Daily Archives: April 25, 2011

Ten Fracking Things Everyone Should Know


By Peter C Glover
 Posted on Apr. 21, 2011

As dull headlines go it’s on a par with the (almost certainly apocryphal) classic “Small earthquake in Chile. Not many dead”. But “Hundreds rally against fracking” – the hydraulic fracturing procedure used in shale gas extraction – must be up there with the dullest.

Hundreds? Only hundreds? I can remember a time when just whispering the world’s most powerful epithet “Big Oil” would have had eco-warriors everywhere reaching for their scaling ladders and megaphones. After all, even “progressives” need to keep up empty traditions.

Okay, the headline was only at a Time Warner online news site, so no one actually read it. I only picked up via a Google Alert. But the report did reveal just what got ‘hundreds’ out of their pits; even though quite a few seemed a little confused as to why they were protesting outside the Capitol building in Albany, New York State. One banner, the article reported, stated, “In NY state, no more drilling for fossil fuels”. Another: “We want New York to lead the change”. Some plainly thought it an anti-fossil fuel march, not a march against a particular method of extraction: hydraulic fracking. Another proclaimed, “You can’t drink gas”. Pithy. Accurate. I like it.

The rather pathetically-attended Albany protest was even thought newsworthy north of the border. One Canadian paper ran the anti-fracking story headlining it, “Natural gas carries unexamined risks”. So does getting out of bed in the morning – but let’s stay focused. Sadly, the article’s impact was somewhat diluted by a photo of a banner-waving biologist placarding the message: “Water Is Life Is Water”. Albeit not an English major, we can applaud the sentiment – it’s always good to hear science confirm the suspicions of generations of the common layman.

So just where were the expected hordes of treehuggers and concerned citizenry in Albany? Isn’t the very water supply that we all share – including ‘fracker’ families, by the way – under threat? What has happened to the commitment of modern apocalyptic alarmists that they aren’t able to bus in, on fossil-free vehicles presumably, legions of apocalypse-sometime-soon green street protestors?

Here’s a fact that can be banked. The anti-fracking movement is the trendy new cause célèbre. Unfortunately, not many of those involved appear to have the slightest idea how long it’s been used as a mining extraction process and that it has an incredibly safe antecedent history record. That is not to say that accidents don’t happen or haven’t taken place. It’s the nature of the technological advancement beast that accidents – even negligence – will occur. Nor does it that infer some companies don’t occasionally need their butt kicked to comply with regulatory oversight, such as cleaning up tail ponds, et al.

Essentially, however, the whole anti-fracking movement has its head where the sun doesn’t shine – and here are just ten reasons why.

  1. Hydraulic fracking has been around for 60 years. Developments made by U.S. engineers around 2008-9 have simply made the process much more commercially viable.
  2. Since fracking was introduced in 1949, over 2 million frack treatments have been pumped without a single documented case of treatments polluting a water aquifer.
  3. 90 percent of all gas wells drilled in the United States since 1949 have been fracked.
  4. The depth of most shale gas deposits drilled is between 6,000 and 10,000 feet – water aquifers exist at an average depth of 500 feet.
  5. Claims of ‘migration’ between the shale gas layers and water aquifers due to fracking or for any other reason, are patently absurd as the gas would have to pass through millions of tons of impermeable rock. If the rock was that porous, neither the water nor the gas would have been there in the first place. (As the hard data in fig. 1 from a study of 15,000 frac treatments in the Barnett Shale Field reveals plainly.)
  6. Fracture design engineers go to great lengths to avoid fracture growth of even 100 feet to prevent losing production.
  7. The new eco-horror genre flicks like Josh Fox’s Gasland, create impact by making outrageous claims which include suggesting “569 chemicals” are used in a single “toxic cocktail” frack treatment. The reality is that 99.5 percent of the treatment is water and sand. Much of the remainder is made up of a maximum of 12 or so harmless gelling agents, like Guar gum (used in ice cream making), and chemicals commonly used around the house.
  8. Domestic running water faucets being set alight with a match might wow gullible film audiences, but dissolved methane found in well water may well be biogenic (naturally occurring). As the largest component in natural gas, methane is not even regulated as it is not toxic and escapes naturally like soda bubbles.
  9. Hydraulic fracking procedures are heavily regulated and not, as often claimed by eco-activists, exempt from drinking water and other key regulatory laws.
  10. Concerns about using “excessive water resources” in the process are already being assuaged by new developments, including recycling water. And the U.S. Ground Water Protection Council confirms that drilling with compressed air is becoming increasingly common.

Ten Fracking Things Everyone Should Know

Fig 1

As Montaigne said three hundred years ago, “Nothing is so firmly believed as that which is least well known”. After well over a decade of flat-lining global temperatures, it’s not surprising that greenist activists are tapping into new emotive areas to rally the troops to their simplistic eco-paradigm. “Save Our Water” clearly offers an anti-toxic sound-bite tonic – albeit one based on fracking ignorance.

Original Article

USA: Chevron Selects McDermott for Jack and St. Malo Fabrication and Installation Work


McDermott International, Inc. , announced today that one of its subsidiary companies was awarded fabrication and installation work from Chevron U.S.A. Inc. to support the development of the Jack and St. Malo fields in the Gulf of Mexico. The project will be included in McDermott’s first quarter 2011 bookings.

Work will begin in 2013, with the start of fabrication of 21 rigid jumpers at McDermott’s Morgan City fabrication facility in Louisiana. Offshore installation will begin in early 2014 using McDermott’s subsea construction vessel North Ocean 102 (“NO102”) and the DB16.

“We are pleased to be able to support Chevron’s deepwater developments in the Gulf of Mexico and believe that our combined solution of NO102’s high payload and top tension capacity coupled with our ability to fabricate the high spec jumpers in house provides a unique benefit for this project’s delivery,” said Stephen M. Johnson, President and Chief Executive Officer of McDermott.

The NO102 and its crew will transport and install more than 60 miles of umbilicals, including three control and two power umbilicals. The jumpers and remaining subsea controls system components, including more than 80 flying leads, will be installed by the DB16.

Located in up to 7,150 feet of water in the US Gulf of Mexico Walker Ridge lease blocks, the Jack South and St. Malo North and South subsea drill centers tie back to the Jack and St. Malo floating production platform.

More about North Ocean 102

The 427-foot NO102 enables McDermott to offer versatile installation capabilities in the flexible pipe and product market worldwide. The vessel has two cranes and a moon pool to support deepwater subsea construction work and has a fast transit speed. It is currently equipped with a 7,000-ton capacity cable and umbilical and flexible pipe carousel with horizontal lay system. Plans are underway to upgrade the vessel’s capability by installing a high-capacity flexible-lay system for ultra deepwater installation work. The upgrade will include installation of a new 250-ton crane.

North Ocean 105 (NO105), the sister ship to NO102, is currently under construction at a Spanish shipyard. The 427-foot vessel will be outfitted with a high capacity rigid-reeled pipe-lay system with top-tier payload capacity. The system will also accommodate installation of flexible products including submarine cables and umbilicals and flexible pipelines. The anticipated delivery date of the NO105 is 2012.


McDermott is a leading engineering, procurement, construction and installation (“EPCI”) company focused on executing complex offshore oil and gas projects worldwide. Providing fully integrated EPCI services for upstream field developments, the Company delivers fixed and floating production facilities, pipelines and subsea systems from concept to commissioning. McDermott’s customers include national and major energy companies. Operating in more than 20 countries across the Atlantic, Middle East and Asia Pacific, the Company’s integrated resources include more than 15,000 employees and a diversified fleet of marine vessels, fabrication facilities and engineering offices. McDermott has served the energy industry since 1923.

Original Article

Video: Modern Land Drilling Rig

The Chinese Role Model Collapses on the Progressives

April 24, 2011

By Ed Lasky

For years, China‘s high-speed rail and green energy programs have been portrayed as miracles that America must follow to remain “in the game.”  During the last two years and counting, American taxpayers have been put on the hook for tens of billions of dollars as Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress promote agendas that would supposedly emulate China and lead us to Nirvana.  What is the trouble with this picture?  It has been one giant mirage.

The Washington Post runs a column by one of their finest journalists, Charles Lane, that honestly portrays the Chinese high-speed train project as being a high-speed boondoggle mired in financial and other problems:

For the past eight years, Liu Zhijun was one of the most influential people in China. As minister of railways, Liu ran China’s $300 billion high-speed rail project. U.S., European and Japanese contractors jostled for a piece of the business while foreign journalists gushed over China’s latest high-tech marvel.

Today, Liu Zhijun is ruined, and his high-speed rail project is in trouble. On Feb. 25, he was fired for “severe violations of discipline” – code for embezzling tens of millions of dollars. Seems his ministry has run up $271 billion in debt – roughly five times the level that bankrupted General Motors. But ticket sales can’t cover debt service that will total $27.7 billion in 2011 alone. Safety concerns also are cropping up.

Faced with a financial and public relations disaster, China put the brakes on Liu’s program. On April 13, the government cut bullet-train speeds 30 mph to improve safety, energy efficiency and affordability. The Railway Ministry’s tangled finances are being audited. Construction plans, too, are being reviewed.

Liu’s legacy, in short, is a system that could drain China’s economic resources for years. So much for the grand project that Thomas Friedman of the New York Times likened to a “moon shot” and that President Obama held up as a model for the United States.

In China, as in the US, high speed rail is expensive.  Huge amounts of money have to be laid out for construction, tracts, and equipment, and getting ticket revenue sufficient to cover costs is problematic.  Bullet train lines in Japan, China, and Taiwan all needed bailouts.  All but one of France’s bullet train lines loses money.

While Barack Obama has been promoting high-speed rail projects for years (perhaps to give Vice-President Joe Biden something to do with his time, since he was scheduled to be put in charge of this effort), the rise of the Republicans and the resultant budget deal with Barack Obama derailed his dream project.  Governors (among them was newly elected Rick Scott of Florida) opposed the projects because, while federal seed money would start the projects, state taxpayers would be saddled with all the resultant problems from operating the money drains.  The administration, acting in typical fashion, then threatened transportation funding for obstreperous Governors and indicated it would send the federal money to other states more willing to fall in line with the Obama agenda.

China has also been hailed as a role model of green energy development.  Again, Americans were told by Barack Obama and his acolytes that we would fall behind the curve of history if we did not plunge rapidly into the green energy movement-the technology for the next century.  To further these efforts billions were spent as part of the stimulus program, and billions of additional taxpayer money (via grants, loans, loan guarantees, mandated purchase requirements, etc) flowed to promoters of renewable energy projects.

In reality, many of these “projects” were wasteful green schemes that all too often enriched “friends and family” (and donors) of Democratic powers-that-be (including Barack Obama).  At the same time, to further these efforts, the Obama team has been busy trying to choke off the exploration and development of our vast resources of oil, coal, and gas.  They have used suspect means to cut Gulf of Mexico oil and gas production, imposed a de facto drilling permit slowdown that has been so Machiavellian that a federal judge was compelled to hold the Obama administration in contempt, slashed the leasing of federal lands for energy exploration, proposed the slashing of subsidies that have promoted the production of energy at relatively little costs, proposed a vast array of regulations (such as the EPA’s assault on American business and energy consumers) that would crimp development of our own domestic — and to a great extent — land based carbon wealth.

There are good reasons George Soros — sugar daddy of the Democratic Party — has been investing in green schemes.  He has tilted the playing field in his direction via his leverage over the Democratic Party.

Our own fact-based energy revolution is endangered by Obama and Democrat policies.  Vast new fields of readily tapped shale gas have already dramatically brought down the price of natural gas, saving consumers billions of dollars, revitalizing communities that lie above these reserves, creating jobs and revenue for city and state governments across America.  These shale gas pockets are massive pockets indeed and are ideally, if not providentially, located near where most Americans live.  Additionally, the land footprints of these operations are tiny.

This proximity to end consumers would make transport quite cheap and easy compared to the need to use in-the-middle of nowhere locations of solar and wind farms (that occupy vast swaths of land) to provide negligible amounts of very expensive and unreliable power.  The goal, evidently, it to push us into “the green future” (and into the hands of green energy “profiteers”) and trump China’s green energy industry.

But the China model is cracking at the seams, as it is in Spain and other nations that have rushed to embrace green energy.  The problem is that it is a dream and not based on facts, as Bjorn Lomborg reminds us in a Washington Post column.  He notes that China has been held up by Western elites  as the model “green energy”giant:

New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman described China’s “green leap forward” as “the most important thing to happen” at the end of the first decade of the 21st century.

But the facts do not support this “green” success story.

China indeed invests more than any other nation in environmentally friendly energy production: $34 billion in 2009, or twice as much as the United States. Almost all of its investment, however, is spent producing green energy for Western nations that pay heavy subsidies for consumers to use solar panels and wind turbines.

China was responsible for half of the world’s production of solar panels in 2010, but only 1 percent was installed there. Just as China produces everything from trinkets to supertankers, it is exporting green technology — which makes it a giant of manufacturing, not of environmental friendliness. (snip)

A 2008 Citigroup analysis found that about one-third of China’s wind power assets were not in use. Many turbines are not connected to the transmission grid. Chinese power companies built wind turbines that they didn’t use as the cheapest way of satisfying — on paper — government requirements to boost renewable energy capacity….

The vast bulk of Chinese energy (87%) is provided by burning coal.  Much of the rest comes from biomass and water power.  The widely heralded green program of China is a Big Lie reminiscent of the 5 Year Plans, Great Leaps Forward, and other communist slogans that broadcast the agitprop that communist regimes will leave us in the dust.  The only green thing about the Chinese Green Miracle is the number of American dollars enriching that nation at our expense.

Meanwhile, China is embarking on an ambitious program of the one type of green energy that makes sense (despite the Japanese disaster): nuclear power.  Once these nuclear power plants are running, China will be blessed with clean and cheap energy.  Meanwhile, President Obama may talk about nuclear power but has effectively shut it down by closing down Yucca as our depository for nuclear waste-after billions of dollars have been spent to prepare this isolated location in Nevada to accept and store spent fuel.  Senator Harry Reid may be pleased that he was blessed with this “favor”; the rest of America should not be.

There are certainly reasons people like Barack Obama favor big dreamy projects such as high-speed rail and renewable energy programs.  Perhaps it is the narcissism that drives so much of the Obama agenda — his desire to “fundamentally transform” America and leave permanent landmarks to his own presidency.  There is no space left on Mount Rushmore but plenty of space for rail tracks and solar and wind farms.

Some people throughout the twentieth century been gullible gulpers of the propaganda that communist dictatorships are utopian role models worthy of being emulated (Paul Kengor’s superb book, Dupes: How America’s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century, charts this sorry history).  Lincoln Steffens was one of the leading journalists of the first quarter of the twentieth-century and what he said of Soviet Communism after a Potemkin-like tour there has echoes that have persisted into the twenty-first century: “I have been over into the future, and it works.”  Well, given the benefit of hindsight, we have seen how well that view reflected reality.

Perhaps, Barack Obama truly believes his mission is a God-like one: to stop the rise of the oceans and heal the planets.  He and other cosseted academics with little real-world experience are inclined to adopt the view that elites should be social engineers and be given vast powers to impose their will on the American people.

We have certainly seen this movie before: our health care, the auto industry, the world of finance, the environment, the octopus that his Consumer Protection Agency will likely become.  Americans should not be trusted — bitter clingers or not.  But elites stride above the common folk and should be endowed with massive powers to control society and determine our future.  This seems to be the mindset of Tom Friedman and Barack Obama: one regularly holds up China as a role model and the other wishes he were the leader of China.  Many of us may agree with the latter idea.

But their dreams are just that — fantasies concocted by them that bear little relation to reality.  If they are successful in promoting their grand ambitions, their dreams will become our nightmares.

Ed Lasky is news editor of American Thinker.

Original Article

Singapore: Sembcorp Secures FSRU Conversion Contract with Golar LNG


Jurong Shipyard, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sembcorp Marine, has secured an approximately S$20 million contract from Golar LNG Energy to convert the LNG Khannur, a Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) tanker, to a Floating Storage and Regasification Unit (FSRU) to be renamed West Java FSRU.

The 125,000-cbm LNG tanker, which arrived in Jurong Shipyard recently, will be converted into a FSRU capable of producing 500 MCFD (million cubic feet per day) of gas, with a regasification capacity of approximately 3.8 MTPA (million metric tonnes per annum).

The West Java FSRU represents Golar’s fourth FSRU project for PT Nusantara Regas, a joint venture between Pertamina and PGN. On conversion completion, the vessel will be installed 15km offshore Muara Karang, Jakarta Bay, in Indonesia, where it is contracted to operate until the end of 2022, with provision for further automatic extension options to 2025 subject to certain contract conditions.

The West Java FSRU project will be Indonesia’s first LNG regasifaction terminal and represents the first FSRU project in Asia.

The contract is not expected to have any material impact on the consolidated net tangible assets per share and earnings per share of Sembcorp Marine for the year ending December 31, 2011.

Original Article

GAIL Looking to Buy Stake in Indonesia Offshore Blocks from Chevron


GAIL (India) Ltd is in talks with US energy major Chevron to acquire stakes in its deepwater natural gas blocks in Indonesia.

“Preliminary discussions have been held with the US firm. Chevron officials and Indonesia upstream regulator BPMIGAS will soon be coming to the country to hold further talks,” company sources said.

“The details on the amount of stake are yet to be worked out. The talks are at an early stage.”

Chevron plans to sell its stakes in two deepwater projects — Gendalo-Gehem and Bangka — in Indonesia. It plans to reduce its shares in the blocks this year to 55.1 per cent and 54 per cent, respectively, from 80 per cent, the firm said in its filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

It had reached an agreement with China’s state-owned oil and gas company Sinopec to sell an 18 per cent stake in Gendalo-Gehem for $680 million.

At present, Chevron holds an 80 per cent stake with Italy’s Eni and Indonesia’s Pertamina owning the rest. The Indonesian regulator is yet to approve the sale to Sinopec.

Chevron has also sold some stake in Bangka but not revealed details.

It said, “During 2010, the company reached an agreement to farm out a portion of its working interest in the production sharing contracts of the two projects.”

Sources said GAIL would immensely benefit by acquiring a stake in the project.

The overseas asset acquisition will help it to access LNG for India. The equity participation in such upstream assets will act as a natural hedge to GAIL, which will also get to learn from a global player such as Chevron.

Read more at The Telegraph India

Original Article

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