Stale Thoughts and Broken Links

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


Houston Chronicle: Lawmakers finally pass energy bill.

"Dizzying in its complexity, the energy package tinkers with everything from the start of daylight-saving time (soon to be the second Sunday in March) to ceiling-fan controls (lawmakers like that reversible-motion feature)." ...

"‘Our $12 trillion economy rests on a huge, complex energy foundation,’ noted Daniel Yergin, chairman of Cambridge Energy Research Associates. ‘There isn't any simple solution to addressing these needs.’"


Tampa Bay Online: Congress Can't Afford Oil Survey, Report Says.

"The inventory of oil and natural gas resources under the nation's outer continental shelf will have to be delayed until Congress separately approves spending more money, according to the Congressional Budget Office, which oversees financial implications of what lawmakers decide.

"Although the energy legislation calls for spending $55 million on seismic surveys and studies to take stock of oil and gas riches likely to be found beneath such places as the Gulf of Mexico, the work would cost more than 35 times as much - at least $1.9 billion...."


Dow Jones: BP CEO: Thunder Horse 2005 Start 'Unlikely'.

"The company said it couldn't say at this stage if there is damage to the platform or what caused it to tilt.", Philippines: Seismic research deal worth $10M up for bidding.

"The three countries that recently tied up for joint energy resources exploration in South China Sea, near the Spratly group of islands, will bid out a $10-million contract for the conduct of a seismic research in the 143,000-square-kilometer area covered by the collaboration, an oil executive said."

New Mexico Business Weekly: Roswell seismic firm secures $5M contract.

"Providence Technologies Inc., already has begun working under the contract issued by Houston-based Newfield Exploration Co...."


Marketwatch: Energy bill advances, final vote ahead.

"A provision in the bill would require a survey of energy resources located off U.S. coasts using seismic technology. The goal of the provision is to target new areas for oil and natural-gas development in the outer continental shelf. Lawmakers from coastal states with robust tourism industries strongly oppose the provision."

This article mentions the seismic inventory proposal toward the end, but the main reason I'm linking to it is that I got a chuckle out of the proposed gerrymandering of the offshore state boundaries --

Miami Herald: Fight brews over oil drilling.

"After vowing to protect the ban on oil drilling off Florida's coast, the White House acknowledged last week that it has asked congressional leaders to ... extend the Louisiana and Alabama boundary lines into the eastern Gulf of Mexico.... The White House proposal would continue to prohibit oil and gas drilling 100 miles out from Florida shores -- but would allow drilling along a diagonal path beyond that, extending from Louisiana and Alabama due south from Pensacola to Fort Walton Beach in the western Panhandle." ...

"Mark Ferrulo, director of the Florida Public Interest Research Group, which opposes the drilling, said ... ‘It would mean Florida would now be at the mercy of Louisiana state officials, who have never seen a drilling rig they didn't love.’"

Washington Post: Unocal Reveals Portrait of Negotiations.

"The filing also describes why Unocal directors believe Chevron's latest bid -- valued at about $17.3 billion -- is superior to Cnooc's $18.5 billion offer. It says Unocal's board would be willing to accept the higher risk associated with Cnooc's bid if the Chinese company offered a ‘sufficient’ price."


FWN Financial News: U.S. oil demand growth down.

"Growth in U.S. oil demand ‘softened considerably’ in the first half of the year, as high prices weighed on all main fuel groups, the American Petroleum Institute said Wednesday."

Dow Jones Newswire: World oil demand strong enough to keep market tight.

"World oil demand remains strong enough to test producers and refiners' ability to keep up, U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said Thursday."

Schlumberger Press Release: WesternGeco Conducts New High-Resolution Q-Technology Survey.

"... Sabah Shell Petroleum Company Limited has contracted the company to conduct a high-resolution Q-Marine survey over its St. Joseph field, offshore Sabah, Malaysia."

O&GJ: Shell shooting 2D seismic in GOM.

"The US unit of Royal Dutch Shell PLC let a contract to Multiwave Geophysical Co. ASA, Bergen, Norway, to overshoot previous seismic lines across 13 unspecified Shell and partner fields in the gulf.... Using a vessel to tow a short 2,000 m streamer, the test survey involved shooting over the location of an existing 3D data line on three occasions."

Business Wire: TGS-NOPEC Announces Two New Seismic Surveys in Russia.

"In the Sea of Okhotsk near Sakhalin Island, TGS and partner Dalmorneftegeofizika ("DMNG") will acquire 8,000 kilometers of multi-client 2D seismic data. The new program will infill the companies' pre-existing seismic grid in the region and extend the program into the Sakhalin 6 area for the first time.

"In the Barents Sea, TGS and partner New Field Ventures Limited will acquire 7,000 kilometers of multi-client 2D seismic data."

Houston Business Journal: TGS to promote E&P licensing for block offshore Eritrea.

"Zula, measuring 7,000 square kilometers, is located in the shallow waters of the Red Sea offshore central Eritrea. The region has several proven petroleum systems with source rocks, numerous oil gas and condensate shows and discoveries. A number of large leads and prospects have already been mapped and documented, TGS says."


AP: Oil Prices Up After China Currency Move.

"Oil prices climbed by more than $1 a barrel Friday, one day after China's decision to abandon its currency peg to the U.S. dollar, making oil prices cheaper for China, the world's second-largest consumer of crude."

Bloomberg: Schlumberger Profit Rises 36% as Oil Spending Gains.

"Pretax operating income for Schlumberger's oilfield services unit in the second quarter was $674 million, up 21 percent, on revenue of $3.04 billion. Income almost quadrupled to $58 million at WesternGeco, Schlumberger's seismic-data joint venture with Baker Hughes."


Perry Fischer, World Oil: Biofuel letters.

"Using prime farmland for growing food crops for fuel is a profoundly crummy choice for land use." ...

"Using food for fuel increases agricultural runoff, silt buildup and pollution in rivers, and worsens the so-called dead zones that form offshore river deltas, such as the Mississippi. It adds CO2 to the atmosphere..., usually uses coal as a heat source, and it is questionable whether there is a net air pollution benefit when added to fuel. In Brazil, massive swaths of the Amazon are continually being cut down for biofuel use. And all of it made possible by huge governmental subsidies."


University of Houston: Geophysics graduate blazes new trails for UH in seismic exploration.

"Simon A. Shaw, a 2005 UH graduate from the department of geosciences, will receive the J. Clarence Karcher Award from the Society of Exploration Geophysicists." ...

"Shaw has broken ground with a new methodology that is directly aimed at one of the most serious impediments to seismic imaging and processing the inability to adequately define the values and boundaries when complex geologic formations are above potential petroleum targets. Shaw's insight and analysis led to an imaging series algorithm with the potential to provide accurate depth imaging beneath a complex overburden, such as salt, basalt and karsted sediments, that is not limited by the traditional requirement for adequate velocity information."

Business Today, Egypt: Fired Up.

"In the Northeast Mediterranean concession which, at 41,500 square kilometers, is roughly the size of the Netherlands, Shell has surveyed over 13,000 square kilometers with two-dimensional seismic technology and an additional 9000 with three-dimensional seismic programs. In the last few months it has acted on those results, launching two major campaigns of five wells each, with each well costing around $15 million."

AP: Unocal board backs Chevron's bid over China's.

"Unocal's board of directors has endorsed a sweetened, $17 billion takeover bid from Chevron, rejecting a higher offer from one of China's state-owned oil companies."


Reuters: ONGC to spend $230 mln on Indian seismic data.

"Seismic contractors in the fray for the work are France's Compagnie Generale de Geophysique, the Netherland's Fugro NV, Petroleum Geo-Services ASA and Multiwave Geophysical ASA of Norway, U.S. Schlumberger Ltd.-backed WesternGeco, and Geoseas Technologies Ltd. -- majority-owned by Malaysia's Petra Perdana Bhd."

LA Times: China Stakes Claim for Global Oil Access.

"But the U.S. and China's neighbors worry that Beijing, if faced with shortages, could use its military to grab oil-rich marine fields. Tensions have flared with Japan over mineral rights in disputed islands in the East China Sea. China has used gunboats to force Japanese seismic ships out of the area. And analysts say a Chinese submarine caught on the Japanese side last year was testing Tokyo's vigilance in the resource-rich area.

"China is also seeing growing friction over resources with some of its neighbors as its regional power expands. Taiwan has repeatedly chased off Chinese research vessels doing resource surveys in disputed waters off islands variously claimed by Taiwan, Vietnam and China."

China Daily: Nation, Viet Nam eye border of peace.

"In March this year, the petroleum companies of China, Viet Nam and the Philippines signed the Tripartite Agreement for Joint Marine Seismic Undertaking in the Agreement Area in the South China Sea, a move seen as an important step towards resolving the disputed issue."

Casper Star Tribune: Seismic plan includes Adobe Town.

"... there will be no vehicle traffic, no shot holes and no vibroseis buggies in the study area. Rather, helicopters will be allowed in the air space above the area. Helicopters will not be allowed to land, but may deploy and retrieve recording equipment from the air. Seismic workers must hike into Adobe Town to set recording equipment."


Houston Chronicle: Big ax at Unocal? Chevron says no.

"‘We need the vast majority of Unocal employees, especially in Houston,’ Chevron spokesman Donald Campbell said. ‘In Houston, our challenge is keeping people, given the shortage of qualified and skilled workers in the energy industry.’"

Houston Chronicle: As Thunder Horse lists, cause remains a mystery.

"As many as 900 workers and 15 support ships are laboring to restore the massive oil and natural gas platform Thunder Horse to an upright position off Louisiana."


WSJ (subscription): Shell's Costs Soar for Russia Project.

"Shell said costs in the second phase of the massive Sakhalin II natural-gas project, which it is spearheading, may double to $20 billion, and it expects the project to be delayed by half a year."

"The steep run-up in oil prices of the past two years has resulted in huge cash flows for the big oil companies, many of which have been returning funds to shareholders. The oil giants also have begun investing more in development projects, after two decades of relatively light spending. As a result, project costs are rising sharply amid a growing backlog of orders at construction and service companies and because of spiraling costs of commodities such as steel. That inflation is beginning to eat into the industry's bonanza."


Fortune: The Shark Tank.

"Think of Paul Frame as a reverse Horatio Alger. When it comes to fall-from-grace tales, you won't find many with a faster plunge to rags from riches.... When Frame, 58, was caught stealing from Seitel in 2002, he lost his job, his money, and his freedom."

Business Wire: TGS-NOPEC Acquires Multi-Client Project Offshore Egypt .

"TGS-NOPEC Geophysical Company has completed the acquisition of 8,025 kilometers of multi-client 2D seismic, gravity and magnetic data over the Mediterranean Sea, offshore Egypt."

Mother Earth News: Lease Your Land For Oil and Gas Production.

"... private landowners can often cash in on those geologic commodities by agreeing to lease some of their property for exploration and drilling purposes ... assuming, of course, they own the mineral rights to their land."

Houston Chronicle: BP starts pumping water from platform.

"The company said it does not appear the storm damaged the 59,500-ton vessel. Instead, it said, some other factor allowed water to flood two of the four pontoons it floats upon."


Houston Chronicle: BP hopes to level off platform soon.

"The platform is the largest in the world and was one of four such units built to conduct some of the deepest undersea drilling and production work in the world.... Estimated to cost more than $1 billion to build, it is named for the Thunder Horse oil field, a find that was announced in 1999 and is believed to hold more than 1 billion barrels of oil equivalent.

"Elsewhere in the Gulf, oil and gas production appears to be recovering from the weekend's hurricane-related evacuations. As much as 96 percent of oil production and 62 percent of natural gas production was off-line on Monday, but by Tuesday afternoon shut-ins fell to 57 percent and 43 percent, respectively, according to the Minerals Management Service."

The Street: Let China Buy Unocal.

"Why the furor at the bid by China's third-largest oil company, CNOOC, for Unocal, the ninth-largest U.S. oil company? ... Because our national security will be in danger if the Chinese get new seismic technology from Unocal? Hello! The Chinese already have nuclear weapons and routinely conduct underground tests of their bombs; they don't need to buy Unocal to get better seismic data." ...

"China ... sends us socks, golf clubs and furniture, and we send back dollars that we've borrowed. We borrow from just about every country in the world, but a big share of that borrowing comes from China. This system works only as long as our trading partners are willing to take dollars and then lend them back to us." ...

"... we need to establish that Chinese and other overseas creditors will be allowed to buy our assets without political interference and at inflated prices if they so choose."


Houston Chronicle: Workers head back to duty on Gulf rigs.

"Hurricane Dennis appears to have caused limited damage to the offshore energy industry as companies sent crews back to work Monday on rigs and platforms in the Gulf of Mexico. The storm, with winds that reached 120 miles an hour, stayed east of the heaviest production areas as it came ashore near Pensacola, Fla., Sunday afternoon." ...

"Nearly 350 rigs and platforms in the Gulf were evacuated over the weekend, cutting 95 percent of the region's oil production and 62 percent of its natural gas output on Monday, according to the Minerals Management Service."

> The article above also mentions something about BP's Thunder Horse "listing 20 to 30 degrees."

Houston Business Journal: Pogo to buy Unocal unit for $1.8 billion.

"Pogo Producing Co. has agreed to buy a Canadian oil and gas subsidiary, Northrock Resources Ltd., from Unocal Corp. for $1.8 billion in cash."


Oil Online: IHS Energy introduces U.S. 3-D Seismic outline database.

"With the acquisition of this database of more than 3,300 U.S. onshore seismic surveys [from Terra Ventures, Inc.], IHS Energy can provide this new data layer alongside its well logs, well, production and pipeline data...."

CBC, Canada: Agreement to clarify Arctic exploration rules.

"Industry, government and environmentalist have signed a letter of intent to create the first Marine Protected Area in the ecologically sensitive Arctic."


I missed these CGG press releases last month --

Press Release: CGG wins High-Productivity Vibroseis survey in Egypt.

"CGG announced [June 16] that its High-Productivity Vibroseis Acquisition technique has been selected by the Chilean company, SIPETROL, to conduct a full 3D land seismic survey in Egypt."

Press Release: CGG makes 3D SRME acquisition-independent.

"Although so-called SRME (Surface-Related Multiple Elimination) technology has produced promising results over the last few years, it requires strong acquisition constraints. This has made the move from 2D to 3D implementation less than easy."

> CGG seems to fall under my radar a lot.


Houston Chronicle: Storm sliced output by 12%.

"Tropical Storm Cindy cut more than 12 percent of the Gulf of Mexico's oil production, disrupted refinery operations and sent oil prices to a new record on Wednesday, while a second storm system approaching the area has the energy industry watching with anticipation."

Bloomberg News: Analyst sees $4 as a floor for natural gas.

"Natural gas prices in the U.S. will stay above $4 per thousand cubic feet for at least five years because of the cost of producing the fuel from fields in the Rocky Mountains, a Wood Mackenzie analyst said."

More Unocal --

NYT: The Big Tug of War Over Unocal.

Boston Globe: Executive puts his future on the line with Unocal bid.

"The stakes are high for Fu Chengyu, the iconic chief executive of the China National Offshore Oil Corp., which just made an unsolicited $18.5 billion bid to buy Unocal Corp." ...

"Fu ... is reputed to have picked up an astute understanding of American culture and management practices when he was an engineering student at the University of Southern California and later as an executive with Phillips Petroleum, based in Bartlesville, Okla."


Matt Simmons is getting a lot of publicity for his new book --

The Guardian: Oil 'will hit $100 by winter'.

"[Texan oil analyst Matt Simmons] will publish a hard-hitting book this week in which he argues that Saudi Arabia, the world's largest producer, is running out of oil, and further price rises are inevitable as supplies decline. He warns that the scramble for resources could eventually descend into war."

NYT: Chinese Company Asks U.S. to Review Its Bid for Unocal.

"Cnooc is racing against an Aug. 10 deadline, when Unocal shareholders get to vote on the Chevron offer. Cnooc hopes that by pressing for a quick review by the government it can assuage concerns that the takeover will drag on for months and persuade Unocal shareholders to turn down Chevron's bid."

Walter Kessinger

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