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UK: PEMEX E&P and BP to Share Technology, Expertise for Deepwater Well Cap

Petroleos Mexicanos Exploration and Production (PEMEX E&P) and BP today announced an agreement for BP to share the technical information it used to build its global deepwater well-capping equipment.

Under the Technology License Agreement, BP will make available technical information that PEMEX E&P, one of four subsidiaries of PEMEX, can use, in addition to PEMEX E&P initiatives already in place, if it decides to build and maintain its own well capping system for use in Mexican waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

In addition, BP has agreed to conduct workshops in Houston to brief PEMEX E&P on the technical information and operational aspects of the system, as well as to introduce PEMEX E&P specialists to key vendors and fabricators that BP used to develop its global deepwater well cap and tooling package.

“The agreement marks another step forward in PEMEX E&P’s ongoing efforts to help protect the rich Gulf of Mexico environment in which we operate, as well as to apply state-of-the-art technology as we develop Mexico’s deepwater oil and natural gas resources,” said Carlos Morales, president of PEMEX Exploration and Production.

Richard Morrison, BP’s Head of Global Deepwater Response, said the agreement underscores BP’s commitment to sharing lessons learned during and following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon accident and response.

“Today’s announcement builds on our commitment and the work we have done — and continue to do — to help advance global deepwater response capabilities around the world,” he said.

“We are pleased to provide PEMEX E&P with access to our recent technological innovation and information so that operators in both the USA and Mexico areas of the Gulf of Mexico can be equipped to respond to a subsea well control incident in the Gulf of Mexico.”

BP’s global deepwater well cap is a 100-ton stack of valves that can be lowered onto a leaking well to halt the flow. The system can operate in 10,000 feet of water and is rated to pressures of 15,000 pounds per square inch. Stored in Houston, it can be sent by heavy-lift aircraft to any country where BP operates in a matter of days.

Under the Technology License Agreement, BP will share at no cost to PEMEX E&P technical information on BP’s capping stack, and PEMEX E&P has agreed to make any future advancements to this well-capping technology available at no cost to BP. BP will retain intellectual property rights, so it can continue to share the plans with others.

BP, which has had a presence in Mexico for around 50 years, has collaborated with PEMEX E&P through a variety of non-commercial technology, scientific and training mutual cooperation agreements over the last decade. Those have resulted in hundreds of workshops, seminars and exchanges to share best practices and technological expertise.

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Obama administration advances plan for seismic research along Atlantic coast

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Posted on March 28, 2012 at 12:01 am by Jennifer A. Dlouhy

The Obama administration will announce Wednesday that it is advancing a plan to allow new seismic research designed to help identify hidden pockets of oil and gas in Atlantic waters along the East Coast.

The move by the Interior Department is the beginning of a long path that eventually could lead to new offshore drilling off the coast from Delaware to Florida.

Senior administration officials who spoke exclusively to the Houston Chronicle confirmed the plan on condition they not be identified ahead of the official announcement.

The plan could mean new work for Houston-based seismic firms, which likely would conduct some of the first such surveys of the region in decades.

The announcement comes as President Barack Obama tries to assuage concerns about rising oil and gasoline prices ahead of the November election, amid Republican criticism that his energy policies have sent costs higher.

The administration had signaled plans to allow Atlantic seismic research before the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill stalled approval of offshore activities.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar will announce the plan in Norfolk, Va. at Fugro Atlantic, a company that conducts geotechnical and marine research.

Future seismic research in the Atlantic waters could help guide decisions about where to allow drilling leases and equipment that generates renewable energy, such as wind turbines.

But it would be at least five years before the government sold any leases in Atlantic waters. Interior Department plans governing those decisions through 2017 do not include lease sales  in the region.

Geological research uses seismic waves to map what lies underground or beneath the ocean floor. The shock waves — which some environmental advocates say may harm marine life — map the density of subterranean material and can gives clues about possible oil and gas.

Seismic studies also help identify geologic hazards and archaeological resources in the seabed —  information useful in determining the placement of renewable energy infrastructure as well as oil and gas equipment.

Energy companies use the data to plan where to buy leases and how to prioritize projects. But they know little about what lies below federal waters along the East Coast. Existing seismic surveys of the area are more than 25 years old and were conducted with now-outdated technology.

Oil industry officials have downplayed the significance of allowing seismic surveys along the Atlantic Coast, noting the government makes no guarantee that it will let them drill. That skepticism also could limit the market for seismic research firms.

But the administration has said that collecting the data for different regions — even if they aren’t targeted immediately for development — is key to understanding their potential. Obama asked the Interior Department to speed up its search for Atlantic resources in May 2011.

Wednesday’s action takes the form of a federally required draft statement on the environmental effects of seismic surveys in the outer continental shelf along the East Coast.

The public will have a chance to weigh in on that draft environmental impact statement during hearings along the East Coast.

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USA: ConocoPhillips Allocates USD 14 Billion for E&P in 2012

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U.S. oil & gas  exploration and production company, ConocoPhillips, announced a 2012 capital program of $15.5 billion. The 2012 capital program for E&P is $14.0 billion and includes $2.2 billion for worldwide exploration, $0.4 billion of capitalized interest and $0.7 billion for the company’s contributions to the FCCL business venture and loans to other affiliates.

Approximately 60 percent of the E&P capital program will be spent in North America. This represents an increase in the U.S. Lower 48 and Canada compared with prior years, reflecting improved market conditions, with additional emphasis on liquids-rich resource plays and high-return investments.

Capital spending in Alaska is expected to be slightly down compared to 2011 levels, and will be directed toward development of the existing Prudhoe Bay and Kuparuk fields, as well as fields on the Western North Slope.

In Europe, Asia Pacific and Africa, total spending is expected to be approximately 40 percent of the E&P capital program.

In the North Sea, spending is planned for existing and new opportunities in the Greater Ekofisk Area, the Greater Britannia fields and development of the Jasmine and Clair Ridge projects.

“The 2012 capital program reflects our strategic emphasis on delivering value by investing in the most profitable opportunities,” said Jim Mulva, chairman and chief executive officer.

The company will continue its focus on accessing, testing and appraising material opportunities in both conventional and non-conventional oil and gas plays. ConocoPhillips plans further appraisal of the Poseidon discovery in the Browse Basin, offshore Australia, and the Tiber and Shenandoah discoveries in the Gulf of Mexico. The company also plans to test material prospects in the Gulf of Mexico and Kazakhstan. Delineation of the company’s position in the Eagle Ford shale play will continue, as will pilot programs in shale plays in the Canadian Horn River Basin, Australia and Poland.

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Hess to spend $2.3 billion to develop Gulf of Mexico oil field

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Hess Corp., the New York-based oil company, will develop its Tubular Bells deep-water field in the Gulf of Mexico at an estimated cost of $2.3 billion.

Production is expected to begin in 2014 and may peak at the equivalent of 45,000 barrels of oil a day, Hess said in a statement today. Subject to U.S. approval, Hess said it will own 57 percent of the field, with Chevron Corp. holding the remainder. BP Plc no longer owns a stake in the project.

Tubular Bells holds an estimated 120 million barrels of oil, Hess said. Plans call for three wells in the field, which lies as much as 4,600 feet (1,400 meters) below the surface about 135 miles southeast of New Orleans, the company said.

The field will be predominantly oil with “good, attractive returns, even though the costs per well have gone up a little bit with the new government regulations,” John Hess, chairman and chief executive officer of the company, said in a Sept. 8 speech.

The U.S. government imposed new drilling rules after a BP well in the Gulf last year had the biggest offshore oil spill in the nation’s history.

Hess fell 2 percent to $59.81 at 11:21 a.m. in New York. The shares have declined 22 percent this year.?

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Chinese-made drilling rig to be in Cuba by year’s end

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HAVANA (AP) — A Chinese-made oil rig is on schedule to arrive off Cuba and begin drilling before the end of 2011, a spokesman for Spanish oil company Repsol YPF said Thursday.

Spokesman Kristian Rix would neither confirm nor deny recent reports of delays as the Scarabeo-9 rig travels to the Caribbean island, but he said the project has always been based on a window of time and things are still on schedule.

He said it’s impossible to predict exact dates for such a complex undertaking as transporting the huge offshore rig, which is capable of housing up to 200 workers.

“We’re not moving a bag of chips around here,” Rix said by phone from Madrid.

Repsol holds the rights to an exploration block off Cuba covering more than 1,700 square miles, according to its 2010 annual report. Earlier this year it signed a contract with Italy’s Saipem SpA to lease the Scarabeo-9 rig for drilling operations in Cuba.

“Where we’re at at the moment is we’re expecting the rig to arrive in Cuba just before the end of the year, and the plan as it stands is to begin drilling before the end of the year,” Rix said.

According to geologic studies conducted by several institutions, some of them U.S.-based, Cuba’s reserves in the Gulf of Mexico could be 5 billion to 9 billion barrels of crude.

The Cuban government has designated dozens of blocks in Gulf waters encompassing 43,200 square miles where private energy companies plan to drill deep-water test wells.

None of the companies are American, due to Washington’s decades-old embargo banning most U.S. business dealings with the communist-governed island, although some U.S. firms have expressed interest in the past.

Some environmental groups, U.S. politicians and academics have expressed concerns about drilling off Cuba after last year’s Deepwater Horizon disaster that killed 11 workers and spilled more than 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

Repsol’s 2010 annual report says the Sacarabeo-9 complies with U.S. specifications and technical requirements. Cuban officials have also said that the safest, most modern technology will be used.

Earlier this year, Cuba reported its 2010 production totaled 4 million tons of petroleum equivalent, which is oil plus natural gas. That is about 46 percent of its domestic consumption. The rest it obtains from Venezuela on preferential terms.

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