Friday PM March 9th, 2007

Increased role of technology in oil and gas discussed at Global Energy Forum...Online advertising revenue climbs to record high...V-shaped bottom helping military trucks withstand roadside blasts...

Microsoft's fourth annual Global Energy Forum at the Marriott Westchase this week focused on the oil and natural gas industry, with an emphasis on the technology that can help solve oil and gas business issues. Maris? Mikulis, Microsoft's Energy Industry Manager in Houston, says computers are able to monitor and control functions in the oil and gas industry in ways that were not possible in the past.

"What does that mean when you can have all of that compute power on your desk? You save the cost of the real estate. You save the cost of the computer—it certainly doesn't cost as much. I'm able to much better understand the particular project I'm working on because I can understand it faster. I can run my simulations faster or do more of them. So I, I am able to make much better decisions, and this is compounded exponentially because in the oil industry, and frankly across all of industry, there is a generation that is--over the next ten years--about to retire. So we have many fewer people who are going to have to work twice as hard to meet supply and demand requirements. This technology is amplifying the impact of this very scarce and precious labor force, and it applies all across the entire span of the oil and gas industry, whether you're looking for oil and gas and finding it, to refining it and transforming it into some other sort of chemical, or working with the consumer. There's no other industry that is as integrated from the molecule, from the ground to the pump."

Microsoft has been picking up ideas from the gaming industry and apply those ideas to the oil and gas industry. Some 30 Microsoft partners exhibited at the event, with around 300 oil and gas IT decision makers attending.


Online advertising revenue in the U.S. climbed 34 percent last year--to a record $16.8 billion. It's the third straight year revenues have hit an all-time high. The Interactive Advertising Bureau says ad spending totaled almost $4.8 billion during the fourth quarter. That's the most recorded for any three-month period during the ten years the industry trade group has been tracking the Internet's growth as a marketing medium. Advertisers have been steadily shifting more of their budgets online as consumers spend more time on the Internet instead of watching TV or reading newspapers and magazines. It's been a boon for Internet leaders like Google and a financial strain for off-line media like newspaper publisher Knight Ridder.


Amid all of the deaths and injuries in Iraq from roadside bombs, there's a type of truck that's doing pretty well in protecting its occupants. In fact, the marines say not a single marine has died while inside one of these combat trucks. It has a v-shaped bottom designed to withstand blasts from roadside bombs. And it's doing so well, the military is pressing its manufacturers to churn out hundreds of additional trucks in the coming months. A marine spokesman says about 200 prototypes of the mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles have been deployed in Iraq since 2004. He says it gives troops ''the greatest protection we've had.'' A South Carolina company built the 200 prototypes. The Pentagon has now awarded about $210 million in contracts to that company and four others in the U.S. and Canada to build nearly 400 more vehicles. The military hopes to get them by the end of the year. One of the manufacturers says the trick is the v-shaped steel body, which flares like the hull of a boat. He says it channels the force of a blast up the sides, rather than through the floor of the vehicle.


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