Daily Archives: June 4, 2012

Record Number Of US Households On Foodstamps

Last month, when the USDA released the latest foodstamps numbers for the month of February, there was some hope that following a third month of declines, we may just have seen the peak of US foodstamp usage and going forward we would only see the number decline.

Sadly, the latest numbers refutes this: In March a total of 46,405,204 persons were at or below poverty level and thus eligible for foodstamps, a 79K increase in the month. Yet while many individuals have learned to game the system, and this numbers at the peak may fluctuate, when it comes to the far more comprehensive and difficult to fudge “households on foodstamps” number, there was no confusion: at 22,257,647, the number of US households receiving the “SNAP treatment” rose to an all time high, even as the benefit per household dropped to the second lowest ever. At least all these impoverished believers in hope and change have FaceBook IPO profits to look forward to.

Oh wait.

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Norway: Seadrill Negotiating USD 1.16 bln Gig for West Polaris Drillship

Seadrill, one of the world’s largest drilling contractors, has announced it is in advanced discussions regarding a new five-year contract for the drillship West Polaris.

This new contract will start in direct continuation of the existing assignment which is scheduled to be completed in October 2012. The potential contract revenue for the five-year period is approximately US$1.16 billion. A final agreement is expected within July 2012.

The Samsung-built ultra-deepwater drillship was delivered to Seadrill in 2008.

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USA: ION Unveils Calypso Seabed Acquisition System

ION Geophysical Corporation  today announced the launch of Calypso™, its next generation redeployable seabed acquisition system.

Leveraging ION’s industry-leading VectorSeis® digital sensors to deliver the same unrivaled broadband imaging, Calypso is designed to operate at twice the depth and to deliver twice the operational efficiency of its predecessor system, VectorSeis Ocean (VSO).

The seabed seismic market has grown over 250% in the last five years, with over $300 million in contracts awarded in the first quarter of 2012 alone. Prompting this tremendous growth is seabed seismic’s ability to deliver superior image quality and operate in areas of dense infrastructure. Yet, despite its increasing popularity, seabed seismic still represents a relatively small percentage of total marine seismic projects, largely due to historically high costs and long cycle times relative to towed streamer acquisition. ION’s new Calypso system has the potential to mitigate both barriers to wider adoption by doubling cable lengths and productivity while significantly expanding operating depths.

Since 2004, ION’s seabed acquisition systems have delivered the highest quality seismic data on numerous projects worldwide, including in the Gulf of Mexico, North Sea, Caspian Sea, Middle East, offshore Brazil and West Africa. ION’s next generation Calypso system leverages ION’s award-winning VectorSeis sensor to provide the same superior imaging as VSO, but with step-change improvements in efficiency, operating depths, and flexibility:

  • Tilt-insensitive multicomponent (4C) VectorSeis sensors record broad bandwidth seismic data with superior vector fidelity, capturing richer frequency content at both the low- and high-frequency ends of the spectrum.
  • Buoy-based recording eliminates the operational expense and complexity of dedicated recording vessel(s).
  • An unlimited number of cables with twice the length (12-24 km) dramatically increases productivity and shortens cycle time.
  • The newly designed rugged system excels in water depths from 5 to 2,000 meters, providing flexibility to work in the most challenging fields and conditions.

Tim Rigsby, Vice President of Seabed at ION, commented, “ION has been committed to expanding the adoption of full-wave seabed imaging since introducing our first ocean bottom cable system, VSO, in 2004. Our goal has been to provide our clients with the superior imaging benefits of ocean bottom cable systems, at a price point closer to that of towed streamer acquisition. Calypso is a step-change in that direction.”

To learn more about Calypso, and to view an interactive multimedia presentation on the new system, visit Interact with the Calypso System

ION Geophysical Corporation is a leading provider of geophysical technology, services, and solutions for the global oil & gas industry. ION’s offerings are designed to allow E&P operators to obtain higher resolution images of the subsurface to reduce the risk of exploration and reservoir development, and to enable seismic contractors to acquire geophysical data safely and efficiently.

The information included herein contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Actual results may vary fundamentally from those described in these forward-looking statements. All forward-looking statements reflect numerous assumptions and involve a number of risks and uncertainties. These risks and uncertainties include risk factors that are disclosed by ION from time to time in its filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

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Maersk Bags Gulf of Mexico Contract for Its Under-Construction Drillship

More than one year prior to delivery Denmark’s Maersk Drilling has signed a contract with a major oil company for the first in a series of four identical ultra deepwater drillships currently under construction.

The contract duration is three years and commencement is expected by end 2013 upon delivery from Samsung Heavy Industries in South Korea and mobilization to the US Gulf of Mexico. The estimated contract value is USD 610 million including mobilization, but excluding cost escalation and performance bonus.

“With the signing of this contract for the first of our four ultra deepwater newbuild drillship we are able to add another USD 610 million to our contract backlog providing a solid basis for our further growth,” says Claus V. Hemmingsen, CEO of Maersk Drilling and member of the Executive Board of the A.P. Moller – Maersk Group. “The US Gulf of Mexico remains a focus area of Maersk Drilling, and we are pleased to enhance our presence in this attractive market. With permitting activity normalizing after the Macondo incident in 2010 and the lease sales in the region, we believe the fundamental demand for our services in this region is in place”.

Maersk Drilling has performed deepwater operations in the US Gulf of Mexico since 2009 with the ultra deepwater semi-submersible MÆRSK DEVELOPER.

Facts about the four newbuild ultra deepwater drillships

In 2011 Maersk Drilling ordered four ultra deepwater drillships at Samsung Heavy Industries in South Korea. The rigs will be delivered in 2013 and 2014. The total investment was USD 2.6 billion.

The design and capacities of the new drillships include features for high efficiency operation. Featuring dual derrick and large subsea work and storage areas, the design allows for efficient well construction and field development activities through offline activities.

With their advanced positioning control system, the ships automatically maintain a fixed position in severe weather conditions with waves of up to 11 metres and wind speeds of up to 26 metres per second.

Special attention has been given to safety onboard the drillships. Equipped with Multi Machine Control (MMC) on the drill floor, the high degree of automation ensures safe operation and consistent performance. Higher transit speeds and increased capacity will reduce the overall logistics costs for oil companies.

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Current and Projected Costs for Biofuels from Algae and Pyrolysis

The presentation explored the question of whether the U.S. government is spending money on the right technology pathways. Costs were presented for biofuel produced from pyrolysis, algae, Fischer-Tropsch (FT), and methanol-to-gasoline (MTG) routes.

Read more: The Oil Drum | Current and Projected Costs for Biofuels from Algae and Pyrolysis.

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