April 2021

First oil

Signs of life emerge from the Eagle Ford
Kurt Abraham / World Oil


Recently, this editor again drove from Houston toward San Antonio on the “old road,” a U.S. Highway that parallels I-10 to the south. One thing that the old road does is offer a visible barometer of industry activity in the gas/condensate portion of the Eagle Ford shale, particularly in a 22-mi stretch between Gonzales and Shiner.

Indeed, more oilfield service trucks were traveling that road than I have seen in more than 15 months. And at an SWD facility, every bay had a truck in it. Down the road, an independent operator’s district office had more vehicles parked out front than in well over a year.

While no active drilling rigs were visible, a workover rig did operate at an existing well pad—the first in quite some time. Anecdotally, an RV park, which had seemed to struggle in 2019 and 2020, now appeared to be nearly full. You can bet that some of those trailers camped out there were not tourists but most likely Eagle Ford workers, as housing remains scarce.

So, things are looking up for the Eagle Ford, where the Baker Hughes rig count sat at 33 units on April 16, 2021, the highest figure since 35 rigs on April 24, 2020. Thus, very shortly, the play will begin exceeding the year-ago weekly figures, as activity continues to recover. This is good news for the industry, as well as the towns in this part of Texas.

A long-time colleague passes away. It is with great sadness that we report that our long-time artist/illustrator, David Weeks, passed away suddenly on April 9 at age 69. David had joined our company, Gulf Energy Information, in 1978 and had been a dedicated, hardworking member of our Production Department for 43 years. He worked on all of our publications, including World Oil. Readers may not have realized how widespread David’s “touch” was on so many aspects, ranging from cleaning up and formatting photos for technical articles to creating or re-doing intricate drawings and maps, to helping me pick out and judge images for the covers of monthly issues and then formatting them. I always appreciated and trusted his judgment.

As our V.P. and Production Director Sheryl Stone noted, “David was a selfless man and a patient teacher, always willing to share his knowledge and put the needs of others first. David remained calm, even when working on a tight deadline, earning him the nickname, ‘the silent assassin.’ He had been known to add sky where none existed, digitally dress an author a little more appropriately, and even move the moon.” Rest in peace, David—we sure do miss you.

Thoughts on the late Prince Philip. Our condolences go out to our many colleagues and friends in the UK, who lost their beloved Prince Philip in the Royal Family on April 9 at age 99. As the Duke of Edinburgh and husband of 73 years to Queen Elizabeth II, Philip was a tower of strength behind the scenes.

Also, as noted by former Wall Street Journal Editor-in-Chief and now Editor-at-Large Gerard Baker (himself a British citizen), Philip was a very direct person. As Baker notes, Philip “had an unerring capacity to ask awkward questions, speak inconvenient truths and challenge polite orthodoxies.” For instance, at a July 4 dinner at the American ambassador’s house in London some years back, the ambassador made a toast, acknowledging that the U.S. had chosen in 1776 to go down a different path. Baker says Philip suddenly shouted out from a sedentary position, fortified, no doubt, by a couple of glasses of the embassy’s wine, “Oh yes! And how’s that working out for you?”

In another example, Philip said, “That’s about the right number,” when an “interlocutor” explained that the parliament of a foreign country he was visiting had only 200 members. “We have 650,” declared Philip, “and most of them are a complete bloody waste of time.” Philip may not have been properly P.C., but his comments were crisp, clear and unapologetic. We could use some of those traits in current discussions of energy policy and philosophy.

About the Authors
Kurt Abraham
World Oil
Kurt Abraham kurt.abraham@worldoil.com
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