Stale Thoughts and Broken Links

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



Oil & Gas Journal: President Bush defends decision not to regulate CO2.

> It's really disconcerting listening to this guy talk. His thinking is undeniably disorganized.

> I agree that, short term, promoting domestic exploration is a good policy. And with effort, I think we can responsibly drill ANWR, and offshore the east coast, and offshore California. Offshore platforms aren't the most attractive architecture, it's true, but if everyone is going to drive a gas-guzzling SUV, we're going to have to make some sacrifices. (ha, ha)

> Anyway, I'm not a knee-jerk Green. I know our scientific understanding of CO2 and global warming is far from complete. But these issues are critical environmental concerns, and ignoring them won't make them go away.



There's something happening here ...

Oil & Gas Journal: EIA says world energy use to jump 59% in 20 years.

"The agency said in its reference case, projections are that oil prices will remain at the current $25-28/bbl until 2003 when they begin increasing." ...

"Gas is expected to account for the largest increment in electricity generation (accounting for 41% of the total increment in energy used for generation). EIA said oil is expected to remain the world's primary energy source with a 40% market share over the 1999-2020 period."

Houston Chronicle: Gas fuels large rise in Gulf lease bids.

Oil & Gas Journal: Independents bid heavily in Central Gulf of Mexico sale.

"Acting MMS Director Tom Kitsos said, `We are very pleased with this sale. Strong bidding by the independent oil and gas companies was major part of the sale, and we are particularly pleased with the high interest shown in the shallow water area where deep gas deposits may be present.' Kitsos noted that 11 companies in the sale were first-time bidders"

Houston Chronicle: Shell says it wants downstream assets in U.S., Europe.

Oil & Gas Journal: Analysts predict another round of oil mergers and acquisitions.

"... it's clear that major oil companies, which have spent the last decade unloading North American oil and gas properties, might want to get back in the game." ...

"Royal Dutch/Shell Group's attempt to buy Barrett Resources Corp. is just the beginning, analysts predicted.... Barrett has set an Apr. 6 deadline for other companies wanting to look in their data room. Barrett rival Anadarko Petroleum Corp. has looked at the books and is itself a takeover target, although the company won't confirm if talks are underway with a major oil firm.

"Wall Street analysts said other companies believed to be under the active eye of majors include: Burlington Resources Inc., Devon Energy Corp., Evergreen Resources Inc., Forest Oil Corp., and Triton Energy Ltd."

> During the last few years, the investment community went .COM-crazy and abandoned us; energy was soooooo "old economy." The major oil and gas companies didn't do too much better. When the financial markets turned a cold eye, the majors were tripping over each other trying to get out of the domestic door. The smaller guys -- today's "acquisition targets" -- had the foresight to swim against the current and beef up their companies (and their reserves) when everyone else wanted out of the industry.

> I want to see these companies rewarded. But if I worked at one of them, I don't think I would be happy that I was being sold to the short-sighted bean-counters who missed last year's opportunities.


Oil & Gas Journal: Industry outlines challenges for growth.

> Mostly crap. A couple of good statistics:

"Fereidun Fesharaki, president of FACTS Inc.[??] ... pointed out that last year's global demand growth of 700,000 b/d was the lowest in nearly a decade. Three-fourths of the increase occurred in Asia. Of that increment, China accounted for two-thirds."


Oil & Gas Journal: Analysts say the outlook is strong for oil services industry.

"`According to our estimates, oil service earnings per share growth should range between 50-200% in 2001 and 30-100% in 2002,' [Oil services analyst Kurt] Hallead said in a research note."

Oil & Gas Journal: Caspian Pipeline Consortium begins exporting Kazakhstan oil.

"By yearend, the initial phase of the pipeline will have an export capacity of 600,000 b/d. Its ultimate capacity with upgrades is 1.5 million b/d."


Reuters: World's Biggest Offshore Oil Rig Sinks in Brazil.

Oil Online: Seitel acquires onshore Gulf Coast Texas data.


Wall Street Journal (subscription): Exxon Mobil Uses Scientist's Data As Evidence of Natural Warming.

"[Exxon Mobil] is increasingly isolated on the issue, not only from the international scientific community but also from European competitors BP Amoco PLC and Royal Dutch/Shell Group, both of which largely accept the premise that the Earth is warming because of heat-trapping greenhouse gases.

"Dr. Keigwin maintains that Exxon Mobil's use of his data is inappropriate."

Oil & Gas Journal: Three refiners sign consent decree covering nine plants.

"The US Department of Justice said Wednesday it has reached agreements with three refiners that will reduce air emissions from nine refineries by more than 60,000 tons/year.... Justice said the settlements were part of its effort to reduce harmful air pollution that it said the refineries had released illegally."

Houston Chronicle: 3 firms agree to air cleanup.

"Along with previous settlements involving BP and Koch, the three agreements announced Wednesday cover plants with about 25 percent of domestic refining capacity, said Christine Romano, spokeswoman for the Department of Justice. Settlement talks are continuing with several other refiners, which Romano would not identify. She said, however, that they represent another 25 percent of domestic capacity."

Oil & Gas Journal: API chief: Form of gasoline will be used to power fuel cell vehicles.

"Hydrogen and methanol are competing options for rapidly advancing fuel cell technology, but both appear less suited for the nearer term marketplace than technology fueled by gasoline, Caveney told a Hart World Fuels Conference meeting in New Orleans."

"Cavaney said numerous reasons exist to believe fuel cell technology will achieve commercial viability within a decade."


Oil & Gas Journal: SEG official: Geophysicists to expand into other industries.

"`Long-term R&D today is done in universities, if it's done at all,' said [SEG president-elect Walt] Lynn. `A principal factor in long-term research is the freedom to fail, but companies don't have that luxury of failure anymore.'"

Oil Online: John S. Herold chairman comments on oil stock valuations.

"... industry executives will learn the hard way that they'll get no respect on Wall Street for trying to acquire their way to a higher valuation, Art Smith, chairman & CEO of energy research and consulting firm John S. Herold, Inc. told a meeting of the Society of Petroleum Evaluation Engineers recently."


Oil & Gas Journal: President Bush stresses need for more refinery capacity.

Quote from GWB edited lightly to make him sound smarter.

"... it's important for American consumers to understand that if we have a price spike in refined product, it's not going to be because of the price of crude oil being at $25 or $26/bbl. It's going to be because we don't have enough ... refining capacity.... We haven't built a refinery in 25 years in America. We're not generating enough gasoline to meet demands. It's the same as natural gas. We're not exploring for enough natural gas to meet demand; we're not building enough power generating plants to meet demand, and we're beginning to pay the price for it."

> I'm not Dubya's number one fan. I met him briefly before he was governor of Texas, and I thought he was an idiot. But I'm going to make a point of giving him credit when he's honest.

> The US has been disastrously negligent in terms of not having any energy policy for the past twenty years. (Unless you count the Gulf War.) The first step in correcting the situation is to tell the truth about it. Nothing in the last election pissed me off more than Gore's "Big Oil" lies. I held my nose to vote for him, and I'm not really sorry that he lost.

> So that this doesn't sound like a Dubya lovefest, I'll mention that Bush is *lying* *through* *his* *teeth* about taxes. But that's another rant.

I sure am bitchy today.

WSJ (subscription): Energy Chief Opposes Tax Breaks For Producers, but Warns of Crisis.

"[Energy Secretary Spencer] Abraham predicted electricity shortages for California and the New York City area this summer as part of a bleak economic outlook. `The nation's last three recessions have all been tied to rising energy prices -- and there is strong evidence that the latest crisis is already having a negative effect,' he said...."

Associated Press: Rolling blackouts return to California.

"Nearly 1 million customers were affected in the worst day yet in California's power crisis. Many fear the blackouts are a preview of what is to come this summer."

I'm off on a bit of a sidetrack today. Although I have an interest in energy (and environmental) policy, I'm not going to spend the summer pointing to "more rolling blackouts in CA" headlines. If this page had a focus -- it doesn't, but if it did -- it would be on geophysics and the seismic industry, a small part of the upstream energy industry, which is quite different from the downstream energy industry, and should never be confused with the power industry.

Of course, we all have a civic responsibility to keep one eye on the big picture. </soapbox> bla, bla, bla

Oil and Gas Online: Egypt's GUPCO data repository to be built by GeoQuest.

"GeoQuest says eight of its staff members will team with 15 GUPCO employees during the initial phase to build, deploy, and operate the system.... The contract will service more than 100 users and includes data pertaining to approximately 1100 wells and 150,000 km of 2D seismic lineage."

> A support staff of twenty-plus serving 100 users is actually pretty efficient. I remember a survey about five years ago that concluded that exploration geophysicists spend 50% of their time managing their data.


Put on your thinking caps, it's a technical geophysical discussion:

On March 6, I heard Leon Thomsen give a talk at UH on seismic anisotropy. Toward the end of it he had an interesting point about converted waves, or C-waves. Not really anything new, but Thomsen's explanation connected all the dots and completed the picture for me.

First, some background. When we collect marine multicomponent seismic with receivers on the seafloor, we usually assume that the seismic P-S converted waves are traveling vertically when they return to the receivers. If this is true, then all the C-wave shear energy is collected by the horizontal phones.

We also used to assume that the C-wave reflections would have SV polarization, where the vertical polarization plane is defined by the source-receiver azimuth. This is because we assumed a one-dimensional earth composed of isotropic layers -- usually a pretty good assumption in seismic exploration.

Given the above expectation, the first operation in processing multicomponent seismic data has historically been to rotate the coordinates and transform the horizontal wavefield components at each receiver from the receiver coordinates X,Y to the source-receiver coordinates V,H. (V and H are parallel and perpendicular to the source-receiver azimuth.) By our assumptions, the SV component of the wavefield should contain all the shear energy, and the SH wavefield component should be mostly noise.

HOWEVER, our expectation seems to be at odds with much (most?) of the marine multicomponent data that have been collected over the past few years. Signal content may differ in the SV and SH orientations, but the SH signal is not negligible. (In talks during the last two years I've heard SH:SV ratios of 1:3 and 1:1 reported, but I don't think those were rigorous numbers.)

Thomsen asserts that anisotropy accounts for all this unexpected SH energy. In an anisotropic earth, converted wave reflections have two polarizations, S1 and S2, or fast and slow. These coordinate axes are properties of the rock layers, not of the acquisition geometry. C-waves generated in an anisotropic earth, therefore, require a different processing sequence than C-waves generated in a hypothetical isotropic earth. For the anisotropic case we should determine the orientation of anisotropy and use it to define the appropriate coordinate rotations for the data.

Unfortunately, the axes of anisotropy may be different for each subsurface layer, and even within each layer.



Wall Street Journal (subscription): Behavior Was Behind Exit of Texaco CEO.

"... he was pushed out by a conservative board that was stewing over his relationship with a subordinate and fed up with his seeming indifference toward employees and merger details."

"In 1996, just months after being named chairman, Mr. Bijur set a corporate standard for handling a bad situation, admitting wrongdoing after a tape was made public in which company officials made disparaging remarks about black employees."


Agence France-Presse: Oil consortium finds more hydrocarbons.

"The latest news from the second well ... is likely to fan speculation that the field on the Kazakh sector of the Caspian Sea is a single, massive structure. It is thought to be the largest oil field discovered for about 30 years."


Oil & Gas Journal: Industry praises Bush's reversal on carbon dioxide limits.

"In a letter to Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), Bush said he feared that CO2 limits would force utilities to switch from less expensive coal to natural gas and further drive up electricity prices. Bush also justified his decision by citing `incomplete' scientific knowledge of the role CO2 plays in global climate change. That's a position most, but not all the scientific community disagrees with, environmental groups said."

Houston Chronicle: 5-mile-deep well [in Wyoming] ends up as a dud. Burlington says effort not total loss.

"The well reached its target depth of nearly five miles in early January, after some 300 days of drilling and a cost of about $30 million."


Oil & Gas Journal: BP refiner says cleaner plants and fuels mean better business.

"... BP has committed to a 10% reduction of its green house gas emissions by 2010, from a 1990 baseline, which would be a 40% reduction in real terms when growth is factored in."

"[Allen Kozinski, BP's group vice president for global refining:] `Our view at BP is that we should not fight the green agenda but encourage it and help shape it. We believe the role of business today is to take the initiative, not for public relations purposes, but for a good simple business reason. If we can give the world the choice it wants, then the world is likely to give us the business we want.'"

> ExxonMobil, take note!

Wall Street Journal (subscription): How Trinidad Became a Big Supplier Of Liquefied Natural Gas to the U.S.

"Demand for clean-burning natural gas continues to rise. More than 90% of new U.S. power-generating plants under construction are gas-fired."

"[Liquefied natural gas] so far makes up less than 2% of the U.S. natural-gas supply. But the Department of Energy predicts LNG imports will increase more than fivefold by 2020, to 390 billion cubic feet a year."

> I love statistics. They're so "big picture."


Oil & Gas Journal: Barrett rejects Shell takeover bid.


Houston Chronicle: Shell Oil makes $1.8 billion bid for Denver company.

"Shell's goal is to get an `immediate and material' presence in the Rocky Mountains, described as the second largest natural gas basin in the United States, said Houston-based Shell Oil, a part of the Royal-Dutch Shell Group. Shell has nothing in the region at present and sees Barrett as becoming the cornerstone of a `new growth-oriented core area' ..."


Wall Street Journal (subscription): Isolated Chinese Oil Field of Daqing Grudgingly Accepts Capitalism.

" demand has risen and domestic supply has declined, China's oil imports have soared. They now account for nearly a third of consumption, up from zero in 1992."

> I only quoted one "big picture" stat, but I should mention that this was a lengthy, entertaining article about the 40 year history of the Daqing oil field in northern China. This is the kind of journalism that makes a WSJ subscription worth the money.

Walter Kessinger

Walter's Work Archive Walter's Home Page