Tag: oil

Katz are on a legal hot tin roof

elon-musk-tesla-109Car maker Tesla is suing an oil executive claiming he tried to impersonate Elon Musk to dig up confidential financial information from the company.

The lawsuit filed in the Superior Court of Santa Clara County, claimed that the chief financial officer for Quest Integrity Group, Todd Katz, emailed Tesla’s chief financial officer using a similar email address to  Musk’s.

Telsa claims he was looking to gain information that wasn’t disclosed in an earnings call with investors.

Quest Integrity Group has ties to BP, Chevron, and ExxonMobil.

Katz apparently used “elontesla@yahoo.com” to send an email to Tesla CFO Jason Wheeler asking about the company’s sales and financial projections.

Tesla’s brief John Hueston said that the point of this action is that this was perceived as an effort to gain inside information, non-public information.

“Although it was caught here, Tesla is worried about this happening in some other form. This could have resulted in highly valuable information being improperly disclosed,” he said.

However one of the key parts of the story is that whoever sent the email actually thought that no one would notice Tesla using a yahoo account.


Submerge your supercomputer in liquid

Yellow-Submarine-HeaderA team of boffins have discovered that if you take your supercomputer and immerse it in tanks of liquid coolant you can make it super efficient.

The Vienna Science Cluster uses immersion cooling which involves putting  SuperMicro servers into a dielectric fluid similar to mineral oil.

The servers are slid vertically into slots in the tank, which is filled with 250 gallons of ElectroSafe fluid, which transfers heat almost as well as water but doesn’t conduct an electric charge.

The Vienna Science Cluster 3 system has a mechanical Power Usage Effectiveness rating of just 1.02, meaning the cooling system overhead is just 2 percent of the energy delivered to the system.

This means that 600 teraflops of computing power uses just 540 kilowatts of power and 1,000 square feet of space.

Christiaan Best, CEO and founder of Green Revolution Cooling, which designed the immersion cooling system. “It is particularly impressive given that it uses zero water. We believe this is a first in the industry.”

Most data centres cool IT equipment using air, while liquid cooling has been used primarily in high-performance computing (HPC). But cloud computing and “big data,” could make liquid cooling relevant for a larger pool of data centre operators.

The Vienna design combines a water-less approach with immersion cooling, which has proven effective for cooling high-density server configurations, including high-performance computing clusters for academic computing, and seismic imaging for energy companies.

Intel tests cooling with oil

Intel is experimenting with a technology which involves dunking your computer in mineral oil.

According to Wired, Chipzilla has been running servers in small, oil-filled boxes for this past year, and they are nearly done.

The idea came from the Green Revolution Cooling out of Austin, Texas which is hoping to revolutionise the way computers are cooled.

Looking at the spec you can see why. The server uses two to three percent of the power to keep itself cool. Your bog standard service uses about 50 or 60 percent of the power on keeping itself from catching fire.

Intel likes the idea because it is cheap and can be set up on small computers and giant servers. The downside is that oil is not the neatest thing in the world and the last thing you want is to have an oil slick on your desk and having to cope with Greenpeace demands that you pay to scrub off the cockroaches and other wildlife. Then there is the small matter of OPEC and the US invading to make sure that your oil supply is protected for democracy.

Apparently you have to take your computer to a mechanic every ten years to get an oil change.

Normally he will open it up, suck in a lot of air and say it is stuffed – and it will never pass its MOT. 

Saudi Armaco purges computers of virus

The world’s largest oil producer, Saudi Aramco, has finally managed to turn its main internal computer networks after a virus infected about 30,000 of its workstations in mid-August.

The company was shut down by an August 15 cyber attack, and its computer systems were taken off line to prevent further attacks.

According to Reuters, Saudi Aramco said the workstations had now been cleansed of the virus and restored to service.

The hack did not harm oil exploration and production – not affected because they operate on isolated systems.

CEO Khalid al-Falih said in a statement that the company’s websites were still offline and emails were still bouncing.

The virus “originated from external sources” and the company is continuing to investigate.

A group called the “Cutting Sword of Justice” claimed responsibility for the attack.

It claimed the company was the main source of income for the Saudi government and was responsible for “crimes and atrocities” in several countries, including Syria and Bahrain.

Saudi Arabia is also supporting Sunni rebels against the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad. 

Stock markets in near meltdown on Japanese catastrophe fears

Bourses worldwide were in the red today after fears that a combination of Acts of God and acts of dictators caused selloffs across the world.

Nikkei dropped by 14 percent at close early today, while the US markets, NASDAQ and NYSE, showed drops at opening time today. The FTSE fell too.

Price of commodities, including gold, fell – although pundits in Wall Street are describing the early trades as “sell offs” rather than meltdown.

The Nikkei fell by a massive 10 percent, while other indicators such as the LSE and NASDAQ fell by between 1.5 and two percent.

The crisis in Japan has wiped out the worries about the price of oil – that is dropping steadily during today.  Libya isn’t quite the hot topic it was this time last week, it appears.

Shares in insurance companies don’t yet seem to be adversely affected.  Tech stocks joined in the general tumble in what some described as a “domino effect”.

Virus repair cost a man $6 million

A US court has heard how it cost a great-grandson of an oil industry tycoon at least $ 6 million after he took his computer in to the workshop to repair it after it was infected with a virus.

The victim was probably jazz pianist and composer Roger Davidson, an heir of oil tycoon Conrad Schlumberger, although the authorities have refused to name him.

The victim took his computer to 36-year-old Vickram Bedi and his girlfriend Helga Invarsdottir after it developed a virus.

According to prosecutors, the pair cooked up a scheme which convinced Davidson that his life was in danger.

They told him that while investigating the virus, they had found that the virus had been tracked to a hard drive in Honduras. OK, this is a pretty good service. Most computer repair places would have wiped the hard-drive and reinstalled the operating system. Tracking down the source of the virus is not something they tend to do.

But the victim apparently didn’t know that. According to the New York Daily News, which we get for the free bagel, media friendly Bedi claimed his uncle was an Indian military officer who was sent on a reconnaissance mission to Honduras and seized the hard drive of the computer virus culprits.

“Bedi further related that his uncle obtained information that Polish priests affiliated with Opus Dei were attempting to possibly harm the victim,” prosecutors said.

Apparently the CIA had contracted the computer repair shop worker o prevent the priests from infiltrating the U.S. government.

The victim paid the pair up to $160,000 a month for physical protection, because you often pay for protection from your computer repairshop. Inspector Knacker uncovered the scam in July and alerted the victim.

Bedi and Invarsdottir, the daughter of a wealthy businessman from Iceland, were arrested Thursday and arraigned Friday on charges of felony grand larceny.

Media friendly Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos said that stories don’t get much more far fetched than this, but they do underline the importance for everyone to be on guard against scams.

Shesh, we are more worried about a plot by  right wing Opus Dei Catholic priests to infiltrate the US government, which suspiciously is not being investigated. 

Halliburton's hydraulic-fracturing will set world on fire

The Dallas / Fort Worth Metroplex contains roughly 6.5 million people. While the name “Metroplex” certainly conjures up images of a vast cyberpunk sprawl, the truth is somewhat less fun. D/FW is one medium-sized city, two small cities and a ragged gaggle of wealthy suburban communities. Every third car is a truck of some sort (usually an F-150) and over the last few months I’ve noticed an uncomfortable number of folks with big “SECEDE” bumper-stickers slapped on the butt of their Lincoln Town Car.

Cars like that become more common the closer you get to D/FW International Airport. So do huge houses and expensive private schools. There’s a lot of money in North Texas, and no small part of it comes from the oil and gas industry. Which is why the World Shale Gas conference and exhibition was held here this year.

From 3-5 November, bigwigs from Big Oil and Bad Gas flew their big asses into our big-ass airport and hopped the Rich Person equivalent of a taxi down to the Gaylord Texan Convention Center.

Where there are powerful executives meeting at fancy resorts, there are activists with costumes and signs waiting to yell at them. Which is why I battled gridlock traffic for ninety minutes in the almost-cool afternoon of November 3rd. The twenty-five mile drive up to Grapevine would be worth it if I got to see a dreadlocked hippy dressed as Datuk Hashim of the International Gas Union humping a paper mache donkey*. Representing, of course, the people of Fort Worth.

I’m not sure if I was more disappointed by the fact that the site of the protest ended up being well out of view of the Center, or that no one was there when I arrived.

The Fight.

I avoid travelling to Grapevine whenever possible, and I recommend you do the same. What moved me to action that day was an intriguing documentary by Josh Fox named Gasland. Fox is the man largely credited for bringing public attention to the controversy over Hydraulic Fracturing.

Hydro-fracking involves shooting incredibly high-pressure “fluids” into oil and methane gas deposits to fracture the rock around it and release the gas. The Big Energy folks point out how economically important fracking is for the United States. They fail to address the major environmental and human health issues. You’ll find a more balanced look here (PDF).

What’s really important to focus on is that word “fluids”. The people doing the fracking don’t like to talk about what those fluids contain. They even have the law on their side in keeping it secret. The “Halliburton Loophole” is an artifact of the Bush Administration. It stops the EPA from regulating the chemicals added to water used for fracking.

The frackers behind all of this claim that their mixes are proprietary. Letting the EPA know could cause Halliburton to lose a competitive advantage. Vice President Cheney, a former CEO of Halliburton, urged passage of the loophole. He also headed up an energy task force in 2001 that kept health concerns about fracking out of their final report.

Health concerns like water you can light on fire.


See, fracturing all those rock formations can send natural gas and chemicals used in the fracking process pouring into local aquifers. 40 percent of the “fluid” used for fracking remains in the ground. Over 250 different chemicals have been discovered in that “fluid” so far, including carcinogens like benzene, arsenic and polycyclic aromatics.

There are also chemicals that disrupt the endocrine system, damage fertility and a whole host of other nastiness you don’t want in your tap water. While an EPA study in 2004 concluded that hydro-fracking “poses little or no threat” to drinking water, the people who can light theirs on fire would probably disagree. And they’d be backed up by the Union of Concerned Scientists, who called the EPA report “unsupportable”.

So where’s the Resistance?

The town of Camillus, New York just passed a law banning horizontal hydraulic fracturing. Onondaga County and DeWitt both also have local bans on fracking. They plan to wait one year until more is known about the ecological impact.

Which is the same basic intent found in the FRAC Acts, two bills that amend the Safe Drinking Water Act and give the EPA authority to figure out just what the hell is in those fluids. You’ll find a slightly biased article on the acts here, and another one from the Energy lobby here.

And, of course, there was the protest with no attendees. I drove over to the Gaylord, just to make sure I hadn’t missed the activists. Nothing.

I motored home, popped open a beer and tried not to think about how much of my day had been spent bumper-to-bumper. It wasn’t long before I found out what had happened to the protest:

“We got busted up.”

Several van-loads of angry young canvassers had decided to make a bee-line for the Gaylord itself. Security and the local police kicked their asses out before anything interesting could happen. There was no violence, nothing messy. Just quick, efficient suppression.


There are a lot of scary numbers associated with fracking, but the scariest ones have nothing to do with water pollution. 80 percent of all wells drilled in the US today involve “fracking”. The injuries and poisonings mainly affect rural folks. The rest of us are more affected by the fact that 23 percent of our on-road fuel usage can be eliminated by the use of natural gas in trucks and buses.

Those vehicles make 26 percent of our transportation greenhouse gases. They are the big air polluters for most people in cities. Fracking makes natural gas on the scale we want possible. And it may also irreversibly cripple the wild parts of this country.

I have several friends who own land out around Fort Worth, and most of them have fracking operations of some extent on their property. Even whistleblowers within the industry note that it can be done safely.

And if your water catches on fire? Just move to the city. It’s what everyone else is doing. 

Homeland Security works for the oil companies

The US Department of Homeland Security has been spying on people who don’t like gas drilling and handing on the data to the oil companies.

According to recently leaked documents, the Pennsylvania Office of Homeland Security has been using high-tech tracking of anti-gas drilling groups and their meetings.

It has then sent bulletins to gas companies drilling in the Marcellus Shale.

The local State Homeland Security Director James Powers said the Oil Companies needed to have all the data because there have been “five to 10” incidents of vandalism around the state related to the natural gas industry.

He said that the briefings are sent to local coppers and the owners and operators of “critical infrastructure.”

However once the information has been sent to the oil companies they have been sharing the data and publishing it on pro-drilling internet site and disseminated among anti-drilling activists.

Powers admitted that was a cock-up and said he had emailed the woman who posted it.

In that email, which confusingly ended up in the paws of the anti-drilling groups, he was quoted as saying Homeland Security wanted to continue providing this support to the Marcellus Shale formation natural gas stakeholders, while not feeding those groups fomenting dissent against those same companies.

The status that Homeland Security is giving the anti-drilling movement is somewhat strange. The bulletin also includes information on anarchists, “black power radicals,” Ramadan, the “Jewish High Holiday season” and anti-war activists.

He confirmed to the local press  that “someone” was monitoring the web traffic of the anti-drilling groups.

The protesters point out that the only thing Homeland Security has not given the oil companies is a “An enemies-of-gas-drilling” compiled by the government so that police can keep an eye on them.

They are calling for the government to investigate why public money was being used to spy for private companies.

They are not going to get much support from their local governor. His spokesman has gone on record saying that it was part of Homeland Security’s responsibility to “alert local law enforcement, local officials and potential victims” to any possible problems. 

BP Photoshops oil crisis pictures

Oil combine British Petroleum has been caught trying to fake pictures on its website.

Until two days ago the picture on the left was posted on BP’s website but some of the screens were blank.  While most of us would not really have noticed, it seems that BP didn’t like that image much.

Two days ago, the PR team thought no one would notice if they Photoshopped a few of the blank screens so it looked like people were more busy dealing with the largest man made disaster in history.

For some reason people noticed this changed and got a bit upset.  Not least of the reason was that it appears that it was Photoshopped by someone like me

.According to AmericaBlog  the photo was replaced with an “original” shortly after 11 yesterday.

BP refuses to post the original in a high resolution and has also told the Washington Post the image was altered by the photographer. 

This is not likely as professional snappers know what they are doing when it comes to Photoshop and then there is a question about where they got the screen content from.

What has let BP down was that if you look at the metadata of the picture, it was taken in 2001 and not 2010.  It looks more likely that it was an old picture of something else which was updated to make it appear like the BP spill command centre.

While the quality of the work is not as good as the KGB’s picture of Stalin scoring the winning goal in the 1966 World Cup, it does leave a bad taste in the mouth.

Many are relying on BP to give an accurate account of the spill and while it is Photoshopping reality badly, you can’t help wondering if it is telling any truth to anyone.

Afghanistan has trillion dollars worth of lithium

The Americans may have something else to go to war about if reports in the New York Times are anything to go by.

Afghanistan is allegedly housing a huge $1 trillion deposit of untapped minerals including massive amounts of lithium, which is used in batteries for laptops and mobile phones. It’s also being used as a way to power low-carbon cars.

American geologists and the Pentagon have been working together to conduct ground surveys on dry salt lakes specifically to find this material.  

They claim they have found deposits as large as those of Bolivia, which currently has the world’s largest known lithium stores. The New York Times said: “An internal Pentagon memo, for example, states that Afghanistan could become the “Saudi Arabia of lithium,” a key raw material in the manufacture of batteries for laptops and BlackBerrys.”

The newspaper reports that the US Geological Survey began aerial surveys of Afghanistan in 2006, using data collected by Soviet mining experts during the occupation in the 1980s.

“There is stunning potential here,” Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of the United States Central Command, told The New York Times. “There are a lot of ifs, of course, but I think potentially it is hugely significant.”

The paper commented: “Instead of bringing peace, the newfound mineral wealth could lead the Taliban to battle even more fiercely to regain control of the country.”