Category Archives: Austin

Austin, TX :: BP, UT Team Up in O&G Research Projects

BP announced it will commit $4 million to launch a new strategic partnership with The University of Texas at Austin to support several leading-edge oil and gas industry research projects, with the potential for increased contributions as new studies are identified in the future.

The unique collaboration between the two institutions, which highlights BP’s ongoing commitment to higher education and research, aims to develop real-world solutions to a number of technical challenges facing the global oil and gas industry, both onshore and offshore.

One initial area of focus is related to Project 20K™, a multi-year initiative announced by BP in early 2012 that seeks to develop next-generation systems and tools to help unlock the next frontier of deepwater oil and gas resources, currently beyond the reach of today’s technology. Accessing these resources is a key part of BP’s commitment to U.S. energy security.

The University of Texas’ Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering will work with the Project 20K™ team to study the impact of “human factors” on the drilling process and the potential for new systems that can enhance safety and efficiency. A second area of activity will be to develop a reliability assessment process for BP’s project team to use in quantifying the “system-level reliability” of Project 20K™ concepts.

Other joint research projects include one that seeks to improve recoveries from shale gas and oil formations through a deep investigation of fracturing fluids’ impact on well productivity. Another focuses on enhancing early detection of “kicks” – the sudden influx of hydrocarbons into a well – by using real-time well data and predictive models to better inform operational decisions, in support of BP’s commitment to safe and reliable operations.

“This is not just theoretical research,” said James Dupree, BP’s Chief Operating Officer, Reservoir Development & Technology. “Under this partnership, we are tackling real-world challenges that, if better understood, could have far-reaching impacts not only on BP but on the future of global energy development.”

Administered by a joint governance board, the program has established a rigorous process for selecting research projects that play to the university’s world-class strengths in engineering and geosciences as well as meet BP’s strategic business needs.

BP is funding research in the Cockrell School’s Departments of Mechanical Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering and Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering.

“This partnership allows our faculty and graduate students to solve challenging, relevant problems in global energy development, to work collaboratively with leading scientists and engineers from BP, and to see how their solutions are implemented in a real-world setting,” said John Ekerdt, associate dean of the Cockrell School of Engineering. “We look forward to the new interdisciplinary opportunities our researchers will have to develop technologies that will have a far-reaching societal benefit.”

While the agreement is initially focused on several specific research projects, the intent is to establish a long-term partnership between BP and the University of Texas that is beneficial to both and that could later result in increased funding. Successes in early projects will help build the basis for future collaboration, with the ultimate goal of taking the research and technologies developed through the program from the lab and into the field.

Press Release, November 01, 2013

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Texas (Austin): Yassine Brothers Funneled Money To Hezbollah

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Owners of some of Austin’s most lucrative nightclubs were dealing in drugs, laundering the money through the clubs then funneling it to a family member with ties to a terrorist group in the Middle East, according to federal authorities.

During bond hearings in federal court in Austin Tuesday, an Internal Revenue Service investigator said Hussein “Mike” Ali Yassine and Mohammed “Steve Austin” Ali Yassine sent money in $2,500 increments to their uncle, Mohammed Ishmael in Lebanon.

Authorities say he is associated with Hezbollah, a militant group and political party in Lebanon.  The U.S. Department of State lists Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.

The Yassines, their brother, Hadi Ali Yassine and seven business associates were arrested last week on narcotics trafficking, money laundering and firearm charges.

Yassine Enterprises owns nine nightclubs — Pure, Stack, Fuel, Spill, Kiss & Fly, Hyde, Roial, Malaia and Treasure Island.  The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission has temporarily shut down the clubs.

Tuesday Hussein Ali Yassine and Mohammed Ali Yassine were denied bond.  Four were granted bond — Hadi Yassine, Marisse “Madi” Marthe Ruales, Amar Thabet Araf and Sami Derder.  No decision has been made on bond requests for Nizar “Nino” Hakiki, Karim Faiq, Edgar Orsini and Alejandro Melendrez.

During three hours of testimony, Assistant U. S. Attorney Gregg Sofer questioned Randall Gillette, special agent with the U. S. Drug Enforcement Agency and James Neff, criminal investigator with the Internal Revenue Service.

The agents explained its undercover sting operation in which a confidential source was used to arrange two sales of cocaine between Steve Yassine and Nizar Hakiki.  The agents testified the proceeds from the deals were then funneled through Yassine`s nightclubs and Famous Vodka, owned by Hadi Yassine, the third brother.

Neff also stated in the hearing that the business was reporting income of $1 to $2 million when it actually was taking in between $7 and $10 million.

According to testimony, the Texas Comptroller‘s Office has frozen Mike Yassine’s accounts.  It was also revealed that he has bank accounts in Switzerland and Lebanon.

Several of the defendants are under investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

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University of Texas Oil Connections

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This is a picture of the Santa Rita in the early 1920’s.

In 1883, the year UT was opened, an endowment was established by the state of Texas that donated 2.1 million acres in West Texas to help UT. Not much was expected of the desolate land besides to perhaps develop it for real estate. In the 1920’s curious men acquired drilling permits from UT, hoping to strike it rich. There were in fact huge oil discoveries. Oil from the Permian Basin has generously provided for the UT system. The PUF continues to receive royalties from oil and gas production in West Texas while the AUF, Available University Fund, continues to receive all surface lease income. Surface lease usually entails “grazing and easements for power lines and pipelines.”1

Big Lake Oilfield and Santa Rita #1 Oil Well

In 1919, Rupert P. Ricker started advertising the land given to UT for oil exploration. The UT alum had utilized a law passed two years earlier permitting state land to be chartered for oil exploration. Having trouble making the sale of 431,360 acres, Ricker turned to an army buddy, Frank T. Pickrell. The original price of the permits for the land and other processing fees was approximately $41,136; however Pickrell paid only $2,500 due to the approaching thirty day deadline for Ricker to make the sale. In 1921, Pickrell started making his runs desperately searching for Texas Tea.

Much to his delight, the Santa Rita #1 oil well produced oil on the final day before the permit expired. A group of Catholic women had large investments in the exploration; when they heard all of this, they wanted it called Santa Rita (“Patron of the Impossible”). But on May 25, 1923, Cromwell, with fellow worker Dee Locklin, decided to “shut down the well to keep reports tight while they leased surrounding acreage for themselves.”2

The oil well was a part of the Big Lake Oilfield. By 1926, the oilfield had already contributed $4 million to the PUF. In the beginning, the single oil well was producing around 3,000 barrels of oil daily. Different wells in the field also had success early on; “the No. 9 well’s initial daily production was 1,400 barrels, on June 24, 1924. The No. 10 came in with 1,840 barrels on July 11. But the No. 11, which began producing 3,600 barrels daily on July 31, proved the field’s productivity.”1

The Santa Rita had served its purpose to the UT system in its sixty-seven years. In 1990, the plug was pulled. The Texas State Historical Association had the original Santa Rita #1 rig moved to the UT campus, and it can be seen next to MLK Blvd between Trinity and San Jacinto streets.

Yates Oil Field

is one of the richest oil fields in the United States; it is rated in the top ten for overall production and second for reserves. Much like the Big Lake Oilfield, permits were granted by UT, and in turn, the school received royalties from the drilling in West Texas.

According to the DrillingInfo website, Yates has over 1 billion barrels left in reserves, which is the largest amount of reserves in the entire nation with the exception of the mammoth Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. It continues to produce around 20,000 barrels of oil per day and around 85,000 MCF (thousand cubic feet) of gas daily. In 1998, it was reported that a research team named Golder Associates of Redmond, Washington was attempting to discover ways to maximize production using natural drainage systems. “Very effective gravity drainage, combined with a secondary gas-cap expansion drive is responsible for the estimated ultimate recovery of 50 percent of the original oil in place.”3 The oil field is so well maintained since it contributes so much to the University.

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Apple to build $304 million campus in Texas, add 3,600 jobs

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(Reuters) – Apple Inc is expanding its presence in Texas with a $304 million investment to build a new campus in Austin, which will add 3,600 jobs over the next decade, more than doubling its workforce in the city.

The Cupertino, California, consumer device giant already employs thousands in Austin, whose tasks include handling customer complaints and support.

“Our operations in Austin has grown dramatically over the past decade from less than 1,000 in 2004 to more than 3,500 today,” Apple spokesman Steve Dowling said.

Apple plans to add jobs in customer support, sales and accounting.

The company is receiving an investment of $21 million over 10 years from a state fund and also possible incentives from Austin and Travis County, according to Texas Governor Rick Perry, who announced the news on Friday.

(Reporting By Poornima Gupta; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)

Austin TX: Statoil takes Brigham stock

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Statoil gained majority acceptance from shareholders of Brigham Exploration on Thursday for its $36.50 per share offer to acquire the US tight oil player.

Steve Marshall  01 December 2011 09:11 GMT

The Norwegian state oil company struck a $4.4 billion deal recently to acquire Austin, Texas-based Brigham to give it access to prospective unconventional plays in the Bakken and Three Forks formations in the Williston basin, spanning North Dakota and Montana.

Statoil’s bid had already been accepted by Brigham management but was waiting on the company’s stockholders to tender their shares in response to the offer, with a deadline at midnight New York time on 30 November.

The transaction earlier ran into turbulence when Brigham shareholders sued the US independent, contending that Statoil’s buyout price was too low.

However, more than 87.7% of Brigham’s outstanding common stock has now been tendered to Statoil’s wholly-owned subsidiary Fargo Acquisition, Statoil said in a statement.

A subsequent offer period started on Thursday and will expire at midnight NY time on 7 December for the tender of the remaining shares.

Completion of the tender offer will enable the merger transaction to go ahead.

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