Sunday, July 27, 2008

What is involved in getting an oil/gas lease?

There is a lot involved in getting a lease from the BLM or private owner for oil and gas. You have to determine who the owner is of the surface rights, mineral rights, depth rights, water rights, etc. All of which could have different owners. Then you have to agree to all the terms of the lease, how long until it expires, royalty fees, rental fees, permission to build, road access, can you sell it to someone else, etc.

So if you're an oil company:

A lease must be obtained to explore for oil and gas using geophysical technologies such as reflection and refraction seismic, magnetic surveys, geologic surveys, etc. Once a location is deemed as having potential, a permit must be obtained, if not already included in the exploration lease, to do exploratory drilling. Drilling can cost millions, so you don't want to drill a dry hole. If oil is found, then you can obtain another permit to build a production facility to pump out the oil.

Now, the United States has already seen extensive onshore exploration and the big easy oil fields have already been found. The millions of acres of leases Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats talk about are for small pockets of possible oil that dot the landscape. This is risky because your chances of drilling lots of dry wells looking for the oil is high. Spending all that money is not attractive to oil businesses big or small, especially with no guarantee of a good return. Offshore is a different story. Much of it remains unexplored as the government currently will not give permits or leases for anyone to explore for oil and gas offshore since the ban, not to mention drilling. There are some big finds offshore that were found back in the heyday of oil exploration, but technology did not allow for deep water drilling.

The technology does exist today though and is used in the Gulf of Mexico, off of Southern California, Russia, off of Nigeria, and all over Europe. Why the Europeans have no issue with drilling offshore and we do is a mystery to me. We should lift the ban on offshore drilling and start developing it for production. That way we have access to our resources and can free ourselves completely from foreign oil.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Mysterious Saturn

Here's a really cool mystery to think about. Where do you find naturally occurring atmospheric hexagons? Why, Saturn of course!

This image is incredible and baffles scientists as they have no idea what could be causing this hurricane-like storm on Saturn's north pole to look like a hexagon.

"This is a very strange feature, lying in a precise geometric fashion with six nearly equally straight sides," said Kevin Baines, atmospheric expert and member of Cassini's visual and infrared mapping spectrometer team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "We've never seen anything like this on any other planet. Indeed, Saturn's thick atmosphere, where circularly-shaped waves and convective cells dominate, is perhaps the last place you'd expect to see such a six-sided geometric figure, yet there it is."

The hexagon is nearly 15,000 miles (25,000 kilometers) across. Nearly four Earths could fit inside it. The thermal imagery shows the hexagon extends about 60 miles (100 kilometers) down into the clouds.

Another interesting mystery our universe continues to surprise us with.