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May 2011 SHIPS AND SHIPPING
Maritime experts from Edinburgh Napier University's Transport
Research Institute (TRI) have unveiled a plan to develop a
floating container port for Scapa Flow in the Orkney Islands.
They estimate that the floating hub, which consists of a large
storage vessel fitted with cranes, could nearly double the current
£16 billion (US$26 billion) value of Scotland's exports of
Professor Alf Baird, a maritime business expert, led the
university's involvement in the European Union-funded
project in collaboration with German crane manufacturer
Gottwald Port Technology.
"The hub could handle goods for perhaps more than 20 countries
in Europe, which would then be transhipped via the new terminal,"
he said. "Most of Europe's seafood, for example, is produced nearby
in Iceland, the Faroe Islands, Norway, Russia and Greenland ---
traffic that could be consolidated in Scotland into refrigerated
containers for distribution worldwide via the container hub."
The Scottish government has identified the economic
importance of developing a container trans-shipment terminal at
Scapa Flow, whose location at the crossroads between the North
Sea and Atlantic ocean is seen as ideal for the venture.
At around 740 million (US$58 million), the proposed floating
port, designated the floating container storage and trans-shipment
terminal (FCSTT) would cost around 780m less to build than a
conventional land-based port offering similar capacity.
"This is a low-cost solution that helps make the terminal
easier to develop," said Baird, who has already had interest from
Latin America, the US and Norway in the TRI proposal.
"It is a design concept that could also be employed in many
other parts of the world as an alternative to high-cost concrete
terminals, in turn minimising environmental impacts in sensitive
coastal areas," he added.
In evidence to the US House of Representatives Subcommittee
on Energy and Power's hearing, April 4, regarding the "The
American Energy Initiative", Douglas-Westwood's Managing
Director, Steve Kopits, gave dire warnings about the likely
development of China's future energy demand.
"China's oil demand will likely keep pressure on oil prices for the
indefinite future," said Kopits. "China consumes 10 million barrels
of oil per day (mbpd) on global consumption of about 88mbpd... it
is already the second biggest consumer of oil in the world... we see
China surpassing US consumption levels around 2018."
On supply Kopits stated, "China's conventional oil fields are
mature. Today, it must be active in global markets to secure
domestic needs and the situation will deteriorate markedly in the
coming decade. By 2020, China's dependence on foreign oil may
be as much as 80 percent, versus an anticipated 40 percent for
the US. China's vulnerability is cause for concern for the
Turning to natural gas, Kopits said, "China consumed only
3.9tcf (11 billion cubic metres) of natural gas in 2010. The US
consumed six times as much. China's per capita consumption is
about 1/26th of the US. As a consequence, there is considerable
scope for rapid consumption growth in China.
"China's natural gas demand surged 22 percent last year and
growth has averaged nearly 15 percent over the last decade and
we anticipate this pace to continue. This would imply demand
doubling to 2015, nearly quadrupling to 2020.
"China's natural gas production has tripled in the last decade,
a growth rate of 13.3 percent. We project this to double in 2015
and nearly triple to 8.6tcf (24 billion cubic metres) in 2020,
implying ten percent annual growth. Coal bed methane and
shale gas are hoped to each constitute five to ten percent of the
natural gas supply in ten years time.
"As late as 2006, China was self-sufficient in natural gas.
However, the country has been a net importer since then, with
imports soaring to 550bcf (15.5 billion cubic metres) in 2010."
Commenting on the future outlook, Douglas-Westwood's
Chairman, John Westwood, said, "The US citizen uses twice the
amount of oil per annum of a European and ten times the
amount of a Chinese citizen -- but Chinese demand is growing
strongly. We face a future where China needs to fuel its
economic development and it is likely that can only be achieved
by out-bidding the West for the world's increasingly limited oil
supplies. The effect on oil prices will have major consequences
not only for the US, but indeed for the entire global economy in
the years ahead.
"The impact of recent dramatic events in Japan and the
Middle East on oil prices are merely warnings of the shape of
thing to come. The days of cheap oil are over and America needs
to sit up and take notice. So it is good to see the Obama
administration endeavouring to address the serious challenges
posed by the nation's excessive use of energy. To secure its
energy future, America needs to produce more and use less."
Floating container port planned for Orkney Islands
The Orkney Islands
Douglas-Westwood warns US Congress on Chinese oil and gas demand
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