Stale Thoughts and Broken Links

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


Something about that O&GJ article I pointed to yesterday just struck me as odd. For the past few months, I've been under the impression that seismic industry analysts were saying exploration companies don't need more seismic data -- presumably because they already have a backlog of undrilled prospects (my assumption).

In yesterday's article, however, James C. Day, chairman and CEO of Noble Corp., is quoted saying oil companies don't have many good prospects in the GOM:

"Prospects on the shelf in the Gulf of Mexico are getting worse, and worse, and worse."

I think Day is implying that the Gulf of Mexico is worn out -- there just aren't any good prospects left.

I don't know if I believe that explanation. I'm sure there isn't as much oil under the shelf as there used to be. But are all the really good prospects gone?

The seismic acquisition contractors have acquired a lot of speculative "multi-client" data over the past few years. Are they having trouble leasing it to clients because the geology is crap?

I'm wondering whether there aren't other reasons that large libraries of marine spec data are sitting around unwanted.

Maybe the problem is that US exploration companies no longer employ a sufficiently large workforce to generate quality prospects.


Oil and Gas International: GNS releases Globe Claritas 3.8 processing system.

"Available for both Unix and Linux, Globe Claritas 3.8 is designed as a flexible seismic processing system and as an equally adaptable platform for seismic processing research."


Oil & Gas Journal: Service companies await activity increase promised by operators.

"... even at today's higher commodity prices, oil field service companies see no signs of increased drilling activity yet, said industry representatives Tuesday at a Houston conference sponsored by Deloitte & Touche LLP...."

OIl and Gas International: 2003 services outlook -- going where the geology is good.

"... developers of new technology should take a lesson from the mistakes that were made with 3D [seismic] -- it provided tremendous potential, created value, reduced dry holes, and allowed explorationists to identify potential reservoirs, revolutionizing the industry, but ... its capacity was overbuilt, its technology was applied too broadly, it suffered from poor pricing mechanisms, and multi-client, spec data became a commodity...."

Houston Chronicle: Apache snatches up oil, gas acreage. Louisiana land costs $260 million, includes 135 producing wells.

"The acquisition includes 135 producing wells and access to 849 square miles of three-dimensional seismic data covering an area mainly in Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes."

Oil Online: St. Mary to acquire properties.

"St. Mary Land & Exploration Co. announced that ... it had agreed to acquire oil and gas properties with an estimated 69 BCFE of proved reserves...."


US News: Sound and fury. Whale deaths blamed on sonar have triggered a heated debate about man-made noise in the sea.

"Sonar is part of a man-made `acoustic smog' that could be threatening marine mammals in ways that are not fully understood. One major contributor is the air guns and drilling rigs of the offshore oil industry. `I can't hear blue whales off the Grand Banks anymore because there's so much seismic exploration in Canadian waters,' [says Christopher Clark, director of the bioacoustics lab at Cornell University.] `It's `ka-bam, ka-bam, ka-bam' every 11 seconds, 24 hours a day, for days on end.'"

Oil Online: E&P spending to rise by 4.2% in '03.

"According to the Lehman Brothers Original E&P Spending Survey, the 323 oil company participants project spending to total $132.4 billion -- up from the $127.1 billion in 2002.... U.S. E&P expenditures, on the other hand, are budgeted to decline by 0.7 percent to $30.3 billion next year."


Oil and Gas International: IAGC issues new practice code for non-exclusive data.

"Chip Gill, [International Association of Geophysical Contractors] president, said in a prepared statement that ... `IAGC members who license geophysical data continue to find that licensees assume rights not granted in the license agreements or that they ignore, intentionally or otherwise, restrictions or prohibitions in those agreements....'"

Oil and Gas International: Saudi Aramco building Linux cluster for pre-stack time migration.

If you're interested, Aramco is always looking for (male) geophysicists.

Don Herron, The Leading Edge: If Charles Dickens had been an Interpreter.

"Where coherence should have filled the image out, and touched it with much higher resolution, it was as if a stale and shriveled hand had pinched and twisted the data, and pulled events to shreds. No deconvolution, no filters, no signal enhancements, in any grade, through all the mysteries of modern processing systems, could hide monsters half so horrible and dread."


Oil and Gas International: GX Technology granted Bulgaria's Black Sea Emine Block.

"GX is expected to invest as much as US$754,000 in the exploration of the block during the three-years term of the permit."

> So, GXT is an exploration company now?


Rhonda Duey, Hart's E&P: Drawing the battle lines.

"... WesternGeco's announcement hinted that company officials are sick and tired of letting the oil and gas companies call the shots."

> Some good observations, but I didn't understand the "warning shot" analogy. Laying off 1700 employees was a warning to whom?

Oil Online: Paradigm announces release of two new seismic attribute packages.


A long profile from the Sunday paper --

New York Times: How Green Is BP?

"... in 1997, Browne gave a speech at Stanford ... in which he acknowledged that there was now an `effective consensus' among the world's leading scientists regarding the human influence on the climate. In the continuing, ever-changing study of global warming, five years is an ice age, so it is hard to remember exactly how revolutionary this was, coming from the C.E.O. of a major oil company in 1997."

Houston Chronicle: SEC starts probe of pay for ex-Seitel executives.

"Also Tuesday, Seitel said it has hired longtime seismic industry veteran Larry Lenig as the company's new chief executive officer and president, effective immediately."

> Best of luck to Mr. Lenig in his new position.


Reuters: Schlumberger to take $3.17 bln charge, slash jobs.

"... the company expects the operating loss seen by WesternGeco in the third quarter to be repeated in the fourth quarter. The after-tax charges at Schlumberger for WesternGeco will total $206 million and 1,700 positions will be cut.

"Baker Hughes, which holds a 30 percent stake in WesternGeco, said separately on Tuesday it will record $91 million in charges for the fourth quarter due to the restructuring, under which land-based seismic operations in the lower 48 states and Canada will be closed and the marine seismic fleet reduced."

Oil and Gas International: Fugro shooting new MC 2D offshore Guyane.

"Fugro Multi Client Services said today that it is presently acquiring some 7,500 km of 2D seismic data offshore Guyane (formerly French Guyana)."

Oil & Gas Journal: Trinidad & Tobago on high alert following terrorist threat to US, UK energy interests there.

"It is understood that Trinidad and Tobago's intelligence officers intercepted a cellular telephone conversation in which [Umar] Abdullah was heard planning to strike American interests on Dec. 22. Apart from energy interests, he was allegedly discussing an attack on the US embassy in Port of Spain.... The dossier describes Abdullah as cunning and articulate...."

> Like a bad spy novel.

> If you are really interested in this topic, here's a new book --

Neal Adams: Terrorism and Oil.

"Terrorism & Oil will not only help you understand the impact a terrorist attack can have on the global oil industry -- with it you can be proactive in facilities security and implementing a company-wide program."

> Includes a Terrorism and Oil screensaver!

Oil & Gas Journal: BP, ChevronTexaco start up new Dutch wind farm.


Oil & Gas Journal: Energy poverty remains a worldwide challenge.

"IEA Chief Economist Fatih Birol ... said 1.6 billion people have no access to electricity. Of that total, 580 million are in South Asia, mainly India, and 500 million are in sub-Saharan Africa."

Associated Press: Energy leaders warn of looming labor crisis.

"A report by a task force of the Petroleum Professionals was troubled by the average age of employees for the major operators and service companies -- between 47 and 50."

Oil & Gas Journal: Simmons & Co. bullish on North American natural gas outlook.

"Simmons & Co. has increased its 2003 Henry Hub natural gas price forecast to $3.80/Mcf from $3.30/Mcf, reflecting the gas markets improving fundamentals...."

Houston Chronicle: Indictment shows how to influence gas prices.

"Oil and gas producers have been complaining for years about companies such as Enron, Dynegy and El Paso manipulating natural gas prices, distorting the supply and demand fundamentals that traditionally set the market prices.

"`This is not a real surprise. Based on news reports from California and here in Houston, we expect there may be more,' Apache Corp. spokesman Bill Mintz said. The company has long been a vocal critic of trading companies manipulating prices."

SEG Press Reslease: Fugro Multi Client Services announces Deepwater GOM and Texas continental shelf program.

"... the start of the Deep Focus Long Offset Regional 2D seismic and gravity program ... now in progress.... Data to be available for the August 2003, MMS Western Gulf of Mexico Lease Sale."


Oil IT: Don't mention the `F' word in marketing!

"What marketing person could possibly admit in today's Java and object-oriented world that their software is developed in Fortran!"


"Indeed the one growth part of the geophysics business is the 19" rack full of Intel (or AMD) -based PC's. Geophysical processing is truly amenable to clustering and some mind-boggling CPU counts -- up to 10,000 at one location -- were mentioned. But I digress."

Houston Chronicle: Seitel bondholders OK waiting for payment.

"The extended standstill agreement provides for the deferral, until June 2, 2003, of the $10 million principal payment previously scheduled to be due to certain noteholders on Dec. 30. Interest on the notes continues to be payable on a monthly basis."

Oil & Gas Journal: Shell, BP progress Na Kika ultradeepwater development.

"Shell Exploration & Production Co. and BP PLC are marking further progress on their $1.26 billion Na Kika project to develop widely spaced oil and gas fields in the ultradeepwater Mississippi Canyon area of the Gulf of Mexico."


Oil and Gas International: PGS focusing MC3D [multi-client 3D] efforts in Gulf of Guinea.

"The majority of the data have been processed internally in PGS, mostly following a 3D NMO/DMO/stack/migration route. Some of the data have been processed using full Kirchhoff pre-stack time migration (KPSTM)."

Oil Online: Newfield completes EEX acquisition.

"Newfield management said the acquisition balances its mix of onshore and offshore reserves and provides some high-potential drilling plays and prospects along the Texas Gulf Coast and in the Gulf of Mexico."

Walter Kessinger

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