Stale Thoughts and Broken Links

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


Washington Post: Nixonian Fallacy.

"... it's time for a quick refresher: Richard Nixon's early-1970s price controls were a disaster. Administering the controls on energy alone took an estimated 5 million man-hours per year and punished motorists with gas lines. Repeating this experiment by clamping down on oil trading is like burning your hand on a gas stove and then sitting on a barbecue."

Brian Kennedy, Institute for Energy Research: Can America 'Extrapolate' Its Way to Energy Security?

"From its birthplace on the second page of Congressional ‘report’ to the front page of major world newspapers, the ‘68 million acres’ tale is beginning to take its place alongside other famous urban legends." ...

"The authors of the report had to ‘extrapolate’ as follows: Roughly 23 million acres of federal land are producing 1.6 million barrels each day today. Roughly 3 times as many federal acres - about 68 million - are leased to oil companies, but are not currently producing oil or gas. Therefore, the United States could be producing 3 times as much oil - or an additional 4.8 million barrels per day - if the lease holders for the non-producing federal lands started producing oil today." ...

"If we use the very same extrapolation, we can estimate that the 9.4 billion acres of the currently non-producing moon orbiting our earth could produce an additional 654 million barrels each day. That would supply America's total annual demand in less than 12 days (but the pipeline construction would be a bear)."


NYT: Parties Split on How to Expand Offshore Drilling.

"Republicans want to end the 27-year ban on offshore drilling along much of the nation's coastline, while Democrats want to force companies to speed up exploration in certain offshore areas that they already control."

Houston Chronicle: Energy demand to grow by 50% by 2030.

"Despite persistently high oil prices, global energy demand will grow by 50 percent over the next two decades with continued heavy reliance on environmentally troublesome fossil fuels, especially coal and oil, the U.S. Energy Department predicted [on Wednesday]."

Reuters: PGS says seismic vessel out 2-3 weeks after fire.

"‘Currently the best estimate is that she will resume operations in the coming two to three weeks,’ PGS said, adding that no one was injured and all evacuated personnel returned to the vessel."

DNA India: 2 arrested for stealing US equipment used to find oil.

"The Yellow Gate police arrested two youths for allegedly stealing four US-made seismic survey guns, collectively valued at Rs3.60 lakh, from the deck of MV Sea Diamond VIII, anchored in the Arabian Sea off Mumbai."

Norway Post: Seismic survey offshore Troms has started.

"Concurrent with the 3D seismic, research will be carried out on the scare effect on fish. Fishing vessels have been hired to fish before and during the seismic activities. The research shall help ascertain how far away from the sound source fish are frightened."


AP: Court to hear case about possible sonar harm to whales.

"An injunction by a federal judge in Los Angeles early this year created a 12-nautical-mile no-sonar zone along the coast and ordered the Navy to shut off all sonar use within 2,200 yards of a marine mammal. That prompted President Bush to step in and sign a waiver exempting the Navy from a section of the Coastal Zone Management Act so training could continue as the government appealed the decision."

Slate: Houston, We Have No Problems.

"‘Three things affect Houston's economy,’ says Patrick Jankowski, vice president of research at the Greater Houston Partnership. ‘The price of energy, the value of the dollar, and the strength of the U.S. economy at large.’ As Meatloaf said, two out of three ain't bad."

NYT: Obama Camp Closely Linked With Ethanol.

"Mr. Obama is running as a reformer who is seeking to reduce the influence of special interests. But like any other politician, he has powerful constituencies that help shape his views. And when it comes to domestic ethanol, almost all of which is made from corn, he also has advisers and prominent supporters with close ties to the industry at a time when energy policy is a point of sharp contrast between the parties and their presidential candidates."

> Look, I like Obama; I'm sure I'll vote for him over McCain. But as far as I'm concerned, he's batting 0.000 on energy policy.


WSJ: In Saudi Oil-Output Talks, The World Will Be a Stage.

"Nearly everyone at the meeting -- be it oil-producing nations, Big Oil, China or rich countries such as the U.S. -- will arrive hobbled. ‘No one is going into this meeting with any particular clout or authority,’ said David Kirsch, an ex-U.S. State Department energy official who is with PFC Energy in Washington.

"The player taking the biggest risk going into this weekend is Saudi Arabia. At a pivotal moment, and with its prestige on the line, the de facto leader of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and long the world's mightiest oil power appears suddenly weakened."

WSJ: Governor Backs Florida Drilling.

"Until Tuesday, Gov. Crist had been one of the highest profile opponents of drilling off his state's shores, fearing such activity could spoil his state's beaches and drive away tourists. Sen. McCain also once opposed offshore exploration but has shifted his position.... Sen. McCain and Gov. Crist both said they would like to see the federal ban lifted and replaced with federal rules that let individual states decide whether to allow drilling off their coasts."

Energy Current: PGS lowers its targets.

"Despite the deviations in marine productivity, which will be fully accounted for in the quarter, PGS expects to report its strongest second quarter ever and its third strongest quarterly EBIT ever as a pure geophysical company."

China Daily: Rolls-Royce wins contract for China's seismic research vessels.

"The seismic streamer vessel has been ordered by BGP Marine China, a subsidiary of China National Petroleum Company (CNPC), and set to be delivered by late 2009 or early 2010.... The Rolls-Royce designed NVC 830 seismic research vessel is twin-screw with a direct drive propulsion system, improving towing capabilities for the 14 streamer cables...."

Offshore Shipping Online: Latest edition of Survey Vessels of the World published.

"Contents include technical details and performance characteristics of over 700 vessels: 158 coastal and deepwater hydrographic survey vessels; 270 seismic survey and geophysical vessels; 313 oceanographic/research vessels."

BBC: Whales stranded off Madagascar.

"ExxonMobil had been carrying out seismic surveying in the area, although it says this began several days after the first whale washed ashore. However, it told the BBC it had been using echo-sounding before this.

"The company said it is confident it is not responsible, given that its operation was over 50km (31 miles) away. Despite this, it has halted its surveying programme until the issue has been resolved."

LA Times: Border battle brews over Mexico's undersea oil.

"Since 1992, firms have drilled more than 2,100 wells at depths greater than 1,000 feet in the U.S. gulf. Pemex has drilled seven deepwater wells since 2004, none of which is producing, and none is likely to for years." ...

"As Mexico mulls its next move, the U.S. is hitting the gas. Its gulf crude production averages 1.3 million barrels daily and is projected to rise to as much as 2.1 million barrels a day by 2016, thanks to Perdido and other deepwater projects."


WSJ: Saudi Arabia's Leverage In Oil Market Is Sapped.

"U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Sunday after meeting with the country's oil minister that the kingdom will raise production by 200,000 barrels a day in July. It wasn't immediately clear whether that rise would be permanent or a one-off response, as was a Saudi boost of 300,000 barrels a day in June."

Houston Chronicle: Thunder Horse platform finally pumping after three-year delay.

"When the structure 150 miles southeast of New Orleans reaches its full daily capacity of 250,000 barrels of oil and 200 million cubic feet of natural gas, Thunder Horse will be the biggest producer in the Gulf." ...

"When running at full tilt, Thunder Horse alone will increase overall U.S. oil and gas production by 3.6 percent. Add BP's Atlantis platform that started up last year, and the boost grows to 6.4 percent."


NYT: Saudis to increase production another half-million barrels a day.

"Saudi Arabia is currently pumping 9.45 million barrels a day, which is an increase of about 300,000 barrels from last month.

"While they are reaping record profits, the Saudis are concerned that today's record prices might eventually damp economic growth and lead to lower oil demand, as is already happening in the United States and other developed countries. The current prices are also making alternative fuels more viable, threatening the long-term prospects of the oil-based economy."

AP: Exxon getting out of retail gas business.

"[M]otorists will continue to see Exxon and Mobil stations throughout the country. About 75 percent of its roughly 12,000 stations in the U.S. are owned by branded distributors. Exxon Mobil will still sell gasoline to those stations and get paid for the use of its name."


Minneapolis - St. Paul Star Tribune: North Dakota -- The new Saudi Arabia?.

"John Bartelson ... new wealth springs from the Bakken formation, a deposit of crude oil beneath the durum wheat fields of North Dakota, Montana and southern Saskatchewan and Manitoba. The Bakken may give the United States -- the world's biggest importer of oil -- a new domestic energy source." ...

"The USGS said in April that the Bakken holds as much as 4.3 billion barrels that can be recovered using today's engineering techniques."

University of Colorado Physics Education Technology: String Wave.


Green Gabbro: Happy Birthday, Lusi.

"It's been two years since the ground opened near Sidoarjo, Indonesia, spewing mud over the homes, farms, and businesses of tens of thousands of people." ...

"Of course, you could still invoke weird, exotic, or handwavy mechanisms by which a run-of-the-mill earthquake could have triggered an eruption. But we found a much simpler explanation: Drilling mud."


NYT: Oil Prices Skyrocket, Taking Biggest Jump Ever.

"Oil futures surged $10.75, or 8 percent, to $138.54 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The record gain followed a jump of 5.5 percent on Thursday, bringing total two-day gains to $16 a barrel."

WSJ: IEA Chief Sees Oil Demand Falling, Calls for Initiative to Cut Emissions.

"‘The high prices have already triggered a demand fall ... in some countries, demand is slowing down,’ IEA Executive Director Nobuo Tanaka said at a press briefing in Tokyo ahead of a meeting of the group of eight energy ministers and Tuesday's release of the Paris-based agency's widely watched monthly Oil Market Report."

OGJ: World oil output to reach 95 million b/d by 2020.

"Worldwide oil production will stabilize at about 95 million b/d before 2020, including extra heavy crude from Venezuela and Canada, said Total SA Chief Executive Officer Christophe de Margerie based on a long-term, internal company oil study, just released."

Energy Current: MMS extends Lease Sale 206 evaluation period.

"The U.S. Minerals Management Service (MMS) has extended the post-sale evaluation period for bids received in March's Central Gulf of Mexico oil and gas lease sale by 30 days. MMS attributes the extension to the large amount of bids received, particularly for leases in deep and ultra-deep waters."

Offshore Shipping News: Polarcus orders X-BOW seismic vessels.

"A new company has been formed by some of the individuals involved in the formation of Eastern Echo, which ordered a number of X-BOW seismic ships from Dubai Drydocks and was subsequently acquired by Schlumberger.... Polarcus is launching a fleet of six advanced seismic vessels designed by Norway's Ulstein Design AS which also incorporate the innovative ULSTEIN X-BOW hull. "

Offshore Shipping News: RXT signs LoI for seismic survey offshore Norway.

"The contract value will be approximately US$21 million, and the survey's duration is estimated to be three months."

The New Yorker: The Gerbil's Revenge.

"Andy Hildebrand, Auto-Tune's inventor, spent eighteen years in a field called seismic data exploration, a branch of the oil industry. He worked in signal processing, using audio to map the earth's subsurface.... Hildebrand, who had taken some music courses, turned his engineering skills toward pop." ...

"In the same way that the dry, flat drum sounds in Fleetwood Mac's ‘Rumours’ will forever say ‘mid-seventies,’ T-Pain and Auto-Tune will forever remind people of the late aughts."

Walter Kessinger

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