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Can Americans Think Of Energy Use Like Calorie Consumption?

June 12th, 2009 admin | Comments Off

I was just reading the June issue of National Geographic — the special energy edition. The issue has some interesting perspectives on fossil fuels, carbon emissions, and a good interview with Obama’s energy chief.

But one philosophical energy statement totally threw me off this morning:

“Think of energy use like prudent calorie intake. Consume what is necessary. Make healthy choices. Keep waste to a minimum. Live well.”

This analogy lends itself to failure like a fad dieter on the Atkin’s Diet. As much as diets and true “prudent caloric intake” do not work for most Americans, neither will wise energy conservation. Our mindsets have been trained to consume in every meaning of the word.

Since the Industrial Revolution, energy advancements, and thus consumption, have been doubling nearly every decade. Suddenly, within the last couple hundred years, we have begun drawing on the deposits of oil, coal and gas that were sitting dormant for thousands of years. And until those deposits are truly in danger of dwindling, nothing will stop us from using them.

Especially as Americans, we are bred to consume. Until I lived in the Philippines in ‘05-’06, I had no idea what it was like to go a few days without electricity or running water. As unpleasant as a cold bucket shower is, I realized I could make it in life — and be just as modern and happy — without all of my energy amenities.

Energy conservation is a wonderful theory. Some of President Obama’s plans for educating on energy conservation may actually work. But overall, the “green” lifestyle seems to be nothing more than a trend. For the average American, sticking to a lifestyle of strict energy conservation seems about as likely as sticking to a 1800 calorie per day diet.


New Fuel Rules Could Backfire

May 27th, 2009 admin | Comments Off

Under a plan announced last week, President Obama plans to cut fuel usage in vehicles. The plan sets a national fuel-efficiency standard starting in model year 2012. That number would eventually reach 35.5 miles per gallon in model year 2016. The standard today is about 25 mpg.

But how will the nation respond to the new rules?
1. People may start driving more. We see it every time gas prices go down — people hit the roads because it’s cheaper to drive than to fly. Because cars will get better mileage, the cost of driving will decrease. A 2007 analysis by University of California-Irvine researchers estimated that U.S. fuel efficiency improvements from 2000-2004 led Americans to drive 6% more miles.

2. People may hang on to their old jallopies longer. The new plan estimates that new cars and trucks will cost an average of $1,300 more. Older cars are more likely to cause emissions, defeating part of the purpose of the new fuel plan.

3. Car companies the Obama administration is trying to save may have a hard time adapting to the new rules. GM and Chrysler in particular have businesses focused on relatively fuel-hungry vehicles, and they need to sell off those models before the new rules come into play.

Long-term, the new fuel rules could bring about greater fuel-efficiency in the U.S., but the road to adaption will be a long one.


Fluctuation In Oil Prices Is Older Than The Civil War

May 14th, 2009 admin | Comments Off

Remember last summer when oil prices reached a high of $146/barrel? As a result, on June 24, 2008, gas prices hit a record high average per gallon, at $4.591. A year ago at this time, we were at $3.93/gallon, and yet today we sit at $2.52/gallon on average.

Ah, fluctuation! You can never fully predict what oil prices are going to do! Consumers complain about fluctuation, and it keeps producers in a certain state of uncertainty.

A book I’m reading, Spindletop Boom Days, shows that fluctuation in oil prices is no new story.

In 1859 the price of a barrel of oil was $20; in 1861 it was $.10! Prices soared to $14 in 1864 but fell to $4 at the end of the Civil War. By 1870 oil prices had roller-coastered between $1.35 and $7.00, and stood in 1870 at a mere $2.70 — hardly enough to encourage speculators.

Imagine $.10/barrel oil! It’s inconceivable! But a fluctuation from $20/barrel to $.10/barrel is much more dramatic than the fluctuations in oil prices we’ve seen in the last few years, so perhaps we should be thankful that we aren’t living in the early days of oil production.


Why Are Gen-Y O&G Workers So Darn Happy?

May 11th, 2009 admin | Comments Off

Survey results released today by Deloitte show that Generation-Y (born 1982-1995) oil-and-gas workers seem to be happier, more confident in their job stability, and less money-hungry than their peers in other industries.

Members of Generation-Y have been known to be more concerned about high salaries and a work-life balance than their predecessors. (Who, me? Don’t look at me…I just have spinning class, dinner with friends, and a church class planned after work today).

According to the Deloitte survey, Generation-Y oil-and-gas workers are less concerned about money than their peers and more concerned about advancement. Those surveyed chose from 11 actions employers can take to retain them, and 65 percent of Generation-Y oil-and-gas-workers picked “provide opportunities for advancement). Among survey respondents from other sectors, the top pick was “Increase your salary and/or bonus.”

Generation-Y oil-and-gas workers also seem to be happier in their jobs, with 83 percent reported being “very satisfied” or “somewhat satisfied” with their current jobs. Fewer than 70 percent of Generation-Y members in other industries felt the same way.

Overwhelmingly, Generation-Y oil-and-gas employees believe their employers are committed to them. Even in a period of economic crisis, 90 percent of respondents in oil and gas companies perceive their job security to be “high (I will definitely keep my job),” or “somewhat high (I will probably keep my job),” as compared with 77 percent of respondents in other industries.

What makes Generation-Y oil-and-gas workers different from the members of my generation in other industries? Connections. While no one likes to admit that they are working for someone, we all enjoy having a mentor figure who drives us toward greatness. Unlike most industries, many members of the oil and gas industry have either a family member or a close family friends for whom they work. My colleague Stephen Payne often encounters this while conducting his Brightspot interviews for the monthly Oil and Gas Investor. In fact, our May Brightspot, investor Joshua Batchelor, said his father has been “a constant and invaluable source of advice” throughout his career.

The strong connections within the oil and gas industry make careers more enjoyable, and I think these relationships also ignite a little more fire in the work tanks of Generation-Y workers.

Visit OilandGasInvestor.com for more on the survey.
-Lindsay Goodier, lgoodier@hartenergy.com


Matt Simmons: ‘We Have To Begin An Urgent Restructuring’

April 22nd, 2009 admin | Comments Off

In a speech at the “Strategies for High-Performance in Volatile Times” session sponsored by Hart Energy Publishing and Oracle this morning, Matt Simmons, internationally famous investment banker and analyst to the upstream industry, made several interesting comments about the state of the oil and gas industry.

One of his main points was sustainability — which he said is something the industry has strayed away from in the last 5-6 years.

“Are we actually still sustainable or are we on a path to unsustainability? Instead of forming a committee to figure out what went wrong the last few years, everyone went on a witch hunt to figure out why we had $140 a barrel oil,” Simmons said.

Simmons also relayed human resource concerns.

“Two thirds of the workforce in the oil and gas industry will retire in the next 5-7 years. In the last 15 weeks, the industry has laid off 300,000 people.”

The solution according to Simmons? Restructuring.

“We have to begin the most urgent restructuring that brings hydrocarbons to the infrastructure,” Simmons said.

To view the entire presentation, sign up for the archived webinar at OilandGasInvestor.com.

Lindsay Goodier, Online Editor, OilandGasInvestor.com


Future Energy Leaders Take The George R. Brown By Storm This Week

April 15th, 2009 admin | Comments Off

Were you ever a part of the science fair when you were a kid? I remember winning the Tulsa Science Fair in the category of Botany my sophomore year of high school. All I had to do was grow bean plants in peatmoss, kitty litter, and a few other strange substances, and I won a nice trophy and a trip to the state science fair.

Well, the modern-day science fair is more than just an opportunity for kids to win blue ribbons. These days, kids are helping formulate answers on how to sustain our environment. And this week, child scientists from around the world gather in Houston to display their energy, engineering, and environment projects at I-SWEEP 2009.

I-SWEEEP works with local, national, and international science fair organizations to bring together the top-ranking participants and qualifying projects from these competitions. The projects are judged by industry professionals and academicians from area universities such as Rice and the University of Houston. Winners not only receive a medal for their effort, but a scholarship from universities.

The mission of I-SWEEEP is to raise increasing interest in solving energy-related problems among students. I-SWEEEP also promotes renewable energy, energy efficiency, energy management, and clean technology concepts in secondary education.

So if you happen to pass by the George R. Brown sometime this week, you can stop in and shake the hands of some kids who might be working with you someday!

Lindsay Goodier, Online Editor, OilandGasInvestor.com


Can’t Attend DUG? No Worries, Thanks To Your Friend The Internet

April 3rd, 2009 admin | Comments Off

Many of our readers and online users will be attending the Developing Unconventional Gas conference in Ft. Worth next Monday through Wednesday. Unfortunately, budget cuts and travel costs are keeping many folks from hopping on a plane.

But thanks to our ever-evolving-and-cutting-edge web site, OilandGasInvestor.com, all of the presentations, as well as the breakout press room interviews from each set of presenters, will be online just a couple weeks after the conference. So you can see the whole conference without ever leaving your office!

Personally, I continue to be amazed at all the Internet has to offer. Just yesterday, the online editor of E&Pmag.com, Ralph Malbrough and I met with folks from TalkPoint, our webinar vendor. Many of you have been able to participate in one or more of the 13 webinars OilandGasInvestor.com has offered since our webinar launch in November. The TalkPoint team emphasized how live conference attendance is dropping dramatically this year, but webcast attendance continues to climb, as audiences search for affordable ways to gain knowledge on specific topics.

The next OilandGasInvestor.com webinar will be April 9 at 2 p.m. CDT: “Arkoma Shales: Geochemistry and Microseismic Revealed.” We sincerely hope you can join us for this interactive, online experience.

Lindsay Goodier, Online Editor, OilandGasInvestor.com


Palin On Alaska Natural Gas Pipeline: ‘Let This Be One Of President Obama’s Wins’

March 20th, 2009 admin | Comments Off

Despite the economy, now may be the perfect time for Sarah Palin to finally see her natural gas pipeline project accelerate. Plans for a natural-gas pipeline date back to the early 1970s, before the Trans-Alaska oil pipeline was built. Palin’s platform is just a new addition to the long-running campaign to commercialize the North Slope’s discovered 35 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

On Wednesday in a press conference in Anchorage, Alaska, Palin defended the campaign and seemed confident that it will be backed by President Obama. She said it fits his agenda of reducing carbon emissions.

“Our project lends itself to his agenda there. So I say, politically, you know, let this be one of President Obama’s wins, let it be his baby, his idea, whatever it takes to allow that administration to know the import of this project.”

Will the Obama administration be able to overlook the short-term costs of developing the pipeline and see the long-term benefits of transporting more natural gas? With the growing demand for NGV Vehicles and continual talk of cutting foreign dependence for oil and gas, it seems that this may be one of the easiest solutions. Or so Sarah Palin hopes.

Lindsay Goodier, Online Editor, OilandGasInvestor.com


Larry Nichols On Devon’s Sustainability

March 12th, 2009 admin | Comments Off

I really enjoyed this interview with Larry Nichols, CEO of Devon, from NewsOK.com. He gives some great insight to how Devon is positioning itself long-term: “You have to spend the money up-front to prime the pump, but when you do, you don’t look as good as other companies that are spending short-term.” Let’s be clear, everyone: Devon is not and has never been in the oil and gas business just for the short-term.

He also has some great things to say about the U.S. abundance of oil and gas resources.

View the video interview here.
Lindsay Goodier, Online Editor, OilandGasInvestor.com


Oilfield Experts Give Tips On Gaining Productivity, Getting Results Faster And Cheaper

March 10th, 2009 admin | Comments Off

“You can’t wait for change to come from the bottom up,” Paradigm E&P president and chief executive John Gibson says in OilandGasInvestor.com’s “Driving Innovation and Efficiency in the Digital Oil Field” webinar. Register for the archived webinar here.

Executive management must drive change, “and you’re going to have to assign it to someone,” and certainly that individual must be highly motivated to effect results, he adds. Gibson is joined in the webinar by Randy Clark, president and CEO of energy-standards promoter Energistics, and Dwayne Spradlin, president and CEO of the Internet-based problem-solving service InnoCentive Inc. The innovation leaders discuss technology that produces to the bottom line, with productivity gains and cost reductions.

Highlights include:
– Discussion of what kind of technology and innovations will be driving the oil industry 20 years from now.
– How to create a corporate culture of open innovation.
– How to solve in-house problems through an outsource channel of more than 170,000 highly educated professionals across a multitude of disciplines.

Gibson says innovation requires an entire corporate mindset. “Even if you receive a brilliant, innovative solution, you have natural antibodies in your company that attack it because it’s not their idea.”

Spradlin says companies in other industries, such as pharmaceuticals, post challenges on Waltham, Massachusetts-based InnoCentive’s website, and offer a reward. The registered problem-solvers can view the challenge and work to develop solutions. “When I look at the economy, with companies are forced to meet market shares, innovation is absolutely essential,” Spradlin says.

By outsourcing problem-solving in a reward-based setting, “you are principally paying for success rather than failures within the organization.”

Clark says the energy industry needs greater standardization. In the 1980s, Phillips and Sony worked together to develop the standard compact disc. Collaboration suggested that each were conceding market share; instead, billions of CDs were in circulation by 1992. In the same way, the energy industry needs to adopt singular energy applications to exchange information more effectively, Clark says.

Clark gives the example of standardization by StatoilHydro. The company estimated a few years ago that more than $40 billion of value could be gained from production optimization in the Norwegian sector of the North Sea. To enforce optimization, StatoilHydro implemented 100% of drilling info delivered WIT SML, Wellsite Information Transfer Standard Markup Language. The standardized language enabled StatoilHydro to reduce cycle time and to archive all information in the same format.

In an industry that is losing experienced personnel to retirement, standardization contributes to continuity and retention of critical information, and helps compensate for the loss of hands-on people. It ensures financial strength, helps to find production opportunities in new and existing fields, and increases operational efficiencies across the E&P life-cycle. One standard reduces data duplication, errors and cycle times, and it improves accuracy and the ease of data-sharing.

Gibson urges, “Don’t give up.” Hear the entire one-hour presentation and view the speakers’ slideshows here: register here.

Lindsay Goodier, Online Editor, OilandGasInvestor.com