Stale Thoughts and Broken Links

Old entries from my weblog on geophysics and the energy industry.


Oil and Gas Journal: Shell urges business to participate in greenhouse gas discussions.

"When Shell moved away from a discussion about the science and towards a discussion of the impact on its business, that was an `epiphany.'... The company is ranked tenth in the world as a carbon producer, emitting 2.5% of the world's global greenhouse emissions.

"Shell's plan includes ... an internal plan for Shell to eliminate venting of gas by 2003 and eliminate flaring of gas by 2008. So far, Shell has reduced its emissions to 104 tonnes of CO2 in 1998 from 116 tonnes in 1990. The goal is now to reduce emissions by 10% by 2002 through the Shell Tradable Emission Permit System initiated this year."

Oil and Gas Journal: MMS plans gas drilling initiatives for 2001 Central Gulf sale.

"MMS proposes to suspend royalty payments on the first 20 bcf of gas produced from deep wells drilled 15,000 feet below sea level in the gas-prone shallow-water shelf area of the gulf.

"It also proposes a 2-year extension of the 5-year primary lease if an operator needs more time to process and interpret 3D seismic data after drilling a first subsalt well."


"The federal outer continental shelf-primarily the relatively shallow waters of the Gulf of Mexico-has long been the largest one source for US gas, supplying 27% of current domestic gas production.... The gulf is estimated to hold 80% of undiscovered but economically recoverable US gas resources...."

Oil and Gas Online: Western Geophysical & Magic Earth.

"Western Geophysical and Magic Earth have teamed up to combine Western Geophysical's seismic data acquisition and processing resources with Magic Earth's volume visualization and interpretation tools."


O.k., I know that these 20-year forecasts tend to be wrong. But I think these exercises are good for exposing where we are, and what trends we should try to break:

Oil and Gas Journal: The US Energy Information Administration boosts estimate of US energy demand in 2020.

"Net petroleum imports are projected to increase, providing 64% of US demand in 2020, up from 51% in 1999. Growth in petroleum demand is led by transportation, where efficiency improvements are more than offset by growing travel demand."


"Technology improvements in the exploration and production of oil and natural gas are expected to moderate price increases even as demand for these fuels grows.

"It forecast a world oil price of $22.41/bbl (1999 dollars) in 2020, similar to last year's projection. The average wellhead price of gas is expected to reach $3.13/Mcf in 2020, 10% higher than forecast last year due to higher expected demand for gas, primarily for electricity generation.

"EIA said growth in energy demand is expected to lead to rising CO2 emissions from energy combustion. US carbon dioxide emissions are projected to reach 1,809 and 2,041 million metric tons of carbon equivalent in 2010 and 2020, respectively, 34% and 51% higher than the level of 1,349 million metric tons carbon equivalent in 1990, based on current laws and regulations."


"Coal remains the primary fuel for electricity generation, although its share is projected to decline from 51 to 44% by 2020 because electricity industry restructuring favors the less capital-intensive, more efficient gas generation technologies. Generation from renewable sources is projected to increase slowly due to relatively low prices of fossil-fired generation."


In my mind, energy issue number one is that, without proper management, our insatiable appetite for petroleum will continue to compromise and undercut any moral authority we claim in our relations with the rest of the world. This was true in 1973, it was true in 1990, and it will be frighteningly true in 2020.

One bright spot: the shift in emphasis from petroleum to natural gas is a small step in the right direction, at least in terms of political stability.


CNN: U.N. climate talks collapse in Netherlands.

"Delegates said talks had foundered on disagreements between the EU and the United States over ways to curb emissions of greenhouse gases believed to be causing climate change."


"A key issue blocking agreement was that of `sinks' -- whether to let countries count the carbon absorbed by their forests against their greenhouse gas emissions.

"U.S. officials say nations should get credit for existing farmland and forests because they absorb carbon dioxide and offset some emissions. Opponents say such programs would reward certain countries for doing nothing."


New York Times: The Next Stage in Supercomputing.

"... the widely publicized, semiannual list of the world's most powerful supercomputers is misleading at best. Companies that do well in the listing use it for bragging rights - most recently, I.B.M.'s presence in the ranking has been soaring - but users and vendors alike agree that it is based on tests that have almost nothing to do with how useful the computers are.

"Users are trying to come up with more realistic bench marks to help explain to Congress and other sources of financing why expensive computers that look slower on paper might be better buys. To underscore their concerns, they note that the record for sustained performance on a real application was set two years ago by a Cray computer running at little more than a fifth the speed rating of the I.B.M. computer that currently tops the raw speed rankings."


Physics Today: Nations Argue over Climate Treaty. Disagreements at this month's climate meeting in the Hague could cause the Kyoto Protocol to fail.

"In the US, for example, which produces 36% of the world's car emissions, greenhouse gas production has gone up in the past two years by 1% annually, despite promises in Kyoto to cut back."

Physics Today: Technologies to Reduce Carbon Dioxide Emissions in the Next Decade.

"In 1990, the US emissions of carbon dioxide alone amounted to about 1300 million tonnes of carbon (MtC), or 23% of the 5800 MtC spewed out worldwide.... Under the Kyoto accord, the US is to reduce its output of carbon and carbon equivalents by the end of this decade to 7% below 1990 levels. But by now, US emissions of carbon from CO2 have risen 18% above 1990 levels and, if the nation follows current trends for the next decade, it is predicted to increase those emissions by another 16%."


WSJ: The Outlook.

"The U.S. remains one of the world's largest producers of crude oil, pumping about six million barrels a day -- more than almost any country except Saudi Arabia. But as the U.S. looks for a greater and more reliable supply of oil amid worries about OPEC dependence, it must look almost everywhere but in its own territory.

"The reason: The U.S. has just 21 billion barrels of proven oil reserves, down 44% from 39 billion in 1970, according to the Energy Information Agency, the Department of Energy's statistical arm. That's just 2% of the world's proven reserves. By comparison, Saudi Arabia has 262 billion barrels of proven reserves, and Venezuela 73 billion barrels."


"The EIA estimates that the U.S. holds 139 billion barrels of yet-to-be-discovered oil, but much of those resources are off-limits to drilling."

Oil and Gas Online: Seismic activity now lags drilling rigs, analysts say.

"... improvements in data processing technology, such as improved computer horsepower and advanced processing algorithms, have allowed exploration companies to process and reprocess more data in less time, meaning that more prospects can be developed per active seismic crew. Advanced data gathering technologies, such as more streamers per seismic vessel, allow more data to be gathered per crew or vessel."


"The near-term outlook is favorable for seismic companies due to increased processing and reprocessing of data and the sales of existing library data, but they said it might take several years before the industry seismic crew count returns to 1997 levels."


Amerada Hess Agrees to Acquire Lasmo in a $3.5 Billion Accord.

"With the purchase, New York-based Hess would see its proved oil and natural gas reserves jump to 1.83 billion barrels of oil equivalent from one billion barrels. Such reserves would make the company the eighth-largest oil and gas concern in the U.S., ahead of Unocal Corp. In total production, Hess's 565,000 barrels a day would rank ahead of Unocal and Occidental Petroleum Corp. and just behind Conoco Inc."

Last Friday I also attended the organizational meeting for Arthur Weglein's new seismic processing consortium at UH. Judging by the level of interest at Friday's meeting, it looks like all of the supermajors will join, plus a few majors and contractors.

For the last twenty years, Arthur has been pioneering the application of wave equation physics to seismic processing. In recent years, he has had remarkable success with what he calls "wave scattering methods." His approach involves recasting all seismic processing in terms of a single equation for the exact direct inversion of the wave equation. His particular areas of application have been wavelet estimation, multiple removal, and now depth imaging.

Right now I'm taking Arthur's second class at UH on this theory. It has been a lot of fun, and I'm sure I'll have some additional comments here in the next few of months. This consortium is worth keeping an eye on.


Last night at UH, I saw Dave Lumley give his lecture on The Next Wave in Reservoir Monitoring -- The Instrumented Oilfield:. It was about 50% reservoir monitoring overview, 50% new developments in acquisition. The application of fiber optics has led to some really cool improvements in acquisition systems.

Walter Kessinger

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