The Most Astounding Thing in the Universe

Neil deGrasse Tyson, is quickly becoming one of my favorite people to listen to.  Now, I’ve been crazy busy, and I haven’t gotten to see Cosmos.  This is one of those I’m really kind of upset to have missed, but hopefully things will slow down soon.  When that happens, I’ll be able to catch it online, right?  He was also on The Nerdist Podcast recently.

‘Til next time,
Jessica

Let’s Do…Breakfast

EMCNext week, PennEnergy Research and the Oil & Gas Journal Site License program are hosting a breakfast with EMC.  A panel of experts will be on hand to discuss Critical Issues Facing the Energy Industry, specifically enabling a culture of safety and SEMS compliance.  Oil & Gas Operators the world over have always been concerned with safety, but recent incidents have brought the issue to the forefront.  Since the BP Macodo explosion (Deepwater Horizon) regulations have been put in place as an industry standard.  The Safety and Environmental Management Systems created by the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) have been implemented and this not only impacts the operators but those companies who supply goods and services to them.

The discussion on April 8, 2014 tackles the issue of how Big Data can help.  It doesn’t matter if you’re an operator or a supply chain partner, Big Data can help assure operational excellence.

Beginning the Conversation

Bob Tippee, the Editor in Chief of the Oil & Gas Journal will kick things off with opening remarks.  Mr. Tippee has more than 30 years with the Oil & Gas Journal, and is one of the smartest men I know.  Every time I talk with him or hear him speak, I learn something new. Bob Tippee has been chief editor of Oil & Gas Journal since January 1999 and a member of the Journal staff since October 1977. Before joining the magazine, he worked as a reporter at the Tulsa World and served for four years as an officer in the US Air Force. A native of St. Louis, he holds a degree in journalism from the University of Tulsa.

The Panel of Experts

Dr. Scott Shemwell

Leading the panel of energy industry thought leaders is Dr. Scott Shemwell.  Dr. Shemwell, Managing Director of The Rapid Response Institute is an authority and thought leader in field operations and risk management with over 30 years in the energy sector leading turnaround and transformation processes for global S&P 500 organizations as well as start-up and professional service firms. He had been directly involved in over $5 billion acquisition and divestitures as well as the management of significant projects and business units.

He formerly served as Chief Operating Officer for an energy services company. He directed Oracle’s Energy Practice as vice president responsible for driving the strategic direction and business development.

While at MCI Systemhouse (now HP) he developed and implemented of the firm’s Y2K practice with a focus on the real-time systems responsible for both upstream and downstream petroleum production operation—forerunner of today’s Digital Oilfield.

While serving on the Halliburton Energy Services Leadership Team, he led its Information Technology line of business and was directly engaged in the transformation of the company into its Integrated Solutions business model as well acting as the CIO of the $2 billion Terra Nova (offshore Canada) project.

Dr. Shemwell has authored over 300 articles and presentations and three books; Essays on Business and Information, volumes I & II and just released, implementing a Culture of Safety: A Roadmap for Performance Based Compliance as co-author. He also serves as a member of the PennEnergy Research Advisory Board.

Formerly a Commissioned Officer in the United States Army Air Defense Artillery, he holds a Bachelor of Science in physics from North Georgia College, a Master of Business Administration from Houston Baptist University and a Doctor of Business Administration from Nova Southeastern University.

Martin Richards

Martin Richards joins Scott on the panel.   Martin is a member of the Energy Industry Solutions business within EMC’s IIG division. In 2010 Martin set up a team to design, develop and deploy content management solutions focused on the Energy Industry. Based on many years previous experience of content management Martin and his team built the Energy Industry solution suites and took them to market in mid 2011 – the EPFM suite. EMC Capital Projects, the initial solution, is aimed at managing content and processes and collaboration within a major Capital Project. The first EMC Capital Project solution was sold in Q3 2011 and this has now be sold in to over 40 organizations, in the Oil and Gas, Mining and Engineering markets. Based on the success achieved in 2011 EPFM became a fully managed EMC product in 2012.

To date the Energy Solutions have driven over $50m of sales revenue.

Capital Projects is now available as a cloud based subscription service, based on EMCs OnDemand hosting facilties (CPaaS)

At the start of Q1 2013 the EPFM suite was enhanced to include products for Asset Operations, Handover and Commissioning and Supplier Exchange.

2004-2009 – Senior Director EMC Consulting

Martin joined EMC in 2004 to develop the EMC IIG services business. Martin was initially based in the UK and focused on the EMEA market. Martin built the EMEA services team and developed the business from $10m to $50m per year in revenue. The key successes during this period was to build out the services operation in the emerging markets (Middle East, Africa, Russia) and to develop a key account strategy – driving >50% of annual revenues from a select number of strategic customers.

Martin moved to the USA in 2008 to take over the Americas Services business. During 2008-9 Martin operated a stable business generating $80m in services revenue annually.

I’m excited about the opportunity to watch these guys in action next week.  If you’re in Houston and would like to join us, you can register here.  I’ll be on hand for a little while after the event to talk one on one with individuals who would like more information surrounding these topics.  Hopefully, we’ll see you there!

‘Til next time,

Jessica

Solar Farm Reflection Impacts Pilots’ Visibility

English: Solar One power plant in Mojave Deser...

English: Solar One power plant in Mojave Desert, California (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sunny California’s Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System has caused problems for pilots traversing the region.   Two anonymous complaints were filed in August, before the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System ever came online.  A pilot complaint stated that the intense brightness from the mirrors made it impossible to look in the direction of the plant, and an air traffic controller reported that they received complaints of reduced visibility from pilots flying over the facility every day, especially during the late morning and early afternoon.

The Mojave Desert is home to the world’s largest solar plant, and using technology known as solar thermal, these computer-controlled mirrors track sunlight and reflect it onto water filled boilers on top of towers measuring 459 feet tall.  Each mirror is 70 square feet, roughly the size of a garage door, and the facility contains around 300,000 of these mirrors.  That’s a lot of reflected light.  The sunlight gathered by the heliostats heats the water in the boilers to more than 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, creating steam which drives turbines to create electricity.  By using sunlight to fuel these turbines, instead of fossil fuels, carbon emissions are estimated to be reduced by more than 400,000 tons annually.  The Mojave desert is an ideal location for this kind of facility, thanks to the dry air and elevation, the area receives sunlight 330-350 days per year.  The 392 MW facility covers 3,500 acres in San Bernadino County, California.  NRG Energy, Google, and CSP firm BrightSource Energy own the solar farm.

Unlike traditional solar power, Ivanpah combines thermal and solar energy power generation.  Data shows the power generated by the facility met 2.4 percent of electricity demand in California in 2013 and that number is rising.  January numbers showed the utility-scale solar photovoltaic production generated  enough to meet 2.9 percent of demand in January, proving California is quickly becoming a leader in CSP and utility-scale PV.  According to a November 2012 article in Smithsonian.com, this facility almost doubles the amount of solar power produced in the US.

During the environmental study for the project, the visibility risk for drivers on Interstate 15 and aircraft was evaluated.  This study found that pilots flying within 3,300 feet of the heliostats could experience temporary blindness and compromise safety.  BrightSource Energy, one of the site developers, has been required to develop a heliostat positioning plan within 90 days of beginning operation to monitor brightness and avoid potential hazards.

Flights between Las Vegas and Southern California fly over the area above or near the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System dozens of times each day.

NRG Energy Inc co-owns and operates the plant, and they are investigating the situation.  Company spokesman, Jeff Holland, said March 14 that they will respond in 10 days, so be on the lookout for an update from them this week.

‘Til next time,

Jessica

 

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What Do Darth Vader, Chewbacca, and the Energy Industry in America Have in Common?

They’re all going to be at the Energy Thought Summit.  What’s that?  Well, my friend, keep reading and you’ll find out.  (Maybe watch the video too.)

Energy Thought Summit (ETS) is happening this month in Austin, Texas.  On March 24th – 25th the energy industry is taking over the Paramount Theater for a two-day event that promises to be an excellent forum to discuss and debate the state and the future of energy.   This is an event I’m excited about.

ETS Launch Party

So, what was it about ETS that really sucked me in?  It wasn’t Darth Vader, Chewbacca, the Teslas car, or the game on the ETS site that is kind of addictive.  (Although neither of these hurt, at all.  Something tells me these guys like to have a good time.)  The speaker list did it.  Yes, I’m a bit of a geek and the opening keynote is Steve Wozniak…seriously, it is Steve Wozniak.  You know, the co-founder of Apple and chief scientist at Fusion-io? He helped develop the first computer I ever used!
It doesn’t stop there, though.  Envisioned and created by Zpryme, the company that brings us Smart Grid Insights, ETS has pulled together a speaker list with individuals on the cutting edge of the energy industry.  This event is geared toward the up and comers who will be leading us into the future of energy. Panels surround topics such as:

paramount-theatre-austin-texa

  • Utility Executive
  • Smart Grid Realization
  • EV
  • Game Changers
  • M2M
  • Cybersecruity
  • Big Data/Analytics
  • Utility of the Future
  • Smart Cities/Communities
  • Disruptive Technology
  • Smart Consumer/Home
  • Grid Edge Opportunities
  • Standards, Policies, and Emerging Business Models

With a goal of generating conversation around these topics, ETS has created an atmosphere of debate and discussion both offline and online.  Tickets have been released in three batches.  The initial two ticket releases have already sold out.  According to their website on March 17, 2014, only 103 tickets remained for the entire event.  So, you can still grab a ticket to this event to take part in the dialogue.  Unfortunately, I’m going to have to rely on my colleagues’ notes of the panels they attend. (So, you guys better take some excellent notes for me!  I’m just saying.)

‘Til next time,

Jessica

 

 

Let’s Be More Productive…

Fireplace

No hot dogs roasted here!

This time of year, I take a look at my New Year’s Resolutions to see if I’m staying on track.  Actually, I’m not doing too bad.  Some resolutions are going better than others, but when your goal is to “cook more food at home” and you end up having to have contractors in to fix water damage in your kitchen…well, let’s just say cooking without a kitchen takes more time and effort than most of us are willing to put in. (I did consider roasting hot dogs in the fireplace, but that directly contradicts “eat less processed food”…it was a really great fire though!)

Something that helps with a lot of these goals is a tool that I learned back in high school from the Hugh O’Brien Youth Leadership Foundation.  One of the many skills they taught me was how to create SMART goals.  SMART goals meet the following criteria:

  • Specific – target a specific area for improvement
  • Measurable – quantify or at least suggest an indicator of progress
  • Attainable/Assignable – achievable/able to be assigned to someone
  • Realistic – state what results can realistically be achieved, given available resources
  • Time-related – specify when the result(s) can be achieved

Since you aren’t here, and I don’t have any of your New Year’s Resolutions handy, I’ll pick on myself.  Here is the first thing on my list (inspired by Random Acts of Kindness Project I did for my birthday last year)

Commit Random Acts of Kindness (at LEAST one per month) such as:

  •          DVIS volunteer
  •          Packages for Homeless
  •          Food for…whomever
  •          Smile and wave at strangers (if nothing else, it will freak them out a bit, but most likely just make their day better)

So, I’m putting myself to the test.  Is this a SMART goal?

  • Specific – random act of kindness (kind of vague, but at least there are examples)
  • Measurable – some of them, like volunteering for DVIS or making packages and food for people, yes.  Overall…not as much
  • Attainable/Assignable – I assign myself!  Very attainable
  • Realistic – There are options, none of which have to be incredibly taxing or time consuming
  • Time-Related – at least one per month, definitely time related.  There’s a deadline for each month.(Wait, what’s today?  whew!  I still have time)

UltimateProductivity_1So what does this have to do with energy?  I’m thinking more about work in general here, and maybe personal energy expended.  Productivity is something that is on my mind quite a bit.  My friend, Jim Stovall wrote a book, Ultimate Productivity and in it, he warns of the danger of activity vs. productivity.  You know what he means.  How many of us have gotten to the end of what felt like a really busy day, but have no idea what we accomplished?  (You don’t have to raise your hand.  I can’t see you.  Don’t feel bad.  It happens to me sometimes too.)  I wonder a lot about whether I’m just being really active or if I’m actually being productive. (I’m wondering that today, in fact.)  There are some tools I use to combat this niggling worry of “am I really productive?”

Today's List

Today’s List

Begin and end every day by reviewing a list of “Things to Do”.  Yes, I actually mean a physical list, not a mental one.  At the end of every day I look over that day’s list and create a new one for the next day.  Personally, I like paper, because there is nothing quite like making that slash through an accomplished task. (Also, I remember the stuff on the list better if I actually write it down vs. typing it.)  If there are remaining items on the list I move them to the next day with a priority mark before putting other items on my task sheet.

My workday is pretty fluid to begin with. (Aren’t they all?)  You never know if you’ll be called upon to take on a task that has to be accomplished “immediately”.  I also work closely with clients, so that adds an extra level of fluidity.  Most days, I do much more than the items on my list.  If I get a new task, I just write it at the bottom of the list (sometimes, I write it and mark it out at the same time).  Yes, it seems a bit redundant, but it also eliminates that feeling of being hard at work and accomplishing nothing.  I have a physical reminder of all the things I did accomplish.  It feels pretty good.  You can see my list for today on the right.  It’s nothing fancy, and not everything got marked off.  Not a bad day’s work, though.

Make SMART goals. What?  You’re telling me you don’t always set your own goals?  Well, me either.  Goals are handed down from pay grades well above mine, but I review them with my manager when I get them.  Not all the goals that I receive start out specific, measurable, attainable/assignable, realistic, or time-related.  However, we reword them so they are.  For example, “increase sales” isn’t a SMART goal.  However, if we tweak it a bit to read “increase research sales by Q4 through reaching current customers at least once every 30 days, identifying and contacting at least 15 prospective customers a week, and recruiting subject matter experts to participate in free monthly webinars about existing products and services” that looks a lot more like a SMART goal.

These are the tools that I fall back on when I’m feeling more active that productive, or even if I just feel like my schedule is running away without me.  What tools do you use?

‘Til next time,

Jessica

Travel, Topsides, and NAPE Expo

This week, I’m travelling the country.  Okay, so not the country, but Texas anyway.  I’m spending a couple of days in Galveston before I head up to Houston.  Believe you me, I am grateful for the relief from the cold, snowy weather engulfing my home state right now.  Give me 50’s over 20’s any day!

I’m here for the Topsides show being held at Moody Gardens before going back up to Houston for the Winter NAPE Expo.  These are two industry shows that I really enjoy.  The exhibitors and attendees always have great information to provide, and always friendly and willing to talk.  The Offshore Technology Conference that will be held at Houston’s Reliant Center in May is awesome, but with more than 100,000 attendees, sometimes it becomes challenging to have good conversations with people.

Today, I’ll be at Topsides with Dr. Scott Shemwell, the author of our report on SEMS regulations and an Integrity Management specialist (among other things).  We did a couple of webinars on the topic a couple of months ago, and you can check out the archives on Integrity Management: A Critical Issue in the Energy Industry here and Critical Issues in the Energy Industry here.  As always, please let me know if you have any questions for either myself or Dr. Shemwell.  This is the second year Scott and I have attended Topsides to talk with people about what’s happening in the industry, and every time I talk to that guy I learn something new.  (You know how it is when you get to spend time with really smart people.)  I’m sure tomorrow will be no exception.  Again, I’m always excited to meet readers in person, so if you’ll be there, let me know!

Tomorrow, I’ll be at the NAPE Expo in Houston at the George R Brown Convention Center.  Last year this event was a huge success, and I don’t just say that because I won an iPad. (although, that in and of itself would have convinced me to mark that show down as time well spent!).  PenWell and the Oil & Gas Journal will have a booth at the event, and I’ll be out and about on the show floor meeting new people.  Stop by and say hello.

Well, yesterday was a rainy morning in Galveston. Today, however is crystal clear, cool, and gorgeous. I am a happy camper.  Why?  I had a wonderful hotel room last night.  Normally, I wouldn’t be so excited by the mere existence of a hotel room, but I am especially grateful this time. As the plane’s doors were getting ready to close my phone rang.  It was the website I’d used to book my hotel room.  The hotel I’d booked more than a month in advance was overbooked, and they asked if this was a good time to talk about re-booking somewhere else.  Unfortunately, they frown on telephone conversations on planes.  When my plane landed, I called back and the helpful representative and I spent an hour looking for a comparable room in Houston.  That didn’t work.  I offered up Galveston as an alternative, since…I was working in Galveston this week too.  Finally, we got me set up with a place to lay my weary head.  That’s a little more drama than I care to find in my traveling, but it all ended up working out for the best.  I have a great room at a lovely historic hotel, my window faces the gulf and I can watch the waves, and I got to cut down my travel time for the next couple of days.  Now, if I can get the weather at home to cooperate and get me home on time….
‘Til next time,
Jessica

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