Stale Thoughts and Broken Links

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


Forbes: Moody's cuts Veritas DGC ratings.

"The downgrade reflects ongoing weakness in the seismic sector with Moody's belief that there is no near term visible catalyst for sustainable improvement despite upcycle commodity prices and record cash flows by exploration and production (E&P) companies; sector over-capacity and lack of pricing discipline among competitors that continues to pressure pricing and margins; and significant investment requirements to remain competitive that may pressure Veritas' liquidity over the intermediate term."

> There are another ten paragraphs like that one. Ouch.


O.K., which of you seismic acquisition contractors has been clubbing baby seals? --

Warrnambool Standard: Experts look into death of fur seals.

"Fifty two pups, no older than four weeks, were found at Childer's Cove, west of Peterborough on Monday.... ‘There was also a suggestion in this case that seismic testing could have been to blame but we think it is most likely they have been washed off rocks and drowned at sea when they were still too young to swim.’"

O&GJ: UBS: Seismic activity expected to remain flat.

> Study only refers to U.S. and Canada, not sure if it includes marine seismic or only land acquisition.


Perry Fisher, World Oil: New findings about petroleum systems.

"... the study involved chemical analysis of ... oil samples taken from four Gulf of Mexico fields, representing a 77-mi by 124-mi swath.... 2.6 billion bbl of oil and 45 Tcf of gas has been discovered in the small study area, but its source rocks have the potential to generate 1,400 billion bbl of oil and 8,600 Tcf of gas -- more than have been produced in the world throughout history. This area of the GOM is a highly active flow-through system, where more than 90% of the hydrocarbons generated are vented into the ocean, and reservoirs have been filled very recently, geologically speaking."

> A whole lot of natural seepage going on....


Associated Press: Natural gas run-up stuns analysts. Some see no reason for jump.

"Natural gas for January delivery surged 60.6 cents, or 9 percent, Friday to $7.221 per thousand cubic feet on the New York Mercantile Exchange.... Also Friday, light, sweet January crude oil futures settled $1.19 higher at $33.04 a barrel."

> Many years ago, when I was 19, and I was picking a career, I thought, "Geophysicists will be worth their weight in gold someday." I may yet get to see that day. Or not --

NYT: Natural Gas Prices Surge and Fingers are Pointing.

"Several traders and analysts suggested that trading strategies at large hedge funds and other financial firms were behind much of the swift run-up in prices."

O&GJ: Seismic industry showing early signs of long-term rebound.

"[Jefferies] forecast a modest pick-up in seismic activity during the next several quarters, but he also expects that overcapacity will constrain both pricing and profitability. Meanwhile, seismic spending remains at low levels both in absolute terms and as a percentage of total exploration capital expenditures."

MSNBC: Seismic firm seeks ticket to survey Big Thicket [near Beaumont.]

"Since Big Thicket's creation in 1974, the National Park Service has not opted to purchase any mineral rights for the park, the country's first federally protected preserve. The only case in which mineral rights have been considered for purchase is in the Big Cypress National Preserve in Florida."


NYT: Russian Oil Deal Seems to Be Heading for Divorce.

"Just 11 days ago, Yukos, Russia's largest oil producer, and Sibneft were at the altar for a marriage that would have created the world's fourth-largest private oil company.... Indeed, Mr. Abramovich has already been paid $3 billion. But the arrest in October of the former Yukos chief executive, Mikhail B. Khodorkovsky, threw a wrench into the second part of the deal between the two billionaires."

Rhonda Duey, Hart's E&P: Is spec seismic still a good idea?

"[S]pec has become a dirty word in much of the geophysical contracting community. Once oil companies became used to the lower prices, they were unwilling to pay full price for proprietary surveys. They were able to encourage bidding wars amongst contractors desperate for work, and the cost of high-quality data reached the bargain basement vicinity."

Business Wire: I/O Announces New Appointments to Management Team.


O&GJ: E&P spending surveys for 2004 will likely be 'far too pessimistic'.

"In a research note released Monday, Andrews estimated that exploration and development spending for 2004 would post close to 41% higher than a year earlier for the 29 companies in the analyst's universe of coverage."

NYT: If Geology Is Destiny, Then Russia Is in Trouble.

"Oil and gas now account for roughly 20 percent of Russia's economy, 55 percent of all its export earnings and 40 percent of its total tax revenues. Russia is the world's second largest oil exporter after Saudi Arabia, and its subsoil contains about 30 percent of the world's gas reserves. It already supplies 30 percent of Europe's gas needs."

Business Wire: Schlumberger Acquires Stake in Premier Russian Oilfield Services Company.

O&GJ: MMS receives bids for Eastern Gulf of Mexico Lease Sale 189.

"The US Department of the Interior's Minerals Management Service Gulf of Mexico Outer Continental Shelf Region reported Tuesday that it received 16 bids on 14 tracts from four companies for the Eastern gulf Lease Sale 189."


Houston Chronicle: CEO douses sale talk.

"Anadarko Petroleum Corp., the Houston oil company that had been the subject of takeover talk, has a new CEO who says the company isn't for sale."

Bloomberg Business News: Seitel wants auction to end dispute.

"Seitel, the Houston-based seismic data provider that has proposed becoming part of Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway, asked a bankruptcy judge Wednesday to hold an auction to end disputes over its value."

Press Release: Input/Output, Inc. Announces Proposed Offering of $50 Million Convertible Senior Notes.

"IO intends to use approximately $16 million of the net proceeds of the offering to repay existing indebtedness and to use the balance of the net proceeds for potential acquisitions."

Press Release: CGG Wins Offshore India Survey.

"CGG has assigned two of its vessels to acquire the survey in various configurations with streamer lengths of up to 6,000 m. The survey covers 6,432 sq km in 13 separate areas and is scheduled to last six months commencing in December 2003."

New Scientist: Alarm sirens lure whales into peril.

"Alarm sirens intended to scare highly endangered whales away from ships that often kill them may actually be more likely to cause a collision, suggests new research."


Press Release: CGG: Sercel Takes Control of Chinese Seismic Equipment Manufacturer Hebei Junfeng Geophysical Co. Ltd.

"Compagnie Generale de Geophysique announced ... that its subsidiary Sercel executed on November 26th an agreement for the acquisition of a 51% majority ownership in Hebei Junfeng Geophysical Co. Ltd., the main provider of geophones and seismic cables for the Chinese seismic market."

Miami Herald: Syria signs contract with American company to conduct seismic survey.

"The state-owned Syrian Oil Company signed a US$4 million contract Saturday for a U.S. oil company to survey its territorial waters. The contract with Veritas DGC ... follows approval by the U.S. Congress of a bill that would enable the U.S. president to impose economic sanctions on Syria." ...

"Syria is on the U.S. State Department's list of states that support terrorism."

Fort Worth Star-Telegram: Independent oil, gas operators would benefit from measure.

"Natural gas drillers in the Barnett Shale near Fort Worth were relieved that Congress is so far continuing a tax credit of $3 for every 6,000 cubic feet of gas produced from so-called ‘unique high-cost production’ zones."...

"Independents also would get an important break from a provision in the bill that allows them to write off the cost of 3-D seismic imaging, an expensive upfront production cost, within two years. During the last few years, 3-D seismic has advanced from an exotic tool used by a handful of majors to widespread use among smaller operators."


Published 11.25 --

WSJ: BP Won't Abandon Driving Force.'Beyond Petroleum' Slogan Doesn't Suggest CEO Browne Will Drop Hydrocarbons.

> Whew, I'm glad they cleared that up!

Walter Kessinger

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