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August 30, 2011 
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We are off and running with our Energy publication and we are excitedly planning our first Energy Bisnow event in October in the center of the energy universe, Houston. Details are all very hush-hush but keep your ears open and tell your friends about us!


Quick—what's the best subsea program at an American university? Answer: there isn’t one. To rectify that, in January Dr. Matt Franchek launched the Subsea Engineering Graduate Certification program at UH, which boasts 30 students and has more lining up.


Matt is pioneering the program to create the next-generation energy engineering workforce for the last frontier in oil production. We stopped by Engineering Building 1 on the main campus and snapped Matt standing next to a large-scale offshore rig model (it looks like an Erector Set on steroids). Matt isn't your typical college prof. He brings scrappiness that he says Purdue instilled in him. (He believes in asking for forgiveness instead of permission.) Matt also has an ace in the hole—he has all the leading subsea experts in Houston to develop and deliver the curriculum. He says he had to have a program in place before beginning outreach to the community: "If I had said, 'I have a dream without this program,’ they would have smiled and said, ‘that’s nice.'"

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Matt is working with UH and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to expand this curriculum from a graduate certificate program to a masters of science. Subsea certificates are comprised of courses involving Flow Assurance, Pipeline Design, Riser Design, Materials and Corrosion, Subsea Processing and Artificial Lift, and Subsea Controls and Systems. (This is the one time underwater basket weaving would make sense, but it didn't make the cut.) Both practicing engineers and recent BS Engineering graduates are qualified to apply. Many students are already on subsea operator’s payrolls and getting paid to hit the books. So what can a person make upon completing the program? How does $80k to $90k sound? Matt is also excited that his collaboration with FMC Technologies is a finalist in the Outreach Program Award category for the 10th Annual World Oil Awards to be announced in October.


The CREZ effort is in place to increase Texas’s wind generation capacity to 18,456MW by moving energy in West Texas to population centers. Houston-based Clean Line Energy Partner CEO Michael Skelly closely monitors wind energy developments and told us yesterday that although the CREZ projects are somewhat more expensive than projected five years ago, the cost of energy that they will tap has “decreased tremendously.” He says new wind farms are being built at a price of less than 3 cents a kilowatt hour. (So 15kw hours costs about the same as a postage stamp.) Construction has begun on the CREZ network and the goal is to have it up and running by 2013.


NES Global regional director Dane Groeneveld (an Australia native) told us Monday pay rates for O&G pros has been on the rise in the last six months, and he's seeing early signs of a shift from a hirer’s market to a candidate’s market. He says subsea engineers are very hard to find and they are commanding very strong salaries. (Waldo wishes he could make that kind of money for being elusive.) There is also incredible demand for workers in oilfield services, while the eight to 15-year experience level project controls and contract administration professionals are in short supply. Upstream is going back to hiring staff positions for geophysicists, petrophysicists, and geologists. Dane tells us a lot of Houston talent is being sought for projects in Australia, Iraq, Papua New Guinea, and West Africa. He concluded that for staff roles, companies are dangling more incentives like sign-on bonuses and share options, not seen since 2009, and this has led to an upswing in job hopping.


We saw this quiz on EnergyStar.com. The site has tips and advice on how to save money and energy. For instance, the energy used by a building to support just one office worker for a day causes more than twice as many greenhouse gas emissions as that worker’s drive to and from work. Want to go green at work? Take the short quiz and see how well you score.

Sending photos and news items to greg.miller@bisnow.com does not require brain surgery. We can handle it on an outpatient basis.

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