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Workplace Mobbing is Psychological Terrorism

No one deserves to be terrorized for any reason. In the workplace, mobbing is emotional and psychological terrorism deliberately inflicted on an individual with the express purpose of destroying that person emotionally, psychologically, physically, and professionally.

VALERIE ROBINS , WORKPLACE BULLYING: MOBBING IS EMOTIONAL & PSYCHOLOGICAL TERRORISM

Mobbing can only persist as long as it is allowed to persist. Organizational leadership plays the most important part in its prevention. By enforcing decency, civility, and high ethical standards in the workplace and by creating a nourishing environment, bullying and mobbing will not surface.

NOA ZANOLLI,

Extortion occurs when someone attempts to obtain money or property by threatening to commit violence, accuse the victim of a crime, or reveal private or damaging information about the victim.

Letter to PGS Board of Directors never Acknowledged nor Responded to. Responsible?

Open Letter to Petroleum Geo-Services ASA Board of Directors (18-Jun-2017)

Excerpt from Petroleum Geo-Services ASA (PGS) UK affilate, PGS UK Office Personnel Handbook (2013 Edition). Note that the document was prepared by DN, PGS UK Human Resources Manager, David Nicholson and Authorized by TB, PGS SVP Global Human Resources, Terje Bjølseth. I submitted a workplace grievance to TB (et al.) claiming workplace bullying and professional misconduct perpetrated by DN. PGSUK ignored and denied all of my protections and provisions of the PGS UK Office Personnel Handbook (2013 Edition) and UK labor & contract law in their mobbing campaign and acted with arbitrary caprice in protecting unethical and illegal executive behaviors,

Overall, our predictions regarding the correlations between the Dark Triad and bullying were supported. Psychopathy was the most strongly related to bullying, followed by Machiavellianism, and narcissism

RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN BULLYING BEHAVIOURS AND THE DARK TRIAD: A STUDY WITH ADULTS

DEMAND UK, NORWAY, & USA LAW ENFORCEMENT INVESTIGATION of PGS Executives: Rune Olav Pedersen, Gottfred Langseth, Per Arild Reksnes, Nathan Oliver and Berit Osnes.

In September 2018 Directors of PGS’ UK affiliate perpetrated extortion to silence protected public disclosure misusing the Thailand criminal justice system to take down nopgs.com (where the IP address was registered).  For over three years of publishing evidence of PGS executive corruption, fraud and wrong-doing, Rune Olav Pedersen and Gottfred Langseth breached Norwegian and UK whistleblower protection laws.  The evidence which was posted on nopgs.com showed PGS defrauding UK and Norwegian government agencies through knowingly processing defamatory false instruments created to destroy the professional life and reputation of a foreign worker whistleblower.  Pedersen and Langseth oversaw the mobbing, bribery, embezzlement, and fraud carried out to destroy a USA citizen whistleblower.  This fake data was illegally shared with UK national PGSUSA executives in violation of the UK Data Protection Act 1998. PGSUSA operatives knew the data was non-compliant / illegal and created to retaliate and blacklist the USA citizen. PGS also lied and claimed data was processed by a PGSUK agent, but this agent was sponsored on a USA H1B visa. I believe this violates the H1B visa provisions and otherwise made them complicit in the conspiracy to defraud and illegal mobbing, harassment, and retaliation behaviors perpetrated against a USA citizen. PGS board of directors and compliance team have foremost breached their fiduciary duties through their continuum of lies and silence.
EVP Per Arild Reknes signed defamatory false instruments processed to protect criminals from culpability.  Berit Osnes has been directly involved in perverting the course of justice since 2016, and otherwise abrogated her fiduciary duties under the Norwegian Code of Practice, as a representative board member.  Workplace Mobbing is psychological terrorism.  Perpetrators of violent abuse, fraud, bribery, embezzlement, and extortion must be held accountable for the health and safety of workers. The Norwegian corporate governance system is dysfunctional and corrupt. Former PGS CEO & President, Jon Erik Reinhardsen was also a principal in these alleged crimes. Even though several articles were published denouncing and accusing him of crimes directly, there was no investigation. Reinhardsen is now the Chairman of the Board for Norway’s largest company, Equinor. Reinhardsen was never investigated, nor has he ever publicly denounced or denied the publication alleging criminal acts by him or his cohorts. He never publicly defended those accused of corruption.     

5 Secrets To Spot You’re About To Be Mobbed At Work

Narcissistic Boss or Employer: Coping and Survival Tactics

https://mclip.tv/video/3_YdgSy77xY/narcissistic-boss-or-employer-coping-and-survival-tactics


https://www.listennotes.com/podcasts/hr-pills/workplace-bullying-mobbing-GtfZ3AmYEs-/

https://www.listennotes.com/podcasts/hr-pills/workplace-bullying-mobbing-GtfZ3AmYEs-/

https://blogs.psychcentral.com/recovering-narcissist/2019/03/7-gaslighting-phrases-malignant-narcissists-sociopaths-and-psychopaths-use-translated/

The most dangerous culprits of gaslighting? Malignant narcissists, who, by default, use gaslighting as a strategy to undermine the perception of their victims in order to evade accountability for their abuse. 

Shahida Arabi, Bestselling Author 

Submitting Grievances and Whistleblowing as a Foreign Worker -Part 2

Submitting Grievances and Whistleblowing as a Foreign Worker – Part 2 The Psychological Terrorism of my 9-11

Psychological terrorism is the deliberate targeting of an individual in a way that leaves no physical scars but leaves psychological injuries or trauma that have long-lasting impact.

Valerie Robins , WORKPLACE BULLYING: MOBBING IS EMOTIONAL & PSYCHOLOGICAL TERRORISM

Discrimination, bullying or harassment of any kind will not be tolerated by the Company and all allegations of such behaviour will be dealt with seriously, confidentially and speedily.

PGS UK OFFICE PERSONNEL HANDBOOK (2013) [PREPARED: DN – AUTHORIZED: TB

Within a previous MarineSeismicSurvey (MSS) blog  post article, Submitting Grievances and Whistleblowing as a Foreign Worker – Part One: The Ambush Meeting (Part 1), the 24 July 201 Ambush Letter (Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3), was discussed. The 24 July 201 Ambush Letter scheduled another meeting for 11 September 2013.  Of all the dates to choose to eliminate the American (USA) foreign worker, 9-11 was chosen as a meeting date with all its emotional symbolism.  Minutes from the 13 June 2013 Ambush Meeting had been requested right after the event.  These were denied, but I pressed for something firm in writing. That was how the 24 July 2013 Ambush Letter came about. Almost six-weeks following the 13 June 2013 Ambush Meeting, a letter was finally delivered to me.  What was never answered in the interim or within the 24 July 2013 Ambush Letter was how the 13 June 2013 Ambush Meeting conformed to PGS Exploration UK Limited, 4 The Heights, Brooklands, Weybridge, England, KT13 0NY (PGSUK) policy, procedures, and of course contract and employment law.  The 24 July 2013 Ambush Letter actually raised similar concerns once it was received. 

The copy of the 24 July 2013 Ambush Letter scanned and referenced in this article was received through my submitting a subject access request (SAR) citing the UK Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) in October 2014.  PGSUK personal data processors within the human resources (HR) group are processing this 24 July 201 Ambush Letter.  Unfortunately, there are many problems with the 24 July 2013 Ambush Letter. It would serve as the impetus for my submitting a lengthy workplace grievancee on 20 September 2013.  However, the most immediately visible problem with the 24 July 201 Ambush Letter when I received it as part of my official PGSUK personel file documentation is that the mentioned scheduled 11 September 2013 (my 9-11) meeting actually never happened!  The same HR manager who hosted the 13 June 2013 Ambush Meeting of questionable propriety and intentionally withheld the requested meeting minutes from me, also prevented the submission of a grievance soon after the 13 June 2013 Ambush Meeting, and also cancelled and rescheduled the 11 September 2013 to 20 September 2013, as the 18 September 2013 e-mail indicates. The same HR Manager was now overseeing my SAR a year later. I did submit a 20 September 2013 formal grievance , but this documet is not being processed within my PGSUK personnel file records. However, it is mentioned and referenced within the 5 December 2013 settlement contract agreement (SCA), which when signed terminated my career with Petroleum Geo-Services (PGS). PGS’ HR subsequent processing of defamatory fake data is a sinister form of blacklisting. Both are not compliant nor legal acts, but were the coordinated endeavor of the corrupt and evil PGS legal compliance. The 11 September 2013 meeting that never happened is also referenced in another significant document being processed by PGS / PGSUK, but the date is not even mentioned within the SCA!

The new question was, how did the 24 July 2013 Ambush Letter conform to PGSUK policy and procedures? Within the pages of the submitted 20 September 2013 formal grievance, I had made the case that the 24 July 2013 Ambush Letter and 13 June 2013 Ambush Meeting did not conform to PGSUK policy and procedure or UK contract and employment law. The 20 September 2013 formal grievance had focused on the propriety and the participants of the 13 June 2013 Ambush Meeting as well as countering the unsubstantiated claims made within the 24 July 2013 Ambush Letter, since I never had received minutes from the 13 June 2013 Ambush Meeting. (This point was made within the 20 September 2013 formal grievance, as well.) I was also astonished to discover a version of minutes for the 13 June 2013 Ambush Meeting was also being processed within my official PGSUK personnel file. My truthful professional reputation was assasinated on 11 September 2013, an event that never happened to me in reality, but exists as the most significant date within my professional official work history with PGS. How is this possible? The 11 September 2013 date has consumed me. PGS / PGSUK processing fake data makes it clear to me that the 13 June 2013 Ambush Meeting. and 24 July 2013 Ambush Letter were not legal or compliant to PGSUK policy and procedure or UK employment and contract law. For some time, I have believed, and collected evidence showing, that I was a victim of a conspiracy to defraud, on top of being a target of severe workplace gang-bullying (mobbing). I have been on a writing campaign for justice since discovering this. However, it is a very difficult endeavor to confront corrupt power and money, especially when so many “professionals” from different companies participated in the alleged crimes against me and my family. Overcoming the banality of corruption and incivility is difficult, especially when those entrusted with corporate governance are the principal perpetrators and facilitators of the crimes.

Make no mistake. Gaslighting is not about love or concern. It’s about power and control. A gaslighter is someone who needs to feel superior and who manipulates people to further their own agendas.

Marie Hartwell-Walker, Ed.D., 7 Ways to Extinguish Gaslighting

Trust yourself. Recognize what they are doing and stay calm. If you know your case, preserved your record, and know why you’re in court today, you are armed. You will correct the record as appropriate and return focus to the important issues for the court and your case. You have prepared and you know what you are doing.

Alyson A. Foster, Gaslighting in Litigation

The 24 July 2013 Ambush Letter was written on behalf of PGSUK and states that its creation was necessary since I had related that I wanted to pursue the matter officially. To me, this meant according to PGSUK policy, procedures, as well as employment (Tier 2 visa) law and contract law.  The 24 July 2013 Ambush Letter did not address my simple queries.  At the same time, I was helpless to steer events.  It seems that there were two avenues which could have been pursued, based on the PGS UK Office Policy Handbook (PGSUK Handbook).  These were to either follow the PGSUK Handbook grievance procedures or the disciplinary procedures. These would have been the anticipated official routes to be followed.  As was pointed out in Part 1, when disciplinary and grievance matters are related, as was the case here, according to ACAS, the matters can be resolved together.  The 24 July 2013 Ambush Letter also indicated that I would have the opportunity to respond with my case and supporting documentation.  The 20 September 2013 formal grievance, which is not being processed by PGS / PGSUK HR, was my response and contained substantive information countering the claims made during the 13 June 2013 Ambush Meeting and subsequent 24 July 2013 Ambush Letter. But, it is not being processed.

The 20 September 2013 formal grievance was never processed according to the PGSUK Handbook procedures. PGS / PGSUK had denied me my legal right to follow the grievance process. How was this permitted? With the assistance of my compromised counsel, Philip Landau of LZW Solicitos and Watson, Farley and Williams (WFW), representing PGSUK, I was gaslighted into negotiating an SCA predicated on performance. I challenge all PGS / PGSUK, LWZ Solicitors, and WFW legal and HR professionals involved in my SCA termination to show otherwise that the process was compliant and legal. I quite frankly could not figure out what was happenning at the time and why all my queries seemed to fall on deaf ears. I never really believed that the process was being carried out correctly, but was being fed misrepresentations from all sides. (WFW had also recently processed my Tier 2 visa leave to remain.) I made countless queries during the negotiations that went unanswered because I had no legal representation. My hired solicitor, Landau, I allege, was complicit in the conspiracy to defraud. This is what I have reported to UK ActionFraud (police). I have also compiled the numerous e-mail communications that confirm that my solicitor was aware of the 11 September 2013 to 20 September 2013 meeting change. Landau knew that I was a USA citizen and had also received a copy of the 20 September 2013 formal grievance, a copy of the PGSUK Handbook, and PGS Core Values. As my legal counsel, these factual discrepencies should have been noted. However, what especially should have been noted was that my legal right to file a grievance was adhered to. It was not. Instead, false instruments were processed that supported a corrupt disciplinary process used to illegally terminate a whistleblower.

The PGSUK HR Manager was aware that the response to the 24 July 2013 Ambush Letter (and 13 June 2013 Ambush Meeting) would be in the form of a formal grievance prior to the 11 September 2013 scheduled meeting.  Therefore, the PGSUK directors and secretary would have known this as well.  What is also important to note is that there was a change of PGSUK secretary 13 September 2013.  On 13 September 2013 Candida Pinto resigned as PGSUK secretary and Carl Richards, then PGSUK Head of Legal, assumed the role of secretary and the responsibility that the procedures had been and were being carried out legally and in accordance to the PGSUK Handbook and the laws of England.  The PGSUK Handbook actually does cover issues regarding foreign workers with visas. The PGSUK Handbook also states PGSUK grievance and disciplinary procedures.  Any official route should have implicitly followed PGS Core Values and PGS Code of Conduct, which are referenced in the PGSUK Handbook. Nicholson continued to be the main driver of the process even though he was directly implicated in misconduct and bullying through hosting the 13 June 2013 Ambush Meeting. Neither Pinto nor Richards ever contacted me before or following the 24 July 2013 Ambush Letter. Within the 20 September 2013 formal grievance it was my belief that my nationality and Tier 2 visa status had elevated the destructive behaviors to harassment of a protected class, or illegal harassment. My Tier 2 visa status was a very important consideration which seemed to be ignored.

Indeed, most of those surveyed for the report identified employer retaliation and not being taken seriously as the most common barriers to taking complaints to employers

Muneeza Sheikh, Workplace is wrong venue to address
harassment

First, his silence may be taken as consent to whatever has been said to him, as an implied admission. This inference arises where a denial would be expected if the statement was false. Here silence operates rather like a nod; it is as if the party did not think it worth while lasting words in assenting to what he and the speaker know is obvious.

J. D. HEYDON, SILENCE AS EVIDENCE
2013 PGS Exploration UK Limited Directors and Secretary before 13 September 2013: Director Jon Erik Reinhardsen, President & CEO of PGS; Director Gottfred Langseth, PGS CFO & EVP; Christin Steen-Nilsen, PGS Chief Accountant; Secretary Candida Pinto, PGSUK Lawyer
2013 PGS Exploration UK Limited Directors and Secretary after 13 September 2013: Director Jon Erik Reinhardsen, President & CEO of PGS; Director Gottfred Langseth, PGS CFO & EVP; Christin Steen-Nilsen, PGS Chief Accountant; Secretary Carl Richards, PGSUK Lawyer/Head of Legal

Subsequent debates have argued the fine print over whether these individuals are actually psychopaths, or sociopaths, or have another mental disorder, called narcissistic personality disorder. But whatever the name of their conditions, they create chaos.  They have no capacity to see or respect the perspective of others, are completely disrespectful, and many of them prop themselves up with a sadistic addiction to diminishing others.

Jenny Luesby, How Toxic Bosses Destroy Companies

Perpetrators actively, though often covertly, seek to harm others–physically, emotionally, and spiritually, using tactics designed to
injure individuals and create physical and psychological power imbalances.

Burgess, Garbarino, & Carlson, 2006

As the PGSUK Handbook header indicates, Nicholson (DN) prepared the PGSUK Handbook and should be fluent in its contents.  The 13 June 2013 Ambush Meeting was hosted by PGSUK HR Manager David Nicholson.  The 24 July 2013 Ambush Letter was also signed by Nicholson, on behalf of PGSUK. In fact, all the documentation relevant to my termination is signed by only Nicholson, the PGSUK HR Manager. Nothing is countersigned by the employee (me) or his supervisor. The exception is a Memo dated 25 October 2013, when Landau was engaged as my solicitor. Nicholson did not sign this Memo, but neither did I. None of these documents are authenticated or substantiated by documentation and are therefore defamatory. I did not work directly for any of the directors, secretary, HR department, or division Executive Vice-President (EVP). The documents relate uncorroborated events, wrong dates, and non-existent documents. They are forgeries. Further, no PGS / PGSUK, WFW, or LZW agent has ever challenged or commented on the allegations that the documents are forgeries in over three-years of protected public disclosure – whistleblowing. No definitive answer nor clarification has ever been provided as to the propriety of 13 June 2013 Ambush Meeting  or 24 July 2013 Ambush Meeting following multiple queries, including PGS Compliance.

This lack of transparency seems to violate categorically the principles of the PGS Core Values and PGS Code of Conduct.  Said another way, PGSUK’s official handling of my workplace concerns seems to have been violating my contract of employment on multiple levels.  PGSUK continued to obstruct my ability and right under UK employment law to complain!  My queries were simple and reasonable. They could have been addressed easily. The PGSUK Handbook states that the grievance procedure can be used freely and without prejudice by employees.  The PGSUK Handbook notes the importance of formal and informal lines of communication, especially between the employee and their immediate supervisor.  The grievance procedure discusses provisions where the immediate supervisor is the focus of the grievance or if the employee is uncomfortable discussing the matter with their immediate supervisor.  In this case, the grievance should be raised with the employee’s supervisor’s superior. As for any disciplinary actions, such matters must be fully investigated and focused on a fair resolution.  The 24 July 2013 Ambush Letter stated managements intension to investigate the possibility of  implementating a performance improvement plan.  But, what was the predicate for PGSUK’s directors and secretary intervention prior to any completed investigation or addressing the central concern as to the propriety of the 13 June 2013 Ambush Meeting

These behaviors seem to model the behaviors of workplace harassment, mobbing, and bullying, inclusive of manipulative gaslighting, as described in literature. PGSUK manipulated the processes to force a desired outcome. This included blocking all avenues of legal redress through adopting an official route that is not included within the PGSUK Handbook, or employment and contract law. An official route that involves fraud, forgery, bribery, embezzlement and extortion. Legally guaranteed processes were not permited and choices limited to acheive this nefarious end game. This end game included co-opting a truthful professional narrative with a fabrication of events. This end game included the symbolic elimination of the American from their workforce on my 9-11. It was all psychological terrorism. It involved illegality, the denial of my human rights and rights under contract and employment law, which were all documented within the 20 September 2013 formal grievance. Most troubling is the witnessing of the death of professionalism and civility and the revelation of weak characters that found sadistic pleasure in abusing their power. Many, many PGS / PGSUK employees have been bribed with salaries and job security so they can continue to ignore PGS Core Values and Code of Conduct. PGS / PGSUK is led by misconduct and depravity. PGS’s dumbfounded Norwegian management and board should have thought twice before lodging their despicable terrorist attack on an American focused on justice. Truth is very strong. Poor management is weak and soon runs out of resources. Weak PGS management and board of directors attacked me and my family and now these “leaders” hide from their actions and accountability. Pathetic. Even more pathetic is the employee ranks who allow such depraved leadership to remain unaccountable to a Code of Practice or Responsibility Report and functional corporate governance.

In essence, the psyche constantly returned to scenes of unpleasure because, by restaging the traumatic moment over and over again, it hoped belatedly to process the unassimilable material, to find ways of mastering the trauma retroactively

SIGMUND FReud

Privilege, or immunity, is also a defense against a claim of defamation. Qualified privilege is usually used in cases where the person communicating the statement has a “legal, moral, or social duty to make it….” The person making the statement must show that he or she has made the statement in good faith, believing it to be true and that the statement was made without malice. One example of qualified privilege is the immunity of members of the press from defamation charges for statements made in the press in good faith unless it can be proven that they were made with malice.

Qualified Privilege as a Defense in a Defamation Case

###

The Sound of Death?

The Sound of Death?

Whaling was the oil business of its day..

Nathaniel Philbrick

The motive behind criticism often determines its validity. Those who care criticize where necessary. Those who envy criticize the moment they think that they have found a weak spot.

Criss Jami, Killosophy

The objective of marine seismic surveys is not to annoy, harm or kill cetaceans or other marine fauna.  I believe that this is an important consideration.  This was not always the relationship between human energy needs and cetaceans.  Cetaceans, or whales, are divided into two main groups: toothed whales and baleen whales.  From the 16th through the 19th century, whales were principally killed for a source of oil used as fuel in lamps.  Although the relative value of various whale products varied across time and place, whale oil was the principal economic driver of the commercial whaling industry.  The efficient killing and processing of whales was the business objective of the commercial whaling industry.  Technological developments in whaling, such as ship speed, determined which cetaceans could be hunted commercially.  There was a precipitous decline in the use of whale oils from its peak in the 19th century into the 20th century that coincides with the commercial development of the petroleum industry as a source of fuel oil and manufacturing products.  Perhaps the petroleum industry saved the lives of thousands of cetaceans and prevented the extinction of several species?  What is known is that as the source of the commodity of whale oil began to deplete, technologies to improve hunting success, as well as incentives to replace the fuel both grew. 

The objective of marine seismic surveys is to create maps of the geology to guide oil and gas drilling operations.  Seismic reflection data is used to produce these maps.  The seismic reflection method requires introducing a controlled seismic energy source into the Earth.  Each layer within the Earth reflects a portion of the wave’s energy back and allows the rest to refract through.  In the marine environment, the these reflected compressional energy waves, or sound waves, are recorded by receivers.  The points being mapped are the midpoints between the source and receiver sensor(s).  In the 1950s, marine seismic research crews would toss boxes of live dynamite off the stern of the vessel. The dynamite would explode about a hundred meters behind the ship.  This was the seismic source.  One of the crew, Stephen Chelminski, recognized how dangerous this practice was and so endeavored to find a better and safer marine seismic source.  Lives were being lost and property destroyed using the dynamite source tossed from the vessel stern.  Chelminski earned the coveted Kauffman Gold Medal Award in 1975 in recognition for his development of marine seismic airgun technology.  The most common energy source used for marine seismic surveys these days are arrays of specially placed and timed airguns.  However, in recent years, marine seismic airguns have become especially controversial due to their perceived impact on the health and well-being of cetaceans.

Technology and Methods Designed to Kill Cetaceans
Airgun Technology Designed to Aid in the Mapping of the Marine Subsurface

Whaling was banned in many countries in 1969 because some species of cetacean were near extinction.  Globally, the commercial whaling industry was essentially ended in the late 1980s.  In 1982 the International Whaling Commission (IWC) placed a moratorium on commercial whaling.  The purpose of the IWC is the conservation and safeguarding of cetaceans and other marine mammals to allow the recovery of pre-industrial whaling levels.  However, countries such as Norway, Iceland, and Japan oppose the IWC moratorium and support commercial whaling.  Aboriginal whaling is allowed to continue on a subsistence basis but not as a commercial activity.  There has been a paradigm shift from whales being regarded as a commercial commodity to becoming a spectacle.  Over the past few decades, whale watching has become a significant industry in its own.  In some countries whale watching has replaced whaling, while in others the two industries coexist.  The marine seismic airgun opponents view cetaceans as spectacles that need to be protected and preserved.  Whalers see cetaceans as a commodity.  The cultural battle grounds are in place around the world, from the protesting of marine seismic surveys offshore the east coast of the United States to The Great Australian Bight in Australia.  Airguns are currently the best energy source to use to accomplish survey objectives.  At the same time, the marine seismic survey commercial industry is relatively new and much is still unknown about its long-term impact on cetaceans and other marine animals.  Marine seismic surveyors endeavor to take measures and develop technologies to minimize the impact of their methods and equipment, such as airguns, on cetaceans, and other marine animals to satisfy customer requirements, but whose principal objective concern is analyzing and processing seismic, and other geophysical data, to produce useful maps that will reduce drilling risks. 

The [oil and gas] industry is slow to change, But certainly, I’ll be happy when it happens.

Stephen Chelminski, Geophysicist who DEveloped AIRGUN TECHNOLOGY and is currently working on marine vibrator technology

For good ideas and true innovation, you need human interaction, conflict, argument, debate.

Margaret Heffernan

As a young man, I took a trip to Seattle, Washington, USA.  In some bookshop I saw a pin that read, “Save the whales, what did the cows do wrong?”  I have been on many whale watching trips and enjoyed rare occasions of seeing cetaceans from the seismic vessels that I worked on.  I was raised and lived my younger adult life in the western US.  From this vantage point, void of any tangible socio-economic or cultural ties to whaling, whales were simply magnificent marine life visible without having to dawn scuba gear.  Cattle, on the other hand, defines the American west.  Cinema and television have glorified the rancher cowboy and cattle driver.  Cattle may roam the land of the American west, but they do so as property with “brands.”  Cattle are bred for beef, and another bred for dairy.  Beef and Dairy are traded commodities, and their population controlled through market demand.  In the US west, much of the Federal government land is leased to ranchers to graze their cattle.  Ranching and dairy production are commercial industries.  Cattle were not native to North America.  Prior to the (predominantly) European colonial conquest and expansion into western North America, bison – or buffalo – grazed the plains and grasslands.  These nomadic Native North American peoples subsisted on bison.  However, the commercial hunting of bison took the 60 million precolonial bison population to under 1000 in the late 19th century.  Private reserves and US Federal intervention prevented the extinction of the bison.  Bison population is only a small percentage of precolonial numbers.  Domestic cattle have taken over the rangeland.

Parties to the International Convention on the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW) disagree about the necessity for continuing the moratorium on the commercial hunting of whales.  In fact, some believe that commercial whaling can be good for managing cetacean populations.  Whalers recognized that over-whaling has a negative impact on profits.  So, economic self-interest ultimately led whalers to take action to conserve the resource upon which they depended.  However, the United States, Great Britain, Australia and other nations supported the moratorium on whaling, not because the need to allow for more time for cetacean population recovery and management, but because certain nations believe whales have a right to life.  And with any moratorium on seismic airgun testing, cetaceans have the right to a pleasant life.  This position is no longer a strictly environmental viewpoint, it is an ethical viewpoint.  The same young man who visited the bookshop in Seattle, also was an avid hiker and backpacker who lived in New Mexico and loved The Land of Enchantment.  In fact, I was a member of the environmental group, The Sierra Club.  The Sierra Club is known for encouraging an appreciation for nature and the environment through sponsoring and leading hikes through such areas.  In fact, I led some hikes as a member of the local chapter of the club.  Because cattle can be grazed on Federal government land, which is also land which could be used for hiking, hikers would often encounter cattle and or their excrement along the trails. 

As a hiker, I didn’t like to encounter domesticated excrement.  At the same time, I was not bothered at all to spot a deer or bighorn sheep or come across their scat.  At some point, I made a decision to become a vegetarian.  My reasoning was that if I did not want to encounter cattle poop, I could not support the industry that used the same land I enjoyed for hiking to make hamburgers an affordable food choice.  I want to add that I also ran into hunters on these trails during certain times of the year.  I always felt that hunters had a better appreciation for the environment than many environmentalists did.  Food chains need predators, and many had been killed by ranchers or other livestock owners who had a commercial interest in protecting their cattle population.  Hunters at least understand that meat doesn’t just pop-up cellophane wrapped.  It was a living creature once.  And here is my ethical dilemma with saving the whales: whales at least are free range.  Fish populations, such as northeast North America cod, have also been overfished.  Wild fish stocks have been depleted through overfishing globally and have been replaced with fish farms.  Cattle are grazed and then sent to feedlots to be fattened-up prior to slaughter.  Chicken and pigs are factory farmed.  The short lives of these creatures prior to slaughter is cruel and deplorable.  But, out of sight, out of mind.  The point is, eating KFC is likely a less ethical food choice than eating whale, if you examine the quality of life of the creature prior its being killed.  What can’t be lost is that chicken tends to also be some of the cheapest meat to buy. 

We know, at least, that this decision (ending factory farming) will help prevent deforestation, curb global warming, reduce pollution, save oil reserves, lessen the burden on rural America, decrease human rights abuses, improve public health, and help eliminate the most systematic animal abuse in history..

Jonathan Safran Foer, Eating Animals

Humans regard animals as worthy of protection only when they are on the verge of extinction.,

Paul Craig Roberts

Modern human lifestyle consumes vast amounts of energy.  Coal fueled the industrial revolution in the 18th and 19th century and powered the steam engine.  Steam engines had more to do with the demise and near extinction of both cetaceans and bison.  Faster whaling ships, coupled with both onshore and offshore processing of carcasses, made killing whales too easy – to the point that some species neared extinction.  Oil became the dominant fuel in the 20th century and remains so today.  Offshore crude oil accounts for around 30% of the global demand for oil.  According to Wikipedia, raising animals for human consumption accounts for approximately 40% of the total amount of agricultural output in industrialized countries. Grazing occupies 26% of the earth’s ice-free terrestrial surface, and feed crop production uses about one third of all arable land.  The human footprint has expanded and destroyed many natural habitats and taken a number of creatures to, or near the brink of, extinction, not only cetaceans.  The real question that needs to be addressed is what lifestyle choices of convenience are we really willing to give-up?  The majority of humans enjoy having electricity to keep all of our appliances going.  This includes our cell phones and laptop computers, as well as our refrigerators to keep food cold.  It includes our food choices.  Many humans enjoy the convenience of automobiles and airplane travel.  Saving the whales – or prioritizing their collective welfare – does not really make one an environmentalist.  There is a litany of lifestyle choices that contribute to our energy consumption that impacts the planet.  You cannot really be for saving the whales if you enjoy eating hamburgers bought at a drive-through window.

If there were no customers for offshore oil, there would be no marine seismic – or other geophysical – exploration.  There would be no need for airguns.  So, yes, let’s improve how energy is consumed.  Let’s explore and develop renewable energy resources where we can.  And let’s continue to improve the sources used in the marine seismic experiment.  Let’s try to minimize the impact that exploring for resources offshore makes.  Let’s improve our monitoring of cetaceans and make sure that airguns are not used when cetaceans are nearby.  Let’s continue to develop marine seismic vibrator’s as sources.  Marine seismic airguns have not really been used so long.  The real impact on the different species of cetaceans is not fully understood.  Nevertheless, concerns must be listened to and addressed.  Those in the marine seismic industry, or offshore oil and gas industry, are not focused on destroying the environment or in harming cetaceans.  That’s not the objective.  The objective is to make better maps so that drilling is safer and less risky.  Protesting over activities that you do not agree with is important for citizens.  But, protesting offshore activity is only meaningful when it is accompanied by a supporting lifestyle choice.  Protesting airguns will only make a difference if your personal lifestyle choices do not include the necessity for offshore oil.  And when this is true, marine airgun exploration will be unnecessary.

Man’s law changes with his understanding of man. Only the laws of the spirit remain always the same..

Native American Crow Tribe Saying

Forests and meat animals compete for the same land. The prodigious appetite of the affluent nations for meat means that agribusiness can pay more than those who want to preserve or restore the forest. We are, quite literally, gambling with the future of our planet – for the sake of hamburgers,

Peter Singer, Animal Liberation

Submitting Grievances and Whistleblowing as a Foreign Worker

Submitting Workplace Grievances and Whistleblowing as a Foreign Worker

Submitting Grievances and Whistleblowing as a Foreign Worker – Part One: The Ambush Meeting

  • Submitting Grievances and Whistleblowing as a Foreign Worker - Part One The Ambush Meeting

By administrative-injustice-legal-blame’ model I mean ‘investigations’ focusing on finding ‘unreasonable’ actions influenced by the negligence Bolam definition of failing and which results in un-remediated ‘injustice’.  This whole model is inherited from negligence claims and is very different and often totally contrary to the goal of finding out why harm was caused and how to prevent it.

Richard von Abendorff, Why finding ‘maladministration’ is a flawed model

It is worth mentioning that compromise agreements, at whatever level, are used widely in the NHS, the private sector and other parts of the public sector. That does not necessarily mean that someone has been stopped from speaking about patient safety, and to connect the two all the time is erroneous and wrong.

David Nicholson, The price of silence: to what extent is the NHS gagging whistleblowers?

Question:
Can a UK employer legally simultaneously apply to continue sponsoring a foreign worker on a Tier 2 SOL Visa (15 July 2013) as well as initiate disciplinary actions based on poor performance (13 June 2013)?

2013 Petroleum Geo-Services ASA (PGS), Norway Compliance: Rune Olav Pedersen, PGS General Counsel and Terje Bjølseth, PGS SVP Global HR. PGS Exploration (UK) Limited [PGSUK] Directors: Jon Erik Reinhardsen, PGS CEO and President ; Gottfred Langseth, PGS CFO and EVP,; Christin Steen Nilsen, PGS Chief Accountant; Candida Pinto, PGSUK Secretary/lawyer (resigned 13 September 2013. Legal firm Watson, Farley and Williams provided advice on submitted documentation.

As a US citizen, I was sponsored for employment by a company in England whose parent company is based in Norway. The initial three-year sponsorship was ending, and I was applying for a leave to remainor to renew my and my dependent family member visas. The company in England was in the process of renewing their sponsorship of my Tier 2 visa. The application process based on Shortage Occupation List (SOL) was not trivial nor inexpensive and required the intentional and directed involvement of company agents. The company had even engaged a legal firm specializing in Tier 2 visa sponsorship to review the documentation submitted to the UK Border Agency to facilitate a successful application process so that I could legally work in the UK. The process additionally included processing applications for my dependent wife and school aged children. Of course, as one can imagine, as a foreign worker especially, the visa application renewal process was a principal concern and interest of mine.

Unfortunately, there had been issues in the workplace for several months. These issues came to a head about a month before (13 June 2013) my leave to remain application processing and continued Tier 2 sponsorship had been approved. I had been invited to a distressing meeting on very short notice by the human resources (HR) manager, my first line supervisor, and his boss. Following this watershed event in my working life, I sent an e-mail and requested an explanation as to what had just happened from the HR Manager? I was denied all of my requests made within my e-mail to the HR Manager. Many troubling assertions were made during this meeting, and I wanted to address them head-on. Most notable of my requests was whether the meeting was compliant to the company’s policy and procedures. Given the tone and topic of the meeting, it seemed unconscionable to me that minutes were being withheld. I knew at this point that something wrong was happening to me, but I was powerless because my legal right of redress was being perverted and obstructed. I was near positive that policy and procedures and my rights under contract of employment were being breached.


The PGS Exploration (UK) Limited [PGSUK] Workplace Bully/Bullies Ambush Meeting. Minutes of the meeting were withheld. PGSUK never addressed whether the meeting followed PGSUK policy and procedures. Why?

What if the meeting was not compliant to the company’s policy and procedures? What was the legality of being denied constructive, correct and thorough answers to workplace questions in a timely and professional manner? Would I have been submitting a workplace grievance or blowing the whistle? At the time, I had no idea what was happening to me. I have a better idea now, years too late, through reading about topics of workplace bullying, harassment and abuse. What I had just experienced is referred to in bullying literature as an ambush meeting, a tactic often (always!) used by workplace bullies against their targets. The HR manager was intentionally obfuscating the event which he likely knew very well was neither compliant nor legal under law and employment contract. The HR manager was now misdirecting the event to become a disciplinary action rather than a grievance. But, I was a foreign worker being sponsored under Tier 2 SOL visa provisions. The employer had made legal claims regarding my competence and abilities to the UK Border Agency that allowed me to work in the UK and displace a local worker. Simply, it did not make sense that a “poor performer” could be legally employed on a Tier 2 visa. Could they? BUT, poor performance is a legitimate reason to terminate an normal resident employee in the UK. This is what the HR manager knew very well!

Workplace Bully Ambush Meeting – IMG 1/2
Workplace Bully Ambush Meeting – IMG 2/2
Ambush Meeting – Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI) Namie Video

There are things you learn best in calm, and some in storm.

Willa Cather

In my work with the defendants, I was searching for the nature of evil and I now think I have come close to defining it. A lack of empathy. It’s the one characteristic that connects all the defendants, a genuine incapacity to feel with their fellow men.

Captain G. M. Gilbert, the Army psychologist , Nuremberg trails (1945-1949)
Recommended Workplace Grievance Process – Headline
How UK Employers Should Deal with Grievances – ACAS

HR Manager Response to Ambush Meeting Query. My career and reputation was being threatened, but supporting documentation was intentionally withheld to pervert the course of justice / obstruct my legal right under contract to file a grievance.

Can a UK employer legally simultaneously apply to continue sponsoring a foreign worker on a Tier 2 SOL Visa (15 July 2013) as well as initiate disciplinary actions based on poor performance (13 June 2013)? I had never been provided with information by the HR manager or company directors which definitively addressed these important issues constructively. I never received confirmation that company policy and procedures, as well as UK labor standards were being followed. Mind you, the bullies through HR were essentially threatening my professional reputation and livelihood during the meeting. Yet, in spite of the seriousness of the matter, I was being intentionally denied information and documentation to act on. I saw this all as unfair, unreasonable, and unprofessional. I still do. The company had challenged me to a duel, but was not allowing me to defend myself. It clearly was a violation of the company’s published Core Values and Code of Conduct. Further to this, I was a foreigner in a foreign land being treated this way, which made it all even more distressing.

These presented e-mails showed that there was a conspiracy to withhold actionable information from an employee. (This information was discovered through a Data Protection Act 1998 subject access request.) The employee had essentially been forced to leave their employment because of misrepresentations (lies) and withholding of actionable information, such as the ambush meeting minutes. Isn’t this fraud? In lieu of the minutes to the 13 June 2013 ambush meeting, a letter was written that captured many of the (unsubstantiated) claims which were made during the meeting. What was not immediately apparent at the time was that the letter had transcended the ambush meeting participants. The letter was written and signed by the manager of HR on behalf of the UK company. The UK company was directed by Norwegian parent company executives, including the CEO/President and the CFO/EVP (executive vice-president). A lawyer who worked for the UK company served as secretary. So, this lawyer essentially wrote the letter signed by the HR Manager (24 July 2013). Therefore, if there was a breach in policy, procedure, or employment and contract law, it was not only understood and approved by these company directors and secretary, but was part of a nefarious (criminal?) conspiracy. In other words, any non-compliance or breach in policy or law would have been carried out intentionally and with comprehension of any legal violations or ramifications. This would include any duplicitous information provided to UK Border Agency to affect the Tier 2 SOL visa.


Bullies Ambush Meeting Conspiracy and Cover-up. Meeting participants are denying me my legal right to complain.

Bullies Ambush Meeting Conspiracy and Cover-up. Meeting participants are denying me my legal right to complain. (First Mail – discovered through a subject access request (SAR) citing the UK Data Protection Act 1998 in October-December 2014.
Bullies Ambush Meeting Conspiracy and Cover-up. Meeting participants are denying me my legal right to complain. (Second Mail – discovered through a subject access request (SAR) citing the UK Data Protection Act 1998 in October-December 2014.

Ambush Letter produced in Lieu of Providing Requested Ambush Meeting (13 June 2013) Minutes – Part 1
Ambush Letter produced in Lieu of Providing Requested Ambush Meeting (13 June 2013) Minutes – Part 2

Ambush Letter produced in Lieu of Providing Requested Ambush Meeting (13 June 2013) Minutes – End of Letter Part 3
The UK Companies Act 2006 – General Duties of Directors
UK Companies Act 2006 – Role of Secretary
Code of Conduct – UK Law Society
UK Whistleblowing – Public Interest Disclosure Act [PIDA]
The Norwegian Code of Practice for Corporate Governance – Ethics
Whistleblowing and Norway’s Working Environment Act 2015

As a foreign worker, the mistreatment was very distressing. At the time, I was unfamiliar with the concept of workplace bullying, mobbing, and the tactic of the ambush meeting. At the same time, I had been an employee most of my life and had a conceptual understanding of fair and legal employment practices. Prior to my work in the marine seismic survey industry, I had been employed with various entities under or contracted by the US Department of Defense (DoD). During that time I had completed management training which covered US employment laws and best practices. Work attached to the US Federal government is especially sensitive to issues that would place the US government, as an employer or contractor, in legal jeopardy. I also understood the importance of proper and justified documentation. Even though US employment is known to be at will, it did not mean that employee rights could completely be trampled on. However, in the UK my employment was bound by an employment contract which is supposed to provide more worker protections and avenues of redress. I can honestly say that I did not completely understand the performance improvement plan, except that I reasoned that it could not be put into effect unless it was backed thoroughly by documented evidence. I was confident that no such evidence or justification existed. I had never experienced HR being so involved in the evaluation of my work performance. I did not even work with the HR department and the HR Manager had no direct knowledge of my work. I remained committed to follow through on my initial instinct and challenge and respond to the propriety and merits of the Investigation into possible implementation of a performance improvement plan (PIP) with a grievance.

At this point, it’s really important that you don’t get caught up in shaming or blaming. Just answer the question and give your spouse or partner room to do to the same. You are simply noticing what aligns with your values and what doesn’t.

CaRL RICHARDS

Your relationship with your line manager may give a clue as to the real reason for the PIP. The importance of workplace relationships should not be underestimated; it is frequently the case that contention in the workplace is down to a personality clash. Many individuals who are put on a PIP can cite an underlying motive which has nothing to do with the standard of their work and more a breakdown of personalities.

Philip landau
The Geo-Services Industry

Paul Pelletier – Public Salon: – Workplace Bullying

###

Institutional Betrayal, DARVO, Workplace Mobbing, Gaslighting, and the Geo-Services Professional

One trick is to pull a little bait and switch on your own brain. It goes like this: When the urge comes to do the counterproductive thing, don’t resist. Instead, replace.

Carl Richards

When a person trusts that a system designed to defend, respond, protect, or seek justice will do its job after an interpersonal trauma, and when that system either chooses not to respond (omission) or worse, chooses to lay blame at the feet of the victim (commission), institutional betrayal occurs.

Phil Monroe, Institutional Betrayal: Secret Ingredient to PTSD

According to research by psychologist Jennifer Freyd, PhD, when wrong-doers are confronted with their acts (which may be criminal), they show a pattern that can be abbreviated as DARVO, which stands for Deny, Attack, and Reverse Victim and Offender.  Victims of wrong-doers have a need for the truth to be revealed and for justice.  But, the proclivity of the toxic and narcissistic organization is to suppress such truth, protect the wrong-doers and evade responsibility by denying the truth and attacking the victim.  Therefore, rather than a victim making specific public allegations that will invoke such focused attacks and reprisals, it is perhaps safer and more productive to illuminate patterns of behavior, grounded in research, that will enlighten and protect potential future victims of institutional betrayal, while giving credence to current victims’ narratives.   In institutional betrayal, power and prestige within the institution is preserved through protecting the wrong-doer over the victim.  Victims place their trust in institutions based on expectations that the institution is worthy of their trust.  Stakeholders in the institution trust that the published institution core values, policy, and procedures are in place to protect their own, as well as other institutional stakeholder’s, vested interests.  After all, the main objective of publishing such information within business proposals and annual reports is to inculcate such feelings of trust in the values of the institution and its leadership.  When institutions do not respond in accordance to their espoused values, they betray this trust and in such cases, this betrayal of trust can be more traumatizing to the victims than the initial perpetrated wrong-doing, according to Betrayal Trauma Theory (BTT).   

Institutional DARVO
Institutional Betrayal

Mobbing is the nonsexual harassment of a coworker by a group of other workers or members of an organization of the one who is targeted.  The term psychological terrorism is also used to describe workplace mobbing.  Mobbing is not a conflict over facts and reasons.  Mobbing is a form of genocide where the objective is to eliminate the target that poses a threat to the power structure, influence, and reputation of the institution, and more precisely, its leadership.  Workplace mobbing tactics often are used against whistleblowers – workers who report concerns about illegal or unethical behavior in the workplace.  Mobbing requires the support of top management.  Mobbing cannot be sustained without the permission and/or direction from top-management.  The damage done to a person through workplace mobbing is an injury, not an illness.  Fundamentally, it is a workplace health and safety issue.  Therefore, there is always an effort by top-management to skirt responsibility and accountability for their intentional or negligent injurious actions.  The objective is to make the workplace so miserable for the target that they will leave voluntarily without a fight.  Workplace mobbing and bullying results in a number of health injuries and consequences for both the target, as well as his/her family.   The fabric of relationships within the organization is damaged and the victim of mobbing has suffered an injury that can be life threatening.  Victims of mobbing are documented to become ill and die prematurely or commit suicide.  Mobbing is violent health-harming abuse perpetrated through the abuse of authoritative power and a profound breach of trust.

Gaslighting is an insidiously cruel form of sociopathic narcissistic psychological manipulation and abuse often practiced to gain power and control over a target.   The objective of the gaslighting is to cause the target to lose their sense of identity and perception of what’s really happening around them.  The term originates from the 1938 stage play, GaslightIn the play, a husband dims the gas lights while he searches for jewels that he believes were hidden in the attic by his wife’s aunt, who was murdered in the apartment which his wife inherited.  The wife notices the dimming gas light, as well as other strange goings-on.  The husband tries to persuade her that she is imagining the light change, and other things.  The objective is to replace the truth with a lie.  The term gaslighting is now used colloquially to describe efforts to manipulate someone’s perception of reality.  Gaslighter’s will use persistent lying, denial, misdirection and contradiction to destabilize the victim’s beliefs and make them doubt their perceptions of events.  In the workplace, for instance, an individual who reports or discloses being harassed and bullied, or other workplace behaviors that may contradict their understanding of policy, or even the law, may become targets of gaslighting.  Gaslighter’s may try to make the victim believe that no wrong-doing has occurred and that they are just coping badly with “work performance” or other unrelated issues.  Gaslighting and workplace mobbing, or gang-bullying, can be applied together in a collective effort to force the target out of their job in retaliation for disclosing and revealing such wrong doing.  Mobbing and gaslighting are tactics used to force whistleblowers out of the workplace.

DARVO also exists on an organizational level. When a company or organization is complicit with the accused who employs the same strategy, it’s “institutional DARVO,” and what Freyd calls a form of betrayal.

Ashley Judd

And leadership is even more frightened that they might lose power, so any signs of “trouble” can easily be perceived as threats to that power.

Janice Harper, PhD, Just Us Justice

What is the difference between lying and fraud?  At what point does telling lies go from being a poor decision to a violation of the law?  Fraud is an intentional false representation intended to mislead the receiver to their detriment.  Courts will often look at what the liar(s) gain if the lie is believed and what harm is caused to the person who relied on truthful information.  If the victim believed the lie and acted as if it were true and suffered some sort of injury because of the betrayal in trust, there could be liability for fraud.  Denying or ignoring the truthful narrative of a victim is a lie and a betrayal, and a particularly pernicious form of denial is DARVO.  Organizations, like people, have an incentive to protect their ideal image.  Organizations have attributes and personalities formed by the decisions and actions of directors and top-management.  It is these decisions and actions which form the institution or corporate character.  This is not to be confused with the published corporate values, mission statements, and annual reports, which are created to form an ideal perception of the corporate character.  Narcissism describes a self-absorbed person.  Narcissists are prone to frequent lies and exaggerations and enjoy getting away with violating rules and social norms.  Narcissists project a false idealized image of themselves and use or control others as an extension of themselves.  The narcissistic organization becomes similarly self-absorbed in protecting an ideal identity above dealing with contrasting reality.  When agents of organizations gang-bully and gaslight targets in the workplace, it above all involves a conspiratorial myriad of intentional false representations intended to mislead and change the targets perception of true events to their detriment.

Participants in the atrocities and genocide carried out by Nazi Germany justified their actions on following the orders of superiors, or obedience to authority.  Could it be that the millions of accomplices in the Holocaust were just following orders?  In 1961, US Yale University psychologist, Stanley Milgram, began his famous experiments into analyzing obedience to authority.  The Milgram Experiment wanted to determine if ordinary people are likely to follow orders given by an authority figure, even to the extent of killing an innocent human being.  Obedience to authority is ingrained in us all from the way we are brought up.  People tend to obey orders from other people if they recognize their authority as morally right and/or legally based. This response to legitimate authority is learned in a variety of situations, for example in the family, school, and workplace.  The experiment concluded that ordinary people are likely to follow orders given by an authority figure, even to the extent of killing an innocent human being.  Ordinary kind and humane people can easily become sadistic under certain conditions.  When someone in a position of leadership makes it clear that certain individuals are undesirable, these targets may be mistreated, shunned, and even falsely accused of misconduct and crimes.  If people believe that they will not be held accountable for their actions, and the more they see others acting aggressively without sanction, the more likely they will behave aggressively.  However, if people were reminded that they had responsibility for their own actions, almost none of them were prepared to obey. 

It is important to remember that the heinous genocide and elimination of those deemed socially undesirable during of the Holocaust was not only legal, but also a principal objective of the authoritative Nazi regime in power.  There was, and would have been, reprisal and punishment to those citizens who thwarted those objectives.  Nevertheless, many charged in carrying out these objectives were punished, and even executed, following the Allied trials that followed the conclusion of the Allied victory of World War 2.  In the Milgram experiment, teacher subjects were allowed to dispense punishment to “learners” under the direction and authority of the Yale University researcher.  Yale University’s reputation provided additional allegiance and obedience to follow these instructions.  Further, the teachers were not enfranchised in the Yale University organization.  They were not fellow researchers with an understanding of the experiment or knowledge of human psychology.  Mobbing and gaslighting behavior may be authorized by leaders – those holding authoritative decision-making power – of organizations, but those who follow the sole instruction of authority are also agents who have pronounced their commitment to uphold laws, organization policy, and organization values. 

We should never forget that everything Adolph Hitler did in Germany was “legal” and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was “illegal.” It was “illegal” to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler’s Germany.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Retaliation against whistleblowers is common and severe and includes negative job performance evaluations, micromanagement, isolation, loss of job, and blacklisting.

Kathy Ahern, PhD., RN, Institutional Betrayal and Gaslighting: Why Whistleblowers are So Traumatized

Gang-bullies and gaslighter’s breach all of these commitments and provide their allegiance to corrupt wrong-doers with authoritative power.  Categorically, this not “professional” behavior.  Beyond this, the law and organization policy most certainly advocate the intervention by professionals to not follow lawless, arbitrary and capricious authority that can seriously endanger the health and well-being of a coworker.  For any policy not to state this would be malpractice.   (This was not the case in Nazi Germany.)  Joining the mob and protecting corrupt leadership may enable employees to secure benefit and promotions for helping management eliminate a “difficult” employee – the whistleblower – or the target of discriminatory or abusive treatment.  Isn’t this bribery for the purpose of perverting the course of justice? Anyone who threatens the narcissistic delusion of the organization has put themselves in jeopardy.  In a safe and functional organization, disclosures are handled according to both the law and policy.  Whistleblowing tends to refer to disclosures which are not handled appropriately and result in acts of retaliation and reprisal against those who make protected disclosures.  So, why is providing protected disclosure – or whistleblowing – about organization wrong-doing so dangerous and damaging for professionals who do so, when just the opposite should be true?

Transparency International, U4 Expert Report

When what should happen is quite the opposite to what the employee who discloses wrong-doing is experiencing, cognitive dissonance is created.  There is a betrayal of trust which undermines one’s sense of reality and confidence.  Most whistleblowers disclose with the belief that the organization leadership will be just as troubled by the reported behavior as they are.  The whistleblower has been promised by the organization that disclosures will be handled fairly and effectively.  It is a legal and fiduciary promise made by leadership.  When the whistleblower begins to see the published proclamations as false assurances and is at the receiving end of unabashed reprisals, this distresses the whistleblower immensely.  Many whistleblowers experience long-term Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD).  Disclosing organization wrong-doing often implicates higher level executives, directly or indirectly.  DARVO occurs when the perpetrator, which could be an organization, literally accuses the victim of doing something specific that they did.  For instance, if you accuse perpetrators of defamation for evaluating your performance arbitrarily and not in accordance to the organization performance management system, as is common for workplace bullies and the mob, the perpetrator will deny the bullying and claim your accusations are defamatory.  The organization will protect the improperly empowered wrong-doers.  There will be no fair investigation or resolution, in contradiction to the written policy.  The victim of harassment/bullying by the mob will likely be terminated and blacklisted, all the while the narcissistic organization will preserve the myth of being guided by high values and fairness.  This is an orchestrated deception.

Betrayal is very threatening to our survival as humans.  When former colleagues and professionals assist in the elimination of the betrayed target, it comes as a shock.  It is very painful and confusing to the target who cannot understand what’s going on?  The betrayed target is likely to be enraged at the trusted institution and fellow employees who have breached their trust and demonstrated cowardice and lack of moral fortitude.  Once former colleagues align themselves with the immoral mob, there can be no redemption.  An initial moment of guilt may occur with the initial small betrayal.  This is followed by anger at the target because being angry with the corrupted power structure and calling them out is too risky.  The anger is fueled by fear and guilt that they have become accomplices in evil and compromised their own principles by betraying the target.  Following the initial betrayal, the subsequent lies and betrayals increase in intensity.  The problem is that eventually the betrayals will be discovered.  The mob must create justifications for their decisions that support the false narrative of events aligned with the corrupt power structure that oversaw the gaslighting and manipulation in the workplace which was orchestrated to eliminate the target.  The mob would like to frame the targets reaction as unhinged, when it is entirely normal for a betrayed person or victim to act as a betrayed person or victim.  The participants within the mob must collectively maintain the mythological institution identity or face internal or external legal reprisals and accountability.  They do this knowingly to protect a hypocritical and corrupted power structure and false institution identity at the expense of the victim.                          

Every life is a test but, in the workplace, few are tested more than whistleblowers.  The act of whistleblowing is a comprehensive test of the whistleblower’s values, loyalties, and above all their self-worth.  The whistleblower who survives, survives these tests. 

K. R. Sawyer, The Test Called Whistleblowing

Whistleblowers are “not” wimps. They are mighty men and women of valor as Jesus Christ was when He overturned the tables of “The Den of Thieves” who were using His Father’s House to make money.

Margaret Kannaday, Jesus: The Whistleblower

Mistreatment of workers in the workplace has always existed.  At the same time, more recently a growing attention has been given to issues such as workplace harassment, bullying, and mobbing.   In 1976, Carroll M. Brodsky, a psychologist and anthropologist, opened the discussion of workplace abuse with his book The Harassed Worker looking at the outcomes and accidents from worker stress and exhaustion.  In the mid-1980s research by psychologist and pedagogist Heinz Leymann began further investigating workplace stress and introduced our modern concept of workplace bullying and mobbing.  Workplace bullying and mobbing are identified as principal workplace health and safety hazards.  Workplace environments where mobbing and bullying occur have been antecedent to both the Piper Alpha (1988) and the Deepwater Horizon (2010) offshore oil rig disasters.  The Piper Alpha disaster cost the lives of 167 offshore workers and was the deadliest offshore disaster.  The Deepwater Horizon is the largest offshore environmental disaster and it also cost the lives of eleven (11) offshore workers.  Workplaces environments where there are feelings of economic uncertainty from downsizing and restructuring leave fewer people to do more work and also make the competition for positions intense seem to fuel harassment, bullying and mobbing cultures.  While the cyclic oil and gas industry that employs geo-services professionals is not unique in terms of harvesting workplace conditions conducive to workplace harassment, bullying and mobbing, but is especially susceptible during down cycles which exacerbate uncertainty.

Much of the research work by Freyd focuses on sexual offenders and identifies a form of institutional betrayal, which is a negative reaction when an assault is reported.  This negative response by the organization adds additional trauma to the victim beyond the interpersonal violation.  The comment that is often heard, “The rape was bad, but what was even worse was how I was treated after the rape occurred.”  Institutional DARVO occurs when DARVO is committed by an institution (or with institutional complicity).  Institutional DARVO is when an institution minimizes – sometimes to the point of ignoring – the harms done to the victim(s) and frames the alleged perpetrations in such a way to blame the victim and protect the perpetrators.  An example of institutional DARVO would include to institutional leaders responding to disclosures by gaslighting victims into thinking they do not have a sufficient understanding of policy and practice and that there was no non-compliant or illegal behavior.  In the case of bullying and mobbing, the ruse of “poor performance” is often used as a justification for mistreatment.  Institutions may also obstruct the victims redress through outright lying about policy and legal obligations of the institution.  Institution betrayal really boils down to leadership corrupting the processes of redress in order to avoid culpability.  The institution does not follow their own rules and decisions are made with arbitrary caprice. 

Milgram demonstrated the power of authority over the minds and wills of ordinary people.  Milgram’s experiment was conducted following the trial of Otto Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem.  Eichmann was executed in 1962.  The trial was followed closely by the media and was the inspiration for several books.  One of the more famous books was written by Hannah Arendt.  Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem coined the phrase “the banality of evil” to describe Eichmann.  Banal evil is characterized by a belief that what one is doing is not evil, rather, what they are engaging in is a behavior that is, or has been, normalized by the society in which they reside.  The horrors of the Holocaust, to which Eichmann assisted through overseeing the deportation of many of the Jewish population to the Auschwitz concentration camp, resulted in the murder of about 75 percent upon arrival.  Eichmann was loyally following the laws and carrying out the evil objectives of the Nazi regime.  Institutional betrayal and acts of psychological violence in the workplace, such as harassment, mobbing and bullying is different.  Those who follow the evil dictates of authority are usually acting against the policy and laws.  Such “professionals” are actively and willingly complicit in the destruction of the victim’s professional life and reputation, as well as the family and loved one’s who depend on their betrayed victims.  These acts are evil.  Such behavior is only normalized through the indifference of legal authorities to pursue such evil institution leadership and mob participants.  Scientific research has determined proclivities and patterns followed by abusers and criminals.  Now, institutional governance bodies and law enforcement must actively embrace the research and the body of knowledge it provides to aid victims.  For institutional governance and law enforcement not to do so is a further betrayal to victims and a miscarriage of justice.  Being a victim or doing the right thing should not be dangerous. 

The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the dedicated communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction, true and false, no longer exists.

Hannah Arendt

Consecrated persons, chosen by God to guide souls to salvation, let themselves be dominated by their human frailty or sickness and thus become tools of Satan.

Pope Francis, 2019 Sex Abuse Summit

No Narcissists in Geo-Services – NONGS

No Narcissists in Geo-Services – NoNGS
No Psychopaths in Geo-Services – NoPGS
Characteristics of Psychopaths
No Bullies in Geo-Services – NoBGS

…  we argue that organizations can adopt collective narcissistic identities that will produce wrong (i.e., non-virtuous) behavior. This happens because the organization’s narcissistic identity—including the corresponding motive to protect its identity—is more powerful than a motive to behave morally

Extreme narcissistic organizations want to appear ethical because appearing ethical feeds their narcissism, and so the costs of creating formal ethics programs are small compared to the ego-defense benefits. But such programs are instrumental for the narcissistic identity, not ethical conduct, and therefore will not much affect the behavioral status quo. ~ Organizational Narcissism and Virtuous Behavior

Why Enterprise Compliance Programs Fail (24-April-2016)

Our Deepwater Horizon (4-April-2016)

Workplace Bullying is an Agency Problem and Often a Crime (1-February-2016)

When Human Resources is Corrupt (10-August-2015)

Between the Bully and the Deep Blue Sea (5-June-2015)

Avoiding the Tragedy of Whistleblowing
Bribery – Wikipedia

Bribery is the act of giving or receiving something of value in exchange for some kind of influence or action in return, that the recipient would otherwise not offer. Bribery is defined by Black’s Law Dictionary as the offeringgivingreceiving, or soliciting of any item of value to influence the actions of an official or other person in charge of a public or legalduty.[1] Essentially, bribery is offering to do something for someone for the expressed purpose of receiving something in exchange. – Wikipedia

It is unethical for a lawyer to threaten to present criminal, administrative or disciplinary charges to obtain advantage in a civil dispute.  Blackmail consists of threats made to gain anything of value from the other person, such as money, property or sexual favors.  Extortion constitutes a threat to accuse someone of a crime, or to expose or impute to him/her any significant misconduct, accompanied by a demand for payment “or else.”

Shearing the Trough in Marine Seismic Streamer Acquisition with Nodes

Ocean Bottom Node Seismic Acquisition Challenges High-end Seismic Streamer Acquisition

History is so important. It has been said that the three most important words in the English language are “remember, remember, remember.” 

Carl Richards

Chances multiply when you take them.

Doug Pedersen

Since May 2015, MarineSeismicSurvey (MSS) blog articles have mostly focused on the marine seismic streamer market as a gauge of the health and trend of offshore geophysical exploration.  However, marine seismic streamer activity can no longer be considered singularly in such analysis.  The growing ocean bottom seismic (OBS) market, being forged by ocean bottom node (OBN) technologies, must be taken into account moving forward.  The percentage share of OBS in the marine seismic survey market has been increasing over the past decade, and some analysts are predicting that OBS will command a 30% marine seismic survey market share by 2020 with its continued rise.  This is remarkable for several reasons.  The plunge in oil prices in mid-2014 significantly impacted marine geophysical exploration.  However, marine geophysical exploration has historically been a boom or bust business defined through a litany of bankruptcies, mergers, and acquisitions.  Oil prices have always been cyclic.  Therefore, the trend and buoyancy of the marine geophysical exploration survey industry remains a good indicator for the overall trends and health of the offshore oil and gas industry. 

Marine seismic surveys, in simple terms, map the subsurface points between a source and receiver(s).  For some time, the most time-efficient and cost-effective way to map these points is through narrow azimuth (NAZ) streamer acquisition.  Standard NAZ marine seismic acquisition is where source(s) and streamers are towed together behind a single vessel.  It is principally the cost of the seismic vessel and seismic in-sea equipment that determines the price of a survey.  Surveys are priced on a day rate, square kilometer rate, or the number of these “mid-points”, or common depth points (CDPs) mapped.  Because each source, almost always an air gun blast or “shot”, maps to the number of receiver sensors located on the streamer cables, there has been an incentive to tow as many streamers as possible to reduce time and costs of marine seismic surveys.  To facilitate this, newer marine seismic streamer vessels have steadily become larger and more powerful.  They are also more expensive to equip and operate.  OBS acquisition has been slower and more expensive method.  However, OBS is seen to provide better data quality.  There have been notable technology innovations introduced into the marine seismic streamer market during the past decade to improve data quality.  Similarly, more powerful computing power has improved final data quality and imaging of marine seismic streamer acquisition.

The marine seismic streamer market has always been tenuous and competitive.  In late 2013, CGG acquired Fugro GeoScience’s marine seismic streamer fleet.  Fugro exited the marine seismic streamer market before the mid-2014 plunge in oil prices.  However, they retained their OBS capability as a joint venture with CGG which is Seabed GeoSolutions.  OBS data was regarded as “better” because it was derived from multi-component (2-4) sensors, whereas seismic streamer data sensors were single component.  One of the problems with marine seismic streamer data was the loss of recorded bandwidth which correlates to depth that sources and streamers are towed.  This loss of bandwidth is known as a “ghost notch” caused from upcoming energy cancelling down-coming energy from the water surface.  In 2007, a dual-sensor towed streamer was introduced into the market that could rival OBS data quality.  In 2009, the first dual-sensor 3D survey was carried out, ushering in an industry wide embrace of “broadband” seismic streamer data.  Another way to acquire broadband seismic data from single-sensor streamers is through varying the depth of the streamers and then applying sophisticated data processing algorithms.  In 2013, a 4-component streamer was introduced into the market. As vessels got larger and towed larger spreads, there also became a need for improved streamer control equipment. 

Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.

Steve Jobs

We are witnessing a seismic change in consumer behavior. That change is being brought about by technology and the access people have to information.

Howard Schultz

While there have been remarkable innovations and advances in marine seismic streamer acquisition technologies and techniques, advances have also been made in OBS that are together transforming marine geophysical business model paradigms.  In a competitive market, innovation is essential.  However, conservative concession operators have shown a reluctance to pay any premium for such innovations.  Within the MSS blog article, Toward a New Horizon in the Marine Seismic Streamer Industry (24-January-2018), we reminisced about Schlumberger’s seismic acquisition entity, WesternGeco (WG)’s, history and their contributions to the marine seismic industry.  Schlumberger’s CEO, Paal Kibsgaard, announced that the company would exit the marine and land acquisition businesses in January 2018.  The reason essentially boiled down to the return on investment developing and deploying innovative technologies.  The MSS blog article, Upstream Exploration and the Paradox of Choice (5-June-2015), describes how the operator competitive bidding process discourages more expensive innovative proprietary technologies until they are commoditized and offered by a variety of service company providers.  An example of this is in the variety of solutions offered for marine broadband streamer acquisition.  Broadband is commoditized, the specific techniques and equipment used are distinct and vary in equipment and operational costs.

On 15 November 2018, it was announced that relative newcomer, Shearwater GeoServices (Shearwater), had completed the acquisition of the marine seismic acquisition and operations of WG.  Shearwater’s portfolio now includes marine seismic streamer, as well as ocean bottom seismic (OBS) exploration services.  On 27 December 2018, seismic streamer player, Polarcus, announced their winning a combined towed streamer and ocean bottom node (OBN) contract that they will perform cooperatively with SAE Exploration.   Earlier, 7 December 2018, ocean bottom node player, Magseis, acquired Fairfield’s Seismic Technologies data acquisition business to become Magseis Fairfield.  These moves in late 2018 have redefined the marine seismic industry.  Both Magseis and Shearwater are both relative newcomers to their respective principal markets.  Through their acquiring additional marine data acquisition resources, they are now both dominant players.  Shearwater added seven (7) marine seismic streamer vessels to their fleet, as well as three (3) multipurpose source and OBS vessels.  MagSeisFairfield will also have a dominant position in the OBS/OBN market.   

Schlumberger made a decision to exit the data acquisition game.  It has been my position since my first blog post article, The Seismic Vessel Over-Capacity Problem (5-May-2015) that the marine seismic streamer market provides a snapshot of the trends and health of offshore development and overall oil and gas spending and growth.  Both Schlumberger (of which WG was a part) and Fairfield will continue to have a presence in providing seismic data processing, imaging, and multi-client (MC) products and services.  Both Schlumberger and Fairfield are innovators of proprietary technologies in marine seismic acquisition and are currently pursuing claims of patent infringement against their rivals.  Schlumberger’s is challenging ION streamer control technology.  Fairfield’s recent claim of patent infringement of their OBN acquisition technology by Seabed GeoSolutions (SG) are current examples.  Both Shearwater and MagSeisFairfield will quite possibly be in sole possession of cutting edge proprietary data acquisition technologies. 

A century ago, petroleum – what we call oil – was just an obscure commodity; today it is almost as vital to human existence as water.

James Buchan

I think frugality drives innovation, just like other constraints do. One of the only ways to get out of a tight box is to invent your way out.

JefF Bezos

The plunge in oil prices in mid-2014 led most seismic streamer acquisition vessel owners to reduce the number of operating vessels to adapt to the reduced offshore exploration opportunities.  In the near-term, this took a large fleet of capable vessels and equipment off the market.  With reduced demand for oil exploration, seismic streamer vessel fleets have been decimated.  The marine seismic acquisition equation has changed significantly.  Over-capacity in the marine seismic streamer vessel market exists when the number of vessels (streamers) in the market is greater than the demand for data acquisition surveys that will employ such vessels.  In a robust demand market, larger fleets could be deployed strategically to minimize costly uncompensated transit times between surveys.  Equipped streamer vessels are expensive to maintain.  The objective is always to keep vessels working and reduce transit time.  If the marine seismic vessel is on-site, but idle – or on standby – for a variety of reasons, the goal of the vessel owner is to be compensated for the idle time by the contractor.  Of course, the operator/contractor also wants to minimize their incurred expense when vessels are not acquiring data (which meets the contractor data requirements) in the (contract) acquisition business model.  The marine seismic streamer fleet had been steadily adding vessels capable of towing larger streamer spreads, which also meant reduced survey times.  Larger spreads complete surveys in less time.  In a market with reduced opportunities it is even more difficult to keep fleets working steadily and profitably.

In spite of all of these factors, reducing survey time and cost to operators, especially during a time of reduced oil prices, survey cost is the principal consideration.  In times past, in areas of robust exploration, multiple seismic vessels could be working in the same area.  This was problematic for high quality seismic data acquisition.  The sources used by the different survey vessels would impact the seismic data.  Seismic interference, as it was referred to, occurred when the source signal from another survey vessel polluted the recorded records from the primary survey.  Expensive time-sharing agreements would compel seismic vessels to cease data acquisition while the other recorded to reduce seismic source interference.  However, there are now seismic data processing techniques which can separate out unwanted seismic signal, thus again reducing idle time and expense once caused from seismic source interference.  In fact, such data processing has been refined enough to allow surveyors to intentionally overlap source interference.  As mentioned earlier, the points being mapped are essentially the midpoints between the seismic source and receivers.  Adding sources in acquisition and overlapping sources for deblending in data processing is now an offered solution which again reduces survey time and cost, but increases potential vessel idle time.

Geophysical survey customers are cost conscious consumers and are, for the most part, risk adverse and not aggressive using innovative technologies that increase survey costs.  However, geophysical survey customers seem willing to try new technologies and techniques that decrease survey costs.  In such a competitive environment, customers can often get the benefit of both new technology and techniques without a premium cost.  The incentive for vessel owners is to keep the vessels as busy as possible to reduce loss from idle time.  All of these factors do not easily explain the rise in OBS/OBN marine seismic market share so much as the decimation of the marine seismic streamer fleet.  Marine seismic streamer acquisition is still the most time efficient marine seismic acquisition technique.  In times past, offshore project development required that oil prices be above $70 USD/bbl.  This value is not firm, but any trading value of over such an arbitrary threshold provides more opportunities for investment in seismic surveys.  Most frontier exploration initiates with 2D (single streamer) marine seismic surveys.  This data can then be used to evaluate the area and plan subsequent 3D (multiple streamers) marine seismic surveys, which in turn define targets for offshore drilling.  4D marine seismic streamer acquisition is used over existing reservoirs to improve oil recovery.  4D programs are intended to replicate the source and receiver positions of previous 3D surveys and detect changes over time and determine optimal drilling locations. 

The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.

Bill Gates

Predicting oil prices is anyone’s guess.

Soren Skou

In the current market (with oil prices trading below the threshold value for profitably), developing new fields is prohibitive.  OBS/OBN acquisition can focus on developed or trafficked areas where streamer acquisition is hindered by obstructions or other hazards and risks that exists when towing a 1100 m x 8000 m (or larger) streamer spread 5-15 m below the sea surface.  OBS/OBN exploration programs can be more focused on quality over quantity of CDPs.  In other words, getting more oil and gas from already developed fields where there is existing infrastructure in place is less risky than exploring in remote expansive areas.  The improved data processing deblending techniques provide the ability to acquire marine seismic data with multiple overlapping sources.  Add to this more sophisticated interpolation algorithms means new acquisition source-streamer configurations can be employed to reduce survey time and costs.  Less in-sea equipment also has many operational advantages.  Towing wider spreads with fewer streamers can save on fuel and reduce the number of streamer control and positioning equipment to monitor and maintain.  Of course, from a health and safety perspective, reduced maintenance means less risk exposure by offshore workers.

OBN seismic data acquisition is becoming more efficient and less costly to deploy and is now poised to challenge the high-end marine seismic streamer market.  OBS/OBN technology is equipped with multicomponent sensors that can collect full azimuth seismic data.  The step change advances in OBN include longer battery life in nodes and faster automated deployment.  Much the higher cost of OBS/OBN is attributed to time efficiency, where as much of the expense for marine seismic is the large and powerful streamer vessels themselves.  OBN technology can acquire 4D seismic data, as well.  OBN surveys will take market share away from high-end marine seismic streamer surveys, especially as oil prices remain below the offshore development threshold price.  In this cost sensitive environment, cost effective 3D exploration employing a combination of three (3) or more sources and seismic deblending data processing techniques will be attractive for frontier exploration.  Marine seismic streamer and OBN will battle for acquiring data to reach untapped regions of existing developed fields.  This is what I believe will shape the marine geophysical data acquisition market.  As has always been the case, oil prices will continue to control marine seismic market.  Also, as has always been the case, innovation that best solves the problems of customers will win the day.    The plunge in oil prices in mid-2014 significantly impacted marine geophysical exploration.  Marine seismic will remain a boom or bust business defined by bankruptcies, mergers, and acquisitions until there is a paradigm shift in how innovation is embraced by marine seismic survey customers.

Keeping customers is about the experience, and the employees control the culture and temperature of the business. Never forget that.

Steve Wynn

At its heart, engineering is about using science to find creative, practical solutions. It is a noble profession.

Queen Elizabeth II

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Toward a New Horizon in the Marine Seismic Streamer Industry

WesternGeco Seismic Vessel Amazon Warrior

Toward a New Horizon in the Marine Seismic Streamer Industry

 Content Revised 13 November 2013 by Request of Company to Remove their Named Reference

This challenging commercial environment is clearly reflected in the financial statements of standalone acquisition players who are either at or close to bankruptcy, heavily burdened by weak cash flow and high debt….While these stand-alone acquisition players have no other choice than to stay in and fight on to avoid bankruptcy while hoping for a better future, we at Schlumberger do have a choice and we chose to exit the commoditized land and marine acquisition business. ~ Paal Kibsgaard, Schlumberger’s CEO, 19 January 2018 E&P article

Leaders keep their eyes on the horizon, not just on the bottom line. ~ Warren Bennis

I was in the process of preparing to write another blog article in anticipation of the release of Q4 2017 and full year financials from a conglomerate offshore market players when I learned of Schlumberger’s decision to exit the land and marine data acquisition business.  Schlumberger’s CEO, Paal Kibsgaard’s sober analysis of the seismic acquisition market was refreshing in its honesty and should resonate throughout the industry.  I began working in the marine seismic business in 1998 on board the M/V Western Atlas. I was lured by the 6-week rotation schedule that, I hoped, would allow me to travel and see the world.  (I saw the Gulf of Mexico with Western Atlas, but the industry has taken me around the globe.)  I worked for Western Atlas, an offspring of Western Geophysical.  Western Atlas merged with Baker Hughes later on, and then merged with Geco-Prakla to become WesternGeco (WG).  WG was subsequently absorbed by Schlumberger.  The marine seismic business has always been tumultuous.  WG was the arm of Schlumberger mostly identified with the marine and onshore seismic acquisition business, where they have occupied a forefront position.  WG introduced their two Amazon-class vessels into the fledgling market, Amazon Warrior (2014) and Amazon Conqueror  (2015).  In 2013, WG had introduced their high-technology IsoMetrix™ 4-component streamer commercially.  More recently, it was announced that the US Supreme Court would consider Schlumberger/WG’s claim of technology infringement.  Thus, in many ways, WG has left an indelible impression on the marine seismic acquisition market, regardless.  It will be interesting to learn how their resources and technology will be dispersed into the new market reality that will follow their exit.  In many ways, it is hard to conceive of such a market without WGs presence in acquisition.

The recent Q4 2017 vessel utilization numbers were published at the start of 2018 for two pure play marine seismic streamer vessel operators.  WG had operated several marine seismic streamer vessels prior to the mid-2014 crash in oil prices, but stacked many of them.  WG no longer publishes vessel utilization numbers, since WG is a relatively small component of Schlumberger.  Thus, it would have been difficult to gauge the health of the marine seismic acquisition sector through analyzing Schlumberger/WG anyhow.  CGG also reduced their fleet to become more diversified geoscience company.  CGG filed for bankruptcy and reorganized and now has much less presence in the marine seismic streamer acquisition market, as well.  Many of my blog article posts, which began in 2015, have concentrated on pure play marine seismic streamer company performance to understand the health of the deep water exploration and development sector.  Polarcus’ Q4 2017 vessel utilization was 68% and the other company listed 46%, and has further stated that they will reduce their seismic 3D streamer fleet from eight (8) to six (6) operating vessels.  Seismic streamer vessels are the data acquisition platforms and therefore the main revenue generators, or the revenue losers, for marine seismic exploration companies.  So, while we all must await the Q4 2017 and full year 2017 financials to be released, Q4 2017 cannot be a banner quarter for either of them, based on these already released vessel allocation numbers.  Schlumberger/WGs decision to exit the marine and onshore seismic acquisition markets punctuates that no robust resurgence in deep water exploration is anticipated.

On 12 January 2018, the price of oil edged over $70 USD/bbl for the first time in over three years.  This generated some excitement, but this news was obviously not viewed as a life-line for marine seismic service companies.  In previous blog posts, I mentioned that deep water exploration and development required a risk threshold of a minimum oil price of $70 USD/bbl.  Therefore, every dollar above that threshold would represent an opportunity for revenue generation.  However, marine seismic exploration players know that oil eking over such an arbitrary economic threshold is not going to create a bonanza of deep water exploration.  Every dollar over that arbitrary price may open up more money making opportunities for both license operators and exploration companies.  At the same time, every company has their own unique cost base dependent on their business model and objectives which dictates how their resources are managed.   This enterprise specific cost base is much different than any project related cost adjustments related to a seismic survey areas geology and geopolitics.  The $70 USD/bbl oil price threshold mostly speaks to market stability that supports minimal revenue generating opportunities.  The problem is that minimal revenue generating opportunities are not necessarily enough to pay off debt generated from new build programs and past lean quarters.  When businesses are growing, new assets and improvements are paid for not only by the revenue they generate, but also through the revenue generation of the older assets.  With so many vessels stacked, revenue has to now be generated through fewer opportunities.  At the same time, this reduced revenue flow has to pay for the fewer newer and more expensive vessels working for minimal profit.

You can have data without information, but you cannot have information without data. ~ Daniel Keys Moran

 

It doesn’t matter much where your company sits in its industry ecosystem, nor how vertically or horizontally integrated it is – what matters is its relative ‘share of customer value’ in the final product or solution, and its cost of producing that value. ~ Gary Hamel

Even before the crash in oil prices mid-2014, the marine seismic streamer market really had too many vessels in operation for the required survey work.  Because of this vessel over-capacity, many oil and gas (O&G) concession operators became more selective in terms of their requirements in vessel and equipment specifications.  For example, several operators would not allow a survey vessel older than twenty (20) years to be tendered in any data acquisition proposal unless such vessels were specially built for marine seismic streamer surveys.  O&G operators also had similar age requirements for support vessels.  These requirements recognized the underlying health and safety, as well as operational efficiency benefits delivered by purpose-built vessels.  However, such requirements are also indicative of operators having the ability to require high standards while also being able to reach their exploration objectives and seize opportunities with a sufficient number of vessels which could efficiently complete surveys affordably.  More in-sea instruments being deployed prompted development of improved streamer and source positioning control technologies, which also soon became a requirement for several tenders. 

O&G operators, through demanding more stringent vessel and equipment requirements, in certain respects, encouraged the building of newer and more efficient wide-tow capable vessels, as well as the development of supporting technologies.  As was also mentioned in previous posts, marine seismic streamer service companies having the ability to complete surveys in less time mostly benefits the operators of the survey area more than the seismic service provider.  Vessels sometimes need to re-survey areas for a variety of reasons related to unpredictable weather and currents.  When streamers and sources are not positioned correctly, the subsurface cannot be imaged correctly.  Data imaging is dependent on correctly discerning the position and geometry between the seismic source (air guns) and the receivers held within the streamer cables. Wide-tow capable vessels towing more streamers (sensors) created new issues in terms of acquiring the correct data.  A certain amount of in-fill, as it is referred to, was always anticipated and calculated into the bid tenders.  Of course, eliminating in-fill was beneficial to the service provider and operators in terms of time-savings in operating the survey vessel.  Especially, in a highly competitive vessel over-capacity market with low profit margins, the use of such technologies became imperative to be commercially successful.

It was recently broadcast (12 January 2018) that the US Supreme Court will consider the issue and ramifications of the unfair global use of intellectual property.  This case has to do with WGs Q-Marine™ streamer control devices and ION Geophysical (ION) infringement on the patented technology from their development and sale of DigiFin™ (4 patented technologies).  The question revolves around recovering $93 million USD from ION for foreign contracts.  ION contends that WG cannot recoup lost profits for the overseas use of ION’s products by ION’s customers, and that lost-profits can only be recouped from a direct competitor.  This will be an interesting decision and there are obviously certain merits to both sides, otherwise it would not be heard by the US Supreme Court.  I prepared marine seismic acquisition proposals for projects offshore the continent of Africa for a UK affiliate of a Norway based company.  This company developed a proprietary dual-sensor broadband capable streamer technology.  However, because operators wanted bidding on a level playing field, such innovative technology could not be bid in some cases until “broadband” was also an offering of competitors in the bidding process.  Operators resist requesting unique proprietary technologies because they are no longer a competitive bid.  So when operators are requiring streamer control capability, they are not intentionally requesting a proprietary technology.  Marine seismic service provider bids needed to offer Q-Marine™ or DigiFin™ capability within their bid proposals.  However, it was not necessarily regarded as the proprietary technology that won the bid, so much as an adjunct technology to meet the base operator specifications.  Operators actually need to also be aware of the specifications that they are requesting and what technologies are available to meet such requirements.

Every exit is an entry somewhere else. ~ Tom Stoppard

If you go long on seismic companies at this point you might want to ask yourself what Schlumberger’s management knows that you don’t?  ~ Jeremy Punnett, Stamford Maritime

In many respects, Schlumberger’s exit from marine and land seismic acquisition markets points to the deficiency in the current business model used.  While data is necessary in the search for resources, the burden of the cyclic nature of the market is placed mostly on the data acquisition service providers.  But, service providers are just that.  Operators define the services that they need or want.  Operators decide the age of vessels used and even the breadth of solutions tendered.  What Schlumberger has learned, as well as the other seismic acquisition service providers, is that there is a gap between what customers ask for and how much they are willing to pay for it:

Kibsgaard added that the company’s customers are not willing to “pay a premium for differentiated seismic measurement and surveys” and “clearly believe that generic technology and performance is sufficient.” This creates a low technical barrier for smaller players to enter the segment, which keeps demand in a chronic state of overcapacity, he said, adding the company’s seismic acquisition business cannot provide the desired full-cycle returns for Schlumberger or compete internally for funding. ~ 19 January 2018 E&P article

 

The current procurement process operators use to obtain services needs reformation and improvement.  New technologies and solutions are simply being created too rapidly for old and stale procurement models based on a apples-to-apples competitive bidding process.  What Kibsgaard is stating is what I learned tendering bids with a breakthrough technology waiting to be offered.  Service providers cannot reap the timely benefits from their out-of-the-box solutions, but have to wait for competitors to “catch-up.”   Only then, when the market is commoditized and when the only basis for award can be determined to be the final cost of an apple.  (I speak to this dilemma within my blog article, Upstream Exploration and the Paradox of Choice (10-May-2015).)  However, when the economics suits operators, such requirements can be relaxed or ignored.  If the technology has a lower-cost baseline, then, and only then, is the novel solution acceptable for consideration.

What does Schlumberger’s exit from the marine seismic acquisition market say about the markets future?  I do not know.  But, the WG fleet is composed of many seismic streamer purpose built vessels which they can divest from.  These vessels could enter the market at some point, in the same way that other stacked vessels could, potentially, when the market turns.  Perhaps WG will license and sell equipment, like their Q-Marine™ and maybe even IsoMetrix™?  In the near term for this low-cost commoditized market, companies introducing innovative technologies will be stressed even more.  The marine seismic acquisition business model is built around time-efficiently acquiring large swaths of (broad) band data from arrays of 12-16 8000 meter streamers (100 m separation) towed behind large purpose built vessels.  These vast amounts of data will be processed on super-computers.  Companies pioneering new solutions through committed research and development do not really occupy the low-end/low-cost spectrum of the marine seismic streamer acquisition market.  Currently, the majority of customers do occupy this space.  On the other hand, WGs exit could send high-end customers to seek such technologies from other seismic acquisition companies.  Will there be enough demand for wide-tow vessels towing only innovative broadband streamer technology?  Polarcus and Shearwater GeoServices (SG) will fight for the lower end, but new high capacity vessels entering the market will now be a threat for all pure-play players.  I still believe that the broadband streamer developer’s chartering of two high-capacity seismic streamer vessels following Dolphin Geophysical’s demise was because of the threat of wide-tow price competition.   Broadband acquisition is more operationally expensive.  Wide-tow is how to stay cost competitive with high-end equipment or innovative geometries.

The commoditized marine seismic streamer acquisition market will be a lowest-price wins game for the foreseeable future.  Clearly, WG/Schlumberger is betting on the added-value component of the market attached to raw data acquisition: data processing, imaging, and analysis.  WG does not see the money-making opportunities in acquiring high-end raw data.  It was somewhat surprising, as a former data processing geophysicist, to see a marine seismic data acquisition leader restructure-out their data imaging division.  Enhanced data processing and imaging is, of course, a huge value-added aspect of any proprietary streamer or data acquisition technology.  Some players made calculations and decisions about the market and waited until only recently to down size their operational marine seismic streamer vessel fleets, when other players, such as WG and CGG, did so in early 2015.  Being a pioneer means blazing your own course to follow.  There is obviously no single reason for Schlumberger exiting the onshore and offshore seismic acquisition market.  Recently, the Amazon Warrior halted acquisition due to protests from activists, such as Greenpeace, against the use of seismic air guns and their impact on marine life and cetaceans.  In the USA, the President Trump administration has relaxed restrictions for exploration and development offshore.  Many states and officials do not agree with these policies, and likewise, there are USA activists preparing to fight opening up their offshore waters, many adjacent to tourist laden beaches, to offshore O&G exploration and development.  A company the size of Schlumberger is obviously a big target for such protests.  And when the business unit at the forefront of the controversy is also not generating revenue, an exit from such market conditions is even easier to reconcile.  What is certain is that WGs exit from marine acquisition will impact the market in some measurable way.  It is time for a new business model for data acquisition services.  Perhaps WGs exit as a seismic acquisition service provider will force such a conversation sooner than later.

You change your business plan to anticipate and adapt to changes in the marketplace. ~ Jon Feltheimer

If we have data, let’s look at data. If all we have are opinions, let’s go with mine. ~ Jim Barksdale

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The Longer and Lower Wave of the Marine Seismic Streamer Market

The Longer and Lower Wave of the Marine Seismic Streamer Market

Content Revised 13 November 2013 by Request of Company to Remove their Named Reference

What is in store in 2018 for the Marine Seismic Streamer Market?

The industry has changed drastically over the last few years. The oil companies demand competitive and flexible solutions and the providers that can offer that in the most cost efficient way will capture market share. ~ Irene Waage Basili, CEO Shearwater GeoServices

Flexible capacity is the new euphemism which has been conceived to explain the main problem in the marine seismic streamer market sector.  It translates to seismic streamer vessel over-capacity.  This was the topic of my first blog post, The Seismic Vessel Over-Capacity Problem (5-May-2015)Flexible capacity is really seismic vessels equipped to explore on short notice, but currently without solid order books to keep them in operation.  While people may be waiting for a resurgence in oil prices from its plunge in mid-2014, there will be no parallel improvement in the marine seismic streamer sector.  While oil prices may encourage exploration, such an infusion of capital for exploration will be spread out, for one thing.   When oil prices do rise again, customers will have an entirely new field of marine (and land) geophysical exploration options which did not exists when oil prices were higher.  Innovation that reduces costs will always be in fashion.  Also, the flexible and stacked capacity is almost equal to the current active operating capacity.  I believe that this vessel capacity will be absorbed into the market before any substantial price increase for marine seismic streamer services is realized.   Just as innovation and technology spurred competition in the hey-day of oil prices exceeding $100 USD /bbl, the same spirit of competition is adjusting to the current market.  Like the Iguana’s of the Galapagos adaptation to their perilous environment, the longer and lower slump in exploration has changed the marine seismic market completely and created new demands, risks, and opportunities for service providers.  It is not just about vessel capacity, but a paradigm shift in how to optimize the entire value chain from acquisition to imaging.  Only technology that delivers the needs of customers will prosper.  Some historically stalwart technology and techniques may no longer be in fashion for the current marine seismic streamer market.

Matters of the marine seismic sector have been monitored and written about since 2015 through www.MarineSeismicSurvey.com website blog articles.  I began working in the marine seismic industry in 1997 and these blogs represent my impressions of the industry.  Also, follow @MarineSeismicPM Twitter™ feeds for offshore and seismic news. The blogs have mostly concentrated on the marine seismic streamer market.  This market sector is analyzed as an indicator of the overall health of the deep water offshore oil and gas industry.  Marine geophysical data acquisition is the first step in any offshore project (concession) development.  Within these blog articles, pure play marine seismic streamer service providers, Polarcus and Dolphin Geophysical / Shearwater GeoServices have dominated the most analysis.  However, more diversified companies, such as Schlumberger’s WesternGeco (WG) and CGG also significantly impact the marine seismic streamer market.  WG and CGG had operated the largest marine seismic streamer vessel fleets prior to the mid-2014 collapse in oil prices.  The global marine seismic streamer vessel fleet has been substantially reduced from its mid-2014 levels.  Within the most recent blog article post, The End of Wide-Tow Streamer Seismic?, it was noted that one major marine seismic company has actually maintained the largest operational marine seismic streamer vessel fleets since the collapse.  When overly ambitious Dolphin Geophysical (Dolphin) was pushed into insolvency and unable to maintain their Sanco Shipping (Sanco) charters of wide tow Sanco Swift and Sanco Sword, a similarly ambitious competitor took over the Dolphin charters, as well, preparing for a marine seismic streamer market resurgence.

What seems evidently clear to most all oil and gas market observers is that past marine seismic business models simply do not apply in this new market reality.  Even those with many years of experience in the marine seismic streamer sector didn’t foresee an impending collapse or its repercussions.  At the same time, while the price of oil may be a key incentive for marine geophysical exploration, success has never been a guarantee for providers of offshore geophysical services, even when oil prices were high.  While this current downturn may have turned out to be longer and lower than many anticipated, one major player, especially, seems to have been behind the eight ball in their strategy following the collapse.   Vessels are expensive to operate and that is why vessel utilization numbers impact earnings for vessel owner/operators.  This is also why vessels are taken out of operation and stacked.  Keeping vessels equipped for operations is much more expensive than storing at a dock.   The largest marine seismic streamer fleets prior to the collapse in oil prices were operated by CGG and Schlumberger’s WesternGeco (WG).  WG introduced new build Amazon-class vessels into the fledgling market.  CGG bought the marine seismic streamer business from Fugro Geoscience in late 2012 and gained capacity that way.  WG does not publicly disclose which vessels are operating. CGG now operates five (5) streamer vessels according to the most recent Q3 2017 report.  (CGG’s website displays four (4).)   One pure-play player had ordered four (4) humongous new build vesselsThe first two were put into operation prior to the collapse in oil prices.  They did delay the delivery of their final two new-builds.  What also perplexed some was management’s decision to also assume the Sanco Shipping vessel charters of now insolvent competitor Dolphin Geophysical.  This positioned the company to have the largest operating marine seismic streamer fleet.  Apparently, company executives were planning for resurgence in demand that never arrived.   The main point is that CGG and WG had reduced their fleets significantly long before their competitors decision to reduce their operating fleet to six (6) streamer vessels was announced during their Q3 2017 financials.  For a more complete view of vessel operations, Searcher Seismic’s SeisIntel™ application does track the global seismic streamer fleet activity.

With 4 vessels in the global spot market, it is important to strategically manage the vessel schedule and the global distribution. ~ Duncan Eley, Polarcus CEO, Q3 2017 Earnings Presentation

 

Even with all the effort which has been made by the industry, there are still too many vessels for the volume of activity which is being offered. ~ Jean-Georges Malcor, CEO CGG (Q3 2017)

Prior to the seismic streamer market disintegration, Polarcus and Dolphin Geophysical (Dolphin) operated relatively small seismic streamer fleets.  Both Polarcus and Dolphin competed exclusively in the marine seismic streamer market.  Dolphin was a relative new-comer to the market and also was anticipating growth opportunities.  Dolphin especially was affected by the dramatic decline in oil prices which halted deep water exploration programs.  In a growth market of opportunities, operating small fleets was actually a commercial disadvantage in terms of servicing global demand.  It costs money to move vessels to projects in what is termed transit costs.  Currently, the operating marine seismic streamer fleets competing in this market are more in parity such that no one service provider can really offer global coverage.  However, while the global marine seismic streamer vessel fleet has been greatly reduced in number, the vessels which remain in operation to service the global marine seismic streamer market are bigger and capable of towing more streamers.  The two humongous new-builds, Sanco Sword, and the two Amazon class vessels, all with greater towing capacity, were introduced into the market up through the beginning of 2017.  So, the number of geophysical equipment instruments in the water acquiring data has actually not fallen as drastically as the number of operating vessels.  In the current market, a global fleet which has new wide-tow streamer vessels actually benefits customers economically much more than it does the vessel owners.  The real impact on the market is that the current global fleet can complete surveys faster because it is composed of larger vessels.   But, this is only part of the picture.

Marine seismic streamer vessels are the principal asset and liability of marine seismic streamer data acquisition companies.  When Dolphin went into insolvency a competitor assumed its Sanco charters.  However, Dolphin had also been chartering vessels from GC Reiber Shipping (GC).  Vessel owner GC created a geophysical seismic streamer company,  Shearwater GeoServices (SG), from Dolphin’s remnant geophysical data acquisition and processing capability and talent.   In a robust market, vessels operate to generate revenue.  However, reducing the number of vessels operating is a way to reduce losses, since idle vessels cost money.  Vessels with no crew but with equipment are the flexible capacity.  Polarcus has bare-back charter leases on two of its vessels, but in certain respects maintained its fleet pretty well in through the downturn and posted some impressive vessel utilization rates.  SG essentially is back into Dolphin’s niche, minus the Sanco vessels but operating the Polar Empress.  One fleet dominates the wide-tow category with its four humongous vessels.  However, while Polarcus and SG fleets are still not capable of towing the same number of streamers, Polarcus and Dolphin/SG have actually managed to have towed some of the largest areal streamer spreads.  Initially, Dolphin achieved this through increasing the distance between streamers.  However, Polarcus and SG now offer wide-spreads with improved cross line sampling through their Polarcus’ XArray™ and SGs FlexiSource™ acquisition techniques.  This is a significant development that seems to attract customers in a low-cost maximum coverage environment.

Those aware of geophysical seismic data processing importance in the seismic data value chain know that whenever marginal data is acquired, it becomes the job of data processing techniques to remove unwanted signal (noise) and extract as much value as possible from the data.  Vessels are considerably more expensive to operate than computer systems applying complex algorithms.  Not so long ago, marine seismic streamer companies had to negotiate expensive time-sharing arrangements between vessels acquiring seismic data proximate to each other.  The air gun source from another survey could impact the signal being used to acquire data.  This seismic interference caused problems in further data processing and imaging which form the maps used in drilling for oil.   More capable computers applying complex algorithms can now be used to separate-out such seismic interference.  More importantly, taken to the next level, similar algorithms are now being applied to remove overlapping air gun source data from subsequent survey shots.  The common convention for seismic streamer data acquisition has been to use a dual-source, flip-flop, technique for efficiency.  The flip-flop method allows continuous data acquisition by allowing air pressure to develop for the next shot; shot àrecharge àshot.  However, being able to acquire simultaneous source data reduces the data acquisition time.  It also affects the source-receiver midpoint geometry and record length.  These parameters are what define the point being imaged.  Smaller vessels can tow fewer streamers but space them wider.  So, while the wide-tow pioneer holds the record for the most equipment being towed, Polarcus holds the record for towing the largest areal spread.

I think it’s pretty evident that the shallow water is going to come back a lot quicker compared to I would say an overall ramp in deep water activity. ~ Paal Kibsgaard, Chairman and CEO Schlumberger (Q3 2017)

I’d just like to mention that the reason why the winter season is going to be still — that’s our view, still difficult for the data acquisition business, is that we are still operating in the market which is over supplied. Even with all the effort which has been made by the industry, there are still too many vessels for the volume of activity which is being offered. ~ Jean-Georges Malcor, CEO CGG (Q3 2017)

Increasing the number of sources reduces data acquisition time and also the amount of equipment to manage during a project.  Acquiring seismic data with multiple air gun sources and fewer seismic streamers changes traditional geometry requirements.  It also places more importance on post-acquisition data processing needed to clean the data and also the forward processing algorithms applied for the new geometry.  This is significant, in my view.  In 2007 a major step-changing dual-sensor streamer was introduced into the market.   This broadband streamer technology became a commercial 3D acquisition offering in 2009.  This streamer is able to acquire dual-sensor (conventional hydrophone + particle velocity sensor) data, as is done with (older) seabed seismic acquisition techniques.  (These day’s seabed seismic nodes acquire mostly 4-component data.)  By combining dual-sensor data, broadband data is acquired.  WG introduced their 4-component streamer, IsoMetrix™, in 2013.  Other companies have now also developed and introduced multi-sensor streamer technology into the market.  These are amazing technologies and several articles have been written about the imaging possibilities possible from data acquired using multiple sensors.  The same can be said for advances in sea bed seismic technologies and techniques.  But, this articles focus is on the current marine seismic streamer market where near-term costs, and not necessarily the full downstream potential realized from their data, is prioritized.  Multi-component streamers, or even streamer depth manipulation acquisition techniques using single sensor (hydrophone) streamers, are operationally more expensive and demanding than single-sensor streamer acquisition  Having a large spread of multi-sensor streamers operating optimally requires attention and maintenance in-sea.  Multi-sensor streamers need to be kept clean, and this is additional risk exposure for all stakeholders.  Without debating data quality issues, multi-source techniques with reduced streamer exposure for wide spreads is another win for customers in need of cost saving operation strategies.  However, the problem still remains that towing large areal spreads is not as beneficial for surveyors as it is for customers who do not have to worry about keeping their vessel fleets working.

So, there still remains a marine seismic streamer vessel over-capacity problem for a combination of reasons.   In the current environment, cost is the priority because there is no immediate profit-making incentive.  Marine seismic streamer vessels are expensive to operate.  So, acquiring data must be as efficient as possible.  But, what exactly does efficient mean in this current market?    Fewer opportunities mean fewer vessels are needed.  More expensive vessels are completing survey more quickly for modest profit margins.  The marine seismic business is as competitive as any and has seen providers of these services come and go throughout the years.  Before the collapse, the oil price marker for deep water field exploration and development seemed to be set within the sector for oil prices needing to be above $70 USD / bbl.  But, geophysical exploration costs are a relatively small percentage of overall deep water field development.  On the other hand, carrying out geophysical exploration is a first-phase commitment made by operators of offshore leases.  Based on these dynamics, investment in deep water assets will be minimized until any substantive spending can show a positive return.  For this reason, deep water exploration will likely be one of the last oil and gas markets to return to growth.   This places pure-play providers of deep water geophysical exploration services, such as seismic streamer, in a precarious position.  The successful business model for marine seismic streamer data acquisition and processing in the future still remains unclear.  Obviously, the number of profit bearing opportunities is more when oil prices are higher than the base development cost threshold.  On the other hand, with oil priced below the base development cost threshold, there is essentially no near-term profit making incentives for frontier exploration.

The main incentive for operators to explore is concession commitments and to possess risk-opportunity data for analysis.  There may be profit making opportunities further down the line, in terms of what development costs are relative to projections for sustained oil prices.  However, even if the threshold oil price of $70 USD / bbl moves lower, oil from deep water assets will remain among the most expensive to develop.  Oil will need to be priced above the threshold for a sustained period before there is any real growth in demand for deep water seismic streamer exploration.  Also, when cost is a priority over time, an older and less expensive vessel operating longer can be competitive.  Finally, to top it off, even if the threshold price of oil has headed down because of improved processes and technology, deep water field development will continue to be some of the most expensive.  When oil is sustained over the threshold, then the market will first absorb the flexible and stacked capacity before there is any substantial increase in vessel utilization rates.  Bear in mind, the different marine seismic streamer service providers have varied commercial commitments and structures also.  So, a profitable project for one service provider may not be a profitable project for another.  The appetite for cost-efficient and time-efficient acquisition will not be lost by customers.  The diversity in what is offered to customers in combining both novel acquisition techniques with innovative data processing and imaging solutions will provide customers with an abundance of choices.  The marine seismic streamer sector will remain soft.  Currently, there still remains too much global marine seismic streamer vessel capacity in operation.  Because of the variety of solutions available, vessel utilization will not necessarily be distributed proportionally to the different service providers.  It will be driven on the near term cost value to customers.  The marine seismic streamer market may have passed the lowest point of the trough.  However, marine seismic streamer service providers will never see the kind of activity that existed before mid-2014.  Both the problems and solutions are very different now.

There is a lot of seasonality in the vessel market. So obviously, Q1 and Q4, is usually a very good period to pick up a vessel. ~ Kristian Kuvaas Johansen, TGS-NOPEC CEO (Q3 2017)

Speculative markets have always been vulnerable to illusion. But seeing the folly in markets provides no clear advantage in forecasting outcomes, because changes in the force of the illusion are difficult to predict. ~ Robert J. Shiller

The End of Wide-Tow Streamer Seismic?


Content Revised 13 November 2013 by Request of Company to Remove their Named Reference

Horse sense is the thing a horse has which keeps it from betting on people. ~ W. C. Fields

You cannot beat a roulette table unless you steal money from it. ~ Albert Einstein

In some East Asian cultures the number “four” is considered unlucky.  Whether a number is considered lucky or unlucky can depend on whether the number’s name sounds similar to other words with positive or negative meanings. In Japanese, the word for the number “four” sounds similar to the word for “death.”   Never do things in fours.  But, if you do, change the sound.  Instead the fourth floor, be floor 3A.  Perspective is everything.  The geophysical exploration service sector is known to be cyclic, and so perhaps market prediction is more like a game of roulette than straight poker.  Many marine seismic streamer acquisition companies have placed their bet on wide-tow and invested in expensive new-build seismic streamer vessel programs.  The real question is, knowing what we know now, is wide-tow streamer acquisition still a sound bet when the final count is made?

Anyone in the oil exploration business knows that even when applying the latest technologies and methods a little extra luck can’t be a bad thing, especially when the game is cyclic exploration roulette.  The predominance of the wide-tow streamer seismic acquisition model is established.   The industry has always bet on wide-tow marine seismic streamer acquisition, and vessel streamer tow capacity has steadily increased over the years.  Since the collapse in oil prices in mid-2014, once again explorers have had to confront the unpredictability in oil prices and sow losses from such bets.  Dolphin Geophysical entered the marine seismic streamer market in 2011 with the same heady optimism.  They entered into a charter agreement with Sanco Shipping ASA to take delivery of wide-tow capable Sanco Swift in 2013, as well as Sanco Sword in 2014.  Schlumberger’s WesternGeco also added Amazon Warrior in 2014 and Amazon Conquerer in 2015.  And CGG grew its fleet in 2012 through acquiring the Fugro Geoscience streamer fleet as Fugro decided to abandon this market sector.  Dolphin Geophysical folded in late 2015 and WesternGeco and CGG dramatically reduced their fleets following the crash in oil prices.  Most marine seismic streamer players were also betting on the wide-tow business model and planned their expansions and new build programs accordingly prior to the decline in oil prices mid-2014.  However, one player stands alone in only minimally reducing their fleet and even toking on new charters.

Table 1

Table 2

How wonderful that we have met with a paradox. Now we have some hope of making progress. ~ Niels Bohr

 

In the realm of ideas everything depends on enthusiasm… in the real world all rests on perseverance. ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The demand for seismic streamer acquisition broadband data was ushered into the market through remarkably engineering multi-sensor cables historically applied in seabed seismic operations into towed streamers.  But, multi-sensor streamers – towed cables – broadband is but one acquisition approach.  Other innovative geophysical exploration companies developed their own broadband seismic streamer acquisition techniques to serve the new demand for broadband.  The market would not allow a single proprietor solution.  The competitive market wants choice for acceptable solutions.  Advances in operational streamer control and positioning systems have also seen levels of innovation which usher in the practicality of refined traditional approaches to achieve seismic streamer broadband acquisition.  The traditional seismic experiment that has defined the market, and more importantly what customers request in the form of tenders, has remained less flexible than the innovative environment they are immersed in.  New ideas are often curtailed by the procurement bureaucracy which holds onto traditional solutions to solve new problems.  This is discussed with the blog post, Upstream Exploration and the Paradox of Choice (10-May-2015).  Crisis always upends norms, for better or worse.  Innovations in marine seismic data processing and imaging technology has also unleashed new approaches and possibilities.  Innovations outside the traditional boundaries of market sectors have now encroached on the market share of marine seismic streamer acquisition.  Most notably, this is seen in the improvements and innovations in seabed seismic.

The economics of marine seismic streamer wide-tow are easy enough to understand.  The principal cost of a marine seismic survey has traditionally been tied directly to the cost of operating the marine seismic (streamer) vessels.  There are often support vessels also employed to support the technical data acquisition operations.  This cost is colloquially referred to as the project “day rate” for operations.  Marine seismic streamer vessels must be powerful enough to tow both the seismic source arrays and instrumented cables – streamers – at the same time.  This is what makes marine seismic streamer acquisition so time efficient.  Narrow azimuth marine seismic streamer employs a single vessel in operations.  These streamer spreads cover a large area.  The larger the area, the more data that can be acquired in less time with a wider the spread.  So, the reasoning goes, if the vessel is operating, tow as many streamers as possible as long as the operation cost for the vessel remains is less than the earned efficiency benefit of time or money to the customer.  This is market dynamic written about in the blog post, Marine Seismic Streamer Time and Money 2016 (6-Oct-2016)This business model can be called the reduced vessel utilization model.  If most of the cost is due to vessel operation, then reducing the use of the vessel will reduce project cost.  This model implies an operational cost base balance (similar vessel cost base) and a growth market that also prioritizes time savings.

Seabed seismic operations have traditionally involved multiple vessels, at least one vessel for the seismic source (high-pressure air guns) and another to lay cables and record data.  The operations also were more time consuming.  Seabed seismic has not had the same limitations of bandwidth which towed streamer seismic has had.  (The frequency loss in streamer seismic is a product of the depth under the water surface which streamers are towed.)  Seabed seismic has acquired multi-sensor broadband data for a long time.  Seabed seismic data has not had the same issues of azimuth and offset limitations which narrow azimuth seismic streamer acquisition has because of the inherent geometric limitations of towing source and streamers together.  In seabed seismic, the sensors are stationary and the source moves.  Years ago, seabed seismic was mostly ocean bottom cable (OBC) operations.  Long cables were laid on the seabed and then retrieved following passes of the source vessel.  Nowadays, the seismic sensors can be detached from cables.  Individual nodes can be placed by smaller autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs).  As day rates have moved upward for wide-tow streamer acquisition, much in part to the cost of operating the larger and elaborately equipped vessels, day rates and efficiency gains in seabed seismic operations are not as comparatively expensive as they once were.  Simply, seabed seismic is encroaching on the marine seismic streamer market share.

Cutting prices or putting things on sale is not sustainable business strategy. ~ Howard Schultz

When you start losing market share, it’s really tough to gain it back; you need the product portfolio and presence in many markets. ~ Hans Vestberg

The first seismic vessel I worked on was the 4-streamer Western Atlas (1998)The first ocean bottom cable vessel that I worked on was the Dickerson Tide offshore India (~2000)Neither of these vessels had a swimming pool.  To be fair, the wide-tow seismic streamer vessel did not have a swimming pool either.  But, the living conditions on that vessel were several grades above both the Dickerson Tide and Western Atlas.  I have never been on a Titan class vessel.  But, from swimming pools to ball courts, living conditions for rotation work assignments are likely much more comfortable and healthier than my first offshore experiences in the business.  Wide-tow streamer acquisition is most advantageous for large rectangular shaped survey areas with no obstructions.  Frontier areas.  Finding the technical experts to work on long projects offshore is made easier when living conditions are of a high standard.  Even this view is indicative of an expanding market in need of the most experienced professionals.  Those days are behind and not every survey is in such a frontier area.  Many explorers are interested in smaller surveys over mature fields with vessel traffic and offshore structure obstructions all around.  In these areas, wide-tow streamer acquisition is prohibitive because the spread must maintain a safe distance from these obstructions.  Project survey areas must be large enough so that streamers and their accompanying equipment doesn’t have to be deployed and retrieved too frequently.  So wide-tow marine acquisition is not always well suited for multiple smaller sized surveys.  In general, wide-tow capable vessels are more expensive to operate.  They are most profitable when operating at capacity.  This is where the time and cost efficiencies are realized.

The reduced vessel utilization model is customer focused and not vessel operator focused.  The benefit of completing surveys more quickly mostly benefits the customer.  At the end of the day, unused capacity is expensive and unsustainable in a normal competitive market.  Vessel utilization is sometimes shared publicly by vessel operators.  The real issue is capacity utilization as it relates to the cost base of the operating assets.  If 100 streamers need to be deployed at $10,000 USD a day to break even, then 80 streamers would need to be deployed at $12,500 USD a day to break even.  With only 50 streamers deployed, the break even rate would be $20,000 USD a day.  When margins are low and if the market is only paying $13,000 a day, the ramifications are that the operator will lose money.  Also, if the operational costs do not cover the financing commitments, which may actually be used to facilitate an artificially low operational cost base, the vessel utilization model is not sustainable.  The main problem with wide-tow marine seismic is that the bet was placed long before the wheels of the market began spinning.  The investment for large wide-tow capable vessels was determined before mid-2014 and no one – seismic vessel operators or license operators – could even predict the market which those vessels would enter.  License operators cannot afford to engage in frivolous exploration spending.  License operators also cannot really afford a future without a viable marine seismic exploration industry.  But, that does not mean that a pre-2014 global fleet has to return.  Technology always determines options.  The question is whether wide-tow seismic will deliver the solutions to license operator exploration problems?

Markets are shaped by the decisions made by the management of the principal market players.  The company with the largest marine seismic streamer fleet is betting on strong demand for wide-tow streamer seismic data acquisition.  It is clear that most marine seismic streamer vessel operators miscalculated their bets over two-years ago with their investments in new builds and subsequent stacking several vessels.  The industry once again was caught flat-footed when oil prices collapsed mid-2014.  The operational streamer count has not changed as much as the vessel count has since before the crash.  This is because seismic acquisition companies retain their largest and most productive and efficient vessels.  The wide-tow model still dominates the marine seismic streamer business model.

The volatility and uncertainty in the geophysical exploration sector driven by oil prices makes even more sense when people consider the high risk toleration of explorers and pioneers.  Such risk taking compels the industry to repeatedly pay the price of rash decision making driven by an uncertain market.  The main drawback from such risk taking is its impact on the health and safety of employees.  The unpredictable cyclic oil exploration market is exacerbated by the unpredicatable and chaotic responses made during volatile market conditionss.  These conditions  feed on each other.  In the end, the rise or fall of the marine seismic streamer sector will depend mostly on the decisions made by the leaders of companies within that market.  It is their intelligent decisions and steady leadership which determines enterprise performance.

The gambling known as business looks with austere disfavor upon the business known as gambling. ~ Ambrose Bierce


Resilience is all about being able to overcome the unexpected. Sustainability is about survival. The goal of resilience is to thrive. ~ Jamais Cascio

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