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Then & Now - April 2013

 April 1963 Interesting comments by Carl E. Reistle, the president of Humble Oil, in a recent interview in answer to the question, “What will qualify Humble engineers for advancement in the future?”… 1) moral integrity, 2) an inquisitive mind, 3) the ability to communicate with others, 4) a desire to accomplish things without asking, “What’s in it for me?” 5) enjoying his work, and 6) good judgment…Not a bad list!  $$  A 6-months-long fight by Pan American Petroleum to control a subsurface blowout in Terrebonne Bay, South Louisiana ends in success by drilling a directional relief well and pumping bay water, acid, and mud into the producing sands.  $$  The federal government decides to revive its previous barter plan in which surplus U.S. agricultural products would be swapped for oil products abroad for use by the military, with the intended …


Then & Now - March 2013

March 1998 Pemex continues to drop reserve estimates, this time for their southern region, dropping the total from last year’s 11.862 billion boe to 11.056 billion boe. (There goes the peso again!) $$ Shell and Unocal resolve the lawsuit filed by Shell regarding protection of proprietary E&P data that could be potentially transferred to Unocal by a number of former Shell employees hired by Unocal. $$ As the turn of the century approaches, an international research firm reports the results of an operator poll ranking foreign countries in the following order as to their favorable status for new E&P ventures: U.K., Australia, Brazil, Kazakhstan, Indonesia, Algeria, Venezuela, Argentina, Egypt, and Azerbaijan. $$ The U.A.E. bans all oil-related barge traffic in their territorial waters and ports after a smuggler’s barge sinks trying to smuggle Iraqi oil through the Persian Gulf. The …


Then and Now - February 2012

February 1994 Industry experts predict that Mexico will face a shortfall of at least 8 tcf of natural gas during the period 1994-2010, due largely to slowing economic growth in Mexico, its inadequate natural gas infrastructure, and its current glut of unmarketable high-sulfur fuel oil which is co-produced with the natural gas. $$ How does the DOE view the future of natural gas vs coal vs renewable energy as per its 1995 budget? Their R&D budget numbers tell it all…natural gas $153 million, coal $128 million, and renewables $1.36 billion. $$ Marathon’s Sakhalin Island PSA (production sharing agreement) with the Russians is nearing realization. All that remains is approval by the Russian Parliament (OK) and agreements regarding the project’s tax, legal, and financial constraints (caveat emptor!). $$ In 1993, for the first time in history, the value of natural gas …


Then and Now - December 2011

December 1961 World’s first machine that makes line pipe while moving along a right-of-way is introduced in North Texas. On a project near Wichita Falls, 4,000 ft of 8-in. pipe was rolled, welded, and strung in 1 day. $ Blue Water Drilling is in the process of modifying a submersible drilling barge so it can drill while afloat. Look out deepwater…here come the semi’s, the tethered platforms, the spars, and who knows what else. $ Iraq’s fiery premier (No, not Saddam but Kassim) vows to “strike at” the three companies which produce Iraq’s oil if they don’t go along with his demand to drastically reduce the areas in the country in which they operate. $ Pressure maintenance programs spring up across McKenzie County, North Dakota in an effort to squeeze a bit more oil out of the Madison formation. (If …


Then and Now - January 2012

January 1962 Chrysler is starting the final evaluation of its gas-turbine passenger car, based on a successful run from New York to Los Angeles. $ The price of wildcat acreage under Cook Inlet, Alaska sky-rockets to $500 per acre. (The paperwork alone costs that much nowadays.) $ The U.S. and the state of Louisiana continue their clash over offshore boundaries. (The Supreme Court is likely to get involved.) $ Iraqis are reportedly miffed because their seizure of Iraq Petroleum operating areas did not lead to the expected rejoicing in other Arab lands, while the company is being pressured to surrender 20% of its ownership along with a larger share of its revenues. $ Shell sets a depth record of 20,800 ft for the Upper Gulf Coast with its Chapman #1 in Waller County (Right in our own backyard). East Texas …


Then and Now - October 2008

October 1958 Oilfield hands continue to reflect on the industry’s worst blowout in history near High Island, where for a time all wells tied to the platform went wild as a result of the explosion damaging all of the closely spaced wellheads. $ Venezuelan oil attaché Eduardo Acosta tells an SEG convention that his country is striving to meet its obligations to establish greater reserves for the defense of the western hemisphere. (And Oh by the way, Venezuelan oil is really domestic oil and should be given preferential treatment in any U.S. oil import control program.) $ Speaking of countries that are looking after the U.S.’ best interests, Libya is reportedly close to delineating its first oilfield, thanks to the efforts of a U.S.-based operator consortium. $ The Engineers Joint Council reports that all 1958 engineering graduates had jobs or …


Then and Now - May 2008

May 1958 National Geographic Society claims that over the last 40 to 50 years the earth has been getting warmer, thus bringing about a decline in heating oil demand. (I thought Al Gore was the first to report this phenomenon.) $ Meanwhile, TV is being blamed for everything but global warming. It takes the rap for the breakdown of the educational system, the rise of juvenile delinquency, and the decline of home cooking. (Don’t tell S. Smith Sr. this. He thought Howdy Doody was pretty educational.) $ Which reservoirs were hot exploration prospects in East Texas in 1958….Cotton Valley, Bossier, Travis Peak? Would you believe salt dome oil production? $ Who is the newest player in the Persian Gulf? Would you believe the Japanese? The Japanese firm, Arabian Oil Co., secures a concession off the “Neutral Zone”. East Texas crude …


Then and Now - April 2008

April 1958 Two MIT professors announce the development of the “thermoelectron engine”, a device that coverts heat generated by any type of fuel into electrical energy. Thermal efficiencies of 30% are expected.  Like to guess at Royal Dutch Shell’s net income for 1957? Would you believe a paltry $600 million? Conoco reports the development of a seismic method that involves pounding the earth with a vibrating device to create sound waves that are sent through the earth’s strata. “Vibroseis”, as they call it, will reportedly eliminate the need for drilling shot-holes and firing explosives. LPG marketers announce plans to begin mixing ethane into their commercially marketed butane in extremely cold weather areas. The ethane enhances the volatility of the butane far better than does propane. (Not expected to be marketed in Houston.) East Texas crude oil - $3.25/bbl; U.S. active …


Then and Now - March 2008

Note: if you are looking for the March 2008 Chairman's Corner article, Look here http://www.spegcs.org/en/art/?700 March 1958 Who were the top 3 refiners in the U.S. in 1957? Shell, Gulf, Texaco? Nope….Standard Oil of New Jersey, Standard Oil of Indiana, and Socony. Drilling permits are approved on the edge of downtown Los Angeles; on the Los Angeles Country Club; adjacent to the 20th Century Fox movie lot; but, alas, not in Hollywood. Plans are announced for the formation of a jointly-owned company that will store and ship liquid methane to Europe. The company will be named Constock and will be jointly owned by Continental Oil and the Chicago Stockyards. (A marriage of two companies accustomed to handling H2S.) For the first time, the field prices for natural gas in all producing areas become available. The average base price ranged from …


Then and Now - February 2008

February 1958 R&D labs, including those at Atlantic Richfield, Humble Oil Co., Phillips Oil Co., and Schlumberger Ltd., are reportedly working feverishly on a downhole device for measuring hole deviation from vertical and rapidly transmitting that information to the rig floor. While the Navy threatens to close down its Long Beach naval base because of disastrous subsidence caused by the Wilmington oil field, the California legislature begins work on emergency subsidence legislation. Shell Oil Co. begins testing of a deepwater drilling donut, a circular vessel with a hole in the center for drilling. (Don’t look now…but it may be back!) After exhaustive calculations performed on his slide rule, a Standard Oil Co. engineer reports that the most cost-effective way for a consumer to purchase and trade in automobiles is to purchase a two-to-three year old automobile, keep it until it …