Posts Tagged ‘London’

LNG Global Congress

9/21: The day following the end of the LNG Global Congress, I met over lunch with interfax energy reporter Tom Washington. At the journalist’s suggestion we met near the Thames river, at Brasserie Blanc. The day prior, we had chatted briefly over lunch at the LNG gc Congress and I had so many questions that I implored him to meet with me for lunch the very next day.

As Tom explained, journalists play a role in determining prestige among firms and spokespersons. Energy journalists are Yamalinterested primarily in numbers. Through numbers (annual production, forecasts on production, revenue) they aim to tell a story about the fortunes of industry.

Since they are reporting and not editorializing, they specifically employ a quote by an expert in order to fashion a particular interpretation.

That is, a quote gives surface legitimacy to their interpretation of the story based on what they understand the numbers to convey.

As an example, consider Tom’s reporting on the Yamal discussion at the LNG gc event in his article that came out several hours after our lunch titled Yamal LNG affirms its faith in China for financing.

We talked for some time of Tatiana Mitrova, who I met at Skolkovo in the outskirts of Moscow, just prior to her ascendance at Russian Academy of Sciences.

Her presentation at LNG gc was instructive as always, discussing the evolution of Russian gas policy, describing the industry’s shift from traditional contract (subsidizing economy and low taxes for production – protection from the state, monopolistic structure of market without question) to New Deal, where prices are reaching Henry Hub level for industrial consumers, while taxes are increasing, and more players, Novatec/Rosneft are “hungry to reduce Gazprom’s share”.

I should just mention that other persons of note in attendance at the LNG gc included Ralf Dickel, who I first met in Moscow during his deliver to the oil and gas congress when he was director of European Energy Charter, and then last year at the Energetics Conference in St. Petersburg.

9/18: Just off the coffee break and now listening to Takao Kasumi, Deputy General Manager, Paris representative of Tokyo Gas. In the post Fukushima landscape, LNG (liquified natural gas imports) are a big issue in Japan. What is perhaps more unexpected is the high expectations of shale gas imports from the United Sates.

I asked earlier, actually, of Senior Analyst Javier Diaz, Bentek Energy, a unit of PLATTS, whether all this US gas would potentially come from Alaskan efforts to commercialize North Slope natural gas. His response provided before everyone and sundry was that the project (announced recently in Alaska news as going forward) was totally uneconomic, without even a projected time horizon of delivery. The 45-60 billion dollar project no longer is talked about in terms of 10 to 20 year time frames rolling into the future.

Anyway, back to Takao who just finished, and we are moving on to Jose Ramon Arango, Leader of Liquid Bulk Segment, Panama Canal Authority, who will be speaking of everything [except the tariff rates].

LNG [liquefied natural gas] Global Congress, London

Global LNG Pamphlet

Panama. The transshipment center for the Americas since the 1600s. A lot of impressive photos presented both on current development in widening the canal, but also computer graphic imagery depicting how it will appear when completed.

Andrew Clifton, General Manager, SIGTTO — talking about achieving a level of reliability that makes LNG shipping “almost invisible”. US, UK, France, were the three main developers of LNG vessels, and responding on the French achievement is Jean-Francois Castel, Manager Business Development, Gazocean GDF Suez.

US LNG vs. Russian Pipe Gas: who wins. Will Russia remain the lowest cost producer in Europe? by Theirry Bros, European Gas & LNG, Global Research & Strategy, Societe Generale. A lower overall European gas price will make Chinese extract low cost gas from Russia. But Russian production costs are very low. Apparently, Russia is observing US export of LNG, watching the potential terminal buildup for exporting to Europe, wanting to keep a threshold beyond which would destroy price stability.

Yamal LNG Update, Will Yamal LNG be cost effective for European Supply? Christophe Malet, Deputy Director Marketing & Shipping, Yamal LNG. Multiple candidates of super giant natural gas fields across the northern peninsula of Yamal. Production company moving toward production and trade entity.

Envisioning utilizing Northern Sea Route during the Arctic Summer (June through September) — within two weeks distance to eastern markets making it comparable distance to middle east. During winter, Yamal would go west to Europe across Norway to transfer gas onto conventional vessels that would then provide shipments to the East.

Total investment cost of project, 27 billion dollars for the three trains. Requirements of an Arctic fleet + a conventional fleet to transport from lower latitudes + condensation infrastructure. Arctic vessels around 2015.

Port of Sabetta, Yamal. Malet shows actual photos of the development of the location, indicating 3000 persons at the site, a commercial air strip being constructed, “it’s beautiful”. [fabulous photographs, ed.]

image “As Tatiana [Mitrova] highlighted this morning, sanctions have created uncertainty in Russia these days”…”Yamal has significant momentum to date because its shareholders had a pre-committment and show continued support for handling the new uncertainties, whether over technology transfers or access to financial markets”. The fundamentals of the Yamal are very strong and valuable proposition – for asian markets, and European markets. A project that will bring a constant flow besides Europe, which is ideally located to access additional production.

Now up: John la Rue, Executive Director Port of Corpus Christi providing update on the US LNG Exports. Shows the US gas transmission lines. Talking about various projects with an opportunity to “see 10-12 billion dollars going into the ground” per project.

An interesting discussion about flaring – burning natural gas – and the attempts to cut back on flaring from days to hours.

curtainIn one of my favorite books, Ancient City, Fustel de Coulanges builds lifeworlds around the smallest bits of data. I always think of it when looking at photographs, especially poor images like the one above that I took with the photobooth camera on macbook.

If we take just one fragment from this image, we can see quite a bit about the nature of what constitutes the staging of verification in energy knowledge at this particular event.

In this case, the “pleated” blue cloth-like folds that conspicuously hang down from the elevated “stage” onto the carpet, indicating excess and heightened sensation of a location titled floor or ground, where people walk, and the elaborated distance from which people speak or address those on the ground floor.

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London, 20 ↻ 30 September


LeafyKensington crossTwinsDistanceBushyKing's CrossKing's Cross
9/24: I joined Emma Wilson of IIED, for dinner, arranging  to meet under the concourse board at newly remodeled King’s Cross station, across the street from St. Pancreas, straight shot on the Circle Line from Paddington station, several steps near where I am staying at Queen’s Gardens, nearby the Kensington High Street.

IIED stands for International Institute for Environment and Development, which provides services for sustainability programs in developing countries. I have had the pleasure of visiting the offices of IIED last year for several days and was impressed with the maturity of practices in place for creating reliable reporting on development programs currently under way.

For dinner, Emma ordered chicken pot pie and I drowned my fish and chips in malt vinegar. I explained that my recent interest has been in how professionals frame what I call the “sweet spot of modernity” — through an alchemy of social authorities, intellectual technologies, and practical activities, specific professionals strive to “get things just right” in their assessments of the modern condition.  And this feature became the center of our discussion, Emma explaining, as with any organization, professional members lurch forward (a potato sack race was our analogy), collectively, managing a combination of personal trajectories into a common whole, not unlike a political campaign, but for obvious reasons, somewhat different since the focus is not solely the candidate, but the collective.

Not wanting to go into too much detail about IIED here, but using my conversation with Emma as a data point, the emphasis placed by individuals in these organizations on recursivity, that is, self assessment as an indication of assessing the overall goals, and in combination, developing mature individual projects that co-correspond to the organization while maintaining the arch of trajectory of the personal life of the professional — indeed, strikes me as both ambitious and routine.

If this is indeed the case, and perhaps it is one valuation, then the question remains, arising at the end our discussion, what is cutting edge? What is the edge alongside an anthropologist could trace the boundary upon which professional organizations teeter between collapse and innovation?

concourse board


9/23 at The Caesar in Queen’s Gardens (between Paddington and Kensington Gardens): Walking through to the high street for coffee, seeing the beginning of everyone’s Monday morning, children dressed in pea coats on their way to school, tourists gathering over maps in cafes, businessmen on bicycles, hotel staff leaving after the night shift, and the laden greenness of leaves on the various oaks, beeches, silver birches, chestnuts.

heathrowSome months ago, I saw the film Spring Breakers, where a group of university girls, in justification for breaking bad, detail the boredom of life, waking up in the same beds, seeing the same lamp posts, same buildings in the neighborhood.

Mentioning the scene several days later, with Florian Stammler on the Tromsø docks, I could not help reflecting on the immense travel and expanse of open-ended unstructured time available to cultural anthropologists as a profession.

There is no other profession I can think of in which one can explore continuously and remain identifiable as a specific intellectual (in Michel Foucault‘s sense of the term, that is, a modern professional).

heathrow at a distanceThe possibility of seeing new things anew all the time, to wake up in a new neighborhood continuously as an indication of the professional — that is what lends the discipline a modern attitude, for among nearly all professionals, the routine is what characterizes their pattern.

9/21: Blew into town just in time to catch my breath and a few winks.

I left Houston with an incoming note from, Jostein Mykletun, US Consular General of Norway, who invited me back next month to attend Houston’s off-shore conference, with promising key notes including Oslo Energy Forum’s Managing Director and former Shell boss, Johan Nic Vold. I would rather not pass up the opportunity to meet with those two heavies in one room, so we will see you next month again in Houston. Meanwhile, here in London…

…Arrival scene.


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London town

Oxford Street

12/6: I just cannot say more wonderful things about London, what a fabulous town. As much as I was required to complete a proposal for a deadline, turn in a few academic applications, work on a revised article due tomorrow (yikes!), I still managed to get out and travel on my way to various spots, hopping in on the goings on, at Christmas time especially, with so many lights and happy revelers.

The days were quite standard from the beginning. Waking up, heading down for English Breakfast (₤ 10), grabbing my computer and heading to the lounge, working while peering out through the window at the representative city scape.

cityscape through windowI cannot recall now when it was, perhaps the second day, but by 2PM, I had intended to travel over to 61 New Cavendish Street in order to participate in the IFEG quarterly meeting.

I am on the committee of Information For Energy Group or IFEG. The Group is part of the Institute for Energy here in London, and I believe I have written in detail on this very blog about IE during my last visit.

At any rate, we typically organize a variety of seminars and workshops having to do with information about, well, primarily oil and gas developments, and in particular, how access to information may take place, through various libraries at petroleum companies, on the internet, and the like.

And the Committee members are sincere. What a pleasure to be in their company. Emily Heath, IFEG Secretary was as sparkling as ever. Catherine Cosgrove, the ever present librarian was in good form, as was Greville Williams, IHS Asset manager. Energy Institute New Cavendish

The meetings are quite formal actually. We have an agenda with “minutes” from the previous meeting that have to be discussed and approved. Then, of course, we move on to larger issues of the day, what visits and seminars IFEG plans to organize. On March 14, for example, there will be a visit to the Isle of Grain Liquefied Natural Gas terminal and in June a visit to the Dungeness B nuclear power station. I will certainly be in London for those visits.

energy instituteWe also had a lively discussion about virtual and seminar networks and the IFEG membership. In fact, now that I recall, I joined one of the break out groups for having a seminar on “Energy Blogging”. So we shall see where that takes us and I plan to report back soon on the IFEG members.

Well, I had the opportunity of once again visiting the offices of the global energy consultancy firm, UGR (pseudonym), and to discuss the possibility of spending time with them working on Arctic gas developments. Boy, was I surprised at the kind of data they have access to and are capable of building a pricing structure around. Indeed. One of the issues we discussed in fact, was confidentiality surrounding dissemination and sharing of data, and even the possibility of establishing standards for future UGR-academic relationships. Overall, I was pleased with the meeting, very much so.


UGR organization


insideIt looks like I will have to get up and get on an airplane for Norway. Well, that was London. I expect to return shortly, for a number of visits that could not happen this time, including a scheduled meeting with a Statoil higher up, through a connection in Norway. But what a great town!street subway oxford Nordic bakery

12/5: London Diptych: Organizational and Serendipitous Forms.

dyptich 1 Dyptich 2Earlier this year, in April, I had the opportunity to visit an energy consulting firm, UGR (pseudonym). Upon entering the building, my attention was arrested by the personal image of the front desk person, dressed as she was in a smart hair-bun, posturepedic grace, and so on. But evidently, I was mistaken.

When I arrived today, I saw nearly the same image of the person, and realized that the front desk attire is a constant expression of the outward form of the building itself, its assertion of identity to the passersby.

Earlier in the year, at the same time the first image was taken, I met with Arctic landscape photographist and travelry specialist, Nick Cobbing, at Nordic Bakery, located in Golden Square, approx. 7 minutes walk from Oxford Street station. CobbingHere is a map of how to get there from the tube station:

directions to Nordic Bakery

By chance, we decided to meet once again, today in December, in the afternoon. And as serendipity would have us, we found ourselves in the same seating arrangement as when we chatted previously, in April.

Cobbing 2

12/3: Just blew into the Central Park Hotel, near Paddington Station opposite Hyde Park. London looks fabulous, great weather, the same as Berkeley actually, a little damp, crisp with a slight breeze. Let us hope that it holds up over the next several days.

heathrow trainArriving at Heathrow could not have been simpler. I usually take the tube, but at the bottom of the escalator, after passport control and just before baggage claim, salespersons were calling out tickets to Paddington aboard the direct train connection, for ₤ 52 first class round trip,  + another ₤ 5 for taxi from Paddington to the hotel — 25 minutes later– and here I am with a latte, already getting together a final draft of the National Science revision proposal sent back to Maria Stoilkova at U. Florida, who is waiting for me to complete the final touches.

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8/10: US-Norway Fulbright Orientation….

Where Does One Begin?

Perhaps with Fulbright maven, Ragnhild Sohlberg, Ph.D., of former Norsk Hydro management and Rand specialist to whom, alongside Sonia Mykletun (see bottom), can be attributed the recently established Arctic Research Chair position?

With newly minted Fulbrighters musing on Art and Love in the Oslo Fulbright Office?

We back up and return to our visit at Nobel Institute?

To our roof-top reception following our Award Ceremony?

With where Prez B. Obama received his Nobel Peace Prize?

To imagine ourselves at Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs?

After introductions to begin a series of discussions about life in Norway?
Chatting, down the steps, onward toward ceremony and reception?

Let’s walk alongside past the King’s Royal gardens?

To begin under the celebrated chandeliers?

The paparazzi search beams, yes, for stars of my left and my right?

With the gendered children’s spam (pâté for the sensitive)?

There indeed are so many places to begin, as if to say, how can any one paparazzi ethnographer capture all the fleetings of such ritualized settings?

8/9: Entering into the Fulbright reception:

6/23/2012: I was awarded the US-Norway Fulbright Research Chair 2012-2013 at University of Tromsø (yay!). Reading my previous blog, see below, seems like a long time ago that I began the application. And it was! One year ago. I want register here and now that I plan to attend the Fulbright Orientation upcoming in August and to capture that event in paparazzi ethnographic style… 🙂

I recounted the entire saga of the award application to Svetlana L., with whom I had several wonderful conversations in April at Cambridge U. while attending the BASEES conference. Afterward, we met up in London over drinks at the Lanesborough where I poured out the entire story. She confessed to me that my tale was indeed, interesting. Here is Svetlana chatting on Hyde Corner:

To provide one example, I received news of the Fulbright award while in a hotel room in Jinan, China. I was visiting folks at the Department of Anthropology at Shandong U., with the generous offer to take the position as Associate Professor. For several days, I wandered around Jinan wondering how in world I would fit into that city scape, with all its unique food items, such as sea slugs, rose petals, and lettuce, as shown in the image below, taken at a high-end delicacy restaurant.

On the third day of my visit, returning to the hotel from a preview of the apartment that the university offered me as part of the hiring package and after walking out of the shower — a blast furnace of a water faucet, thank the lord — I noticed a new email in my inbox, from the Fulbright Foundation in Washington DC.

It was an eye spot. I paused for a few moments before reading the word: “congratulations”. And I plan to provide some updates right here, especially as I get news of the orientation.

6/23/2011: Last month, in Houston, I had dinner at the residence of Sonia Mykletun, recently Executive Director of the US-Norway Fulbright Program. Toward the end of the evening, she graciously invited me to apply for the newly created US-Norway Fulbright Arctic Chair, launched during her tenure. Sonia’s husband is the Royal Norwegian Consul General, Dr. Jostein Mykletun.

Both Jostein and I attended the Arctic Oil and Gas North America Conference that week where we were invited as keynote speakers.

Jostein presented the Norwegian Government’s High North Strategy, since he was Foreign Ministry Ambassador for the High North.

I decided to take Sonia up on her offer to apply for the Arctic Chair and have created here a post to document the process of putting together the Fulbright proposal.

What I find interesting, in fact, are all the threads that come together to make an application happen. In advance of my discussion with Sonia, I had discussed this opportunity with anthropologist Sidsel Saugestad of University of Tromsø (UiT). Initially, I was short listed for assistant professor in her department, though the job went to David Anderson, formerly of U. Aberdeen.

Some months followed and Sidsel and I chatted in SFO at the Anthropological Meetings about my spending time in Norway. And now, we are coordinating on the application.

Nezune Menka and the Band

The artist community of Svolvær in mid-winter

Another connection at UiT is Dr. Paul Wassmann of the Marine Biology Department who also has joined the Fulbright application effort on my behalf.

Not too long ago, Paul invited me along with early career scholars to Svolvær, Norway, in winter, on a cruise ship traveling the Norwegian inside passage from Tromsø, so that we could talk shop on oil and gas development in the Arctic. The conversations were intense. To cool off, we were provided with our own entertainment, in the form of a salsa band flown in from Barcelona, Spain.

That was an amazing voyage and Svolvær is so beautiful, especially in winter. In fact, there were artists in residence and we attended gallery showings. One of my favorite set of paintings was from Maud Brood, who, a bit of a recluse, became quite animated when talking about her work.

Hill Side by Maud Brood

Anthropologist Carly Dokis

pausing to catch a breath

During that trip I came to know quite well anthropologist Carly Dokis, who is wonderfully witty.

We spent all our time just hashing out ideas, intellectualizing our emotional lives, recounting our individual experiences through the language of anthropological texts. It is impossible not to do so when you have spent so much of your life sitting around reading. Having an interlocutor of that caliber, like Carly, made the trip.


heading south

But I should not forget the wonderfully clever anthropologist Najune Menka, also in attendance and who originates from Alaska. Najune works at the intersection of science, environmental politics and identity.

What is funny, Carly was living in Calgary, Alberta, where I was also living at the time, having been awarded the US-Canada Fulbright Scholar, North American Research Chair, at the University of Calgary.

The project I am proposing to carry out now extends my research into energy analysts in Norway. For this, many persons I have met so far as part of the US National Science Foundation research, including Arild Moe, Kaare Hauge, Elana Wilson Rowe, will be part of the project.

I have just completed what is nearly a first draft, and I am quite excited about it, and perhaps for this reason, I decided to create this post.

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→ London

London Epilogue: It was in the manner of visualizing the forest through the trees that I came face-to-face, this evening, with economist from Ukraine, Svetlana L. I snapped a beautiful photograph of Svetlana inside the bar at the Lanesborough where we met for sparkling water. Of that image, we can only make public at this time fragments of the surroundings, in respect to her wishes, or rather, to her demurring over whether she wants to make an official appearance on the P-E blog.

It remains to be seen whether we will be able publish the image in full, but we will be content with the remains of what we have, in the absence of the full photo, around its perimeter, a maternal painting over the fire place, a fuddy duddy having spent his own life his own way …. and a blazing red lampshade …

Responding to Svetlana’s request of an accounting of my procedure, how I do what I do, in detail, I walked through one particular project, the recent Fulbright US-Norwegian Application, more details on that later…. What eventually came out, so to speak, one might say in the final moments of our discussion, and upon departure, as the bill was paid, and when I took up my overcoat — was whether my project was something more than simply a project, for example: is there any greatness in what I actively set my sights out to do?

But what is greatness other than stamina and tenacity and to allow reviewers (if there are such persons) to have the last word.

4/4: I will talk about the images below. I have great notes, and had a great couple meetings with energy consultants in London. I will need to change their names and the names of their organizations, and even, I will need to homogenize the information, so that if the images are recognized, what I speak about does not have direct details. Nothing too sensitive here. But I always say that, and then someone will call me, who I blog on and be discouraged. So I have to take a different approach. But I will come back to these images shortly. I am going to dinner on my last evening in London.

[post-script: written on 4/24]: Returning to these images, I effectively merge two consultants into one person who I will call Patterson Michael, who runs a shop in London near the Metropolitan University of London. We met at the Energy Institute’s workshop on surfing the internet for energy industry issues but also in Moscow at the Oil and Gas Petroleum Congress. When I mentioned that I worked in the Arctic, Patterson immediately noted that his group, Firmware Consultants, had recently created an Arctic map depicting current developments. I invited myself over to his office the next day to pick up a free copy of the map and have a little tete-a-tete over how he does what he does.

Actually, we had a great conversation and I learned quite a bit about how one product, a map, is produced and circulated. Before I go into the discussion of the map, I should first mention a few things about Firmware Consultants (name changed). It is a smaller firm with about 50 persons. They focus on “project flow” in particular, tracking off-shore installations to decommission. But they also do a wider range of things regarding intelligence gathering and activities depends upon the nature of the retainer they have with their client, as well as the personal relationship with the client.

In fact, I got the sense that all relationships between consultants and clients are personal, and that often times, a client, working in industry may just have a hunch or and idea about something that consultants at Firmware can hunt down and develop an answer around. And in this, I was quite reminded of the lobbyists I use to work with on Capitol Hill in the Office of the Alaska Governor. When we had a particular issue that required political intel, we (Office staff for Governor) would call one of our lobbyists to discuss the issue and then they would typically go out and get an answer.

Patterson suggests that his main competitors are the big firms, such as Douglas Westwood, Woodmackenzie and IHS. Smaller firms specialize, and offer boutique products, like the Arctic Map I discuss below. Patterson daily gets information from a variety of sources, mentioning as a priority the trade press, including Oil and Gas International, Barents Observer, EnergyPedia, Rigzone, Eye on Arctic (environmental).

But he also attends to major contractors’ websites, for information on installation in their own fields.

Well now to the map. First of all, there is the costing of the map itself which has to be born by some group at the outset, and this is typically accomplished by way of placing advertisement space on the map itself, which is purchased by industry.

As it was explained to me…
Companies like to know that they are appearing in an office, hanging on someone’s wall.

But there is the need to advertise that these advertisements are available, and for this, Patterson has a sales person in the office. They also give copies of the completed map at exhibitions. The first publication run was about 2000 but the maps are also available on-line and on DVD. One of the reasons why this particular map is important is that when there is “news of a discovery”, as an industry participant, you want to know where it is located, and you can turn to this map that hangs on your wall.

Now, constructing the map is somewhat different. There is a need to map the offshore blocks, which requires obtaining from country of origin information about who owns what and what is divested. Gathering this kind of intel requires one person doing a “blitz” on all blocks to find out who owns them. For most parts of the Arctic, this can be carried out in English (“Norwegian, no problem”), but Patterson does have a Russian speaker in the Office to handle Russia.

I wanted to know how long this map would be “useful” — to which he replied 5 years. And in fact, the internet site-map is updated all the time.

Finally, I wanted to know whether the information found on such a map is sent out for review, like in Academia before a publication. To this, Patterson mentioned that they conduct an in-house review, largely because no one in industry has the time to review such a project, and also, because most of the Arctic is well documented.

Epilogue: These are two persons I merged, but in fact, they were very different individuals. One firm, for example, wanted to separate the more meta narrative analysis from the data collection side, and in fact, has begun to farm out the data collection side to a firm in India, who they are training to do just what the London office has done for eons. It was in this latter conversation, that I received a less pragmatic view of the industry aims and purpose with intelligence, and in fact, got a sense that what I was doing, whatever that is, makes a great deal of sense in terms of touching on the various locations across the social field, examining how knowledge is cobbled together. More to come.

Here are my notes by the way, one last glance at how I collect data, before throwing them away. I have another blog post in here somewhere that documents how I do not keep things in a notebook, and here is just one more example…

4/03: Meeting with Francis Gugen at the Lanesborough:

Lucky to have a meeting this morning with Francis Gugen, former CEO of Amerada Hess UK. We had met in January, also at the Lanesborough, and he was good enough to spend time going over my project.

Here, I refer to Francis by his real name, because he is a mentor on my project and also, the issues we discuss are well within the framework of an open discussion.

We spent one hour going over how I would set up the initial stage of the project if I get continued funding from NSF, deciding on a 2 day get together in London, where my partners hammer out deliverables on the first day, and on second day, we invite mentors, like Francis, to see if we are on track. Only until we have a clear sense of moving forward, do we then meet again in London, with a wider range of groups, to present the project for feedback. A two day format, and then some time later a 3 day format.

Within this discussion Francis and I covered a lot of information, referring for example, to the condition of information rich versus knowledge poor environments — for which we are now moving into concerning energy debates.

What this means, and I have cited this previously in the context of comments by Jonathan Stern, that the Blogosphere is quite capable at framing terms of debate in energy decision making.

By placing everything on the internet, and co-creating in large groups, assessing risk is taking on dimensions that are quite different from when I originally theorized the rise of intermediary groups.

Here Francis was adept in touching on a variety of points, all of which began to make me rethink the level of partners that I will engage with. Questions: In what ways and at what levels do I put the problem of energy out into the community to get feedback to assess how to come up with good solutions on risk assessment. There is the question of What one has to continue to do as decision making the old way, and does that make for better decisions or anarchy.

Here, we are talking all the time of Post Shale Gale and Post Macondo decision making. How has the architecture for the old model (which I created) changed in this new model. The Blogosphere—uninformed and informed actors that are part of the policy and industry, including the Facilitator and the Spoiler.

How do I theorize that portion of the blogosphere that has decided to be involved. To say yes. Or no. Francis here refers to Four circles of influence.

The Policy, the Industry, the Intermediaries and the Spoilers. And all of this conversation is in the context of my creating some kind of graphic so that I can educate my partners or collaborators within a glance, about how the project aims to move forward. Francis continues: Engagement with the new and ever growing circle is haphazard.

Where do you go from there. Does it remain haphazard, are there any rules. Ignore it at your peril. How might one engage – does any body do the engagement well, how does that go, how important is it to have it go well for important policy making. Does it change how you go about interacting with it. Why are not companies using their own staff to create new models of outreach.

Blogosphere, Middle East, the awe of Obama fund raising money. No content, decisions based on awe.

3/31Yesterday. I had the opportunity to stop by King’s College and listen to a talk by ERG’s very own Richard Norgaard. It was fun. His comments about climate change assessment, the interest of economic discourse and the future of the planet were met with great interest by the audience.
Dick spoke for about 45 minutes, and then we continued speaking for another hour, fielding questions ranging from the will of politicians to economics as a religion.

Dick uses the word “we” which is a no-no in anthropology, and some one in the audience tagged him on this usage, suggesting perhaps it was too empire-like. But having Dick wax poetically about future generations, including his children in the story, in his way, melted even the most cynical of academics, at least for the duration of the Q and A.

I enjoyed myself. The talk was a version that I had heard during ERG PhD seminar, but much improved, more clearly dealing with the difficult and competing interests of scientists, who struggle over definitions of the very practice itself. I left Dick to deal with his throng of admirers and as I walked across Waterloo Bridge, could not help feeling that London is a town of admiration. Every place I looked on the way back to the hotel, there were piles of folks spilling out of pubs, drinking in the streets, riding bikes in packs completely shutting down traffic.

Earlier in the day, I had a chance to catch up with Energy Consultant Bill Samuels (name change). You will notice here now, that I have had to begin the practice of changing the names of my informants. I have lost so many informants on the basis of simply posting a blog on their activities, carrying out the paparazzi ethnographic activity, that I am altering my method slightly, just so slightly, before I run out of participants in my observation of the not-so-famous. A real tragedy in some instances, actually, but that is another story.
3/30: Oof. I have so much work. I have to write my lecture for Cambridge, which is tomorrow, so I have to do that today. There is the workshop in NYC in 12 days for which I have to read 19 book chapters and create two commentaries. A revision article before then has to be written, and then a Norwegian Research Council grant due April 18.

London was spectacular yesterday. Everyone was out lying about as if at the beach. I began the day at the Energy Institute, where I am a committee member for the Institute’s Information for Energy Group (IFEG) which had its committee meeting today. The last meeting was in January, which is when I was elected to the committee. In attendance was Daniel Craven (name changed) who is part of a global consultancy, and with whom I later went for coffee to discuss the potential of spending time with them as a fellow looking at global gas development.

In January, when I was visiting the Energy Centre at Skolkovo School of Management, near Moscow, Russia, I was impressed with Tatiana Mitrova‘s explanation of gas modeling, and her conviction that analysts, such as Oxford Energy Institute’s Jonathan Stern were embracing the model form for understanding the future of global gas. In fact, it was at this time as well, that I had access to Deutsche Bank’s 2010 primer on oil and gas, which corresponded to some extent to the conversation with Mitrova.

At any rate, over coffee, Daniel and I discussed where his consultancy was headed in terms of competition with other consultancies and in terms of its recent acquisition of other knowledge firms, to create synergies of strategic knowledge on global gas development. I later sent him my cv for further review.

I then had a chance to sit down with Gareth Parkes for a long overdue conversation about the history and structure of the Energy Institute (EI). In fact, the EI was founded in 1926, and merged in 2003 with the Institute of Petroleum, which was founded in 1913.

Both institutes have a long history in accumulating information about energy development and whose beginnings are enshrined with pre-modern ritual, as seen in these photos on the left, which capture the originary constitution of the institutes.

Gareth and I had a good laugh over these certificates. Upon closer examination, we found the word ARCHAEOPTERYX, which quite frankly, I had never seen before. Apparently, the word refers to an extinct primitive toothed bird of the Jurassic period having a long feathered tail and hollow bones. Today, the EI has 15,000 individual members, and 300 company members, mainly oil and gas related issues (50%) from the Institute of Petroleum days, along side everything else.

We went over oodles of other things, which I will write up elsewhere.

From there, I took a tour of the EI Library under the instruction of Catherine Cosgrove, who has been working as the EI librarian and previously the Institute of Petroleum librarian for 22 years. Certain details I already do not recall, and will have to collect when I return next Tuesday for an informational lunch, but the the library has been at this site since 1958, and the building, since 1777. Ornate ceilings cover all the rooms as seen here in this image of the main library.

After the tour, I headed down to Golden Square to meet with photographer Nick Cobbing. We had met in January at the Frontiers conference in Tromsø, Norway. Nick is covering the Arctic and I mentioned that possibly we could consider a collaboration on an NSF project if it gets funded. He suggested we meet at Nordic cafe.
Great place, great food, great company. We spent some quality time chatting, me explaining what it is that I actually do, in part, preparation for some photographs I asked him to take of me. Nick is headed up to Stockholm in a few days, so that will give us a chance to meet again over drinks at the hotel Nobis, when I get there.

3/29: Just a small note. I want to keep in the habit of writing daily but there are so Many writing projects I have to keep in the same habit of, it is like walking a kennel of dogs. But I arrived in London yesterday, taking the tube to City of Westminster with Dick Norgaard and his daughter Addie Norgaard, chatting the whole way, bending his hear.

Dick is giving a key note address at King’s College on Friday at 5:30 PM and that sounds exciting so I plan to attend. He is also working in China these days, mentioning two global change departments at Beijing Normal University and Tsinghua U. This was surprising to me because when I was in China last week, we did not get a chance to cover the variously new developments in global and climate change study, and my curiosity was peaked.

I left them both at Euston Station and took the circle line to Paddington, where I made my way over to Cleveland Square and the Cleveland Hotel. London is so beautiful in the spring, I just could not believe it. I have never been here when the weather is so fabulous, everyone was out in the street and I was reminded of NYC, so much buzz going on. Made some calls to meet a few folks, headed over for fish and chips, caught a scandal in the news sheets that captured my attention. There is a rage over shifty PM’s-for-hire, but what the journalist mentions is a citation that is relevant for my own work on energy politics, concerning the right to access. He states, in politics “dinner is not just a meal: it is a forum, an institution and political device” — and then goes on to cite Cita Stelzer‘s book Dinner with Churchill, which illustrates the extent to which such meals were at the heart of Winston Churchill‘s statecraft.

Kensington Gardens and by definition, Queen’s Gate were just around the corner so I walked through the park, tons of Londoners basking on the grass, over to the Bulgarian Embassy to see what was going on. Sure enough, they had a cultural gathering in remembrance of Bulgarian movie producer, director, author, and cultural critic, Petar Ouvaliev aka Pierre Rouve. The evening was surprising to me, in the sense that this was a Bulgarian cultural event, but clearly of the London community kind, as P.R. had established his name in the Western Europe and London glamour (producing movies in the 1960s with Peter Sellars and Sophia Loren).

3/27: Okay. I am going already. I am still in bed, reading the newspaper and calling folks over skype. And in general, doing nothing, emailing with Sandra Dovali at ERG who just informed me that ERG’s Richard Norgaard will be on the same plane to London. That means I have to take a shower and shave before leaving. Less time to lounge. 

3/25: I placed a few days on either side of the conference on Cambridge. 

Depart SFO — Tues. 27 March 7:35 PM
Arrive Heathrow — Wed. 2:50 PM


Thurs. — IFEG committee meeting 10AM; Greville Williams 11:45; Gareth Parks 1PM; Nick Cobbing 3PM

Fri. — Richard Krijgsman 11AM at 11-29 fashion; Dick Norgaard 5:30 King’s College

Sat-Mon (Cambridge)

Tues. — Francis Gugen, Lanesborough, 11AM.


Depart Heathrow — Thurs. 5 April 10:20 AM

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→ London

1/21: London. I met with Michael H. at Deutsche Bank, who provided me with materials to consider, in expectation of my possibly carrying out an internship on oil and gas finance. I was absorbed in reading the materials as I took the tube over to Heathrow and to Oslo, where I am now.

Finding Deutsche Bank is not easy. London’s financial downtown is a maze. There are small alleys and intricate paths. I took the tube from Chancery station to Bank street and  got lost looking for 1 Great Winchester Street. A fellow tourist had a detailed map and she pointed me in the right direction.

As you walk into Deutsche Bank, there is a big metallic ball in the lobby. I took a few photos before being instructed by security that no photographs in the building are allowed. As I moved toward the elevators, I saw other art installations throughout the lobby.

Deutsche Bank is well known for its art collections. Upon my arrival at the appointed floor, I was handed several brochures about these holdings. There is a special curatorial floor, with actual curators. Some of the art work is depicted on the security badge itself, as you can see in the above image.

One of the administrative assistants, while waiting for my meeting, gave me a detailed description of the methods used for putting together the art pieces on display at the floor of my appointment.

It was not a simple description. The language she used, the flow of narration, and the multiple art pieces she used as examples, indicated a thorough training in what she was talking about. She was dressed in a uniform.

I enjoyed our meeting. We had met the year before in Norway at the Oslo Energy Forum. He walked through various different aspects of what he is involved in, capital expenditures, commodity sales, pre-project development, financing. Because of the frontier element of my work, pre-project development and capital expenditures interested me greatly.

The meeting was about 45 minutes or so, and after gathering my reading materials, I suggested that I would get back to him to find out if we could follow up on a period where I could spend time in the Bank.

I also had a chance to catch up with Ben M. from JP Morgan. We also met last year at the Norwegian Oslo Energy Forum.  He invited me over to lunch with him and a colleague. I was able to take a few shots of the viewshed outside our luncheon window. I also captured a few images of the preparation of our lunch.

We discussed a number of issues, surrounding arctic frontier development. Ben mentioned that he had visited the offshore Snøvit liquefied natural gas installation in Barents Sea of Norway, and from there headed over to Svolvær. We also touched briefly on the topic of energy consultants and the requirement they have in providing information in a simplistic manner for government leaders to make decisions.

I met with Francis G. at the Lanesborough Hotel at Hyde Park Corner near Buckingham Palace. Speaking with Francis was one of the best conversations I have had on this project. We began with a quick overview of the oil and gas situation globally, comparing it to renewables, which he invests in, but does not believe — given the enormous demands for hydrocarbons and the amount of energy they release — will be valued in the near or far future. I agreed with him on the issue of the btu output consumed by Americans is enormous, and we both provided our own stockpile quotes of incredulous power availability by comparison to earlier times, with me giving my usual quote from Vaclav Smil.

We then went on to my project proper. Francis was one of the most perceptive interlocutors I have come across. His terminology and framework were nearly identical to Bruno Latour’s description of how to follow science in society. In the latter case, the issue is enrollment and convincing others wherein artefacts become facts and therefore natural. Similarly, Francis suggested that a leader has to convince a variety of industry to get on board, and that one must weigh the facts which is a process of looking at data–to-information-to-knowledge and how these three categories move frequently back and forth (facts to artefacts).

In so doing, I reached a deep level discussion on what I was doing. For this Francis suggested that one of the deliverables for industry could be, and on this point he was very interested, in developing a model of how decisions occur or how leaders make decisions or leadership qualities in particular. How they weigh certain decisions.

We drank water (me sparkling his flat) and the meeting lasted about 1.5 hours.

1/18: Chilly and rainy. Sitting in Euston station having a coffee, not much different from how I begin the day anywhere else in the world. The only difference of course, is that I battled through the crowds this morning from Emma’s flat through the tube to downtown.

Today, I am headed to IIED, and then around 2PM going over to meet Francis G.. Afterward heading over to Energy Institute. From IIED to The Lanesborough at Hyde Park Corner:

From the Lanes Borough to the Energy Institute, 61 New Cavendish:

Londoners are gregarious. Yesterday while having a coffee I had the chance to chat with Sofie Howarth, who is writing a book about community outreach and who after hearing about my work, suggested I contact her brother who works in energy financing, straight away giving me his email address. Back at IIED, we worked till about 7:30PM and headed back to a pub for steak and ale, afterward catching a margarita in a local bar near Emma’s where it’s open mic night every evening.

1/17: My first day in London, spending the afternoon at IIED (International Institute for Environment and Development). Gosh, how can I explain everything, what a different planet from Berkeley. I picked up one their brochures and must have read it three times and even then did not quite understand everything. So sophisticated!

The folks here are polite and considerate. I have a little desk space, and my mate opposite me is Abbi B., with an MA from London School of Economics and works on value chains. In fact, I just spent the last 20 minutes talking in a confusing fashion, exited and rapidly, about my reaction to her recently written policy brief titled, Under what conditions are value changes effective tools for pro-poor development?

I was so enthusiastic, but perhaps it was the caffeine from the double-triple shot latte I ordered to keep me awake, since it is about 7AM west coast time, having just got off the plane several hours before, trotting through London’s tube from Heathrow airport over to Chancery St., to IIED’s beautifully renovated 5 story building, where down the street there are lovely luncheons, and coffee shops.

Emma W., senior member of the IIED’s sustainable Markets Group, is a friend whose work I admire very much. A few things caught my attention immediately — there are no private offices on the floors, and one result is that everyone whispers when they speak to each other, privacy is created by low talking, and at the same time, I must say, I am VERY much interested in what people are saying in low tones, so much so, that I even went so far as to comment to one of the researchers about her use of the phrase “I will put that on my top priority” — we had a good laugh (although, not a loud one) over my comment that in the good ole US of A, the very use of that phrase means the exact opposite.

I should say, however, when I arrived at lunch time in the cafe downstairs, there was quite bustle with folks laughing and talking, exchanging ideas, I immediately felt at home.

Emma and I have had some engaging discussions about the production of knowledge, and on more than one occasion, especially this morning while taking the bus through downtown London, she pointed out how dismissive I can be when talking about non-academic work to which we had a good laugh. But it was instructive as I began to think about some of the fault lines in our discussion and mentioned to her, perhaps the difference between IIED and my work or what I call academic work — is the difference between reproduction of discourse and novelty. I consider that what I produce is novelty as my marketable product whereas knowledge houses like IIED produce standardized productions, within definite niche settings. That was my argument.

And this brought us to the main critique I had, especially of universities, that most of these houses are more interested in name recognition than they are in producing great ideas. To this Emma was in agreement, all the so-called formats, type fonts, the policy briefings and broadcasts of promotions, all of the mature practices in place for producing, distributing, assembling — all oriented toward the effort of increasing one’s value in terms of name recognition.

Anyway, the conversation came about because last night — we were putting together a talk for the Arctic Frontiers presentation in Tromsø.

The talk, primarily Emma’s project, is about the difference between the desire to promote a concept of dialogue, and actual experiences she could think of where there was true dialogue (not many). We then went after a definition of dialogue, used by most folks, based on Habermasian distinctions of consensus building. On this, the assumption that academics take issue with Jürgen Habermas — is that much like the definition of liberal economics, dialogue assumes that everyone in the room is a so-called enlightened reasoned subject.

From there we began thinking about various categories of engagement that restrict dialogue, that are available to oil and gas engagement with northern communities. The argument we took up was essentially that in liberal states, there is the requirement to make demands from the liberal state, and it has nothing to do with dialogue, but that claims making requires making demands. We back tracked to include James Clifford‘s use of creating new interests along new axes of common purpose — essentially speaking last night and this morning on variations of enlightened reason claims making.

1/16: On the plane to london — read J. Godzimirsky’s pipelines and identities, current European debate on energy security, Shtokman and negp case (2006), looking at the Barents Region developments to consider them in larger geo-political relief about EU trends toward Russia. There’s quite a bit here on the so-called need for Russia to have western expertise in developing the high north or off shore and LNG deposits. I began wondering about typologies of required expertise in the literature, on shore (no); off-shore, LNG (yes).

Read V. Socor’s gazprom and the prospects of a gas cartel and Europe’s energy security, written about 3 years ago. What a difference 3 years makes. He suggests we build pipelines to Central Asia and make friendly with Iran in order to curb Russia’s thirst for power. Skimmed through book chapters for my edited volume with M. Watts  – Looks good!

Reading Indra Overland’s piece on gas cartels, practically had a nervous breakdown trying to think about what to write for a book chapter due February, when it struck me that the title of my proposed piece  — cartel consciousness and horizontal integration in energy industry — could easily be about the rise of a natural gas cartel as discussed by various practitioners these days. Could be.

1/11: Turning my attention now to what is at hand:

  • Working with Emma W. Senior Researcher at IIED, on a keynote presentation for Arctic Frontiers in Norway. We went through several drafts and it’s still up in the air. Will work with her when I arrive.
  • Francis Robert G., runs G. Consulting suggests we meet in the drawing room of the Lanesborough hotel, on Hyde Park Corner on Wednesday, January, 18 at 15:30. We met at Oslo Energy Forum. His world is populated by CEOs of oil and gas companies, who serve with him on various advisory panels that oversee global investment in natural resource development. One such group is Barclays Natural Resource Investment or BNRI, which has committed nearly $2 billion in 18 projects. Mr. G. is also a Chairperson for the Board of Directors of Petroleum Geo-Services, a Norwegian concern that focuses on data acquisition, analysis and interpretation. On their website, they state: “We help oil companies to find oil and gas reserves offshore worldwide”. PGS provides a MultiClient Library defined by 400,000 square kilometers of “high quality worldwide” three-dimensional seismic data.
  • Ben M. at JP Morgan Office located on 10 Aldermanbury on Thursday, January, 19 at 12:00. The message I received stated “Ben would like to invite you to lunch at our office on that day”. Another fellow from Oslo Energy Forum. A few images on this building can be found from John Elkington, who writes in London on global capitalism and sustainability. Ben is Managing Director, Head of EMEA Oil and Gas. The Acronym stands for Europe, Middle East, and Africa. Quite a region. He was quoted most recently by Financial Times journalist, Anousha Sakoui, on the topic of Atlantic off-shore development in Africa: “Given the global reserve replacement pressures on the oil majors, Africa is a region where they can deploy differentiated exploration and project management capability,” says Ben M., head of Europe, Middle East and Africa oil and gas at JPMorgan in London. “The sheer scale of the exploration opportunity in Africa makes it compelling for resource-hungry oil majors. Positions in Brazil transformed the equity story of those companies who saw the potential first. Companies are looking to replicate this now in east and west Africa.”
  • Thursday, 3PM, arranged to meet with organizers, Katie Crabb, at Energy Institute, to see how they do what they do.
  • Terry McAllister, The Guardian, Thursday Evening, January 19th, for a beer.
  • Michael H., Head of Energy for EMEA at Deutsche Bank, Winchester House, 1 Great Winchester Street, on 11 AM Friday January 20. In Oslo earlier this year, I met with Edward C., Chairman, Global Corporate Finance. He directed me to Michael.
  • Brad C., Chairman and Production Director at ExxonMobil, who I met last year at the Olso Energy Forum forwarded my email to  Robert Lanyon, Public and Government Affairs Manager , and waiting to hear back. Sent Rober a bunch of materials. But no response.
  • I want to stop by Wood Mackenzie Global Consultants to check out, at least that building. Here’s the address from their website: 

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A Day in the Life of an Energy Consultant:
A Study in Productive Calm

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