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THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Tsunami Damage To Energy Facilities Seen Limited So Far: A Royal Dutch Shell (RD SC) spokesman said he wasn't aware of any consequences for the oil major's offshore operations in Malaysia. (ShellNews.net) Posted 28 Dec 04

 

By LEIA PARKER and KATYA KAZAKINA

Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES

 

NEW YORK -- The energy and oil-tanker industries reported little damage to infrastructure from Sunday's massive earthquake and tsunamis in Asia, but there were some delays at ports and information remains incomplete.

 

The lack of clear damage stood in sharp contrast to the horrific loss of lives: more than 22,000 people killed and thousands missing in 10 countries.

 

Some U.S. shipowners and brokers said their attempts Monday to seek information about delays and damages to port facilities and ships were frustrated. Asian authorities' focus remained on saving lives rather than assessing damages, and shipping-industry offices in London remained closed in observance of Christmas and Boxing Day, they said.

 

Oil tankers at sea likely escaped harm. Damages at some Indian ports, however, caused berthing and discharging delays into Monday, shipbrokers and port sources said.

 

A port agent at southeast Indian port Chennai said an oil tanker was scratched after waves pushed it against a berthing wall. The port's berthing and discharging operations were suspended for 24 hours for "cleaning and maintenance" and will resume Tuesday, a port agent said.

 

"As many as five cargo vessels were damaged as they crashed into each other after being tossed about like toys in the giant tides," said a bulletin about Chennai provided to a U.S. shipbroker by port sources. "The wharfs, hatches some cranes and navigational equipment were damaged."

 

Several oil-drilling contractors and tanker companies operating in the area affected by the tsunamis reported no damage, said Pierre Conner, an analyst with Hibernia Southcoast Capital, which invests in shipping companies.

 

Earlier Monday, officials at Japanese upstream firm Inpex Corp. (1604.TO) confirmed its oil and gas operations in Indonesia haven't been affected.

 

Indonesia's Arun liquefied natural gas plant, supplied with gas by Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM), suffered a brief power disruption after Sunday's massive earthquake, but operations soon returned to normal, officials said Monday.

 

Pertamina (PTM.YY), Indonesia's state-owned oil and gas company, said it may delay shipments of liquefied natural gas to Japan and South Korea if tidal waves besiege the area again over the next two days.

 

French oil company Total SA (TOT) said the Yadana offshore gas platform it operates in the Andaman sea off the coast of Myanmar was left intact.

 

A British Gas Group PLC (BG) spokeswoman said the tsunami had no impact on the company's operations. BG has a 22% stake in the offshore Bongkot gas field in the Gulf of Thailand.

 

A Royal Dutch Shell (RD SC) spokesman said he wasn't aware of any consequences for the oil major's offshore operations in Malaysia.

 

Typically slow trading activity during the winter holiday period made it difficult to determine Monday whether the tsunamis would affect oil-tanker shipments and spot-market freight rates, shipbrokers said.

 

The near-term impact for the maritime industry in general from the massive tidal waves, caused by the world's worst earthquake in four decades, is likely to be neutral. But the relief and reconstruction efforts are ultimately expected to boost business for shipowners operating in the region, said Khalid Hashim, managing director of dry-cargo shipowner Precious Shipping Company Ltd. (PSL.TH), which trades on the Stock Exchange of Thailand.

 

"For the record, 10-meter-high waves are not that unusual at sea, and most ships would be able to quite easily ride out such a phenomenon with little or no damage at all to show for the experience," Hashim said in a note. "Once relief supplies in the form of food (rice) start to move toward these areas, it will have a positive impact on shipping rates. Longer term, the rebuilding of all that has been damaged or destroyed will require colossal amounts of cement, steel and wood."

 

New York-based Overseas Shipholding Group's (OSG) ships were unaffected by the earthquake and tidal waves. The closest ship from its fleet was 500 miles from the tsunami zone, an OSG executive said. OSG owns and runs a fleet of oceangoing bulk-cargo and tanker vessels.

 

Danish oil, gas and shipping company A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S (MAERSK-B.KO), which operates the world's largest container fleet, also said it sustained no fleet damage, though individual containers may have been damaged. 


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