Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

WEST TEXAS

September 18, 2009

We at Seisma Energy Research, AVV (formerly Seisma Oil Research, LLC) thought you might be interested in learning a little bit about West Texas.

West Texas is a region in Texas that has more in common geographically with the Southwestern United States than it does with the rest of the state. This part of Texas is in the Northern Chihuahuan Desert and the high mountain areas have a climate of cold nights and warm afternoons in winter; hot days and cool nights in the summer.

Population

West Texas has a much lower population density than the rest of the state. It was once mostly inhabited by nomadic Native American tribes such as the Apache, Comanche, and Kiowa until after the Civil War. It does not have as many ties to other parts of the Southern United States as does East Texas, although many of the people who currently populate West Texas are also migrants from other parts of Texas and other Southern states or their descendants. There is a very large Hispanic population, especially near the Rio Grande. Many Mexicans fled Ojinaga and walked to Stonewall during the Mexican revolution in the early days of the 20th century. Many Mexican-Americans still have close family ties in Mexico.

Climate

West Texas receives much less rainfall than the rest of Texas and has an arid or semi-arid climate, requiring most of its scant agriculture to be heavily dependent on irrigation. This irrigation, and water taken out farther North for the needs of El Paso and Juarez, Mexico, has reduced both the Pecos River and the once mighty Rio Grande to a stream in some places, even dry at times. Much of West Texas has rugged terrain including many small mountain ranges while there are none in other parts of the state. West Texas contains part of the Chihuahuan Desert and also the Southern Great Plains, known as the Llano Estacado.

Politics

The area is known for its conservative politics — some of the most heavily Republican counties in the United States are located in the region, where former President George W. Bush spent his early youth. Republican candidates often win in this region by well over 70 percent of the vote. Glasscock County, for instance, gave over 90 percent of the vote to the Republican candidate in both 2004 and 2008.

This region was one of the first areas of Texas to abandon its Democratic roots; some counties (such as Midland) haven’t supported a Democrat for president since 1948. However, Democrats continued to win most local races well into the 1990s.

In contrast, El Paso is heavily Democratic, and in the 2008 Presidential election, El Paso, Culberson, Reeves, Presidio, and Brewster-counties-all with large Hispanic populations– were won by Democrat Barack Obama.

Industry

Major industries include livestock, petroleum and natural gas production, textiles such as cotton, grain farming and because of its proximity to the Mexican border, the maquiladora industry. West Texas has become notable for its numerous wind turbines producing clean, alternative electricity.

Advertisements

OIL WELLS

September 18, 2009

Seisma Energy Research, AVV (formerly Seisma Oil Research, LLC) presents this article as part of a series of articles on understanding the energy business. We hope you enjoy this series.

Overview

An oil well is a general term for any boring through the earth’s surface that is designed to find and produce petroleum oil hydrocarbons. Usually some natural gas is produced along with the oil. A well designed to produce mainly or only gas may be termed a gas well.

History

The earliest known oil wells were drilled in China in 347 CE. They had depths of up to about 800 feet (240 m) and were drilled using bits attached to bamboo poles. The oil was burned to evaporate brine and produce salt. By the 10th century, extensive bamboo pipelines connected oil wells with salt springs. The ancient records of China and Japan are said to contain many allusions to the use of natural gas for lighting and heating. Petroleum was known as burning water in Japan in the 7th century.

The Middle East’s petroleum industry was established by the 8th century, when the streets of the newly constructed Baghdad were paved with tar, derived from petroleum that became accessible from natural fields in the region. Petroleum was distilled by the Persian alchemist Muhammad ibn Zakarīya Rāzi (Rhazes) in the 9th century, producing chemicals such as kerosene in the alembic (al-ambiq),[and which was mainly used for kerosene lamps. Arab and Persian chemists also distilled crude oil in order to produce flammable products for military purposes. Through Islamic Spain, distillation became available in Western Europe by the 12th century.

Some sources claim that from the 9th century, oil fields were exploited in the area around modern Baku, Azerbaijan, to produce naphtha for the petroleum industry. These fields were described by Marco Polo in the 13th century, who described the output of those oil wells as hundreds of shiploads. When Marco Polo in 1264 visited the Azerbaijani city of Baku, on the shores of the Caspian Sea, he saw oil being collected from seeps. He wrote that “on the confines toward Geirgine there is a fountain from which oil springs in great abundance, inasmuch as a hundred shiploads might be taken from it at one time.”

Shallow pits were dug at the Baku seeps in ancient times to facilitate collecting oil, and hand-dug holes up to 35 meters (115 ft) deep were in use by 1594. These holes were essentially oil wells. Apparently 116 of these wells in 1830 produced 3,840 metric tons (about 28000 barrels) of oil. In 1849, Russian engineer F.N. Semyenov used a cable tool to drill an oil well on the Apsheron Peninsula, ten years before Colonel Drake’s famous well in Pennsylvania. Also, offshore drilling started up at Baku at Bibi-Eibat field near the end of the 19th century, about the same time that the first offshore oil well was drilled in 1896 at Summerland field on the California Coast.

The earliest oil wells in modern times were drilled percussively, by hammering a cable tool into the earth. Soon after, cable tools were replaced with rotary drilling, which could drill boreholes to much greater depths and in less time. The record-depth Kola Borehole used non-rotary mud motor drilling to achieve a depth of over 12 000 meters (38,000 ft). Until the 1970s, most oil wells were vertical, although lithological and mechanical imperfections cause most wells to deviate at least slightly from true vertical.

However, modern directional drilling technologies allow for strongly deviated wells which can, given sufficient depth and with the proper tools, actually become horizontal. This is of great value as the reservoir rocks which contain hydrocarbons are usually horizontal, or sub-horizontal; a horizontal wellbore placed in a production zone has more surface area in the production zone than a vertical well, resulting in a higher production rate. The use of deviated and horizontal drilling has also made it possible to reach reservoirs several kilometers or miles away from the drilling location (extended reach drilling), allowing for the production of hydrocarbons located below locations that are either difficult to place a drilling rig on, environmentally sensitive, or populated.

Life of a Well

The creation and life of a well can be divided up into five segments:
• Planning
• Drilling
• Completion
• Production
• Abandonment

Types of Wells

Oil wells come in many varieties. By produced fluid, there can be wells that produce oil, wells that produce oil and natural gas, or wells that only produce natural gas. Natural gas is almost always a byproduct of producing oil, since the small, light gas carbon chains come out of solution as it undergoes pressure reduction from the reservoir to the surface, similar to uncapping a bottle of soda pop where the carbon dioxide effervesces. Unwanted natural gas can be a disposal problem at the well site. If there is not a market for natural gas near the wellhead it is virtually valueless since it must be piped to the end user. Until recently, such unwanted gas was burned off at the wellsite, but due to environmental concerns this practice is becoming less common. Often, unwanted (or ‘stranded’ gas without a market) gas is pumped back into the reservoir with an ‘injection’ well for disposal or repressurizing the producing formation.

Another solution is to export the natural gas as a liquid. Gas-to-liquid, (GTL) is a developing technology that converts stranded natural gas into synthetic gasoline, diesel or jet fuel through the Fischer-Tropsch process developed in World War II Germany. Such fuels can be transported through conventional pipelines and tankers to users. Proponents claim GTL fuels burn cleaner than comparable petroleum fuels. Most major international oil companies are in advanced development stages of GTL production, with a world-scale (140,000 bbl/day) GTL plant in Qatar scheduled to come online before 2010. In locations such as the United States with a high natural gas demand, pipelines are constructed to take the gas from the wellsite to the end consumer.

Another obvious way to classify oil wells is by land or offshore wells. There is very little difference in the well itself. An offshore well targets a reservoir that happens to be underneath an ocean. Due to logistics, drilling an offshore well is far more costly than an onshore well. By far the most common type is the onshore well. These wells dot the Southern and Central Great Plains, Southwestern United States, and are the most common wells in the Middle East.

Another way to classify oil wells is by their purpose in contributing to the development of a resource. They can be characterized as:

• production wells are drilled primarily for producing oil or gas, once the producing structure and characteristics are determined
• appraisal wells are used to assess characteristics (such as flow rate) of a proven hydrocarbon accumulation
• exploration wells are drilled purely for exploratory (information gathering) purposes in a new area
• wildcat wells are those drilled outside of and not in the vicinity of known oil or gas fields.
At a producing well site, active wells may be further categorised as:
• oil producers producing predominantly liquid hydrocarbons, but mostly with some associated gas.
• gas producers producing almost entirely gaseous hydrocarbons.
• water injectors injecting water into the formation to maintain reservoir pressure or simply to dispose of water produced with the hydrocarbons because even after treatment, it would be too oily and too saline to be considered clean for dumping overboard, let alone into a fresh water source, in the case of onshore wells. Frequently water injection has an element of reservoir management and produced water disposal.
• aquifer producers intentionally producing reservoir water for re-injection to manage pressure. This is in effect moving reservoir water from where it is not as useful to where it is more useful. These wells will generally only be used if produced water from the oil or gas producers is insufficient for reservoir management purposes. Using aquifer produced water rather than sea water is due to the chemistry.
• gas injectors injecting gas into the reservoir often as a means of disposal or sequestering for later production, but also to maintain reservoir pressure.

PETROLEUM INDUSTRY

September 16, 2009

Seisma Energy Research, AVV (formerly Seisma Oil Research, LLC) presents this article as part of a series of articles on understanding the energy business. We hope you enjoy this series.

Overview

The petroleum industry includes the global processes of exploration, extraction, refining, transporting (often by oil tankers and pipelines), and marketing petroleum products. The largest volume products of the industry are fuel oil and gasoline (petrol). Petroleum is also the raw material for many chemical products, including pharmaceuticals, solvents, fertilizers, pesticides, and plastics. The industry is usually divided into three major components: upstream, midstream and downstream. Midstream operations are usually included in the downstream category.

Petroleum is vital to many industries, and is of importance to the maintenance of industrialized civilization itself, and thus is a critical concern for many nations. Oil accounts for a large percentage of the world’s energy consumption, ranging from a low of 32% for Europe and Asia, up to a high of 53% for the Middle East. Other geographic regions’ consumption patterns are as follows: South and Central America (44%), Africa (41%), and North America (40%). The world consumes 30 billion barrels (4.8 km³) of oil per year, with developed nations being the largest consumers. The United States consumed 25% of the oil produced in 2007. The production, distribution, refining, and retailing of petroleum taken as a whole represents the world’s largest industry in terms of dollar value.

History

Natural history

Petroleum is a naturally occurring liquid found in rock formations. It consists of a complex mixture of hydrocarbons of various molecular weights, plus other organic compounds. It is generally accepted that oil, like other fossil fuels, formed from the fossilized remains of dead plants and animals by exposure to heat and pressure in the Earth’s crust over hundreds of millions of years. Over time, the decayed residue was covered by layers of mud and silt, sinking further down into the Earth’s crust and preserved there between hot and pressured layers, gradually transforming into oil reservoirs.

Early history

Petroleum in an unrefined state has been utilized by humans for over 5000 years. Oil in general has been used since early human history to keep fires ablaze, and also for warfare. Ancient Persian language tablets indicate the medicinal and lighting uses of petroleum in the upper echelons of their society. Ancient China was also known to burn skimmed oil for light.

An early petroleum industry was established in the 8th century, when the streets of Baghdad were paved with tar, derived from petroleum through destructive distillation. In the 9th century, oil fields were exploited in the area around modern Baku, Azerbaijan, to produce naphtha. These fields were described by al-Masudi in the 10th century, and by Marco Polo in the 13th century, who described the output of those oil wells as hundreds of shiploads. Petroleum was distilled by al-Razi in the 9th century, producing chemicals such as kerosene in the alembic, which he used to invent kerosene lamps for use in the oil lamp industry.

Its importance in the world economy evolved slowly, with wood and coal used for heating and cooking, and whale oil used for lighting well into the 19th Century. A petroleum industry emerged in North America in Canada and the United States, fueling the industrial revolution. The Industrial Revolution generated an increasing need for energy which was fuelled mainly by coal, with other sources including whale oil. However, it was discovered that kerosene could be extracted from crude oil and used as a light and heating fuel. Petroleum was in great demand, and by the twentieth century had become the most valuable commodity traded on the world market.

Modern History

Imperial Russia produced 3,500 tons of oil in 1825 and doubled its output by mid-century After oil drilling began in what is now Azerbaijan in 1848, two large pipelines were built in the Russian Empire: the 833 km long pipeline to transport oil from the Caspian to the Black Sea port of Batumi (Baku-Batumi pipeline), completed in 1906, and the 162 km long pipeline to carry oil from Chechnya to the Caspian.

At the turn of the 20th century, Imperial Russia’s output of oil, almost entirely from the Apsheron Peninsula, accounted for half of the world’s production and dominated international markets. Nearly 200 small refineries operated in the suburbs of Baku by 1884. As a side effect of these early developments, the Apsheron Peninsula emerged as the world’s “oldest legacy of oil pollution and environmental negligence.” In 1878, Ludvig Nobel and his Branobel company “revolutionized oil transport” by commissioning the first oil tanker and launching it on the Caspian Sea.

The first modern oil refineries were built by Ignacy Łukasiewicz near Jasło (then in the dependent Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria in Central European Galicia), Poland from 1854–56. These were initially small as demand for refined fuel was limited. The refined products were used in artificial asphalt, machine oil and lubricants, in addition to Łukasiewicz’s kerosene lamp. As kerosene lamps gained popularity, the refining industry grew in the area.

The first large oil refinery opened at Ploieşti, Romania in 1856.
The first oil drilling in the United States began in 1859, when oil was successfully drilled in Titusville, Pennsylvania. In the first quarter of the 20th century, the United States overtook Russia as the world’s largest oil producer.

By the 1920s, oil fields had been established in many countries including Canada, Poland, Sweden, the Ukraine, the United States, and Venezuela.

In 1947, the Superior Oil Company constructed the first offshore oil platform off the Gulf Coast of Louisiana.

Environmental impact and future shortages

Some petroleum industry operations have been responsible for water pollution, through by-products of refining, and oil spills.

The combustion of fossil fuels produces greenhouse gases and other air pollutants as by-products. Pollutants include nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxide, volatile organic compounds and heavy metals.

As petroleum is a non-renewable natural resource the industry is faced with an inevitable eventual depletion of the world’s oil supply. The BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2007 predicted the reserve/production ratio for proven resources worldwide. The study placed the prospective life span of reserves in the Middle East at 79.5 years, Latin America at 41.2 years and North America at only 12 years. The global reserve/production ratio estimates that at current production levels, the world’s oil reserves will be depleted in 40.5 years.

The Hubbert peak theory, which introduced the concept of peak oil, questions the sustainability of oil production. It suggests that after a peak in oil production rates, a period of oil depletion will ensue.

According to research by IBISWorld, biofuels (primarily ethanol, but also biodiesel) will continue to supplement petroleum. However output levels are low, and these fuels will not displace local oil production. Ethanol is viewed as offering a lower environmental impact, and will play a small role in reducing dependence on imported crude oil. More than 90% of the ethanol used in the US is blended with gasoline to produce a 10% ethanol mix, lifting the oxygen content of the fuel.

THE PERMIAN BASIN

September 16, 2009

Seisma Energy Research, AVV (formerly Seisma Oil Research, LLC) presents this article as part of a series of articles on understanding the energy business. We hope you enjoy this series.

The Permian Basin is a sedimentary basin largely contained in the western part of the U.S. state of Texas and the southeastern part of the state of New Mexico. It reaches from just south of Lubbock, Texas, to just south of Midland & Odessa, extending westward into the southeastern part of the adjacent state of New Mexico. It is so named because it has one of the world’s thickest deposits of rocks from the Permian geologic period. The greater Permian Basin comprises several component basins: of these, Midland Basin is the largest, Delaware Basin is the second largest, and Marfa Basin is the smallest. The Permian Basin extends beneath an area approximately 250 miles wide and 300 miles long.

The Permian Basin gives its name to a large oil and natural gas producing area, part of the Mid-Continent Oil Producing Area. Total production for that region up to the beginning of 1993 was over 14.9 billion barrels. The towns of Midland and Odessa serve as the headquarters for oil production activities in the basin.

The Permian Basin is also a major source of potassium salts (potash), which are mined from bedded deposits of sylvite and langbeinite in the Salado Formation of Permian age. Sylvite was discovered in drill cores in 1925, and production began in 1931. The mines are located in Lea and Eddy counties, New Mexico, and are operated by the room and pillar method. Halite (rock salt) is produced as a byproduct of potash mining.

PETROLEUM

September 16, 2009

Seisma Energy Research, AVV (formerly Seisma Oil Research, LLC) presents this article as part of a series of articles on understanding the energy business. We hope you enjoy this series.

Overview

Petroleum (or crude oil) is a naturally occurring, flammable liquid found in rock formations in the Earth consisting of a complex mixture of hydrocarbons of various molecular weights, plus other organic compounds.

The term “petroleum” was first used in the treatise De Natura Fossilium, published in 1546 by the German mineralogist Georg Bauer, also known as Georgius Agricola.

Composition

In its strictest sense, petroleum includes only crude oil, but in common usage it includes both crude oil and natural gas. Both crude oil and natural gas are predominantly a mixture of hydrocarbons. Under surface pressure and temperature conditions, the lighter hydrocarbons methane, ethane, propane and butane occur as gases, while the heavier ones from pentane and up are in the form of liquids or solids. However, in the underground oil reservoir the proportion which is gas or liquid varies depending on the subsurface conditions, and on the phase diagram of the petroleum mixture.

An oil well produces predominantly crude oil, with some natural gas dissolved in it. Because the pressure is lower at the surface than underground, some of the gas will come out of solution and be recovered as associated gas or solution gas. A gas well produces predominately natural gas. However, because the underground temperature and pressure are higher than at the surface, the gas may contain heavier hydrocarbons such as pentane, hexane, and heptane in the gaseous state. Under surface conditions these will condense out of the gas and form natural gas condensate, often shortened to condensate. Condensate resembles gasoline in appearance and is similar in composition to some volatile light crude oils.

The proportion of hydrocarbons in the petroleum mixture is highly variable between different oil fields and ranges from as much as 97% by weight in the lighter oils to as little as 50% in the heavier oils and bitumens.

Crude oil varies greatly in appearance depending on its composition. It is usually black or dark brown (although it may be yellowish or even greenish). In the reservoir it is usually found in association with natural gas, which being lighter forms a gas cap over the petroleum, and saline water which, being heavier than most forms of crude oil, generally sinks beneath it. Crude oil may also be found in semi-solid form mixed with sand and water, as in the Athabasca oil sands in Canada, where it is usually referred to as crude bitumen.

Petroleum is used mostly, by volume, for producing fuel oil and gasoline (petrol), both important “primary energy” sources. 84% by volume of the hydrocarbons present in petroleum is converted into energy-rich fuels (petroleum-based fuels), including gasoline, diesel, jet, heating, and other fuel oils, and liquefied petroleum gas. The lighter grades of crude oil produce the best yields of these products, but as the world’s reserves of light and medium oil are depleted, oil refineries are increasingly having to process heavy oil and bitumen, and use more complex and expensive methods to produce the products required. Because heavier crude oils have too much carbon and not enough hydrogen, these processes generally involve removing carbon from or adding hydrogen to the molecules, and using fluid catalytic cracking to convert the longer, more complex molecules in the oil to the shorter, simpler ones in the fuels.

Due to its high energy density, easy transportability and relative abundance, oil has become the world’s most important source of energy since the mid-1950s. Petroleum is also the raw material for many chemical products, including pharmaceuticals, solvents, fertilizers, pesticides, and plastics; the 16% not used for energy production is converted into these other materials.

Petroleum is found in porous rock formations in the upper strata of some areas of the Earth’s crust. There is also petroleum in oil sands (tar sands). Known reserves of petroleum are typically estimated at around 190 km3 (1.2 trillion (short scale) barrels) without oil sands, or 595 km3 (3.74 trillion barrels) with oil sands. Consumption is currently around 84 million barrels (13.4×106 m3) per day, or 4.9 km3 per year. Because the energy return over energy invested (EROEI) ratio of oil is constantly falling (due to physical phenomena such as residual oil saturation, and the economic factor of rising marginal extraction costs), recoverable oil reserves are significantly less than total oil in place. At current consumption levels, and assuming that oil will be consumed only from reservoirs, known recoverable reserves would be gone around 2039, potentially leading to a global energy crisis. However, to date discoveries of new oil reserves have more than matched increased usage. In addition, there are factors which may extend or reduce this estimate, including the increasing demand for petroleum in developing nations, particularly China and India; further new discoveries; increased economic viability of recoveries from more difficult to exploit sources; energy conservation and use of alternative energy sources; and new economically viable exploitation of unconventional oil sources.

Formation

According to generally accepted theory, petroleum is derived from ancient biomass. The theory was initially based on the isolation of molecules from petroleum that closely resemble known biomolecules.

More specifically, crude oil and natural gas are products of heating of ancient organic materials over geological time. Formation of petroleum occurs from hydrocarbon pyrolysis, in a variety of mostly endothermic reactions at high temperature and/or pressure. Today’s oil formed from the preserved remains of prehistoric zooplankton and algae, which had settled to a sea or lake bottom in large quantities under anoxic conditions (the remains of prehistoric terrestrial plants, on the other hand, tended to form coal). Over geological time the organic matter mixed with mud, and was buried under heavy layers of sediment resulting in high levels of heat and pressure. This process caused the organic matter to change, first into a waxy material known as kerogen, which is found in various oil shales around the world, and then with more heat into liquid and gaseous hydrocarbons via a process known as catagenesis.

Geologists often refer to the temperature range in which oil forms as an “oil window”—below the minimum temperature oil remains trapped in the form of kerogen, and above the maximum temperature the oil is converted to natural gas through the process of thermal cracking. Although this temperature range is found at different depths below the surface throughout the world, a typical depth for the oil window is 4–6 km. Sometimes, oil which is formed at extreme depths may migrate and become trapped at much shallower depths than where it was formed. The Athabasca Oil Sands is one example of this.

Abiogenic Origin

A number of geologists in Russia adhere to the abiogenic petroleum origin hypothesis and maintain that hydrocarbons of purely inorganic origin exist within Earth’s interior. Astronomer Thomas Gold championed the theory in the Western world by supporting the work done by Nikolai Kudryavtsev in the 1950s. It is currently supported primarily by Kenney and Krayushkin.

The abiogenic origin hypothesis lacks scientific support. Extensive research into the chemical structure of kerogen has identified algae as the primary source of oil. The abiogenic origin hypothesis fails to explain the presence of these markers in kerogen and oil, as well as failing to explain how inorganic origin could be achieved at temperatures and pressures sufficient to convert kerogen to graphite. It has not been successfully used in uncovering oil deposits by geologists, as the hypothesis lacks any mechanism for determining where the process may occur. More recently scientists at the Carnegie Institution for Science have found that ethane and heavier hydrocarbons can be synthesized under conditions of the upper mantle.

Crude Oil

Crude Oil Reservoirs

Three conditions must be present for oil reservoirs to form: a source rock rich in hydrocarbon material buried deep enough for subterranean heat to cook it into oil; a porous and permeable reservoir rock for it to accumulate in; and a cap rock (seal) or other mechanism that prevents it from escaping to the surface. Within these reservoirs, fluids will typically organize themselves like a three-layer cake with a layer of water below the oil layer and a layer of gas above it, although the different layers vary in size between reservoirs. Because most hydrocarbons are lighter than rock or water, they often migrate upward through adjacent rock layers until either reaching the surface or becoming trapped within porous rocks (known as reservoirs) by impermeable rocks above. However, the process is influenced by underground water flows, causing oil to migrate hundreds of kilometres horizontally or even short distances downward before becoming trapped in a reservoir. When hydrocarbons are concentrated in a trap, an oil field forms, from which the liquid can be extracted by drilling and pumping.

The reactions that produce oil and natural gas are often modeled as first order breakdown reactions, where hydrocarbons are broken down to oil and natural gas by a set of parallel reactions, and oil eventually breaks down to natural gas by another set of reactions. The latter set is regularly used in petrochemical plants and oil refineries.

Unconventional oil reservoirs

Oil-eating bacteria biodegrades oil that has escaped to the surface. Oil sands are reservoirs of partially biodegraded oil still in the process of escaping and being biodegraded, but they contain so much migrating oil that, although most of it has escaped, vast amounts are still present—more than can be found in conventional oil reservoirs. The lighter fractions of the crude oil are destroyed first, resulting in reservoirs containing an extremely heavy form of crude oil, called crude bitumen in Canada, or extra-heavy crude oil in Venezuela. These two countries have the world’s largest deposits of oil sands.

On the other hand, oil shales are source rocks that have not been exposed to heat or pressure long enough to convert their trapped hydrocarbons into crude oil. Technically speaking, oil shales are not really shales and do not really contain oil, but are usually relatively hard rocks called marls containing a waxy substance called kerogen. The kerogen trapped in the rock can be converted into crude oil using heat and pressure to simulate natural processes. The method has been known for centuries and was patented in 1694 under British Crown Patent No. 330 covering, “A way to extract and make great quantityes of pitch, tarr, and oyle out of a sort of stone.” Although oil shales are found in many countries, the United States has the world’s largest deposits.

Classification

The petroleum industry generally classifies crude oil by the geographic location it is produced in (e.g. West Texas Intermediate, Brent, or Oman), its API gravity (an oil industry measure of density), and by its sulfur content. Crude oil may be considered light if it has low density or heavy if it has high density; and it may be referred to as sweet if it contains relatively little sulfur or sour if it contains substantial amounts of sulfur.

The geographic location is important because it affects transportation costs to the refinery. Light crude oil is more desirable than heavy oil since it produces a higher yield of gasoline, while sweet oil commands a higher price than sour oil because it has fewer environmental problems and requires less refining to meet sulfur standards imposed on fuels in consuming countries. Each crude oil has unique molecular characteristics which are understood by the use of crude oil assay analysis in petroleum laboratories.

Barrels from an area in which the crude oil’s molecular characteristics have been determined and the oil has been classified are used as pricing references throughout the world. Some of the common reference crudes are:

• West Texas Intermediate (WTI), a very high-quality, sweet, light oil delivered at Cushing, Oklahoma for North American oil
• Brent Blend, comprising 15 oils from fields in the Brent and Ninian systems in the East Shetland Basin of the North Sea. The oil is landed at Sullom Voe terminal in the Shetlands. Oil production from Europe, Africa and Middle Eastern oil flowing West tends to be priced off this oil, which forms a benchmark
• Dubai-Oman, used as benchmark for Middle East sour crude oil flowing to the Asia-Pacific region
• Tapis (from Malaysia, used as a reference for light Far East oil)
• Minas (from Indonesia, used as a reference for heavy Far East oil)
• The OPEC Reference Basket, a weighted average of oil blends from various OPEC (The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) countries

There are declining amounts of these benchmark oils being produced each year, so other oils are more commonly what is actually delivered. While the reference price may be for West Texas Intermediate delivered at Cushing, the actual oil being traded may be a discounted Canadian heavy oil delivered at Hardisty, Alberta, and for a Brent Blend delivered at the Shetlands, it may be a Russian Export Blend delivered at the port of Primorsk.

ENERMAX SURPASSES MAJOR MILESTONE

September 16, 2009

Seisma Energy Research, AVV (formerly Seisma Oil Research, LLC) is very excited that our industry partner, EnerMax, the Texas-based oil and gas exploration company, announced that it had surpassed a major milestone, hitting the 1 million barrel mark in barrels of oil (BO) and barrels of oil equivalent (BOE) produced. Using advanced recovery techniques and effective resource management, EnerMax has increased the performance of its holdings to 1,100 BOE in daily production, with cumulative production now approximately 1,055,000 BOE.

The rapidly growing company, which marked its 8 year anniversary this year, expects production to rise by 200% over the next 12 months. “The supply squeeze we’re seeing in the market right now is a surprise to many people, but we’ve been increasing our investments in new oil projects in terms of acreage, seismic acquisition and prospect generation over the past several years. We’re ready,” said Bret Boteler, founder and president of EnerMax. “Many companies are just beginning to react to market signals. They’re running to catch up and get in the game. We’ve already laid the groundwork to rapidly grow our company without compromising the quality of our performance.”
“Reaching a million barrels marked our entry into a new phase of operations. We’re ready to capitalize on market trends while making a significant contribution to domestic energy production,” he added.

Current activities are focused on utilizing two recently developed proprietary filtering processes to boost results in the Permian Basin – an area that accounts for approximately 20% of all U.S. production – and central west Texas. To date, EnerMax’s most prominent filtering process has resulted in an 80 percent success rate in locating commercially productive oil and gas reservoirs. Roughly 13,000 acres held by EnerMax are scheduled for exploration and development in the next 4 years.

About EnerMax:
EnerMax, Inc. is a petroleum exploration company that has been aggressively pursuing technology driven oil and gas projects since 2001. Known for it’s strategic and efficient operations, EnerMax has been featured by Norman Schwarzkopf’s “World Business Review,” Platinum Television Group’s “Pulse on America,” and “U.S. Business Review,” a national publication.

GREG GUMBEL INTERVIEW

September 16, 2009

Seisma Oil Research, Greg Gumbel Interview

Greg Gumbel

Seisma Energy Research, AVV (formerly Seisma Oil Research, LLC) invites you to watch this interview by Greg Gumbel. Enjoy!

http://www.toffsworld.com/business/investments/oil-and-gas-global-financial-investment-opportunities/

WEST TEXAS INTERMEDIATE (WTI)

September 16, 2009


Seisma Energy Research, AVV (formerly Seisma Oil Research, LLC) presents this article as part of a series of articles on understanding the energy business. We hope you enjoy this series.

West Texas Intermediate (WTI), also known as Texas Light Sweet, is a type of crude oil used as a benchmark in oil pricing and the underlying commodity of New York Mercantile Exchange’s oil futures contracts.

This oil type is often referenced in North American news reports about oil prices, alongside North Sea Brent Crude. Other important oil markers include the Dubai Crude and the OPEC Reference Basket.

WTI is a light crude, lighter than Brent crude. It contains about 0.24% sulfur, rating it a sweet crude, again sweeter than Brent. Its properties and production site make it ideal for being refined in the United States, mostly in the Midwest and Gulf Coast regions.  WTI has an API gravity of around 39.6 (specific gravity of around 0.827).

Typical price difference per barrel is about $1 more than Brent, and $2 more than OPEC basket. Although WTI is expected to command a higher price than Brent crude, on May 24 2007, it was priced at $63.58 per barrel as against $71.39 per barrel for Brent (Bloomberg). The change in price differential may have been due to a temporary shortage of refining capacity; on April 13, WTI Crude at Cushing may have temporarily lost its status as the gauge of world oil prices. A large stockpile of oil at the Cushing, Oklahoma storage and pricing facility (mainly due to a refinery shutdown) caused prices to be artificially depressed at the Cushing pricing point. As stockpiles reduced, the WTI price increased to exceed Brent once again.

OIL REFINERY

September 16, 2009

Seisma Energy Research, AVV (formerly Seisma Oil Research, LLC) presents this article as part of a series of articles on understanding the energy business. We hope you enjoy this series.

Overview

An oil refinery is an industrial process plant where crude oil is processed and refined into more useful petroleum products, such as gasoline, diesel fuel, asphalt base, heating oil, kerosene, and liquefied petroleum gas. Oil refineries are typically large sprawling industrial complexes with extensive piping running throughout, carrying streams of fluids between large chemical processing units.

Operation

Raw or unprocessed crude oil is not generally useful. Although “light, sweet” (low viscosity, low sulfur) crude oil has been used directly as a burner fuel for steam vessel propulsion, the lighter elements form explosive vapors in the fuel tanks and are therefore hazardous, especially in warships. Instead, the hundreds of different hydrocarbon molecules in crude oil are separated in a refinery into components which can be used as fuels, lubricants, and as feedstock in petrochemical processes that manufacture such products as plastics, detergents, solvents, elastomers and fibers such as nylon and polyesters.

Petroleum fossil fuels are burned in internal combustion engines to provide power for ships, automobiles, aircraft engines, lawn mowers, chainsaws, and other machines. Different boiling points allow the hydrocarbons to be separated by distillation. Since the lighter liquid products are in great demand for use in internal combustion engines, a modern refinery will convert heavy hydrocarbons and lighter gaseous elements into these higher value products.

Oil can be used in a variety of ways because it contains hydrocarbons of varying molecular masses, forms and lengths such as paraffins, aromatics, naphthenes (or cycloalkanes), alkenes, dienes, and alkynes. While the molecules in crude oil include different atoms such as sulfur and nitrogen, the hydrocarbons are the most common form of molecules, which are molecules of varying lengths and complexity made of hydrogen and carbon atoms, and a small number of oxygen atoms. The differences in the structure of these molecules account for their varying physical and chemical properties, and it is this variety that makes crude oil useful in a broad range of applications.

Once separated and purified of any contaminants and impurities, the fuel or lubricant can be sold without further processing. Smaller molecules such as isobutane and propylene or butylenes can be recombined to meet specific octane requirements by processes such as alkylation, or less commonly, dimerization. Octane grade of gasoline can also be improved by catalytic reforming, which involves removing hydrogen from hydrocarbons producing compounds with higher octane ratings such as aromatics. Intermediate products such as gasoils can even be reprocessed to break a heavy, long-chained oil into a lighter short-chained one, by various forms of cracking such as fluid catalytic cracking, thermal cracking, and hydrocracking. The final step in gasoline production is the blending of fuels with different octane ratings, vapor pressures, and other properties to meet product specifications.

Oil refineries are large scale plants, processing about a hundred thousand to several hundred thousand barrels of crude oil a day. Because of the high capacity, many of the units operate continuously, as opposed to processing in batches, at steady state or nearly steady state for months to years. The high capacity also makes process optimization and advanced process control very desirable.

Major Products

Petroleum products are usually grouped into three categories: light distillates (LPG, gasoline, naphtha), middle distillates (kerosene, diesel), heavy distillates and residuum (heavy fuel oil, lubricating oils, wax, tar). This classification is based on the way crude oil is distilled and separated into fractions (called distillates and residuum).

• Liquid petroleum gas (LPG)

• Gasoline (also known as petrol)

• Naphtha

• Kerosene and related jet aircraft fuels

• Diesel fuel

• Fuel oils

• Lubricating oils

• Paraffin wax

• Asphalt and Tar

• Petroleum coke

Common Process Units Found In A Refinery

The number and nature of the process units in a refinery determine its complexity index.

• Desalter unit washes out salt from the crude oil before it enters the atmospheric distillation unit.

• Atmospheric Distillation unit distills crude oil into fractions. See Continuous distillation.

• Vacuum Distillation unit further distills residual bottoms after atmospheric distillation.

• Naphtha Hydrotreater unit uses hydrogen to desulfurize naphtha from atmospheric distillation. Must hydrotreat the naphtha before sending to a Catalytic Reformer unit.

• Catalytic Reformer unit is used to convert the naphtha-boiling range molecules into higher octane reformate (reformer product). The reformate has higher content of aromatics and cyclic hydrocarbons). An important byproduct of a reformer is hydrogen released during the catalyst reaction. The hydrogen is used either in the hydrotreaters or the hydrocracker.

• Distillate Hydrotreater unit desulfurizes distillates (such as diesel) after atmospheric distillation.

• Fluid Catalytic Cracker (FCC) unit upgrades heavier fractions into lighter, more valuable products.

• Hydrocracker unit uses hydrogen to upgrade heavier fractions into lighter, more valuable products.

• Visbreaking unit upgrades heavy residual oils by thermally cracking them into lighter, more valuable reduced viscosity products.

• Merox unit treats LPG, kerosene or jet fuel by oxidizing mercaptans to organic disulfides.

• Coking units (delayed coking, fluid coker, and flexicoker) process very heavy residual oils into gasoline and diesel fuel, leaving petroleum coke as a residual product.

• Alkylation unit produces high-octane component for gasoline blending.

• Dimerization unit converts olefins into higher-octane gasoline blending components. For example, butenes can be dimerized into isooctene which may subsequently be hydrogenated to form isooctane. There are also other uses for dimerization.

• Isomerization unit converts linear molecules to higher-octane branched molecules for blending into gasoline or feed to alkylation units.

• Steam reforming unit produces hydrogen for the hydrotreaters or hydrocracker.

• Liquified gas storage units for propane and similar gaseous fuels at pressure sufficient to maintain in liquid form. These are usually spherical vessels or bullets (horizontal vessels with rounded ends.

• Storage tanks for crude oil and finished products, usually cylindrical, with some sort of vapor emission control and surrounded by an earthen berm to contain spills.

• Amine gas treater, Claus unit, and tail gas treatment for converting hydrogen sulfide from hydrodesulfurization into elemental sulfur.

• Utility units such as cooling towers for circulating cooling water, boiler plants for steam generation, instrument air systems for pneumatically operated control valves and an electrical substation.

• Wastewater collection and treating systems consisting of API separators, dissolved air flotation (DAF) units and some type of further treatment (such as an activated sludge biotreater) to make such water suitable for reuse or for disposal.

• Solvent refining units use solvent such as cresol or furfural to remove unwanted, mainly asphaltenic materials from lubricating oil stock (or diesel stock).

• Solvent dewaxing units remove the heavy waxy constituents petrolatum from vacuum distillation products.

EVANS ENERGY E2

September 11, 2009


Evans Energy E2 is an independent energy exploration, drilling and operating company specializing in oil and gas exploration. Our operations were founded two decades ago by Mr. S. Lavon Evans, Jr. in Mississippi and have grown to include Alabama, Louisiana and Texas. Our slogan, “Success From Positive Energy,” is typical of our determination to succeed and our attitude to build on experience. Utilizing our own Drilling Rigs, Evans Energy retains more project control and can better respond to adverse conditions and circumstances that often plague the typical drilling project As a child Lavon Evans was greatly influenced by his grandfather who taught him the value of hard work and respect for everyone. Lavon’s grandfather owned a small country store that became the foundation of Lavon’s entrepreneurial spirit and work ethic. Evans Energy is today the result of that development of work, pride and fair play.

Our Goals

Evans Energy knows success is a team effort and not merely a cliché. The Evans team is always focused on the prize of a successful well and a financially successful operation. With over 400 commercial wells under our belt, we have succeeded in establishing processes that are proven and profitable. Evans Energy will continue to leverage past successes in order to develop new opportunities in all areas of the company’s services which include exploration, operation and “contract” drilling.

Our Strategy

Evans Energy utilizes our years of drilling and operating experience to intelligently select those prospects with the most potential for commercial success. Evans Energy is continuously reviewing and streamlining all areas of the company with the objective of increasing efficiencies and enhancing profitability in oil and gas exploration and production.

• Increase Proven Domestic Reserves

Evans Energy is focused on increasing proven domestic reserves by exploring new fields and revisiting previously drilled fields with advanced technology that has proven effective in restoring or enhancing existing production. Creativity, ingenuity, experience and just plain hard work can always be used in the “oil patch” and these attributes are never in short supply at Evans Energy.

• Oil and Gas Investments

Oil and gas speculations have captured the focus of the investment market. This is because all sectors of business are deeply affected by the price and availability of fossil fuels. Oil and Gas investments have performed well over the past several years as commodity prices continue in a steady overall uptrend, and the projected growth rate of nations such as China and India indicate a continuation of this trend. In fact, growing concerns about increasing energy demands from developing nations are causing many nations to seek more energy independence.

• Complex Energy Market

In this complex energy market, Evans Energy is consistently developing oil and gas prospects that have a solid geological foundation and risk/reward profile. We work closely with industry experts to evaluate our projects from every angle. With our team’s ingenuity and the advantage of new technological innovations, we are developing maximum leverage for the recovery of domestic oil and gas reserves.

• Oil and Gas Investments

Oil and gas speculations have captured the focus of the investment market. This is because all sectors of business are deeply affected by the price and availability of fossil fuels. Oil and Gas investments have performed well over the past several years as commodity prices continue in a steady overall uptrend, and the projected growth rate of nations such as China and India indicate a continuation of this trend. In fact, growing concerns about increasing energy demands from developing nations are causing many nations to seek more energy independence.

• Complex Energy Market

In this complex energy market, Evans Energy is consistently developing oil and gas prospects that have a solid geological foundation and risk/reward profile. We work closely with industry experts to evaluate our projects from every angle. With our team’s ingenuity and the advantage of new technological innovations, we are developing maximum leverage for the recovery of domestic oil and gas reserves.

Seisma Energy Research, AVV (formerly Seisma Oil Research, LLC) is honoured to have Evans Energy E2 as an industry partner.