Stale Thoughts and Broken Links

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


PR Newswire: Dawson Geophysical Reports Continued Growth.

"The Company's improved performance is due to increased demand for the Company's services. This increased demand is a result of increased exploration and development activity by domestic oil and gas companies due to higher oil and natural gas prices."

> And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the way it is supposed to work.

ESA (European Space Agency): Views from space help oil prospectors see deep underground.

"Seismic surveyor WesternGeco, has been working with ESA for the last three years to integrate satellite data into its working practices. What Earth Observation can provide is a detailed preview of a region's topography and geology, valuable for assessing areas that will produce the best and worst seismic quality ... far in advance of commencing the survey."

Ben White: Yucatan Diary Day 18.

"We are going out with our own rented boat to challenge the Ewing in the next few days."

> groan...


Houston Chronicle: Alaskans warm to oil drilling. As the salmon industry loses its luster, some who fought exploration now embrace it.

"State officials are preparing to sell exploration leases on 5 million acres on the Alaska Peninsula in October, but this time community leaders from the region are getting behind the effort."


Houston Chronicle: Schlumberger gets subpoena.

"Oil-field services company Schlumberger said Tuesday that it and its WesternGeco seismic joint venture have received grand jury subpoenas about possible visa fraud involving noncitizens working on vessels in the Gulf of Mexico."

Oil Online: Pioneer to spend $50 million in 2005 to develop core division in Alaska. Pioneer has third largest net acreage position in North Slope.


Houston Chronicle: Venezuela out to get better deals by rewriting its contracts for oil.

"All of the country's 33 operating service agreements signed in the 1990s and held by the likes of ChevronTexaco, Shell and Total are being called into question."

AP: Russia Said to Keep Selling Yukos Units.

"Citing an unidentified source at the production unit Samaraneftegaz , the Interfax agency said the unit may be sold off in the same way as Yukos' giant Yuganskneftegaz unit -- which was auctioned off last month in a sale that was widely criticized as being rigged.

"Samaraneftegaz pumps 35 percent to 40 percent of Yukos' remaining output, Yukos spokesman Alexander Shadrin said."

Business Wire: Veritas DGC and Kerr-McGee Announce Central North Sea Agreement.

"Under the terms of the agreement, which remain confidential and are conditional upon certain events including governmental and regulatory approvals, Kerr-McGee will assume a 100% stake in the block, acquired by Veritas as a Promote License in the UKCS 21st Offshore Round."

Edubourse, France: Schlumberger Announces Fourth Quarter 2004 Results.

"Schlumberger Chairman and CEO Andrew Gould commented, ‘... WesternGeco delivered excellent results driven by further uptake of Q-Technology and increased multiclient library sales. The marine seismic market began to tighten with vessel utilization rising and pricing increasing.’"


Associated Press: U.S. ship begins sound wave research off Yucatan.

"The project includes marine seismologists from the University of Texas Institute of Geophysics, the Geophysics Institute at Mexico's Autonomous National University and Cambridge and London universities. They are using the underwater seismic pulses to learn more about the Chicxulub Crater, a depression measuring about 120 miles in diameter and centered just outside the port of Progreso, 190 miles west of Cancun."

> I should point out that when the Ewing tried this same experiment one year ago, they were forced to abandon the project --

Nature: Push to protect whales leaves seafloor research high and dry. [April 2004]

> ... so apparently they've learned some important lessons in permitting and PR. Here's a statement on the Lamont Doherty web site --

Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory News: Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory Contributes Vital Research for a Strong International Environmental Agenda and a Sustainable Global Future.

"The Maurice Ewing, owned by the National Science Foundation and operated by the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (L-DEO), is the only research vessel devoted to obtaining images of the deep earth for fundamental earth science research. These images provide information about earth's active processes, such as the recent earthquake in the Indian Ocean and subsequent tsunami. Only by mapping in and under the ocean can improvements be made in our ability to define the risks associated with major earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes, landslides and climate change."

> For the record, my own position is that people should always understand and take all reasonable measures to ameliorate any harmful side effects of their activities on the environment. As exploration seismologists, we have a particular responsibility to monitor and limit any damaged caused by seismic surveying.

> After all, we are earth scientists, and that implies a concern and a moral responsibility to care for the earth.

> But clearly we have to establish a treshhold for harm. Anyone who enjoys the benefits of our modern petroleum-fueled world and pretends that they haven't implicitly acquiesced to this cost-benefit analysis is fundamentally dishonest.


O&GJ: MMS sees larger gulf, Atlantic gas resource.

"The interim estimate is that all federal offshore areas contain a mean 76 billion bbl and 406.1 tcf of undiscovered, technically recoverable oil and gas.... The interim totals take into account 2 billion bbl of oil and 8 tcf of gas that were discovered and moved to the reserves category since 2000."

> This whole discussion of "resource estimates" got me wondering about domestic _reserves_ and production. I dug through the MMS site and found this really wonderful page with all kinds of statistics:

MMS: Offshore Stats & Facts.

> Remember, "federal offshore" does not equal "domestic." But it's worth noting that the annual gas discovery rate implied in the O&GJ report (approx. 2 tcf/year) doesn't come close to replacing production. Not to mention the rapidly increasing domestic demand for gas.

> Oil discovery at least seems to be keeping pace with production, probably thanks to the deep offshore.

Speaking of MMS, I haven't seen any reviews on this report --

MMS: Sperm Whale Seismic Study in the Gulf of Mexico, Annual Report: Year 2.

"As an interim report, most of the information is concerned with methods and field measurements accomplished during the second year. Any results discussed are preliminary and not peer-reviewed.... Three controlled exposure experiments where four sperm whales with digital tags (recording movement and received sound levels) were exposed to an air-gun source were accomplished."

> Apparently you have to order it on CD-ROM to access the full report.

MacNN: GeoCenter deploys 100 node Xserve G5 cluster.

"GeoCenter has deployed a new 100 node Xserve G5 cluster that will be used for running distributed processing applications from GeoCenter's SeisUP seismic processing system."

Oil Online: Schlumberger introduces new workflow capabilities to integrate seismic to simulation activities.


O&GJ: High oil-service profitability seen.

"... Stephen D. Gengaro, Jefferies oil service analyst, said in a Jan. 17 research note ... ‘We are currently projecting 2005 upstream capital spending to rise between 8-12% from solid 2004 levels.’" ...

"Seismic activity and prices also are improving, Gengaro said."

Oil Online: Veritas DGC reports vessel incident.

"Veritas DGC Inc. has reported that on the evening of January 18, 2004, its seismic vessel Veritas Viking experienced engine failure while acquiring multi-client seismic data in the Gulf of Mexico.... As a result of the lost propulsion, her trailing equipment became tangled and has, at least in part, lost flotation."

Houston Business Journal: Veritas investigates vessel mishap.

"Veritas DGC Inc. is looking into what caused smoke to fill the engine room of one of its seismic vessels that was acquiring multiclient seismic data in the Gulf of Mexico. The Veritas Viking lost propulsion Tuesday after the vessels' emergency systems shut down the engines because of the smoke."

Ben White: Yucatan Diary Day 11.

"A spokesperson for the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (owners of the Ewing) was quoted in one of the local papers as saying that this particular experiment is not a big deal, that they have done fifty like it; and that the only difference this time is that they are working under the glare of those ngoīs. Thatīs us, folks. Stand up and take a bow. (For those of you who havenīt picked up on this acronym-speak, an ngo is a non-governmental organization.) He also said that the only way he can see the tests being stopped now is if some Mexican politician picks up the drumbeat from the local newspapers. Yup."


A review of Unocal's assets --

LA Times: Unocal Eyed for Takeover.

"Among those taking a close look at Unocal are China National Offshore Oil Corp., a state-controlled operator known as CNOOC, and Royal Dutch/Shell Group, according to published reports."

And speaking of Shell --

Houston Chronicle: Shell bent on hiring engineers.

"Royal Dutch-Shell Group of Companies is hiring 1,000 engineers and technical staff to help get its exploration and production operations back on track after a year of reserve write-downs that shocked shareholders and eviscerated the energy giant's asset base."

> It would be nice if someone could give more specific numbers as to how many of these "engineers" are really g&g.

Oil Online: BP begins production at Mad Dog in deepwater Gulf of Mexico.

"Located in approximately 4,500 feet of water in Green Canyon Block 826, Mad Dog production began on Jan. 13, and will increase over the next year as additional wells are completed and brought online. The facility is designed to process approximately 100,000 barrels of oil and 60 million standard cubic feet of gas per day."

AP: Pemex Produced 3.38M Barrels a Day in 2004.

"This year, Congress raised the budget ... for the state oil company to turn out 3.44 million barrels a day of crude this year, and export 1.95 million barrels daily."


Houston Chronicle: Drilling industry humming. With rising day rates, some offshore derricks are under construction.

"With exploration going strong, oil and gas companies are spending big bucks to hire drilling rigs, in some cases over $200,000 a day, and those rates are rising rapidly. Just in the last six months, day rates have zoomed for drilling rigs, particularly in the Gulf of Mexico, in some cases roughly doubling."

Petroleum News: Conoco ramps up winter exploration. NORTH SLOPE: Company builds ice roads, gets started on plans for 4 test wells.

"Of the 500 square miles of 3-D seismic planned, about 300 square miles will be exploration and about 200 square miles are going to be within the Kuparuk field.... The program south of Kuparuk and Prudhoe will be shot in partnership with Pioneer Natural Resources, [Conoco Alaska vice president for exploration and land Rick] Mott said.

"Conoco is also looking at shooting 3-D seismic in Cook Inlet, Mott said. That offshore acquisition will be subject to weather, he said, but about 40 square miles will probably be acquired."


This is kind of topical in light of all the reserve write-downs last year. Tomorrow, Jeff Ogilvie, now at Noble, is giving a talk on using seismic data for classifying proven resources.

See you there.

Business Wire: Petroleum Geo-Services Reports Its [Interpretation] Results to Hyperdynamics Corp.

"Tom Ziegler, head of MultiClient New Ventures, EAME (Europe, Africa and Middle East) for PGS Marine Geophysical, stated that, ‘PGS is very pleased to have been able to work with Hyperdynamics on their offshore West African project.’"


Houston Chronicle: A thirsty China.

"Forty percent of China's oil imports come from Iran, where U.S. sanctions keep American companies from participating. An additional 7 percent comes from civil-war ravaged Sudan."

In the "here we go again" department --

Associated Press: Research may threaten marine life.

"Scientists working off the Yucatan Peninsula are preparing to use sound waves to search for information about an asteroid that may have wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. But environmental activists are trying to shut the project down, saying the technology could harm whales, sea turtles and several varieties of fish that provide a livelihood for thousands of Mexicans along the Gulf coast. "

> Pity the poor Maurice Ewing. As an academic research vessel, it seems to attract a lot of this kind of attention, way more than its share if you compare it to the marine seismic industry.

> Here's the blog of the idiot who's trying to flame this into a press event --

Ben White: Yucatan Diary -- Day 1.

"Here come scientists from around the world in a ship owned by Columbia University ... to make sounds so loud that they can penetrate many miles down into the earth's crust. Never mind the fear people have here that this kind of repetitive shock waves could trigger another horrific earthquake across this delicate peninsula of porous rock honeycombed with caves."

> I can't bring myself to address this rubbish, so I'm just going to let it pass without further comment.

Houston Chronicle: Seismic firm says securities suit filed.

"Input-Output ... said Thursday that a class-action type lawsuit had been filed against it.... This follows the Jan. 4 announcement that its fourth-quarter results would be below the low end of its guidance."

FindLaw's Writ: Unocal Announces It Will Settle A Human Rights Suit. What Is the Real Story Behind Its Decision?

"Last month, Unocal announced that it had agreed, in principle, to settle a long-standing suit that had been brought against it by human rights groups on account of its efforts to build a pipeline in Myanmar." ...

"... Unocal blinked, here, but the plaintiffs blinked too. And both, as I have explained, had good reason to blink."


Al Jazeera: The beginning of the end for oil.

"Greg Greene made ‘The End of Suburbia’ with editor Barry Sliverthorn, about the way the so-called American dream will be affected by an end to cheap energy."

> What a doomsayer!

> I hope that the end of the age of oil, and of natural gas, will come when they are finally displaced by technologies that can harness other energy sources more cheaply -- maybe ten times more cheaply.

> In the meantime, if you want to see the end of poverty and world hunger, help figure out how we can make energy cheaper! (This includes improved energy efficiency [i.e. conservation], of course.)

This Is London: BP blow as sales lag surge in price of crude. (What?)

"BP admitted today that it missed production targets in 2004 and failed to crank up sales as fast as the booming oil price. The world's second-largest oil major also warned that profits for the year -- expected to be another record at the underlying level -- will be hit by more than Ģ1bn of exceptional charges, a range of increased operating costs including the clean-up after Hurricane Ivan, and a one-third increase in debt. "


LA Times: Chinese Firm Is Said to Be Eyeing Unocal.

WSJ (subscription): Asian Rivals Put Pressure On Western Energy Giants.

"... the Unocal idea indicates that China may have learned from Japan's mistakes. Japan invested heavily in exploration; China is more focused on buying existing, producing assets. And while those fields don't come close to meeting China's demand, they give its oil companies an opportunity to pick up the technical expertise they need to become more formidable competitors to Western rivals in the years ahead. India, too, is going for existing oil and natural-gas assets abroad."

Financial Times: Hurricane Ivan to cost Chevron $175m in Q4.

"ChevronTexaco estimated that Hurricane Ivan would cost the US oil and gas group about $175m in the fourth quarter as it continued to repair facilities in the aftermath of last September's storms in the Gulf of Mexico."

AP: Crude Oil Prices Surge Above $47 a Barrel.

Business Wire: Benthos Receives Order of Approximately $1 Million for GeoPoint Seismic Hydrophones.

"Benthos, Inc. announced today that it has received an order worth approximately $1 million for its GeoPoint(TM) Export geophysical hydrophones. A GeoPoint hydrophone is an underwater microphone that is slightly larger than a AA battery and is used by geophysicists to locate oil and gas deposits beneath the ocean floor."


PR Newswire: CGG Wins Land Acquisition Survey in Indonesia.

"With the addition of this new contract, and not including Argas operations, CGG's land acquisition backlog at the beginning of 2005 stands at a total of 115 million US dollars, representing ten months of activity in 2005."

I'm surprised by this --

Houston Chronicle: The struggle for the star. Two gasoline giants compete in bringing back the Texaco icon.

"ChevronTexaco Products Co. in the last six months added 1,050 locations to its network in Texas and 12 Southern and Eastern states. Now it is going after dealer locations in a string of Western states."

> I thought CT was just going to let the Texaco brand die.


Associated Press: Input/Output Sees 4Q Far Below Guidance.

"Input/Output Inc., a provider of seismic imaging technology, on Tuesday said its fourth-quarter results will be significantly below its previously issued guidance after two GXT data library sales did not materialize."

O&GJ: Unocal reports GOM deepwater well results.

"Unocal Corp. has ended drilling operations at its prospect on Mississippi Canyon Block 941 in deepwater Gulf of Mexico where its Sequoia well, drilled to 29,100 ft TD, was completed as a dry hole."


A feature on Arthur Weglein's research at UH --

Rhonda Duey, Hart's E&P: Group therapy for seismic data. What are the data really trying to tell us? It's simple -- just ask them.

"What if, Weglein proposes, the data processor gives the data an idea, his or her opinion, of what the signal might have gone through on the way down and the way back up, and then lets the data ‘talk’ amongst themselves to determine the accuracy of that estimate? ... ‘If the processor's input about those experiences has been far from adequate, the data will start to talk, and the algorithm will get more complicated (and more expensive). The idea is to allow all of the primary reflections from all reflectors in the data to collectively express their view on the processor's treatment of each of the members in their group, and when they decide that one of their members needs help, they collectively assist in achieving the processing objective of target location and identification, without knowing or requiring the traditional actual downgoing and upgoing experience of any event.’"

Walter Kessinger

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