Monthly Archives: December 2011

USA: Clean Energy Gets USD 150 Million in Investments

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Focused on supporting natural gas fueling in North America, investors, including Boone Pickens, have invested a total of $150 million in Clean Energy Fuels Corp., North America’s leading provider of natural gas fuel for transportation.

The investments resulted from the exercise of Mr. Pickens’ warrants to purchase 15 million shares of the company’s common stock at $10 per share. Mr. Pickens purchased 1.5 million shares and transferred the balance to existing investors RRJ Capital, Seatown Holdings and Chesapeake Energy Corporation, as well as Chief Capital LP, an investment vehicle wholly owned by energy investor Trevor Rees-Jones.

These investments bring the total invested or committed to Clean Energy to $450 million during 2011,” said Andrew J. Littlefair, President and CEO of Clean Energy. “We see this as a tremendous affirmation of both Clean Energy as the leader in natural gas vehicle fueling in America and our America’s Natural Gas Highway initiative that is expanding natural gas fueling infrastructure in cities throughout the country.”

We have a significant program underway to develop CNG and LNG fueling stations serving fleets in the long-haul, regional and port trucking markets, as well as for solid waste, transit, airport and municipal transportation nationwide,” noted Littlefair.

Currently priced up to $1.50 or more per gallon lower than diesel or gasoline (depending upon local markets), the use of natural gas fuel reduces costs significantly for vehicle and fleet owners, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions up to 30% in light-duty vehicles and 23% in medium to heavy-duty vehicles. Additionally, natural gas is a secure North American energy source with 98% of the natural gas consumed produced in the U.S. and Canada.

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Egyptian Police Raid Offices of US-Backed Democracy-Promotion Groups

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By John Tabin

This is an outrage:

Cairo (CNN) — Several rights groups, including three U.S.-based entities, were raided in Cairo and other Egyptian locations on Thursday in what one source called a push by police to “show some muscle.”

Police conducted 17 raids of nongovernmental organizations, targeting at least 10 groups across the country, Egypt’s general prosecutor’s office said. The targeted groups included U.S.-based Freedom House, the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the International Republican Institute (IRI).

The actions were part of an investigation into allegations that groups may have received illegal foreign funding and have been operating without licenses from the Foreign Ministry and local ministries, according to Adel Saeed, spokesman for the general prosecutor’s office.

But the leaders of the U.S.-based organizations and the U.S. State Department condemned the raids and called on Egyptian authorities to allow the groups to resume their work.

“This action is inconsistent with the bilateral cooperation we have had over many years,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Thursday. Washington has called on Egyptian authorities “to immediately end the harassment of NGOs (and) NGO staff, return all property and resolve this issue immediately.”

[…]

Freedom House urged the Obama administration to “scrutinize the $1.3 billion that the United States annually provides the Egyptian military to fund arms purchases and training.”

“In the current fiscal environment, the United States must not subsidize authoritarianism in Egypt while the Egyptian government is preventing NGOs from implementing democracy and human rights projects subsidized by the U.S. taxpayer,” said Charles Dunne, Freedom House’s director of Middle East and North Africa programs.

The NDI and IRI, loosely affiliated with the Democratic and Republican parties and chaired by Madeline Albright and John McCain, respectively, are funded in part by the US government, through the National Endowment for Democracy. In effect, the Egyptian government’s actions represent US military aid being used to undermine the effectiveness of US civil society aid. It’s worth expounding on the stakes here.

Egypt is in the midst of a democratic transition where Islamists (including the radical Salafists) have had much success at the ballot box. Jamie Kirchick recently talked to free-market oriented liberal activists leary of the direction that post-Mubarak Egypt; his American Interest article is difficult to summarize, but this part is relevant to today’s news:

Counterintuitively, [activist Amr] Bargisi believes that the best hope for a liberal Egypt, given the circumstances, is if the Muslim Brotherhood gets the opportunity to steward the country. This is because the job of ruling Egypt right now is unenviable, and that whichever force comes to power is bound to lose popular support. This scenario, then, may provide sufficient time for genuine liberal ideals to take hold and for a true democratic opening to form. Bargisi tells me that there are three conditions, however, for this to happen. The first is that the international community must take a “lukewarm attitude, not too hostile, not too welcoming”, to a Brotherhood-led Egypt. “Too hostile helps the Islamists; too welcoming helps the Islamists”, he says.

Second, is that the West, and the United States in particular, should move away from the realm of “day-to-day” politics-full of rank opportunists and poseurs, in Bargisi’s opinion-and instead “focus on civil society, think tanks, independent movements, political groups.” And for this civil society to flourish, the military must “stand as a guard on democracy” and give up its “chauvinism.” But most important is that those Egyptians opposed to the instantiation of a clerical state need to know as clearly as their Islamist opponents in which direction they want to take the country. “There must be some kind of vision for what the country should look like, and in this complete vagueness, the Islamists will win”, Bargisi tells me.

Today’s raids obviously get in the way of the second condition — improving civil society — but they also get in the way of the third condition; training political parties to define their views on issues is a big part of what the NDI and IRI do. Some liberals hope that the military can stand at a bulwark against unfettered, tyrannous Islamism, but now we see the military regime continuing and even expanding on Mubarak-era policies of actively suppressing liberal opposition. This does not bode well.

If the regime doesn’t comply with Nuland’s call for an immediate change in course, military aid needs to be at least partially halted, if only briefly. Letting this stand with no tangible consequences is asking for trouble.

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ReCap: Worldwide Field Development News Dec 23 – Dec 29, 2011

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This week the SubseaIQ team added 2 new projects and updated 11 projects. You can see all the updates made over any time period via the Project Update History search. The latest offshore field develoment news and activities are listed below for your convenience.

Mediterranean
Noble Finds Gas Pay in Cyprus
Dec 28, 2011 – Noble Energy has made a natural gas discovery at the Cyprus Block 12 prospect, offshore the Republic of Cyprus. The Cyprus A-1 well encountered about 310 feet (94 meters) of net natural gas pay in multiple high-quality Miocene sand intervals. The well reached a depth of 19,225 feet (5,860 meters) in a water depth of 5,540 feet (1,689 meters). Results from drilling, formation logs and initial evaluation work indicate an estimated gross resource range of 5 to 8 Tcf, with a gross mean of 7 Tcf. Noble plans to appraise the find. Noble Energy operates the discovery with a 70 percent working interest; while Delek Drilling and Avner Oil Exploration each hold 15 percent.
Project Details: Cyprus (Aphrodite)
Europe – North Sea
Aker Solutions to Supply Subsea Equipment for Svalin Development
Dec 29, 2011 – Statoil awarded Aker Solutions a contract to engineer, procure and construct a subsea production system for the Svalin development in the Norwegian sector of the North Sea. The scope of work includes two subsea trees, one four-slot integrated template structure with process distribution manifold, subsea and topside production control systems, wellhead systems and remote connection systems. Final equipment deliveries are slated for 3Q 2013. Svalin is a fast-track oil field project situated in a water depth of 394 feet (120 meters).
Tendeka Secures Sand Control Frame Agreement for Troll field
Dec 28, 2011 – Statoil has granted Tendeka a major frame agreement for the provision of sand screens and inflow control devices and services for use in the Troll field. The contract is for an initial three-year period with a further two optional extensions, each of two years. Tendeka’s scope of work includes the provision of sand screens with associated inflow control technology and services for deployment in the field. Troll produces 400,000 barrels a day from three platforms northwest of Bergen. Troll, a natural gas and oil field, lies in the northern part of the Norwegian sector of the North Sea, about 40 miles (65 kilometers) west of Kollsnes, near Bergen. Statoil, holding a 30.59 percent, operates the field; Petoro holds 56 percent; A/S Norske Shell holds 8.1 percent; ConocoPhillips holds 1.62 percent; and Total holds 3.69 percent.
Project Details: Troll Area
EnCore Reaches TD in Tudor Rose
Dec 28, 2011 – EnCore Oil has encountered an oil column in the Tudor Rose well within the targeted Beauly formation and oil water contact at 3,236 feet (986 meters) total vertical depth. The operator gathered wireline samplings and conducted pressure testing of the hydrocarbon-bearing zone. Initial wellsite analysis of the samples suggest a viscosity of 600 to 800 Centipoise, which is likely too viscous to be commercially exploitable. EnCore says further onshore analysis is required before the provisional evaluation can be confirmed. The well will be plugged and abandoned. The Tudor Rose well is located on Block 14/30a in the UK sector of the North Sea. EnCore operates the block with a 40 percent interest; while Nautical Petroleum holds 20 percent; Endeavour holds 20 percent; and EnQuest holds 20 percent.
Project Details: Tudor Rose
Endeavour Acquires UK Producing Assets
Dec 27, 2011 – Endeavour has entered into a purchase and sale agreement to acquire ConocoPhillips’ interest in three producing UK oil fields in the central North Sea for $330 million. Endeavour will increase their current ownership interest in the Alba field, a late Eocene reservoir that has been producing since 1994. Additionally, the company will add ownership interests in the MacCulloch and Nicol fields. Endeavour’s aggregate working interest in the Alba field will be 25.68 percent following the closing of the acquisition. The company anticipates assuming operatorship of the MacCulloch field, subject to final partner agreement.
Project Details: Alba
Antrim Sidetracks Erne Discovery
Dec 27, 2011 – Antrim Energy announced that the Erne discovery well sidetrack, 21/29d-11Z, encountered about 24 feet (7 meters) of net oil pay and 14 feet (4 meters) of net gas pay in a high-quality sandstone reservoir. Initial interpretation is that the well has penetrated a separate accumulation from that in the 21/29d-11 discovery well, but further work is necessary to confirm this, stated the operator. The 21/29d-11Z well will now be suspended for potential future re-entry and use in the development of the Erne discovery. The 21/29d-11Z well was designed to appraise the Erne oil discovery in the Eocene Tay formation, and was drilled up-dip of the discovery location to a total depth of 5,124 feet (1,562 meters). Erne is located in Block 21/29d in the UK sector of the North Sea. Antrim Energy operates Block 21/29d.
Project Details: Erne
BG Discovers Oil in PL 373 S
Dec 27, 2011 – BG Norge has made an oil discovery in the North Sea in Production License 373 S. The wells, 34/3-3 S and 34/3-3 A, proved oil in early Jurassic sandstone. The objective of the well 34/3-3 S was to prove hydrocarbons in the Cook formation of the early Jurassic age in the Jordbaer Vest prospect. Oil was proven in the upper part of the Cook formation with very good reservoir quality. The objective of the 34/3-3 A sidetrack was to delineate the 34/3-3 S discovery by confirming the extent of the reservoir rocks, and also proving oil in the lower part of the Cook formation. The well proved oil both in the upper and lower Cook formation with very good reservoir quality. Extensive data acquisition programs have been carried out in both wells. Preliminary estimates place the size of the discovery between 1.5 and 4 million standard cubic meters of oil equivalents. The licensees will consider developing the discovery with the Knarr development, which was approved in June 2011.
Project Details: Knarr (Jordbaer)
Statoil Considers Skrugard Development in the Barents Sea
Dec 27, 2011 – Statoil and partners are considering developing the Skrugard discovery in the Barents Sea by a floating production unit with additional capacity to process and transport from other prospects in the vicinity. Statoil says a feasibility study has identified a technical and commercial solution for Skugard, resulting in the rapid development of the discovery. The production unit will have separate oil and storage and offloading capability with a production capacity of 95,000 bopd. The field development calls for 14 oil producers and pressure support will be provided via injection wells for water and gas. Skugard is estimated to hold around 250 MMbbl of recoverable oil equivalents, with a considerable upside potential. Statoil plans to drill an exploration well on Havis, a prospect located roughly five kilometers from the Skrugard discovery, but within the same license. After drilling the Havis well, the rig will drill an appraisal well on Skrugard. Skrugard is located in Production License 532, which Statoil operates, holding a 50 percent interest. Partners in the license include Eni Norge (30 percent) and Petoro (20 percent).
Project Details: Skrugard
Australia
BHP Billiton Confirms Rig Slot for Tallaganda-1 Well
Dec 28, 2011 – The WA-351-P joint venture has approved the budget to drill the Tallaganda-1 well in the block. The operator, BHP Billiton, has secured the Atwood Eagle semisub to drill the well and expects to commence well operations at Tallaganda-1 in the first quarter of 2012. The Tallaganda-1 prospect straddles both the WA-351-P and WA-335-P permits and will test the gas potential of sandstones in the prolific Triassic age, Mungaroo formation, in a well defined horst block.
Project Details: Tallaganda
Africa – West
Makouala Marine-1 Fails to Hit Commercial Pay
Dec 28, 2011 – Lundin Petroleum says the Makouala Marine-1 well has encountered limited oil-bearing pay in the targeted Sendji formation reservoirs. The operator will now plug and abandon the well. This well was the second of a two-to-three well campaign in the area. Makouala Marine-1 is located in Block Marine XIV, offshore Congo. Soco International operates the block.
Project Details: Makouala Marine
Asia – SouthEast
Otto Executes Final Farm-in Agreements for SC 55
Dec 28, 2011 – Otto Energy has executed the final farm-in agreements supporting BHP Billiton’s earlier decision to enter into Service Contract 55, offshore Palawan, Philippines. Once the execution is finalized, Otto will receive a final payment relating to back costs associated with SC55 of US $7.3 million, of which $5 million has already been received. Otto will submit the required assignment documents to the Philippine Department of Energy for their approval of the transfer of participating interest to BHP Billiton. Upon completion of the farm-in, Otto’s working interest in SC 55 will reduce to 33.18 percent.
Cairn to Enter Second Phase of Exploration
Dec 27, 2011 – Cairn Lanka Limited has successfully completed the first phase of the exploration campaign in Sri Lanka Block SL-2007-01-001. The exploration program involved the acquisition, processing and interpretation of 433,175 acres (1,753 square kilometers) of 3D seismic data and a three-well deepwater drilling program. The seismic program exceeded the first phase commitment by 20 percent, and the drilling program exceeded the drilling depth commitment by 50 percent. Cairn said this program resulted in two successive gas and condensate discoveries; the CLPL-Dorado-91H/1z well and, the CLPL-Barracuda-1G/1 well. The third well, CLPL-Dorado North 1-82K/1 was plugged and abandoned as a dry hole. This drilling program has found an established working petroleum system in the frontier Mannar Basin. Cairn Lanka intends to enter the second phase of exploration.

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USA: Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound Releases Statement Regarding Cape Wind Energy Deal

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Yesterday, Audra Parker, President & CEO of Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound released a statement regarding SJC uphold of Cape Wind energy deal.

“Today’s ruling is a blow to ratepayers, businesses, and municipalities who are being asked to bear billions of dollars in new electricity costs when other green energy alternatives are available at a fraction of the cost.

The good news is the increasingly clear reality that Cape Wind will never be built. Cape Wind has been denied FAA approval, has been denied critical Federal loan guarantees, has no utility willing to buy half its power, and cannot find investors. Those facts alone render this decision moot.”

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USA: Stone Energy Buys Interest in Pompano Field from BP

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Stone Energy Corporation today announced the closing of the previously announced acquisition of deep water assets from BP Exploration & Production Inc. (BP), which include BP’s 75% operated working interest in the five block deep water Pompano field in Mississippi Canyon, a 51% operated working interest in the adjacent Mississippi Canyon block 29, a 50% non-operated working interest in the Mica field, which ties back to the Pompano platform, and interests in 23 deep water exploration leases located in the vicinity of the Pompano field.

The stated purchase price of $204 million was adjusted under the agreement to $167.6 million, after adjusting for the effective date of July 1, 2011. The final purchase price is subject to further adjustments for the subsequent period through the closing date.

Stone’s preliminary review of the estimated proved reserves relating to the acquired properties indicated estimated proved reserves of approximately 17 million barrels of oil equivalent (Boe) as of December 28, 2011, which were approximately 83% oil. Stone’s preliminary estimate of the asset retirement obligation associated with the properties is approximately $60 million. The Pompano platform is a production hub with seven producing leases, currently producing at an average rate of approximately 3,300 Boe per day, net to Stone. The production hub has production capacity of 60,000 barrels of oil per day and 135 million cubic feet of gas per day, which could allow for potential processing of additional third party production.

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Obama administration secretly preparing options for aiding the Syrian opposition

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Posted By Josh Rogin

As the violence in Syria spirals out of control, top officials in President Barack Obama‘s administration are quietly preparing options for how to assist the Syrian opposition, including gaming out the unlikely option of setting up a no-fly zone in Syria and preparing for another major diplomatic initiative.

Critics on Capitol Hill accuse the Obama administration of being slow to react to the quickening deterioration of the security situation in Syria, where over 5,000 have died, according to the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights. Many lawmakers say the White House is once again “leading from behind,” while the Turks,  the French, and the Arab League — which sent an observer mission to Syria this week – take the initiative to pursue more aggressive strategies for pressuring the Assad regime. But U.S. officials said that they are moving cautiously in order to avoid destabilizing Syria further, and to make sure they know as much as possible about the country’s complex dynamics before getting more involved.

But the administration does see the status quo in Syria as unsustainable. The Bashar al Assad regime is a “dead man walking,” State Department official Fred Hof said this month. So the administration is now ramping up its policymaking machinery on the issue. After several weeks of having no top-level administration meetings to discuss the Syria crisis, the National Security Council (NSC) has begun an informal, quiet interagency process to create and collect options for aiding the Syrian opposition, two administration officials confirmed to The Cable.

The process, led by NSC Senior Director Steve Simon, involves only a few select officials from State, Defense, Treasury, and other relevant agencies. The group is unusually small, presumably to prevent media leaks, and the administration is not using the normal process of Interagency Policy Committee (IPC), Deputies Committee (DC), or Principals Committee (PC) meetings, the officials said. Another key official inside the discussions is Hof, who is leading the interactions with Syrian opposition leaders and U.S. allies.

The options that are under consideration include establishing a humanitarian corridor or safe zone for civilians in Syria along the Turkish border, extending humanitarian aid to the Syrian rebels, providing medical aid to Syrian clinics, engaging more with the external and internal opposition, forming an international contact group, or appointing a special coordinator for working with the Syrian opposition (as was done in Libya), according to the two officials, both of whom are familiar with the discussions but not in attendance at the meetings.

“The interagency is now looking at options for Syria, but it’s still at the preliminary stage,” one official said. “There are many people in the administration that realize the status quo is unsustainable and there is an internal recognition that existing financial sanctions are not going to bring down the Syrian regime in the near future.”

After imposing several rounds of financial sanctions on Syrian regime leaders, the focus is now shifting to assisting the opposition directly. The interagency process is still ongoing and the NSC has tasked State and DOD to present options in the near future, but nothing has been decided, said the officials – one of whom told The Cable that the administration was being intentionally cautious out of concern about what comes next in Syria.

“Due to the incredible and far-reaching ramifications of the Syrian problem set, people are being very cautious,” the official said. “The criticism could be we’re not doing enough to change the status quo because we’re leading from behind. But the reason we are being so cautious is because when you look at the possible ramifications, it’s mindboggling.”

A power vacuum in the country, loose weapons of mass destruction, a refugee crisis, and unrest across the region are just a few of the problems that could attend the collapse of the Assad regime, the official said.

“This isn’t Libya. What happens in Libya stays in Libya, but that is not going to happen in Syria. The stakes are higher,” the official said. “Right now, we see the risks of moving too fast as higher than the risks of moving too slow.”

The option of establishing a humanitarian corridor is seen as extremely unlikely because it would require establishing a no-fly zone over parts of Syria, which would likely involve large-scale attacks on the Syrian air defense and military command-and-control systems.

“That’s theoretically one of the options, but it’s so far out of the realm that no one is thinking about that seriously at the moment,” another administration official said.

Although the opposition is decidedly split on the issue, Burhan Ghalioun, the president of the Syrian National Council, earlier this month called on the international community to enforce a no-fly zone in Syria.

“Our main objective is finding mechanisms to protect civilians and stop the killing machine,” said Ghalioun. “We say it is imperative to use forceful measures to force the regime to respect human rights.”

Is the U.S. bark worse than its bite?

Rhetorically, the administration has been active in calling for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step aside and protecting the rights of Syrian protesters, despite the lack of clear policy to achieve that result. “The United States continues to believe that the only way to bring about the change that the Syrian people deserve is for Bashar al-Assad to leave power,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said on Dec. 21.

On Tuesday, Dec. 27, the administration hinted at stronger action if the Syrian government doesn’t let the Arab League monitors do their work. “If the Syrian regime continues to resist and disregard Arab League efforts, the international community will consider other means to protect Syrian civilians,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner said in a statement.

The Syrian National Council (SNC), the primary organization representing the opposition, has been very clear that it is seeking more than rhetorical support from the United States and the international community. An extensive policy paper titled, “Safe Area for Syria,” edited by SNC member Ausama Monajed, laid out the argument for armed intervention by the international community to aid Syrian civilians.

“The Syrian National Council (SNC) is entering a critical phase in the Syrian revolution whereby the hope of a continued campaign of passive resistance to an exceptionally brutal and unrestrained regime is becoming more and more akin to a suicide pact,” Monajed wrote.

But Washington is uncomfortable acting in concert with the SNC: Officials say there is a lack of confidence that the SNC, which is strongly influenced by expatriate Syrians, has the full support of the internal opposition. U.S. officials are also wary of supporting the Syria Free Army, made up of Syrian military defectors and armed locals, as they do not want to be seen as becoming militarily engaged against the regime — a story line they fear that Assad could use for his own propaganda, officials said.

There is also some internal bureaucratic wrangling at play. This summer, when the issue of sending emergency medical equipment into Syria came up in a formal interagency meeting, disputes over jurisdiction stalled progress on the discussion, officials told The Cable. No medical aid was sent.

So for now, the administration is content to let the Arab League monitoring mission play out and await its Jan. 20 report. The officials said that the administration hopes to use the report to begin a new diplomatic initiative in late January at the U.N. Security Council to condemn Assad and authorize direct assistance to the opposition.

The officials acknowledged that this new initiative could fail due to Russian support for the Assad regime. If that occurs, the administration would work with its allies such as France and Turkey to establish their own justification for non-military humanitarian intervention in Syria, based on evidence from the Arab League report and other independent reporting on Assad’s human rights abuses. This process could take weeks, however, meaning that material assistance from the United States to the Syrian opposition probably wouldn’t flow at least until late February or early March. Between now and then, hundreds or even thousands more could be killed.

There is also disagreement within the administration about whether the Arab League observer mission is credible and objective.

“This is an Arab issue right now, and the Arab League is really showing initiative for the first time in a long time,” said one administration official.

“[The Arab League monitoring mission] is all Kabuki theatre,” said another administration official who does not work directly on Syria. “We’re intentionally setting the bar too high [for intervention] as means of maintaining the status quo, which is to do nothing.”

Andrew Tabler, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said that the administration was caught off-guard by how the opposition became militarized so quickly. The administration’s message had been to urge the opposition to remain peaceful, but that ship has now sailed, he said.

“We have a pretty strong policy of not engaging the Syria Free Army directly, because earlier it was agreed that peaceful protesters had the moral high ground over the regime and were more able to encourage defections,” he said. “But there was no clear light at the end of that peaceful protest strategy. We assumed, incorrectly, that the civil resistance strategies used in Egypt and Tunisia were being adopted by the Syrian opposition, but that didn’t happen.”

Most experts in Washington have a deep skepticism toward the Arab League monitoring mission. For one thing, it is led by a Sudanese general who has been accused of founding the Arab militias that wreaked havoc in Darfur. Also, many doubt that 150 monitors that will eventually be in Syria can cover the vast number of protests and monitor such a large country.

The Assad regime has also been accused of subverting the monitoring mission by moving political prisoners to military sites that are off-limits to monitors, repositioning tanks away from cities only when monitors are present, and having soldiers pose as police to downplay the military’s role in cracking down on the protesters.

“It seems awfully risky for the U.S. to be putting its chips all in on that mission,” said Tony Badran, a research fellow with the conservative Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “There never was a serious mechanism for it to be a strong initiative.”

Badran said that the Arab League monitoring mission just gives the Assad regime time and space to maneuver, and provides Russia with another excuse to delay international action on Syria.

“Now you understand why the Russians pushed the Syrians to accept the monitors,” he said. “It allows the Syrians to delay the emergence of consensus.”

Brian Katulis, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, said the administration is trying to balance the value of protecting civilians with the interests of trying to ensure a measure of stability in Syria.

“The biggest thing is extensive consultation with as many international allies as possible. That’s another feature of this administration,” said Katulis. “And when change does come to Syria, the Syrians have to own it.”

National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor did not respond to requests for comment.

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Noble Energy Discovers Significant Gas Discovery Offshore Cyprus

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Noble Energy, Inc. announced today a natural gas discovery at the Cyprus Block 12 prospect, offshore the Republic of Cyprus. The Cyprus A-1 well encountered approximately 310 feet of net natural gas pay in multiple high-quality Miocene sand intervals.

The discovery well was drilled to a depth of 19,225 feet in water depth of about 5,540 feet. Results from drilling, formation logs and initial evaluation work indicate an estimated gross resource range(1) of 5 to 8 trillion cubic feet (Tcf), with a gross mean of 7 Tcf. The Cyprus Block 12 field covers approximately 40 square miles and will require additional appraisal drilling prior to development.

Charles D. Davidson, Noble Energy’s Chairman and CEO, said, “We are excited to announce the discovery of significant natural gas resources in Cyprus on Block 12. This is the fifth consecutive natural gas field discovery for Noble Energy and our partners in the greater Levant basin, with total gross mean resources for the five discoveries currently estimated to be over 33 Tcf. This latest discovery in Cyprus further highlights the quality and significance of this world-class basin.”

Davidson went on to say, “We would like to thank the Government of Cyprus for their productive cooperation and support in achieving an important outcome for the people of Cyprus and Noble Energy. We look forward to working closely with the Government of Cyprus to develop this discovery in a manner that maximizes value for all stakeholders.”

Noble Energy operates the well with a 70 percent working interest. Delek Drilling and Avner Oil Exploration will each have 15 percent, subject to final approval by the Government of Cyprus.

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USA: Aker Solutions to Open Hi-Tech Drilling Equipment Simulator in – Houston

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Norway based, international oil services group Aker Solutions is about to open North America’s most advanced drilling equipment simulator in Houston, Texas. The simulator will be available to rig operators with the objective of making offshore drilling operations safer and more cost effective.

Aker Solutions is investing USD 2.5 million in the new state-of-the-art drilling equipment simulator, which will be available 24/7 for North American based rig operators and oil companies. It will double the capacity of the current training centre located in Katy near Houston. The new drilling simulator is expected to be officially opened early 2012.

“This will be the most advanced drilling simulator in North America and we will double our training capacity when it is ready for use. It will have dedicated staff who can provide round-the-clock service on Aker Solutions’ complete range of topside drilling equipment. We look forward to start working with our customers in this new and upgraded centre,” says Glenn Ellis, head of drilling technologies for Aker Solutions in the US.

Aker Solutions is one of the world’s top providers of drilling equipment packages and technologies for deepwater drilling operations. Using advanced 3D visualisation technology, the company has developed the market leading drilling simulators, which are already in operation in Brazil, Singapore, Norway and South Korea, in addition to Houston. A new simulator is also being prepared in Baku, Azerbaijan.

The centrepiece of the 9,800 square foot training centre is a new 240 degree domed simulator. Its dome-shaped screen, combined with utilization of actual drilling control systems software, creates a realistic environment that emulates what is experienced on a rig. Each specific rig is meticulously recreated as a virtual asset, including all rig equipment and control systems. This offers the possibility of onshore training and detailed operational planning, with the same signal treatment, in virtual environments that are identical to those that will be experienced offshore.

The training centre’s extensive server systems are made up of 88 individual servers, which provide enough capacity to run simulations on two drilling rigs simulator systems simultaneously. A manual switchover solution allows quick change of the rig configuration in the simulator to ensure maximum simulator utilisation.

“A realistic, real-time visualisation of drilling operations enables rig operators to learn to make better and faster decisions. The result is safer operations, more efficient drilling and increased rig uptime. This simulator technology certainly allows us to offer superior training facilities for our clients and our own employees,” adds Glenn Ellis.

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