to Musks comments at a space conference in Mexico last month during which he unveiled his plan to send up to one million people to Mars over the next 100 years.

In that speech, Musk said that his companys rocket, spacecraft and economies of scale would bring the cost of Mars travel down to $200,000 per ticket compared to $10 billion per ticket, the estimate in todays dollars for sending an astronaut using the Apollo moon mission architecture.

Musk envisions 1,000 passenger ships flying en masse to the red planet, Battlestar Galactica style.

He elaborated on that plan Sunday, explaining that first an unmanned ship will be sent to Mars with equipment to build a plant to create refueling propellant for return trips to Earth. He says the first manned mission would have the job of constructing the plant.

The initial crew would comprise about a dozen people. After that, Musk wrote, he hopes to double the number of flights with each Earth-Mars orbital rendezvous, which is every 26 months, until the city can grow by itself.

Musk said last month SpaceX is already working on equipment for the project.

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Why Choose UnitedHealthcare? – uhone.com

Posted: October 13, 2016 at 5:35 am

No individual applying for health coverage through the individual Marketplace will be discouraged from applying for benefits, turned down for coverage, or charged more premium because of health status, medical condition, mental illness claims experience, medical history, genetic information or health disability. In addition, no individual will be denied coverage based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, personal appearance, political affiliation or source of income.

References to UnitedHealthcare pertain to each individual company or other UnitedHealthcare affiliated companies. Dental and Vision products are administrated by related companies. Each company is a separate entity and is not responsible for another’s financial or contractual obligations. Administrative services are provided by United HealthCare Services, Inc.

Products and services offered are underwritten by Golden Rule Insurance Company, Oxford Health Insurance, Inc., UnitedHealthcare Life Insurance Company. In New Mexico, products and services offered are only underwritten by Golden Rule Insurance Company.

All products require separate applications. Separate policies or certificates are issued. Golden Rule Short Term Medical plans are medically underwritten. Related insurance products offered by either company may be medically underwritten see the product brochures and applications. Healthiest You is not an insurance product and is provided by HY Holdings, Inc., d/b/a Healthiest You. Travel Health Insurance and Pet Insurance are underwritten by different companies that are not related to the UnitedHealthcare family of companies. Product availability varies by state.

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