Stale Thoughts and Broken Links

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


There are a lot of really good geoscience talks in town this month. That's almost enough to make me glad I live in Houston. (No it isn't.)

I was thinking about John Ewing again, remembering when I first meet him about 13 years ago. We were participating in a seismic expedition off the coast of New Jersey.

And I realize: I went on a seismic cruise and shared a cabin with the inventor of the seismic air gun!

Of course, John conducted hundreds of seismic surveys over the course of his decades long career, so it's not exactly an exclusive honor. But still, it's pretty cool.


Oil and Gas International: Houston primed for biggest OTC yet.

"... the new Reliant Center, an enormous new complex in Houston's Reliant Park, with 1.4 million sq ft of conference and exhibition space ... will be OTC's new home."

Houston Chronicle: Veritas to get better deal.

"The exchange rate involving the stock transaction will be changed to favor Veritas, it will get control of the board of directors, and its chief executive will be CEO of the new company, among other things."


Oil & Gas Journal: EIA sees developing nations as key force in rising energy demand.

"World energy consumption is projected to increase by 60% over the next 2 decades, according to an annual report released Mar. 26 by the US Energy Information Administration" ...

"Oil is expected to remain the world's dominant source of primary energy consumption, with a 40% share of total energy consumption during 1999-2020.... World oil consumption is projected to increase from 75 million b/d in 1999 to 119 million b/d in 2020, for an annualized growth rate of 2.2%."

Oil Online: MMS proposes final lease sale plan.

"The Minerals Management Service is proposing to schedule 20 oil and gas lease sales in eight outer continental shelf planning areas in the Gulf of Mexico and off Alaska as part of the new Five-Year Leasing Program effective 2002-2007."


The Washington Post: Energy Contacts Disclosed.

"Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham met with 36 representatives of business interests and many campaign contributors while developing President Bush's energy policy, and he held no meetings with conservation or consumer groups, documents released last night show."

Oil & Gas Journal: Judge allows Minerals Management Service to reopen web site.

"Last December the MMS website was included in the judge's order to shut down public access to most internet web sites and e-mail run by Interior. US District Judge Royce C. Lambert ordered the shutdown in response to an Indian trust dispute in which the plaintiffs argued Interior web site security was lacking."

Oil and Gas International: Anadarko seismic shoot opposed by Wyoming enviro group.

"Because it is a popular roadless area, where vehicles are not permitted, the company intends to fly in portable drilling equipment by helicopter and then to bore some 80 holes for placement of explosives 60 ft deep to serve as the seismic charges."

Oil & Gas Journal: IEA lowers slightly its global oil demand forecast for 2002.


WSJ (subscription): Eni's CEO Says It Would Pay $5.5 Billion for Enterprise Oil.

"... Mr. Mincato emphasized that he isn't interested in making a hostile bid, and wouldn't be lured into paying a large premium for Enterprise even if a rival buyer emerged.... Now the world's sixth-largest publicly traded oil company, Eni already has acquired two other British oil companies -- British-Borneo and Lasmo PLC -- since Mr. Mincato launched his growth plan in 1999."


Oil and Gas International: 4D seismic shoot set for Maui gasfield.

"Shell Todd says the shoot is designed to duplicate the earlier acquisition done in 1991 in order to determine how the Maui reservoir has changed in the nearly 11 years since then."


Houston Chronicle: Mexico's economy makes that nation our 51st state.

"Before NAFTA, in the 1980s, Mexico's big export was oil. In the 1990s, manufacturing pushed oil aside, Gilmer said. Last year, Mexico earned six times as many dollars from manufactured products as it did from oil.

"And the huge majority of Mexico's exports, 87 percent last year, went to the United States."

Houston Chronicle (third story down): PGS may sell rigs if merger plan fails.

"`Such a sale won't solve PGS' long-term problem of too much debt,' said Rachid Bendriss, chief analyst at brokerage Carnegie in Oslo, who rates the stock a sell."

Houston Chronicle: Push to discover more natural gas aids offshore bids.

"For Wednesday's sale, the federal Minerals Management Service raised royalty relief for production of deep-gas deposits in the shallow shelf areas of the Gulf. No royalties will be collected on the first 20 billion cubic feet of gas produced from a well drilled 15,000 feet or deeper below sea level. The relief ends if gas prices reach $5, compared with last year's cutoff level of $3.50."


Oil & Gas Journal: Companies bid $363.2 million for central gulf leases, down from last year.

Oil and Gas International: Shallow water centerpiece of US Gulf Sale 182.

"The MMS' Chris Oynes, who announced the bids, said it was surprising how many major oil companies bid for shallow water blocks. Eugene Island Block 159, for example, received seven bids, the most for any block in the sale. Phillips Petroleum had the highest bid of the sale at US$17.4 million for Green Canyon Block 199."

Oil and Gas International: Russia is bleeding oil, can't keep pledge despite renewal.

"[Russia] has to reduce the domestic glut or suffer the consequences, for although world oil prices have been reduced this year by 26%, the price of oil in Russia is less than a quarter the price on foreign markets and sometimes do not even equaling production costs."

Oil & Gas Journal: MMS announces slightly modified 5-year lease schedule.

"MMS still also plans to hold annual central and western gulf sales and eastern gulf sales in 2003 and 2005. About 84% of federal oil and gas revenues are produced from OCS leases, according to MMS."

> Outer Continental Shelf.


Oil Online: Central Gulf lease sale set for March 20.

Oil Online: PGS reports variety of new orders.

"PGS was awarded $33 million in four-component seismic acquisition contracts offshore Nigeria, in the Norwegian sector of the North Sea and in the North Atlantic's West of Shetlands area."


I was speaking with Manik Talwani yesterday, and he mentioned that he would be visiting Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute soon. I asked if he would see John Ewing while he was there.

He told me John died in November.

From the WHOI obituary:

"Considered the inventor of the air gun as a sound source for marine seismology, John Ewing used air guns to study the structure of sediments and oceanic crust around the world."

John Ewing was a wonderful scientist and a great human being. It was truly an honor to have known him.

Bloomberg News: Oil companies ordered to survey, sidestep shipwrecks on Gulf floor.

"The rules will help prevent mishaps like one that occurred in late 2000, when Exxon laid an 8-inch steel pipe across a sunken ship believed to have been built in the early 1800s.... The new rules may mean more business for firms that conduct the underwater surveys industry officials said." ...

"Federal officials estimate the Gulf of Mexico may hold as many as 500 undiscovered shipwrecks of historic significance. Since the early 1980s, when the government first began requiring Gulf drillers to do archaeological surveys, oil and gas companies have discovered about 200 wrecks."


WSJ (subscription): Persian Gulf Oil Is Still Critical, But U.S. Grows Less Dependent.

"The Middle East, to be sure, holds a dominant two-thirds of the world's proven reserves, and the region will retain considerable influence even if production elsewhere continues to grow. Saudi Arabia has 25% of the Middle Eastern reserves, or 250 billion barrels. Together, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq are responsible for about 20% of world production." ...

"American production peaked in 1970 at 9.6 million barrels a day and has shrunk since then. Today the U.S. holds less than 5% of the world's oil reserves and produces fewer than six million barrels a day.... Meanwhile, U.S. consumption jumped 17.6% between 1991 and 2001, as Americans built bigger houses, bought gasoline-hungry sport-utility vehicles and took more plane flights. The country now uses about 20 million barrels of oil a day and imports 60% of that amount."

Oil and Gas International: ANWR drilling could cut 2% of US foreign oil imports.

"The report, produced at the request of drilling proponent Senator Frank Murkowski, says there can be no effect on foreign imports for almost 20 years, but by then, 60% of US oil requirements will be met by foreign oil if ANWR drilling is permitted, 62% if it were not. The report also noted that drilling in the Refuge would create relatively few jobs - just 65,000 by the year 2020, not the 735,000 proponents have said."

Oil and Gas International: Search underway in unrecognized Somaliland waters.

"The Republic of Somaliland has not yet been recognized by other governments."

Oil Online: Kerr-McGee increases capital budget.

"Kerr-McGee Corp. has increased its capital budget for exploration and production development projects by 15%, or $120 million, to approximately $900 million."

> When I viewed that Oil Online article, it was displaying a banner ad from Greenpeace, which linked to a page advertising a position for a "ship operations manager" whose responsibilities would include ensuring "safe, effective and efficient operation of Greenpeace ships."

> Outrageous! (As in "far out, man, really surreal.")


Houston Chronicle: Hiring slow for most oil geologists, but rookies get big bucks.

"The young group averaged $64,000 in 2001-2002, up from $59,700 in 2000-2001, according to the surveys conducted by MLA Resources of Tulsa, Okla. The older group averaged $99,400, down from $100,600 the previous year."

Oil & Gas Journal: Salaries in the UK upstream oil and gas industry continue to rise, survey says.

"The best paid positions in the UK upstream oil and gas business last year were in business development, petroleum and reservoir engineering, geophysics, and legal, according to the report."


Oil & Gas Journal: Oil and gas markets are poised for 2003 rebound, say industry executives.

"[Marianne S. Kah, chief economist at Conoco Inc., Houston] sees US demand for gas increasing by 2.5 bcfd this year over last year's levels. But US gas supplies will decline by 1.7 bcfd, Kah said... that will leave a shortfall of 1.2 bcfd -- enough to stimulate Henry Hub natural gas spot prices to an average $2.70/MMbtu this year, rising to $3.28 MMbtu in 2003."

Finally, Landmark's spectral decomposition tool is ready --

Oil and Gas International: Landmark releases high-res reservoir imaging & interpretation system.

"The SpecDecomp suite of imaging and interpretation tools is said to enable SeisWorks and EarthCube users to significantly improve reservoir understanding...."

> This is Landmark's (very late) answer to the Coherency Cube --

Oil IT (1998): Coherency dispute -- Landmark bows to pressure from Amoco.

Oil and Gas International: Land acquisition technology alliance formed.

"Veritas DGC and Input/Output have established a strategic alliance to utilize VectorSeis digital technology for the acquisition of land seismic data in North America." ...

"Together, the companies have acquired and processed 16 VectorSeis surveys in 2001."

Oil and Gas International: Magic Earth releases GeoProbe 2.6.

"The new release will be distributed in April to current Magic Earth customers."


Here's a story about my "hometown." Apparently the Anadarko tower is open now --

Houston Business Journal: Anadarko Tower. The Woodlands enters new phase with community's first skyscraper

"The facility will serve as the new corporate headquarters for Anadarko Petroleum Corp., which plans to move all of its 700 employees there from its current Greenspoint location."


Houston Chronicle: Creating clean energy for future won't come cheap.

"... renewable energy [wind, biomass, solar] had just 2.21 percent of the market in 2000. By 2020, it will be just 2.8 percent of the U.S. total, according to the Energy Information Administration."


Wall Street Journal (subscription): Ford Announces Plans to Sell `Hybrid'-System Escape SUV.

"As the Senate gears up to debate the fuel economy of sport-utility vehicles and pickup trucks, a senior Ford Motor Co. executive said the No. 2 auto maker aims to sell `tens of thousands' of a small, superfuel-efficient Escape SUV powered by a gasoline-electric `hybrid' propulsion system.

"Prabhakar Patil, head of Ford's program that aims to launch the Escape hybrid by the end of 2003, said at an auto-industry conference here Wednesday that the hybrid Escape isn't intended as a niche vehicle."

NPR is doing a week-long series on oil --

NPR: Oil and Dependence. Can America Break Free from Foreign Oil?

Oil and Gas International: Directional well planning & survey management software released.

"Paradigm Geophysical has released its new directional well planning and survey management system, DirectorGeo. This new software package is fully integrated with VoxelGeo, Paradigm's volume-based interpretation and visualization system."

> I started using VoxelView in 1991 when it was a product of Vital Images, a company from Iowa. This was several years before Cogniseis bought it and renamed it VoxelGeo. And of course Cogniseis was bought by Paradigm a few years later.

> We don't have VoxelGeo at Ensign. Man, I miss it.


Oil and Gas International: ChevronTexaco planning Mississippi Canyon Block 860 probe.

"Dominion's Devils Tower Field is eight miles away in Block 773, Shell's Mensa Field is 15 miles away in Block 731, and the largest field discovered in the US Gulf of Mexico to date, BP's Thunder Horse, is 16 miles away spanning Mississippi Canyon Blocks 776, 777, 778, and 822."

> You might want to refer back to this map. Remember that until last month, Thunder Horse was known as Crazy Horse.

Associated Press: Executive at Ford pushes diesel use.

"He said today's diesel fuel has the drawbacks of high sulfur content and particulate emission but noted that diesel offers greater fuel economy and faster acceleration than gasoline."


Here a series of five postings on the week in the life of a drill ship "positioning operator." I thought his journal was really interesting, even though he thinks the palaeontologists decide where to drill the wells --

Slate: Diary.

"A roughneck (drillfloor worker) dropped his adjustable wrench down through the hole in the middle of the ship and into the wellbore.... The entire drill string therefore had to be pulled out of the hole, 90-foot sections at a time. Then a special retrieving tool was attached, and the drill string was run all the way back into the hole.... Remember that each `trip' into and out of the hole took nearly six hours on this well, so by the time they got the wrench back, the drilling contractor had been on `down time' for over 24 hours. At a couple of hundred grand per day, this makes people cranky."

> I heard this story years ago; I don't remember it involving a drillship, however. It sounds suspiciously like a workplace myth, but it is a good story.


Oil and Gas Journal International: Veritas adjusting to industry shifts. (I guess that would be a "seismic shift.")

"Currently, Veritas has 11 land crews doing contract work: eight in Canada, one in Alaska, and two in Oman, and it will be commencing a large new project in Peru scheduled to begin in the fourth quarter. It only has one marine contract at this time, an Asia-Pacific shoot utilizing the Polar Search, a four-streamer vessel, which was demobilized during this quarter and will be replaced with the Veritas Vantage, a ten-streamer vessel scheduled to enter service in May 2002."

Oil Online: Marathon Oil outlines business strategy.

"This and other key elements of Marathon's strategies and business plans were outlined today during a meeting with security analysts. In his comments before the analysts, Marathon president and CEO Clarence P. Cazalot, Jr., posed the question of how Marathon can compete in a consolidating environment where the market puts a premium on size."

"`... achieve profitable growth and create value.... meet this challenge and differentiate ... by adopting a business model ... linking our technical strength, commercial skills and international stature with a willingness to do things differently, and to do so with the speed and agility of a small enterprise.'"

> Do you think that impressed the analysists?

Walter Kessinger

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