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Then & Now - September 2019

September 1st, 2019

Then & Now - September 2019


The border war may be on, as Mobil drills a rank wildcat six miles north

of the metropolis of Telephone, Texas, and just 660 feet from the Oklahoma border. (That hole better be straight or there are going to be problems!)

Despite no drilling in the area in the past 15 years, Texaco reports plans to drill a wildcat in central Florida, six miles northeast of Wewahotee. (Sounds like a name out of a John Wayne western.)

U.S. active rig count: 945


President Carter starts a flap over his support of a plan to sell 1.5 million bbl of heating oil to Iran at $0.55/gal, while Americans will soon be paying $0.90/gal. (Sound familiar?)

Update on the above…National Iranian Oil Company Chief Nazih is reported to be saying that Iran doesn’t really need the fuel and may sell it …

Chair's Corner - August 2019

August 1st, 2019

Chair's Corner - August 2019

The SPE Gulf Coast Section extends a warm welcome to our new chair, Gabrielle Morrow.

We thought we’d introduce her by sharing part of our conversation.

Connect: Where are you originally from and how did you wind up in Houston, Texas?

Gabby: I was born in Lafayette, La. My father worked in the oil and gas industry, so my family moved around quite a bit when I was a child. I have lived in Houston on three occasions and have also had the pleasure of living in Scotland and Alaska. I attended Kansas State University on an athletic scholarship and graduated with a mechanical engineering degree. In my senior year, I accepted a job with ExxonMobil in Houston to be close to family.

Connect: What is so special about Houston and the Gulf Coast region?

Gabby: Houston is a city full …

Chair's Corner - July 2019

July 1st, 2019

Chair's Corner - July 2019

“…You have to experience the depths of the valley to appreciate the views from the peak.” – STEVE WAUGH

It’s been an absolute privilege and an honor to serve as the chairman of the world’s biggest SPE section. I would like to thank the board of directors, our advisors and every single volunteer in our section for having made my job easy and enjoyable. The relationships that I’ve built over the course of this journey will last forever!

In 2018-19 we saw the birth of many new initiatives and the growth of our existing programs and committees. Some notable achievements include:

  • A New Website – We finally launched our new website with the help of our Communications chairperson, Karin Gonzalez, and our website administrator, Lindsey After several months of careful planning, this effort was executed very smoothly and efficiently. I’m hoping …

Chair's Corner - June 2019

June 1st, 2019

Chair's Corner - June 2019

“Recognition is the greatest motivator.” – GERARD C. EAKEDALE

Scholarship Program Updates

As some of you might be aware, we have been awarding 12 annual scholarships for the past few years, including nine petroleum engineering scholarships and three for other disciplines. This year, the board of directors agreed on increasing this number to 14 by adding two more scholarships to the “other disciplines” category. This decision was made based on our strong financial performance and the continued growth of our section. Considering that our industry features professionals from various disciplines, it was logical to boost this segment of our scholarship program.

This year’s scholarship applicant pool was much higher than the previous year. I would like to congratulate the Education Committee, led by Dr. Mohammad Tabatabaei, for all their hard work in identifying and selecting the best candidates for these scholarships. …

Chair's Corner - May 2019

May 1st, 2019

Chair's Corner - May 2019

“In God we trust. All others must bring data.” – W. EDWARDS DEMING


Permian Basin and the Gas Conundrum

The Permian basin was in the news for a unique reason this time. Natural gas prices at the Waha hub in West Texas tumbled to record-low negative levels on April 3, as takeaway constraints, coupled with compressor station issues at one pipeline, stranded the gas produced in one of the hottest basins in our industry. Prices dived down to -$3.38/MMBtu – a scenario where the producers are paying others to take their gas! In other regions where the primary production stream is gas, companies have the liberty to restrict production when prices fall. But in the Permian, where gas is mostly considered a byproduct, producers have limited options other than to produce and sell or flare the gas, because oil and …

Then & Now - May 2019

May 1st, 2019

Then & Now - May 2019

MAY 1989

The U.S. monthly seismic crew count falls to its lowest point since the Society of Exploration Geophysicists began keeping a monthly count in 1974, with 129 land and marine crews. 

DOE Secretary James Watkins tells 10 DOE national laboratories to intensify research into electrolytic fusion following recent reports of a breakthrough in cold fusion.

WTI crude: $20.23/bbl

U.S. rig count: 751

MAY 1999

Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater reports that, due to the success of the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, passed in response to the Exxon Valdez incident, in 1997 tanker spills were limited to 22,429 gallons out of 107 billion gallons of oil transported that year.

Chevron begins shutting down its beleaguered Point Arguello project off Santa Barbara, California, while they continue to look for a buyer for what was once touted as the biggest find ever …

Chair's Corner - April 2019

April 1st, 2019

Chair's Corner - April 2019

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” – MAHATMA GANDHI

As we enter into the second quarter of 2019, we get into the busiest season for our section. Several of our legacy and new one- day events are set to take place in the next two months. The study groups and committees have put in a lot of effort to plan these events and I wish them the best for a successful execution! Please refer to the events calendar at for event information.

This season also calls for action from our members and board officers. We’re preparing to identify candidates to fill the vacant positions in the board for 2019-2020. We’re also in the process of selecting our most deserving volunteers for the annual section awards. Our nominations and succession committee, headed …

Then & Now - April 2019

April 1st, 2019

Then & Now - April 2019

APRIL 1959

Canada’s chief of mines reports that if the initial atomic blast in Alberta’s Athabasca tar sands is successful, plans call for a series of hydrogen bomb blasts to be set off at the same time.

A major new technique for waterflooding is announced by Core Lab, involving the injection of water at the gas-oil contact, rather than the oil-water contact, as in the conventional method.

East Texas crude: $3.25/bbl

U.S. rig count: 2,057

APRIL 1979

Thanks to natural gas regulations, operators report submitting one million pieces of paper in one case, and 1.5 tons of paper in another case, in order to qualify for eligible gas prices. (Sounds like about one tree per filing!)

In terms of dollar averages at the bachelor’s degree level, petroleum engineering graduates continue to command top dollar at $1,788/month, with chemical engineers second at $1,633/month.

U.S. …

Chair's Corner - March 2019

March 1st, 2019

Chair's Corner - March 2019

"Strength lies in differences, not similarities." – STEPHEN R. COVEY

Membership Trends

Since 2014, we’ve experienced a steady drop in our membership every year. A few years ago, our combined professional and student membership was around 20,000; presently, it’s around 15,000. About 6,000 professional and student members allowed their memberships to lapse after the end of 2018. I’m assuming this is an oversight from these members and I’m hopeful many of them will renew in the coming months. With that said, the historic downturn and volatile oil prices have left a mark on our membership levels, and it’s indeed a big concern that we’re trying to address.

In an effort to educate industry professionals across the Gulf Coast Section about the SPE and the benefits of membership in the society, the Membership Committee is relaunching our Ambassador Program. The SPE-GCS board is …

Then & Now - March 2019

March 1st, 2019

Then & Now - March 2019

MARCH 1989

Texaco reports an economic solution to disposal of some oilfield waste in the application of their coal gasification process to produce fuel-grade synthesis gas from tank bottom sludge.

Japan, Iran’s biggest customer for crude oil, is under pressure from its government to cut Iranian crude imports as a result of Ayatollah Khomeini’s call for the death of UK author Salman Rushdie.

WTI crude: $18.51/bbl

U.S. rig count: 761

MARCH 1999

For the first time since 1951, there are no drilling rigs operating in North Dakota. Just two years prior, there were an average of 18 rigs operating on any given day, with 260 wells drilled per year and a labor force of almost 10,000 employees. (We’re back!)

Oil and gas sector respondents report being fully prepared to prevent the feared Year 2000 computer problems, otherwise referred to as …