Stale Thoughts and Broken Links

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


WSJ (subscription): Despite Rising Cost of Crude, Investors Shun Oil Companies.

"... shares of oil companies are down during the past six months, even as oil prices have soared on war fears and the strike in Venezuela. Since its recent low in November, oil is up nearly 50%, yet the stocks of oil companies are up about 1%, slightly ahead of the overall market, which is flat for that time period."

Matthew R. Simmons, World Oil: Are oil & Murphy's Law about to meet?

"As 2003 gets underway, a confluence of events is tightening oil markets to an unprecedented level and threatens to culminate in a day of reckoning for oil as this combination of long-term energy problems finally converges." ...

"The past decade was marked by a series of sporadic oil booms, inevitably followed by recurrent and devastating oil busts.... The entire decade was marked by a general pessimism that oil supply was always about to create a new glut which would then cause prices to collapse." ...

"Over the past five years, most active E&P companies have seen E&P expenditures soar while they struggled to achieve only modest growth in daily oil production. Depletion ... turned out to have [a] profound ... impact on the growth in global oil supply...."


Reuters: PGS raises doubts about survival, shares plummet.

"Heavily indebted Norwegian-U.S. oil services group Petroleum Geo Services (PGS) expressed doubts it could survive on Wednesday after fourth-quarter losses widened, driving its shares to an all-time low.... Its shares plunged 36 percent to 1.35 Norwegian crowns ($0.191)...."

AScribe: Whale of a Find: Researcher Says Oil Exploration Not Affecting Whales.

"Bernd Wursig, professor of marine biology [at Texas A&M], has been studying the problem since 1997 and his team's research indicates no direct harmful effects from oil exploration and drilling in fertile whale habitats, even in a small population facing the possibility of extinction. Wursig, who has studied whales and dolphins for the past 32 years, focused on the Sakhalin Island region off the eastern coast of Russia where one particular population of whale -- the Western Gray Whale, also known as the Korean Stock Whale -- lives much of the year."

Press Release: Kelman Announces 42% Improvement in 2002 Operating Results.

"Kelman Technologies Inc ("KTI") today announced that on a before tax basis operating net income improved 42% from $1.614 million to $2.298 million for fiscal 2002.... Cash flow of $6.072 million ($0.16 per share) was equivalent to last year."


Reuters: NYMEX oil ends down as U.S. says may tap reserves.

"NYMEX crude for April delivery settled 42 cents or 1.1 percent lower at $36.06.... NYMEX crude oil's all-time high of $41.15 was struck on Oct. 10, 1990, after Iraq invaded Kuwait in August of that year." ...

"In overnight ACCESS trading, NYMEX Henry Hub natural gas futures hit $11.899, a new all-time high that eclipsed the previous record of $10.10 hit in late December 2000. NYMEX March natural gas, due to expire on Wednesday, last traded at $9.40 per million British thermal units (mmBtu), up 26.3 cents on the day."

Oil and Gas International: PDVSA fires another 1,088 employees - total now 15,646.


Oil & Gas Journal: Devon Energy, Ocean Energy plan merger to become largest US independent.

"The two companies have `significant' overlap in their core areas, providing operational synergies, officials said. They expect general and administrative cost savings of at least $50 million/year.

"The combined company will produce 2.4 bcfd of natural gas and 250,000 b/d of oil and natural gas liquids, making it the largest US-based independent, said company officials. It will have 2.2 billion boe of proved reserves, with 84% of that in North America. In fact, 90% of the new Devon Energy's total production will be in North American, of which 69% will be natural gas." ...

"With interests in more than 500 deepwater Gulf of Mexico blocks, it also will be the largest independent deepwater leaseholder in the gulf, officials said."

Associated Press: Devon Energy Corp. Buying Rival Ocean Energy Corp. for $3.5 Billion in Stock.

"The combined company expects to save at least $50 million annually by reducing costs, including the elimination of Ocean's headquarters in Houston and an undetermined number of layoffs. The savings could be as high as $100 million, officials said." ...

"In addition, Devon will assume $1.8 billion of Ocean's debt and other obligations."


Finally! --

Oil and Gas International: TotalFinaElf to be simply Total.

Oil and Gas International: ConocoPhillips' Voss probe in ultra-deep US Gulf plugged & abandoned.

"The well was drilled by the Transocean drillship Deepwater Pathfinder in waters 6,120 ft deep."

Press Release: Petroleum Geo-Services Closes Sale of its Atlantis Subsidiary to Sinochem.


WSJ (subscription): Midsize Oil Firms Are Looking To Acquire Older Fields, Wells.

"Big petroleum firms are planning to sell billions of dollars of older oil and natural-gas fields, so-called tail assets, that still have decent reserves but offer low profit margins. London-based BP said it plans to divest itself of $3 billion to $6 billion in mature assets this year to direct more investment toward new geographic regions. Analysts expect ChevronTexaco Corp. and ConocoPhillips, both of which have recently finished mergers, to trim their balance sheets by selling older assets and focusing on more promising fields."


I had a nightmare last week.

It was one of those anxiety nightmares where I suddenly realize that I am about to fail some class that I attended once or twice, and then inexplicitly forgot until the very end of the semester. In this dream, there were actually three classes; I had completely forgotten that I had registered for school!

When I was an undergraduate student, those dreams were not so far-fetched. And actually, this one had some basis in fact.

Yesterday I attended the yearly meeting of Arthur Weglein's M-OSRP consortium at the University of Houston. I've taken four classes with Arthur over the past three years, and he kindly counts me as a Ph.D. in progress. Unfortunately, I've been inactive for the past year, what with the demands of work and family. Which is probably the source of my anxiety --

I wish I were actively working with this group! They are conducting what must be the most kick-ass research currently taking place in seismic data processing. Among other topics, they are developing some amazing extensions of the inverse wave scattering theory that is the basis of SRME (surface-related multiple elimination). In particular, I am absolutely certain that Simon Shaw's work will fundamentally change how we conduct prestack depth migration five years from now.

It's enough to make me want to quit my day job and start writing code for these guys. If my family didn't have to eat, that is.

My one consolation: I know I will get the opportunity to use this technology in depth imaging projects before the end of this decade.


Oil and Gas International: 14 US Gulf deepwater oil & gas projects onstream in 2002.

"The US Minerals Management Service (MMS) revealed yesterday that there were 12 discoveries in the deepwater US Gulf of Mexico last year, and that 14 deepwater projects began oil and gas production, tying a record set in 2001."

Oil and Gas International: US MMS issues final notice of Central US Gulf Sale.

"The US Minerals Management Service published its final notice of Sale 185, the March 19th Central US Gulf of Mexico lease sale to be held in New Orleans, Louisiana. The final notice includes a continuation of recent royalty suspension measures that are designed to increase domestic natural gas and oil production to meet our nation's energy needs."

Sunday Herald: Picking up on good vibrations.

"This is to be the year when [Vibtech,] the Glasgow-based seismic survey technology company hits the market and makes a name for itself in the competitive world of international oil exploration. Vibtech's wireless system, known as Infinite Telemetry, is designed to make a big difference in the world of onshore oil and gas exploration."

Dow Jones: PetroChina Sesimic Unit [BGP] Halts Ops At Pakistan Gas field.

"BGP halted operations at the Sui gas field when clashes between local tribesmen broke out early this year.... `We won't restart operations without security reassurances,' said the official." ...

"PetroChina has three seismic teams in Pakistan, currently involving in two oil and gas projects. "

Press Release: Compagnie Generale de Geophysique Fiscal 2002, Unaudited Revenues.

"2003 Perspectives: Despite an environment currently affected by the uncertain international situation, the Company anticipates for the first half of 2003 an overall stable activity in the Geophysical Services market, the loss of the CGG Mistral having an overall relatively limited impact in an exclusive market environment with prices close to break even. Sercel [seismic equipment sales] will operate in a tight market but will benefit from its wide client base as well as from the strength of its product offering.... On the strategic front, the Group's 7.5% stake in PGS provides the basis for the necessary contacts in order to evaluate the prospect of consolidation of the seismic sector...."

Press Release: Seitel and Noteholders Agree to Extend Date to Agree in Principle On Restructuring Until February 28, 2003.

Oil and Gas International: NRC calls for ocean noise research agency.

"The National Research Council, an agency of the US National Academy of Sciences, has called for a single federal agency to oversee monitoring and coordination of research on ocean noise to prevent harm to whales, dolphins, and other sea creatures."

> Includes a picture of "a whale near an oilrig." WTF?


Oil and Gas International: Geopolitical & market uncertainty show value of new technologies.

"But, Global Oil Trends points out, one of the most significant changes is the big increase in world reserves -- the 175 billion barrel increase in Canadian oil sands reserves, apart from conventional heavy oil. Canada expanded its definition of heavy oil reserves, which increased North America's share of global reserves to 18% in 2002 from 5% in 2001, and reduced the Middle East's share to 57% from 67%. In the meantime, demand growth in 2002 over 2001 was a miniscule 20,000 b/d -- the weakest growth since 1983, according to the study."

Oil & Gas Journal: CERA panel: Private capital providers focusing more on power, pipelines than E&P.

"Plenty of private capital is available for the energy industry, but private capital providers appear more interested in midstream, transportation, and power assets than in exploration and production, energy finance panelists said this week during Cambridge Energy Research Associates' CERA week."

Houston Chronicle: Carbon project never gets going. Touted plant shut by ConocoPhillips.

"The market for the product, produced by a unit called Cevolution, was slow to emerge, and there were unexpected problems when it came time to make the fibers in big enough quantities to sell. Its new manufacturing plant was unable to achieve commercial-scale output after half a year of trying."

Houston Chronicle: Energy companies under fire to ensure gay rights.

"While gay and lesbian activists battle Exxon Mobil, they're cheering the decision this week by ConocoPhillips to add sexual orientation to its list of nondiscrimination policies.... Employees were informed earlier this week that the company doesn't discriminate based on sexual orientation...."

> Gee, that didn't hurt at all, did it?


Catching up on this week's big BP news --

BBC: BP spends billions on Russian deal.

"The company said it was joining with the Alfa Group and Access-Renova (AAR) to create Russia's third biggest oil and gas business. For its 50% stake in the new company BP will pay a total of $6.75bn (4.17bn) in cash and shares over the next four years."

Oil and Gas International: BP to hold 50% of merged Russian giant Tyumen-Sidanco.

> This one came out right before the Russian deal was announced --

The Guardian: Explorer who got lost is gambling all on his new map.

"... the diminutive dynamo whose peers have voted him top manager year after year has recently begun to look depressingly human after a series of mishaps."

New York Times: Oil Companies Said to Balk on Production.

"Despite the last few years of robust oil prices, many of the largest oil and gas companies are hesitant to greatly increase their investments in oil production because they fear volatile prices in the future, according to a study by Cambridge Energy Research Associates."

Oil and Gas International: CERA & Accenture report high prices & volatility holding back investment.

"Unless economic growth is robust through the decade, the increase in global [oil] demand may be less than the gains in just non-OPEC productive capacity. Faced with a continuing role as swing producer, OPEC may be unable to cut supply enough to support prices. The result may be a decline in the oil price sufficient to reduce the excess productive capacity and reassert OPEC's price-setting capability."

Non-news --

Houston Business Journal: Shell CEO outlines potential of exploration in Gulf.

[Shell Exploration CEO Walter van de Vijver]:

"The Gulf of Mexico is `very challenging' because of the depth and complexity of its reservoirs, he said, but Shell nevertheless believes it has `enormous forward potential.' Future productivity there will require new technologies in imaging below salt domes, in well-drilling and in production maximization, he said."

Oil and Gas International: ChevronTexaco offering free greenhouse gas management system.

"The company is releasing the system to promote standardization of methodologies used and comparability in gathering of greenhouse gas inventory information."


Oil and Gas International: BP & BHP find extends giant US Gulf Atlantis Field.

"The Atlantis Field is already the third-largest field in the US Gulf of Mexico, and this latest find could well push it into second place. BP's Thunder Horse Field nearby is the Gulf's largest field. Atlantis is located southwest of Thunder Horse in the Atwater Foldbelt, 125 miles south of New Orleans in the vicinity of Green Canyon Block 743."

Oil and Gas International: Shell contracts GeoProbe for volume visualization & interpretation.

Forbes: Seitel says bondholders OK extension to Feb. 14.

Old news, but --

First Break: Mixed results as year 2002 ends for geophysical services companies.

"End of year news from the major geophysical services companies wasn't getting any better judging from some of the latest statements on their financial results."


WSJ (subscription): How Oil Giant's Technicians Turned Into Revolutionaries. State-Owned Petroleum Firm Holds Out In Venezuela Strike, Jeopardizing Its Future.

"PdVSA now stands virtually alone in maintaining what began two months ago as a general strike against the president." ...

"President Chavez has pledged to funnel more of PdVSA's revenue to the poor and assert control of the company. He has fired about 9,000 of its 40,000 workers in the past two months -- more than 3,000 in a surge of layoffs this past week. Mr. Chavez has gone through five company presidents in four years and replaced nine of the 11 board members with his own people. He has installed security officials who, according to [striking workers], are there mainly to harass Chavez opponents and root out disloyalty."

Casper Star-Tribune: Seismic data plan burdened by financial problems.

"A proposal to spend two weeks conducting seismic explorations on federal land near the Clarks Fork Canyon [Wyoming] has become mired in financial trouble and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's review process.... [T]he Texas firm sponsoring the project, EnRe Corp., recently filed for bankruptcy."

Victoria Spectator Observer Group: $3m contract to Hamilton company.

"Hamilton engineering company, Waltanna Australia, has won a $3 million contract to fit rubber tracks to five huge seismic vibrators used in the search for oil in the Middle East." ...

"Size really does matter at Waltanna."

Oil Online: MMS approves cell spar.

"Approval came as part of a Conceptual Deepwater Operations Plan review of Kerr-McGee's Red Hawk project in 5,300 feet of water in Garden Banks Block 877.... The third generation cell spar, 64 feet in diameter and 480 feet in length, will be composed of seven tubes; a center tube will surround the other six tubes, all connected by structural steel."


AScribe: Loud Noises Can Injure Fish Hearing.

"The noisemaker was a seismic air-gun, a tool routinely used to search for underwater oil deposits. The air-gun sound is sent repeatedly through the water, where it travels to sub-sea rock strata and back up. Fish within hearing distance of the air-gun literally get an ear full."

Oil and Gas International: Norex Exploration acquires Conquest Seismic.

"Norex said that it will consolidate its seismic acquisition division with Conquest and form a new subsidiary, Conquest/Norex Geophysical, to provide seismic acquisition services for the Canadian oil and gas industry."

Press Release: Dawson Geophysical Company Reports Results of Its First Quarter.

"Demand for the Company's services increased significantly during the quarter; however, persistent wet weather impacted data acquisition crews severely."

Oil and Gas International: Veritas improves their Kirchhoff prestack time migration imaging.

"The ray-traced travel times also accurately include higher order moveout terms at longer offsets - not only 4th order moveout but all higher order terms of moveout associated with vertical velocity variations."

Oil Online: Anadarko to proceed with Tarantula field.

"Six development wells and recompletions are planned in the U.S. Gulf's subsalt shelf area, including additional drilling at Tarantula and in the Mahogany and Hickory fields.... Anadarko also plans to drill as many as 10 exploration wells in the Gulf this year."

Oil Online: Ocean Energy boosts exploration program.

"Houston-based Ocean Energy plans a larger exploration program in 2003 while continuing development of its six sanctioned deepwater projects.... In 2003, Ocean Energy plans to drill at least six Gulf of Mexico deepwater prospects...."

The Globe and Mail: More women must join the oil elite.

"Friday was a day of quiet celebration among professional women in Calgary as the news filtered out that Shell Canada had appointed Linda Cook as its new chief executive officer."

> Related news? --

WSJ (subscription): Skirts Head Back to Stores, But Will Women Buy Them?

"From Paris to New York, fashion designers and editors have declared super-short miniskirts and figure-hugging pencil skirts the big fashion news for women this spring."


Houston Chronicle: Plains Exploration buys 3TEC. $333 million deal is first major acquisition for growing spinoff.

"Plains Exploration has about 50 employees in Houston and 300 in California. 3TEC has about 80 employees in Houston."

SEG Press Release: Fusion Geophysical LLC announces new subsidiary, strategic alliance.

"FPTI will open its new office on 13 January 2003 in The Woodlands, Texas.... John P. Castagna will be the chairman of FPTI, and Alan R. Huffman will be president and CEO."

"Fusion will offer its complete portfolio of services from the FPTI location, including seismic survey design, seismic imaging, geopressure prediction, seismic analysis, integrated interpretation, reservoir studies and contract research and development services."

Oil Online: Landmark announces release of Corporate Data Archiver.

"... a Web-based data management tool that is designed to store and protect the digital assets of upstream exploration and production companies."

Walter Kessinger

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