Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Two Out of Three Ain't Bad - Meat Loaf (1977)

President Obama's speech last night to the joint session of the houses of Congress had its share of savory nuggets for the likes of us in the Energy Education sector:

"Well that day of reckoning has arrived, and the time to take charge of our future is here.

"Now is the time to act boldly and wisely - to not only revive this economy, but to build a new foundation for lasting prosperity. Now is the time to jump-start job creation, re-start lending and invest in areas like energy, healthcare and education that will grow our economy, even as we make hard choices to bring our deficit down.

"Now we must be that nation again. That is why, even as it cuts back on the programmes we don't need, the budget I submit will invest in the three areas that are absolutely critical to our economic future: energy, healthcare and education.

"It begins with energy.

"We know the country that harnesses the power of clean, renewable energy will lead the 21st century.

"Thanks to our recovery plan, we will double this nation's supply of renewable energy in the next three years. We have also made the largest investment in basic research funding in American history - an investment that will spur not only new discoveries in energy, but breakthroughs in medicine, science and technology.

"We will soon lay down thousands of miles of power lines that can carry new energy to cities and towns across this country. And we will put Americans to work making our homes and buildings more efficient so that we can save billions of dollars on our energy bills.

"But to truly transform our economy, protect our security and save our planet from the ravages of climate change, we need to ultimately make clean, renewable energy the profitable kind of energy. So I ask this Congress to send me legislation that places a market-based cap on carbon pollution and drives the production of more renewable energy in America. And to support that innovation, we will invest $15bn dollars a year to develop technologies like wind power and solar power; advanced biofuels, clean coal and more fuel-efficient cars and trucks built right here in America.

"In a global economy where the most valuable skill you can sell is your knowledge, a good education is no longer just a pathway to opportunity - it is a pre-requisite."

Did these, or any other nuggets, resonate with you?

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Keep Your Eye on the Money - Motley Crue (1985)

Today's focus is on web-based training as a cost-efficient solution to keep training going in lean times.

These self-paced modules, which on average last two hours, are perfect for new hires who are entering an industry, support functions that require a basic understanding of the business, and even executives who need to brush up on the basics (don't we all need to do so from time to time?).

They are updated periodically to reflect the market. They also offer interactivity including quizzes and a final exam to ensure mastery of material. We rely on real subject matter experts to provide the content and a dedicated in-house team to create an effective course experience.

The Oxford Princeton Programme pioneered this method of instruction within the energy, commodities, and derivatives sectors and continues to build its library including courses that take their cue from today's energy headlines (e.g., European Gas: Security of Supply - Understanding the Russia-Ukraine Gas Conflict) as well as in various languages to meet diverse, global needs.

Check out our titles and let us know what else you would like offered in the future.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Low Budget - Kinks (1979)





These are some of the descriptors preceding the word "budget" for many in this recession.

But if you accept the truth that training remains one of the best investments to be had during a downturn as one is certain to come out the other end with a competitive advantage, then you will want to know which offerings here at The Oxford Princeton Programme fit the bill.

Today's focus is on our onsites or in-house training. As convenient as they are with our expert instructors traveling to your facility, they need not be expensive ventures. We offer many "off the shelf" courses, meaning any of our public instructor-led titles you might be familair with from our global schedule can be brought over without any customization.

There is a misconception that just because you contract to have training come to you, it has to be sliced and diced to fit what is unique to your business situation. Of course, this is what we excel at, but often, we are able to save our clients money by recommending solutions that are already pre-packaged and can get the job done just as effectively.

Some clients will look to bring team members from disparate plants or offices across the country or around the world to meet at say, headquarters, and use part of the time to educate folks who normally would otherwise not be able to do so. Perhaps you've been wanting to offer training to clients or stakeholders?

Allow us to show you The Oxford Princeton Programme In-House Advantage today.

Lonely Grain of Corn – Uncle Bonsai (1984)

Ethanol as an alternative automotive fuel made from grain and corn, and usually blended with gasoline to form gasohol, has had a bumpy road over the past couple of years. It has had to be mandated to gain market share as the economics were not attractive to investors and barriers to entry were supposedly low.

But things maybe looking up as BP and Verenium form cellulosic ethanol venture (The Boston Globe) which expects to break ground in Florida next year on a 36 million gallon-per year facility worth up to $300 million.

Perhaps the recently signed stimulus package will indeed serve as the jumpstart the sector requires. What do you think?

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Oil Well Blues – Blind Lemon Jefferson (1929)

American Idol Season 8 announced the first three of 12 finalists last night and one of them is as far as I can tell, the first energy industry contestant to make it this far. Michael Sarver from Jasper, TX, a roughneck on an oil rig, sang to Gavin McGraw’s "I Don’t Wanna Be" on Tuesday night and was voted through by the public (thanks, perhaps, to some, er, rigging, by Simon Cowell to get America to vote for Sarver).

I still need to dig further as to which specific energy enterprise owns the oil rig Sarver works on. Maybe you know and would like to share.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Power to the People – John Lennon & Plastic Ono Band (1971)

So the $787 billion stimulus bill that the U.S. Congress passed and President Obama signed into law yesterday has several energy initiatives that favor energy efficiency and renewable energy resources. Read on further (from The New York Times) what these actually are:

Article from NYT – Sat, Feb 14th – The Bill Smiles on Power Programs

Keep the Dream Alive – Oasis (2005)

The following commentary is from Friday’s business section of The New York Times. It comes down to how far can industry players really push oil’s price up against the tide of today’s economic forces?

OPEC’s Pipe Dreams

OPEC is doing all it can to talk the price of oil back up to what it calls a "reasonable" $75 a barrel. Some analysts even expect oil prices to hit that level by the end of the year. But the idea that this would be a return to normality makes little sense.

Oil traded below $35 pretty consistently for decades up to 2004. Tony Hayward, chief executive of the oil company BP, said at a recent conference that he remembered when $40 felt like a "fantastic" price.

Why Mr. Hayward’s superlative? Because not long ago $40 was comfortably above the long-term equilibrium price at which supply theoretically cleared demand. In the late 1990s, oil companies traded on valuations that assumed a long-term oil price around $15 a barrel. And in the first two years of the new millennium, analysts estimated a long-term oil price around $20 a barrel. That had risen to $25 in 2004.

There are good reasons to suppose that the comparable figure is now higher — perhaps about $40, about $6 above its closing price on Thursday. First, the oil price should rise at the rate of global inflation, all other things being equal. Assume it was $15 in 1995. Then today it should be $21.

But production costs have risen too. Producers increasingly have to drill in tricky locations like deep water or tar sands. In the latter, the cost is about $38 a barrel, according to estimates by Royal Dutch Shell. Transportation and refining costs have also increased.

So for oil producers, $40 is no longer a fantastic price. OPEC members have real problems balancing their budgets at that level. The likes of Shell, meanwhile, have big capital expenditure plans predicated on higher prices.

But wishful thinking cannot underpin the oil price. On the fundamentals, there is little to justify the notion that its long-run equilibrium has risen by $50 in only five years.


Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Tweety Pie - Mel Blanc (1958)

In case you can't get enough of this blog, or would like to stay abreast of what goes on daily here at The Oxford Princeton Programme, why not follow my two tweets which just went live last week? Something is chirping every 24 hours during the work week. will update folks on the latest training opportunities offered by The Oxford Princeton Programme. is an industry voice for energy education and training regardless of the resource and whether it be physical, techincal or commercial; upstream or downstream. Colleagues, clients and competitors are all welcome.

Monday, 16 February 2009

On the Road Again (II) – Willie Nelson (1980)

This week, we show up at the Royal Garden Hotel in the Kensington District of London for the 11th International Petrochemicals Technology Conference & Exhibition, IPTC (16 & 17 February) and 10th International Downstream Technology & Catalyst Conference & Exhibition IDTC (18 & 19 February).

We are represented by the dynamic duo of Miss Joanna Schofield and Mr. Oliver Wells, both out of our Oxford Office. If you are in the vicinity, do stop by at our booth and meet two of the most delightful individuals you'll ever come across in the industry; and do try your luck at our Energy Education Wheel of Fortune.

Who says energy and commodities training can't be fun?

Oliver Wells
Principal Sales Executive


Joanna Schofield
Principal Sales Executive

Saturday, 14 February 2009

From Russia With Love - John Barry Orchestra (1964)

Or maybe not, on this St. Valentine's Day.

I am, however, energized over our latest web-based course, European Gas: Security of Supply (Understanding the Russia-Ukraine Gas Conflict), which becomes available on March 1st.

It was just last month that curtailed supplies flowed into Europe, leaving millions without heat in the dead of winter. Whilst the two countries managed to come to an agreement to get gas flowing once more, their dispute is a long-running one that has been brewing ever since the breakup of the Soviet Union. We are unlikely to see the last of it.

This left us wondering whether Europe and the rest of the world are truly prepared for when this dispute makes headlines in the future. It turned into an opportunity to provide education and training to professionals in and out of the gas industry. And we are bringing it to market in record time no less.

The course will discuss:
  • How and why Europe has come to rely on imported gas, and on Russian gas in particular
  • How Russian gas gets to Europe, and how this may change with new pipeline and LNG infrastructure projects
  • How gas is priced, and how the prices that Russia and Ukraine have been disputing compare to other international prices
  • How the dispute between Russia and Ukraine arose, and how it might eventually be resolved

I do hope many of you will take advantage of this cost-effective ($175) opportunity to stay on top of this geopolitical energy situation.

Are there any other timely topics out there that you would like to see more in-depth discussion and analysis on?

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Blowin' in the Wind - Peter, Paul & Mary (1963)

This, from The Huffington Post, is to be read in its entirety before you comment. But for now, let's just say, whoa!

Heidi Fleiss: Renewable Energy Business Better Than Sex

Heidi Fleiss, best known as the Hollywood Madam, had always had plans of opening up an above-board brothel in the Las Vegas area. But the economy has changed, and so have her plans:
"I think I'm going to put all my property up for sale in Crystal," Fleiss said recently by phone from her house in Pahrump. "I don't want to work so hard ... and deal with all the nonsense in the sex business."
Instead, she is focusing her attention on an alternative energy project she said is "perfect for Nevada."
"That's where the money is," she said. "That's the wave of the future."
And maybe that's true -- green consumers want more, more, more and there are a few other positive signs:
*Wind now employs more people than coal*New York State thinks it can revive the economy and the environment at the same time*Green jobs are looking safer than other jobs
But can renewables really beat the sex industry? Maybe it's best if they just work together.

On the Road Again – Willie Nelson (1980)

Andrew Infante is ready to discuss energy education with the forthcoming crowds.

The first of this year’s events and exhibitions takes us to E-World Energy & Water 2009 starting today, February 10th through the Thursday, the 12th in Messe Essen, Germany. If you’ve never been, it is one of Europe’s largest trade fairs and is dedicated to the energy and water economies. It is simply ginormous. This year, over 15,000 visitors are expected and we are one of 450 exhibitors.

The Oxford Princeton Programme has exhibited at this show for many years running now as we do get to touch base with several of our current clients as well a meet new ones who would not learn of our services otherwise.

If you plan to attend, do stop by: we are at Hall 1.0 Stand 417 and say hello to our representatives there: Oxford Deputy Sales Manager, Mr. Jim Crosskey, and Global Marketing Coordinator, Mr. Andrew Infante. Take a copy of our updated 2009 Global Course Offerings Catalogue and try your luck at our Energy Wheel of Fortune.

Monday, 9 February 2009

Divine Intervention – Taking Back Sunday (2006)

I know about the separation of Church and State, but Church and Energy? Hey, we’re all entitled to our opinions, right?

Read on and find out what the Bishop of St. Paul in Alberta said in a pastoral letter last week to oil executives in Calgary and Houston regarding the Athabasca Oil Sands. Is this what is meant by taking the "moral high ground?"

Pace and scale of Alberta oil sands development a "moral problem"

Alberta's oil sands industry has taken considerable heat for its environmental sins, but now an ecclesiastical voice is added to the secular critics.

"I am forced to conclude that the integrity of creation in the Athabasca Oil Sands is clearly being sacrificed for economic gain," Luc Bouchard, the Roman Catholic Bishop of St. Paul in Alberta, wrote in a pastoral letter last week. "The proposed future development of oil sands constitutes a serious moral problem."

The problem "does not lie in government and industry's lack of a sincere desire to find a solution; the moral problem lies in their racing ahead and aggressively expanding the oil sands industry despite the fact that serious environmental problems remain unresolved after more than forty-years of ongoing research," the Bishop wrote.

He cited the destruction of the boreal forest eco system; the release of greenhouse gases, potential damage to the Athabasca (River) watershed; heavy consumption of natural gas (using a relatively clean burning source of energy "to produce much more environmentally damaging oil"); and the creation of toxic tailings ponds. ("The question as to whether it is ethical to create such enormous amounts of essentially poisonous materials with no known way to detoxify them needs to be addressed").

Any one of these destructive effects provokes moral concern, the letter said, "But it is when the damaging effects are all added together, the moral legitimacy of oil sands production is challenged." And when the scale or proposed future expansions is taken into account, "The full environmental threat of the oil sands and the resulting gravity of the moral issue involved is most deeply felt."

Bishop Bouchard directed his letter to "oil company executives in Calgary and Houston, to government leaders in Edmonton and Ottawa, and to the general public whose excessive consumerist lifestyles drives the demand for oil."

Bouchard told Platts in a telephone interview: "What I am saying in the letter is not something that is new. But I wanted to add a dimension that needed to be added, which is a spiritual and moral dimension."

As consumers, "We all have to make an examination of conscience," regarding energy use, he said, but suggested that the overriding issue is "a reduction in the pollution we create."

The response to the letter "has been overwhelmingly favorable," Bouchard said. "If at least I've heightened the greater awareness of what is going on, all the better."

The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers said in a statement: "We invited the input of all Canadians to identify and address their concerns regarding oil sands development and we accept the Bishop's input as part of that process."

Oil sands development "is sustainable, regulated and the cornerstone of Canada's resource supply," the statement said. "We look forward to talking with the Bishop and others about environmental impacts, progress that has already been made, as well industry's future vision for balancing energy supply, environment and economy in the region."

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Humor of the Situation – Barenaked Ladies (2000)

In times like these, a little laughter can keep one from crying. Or maybe not.

So, let’s take some time to chuckle at ourselves and the conditions we find ourselves in this Op Ed piece from Sunday's The New York Times courtesy of Rick Moranis (yes, of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids fame).

And, really, any tutorial on derivatives you'll ever need is just clicks away. If not an in-depth course, we do have the next best thing at a fraction of the price: web-based training.

Dialing for Derivatives

Published: January 31, 2009
THANK you for calling BadBank, otherwise known as "Slumdog Billionaire."

This call will not be monitored for quality control.

One of our customer service representatives will be with you as soon as he is paroled.

If you are calling for a loan, a bonus, a bailout or season tickets to all home games at BadField, please stay on the line.

To have a lost Super Bowl bet bought, please call back tomorrow.

For account balances, please call GoodBank.

Please listen to the following options. If you do not understand options and would like a tutorial on options, shorts, puts, calls, spreads, hedging, derivatives, credit default swaps, collateralized-debt obligations, front-running or insider trading or would like to access a directory of interior decorators, please press 1.

If you are calling from a rotary phone, you’ve got other problems.

Due to high caller volume, the Clawback Prevention Hotline has an unusually long wait time.

If you are calling about the stimulus plan and have a better plan, say, "Better plan."

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If you can keep your hairstyle when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you ...

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If you believe that the Ponzi scheme should be forever renamed, please text "50Large" to "American Idol."

If you actually do anything legitimate for a living and can build, fix, weld, paint, plumb, wire, polish, lift, mold, sew, knit, cook, cobble, darn and/or knead, please check to see if you have dialed the right number.

Rick Moranis is a writer and actor.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Deal Me A Hand – Bill Haley & His Comets (1950)

I found this on The Houston Chronicle’s blog and it had my fingers clacking away furiously sharing it with friends and colleagues. Now try not looking at your fingers after reading this!

Researchers at Cambridge University have found biology plays a part in successful financial trading. According to a report published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences:

The study found that the length of a person's ring finger, when compared to the index finger, could be a way to measure their exposure to male sex hormones or androgens before birth. Such exposure could boost both concentration and reflexes - attributes necessary in the high-stress atmosphere of the trading floor, they said.

After making their measurements, researchers followed 44 traders around a trading floor in London, finding that traders' profits and losses over the previous year-and-a-half were in proportions to the size of their ring finger. They also found correlations in higher long term profits and the length of time the traders lasted in the industry, according to reports.

According to the study, "The success and longevity of traders exposed to higher levels of prenatal androgens further suggests that financial markets may select for biological traits rather than rational expectations."

The Washington Post also reported on the study, called "Second to fourth digit ratio predicts success among high-frequency financial traders," by John M. Coates, Mark Gurnell, and Aldo Rustichini.

These researchers have made some hay with this research in the past, by the way.

Jobert E. Abueva