Tuesday, December 16, 2008

THAAD and Citi

There is an interesting news item out of Dubai. It is all over the Middle East news organizations but it is very difficult to find any mention of it on CNN, Fox or the US media.

The US is planning to sell a new missile defense system, called Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, to Dubai. The cost is about $7 billion. The story in Gulf News is here.

This system will be different from other missile defense system installed in foreign countries in that it will not be manned and operated by US soldiers. It will be sold outright to the United Arab Emirates and operated by them. This essentially places classified technology in the hands of a foreign nation. A nation, that although it is friendly to the US and an ally in the war on terror, has a steady stream of dhows sailing between Dubai and Iran with almost no customs control. Can you say “smugglers paradise”?

The stated objective of the missile defense system is to protect UAE assets, but it’s difficult to figure out just what those assets are. Their oil reserves are in decline. That’s why they have embarked on the mega building campaign. They need to replace the money from the sale of oil with other commerce. The “Navy Base” is only a concrete dock and few trailers. Is it needed to protect the world’s tallest building and the world’s biggest shopping mall?

My guess is that it is placed there to protect other GCC (Gulf Cooperative Council) countries such as Qatar and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which do have large energy assets and would be embarrassed by the need to have US military installations within their borders.

Oh, yeah. Your Congress Critters approved this. Do you remember seeing that news?

And in other news that you won’t see in the US media; Citibank has loaned Dubai about $8 billion dollars. Yup, the bank that was just bailed out with $45 billion is loaning money to one of the richest little countries in the world. With Abu Dhabi Investment Authority owning 4.9% of Citi and a Saudi Prince owning 5%, doesn’t this loan have a little odor to it? Especially given the recent concern about property investments in the UAE.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

New Offshore Subsea Record

Shell has set a new oil industry record by drilling and completing a subsea well in 9,356’ of water. This is the deepest well ever drilled. The location is 200 miles offshore. The well is part of the Perdido field development that will start production in 2010 at a rate of 130,000 barrels per day. The graphic will give you a chronology of the progression to deep water oil developments.

In case you wondered, this oil is brought to you courtesy of deep water royalty relief. That’s one of the domestic oil incentives that the Dems want to eliminate.

And for those of you who think the oil industry isn’t high tech, take another look. We don’t just send a little vehicle out to scoop a few samples of dirt and take a few pictures. This is like trying to thread a needle from a height of 10 feet. And we do real work down there. We set equipment weighing tons from miles away using remote tools and we set it within a few inches. That equipment then has to operate for years without being touched by human hands once it’s installed. In no other industry can you find a similar mix of brute strength, reliability and precision.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Whale Scratching Post

Is your subsea manifold a little bent out of shape? This may be why.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Another Friend Gone

I just heard of the untimely death of a friend of mine. I worked with him for over 20 years. And he was younger than me. You expect the old timers to pass but not us “young” guys.

He was great to be with on a construction site. He had that laid back, shit kicking, slow talking Texan manner with a dry wit and well developed sense of irony. He could always be counted on for a humorous country analogy that described any situation you might be in.

My favorite story about him happened when he was being considered for a position in the Princeton, NJ engineering office. He was probably the first guy to interview in cowboy boots. I think you can visualize the image here. At the end of a day of interviews, the HR folks are describing the housing options available in the area. He learned that housing cost was much higher and living space was much less that what he was used to in Texas. He looks them in the eye and drawls, “Now tell me again why I would want to lower my standard of livin’ to work here?”

That was Dave. You’ll be missed.

Turkey Day

My wife decided to host Thanksgiving Dinner at our house this year. As the oldest of nine, the family gatherings can be fairly large. She spent two days cooking in preparation for 25 guests with the assistance of the two oldest grandsons as sous chefs. The oldest, J, has shown an early interest in cooking and likes to get in the kitchen with Grandma at every opportunity. The middle one, D, hates to be outdone by his older brother. She never thought that it would be her grandsons helping her out in the kitchen. It’s all the more unusual because, as a baby, J was a very picky eater. He survived his early years on a diet of chicken nuggets and french fries.

The youngest grandson, P, was looking forward to Thanksgiving as he heard his second cousin, Josh, would be among the guests. The two formed a strong bond a few months ago when they discovered a shared love of Transformers. And at four years old, they like the mechanical ones, not Megan Fox.

My favorite part of Thanksgiving is the turkey gumbo that we make from the leftovers. Use the turkey carcass to make a stock Make your roux as normal, throw in the holy trinity, add the turkey stock and water to the desired consistency and toss in the leftover turkey, andouille sausage and oysters if you got ‘em. Finish off with green onion and parsley. We use three kinds of pepper for heat – white, black and red.

My Yankee Cousin arrives tomorrow for a few days. He’s coming down for a convention. His favorite meal, barbecue shrimp, will be on the menu sometime this week. They don’t make that in Rhode Island. And if the fishing gods smile, he may be carrying some fresh haddock.