High achievement—as a topic and as an objective–is under discussion in some of this month’s array of truncated articles. As always, you are invited to sample these article intros below, and go to the PBOG website (pbog.com/DrillingDeeper) to get the full version of each one.
Fracking Tops Environmental Issues
A full 57 percent of U.S. consumers believe that fracking is one of the three most important environmental issues today, according to a report released Aug. 4 by Makovsky, one of the nation’s leading global integrated communications consultancies. The report provides digital insights into the issue of hydraulic fracturing. Survey data in the report shows that 71 percent of the survey’s respondents say they hear about the issue at least every week and 79 percent say they hear about it primarily from social media. The survey was conducted between June and July 2014 via social media, leveraging geotargeted Facebook ads to solicit responses, and there were 1600 respondents. Understanding that social media has become one of the top sources of public information on fracking, Makovsky found that most of the social conversation is taking place on Twitter from anti-fracking activists and groups. Analyzing 1.3 million Twitter mentions of fracking from January through July 2014, Makovsky found that anti-fracking advocates are generating 2000 percent more impressions than those supportive of the issue.
For companies and associations in the oil and gas space trying to acquire a social license to operate—reflecting the local community’s acceptance or approval of a project or presence—effective use of social media is emerging as a critical success factor for resource development.
“One of the most under-utilized [and under-valued] tools for earning a social license in the oil and gas industry is social media,” said Andy Beck, Executive Vice President of Makovsky’s Energy and Sustainability Practice. “Oil and gas companies that choose to use outmoded tactics, such as massive spending on TV advertising, can expect less than stellar results—only 18 percent of our survey’s respondents say they hear about this issue from TV ads.”
To acquire a social license using social media, Makovsky recommends that oil and gas companies do a better job of understanding activists, identifying influencers, looking for and predicting behavior patterns, refining messaging, and creating more shareable content. More detailed recommendations are contained in the full report.
For a copy of Makovsky’s Fracking in the Digital Landscape report, visit makovsky.com.
How Entrepreneurs Can Increase Profit with a Hands-Off Approach
It’s a common occurrence among the most talented people in the corporate world—highly skilled and qualified workers make the leap from valued employee to uncertain business owner.
Unfortunately, rather than becoming a master of their own business, many of these entrepreneurs work twice as much as they did in their safe corporate job, unwittingly committing themselves to becoming the lowest rung on the ladder, says Zenovia Andrews, founder and CEO of The MaxOut Group, a company devoted to empowering and teaching entrepreneurs development strategies to increase profits.
“People believe that starting a new business is supposed to mean they’ll have to work much longer hours, and that’s why most new businesses fail early,” says Andrews, author of the new book All Systems Go—A Solid Blueprint to Build Business and Maximize Cash Flow (zenoviaandrews.com).
“Entrepreneurs need to be the brains and oversight of the operation. It’s not wise to work for your own business. Sixteen-hour days get entrepreneurs lost in the minutiae. They lose perspective and burn out.” Business owners need distance for perspective, and the best way to create that is by knowing how to delegate duties to employees, she says.
“Owners need to be the strategic visionary who hires, trains and develops the best talent available, and then delegates work,” says Andrews, who discusses the five keys of delegation.
• Understand that your team is made up of human beings. No one can work nonstop, so get your timing right. Know what each employee can handle, and never overwork them. Most people perform at their best when they are consistently busy but not rushed or pressured.
• Focus on the strengths of your team. Delegation is not a dump-and-run tactic. Know your employees and how they fit into your business puzzle. Allow them to do what they do well, and give them responsibilities and authority. They’ll be happier and so will you.
• Focus on your own strengths, then plug the holes. Few of us are great at everything! If bookkeeping’s not your thing, hire an accountant. If you don’t have marketing experience, find someone with proven skills. Trying to perform jobs that you don’t do well will require twice as much effort with less-than-satisfactory results.
• Be the resource king or queen. Your employees are only as good as the resources they have. Make sure that they are equipped to always do the best work for you on a daily basis. Running out of stock, not having new software and not shelling out for that desperately need printer is NOT good delegation.
• Become the fire, ice and motivation behind your team. When they need guidance, give it to them; when they need appreciation, offer it to them. Inspire, motivate and lead by supporting your delegated decisions and following up on them often.
“Business owners need to be the big thinkers: to identify patterns both good and bad; to become an idea machine and testing fanatic; to fill out details from outlined strategy; to be aware of market trends; to always have one eye on the competition; and to develop an instinct for the people with whom you like to work,” Andrews says.
U.S. Refineries Running at Record Levels
U.S. refineries have been processing record volumes of oil recently. Refinery inputs hit a record-high 16.8 million barrels per day (bbl/d) in each of the past two weeks, exceeding the previous record from summer 2005. Refineries in the Midwest and Gulf Coast in particular pushed the total U.S. input volume upward, as these refiners’ access to lower-cost crude oil, expansions of refining capacity, and increases in both domestic demand and exports contributed to higher refinery runs. As discussed in This Week in Petroleum, refinery gross inputs in the Midwest have been higher than the five-year range since late April. Typically, Midwest drivers use more motor gasoline in the summer, and some of that has come from the Gulf Coast. However, recent and planned changes to pipeline infrastructure have altered both the type of products in the pipelines and direction of flow. These changes increase the incentive for Midwest refiners to boost their own gasoline production.
The Midwest’s record-high runs of 3.8 million bbl/d for the week ending July 11 pushed the region’s refinery utilization to 100.3%, the first time any of the Petroleum Administration for Defense Districts (PADDs) has exceeded 100 percent since EIA began publishing weekly PADD-level utilization in June 2010. But this number says as much about the metric used as the feat itself. Refinery utilization is calculated based on calendar-day atmospheric crude distillation unit (ACDU) capacity, which takes into account usual operating conditions, including both planned and unplanned outages. Under ideal conditions, when outages are low, refiners can produce at levels above their calendar-day ACDU capacity.
Realization of long-anticipated capacity expansions in the Gulf Coast region has also pushed their regional refinery runs to record levels. Gulf Coast gross inputs rose to 8.5 million bbl/d for the week ending June 27 and reached 8.7 million bbl/d for each of the following two weeks. The United States remains an increasingly active participant in the global petroleum products trade. The Gulf Coast region’s competitive advantage, which is based on upgrading capacity of refineries, relatively lower costs of inputs and fuel, and access to growing markets, keeps utilization rates high.
ACEEE Director Testifies
At a congressional hearing on July 24, Steven Nadel, executive director of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), said that “states are stepping out and leading energy efficiency efforts in the United States as a way to save energy, lower consumer bills, and promote economic development.” In his testimony, Nadel noted that there are large opportunities for cost-effective energy efficiency investments, investments that can aid economic development by:
Creating direct jobs from manufacturing and installing energy efficiency measures;
Reducing energy bills for consumers and businesses as energy use declines;
Suppressing prices in wholesale energy markets as the law of supply and demand affect these markets; and
Creating indirect and induced jobs as these direct impacts ripple through the economy.
Nadel provided specific examples from studies on energy efficiency programs in California, Ohio, and the Northeast. He also discussed growing energy efficiency activities in multiple states, including Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. Nadel concluded by discussing the results of a recently published ACEEE analysis that examines energy savings opportunities and economic development benefits in each of the 50 states.
The analysis finds that every state can use energy efficiency to boost economic development, with job gains of more than 600,000 possible nationally, along with nearly $50 billion in net economic benefits, by 2030.
To read the testimony, visit: aceee.org/testimony/nadel-house-072414
Latest Tests from Energy Institute
Accurate testing of petroleum and petroleum products is vital to ensuring quality and compliance with British Standards and European Norms. The Energy Institute (EI)’s latest issue of the IP Standard test methods for analysis and testing of petroleum and related products and British Standard 2000 Parts, 2014, is now available. This 2014 publication is the 72nd edition and details 322 full test methods, including seven brand new methods, and is an essential part of any quality control regime for petroleum testing laboratories. The EI is a world-class leader in test method development, with the EI Test Method Standardisation Committee working closely with international standards agencies, including CEN, ISO and ASTM, as well as publishing jointed methods to produce British, European and international standards. Many of these test methods underpin product quality requirements which have an impact on safety and the environment, in both shipment and use. They are also used to support government regulations, custody transfer, quality control and international petroleum product specifications globally.
The test methods included in this year’s publication apply to a variety of products including aviation and automotive fuels, bitumen and lubricants, and cover fatty acid methyl esters (FAME), the freezing and smoke point of fuels, water content, temperature conversions, storage stability and much more.
The newest test methods to be included within this edition are:
· 604/13 Lubricants, industrial oils and related products – determination of the foaming and air release properties of industrial gear oils using a spur gear test rig
· 605/13 Petroleum products – determination of content of Benzo(a)pyrene (BaP0) and selected polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in extender oils
· 606/13 Automotive fuels – determination of high-boiling components including FAME in petrol
· 607/13 Automotive fuels – determination of iodine value in FAME
· 612/14 Diesel and domestic heating fuels – determination of cold filter plugging point
· 613/14 Determination of the viable aerobic microbial content of fuels and associated water
· 614/14 Liquefied petroleum gases – determination of dissolved residue
The publication is sold as a three-volume set and includes a searchable USB stick. IP Standard Methods for analysis and testing of petroleum and related products, and British Standard 2000 Parts, 2014 ISBN 978-0-85293-690-0 Price: £725.00 Order online from www.energypublishing.org
The EI also offers access to laboratory correlation schemes, which can form a fundamental part of a laboratory’s testing and quality assurance systems.
For more information, www.energyinst.org/technical/test-methods/ei-correlation-schemes
Combating Childhood Hunger
WTU Retail Energy and the Food Bank of West Central Texas partnered again in 2014 to help fight childhood hunger throughout the region via the Summer Bag program, which provides biodegradable plastic bags filled with nutritious, easy-to-open food to send home with children on weekends throughout summer. The initiative helped feed more than 100 children last summer with 6,300 pounds of food. In a recent event, Food Bank officials received a $5,000 check from WTU representatives during an occasion when about 50 children received their food bags. “Our children are our most precious resource and this program helps us reach them,” said Jody Houston, Executive Director with the Food Bank of West Central Texas. “This year, more than 100 will be helped thanks to WTU’s contributions.”
The summer bag program is one of the many initiatives focused on giving back to the communities in which WTU Retail Energy operates. The initiative joins forces with food banks across the state to help fight childhood hunger.
“The Summer Bag program is one of the initiatives we’re most proud of at WTU,” said Jayesh Shah, WTU Commercial Manager. “It’s part of our mission to make a difference in the communities we serve and helping area children combat hunger is just one of many ways that we can be of support.”
Natural Gas Production Hits New High
Natural gas production for the Lower 48 reached the 70 bcfd level for the first time on Monday, July 21, 2014, according to Genscape, whose proprietary pipeline models track these totals. This unique milestone demonstrates the ongoing growth in gas production and the continued reliance on natural gas in North America. Using regional natural gas prices in combination with well economics, Genscape provides the gas production forecasts in the market, with weekly updates and detailed production forecasts for over 50 regions in the Lower 48 and Canada.
Genscape has been aggressive in forecasting increasing U.S. natural gas production from shale plays across the country, with record flows in the Marcellus and Utica Shale leading the way.
This dynamic economic forecast of rigs and natural gas production uses the most up-to-date available data and incorporates infrastructure impacts and deferred gas well inventory to help inform trading and hedging strategies. Traders and analysts can utilize the report’s analyst insight and market intelligence, in combination with the granular data behind the forecasts, to make more efficient, intelligent decisions.
Genscape’s Natural Gas Production Forecast includes forecast commentary every six weeks, as well as weekly rig breakout, price, and pipe flow analysis reports. The forecasts are integrated to price and rig activity levels and pipeline flow data to ensure the forecasts are calibrated accurately with up-to-date signals of changes in production levels, allowing for price signals to flow through models and enabling reports to be adjusted based on market changes.
To learn more about Genscape’s Natural Gas Production Forecast or speak with one of the team’s gas experts, visit: info.genscape.com/natgas-production-high