Stale Thoughts and Broken Links

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


Reuters: S&P affirms Veritas DGC's ratings.

"The negative outlook on Veritas reflects Standard & Poor's negative short- to medium-term view of the seismic services industry and its participants, including Veritas, and the possibility of negative rating actions if competitive pressures become more extreme."

Press Release: Core Lab Earns $0.24 Per Share on Record Q4 2003 Revenues. Record Cash from Operating Activities Exceeds $61,000,000.

"For the quarter, Reservoir Management posted operational losses of $328,000 on $11,751,000 in revenue. The Company remains disappointed in the performance of its Reservoir Management operations, especially specialized geophysical and seismic-related services. Operations providing these specialized services continued to generate losses that depressed the overall Company operating margins. Core is currently evaluating options to improve the profitability and cash flow from these operations, including downsizing the scope of or eliminating these services, reducing employee costs, transferring work to the most efficient offices, or selling the business to outside parties."

NYT: Saudis Debate Expert in U.S. On Outlook For Their Oil.

Barbara Ferguson, Arab News: The Saudi Arabian Oil Miracle -- Can It Continue to Grow?

"Focusing on Saudi Arabia, [Matthew Simmons, CEO of Simmons and Co. International] said all of its super giant oil fields were now ‘extremely mature.’ Its five super giant oil fields were discovered between 1940 and 1965, and these produced approximately 90 percent of all Saudi oil. Twenty percent of the world¹s oil supply comes from 14 fields averaging almost 60 years since discovery, he said." ...

"Aramco plans to maintain a production capacity of 10 million barrels a day. [Nansen Saleri, Aramco¹s manager of reservoir management] said it has the ‘capacity and commitment to continue as a cost effective global oil supplier with sustained production levels at 10, 12 and even 15 million barrels per day, until well beyond 2054.’"

Houston Chronicle: President is chosen at Exxon.

"Exxon Mobil Corp. on Thursday named executive Rex Tillerson as president, likely signaling he's the company's successor to Lee Raymond, its chairman and chief executive."


Houston Chronicle: ChevronTexaco buys tower Enron built.

"The building at 1500 Louisiana will be occupied by about 3,700 employees by the end of the year, White said, including 500 whose jobs are being transferred here from New Orleans, Midland and San Ramon, Calif.

"The move will give downtown a ‘shot in the arm,’ White said."

Houston Chronicle: Seismic equipment maker will acquire software firm.

"Input/Output announced Tuesday that it is acquiring Concept Systems of Edinburgh for $36 million in cash and 1.68 million shares of common stock.... [Concept Systems'] software works as the ‘glue’ that interconnects all elements of the seismic workflow from survey design and planning through acquisition and into processing"


Bloomberg News Service: Oil giant beefs up its reserves.

"ConocoPhillips, the third-largest U.S. oil company, said Monday it added the equivalent of 650 million barrels of oil to reserves last year as acquisitions and drilling replaced 133 percent of production." ...

"The ConocoPhillips statement came after Royal Dutch/Shell Group cut its assessment of reserves last month by 20 percent.... Several other producers, including El Paso Corp. and Canada's Nexen, followed Shell in cutting their estimates of reserves." ...

"Exxon Mobil said last week it added the equivalent of 1.7 billion barrels of oil to its reserves last year."

Houston Chronicle: Plains Resources is going private in buyout.

"The executives of Plains Resources are teaming with Seattle billionaire Paul Allen to buy out and take private the midstream energy company for about $395 million in cash and the assumption of $50 million in debt."


AP: El Paso Trims Proven Reserves 41 Pct.

"El Paso confirmed late on Tuesday it hired law firm Haynes & Boone to examine the cause of the $1 billion write-down charge. Burdened by about $24 billion in consolidated debt at the end of the third quarter, El Paso has struggled to return to health after failed ventures in the merchant electricity and telecoms businesses in recent years." ...

"El Paso's energy production is focused on natural gas, which generated about five times the revenue of the company's oil output for the first nine months of 2003. Production levels declined by 32 percent during that period, with drilling successes in about only one in five deep shelf wells."

Houston Chronicle: U.S. regulators start formal inquiry at Shell.

"The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission had been making an informal inquiry into Shell's surprise announcement last month that it was downgrading 20 percent of its proven reserves and reclassifying them into less certain, unproven categories. The SEC has now decided to ramp up its inquiry and hold a formal investigation, both Shell and the SEC said."

Press Release: TGS-NOPEC Announces New 2D in Far East Russia's Sea of Okhotsk.

"TGS-NOPEC Geophysical Company ... announced today that it will acquire a new multi-client 2D seismic survey north and east of Sakhalin Island in the Sea of Okhotsk."

Press Release: TGS-NOPEC - 4th Quarter & Full Year 2003 Results.

"Operating Profit (EBIT) was USD 13,6 million, 30% of Net Revenues and was 49% up from USD 9,1 million in Q4 2002."

Press Release: Seitel Appoints Randall D. Stilley as New CEO.

"Seitel, Inc. [Wednesday] announced that it has hired Randall D. Stilley as the Company's new CEO and President, effective immediately."


O&GJ: Surveyed E&P firms maintain bullish outlook for oil, gas prices.

"In a recent industry brief, Houston-based RJA analyst J. Marshall Adkins said, ‘Overall, the general attitude of most E&P companies was very positive with most expecting higher commodity prices and bigger capital spending increases than what have been publicly budgeted.’"

> There are so many exploration stories in the news today that I can't even scan through all of them.

O&GJ: MMS issues final notice of central gulf Lease Sale 190.

"The New Orleans office of the Minerals Management Service has issued its final notice of Sale 190 -- to be held Mar. 17 -- covering the sale of oil and gas leases incorporating a total of 4,324 blocks in the Central Planning Area in the Gulf of Mexico off Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama."

> Here's the MMS page on the lease sale --

Central Gulf of Mexico Lease Sale 190 Information.

BBC: Yukos offers share swap for chief.

"Key shareholders of Russian oil firm Yukos have offered their stakes to the state in return for the release of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, its former chief."

WSJ (subscription): Natural-Gas Costs Hurt U.S. Firms.

"The root of higher natural-gas prices is a federal policy that promotes use of the relatively cleaner-burning fuel without providing incentives or means for natural-gas companies to increase production. So while demand soared in recent years, especially from a raft of new gas-fired power plants, producers have struggled with supply. Most North American gas fields are years past their prime, and environmental restrictions prevent drilling on many of the most promising areas."

> Believe it or not, that was *not* from the editorial page.


Houston Chronicle: High hopes for deep well fall short. 25,756-foot project a dry hole for Shell.

"The well that some thought would yield the first ultra-deep discovery on the continental shelf has turned out to be a dry hole. The Shark wildcat well drilled by Shell Exploration and Production Co. and Nexen found no commercial quantities of hydrocarbons, both companies said.

"There had been speculation it would penetrate a Miocene age structure similar to those in deep water, yielding 2 trillion cubic feet or more of natural gas.... Shark was drilled to a depth of 25,756 feet, making it the deepest ever for the Gulf of Mexico shelf, said a spokeswoman for Shell Exploration and Production in New Orleans, which owns 60 percent and is the operator."

Houston Business Journal: LNG is the new oil, experts say.

"Natural gas will likely overtake oil as the No. 1 fuel globally by 2025, Malcolm Brinded, CEO of Shell Gas & Power, told conference attendees."

Press Release: Baker Hughes Announces Fourth Quarter and Year End Results.

"Michael E. Wiley, Baker Hughes chairman and chief executive officer, said, ‘Baker Hughes had a solid fourth quarter, though both the North Sea and Gulf of Mexico activity levels were disappointing. Our sequential improvement is due in part to our cost reductions and resource redeployment from these regions to more active growth areas.’" Oil and Whales Don't Mix: Saving Scarce Gray Whales from Oil Drilling.

"... environmental activists are mobilizing their members to voice reservations about a huge oil and gas project near Russia's Far Eastern Sakhalin Island that they say threatens the last remaining Western Pacific Gray Whales."

Houston Business Journal: Plains Exploration to buy Nuevo Energy for $594M.


AFP: OPEC springs surprise output cut for April 1.

"Zanganeh acknowledged that OPEC was interested in keeping oil prices at the upper end of the cartel's official price band of 22-28 dollars for a reference basket of crudes. The production cut was decided in order "to keep in the upper part of the band", which appears in fact to be shifting higher to compensate for a fall in the value of the dollar, the currency used in oil sales."

O&GJ: Marathon Sets $2.26 Billion Capital and Exploration Expenditure Budget For 2004.

"Marathon's 2004 worldwide exploration and exploitation budget of $302 million includes plans to drill 11 significant exploration wells in Angola, Equatorial Guinea, Norway, the Gulf of Mexico and Nova Scotia. Exploitation activities will focus on projects primarily in the United States."

Press Release: Input/Output Announces Filing of Registration Statement Relating To Convertible Notes.


Houston Chronicle: Seitel plan can go to creditors for OK.

"Houston-based Seitel and its shareholders agreed on a plan to rescue the company last month, canceling a proposal to turn the business over to Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway."

The Moscow Times: State Wants $1Bln for an Exxon Field.

"Energy Minister Igor Yusufov said Wednesday that the government wants up to $1 billion for a license to explore and develop one of the three Sakhalin-3 blocs that a consortium led by ExxonMobil won in a tender a decade ago."

Trinidad and Tobago's Newsday: bpTT plans to invest US$1.9B in exploration.

"... including ... ground-breaking investments such as the 4-D seismic programme." ...

"The company's allocated expense for seismic activity, he said, was approximately (US)$280 million over the next five years, of which (US)$26.5 million will be spent in 2004."

Sydney Morning Herald: Come'n listen to a story 'bout an Aussie named Jed.

"A $35 million project by Geoscience Australia will transfer 40 years of seismic measurements taken throughout the country to pocket-sized digital cartridges." ...

"In Australia, seismic contractors and oil companies have to provide their data to the Government three years after collection. The data sharing saves exploration companies having to order new and costly seismic surveys of areas already examined."


A must-read article in today's Journal --

WSJ (subscription): In Quest for Energy Security, U.S. Makes New Bet: on Democracy. It No Longer Places Stability Above All Else in Mideast, As Move on Iraq Indicates.

"Instead of vesting hopes of stability in authoritarian leaders, Washington now seeks wrenching change by prying open closed political systems. No Gulf producer is a democracy. Of the world's known oil reserves, only 9% is situated in countries rated ‘free’ by the U.S. research group Freedom House." ...

"Now president of a think tank called the National Defense Council Foundation, Mr. Copulos has assessed hidden economic and military costs of imported oil. If military spending directly related to protecting oil supplies and other costs were reflected at the pump, he figures, gasoline would cost $5.28 a gallon in the U.S."

LA Times: U.S., China Are on Collision Course Over Oil.

"Without a comprehensive strategy designed to prevent China from becoming an oil consumer on a par with the U.S., a superpower collision is in the cards. The good news is that we are still in a position to halt China's slide into total dependency."


O&GJ: Growing US-Venezuelan tensions trigger concern over crude supply.

"... some US officials still worry that unless the US at least threatens to change its trading relationship with Venezuela, Chávez may become increasingly emboldened in pursing an agenda the US finds subversive to US interests." ...

"Not everyone in the administration, however, views the threat of sanctions or other punitive trade actions as a productive policy tool.... Further, some administration officials argue that trying to impose sanctions on a country such as Venezuela may seem inconsistent, considering that the White House is at least mulling the possibility that US companies may be allowed to make investments in two other oil-rich and far more politically problematic countries -- Iran and Libya."

The Moscow Times: '93 Tender Won by Exxon Annulled.

"Raising new fears about foreign investor rights, the government on Thursday canceled the results of a 1993 tender for the Sakhalin-3 gas and oil project that was won by a consortium led by the world's largest oil company, ExxonMobil."

Business Wire: OYO Geospace Reports Fiscal 2004 First Quarter Results.

"‘This quarter's strong performance was anchored by our seismic reservoir product lines,’ said Gary D. Owens, OYO Geospace's chairman, president and CEO.... ‘The market for the seismic reservoir product line is still in its early stages of development. Sales of these products will continue to be erratic until the market evolves further.’"

Associated Press: Sonar Test Sparks Debate on Whales.

"Researchers at Scientific Solutions Inc., the New Hampshire firm that developed the system, say the sonar appears to work, detecting marine mammals more reliably than other methods without causing the whales to break away from their migratory path or otherwise show signs of injury."

Walter Kessinger

Walter's Work Archive Walter's Home Page