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Coast Guard facing budget cuts and more responsibility

By Dale K. DuPont

The U.S. Coast Guard provides a great return on investment — even more so considering it’s working on vessels that are up to 60 years old, the agency’s commandant said at a congressional hearing in late February.

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Ships collide in Houston Ship Channel

By Ken Hocke

The 600' chemical tanker Carla Maersk and the 623' bulk carrier Conti Peridot collided on March 9, resulting in the closure of a portion of the Houston Ship Channel. Continued »

Bunker Mentality

By Max Hardberger, Correspondent

Bunker Mentality

Harvey Gulf takes delivery of its first dual-fuel OSV.

 

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IMO addresses lessons from recent accidents

By Tim Akpinar

The maritime industry often follows the rule of cause and effect. High-profile accidents attract the attention of lawmakers and industry leaders. This usually results in close reviews of existing practices and sometimes leads to revisions of safety regulations. 

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Tug insurance explained

By Gene McKeever

Ocean marine hull insurance for tugboats is called the American Institute Tug form, or 53R-1. I’m going to explain a few pitfalls with the form that may help you understand it and may provide you with coverage that you need but don’t have.

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Lower oil prices and creative destruction

By Kevin Horn

In January, The Wall Street Journal and others reported that capital investment in a refinery near Lake Charles, La., that would convert natural gas into diesel has been put on hold.

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Index rebounds in February

By David Krapf, Editor in Chief

After losing 1.5% to open 2015, the WorkBoat Composite Index rebounded in February, gaining over 72 points, or 4.3%. For the month, gainers topped losers 19-12. 

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Deepwater market is feeling some pain

By Bill Pike
4/1/2015

Oil prices remain depressed, with West Texas Intermediate trading below $50 bbl. in March and crude inventories (excluding the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) coming in at 434 million bbls. at the end of February, a 30-year high. 

The low oil prices have taken a toll on production onshore, with a substantial drop in drilling and development, especially in shale plays. Activity in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico shallow-water market has seen some softness as well. Until now, however, the deepwater market has been largely spared from the operational downturn that have hit the rest of the industry.

At the end of February, Transocean announced the potential mothballing of some of its high-tech deepwater rig fleet, nine of which will be searching for new contracts this year. They will join eight other deepwater rigs from various owners up for contract renewal over the next few months. And Transocean has already announced the scrapping of 12 older floating rigs. 

Many say that Transocean’s position is not representative of the broad deepwater market. The company, burdened with $9.1 billion of debt, has been ranked amongst the worst economic performers in the Fortune 500 index. Its debt was downgraded to junk status in February. One analyst has said that up to 60% of the company’s deepwater fleet could be mothballed. But Transocean is not the only company facing a deepwater slowdown. Unless oil prices climb, Transocean is certain to have some company.

So, what are the chances of an oil price revival? T. Boone Pickens and a cadre of like-minded analysts see prices around $100 again soon. And then there’s Ed Morse at Citibank (on www.thestreet.com). He predicts that oil could drop to $20 bbl. before the crude glut is cleared. If the latter is correct, deepwater is no longer a safer bet.

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A Bigger Vigor

By Bruce Buls
4/1/2015

A Bigger Vigor

Vigor Industrial acquires Kvichak Marine Industries.

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Government vs. small business

By Capt. Alan Bernstein
4/1/2015

I’ve attended several maritime conferences and shows recently with different audiences spanning several maritime industry segments. At each one, a common theme emerged. It was the discontent and frustration with the growth in government regulation.

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