Stale Thoughts and Broken Links

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


Missed opportunity:

I saw Mihai Popovici yesterday, but I forgot to ask him about the legal incident at 3DGeo.

And I should have remembered -- he even asked me about my weblog.


The Leading Edge: Reviewing our environmental/cultural progress.

"The geophysical industry recognizes that it is often the first contact for a community in the E&P chain. As such, its total performance (quality, health, safety, environment) is closely scrutinized and viewed as the standard for the other services that follow as a prospect develops."

World Oil: The past, present and future of ocean bottom seismic systems.

"... World Oil asked four industry experts about past experience, current capability, and what lies ahead in marine seafloor seismic -- particularly, what problems need to be overcome. The panelists are: Larry Denver, Vice President of Reservoir Operations at Input/Output; Denis Mougenot, Chief Geophysicist for Sercel, France; Roger D. Entralgo, Project Manager of Seismic Development for Oceaneering Int'l; and Robert H. Tatham, Professor of Exploration Geophysics and Shell Centennial Chair in the Dept. of Geological Sciences, Jackson School of Geosciences, University of Texas - Austin."


Wall Street Journal (subscription): A New Type of Prospector Blows In on the Texas Wind. Oil Patch Turns to Turbines As Ranchers Sell Wind Rights.

"West Texas is experiencing a wind-rush of sorts, driven by a 1999 requirement that 3% of the state's electricity come from renewable sources by 2009 and by a federal energy tax credit that kicked in back in 1995. Companies including American Electric Power Co., General Electric Co. and FPL Group Inc. have invested $1 billion in ranches here, much of it here in the middle of the once-prolific oil reserve known as the Permian Basin." ...

"Though costs have dropped during the past two decades, wind power provides less than 1% of the nation's electricity supply and only about 1.5% in Texas. The state lacks adequate infrastructure to bring rural wind power to market."


Hey, lookit! Our friends at 3DGeo made the New York Times --

NYT: Silicon Valley Concern Says It Thwarted Software Theft.

"A Chinese software programmer was arrested Tuesday after a Silicon Valley company complained that he had tried to steal software used in seismic imaging of oil fields, company officials said today. The programmer, Shan Yanming, 32, has been in the United States since the end of April as part of a contract between the state-owned China National Petroleum Corporation and 3DGeo Development., a Mountain View, Calif., software company."

Whoa! Some lucky grad student is shooting sperm whales for her thesis research --

Oil and Gas International: MMS study of effect shooting seismic has on US Gulf sperm whales.

"This first year of the Sperm Whale Seismic Study (SWSS) includes two research cruises. The first cruise was completed in July 2002 and the second cruise departed on August 21st for four-weeks of experiments using digital tags, which record received sound levels and underwater swimming behavior. There were also experiments with an industry-provided seismic vessel.... The highlights of the cruise were testing the behavioral response and measuring received sound levels for D-tagged sperm whales exposed to controlled approaches by the Rylan T. [a vessel equipped with seismic airguns]."


New York Times: A Role for Solar, but It's a Cameo.

"... BP is the world's largest maker of photovoltaic cells, which generate electricity from the sun. Now, the billboard proclaims, the initials should stand for `Beyond Petroleum.'" ...

"The company has 157 solar-powered BP Connect gasoline stations in the United States and 220 throughout 16 other nations, with plans for more. Depending on the location, a station's solar panels supply 6 percent to 15 percent of its electrical power -- about equal to the power consumed by three or four average-size American homes."

> The Sierra Club and Greenpeace sure do bitch a lot, but I don't see them making any photovoltaic cells.


Oil and Gas International: Decreasing sea ice opening Arctic to exploration.

"Global warming is reducing sea ice and allowing road development that are opening up vast land and sea areas in the Arctic to oil and gas exploration. The expansion of exploration into this previously inaccessible region of the planet is expected to increase by 70% in less than 50 years, according to findings reported at the recent Arctic Parliamentary Conference held last month in Tromsø, Norway."

> Every cloud has a silver lining.

Oil Online: TGS-NOPEC announces availability of offshore Louisiana 3D project.

"Following application of advanced Kirchhoff pre-stack time migration technology, TGS-NOPEC now offers a single seamless volume of 3D data including migrated gathers, corridor stacks and other AVO products."

> 7900 sq. km.

Oil Online: Statoil purchases SGI reality center facilities.

> Five in all.

Oil and Gas International: Schlumberger opens virtual reality center in Abu Dhabi.


Houston Business Journal: PGS meeting to consider board, share issue.

"Norwegian investor Jens Ulltveit-Moe demanded the shareholder meeting to consider a new board, and a mandate for PGS to issue up to 51.6 million new shares, or a 50 percent rise in the share capital. A PGS statement said that Ulltveit-Moe, 57, might himself be a candidate to become chairman at the September 27 meeting."

Oil and Gas International: TGS expands 2D seismic vessel fleet capacity.

Associated Press: Ammonium Nitrate Reported Missing .

"About 330 pounds of ammonium nitrate, which can be used as fertilizer or in explosives, was reported stolen Monday from a business in central Texas." ...

"Austin Powder provides explosives for mining, construction and seismic exploration...."

I'm a little late in updating my page of geophysical social events of interest to me. Although it won't make the list, I'm planning on dropping by the GSH 2002 Icebreaker this evening. It's from 5-7 at 5430 Westheimer, and there's a $15 fee. [I'd normally link to the GSH home page, but they haven't updated their site since early summer.]

This yearly event is very low-key. It involves standing around talking to old fogies and unemployed consultants. And there's a cash bar.

The Leading Edge: Round Table: Why oil and gas R&D?.

"Research is nearly all risk and rarely reward -- in fact any reward if measured by quarterly earnings statements. Consider for the moment an analogy. The price that pharmaceutical companies charge for new drugs has little to do with production costs, but a lot to do about recovering research costs. Fortunately, drug inventors and producers are able to recover research costs through sales and use it to pay for the next medical breakthrough. The petroleum industry does not share that ability. People are willing to pay essentially any cost if it will remedy an illness or save a life. As much as people love their cars and comforts, they, quite rightly, love their health more. They will not pay the `research premium' for gasoline or electricity, nor will Wall Street reward the techno-futurists within the energy sector." ...

"Annual revenue generated by the U.S. petroleum industry is second only to personal income tax in putting money into the U.S. Treasury and is the largest tax contributor of any industry. This does not count the income taxes paid by those companies nor that of their employees. While the above discussion focused on the United States, similar statements can be made for many if not all producing countries. Political rhetoric notwithstanding, oil and gas pays its way, and then some."


The Globe and Mail: Frozen gas won't be usable for years: scientists. Touted as energy for next generation.

"Ross Chapman, a University of Victoria geophysicist, said yesterday that the massive discovery of so-called gas hydrates sitting in mud at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean will keep researchers busy for many years." ...

"While the discovery is stirring immediate excitement in the scientific community, commercial extraction remains a long-term proposition because the technology to tap the hydrates doesn't exist yet, said Ian Doig, publisher of Doig's Digest, a Calgary-based energy newsletter."

> An oil company explorationist told me yesterday that his company was perparing to drill a gas hydrate prospect. I didn't get a chance to ask any questions about it, though.

BBC: Carbon burial experiment works.

"UK geologists say efforts to bury the carbon dioxide byproduct from gas exploration in the North Sea have been hugely successful." ...

"Dr Andrew Chadwick, from the British Geological Survey, says his work shows the CO2 remains trapped in a giant bubble under a cap of shale and mudstone almost a kilometre under the seabed."

Oil and Gas International: Devon & ChevronTexaco team for deepwater US Gulf exploration.


Oil Online: ChevronTexaco CEO addresses World Petroleum Congress.

"`As the world's population continues to soar -- adding three billion people over the next half century -- we will see a corresponding rise in energy demand, and in basic aspirations....' One solution, O'Reilly said, `is to responsibly develop the resources and supply the energy that the world needs to grow. Developing these resources will take capital, expertise, sound management, creativity and technology -- but, increasingly, it will take partnership.'"

LA Times: Shell to Put Its Name on Texaco Stations.

"Houston-based Shell Oil, a unit of Royal Dutch/Shell Group, announced in February that it would spend more than $500 million to put its name and logo on most of the 13,000 Texaco gasoline stations it bought last year from ChevronTexaco Corp. Southern California is one of the places where Shell is starting the conversion, which should be completed nationwide by late next year...."


Houston Chronicle: Write-offs add up to net loss for seismic company Veritas.

"Veritas DGC, a Houston-based seismic company, on Wednesday reported a fiscal fourth-quarter net loss of $46.5 million, or $1.43 per share, mostly the result of write-offs reflecting the reduced estimated value of some past seismic surveys." ...

"Those moves were connected with onshore seismic surveys in the United States that were sold to multiple clients. These seven surveys resulted in charges totaling $28.8 million. In addition, one survey in the Gulf of Mexico resulted in a $16 million charge, and three in the North Sea totaled $10.4 million. Future sales from these are not expected to justify their current book value."

Oil and Gas International: Unocal focusing on major developments, growth.

"`We are planning to return to exploration drilling in the deepwater Gulf after about a year's drilling hiatus,' [Unocal chairman and CEO] Williamson said.... `We now feel we have an excellent inventory of prospects as we resume our exploration drilling, focusing completely in areas which have seen recent industry success, namely Green Canyon and Mississippi Canyon.'"

Oil & Gas Journal: World Petroleum Congress: Shell official sees fossil fuel use ending before reserves depletion.

"... fossil fuels are proving to be far more abundant than previously believed, and their production costs continue to come down. At the same time, the costs of renewable energy -- while still too high -- are falling even more rapidly."

Reuters: Earth Summit Rejects `Green' Energy Targets.

"About two billion people, a third of the world's population, lack access to modern energy sources, including electricity or even fossil fuels."


Wall Street Journal (subscription): Oil Producers Flock to Island In Russia With Fragile Ecology.

"At Sakhalin, consortia led by Exxon Mobil Corp. and Royal Dutch/Shell Group are breaking ground on $22 billion worth of oil- and gas-drilling facilities to rival some of the biggest in North America. Since the U.S. Congress rejected drilling in the Alaskan wildlife refuge in the spring, a consortium headed by London-based BP PLC has secured an exploration permit in order to join them....

"The oil companies believe that as many as 13 billion barrels of oil lie beneath the waters around Sakhalin. That compares with oil reserves in the U.S. of about 22 billion barrels.

"But the groups already at work aren't following many of the protective measures that would be standard in the U.S. The Exxon Mobil-led venture, for instance, has allowed seismic blasting within 2.5 miles of endangered Western Pacific gray whales, while regulators in Alaska say they have generally enforced a 12-mile buffer to keep from driving whales away from their migratory routes and feeding grounds."

Walter Kessinger

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