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Other Energy Headlines - 17 September, 2005

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US Oil shale - 20 years before >1mil/b/d

Rand Corporation
A previous Seattle Times story on this report omitted an interesting conclusion:

"Consequently, at least 12 and possibly more years will elapse before oil shale development will reach the production growth phase.
Under high growth assumptions, an oil shale production level of 1 million barrels per day is probably more than 20 years in the future, and 3 million barrels per day is probably more than 30 years into the future."

Report: 'Oil Shale Development in the United States, Prospects and Policy Issues', by James T. Bartis, Tom LaTourrette, Lloyd Dixon, D.J. Peterson, Gary Cecchine.
See (.pdf's): Press release, Summary Only, or Full Document (90pg)

Hat-tip to Michael D. on ERT for bringing this to wider notice, and to Scot G. for the additional links.
(July 2005)


At Time of Epic Storms, Oil Industry Thinks Anew

Jad Mouwad, New York Times (US) via Brazilian Center for Sustainability Studies
Around the world, offshore oil and gas platforms are generally built to survive without serious damage a so-called 100-year storm - a hurricane so powerful that it typically occurs only once every hundred years.

Hurricane Ivan roared through the Gulf of Mexico a year ago, generating the highest waves ever recorded there in a storm considered likely to occur only once every 2,500 years. Given the scale of the hurricane, it was inevitable that it would wreak havoc in the gulf, America's biggest energy-producing region, uprooting miles of underwater pipelines, destroying platforms and crimping production for months.

But when industry officials, engineers and oceanographers gathered at an American Petroleum Institute conference in Houston in July to discuss ways of improving the gulf's infrastructure, they expected to have plenty of time to work on the problems. Then Katrina struck.

"We're seeing more 100-year events happening more often, even every few years," said Jafar Korloo, who has designed, engineered and managed offshore platforms for Unocal, the oil company recently acquired by Chevron. "The bar has to be higher."
The stakes, too, are higher than before. Older production basins in Texas and Oklahoma have been on a gradual decline for years; some potential oil-producing regions on land elsewhere in the United States are out of bounds. ...
(15 September 2005)


US Dept Interior says onshore damage 'major hindrance' to Gulf oil recovery

MarketWatch
Hurricane Katrina doesn't appear to have caused the same damage to offshore pipelines as Hurricane Ivan, but instead did terrible damage ashore that has bottled up oil production, the U.S. Minerals Management Service said Friday.

"The major hindrances to restoration of energy resources have been damage to onshore infrastructure, such as refineries, processing plants and pipelines; difficult and intermittent communications in the Gulf region; shortage of helicopters, boats, divers and power," the MMS said in a statement released Friday morning. "35% of shut in oil is due to problems with onshore infrastructure."

Four refineries accounting for 5% of U.S. capacity remain shut in the wake of the storm. In addition, the Empire petroleum terminal operated by Chevron Corp. (CVX) was damaged, bottling up output from Gulf of Mexico producers who are otherwise ready to come back on line.

The storm also inundated the important offshore oil service port at Venice, La., and did significant damage to natural gas processing plants owned by Dynegy Corp. (DYN), Enterprise Products Partners (EPD) and others that have the capacity to handle more than 40% of the Gulf's output.

Ivan also bottled up production, but did so by triggering massive underwater mudslides that tore apart pipelines. Pipeline damage on the same scale doesn't appear to have happened with Katrina, though it's too early to draw firm conclusions, the MMS said.

"Preliminary reports suggest that Katrina did not cause the same extensive mudslide damage to pipelines as Ivan, but this is still preliminary and subject to information which is changing continually," the MMS said.

The MMS is a division of the Interior Department that administers oil and gas production in the federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
(16 September 2005)


Energy guru Simmons steps down as CEO
Will stay on as Chairman

Lynn Cook, Houston Chronicle
Matthew Simmons, energy market rabble-rouser and author of Twilight in the Desert: The Coming Saudi Oil Shock and the World Economy , is stepping down as chief of the investment bank he founded in 1974.

Michael Frazier, who joined Simmons & Company International in 1992 and became president in 2001, will take the helm of the company's day-to-day operations. Simmons will stay on as chairman and remain involved in shaping the firm's strategies.

"I am pleased to relinquish the CEO responsibilities ... so that I have time to focus on the complicated energy issues facing the United States and the industrial world," he wrote in a statement. Even before his book was published in the spring, Simmons hit the speaking circuit, telling every audience he could that the U.S. should rethink its dependence on Saudi Arabian oil and warning that an ongoing tight supply-demand situation would keep prices high.

Last fall, when oil topped $50 a barrel, Simmons described prices as a runaway train. He told the Houston Chronicle, "This market is going to be put to the test. These numbers are collisionary."
(14 September 2005)

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