Stale Thoughts and Broken Links

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


Los Angeles Times: Carbon Dioxide Emissions Jump 2.7% in the U.S.

"Perry Lindstrom, an energy expert for the federal agency, said the 2.7% increase in carbon dioxide emissions is a `normal fluctuation' from the average annual growth rate of 1.5%." ...

"China, the world's second-largest generator of greenhouse gases, has reduced its emissions by 17% since the mid-1990s by replacing old coal-fired power plants with more efficient ones. Over the same period, China's gross domestic product grew 36%."

Houston Business Journal: Energy companies learning a valuable recruiting lesson.

"Many industry executives believe their biggest challenge is the aging of the oil and gas work force `without sufficient young talent to replace it,' according to a recent survey conducted by Gelb Consulting for the Society of Petroleum Engineers. More than half of those executives surveyed said they would not recommend a career in the oil industry to their children."

This kind of thing drives me crazy. These two articles are right next to each other on the OGJ web site --

Oil & Gas Journal: Analysts: Gas market 'air pocket' hurts industry, service sector.

"Faltering demand for natural gas will slash US producers' cash flow by 20% over the next year, triggering cancellations of North American drilling projects that will hit the service industry even harder...."

Oil & Gas Journal: Analyst says power plant demand will overwhelm gas industry.

"... US natural gas supply must rise a nearly "preposterous" 50% to more than 33 tcf by 2004 to serve electric generation in development."

> It's a schizophrenic industry ...


Yet another reason to doubt my choice of professions. During my time as a grad student at UT Austin, Livia Squires was one of many us who shared Paul Stoffa as an advisor. On her way to her PhD, she did some neat work on cross-hole tomography, if I remember correctly. After she finished, she did a post-doc at Caltech.

Now she's a stand-up comedian.

WSJ (subscription): Falling Energy Prices May Boost Economy, But Sharp Growth Could Lift Energy Costs.

"But here is the catch: Prices have dropped in part because slowing economies in the U.S. and abroad have lessened demand. A sharp rebound in growth could tighten supplies and cause prices to rise." ...

"Crude-oil prices have slipped to about $25 a barrel from an average of $28.63 in May and more than $30 a year ago."


Oil & Gas Journal: Senate Appropriations panel expected to keep oil and gas research.

"Congressional sources said the committee is expected to mirror language approved by the House that would give $56 million to the Department of Energy's fossil energy program for oil research and development, a $26 million increase from the White House's request, and $1 million above the 2001 fiscal year funds. For gas, $40 million is earmarked, $19 million over the White House request but $5 million below last year's spending levels."

Reuters: Bush Launches Energy Conservation Measures.

"Bush said the federal government would push for stricter standards for `vampire appliances' such as computers, battery chargers and televisions that consume electricity even when not in use." ...

"Vampire devices, which constantly draw small amounts of electricity while plugged into wall outlets, consume about four percent of the electricity used by the average home owner. Nationwide, the appliances consume about 52 billion kilowatt hours each year, roughly the equivalent of the output from 26 average sized power plants."

Oil & Gas Journal: Phillips removes largest nonconcrete platform in North Sea from Maureen field.

"`The refloating of Maureen is a notable achievement,' said Henry McGee, president of Phillips' European Division. `Twenty years ago, Phillips' engineers looked into the future, designing and building a unique structure which, now that the Maureen reservoir is depleted, has been removed from the seabed and refloated.'"


WSJ (subscription): Oil Companies Grapple With How To Dispose of Abandoned Platforms.

"The Gulf is home to 3,687 oil and gas platforms. With energy reserves in the shallower waters dwindling, the number of platforms along the shelf is expected to decline 30% over the next 25 years, according to a survey by Louisiana State University's Center for Energy Studies. The study predicts that companies operating in these waters will install 142 platforms a year through 2023, but 186 a year will be decommissioned."

Associated Press: Sperm whales moving into Gulf.

"The presence of 500 or so of the leviathans -- some of them bigger than a Greyhound bus -- belies the northern Gulf's reputation as a growing `dead zone' of low-oxygen water where marine life is being smothered."

"Industry officials say companies are exploring and drilling safely around the whales in compliance with the federal Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act. `Our vessels automatically shut down their seismic testing equipment as a precaution anytime they detect a marine mammal,' said Thomas Michels, spokesman for the National Offshore Industries Associations. Scientists agree that no injured whales have been spotted so far."

Oil & Gas Journal: BP's Browne sees no problems with US refining capacity.

"Browne said the best US refineries are getting bigger and more efficient, through debottlenecking and technological improvements. `We don't need any more refineries,' he said."

WSJ (subscription): Gasoline, Crude Futures Slide On Word of Swelling Inventory.

"The American Automobile Association reported Wednesday that retail gasoline prices averaged $1.545 a gallon, down from a record high of $1.718 a gallon May 15. [my emphasis]

"`This is good news if you want to buy an SUV,' Mr. Flynn[, a trader and analyst,] said. `For drivers, the energy crisis is over.'"

> Leave it to a trader to provide the long-term prospective. *sigh*


The Leading Edge: The Tulsa Race Riot of 1921: A geophysical study to locate a mass grave.

"Because of the regular shape of this feature and because it appears in the quadrature component of the EMI data, it could represent an area of altered-soil electrical conductivity as a result of a past excavation.... The EMI quadrature data suggest a trench or pit....

"Three distinct hyperbolas are evident [on a GPR cross-section.]... [An] interpretation, consistent with all geophysical information, is that the center hyperbola is a reflection from an isolated object while the other hyperbolas are diffractions from corners of vertical or steeply dipping walls of a pit or trench."

Oil & Gas Journal: UK government launches strategic review of energy policy.

> It will be interesting to see how Blair's energy plan compares to Bush's. The UK plan isn't expected until the end of the year, however.


Reuters: Upstream oil spending boom to post 25 pct growth.

"An annual survey by Schroder Salomon Smith Barney of 274 oil and gas companies ... reveals that spending plans have increased further since a similar survey in December which had forecast expenditure growth of 19.7 percent." ...

"Salomon said it had recorded a marked trend towards exploration versus development spending that will benefit seismic companies."

Oil & Gas Journal: MMS rejects 13 high bids in Central Gulf of Mexico Lease Sale.

"It has accepted high bids for 534 other tracts totaling $499,683,478. MMS explained the rejected bids in Lease Sale 178, Part 1, were insufficient."


Houston Chronicle (scroll down, below the "adult auction site" article): Houston makes mark on supercomputer list.

"Houston-based Western Geco has three machines on the list, Nos. 202, 235 and 303, all IBM SPs of similar design to the famous "Deep Blue" machine that beat chess master Garry Kasparov in 1997. The machines are used to crunch seismic data gathered for the energy exploration industry."

> Gosh, I remember when seismic exploration was the number two user of supercomputers, after the U.S. government.


Reuters: Lawmakers Vote to Block Drilling in Fla. Waters.

"Florida lawmakers tacked an amendment to the Interior spending bill to prevent drilling to April 2002 in an area that lies mostly about 100 miles from the state's coastline. One narrow strip of the lease area ends about 30 miles from the Florida coast." ...

"It would be the first lease sale in the eastern Gulf of Mexico since 1988."

Oil & Gas Journal: House votes to postpone eastern Gulf of Mexico Lease Sale 181 .

"The Minerals Management Service had planned to conduct the sale in December, following nearly 5 years of preparation." ...

"In June 1998, President Bill Clinton withdrew from leasing until 2012 all the East Coast, West Coast, and eastern Gulf except for the Lease Sale 181 area. Following extensive discussions with Florida and Alabama, his administration determined that area could be leased under the current MMS 5-year plan (1997-2002)."


Wall Street Journal: GOP Warns GM, Auto Industry About Fuel-Efficiency Standards.

"At a closed-door meeting this week with Vice President Dick Cheney, GM officials warned that the company could be forced to slash production -- perhaps by as many as one million vehicles a year -- if the White House increases corporate average fuel-economy, or CAFE, standards. President Bush is strongly considering taking such a step this summer.

"GM's senior executives told the vice president that an increase in fuel-efficiency standards for light trucks to 23.7 miles a gallon from the current 20.7 could have a devastating effect on its Yukon XL, Tahoe and Suburban models, as well as others."

New York Times: Administration Seeks to Retain Aid to Ethanol.

"Virtually no vehicles built to run on either ethanol or gasoline are actually using ethanol, partly because fewer than 1 in 1,000 of the nation's service stations sell it, according to the report. Yet by manufacturing the dual-fuel vehicles, automakers receive credits that allow them to lower the average gas mileage of the rest of their fleets. This has allowed them to sell more gas-guzzling sport utility vehicles." ...

"Oil companies dislike ethanol because it cannot be transported in most pipelines, requiring use of costlier rail cars or tanker trucks."

> More on ethanol --

Slate: Dubya's Regrettable Bipartisanship.

"The Natural Resources Defense Council is no great ethanol fan either. It points out, `[E]thanol production from corn in the U.S. is economically viable only due to a federal tax subsidy. Prospects for lowering costs on and expanding ethanol production are limited due to the high level of inputs required to produce agricultural crops (e.g., fertilizer, pesticides, tractor fuel) and the resulting high cost and substantial environmental impact.'"

Oil Online: Texaco and Agip confirm Gulf of Mexico deepwater discovery.

"Texaco, and its partner Agip, have announced the successful delineation of Champlain, a deepwater Gulf of Mexico oil discovery, located in Atwater Valley Block 63 located 160 miles south of New Orleans."

> No size estimate, though.

Oil & Gas Journal: Congressional report: New technology key to ANWR drilling debate.


Houston Chronicle: Companies hit in Gulf at 7,000 feet.

Oil & Gas Journal: BP, Texaco find oil at deepwater Blind Faith prospect.

"Blind Faith is in 7,000 ft of water ... 20 miles east of BP's 1 billion bbl Crazy Horse discovery on Mississippi Canyon Block 778."


> Three OGJ stories --

Oil & Gas Journal: Federal Reserve Bank economists see weak rebound in oil jobs.

"`Texas was down 13.4% and Louisiana down 16.4%. Lafayette, a major jumping-off point for offshore activity in the Gulf of Mexico, was 25.1% below its previous oil employment peak, and Houston remained 8.6% under its 1998-99 peak,' Gilmer and Mitchell [two analysts at the Houston branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas] said, citing the latest available Bureau of Labor Statistics."

> Cites upstream employment, relative to peak levels. (Dates of reference peaks apparently vary for each location cited.) Reasons are mergers and new technology, of course. Independents are currently driving the employment market.

Oil & Gas Journal: Deepwater drilling and LNG imports will help US gas supplies.

> Completely bogus headline. Actually a review of a talk by Ronald E. Oligney, co-author of The Color of Oil. Interesting stat --

"`Today, 15%-20% of all US power is consumed by computers and the internet,' Oligney said."

> I'm sure that's just electric power -- not cars. Still, it's pretty amazing.

Oil & Gas Journal: Hunt Oil to acquire Chieftain International for $600 million.

"Previously, Anadarko Petroleum Corp. defeated Hunt Oil in its bid for Berkley Petroleum Corp., Calgary.... It completed the acquisition of some Alberta properties from Canadian 88 Energy Corp. earlier this year.... Also, last year, Hunt agreed to buy Newport Petroleum Corp. of Calgary in a stock purchase valued at $760 million...."


Less than three months until the SEG convention; time to start getting ready.

First, the itinerary. I usually try to make the opening icebreaker on Sunday night. And it looks like there are a lot of interesting post-convention workshops. That was easy.

The location this year, San Antonio, is cool for me. I can drive the family and drop them off at my in-laws' house for the week.

> Oops, no can do on the family trip! My oldest is starting kindergarden and will have school.


> I should mention that one of the eleven co-authors of last week's National Academy of Sciences report on global warming has broken ranks, claiming that the press is misinterpreting the findings of the report.

Richard S. Lindzen: The Press Gets It Wrong. Our report doesn't support the Kyoto treaty.

> Lindzen was the much toted "long-time skeptic" included on the panel. This probably didn't get much attention because it was published in the Wall Street Journal editorial section, ground zero for the vast right-wing conspiracy. Also, it's worth noting that none of Lindzen's ten co-authors on the report joined him on this editorial.

> However, I *would* like to hear more discussion of this point:

"... a doubling of carbon dioxide by itself would produce only a modest temperature increase of one degree Celsius. Larger projected increases depend on `amplification' of the carbon dioxide by more important, but poorly modeled, greenhouse gases, clouds and water vapor.... Given the difficulties in significantly limiting levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, a more effective policy might well focus on other greenhouse substances whose potential for reducing global warming in a short time may be greater."

> If you want to look at the NAS report yourself, start here.

Associated Press: Phillips' Growth Creates Jitters [for Bartlesville].

"Phillips is the economic hub of this prairie town of 35,000, despite having cut its local work force from 9,000 to 2,400 over the past 15 years."


New York Times: China Said to Sharply Reduce Carbon Dioxide Emissions.

"In the debate on global climate change it has long been a given that China, with its huge population and endless coal reserves, would overtake the United States early this century as the biggest source of the atmospheric pollution that scientists believe is warming the planet.... But treaty obligation or not, China has already achieved a dramatic slowing in its emissions of carbon dioxide in the last decade..."


Reuters: Schlumberger Sees SEMA Revenue Shortfall.

"Shares of Schlumberger Ltd. were down sharply on Thursday after the world's No. 2 oilfield services company reported disappointing revenues from SEMA, an Anglo-French telecommunications company it acquired earlier this year."

Houston Chronicle: Shell pledges $1 billion on alternatives.

"`To really gain plaudits from green consumers, they would have to combine it with a reduction in spending on oil exploration,' said Matthew Spencer, a campaigner at the environmental group Greenpeace."

> The logic of this argument completely escapes me.

> In any case, Mr. Spencer seems to think that this is a $1 billion publicity stunt, which it certainly is not. The biggest non-governmental investors in renewable energy technology are energy companies, and they aren't doing it to win favor with Greenpeace.


Oil & Gas Journal: Shell to invest up to $1 billion in renewable energies businesses.

"Karen de Segundo, CEO of Shell Renewables, said that her division was concentrating on solar photovoltaic and wind power, which she stressed are `the fastest growing sectors' in the global renewables industry, while also sizing up opportunities in biomass."

> If you've forgotten, BP is the world's largest maker of solar panels.

Lots of spinning going on here ->

Oil & Gas Journal: Vice-Pres. Cheney says more study needed on global warming questions.

> Cheney tells some whoopers in this article. My favorite is the straw man he sets up by saying the current administration "is not prepared to ban fossil fuels."

> OGJ understatement of the week:

"The White House's energy strategy is not without controversy."


Work related stuff:

Paradigm is releasing (as a beta) some wave equation modeling software.

I don't think there is a lot of competition for this; most of the competition will probably come from in-house and academic research codes, most of which were probably lost in the past few years as everyone dismantled their research units.

More to the point: is there a lot of demand?

Maybe not, but geophysicists working on complex imaging should have some interest:

  • Just about the only way to test a migration algorithm is using computational data from wave equation modeling -- and I've never met a migration algorithm that didn't need more testing.

  • For modeling complex structures, you can't beat wave equation methods. In the past, I've used elastic modeling in projects to confirm base of salt mode conversions. I must say, those were pretty cool projects.

  • As more groups become involved with processing multicomponent surveys, they should think seriously about starting with model data.

    Within Paradigm, I've been surprised by the expressions of interest for using the wave equation methods for AVO modeling. In the November Leading Edge, Fred Hilterman demonstrated the use of wave equation modeling for AVO interpretation. I hear someone cite that paper almost every week.

    With the exception of GDC (Hilterman's old company), I don't think anyone else includes wave equation modeling with their AVO analysis software.

    Screaming Media (?): Offshore Oil & Gas Research Center Established in Guangzhou On June 12.

    "China imported some 70 mln tons of crude oil last year, becoming the world's third largest oil importer. The research center is expected to assist the country's offshore oil companies in tapping the country's offshore oil and gas reserves."


    Oil & Gas Journal: Douglas-Westwood forecasts $38 billion deepwater market 2001-2005.

    "Douglas-Westwood Director John Westwood said, `Production from the shallow water regions of the world is now in serious decline. But below 500 m water depth, it is set to increase dramatically as the oil majors target more than 20 billion boe of reserves slated for development in 114 fields in Brazil, the Gulf of Mexico, and West Africa.'"

    New York Times: U.S. Losing Status as a World Leader in Climate.

    "In computing power, Dr. Sarachik said, `our top two centers together don't amount to one-fifth of the European effort.'" ...

    "The lack of computer power has hurt the most at the pinnacle of climate science: the use of supercomputers to create detailed models simulating the interrelationships of the earth's atmosphere, oceans, ice caps, plants and other features that together set the global thermostat."

    > This article doesn't mention it, but the embargo on NEC vector supercomputers was a major contributing factor in the decline of U.S. computing facilities. Distributed memory architectures make big headlines for IBM -- and work great for Kirchhoff migrations in the seismic industry -- but for finite difference calculations, you still can't beat Big Iron.

    > Fortunately, the embargo is over now.

    Oil & Gas Journal: President Bush calls for focused global warming research.

    "The US is the world's largest emitter of manmade greenhouse gases, accounting for almost 20% of global man-made greenhouse emissions. The US accounts for about one-quarter of the world's economic output."

    > Huh? .... This Washington post article pinned 25% of world-wide emissions on the U.S. Someone -- maybe everyone -- is playing fast and loose with numbers. Of course, OGJ has something of an integrety deficit after last week's hack job.

    WSJ (subscription): Marathon Ashland Petroleum Withheld Gasoline to Increase Profits, FTC Says.

    "Marathon Ashland Petroleum LLC intentionally withheld supplies of gasoline for the Chicago and Milwaukee markets early last summer to keep prices high, federal regulators found. It wasn't illegal, and the Federal Trade Commission didn't take action against the big refiner."


    Doonesbury: Robust Consumption.


    Oil & Gas Journal: House Subcommittee restores oil and gas research funds.

    > Also discusses the politics of the Eastern Gulf lease sale.

    This is a pretty unique spin --

    Oil & Gas Journal: National Research Council report inconclusive on greenhouse causes.

    > Even the Republicans were not bold enough to try to put *that* spin on the story! Come on, OGJ, who do you think you're kidding?!!

    > Factoid from this "inconclusive" story --

    "NAS said computer models suggest that average global surface temperatures will rise between 2.5 and 10.4 F. (1.4 and 5.8 C.) by the end of this century."


    New York Times: Panel Tells Bush Global Warming Is Getting Worse.

    "In a much-anticipated report from the National Academy of Sciences, 11 leading atmospheric scientists, including previous skeptics about global warming, reaffirmed the mainstream scientific view that the earth's atmosphere was getting warmer and that human activity was largely responsible." ...

    "The report was requested by the White House last month...."

    "One climate scientist who critiqued a draft of the new report for the academy said no one in the administration should be surprised at the firm nature of the result. `They asked a string of questions that might have been appropriate in 1990,' the scientist said. `Hello? Where've you been the last decade?'"


    Oil & Gas Journal: Chavez says Venezuela could supply more of US energy needs.

    "Chavez said PDVSA is studying the possibility of exports through gas-to-liquids technology. He said Venezuela has more gas reserves than any other Latin American nation and ranks eighth in the world.

    "He said 11 companies recently bid to explore in 17 areas, and winners will be named in August. `And we hope to find and discover a lot of gas, because a lot of it will be sent to you because your consumption keeps growing and will continue to grow.'"

    > I think he just called us a bunch of pigs.

    > Gas pigs?


    > Point.

    The Motley Fool: Don't Gush Over Oil.

    "Individual investors could not be blamed for listening to Vice President Dick Cheney's speech on energy in late April and thinking the future is in oil and gas exploration and production. Amid the specter of $2-per-gallon gasoline prices and soaring natural gas prices, it seems like a no-brainer.

    "Think again."

    > Counter-point.

    The Motley Fool: Refineries Turning Oil Into Gold.

    Oil Online: PGS awarded major North Sea contract.

    "This contract is the largest single source contract streamer survey ever acquired, and is being shot with PGS' vessel Ramform Victory.... The Ramform Victory is deploying 16 streamers of 14,764 feet in length, for a total of 45 miles of streamer in the water. The 16-streamer tow is a first for the oil and gas industry, surpassing the previous record of 12 streamers, according to PGS."


    WSJ (subscription): Exxon, Shell Are Poised to Lead Key Projects in Saudi Gas Sector.

    "Officials of Exxon, Shell and the Saudi government declined to comment on the choices made by the kingdom, which has the world's largest crude reserves and is fifth in the natural-gas reserves after Russia, Iran, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. A leadership role -- or operatorship in industry parlance -- brings the opportunity to set the pace of the project and create local networks that can prove valuable for future projects."

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