From the President - January 2013

HGS President's Column - January 2013  by Martin Cassidy

Happy New Year.  The Old is New Again

The New Year is upon us and, yes, it is a new beginning. However, we are in the middle of our HGS year with our monthly HGS General evening and noon meetings, our International, North American, Environmental and Engineering, and Northsiders meetings. A special treat in January is Legends Night 2013: Legends of Sedimentology on January 14, 2013. It is a night with our great teachers, George Devries Klein, James Coleman, Miles Hayes and Robert Folk. HGS’ meetings are important opportunities to stay current with new technology and information. These are going to be much needed as change in our business occurs at an increasing rate.

Not only do we have new understanding of “shale” oil and gas, in many reservoirs not strictly shales, horizontal drilling, and hydraulic fracturing technologies improve by the month. Water protection and handling , a concern as old as civilization, is now a hot topic. At the recent Gulf Coast Association of Geological societies (GCAGS) meeting in Austin, a full day of talks dealt with water issues of the Gulf Region – its use, availability, and the level of need in unconventional plays. The amount of time given to water use talks was equal to that allocated to shales in the Gulf Coast Region.

We in the industry need to be very careful that in the quest for speed in drilling to objective we do not slight the planning and execution of drilling the shallow portions of wells. Water is precious, especially in the semi-desert of Southwest Texas. A cautionary tale comes from distant North African land of Tunisia where an American firm had a water blowout in the desert while drilling a simple deep hole for a seismic survey. Suddenly, the well spit the drill string out of the uncased hole with a heavy flow of fresh water. The mobile rig managed to drive free, but the well continued to flow, a crater expanded, and a lake began to form. Attempts to control the flow were futile as the well swallowed casing and lowered the rig. Workers were able to scramble to safety.

Management went to the Tunisian President to ask permission to leave the lake and was relieved to learn that the new oasis was welcome. Now, nearly 30 years later, birds nest in the reeds and local herders water their flocks around “Lake Rankin,” named after the engineer whose casing disappeared down the hole. Such a lake would not be acceptable in South Texas!

This year economics of oil and gas plays are l ikely to change because the industry is viewed as a milk cow by the Federal Government and as a devouring dragon by environmentalists and most media. We need to explain ourselves to those outside the industry! Our livelihood depends upon it.

We must also be adaptable. The great crew change is coming, and we are it! What are the retirees to do? There are wives that say: “I married you for better or for worse, but NOT for lunch.” You can volunteer to join a committee of the HGS and you can generate prospects and sell them. To help you in that venture HGS member Charles Sternbach, current President of the AAPG division of DPA, will organize a Playmaker Forum for this January 24, 2013. For details please see a description later in this Bulletin.

So the year begins with the industry in more transformation than ever. Old questions are new again. Stay alert, keep educated, and become or remain involved in the H


Martin Cassidy
Tuesday, January 1, 2013
From the President