Stale Thoughts and Broken Links

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


Cribbing from the Sunday paper --

AP: World's largest floating oil platform set to drill in Gulf of Mexico.

"Thunder Horse is the size of four football fields and is larger than four aircraft carriers.... Tethered by steel cables fastened to 16 deep pilings, Thunder Horse will float a mile above a 54 square-mile oil field of the same name." ...

"The [MMS] estimates there's enough oil under the Gulf for 55 more Thunder Horse-sized fields.'

> Wait a minute. Does the MMS estimate that there are 55 more billion-BOE fields undiscovered in the Gulf, or that there's a total of 55 BBOE undiscovered oil and gas. There's a big difference.

Bloomberg News: Oil firms tell Mexico no thanks. Contracts offered in deep-water Gulf are not profitable, top companies say.

"The contracts ‘do not recognize the high cost and high risk of deep water and so really don't provide us with the ability to do that,’ said Tim Cejka, president of Irving-based Exxon Mobil's exploration unit, in an interview this week at a conference in Veracruz, Mexico."


Houston Chronicle: SEC policy on booking reserves is antiquated and harmful, some oil and gas experts think.

"The report, funded in large part by a group of heavyweight oil companies, said oil and gas reserves are the best way for investors to gain a clear picture of how profitable an energy company will be in the future. But the SEC's antiquated guidelines could actually be fogging that picture."

The Dallas Morning News: Government inaccurately estimating oil reserves, study says.

"The SEC's system may not account sufficiently for globalization. The study noted it was created for an industry centered on Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma.

"Today, among companies registered with the SEC, North American reserves account for 17 percent of the global total, compared with more than 65 percent when the government's criteria were established in 1978."

Houston Business Journal: Veritas vessel returns to service.

"The Veritas Viking returned to acquiring multi-client seismic data Wednesday morning.

"No one was injured last month when smoke filled the engine room of the Veritas Viking, which lost propulsion after emergency systems shut down the engines because of the smoke."


O&GJ: El Paso has deep gas find off Louisiana.

"Well 1, drilled to 22,824 ft TMD on West Cameron Block 75, 15 miles off Louisiana in 35 ft of water, logged more than 40 ft of net gas pay in the Lower Miocene."

Houston Business Journal: Halliburton division acquires A2D software business.

"The software Halliburton acquired [from TGS-Nopec], trademarked SmartSECTION, pioneered the use of depth-calibrated well log images for faster, more economical well log correlation and geologic interpretation, Halliburton says."

AP: Oil Prices Dip but Still Above $51 Mark.

"Crude oil futures prices fell but remained above the $51 a barrel level on Wednesday after a big spike in the previous session as traders fretted about the impact of a weaker U.S. dollar on energy markets."

> It's a crock to pretend that all of the recent increase in the price of oil, measured in dollars, is an increase in its underlying commodity price. If we (the US) are going to continue eroding the value of the dollar through bad fiscal policy, we are going to have to pay more for things we import.


The Boston Globe: Noise makers. The ocean floor holds secrets that could help predict tsunamis and explain the dinosaur extinction, but environmentalists say the research is too loud for marine life.

"The vessel [the Maurice Ewing], which is owned by the US National Science Foundation and operated by Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, is one of more than 40 vessels worldwide equipped for seismic testing. The technique involves using high-powered air guns to blast powerful, low-frequency sound up to 20 miles into the ocean's crust."

> If you read far enough into the article, eventually you get to --

"‘There's never been a scientifically documented case that marine mammals have been harmed as a result of air guns,’ said Gail Christeson, a University of Texas marine seismologist involved in the project." ...

"... Peter Tyack, a specialist on marine mammals at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution on Cape Cod ... is among scientists helping the federal government set new guidelines for underwater research. ... He argued, however, that the most effective way of protecting marine animals would be to implement controls on international commercial shipping, which accounts for 90 percent of underwater noise."


AP: Chavez Threatens to Stop Oil Exports.

"Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez said Sunday that he would stop oil exports to the United States if the U.S. government tries to assassinate him."

The Halifax Herald Limited: Minister defends oil deal.

"Energy ministers from Atlantic Canada were in Halifax on Saturday for the unveiling of a new standard for offshore seismic testing. Their federal counterparts said there will now be a standardized code of conduct used to approve seismic testing that results from a union of science and government. While the oil and gas sector will have to jump through more hoops to do seismic testing, the changes won't discourage offshore development and could actually encourage it, said an industry spokesman."

O&GJ: Norway to sell more Statoil shares.

"Norway's Ministry of Petroleum and Energy plans to offer 17.5 million shares of Statoil ASA to private investors in Norway and Europe during July, reducing the Norwegian government's stake to 71% from 76%."


The Associated Press: U.S. Research Ship Faces Mexican Fines.

"In a significant embarrassment for American scientists, a U.S. research vessel conducting controversial sound-wave research off Mexico's Gulf coast faces heavy fines for running aground on a coral reef."

AP: Mexico Suspends Permits for U.S. Vessel.

"Mexico's Environment Department said the U.S. ship Maurice Ewing must stop the research voyage until it pays for damage done to underwater rock formations and coral about 30 miles off the Yucatan peninsula in the Monday accident." ...

"‘We have to make fun of modern, sophisticated ship that has technology capable of registering every bump on the sea floor, but which can't even see a reef,’ said Araceli Dominguez of the Mayab Ecological Group."

> Wow. This would never be good, but on this particular survey, it's just mind-boggling.


O&GJ: CERA sees rising oil supplies.

"Cambridge Energy Research Associates predicts that global oil production capacity will rise almost 20% to 101.5 MMb/d by 2010. CERA began its 25th annual meeting this week in Houston with a projection of increasing oil supplies.... A large proportion of the new oil is expected to flow from deepwater projects off Brazil, Nigeria, Angola, and the Gulf of Mexico.

"At the same time, there is a risk of prices softening due to the increasing supply,"

The Dallas Morning News: Rising Oil Demand, Declining Production Focus of Texas Conference.

"With oil and gas becoming increasingly difficult to secure, oil executives say that Americans must prepare for the new order and finally move past the goal of energy independence."

O&GJ: LNG markets expanding.

"Driven by the need for cleaner power generation, the market for LNG is projected to expand from its current 6% of the market to 12% by 2030, according to Philip Dingle, president of ExxonMobil Gas and Power Co. ExxonMobil sees the world economy expanding at a 1.7% rate over that timeframe, which will expand hydrocarbon usage by 150%."

FWN Select: China, India Emission Rule to Pressure Sweet Oil.

"India and China's new emissions standards will increase demand for light, sweet crude oil because their primitive refineries can't use more abundant heavy, sour oil, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries said Wednesday."

Management & Excellence: Looking Behind the Numbers -- Shell Is World's Most Ethical Oil Company.

"Shell is the worldıs most ethical oil company, followed by ExxonMobil and BP, according to a study by the ethics management rating firm Management & Excellence in Madrid. Despite the controversy over the misstatement of oil reserves and the reshuffle of executives at Shell, the company excelled in many of the 120 points examined in the M&E study."

PR Newswire: I/O Reports Fourth Quarter and Year-End 2004 Results.

"Bob Peebler, I/O's President and Chief Executive Officer, said, ... ‘We were not satisfied with the mix of business during the fourth quarter, both at GXT and our Imaging Systems Group (ISG). We clearly want to improve business development results at ISG and we are aggressively addressing that area. We are also working to create better balance of processing, multi-client projects and data library sales at GXT.’"

O&GJ: Tunisia Tyrrhenian basin due seismic surveys.

"Tunisia's state-owned L'Enterprise Tunisienne d'Activites Petrolieres (ETAP) has contracted PGS Geophysical AS ... to acquire exclusive 2D and 3D seismic data in the Tyrrhenian basin, off northern Tunisia."

AP: Field Development Should Be Halted.

"Commercial whaling has reduced the gray whale population off Sakhalin to about 100 and the population is now listed by the Swiss-based World Conservation Union, also known as IUCN, as ‘critically endangered.’"

> O.K., soneone needs to just say it: a population of 100 whales is extinct, for all intents and purposes. Does anyone really think this pod of whales can make a comeback at this point?

On the other hand, one year ago I would have bet money that these guys were not long for this world. And yet --

Houston Business Journal: El Paso on track to beat debt reduction target.

"El Paso has sold about $4.2 billion of assets over the past 18 months as part of a restructuring plan to cut costs, reduce its debt and focus on its U.S. and Brazilian gas production and pipeline businesses. Those sales have helped the company cut its net debt by nearly $5 billion to $17.1 billion at the end of 2004."


Here's a talk worth hearing --

GSH Technical Luncheon:
John Castagna -- A New Year's Resolution: "Think Thin"
Spectral Decomposition Applications Beyond the Seismic Bandwidth,
Westchase Hilton, 9999 Westheimer,
Feb 15, 11:30 AM.

> Yes, John is the majority owner of the company with which I'm employed.

> And what a handsome guy he is!

BBC: Fallen Elf oil boss Sirven dies.

"He had a lifetime's service for French business, but ... he fell victim to the country's changing code of ethics.

"In the early 1990s he ran a subsidiary of the then state-owned Elf oil company, whose sole task was to dole out bribes and to buy influence around the world for the parent group and -- it is widely alleged -- for the French government as well. "


Houston Chronicle: Seismic rumblings. New system grabs data digitally.

"Input/Output says it has achieved a breakthrough with this digital type of system that is inherently different from the analog systems currently on the market. Called MEMS, for micro-electromechanical systems, these are cousins to integrated circuits, said the company's manufacturing expert Howard Goldberg. They incorporate tiny moving mechanical parts that serve as the eyes and ears for the circuit's ‘brains.’" ...

"The average person would be affected most by a MEMS device that sets off the air bags in newer cars and trucks. They are built around accelerometers -- motion detectors much like the ones used in seismic sensors, but much less sophisticated in design."

> More on MEMS --

Houston Chronicle: How many MEMS fit on the head of pin?

FWN Select: Russia Puts Foreign Energy Companies in Passenger Seat.

"Foreign energy companies saw their room for maneuver in Russia shrink further on Thursday, when the country's top resources official said they'd be barred from bidding for large deposits directly." ...

"The list of strategic reserves includes the Sakhalin-3 project. Exxon Mobil Corp. and ChevronTexaco Corp. were part of a consortium that won a 1993 tender for fields off Russia's Pacific Coast, but the group's rights were revoked last year."

AFP: OPEC oil capacity set to rise one million bpd this year: IEA.

"However, the rate at which non-OPEC countries are increasing production is also likely to slow ‘leading to a tightening of the market from initial forecasts’, the IEA forecast Thursday."


Bloomberg News: Shell won't say if Russia is demanding $2.5 billion.

"The $12 billion Sakhalin venture is one of Russia's two biggest oil and gas developments. It plans to start producing 9.6 million tons a year of liquefied natural gas in 2007."


FWN Select: Shell Cooperating in Full with Sakhalin-2 Russia Audit.

"In a recent report, Russia's State Audit Chamber, an oversight agency, said the country suffered $2.5 billion in damages from abiding by the terms of the production-sharing agreement for the oil and gas project located off Russia's Pacific coast."

Business Wire: TGS-NOPEC Again Expands Gulf of Mexico Multi-Client 3D Project.

"Located in the heart of the deep gas exploration trend, the project is now double its originally announced size and covers an equivalent area of 400 OCS blocks (8400 square kilometers) in the Ship Shoal, South Timbalier, Grand Isle and Ewing Bank areas of offshore Louisiana."

Press Release: Newfield Announces Exploration Discoveries.

"Newfield Exploration has made several significant exploration successes in the North Sea, deepwater Gulf of Mexico and Onshore Gulf Coast. These discoveries will add significant production volumes for the Company beginning in 2006."


This is from the December issue --

Physics Today: The Hydrogen Economy.

"Even when using the cheapest production method -- steam reforming of methane -- hydrogen is still four times the cost of gasoline for the equivalent amount of energy. And production from methane does not reduce fossil fuel use or CO2 emission.... Hydrogen can be converted to electricity in fuel cells, but the production cost of prototype fuel cells remains high: $3000 per kilowatt of power produced for prototype fuel cells ..., compared with $30 per kilowatt for gasoline engines."


Houston Chronicle: Shell reports profit increase as it reduces assets in ground [again].

"Shell ... announced it was whacking reserve estimates for a fifth time, taking oil and natural gas assets in the ground down another 10 percent to 12.95 billion barrels of oil equivalent. Shell's reserve figures have shrunk by more than a third in the last year."

Oil Online: CNOOC signs new deepwater contract.

"CNOOC Limited announced that its parent company, China National Offshore Oil Corporation inked a petroleum contract with Kerr-Mcgee China Petroleum Limited for deepwater block 43/11 in the Pearl River Mouth Basin of South China Sea."


Slate: The Art of Energy. The future will not be painted in oil.

"Oil is not the dominant fuel of our modern economy. Oil supplies about 40 percent of the raw energy we use, and we use it mainly in our cars. Coal, uranium, gas, and hydroelectric power supply the other 60 percent or so." ...

"... the car is now being transformed into a sort of giant electrical appliance.... Within a decade, we could readily be shifting a quarter or more of a typical driver's most fuel-hungry miles from the gas tank to the grid, very little of which is lighted by oil."

Press Release: A2D Technologies and Landmark Graphics Sign Data Reseller Agreement.

"... they have entered into a data reseller relationship enabling Landmark Graphics ... to market and sell A2D well log data...."

IT Managers Journal: Commentary -- The end of an industry.

"Now, I mind losing my job to a bunch of cheap Russians, but that is not what this rant is about."

Boston Phoenix: Connecting the dots.

"In 1960, William Raeder was a young geologist, not long out of Boston University. One day, he and his colleagues were floating in frigid waters above the Arctic Ocean floor, using explosives to set off small earthquakes for underwater seismic-refraction studies. A stick of TNT detonated prematurely in his grasp, and everything went black. Raeder's right hand was obliterated. On his left, only the pinky and ring fingers remained. His hearing was severely damaged. And, after seven weeks of surgeries that only barely saved his life, he was told ‘to start thinking that I was going to spend the rest of my life as a blind person.’"


NYT: Hints of Oil Industry Mergers to Come.

"According to a study by John S. Herold Inc., an independent research firm based in Norwalk, Conn., global oil companies pumped more than 10 billion barrels on average a year in the last five years, but recorded only about 7 billion barrels of reserves." ...

> Mostly speculation about Unocal --

"The list of potential bidders includes ConocoPhillips, Shell and ChevronTexaco, which have all said that they want to grow in the North American gas and Asian oil markets, [Frederick P. Leuffer, senior energy analyst for Bear, Stearns] said.

"‘That's talking about Unocal without naming it,’ he said. ‘If Cnooc, or ENI or Total made a bid, I think other companies would express interest and maybe get a bidding war going.’"

AP: China a player in Yukos sale.

"China has helped the Kremlin sidestep a Houston bankruptcy court by providing an indirect loan to a state-run oil company that acquired the biggest production unit of embattled oil giant Yukos, analysts said Tuesday."

Keith Millheim, Anadarko, in Hart's E&P: E&P capacity faces new challenges.

"Most of the future opportunities for oil, and for gas in North American and Europe, are what I would call technical oil and gas. Deep water, tight gas, heavy oil, high pressure/high temperature gas, more complex geological traps are the types of complexities that categorize the portfolio of opportunities available to industry today." ...

"There is a thing called the ‘price of the learn curve.’ How much cost can a company afford to endure before it learns to be efficient and make money with such things as heavy oil, tight gas, deep water E&P? Many companies will disappear because they underestimated the learn curve cost to build a certain company capacity."

> Personally, I've always called it a "learning curve."

> He's made a good point though.


O&GJ: Continuing M&A activity expected.

"During the last year, both asset and corporate deals generally emphasized either the Rockies or the Permian basin. Executives told [Houston analyst Wayne] Andrews that they are looking for a continuation of M&A activity because of huge amounts of cash being generated by E&P companies and because of companies' desires to boost prospect inventories."

Reuters: Norway's PGS Sells Pertra to Talisman for $155 Million.

"Proceeds would go to strengthening PGS's balance sheet, including debt reduction, it said."...

"‘PGS was formed as an oil service company and with this exit ... PGS will once again become fully focused on its oil service business with strategic focus on geophysics and floating production operations,’ PGS Chief Executive Svein Rennemo said in a statement."

Business Wire: TGS Imaging Expands Research and Development Program; Company Taps Experienced Theorist Young Kim to Lead Effort .

Walter Kessinger

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