In this month’s issue, expansions, exits, and success strategies are just a few interesting topics to be observed in our lineup of truncated articles.

Sweetwater’s First Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) Station

Amp Trillium, LLC, the joint venture between ampCNG and Trillium CNG, recently announced that construction has begun on the first public access compressed natural gas (CNG) station in the city of Sweetwater, Texas. Located at 9409 S I-20 Frontage Road, the amp Trillium station will service Class-8 trucks as well as any CNG vehicle. It will be the fourth of seven public fueling stations to be built as part of a previously announced agreement with Dairy Farmers of America and Select Milk Producers to convert a portion of their diesel fleets to CNG-powered trucks. The station is set to open in late October.

Directly en route for drivers heading west out of Dallas and Fort Worth and south from Lubbock, the amp Trillium station will fill a major CNG fueling void in this area of the state. Three Class-8 trucks will be able to fuel simultaneously at 10-12 GGE per minute. The station will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and will accept all major credit cards.

“We’re excited to have broken ground in Sweetwater for our fifth CNG station in Texas,” said Steve Josephs, P.E., Director of Engineering and Co-Founder of ampCNG. “This is a superb strategic location, both for fleets traveling I-20 and for serving the state’s agricultural and oil field industries. This addition to our network of Ultra Fast-Fill CNG stations will allow us to provide this inexpensive, clean, and domestic fuel to more heavy trucking fleets seeking the benefits of switching from diesel to CNG.

“Our community is excited to have an amp Trillium CNG station on I-20 in Sweetwater,” said Ken Becker, executive director of Sweetwater Enterprise for Economic Development (SEED). “The availability of CNG on I-20 in will enhance the opportunity for commercial travelers to switch to a cleaner burning fuel for their transportation needs.”

The joint venture is set to bring three additional stations to Texas (Brock, Kerrville, and Midland) within the next six months. Amp Trillium stations in Amarillo, Waco and Harrold opened earlier this summer.

CNG is domestic, abundant, and about 40 percent less expensive than diesel. It reduces dependence on foreign oil and has significant environmental benefits. Because it is the cleanest burning fossil fuel, CNG cars and trucks require less vehicle maintenance and enjoy a longerengine life. Given these benefits, the long-term savings far outweigh the incremental costs associated with converting to CNG.

ABOUT amp Trillium, LLC

amp Trillium is a joint venture between ampCNG and Trillium CNG formed in 2012 to build a network of CNG stations across the U.S. to serve the commercial trucking industry.


ampCNG, a Chicago-based energy company focused on displacing liquid fuels with CNG, builds and owns CNG fueling stations for long-haul truck fleets and finances leases for CNG trucks. The company operates the largest US renewable natural-gas plant that produces fuel from cow manure. ampCNG is a member of the Department of Energy’s National Clean Fleets Partnership tasked to reduce the nation’s dependency on imported oil. For more information, call (312) 300-6700 or visit http://www.ampcng.com.


Trillium CNG is a leading provider of CNG to fleets, and also offers complete facility design, construction, operation and maintenance services. Our focus is on fueling heavy-duty fleets that require high-performance solutions. For more information, visit www.TrilliumCNG.com. Trillium CNG is a business unit of Integrys Energy Group Inc. (NYSE: TEG). Follow Trillium CNG on Twitter or on LinkedIn.

Discussion of Oil Industry at Bush Library and Museum Issues Forum

A panel of experts discussed how Aggie engineers, scientists, business leaders and pioneers have made their mark on oil fields all over the world—both on and offshore—and helped make the oil industry what it is today at an issues forum at the Annenberg Presidential Conference Center at Texas A&M University.

The panel discussion brought together representatives of the three vital aspects of Texas A&M’s contribution to the oil industry: Dr. Carlos Dengo with the Berg-Hughes Center for Petroleum and Sedimentary Systems, Dr. Akhil Datta-Gupta with the Department of Petroleum Engineering, and Dr. Brad Clement with the International Ocean Discovery Program.

“Providing energy in efficient and sustainable ways is one of the greatest challenges our society faces, and people with the skills to tackle this challenge are our biggest asset,” said Ignacio Gonzalez, Deepwater Business Advisor, Shell, and the moderator for the panel. “Today, Aggies are delivering leading-edge technology and solutions to produce more energy in sustainable ways, and we applaud Texas A&M University for creating a world-class path that continues to inspire students to become the innovators of tomorrow.”

The panel discussion was organized by the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum and presented in conjunction with our exhibit “Offshore Drilling: The Promise of Discovery” on display through Feb. 1, 2015 in the Ansary Gallery of American History. The exhibit is made possible through title sponsor Shell and supporting sponsorships from Ensco, Schlumberger, Move Resource Group, and the George Bush Presidential Library Foundation. For more information about the exhibit go to bushlibrary.tamu.edu/offshore.

The mission of the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum is to preserve and make available the records and artifacts of George H. W. Bush, 41st President of the United States. We promote civic literacy and increased historical understanding of our national experience, and foster a community of public service and volunteerism. Located on the campus of Texas A&M University—a premier public Tier 1 research university home to more than 50,000 students—the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum is part of the National Archives and Records Administration’s Presidential Libraries system. For more information go to bushlibrary.tamu.edu.

Words are Powerful; Use With Care

It’s easy to take words for granted; most of us use them as effortlessly as we breathe. But words hold power that we often overlook at our own peril, says media expert Steve Kayser.

“Language is the code that translates ideas so they can be shared. They give us an advantage in the natural world, which has enabled us to evolve as human beings,” says Kayser, author of The Greatest Words You’ve Never Heard (www.stevekayser.com).

“But in our personal and public lives, we are inundated with empty words; words that are used incorrectly; words that are drained of all meaning; and so fail to accurately convey the intended message; and words that carry unwarranted connotations and stigma.”

Words can change lives, destroy relationships and alter the course of entire civilizations, Kayser notes.

He shares examples of what to avoid, what to embrace and what to reconsider when trying to make your language more effective.

Avoid John Kerry’s “crystal clear” nugget. Earlier this year, amid the ongoing foreign policy crises in the Middle East, secretary of state John Kerry, who has a linguistic reputation for long-winded political jargon, seemed to contradict himself in a single breath. “I want to make this crystal clear,” he said. “The president is desirous of trying to see how we can make our best efforts in order to find a way to facilitate.”

It’s this kind of language that makes people cynical about our elected officials—when a politician’s mouth is moving and producing sounds, but he’s not saying anything. Or, if they are saying something, they use words that are overused and unnecessary. Businesses, too, can be notorious for this using corporate gobbledygook to obfuscate all meaning, Kayser says.

“What people want is authenticity in language, to say what you mean and mean what you say.”

Emulate Mark Twain, the “straight shooter,” who employed wit, charm, and incisive commentary in communications. No, most people cannot pick up where Twain, arguably America’s greatest writer, left off. But language and the way in which it’s used can be highly contagious. If you want to inspire authenticity and engage employees and friends alike with genuine communication, consider styling your speech more along the lines of Twain, rather than a dry business manual:

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do,” Twain wrote. “So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

If you’re in business, there are advantages to embracing the jargon. “Can we blue sky this synergy later?” “Cascade this to your people and see what the pushback is.” … Business lingo could fill a dictionary, and in many cases, requires one! Unlike political babble, business jargon has its purpose, according to a new study from the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business. Business speak is code for “upper management material,” showing that the speaker is in a company’s inner circle and is a “big picture” person, the study reveals.

“Some of the language you come across in the business world can seem absurd to outsiders; some of these phrases, however, may actually reveal ambition in an employee,” Kayser says.

“The beauty of language is that it’s a common tool for everyone to use, yet it can be tailored to an individual. My primary suggestion is to do that in a way that authentically reveals your meaning.”

About Steve Kayser

Steve Kayser is an award-winning writer, editor, publisher, former radio host and founder of Kayser Media. He has had the great fortune to interview and collaborate with some of the best minds in the business world, and his eclectic approach to public relations and marketing has been widely documented. He recently published “The Greatest Words You’ve Never Heard” (www.stevekayser.com).

Stay Cool Under Pressure—and Succeed

We all ask ourselves the same desperate question from time to time:

How am I going to make this work?

“No matter how well we’ve done laying the groundwork for everything to run smoothly—becoming educated, choosing the right spouse, treating others well—we all face situations that challenge us,” says Dr. Robert J. Cerfolio, a world-renowned cardiothoracic surgeon known as “the Michael Jordan of lung surgery.”

“If we can keep our cool and adhere to some basic principles, we can not only meet any challenge—we can perform with excellence.”

A high-performance athlete in high school and college, Dr. Cerfolio parlayed his talents into pursuing his medical career and creating a happy family with his wife, Lorraine, and their three sons.

But after battling breast cancer, Lorraine recently passed away. Cerfolio, author of Super Performing at Work and at Home: The Athleticism of Surgery and Life (www.superperforming.com) shares the principles that helped him through that greatest of all challenges and lesser ones along the way.

“Apply these principles in work, sports and life in general, and you can become a super performer,” he says.

Pressure equals opportunity. It’s when something matters that the pressure starts to build; this is where the rubber meets the road for sports-to-life analogies.

“In sports as in life, remember your training; follow through just like you did during practice; visualize success; believe it will happen,” Dr. Cerfolio says. “With friends, for example, high-pressure moments can be those times when they need you. The best way to have great friends is to be a great friend.”

Strive to hit .400 every year – keep your eye on the prize; write it down. “My high school gave out an award each year to the best student athlete in each grade,” he says. “I wrote down that I wanted to win the Klein Award in the ninth, 10th and 11th grades, and to win the most prestigious award at the senior graduation, the Deetjen Award.

He accomplished most of those goals, and a key to those achievements was writing them down and placing the paper where, for four years, he could see it every night.

“By writing them down, I had made my goals clear and objective.”

Lean toward a “we-centered” ego rather than a “me-centered” one. “When I traded in my baseball uniform for surgical scrubs, I noticed the importance of stripping the many layers of the ego I once had,” Dr. Cerfolio says. “This is really important: Your ego doesn’t need to be visible to everyone—or even anyone but yourself.”

Being a top performer requires ego—it helps fuel self-confidence and provides some of the motivation necessary to achieve. But it should not hinder the performance of your team: your coworkers, friends, and family. Over time, by keeping your ego to yourself, it becomes easier to enact a team-oriented ego, rather than a “me-oriented” one.

Time to quit? Rub some dirt on it. In life, work is unavoidable, so embrace it, go big, and appreciate the rewards. No matter how difficult the challenge you face or how much it may hurt to meet that challenge, push through and give it your all.

“Yes, there’s a chance you won’t succeed, or won’t succeed to the degree you’d like. But you stand zero chance of success if you don’t meet that challenge and give it everything you’ve got,” Dr. Cerfolio says. “You owe it to yourself and your team, whether that’s your ball team, your family team or your work team. When you sign up for any team, by definition you promise your time, effort and 100 percent commitment. You have to be at every game and every practice on time and ready to go.”

About Robert J. Cerfolio, MD, MBA

Robert J. Cerfolio, MD, MBA, is the James H. Estes Family Endowed Chair of Lung Cancer Research and Full Professor Chief of Thoracic Surgery at the University of Alabama in Birmingham. He received his medical degree from the University of Rochester School of Medicine, surgical training at the Mayo Clinic and at Cornell-Sloan Kettering hospital, and has been in practice for more than 26 years. The author of Super Performing at Work and at Home (www.superperforming.com), Cerfolio, who was a First Team Academic All-American baseball player in college, is a world-renowned chest surgeon and recognized as one of the busiest and best thoracic surgeons in the world.

Using the P.L.U.S.H. Sales Process Methodology

In the history of recorded time, no customer has ever said, ‘Your price is too high,’ and meant it.

Even though it is the most frequent objection that salespeople hear, the price objection is never valid. So, when the customer mouths the words, “Your price is too high,” what are they really trying to say? It can be one of a number of things, such as:

“I don’t perceive the value to be higher than the cost.”

“I don’t see any difference in your offering and your competitor’s.”

“I don’t think my problem is as expensive as your solution.”

You will notice that the word price does not appear in any of these responses.

There are two ways to sell: value-added selling and commodity selling. With commodity selling, the customer assumes all offerings are the same, and so the sale defaults to the vendor with the lowest price. In value-added selling, the customer perceives there is a difference between the offerings and makes their buying decision on cost, not price.

They will perceive this differentiation when the sales professional has done their job.

The only relationship that exists between cost and price is an inverse relationship. The item with the lowest price tag typically costs the most. As an example, you can purchase a shirt for $40 or for $8—which costs the most? The price difference is obvious but which one will last longer, look better, feel better, etc.?

Sales is a science, not an art. As such, successful selling follows a process. In quality terminology, this is known as standard work. Even though every salesperson is different and every customer is different, there are still measurable steps your salespeople can follow that will drive the sales process away from price and towards value.

There are five principles behind a successful value-added sale. As a memory aid, these steps follow the letters in the word PLUSH. When used effectively, you can overcome or even eliminate the price objection. What would it be worth to you to never hear the price objection again?


Begin by talking to the right person. Many purchasing agents use price as the primary differentiation, so who else could you sell to in the client’s organization? Identify the person or department that will benefit most from what you are selling and sell to them. The purchasing agent may have been given the buying criteria from someone in another department. In that case, the buyer may not understand what they are buying well enough to alter the criteria—even if when what you bring to the table is better.

Find the right person and then ask the right questions.


It is amazing what people will tell you. It is amazing what people will give you if you just ask. The secret to successful selling is the ability to ask the right questions the right way in order to determine the customer’s real buying criteria.

Most customers do not know what they want. They will buy something that is not the best solution for them, and they do so based on their limited understanding of what they are buying. Can you keep up with all of the changes that are happening in your market, industry, competitor’s organization, or technology? What makes you think your customer is keeping up?

It’s virtually impossible for the human mind to ignore a question. When you use questions, you will engage your customer’s subconscious mind and make an impression. Stop talking, ask questions, and listen.


What really makes your product, service, or organization unique? If someone asked you what made your product or service different, what would you say? If you were to use words like quality, service, people, etc. you would actually be commoditizing yourself. How many of your competitors are using those same words? Even though your service or quality levels are measurably higher than those of your competitors, using the same words they are using dilutes the value of the differentiation.

What really makes you different? Ask your existing customers.


Every trained salesperson has learned some aspect of solution selling. It is the backbone of most sales processes. In value-added selling, sales professionals take it to the next level. They begin by asking some version of a common question: “What are the top three problems facing your business right now?” Seasoned salespeople have learned that the customer will rarely tell them what the problems are, even when they try. They will answer, with something like, “Our sales are down,” “Our attrition is too high,” “Our manufacturing costs are up.” None of those are problems.

They are all symptoms. Something is driving their sales down and their attrition and costs up. The value-added sales professional understands this. Rather than arguing with the customer—“Isn’t that really a symptom, Mr. Customer?”—and rather than offering a solution, the professional takes two more steps.

The next step is to qualify the problem by asking the customer how and when the problem manifests itself. Then, the sales professional asks what the cost is for each manifestation. By the time this line of interest (not inquiry) is complete, the salesperson and the customer will have a clear understanding of what the real problem is and what it is costing. When the salesperson quotes their price, it is in comparison with the real cost of the problem it will solve.


Helping means doing everything the customer asks, and then some—and getting credit for it. Known as the “extra mile”, it is probably something your organization is already doing. Your customer may not appreciate your extra efforts because they do not know you are doing it. Brag about yourself.

To overcome or eliminate the price objection, make sure you are talking to the right person and asking the right questions in order to show which of your specific differentiations are most viable for them. Then, justify your higher price by quantifying your value. Keep your customer and earn referrals by going the extra mile.

Chuck Reaves, CSP, CPAE, CSO helps companies raise their prices and volumes simultaneously through innovative processes, tools and training.  With his innovative presentations on sales and motivation he has inspired hundreds of people to pursue and achieve their impossible dreams. Along with pioneering many advanced sales tools and processes, Chuck’s achievements include Vistage’s ‘Impact Speaker of the Year’ honors and being named the top salesperson for AT&T. For more information about Chuck Reaves please visit www.chuckreaves.com.

Shed the Surge

On average, over 25 million lightning strikes are detected each year in the United States. Lightning activity worldwide is predicted to grow by as much as six percent for every degree of change in global temperature. Electrical surges from lightning and other sources cost the oil and gas industry millions annually in avoidable downtime.

Unfortunately, less than one percent of major and independent producers in upstream, midstream, and downstream have adequate protection for their electrical equipment on the secondary (customer) side. Surge protection should be a big driver in the oil and gas industry because downtime is unacceptable.

As an example, take an average ESP well that pumps one hundred barrels a day. A drive or motor failure equals an average three-day downtime that equates to $100,000 worth of lost production. A salt water horizontal pump drive or motor failure can shut the entire field down an average of three days, totaling more than $250,000 in loss.

So what is a surge? The word “surge” is actually slang for lightning and other surges in the electrical system called transients. A surge, or transient, is defined as a high speed burst of energy lasting generally less than 8.33 milliseconds.

Surges can occur from environmental and human factors. External surges are usually caused by lightning and storms, human error and accidents, neighboring businesses, or utility switching. Internal surges can be caused by internal switching, motor controllers and robotics, power supplies, rectifiers, and controllers. The fact is, surges occur thousands of times per day in the average electrical system.

Most equipment is rated for a specific amount of voltage. Excess current caused by surges is not usable by the equipment and is dissipated as heat. Over time, current can jump directly to ground or to other conductors creating a fault. When wires and equipment heat up, the equipment will break down more, cost more to maintain, and need more frequent replacements.

The effect of surges can be catastrophic on microprocessors. A small surge can send false commands, change data, and cause premature failure. Surges also breakdown the semi-conducting material and cause it to deteriorate faster, until a larger surge comes along and causes a flash over burning up chips instantaneously.

Surges on motors and compressors heat the windings of the motor and cause the internal resistance to increase, lowering the efficiency of the motor. These surges also breakdown the insulation that can lead to premature failure. Further, starting and stopping motors creates surges. Every time a motor is hindered, or drag is put on the motor, a surge is generated.

Microprocessor based electronics and data communication networks (SCADA) are at the highest risk from surges. Due to the action of the variable speed drive, they can create voltage surges and harmonics on the system. Preserving these mission-critical systems from the damages of surges should be of paramount importance.

There are two components to a surge—voltage and current. If you got electrocuted tomorrow the voltage is far less important than the current. The current is what will hurt or kill you. Your equipment is no different. It’s the current that does the damage, not the voltage.

However, by the laws of electricity, voltage always precedes the current. So, in a surge protection device, voltage is the trigger. Voltage is what turns the surge protection device to the “on” position. When it’s in the on position, it becomes a variable short; all of the available current of that surge will rush to the short. You may have some excess voltage get through the line, but it will be milliamps at best. The initial clamping voltage is the point where the surge protection device recognizes the surge and “turns on”. It then, by the laws of electricity, suppresses all of the current to neutral or ground. The current will not flow to any other point because the short is right there.

Surges are either positively or negatively charged. A positive charge surge seeks negative, and a negative charged surge seeks positive. Surge protection devices are a true DC device, and they act as a path for both negative and positive charged surges. This is why a low clamping voltage surge protection device is so important. The initial clamping voltage is the point where the surge protection device turns on, and all the current rushes to the short. The lower you clamp the less possibility that any current will get through to damage your equipment.

Not all surge protection devices are the same. Some have initial clamping voltage on a 277/480 volt system anywhere from 1100 volts or higher. Again, voltage always precedes the current. If the voltage is allowed to rise on a 277 leg to 1100 volts, current will already be flowing past the surge protection device to equipment downstream. If you clamp low, the surge protection device will suppress surges hundreds of thousands of times more than if you were to clamp at a higher level.

The solution to eliminate the risk of surge damage is following the recommendation of the National Electric Code and Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers by installing surge protective devices at every main and sub-panel in the electrical system. Surge protection devices are a proven and important component of a lightning and surge protection system in protecting electrical systems and critical business processes on the secondary side.

Simply put, an inefficient power system means wasted dollars. You can eliminate risk concerns of downtime and equipment replacement costs affecting electrical systems and processes from lightning and surges by utilizing low clamping surge protection devices in field operations. This will help to eliminate downtime and improve your production and operation profitability.

Is the Wolf at the Door or Waiting in the Forest?

Corporate boards, shareholders, and the broader public have growing concerns about stranded oil and gas assets. This white paper explores the risk of fossil fuel reserves becoming stranded assets as governments move to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and shift to a low-carbon economy. Stakeholders such as institutional investors are increasingly pushing for oil and gas companies to identify, consider, quantify, and report risks associated with stranded assets.

Given the current state of global climate policy, stranded assets may not be perceived as an imminent threat. However, some institutional investors have committed to divesting to reduce exposure to fossil fuels. Publicly traded oil and gas companies have provided responses to address increased requests for disclosure.

The risk of government carbon policies, regulations, and other environmental drivers that lead to reduced reliance on fossil fuels and stranded assets is expected only to increase. Therefore, understanding the potential risks of these assets becoming stranded along with the resource specific mitigation measures is becoming even more important. Such understanding, in a rhetoric-charged space, is essential to truly quantify asset and investor risk and to mitigate and manage potential risks accordingly and in parallel.

During the past 20 years, ICF International has earned an international reputation in the field of climate change consulting. ICF is known for analytical rigor, in-depth market expertise, and technical integrity through scores of climate change-related assignments. Our expertise is exemplified by the receipt of a gold award from the Climate Change Business Journal in the category of Consulting & Engineering: Climate Risk Management & Adaptation. In this paper, ICF discusses the potential threat of stranded assets and identifies the key issues. Our team of climate change experts can address these topics in a company-specific manner.


As evidenced by majors such as Shell and Exxon, publicly traded oil and gas companies have been responding to investor and broader public concerns regarding the valuation of proven fossil fuel reserves and the potential liability resulting directly from the forward constraints on carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Institutional investors such as Norway’s Storebrand and Dutch multinational Rabobank have made public announcements on their intentions to divest broadly in the fossil fuel sector or not loan to certain energy extraction process such as shale gas and oil sands. Much of the basic logic is well defined in The Carbon Tracker Initiative’s Unburnable Carbon—are the world’s financial markets carrying a carbon bubble?

The recently released Fifth Assessment Report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) holds that the global temperature rise attributed to anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions will exceed 2°C1 unless cumulative global emissions are held below 3,670 gigatonnes of CO2e2 since the period 1861 to 1880. This threshold is commonly known as the “carbon budget.” As of 2011, more than half of this global budget has been used.

UK expands International Collaborative Networks

During the UKCCSRC Biannual Meeting: CCS and Industry, being held at Cardiff University, the UK Carbon Capture and Storage Research Centre (UKCCSRC) expanded its international network by signing Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) with the Research Coordination Network – Carbon, Capture, Utilization and Storage (RCN-CCUS), based at Columbia University in the United States and the CO2 Afvang, Transport en Opslag/CO2 capture, transport, and storage (CATO-2) programme in the Netherlands.

Professor Jon Gibbins, Director of the UKCCSRC and Professor Ah-Hyung Alissa Park, the Principal Investigator (PI) of RCN-CCUS signed an MoU to help advance the work of UK and US researchers on the capture, transport, and long-term storage of carbon dioxide from fossil fuel and biomass use.

Welcoming the signing of the MoU, which marks the beginning of a new and exciting relationship between the two organisations, Prof Gibbins said, “RCN-CCUS, as well as the UKCCSRC, is a virtual centre bringing together academics and a range of CCS stakeholders so we have a lot in common. There are already some existing informal links between our members but this MoU will help us to interact much more widely.”

Professor Park said, “Climate change is one of the most difficult challenges faced by humanity, which cannot be solved without transdisciplinary global collaborations. We are very excited to synergistically merge our efforts and look forward advancing the science of CCUS together.”

To help build the UKCCSRC and RCN-CCUS relationship Professor Gibbins attended the RCN-CCUS Annual Meeting at Columbia University in April of this year and Professor Park will address delegates of the UKCCSRC Biannual Meeting in Cardiff on “CCUS in the USA: Activity, prospects, and academic research”.

The MoU sketches out future activities identified as being of potential benefit to both organizations, the signing of which demonstrates a deeper commitment by both organizations to work closely and explore opportunities for new collaborative research with each other.

Professor Gibbins, on behalf of the UKCCSRC, also signed an MoU with Jan Brouwer, Programme Director, CATO-2 who is in Cardiff to attend the UKCCSRC Biannual Meeting and give an overview and discuss future plans of CATO-2 in a plenary session later today.

This MoU builds on an already strong relationship between the two organisations which has included the hosting of two meetings for Early Career Researchers (ECRs) in both countries already this year; the UKCCSRC CATO-2 ECR Networking Meeting Held in York in March and the First Young North Sea CCS Researchers Conference held in Rotterdam in June. Excitingly at the June meeting, ECRs representing both organizations negotiated an ‘Amsterdam Declaration’ which was presented to John Gale, General Manager, IEAGHG at CATO-2’s 7th Dutch CCS Symposium.

Welcoming the signing of the MoU, Professor Gibbins said, “It will be very exciting to learn more about CATO’s long experience of running a national CCS research program, as well as to link to the scientific expertise they have built up. We have already had some very interesting exchange visits and can use the easy travel between our countries to build up a close working collaboration going forward.”

Mr Brouwer said, “Whereas scientists and parties involved in UKCCSRC and CATO obviously cooperate within the same international research arena, the MOU signed by UKCCSRC and CATO is an expression of their wish to also extend international cooperation to the program level. I have no doubt that such cooperation will be beneficial to both programs and will open new opportunities to scientists involved.”

The signing of these MoUs sets in place a framework for developing new and innovative research collaborations for UK researchers with their counterparts in the U.S. and the Netherlands which are highlighted as Priority Countries in the UKCCSRC International Engagement Strategy.

PDVSA Allegedly Exiting Gulf Coast

PDVSA is allegedly exiting the Gulf Coast refining market with a potential sale of its U.S. downstream unit, Citgo, and its part ownership in the Chalmette, LA refinery. It’s a move that could result in a change of crude slate strategy at three Gulf Coast refineries where new owners may replace heavy Venezuelan imports with Canadian crude or modify units to run more relatively cheap light sweet regional grades.

The Venezuela state run oil company is seeking preliminary offers for Citgo by the end of September, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters. Citgo’s assets, which include refineries in Corpus Christi, TX, Lake Charles, LA, and Lemont, IL, could cost up to $10 billion. PDVSA is also exploring a sale of its stake it the Chalmette refinery which it owns alongside Exxon Mobil, Reuters said.

The three Gulf Coast refineries potentially up for sale all are all capable of running Venezuelan heavy crude. The 440,000 bpd Lake Charles refinery is “particularly suited to process heavy sour crude oils,” while the 165,000 bpd Corpus Christi refinery is “designed, engineered and built to refine heavy, sour crude oils supplied by PDVSA,” Citgo said on its website. In addition, the 192,500 bpd Chalmette Refinery “primarily receives its crude from Louisiana’s Gulf Coast and from Venezuela,” and is “uniquely equipped to handle heavy crude oil from Venezuela,” according to Exxon Mobil.

But it appears that Venezuelan imports to the United States are already being displaced. “Canadian crude has displaced Venezuelan for the last year,” a Canadian crude-by-rail trader said.

The United States imported on average so far this year about 723,000 bpd of crude from Venezuela, down from about 754,000 bpd in 2013, about 912,000 bpd in 2012 and near 868,000 bpd in 2011, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Even with falling imports into the United States, Venezuela is still a top exporter behind Canada, Saudi Arabia, and Mexico.

In June, Citgo imported about a combined 154,000 bpd of Venezuelan crude to the Corpus Christi and Lake Charles refineries, the most recent EIA data showed. Chalmette Refining, the joint-venture between PDVSA and Exxon Mobil, received about 58,400 bpd during June from Venezuela.

Unless PDVSA requires a crude supply agreement as part of the terms of the refinery package, the sale of the three refineries could result in increasingly less Venezuelan imports to the Gulf Coast. A crude supply contract appears to be a possibility, one trader said, pointing to reports that in July former PDVSA president Rafael Ramirez told reporters Venezuela would have to be ensured as a crude supplier during refinery sale negotiations.

However, during the same month, a deal was reached with China in which PDVSA would supply shipments of about 100,000 bpd of crude and products to the country in exchange for a $4 billion credit line. PDVSA’s shipments to China are expected to rise to 1 million bpd by 2016, Reuters said.

Though a potential buyer of the Corpus Christi, Lake Charles, or Chalmette refineries, may opt to continue importing Venezuelan crude, other crude options are available.

In one scenario, the new owners could invest in heavy crude-by-rail unloading equipment to receive crude from Western Canada on rail. “If the buyer were interested in more heavy crude-by-rail into those refineries, it would definitely have to make investments along those lines, probably funded through a midstream MLP,” Cowen and Company analyst Sam Margolin said.

Western Canadian Select crude has a typical API gravity of 21.32 and a sulfur content of near 3.3 percent, while Citgo’s Venezuelan crude imports during June had on average an API gravity of 19.58 and an average sulfur content of 2.9 percent. While the grades are similar, heavy crude-by-rail economics from Western Canada to the Gulf Coast have been unfavorable for weeks, as the price of WCS narrowed its discount to WTI to about minus $13/bbl from near minus $20/bbl. With shipping economics in mind, new owners could instead opt to upgrade the refineries to run the relatively cheap light sweet shale crude that is pooling in the Gulf Coast region, sources said. They may “reconfigure overheads” to make modifications,” a Gulf Coast crude trader said.

If light crude modifications were made, the new owners would be following a trend in the Gulf Coast where refiners are maximizing light crude runs.

Heavy and medium crude imports “are down significantly over the past few years, but refinery throughputs are higher,” Margolin said. “Lights are making up the difference, and with an independent owner of those plants, the Citgo assets could follow that pattern.”

As oil companies slash oil-refining capacity, the operational health of the remaining units becomes increasingly important. Genscape’s Refinery Intelligence combines observations obtained from visual and infrared cameras with in-house analytical and technological expertise to provide an unrivaled view into real-time operations at U.S. refineries. We currently monitor 59 percent of overall refinery capacity in the United States, including 92 percent of East Coast refineries, 72 percent of Midcontinent refineries, and 71 percent of Gulf Coast refineries. Click here to learn more about Genscape’s Refinery Intelligence services or request a free trial.

See more at: http://www.genscape.com/blog/potential-buyers-pdvsa-usgc-refineries-could-change-crude-slates#sthash.fiqvOZaV.dpuf

BBVA Compass Chief Economist Testifies

BBVA Compass’ Chief Economist Nathaniel Karp testified at a Texas Senate subcommittee Friday about Mexico’s historic energy reforms, which he said will add more than 200,000 jobs, almost $3.5 billion in state revenues and $45 billion in GDP to the Texas economy.

Karp was invited to speak before the natural resources subcommittee by Texas SenatorJuan Hinojosa of McAllen, the committee’s chairman. He spoke about research his team at BBVA Compass conducted on the economic impact that Mexico’s groundbreaking legislation, which was passed in December and allows private firms to invest in the country’s energy sector, will have on Texas.

“Texas stands to be the major beneficiary from the reform due to deep economic ties, geographic proximity, and expertise in energy exploration, production, and distribution,” Karp told the subcommittee. Mexico “will need Texas’ firms to provide physical resources, cutting-edge technologies, human capital, and expertise”—particularly in deepwater and horizontal drilling and extra heavy oil.

He anticipates a large share of the foreign direct investment to Mexico will be used to purchase goods and services from Texas, benefiting a wide range of the state’s industries. In addition, he predicted that Mexico’s faster economic growth created by the reforms will further boost trade with Texas and business opportunities throughout the state.

He pointed out that of the five promising basins in Mexico, the two largest are on or near the Texas border. The Burgos Basin in northeast Mexico is estimated to hold two-thirds of Mexico’s shale gas resources. It’s an extension of Texas’ Eagle Ford Shale, and would have significant appeal for companies that operate on the Texas side of the border. Karp said this will help narrow the socioeconomic disparities between Texas’ border cities and big metro areas, like Houston and Dallas.

“If these border towns effectively seize the opportunity, the Texas-Mexico border could see one of the most dramatic transformations in its history,” Karp said.

In addition to Karp, the bank’s economic research group includes Kim Fraser Chase, Marcial Nava, Shushanik Papanyan and Boyd Nash-Stacey. Follow their work on Twitter @BBVAResearchUSA and @BBVACompassNews.

How to Lead Like a Weltmeister

Aside from legendary cars, world class beers, and the first-rate manufacturing, being a German is not always easy, especially when you are outspoken about your love for the United States of America. But, ever since the powerful and inspiring victory in the FIFA World Cup, it has become a little bit easier, especially because this victory could be foreseen purely by a closer look at the greatness of its team.

Getting ahead, reaching the pole position in both global and extremely competitive markets, is not at all easy. But the good news is it is possible, and Germany has added an excellent example to this gallery of world masters with a simple, but often forgotten recipe: a relentless focus on quality and the one thing that matters most, a team that makes success happen.

It does not matter if it is a corporate team, a sports team, or non-profit team. With over a billion people around the globe watching and commenting on the weaknesses of the individual players, it was not easy to resist the temptation of putting one’s ego before the team spirit. But, the whole team, every single player plus the coach, Jogi Löw, resisted and focused on the thing that matters most if you want to reach the top: remaining unassuming, polite, and focused on your goal. And being focused is something Germans excel in (sometimes so much that they appear over efficient, non-humorous and insanely organized). In the end, these team qualities paid off. They can well be used as an inspiration and analogy for any other team worldwide.

When remembering the matches of the World Cup—from the agonizing draw against Ghana, the respectable victory against the US, to the dominating win against Brazil—it becomes clear that this victory is not just a long-awaited gratification for a reunified nation, it is a masterpiece and blueprint for organizations and teams around the world that dare to exchange quick fixes and fast bucks for the biggest financial and emotional victories that fuel organizations for decades. In German, a “Weltmeister” is the best in class, the leader of the pack, the one who has reached the pole position. Establishing Weltmeister qualities pays off in multiple ways.

The following are 5 key qualities of a Weltmeister:

Putting the team first and implementing a serving attitude

The German team has several world class players, all of them alpha males with long personal records of success. But nevertheless, they never allowed one ego to step up and leave the others behind. They understood, and were deeply convinced, that by helping their teammates with a serving, instead of deserving, attitude, they would all reach the highest goal. Funny enough, the youngest talent on the team, Mario Götze, was the one that scored the final goal, pushing a whole nation into ecstasy. Any business or team leader can use this approach to establish the qualities of team spirit, a dedication to service, and willingness to help one another within their team. By doing this, teams help themselves grow towards a new level of success.

Identifying and nurturing talent

Following the roots of success is always interesting. In the case of the German victory it was sourced from a continuous, relentless search for young talents and a bold investment, not only into their talents, but into everything that the team needed: new training facilities, diversified and trusting coaches, as well as great relations on the inside and outside with external multipliers. Applying this quality to any business leads to a new look at anything that increases the team’s productivity. Those investments might sometimes hurt the bottom line in the short view, but they increase the success and profit in the longer run.

Reaching out for Excellency

In our bottom-line focused world, customers often miss good “old world” qualities and authenticity in leaders and brands. Reaching for nothing less than excellence requires a lot from everybody involved. It requires setting the highest goals in every form of quality: product quality, customer satisfaction quality, leadership qualities. For the Germans this might be a bit easier since the term “Made in Germany” has been a long-term warrant for outstanding quality. None the less, it is possible for any organization and individual to restart their own quest for excellence—and forever step away from mediocrity and failure customers regularly experience, even with established brands.

Being willing to pay the price

Sometimes the road to gaining, or regaining, the number one position is long. But, it is always worth it, as long as you are honest with yourself and the rest of your team about the price that comes with the package. In the case of the German team, the price was high. It included endless physical training sessions, competitive video analyses, and enduring team development. Applying those actions into the business world also means a lot of persistence and work. It means precise attention to every detail in the production and sales process and keeping the team spirit up within the company, even when it seems that all odds are against you. It means to set different priorities in every days’ work and going the extra mile for the customer.

Focus on inspiration rather than motivation

Motivation is yesterday´s music. Inspiration is today´s must have for any world class team, because it comes from within a person and not from without. But, inspiration itself won´t secure the trophy, either. It has to be followed up with persistent, daily actions which are exactly what the German coach, and any corporate leader, can achieve. Inspiring a team instead of relying on old-world motivational patterns, like bonuses, followed up by a joint plan of action, is the key to the big win. Jogi went for this strategy with his team, and so can you.

The good thing about these Weltmeister qualities is that you do not have to be a soccer fan to be able to follow and benefit from them. What this German soccer team showed game after game was not only impressive and inspiring, it was the best proof that everyone who is willing to pay the price for excellence can rise from the ashes of their past towards a successful future—regardless if it is a nation, a corporation, or an individual.

About the Author

Kerstin Plehwe, German bestselling author and international speaker based in Berlin, Germany, helps people and organizations to be courageous, excellent and innovative. She has built and sold several businesses in Germany successfully, advised hundreds of top executives and politicians and has become a highly reputable TV analyst, author and communication expert. She is available to speak in the United States on topics such as new leadership, diversity, change and personal excellence. For more information please visit www.kerstinplehwe.com

The Five C’s for Building a Successful Business

Small businesses have made a huge recovery since the economic crash in 2008, and that’s good news for all of us. Since we account for 63 percent of new jobs, our success puts people back to work. That, in turn, helps us even more—people with paychecks buy stuff!

And here’s more good news: The number of new businesses launching has grown each year since hitting a low in 2009.  One report put it at 540,000 new businesses a month this year.

In hopes of contributing in my own small way, I thought I’d share my 5 C’s for building a business. These are the guiding principles I’ve learned in the 24 years since I founded EMSI Public Relations. Through the ups and downs and all the mistakes, I’ve found that if I keep my compass set on the five C’s, we always make it through to smoother waters.

What are the C’s?


It starts with caring enough about yourself and your dreams to stay committed to achieving your goals. (Giving up is never a good option!) You have to care enough about yourself to firmly believe that you deserve success and the good things that come with it.

Just as important is caring about your staff and creating a positive work environment for them. Protect their sanity from the clients who want to chew them up and from new hires who don’t fit in and hurt morale. Be supportive when stressful situations arise in their lives outside of work. And ensure everyone has the knowledge and tools they need to be successful.

None of us gets far at all if we don’t care about our customers. Give them the best exchange possible for their money—define expectations so that they understand the end product you are delivering and for which they are paying. Be willing to listen to their concerns, take responsibility for mistakes, and correct them.


Thirty years ago, I probably would never have said it takes courage to lead a small business, but without it, I assure you, you’ll fail. There are dragons and quicksand and dark woods all around. You’ll find them in the day-to-day problems, the obstacles you didn’t see lying in wait, the risks you must take, and the stresses involved with honoring your obligations to everyone working with and for you.

Trust me, your courage will grow every time you push your fear behind you and deal with what frightens you. Which will also help you build confidence.


Think of the many challenges you’ve faced in your life, and the many times you’ve overcome them. Bring that confidence to your business. Believing that you can reach for and achieve your short- and long-term goals is essential to getting you there.


Competence comes from knowledge and experience. Hone it by staying up on the trends and disruptions in your industry. One of the most important roles a CEO plays is as the visionary for his or her company. That means you can’t, and shouldn’t, take on jobs within your company for which you’re not qualified. You’ll make yourself miserable and your business will suffer. Hire an accountant to handle the financials. Get marketing help if that’s not your thing.

As for employees, take the time to hire competent people who you’ll trust in their jobs—and then trust them!


Stay dedicated to your goals no matter how difficult that becomes. That may mean taking painful measures, as it did for me after the 9/11 terrorist attacks put the brakes on the economy. There came a point for my business when all hope looked lost. I had to make drastic cuts, including letting go beloved employees. For more than a year, I ramped up marketing efforts, diversified our services, and took other steps to get the business out of the red. In 2005, I succeeded—and it has been upward and onward ever since.

Building my business has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my life. I get a lot of pleasure from helping our clients meet their goals. I enjoy coming to work and spending time with the team I’m blessed to call part of the family. We laugh loudly and often!

If you’ve recently launched a new business, know that you’ll encounter challenges. Don’t panic! Remember the five C’s and forge ahead with caring, courage, confidence, competence and commitment.

About Marsha Friedman

Marsha Friedman is a public relations expert with 25 years’ experience developing publicity strategies for celebrities, corporations, and media newcomers alike. Using the proprietary system she created as founder and CEO of EMSI Public Relations, (www.emsincorporated.com) an award-winning national agency, she secures thousands of top-tier media placements annually for her clients. The former senior vice president for marketing at the American Economic Council, Marsha is a sought-after advisor on PR issues and strategies. She shares her knowledge in her Amazon best-selling book, “Celebritize Yourself,” and as a popular speaker at organizations around the country.

ExxonMobil Details Risk Management

ExxonMobil released a report that outlines for shareholders how the company assesses and manages risks associated with developing unconventional resources, including through hydraulic fracturing.

“Hydraulic fracturing has been responsibly and safely used by the oil and gas industry for more than 60 years, but the process isn’t without risks,” said Jeffrey Woodbury, vice president of Investor Relations. “This report to shareholders details how ExxonMobil uses sound risk management processes and engages with stakeholders to ensure safe and environmentally responsible operations.”

Unconventional natural gas and oil development in the United States has resulted in widespread benefits, including significant job creation, reduced carbon dioxide emissions, lower energy costs, new sources of government revenue, and improved energy security. The report highlights numerous studies that support these trends.

The report presents information on how the application of sound risk management practices that protect human health and the environment can be deployed to continue supporting the significant benefits of resource development.

Release of the report is part of an ongoing dialogue between ExxonMobil and its shareholders about important matters. The report to shareholders is available at www.exxonmobil.com/hfreport. Additional information about unconventional resources development and hydraulic fracturing can be found in ExxonMobil’s Outlook for Energy and Corporate Citizenship Report on ExxonMobil’s website www.exxonmobil.com.

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