The Oil & Gas Industry Capital of the World’s Newspaper: Totally Ignorant of the Oil & Gas Industry

Guest ROTFLMFAO in Houston by David Middleton

U.S. smart to delay expansion of offshore drilling [Editorial]
By The Houston Chronicle May 5, 2019

Drill baby, drill? Not so fast—and thank goodness.
The Trump Administration has put on hold indefinitely plans to vastly expand offshore drilling by opening up billions of acres of water for oil-and-gas leases in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, in two seas in the Arctic, off the southern coast of California and, for the first time, up and down the East Coast in the Atlantic Ocean. The pause is good news for the environment, of course, but it’s also a win for the rule of law and for democracy, too.

On a more parochial level, the news also ensures that for now the Gulf Coast near the Houston-Galveston region will retain its status as the primary nexus of activity for the industry. Given the synergies with the rest of the energy industry, that’s a good thing, too.


The Houston Carbuncle

On the “bright side,” The Carbuncle seems to finally recognize that the oil & gas industry is relatively important to the Houston economy. This was not the case five months ago.

Billions of acres?

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM, “Bow-em”) manages 1.7 billion acres on the outer continental shelf (OCS). 1.7 billion is about 300 million acres short of billions of acres. Less than 60 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM), leased between 1947 and 1982, are currently under lease or held by production. Most of what is currently available has been “turned over” more than twice. Of the 146 million currently unleased acres in the GOM, 90 million (60%) have never been leased (NBL). With almost the entire Western and Central GOM OCS covered with modern 3d seismic surveys and the most recent new play discoveries (Ultra-deepwater Lower Tertiary and Jurassic Norphlet) being fairly mature in terms of leasing, if not drilling and production, “NBL” is a pretty good indication that there isn’t an “ice cube’s chance in Hell” of there being any potential on those leases or they are “off limits” in the Eastern GOM.

Most of the Norphlet play and almost all of the Mesozoic potential is “off limits” in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico.

Norphlet/Smackover OCS play map.

The map above is preliminary, after doing a little more “research,” I found that the Mobile Bay gas fields are about twice as large as depicted. The Norphlet play is fascinating and will be the subject of an upcoming post… It even involves climate change on a scale hitherto unimaginable (to paraphrase Doctor Strange… Oh, Avengers: Endgame – THE best movie ever made… even better than Ben-Hur).

Atlantic open “for the first time”?

I suppose it is accurate to say that it has never all been open in the same sale before. However, the North Atlantic, Mid-Atlantic, South Atlantic and Straits of Florida planning areas were periodically offered for leasing from 1959-1983 . Of course this was prior to 3d seismic surveys and when offshore drilling and production were at least a couple of technological generations behind where they are today.

“A win for the rule of law and for democracy, too”?

“A win for rule of law” remains to be seen. President Obama permanently removed much of offshore Alaska from leasing. President Trump reversed this executive order with another executive order. An Obama judge ruled that Obama’s executive order cannot legally be reversed. The courts will decide if the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) prohibits the undoing of prior executive orders. Assuming this winds up in the Supreme Court, there’s at least a 50-50 chance that the Obama judge’s ruling will be overturned. Whatever the outcome, the final decision will be a “win for the rule of law.” Rule of law is a process, not an outcome.

Assuming that The Carbuncle is referring to elections, the OCSLA is not subject to “democracy.” It’s a law passed by Congress, to be executed by the Executive Branch, which is run by the President. President Trump is the democratically elected president of these United States… We are united by something called the United States Constitution. Before anyone tries to argue that Mr. Trump was not democratically elected… I suggest they read the United States Constitution first.

“The Gulf Coast near the Houston-Galveston region will retain its status as the primary nexus of activity for the industry”?

While Houston is the global capital of the oil & gas industry, that “nexus” extends from Corpus Christi, Texas to Mobile Bay, Alabama. Port Fourchon, Louisiana might be almost as important as Galveston as an operational support facility.

That said, the preponderance of the BOEM’s estimated undiscovered offshore resource potential is in the Gulf of Mexico.

Even if everything was opened up tomorrow, the the global capital of the oil & gas industry would still be Houston and the nexus for offshore operations would still stretch from Corpus Christi, Texas to Mobile Bay, Alabama… and maybe on to Tampa, Florida.

Note to The Houston Carbuncle

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Mike H
May 6, 2019 4:34 pm

I always referred to the Houston Chronicle as the Houston Comical.

Reply to  Mike H
May 6, 2019 6:24 pm

I always referred to it as toilet paper.

Reply to  Craig
May 7, 2019 1:00 pm

It’s too irritating for TP

Mark Broderick
May 6, 2019 4:34 pm


“I suppose it is accurate to say that it has never all been open in the same sale (scale )? before. ”
Excellent post…. as always.
Unfortunately, this will take a few hours to show

May 6, 2019 4:56 pm

Trump deciding to not do something that he is legally entitled to do, is victory for “law and order”?

Once again the liberals admit that as far as they are concerned, the “law” is whatever benefits them. Nothing more, nothing less.

Reply to  MarkW
May 6, 2019 5:45 pm

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.” “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.” “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.”

Michael S. Kelly LS, BSA Ret.
May 6, 2019 5:09 pm

“The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM, “Bow-em”)…” Aka, “La BOEM”, under the skillful leadership of Administrator Giacomo Puccini.

Reply to  David Middleton
May 6, 2019 9:14 pm

Nice use of 42 🙂

Mark Broderick
May 6, 2019 5:12 pm


““A win for (the)? rule of law” remains to be seen. President Obama permanently removed much of (the)? offshore Alaska from leasing.”

Ben of Houston
May 6, 2019 5:44 pm

Heh, I don’t subscribe to them, and I won’t for the foreseeable future.

May 6, 2019 6:38 pm

Glomar Pacific. Baltimore Canyon for Exxon in 1978. Crew change out of Atlantic City. Imagine if Exxon had 4D seismic in those days. It would have been a multiple of Statoil’s Bay du Nord find Offshore Newfoundland.

Nicholas McGinley
May 6, 2019 6:56 pm

Billions of acres does not sound outrageous enough.
I think they should have gone with hundreds of trillions of square centimeters.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Nicholas McGinley
May 6, 2019 8:11 pm

or just run a Carl Sagan sound clip… “billions and billions…” “trillions and trillions”…

Nicholas McGinley
May 6, 2019 7:04 pm

BTW, just for reference, a billion acres is an area of over 1500 miles wide and 1000 miles long.
1,562,500 square miles to be exact.

Nicholas McGinley
May 6, 2019 7:07 pm

Hey Dave, I cannot read the text on the GOM map, and would like to have a close look at it.
Do you have a link that can be clicked to see it in better resolution?

Stephen Rasey
Reply to  David Middleton
May 7, 2019 8:23 am

600 TCF ?! Cumulative Production?
Are those the correct units? BCF perhaps?

Joel O'Bryan
May 6, 2019 7:18 pm

What is amazing to me is the lack of understanding of why so many big city newspapers are going under, being sold-out, entire staffs laid off, shrinking local reporting, shrinking editorial staff. No future for a young liberal journalism major.

Of course, the common blame is the internet. But that’s just a convenient excuse to avoid what is right in front of them. All these news room staffs reporters and editors swung ever-harder Left in the last 30 years.

On the cable news front:
FoxNews is killing CNN, MSNBC, and all the other networks in news and opinion viewership. Why?
Because Rupert Murdoch saw what was happening in the Liberalization of the news room reporting and realized the hard liberals represented only about 25%-30% of the market. Now the separate editorial staffs were always on the Liberal side. But the hard news reporting was becoming evermore progressive slanted. The opinion editorials were completely one-sided. So he started FoxNews in 1996. It is now the $20+Billion jewel of the Murdoch media empire.

So the local big city newspapers, dominated on their staffs by Liberals, can’t see what is happening to them. For them it is GroupThink and they do not realize it.
For them it’s, “Everyone I know is a Liberal. I get big kudos from all my friends and contacts when I write big story. So Then why isn’t the public buying our newspaper?”
Yes, so why isn’t the public buying your fresh fish wrapper?

My response to them:
Well duh.
Maybe most of the public isn’t in your circle of friends dear Liberal news writer.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
May 7, 2019 9:38 am

More than 100 CNN employees accept voluntary buy-outs.

Edgar A
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
May 8, 2019 4:53 am

Back when I was matriculating there was a course called journalism where I was taught that there were 5 Ws we must cover (also known as facts) that were the basis of all things we were tasked to cover. Somewhere, journalism has morphed entirely to editorials. Journalists have turned their collective backs on reporting whowhatwhenwhereandwhy in favor of Editorial license, for some reason (can’t imagine why). The focus is now wholly on one W “why”, as these stalwarts of virtue push their agenda, damn if the other 4 Ws support. Thus readers, justifiably search out more credible resources.

mike the morlock
May 6, 2019 7:19 pm

Hi, David Middleton.
you think the chances are 50\50 in the supreme court?
While the Obama Judge attempted to proclaim any and all of President Obama’s “Executive” as the permanent law of the land, they are not.
Executive are only applicable to the powers granted to the president by the Constitution.
Myself I think the supreme court is going to bury this.

This is a simple test to the reasoning of the lower court judge. If President Trump wrote a Executive that ALL
official dinners and Banquets held by the US government are to only use fast food vendors.
Now would his finding not include the precedent that President Trump’s executive order is also binding.

Executive orders set policy and are not law.
Perhaps are new Presidential custom is in order, when vacating the White House they carry out all of their E.O. along with their laundry.
They can put them in their library.


Reply to  mike the morlock
May 6, 2019 8:43 pm

Perhaps are new Presidential custom is in order, when vacating the White House they carry out all of their E.O. along with their laundry.

Could you imagine Nixon’s 1971 Executive Order 11615 (Economic Stabilization Act) being removed when he left office? The Gold Standard was eliminated, not by law, but by EO.

Reply to  AWG
May 7, 2019 5:54 am

Nixon removed the Gold Reserve of the Bretton Woods, not a British “gold standard”. That was only the first EO, the next was Clinton’s 1999 Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act repealing the 1932 Glass-Steagall bank separation. Both of these led to the crash chaos since. So it took an EO and a Law to really bust things up with decades of Wall Street lobbying.

John Endicott
Reply to  bonbon
May 7, 2019 6:36 am

Part of the Bretton Woods *was* tying currency to gold AKA a gold standard. Nixon’s EO unilaterally terminated convertibility of the US dollar to gold AKA eliminated the then current gold standard that the US dollar was ties to (that was established at Bretton Woods). Go off on your fairy tale conspiracy theories all you want, but don’t make such obvious lies while doing it.

John Endicott
Reply to  bonbon
May 7, 2019 9:05 am

Also, you keep talking about Bretton Woods as if it was some kind of “crash proof nirvana”, it wasn’t. It wasn’t as stable as you seem to think. In fact it was increasingly unstable as time went on. When the official parity price of the dollar and the free market price of gold diverged, there was an arbitrage opportunity whereby member nations would cash in their dollar assets for gold at the official parity rate and then sell gold on the free market at a higher rate, consequently depleting U.S. gold reserves. Such runs on the US gold reserve were not sustainable.

The solutions would be to devalue the dollar (the other nations feared this as it would make their dollar assets less valuable. To allay these concerns, presidential candidate John F. Kennedy was compelled to issue a statement late in 1960 that if elected he would not attempt to devalue the dollar) In the absence of devaluation, the U.S. needed a concerted effort by other nations to revalue their own currencies. Member nations, however, were reluctant to revalue, not wanting to lose their own competitive edge. Instead, other measures were implemented, including an expansion of the IMF’s lending capacity in 1961 and the formation of the Gold Pool by a number of European nations.

The Gold Pool brought together the gold reserves of several European nations in order to keep the market price of gold from significantly rising above the official ratio. However, when France left the Pool in 1967, the Pool collapsed the following year when the market price of gold in the free market shot up, pulling away from the official price.

By 1971 total U.S. foreign liabilities were four times the amount of U.S. monetary gold reserves which increased the pressure to initiate a run on the U.S. gold reserves. With France leaking its intentions to cash in its dollar assets for gold and Britain requesting to exchange $750 million for gold in the summer of 1971, President Richard Nixon closed the gold window. If he hadn’t it would have been lead to a financial disaster once nations tried to cash in their dollars for gold when there was no more gold in the reserves.

Mark Broderick
Reply to  David Middleton
May 7, 2019 1:24 am


“I suppose it is accurate to say that it has never all been open in the same s(c)ale before. “

Nicholas McGinley
May 6, 2019 9:04 pm

The idea that one president can issue and EO that the next cannot undo is preposterous.
I give this 0% chance and doubt it will even have to get to the SCOTUS.

Stephen Rasey
Reply to  Nicholas McGinley
May 7, 2019 8:31 am

The Executive has the authority to declare National Monuments and Wilderness Areas unilaterally and it seems that law makes it difficult for a later executive to reverse the change. So, this might apply. The law might have to be changed.

But it does seem constitutionally ridiculous that one President can bind the hands of subsequent Presidents.

Joel O'Bryan
May 6, 2019 9:51 pm

long comment lost to moderation…. sigh.

John Endicott
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
May 7, 2019 6:40 am

In most cases they eventually show up. Seems to take longer and longer though. Very frustrating.

Reply to  John Endicott
May 7, 2019 9:40 am

When I post from one computer, they take a long time to show up.
Posts from my other computer still show up immediately.

Robert of Texas
May 6, 2019 10:15 pm

” Assuming this winds up in the Supreme Court, there’s at least a 50-50 chance that the Obama judge’s ruling will be overturned.”

More like a 95% chance – the thing with activist judges is they seem incapable of understanding what law is – they just make crap up. There ought to be a process where judges that are commonly overturned are automatically removed from office – forever. Like the entire ninth circuit. This would go a long ways towards aligning courts to rule on law instead of activist opinion.

Rod Evans
May 6, 2019 11:01 pm

I can not imagine anything less democratic than the legal judgement, stating a past presidential order is immutable.
If such a condition ever existed, where past administrations always tie the freedom to act of future administrations, it would be a standing order for civil war.
How else would change ever be accomplished?

Reply to  Rod Evans
May 7, 2019 3:49 am

This is one of the many problems involved in membership of the EU. An EU treaty is set in stone. Every judgement of the ECJ (European Court of Justice, a near equivalent to the US Supreme Court, but with a lower quality of judges and judgements) will always refer back to the treaties. There is a one way ratchet in progress with no existing mechanism for a windback. Because of this the areas of competence of the EU (i.e. fields in which it has jurisdiction over national governments) have crept forwards into every area of life. The answer to every problem in the EU is “more EU”.
In the US, if presidential orders were made immutable, a similar situation would eventually evolve.

May 7, 2019 5:58 am

How hard it is to put the toothpase back in the tube?
Following the financial crisis of 2007-2008, legislators unsuccessfully tried to reinstate Glass–Steagall Sections 20 and 32 as part of the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.
Even when 2 candidates ran on that platform, nothing was fixed. Who knows what will happen when the financial system implodes again?

May 7, 2019 7:49 am

You are right. Liberal/Dems can only focus on one thing at a time and when they do it is so convincing to them that they “know” that everyone out there will believe it as well.
Thus, AOC and her “Green New Deal”.
The summary first released caused an uproar, which they did not anticipate and then they said the summary was not finalized.
“New Deals” are never new anyways.
In 1939, H. J. Haskell a Pulitzer journalist published:
“The New Deal In Old Rome”
It can be read on the internet.

Lawrence Barden
May 7, 2019 2:28 pm

Not sure what Middleton is trying to imply in his closing video of humans with both African and Neanderthal features, but he obviously has not done his research. Neanderthal genes have never been found in African genomes but they have been found in all European genomes.

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