Then & Now - November 2020

Then & Now - November 2020


Phillips China Inc. has reportedly found oil in China's Bohai Bay. After drilling a dry hole on its first try, its second well flowed on test at a rate of 1,602 b/d. Phillips China, a unit of Phillips Petroleum Co., is operator of the block and holds a 60 percent interest, while China National Offshore Oil Corp. has the right to acquire as much as 51 percent of any proposed development.

BP Exploration Inc. and partners have started up the Troika oil and gas field in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico. Troika, 150 miles south of New Orleans in the Green Canyon area, is produced from subsea facilities in 2,700 feet of water. The field was discovered by Marathon Oil Co. in 1994. BP Exploration Inc. is operator of the project. BP, Marathon and Shell Deepwater Development Inc. are equal partners in Troika.


The World Bank’s global gas flaring reduction (GGFR) initiative is working with individual countries to encourage alternatives to gas flaring, but because there are no requirements for reporting gas flaring volumes, it is difficult to know whether these efforts are succeeding. The Google Earth system provides access to a substantial quantity of high spatial resolution satellite images, acquired by DigitalGlobe, for sites around the world. If one knows where to look in Google Earth, it is possible to find active gas flares.

US House Democratic and Republican leaders accuse each other of inaction as oil prices climb toward $100/bbl. Democrats remain committed to sweeping legislation that would encourage more domestic biofuels production, according to Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Democrats are also reportedly writing a bill in secret that would further restrict access to domestic supplies and impose more taxes on production, which effectively would raise prices and increase dependence on imports.


Under the certain direction of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, authorities apprehend at least 200 wealthy Saudis, including eleven members of the royal family, and confine them to a hotel in Riyadh. Prince Mohammed, the 32-year-old son of King Salman, is promoting economic and cultural reform, pressing overt confrontation with Iran, and leapfrogging cousins to become king-in-waiting. In the process, he consolidates power atop a ruling family estimated to have 15,000 members. Then there's the money, and according to an article in The Wall Street Journal, the Saudi government could confiscate assets worth as much as $800 billion from its new captives.

West Virginia reaches a stunning agreement for China Energy Investment Corp. to invest as much as $82.7 billion in the state on shale gas and chemical manufacturing projects after Gov. Jim Justice and others objected when it looked as if federal trade officials had overlooked the Mountain State. President Trump intervened and stated that he truly wanted to do things to help West Virginia, given the nature of its declining coal industry, along with his desire to reduce the US trade deficit with China.

Light sweet crude: $57.05/bbl

Natural gas: $3.18/MMbtu

US active rig count: 907


This month...What’s next for McCarthy and the Shamrock?

In February 1953, after countless scouting expeditions to Nicaragua, Argentina and Guatemala, McCarthy announced he would finally launch a South American drilling program on a million acres he had leased in Bolivia. He tried to sound excited about the venture, taking along Houston reporters to watch him begin drilling, but it felt like exile to him. His first three wells found natural gas, but McCarthy was soon obliged to shut down production, as Bolivia had no pipelines and thus no way to transport the gas. McCarthy fumed and was forced to wait for one to be built.

The Equitable, meanwhile, slowly broke apart his empire. It sold his oil fields and pipelines piece by piece over the next few years. In August 1954, it handed over management of the Shamrock to Hilton Hotels. A year later, Hilton bought out McCarthy’s redemption rights, severing his last ties to the Shamrock, which was renamed the Shamrock Hilton.

Workers lowered the giant portrait of McCarthy in the lobby and replaced it with one of Conrad Hilton. It was the last most of Texas would see of McCarthy for a very long time. McCarthy himself, like a latter-day Butch Cassidy, disappeared into the wilds of Bolivia, vowing to return with a second fortune. For a long time the only indication he was even alive came in the odd stories that floated up from South America every few months, none of which, as with the case of an Ecuadoran doctor he attacked in a drunken rage on a flight to La Paz, suggested Glenn McCarthy was going gently into the night.

Next month... McCarthy makes a run at reclaiming his glory (raucous) days.


What was the first South American country to report a true oil discovery, and in what field was it discovered?

If you would like to participate in this month’s quiz, e-mail your answer to by noon, November 15. The winner, who will be chosen randomly from all correct answers, will receive a $50 gift card to a nice restaurant (courtesy of the ProTechnics Division of Core Laboratories).


In 2008, Chesapeake Energy, in the news of late, was the second-largest independent and the third-largest overall gas producer in the US.

Congratulations to September’s winner, Walt Laflin with Advanced Engineering Solutions.