Archive for December, 2011
Senior Texas A&M geophysics student Amal Al Ebrahim is one of 24 members of this year’s Academy for Future International Leaders (AFIL). The AFIL is a year-long program for outstanding undergraduate students aimed at teaching leadership skills with a global perspective.
Following high school, Al Ebrahim received a scholarship from Saudi Aramco to study science or engineering abroad. The Aramco program is designed to equip students with the technical skills and global awareness the industry needs and, in return, professionals spend as many years working for Aramco as they did earning a degree.
Al Ebrahim’s affiliation with the AFIL will give her a chance to build on the leadership skills gained by serving in various campus organizations. AFIL also teaches students how to be leaders through independent study, a semester-long class, and weekly seminars. Students are also assigned a mentor who can give practical advice that builds on their lessons. Al Ebrahim’s mentor is a Korean businesswoman who worked her way up to a leadership role, starting 30 years ago in a male-dominated business environment somewhat similar to present-day Saudi Arabia. “I want to polish my skills to be a female leader back home,” Al Ebrahim says.
After she graduates in August, Al Ebrahim plans to pursue a Ph.D. in geophysics at Stanford, which she was introduced to last summer through the Stanford Undergraduate Research in Geoscience and Engineering program.
But first she’ll return home to work for Saudi Aramco to gain some experience. Way to go Al Ebrahim and Saudi Aramco for sponsoring this bright young Geoscientist!
IDC Energy Insights has just released a report detailing their top 10 predictions for the worldwide oil and gas industry in 2012. The contenders were judged based on a wide range of research, including surveys of technology decision makers, in-depth interviews with industry executives, vendor briefings and data from their Worldwide Oil and Gas Industry IT Spending Guide.
IDC Energy Insights group vice president, Rick Nicholson, said, “The oil and gas industry has faced a number of challenges over the past couple of years including the economic recession, the Macondo well blowout in the Gulf of Mexico, and supply disruptions due to the ‘Arab Spring’ uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa. The industry has coped with these challenges and nearly all of the economic indicators are pointing toward positive growth.”
It should come as no surprise that the number one spot is held by exploration and production for unconventional resources. To read the rest of IDCs predictions, read the full list. And comment on our blog to let us know if you agree!
Not everyone is taking the U.S. government’s recent stance against the Keystone HL pipeline to heart. The TransCanada Corp. has made it clear that they for one will work with the U.S. State Department to do “whatever is necessary” to help in securing the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.
In a statement, TransCanada said that the company, “…acknowledges and respects the discussion that has occurred in Washington in recent weeks as members of Congress have thoughtfully debated the role Keystone XL will play in meeting U.S. energy independence needs and creating jobs, all with a long-term respect for the environment.”
The U.S. Senate recently voted to approve a spending bill and an extension of a payroll-tax cut. It also included a provision requiring President Barack Obama to decide within 60 days whether to move forward with TransCanada’s Keystone XL crude-oil pipeline.
TransCanada said the vote, “…would have some bearing on the ultimate timeline for a decision on approval of the project. TransCanada will work with the Department of State to do whatever is necessary if the bill is ultimately passed and the 60-day timeframe, as outlined in the legislation, comes into effect.”
“We look forward to learning in the coming days how this latest development will affect the ultimate approval process for our project,” said TransCanada President and Chief Executive, Russ Girling.
According to TransCanada, “Keystone XL has the capacity to deliver 830,000 barrels of oil per day to U.S. refineries in Cushing, Oklahoma and the Gulf of Mexico. Up to 25% of that capacity has been provided for the delivery of U.S. domestic oil from the Bakken fields in Montana and North Dakota and oil from Cushing. Long-term, binding contracts for more than 150,000 barrels per day from the Bakken fields and Cushing have already been signed.”
The 1,600-mile-long pipeline would run through seven states and create thousands of jobs.
The American Geophysical Union (AGU) recently announced that Stony Brook University’s Donald J. Weidner, Ph.D., a distinguished professor in the Department of Geosciences will be the recipient of the 2011 Inge Lehmann Medal.
The AGU is dedicated to the furtherance of the geophysical sciences through the individual efforts of its members and in cooperation with other national and international scientific organizations. The Lehmann Medal was established in 1995 in honor of Inge Lehmann, a Danish seismologist who made many contributions to the understanding of the Earth’s deep interior, including the discovery of the Earth’s inner core in 1936.
The Inge Medal is only awarded once every two years and recognizes “outstanding contributions to the understanding of the structure, composition, and dynamics of the Earth’s mantle and core.”
Dr. Weidner, who joined Stony Brook University as an assistant professor in 1972, graciously accepted his award and said, “I am humbled and honored by this prestigious award, but at the end of the day, it recognizes not just me, but all the talented and dedicated people I work with at SBU. This honor truly belongs to them.”
Dr. Weidner’s research focuses on the materials that make up the Earth, in order to understand the state and evolution of the planet. His team studies the properties at the high pressures and temperatures that are presumed to exist deep in the Earth, using tools such as synchrotrons to gather information about the minerals in the high pressure devices. “Ultimately, we hope to gain information about plate tectonics, earthquakes, and volcanoes—while understanding the chemical make-up of the Earth,” notes Dr. Weidner.
“This is an exceptional achievement, and we are all proud and thrilled for Don,” said Richard J. Reeder, Chair and Professor, Department of Geosciences and Director of the Center for Environmental Molecular Science at Stony Brook University. “Don has pioneered experimental studies of earth materials at extreme conditions and has served the geophysics and mineral physics communities through his leadership in developing synchrotron facilities at National Synchrotron Light Source (NSLS) at Brookhaven National Laboratories.”
Geophysics Rocks! extends heartfelt congratulations to Dr. Weidner and to his team!
As the U.S. turns to burgeoning shale gas discoveries as a means to end reliance on foreign oil, in the UK, politicians are torn. On the one hand they are very much aware that placing too many restrictions on exploration of their own natural resources could be detrimental to similar success. On the other, environmental protests about alleged pollution continue to abound.
In May, the House of Commons’ Energy and Climate Change committee reported it had found no evidence that fracing threatens water aquifers, “…provided the drilling well is constructed properly”.
A moratorium on fracing is “…not justified, or necessary” at present, Members of Parliament said, urging energy secretary Chris Huhne to ensure drilling in all cases is monitored “…extremely closely in its early stages in order to assess its impact on air and water quality”.
The UK’s Environment Agency said a moratorium is not necessary “on the grounds of environmental risks as we understand them at the moment”.
One thing that’s for certain in England at least, is that growing energy demands will not be met by wind farms. The Duke of Edinburgh just last week pronounced them “absolutely useless.”
The British Geological Survey estimates up to 150 billion cubic meters of shale gas exist, equal to 18 months of the UK’s requirements and worth £28 billion (about €33 billion) at today’s prices. However, offshore shale gas in British waters could dwarf that available on land.
Jonathan Craig, a fellow of the Geological Society of London, dated fracing back to 1820, adding that it has been commonly used since the 1950s.
Chief executives of some of the world’s largest oil companies told the World Petroleum Congress (WPC) that in order to continue to meet growing energy demands, more money must be spent.
BP CEO Bob Dudley said that, with world energy demand projected to increase by up to 40 percent by 2030, enhanced oil recovery from old fields as well as new finds from under the Arctic ice and from the deepest waters of the world’s oceans will all be needed.
“The numbers are stark … That is the equivalent of adding another China and another United States to demand. And our latest data show that demand profile is holding up even at this time of economic uncertainty,” he said.
“Since existing fields are declining and will only yield just over 50 million barrels by 2030, our industry needs to add roughly a Saudi Arabia’s worth of extra production capacity every five years,” Dudley said.
The chief executives of Exxon, Shell, ConocoPhillips and BP agreed that meeting demand growth, driven by rapid population and economic growth in developing countries would also require some cost-effective renewable technologies and measures to drastically reduce energy waste.
Based on the historic increases in energy demand that have accompanied economic growth to date, demand in 2050 could be around three times that of 2000, Pete Voser, chief executive of Royal Dutch Shell said.
Over the next few decades that would mean needing 65-70 million additional barrels per day of oil to bridge the gap.
Congratulations to geologist Henry Dick of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) who was selected to receive one of the American Geophysical Union’s prestigious medals . He will receive the award this month in San Francisco at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting.
Dick, a Senior Scientist for WHOI, has been selected to be the 2011 American Geophysical Union Harry H. Hess Medalist for “outstanding achievements in research of the constitution and evolution of Earth and other planets.” Established in 1984, the Hess Medal is named in honor of Harry H. Hess, who made many contributions to geology, mineralogy, and geophysics.
Dick was cited for, “…his many discoveries, creative efforts and deep insights that have led to the modern understanding of the mantle melting and ocean crust formation along the global ocean ridges.” And for, “…correctly concluding the significance of low-angle normal faults in exposing mantle peridotites and lower crust gabbros at slow-spreading ridges – fundamental to the discovery and understanding of oceanic core complexes,” and for recognizing “…ultraslow-spreading class of ocean ridges’ that differ from the familiar fast- and slow-spreading ridges, and offer new challenges for understanding how ocean ridges work.”
Among his discoveries was that the Earth’s crust is not a continuous shell around the Earth, but that beneath large areas of the Atlantic, Indian and Arctic Oceans is absent and the deeper layer of the Earth, the mantle is exposed directly on the ocean floor.
Way to go Henry!
GE Oil & Gas announced this week the opening of a $100 million technology and learning complex in Jandakot, Western Australia, which will support the development of skills for the oil and gas sector and provide its first in-country support and maintenance center for the upstream industry.
The project, originally slated to be an $80 million job, grew to $100 million in response to overwhelming feedback and demand from the oil and gas industry in Western Australia. GE Oil & Gas expects to deliver 4,000 training days in 2012 and has already begun to service its major equipment in country.
This will be the first GE facility to offer the full range of technical training required to meet both the demands of the resources boom in Australia and the need to increase productivity in the sectors facing this rising demand.
Steve Sargent, CEO and president, GE Australia and New Zealand said, “Global energy demand is expected to grow 35 percent over the next 25 years and by 2020 Australia will be the biggest exporter of LNG in the world. Ensuring that Australia benefits fully from this boom requires us to develop skills and technical capabilities in country. “
Skills shortages are set to be one of the main inhibiters to economic growth in the resources sector. The latest Clarius Skills Index, which measures the supply and demand for skilled labor across 20 job categories, recently found that engineering firms are amongst those expected to be hardest hit by a looming skills shortage in the Australian workforce over the next decade.
GE has set an excellent example in our industry by working to better the local economy and provide training to ensure a workforce will be prepared to provide for their country’s energy needs. For more stories about our industry doing good things, be sure to check out the Geophysics Rocks! Industry Making a Difference Page.
Marine geophysical company Polarcus is taking strides to save time and money by shortening travel time to Asia-Pacific by traveling along the Northern Sea Route. Polarcus’ venture is the first known passage of a 3D seismic vessel along the Northern Sea Route.
The route completion was an industry first, led by the Polarcus Alima, an ultra-modern and Arctic-ready 12 streamer 3D seismic vessel. The Alima is one of the most environmentally responsible seismic vessels in the industry, with diesel-electric propulsion, high specification catalytic convertors, a double hull and advanced ballast water treatment / bilge water cleaning systems.
The journey began on September 15, 2011 in Hammerfest (Norway). After completion of seismic operations in the Barents Sea, Alima travelled on a 3000 nautical mile route along the northern coast of Russia to Cape Dezhnev in the Bering Straits, completing the trip in nine days.
After passing the Bering Straits the Alima continued its voyage to New Zealand to commence operations expected to run for up to seven months. Polarcus says the northern route was made possible in part due to the vessel’s Arctic-ready capabilities. Under the Russian Federation’s 1990 Regulations for Navigation on the Seaways of the Northern Sea Route, vessels making the passage are required to hold an ICE-1A or higher ice class.
The expected time savings in transit between Norway and New Zealand compared to the traditional route through the Panama Canal amounts to some eight days. The savings versus the Suez Canal, a necessity for some larger seismic vessels, amounts to 13 days.
Rolf Rønningen, CEO Polarcus, said, “The successful navigation of Polarcus Alima along the Northern Sea Route has been achieved through the dedication and hard work of our in-house operations personnel, the Northern Sea Route Administration, and our crew onboard the seismic vessel. The result of this outstanding teamwork has been to achieve significant savings in fuel, emissions, and most significantly time during a milestone transit that effectively provides Polarcus a viable new sea bridge between two important operational markets.”
Congratulations to Polarcus on their success in lessening the environmental impact of sea travel!
In lieu of highlighting a specific individual or company this Friday, we take time to salute our entire industry! An excellent article appeared in Oil Voice this week which caught our attention immediately, since it lauded Geophysics as a top area for employment internationally.
“High demand for our commodities is coming from China, and an increase in demand is expected from India and other parts of Asia. As a result, various studies point to a jump in the number of jobs in mining, oil and gas. Candidates are aware of this jobs bonanza and are expressing great interest in opportunities on offer,” said Simon Winfield, Senior Regional Director of Hays Resources & Mining and Hays Oil & Gas.
He continued, “We were bombarded with interest from candidates at Queensland’s recent Mining and Gas Jobs Expo… For those considering their study options, we would advise that training in geology, engineering or any other skill in demand in this sector will certainly pay off in the future.”
To read the full list (according to Hays) of skills desired with reasons why, read the full story. (Psst, Geologists come in 2nd!)