Stale Thoughts and Broken Links

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


Follow-up on Jim Allen --

I called his office today to ask how he was doing. His secretary told me this was his first day back on the job, and he had meetings all day.

Oil and Gas International: Paradigm's VoxelGeo extended to include integrated 3D visualization.

"In addition to a variety of new features aimed at enhancing workflows supported by VoxelGeo, the offering now includes the 3D Propagator auto-tracking capability and is complemented by the new Reservoir Navigator integrated visualization canvas."

> As I've said before -- I really miss VoxelGeo.

Oil Online: Veritas DGC launches seismic vessel.

"The vessel is configured to deploy up to ten long streamers and is equipped with the latest Guardian solid streamer technology from TUS, as well as many other technical innovations."

Oil & Gas Journal: Analyst: US oil and gas industry entering long-term recovery.

> Well if an analyst said it, it must be true.


One more --

Houston Chronicle: Prices brutal for independents. Earnings off sharply, but worst may be over.

"The first-quarter earnings per share of three of Houston's largest independent oil companies dropped by 75 percent or more each."


If you're keeping score --

Wall Street Journal (subscription): Oil Firms Post Weak Results.

"ChevronTexaco Corp., Conoco Inc. and Phillips Petroleum Co. reported weaker first-quarter results, adding their names to the list of companies in the industry that have suffered from lower oil and natural-gas prices."

Wall Street Journal (subscription): Exxon Posts 58% Profit Drop Amid Poor Business Climate.

Wall Street Journal (subscription): Weak Demand, Refining Margins Hurt Results for Sunoco and Amerada Hess.

> etc., etc...

> ... but wait!

Wall Street Journal (subscription): U.S.-Saudi Arabia Meeting Raises Tension and Oil Prices.

Fortune: The Bogus Oil Nightmare. We're not likely to experience a 1970s-style oil crisis. Fears that Arab producers will join Saddam are unfounded.

"Although the U.S. is as dependent on foreign oil today as it was in the late 1970s, it's less dependent on oil in general. Some 17% of U.S. electricity was produced by burning oil in the late 1970s; today it's less than 3%. Oil accounted for 32% of home heating costs in the early 1970s, vs. 17% today. Energy has become generally less important for the economy. The most comprehensive measure is the amount of energy consumed per dollar of GDP: It has fallen more than 34% since 1972."


Associated Press: Caspian Leaders Reach No Deal on Oil.

"Iranian President Mohammad Khatami (news - web sites) insisted that the Caspian, where five navies have gunboats on patrol, should be demilitarized."

ABC News: The Next Middle East? Vast Oil Stores Put Caspian Sea on the Political Map.

"Estimates for the oil reserves beneath this landlocked sea range from 35 billion barrels up to an optimistic 300 billion barrels. At the high end, that's more oil than even Saudi Arabia's 260 billion barrel reserve, and half as much as the entire Middle East. And while few analysts expect the Caspian to truly challenge the Middle East, its crude is already seen as shifting the global oil dynamics."

> That's quite a range of estimates.


Last night I attended an HGS talk by Bruce Reitz of Conoco. His topic was the formation of the Gulf of Mexico, and his presentation included interpretations of the extent of oceanic basement under the Gulf and the depositional distribution of Louann salt.

The highlight of the talk was an amazingly detailed animation of the opening of the GOM. Unfortunately, I couldn't find a link to Reitz's animation anywhere. However, while I was looking, I found the web page of former UTIG researcher Dietmar Müller, now in Australia. He has a posted a collection of (very large) animations of plate tectonics reconstructions.

Associated Press: Caspian States Discuss Oil Sharing.

"The leaders of the five states bordering the oil-rich Caspian Sea appeared as far apart as ever as they opened a summit Tuesday on how to the divide its underwater mineral bounty."


Oil & Gas Journal: US major oil firms' first quarter 2002 earnings to 'reflect intense pressure'.

"... while this reporting period represents a weak quarter for the industry as a whole, it is also expected to mark the bottom of the current earnings cycle, UBS forecast. UBS expects the adjusted exploration and production earnings of the eight US majors it tracks to decline 56%."

Way to go, Gautham! (Former employee of NEC supercomputers in The Woodlands.)

Press Release: Veritas DGC Selects Maximum Throughput for Houston Seismic Data Processing Center.

"`The selection of Sledgehammer by Veritas as the NAS engine for the grueling throughput demands of seismic processing validates our assertion that smart software can extract an enormous amount of sustained performance out of cost-effective, off-the-shelf boxes,' said Gautham Sastri, founder and chief executive officer, Maximum Throughput. `This sale marks an important milestone in Max-T's history and demonstrates our commitment to delivering the fastest and most scalable networked storage solutions available at any price.'"


New York Times: Senate Blocks Drilling in Alaska Wildlife Refuge.

San Francisco Chronicle: Senate rejects oil drilling in Arctic refuge 8 Republicans join Democrats in decisive defeat of Bush plan.

"Despite weeks of effort that has slowed the Senate to a crawl, pro-drilling forces were unable to muster even a simple majority, much less the 60 votes they needed to overcome a Democratic filibuster. The effort failed 46 to 54, with five Democrats voting for drilling and eight Republicans voting against it."


Oil & Gas Journal: MMS issues final notice for western Gulf of Mexico lease sale.

"The US Minerals Management Service issued a final notice for western Gulf of Mexico Lease Sale 184, scheduled for Aug. 21 in New Orleans."

Oil and Gas International: CGG has commenced a major 3D survey offshore Uruguay.

"At this time, Uruguay has no known oil resources and must import all its requirements, currently approximately 43,000 b/d. Just to its northeast, however, Brazil's nearest sedimentary basins have proven prospective and are being explored."

Oil and Gas International: Fujairah launching geo surveys by ground & air.

Associated Press: Exxon CEO Exercises $16M in Stock.

"Exxon Mobil Corp. said Wednesday that chairman and chief executive Lee R. Raymond got a raise and realized $16.4 million on the exercise of stock options last year."


Yesterday afternoon I attended the GSH Data Processing SIG on prestack depth migration. Over 100 people were there, and the show was definitely worth it. Both talks have already been presented multiple times, but that's o.k. I need to see a talk at least three times before I get everything out of it, and these talks are worth the exposure.

John Etgen, in particular, is a really fun speaker to watch; he has a lot of energy, and yesterday he was definitely turned to "on". He put on such a good performance that I was sorry no one was taping it.

If you get a chance to see a talk by either Ross Hill or John Etgen, try to make it.

I spent a good part of yesterday brushing up on Kirchhoff obliquity factors. (Yuck. Kirchhoff amplitude factors are my number one reason for being a wave equation guy.) While I was reading, I came across this introduction to Kirchhoff migration. I think it was written by Yue Wang, a researcher at the University of Utah.

My refer logs are always full of people looking for info on Huygen's Principle. Wang discusses it, so I thought it might be good of me to include a link to his page.

BTW, I think I remember that the Kirchhoff integral can be derived from Green's Theorem without the monopole/dipole logic. Or at least an alternate interpretation is possible.

Physics Today did a special issue on energy this month. Unfortunately, the six page article on physics in oil exploration is subscriber only, so I'm not going to bother linking to it.

Before you run over to your local college library to look it up, you should know that exploration seismology only gets a one paragraph mention. In six pages.

"Acoustic energy in the bandwidth from 10 to a few hundred Hertz is transmitted into the earth, and waves reflected from subsurface structures are collected by large arrays of surface sensors. The collected data yield three-dimensional images mapping a volume that may extend many kilometers deep and cover an area of hundreds of square kilometers. Image resolution, however, is limited by the acoustic wavelength to approximately 10 meters."


Oil and Gas International: New data from TGS Nopec shows offshore West Greenland prime play.

"The Davis Strait between Greenland and Canada's Baffin Island may well harbor hydrocarbon reserves as great as those of the North Sea, according to Jens Christian Olsen of TGS-Nopec. The geophysical contractor has conducted the most extensive seismic acquisition of the turbulent waters to date and the results are, in his words, astonishing."

Oil and Gas International: PGS completes major Abu Dhabi 3D OBC survey.

"Petroleum Geo-Services (PGS) has completed the acquisition of its 1,500 sq km 3D ocean bottom cable (OBC) survey over the Zakum Field offshore Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates. The major seismic survey ... took 18 months to complete, having commenced in 2000."


I just noticed (from my refer logs) that I'm right near the top if you do a google search for BP's Leon Thompson. The problem with this is that his name is actually Leon Thomsen.

Now you know.

Incidently, I've only become really interested in seismic anisotropy in the last year. And it has become increasingly clear to me that Thomsen's 1986 Geophysics paper "Weak elastic anisotropy" is the paper to read in this area.

Washington Post: Warnings On Drilling Reversed. U.S. Quickly Revises Arctic Caribou Study.

"`There have been numerous government reports telling the Bush administration what they didn't want to hear, namely that drilling in the Arctic will forever mar this unspoiled wilderness,' [Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (D-Conn.)] said. `Now they've rushed through a study telling them what they do want to hear, but an objective scientific review would show it to be lacking.'" ...

"Interior officials ... asked USGS biologist Brad Griffith, who designed the caribou calving model, to plug in two likelier scenarios: one limited to the northwest of the coastal plain, where geologists believe most of the oil is; the other adding Native-owned lands to the east. Griffith, who once signed a letter opposing drilling, found that those scenarios would reduce calf survival rates by no more than 1.2 percent."


Oil and Gas International: GX Technology to offer depth imaging with IFP's Luminus.

"Luminus is the industry's first shot-based 3D plane wave prestack depth migration (PSDM), offering several significant and unique benefits when imaging complex subsurface structures in the marine environment, especially beneath salt. Luminus joins with GXT's other advanced imaging technologies - Optimus for shot record wave equation PSDM, Primus for amplitude-preserving Kirchhoff PSDM, and PrimeTime for curved ray prestack time migration...."

Oil IT: GIS - the last bastion of `build not buy'.

"Speaking at the official opening of Shell's `MegaCenter', Shell Malaysia deputy chairman Zainul Rahim said that world-wide, Shell spends about US$1.8 billion a year in IT development and applications in support of a workforce of 95,000. That's nearly $20,000 a year for every desktop in the company!"

> But we're not just talking about PC's running MS Office.

Bloomberg Business News: Headquarters may move to Houston.

"Halliburton Co., the second-largest oil-field services company, is considering moving its headquarters to Houston as a 19-year lease on its main offices in Dallas nears an end, Chief Executive Officer David Lesar said Wednesday." ...

"With about 15,000 workers in Houston, Halliburton is one of the city's largest employers. It has about 40 people at its headquarters in Dallas...."


Christian Science Monitor: Arctic-oil advocates seize on Mideast crisis. This week's Senate debate over drilling in Alaska will focus on energy independence.

"Before conflict flared up between Israel and the Palestinians, the debate over the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) was shaping up into a contest between the claims of oil drillers vs. porcupine caribou, and all indications were that the caribou were poised to win the war on the Senate floor."

Hart's E&P: 4-D: Is it finally time for time-lapse? Hailed by the general press as a huge technological breakthrough, time-lapse seismic seems to have fizzled at the starting gate. But new approaches might help it fulfill its promise.

> Mostly focuses on vertical seismic profiling.

World Oil: New seismic source helps in sub-basalt imaging. New activity offshore the Faroes has added impetus to solving the problem of getting good seismic images beneath high-velocity strata.

"... low-frequency surveys could provide better seismic images in some geological settings. For example, many prospective areas in the Atlantic Margin northwest of the UK are overlain by Cenozoic flood basalts, and these act as sound barriers that prevent clear seismic imaging in deeper formations. However, results from recent field experiments in this area support Professor [Anton] Ziolkowski's idea, and show that there is potential for obtaining seismic information on the deep geology by increasing the low frequency energy recorded during data acquisition."

Press Release: PGS Geophysical Sets Onshore Seismic Data Acquisition Records in Middle East.

"Petroleum Geo-Services ASA announced today that one of its onshore crews operating in the Middle Eastern desert has set world records for the number of vibrator points (VPs) recorded in one day and in one month by a single crew. The crew's March 2002 production of 3,340 VPs set the daily record while 92,502 VPs established the record for monthly production."


Phone conversation with my wife --

Me: Hi babe. Guess what? I don't work for Ensign anymore.
Her: Well that didn't last long.

Geotrace Technologies acquires Ensign Geophysics Limited.

Washington Post: Price of Oil Climbs On Cutback Reports. Venezuela, Iraq News Worries Markets.

"Prices began to climb sharply yesterday after Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein announced that his country would immediately stop all oil shipments for 30 days to protest Israel's military actions in the West Bank and bring economic pressure on the U.S. and other supporters of Israel." ...

"Iraq had been shipping 1.7 million barrels a day under modifications of the U.N. economic sanctions program, with about two-thirds of it ending up in at U.S. refineries, according to the United Nations."


Oil & Gas Journal: US natural gas production decline accelerating, analyst contends.

Oil and Gas International: PGS acquiring key 4D data over New Zealand Block PML 381012.

"The declining Maui Field, still New Zealand's primary gasfield, lies at the heart of the block and is the focus of the new shoot.... Seismic lines will be spaced at tight, 25-meter intervals rather than the customary 100-meter spacing to achieve greater seismic detail."


Reuters: Shell To Buy Enterprise Oil.

"Oil giant Royal Dutch/Shell Group agreed on Tuesday to buy the UK's biggest independent explorer, Enterprise Oil, for 3.5 billion pounds ($5 billion) cash in an effort to catch up with faster-growing rivals."

Bloomberg Business News: Royal Dutch/Shell buying Enterprise in $6.2 billion deal.

"Royal Dutch/Shell Group agreed Tuesday to buy Enterprise Oil of Great Britain for nearly $6.2 billion in cash and assumed debt to reduce its dependence on OPEC nations as oil prices rise."

Oil and Gas International: TGS-Nopec adds Polar Search to fleet.

"TGS-Nopec Geophysical is chartering the 3D seismic acquisition vessel M/V Polar Search for assignment in the US Gulf of Mexico."

> The Polar Search?


I'm passing on some news regarding Jim Allen. Jim co-authored the SEG flip-book of gulf coast AVO case studies with Carolyn Peddy when he was at HARC (1993?) --

Subject: Jim's progress

Dear Friends,
I am writing to you on behalf of Jim and his 
family, who want to thank you for your interest 
in his progress. Jim had triple bypass open 
heart surgery on Friday, March 29, 2002, at St. 
Luke's Hospital in Houston.  Having come 
through successfully, Jim has been transferred 
to a private room, where the hospital staff 
already have him sitting up in a chair and plan 
to have him walking today [April 1].  Jim's 
doctor has already visited him this morning, 
and is very pleased with his progress.  During 
a brief conversation this morning, Jim told me 
that at this rate he may be released as early 
as Friday, April 5, 2002.  Home convalescence 
will take 4-6 weeks, then Jim will be able to 
return to work on a limited basis.  His family 
is requesting no visitations until Jim is 

Oil & Gas Journal: Gulf of Mexico deepwater oil production hits record level.

"US deepwater production in the Gulf of Mexico again hit record levels last year, with an estimated 335 million bbl of oil and 1.18 tcf of gas, said officials of the US Minerals Management Service." ...

"An estimated 570 million bbl of oil was produced in 2001 from all of the [US] Gulf of Mexico, up from 522 million bbl in 2000."

Oil and Gas International: Vibtech developing seismic data transmission system.

"Vibtech has secured a funding for development of its Infinite Telemetry system, a new technology that will allow large volumes of seismic geological data to be transmitted via a broadband cellular radio network.... John Flavell Smith, the company's ... co-founder, said: `Globally, there is far more oil and gas offshore than onshore and that's what we're aiming at. The global market in seismic data transmission is worth about £350 million [US$499 million], and we plan to grab a big piece of that.'"

Seth Dunn: An Oil Company Proves Bush Wrong On Climate Change. CEO John Browne Demands Government Help.

"Speaking at Stanford Business School on March 11, 2002, BP chief executive John Browne announced that his company had met its self-imposed target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions -- nearly eight years ahead of schedule, and at no net cost to the company."

Oil & Gas Journal: Wildlife impacts from ANWR drilling could vary, USGS study says.

"Studies on muskoxen, polar bears, and snow geese demonstrated that if proper precautions are taken, the effect of human development on their populations and habitat could be minimal, according to USGS Director Charles Groat in a letter to Interior Sec. Gail Norton Mar. 29.

"But new information in the report found that the Porcupine Caribou herd may be particularly sensitive to petroleum development within the `1002' portion of the calving ground in ANWR."

Walter Kessinger

Walter's Work Archive Walter's Home Page