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 resulting oil spill forced the closure of desalination plants, which supply drinking water to the region.

Light, sweet crude oil - $15.23/bbl; Natural gas - $2.21/MMbtu; U.S. active rig count - 957      


March 2002

ExxonMobil reports plans to enter the Taiwanese retail market which was just recently opened to foreign competitors. Until they secure a foothold in the market, they plan to buy products from state-run Chinese Petroleum Corp. for resale. (Interesting marketing strategy!) $$ Gaz de France signs a contract with a French shipbuilder to construct the world’s first diesel electric LNG carrier. The vessel will be the first of its kind to use diesel-electric propulsion. $$ The Sakhalin I Consortium plans to build an advanced, special-purpose rig to drill extended-reach wells to offshore targets from a land-based site on

Sakhalin Island, Russia. $$ Forest Oil and Anschutz International will reportedly soon be selling gas from the Orange basin offshore South Africa. The natural gas will ultimately be used to generate electric power in Cape Town.

Light sweet crude oil - $23.26/bbl; Natural gas - $2.62/MMbtu; U.S. active rig count – 769


March 2012

El Paso reports plans to sell its exploration and production business, EP Energy Corp., for $7.15 billion to affiliates of Apollo Global Management LLC and Riverstone Holdings LLC. $$ The USGS issues the first shale oil and gas estimates for Alaska’s North Slope at 2 billion bbl of oil and 80 tcf of gas, which are technically recoverable. $$ A European Union technical committee hands Alberta oil sands’ producers a small victory by declining to declare fuels made from bitumen to be greater emitters of greenhouse gases than those from other types of crude oil. $$ The Sabine Pass LNG export project takes a step toward a final investment decision by entering an exclusive agreement for financing worth $2 billion.

Light, sweet crude oil - $104.20/bbl; Natural gas - $2.57/MMbtu; U.S. active rig – 1,975


The Rest of the Yarn

This month we continue our extended look at the life and times of oil magnate John D. Rockefeller. 

After a long, tense day at the office in downtown Cleveland, Rockefeller would go home to Euclid Avenue, doff his silk hat, read the evening newspaper, and enjoy his family. One thing he didn’t do was take a drink. In keeping with his firm religious beliefs, he was a strict teetotaler. 

It was with his children that Rockefeller really let down his guard. He balanced fine china on his nose to amuse them. He taught them to skate and swim and ride bicycles. On moonlit nights he led family bike journeys through the woods, attaching a white handkerchief to his back so the children could follow him easily. 

John and Cettie sheltered their children from the family’s growing wealth, paying them tiny allowances, encouraging them to earn spending money by sharpening pencils and doing other household chores, and teaching them the importance of duty to one’s fellowman, good sense, and--above all—religion.

Fortunately for Rockefeller, the Baptist doctrine did not discourage the pursuit of financial gain. The Baptist faith’s roots were Puritanism, and the Puritans saw the ability to earn and save as virtues. Rockefeller, writes one biographer, had a “sense that he was one of God’s soldiers and religion made him great.” Without religion, without the belief that he was serving God as he grew richer, Rockefeller might not have been such an exuberant capitalist. “I believe the power to make money is a gift from God,” he cheerfully declared, “to be developed and used to the best of our ability for the good of mankind.”

Next month, his business philosophy begins to take shape and along comes Standard Oil.


History/Science Quiz

In what year was the first structural map of an oilfield published and who is credited with its preparation?

If you would like to participate in this month’s quiz, e-mail your answer to by noon, March 15. The winner, who will be chosen randomly from all correct answers, will receive a $50 gift card to a nice restaurant.


Answer to February’s Quiz

The component of natural gas that flows through a hole faster, conducts heat better, and transmits sound at a higher velocity than any other gas except for hydrogen is helium.


Answer to January’s Quiz

The Kirkuk field in Iraq is the Middle East oil field that was drilled on an oil seep that was mentioned in Biblical times.


Congratulations to January’s winner – Mark Glaser with Weatherford