Nigeria expects to renew onshore oil licenses with U.S. firm Chevron and Royal Dutch Shell by June, its oil minister said on Tuesday, following Exxon Mobil’s renewal in February worth trillions of dollars.
Shell, the biggest operator in Nigeria, has onshore assets that can produce 1 million barrels of crude oil per day. It is partnered in these projects by Nigeria’s state-oil firm NNPC, Italy’s Eni and France’s Total.
“In order to show our commitment to a vibrant upstream sector … we have started the renewal of leases in good faith … renewals with Chevron and Shell are expected to be concluded by June at the latest,” Diezani Alison-Madueke said in the capital Abuja.
Several onshore drilling licenses that expired as far back as 2008 have been in negotiations between foreign oil majors, Nigeria’s state-oil firm and government for years.
Exxon signed 20-year oil license renewals on Nigerian assets producing around 550,000 barrels per day in February.
The Nigerian government has been reluctant to sign new deals or renew old ones until the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), which is likely to increase royalties and taxes, becomes law.
In a job satisfaction survey of visitors to the Houston Offshore Technology Conference (OTC), only 42 per cent said they were ‘satisfied’ with their current positions.
The survey was carried about by OilCareers.com.
33 % of respondents felt that they could be persuaded to change jobs and 25 % claimed to be actively looking for work.
‘We expected to find a lot of job seekers at OTC this year, but we are surprised at the number of respondents who claimed that they would consider a move if another role provided better prospects,” says Mark Guest, managing director of OilCareers.com.
The energy industry is booming and is one of the foremost employers in the world. Geoscientists have a unique advantage in that they can offer their skill set in a variety of positions throughout the industry. Go out there and get that job you want!
Many of our blogs focus on traditional relationships to geophysics. One of the most important, yet not as well-known avenues that a geoscientist can work in is water-specifically cleaning it, disposing of it when it can’t be cleaned and in general, ensuring that neighboring communities are provided water safe from contamination.
OilVoice recently met with Keith Schaefer, Publisher of the Oil & Gas Investment Bulletin to discuss the topic of water, and how it applies and is important to the oil and gas industry.
The work of marine seismic survey companies is becoming more and more critical as the world’s recoverable oil and gas reserves continue to be a concern. The search for new carbon deposits ranges farther and farther offshore, and deeper and deeper beneath the surface, often in harsh, inhospitable climates. According to most estimates, seismic activity is expected to grow 10 percent this year with business picking up in the Gulf of Mexico and the Arctic continuing to be a hot exploration frontier.
“There are an estimated 380 billion barrels of undiscovered oil and gas north of the Arctic Circle that remain to be found, of which 84 percent is expected to occur in offshore areas,” says Peter Zickerman, Executive Vice President and Head of Strategic Investments for seismic explorer Polarcus in Dubai. “Until the world finds alternative energy sources, the quest to find new oil reserves and maximize extraction from existing fields remains paramount.”
Places like the Gulf of Mexico and Northwest Europe, which have been explored several times over, require companies to constantly fine-tune their data-gathering techniques to find hydrocarbons through deeper and more complex geology. “Planning starts with geological objectives,” explains Zickerman, “and the right plan provides the geological solution, not just the technology itself, and that’s been our breakthrough.”
The growth of unconventional exploration is having a huge impact on the oil and gas industry on land and at sea. These unconventional reserves, characterized by tight shale rock, are challenging for producers and have only recently become economically viable with the advent of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing.
MicroSeismic, Inc.’s Mike Mueller, Vice President of Analysis, said, “There are tremendous unconventional oil and gas resources being developed onshore all over North America and internationally. Offshore unconventional resources are also plentiful but present an additional development challenge in that they tend to be in very deep water.”
The unconventional geologic opportunity is called the Lower Tertiary or Paleogene Trend (largely sandstone), characterized by tight reservoirs which have to be stimulated by injecting fluids and propellants in order to open up oil and gas flow – the fracing process. In an offshore drilling scenario, vertical wells could be drilled in 5,000 feet of water through 20,000 feet of sediment and salt and into a pre-salt interval, where stimulating in the pre-salt could begin.
“Early exploration in the Paleogene Trend in the Gulf of Mexico indicates it may contain more oil in one place than has been discovered in all other Gulf of Mexico exploration and production activities to date,” says Mueller. “And operators active in the Paleogene will need multistage hydraulic fracturing to complete wells and achieve production rates that make the fields economical in the face of increasing exploration and development costs that are in the tens of billions of dollars. In this emerging market, operators are turning to hydraulic frac monitoring to protect their investment and provide feedback on the effectiveness of their frac programs.”
MicroSeismic pioneered a method of monitoring using an array of cables containing geophones, which establishes a large two-dimensional listening device. The passive seismic data gathered 24/7 is critical to measuring pressure and stress changes and borehole failures, which can be transmitted back to an onshore office for analysis. The results are made securely available to clients anywhere in as little as five minutes. “In the hydraulic fracturing monitoring market, the systems MicroSeismic deploys are distinct from the legacy downhole technology and can be implemented offshore with existing seismic acquisition technology,” Mueller explained. The company has been testing the technology in an offshore installation for BP in Norway for the past 10 years.
In the post-Macondo era, Mueller advocates passive seismic technology as new areas of exploration and development open up and new environmental regulations take hold. “The unconventional revolution is a game-changing, 25-to-50-year process. In the U.S., the need for oil import volumes is going down. We’re reversing a trend that has been in place for 30 years or more. It’s astonishing.” And it all begins with a seismic survey.
University of Colorado Boulder Professor John Wahr of the physics department has been elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a top honor recognizing scientists and engineers for their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.
Wahr, who also is a fellow of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, is an expert on theoretical geophysics and on the use of satellite measurements to better understand the planet and its atmosphere. In recent years he has been using NASA’s GRACE satellite system to measure the depletion of water and ice stored in Earth’s glaciers, ice caps, ice sheets, soils and aquifers.
In February Wahr co-led a high-profile study using GRACE to measure mass loss in global glaciers, ice caps and ice sheets during the past decade and the resulting contribution to sea level rise. Wahr also is a leading authority on the study of Earth’s rotation, Earth and ocean tides, and crustal deformation.
“This is one of the highest honors a faculty member can receive, and we are proud to congratulate Professor Wahr,” said CU-Boulder Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano. “He joins a select group of faculty from across the country who have been elected to the prestigious academy and who are relied upon to provide expert advice to our top government leaders on science and technology issues.”
Wahr, a Professor of Distinction in the College of Arts and Sciences, joined the CU-Boulder faculty in 1983. He is an elected fellow of the American Geophysical Union and has published 170 peer-reviewed journal articles in geophysics.
Recent photographs of the Antarctic Peninsula reveal a glittering landscape of ice and snow, crowned by rugged mountains rising majestically in the distance. Yet no human captured the stunning view — it was the work of machines.
Thanks to the combined technological powers of satellites and weather stations scattered around the Antarctic Peninsula, researchers can now keep tabs on the region’s shifting ice — which in recent years has undergone dramatic changes — from the comfort of their offices.
AMIGOS 6, one of many specialized weather stations staked around the region, took the image on April 24 and relayed it to a satellite the same day.
First deployed during the 2010-2011 Antarctic field season, each AMIGOS (Automated Met-Ice-Geophysics Observation System) station is equipped with a thermometer, instruments to measure wind speed and direction and a camera to photograph its surroundings. Stations set out on the ice itself are equipped with GPS to monitor changes in the flow speed of Antarctic glaciers, which are essentially huge rivers of ice.
Poland may be able to extract 25-75 billion cubic meters (bcm) of shale gas from just three coastal license areas in Western Pomerania (Slawno, Slupsk, Starogard) operated by Saponis Investments, according to a study carried out by RPS Energy.
The total deposits have been estimated at 128 bcm in the most pessimistic scenario and at 376 bcm in the most optimistic one, with recoverable resources at 25 to 75 bcm respectively.
If the estimates could be extrapolated to the country level, Poland could be sitting on conditional resources of 4.6 to 13.6 trillion cubic meters of shale gas, or recoverable resources of 1 to 3 trillion cubic meters, much above the recent estimates of the Polish Geological Institute (PIG).
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.