Monday, March 30, 2015

This Week in Oil and Gas History

April 2, 1980
President Carter signs the Windfall Profits Tax on oil companies. The idea was typical liberal Democrat plan to tax the eeevil oil companies from profiting on the price run up of oil. Eight years later, domestic oil production is at a 20 year low. In August 1988, the tax was repealed. Another failed tax program from the Dems. Now it's called "sharing the wealth".

April 1, 1986
The price of crude oil hits a low of $10 per barrel. (Where did those windfall profits go??) Those of us who survived the 80s remember the oil mans prayer...."Lord, just give me one more boom and I promise I won't screw it up".

Now There Are Two

Robert L. Hite passed away recently. He was the co-pilot for Crew 16 (nicknamed "Bat Out of Hell") of the Dolittle Raid on Tokyo. He was captured and spent three and a half years in a Japanese POW camp.

Only two raiders are left.

Take a moment and salute these men.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

This Week in Oil and Gas History

March 29, 1819
Edwin Drake was born. He is credited for drilling the first oil well in 1859 in.....wait for it......Titusville, Pennsylvania! The well was drilled because it was discovered that kerosene could be distilled from oil as well as coal.

March 27, 1855
Kerosene was invented by Canadian chemist Abraham Gesner. Distilled from coal, it was called coal oil and was the primary source of illumination until electricity. My old company, Mobil Oil, sold kerosene in China. They would give away the lamp for free knowing that they would then sell lots of kerosene.

March 28, 1886
For a brief period of time, Indiana became the world largest natural gas producer with the discovery of the Trenton Field near Portland, Indiana. Yep, the first oil and gas fields were in the north.

March 27, 1975
First joint of pipe laid for the Trans Alaska Pipeline.

March 24, 1989
Exxon Valdez runs aground in Prince William Sound, Alaska. Think of the irony that it happened on the anniversary of the start of the pipeline construction.

Monday, March 16, 2015

This Week in Oil and Gas History

March 17, 1890
Sun Oil Company of Ohio (SUNOCO) is incorporated. Yep, the original oil companies were based in the north.

March 16, 1911
Mobil Oil's Pegasus was trademarked. Later a lighted version of the red flying horse was installed on the company HQ in Dallas and it became a landmark for early travellers.

March 20, 1919
The eeevil American Petroleum Institute (API) was formed. Environmentalists complain.

March 18, 1937
There was a natural gas explosion at the New London HS in east Texas. It killed 298 people. This accident was the reason that natural gas now smells the way it does. Natural gas has no odor and its accumulation in the high school basement went undetected. Since then, a chemical called mercaptan has been added so that small amounts of it assault the nasal membranes. One of the reporters who covered the story was a young Walter Cronkite.

March 17, 1949
The first hydraulic frac takes place near Duncan, Oklahoma. No aquifers were damaged.

Friday, March 13, 2015

This Week in Oil and Gas History

March 12, 1943
A group of oil field roughnesck were secretly sent to the UK to help the Brits drill for oil in Sherwood Forest and provide a submarine-proof source of fuel. You can read more about this little known piece of history here.

March 12, 1968
Prudhoe Bay oil field discovered by ARCO and Exxon. It was 250 miles north of the Arctic Circle and remains the largest oil field in North America.

March 9, 1974
Construction of the 800 mile Trans Alaska Pipeline began. It will cost $8 billion and take three years. I was actually in Alaska when they started up the pipeline. Progress of the "pig" was a daily news item. Note that took less than 10 years from discovery to delivery for North Slope oil - that is an example of American ingenuity.

March 12, 1974
OPEC ends the oil embargo

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Project Management

A friend of mine with many years of project management experience has developed what he calls the "5L's" . He has allowed me to copy them here. I think they are applicable to all phases of life. I have added comments to them in italics.

The Codner 5L's
By James H. Codner

1. LEAD from the front.
Leadership is not as has hard as it looks. But it takes courage and commitment. No one follows a "leader" who leads from the rear or home office. Lead from the front. Demonstrate active and visible leadership practices. If you don’t have some, go get some steel-toed boots. Drag them behind your car for a few blocks if needed to show some wear; then get out in front and lead. Learn people’s names. Nothing sounds more magical from a leader as speaking to someone by his or her first name.

The president of the first company I worked for urged employees to get out into the field and see where the real work was done. Nothing is more valuable than hands on knowledge and experience and nothing gets you respect faster than the signs that you have been there, done it and got the T shirt (Beat up steel toes, dinged hard hats, and a worn out travel bag)

2. LISTEN to others.
Listen to what others say – the best ideas are probably not yours. I have been amazed at the number of times that a complicated problem was solved by simply listening to the person who was on-the-front-line. This works from a 6 foot 7 inch construction worker sorting out a potential safety issue to a 4 foot 3 inch grade school child learning a new sport.

I found that a new engineer will often be "set up" by the field hands. They sit back and ask him what they should do. The best response is to turn it around and ask their advice. If you get them to offer possible solutions they will become part of the team. And they will appreciate being asked for their ideas.

3. LEARN from your mistakes.
If you are not making some mistakes along the way, you can’t possibly be learning anything. The trick is to learn from all incidents, whether they are in an office, at home, a plant, on a construction site or school gymnasium and ensure that there is not a risk of repeating. While it’s not “OK” to get someone hurt or make a costly mistake, the risk of repeating will definitely haunt you.

Don't be ashamed to say "I F'd up." It also protects the people who are working for you. Nobody wants to follow someone who blames someone else for their mistakes. "Hitting the Crown Block" is a drilling term which means you have pulled the travelling block too high and hit the upper block, usually causing grave damage to the drilling rig. I once heard an expreienced superintendent say that he would rather have a driller that had done it once, because he knew that it would never happen again. Of course, if he had done it twice, he was run off.

4. LEVERAGE from others.
Leverage best practices from others – don’t fall into the not-invented-here trap. And what a trap it can be! Simply because we are all too good to trip where others fell! While all projects, great and small, claim to practice “lessons learned”, in reality I’ve seen very few “lessons” (excepting catastrophic lessons) learned in practice, and usually at great industry cost and legislative burden. It’s really a matter of simply taking a “hard swallow”, absorbing and applying your skinned knee to your forward planning.

One company I worked for used the phrase "Steal Shamelessly" to encourage people to seek solutions from others. I have found that it is sometimes best to get outside of your industry and see what ideas they have that could be applied to your situation.

5. LOOP back to the beginning.
Loop back to the beginning. Everything takes practice. Ask a professional athlete. They may easily hit 100,000 tennis / golf / cricket balls in a year and still not be “ranked” on the world stage. Review your plans. Re-read your Contracts. Review your organizational structure (excepting trade skills, usually more is simply less and more inefficient). I’ve found “looping” back almost always reveals trap-doors I didn’t see coming or some other problem that was sure to be imminent.

There's a saying that it's hard to remember that your original plan was to drain the swamp when you are up to your A** in alligators. It pays to go back and think again. I have found several errors during construction by doing just that. I pulled the original documents and found changes made in the field that would not have worked.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Head Count

The new king of Saudi Arabia is wasting no time in clearing out the prisons. The KSA beheaded a motley crew of 18 murderers, rapists and druggies last month. Their 2 month total is now 35 heads.

In other news, according to Drudge, the Saudi "courts" now want to try Raif Badawi the blogger they sentenced to 1000 lashes, for apostasy. You know, the crime of rejecting your religion. That carries the death penalty. Be thankful that you blog in a free least until they enforce Net Neutrality.