Various and sundry items from around the industry, including rising gas prices, are the topics of this month's column.



Our Imaginary Gasoline Problem?

A lot of hoopla about $4-a-gallon gas coming soon. Sadly, much of the debate is politically motivated. Sadder still - both the Democrats and Republicans are mishandling it. And the real head shaker: Some morons are protesting gas station owners as if the prices are their fault. The reason gas stations have quickie marts and car washes and service bays is because they make pennies a gallon on their gas.

Gas price myth No. 1: We're running out of oil. Yes, demand is up - because of worldwide (China) economic growth and production lags - and our refineries haven't been upgraded since John Travolta was a skinny disco king. The USGS says there are 3 trillion barrels of recoverable conventional oil in the world; there's another 6 trillion barrels that today are considered unrecoverable. As we sit here, technological advances are increasing that 33 percent recoverability rate and finding ways to convert unconventional hydrocarbons into viable fuel sources. And it's taking these higher gas prices to give investors the incentive to pursue these new technologies.

Also adding to our gasoline costs is our having to deal with our very good friends in the Middle East, Venezuela and Nigeria. The simple fact that those places are all screwed up and they hate the United States adds about $12.50 to a barrel of oil.

Yes, we're running out of the cheap and easy oil that we used to get. News flash - prices go up.

You were putting $1.20 gas in your new 1985 Ford F150 ($10,000); today you're putting $2.90 gas in your 2005 F150 ($25,000).

The rest of the world makes fun of the U.S. for a lot of things. One of the few that doesn't reek of jealousy - our crying over $3 gas; Europeans consider $3 gas the good ol' days.

All this uproar and what are people doing about it? Not much. Sure, some people are making their own diesel ($0.70/gal.) or have taken advantage of co-ops ($2/gal.) or bought a motorcycle (I hope they signed their donor cards). But for the most part, nobody's really changing their ways to save gas.

It seems some folks just need something to bark about. My neighbor treated me to an extended rant about gas prices not long ago. In the same conversation, he let me know that his home's value increased 75 percent in the last 10 years.

Just remember - we did, in fact, make it through the 1970s (the stain of disco notwithstanding).

Getting All “Gilligan's Island” On Us

Preferred Pump & Equipment entertained more than 400 top customers and vendors as part of its annual Dealer Awards Program. Guests enjoyed a week-long Caribbean cruise on the “Mariner of the Seas,” the newest and largest luxury cruise ship in the world.




Do Water Features Aid Healing?

A new research project is underway to prove that water features in healthcare facilities can aid in the treatment of dementia and Alzheimer's disease. The research initiative is being launched by Accents in Water, a firm that sells water features, because previous research has shown that the sound and visual images created by falling water increases productivity, reduces stress, purifies the air and facilitates healing. Baseline measurements indicating mobility, conversation, cooperation, irritability and frustration have been taken of staff, patients and residents. Those measurements will be compared to those taken after the introduction of the water feature.

Sticky Gunk May Be Useful

A common bacteria that clings to the inside of water pipes is the strongest glue known to exist in nature and could be used for engineering and medical purposes, according to a recent Associated Press article on the Environmental News Network.

A team of researchers found that the organism Caulobacter crescentus can withstand a force equivalent to 5 tons per square inch, and is three times as strong as commercial “super glue” products.

Figuring out how to apply it will require solving scientific and engineering problems of surface chemistry and manufacturing processes, the article said. “The challenge will be to produce large quantities of this glue without it sticking to everything that is used to produce it,” notes Yves Brun, Indiana University biologist and co-author of the research project.

Legislative Issues

Caroline Mims of our Florida office brings these two issues to our attention:

Great Lakes Cleanup - Acting under the authority of the Great Lakes Legacy Act, the Environmental Protection Agency has announced a new rule that will outline how projects will be identified, selected and evaluated to clean up the sediment and reverse the environmental harm to Great Lakes rivers and harbors. The cleanup of such areas of concern has been a priority of the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration. The result will be a healthier aquatic habitat and cleaner water for fish, wildlife and the 35 million residents of the region. Proposed funding for the project has quintupled in four years. Congress appropriated $9.9 million in 2004, $22.3 million in 2005 and $29.6 million in 2006 for Legacy Act cleanups. The president has requested $49.6 million in the 2007 budget.

Bottled Water Exports - Michigan House Democrats have proposed a constitutional amendment to prohibit companies from siphoning water and shipping it out of state in bottles unless approved by the Legislature, according to the Detroit Free Press. The proposal would supersede new laws signed by Gov. Jennifer Granholm in February that regulate the withdrawal of water from the state. Under those laws, bottled water is defined as a product, not a diversion, and can be shipped outside of the Great Lakes Basin as long as bottlers show they won't dry up streams, ponds and wells. The Democrats proposal would amend Michigan's new law by categorizing bottled water as a diversion and requiring that lawmakers approve such diversions. They would boost the penalties for violations from $1,000 to a range between $25,000 and $3 million.

Our New Web Address

Your favorite drilling magazine has a new Web address: www.nationaldriller.com (kinda makes sense, huh?). Don't worry if, by force of habit, you key in the old address - you'll immediately be redirected.