Stale Thoughts and Broken Links

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


Wall Street Journal (subscription): NEC, Cray Reach Supercomputer Deal For Sales of Japanese Machines in U.S.

"NEC Corp. has resolved a longstanding dispute that had blocked U.S. customers from buying a powerful line of supercomputers, clearing the way for the Japanese company to sell the massive processors here for the first time in four years."

Major congratulations (I think) to all my friends at NEC supercomputers!


Houston Chronicle: Global-warming reports put hot issue on front burner for Bush.

"Introducing a note of urgency at the new administration's first Cabinet meeting, Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill distributed copies of a speech he had given in 1998, in which he warned that delaying action to stem global warming by only a few years could pose `real danger to civilization.'"

On the same subject:

New York Times: A Global Warning to Mr. Bush.

"Mr. Bush has asked Vice President Dick Cheney and a blue-ribbon team to devise an energy strategy, which will almost certainly recommend a more aggressive search for oil and gas. Yet so far as is known, he has not asked anyone to figure out how the country should deal with the consequences of burning those fuels."

[via Scripting News.]

And speaking of an energy policy:

Oil & Gas Journal: Industry groups applaud opening of energy policy debate.

O.k., I know there's a lot of self-serving PR BS in this article; whenever an energy industry spokesperson uses the phrase "environmentally thoughtful," someone should at least give him/her a skeptical look.

But I think the energy industry (with the possible exception of ExxonMobil) is learning that it is in its own best interest to not always be transparently self-interested, particularly w.r.t. the environment and global warming. At least we're moving in the right direction. We can't formulate an energy policy without an environmental policy, and vice versa. They are flip sides of the same coin.

Most earth scientists are employeed in the energy and mineral exploration industries. We have strong ties back to the university scientists who are doing global warming and pollution research. We need to exercise some integrity and get out front on these issues!

Other stuff:

Houston Chronicle: TGS-Nopec agrees to buy Symtronix.

"TGS-Nopec Geophysical Co. ASA says it has agreed to acquire Symtronix, a privately held Houston company that provides seismic data loading and format conversions for the oil and gas industry. The price will be approximately $750,000 in cash and stock, with the closing expected within two weeks."

$750,000? They're lucky they didn't have to pay TGS to acquire them! I'm not knocking Syntronix, whoever they are, just commenting on the pathetic valuations of companies in the seismic sub-industry.


Good points from an oil company mouthpiece:

Oil & Gas Journal: Pirinc says US energy plan shouldn't focus on lowering oil imports.

"`While tight world oil supply conditions for much of last year produced sharply higher crude oil prices, local supply problems were at least as important in their impact on consumers-and were not confined to oil.'"


"Pirinc said import dependence should not be confused with vulnerability to disruption in world oil supplies. It noted that as long as the US participates in the world oil market, a supply disruption anywhere will affect the US through its effects on worldwide oil prices."

Oil & Gas Journal: MMS sets terms for Mar. 28 Central Gulf of Mexico lease sale.


Oil & Gas Journal: Gas geysers in Hutchinson, Kan., puzzle investigators.

"The first eruption triggered an explosion that destroyed two businesses and damaged 26 others in downtown Hutchinson. About 6 hr later, another geyser shot up on the east edge of town. On Jan. 18, escaping gas exploded in a trailer park, injuring three people, two of whom later died."


A number of energy stories relevant to threads I've been following:

Oil & Gas Journal: JP Morgan executive predicts more oil mergers coming.

Oil & Gas Journal: Industry leaders question if production can expand to meet demand.

"... with world demand growing 2%/year for oil and more than 3% for gas, some industry leaders at that conference questioned whether they can meet projected markets in the range of 140 million b/d of oil equivalent by 2010."

Oil & Gas Journal: US Supreme Court upholds Unocal's reformulated gasoline patent.

"The US Supreme Court's opinion Tuesday upholding Unocal Corp.'s patent for cleaner-burning reformulated gasoline (RFG) calls into question the feasibility of the federal Clean Air Act that it's supposed to advance, said an industry official."

Houston Chronicle: Paradise lost? Global warming seen as threat.


Don't waste your time clicking on this link:

Oil & Gas Journal: Internet promotes `virtual integration' of energy companies.

The story spends thirteen paragraphs repeating the single idea stated in the headline: that network technologies are encouraging more outsourcing and multicompany collaboration. The article has no additional information content, not even anecdotal evidence.


WSJ (subscription): Schlumberger to Find Out If Oil and High-Tech Mix. Pact to Buy Sema Stirs Doubts, Given Dull Record Beyond Oil.

"The Sema deal will reduce oil-field services' share of overall revenues to about 60% from 73%."

AP: Panel: Risk to Oil Supply Will Grow .

"Among other task force findings are that over the next 20 years[,] world energy demand will increase by 50 percent and at some point developing countries, led by China, will begin to consume more energy than the developed countries."


Here's proof that oil industry leaders can get together for a serious discussion of public policy issues, and not sound like a bunch of self-absorbed greedy fat-cats:

Oil & Gas Journal: Industry leaders see challenges as energy business changes.

"... the disparity between the massive tax revenue that governments of consuming countries reap from refined petroleum products and the `tiny fraction' that producing countries get for the sale of their oil is a `time bomb' that threatens the system, said Herbert Detharding, CEO of Wintershall AG, a subsidiary of the BASF Chemicals Group."

I've always been in favor of a high tax on energy as a means of promoting conservation. But I'm willing to admit that there are fairness issues w.r.t. how that tax revenue is reinvested.

Paradigm Geophysical Inaugurates $10 Million Turnkey Project in India.

"Paradigm Geophysical Limited (Nasdaq:PGEO) is pleased to announce the handover of the largest computer center in India to Oil and Natural Gas Company of India (ONGC)."


Houston Chronicle: New ChevronTexaco execs show deal's an acquisition.

"`Looking down the list, I guess you can find one or two Texaco names if you look really hard,' Mark Gilman of ING Barings said."

Anadarko keeps on growing --

Houston Chronicle: Anadarko acquiring Berkley. Purchase to speed up Canadian gas plans.

Oil & Gas Journal: Schlumberger to buy Sema for $5.2 billion.

"[Euan Baird, chairman and CEO of Schlumberger,] said Sema provides the `competencies' Schlumberger needs `to continue to add strong IT technology, systems integration and consulting competencies on a global scale to both accelerate the growth in our core vertical markets and to establish ourselves as a leading information solutions provider in those core vertical markets.'"

So, is Schumberger still an energy service company, or what?

Oil Online: The Nigerian scam persists.


WSJ (subscription): World Demand for Oil Abates, In Pace With Global Economy.

"World demand for oil has fallen by 140,000 barrels per day to 1.5 million barrels per day, the International Energy Agency, based in Paris, said Monday in its monthly report.

"It predicted continuing volatility in oil markets because of moves by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to cut production to keep prices high, and the consequent reduction in oil inventories."


Glass half full:

WSJ (subscription): Despite Disruptions, California Businesses Weather Electrical Storm Surprisingly Well.

Glass half empty:

Oil & Gas Journal: California ISO projects huge power shortfall.

"With summer approaching, the California Independent System Operator (ISO) is tentatively forecasting a June shortfall of 6,815 Mw during peak loads, enough electricity to power roughly 6.8 million homes.

"The prospect of such catastrophic outages is `unbelievable,' says Ed Krapels, director of gas and power for Energy Security Analysis Inc. `That's an amazing number.'"


Oil Online: Veritas DGC acquires Denver-based company [RC2].


Oil Online: [Norsk] Hydro sets up technology venture.

"Norsk Hydro set up a fund, Norsk Hydro Technology Venture, which will invest in energy sector research and development projects implemented outside of the company's own operations. Hydro has allocated $29.2 million for this type of investment over the next four years. The fund will inject capital into companies developing projects that are of importance for Hydro that impact the company's energy operations."

This seems like an appropriate place to point to this article by Ken Larner, published in last month's The Leading Edge.

"The figure shows that the energy sector invests in R&D to the tune of about 0.4%, as compared with more than 10% for each of the first three sectors: drugs and medicine, scientific instruments, and communications equipment. The percentage for the energy sector, shown here for 1995, is down by about a factor of two from a decade before; moreover, today's percentage is down further from the 1995 value shown in the slide."

"Looking at this slide, and judging from the perspective of R&D investment in the future, one might conclude -- Wall Street might conclude -- that the energy industry is a low-tech industry!"

It doesn't look good getting beat by Stone Age technologies like "stone and clay."


It's a lite news day for seismology / O&G, but here's a couple of articles from Science News.

Science News: Seismic shivers tell of tornado touchdown.

Science News: Explosions, not a collision, sank the Kursk.


Oil and Gas Online: New Web-enabled prospect interpretation process introduced. Online system provides interpreters global access to oil company data.

"Interested interpreters apply for access to data for an advertised block. The owner screens applicants and then awards the right to develop prospects. Successful applicants can choose from a number of risk-weighted compensation models based on guaranteed fees, prospect quality and success. If the block owner elects to farm out, the applicants have the opportunity to recommend their prospects to third-party companies.

"In the BP prototype, after receiving numerous responses on the five properties it posted in the VirtualProspect system, BP selected five qualified applicants to submit interpretation proposals."

It seems to me that this really is a new model for prospect generation. And prospect generation is still (by far) the biggest driver of the seismic exploration industry. So I think this will have some impact on my industry; it should certainly increase demand for spec data.

If this really catches on (and I think it will), will it effect leasing strategies in the energy industry? Will companies need to reorganize their exploration departments to adjust to a more "open" process of generating prospects?

Here's a more breathless account:

Oil & Gas Journal: `Virtual' method for generating drilling prospects unveiled at NAPE.

Walter Kessinger

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