Stale Thoughts and Broken Links

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


WHOI: Cumulative Sperm Whale Bone Damage and the Bends.

"In a study published in the December 24, 2004 issue of the journal Science, Michael Moore and Greg Early at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) have documented bone lesions in the rib and chevron bones of sperm whales, most likely caused by tissue damage from nitrogen bubbles that form when the animals rise to the surface. The WHOI biologists found that the lesions grow in severity with age, and are found in animals from the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans. The lesions were found in animals that died up to 111 years ago, and there appears to be no increase in the lesion prevalence since the oceans were industrialized."

> So whales are susceptible to the bends, and accumulate scar damage due to natural ware-and-tear over the course of their lives. The significance of this finding is that until now, it was generally assumed that whales were somehow immune to the bends.

> This might actually lend credence to a speculative link between whale injury and human activities. If something like loud military sonar is scaring whales into surfacing too quickly, the resulting injury to the whale could conceivably be quite serious.

NYT: The Strange Yukos Sale.

"Baikal picked up Yuganskneftegaz for only $500 million more than the starting price of $8.87 billion, which was already obscenely low for a company that pumps 11 percent of Russia's oil.

"It hardly came as a surprise when Baikal was swiftly bought by Rosneft, a state-owned Russian oil company."

AP: Saudi Reserves May Top 461 Billion Barrels.

"Saudi Arabia's oil reserves, the world's largest, could increase by almost 77 percent to top 461 billion barrels in a few years, the nation's oil minister said Sunday."


Houston Chronicle: Halliburton CEO thrust into spotlight.

"Perhaps more than any other Houston CEO, Halliburton Co.'s Dave Lesar found himself thrust into the middle of the nation's top business stories in 2004."

> This is a surprisingly short write-up for a story with so many different angles.


Rigzone: Abbeville Delivers Modules for Shell's Bonga Project.

"Abbeville Offshore Quarters of Abbeville, Louisiana is in the final stages of completing a 240 person modular quarters for Shell's Bonga deepwater development project offshore of Nigeria in West Africa."

> My brother just spent a few weeks in Mobile working on this. It looks like it was a really cool project, but the truth is, I really wouldn't want to call this ship home for a period of weeks or months, as nice as it might be.

> Of course, if my alternative was to go onshore in Nigeria for weekly R&R, I'd probably rather spend my entire stay on the ship.

Small Times: Colibrys aquires Applied MEMS from I/O.

"Under the transaction, Input/Output will maintain a minority equity interest in the combined company and will hold a seat on its board. In addition, Input/Output will retain ownership of all existing Applied MEMS intellectual property and will license it to Colibrys royalty-free. Colibrys will be the primary supplier of MEMS accelerometers to Input/Output for its seismic monitoring applications."

PR Newswire: PGS ADS Starts Trading on the NYSE.


Houston Chronicle: El Paso posts quarterly loss.

"For the nine months that ended Sept. 30, the company's natural gas production is down 30 percent compared to 2003 because of ‘normal production declines, asset sales and disappointing drilling results.’"


AP: Bin Laden Tape Urges Stopping Oil to U.S.

"‘Go on and try to prevent them from getting oil,’ the speaker said. ‘Concentrate your operations on that, especially in Iraq and the Gulf.’ It was believed to be the first time a purported bin Laden tape in effect called for attacks on the oil industry."

AP: Chinese man sentenced for Silicon Valley fraud.

"3DGeo hired Shan as a contractor in April 2002, under an agreement with one of its customers, PetroChina, a Chinese state-owned oil company. PetroChina's DaQing Oil division employed Shan and arranged for him to spend time in California to get training on 3DGeo's software.

"But in September 2002, another 3DGeo employee said his computer had been tampered with, triggering an investigation by the FBI's Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property Unit of the United States Attorney's Office. According to federal attorneys, Shan copied $400,000 to $1 million worth of 3DGeo's proprietary source code for seismic imaging onto the other employee's computer, then onto his own laptop and intended to steal the intellectual property.

"FBI agents arrested on Shan Sept. 17, 2002, as he attempted to board a flight to China."

BBC: Yukos unit fetches $9bn at auction.

"A little-known Russian company has bought the main production unit of oil giant Yukos at auction in Moscow. Baikal Finance Group outbid favourite Gazprom, the state-controlled gas monopoly, to buy Yuganskneftegas."


AP: Russia Rejects U.S. Injunction Over Yukos.

"Russia is vowing to proceed with an auction of oil giant Yukos' key production subsidiary, saying a U.S. court ban is irrelevant. But the expected winner of Sunday's auction, the state-run Russian gas company Gazprom, may not be able to pay after a consortium of Western banks reportedly put on hold billions of dollars in credit it needs to fund its bid."


Forbes: Veritas DGC Swings to 2Q Profit.

"Revenue rose 28 percent to $133.5 million from $104.4 million. Veritas said multi-client revenue increased 26 percent to $50 million and that contract revenue rose 29 percent, boosted by an increase in marine contract work."

PR Newswire: Seitel Appoints Robert Monson as CEO.

"Mr. Monson has 20 years of experience in the oil and gas industry, including more than four years in the international seismic industry."

Quite the headline for a press release --

PR Newswire: Seismic Shock Shakes World Oil Industry.

"Applied Seismic Research Corporation (ASR) today announced the approval of the first new development in oil recovery since the 1970s: Hydro-Impact Technology (HIT). The new technology ... uses seismic wave stimulation technology to shake loose oil trapped in existing wells."


WSJ (subscription): Yukos Files for Chapter 11 In U.S., Tries to Stop Auction.

"The embattled Yukos oil company has filed for bankruptcy protection in the U.S., and appealed for a temporary restraining order and injunction against the auction of its main production unit that is scheduled for Sunday -- dramatically challenging the Russian government to enter arbitration proceedings.

"Yukos filed for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 11 in Houston on Tuesday, according to a company statement."


Houston Chronicle: Latest buried treasure is in storage. Tapped wells being turned into underground tanks, as demand grows near cities.

"In his Galleria-area office, John Hopper scans a colorful three-dimensional seismic image of an ancient ocean reef buried thousands of feet beneath rural New York. The bright spots show where a wildcatter would sink oil and gas wells. But the president of Falcon Gas Storage has another motive for paying $3 million for seismic images of these underground formations: He wants to pump natural gas back into the ground."

Reuters: World Oil Demand Growth to Slow -- IEA.

"[IEA] put growth in 2005 at 1.7 percent, down from 3.3 percent or 2.63 million bpd this year when China led the steepest increase in world oil demand since 1976. World growth in 2003 was 1.8 million bpd or 2.3 percent."

Press Release: Dawson Geophysical Company Files Registration Statement for Proposed Offering of Common Stock.


O.K., SEG members, get out your membership number and login --

The Leading Edge: SEGšs 2004 Member Compensation Survey.

"In the U.S., management, seismic and log interpretation (exploration) and seismic and log interpretation (exploitation) ranked highest. As in Canada, those U.S. members working in seismic processing had the lowest average salaries."

Houston Business Journal: OYO Geospace stock up on profit news.

"‘Fiscal year 2004 saw an improved demand for our seismic exploration and reservoir monitoring products, especially in our foreign markets,’ ... said Gary D. Owens, OYO Geospace's chairman, president and CEO, in the statement."

Business Week: Drilling With The Big Boys. At ConocoPhillips, CEO Mulva is creating a truly integrated global oil giant.

"Mulva joined Phillips in 1973 and rose through the finance ranks. His selection as CEO in '99 was a bit of a surprise; he was considered a dark horse in a company that normally favored execs from exploration for the top post."


Frederick P. Leuffer, National Review: The Oil Bubble II. Listen for the pop.

"The recent retreat in oil prices reflects only a small pinhole in the oil bubble. Fundamentally, oil prices should be in the high $20-a-barrel range today, based on supply/demand economics and current inventory levels. Eventually, the barrel price should decline to the low $20s as oil inventories continue to build. The oil price still reflects about $15 a barrel of speculation."

> Ouch! This bearish opinion piece also contains the following great statistic --

"The importance of the U.S. gasoline market cannot be overstated given its size. Third-quarter gasoline demand was 9.2 million barrels a day. Demand for this one product matches the consumption of all petroleum products in China, India, and all of Eastern Europe combined."


Business Week: Pemex May Be Turning From Gusher To Black Hole. Mexico's oil giant forks over so much money to the state that it's deeply in debt, and a price drop could set off a crisis.

"With the federal government draining its coffers, Pemex doesn't have enough money to invest in serious exploration. So while Mexico's oil production has risen 17.2% since 1999, to 3.4 million barrels a day, proven reserves have plunged by nearly 50%, to 16 billion bbl., over the same period."


Houston Chronicle: Halliburton shakes up its top ranks. Head of KBR unit advances to No. 2 post.

"Andrew Lane, 45, was named as chief operating officer and executive vice president, filling a position that had been vacant, answering to Chief Executive Dave Lesar, 51.

"Gone is John Gibson, 47, who said he was leaving his position as Halliburton's Energy Services Group CEO and will be looking for a leadership role at another company."

> I met Gibson once about ten years ago when he was with Chevron. He already seemed like good CEO material back then.


O&GJ: Chesapeake drilling for gas with focus on US Midcontinent.

"[Chesapeake Chairman and CEO Aubrey K. McClendon:] ‘It's really pretty basic, it seems to us: For 20 years the US and the world have over-invested in everything that consumes energy and under-invested in everything that makes or moves energy. We believe there is a rebalancing under way in which our industry's long-suffering shareholders are going to greatly benefit, while energy consumers will be giving back some or all of their low-cost energy savings they have enjoyed during the past 20 years.’"

Houston Business Journal: Kerr-McGee makes deal with BP.

"Houston-based Kerr-McGee Oil & Gas Corp. plans to acquire BP's 37.5 percent working interest in the Blind Faith discovery in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico in exchange for Kerr-McGee's interests in various oil and gas assets in the Arkoma basin of Southeast Oklahoma."

O&GJ: MMS: Western GOM Sale 192 nets nearly $170 million in high bids.

"Amerada Hess Corp., winning 56 leases for a total of $13 million, led the five companies with the highest number of accepted high bids. BP Exploration & Production snapped up 47 leases for a total of $28 million. Petrobras America Inc. took 36 parcels for $10.5 million; a subsidiary of Devon Energy Corp. won 26 blocks for $11.5 million; and Kerr-McGee landed 24 leases for $14 million total."

Walter Kessinger

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