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OTA: NO IMPROVEMENT IN U.S. SPILL CLEANUP RESPONSE

The congressional Office of Technology Assessment reports that U.S. capability to effectively respond to marine oil spills has not improved in the year since the Exxon Valdez accident off Alaska. OTA reported that improvements in cleanup technology although they are not likely to be dramatic-and better organization of response efforts could reduce the risk of significant damage from a major oil spill.

DOE POISED TO PUSH EXPORTS OF U.S. OIL EQUIPMENT, SERVICES

The U.S. Department of Energy plans to create an office to promote exports of American oil field equipment and services. Deputy Energy Sec. W. Henson Moore has pushed the initiative, saying that small U.S. service and supply companies often are at a competitive disadvantage when they seek contracts overseas (OGJ, Nov. 20, 1989, p. 30). He planned to announce the move at a Tampa, Fla., meeting of the Petroleum Equipment Suppliers Association last week.

STUDY SHOWS FEWER U.S. TANKER SPILLS IN 1989

Controversy and publicity surrounding the Exxon Valdez spill notwithstanding, there were fewer major oil tanker spills in U.S. waters last year than the average during 1978 89. That can be seen in a recent study by Golob's Oil Pollution Bulletin, Cambridge, Mass. Golob's study found the number of major tanker incidents involving the loss of 10,000 gal of oil or more-off the U.S. averaged six or seven/year in 1978-89.

NEW SHELL GASOLINE BLENDED TO REDUCE AIR EMISSIONS

Shell Refining & Marketing Co. has changed the blend of its premium grade gasoline in 10 U.S. metropolitan regions. It's part of industry's first large scale effort to market a summertime product that reduces air emissions and can be used in all automobiles. Shell's product, SU 2000E, reduces hydrocarbon vapor and carbon monoxide emissions by replacing the butane content with methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE). Shell might later expand the conversion system-wide, depending on

LIQUID FUELS FILL VITAL PART OF U.S. ECONOMY

L.F. Ivanhoe Novum Corp. Santa Barbara, Calif. That liquid fuels are vital to the U.S. economy is obvious. Less obvious to the American public and to industrial and public managements is the steady and serious decline in U.S. production of crude oil, the major component of the domestic liquid fuel supply. This decline has serious portents for our future well being.

INTERNATIONAL BRIEFS

ZIMBABWE hopes to inaugurate its chemical industry with a $110 million polyvinyl chloride plastics plant. PVC Polymer Zimbabwe Pvt. Ltd. let contract to Foster Wheeler Energy Ltd., Reading, U.K., to complete by yearend a second phase feasibility study for the project, tentatively scheduled for completion in 1993. If approved, the plant would produce 20,000 metric tons/year of PVC, as well as caustic soda, chlorine gas, sodium hypochlorite, and hydrochloric acid.

LIKELY CAUSE OF GULF ACCIDENT PINPOINTED

A compressor on a subcontractor work boat probably ignited a mixture of natural gas and liquid hydrocarbons expelled when an 18 in. riser pipe was purposely cut last year in the Gulf of Mexico. The resulting explosion killed seven persons and destroyed ARCO Oil & Gas Co.'s Platform B on South Pass Block 60. Those are the findings of a Minerals Management Service, U.S. Coast Guard, and Office of Pipe Line Safety investigation of the incident.

WINNING THE ENVIRONMENTAL LEAD

Despite Earth Day doomsaying, the planet has more going for it now than it had when concerned humans first gathered 20 years ago to demand a tidier habitat. In the U.S., air and water are cleaner than they were in 1970. People live longer. And the planet certainly has more concerned humans willing to take action on its behalf.

FIELD TESTS PROVE RADAR TANK GAUGE ACCURACY

S. Sivaraman Exxon Research & Engineering Co. Florham Park, N.J. Radar tank gauging technology was recently field-tested by Exxon Research & Engineering Co. on an asphalt tank at Exxon's Bayonne marketing terminal in Bayonne, N.J. Results of the 3-month test demonstrated that the technology is comparable to, and most likely better than, manual gauging methods.

U.S. BRIEFS

BAKER HUGHES INC., Houston, acquired Eastman Christensen Co. from Norton Co. for $550 million cash plus a 5 year warrant to purchase as many as 8 million shares of Baker Hughes stock at $36.75/share. To comply with a U.S. Justice Department agreement, Baker Hughes will divest Hughes Tool Co.'s diamond bit business. Eastman becomes a division of Baker Hughes Drilling Equipment Co.

CONTRACTS LET FOR NW SHELF GOODWYN PROJECT

Amid labor controversy, a group led by Woodside Offshore Petroleum has let four major contracts totaling $228 million (Australian) for construction of the Goodwyn A production platform for the Northwest Shelf off Australia.

OGJ NEWSLETTER

OPEC's decision to call an emergency meeting of its ministerial monitoring committee May 2 relieved the downward pressure on world crude prices. North Sea Brent blend for June delivery rebounded to $17.50/bbl Apr. 25 from $16.20/bbl a week earlier. WTI futures for June delivery closed at $18.66/bbl, up $1.70 on the week. All 13 ministers will attend the May 2 meeting in Geneva. As a result, the midyear ministerial meeting has been postponed to June 25 from May 25.

INTERNATIONAL BRIEFS

THAILAND AND MALAYSIA signed a draft agreement covering joint oil and gas exploration and development of overlapping territorial claims in the Gulf of Thailand. The agreement, to be ratified by parliaments in both countries, calls for production from the area to be shared equally based on a modified production sharing system drafted from the Thai concession system and the Malaysian production sharing contract.

EXPLORATION COSTA RICA GEOLOGIC BASINS LURE WILDCATTERS

Cynthia A. Sheehan, Glen T. Penfield Aero Service Division Western Atlas International Inc. Houston Emilia Morales Recope S.A. San Jose, Costa Rica

WATCHING THE WORLD FRONTIER PLAYS

With Roger Vielvoye from London High risk frontier drilling looks well on the way to complete recovery from the lack of incentive and money that followed the crude oil price collapse of 1986. An indicator of the health of this part of the exploration business came from two very different directions in London.

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