Oil is always a good word

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Exploration has been taking place since the first family of standing humans asked “what’s over there”, deciding to move on to greener ground.

William (Bill) Head

If it weren’t for the fossil tar pits of La Brea, Los Angeles, what would Hollywood animators have done to the animated movie “Ice Age?” What would the Romans have used in their trebuchet fireballs to conquer Gaul? What would the Ukrainian brewery do to make anti-tank “cocktails”?

News: SPE and AAPG have decided not to merge. I understand the survival efforts within professional organizations in decline, but there have been few P’s and not many A’s in the G. The now Euro AAPG version has jumped over the wall of evil-P. SEG and SPE are still talking. It’s encouraging. Greece has announced that the country will start exploratory drilling for the first time in more than 20 years to reduce its dependence on Russian energy. No comment from DOE or US DOI. As ExxonMobil joins wind turbine technology, the company’s exploration survives and thrives offshore Guyana. ConocoPhillips expands its oil E&P in the North Sea. Congratulations!


Fig. 1. “Evolution” in the 1889 edition of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain.

Exploration has been happening since the first family of upright humans asked “what’s over there”, deciding to settle on greener ground. Chthoniidae formed alliances, relocating to the territory of their neighbors [who took it from someone earlier]. Usually the problem was gaining control by killing and enslaving local subhumans to gain access to resources. Neanderthals were apparently trying to distill tar 200,000 years ago in central Europe. Maybe they had seers looking at 2022.

Ideologies that teach the wickedness of others do not mention their intentions. When the Sultan of Oman conquered Indonesia, he used methods that were followed by the Japanese army in World War II. Lenin in 1917 showed Stalin the way to take over two-thirds of Europe. May I mention that among what everyone took as prizes were energy resources. Each began their journey as an explorer, first in trade, then in trust, then ended in death. What do we see in parallel with the situation in Ukraine or with the forced greening of the planet? Answer: A small, determined group believing themselves to be intellectually superior, some with tanks, some with media, pushing relentlessly. Who is submitting who right now? I refer you to the illustration “Evolution” in the 1889 edition of Mark Twain’s novel, A Connecticut Yankee in the Court of King Arthur, Fig. 1.

Biden the chief explorer. After killing nearly all US exploration on federal leases and then asking for higher royalties, US President Joe Biden is flip-flopping yet again and trying to source oil from Iran and Venezuela. The American solution: the release of Strategic Petroleum Reserves (SPR). Does anyone remember how many barrels of salt water can be dissolved for 100 barrels of oil extracted from a cave like the ones used in the SPR? [15 bbl of salt or 2.38 m3] Cavern shrinkage (i.e. closure) is estimated to be around 2 million barrels per year, but it could be much higher.

What to do with all that salt water? The SPR is estimated to contain approximately 727 MMbbl of oil in underground areas that only have an authorized capacity of 714 MMbbl. Politicians have never been good at simple math.

Hysteresis: Should someone tell Biden and. Al. the relationship between exploration time and production? I remember Amoco (1998) saying something about the cost of delays in acquiring, processing and interpreting seismic data on a certain offshore block, which to them was worth almost $320,000 per month. How does this square with the “9,000” permits?

History lesson, CERA. As the CERAWeek website states, “Now in its 40th year, CERAWeek is widely regarded as the most prestigious annual gathering of CEOs and global energy and utility ministers…with a growing technology presence. It was described by the FinancialTimes as the “Davos of energy”.

In 1983, Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA) was founded in Cambridge, Mass., by Dr. Daniel Yergin and James Rosenfield. Dr. Yergin is the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book, The price, as well as his 2011 effort, The quest: energy, security and reshaping the modern world. Focus on redesign. Yergin is Vice Chairman of S&P Global and Chairman of CERAWeek. Perhaps we should rethink our involvement with people, companies or organizations that are openly anti-exploration.

If the world ran on lemonade, our industry would be the leader in its supply – paraphrase Corky Frank, senior vice president of refining, Marathon Oil, circa 1988. I believed him.


William (Bill) Head is project manager for RPSEA’s Ultra-Deepwater program. As a senior technologist, he worked more than 38 years in exploration, mining and production in the United States and abroad. Mr. Head has been instrumental in several international start-ups, coordinating local and global operations, and managed one of the largest IT facilities in the industry.


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