All posts by John C. Menzies

What was the first creature to be aware?

A new book from Simona Ginsburg and Eva Jablonka addresses this very issue.  In a complex and challenging book, the authors discuss the origins of consciousness from an evolutionary perspective.  They postulate that capability to learn was the driving force in the evolutionary transition to basic consciousness and it occurred during the Cambrian. 

This thought-provoking book has provided me with a new way to imagine the dynamics of the Cambrian Explosion and its impacts on life on this planet today.  A tour-de-force on consciousness study, recommended.

During the Cambrian, at the end of a protracted ice age when most of the earth was covered in ice sheets, the most remarkable period in the history of life on earth began.  Termed the Cambrian Explosion or Cambrian radiation it commended around 541 million years ago when most major animal phyla appeared in the fossil record and some which are no longer represented.  What has most fascinated geologists and evolutionary biologists is that Cambrian Explosion occurred in over a period of a mere 13 or million years.

Opabinia regalis is anextinct, stem group arthropod found in the Middle Cambrian Burgess Shale Lagerstätte of British Columbia, Canada. Jose Manuel Canete / Wikimedia Commons

There is evidence of life on earth as far back as 3.6 billion years, but prior to the events commencing in 541 MA most organisms were simple, composed of individual cells and occasionally organized into colonies.  They were soft-bodied, and their poor preservation has been a major obstacle to understanding the evolution of plant and animals on earth prior to the Cambrian. 

The Anomalocaridid comprise a group of very early marine animals known primarily from fossils found in Cambrian deposits in China, United States, Canada, Poland and Australia. Nobu Tamura / Wikimedia Commons

The authors ask the question “What marked the evolutionary transition from organisms that lacked consciousness to those with consciousness—to minimal subjective experiencing, or, as Aristotle described it, “the sensitive soul”?

Simona Ginsburg and Eva Jablonka postulate that learning was the driving force in the transition to basic consciousness. Using a methodology similar to that used by scientists when they identified the transition from non-life to life, Ginsburg and Jablonka suggest a set of criteria, identify a marker for the transition to minimal consciousness, and explore the far-reaching biological, psychological, and philosophical implications.

The book is divided into two parts.  Chapters 1 through 5 provides an historical, biological and conceptual foundation for a discussion of consciousness.  Their point of departure for their discussion is Aristotle’s “soul” the dynamics of living beings, and its different manifestation in different types of organisms; the “nutritive and reproductive soul” which involved self-maintenance and reproduction and is present in all living beings; the “sensitive soul” which is equated with the living organization of sentiment, subjectively experiencing beings; and the “rational soul” which is special to reasoning humans.  This section offers and outstanding summary of the state of knowledge and research on consciousness. 

Chapters 6 through 10 develop their evolutionary arguments.  They propose that the evolutionary marker of basic or minimal consciousness is a complex form of associative learning, which they term “unlimited associative learning” (UAL). UAL enables an organism to ascribe motivational value to a novel, compound, non-reflex-inducing stimulus or action, and use it as the basis for future learning. Associative learning, Ginsburg and Jablonka argue, drove the Cambrian explosion and its massive diversification of organisms. Finally, Ginsburg and Jablonka propose symbolic language as a similar type of marker for the evolutionary transition to human rationality—to Aristotle’s “rational soul.”

This book is a tour-de-force of the study of consciousness, a notoriously difficult topic, for it requires the study of the conscious by the conscious.  The question of consciousness and its origins in the Cambrian Explosion has allowed me to think about our origins in a different manner. 

I suspect that there were definite advantages for early Cambrian life to have been sensitive to light.  This would have allowed life to find the most productive niche with the greatest resources.  This likely rather quickly became a biological arms-race with better “sight” producing a competitive reproductive advantage.  Predation would have simply accelerated the evolution of sight and that requires increased processing capability and a larger collection of neurons.  With predation came awareness almost as a necessity to find a meal and with increased mobility, reproduction.  Sight then would seem to be the most significant evolutionary event which drove the early stages of the Cambrian Explosion however subsequently, increased processing capability over time would have played a pivotal role in the evolution of predation and earliest awareness.

Interesting Outcomes

“In 1923, seven men who had made it to the top of the finan­cial success pyramid met together at the Edgewater Hotel in Chicago. Collectively, they controlled more wealth than the en­tire United States Treasury, and for years the media had held them up as examples of success.

Who were they? Charles Schwab, president of the world’s largest steel company, Arthur Cutten, the greatest wheat spec­ulator of his day, Richard Whitney, president of the New York Stock Exchange, Albert Fall, a member of the President’s Cabinet, Jesse Livermore, the greatest bear on Wall Street, Leon Fraser, president of the International Bank of Settlement, and Ivan Kruegger, the head of the world’s largest monopoly.

What happened to them? Schwab and Cutten both died broke; Whitney spent years of his life in Sing Sing peni­tentiary; Fall also spent years in prison, but was released so he could die at home; and the others Livermore, Fraser, and Kruegger, committed suicide”.                                       

Donald McCullogh,  Waking from the American Dream

Charles Schwab

Charles Michael Schwab (February 18, 1862 – September 18, 1939)

Charles Michael Schwab (February 18, 1862 – September 18, 1939) was an American steel magnate. Under his leadership, Bethlehem Steel became the second largest steel maker in the United States, and one of the most important heavy manufacturers in the world.  A fortune of $500 million prior to 1929 was all but wiped out in the October collapse and he spent his final years in a small apartment.  Shortly after his death, World War 2 restored the fortunes of his steel company, Bethlehem Steel.

Arthur William Cutten (July 6, 1870 – June 24, 1936)

Arthur Cutten

Arthur William Cutten (July 6, 1870 – June 24, 1936) was a Canadian-born businessman who gained great wealth and prominence as a commodity speculator in the United States. He was all but wiped out in the 1907 collapse of the cotton markets.

He appeared before the Banking and Currency Committee during its investigation of the Wall Street Crash of 1929. The government issued indictments against him for tax evasion.  He died of a heart attack a few weeks short of his sixty-sixth birthday. The tax suit was settled by the executors of his estate as his fortune was vastly depleted by the stock market crash and the cost of lawyers to defend him from the government lawsuits.

Richard Whitney (August 1, 1888 – December 5, 1974)

Richard Whitney

Richard Whitney (August 1, 1888 – December 5, 1974) was an American financier and president of the New York Stock Exchange from 1930 to 1935. Having retired as president of the New York Stock Exchange in 1935, Whitney remained on the board of governors, but in early March 1938, his past began to catch up with him when the financial controller of the exchange reported to that Richard Whitney was an embezzler and that his company was insolvent. Within days, events snowballed, and Whitney and his company would both declare bankruptcy. He was convicted of embezzlement and imprisoned.  On April 12, 1938, six thousand people turned up at Grand Central Terminal to watch as Whitney was escorted in handcuffs by armed guards onto a train that delivered him to prison.

Jesse Lauriston Livermore (July 26, 1877 – November 28, 1940)

Jesse Livermore

Jesse Lauriston Livermore (July 26, 1877 – November 28, 1940) was an American investor.  A legendary trader who worked alone without partners and in isolation from others in an office of advanced technology for the time, receiving price data directly from the floor of the NYSE.  He made and lost his fortune on numerous occasions.  His skill was market timing combined with considerable mathematical skills and a clear trading strategy. He would invest a small portion of his planned amount and see how the market reacted.  If the price continued to increase, he would invest yet more until he was convinced of the general trend of the market before securing his ultimate position.  He would not tolerate a fall in price of more than 10% and would sell his position quickly, thereby not endangering his capital.

On November 28, 1940, Livermore fatally shot himself in the cloakroom of the Sherry Netherland Hotel in Manhattan. Police found a suicide note of eight small handwritten pages in Livermore’s personal, leather bound notebook. The note addressed to Livermore’s wife Harriet (whom Livermore nicknamed “Nina”) read, “My dear Nina: Can’t help it. Things have been bad with me. I am tired of fighting. Can’t carry on any longer. This is the only way out. I am unworthy of your love. I am a failure. I am truly sorry, but this is the only way out for me. Love Laurie”

Leon Fraser

Leon Fraser (born November 27, 1889 in Boston, April 8, 1945) was an American manager. 

Fraser graduated from Columbia University and from Colgate University Law School. He worked as a reporter for New York World until he was admitted to the bar in 1914. He enlisted in the US Army and fought in WW1 leaving with the rank of officer.  From 1922 to 1924 he practiced international law in Paris. He was a consultant for the Dawes Plan and from 1924 to 1927 was the Paris representative for reparations payments.

In 1930 he became president of the newly established Bank for International Settlements.  In 1937 he became president of the First National Bank of New York. He also held senior positions with General Electric, US Steel and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.  In the courtyard of his Granville home, Fraser shot himself in the head. His farewell letter pointed to depression.

Ivan Kruegger

Ivar Kreuger (2 March 1880 – 12 March 1932)

Ivar Kreuger (2 March 1880 – 12 March 1932) was a Swedish civil engineer, financier, entrepreneur and industrialist. In 1908, he co-founded the construction company Kreuger & Toll Byggnads AB, which specialized in new building techniques. By aggressive investments and innovative financial instruments, he built a global match and financial empire. He ultimately controlled between two thirds and three quarters of worldwide match production, becoming known as the “Match King”.

Kreuger’s financial empire collapsed during the Great Depression. A subsequent audit of his more than 400 companies concluded that “The manipulations were so childish that anyone with, but a rudimentary knowledge of bookkeeping could see the books were falsified.”  In March 1932, he was found dead in the bedroom of his flat in Paris. The police concluded that he had committed suicide although his family believed he had been murdered.

Albert Fall

Albert Bacon Fall (November 26, 1861 – November 30, 1944)

Albert Bacon Fall (November 26, 1861 – November 30, 1944) was a United States Senator from New Mexico and the Secretary of the Interior under President Warren G. Harding, infamous for his involvement in the Teapot Dome scandal. Fall was appointed to the position of Secretary of the Interior by President Warren G. Harding in March 1921. Soon after his appointment, Harding convinced Edwin Denby, the Secretary of the Navy, that Fall’s department should take over responsibility for the Naval Reserves including the Teapot Dome Naval Reserve in Wyoming.

In April 1922 Wall Street Journal reported that Secretary Fall had issued oil drilling permits within the Teapot Dome Naval Reserve in Wyoming to two of his friends, oilmen Harry F. Sinclair (Mammoth Oil Corporation) and Edward L. Doheny (Pan-American Petroleum and Transport Company) after receiving a bribe of $385,000. 

Fall was found guilty of conspiracy and bribery and was jailed for one year as a result—the first former cabinet officer sentenced to prison as a result of misconduct in office.

The Brisbane Courier – 7th June 1919

Aerial view of Brisbane, 1919Thiel, F. W. ( John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland ) Looking down on central Brisbane where the Treasury Building can be seen at the end of Queen Street. The second permanent Victoria Bridge spans the Brisbane River and the Roma Street rail yards are in the left centre. Link to high resolution image.

Why read today’s news on Saturday morning?  Chances are you already know the news in large part.  What is vastly more interesting is to read the news from 99 years ago.  In this regular Saturday morning post we will extract the news from the Saturday morning edition of The Brisbane Courier which in one form or another has been the newspaper of record in Queensland, Australia for more than 150 years.  You can down load the edition of the newspaper below or read it in full at the end of this blog. Italics: Unedited text, Normal: Edited or additions

Versailles Treaty Negotiations

The final German reply regards the Peace Treaty maintains that the allies terms will put Germany for ages beyond the pale of the white races.  The reply does not demand the restoration of any special colony, though it maintains that Germany has colonial rights.  If the negotiations fail, the German government that resistance to allied action will be purely passive.  Mr Lloyd George is reported to have been impressed by the appeals to modify the treaty in order to avoid Germany’s passive resistance.  Signor Orlando is willing to compromise, but President Wilson is unwilling, and Mr Clemenceau absolutely opposes the proposal.  The German Press is sounding the retreat, and this is taken as an indication that Germany will sign the treaty under protest. 

 It is reported that nine-tenths of the Cameroons will go to France without a mandate, and that Britain and France will divide Togoland.   The council of four has agreed to eliminate the limitation of armaments in the cases of small nations formerly under the rule of Austria-Hungary.  The demand of the Independent Socialists of Wurttemberg that the ex-Kaiser should be delivered up and brought to trial is rejected. 

The Treaty of Versailles, peace document signed at the end of World War I by the Allied and associated powers and by Germany in the Hall of Mirrors in the Palace of Versailles, France, on June 28, 1919; it took force on January 10, 1920.

Indonesia – Volcanic eruption

It is officially reported that the victims from the recent volcanic eruption in Java number 5,350.

On May 1, 1919, the volcano Kelud, on the island of Java in Indonesia, erupted. The eruption resulted in the collapse of the crater lake and large mud and pyroclastic flow destroying 200 km2 of farmland within 25 kilometres of the volcano.  It is reported that more than 100 villages were destroyed.  This volcano is amongst the most dangerous in Indonesia. 

Czech Republic – Riots

Riots are taking place in Prague and shops are being raided and goods taken without payment, so that all shops are closed until the restoration of order.

Germany – Hoffman Resigns

General Hoffman’s cabinet at Munich has resigned and a coalition cabinet is being formed.

Egypt – Political Unrest

Unrest is still prevalent in Egypt.  Several raids have been made on cafes in Cairo, seditious literature seized, and some arrests made.

United States – Poision Gas

The chemical division of the United States Army, before the armistice, had planned to send aeroplanes to Germany for the purpose of pouring “Lewisite”, the deadliest poison known, which would have wiped out every vestige of vegetable and animal life.  Some 3,000 tonnes of Lewisite would have been ready for use by March.

United Kingdom – Captain Fryatt Burial

The British Government is arranging for the burial in England of the remains of Captain Fryatt.

Charles Algernon Fryatt was a British mariner who was executed by the Germans for attempting to ram a U-boat in 1915. When his ship, the SS Brussels, was captured off the Netherlands in 1916, he was court-martialled and sentenced to death although he was a civilian non-combatant.

Greece – Invasion of Turkey

The Greeks have occupied Aivali and Adramyti, two port cities of turkey in Asia.

China – Japanese Boycott

The boycott of Japanese good is spreading to the interior cities of China

 Afghanistan – Afghans Seek Peace

A letter dated May 28, from Amir Amanullah of Afghanistan, addressed to the Viceroy of India (Lord Chelmsford) asking for a cessation of hostilities, has been received at Peshawar, and its arrival in Simla, India is awaited.  It is officially announced that armistice terms have been offered to the Afghans, who recently appealed for a cessation of hostilities.  At first the officials considered the appeal made by the Afghans was merely a scheme designed for the purpose of gaining time. 

Russia  – The Revolution

Typhus is raging in Moscow.  Prominent Bolsheviks are selling their property and departing for the south.  The Bolsheviks fear that their power is drawing to a close. Newspapers at Helsingfore state that Mr. Lenin has offered General Koltchak an armistice, but the General has not replied.  It is reported that Finnish action against Russia is considered certain.  The Finns will attack on three sides.  The greatest force will be directed against Kem, with a view to cutting communications between Murmansk and Petrograd. 

Lenin before a crowd in 1919

Influenza in Brisbane, Queensland

Three deaths from Influenza occurred in Brisbane hospitals yesterday, and 427 cases were under treatment last night – 10 fewer than the previous day.

The 1918 influenza pandemic (January 1918 – December 1920; colloquially known as Spanish flu) was an unusually deadly influenza pandemic, the first of the two pandemics involving H1N1 influenza virus. It infected 500 million people around the world, including people on remote Pacific islands and in the Arctic, and resulted in the deaths of 50 to 100 million (three to five percent of the world’s population), making it one of the deadliest natural disasters in human history.  A summary for the Week of Jun 7, 2019 is provided below:

  • Barcaldine: 50 patients in the shire Hall isolation hospital.  Practically all of the local railway staff was affected.
  • Blackall: 48 cases reported.  The first death occurred yesterday being that of Mr. William Howard who drove the local coach. 
  • Tambo: News was alarming with 350 cases and four deaths.  The patients have the services of the local nurse and women from the surrounding stations.
  • Murwillumbah: A Large number of cases “But the visitation is very mild”
  • Roma: The number of cases of influenza is showing a considerable decrease.  To deaths occurred yesterday being Mrs. D Cooper and Mrs. W Williams.  Nurse Hodgson became infected a week ago and died yesterday. 
  • Charleville: The influenza epidemic is abating with 13 patients remaining in the Pariah Hospital. 
  • Chinchilla: Two death from influenza have been reported including the superintendent of the Aboriginal settlement, Mr. william Dodd. 
  • Cairns: Eight cases reported with the last having arrived from Wodonga.  Four nurses at the local hospital have influenza. 
  • Gympie: One death overnight.
  • Nambour: The ladies of Nambour have arrangements well in hand for combating the epidemic.  A central kitchen is being established at the rural school which will in all probability be turned into an emergency hospital should the need arise. 
  • Toowoomba: A 29-year-old railway worker died yesterday of influenza.
  • Bald Hills: All local gathering have been postponed on account of the influenza, which is very prevalent.
  • Gatton: Influenza is rampant in the outlying districts and a large number of families are down with the trouble….
  • Rockhampton: To-day the town clerk received notification of 116 cases of influenza bringing the total to date to 740.  Today was by far the worst day which has been experienced in Rockhampton since the epidemic broke out. There were no fewer than 9 deaths, six in hospitals and 3 in private residences
  • Townsville. 220 men were absent at the local abattoir due to influenza. 
  • Clifton: The number of influenza cases is increasing but so far only on case of pneumonia with influenza has been reported.

The Rescue of Hawker, From Gloom to Joy, Experiences of the aviators

Delayed cables give particulars concerning the rescue of Mr H. G. Hawker the Australian Aviator, and Lieutenant Commander M. Greive.  They state that the public was overjoyed at the news of their safety.  It seemed almost hopeless when the King’s message of sympathy was received on Saturday night, and 12 British warships abandoned the search after a fruitless search of all of the likely routes.  The news of the rescue was quickly conveyed to Buckingham Palace.  The King and Queen quickly sent telegrams to Mrs. Hawker and Grieves mother and father.  Mrs. Hawker in an interview, said she knew her husband would return all right.  She believed he would try the Atlantic flight again. 

Harry Hawker was one of the worlds pioneering aviators. In 1913 he set an endurance record of 8 hours and 20 minutes, set a new height record of 11,700 feet and then later an air speed record of 92 miles per hour. Courtsey Monash University

Strike in Melbourne, Victoria

The official statement issued at the place of the compulsory conference with regard to the shipping strike, held in Melbourne, yesterday, contained the bare announcement that Mr. Justice Higgins should review the position the position from the Bench this morning.  It is understood however that his Honour castigated the advocates of direct action.

Flight Over the Atlantic

The St John’s correspondent of the “New York times” says that the Handley-Page bombing Biplane which is being assembled will be the largest aeroplane to attempt the Transatlantic flight.  Fully loaded the machine will carry 29,943 lb.  It is equipped with four Rolls-Royce eight-cylinder engine, generating a total of 1,500 horsepower.  It is estimated that the engines will consume 108 gallons of petrol per hour, at a speed of 90 miller per hour.  The machine will carry 2376 gallons of petrol and be equipped with a wireless plant of 25-mile receiving radius.  It can continue to fly even if two engines are not working.  The estimated cost of the biplane is £24,000.  It is expected that the machine will be ready for a test flight within a fortnight.  

The Handley Page V/1500 was a British night-flying heavy bomber built by Handley Page towards the end of the First World War. It was a large four-engined biplane, which resembled a larger version of Handley Page’s earlier O/100 and O/400 bombers, intended to bomb Berlin from East Anglian airfields. Wikipedia

Mining, Stocks and Shares

The stock and share market are still firm, prices being well maintained and where altered on the Brisbane Stock Exchange, the change was generally in an upward direction.  In War Loans this was noticeable, each class of Bonds showing a slight improvement. 

The DJIA for the date of this edition of The Brisbane Courier

Weather Queensland

The maximum temperature in Brisbane yesterday was 68.3 deg.; minimum 53 deg.; Forecast for Queensland issued at noon yesterday for the ensuing 24 hours.  Cloudy at times along entire coastline, with occasional showers, but generally fine; otherwise fine, but some probability for thunderstorms between Gulf and Darling Downs.  Rather cold by night in the SE interior; otherwise mild. South-easterly to easterly winds along the Pacific slope; easterly to north-easterly inland.

Sonoro Energy Wins Selat Panjang PSC Tender in the Central Sumatran Basin

Sonoro Energy Ltd (TSXV: SNV) with it local partner PT Menara Global Energi has won the Selat Panjang PSC in the 2019 Conventional Bid Round in Indonesia.

Selat Panjang PSC Block in the Central Sumatran Basin

Deputy Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources Arcandra Tahar announced the winner of 2019 Phase I Oil and Gas Working Area Offers with Regular Auction mechanism at EMR Ministry Building in Jakarta, on Tuesday (05/07). Photo by TheInsiderStories.

Deputy Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources Arcandra Tahar announced the winner of 2019 Phase I Oil and Gas Working Area Offers with Regular Auction mechanism at EMR Ministry Building in Jakarta, on Tuesday (05/07). Photo by TheInsiderStories.

Indonesian Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources (MEMR) announced on 7th May 2019 that the Sonoro Energy Ltd-PT Menara Global Energi consortium was the winner of the 2019 Phase I Oil and Gas Working Area Offer on the Selat Panjang PSC area in the Central Sumatra Basin.  The total commitment value and signature bonus was US$ 116.7 million.  The PSC tender process is important to the Government of Indonesia as during the last two years 14 blocks were successfully tendered which resulted in signature bonuses totaling US$865 million and Definitive Work Commitments totaling US$2.13 billion.

It is unlikely that the PSC will be formalized and executed before the end of Ramadan on June 5th, 2019.

  • Sonoro has a 25% interest in the project with an option for up to an additional 24%.
  • Menara Global Energi has an initial 75% interest and shall be responsible for the signature bonus and for funding the first year G&G program.  Sonoro interest to be repaid on terms to be agreed.
Tender Bid
  • Signature Bonus: US$5 million
  • G&G Study
  • 2D: 500 line km
  • 3D: 200 km2
  • 6 wells

The 923 km2 Selat Panjang PSC is situated in Riau province, Central Sumatra and is approximately 925 km from Jakarta and 110 km from Pekanbaru (capital city of Riau Province).

In 2015 the Indonesian Ministry of Energy awarded  the Selat Panjang PSC, then totalling 1,316 km2 to Petroselat NC Ltd. part owned by Petrochina International.  The agreed work program included a G&G Study and data compilation, 2D seismic and 1 exploration well.  The PSC was terminated by the Ministry in 2018 and the development program proposed by the previous operator was not implemented.

The previous operator reported that the PSC had produced since 1994 with average annual production of 100,000 barrels with remaining 2P reserves of 7 MMBO.  Petroselat identified 7 leads and prospects on the PSC with reported potential for 320 MMBO and 1.5 Tcf.

The Central Sumatran Basin
North and Central Sumatra Basins and fields. These basins formed in a back-arc environment.

The Central Sumatra Basin along with the North and Southern Sumatra Basins formed as a result of back-arc extension resulting from the subduction of the Indian oceanic plate beneath western Indonesian portion of the Sundaland Plate.  During the Eocene to Early-Oligocene, extension resulted in rifting which generated a series of half-grabens.  These grabens filled with syn-rift nonmarine facies, including fluvial, del­taic, marginal lacustrine sandstones, and shallow to deep-water lacustrine shales.  With the cessation of rifting, thermal relaxation resulted in a sag phase which increased accommodation and saw further deposition and increased thermal maturity of the lacustrine source rocks.  Renewed subduction or more likely a change in subduction rate saw compression in the back-arc environment from the middle Miocene to the Holocence producing many structural traps for conventional hydrocarbon accumulations.

Stratigraphic sections of southern and western Indonesian basins. Doust and Noble, 2008 Petroleum Systems of indonesia
The four petroleum systems typical of SE Asian Tertiary basins and their relationship to basin stages Doust & Noble 2008

Reservoirs formed in upper Pematang Group (Palaeogene) non-marine sandstones however the principal reservoirs in this system formed in the Early Miocene Sihapas Group marine sandstones.  The Pematang Group was deposited in a series of small en-echelon grabens which have a Lower Red Bed fluvial-alluvial unit, overlain by the Brown Shale lacustrine unit and capped by the Upper Red Bed unit.

The basal transgressive unit of the Sihapas Group, the Menggala Formation consists of well-sorted quartzose to sub-arkosic sandstones which typically constitute more than 50% of the formation.  The Menggala Formation has an average porosity of >20% and an average permeability of 1500 mD.

An abnormally high thermal gradient has resulted in a shallow oil window with the Oligocene Brown Shale of the Pematang Group being the principal petroleum source rock.  The Brown Shale Formation (lacustrine) of the Pematang Group with the Sihapas Group sandstones is one of the most important lacustrine oil systems in SE Asia.  Source Rock summary

  • Principle source rock is the Pematang lacustrine brown shale;
  • Type 1 source rock average TOC 2-23%  with an average of 4%(Williams et al 1985, Yarmanto et al 1995 & Katz abd Dawson 1997).  HI 200-950;
  • Derived oil gravity API 20° to 47°; <2% S; Pour Point 4 to 46º and paraffinic

The Pematang reservoirs are generally small and occur with the rift basin.  The giant fields of Minas and Duri with Sihapas reservoirs occur principally along the eastern margins of the rift basins.  Most of the oil-fields are located in drape structures of basement highs along the eastern flanks of the half-grabens up-dip of the Pematang formation source rocks while others are related closure generated by basin bounding faults.  The lack of gas within the fields of the Central Sumatra Basin is notable reflecting the maturity of the Pematang-Sihapas system and the dominance of lacustrine source rock.

With an excellent source rock package and an anomalously high thermal gradient the Central Sumatra Basin is a prolific producer from shallow depths and has the highest petroleum endowment of the major basins in Asia-Pacific.  25 billion barrels STOIIP has been identified within the Central Sumatra Basin of which 4 billion and 8 billion barrels are in the Duri and Minas fields respectively, making them amongst the largest in SE Asia.

With an excellent source rock package and an anomalously high thermal gradient the Central Sumatra Basin is a prolific producer from shallow depths and has the highest petroleum endowment of the major basins in Asia-Pacific

What if Green Energy Isn’t the Future

Oil field rig with casing ready for well completion ahead of perforation and testing program. Copyright Cmi Capital 2012

What’s Warren Buffett doing with a $10 billion bet on the future of oil and gas, helping old-school Occidental Petroleum buy Anadarko, a U.S. shale leader? For pundits promoting the all-green future, this looks like betting on horse farms circa 1919.

  • Warren Buffet finances Occidental acquisition of Anadarko – US$10 billion;
  • Market sentiment is broadly bearish on hydrocarbons. The oil and gas share of the S&P 500 Energy index is now US$225 billion, less than 1% of the index and the lowest in more than 40 years;
  • What happens if investments in renewables stutters, subsidies evaporate, or renewable delivery fails?
  • Mills states that the prevailing wisdom has renewables adding 250% more energy to the world in the next 20 years, more than shale has added in the past 15 years;
  • Oil and gas demand continue to rise and is forecast to continue this trend albeit at a more muted rate;
  • All the growth predictions assume that 75% of the renewable growth will come from the least wealthy countries, the emerging economies. Mills concludes this is unlikely unless radical cost reductions evolve.  Note that none of the wealthy countries met their green targets but that energy production was driven by increases in fossil fuel production.  70% of the growth was increased fossil fuel production;
  • “The reason? Using wind, solar and batteries as the primary sources of the nation’s energy supply remains far too expensive.”  Any mention of subsidy reduction exposes the full fury of the green lobby … who receive ample funding from the renewables industry!
  • Already countries are reducing or removing renewable subsidies usually the result of unstable energy supplies, for example Sweden and Australia;
  • In the USA utilities have been adding massive fossil fuel burning diesel generators as backup to unreliable wind and solar, with little fanfare or comment;
  • Will electric cars solve the energy gap? Even a 100-fold increase in electric vehicles would only replace 5% of global oil demand of two decades. 

‘Green advocates can hope to persuade governments – and thus taxpayers – to deploy a huge tax on hydrocarbons to ensure more green construction.  But there is no chance that wealthy nations will agree to subsidize expensive green tech for the rest of the world.  And we know where the Oracle of Omaha has placed his bet.”  Full Article

Fertility Indicators of Magmatic and Hydrothermal Systems

Hydrothermal magnetitie derived from different PCD alteration domains can readily be discriminated potentially providing a vector to the metal shells of commercial interest. (Sievwright 2017)

Fertility Indicators of Magmatic
and Hydrothermal Systems

8:30am – 1:00pm, Monday 27th of May 2019
Australian Resources Research Centre (ARRC)
26 Dick Perry Avenue, Kensington, WA 6151

Discovery of new deposits is costly and challenging, particularly when exploration is now moving under cover and being more predictive can be the immediate key to discovery. Chemical fingerprinting and fertility assessment of rocks and minerals related to potential exploration targets at different scales have gained a lot of momentum in the last decade. In this workshop leading geoscientists from industry, government and academia share the latest advances in fertility indicators of magmatic and hydrothermal systems, which have the potential to lead to Tier 1 discovery in the future..


  • 08:00 – 08:30 Registrations
  • 08:30 – 08:40 Introduction
  • 08:40 – 09:20 Steve Rowins (CET) An apatite for exploration: the use of detrital minerals and soil geochemistry in the search for buried mineralisation
  • 09:20 – 10:00 Yongjun Lu (GSWA) Zircon fingerprinting of magmatic-hydrothermal systems in Archean Craton and Phanerozoic terranes
  • 10:00 – 10:40 Matt Loader (Natural History Museum, UK) Zircon and apatite as indicators of porphyry Cu deposit fertility
  • 10:40 – 11:10 Morning Tea
  • 11:10 – 11:50 Louise Schoneveld (CSIRO) Indicator minerals for magmatic Ni-Cu sulphide mineralisation
  • 11:50 – 12:30 Paul Agnew (Rio Tinto) Porphyry Fertility – An industry perspective
  • 12:30 – 01:00 Panel Discussion

please register online 

Bualuang North Field Development – Gulf of Thailand

Western Gulf of Thailand showing, depth to basement, oil and gas field, wells and pipelines.

Solstad Offshore ASA has been awarded a contract by Ophir Thailand (Bualuang) Limited to perform the offshore installation of the Bualuang Charlie wellhead platform structure as part of the Bualuang Phase 4B Development Project.  The Charlie platform will have 12 slots at full production will increase field production to 11,000 BOPD.

Derrick Lay Barge “Norce Endeavour”

The project is located in the Gulf of Thailand and comprises the installation of a bridged-linked wellhead platform structure along with the retrofitting of extension structures to existing in-field platforms. Offshore activities are planned to commence in July 2019 and will be performed using the Derrick Lay Barge “Norce Endeavour”. Solstad Offshore will perform all project management, engineering and installation activities from its offices in Singapore.

Bualuang Oil Field

The Bualuang oil field in the Gulf of Thailand has been on-stream since 2008. The field was initially thought to contain 15 mmbo of 2P reserves and have a productive life of approximately five years. However, the field has undergone numerous reserve upgrades and year-end 2018 it had produced over 35 million barrels of oil, with a further 27 mmbo of 2P reserves and 10.3 mmbo of 2C resource.

Bualuang North Platform

  • The Bualuang field has been on-stream since 2008
  • Stable production with over 99% uptime in 2018.  7,800 BOPD during 2018, to be increased to 11,000 BOPD
  • OPEX US$13/BOPD increase to US$16 BOPD in 2018.
  • A facilities debottlenecking project in 2016 increased water handling capacity, and therefore allowed for increased rates of oil production
  • A three well infill drilling campaign in 2017 saw two wells in the deeper T2 reservoir and and infill well under the platform guided by data from the Ocean Bottom Node seismic survey completed in 2015.
  • Phase 4 commenced in 2018 with drilling of three new wells and four workovers.
Phase 4B Development

Charlie Platform and modifications in color, with existing Bauluang North production infrastructure shown in grey.

  • A third platform with 12 slots allowing expansion of water disposal to 100k BPD;
  • 10 slots to be used for increased production with conversion of some wells on the Bravo platform to water disposal.
  • CAPEX: US$138 million
  • Development drilling from July 2019 with first oil from Charlie in October 2019
Medeco to Acquire Ophir Energy

On 30 January 2019, the boards of Medco, Medco Global and Ophir announced that they had reached agreement on the terms of a recommended acquisition pursuant to which Medco Global will acquire the entire issued and to be issued ordinary share capital of Ophir for GBP 0.55 per share (later revised upwards to GBP 0.575).  This all cash bid valued the company at US$ 550 million.

A number of activist institutional investors were unhappy with the bid and on 8 March 2019, the Ophir Board received an unsolicited and highly preliminary indication of interest from Coro Energy PLC regarding a possible offer for the entire issued and to be issued share capital of Ophir.  Coro proposed that Ophir Shareholders would receive 40 pence in cash, and, in addition, shares in Coro for each Ophir Share, resulting in an ownership by Ophir Shareholders of between 85 per cent. and 95 per cent. of the enlarged company.  The cash component would be funded with debt.

Following a modest increase in the offer price by Modeco, Coro withdrew its offer after discussions with their financiers, Sand Grove Capital Management.

Note: Cmi Capital holds shares in Ophir Energy.

At the Moment of Creation there was the Fluid

An event from the first Xenon-Xenon collision at the Large Hadron Collider at the top energy of the Large Hadron Collider (5.44 TeV ) registered by ALICE [credit: ALICE]. Every colored track (The blue lines) corresponds to the trajectory of a charged particle produced in a single collision; [right] formation of anisotropic flow in relativistic heavy-ion collisions due to the geometry of the hot and dense overlap zone (shown in red color).
Scientists from the Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen, and their colleagues from the international ALICE collaboration recently collided Xenon nuclei, in order to gain new insights into the properties of the Quark-Gluon Plasma (the QGP) – the matter that the universe consisted of up to a microsecond after the Big Bang.

The QGP, as the name suggests, is a special state consisting of the fundamental particles, the quarks, and the particles that bind the quarks together, the gluons. The result was obtained using the ALICE experiment at the 27 km long superconducting Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN. The result is now published in Physics Letters 

With collisions approaching the speed of light and enormous energy (5.44 TeV) a fireball lasting a mere 10-22 seconds was generated at temperatures of several thousand billion degrees.

Under these conditions a plasma of hadron components is created consisting of quarks and gluons.  the density of the plasma is very high and forms a special state of matter known as the strongly interacting QGP.

The experiments suggest that the primordial matter, the instant before atoms formed, behaves like a liquid that can be described in terms of hydrodynamics.

The experiments involved  studying the spatial distribution of the many thousands of particles that emerge from the collisions when the quarks and gluons have been trapped into the particles that the Universe consists of today. This reflects not only the initial geometry of the collision, but is sensitive to the properties of the QGP.

The Alice Detector at the Large Hadron Collider

Source: Neils Bohr Institute

Anisotropic flow in Xe–Xe collisions at 5.44  TeV


The first measurements of anisotropic flow coefficients vn for mid-rapidity charged particles in Xe–Xe collisions at sNN=5.44 TeV are presented. Comparing these measurements to those from Pb–Pb collisions at sNN=5.02 TeV, v2 is found to be suppressed for mid-central collisions at the same centrality, and enhanced for central collisions. The values of v3are generally larger in Xe–Xe than in Pb–Pb at a given centrality. These observations are consistent with expectations from hydrodynamic predictions. When both v2 and v3 are divided by their corresponding eccentricities for a variety of initial state models, they generally scale with transverse density when comparing Xe–Xe and Pb–Pb, with some deviations observed in central Xe–Xe and Pb–Pb collisions. These results assist in placing strong constraints on both the initial state geometry and medium response for relativistic heavy-ion collisions.

Full Text

This could be the most advanced entity in the universe

A riveting video from David Kipping at Astronomy Columbia.  Is there life out there?  We simply have no idea as it’s not possible to extrapolate from a  single data point –  Earth.  It could well be that the creation of life is very difficult and we are the only example of life in our galaxy or indeed in the entire observable universe.  We simply have no data to suggest otherwise.  It would explain the absence of evidence of life in the radio spectrum and we have been looking for 50 years.  The prospect that we are the only sentient beings within the observable universe (~30 billion light years across is both wonderful and rather terrifying.

That said it is interesting to contemplate that we and our animal relatives are likely the most complex entities on this planet and in this solar system.  Given that we have seen no evidence of other sentient beings in the radio spectrum in the last 50 years or so it might also be reasonable to suggest that we are likely the most complex entities with hundreds of light years of Earth.  It would however be nice if life were present in profusion elsewhere –  but we simply do not know.

It might well be that it is us who are the “Aliens” and that over the next few hundred million years we will populate a vast region of this corner of our galaxy.  I find this somehow very satisfying.

A Big 5 analysis of Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs was and remains a most enigmatic individual, driven by product excellence, focused  to an obsessive degree but with little empathy for those around him.  Below is a is an interesting paper on Jobs, by Bert McBrayer, within the framework of the Big 5 Personality traits.  Bert concludes that history will likely paint Jobs as an innovator but likely not include him in the pantheon of leaders of people.


My take on Steve Jobs

Openness:  Above average aspect Intellect but off the scale aspect Openness.  Likely out of 100 people he would be more open to experience than the 99 other people in the room.

Conscientiousness: Off the scale aspect Industriousness but low in aspect Organization.  What make Jobs unusual is the focus of his Industriousness.

Extraversion:  Off the scale for both aspects Enthusiasm and Assertiveness

Agreeableness:  Very low aspect Empathy and Politeness but could modify both if this furthered his product goals

Neuroticism:  A reliable indicator of suitability for management is a low-level of Neuroticism or reaction and response to negative events.  Jobs was legendary for his volatility but appears to have had low levels of withdrawal.

What appears to have made Jobs unique was his remarkable Industriousness and focus, combined with the creativity commensurate with above average intellect and exceedingly high openness.  He used with pleasure his high Aspect Volatility in combination with his low Trait Agreeableness bound into a laser like product focus to stimulate his team.  Steve was product and not people focused and may have retreated from the “scar tissue” of his rejection as an infant into the infinite detail of product design and artistic endeavour.