Rants, Raves, & Random Thoughts

Shameless self-promotion of my writing skills or lack there of.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Exciting Times at the Day Job

My company is going through a “restructuring”. It has been brewing for a couple of months, but looks like it will be finalized soon. Some of the actions and attitudes that I have witnessed since it all began would be funny if they weren’t so darn sad. It seems that nothing brings out the worst in people than letting it be known that there is an opportunity to gain more power. Luckily, the men that have behaved so badly are very few and were spotted early on as the connivers that they are. They will be dealt with swiftly and harshly during the final phases of the restructure

The following are strictly hypothetical scenarios that could probably be found in nearly every company in America.

“It’s a shame about so and so.” Slimy…er Senior Engineer begins.
“What do you mean?” VP asks, brows pursed in confusion.
“Well, with that drinking problem of his, you have to wonder how long it will be before it starts to affect his work.”
“I didn’t know he had a drinking problem.”
“Oh yeah, he drinks like a fish. He has had one for as long as I’ve known him. You remember that Christmas party last year; he was hammered at that before the dinner was served.”
“Really, I had talked to him and didn’t even notice.”
“That’s what makes him so dangerous. You never know when he’s drunk.”

Another favorite of mine is the implied misconduct.

“You should have heard so and so ripping into his employees. I thought he was going to get physical with them. I heard he even raised his fist to one of them, but stopped just before he actually threw a punch.”
“Oh my. Why wasn’t there a report filed?”
“I guess they figured it was just an isolated incident.”
“I should go question his employees myself.”
“Uh, uh, I wouldn’t do that.”
“Why not?”
“Because they will just deny that it happened.”
“Why would they do that?”
“Because they are afraid of the repercussions.”
“I see, well how did you come across this information?”
“I am here in the trenches, sir. I have my thumb on the pulse of the company.”
“Doesn’t your thumb have a pulse of it own? I would think that it would mask anything you might feel from the trenches.” The VP snipes, sensing the reason for their conversation.
“Well, yes…I mean no. Damn it, you know what I mean.”
“Yes, yes I am sure I know what you mean.”

On a happier note, my company (Syntroleum) truly is on the verge of greatness (hence all of the restructuring). Syntroleum Corporation is in the business of monetizing remote and/or stranded natural gas. It is the developer, user and licensor of the Syntroleum Process, a proprietary process for converting natural gas (or synthesis gas from coal) into synthetic liquid hydrocarbons - a process general known as gas-to-liquids (GTL) technology. We employ our technology to form joint ventures and acquire equity in oil and gas development projects where GTL is critical to a project's success. We also license the Syntroleum Process to others. Syntroleum's unique capabilities enable us to offer attractive solutions for natural gas reserves (including flared gas) that are not economic to produce using traditional methods.

The Syntroleum Process produces synthetic liquid hydrocarbons, also known as synthetic crude oil, that is virtually free of contaminants that are normally found in products made from conventional crude oil. These synthetic liquid hydrocarbons can be further processed into higher margin products through conventional refining techniques, including Syntroleum's proprietary Synfining Process. These products include:

• Ultra-clean liquid fuels for use in internal combustion engines and fuel cells;
• Specialty products such as synthetic lubricants, process oils, waxes, etc.
Costs to produce these products using GTL technology are increasingly competitive with conventional process technologies. Moreover, the ultra-clean properties of GTL fuels meet or exceed the new and proposed environmental requirements that will soon go into effect for the U.S. and Europe.

Key advantages to the Syntroleum Process include its use of air in the conversion process, which is economically competitive and inherently safer than the requirement for pure oxygen in other GTL technologies; and Syntroleum's proprietary catalysts, which enhance conversion efficiency of the catalytic reaction. These features help to reduce capital and operating costs of plants, and permit smaller plant sizes, including mobile plants that can be mounted on barges for offshore service. Research indicates that the Syntroleum Process can be economically applied in plant sizes from less than 20,000 to over 100,000 barrels per day.

It is generally accepted that, if converted to liquid, there are enough known stranded natural gas reserves in the world to produce more than 250 billion barrels of synthetic crude oil. To put that in perspective, that would be equivalent to finding another Saudi Arabia.

Ah, but the most exciting news about Syntroleum involves our latest announcement. We have received approval from the Federal Government of Nigeria for the assignment of interest to it and other participants in Oil Mining Lease (OML) 113, offshore Nigeria. Additionally, the participants previously received approval of their required drilling permit for the first appraisal well. Syntroleum last year acquired the rights to the 413,000-acre block, including the Aje Field, a discovered oil and gas accumulation from Yinka Folawiyo Petroleum Co. Ltd. ("YFP"), the Nigerian operator of record. The company views Aje as a potentially significant commercial opportunity for its Gas-to-Liquids (GTL) technology.

As a result of receipt of the approval, Syntroleum shall receive from certain of the other participants a cash payment of $5.7 million as part of the consideration for joining the Aje project.
"Receipt of the approval of this assignment is the final administrative step required to allow for the drilling of our first appraisal well on the Aje structure at OML-113," said Jack Holmes, President and CEO of Syntroleum. "We and the other participants have made a commitment for a drilling rig that should allow us to spud our first appraisal well in August or September 2005. The cash bonus that we will receive as a result of the assignment is expected to cover our share of the drilling and testing of this well and the majority of costs of the second appraisal well at Aje."

As previously announced, under a Joint Development Agreement between the two companies, Sovereign Oil & Gas and Syntroleum identified a potentially major accumulation of oil and natural gas during previous testing of Aje's geology and reservoir at two pre-existing wells. This accumulation could be confirmed with one or more delineation wells. As currently interpreted, the crude oil and natural gas reservoirs are separate and can be produced independently.

With the oil situation being what it is, it doesn’t take long to realize the importance of the work that we are doing. My wife develops the catalyst that makes this wonderful process possible and I program the control systems that make our plants run.

If you want to know more, click on the Syntroleum link in my sidebar. I think you might be surprised by what our quiet little company is up to.


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