Stale Thoughts and Broken Links

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


New York Times: Exxon Says Way Is Cleared for Development in Russia.

"... ExxonMobil said today that it was ready to spend $4 billion over five years to develop large offshore oil and gas fields in far eastern Russia.... The fields are said to contain 2.3 billion barrels of oil, equivalent to one-third of Canada's proven reserves."


Dev George fell for the Afghanistan/Unocal bunk -- hook, line and sinker!

Oil and Gas International: Unocal & Afghanistan.

"If the Taliban is overthrown, terrorism may take a major blow, but in doing so, the primary stumbling block to the Caspian-Pakistan pipeline will also be removed. In the Middle East, where oil has always dominated political decisions, this is the rationale for the US-led strike against Afghanistan. The question is asked, if bin Laden were still in Saudi Arabia, would the same punishment be given that country?"

> O.K., I'll admit that last question makes me squirm. But the overall conclusion is a serious distortion of reality. Anyone who has been awake during the past two months would have to be crazy to think the US is spending billions of dollars and spilling the blood of both friend and enemy to build an oil pipeline.

> If we weren't bombing Afghanistan right now, Bush's poll numbers would be in the dumpster. Heck, if we weren't bombing Afghanistan right now, my opinion of Bush would be at an all-time low. (And I'm not usually a warmonger, and I don't have a particularly high opinion of Dubya to start with.)

> However, the implied criticism of US policy for not doing more to oppose the Taliban in the past (if that's what George is implying) is quite valid.


Houston Chronicle: Humble beginnings. Now waning, the Friendswood Field's once-prolific production put Exxon and Houston on the map.

"When Bob Whitson started as a roughneck in the field 49 years ago, he said there was little in the area south of Houston except for the Quaker settlement of Friendswood and the small town of Genoa." ...

"Exxon Mobil, the sole operator, is planning to shoot some three-dimensional seismic logs on the field, which has never been done and could reveal new reserves, said Elizabeth Cheney, Exxon Mobil's operations superintendent for the field." ...

"The field is considered one of the most successful stories ever in getting the most possible oil from a reservoir."

Oil & Gas Journal: World Bank sees uniform social responsibility programs by oil firms.

"The widespread perception that international oil and gas corporations have growing clout -- even to the point of being above the law -- fosters a growing expectation that oil and gas companies also participate in the development of solutions to social issues...."


Slate: Whopper of the Week: Gale Norton.

"Michael Grunwald, Washington Post: `Norton ... added data that were erroneous, stating that caribou calving has been concentrated outside the proposed drilling area in 11 of the last 18 years, when the opposite is true.'"

Oil & Gas Journal: Interior Sec. Norton won't restore acreage to eastern Gulf of Mexico sale.

> Includes text of Norton's patriotic plea for ANWR exploration.

Oil & Gas Journal: MMS keeps all 20 offshore lease sales in 5-year schedule.

Oil and Gas International: Japanese JV to shoot 3D on Azadegan.

"The Azadegan Field is believed to be one of the largest discovered in the Middle East, with more than 26 billion bbl of oil in estimated reserves. It lies in western Iran near the Iraqi frontier."


Oil and Gas International: Anadarko joins BP to explore 95 deepwater US Gulf blocks.

"The 95 blocks, which make up an area known as South Auger, are part of a larger 640-block area of mutual interest where the two companies will license and reprocess 3D seismic data. These blocks are located in water depths ranging from 3,000 to 6,000 ft. Most of the targets are deep, sub-salt objectives."


Paradigm Geophysical Announces Third Quarter 2001 Results.

Oil & Gas Journal: IEA study: World energy reserves ample for 20 years and beyond.

"[IEA Executive Director Robert] Priddle cited the latest estimates from the US Geological Survey that the world's proven oil reserves had risen steadily in the 1990s, to 1.196 trillion bbl in 2000 from 1.190 trillion bbl in 1991."

Houston Business Journal: NuTec names new chief exec.


Houston Chronicle: Tengiz gamble starting to pay off. Chevron-led operation ready to deliver yield from showcase project.

"Last week the first tanker ship laden with Tengiz oil left the gleaming new terminal near Novorossiysk, on the Russian coast of the Black Sea. The oil traveled there through a new 990-mile pipeline costing $2.8 billion, known as the Caspian Pipeline Consortium, or CPC. Chevron invested $750 million in the partnership that built a 990-mile pipeline around the top of the Caspian and across the North Caucasus to the Black Sea."

> Over the last three weeks my access logs have contained a lot of refers from search engines with inquiries like "Bush Unocal stock, Afghanistan pipeline." I started poking around, and discovered that there is currently a conspiracy theory out there (way out there) that Dubya Bush and Dick Cheney are trying to take over Afghanistan so that some oil company can build an oil pipeline across it.

> I'm a little hazy on the conspiracy details, though. Do they think Unocal (or Chevron?) recruited the terrorist suicide bombers?

I attended a talk by Scott Bugosh of Anadarko a couple of weeks ago. What I got out of it:

  • Improvements in seismic imaging over a ten-year period turned an uninterpretable mess into a good prospect.

  • 3D ray-trace illumination studies were crucial for evaluating subsalt amplitude anomalies and discriminating between anomalies possibly due to hydrocarbon accumulations and anomalies due to salt lens focusing.
The meeting was a lunch meeting, and I happened to sit by John Sherwood. Back in the 70's, Sherwood was co-author of a couple of landmark migration papers (which are included in the SEG reprints volume on migration). Before the speaker's presentation, he was reminiscing about his early work on seismic migration:
    Back in the sixties, Sherwood was a research scientist at Chevron developing an algorithm for computer migration of seismic data. The second survey they applied the new procedure to was a North Sea line with a number of faults. Naturally, the migration collapsed the diffractions in the data where sedimentary units were truncated by faults, thereby revealing the sharp discontinuities that marked the fault locations.

    Of course Sherwood had never seen a fault plane imaged by migration before. When he saw all the truncated reflectors in the migrated seismic section, he assumed something had gone wrong, and he started searching for bugs in his code.

I thought Sherwood's story added some neat historical perspective to Anadarko's subsalt imaging talk.

Incidentally, the lunch was at the Petroleum Club, on top of the Exxon Building on Bell Avenue, the ugliest building in downtown Houston. The Petroleum Club has a really good view of downtown, in part because the Exxon Building doesn't spoil the view by being in it. Doug McCowan pointed out the Gulf Building to me, a 35 story Art Deco structure that was completed in 1929 and is still one of the most architecturally distinctive structures in Houston, imao.


Oil Online: Schlumberger Oilfield Services announced the opening of its Houston iCenter.

"... collaboration and virtual-reality center. This new, secure networked collaborative facility dedicated to immersive technology ..." bla bla bla.

Oil and Gas International: Accenture & Landmark Graphics team to offer integrated services.

> So this reminds me: what's going on with the Magic Earth / Halliburton deal? The ME website still has the press release from April. So does the Halliburton site. But no new news.

> Here's some speculation from June about Halliburton's business intentions --

Andrew McBarnet: How far will Halliburton go in the seismic business?.

"Halliburton could easily afford to buy any of the main contractors, apart from WesternGeco.... This means that CGG, PGS or Veritas DGC, all public companies, are in play and it is known that Halliburton has on occasion reviewed the takeover possibilities." ...

"What may prove to be a clinching argument is the gradual change taking place in the perception of the role of seismic. The advent of 4C/4D type survey is just one example of how seismic is increasingly being seen as a relevant tool for every stage of exploration and subsequent optimal exploitation of the reservoir."

Oil & Gas Journal: World Energy Congress told energy use per GDP drops 2%/year.

"... more than 2 billion people remain in poverty and without access to commercial energy."

Oil & Gas Journal: DOE to spend $30 million on six methane hydrate research projects.


Scientific American: Sequestering Excess CO2 in the Seas Presents Problems.


Oil and Gas International: Geco Sapphire sinks.

"Western Geco ... said the sinking of the US$30 million vessel was a tremendous loss, but fortunately all 29 of the crew members were safely evacuated and there were no injuries."


IFP/GEP report ->

Oil and Gas International: Record E&P spending worldwide hits US$115 billion.

"Victor Vachier, GEP executive vice-president, points out that there was a record $12.5 billion in oil and gas equipment and service sales last year, a 12% increase over 1999, and that this year's growth is expected to exceed $14 billion."

Houston Business Journal: The bottom line: new drilling technology moves rig to seafloor.

"The dual-gradient system means that instead of having one pumping system based on a surface rig, there is a mud system from the rig to the seafloor and another system from seafloor to the well bit. The systems have two separate rates, or gradients of mud, putting less pressure on the formation...."

Oil Online: Norsk Hydro undergoes reorganization.


Oil & Gas Journal: EIA sees no supply problems, but lower oil demand growth.

"EIA said world oil demand has fallen since Sept. 11, in part due to lower commercial jet fuel demand. Global demand growth of 500,000 b/d now is expected for 2001, less than half of early September's growth projections."


Oil and Gas International: "Other" West Africa prospects win $7.5 billion investment.

[capex = capital expenditure investments]

"In each of these smaller, less developed countries, the major oil companies are establishing themselves with significant holdings, while independents are acquiring mostly marginal prospects, and several small companies are acquiring interests in larger prospects or taking a position in the deepwater frontier zone."

More real estate news --

Houston Chronicle: BMC profits from extra space with lease to Halliburton unit.

"The software subsidiary of Halliburton [Landmark Graphics] has signed a three-year lease for space in BMC's newest building, a 21-story tower it completed earlier this year. ... the excess office space will provide room for between 700 and 1,000 Landmark employees.

"At the end of the three years, Landmark will move into a 67-acre, 2 million-square-foot Halliburton campus planned nearby at the intersection of West Belt and Bellaire Boulevard."

Oil & Gas Journal: Senate leaders bypass committees to move energy legislation to floor.

"Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) invoked a seldom-used Senate rule Tuesday to require Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) to offer a proposed energy bill, one that his committee will not be allowed to vote on. Daschle then may introduce the proposal as legislation and bring it directly to the Senate floor, where it would be open to any and all amendments -- including one regarding ANWR."


Oil & Gas Journal: Chevron and Texaco complete long-delayed, $35 billion merger.

"Texaco Inc. and Chevron Corp. said their stockholders approved the $35 billion merger of their companies, which was completed later Tuesday."

I just discovered Dev George's webzine, Oil and Gas International. Judging by the archives, it has been on-line since May, and it looks like a very professional effort.

I never got around to posting links to about a zillion press releases that were timed right before or during SEG. So I'm going to bombard you with links to OGI, both to clear the deck and to get familiar with George's zine.

Oil and Gas International: Anadarko awards integrated reservoir study.

"In total, three 3D seismic surveys are to be processed using the unique combination of technologies from Rock Solid Images and Odegaard."

Oil and Gas International: IBM agreement boosts PGS capacity a teraflop.

"... his agreement ... gives PGS the flexibility and control to quickly deploy additional IBM equipment worldwide only when needed to meet its customer's local demands."

Oil and Gas International: CGG launches anisotropic processing service.

Oil and Gas International: Spectral decomposition at heart of new system.

"Halliburton's Landmark Graphics and BP have established a joint development program to build next-generation seismic reservoir imaging software incorporating BP's spectral decomposition technology." ...

"BP's spectral decomposition is patented interpretation technology offering dramatically increased understanding of geologic environments as delineated with 3D seismic surveys."

> I believe Paradigm's Focus package has included a spectral decomposition module for a couple of years.


Wall Street Journal (subscription): Burlington Resources Agrees to Buy Canadian Gas Firm for $2.08 Billion.

"Canadian Hunter holds interests in more than 1.5 million acres in Canada's Deep Basin, which is North America's third-largest natural-gas field and considered to be young in the development cycle. About 90% of Canadian Hunter's reserves are natural gas." ...

"The deal will expand Burlington's reserve base by 12% to 11.5 trillion cubic feet of natural-gas equivalent."

Houston Business Journal: Devon considers office-tower naming rights, retools Mitchell deal.

"Devon has reportedly been busy acquiring leasing rights to all floors of the Allen Center Two tower in downtown Houston, which may be renamed Devon Tower."

> Paradigm Geophysical (the company I work for) is moving out of its space in Allen Two next month. We're moving into former Deven Energy space near the intersection of I-10 and Beltway 8.


Wall Street Journal (subscription): Chevron Texaco Can Grow from Merger, Company to Focus on Promising Projects.

"San Francisco-based Chevron Texaco Corp. would be the world's fourth-largest publicly held producer of oil and gas, with $116.9 billion in combined revenue last year. But while the company would be far bigger than the major independent oil companies, Chevron's $38 billion acquisition of Texaco ... still would leave it considerably smaller than the so-called super majors, including leader Exxon Mobil Corp., which had $232.7 billion in revenue last year." ...

"... the relative smaller size of Chevron Texaco is prompting some analysts to speculate that the company would try to make an additional acquisition to vault the company to true super-major status. Analysts say Unocal Corp., an oil and gas producer based in El Segundo Calif., might be attractive, in part because of its assets in Southeast Asia, where Chevron and Texaco aren't especially strong. Among the other possibilities: Conoco Inc., Marathon Corp. and Anadarko Corp., all of Houston."

Oil & Gas Journal: US Congressional report: Economic impacts of ANWR mixed bag.

Oil & Gas Journal: Cleanup continues as Alaska oil pipeline returns to full operation.

"The Trans-Alaska pipeline was restored to full operations Sunday morning following permanent repair of a shooting puncture Saturday evening." ...

"Alaska police charged Daniel Lewis, 37, of nearby Livengood, with criminal mischief. State hunting regulations prohibit the use of firearms within 5 miles of the line."


Oil & Gas Journal: Shell chairman warns oil firms to prepare for end of hydrocarbon age.

"Shell has pledged to spend between $500 million and $1 billion in the next 5 years to develop new energy businesses, concentrating primarily on solar and wind energy." ...

"Oil currently provides 40% of primary energy use. While that will fall to 25% by 2050, oil will still be the major energy source, above gas at 20%, according to Shell figures." ...

"Oil companies will have to be more sensitive to environmental concern, [Royal Dutch/Shell Group chairman Phillip Watts] added. `Companies are not charities but they do have values,' he said."

Oil & Gas Journal: Poll finds more support for ANWR drilling after terrorist attacks.

"The survey said 61% of the respondents believed that the positives of exploration and production in ANWR outweigh the negatives, up from just 39% in July."

> Wow, what a reversal, although it's likely to be short-lived.

> FTR, I believe the O&G industry has the technology to drill in ANWR without having a devastating impact on the environment. But I don't believe that ANWR drilling will significantly improve US energy security.


If you live in the Houston area, I want to point out that there are a lot of good geoscience meetings here this month.

This article has an extremely high "content density." It's a two-and-a-half page summary of the Summer 2000 SEG/EAGE Research Workshop on multicomponent technology ->

The Leading Edge: Multicomponent technology: the players, problems, applications, and trends. Summary of the workshop sessions.

"In the past, multicomponent technology made little progress as a useful seismic method because shear-wave sources are prohibitively expensive for most exploration and reservoir characterization budgets. Also, SS-wave data are often below required resolution limits. Although the economic and S/N benefits of PS technology have made the current cycle more feasible, it is far from being an economical success for contractors."

Oil & Gas Journal: China and Taiwan to sign joint exploration agreement.

"... the project ... will involve seismic testing and drilling in a 15,400 sq km (5,946 sq mile) area between southern Taiwan and Guangdong and Fujian provinces."


Oil Online: Advanced seismic survey begins in U.S. Gulf.

"The Western Pride is equipped with WesternGeco's exclusive Q-Marine single-sensor technology and will deploy eight streamers each 5-miles in length. Q-Marine uses calibrated sensors, sources and steerable streamers to deliver exceptional image quality and repeatability."

Oil Online: CGG starts work on Crazy Horse discovery.

"Although BP already has licenses to existing 3D datasets over the discovery area, the company wishes to acquire higher resolution data specifically targeted to map the complex, largely subsalt reservoirs and their associated geology."

> Speaking of acquisition technologies, but switching topics to multicomponent acquisition, at SEG I checked out the new digital accelerometers from I/O, which are incorporated into their VectorSeis instruments. Neat stuff. The I/O people said that they were planning on building ocean bottom cables with these, once the OBC market recovers.

(VectorSeis was a result of an alliance between I/O and Veritas.)

Terry Wallace, University of Arizona: Forensic seismology analysis of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Walter Kessinger

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