Archive for the ‘exploration’ Category

The future of the oil business is in the hands of welders

A few years ago, I had lunch with a female friend in the magazine business. Our talk turned to our respective childrens’ futures, essentially the same conversation parents have been having since Adam and Eve bemoaned what might happen to Cain and Abel: what will our kids do with their lives? (Turns out those two siblings really did have bad stuff in their later years.)

This woman, highly successful in her field, noted that she’d be happy to have her son grow up to be a skilled craftsman, like a carpenter. No, I said. Skilled craftsman, yes, but have him become a welder.

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The wild Mary Sudik oil well was the Macondo of her day

On the fourth anniversary of the Macondo oil spill on April 20, 2010, it’s fitting to recall another historic out-of-control well in the early days of the oil patch: Oklahoma’s Wild Mary Sudik.

The well was named for a real woman who by all accounts was a humble and sensible human being. “Wild” described not the woman, but the well that blew out on her property on March 26, 1930, and flowed for 11 days before it was capped.

Wikipedia, using historical and newspaper accounts, including those of the Oklahoma Historical Society,  called the real Mary “modest.” It said she and her husband Vincent were Czech immigrants who bought a 160-acre dairy farm in 1904 and expanded it in 1924 to encompass the site of the future wild well. Because Mary signed the well lease first, wells on the property were named for her.

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Wall Street sees slide ahead for deepwater rig dayrates

In the controversial 1940s book The Fountainhead, arch-villain Ellsworth Toohey, who above all seeks power and control of other people, comments — and this is a paraphrase — that the way to topple a system is to make one small negative but still-key move in just the right place, and then sit back and watch the whole edifice implode as its members scramble for self-preservation.

Although Ayn Rand, the author of that book and fierce champion of individualism, hated the popular notion that “we’re all in this together,” the fact is that in oil markets and economic systems, we are.  One ominous signal — and even worse, a handful — can start a rumble that creates an earthquake.

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“Look out for the flags,” former Anglo boss warns miners

Most small mining companies are not in a position to look beyond funding the next stage of their project or trying to find a strategic partner. But a recent presentation at the Hong Kong Mines and Money conference gave an insight into how large mining companies take a much longer-term view, and how they consider all kinds of eventualities that could impact their business.

British-born Clem Sunter was CEO of Anglo American’s successful gold and uranium businesses in South Africa, and became the company’s expert in “scenario planning.” He and co-author Chantell Illbury penned a book on the subject, entitled Mind of a Fox, which became a best-seller in the wake of 9/11.

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Santos tries a new tack in PR war over New South Wales CSG project

Australian upstream company Santos concedes it is coming a distant second in the public relations battle with environmental activists over the development of its coalseam gas reserves in the eastern state of New South Wales.

Santos is clearly exasperated with the lack of traction its message has been getting in the public debate, which is being driven by anti-CSG lobbyists including the Greens political party and high-profile conservative radio commentator Alan Jones.

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At the Wellhead: Unconventional drilling comes to Australia’s Cooper Basin

Christine Forster writes from Australia that 2014 is going to be a key year in the quest to develop unconventional oil and gas resources in that country’s Cooper Basin. Her discussion of it is the focus of this week’s Oilgram News column, At the Wellhead.

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New Frontiers: New life for once-spurned Gulf of Mexico oil and gas leases

Starr Spencer attended last week’s Gulf of Mexico lease sale in New Orleans. She noticed something about the bidding: old, abandoned leases have gotten renewed interest. She reviews the trend in this week’s Oilgram News column, New Frontiers.

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Indian oil subsidies have an impact way up the supply line

India’s financial reporting season never fails to remind us of the fragile state of the country’s state-owned oil marketing companies whose profits swing wildly from quarter to quarter. Those moves are not for any fundamental reason, but because they may or may not have been reimbursed by the government for losses incurred from selling diesel, LPG and kerosene at below market prices.

But these companies — Indian Oil Corp., Bharat Petroleum Corp. and Hindustan Petroleum Corp. Ltd. — are usually fully compensated by the end of the financial year, which runs from April to March in India.

Until they get compensated, they rely on market borrowings to fund their operating expenses and the longer the non-payment period, the higher their interest costs on these borrowings. But the bottom line is that they get compensated.

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New Frontiers: Eagle Ford vs. Permian, the great Texas oil showdown

In this week’s Oilgram News column, Starr Spencer compares the performance of Texas’ two giant plays, the venerable Permian and the young upstart, the Eagle Ford.

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Chevron makes a well-intentioned faux pas in Pennsylvania

Sometimes a well-intentioned gesture comes off as an inadvertent slight and that could be the case with Chevron’s distribution of gift certificates to people who live near a gas well that blew up February 11. 

On the Sunday following the blast, representatives of Chevron North America distributed upwards of 100 gift certificates for a large pizza and a large drink to residents of Bobtown, the unincorporated community nearest to the explosion.

Chevron said in a note it wanted to give residents an update on the incident and answer questions. “We are committed to taking action to safeguard our neighbors, our employees, our contractors and the environment,” the note also said.

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