A Marquee ‘Clean Coal’ Project Is Failing

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Ian Austen for the New York Times:An electrical plant on the Saskatchewan prairie was the great hope for industries that burn coal.In the first large-scale project of its kind, the plant was equipped with a technology that promised to pluck carbon out of the utility’s exhaust and bury it underground, transforming coal into a cleaner power source. In the months after opening, the utility and the provincial government declared the project an unqualified success.But the $1.1 billion project is now looking like a green dream.Known as SaskPower’s Boundary Dam 3, the project has been plagued by multiple shutdowns, has fallen way short of its emissions targets, and faces an unresolved problem with its core technology. The costs, too, have soared, requiring tens of millions of dollars in new equipment and repairs.“At the outset, its economics were dubious,” said Cathy Sproule, a member of Saskatchewan’s legislature who released confidential internal documents about the project. “Now they’re a disaster.”The utility that runs the project, SaskPower, and advocates for carbon capture argue that the setbacks are typical teething problems associated with any new and complex technology.“Over time, as more companies, countries engage in carbon capture and storage technologies, the price for everybody is going to come down,” Mike Marsh, the chief executive of SaskPower, told a legislative committee in January. “That will make it easier to employ.”The Boundary Dam Power Station sits near a wealth of resources not far from the North Dakota border.Hundreds of years of coal reserves are buried under the ground nearby, virtually eliminating transportation costs. And the mining creates employment in an area with limited job prospects.“It’s a low-cost, stable supply,” Mr. Marsh said. “There’s a tremendous opportunity in North America to continue to utilize coal.”To the utility and the provincial government, the process known as carbon capture and storage seemed tantalizing when a review of the power system began 11 years ago.The technology offered a way to stick with coal in a carbon-conscious era. It was especially attractive in Canada, where rising emissions from the oil sands have more than offset reductions elsewhere, including Ontario’s abandonment of coal-fired electrical generation.Through the process, machinery would first remove most of the soot and ash from the coal’s exhaust. The exhaust would then pass through a kind of chemical called an amine that would snatch the carbon, in the form of carbon dioxide, out of it. The gathered carbon dioxide, separated from the amine, would be compressed, moved through pipelines and ultimately buried underground.Variations of the technology have been used as far back as the 1920s. And small demonstration projects have largely worked, including one in Norway that opened in 2012.Boundary Dam, which received a major Canadian subsidy and opened in September 2014, was the first full-scale deployment of the technology to cut emissions from burning coal. Saskatchewan picked a process owned by Shell, encouraged by its history with petrochemicals.At the outset, the utility and the province said the project was working as intended, capturing 90 percent of the plant’s carbon. It was the equivalent, they said, of taking 250,000 cars off the road. Environmentalists and politicians from around the world came to check out Boundary Dam.But the success story disintegrated last November when Ms. Sproule, a member of the opposition New Democratic Party, unveiled the confidential documents in the provincial legislature. She wouldn’t identify the people who provided the documents, although the government confirmed their authenticity.The documents showed that the system was working at only 45 percent of capacity. One memo, written a month after the government publicly boasted about the project, cited eight major problem areas. Fixing them, it said, could take a year and a half, and the memo warned that it was not immediately apparent how to resolve some problems.A chart covering the first year of operation showed that the system often didn’t work at all. When it was turned back on after shutdowns for adjustments and repairs, the amount of carbon captured sometimes even dropped.The buoyant public remarks, Mr. Marsh said, accurately reflected the company’s early assessment of the system. “We were very optimistic when this plant came online,” he said.Still, he acknowledged that “there were a few statements that it was achieving more than it had.” Mr. Marsh characterized many of the problems as design issues, such as inadequate temperature control systems, rather than fundamental flaws.But Boundary Dam has exposed a problem with Shell’s process when used with coal exhaust. Despite the plant’s initial filtering, tiny particles of ash still remain in the exhaust and contaminate the amine, reducing its ability to grab carbon, Mr. Marsh said.The control room of a carbon capture and storage facility at Boundary Dam Power Station. Credit Michael Bell/CPTOR, via Associated Press“Over all, we are pleased with the performance of the capture technology,” Shell Canada said in a statement, adding that it was working with SaskPower “to optimize operations and capture any lessons that can be applied to improve future projects.”But the costs are piling up.One shutdown last spring to clean and replenish the chemical cost 17 million Canadian dollars. Mr. Marsh said that the company was still looking for a way to prevent the contamination.The repeated shutdowns have caused SaskPower to miss multiple carbon dioxide deliveries to Cenovus Energy, the Canadian oil company that signed a 10-year contract with the utility to buy most of the gas. (Cenovus uses carbon dioxide to force oil from largely depleted wells.) SaskPower has had to pay 7 million Canadian dollars in penalties, offsetting most of the 9 million Canadian dollars in payments received.On top of that, the carbon system is a voracious consumer of the electricity generated by Boundary Dam, which has 150 megawatts of capacity. Mr. Marsh testified that about 30 megawatts of capacity were consumed by the system, and an additional 15 to 16 megawatts were needed to compress the carbon dioxide.Tim Boersma, the acting director of the energy security and climate initiative at the Brookings Institution, said that extensive power loss is a significant factor keeping other utilities from following SaskPower’s lead.“That is exactly the reason this is not going to fly,” Mr. Boersma said. “The plant’s efficiency goes down so dramatically.”As it continues to sort out the plant’s problems, SaskPower is damping expectations. The utility cut its emissions reduction target for this year to 800,000 metric tons, from one million.The company said it is working with the engineering firm that designed the project to solve the problems and increase efficiency. Mr. Marsh said there were indications that performance was improving. Last month, the utility said the system was working at 67 percent of capacity.Even some environmentalists are hoping for a turnaround.George Peridas, a senior scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council’s climate and clean air program, said his group did not endorse the use of coal, but it accepted that coal would continue to be part of the energy mix.Carbon capture, he said, will be a “vital part” of reducing emissions. Based on discussions with SaskPower, Mr. Peridas said he was confident that Boundary Dam would eventually work out.“I don’t see any indication that the carbon capture system of this plant is broken,” Mr. Peridas said. “It’s had a bumpy start.”Technology to Make Clean Energy From Coal Is Stumbling in Practice A Marquee ‘Clean Coal’ Project Is Failinglast_img read more

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Column: Coal optimism in Australia hides unease about long-term problems

first_imgColumn: Coal optimism in Australia hides unease about long-term problems FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Reuters:BRISBANE—Coal miners supplying Asia’s rapidly growing economies have plenty to be optimistic about as prices and demand appear robust, but they should be wary of getting caught up in the positive feedback loop that nearly destroyed them before.This week’s inaugural Energy Mines and Money conference in Brisbane, the heartland of the industry in top coal exporter Australia, was a sea of optimism about the outlook for the industry. Prices have been on an upward trend since bottoming in 2016 after five years of losses, and miners are once again making good profits amid strong demand from top importers China and India, new consumers such as Pakistan and the reliable veteran buyers like Japan and South Korea.But at the back of the minds of many Australian miners is the fear that they have seen this movie before, and they don’t want the same ending. In 2012, the industry was cock-a-hoop over forecasts that pointed to massive import demand growth in Asia, led by China and India. Problem was it was pretty much all wrong.A well-respected industry consultant and forecaster boldly claimed in early 2012 that China would be importing 1 billion tonnes of coal by 2030, and India would be up to 400 million tonnes. But these forecasts now look hopelessly optimistic, given China’s coal imports were 270.9 million tonnes in 2017. While imports have risen for two years, they are still well below the record 327.2 million tonnes from 2013. While China’s coal imports may rise slightly this year, it’s unlikely they will reach 300 million tonnes, and that 1 billion tonne forecast looks well out of reach.The [new] optimistic forecasts also fail to account for political pressure to move away from coal, not only in China, but increasingly in India. It’s likely that those countries planning on building coal plants powered by imports will also come under mounting pressure from environmental activists, who have become increasingly sophisticated in targeting how coal plants are financed and insured.In fact, if there was another common theme to this week’s conference in Brisbane, it’s that the coal sector still doesn’t fully grasp that array of forces now being deployed against it. The mantra of coal as ‘cheap and reliable and the only way to electrify the masses of people still without power’ was still repeated, and clearly believed.But scratch a little further and miners will tell you of the incredible difficulties in developing projects, with increased government scrutiny and regulation, the rising threat of public opposition and the dearth of financing, notwithstanding a seemingly large pool of investment funds. The inability of India’s Adani to actually start building its Carmichael mine in Queensland, the world’s largest planned mine aimed at supplying the seaborne market, plays on the industry’s mind, as does the virulent public opposition to the mine’s development.More: COLUMN-Resurgent coal exporters should be wary of blinkered optimism: Russelllast_img read more

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State regulators tell Georgia Power to add 2,210MW of new solar by 2024

first_imgState regulators tell Georgia Power to add 2,210MW of new solar by 2024 FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Atlanta Journal Constitution:Georgia will rely more on the sun to generate electricity as it retreats from its once overwhelming reliance on coal.The state Public Service Commission’s five members — all Republicans — unanimously directed Georgia Power to make its biggest increase ever in renewables, nearly doubling the solar capacity of the state’s largest utility. The addition — 2,210 megawatts of new capacity from solar panels by 2024 — is enough to power more than 200,000 homes of the company’s 2.6 million customers.“It’s one of the cleanest and cheapest generation (sources) we can have,” PSC chairman Lauren “Bubba” McDonald said.He successfully pushed to more than double the amount of solar Georgia Power initially proposed as part of an update to its long-range energy plan. Most of the new solar generation is expected to come from large-scale commercial arrays rather than homeowners’ rooftops.But coal plants, once the dominant power source in Georgia and favored by President Donald Trump, are a shrinking part of the state’s energy mix as they become less economically viable. The PSC agreed with Georgia Power’s recommendation to close five coal-burning units, one at Plant McIntosh near Savannah and four more at Plant Hammond near Rome. The company started winding down operations this year.Georgia Power particularly heralded the PSC’s approval of 80 megawatts of battery energy storage, which could help store solar power. The project “is critical to growing and maximizing the value of renewable energy for customers as we increase our renewable generation,” Allen Reaves, the Atlanta-based company’s senior vice president, said in a press release.More: Georgia commissioners, all Republicans, increase solar power, cut coallast_img read more

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Solar development taking hold in Kazakhstan

first_imgSolar development taking hold in Kazakhstan FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享PV Magazine:JSC Kazakhstan Electricity and Power Market Operator (JSC KOREM) has revealed that the winner of the auction for a 50 MW solar power project in Kazakhstan’s Otyrar district is Italian oil and gas producer Eni.The group’s LLP Arm Wind unit offered the lowest price (not including VAT) of KZT 12.49 ($0.032)/kWh. “The ceiling auction price – KZT 29/kWh (excluding VAT) during the trading session decreased by 2.3 times,” JSC KOREM said.The 50 MW project is a joint initiative under the Ministry of Energy of the Republic of Kazakhstan, in cooperation with the UN Development Program. Eni is already active in the Kazakh energy market as a joint operator of the Karachaganak field. It is also an equity partner in various projects in the northern part of the Caspian Sea, including the giant Kashagan fieldThe auction has delivered a price which is lower by at least a third than those seen in the country’s first renewable energy auction in October 2018, when the final prices of the four selected PV projects, totaling 170 MW, ranged from KZT 18.6 to KZT 18.6.In another auction that was finalized in September, JSC KOREM selected a 10 MW PV project submitted by Russian developer Solnechnaya Sistema LLP, which offered a price of KZT 9.9/kWh, and a 26 MW solar project presented by KazSolar 50 LLP, which submitted a bid of KZT 16.97/kWh. The Solnechnaya Sistema LLP project will be built near the country’s Aral district, while the KazSolar 50 LLP plant will be built in the Shet district.Several more projects are being built outside the country’s auction scheme, including a 128 MW solar project by Total Eren and a 50 MW project by Suntech, among others. In January, German developer Goldbeck Solar said it had finished a 100 MW solar project near the town of Saran. That project also operates under a 15-year PPA, at a price of KZT34.61/kWh ($0.091). [Emiliano Bellini]More: Italy’s Eni wins Kazakhstan’s 50 MW solar auction with $0.032/kWh bidlast_img read more

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New joint venture to develop 500MW of solar in Ireland

first_imgNew joint venture to develop 500MW of solar in Ireland FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Solar Power Portal:Irish solar developer Shannon Energy is to develop 500MW of solar in Ireland over five years in a joint venture with Danish renewables investor and developer Obton Energy.In interviews on Wednesday morning with sister site PV Tech, both companies confirmed that Ireland’s forthcoming inaugural renewable energy auction scheme spurred the €300 million (£256 million) plan.Gerry Shannon, who runs the Dublin-based company with his brother, explained, “Ireland is fertile ground thanks to the government’s new auction process”. Ready-to-build projects totaling 150MW have already been secured and developed, he said, and the partners intend “to reach further back into the development process and look to secure greenfield sites” over the next five years, too.Details of Ireland’s long-awaited Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS) were unveiled in December. The first, 300GWh, auction is scheduled for the summer. The government has devised the scheme, which will be administered by Ireland’s transmission system operator EirGrid, in order to increase renewables’ share of Ireland’s electricity to 70% by 2030 from about 40% today.Both Shannon and [Anders Marcus, chief executive officer of Obton] confirmed that while energy storage was not included in short-term plans, it is likely to be included in the long-term.Corporate offtakers will also be considered in due course. “Corporate PPAs tend to be shorter term, five or seven years, and we’re going to hold these projects for 30 years, meaning we would prefer to have a longer-agreement,” said Shannon. “In the future, if we can find a corporate PPA or a private PPA that would be suitable for us, then of course we will go ahead and construct, provided that the bank regards to paperwork of such a PPA to be a viable risk.”[Cecilia Keating]More: JV between New Obton and Shannon Energy to spend £256m on 500MW of Irish solarlast_img read more

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Origins of the Swiss Army Knife

first_imgA red handle, a small white cross, a blade or two, and fold-out tools for the job— a Swiss Army Knife is an icon of utility and smart design recognizable the world over. Invented in the 1880s, and today still made exclusively in only two factories in Switzerland, the pocket knives are produced in dozens of varieties at a tune of more than 15 million per year.This summer, on a trip to Europe, I toured Swiss Army Knife factories in Ibach and Delemont, the idyll Swiss towns where pocket knives have been made for more than 100 years. Amid the pounding of machines and the bins of knife implements on the factory floor, workers assembled knife after knife to meet the world’s demand.It was in Ibach, in 1884, where Karl Elsener and his mother, Victoria, opened a cutlery cooperative that would soon produce the first knives sold to the Swiss Army. The original model, called the Soldier Knife, was made for troops who needed a foldable tool that could open canned food and aid in disassembling a rifle. The Soldier Knife included a blade, a reamer, a can opener, a screwdriver, and oak handles.Today, similar simple pocket knives roll continuously off the line at Victorinox A.G., the company that grew out of Elsener’s small cooperative decades back. Blades, corkscrews, files, punches, can openers, scissors, saws, and tiny toothpicks are long-time features.Other Victorinox knives include 21st-century touches like laser pointers, USB storage drives, and fingerprint scanners with data encryption built in. All the implements, from blades to data drives, are foldable or set on springs to disappear when not in use.In Switzerland, I traveled by train from city to city. Across the country, in the French-speaking region of Jura, I toured Wenger S.A., the other half of the Swiss Army coin.The Delemont company, founded as a cutler in the 19th century and later modernized by businessman Theodore Wenger, shares the Swiss Army knife trademark with Victorinox. Both companies’ knives have a similar history, and both have been purchased in bulk quantities by the Swiss Army since the 1890s.Like Victorinox, the Wenger Swiss Army Knives come in dozens of types. The company sells simple pocket knives on up to multitools like the Mike Horn Knife, a half-pound beast with two blades and a pliers. Its EvoGrip line has added ergonomic contours to knife handles. In 2006, Wenger introduced the Giant, a gargantuan, nine-inch-wide “pocket knife” with 85 implements that sells as a collector’s item for $1,400.Wenger and Victorinox are distinct companies. But both are owned by the Elsener family, with the great-grandchildren of Karl Elsener still overseeing production and managing a business that employs thousands of Swiss workers.In Ibach, after a tour of a factory where up to 28,000 Swiss Army Knives are made every day, I sat down with Charles Elsener, one of the great-grandchildren of the company’s founder. He pulled a couple knives from his pocket and started snapping blades and implements out for show.Charles Elsener talked about the hidden springs on which the blades and screwdrivers snap open and closed. It was a type of this spring mechanism, invented in the original Ibach cutlery, that made Swiss Army Knives stand out 100 years back.At my meeting this summer, Charles Elsener spoke about new implements, test products, and the science of metallurgy for making a perfect blade. From the factory below, I could hear the machines beat. It’s been 126 years in Ibach. The Swiss Army Knife machine continues to crank on.—Stephen Regenold is founder and editor of www.gearjunkie.com.last_img read more

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Panama Canal’s Expansion to Include Significant Security Upgrade

first_img The Panama Canal expansion project, which involves significant U.S., Chinese and Japanese investment, employs more than 40,000 people. Several regional economic and trade experts predict that revenue earned from the canal expansion turn Panama into Central America’s first “developed” country. “The expansion, by allowing post-Panamax ships to enter, will give an advantage to other countries in the Americas that will see a greater possibility of connection through Panama,” said Ricardo Sanchez of the United Nations’ Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean. “The Panamanian economy will likely thrive.” More ships, more high-tech security Adibel said that Panama has “always been a transit nation.” And Latin America’s narrowest country has always been one of its most vital, providing a link between South America and North America. But with voluminous transit come large security responsibilities, Adibel said. The region surrounding Panama to the north and south is the source of much of the world’s cocaine. Southern neighbors Colombia and Venezuela, as well as Panama and all Central American nations to the north, are on the U.S. State Department’s list of the world’s 22 major drug-trafficking countries. With that in mind, the Panamanian government, the country’s security forces and the Panama Maritime Authority (AMP in Spanish) have jointly designed a high-tech security system to accompany the expansion project. Roberto Linares, the AMP’s administrator, said a digital ship registry has been designed to give Panamanian authorities access to maritime bureaus around the world. Using that registry, canal officials will be able to view the identification numbers, licenses, country of origin, cargo and travel routes of more than 9,000 international vessels. “The registry eases the process for ships passing through the canal and allows us to monitor the history and travels of all cargo and shipments that arrive at the canal,” Linares said. A central contributor to the canal’s cargo monitoring scheme is the Absolute Maritime Tracking System (AMTS), which has designed tracking systems to improve maritime security, anti-piracy countermeasures and environmental protection. The company has agents in more than 90 countries and monitor major shipping centers every day, every hour of the year. AMTS uses digital tracking and surveillance to monitor the course, speed and position of vessels. Any deviations or oddities in transport are flagged and reported to the AMP. Joint security efforts at the canal Aside from the digital monitoring systems in place, physical surveillance and canal vigilance are provided by Panama’s security forces with assistance from several other countries including the United States. Since 2003, the U.S. and Panamanian governments have held annual security meetings known as Fuerzas Aliadas PANAMAX (Allied Forces PANAMAX), which are 10-day to two week seminars centered on protecting the canal from drug trafficking, crime and terrorist threats. At the first PANAMAX demonstration exercises in 2003, only three countries participated. By 2011, more than 3,500 military personnel from 16 countries took part in live and simulated training scenarios in Panama and off U.S. coastal bases. “The security threats of drug trafficking and crime in the region are continuing to grow, and transportation methods are always evolving. Seventy percent of crimes in Central America are now directly linked to drug trafficking,” said Panamanian Vice President Juan Carlos Varela. “This reinforced focus on maritime security will help governments in the region to tackle the common threat of organized crime.” At the annual PANAMAX demonstrations, security officials are instructed on how to spot potential maritime, air, land, space and cyber threats in the vicinity of the canal. Security officers are trained how to locate and diffuse a threat, often through a board, search and seizure procedure. Varela noted that since more than 5 percent of the world’s trade passes through the Panama Canal, “it is imperative that all international security forces work together to assure safe travel of cargo.” UNODC assists with container surveillance In 2010, the United Nations joined canal security efforts, launching the Center of Excellence on Maritime Security through its UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The center focuses its efforts on shipping container surveillance to confiscate and prevent illicit and counterfeit goods from entering markets through seaports. “Better container security can raise the risks and lower the benefits to organized crime,” said Francis Maertens, deputy executive director of UNODC during a visit to the port of Balboa. He noted that less than 2 percent of the 420 million shipping containers used annually worldwide are inspected, meaning better opportunities for drug trafficking and illicit cargo. “Thanks to improved intelligence and information-sharing, in just seven months Panamanian authorities managed to confiscate 146 containers transporting drugs and counterfeit goods, with a value of over $20 million,” Maertens said in 2011. As the canal expands and more ships and cargo pass between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, increased security will be crucial to ensuring prosperity for Panama’s biggest undertaking ever. “The canal is the heart of Panama’s future and a vital part of the world’s economic circulatory system,” Adibel said. “It’s good to see that Panama and much of the region is taking the proper steps make sure the expansion is secure.” By Dialogo May 14, 2012 PANAMA CITY — The Western Hemisphere’s most vital commercial waterway is undergoing a historic makeover. The 51-mile-long Panama Canal is being widened, deepened and modernized to allow the world’s largest containerships, known as post-Panamax tankers, to pass through the inter-oceanic channel. The ambitious project, which began in 2007, will require $5.25 billion in investment and security upgrades by the time it’s completed in late 2014. “This is the most revolutionary expansion in the canal’s history,” said Rodolfo Sabonge, vice-president of research and market analysis at the Panama Canal Authority. “The expansion will affect both ends, origin and destination, because the economies of scale of using larger ships will benefit the whole supply chain. Liner services will likely decrease as the large vessels will be able to carry more than twice as many containers onboard.” Construction activities on and around the canal are proceeding at a dizzying pace. Along the flanks of the channel and near both canal mouths at the oceans, thousands of workers toil in the tropical heat — drilling, digging and dredging as Mack trucks and giant tow trucks transport concrete and building materials from one place to another. “It’s the first real project that Panama will be able to claim as its own since taking control of the canal in 1999,” said Julio Adibel, administrator of Panama Canal Authority, interviewed by Diálogo during a tour of the canal in April. Project to boost employment, standard of living For nearly a century, the Panama Canal was owned and operated by the U.S. government, which constructed the transoceanic channel from 1904 to 1918. In 2006, seven years after taking back ownership of the canal, Panamanian voters approved a referendum to expand the canal to keep pace with the growing volume of cargo passing through each year. In 2011, more than 320 million tons of cargo transited the canal, according to official figures, up from 205 million tons the year before. The newly carved expansion route will be more efficient and direct, and have almost double the amount of cargo capacity of the canal. A third set of locks — which are used to lift and lower ships as they pass through the freshwater channel — will be added. The new locks will have deeper docking areas, offer an additional lane for more ship transit, and come equipped with sliding doors to expedite the transfer process. last_img read more

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Girl’s Capture Highlights FARC’s Use of Minors

first_imgBy Dialogo June 28, 2012 The capture of a wounded girl in camouflage paint and with explosives provided by FARC guerrillas has raised fears that Colombia’s half century old conflict may be taking an ominous new turn. While the leftist guerrilla group has long been accused of recruiting minors to its ranks, a video aired this week by the Colombian police appeared to show for the first time they are now being used in combat operations rather than in support roles. Taken in the province of Norte de Santander, the images show a wounded girl and the body of a boy who were captured after detonating explosives that killed seven police in a passing patrol. The girl is shown with a leg wound, her half-naked body covered in green paint, a technique used by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia to hide in the jungle. “She was in a state of severe anemia and appeared to be barely 12 years old,” Colonel Eliecer Camacho, the police chief in the region bordering Venezuela, told AFP. The girl, however, who has a cousin in the ranks of the FARC, said in the hospital that she was recruited four years ago at the age of 14. The boy’s torn body, also painted green, was found in the same place as the girl, Camacho said. The girl told authorities they had been put through an “inhuman training over eight months,” the colonel said. “They were required to walk for hours without shoes to harden the soles of their feet. They were denied food and water so they could endure more,” he said. According to the police commander, the guerrillas recruit minors by trying to convince them to join voluntarily, but once in they are forced to stay. “The recruitment of minors is not new, but their participation unfortunately is on the increase. Still, this is the first time they have been used for this kind of action,” said Ariel Avila, an expert at the Nuevo Arco Iris foundation. “It is too soon to know whether there has been a change of strategy by the FARC to use minors in these commandos, or whether these are isolated cases,” Avila said. Nearly 3,000 minors registered as part of a demobilization of armed groups between 2002 and 2011, but there could be as many as 10,000 more minors in rebel ranks, according to a 2009 UN report.last_img read more

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International Conference in Peru Commits to Reinforcing Fight against Drugs

first_imgBy Dialogo June 28, 2012 The international anti-drug conference held in Peru on June 25 and 26 concluded with the signing of the Lima Declaration, in which delegations from 61 countries in attendance committed themselves to increasing their efforts through an integrated strategy against drug trafficking. The delegations “recognize the need to intensify efforts (…) on International Cooperation towards an Integrated and Balanced Strategy to Counter the World Drug Problem,” according to the text signed following two days of deliberations behind closed doors. The delegations insisted that the drug problem “must be addressed in a multilateral, regional and bilateral framework, through concrete, comprehensive and effective evidence-based measures, to significantly reduce both the demand for and the supply of illicit drugs, under the principle of common and shared responsibility.” In their debates, the participants acknowledged “some progress” at the local, regional, and international levels, but still expressed their concern about “negative global trends in illicit cultivation, production, manufacture, trafficking and distribution, and abuse of drugs.” The United States was represented at the meeting by Office of National Drug Control Policy director Gil Kerlikowske and top State Department anti-drug official William Brownfield. “We’re always reviewing our policies, and precisely at this conference, the delegates are expressing and contributing their ideas in order to be able to improve,” Kerlikowske said upon being asked whether his country was engaging in self-criticism in relation to the drug policy it promotes. The delegations agreed, in addition, on the “urgent need to respond to the serious challenges posed by the increasing links between drug trafficking, corruption and other forms of transnational organized crime, including trafficking in humans, trafficking in firearms, cybercrime and, in some cases, terrorism and money-laundering.” The 61 delegations also agreed to exchange information and best practices in the area of effective programs, recognizing that the cooperation that may be needed in this area should be strengthened. The meeting was organized by the National Commission for Development and Life without Drugs (Devida), a government agency, and the Peruvian Foreign Ministry.last_img read more

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Naval Special Warfare Operators Assist Honduran Military in Establishing Elite Maritime Unit

first_img NSWTE-A also focused its efforts on partner nation self-sustainment strategies when seven FEN members were selected as future instructors, shadowing NSW counterparts during all training evolutions. This mentorship provided each Honduran instructor with the competence and confidence to conduct future selection courses and internal sustainment training unilaterally. Outside of the physical and technical training that is associated with a special operator, NSWTE-A focused on creating a team of communication specialists within the FEN to become experts in Harris radio technologies, a skill set that is lacking in most Central American units due to the lack of expertise. During a recent six-month deployment, members of Naval Special Warfare Task Element-Alpha (NSWTE-A), a deployed maneuver element attached to Naval Special Warfare Unit-FOUR (NSWU-4) in support of Special Operations Command South, partnered with their Honduran counterparts to train and increase the military capacity of the newly established Honduran Fuerza Especiales Naval or (FEN). The FEN is a maritime unit of Special Operators capable of combating transnational organized crime in and around their waterways. “The unique task organization, presentation of functional skill sets, and development of unit pride and esprit de corps has effectively paved the way for continued Honduran led training and operations in the future in order to keep their borders secure against transnational organized crime and illicit trafficking,” said the NSWTE-A officer in charge. NSWU4, stationed in Joint Expeditionary Base, Little Creek, Va., and in support of SOCSOUTH, headquartered at Homestead Air Reserve Base, Fla., designed and implemented a comprehensive training and maintenance plan to build the FEN into a strong counter-narcotic force. Organizational departments were also created to include assault, boats, communications, engineering and training with a senior officer and enlisted advisor assigned to each department. To compliment the efforts of the Navy SEALs, members from Naval Special Warfare Special Boat Team 22 also spent a month with counterparts from NSWTE-A training the FEN in basic watercraft maintenance skills and procedures, nautical chart familiarization, boat vectoring and intercepting techniques, small boat handling tactics, and long-range navigation exercises. With a rate of 86 people killed for every 100,000 inhabitants, Honduras is considered one of the most dangerous countries in the world according to statistics from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) report in 2011. center_img By Dialogo February 08, 2013 Some of the conditioning assessments included an eight-mile log physical training event and a six-nautical mile ocean swim across the Bahia de Trujillo. After completing these physical and mental hardships to become a member of the FEN, the 45 qualified individuals continued through more rigorous and operationally-focused skills training, which completed their transformation into a disciplined and dedicated team capable of providing the Honduran Fuerza Naval a capable maritime branch of special operations. Ten operators from SEAL Team 18, attached to NSWU-4, spent six months training and observing the FEN in a multi-disciplinary approach, resulting in 45 highly qualified Honduran Special Operators by the end of the two, eight-week Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/s) style training. These courses were modeled after the BUD/s selection training done by the U.S. Navy SEALs in Coronado, Calif. “In my whole military career, I can only remember three times when radios were used successfully on a mission,” said the FEN’s commanding officer. He added that the skills learned during this training should improve the success rate of radios during military movements. With a murder rate four times higher than Mexico, these alarming numbers depict a nation where violence is part of everyday life. Many of these casualties are linked to narcotics trafficking, where Honduras and other Central American nations are used as a transit point from South America into Mexico and the U.S.; the preponderance of these illicit activities enter the region by maritime. “The combination of SEALs and Special Boat Operators provided the FEN with arguably the best maritime training available within USSOF”, said the NSWTE-A officer in charge. last_img read more

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