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Texas Oil And Gas Numbers Fly Off The Charts

The growing scale of the oil and natural gas boom in Texas continues to stun most observers. We have discussed this phenomenon periodically (see prior pieces here and here) , but the newest developments are so off the charts that an update is warranted.

Seal of TexasWe’ve pointed out a couple of times that Texas’s oil production represents roughly 30% of the total US output, an amazing statistic, especially considering that the percentage was below 15% just a few years ago. In May, that statistic became even more amazing, as Texas accounted for 34.5% of total US oil production, thanks to continued production growth in the Eagle Ford Shale and in several shale plays in the Permian Basin region of West Texas.

As Dr. Mark J. Perry points out in his Carpe Diem blog, Texas’ daily oil output has doubled in just a little more than two years, averaging 2.525 million barrels per day in May, the highest daily output the state has experienced since April 1982. In February of this year, Texas – were it a nation in and of itself – would have ranked as the 14th largest oil producing nation on earth. In April – the most recent month global data is available – Texas would have ranked 12th among all nations, in this category, just ahead of Venezuela, and slightly behind Kuwait and Mexico.

By the end of the year, when Texas’s daily production is likely to exceed 3 million barrels per day, Texas would likely rank 9th on this list. Extraordinary.

Where natural gas is concerned, Texas accounted for just over 27% of all US production in May, and would still rank 3rd among all nations in natural gas production, behind Russia and the other 49 US states.

Facilitating all of this production growth is the fact that the latest rig count indicates Texas remains home to 832 drilling rigs, about 47% of all land rigs in the United States, and fully 25% of all the rigs working anywhere in the world. Again, extraordinary.

So now that we’ve got the numbers accounted for, let’s talk about the real-world impact of what this amazing growth means for Texans. One terrific example came to light late last week, when Texas State Comptroller Susan Combs was able to make the happy announcement that state receipts from oil and gas severance taxes had exceeded her projections for the first nine months of Fiscal Year 2013 by a whopping $900 million.

The Comptroller’s announcement came shortly after Texas Governor Rick Perry had called the Texas Legislature back for a 3rd straight special session, with the House and Senate deadlocked on how to produce more funding for maintenance and expansion of state highways. Each house had produced competing bills designed to dedicate excess funds from the state’s Rainy Day Fund in order to accomplish that task.

The good news for Texas is that the Rainy Day Fund is almost entirely funded by oil and gas severance tax collections, and the Comptroller’s announcement that the Fund would be much more flush with money than previously thought provided the impetus necessary to break the impasse. So on Monday, the Legislature was able to reach agreement on a mechanism directing an additional $1.2 billion from the Rainy Day Fund to highway construction and maintenance, and finally, at long last, adjourn the session so that members could return to their homes, families and jobs.

That’s great news in and of itself, but it’s not where this story ends.

During the regular session, the Legislature also passed a series of bills that will also tap surplus funds in the Rainy Day Fund to fund the State Water Plan, as well as other road, port and rail infrastructure projects desperately needed in the state’s rapidly growing economy. The legislation would create two funds:
  • The State Water Implementation Fund (SWIFT) that will contain $2.5 billion to fund projects in the State Water Plan; and
  • The State Water Implementation Revenue Fund of Texas (SWIRFT) that will contain $3.5 billion for road, port and rail infrastructure projects. All told, the legislature was able to tap the almost exponential growth in the Rainy Day Fund for more than $7 billion to pay for a great variety of much-needed infrastructure projects. All of this is subject to voter approval on the November ballot, but success appears likely.
As an aside, The State Water Plan was conceptually approved by the Legislature in 1997, but not funded. For the last 16 years, proponents have tried in vain to devise a source of funding for the plan that does not involve an increase in taxes. As recently as two years ago, no one had the slightest idea how the Water Plan or any of these myriad other infrastructure needs could be paid for.

Today, thanks to the amazing growth in Texas oil and natural gas production since 2011, and the resulting windfall of tax revenues that has produced, the legislature was able to fund all of that, without any sort of tax increase, and still maintain a very healthy balance in the Rainy Day Fund.

The result is a great story that opponents of the oil and natural gas industry hate to hear, but it’s a story that is well worth telling. Good news of this magnitude – like rain, it seems – doesn’t just fall out of the Texas sky on a regular basis.

God Bless Texas.

Source: Forbes

Volvo Unveils Portable Solar Charging Station That Fits In The Trunk Of Your Car

Volvo Foldable Charging StationVolvo, Sweden’s largest car manufacturer, is planning to unveil a foldable solar charging station that can be broken down and stored in the truck of a car.

The so-called “Pure-Tension Pavilion” was developed by Synthesis Design + Architecture, a design firm based in Los Angeles, CA, for Volvo’s diesel V60 Plug-in Hybrid. It will make its debut appearance at a trade show in Rome, Italy in September.

The V60 can ‘plug’ directly into lightweight, rapidly deployable, free-standing portable charging station, which was commissioned by Volvo Car Italia for the new Volvo V60 Hybrid Electric Diesel car.

The futuristic Pavilion design was constructed with a high-density polyethylene fabric embedded with solar photovoltaic panels surrounded by a ring of carbon fiber, which makes the design foldable.
Per Synthesis Design’s website:

"The “PURE Tension” Volvo Pavilion, a collaborative effort between Synthesis Design + Architecture, Buro Happold, and Fabric Images . . . was developed through a parallel process of both analogue and digital form-finding to explore the material behaviors of composite tensioned membrane skins (relaxed meshes) and bending active frames. In short, the carbon fiber tube ring is deformed into shape by the tailoring of skin which binds it. In response, the frame pushes out while the skin pulls in, creating a form-force equilibrium that is lightweight, cost-efficient, and easy to assemble and disassemble. The pavilion is designed so that when it is disassembled it will fit inside the V60′s trunk dimensions for easy transportation."

Source: Forbes

ExxonMobil's Payment App Encourages Phone Use at the Pump—Safely

Despite the warnings, cell phones are safe to use at gas pumps — and ExxonMobil Corp. aims to prove this in testing a mobile payment app for smartphone users in Nashville, Tenn.
Exxon Gas Station SignAt the 27 gas stations participating in the test, ExxonMobil has removed warning decals that cautioned against using cell phones as they fuel up. The Federal Communications Commission found no evidence that using a wireless phone in the presence of flammable materials is dangerous, ExxonMobil says.

Consumers can download the SpeedPass+ app from the Apple iTunes store or Google Play, or scan a QR code at the pump to initiate the download, the Irving, Texas-based company states in an Aug. 2 press release.

The mobile payment app complements the current SpeedPass program and the ExxonMobil Smart Card, which Citi began issuing a year ago as a replacement for the cobranded ExxonMobil MasterCard.

The mobile app will work with existing technology at the gas pumps, Exxon says.

When registering for SpeedPass+, customers link a credit or debit card and decide whether to receive printed receipts after purchasing gas. The app can link to any payment card.

The app includes a station locator and uses geolocation to detect and activate a pump for fueling, Exxon says.

SpeedPass+ complies with Payment Card Industry data security standards and operates with built-in authentication. Bank of America Merchant Services and First Data Corp. process transactions for ExxonMobil.

Source: Payment Source

The Many Uses of Natural Gas

Take a quick peak to see how many ways natural gas is used daily. Surprised?

THANK YOU for Making Us Who We Are

Slate Rock Safety Inc. 500 Banner
We received EXCITING news from Inc. Magazine announcing Slate Rock Safety as one of America’s Fastest Growing Private Companies for 2013. Earning the position of 1,350 on the Inc. 5000 list is no small feat, and with this announcement, we would like say, THANK YOU!

Without your amazing support, our passion and commitment to this industry could not be carried out every single day. Whether you’re an occasional caller with a question, or a frequent buyer, we are pleased to have you apart of the Slate Rock Safety family. We look forward to many more opportunities to provide you with the highest standards of quality and service for all of your FR clothing and work wear needs.

We’re a unique group. Head on over today to learn more about us: www.slaterocksafety.com.

Anadarko pushes boundaries with newest deep-water platform (awesome video and photos)

Offshore oil platform

Of the towering oil platforms under construction along the Texas coast, one stands out because it can’t yet stand.

It’s a 23,000-ton cylindrical column the length of two football fields, and it must remain on its side at a noisy construction yard here until it is towed into place in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico and hoisted upright. The steel hull is too big to handle any other way.

On a recent weekday, workers welded finishing touches to the 605-foot, 110-foot-diameter structure, a critical component to one of the several new platforms being completed in Ingleside to reach oil reserves in ever deeper and more challenging locations.

The Lucius truss spar is the culmination of a multibillion-dollar project by The Woodlands-based Anadarko Petroleum Corp. to pump up to 80,000 barrels of oil per day from a set of Gulf wells under about 7,100 feet of water.

The project would have seemed unreasonable a decade ago.

But as recent advances in imaging technology allowed geologists to more clearly scan rock layers beneath the seafloor, oil companies have been able to find extensive reserves in obscure locations. They’ve engineered advanced platforms to extract these reserves and engaged thousands of workers across multiple continents to get the projects done.

At Ingleside, one of those solutions is approaching completion. With sparks flying and saws screeching, crews there assembled the layers of decks that will sit atop the Lucius spar.

Once all pieces of the spar platform are completed, Anadarko will ship the hull into position about 274 miles southeast of Galveston, then flood its steel tanks with water to flip it vertically, a process that takes 24 hours because of the sheer size of the equipment.

Enormous seagoing cranes will hoist the topside decks and lower them onto the spar, finishing the assembly of a floating island that will be able to withstand hurricanes and 90-foot waves while staying attached to oil wells under more than a mile of water.

“We have a lot of people who have done this over and over, so they have learned from the experience,” said Darrell Hollek, senior vice president of Gulf of Mexico operations for Anadarko, which pioneered spar technology and has six spars in operation.

Atop a steel column

The company plans to add the Lucius spar and one called Heidelberg to its fleet of platforms by 2016, bringing two of its most advanced facilities into the deep Gulf.

Unlike most offshore production facilities, spar platforms float on singular steel columns, rather than atop an assortment of floating pontoons or on large ships.

The technology has helped oil companies produce in some of the deepest and most challenging offshore locations.

The world’s deepest producing offshore well, for example, is managed by Royal Dutch Shell’s Perdido spar platform. The Perdido spar is fixed like a floating island in about 8,000 feet of water and taps into a well 9,596 feet below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico.

“We really like the spar,” said Don Vardeman, vice president of worldwide projects for Anadarko, which expects to have eight spars operating by 2016. Murphy Oil Corp. has the next most, with three spars in operation.

When Shell chose a spar for Perdido, engineers felt the platform type would give it more stability. That was especially important because Shell wanted the ability to drill wells from the same platform it was using to extract oil, said Martijn Dekker, who helped plan the Perdido spar and is the business opportunity manager for Shell’s planned ultra-deepwater Stones project.

“If you want to drill from a platform, that’s got to be pretty stable,” Dekker said.

Anadarko’s Lucius is equipped with a truss section that includes a set of heave plates that help hold the vessel in place. Those plates work to align the vessel with more calm currents underwater, even as surface currents begin crashing high against the hull, Vardeman said.

Spiralling finlike strakes wrapped around the spar hull also help to reduce movement, said Jenifer Tule, project manager for the Lucius spar.

“When you have a current coming across the facility, it breaks the direction, breaks the flow of the water and disperses it around the facility, thus dampening the effects of vortex-induced motions or vibrations,” Tule said.

The improved stability helps equipment and personnel operate more efficiently, Vardeman said. For example, machinery that separates natural gas from oil can work faster when the movement of a platform isn’t stirring up the material.

Spars can overcome that challenge because they have relatively low amounts of vertical motion, Vardeman said.

The cost factor

Anadarko’s spar preference also has to do with costs. The more the company uses spars, engaging the same stream of contractors and refining similar designs, the lower its costs become.

“We really understand these structures very well,” Vardeman said.

While tension-leg platforms have provided stability and boosted production capacity to other companies, they are not suited for waters more than a mile deep. That’s because they maintain their positioning and minimize movement by using legs that extend to the seafloor and pull down against the vessel’s buoyancy.

Those legs become too expensive when producing from the deepest oil fields in the Gulf of Mexico.

Nor is the spar the best solution for all ultradeep-water offshore wells. Even Anadarko has turned to other solutions in waters more than a mile deep. The company’s
Independence Hub semisubmersible is the world’s deepest operating platform of that kind, working in 7,920 feet of water.

When making a decision on a platform, oil companies weigh the advantages of different options based on the availability of mooring points on the seafloor, the regional ocean characteristics, well development plans and the types of resources being pursued, among other concerns.


Source: Fuel Fix
(Photos by Houston Chronicle photographer Melissa Phillip and courtesy of Anadarko Petroleum)

Textile World Reports their Fabric of the Month: FR + Stretch = Flexible Protection

Utility line workers and other end-users of flame-resistant (FR) apparel have been expressing a desire for increased comfort and range of motion in the clothing they wear on the job. Mount Vernon FR, Trion, Ga., a division of Mount Vernon Mills Inc., Mauldin, S.C., has introduced a stretch FR fabric in response.

FlexTex — first offered in AmTEX™ C100 Chickasaw Flex 8.5-ounce cotton twill and Phoenix 100-percent cotton denim Seminole Flex 12.75-ounce twill FR styles — contains a spandex fiber that provides bilateral flex with up to 14-percent stretch and 97-percent recovery, enhancing the wearer's range of motion and performance on the job without lowering the fabric's FR protection level. The fabrics meet ASTM F1506 requirements for FR and arc-rated apparel worn by electrical workers, and register arc thermal protective value ratings of 11.0 and 17.0 calories per square centimeter (cal/cm2), respectively, well above the 8-cal/cm2 requirement for National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 2112 certification for flash fire protection.

According to Mike Woods, Mount Vernon FR's vice president of FR fabric sales, FlexTex can be added to any of the company's FR fabric lines, and it is being evaluated for NFPA 2112 certification for protection of oil and gas workers. "We are looking to offer a fabric that complies with Health Risk Category 2," he said. "Our initial target was utility line workers, who can find themselves in awkward positions and can benefit from increased range of motion. Once we started showing the fabrics, we had a lot of interest from folks in the oil and gas industry for a coverall product, so we decided to go for the NFPA certification."
Worker Standing with Tool Bag
Mount Vernon Mills' FlexTex FR fabrics meet ASTM F1506 requirements for apparel worn by electrical workers. National Safety Apparel has adopted the technology for a line of FR stretch jeans (below).  
National Safety Apparel Women's Stretch Jeans
National Safety Apparel (NSA), Cleveland, has adopted the Phoenix Seminole Flex denim fabric for a line of stretch FR denim jeans for both men and women — the first in the market, according to Micel Figueroa, NSA's director of sales, marketing and customer service, who added that the new styles have more of a retail look and less of a uniform look.

"In focus groups, we found that consumers wanted a more comfortable, flexible, retail look," she explained. "In the FR sector, aesthetics have not been a key component when creating garments. Now, with all the new textile technology, we're trying to incorporate the look and feel of a retail garment and also have the FR function."

In another development, Mount Vernon FR has introduced amDry, a durable water repellent that can be applied to any of its FR fabrics. "amDry can be applied to any of our cotton-rich fabrics," Woods said, noting that most water-repellent treatments for FR fabrics have been durable only up to four or five washes, or have comprised some type of coating or laminate, which deters breathability. "amDry chemistry is durable to 20 washes, and it doesn't affect the fabric's breathability or comfort," he added.

Source: Textile World

Awesome Future Job: Crew A Luxury Wind Turbine In The Middle Of The Ocean

Wind Turbine in the Ocean
Wind turbine loft concept Is this the future caretakers of industrial-strength electricity generators or luxury condos? Both!
This design concept by Bulgarian firm Morphocode predicts a future in which gigantic offshore wind turbines come equipped with fancy, futuristic housing for workers. Part of the inspiration for these lofts was a European Wind Energy Association report estimating that by 2030, there will be 300,000 jobs in offshore wind power. Since commuting to the middle of the ocean everyday isn't exactly possible, maintenance crews and experts would live onboard the turbines, splitting their time between contemplating the vastness of the sea and keeping the generators running.
Interior of a Wind Turbine Loft
Inside a wind turbine loft
The concept draws from modern attempts to rehabilitate abandoned industrial buildings by turning them into loft residences. Skipping the "abandoned" stage, these lofts would make mechanical function and luxury living synonymous.
Exterior of a Wind Turbine Loft
Deck of a wind turbine loft
Unlike the swanky new lofts in a rapidly-gentrifying warehouse district, however, the turbine loft has an isolation more in common with the International Space Station, an arctic outpost, or an oil rig. The concept only addresses the aesthetic challenges of offshore life, which is fine. The logistics of supplying people at sea are much simpler than feeding them in space, and humans already have the latter challenge tackled quite nicely.
Source: PopSci

SlateRockSafety.com Launches a New Look!

With all the moving and grooving we’ve been doing lately, we realized we needed to spruce up our mother ship, Slate Rock Safety.

We’re beyond excited to announce the launch of its new website.

The site features a fresh, slick look, easy navigation, and more focus on a place for you to learn about us as a company, and all of the exciting things we have going on.

Stop over and see us at the new slaterocksafety.com!

Slate Rock Safety Home Page
FRSafety.com Home Page
Slate Rock Safety Who We Are Page

Oil and gas industry employment rising fast

The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) have published figures indicating that oil and gas industry employment is growing much more rapidly than private sector employment.

Between the beginning of 2007 and end of 2012, total US private sector employment increased by more than one million jobs, approximately 1%. Over the same period, oil and natural gas industry jobs increased by more than 162 000 jobs, equivalent to a 40% rise.
Offshore Oil Drilling Platform
 The Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) accounts for oil and natural gas industry employment in three categories: drilling, extraction, and support.
  • Drilling involves any employment relating to the spudding and drilling of wells, as well as reworking of wells, and accounted for more than 90 000 jobs by the end of 2012, an increase of 6600 jobs since 2007.
  • Extraction includes establishments primarily engaged in operating, developing, and producing oil and natural gas fields, including exploration and production work up to the point of shipment from the producing property. Employment in the extraction category numbered more than 193 000 jobs by the end of 2012, 53 000 more jobs than in 2007.
  • Support involves performing supporting activities for oil and natural gas operations, including exploration, excavation, well surveying, casing work, and well construction. Support is the largest oil and gas category, and employed more than 286 000 people by the end of 2012, up more than 102 000 jobs from 2007.
About half of workers employed in crude oil and natural gas production are in the support category of oil and natural gas industry employment, and employment in this category accounted for the majority of increases seen in oil and gas industry employment.

The three industry categories combined equal just 0.5% of total US private sector employment.

Support and drilling industries were heavily affected by the recession. However, they have recovered quickly and were only minorly affected by the temporary moratorium on offshore drilling as a result of the Deepwater Horizon spill in 2010. Between January 2007 and December 2012, monthly crude production increased by 39%, and monthly natural gas production by 25%. Employment in the oil and gas drilling, extraction, and support industries continue to contribute to overall private sector employment.
Oil and gas industry activity also directly supports output and employment in other domestic sectors, such as suppliers of pipe, drilling equipment, and other drilling materials.

Indirect employment stems from purchases made by industry and employees spending of their incomes. Because employee expenditures are closely tied to income, higher paying jobs such as those in the oil and gas sector, tend to have larger indirect effects on output and employment than lower paying ones.

Source: Energy Global
Image source: BIC Alliance

Olympus offshore platform arrives at deep-water destination

Shell’s massive Olympus production platform has reached its destination in the deep-water Gulf of Mexico, ending an 18,000-mile journey that began last year in South Korea.

Offshore Oil Drilling RigsOlympus, Shell’s largest tension leg platform, has anchored at Mars B field, where it is expected to begin producing next year at a rate of 100,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day in waters about 3,000 feet deep. Shell said Olympus reached the Mars field on July 20, after a 425-mile trip from a construction dock in Ingleside, Texas, and was secured in place last week.

Shell owns 71.5 percent of the Mars development and is the operator, and BP is a 28.5 percent owner.

Shell already has announced plans for its next marvel, a floating production platform for its Stones field in the Gulf of Mexico. Shell says Stones will be the deepest-water field served by such a facility.


Source: Fuel Fix 

US oil and gas will surge for years, firm projects

Eagle Ford Shale production will jump 50 percent this year, hitting an average 844,000 barrels per day, according to an analysis by research and consulting firm Wood Mackenzie.

And despite slumping natural gas prices, the northeast United States will double gas production by 2020, the researchers forecast.

Oil Pump JackIn the report on North America energy production released Friday, Wood Mackenzie projects a healthy future for United States energy, with rapid growth led by tight oil, including oil from the Eagle Ford and other shale rock formations.

Even U.S. natural gas has a promising future, the researchers determined, finding that all current gas drilling in the United States is economic at prices above $4 per million British thermal units. U.S. gas closed Monday at $3.46.

“The Northeast shales have not experienced sharp gas drilling reductions due to low cost of development,” the report noted.

Wood Mackenzie estimates that $150 billion will be spent this year on developing onshore North American oil and natural gas. Tight oil will account for more than 40 percent of that spending, the firm found.

That heavy investment will push tight oil production to more than 5 million barrels per day by 2019, with more than half of those barrels coming from the Eagle Ford Shale in South Texas and the Bakken Shale in North Dakota and Montana.

The Wolfcamp and Cline Shale in West Texas is an up and comer, the researchers said, with its oil production forecasted to jump 76 percent by 2018. The Wolfcamp and Cline play, currently the source up 7 percent of production from the Permian Basin, will double its share over the next 5 years, Wood Mackenzie projects.

Pioneer, Devon, EOG Resources and Approach are the leading operators in the Wolfcamp/Cline Shale, the report notes.

That growth in domestic crude will cut imports from overseas to just 15 percent of U.S. crude supply by 2020, from about 44 percent now.

Growth in oil sands crude from Canada could displace imports on the Gulf Coast, the report notes. But that will require new pipelines and other infrastructure to carry the crude south.

“We expect supply growth will continue to outpace infrastructure build-out, resulting in increased use of alternative transportation modes and continued price volatility,” the report stated, noting that more than half of the crude volume leaving North Dakota’s Bakken Shale is carried by rail.

Rail transportation in the Bakken costs about 60 percent more than pipeline tariffs, according to Wood Mackenzie.

“Rail will have a role, but is not the ideal solution for long-life, plateau production assets like the oil sands,” the report stated. “For those focused on a long-term horizon, pipelines remain the safest and lowest-cost mode of transport.”

Source: Fuel Fix

The Day the Lights Went out: The Blackout of 2003

Map of 2003 North American BlackoutA power blackout beginning the afternoon of Aug. 14, 2003, cascaded from northeast Ohio to seven other states and parts of Canada, reaching 50 million people. Some of the immediate and long-term effects: 

THE DARK SIDE: Outages of various durations stretched across 9,300 square miles, leaving customers from Michigan to New England with intermittent phone service, no lights and no air conditioning in the summer heat. The blackout shut down more than 100 power plants, forced hospitals and prisons to operate on backup generators, and stranded people in elevators and on roller coasters. It caused transportation chaos as airlines canceled flights and much of New York City was immobilized.

HIGH AND DRY: Outages were reported along a 145-mile stretch of Lake Erie coastline. That created water shortages for about 1.5 million people near Cleveland, which had no power to pump its water up from Lake Erie.

TREE TRIMMING: Trees touching higher-voltage transmission lines were partly blamed by blackout investigators, and utilities began trimming vegetation more attentively along such lines. Occasionally it leads to legal disputes with residents protective of their greenery.

NEW RULES: The tree-trimming is among regulations mandated after the blackout to ensure reliability. The North American Electric Reliability Corp. now sets standards and tracks the performance of the larger grid.

RAPID RESPONSE: Grid operators now are better trained and use technology that allows them to monitor the system more closely and nearly in real time. Some operators have added new control centers.

Source: ABC News
mage: Wikipedia

Come see us at PIOGA!


The region’s oil and gas industry will get an incisive look at what’s on the horizon in terms of market opportunities, technical developments and regulatory initiatives during presentations at the 2013 Eastern Oil & Gas Conference and Trade Show, August 27-28, at the Monroeville Convention Center, just east of Pittsburgh. The theme of this year’s program is “The Keystone to America’s Energy Future – on the Horizon.”

Pennsylvania Independent Oil & Gas Association Conference LogoOrganized by the Pennsylvania Independent Oil & Gas Association, it is the longest-running event of its type in the eastern U.S. The trade show will attract approximately 250 exhibitors and takes place in conjunction with a day-and-a-half conference with presentations aimed at those working in the region’s shale plays as well as conventional oil and gas producers.

“While shale development – Marcellus, Utica and now Devonian – is a prime focus of our event, we don’t forget the conventional producers who have been the backbone of our industry for more than a century and a half,” comments Lou D’Amico, PIOGA President and Executive Director. “Several of our presentations are aimed at developments of great interest to conventional oil and gas producers, and many of the products and services on display at the trade show can help improve the efficiency of unconventional and conventional operators alike.”  

Scheduled presentations include:
  • The increasing role of natural gas in electrical generation
  • Panel discussion featuring natural gas utility executives from Peoples Natural Gas, Philadelphia Gas Works and Natural Fuel Gas Distribution Company
  • Appalachian shale gas development – past, present and future
  • Expansion into liquid-rich plays and the impact on economics and design
  • Update on federal government issues
  • Directional drilling to enhance gas production in Upper Devonian sandstones
  • Secondary and tertiary oil recovery opportunities in the Appalachian Basin
  • Updates on proposed Pennsylvania Chapter 78 oil and gas regulations and mechanical integrity assessment The schedule provides conference attendees with ample time to visit the exhibitors, and both conferees and exhibitors may attend an innovative networking reception the evening of the 27th. 
Anyone not interested in participating in the conference can still visit the show for an admission fee at the door. No registration is necessary. Exhibits are open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on August 27 and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the 28th.

Source: PIOGA.org

A decade after historic blackout, N.J. utilities focus on strengthening the system

It was 4:10 p.m. on Aug. 14, 2003, when the warning bells, whistles and alarms inside the Public Service Electric & Gas control center in Newark sounded. The 9,500 megawatts of electricity that powers New Jersey’s largest utility at any given moment dropped in seconds to half that, instantly cutting the lights to 1 million customers.
Ron Wharton, at the time planning manager at PSE&G, was working in the control room that day.

“So many alarms came in so quickly that we didn’t know what happened,” Wharton said last week. “I had never seen anything like it.”

2003 Blackout Manhattan SkylineA call was made to grid operator PJM Interconnection, charged with ensuring there is enough power in New Jersey and a dozen other states. PJM reported multiple transmission lines tripped out of service in Ohio, beginning a cascade of outages that ripped across the northeast in seconds.

In all, the largest blackout in North America cut power to 50 million people across Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Jersey, and the Canadian province of Ontario.

In New Jersey, where most customers had power restored within hours, PSE&G relay stations prevented further damage by disconnecting from the system to stop the domino effect of outages, said Wharton, now director of electric systems.

The massive power failure soon led to industry-wide changes, beginning in 2006 when an enforcement mechanism was attached to a set of reliability standards for utilities, which had previously been voluntary.

(IMAGE:The Manhattan skyline during the Aug. 14, 2003, blackout. The streaked lines of an aircraft from a long camera exposure is set against the darkening cityscape after sunset. Image by: Tony Kurdzuk/The Star-Ledger)

“If those standards had been on the books, and we had mandatory compliance, this wouldn’t have happened, said David Cook, advising senior counsel to the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, the nonprofit entity that oversees and monitors utilities. “Now, there were rules we could enforce about communication between utilities, about planning, about coordinating operations, rules about monitoring and vegetation management,” he said.

In the ensuing years, PSE&G has invested $3.5 billion in five major transmission projects, officials there said. And along with PJM, the utility has installed advanced grid-monitoring technology that can more quickly and comprehensively analyze PSE&G’s system to better detect, respond and anticipate potential problems, Wharton said.

The blackout primarily affected PSE&G’s service area, concentrated in the north with Essex, Bergen and Hudson counties the hardest hit.

Jersey Central Power & Light, New Jersey’s second largest utility, experienced just 5,000 outages along the Shore.

The event was triggered by a power line in Ohio that belonged to First Energy Corp., which is JCP&L’s parent company.

“We’re not disputing that event, but it’s all about looking forward,” said Mark Durbin, manager of energy delivery and state communications at First Energy in Akron. Durbin noted the report on the blackout by a joint U.S.-Canadian task force, which concluded that hundreds of events involving different systems and companies contributed to the cascade of outages.

Over the last decade, the company has spent $320 million — including millions at JCP&L — to keep its high-voltage transmission lines and utility poles clear of vegetation. It also conducts reliability audits, system operator training and is building a $45 million transmission control center in Akron to replace its current one.

Mike Bryson, who is PJM’s executive director of system operation, said the numerous improvements made can mitigate mass outages, including those caused by natural disasters. But the systems aren't perfect, he added, with storms like Tropical Storm Irene and Hurricane Sandy cutting power to millions, and leaving numerous others in the dark for days.

"It may be impossible to be 100-percent preventable,” said Bryson, who was also on duty when the lights went out a decade ago. Instead, he said, “it’s about grid resiliency, and how quick we can get people back on line.”

Source: NJ.com

Natural Gas to Power Most Semis

Ford to offer F-150 that runs on natural gas

Ford F-150 Bed
The gas can be either compressed natural gas (CNG) or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). Ford says that the lower cost of natural gas about the equivalent of $2.11 per gallon of gasoline means that customers will be able to save money within 24 to 36 months of ownership, even though they will have to pay nearly $10,000 more for the option.

"Businesses and fleet customers have been asking Ford to make F-150 available with CNG capability to take advantage of the fuel's low price and clean emissions," said Jon Coleman, Ford fleet sustainability and technology manager.

The CNG tank will be located in the front of the pickup truck's bed. The truck will be able to run up to 750 miles on CNG or LPG, depending upon the size of the tank taken. Running on gasoline, the 2013 model year version of the truck averages 19 miles per gallon, according to the EPA.

The CNG option has already been available on the larger F-350 pickup, but the F-150 is Ford's No. 1 vehicle and the leader in the full-size pickup segment. The CNG option will be available starting in the 2014 model year. Ford also plans to offer the CNG/LPG option on seven other commercial vehicles over the course of the next 12 months.

Source: CNN Money

Offshore oil rig: Island living, but no paradise

(CBS News) Lee Cowan travels to the Gulf of Mexico to visit an off-shore oil rig - a man-made island where crews rough it around the clock:

Out past Louisiana's bayous, in the grey blue waters of the Gulf, you'll find a chain of iron islands that never sleep.

An offshore oil rig is a noisy, grimy, cramped existence.

But for the roustabouts on deck, and the roughnecks manning the drill, life on a mechanical island has rewards all its own.

"I've raised a family off of it, three kids, sent them to college, own my own home," said Mike Pierce. "It's just a way of life. I don't think I could go back to a 7-3 job."

That's "Biker Mike," as they call him, a Harley-riding, Bible-reading roustabout, who helped hoist us aboard.

You see, there's no harbor for this island - no place for our supply boat to even dock.

So we commuted just the way the rig workers do: by crane (left).

The contraption provides little in terms of comfort, but a lot in terms of the view.

It was our entree to Hercules 173, one of Chevron's shallow water rigs, about 3 miles off the coast.

We were invited here to see how its 48 residents live and work.

We got there just as the shift was changing. Those rousted out of their bunks were getting ready to begin their 12-hour workday - noon to midnight.

The living quarters are what you might expect - part barracks, part locker room. Space is a luxury an oil rig can't afford.

But what the rig may lack in creature comforts, is more than made up for, by the food.

Keith Sullivan is the rig's cook - "Cookie" is his nickname, and boy, does he put out a spread.

"I have pork and beans, I have smoked sausage, broccoli, cheese onions and mushrooms, I have onion rings, cornbread, dinner rolls . . . " Sullivan said.

He was even grilling steaks out on deck.

"This is really the highlight of the day for the crew," he said. "The work out there is pretty hard, you know - 12 hours a day - and that's really the highlight of the day to come in and have a decent meal."

Besides eating and emailing, there's little to do out here EXCEPT work, and talk about home.

Chuck Branly has worked offshore for nearly 20 years - two weeks on, two weeks off.

As difficult as the labor may be, he says it's the time away from loved ones that is the most taxing.

"It's hard on the family, real hard," said Branly. "Everything that happens, happens when you're out here. You know, you have a family emergency, it puts a lot more on the wife because she has to handle a lot more stress."

They are a family away from their families. Michael Broom has two boys back on shore.

"It ain't too bad of a life out here, but you do have to have a special heart for it," Bloom said. "It's not for everybody."

He works deep in the bowels of the rig in 120-degree heat given off by two deafening mud pumps.

"It really gets to you," Bloom told Cowan. "You get several hours into it and you're like, man, I wish it would end, but it's still going to Rick on. Those 12 hours last a really long time."

But beyond the long hours is the risk.

Those who work out here know environmentalists would rather they NOT be here, especially after the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

They know one mistake could cost the Gulf another spill - or them, their lives. But Brandon Scroggins is confident lessons have been learned.

"It's not really a likely thing to happen," said Scroggins. "That's the worst-case scenario. And this is my livelihood, it's in my blood. It's not going to run me off."

We left the same way we came - leaving behind a crew who didn't have time to notice. They were too busy keeping their island home running - and counting the days until they, too, get back on land.

Source: CBS News

Ackman Acquires 9.8% Stake in Air Products

For weeks, it was a guessing game on Wall Street: Which big company had caught the fancy of William A. Ackman, the activist hedge fund manager?
William A. Ackman
The answer, revealed last Wednesday, was hardly a household name: Air Products and Chemicals, a producer of industrial gases. Mr. Ackman’s firm, Pershing Square Capital Management, says it has acquired a 9.8 percent stake, valued at $2.2 billion.

Air Product and Chemical ChartIn a regulatory filing on Wednesday, Pershing Square called the stock of Air Products “undervalued.” The firm said it intended to engage in talks with the company and other shareholders about topics including the company’s management and strategic plans. The hedge fund also indicated that it may pursue a proxy solicitation.

In early trading on Wednesday, shares of Air Products were up more than 3 percent.

In a statement the company said:

Air Products maintains an active dialogue with and carefully considers the views of its shareholders. The company has not been contacted by Pershing Square Capital Management but welcomes new investors and looks forward to engaging with Pershing Square to understand its views. In keeping with its long-standing practice, Air Products will thoroughly review constructive input from shareholders as part of its commitment to increasing shareholder value.

The bet is the largest Pershing Square has made. And it might have been larger, according to CNBC, if the company had not adopted a shareholder rights plan known as a poison pill.

Air Products adopted the poison pill last week after it noticed “unusual and substantial activity” in its shares. The plan sets up a hurdle for any investor looking to acquire a stake of 10 percent or more.

Speculation about Mr. Ackman’s intentions began after reports that he was raising a new $1 billion pool of money. In a letter to investors this month, Mr. Ackman described his target as a large-capitalization, investment-grade corporation in the United States, according to Bloomberg News.

Air Products, which is based in Allentown, Pa., says it is the world’s largest supplier of hydrogen and helium. Founded in 1940, the company has about 20,000 employees and operates in 50 countries. It reported about $10 billion of revenue and $1.5 billion in operating income in 2012. 

Mr. Ackman described the company as “Buffett-like,” referring to Warren E. Buffett, according to CNBC, which earlier reported the investment.

The hedge fund manager has had a mixed record this year, losing money on his $1 billion bet against the nutritional supplements company Herbalife and experiencing setbacks at J.C. Penney, another large investment.

But an investment, Canadian Pacific Railway, may offer clues to his approach with Air Products. After acquiring a stake in the railroad company, Mr. Ackman waged a successful proxy contest that led to the resignation of several board members and the chief executive last year.

Air Products has had its own brush with deal-making. The company made a hostile bid in 2010 for Airgas that it ultimately withdrew in the face of the target company’s poison pill defense.

Source: Deal Book with the New York Times

Shark Week hits SRS!

Are you into Shark Week on Discovery?

Shark Week Whiteboard

R.A. Dickey making a pitch for Dickies

Sometimes, the name just works.

The Fort Worth work-clothing maker, Williamson-Dickie, has a new PR collaborator — famed knuckleballer R.A. Dickey.

R.A. Dickey for DickiesThe Toronto Blue Jays pitcher will be promoting Dickies’ “Built to Work” contest through Sept. 29. Each week there’s a different contest to honor workers in a variety of industries, with the winner awarded a pair of work pants and a chance at the grand prize: a trip for two to a baseball playoff game, including airfare, hotel stay and $7,500 in spending money. Go to Dickies’ Facebook page for more information.

One of the weekly contests solicits photos of yourself “grease-stained or “mud-soaked” during a hard day’s work.

“I’m a hands-on guy and have worn Dickies for years for all sorts of projects,” the former Texas Ranger said in a company release. “The clothes are comfortable, durable and help me get the job done right. I’m excited to work with them on the Built To Work program.”

A Dickies spokesperson said that it’s not a paid endorsement, rather that Dickey is a “partner” in the 14-week campaign.

And why Dickey?

The privately held company said it carried out demographic research of its target consumer and found a strong interest in sports and radio. “To kick off the program, R.A. participated in a national sports talk-radio media tour,” spokesperson Jamie Dammrich said.

When we pressed for a clearer insight, Dammrich said, “We thoroughly researched athletes who embody the Dickies mentality of hard work on and off the field, and R.A. Dickey was the perfect match. The name similarity was just a bonus.”

In other Dickies news . . .(as we addressed in this post: Dickies 2-part series. Part 1: Williamson-Dickie Mfg. Co. Acquires Walls Industries)

Williamson-Dickie buys Walls Industries Williamson-Dickie, a 90-year-old family-owned business, recently bought Cleburne-based Walls Industries, a 70-year-old manufacturer of work apparel.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Walls makes mission-critical, industrial safety, active work wear and sporting goods apparel. Its brands are Walls, Big Smith, 10X, Liberty and Duxbathe.

The company will join Williamson-Dickie’s portfolio of work wear brands, including Dickies, Workrite, Kodiak, Terra and Van Moer.

Walls will continue to operate as a separate day-to-day business but will transition into the Williamson-Dickie organization by year’s end, the company said.

“Williamson-Dickie is very protective of its brand heritage and position in the industry,” said Philip Williamson, chairman and chief executive officer. “It’s important not only to grow, but to do so in a smart, strategic manner.”

Walls Industries leases a 353,643-square-foot warehouse at 301 E. Risinger Road in Fort Worth. The building was recently sold by the Hickman Family to a partnership of real estate investors J Searcy and Bruce Conti, deed records show.

Source: Star-Telegram 

Oil and Gas Innovation Keeps Pace with High-Tech World

What do you think of when you hear the word, “innovation?”

For most people, imagery of smartphones, computers and other high-tech gadgetry comes to mind. Sure they do; these are the things in our day-to-day lives that are leapfrogging through product generations. We’re no longer surprised when something we take for granted – a camera for example – becomes four times more productive, runs twice as fast and takes up a fraction of the space that it used to – all in a matter of a few years. But would it amaze anyone to know that the same pace and magnitude of innovation is happening in the oil and gas industry, a business long thought to be as fossilized as the rocks it exploits?

The real-time changes in the way oil and gas is being found, developed and produced is stunning, with potential consequences to society as profound as the introduction of the smartphone.

Oil and Gas FieldOver the past six years a typical North American oil and gas well has become at least four times more productive and can be drilled in less than half the time. Yet that’s not all. In the past couple of years, “pad drilling” is a process change that is compacting the industry’s geographic “footprint” too.

If you’ve ever looked out of an airplane window flying over Alberta or Texas you may have noticed the vast landscape dotted with small well sites, scraped into the ground like divots in a tee box. These are the cleared areas where wells have been drilled and completed. For land-based drilling, the historical norm has been one site, one well. But with today’s horizontal drilling techniques able to reach long lateral distances, the trend is toward clustering multiple wells onto one site, or “pad.”

It’s common to hear about six or eight wells per pad, but some companies are now talking about 20 or more. So, instead of clear-cutting and bulldozing say eight well sites, the same result can be accomplished by boring eight holes in the ground from only one pad.

More productive, faster and now more compact; the trends in the upstream end of the oil and gas industry are keeping pace with consumer electronics.

Back-of-the-envelope calculations with average numbers reveal the size of the changes. A company that used to have to clear 100 sites to drill 100 vertical wells, now only has to drill 25 horizontal wells on only three sites (assuming four times productivity and eight wells per pad). The benefits of these new exploration and development processes are many: Efficiency and economies of scale are driving down per-unit costs, while the surface disturbance to the environment is dramatically reduced. Several companies leading the way on pad drilling are reporting at least a 20-per-cent cost reduction relative to past practices.

Yet disruptive change to an industry’s processes is inevitably accompanied by disruptive change to the industry itself. While per-barrel costs of production may be reduced, the up-front capital to drill and complete these new types of wells is multiples more than before. And with pad drilling, companies are typically drilling and completing all wells on a pad before production begins, which means having to wait a longer time between investment and cash flow. 

What this implies is that the benefits of drilling many, high-productivity wells on a pad is limited to those companies with patience and deep pockets. The converse is emerging to be true as well: smaller companies with limited access to capital may have difficulty remaining competitive without a change in their strategy. For sure, the barriers to entry are much higher now; the days of starting up an oil and gas company with a few million dollars scrounged up from friends and family are over.

In the early 1900s, the oil and gas industry transitioned from bashing through rocks with a big chisel to boring deeper wells with a rotating drill bit. The scaled effects of the new disruptive technique vastly improved productivity, reduced cost and set up a century of oil and gas supplies.

Today’s changes are equally disruptive. The paradigm of tapping into hydrocarbon reservoirs is shifting from away from rigs drilling vertical wells like a sewing machine stitching a patchwork quilt across the land. Now, we’re seeing long horizontal threads stretching out kilometres below the geological fabric, all from one surface location. We haven’t seen this type of innovation in over a hundred years – not since the dumb-phone replaced Morse code.

Article and Image Source: The Globe and Mail

To All Our Hard-Working Women Out There

We know your job is challenging, and that’s what you love about it! But perhaps what you don’t love is your FR clothing.

We've just launched a new home, JUST FOR YOU, Women, and your FR Clothing! Giving you your own space within FRSafety.com. 

We know there is a distinct difference between you and your male co-workers, and the FRC that’s provided. Even on the job site, you deserve to look and feel your best.
Designed with you in mind, a feminine, comfortable fit for ultimate mobility, we've made a separate spot to address the needs of women, while still having access to the entire FRS site.

Our new home for women's FRC has all the pieces that your wardrobe has been missing. Head on over now!

National Safety Apparel Women's Ultrasoft FR Work Pant
National Safety Apparel Women's FR Cotton Polo Shirt

National Safety Apparel Women's FR Work Shirt

More Women's 
FR Clothing ›


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