Stale Thoughts and Broken Links

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


Wall Street Journal (subscription): Natural-Gas Producers Report A Continuing Decline in Output.

"About 20 large natural-gas producers, accounting for close to 40% of domestic production, have so far reported fourth-quarter results. The result: Natural-gas production in the quarter was down 0.8% from the third quarter and off 3.7% from the fourth quarter of 1999, according to figures compiled by Lehman Brothers. Analysts, surprised by the trend, say gas production will need to start growing for prices to return to more traditional levels."

Oil & Gas Journal: Anadarko begins production from Gulf of Mexico [subsalt] fields.

"Tanzanite, on Eugene Island Block 346, is producing more than 10,000 b/d of oil and 23 MMcfd of gas from the A-1 well. A second well is expected on stream in February. Once both wells are on line, Tanzanite will produce 15,000 b/d of oil and 50 MMcfd of gas. Oil production will decline over time and be replaced by rising natural gas production from the gas cap.

"Anadarko holds 100% of Tanzanite, which is in 314 ft of water."

My recollection is that before Anadarko drilled the Tanzanite discovery well, they approached 30 companies looking for someone to partner with them. But in 1998, "conventional wisdom" had cooled on subsalt prospects, and everyone turned them down. It was a gutsy play to drill that well with 100% exposure, and it's great to see them reaping a well-deserved reward.

Ouch, my hometown is getting wacked again, the second time this month!

Houston Chronicle: Conoco moving 125 workers here.

"Conoco has begun relocating the majority of its Gulf of Mexico exploration and production operations from Lafayette, La., to the company's headquarters in Houston, the oil company said Tuesday."


"Conoco is the second major oil company this year to move workers from Lafayette. Unocal announced in early January that it was moving 250 jobs jobs to Sugar Land from its office in Lafayette."

Oil & Gas Journal: Unocal patent review unwarranted, says solicitor general.

"`That is not to say that there are no mechanisms available to address `gaming' of a regulatory system,' the brief warned. `It has long been accepted that misuse of a patent or inequitable conduct before the Patent Office can render a patent unenforceable.'

"But, the statement went on, petitioners do not present a claim of patent misuse, nor do they argue that fraud was committed on the Patent Office."


"A federal court upheld a lower court decision that makers of California reformulated gasoline that conforms to Unocal's patented specifications should pay Unocal a royalty of 5.75/gal on gasoline that fits the Unocal description."


Another press release from Paradigm: Paradigm Geophysical Issues Guidance For 2001.

"Mr. Weiss also announced significant new advanced technology-based service offerings. He said, `For seismic data processing services we will, during the year, offer advanced production-oriented analysis - 4D and 4C, and additional leading-edge technologies such as full wave 3D prestack depth migration.'"


Paradigm finally released its fourth quarter results.

"Eldad Weiss, Chairman and CEO stated, `Management has reviewed the outlook for 2001 and believes that the company's continued commitment to delivering a full solution of software and services meets the changing market requirements. Further, we believe that demand for out-sourced data analysis and interpretation services will continue to grow. Our advanced solutions, both for seismic data processing, and also for integrated reservoir studies to improve production recovery, respond well to this demand. We plan to expand our reservoir studies services to meet the emerging demand for these out-sourced services.'"

Wall Street Journal (subscription): Oil-Services Firms Take a Bath On Deep-Water Drilling Projects.

"In 1996, the International Energy Agency in Paris expected Gulf of Mexico oil production in U.S. waters to more than double to 2.2 million barrels a day between 1995 and 2000. But at the end of 2000, production had grown to only 1.4 million barrels a day, up 48%, as glitches, mergers and falling oil prices slowed big projects."
"Service companies and equipment makers say they vastly underestimated the deeper ocean's challenges."


Washington Post: Scientists Issue Dire Prediction On Warming. Faster Climate Shift Portends Global Calamity This Century.

"The report ... says that Earth's average temperature could rise by as much as 10.4 degrees over the next 100 years -- the most rapid change in 10 millennia and more than 60 percent higher than the same group predicted less than six years ago. If new scientific models are accurate, rising temperatures will melt polar ice caps and raise sea levels by as much as 34 inches, causing floods that could displace tens of millions of people in low-lying areas -- such as China's Pearl River Delta, much of Bangladesh and the most densely populated area of Egypt."
"The United States is the largest producer of greenhouse gases, accounting for a quarter of the world total. China ranks second, but its per capita amount is relatively low."

My life expectancy barely gets me past 2040; if I'm lucky, I'll see 2050. But I don't want to leave to my kids and grandchildren a world that looks like an apocalyptic sci-fi nightmare.

This is a problem - a *real* problem - and in the U.S., we need to take responsibility and get serious about finding some solutions. Technological solutions, of course. I'm not some Green fruitcake saying we should give up mass transportation and return to pre- Industrial Revolution lifestyles. But we need to curtail our production of greenhouse gases, and we're going to have to spend some money to find ways of doing that.

On the bright side, 34 inches isn't as bad as I'd feared. Sure, we'll lose Galveston and New Orleans, but my house will still be 95 feet above sea level. :-)


Houston Chronicle: PGS warns of lower earnings.

"Sales of data out of its seismic library have been flat, it said. Its stock price declined $3.13 to close Friday at $9."


Lots of seismic news today.

Oil Online: Veritas DGC to acquire Reservoir Characterization Research and Consulting.

"Under the terms of the agreement, valued at approximately US $33 million, Veritas will acquire 100% of RC2 in exchange for approximately 1,137,500 Veritas shares."

Oil and Gas Online: Alliance formed to commercialize new digital sensor.

"Veritas DGC Inc. and Input/Output, Inc. say they have formed a strategic marketing alliance to commercialize advanced multi-component land seismic solutions in North America utilizing I/O's proprietary VectorSeis digital sensor technology."

I think this next story is relevent to 4-D OBS acquisition:

Oil Online: Halliburton Subsea and Southampton University sign agreement.

"Autosub, an `underwater robot', has the ability to navigate a predetermined course collecting data from a suite of sensors. When it returns to the surface, it down loads the data for analysis."


"Veritas DGC Inc. has opened its newest data processing center in Stavanger, Norway, bringing its worldwide total to 22. The new center will perform both 2D and 3D data processing services."

And news from my employer:

"Paradigm Geophysical Ltd. has reached an alliance agreement with Sysdrill Limited including a framework for acquiring a controlling interest in Sysdrill's operations. Sysdrill, founded in 1985, is based in Aberdeen Scotland. It is a leading software and service provider for drilling engineering and well operations solutions, and established the industry standard for directional well planning software."


Oil & Gas Journal: MMS increases offshore oil, gas estimates.

"The US Minerals Management Service has increased its assessment of undiscovered offshore resources 65% for conventionally recoverable oil and 35% for gas."

Wall Street Journal (subscription): Consumer Prices Inched Higher In December, but Jumped in 2000.

"Natural-gas prices, which have produced eye-popping bills for many homeowners, rose 4.4% in December and a record 36.7% for all of 2000."


Another "good times" story:

Houston Chronicle: Exploration, production to take off. 20% spending jump predicted.

"The four majors, Exxon Mobil, BP, Royal Dutch Shell and TotalFinaElf, finally are getting back into the game after a slack period attributed to mergers. Spending by the four giants will be up an estimated 14 percent, while all others will jump 22 percent, to a total expenditure for 2001 of $113.5 billion. This is up from last year's total of $94.8 billion, according to surveys by Salomon Smith Barney."


"On the other hand, big increases in exploration and production budgets aren't likely to result in similarly big increases in oil output.

While exploration budgets zoomed from $44 billion in 1990 to $113 billion in 2001, oil production from non-OPEC countries grew only marginally -- from 38 million barrels per day to 41 million barrels per day during the 11 years. This is despite major improvements in technology."

The same story in O&G:

Oil & Gas Journal: Global Marine sees boom for 2001 offshore drilling.

"Like others in the upstream service industry, Global Marine officials say the lack of properly trained and qualified personnel is their biggest problem. `The industry is coming into a period of many limitations, but the major problem will be people,' said [Robert E. Rose, president and CEO.]

"Like others in the offshore service industry, Global Marine is trying to provide key employees with better pay and more job security.

"`For the first time in my career, contractors are getting to the point where they can afford to do that. In the past, they were afraid to keep people on the payroll during a downturn for fear of taking the company under,' Rose said. `Now we can weather a downturn.'"

Reuters News Service: Richardson doesn't get oil promise. Energy secretary ends OPEC tour.

Here's a wish for the new Bush administration: please put an end to the practice of sending the Energy Secretary to OPEC to beg for cheap oil. How embarrassing!


Oil and Gas Online: Seismic data majors join to develop e-commerce standards and technology.

"Schlumberger's says it has penned an agreement with Veritas DGC and the Schlumberger joint venture with Baker Hughes, WesternGeco, to publish, market, and license multi-client seismic data online."


Oil & Gas Journal: Texans mark centennial of historic Spindletop oil discovery.

"`No production in the world had ever been like that,' said Halbouty, a Beaumont native. `Not Baku (Russia), Pennsylvania or Corsicana (Texas). They were producing 50, 75, maybe 100 barrels a day. Spindletop came in at 100,000 a day. In one year the potential was for more oil than had been produced up to that time.'

"The drillers capped the well Jan. 1, but not until about 1 million barrels had spilled onto the ground. By then, prospecting had begun and the logging town of Beaumont grew from 5,000 to 50,000 in weeks. It was the first of many oil boomtowns across Texas in the early 20th century."


Looks like my hometown is shrinking again:

Houston Chronicle: Unocal moving jobs to Sugar Land.

"Unocal Corp. will shift about 250 jobs from its office in Lafayette, La., to its offices in Sugar Land over the next 10 to 12 months, the company said Tuesday."

Houston Chronicle: Reformulated gasoline is in short supply again.

"Supplies of anti-smog gasoline, used at a third of the nation's pumps, are tight for the second time in 12 months, this time because of a shortage of a key ingredient."


Oil Online: E&P spending to grow by 19.7 percent in 2001, survey finds.

"Salomon Smith Barney believes that 2001 will mark a full recovery from the 1999 oilfield contraction. Growth in 2001 should be more geographically balanced."


Wall Street Journal (subscription required): Federal Policies, Industry Shifts Produced Natural-Gas Crunch.

"Federal efforts to promote clean air and U.S. energy independence have fed a surge in demand, in part by creating an expanding market for natural gas among the nation's electrical utilities. Meanwhile, changes in the shape of the domestic oil and gas industry and other factors -- including a tremendous oil-price crash just two years ago -- have sharply curtailed U.S. oil and gas exploration, bringing little new gas into the pipeline. As a result, the U.S. now consumes more natural gas than it supplies, relying on Canada to make up most of the difference."


"The situation now facing consumers is a classic supply squeeze that won't abate this winter and may persist for many winters to come. Get ready for `a decade-long problem,' says Matthew Simmons, president of Houston investment bank Simmons & Co. Mr. Simmons, an industry analyst who has long warned of an impending natural-gas crisis, says it's even potentially worse than the oil shocks of 1973 and 1979. That's because in addition to heating about 53% of American homes, natural gas is also being used to generate about 16% of the country's electricity -- a percentage that is still growing."

This is story on the PGS/Landmark deal is better than the one that ran in the WSJ yesterday:

Houston Chronicle: Landmark Graphics to buy Petrobank Data Management.

"Petrobank is an electronic data storage and distribution system that offers online access to oil and gas exploration and production data, such as seismic logs and well logs."


Wall Street Journal: Halliburton to Pay $179 Million For Petroleum Geo-Services Unit.

"Halliburton will add PGS's PetroBank data-storage and distribution system to its Landmark Graphics Corp. unit. Dave Lesar, Halliburton's president and CEO, said in a statement that the addition will provide Halliburton clients with access to PGS's storehouse of exploration and production data."

Houston Chronicle: Oil, gas prospects good. 2001 prices are likely to be lower than 2000 but still high.

"Even though the world economy is believed to be slowing, demand for energy is expected to keep rising, which should bode well for energy stocks.

"World oil demand is expected to grow almost 2 million barrels a day in 2001, similar to the growth that was seen from 1995 to 1997, according to the Energy Information Administration, the research arm of the U.S. Department of Energy."


"Most company budgets are based on an oil price of $25 per barrel and a natural gas price of $3.75 per thousand cubic feet."

Wall Street Journal: Oil Companies Plan Big Investments Despite Other Sectors' Spending Cuts.

"For a second consecutive year, big oil companies say they plan to increase their exploration-and-production spending by as much as 20% from the previous year, setting the stage for a return to the heady days of three years ago." The heady days of three years ago? Times were good, but it wasn't exactly 1980.

Dow Jones Newswires: DaimlerChrysler Sees Fuel-Cell Car In '01.

"DaimlerChrysler ... said it has spent 10 years developing the technology and has produced 16 vehicle prototypes so far. It hopes to market a fuel-cell car by 2004.

"The Sprinter has front-wheel drive and operates with little noise because the electric motor has fewer moving parts than a conventional drive system.

"Vehicles powered by the fuel-cell technology are seen as the next generation of automobiles. The costly technology uses hydrogen, often derived from natural gas or methanol, to produce electricity with less pollution than traditional engines."

Walter Kessinger

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