Archive for April, 2012
Global energy majors have placed bids for two potentially large shale gas fields in Ukraine, Environment and Natural Resources Minister Eduard Stavitsky said, adding that the government would pick winners in a month.
One contract area, Yuzovska, is located in the eastern Donetsk and Kharkiv regions. The other, Olesska, is in the western Lviv region.
Ukraine’s State Geological Service estimates the reserves of the Yuzovska area at 2 trillion cubic metres and those of Olesska at 0.8 to 1.5 trillion cubic metres.
“Chevron CVX.N and Eni have bid for Olesska (contract area),” Stavitsky told reporters. “Exxon Mobil , Shell and TNK-BP for Yuzivska.”
According to the U.S. state Energy Information Administration, Ukraine has Europe’s fourth-largest shale gas reserves at 42 trillion cubic feet (1.2 trillion cubic metres), trailing Poland, France and Norway.
The State Geological Service has also said the Yuzovska area would require $250-$300 million in exploration investments, while Olesska would need $150-$200 million.
Energy-hungry Ukraine is keen to launch shale gas production in order to ease its dependence on Russia, which it says is charging an exorbitant price for its gas.
The oil and natural gas sector in the United States is expanding, though more is needed for energy security and economic growth, a trade group said.
The American Petroleum Institute said 12 percent more exploratory wells were completed so far in 2012 when compared with the same period last year. Overall well completions, however, declined 9 percent during the reporting period.
Hazem Arafa, director of statistics for API, said the domestic oil and natural gas industry has shown its commitments to U.S. energy security during the first quarter of 2012.
“Additional access to our own vast energy resources and streamlined federal permitting would allow for more opportunities to produce our own energy while creating more American jobs and generating more revenue for our government,” he said in a statement.
Critics of U.S. President Barack Obama‘s energy policies accuse his administration of blocking oil and natural gas developments. The White House says production is at historic highs, though much of that increase is due to polices enacted by the previous administration.
Following the lead of the U.S. and some other European countries, Romania is to begin exploring its shale gas reserves in a drive for energy independence.
Several oil companies have expressed interest in exploring what is believed to be the country’s significant potential. According to an assessment by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary may together be sitting on top of about 538 billion cubic meters, or 19 trillion cubic feet, of technically recoverable shale gas reserves.
The U.S. energy company Chevron has, since 2010, obtained concessions in Romania, covering a combined area of 870,000 hectares, or 2.2 million acres, in the Eastern plains and the Black Sea coastal region of the country. After surface prospecting, the company is planning to start an exploratory drilling campaign this year.
“Chevron believes that Romania holds potential for a successful project,” Thomas Holst, country manager for the company, said in an interview.
“We are in the early days of activity. No wells have been drilled,” Mr. Holst said: “That is why it is critical to conduct a standard natural gas exploration.”
In Barlad, an economically depressed town near the Moldovan border, the economy has been hit heavily by the loss of heavy industries since the fall of communism in 1989 and would benefit from the large investments that shale gas development would bring. According to Romania’s Mineral Resources Agency, for example, exploratory drilling in the Dobroudja region, on the Black Sea Coast, could bring more than $80 million in investment over four years.
The development of shale gas extraction could change world energy markets, offering potentially ample supplies that would otherwise tighten in coming years.
In the United States, where fracing technology is most widely used, it could flip the country from a net importer of natural gas to a net exporter.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has recently made available maps of the sea floor, continental shelves and other data on the world’s coasts available for easy viewing online.
Anyone with Internet access can now explore undersea features and obtain detailed depictions of the sea floor and coasts, including deep canyons, ripples, landslides and likely fish habitat.
The new online data viewer compiles sea floor data from the near shore to the deep blue, including the latest high-resolution bathymetric (sea bottom) data collected by NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey primarily to support nautical charting.
“NOAA’s ocean bottom data are critical to so many mission requirements, including coastal safety and resiliency, navigation, healthy oceans and more. They are also just plain beautiful,” said Susan McLean, chief of NOAA’s Marine Geology and Geophysics Division in Boulder, Colo.
McLean’s division is part of NOAA’s National Geophysical Data Center, responsible for compiling, archiving and distributing Earth system data, including Earth observations from space, marine geology information and international natural hazard data and imagery.
Next week, the American Association of Petroleum Geologists will host their annual meeting in Long Beach, CA.
As part of the festivities, Dr. Sven Treitel will be named the 2012 recipient of the Marcus Milling Legendary Geoscientist Medal. David Monk, President Elect of the Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG), will accept this prestigious award on behalf of Dr. Treitel as part of the awards ceremony.
The Marcus Milling Medal is awarded to senior geoscientists who have contributed consistent high-quality scientific achievements and service to the Earth sciences with lasting, historic value.
A global pioneer in his field for more than four decades, Dr. Treitel has been an integral component in advancing the field of geophysics. Born in Freiburg, Germany in 1929, Treitel received his Bachelors degree in Geophysics in 1953 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and went on to complete both his Masters and his Doctorate also in Geophysics from MIT.
During his extensive career, Dr. Treitel helped to establish the fundamental principles of modern digital seismic data processing used in every seismic survey taken today. A longtime collaboration with his friend and fellow graduate student Enders A. Robinson allowed both to champion the practice of forward modeling and inversion of reflection seismic data, establishing the importance of this process in understanding seismic data and seismic survey design.
Treitel has not only been a leader in industry, but has also inspired innumerable generations of colleagues with his contributions, both technically and personally. He is currently the president of TriDekon Inc., a consultancy in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
The American Geosciences Institute recognizes Dr. Treitel with this award for his intellectual leadership in exploration geophysics, for the impacts his contributions have made to the discovery of some of the world’s hydrocarbon reservoirs in the past fifty years, and for his excellence in mentoring countless geophysicists while helping the journal Geophysics achieve worldwide preeminence as one of its former Editors-in-Chief.
President Obama and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff are hoping to boost cooperation between their nations on energy matters ranging from oil and gas development to renewable power.Bottom of Form
The talks come after discovery of an enormous offshore field in territorial waters, the biggest oil discovery in the Western Hemisphere in 30 years.
Following a bilateral meeting between the two leaders in Washington, the two zeroed in on oil and natural gas and biofuels as areas on which they saw promise for additional cooperation. The two nations both engage in deepwater drilling and are far and away the world’s largest producers of ethanol, which is increasingly being used in transportation fuel.
“Brazil has been an extraordinary leader in biofuels, and obviously is also becoming a world player when it comes to oil and gas development,” Obama said, according to an event transcript. “And the United States is not only a potential large customer to Brazil, but we think that we can cooperate closely on a whole range of energy projects together.”
The leaders said they want to build on work done as part of the Strategic Energy Dialogue between the two nations on fostering cooperation on oil, natural gas, biofuels, renewables and efficiency.
The dialogue seeks “to support the two countries’ common goals of developing safe, secure and affordable supplies of energy for economic growth, energy security, and the transition to a clean energy economy,” the White House said in a statement.
Cooperation on biofuels has included bilateral and multilateral efforts to boost research and development, as well as harmonize standards and boost deployment of biofuels in aviation, according to the White House.
U.S. ethanol exports in 2011 reached a record high and helped to partially offset a drop-off in Brazilian production brought on by a poor harvest of sugarcane, according to the Energy Information Administration. Most U.S. ethanol comes from corn.
The two nations have been sharing information and sought to collaborate on a range of issues concerning offshore drilling, including safety and oil-spill response, according to the White House.
Working together through the sharing of information and best practices is the only way that the world will be able to meet its burgeoning energy demands. Geophysics ensures that these processes happen safely, effectively and with the environment in mind.
The Geophysics Rocks Technology page provides a wealth of information on what our industry is doing to keep the above at the forefront of this new frontier.
Energy Minister Craig Leonard’s political assistant asked Canadian NB Power to remove all anti-shale gas signs from its utility poles as anger was building across the province last summer.
The original request came from a phone call from Baisley to Heather-Anne MacLean, the director of corporate relations for NB Power at the time.
“We have just received a call asking that we enforce our RSP requirement of not having signs on poles. Apparently there is quite a campaign going on in Sussex with anti-fracing signs being put up on utility poles,” MacLean wrote on July 8.
The Department of Energy’s request came as protests were popping up across the province against hydro-fracing and shale gas development.
On June 23, Natural Resources Minister Bruce Northrup announced at a meeting new rules that would apply to the mining and hydro-fracing industry.
Outside that meeting, protesters were lining the streets and at one point some protesters had to be removed from the meeting room by the Fredericton Police.
Later that summer, a series of large protests and blockades were held across the province. A few weeks after Baisley’s request, roughly 1,000 people marched to the legislature in Fredericton to protest the shale gas industry.
There is no explanation in the communication about why Baisley and the energy department wanted the anti-shale gas signs down at that point. There is also no mention of any other signs that the energy department wanted to be removed.
Fracing is a process that has been in place for decades, hydraulic fracturing has been used for a wide variety of purposes, from stimulating the flow of water from water wells, to bringing geothermal wells into commercial viability.
For more on fracing and why it’s a safe resource for extracting natural gas, visit Energy in Depth, one of the premier resources on the web for facts related to the oil and gas industry.
Although many jobs are often touted when describing life in the oil industry, one of the more unusual and less heralded roles to be found in the offshore oil and gas industry is that of a Marine Mammal Observer (or MMO). The MMO profession is one that has grown as companies work to ensure the safety of marine mammals during seismic testing.
Bodies such as the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC), which advises the UK government on the marine environment, concede that seismic surveys do not constitute a threat to marine mammals, but does monitor exploration to ensure that its guidelines for seismic surveys are adhered to.
The JNCC’s marine advice team works closely with the UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), which is responsible for granting environmental consents associated with oil and gas activities. A mandatory condition of consent for seismic surveys is that they comply with the JNCC’s guidelines, while the organization’s guidelines for use of explosives are considered to be best practice for offshore explosive operations.
Because of this, seismic testing vessels within the UK generally employ MMOs, while even in countries where no government regulations exist regarding the protection of endangered species during seismic testing activities, oil firms with a ‘best practice’ attitude to the marine environment voluntarily accept MMOs as independent observers.
João Nuno Gonçalves, an MMO currently working in the North Sea, explained his role, “An MMO is responsible for supervising and advising what a vessel is doing around marine mammals. He needs to be there in case any mitigation actions are needed and to advise the vessel’s crew to apply them. MMOs also have a role in educating people onboard about marine mammals,” he said. “As an MMO, you are always on duty because you need to record and collect the data so that you can deliver it for scientific research.”
As well as looking out for marine mammals and advising crew on the JNCC procedures, an MMO is required to produce an MMO report that is sent to the JNCC after a survey has been completed. As well as the date and location of the survey, this report includes such data as the total number and volume of air guns used, the nature of air gun array discharge frequency and firing interval, a record of watches made for marine mammals and details of any problems during the seismic survey.
In the UK, MMOs need to go on a JNCC training course before they are allowed to work. Once qualified, and working, MMOs can even join their own professional body – the Marine Mammal Observer Association – which works with the offshore oil industry as well as government agencies and NGOs to promote the MMO profession.
As well as having the opportunity to spot whales, dolphins and other species – the main reason why Nuno Gonçalves does the job – the high daily rate of pay is also a draw.
“Compared to what I did in Portugal it’s lucrative, especially now with the economic crisis,” he said.
For more information on what companies do daily to make drilling for oil and gas safer, smarter and more environmentally safe, visit Geophysics Rocks!
The European Union (EU) lags behind the United States in developing shale gas but leads it on safety – a cautious approach that may pay off in averting the sort of the environmental protest many US states have faced.
This approach ultimately could lead to greater production of European shale gas than otherwise, if it stops countries from joining France and Bulgaria in banning exploration.
U.S. President Barack Obama confirmed in January his administration would draft rules requiring companies to disclose chemicals used on public lands during the fracing process, in which liquids are blasted into rock deep underground to release pockets of gas. (Not that websites such as www.fracfocus.org do already exist for this purpose.)
The EU legal framework gives regulators more opportunity to examine projects before they get off the ground. Natural resources are owned by the state rather than by private individuals, forcing developers to request a permit to explore.
In both Europe and the United States, in any event, the wisest approach may be to tap the resource cautiously, taking account of all the risks.
In that way, the industry may head off the kind of protests that have successfully stopped projects in nuclear power (on radiation fears), onshore wind (landscape blight), carbon capture and storage (CO2 leaks) and coal (CO2 emissions and local air and water pollution).
Besides tougher rules, Europe’s smaller reserves and differences in property rights laws mean that shale gas development will be less than in the United States.