Friday, August 30, 2013

Gran Tierra Energy Inc - GTE.t

Gran Tierra Energy Inc - GTE.t is advancing interests in producing and prospective properties in Colombia, Argentina, Peru and Brazil.

On August 6, 2013 the company reported Numbers

Gran Tierra Energy Inc. (“Gran Tierra Energy”) (NYSE MKT: GTE, TSX: GTE), a company focused on oil and gas exploration and production in South America, today announced its financial and operating results for the quarter ended June 30, 2013. All dollar amounts are in United States (“U.S.”) dollars unless otherwise indicated.
Financial and operating highlights for the quarter include:

• Quarterly oil and natural gas production net after royalty (“NAR”) and adjusted for inventory changes, was 22,131 barrels of oil equivalent per day (“BOEPD”), an increase of 57% from the comparable period in 2012. Production before adjustment for inventory changes in July 2013 averaged approximately 23,000 BOEPD NAR. As a result of strong production performance in the first half of 2013, including continued plateau production at the Costayaco field in Colombia, guidance for 2013 has been increased from 20,000 BOEPD NAR to a range between 21,000 and 22,000 BOEPD NAR and before adjustment for inventory changes;

• Revenue and other income for the quarter was $168.8 million, a 47% increase over the comparable period in 2012;
• Net income for the quarter was $47.8 million, representing $0.17 per share basic and diluted, an increase of 265% compared with net income of $13.1 million, or $0.05 per share basic and diluted, in the comparable period in 2012;
• Funds flow from operations increased to $200.1 million in the first half of 2013 from $116.6 million in the comparable period in 2012;
• Cash and cash equivalents were $282.0 million at June 30, 2013, compared with $212.6 million at December 31, 2012;"





Tuesday, August 27, 2013

US Maritime Disasters

In 1865 The SS Sultana was commissioned by the war department to transport just-released Union prisoners of war back home. The ship was legally registered to carry less than 400 people, but with the government paying $5 per soldier, 2,300 soldiers were packed in so tightly that they could barely stand.

At 2 a.m., April 27, three of the ship’s boilers exploded since they were rapidly and poorly repaired in order to get “first dibs” of the POWs. Fire quickly spread throughout the ship and those who survived jumped into the river and drowned. More than 1,700 soldiers died and the Sultana sank about seven miles north of Memphis, Tennessee.
Built in 1891, the 235-foot passenger steamship PS General Slocum was involved in a number of incidents, but none would compare to the disaster on June 15, 1904, when 1,358 passengers boarded the ship for an annual church event up the East River. Shortly after launch, a fire began in the forward section and within the hour, the fire had spread to a paint locker that contained flammable liquids. Unfortunately, the fire hoses had rotted away, the lifeboats were bolted in place, and life jackets were unusable. To make matters worse, the captain sailed into headwinds that actually spread the fire over the majority of the ship. By the time it sank off the Bronx shore, 1,021 people had died.
On July 24, 1915, the passenger ship SS Eastland was docked on the Chicago River preparing to depart for Lake Michigan. The ship had been chartered to take Western Electric Co. employees and their family members on a picnic. As the 2,700 passengers boarded the ship, it began to list while still moored to the dock. Eventually, the weight caused the ship to roll onto its side, spilling hundreds of passengers into the river with the rest trapped underwater in the interior cabins. The disaster killed 844 passengers, mostly women and children.
On Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese aircraft from six fleet carriers attacked the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Fleet in the port of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The two attack waves destroyed or severely damaged many vessels including several of the U.S. Navy’s prized battleships: the USS Arizona, California, Oklahoma and West Virginia. The Arizona sustained eight direct bomb hits, one of which penetrated the deck and the black-powder magazine. The subsequent explosion and fire ripped through the forward part of the ship. The Arizona sank at its mooring taking the lives of 1,177 of the 1,400 sailors on board making it the greatest loss of life on any warship in U.S. history. Its fires burned for more than two days and oil continues to seep up from the wreckage to this day. In all, 2,402 Americans were killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Today, a 184-foot memorial structure spans the mid-portion of the Arizona and welcomes an average of 1.5 million visitors a year.
On April 16, 1947, a 437-foot French-registered vessel SS Grandcamp was docked in the port of Texas City on the Texas Gulf Coast. Its cargo included 2,300 tons of ammonium nitrate that was used for fertilizer and high explosives. After a small fire started in the cargo hold, the captain ordered his men to steam out the fire in order to protect the cargo. The steam actually liquefied the ammonium nitrate and raised the temperature of the hold to 850 degrees Fahrenheit, which caused the water around the ship to boil. At 9:12 a.m., the ammonium nitrate detonated with an explosive force that shattered windows 40 miles away, ignited nearby oil refineries, destroyed hundreds of buildings and even sheared off the wings of overhead planes. The explosion, dubbed the “Texas City Disaster,” injured thousands and killed an estimated 600 people.
The USS Thresher was a 3,700-ton, nuclear-powered attack submarine commissioned in August 1961. On April 9, 1963, the Thresher sailed to an area 220 miles east of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and began a series of deep-sea trials. The next morning, the accompanying ship USS Skylark received a garbled message: “Minor difficulty … have positive up-angle, attempting to blow.” At 9:18 a.m., the Skylark’s sonar picked up the sounds of a submarine breaking apart. The submarine was found broken into six major sections at a depth of 8,400 feet. Investigations proved that the Thresher suffered from a failure in the piping system that caused a reactor shutdown and a loss of propulsion. Timed with the inability to blow the ballast tanks due to frozen valves, the submarine dropped like a brick and imploded with 129 members on board. The U.S. Navy lost another nuclear-powered submarine, the USS Scorpion, five years later, to unknown causes in an incident in the Atlantic. There have been no incidents since then.
The 697-foot liner SS Andrea Doria offered passengers three outdoor swimming pools and state-of-the-art cabins. The ship’s design included 11 watertight compartments and lifeboats that could be launched even if the ship’s list reached 20 degrees. On July 25, 1956, it was headed for New York with 1,706 passengers. At the same time, the 528-foot MS Stockholm was on its transatlantic voyage back to Sweden. The two ships charted similar courses at full speed completely unaware of each other’s presence. Once the ships spotted each other, it was too late and crucial errors in steering only made it worse. The bow of the Stockholm plunged into the Andrea Doria’s starboard side, ripping open seven decks. Within minutes the ship had listed 20 degrees and after 11 hours, the Andrea Doria sank. 1,660 passengers were rescued while 46 people died as a consequence of the collision. Today, the ship lies at a depth of almost 250 feet and has been called “The Mount Everest of Dive Sites” due to the challenging dive depth, dangerous currents, and fishing nets that drape the rusted hull.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Gold of the Achaemenid Empire

The Achaemenid Empire (c. 550–330 BCE), was an empire in Western and Central Asia, founded in the 6th century BCE by Cyrus the Great. The dynasty draws its name from king Achaemenes, who ruled Persis between 705 BCE and 675 BCE. The empire expanded to eventually rule over much of the ancient world which at around 500 BCE stretched from the Indus Valley in the east, to Thrace and Macedon on the northeastern border of Greece, making it the biggest empire the world had yet seen. The Achaemenid Empire would eventually control Egypt as well.

Panoramic view of the Naqsh-e Rustam. This site contains the tombs of four Achaemenid kings, including those of Darius I and Xerxes.
In 480 BCE, it is estimated that 50 million people lived in the Achaemenid Empire or about 44% of the world's population at the time, making it by population the largest empire.

Alexander the Great (Alexander III of Macedon) defeated the Persian armies at Granicus (334 BCE), followed by Issus (333 BCE), and lastly at Gaugamela (331 BCE). Afterwards, he marched on Susa and Persepolis which surrendered in early 330 BCE.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Dangerous Places to Live

Even during its most tranquil periods, Mount Merapi, on the island of Java, smolders. Smoke ominously floats from its mouth, 10,000 feet in the sky. "Fire Mountain," as its name translates to English, has erupted about 60 times in the past five centuries, most recently in 2006. Before that, a 1994 eruption sent forth a lethal cloud of scalding hot gas, which burned 60 people to death. In 1930, more than 1000 people died when Merapi spewed lava over 8 square miles around its base, the high death toll being the result of too many people living too close.

In spite of this volatile history, approximately 200,000 villagers reside within 4 miles of the volcano. But Merapi is just one example of Javans tempting fate in the proximity of active volcanoes ... it's estimated that 120 million of the island's residents live at the foot of 22 active volcanoes.
In the span of just one month in 2008, the coastal city of Gonaïves, one of Haiti's five largest cities, found itself on the receiving end of four devastating tropical cyclones. When the last storm passed, Gonaïves had practically been washed out to sea. Much of the city was buried under mud, or submerged in filthy water that stood 12 feet deep in some places. The death toll ran close to 500.

But the storms of August to September 2008 weren't the most deadly in Gonaïves' recent history. In 2004, the city of 104,000 took a severe beating from Hurricane Jeanne. Three thousand Haitians died when the Category 3 storm hit and leveled large swaths of the city. Gonaïves rests on a flood plain prone to washing out when inland rivers swell. Furthermore, Haitians rely on wood to make charcoal, their primary source of fuel, and this has led to massive deforestation of the hillsides surrounding the city. As a result, when the rains come, the hills around Gonaïves melt away and mudslides nearly bury the city.
Lake Kivu, located along the border between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda, is one of Africa's Great Lakes. Deep below the surface of this lake's 2700 square miles, there are 2.3 trillion cubic feet of methane gas, along with 60 cubic miles of carbon dioxide trapped beneath the lake under the pressure of the water and earth. If released from the depths, these gases could spread a cloud of death over the 2 million Africans who make their home in the Lake Kivu basin.

The precedent for this concern stems from a pair of events that occurred in the 1980s at two other African lakes with similar chemical compositions. In 1984, 37 people died around Cameroon's Lake Monoun in a limnic eruption. Three years later, at Lake Nyos, also in Cameroon, 80 cubic meters of CO2 were released from the water. Subsequently, 1700 people died from exposure to the toxic gas. A report from the United Nations' Environmental Program went so far as to call the three bodies "Africa's Killer Lakes," and said Lake Kivu was cause for "serious concern."
The Maldives are such a dangerous place that Muhammed Nasheed, upon taking office in 2008, made it one his first items of business as the Maldives' first democratically elected president to announce a plan to create a fund for financing the relocation of the entire population.

The Maldives is a confederation of 1190 islands and atolls in the Indian Ocean. Its highest point of elevation is little more than 6 feet, and, sometime in the not-too-distant future, it is likely to be swallowed whole by rising sea levels. A 2005 assessment by the United States Geological Survey, conducted after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, called the Maldives one of the Earth's youngest land masses, adding that they're not long for life above water.
The Cayman Islands, a British territory situated 150 miles south of Cuba, The Caymans hold the title of "Hurricane Capital of the World". Grand Cayman, the largest of the three Cayman isles, is hit or brushed by at least one hurricane every 2.16 years, more than any other locale in the Atlantic basin. Since 1871, 64 storms have battered the low-lying limestone formation, often with catastrophic results.

In 2004, Hurricane Ivan, a Category 5 storm with wind speeds approaching 150 miles per hour, dumped a foot of rain on Grand Cayman. A 10-foot storm surge followed, submerging a quarter of the island. An estimated 70 percent of the island's buildings were destroyed, and its 40,000 inhabitants were left without power or clean water for days.
More than 1 million people reside along the Interstate 44 corridor that runs between Oklahoma City and Tulsa, the Sooner State's two most populous metropolitan areas. Each spring, as the cool, dry air from the Rocky Mountains glides across the lower plains, and the warm, wet air of the Gulf Coast comes north to meet it, the residents of this precarious stretch, locally called Tornado Alley, settle in for twister season.

Since 1890, more than 120 tornados have struck Oklahoma City and the surrounding area, which currently has a population of approximately 700,000. On May 3, 1999, an outbreak of 70 tornados stretched across Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas. Several of the most destructive storms swept through Oklahoma City, destroying 1700 homes and damaging another 6500. Even with modern prediction capabilities and early-warning systems, 40 people died when an F-5 twister tore through Oklahoma City. In addition to the loss of life, this display of natural devastation caused more than $1 billion in damage. Since 1950, the longest the area has gone without a tornado is five years—from 1992 to 1998.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Sotheby’s to Auction Rare Blue Diamond

Sotheby's auction house announced Monday that the stone, “The Premier Blue,” will be sold on Oct. 7 as part of Sotheby’s regular twice-yearly auction series.

The stone weighs 7.59 carats. Its size, vivid blue color and round cut — highly unusual for colored diamonds — make it exceptionally rare, and Sotheby’s expects the stone to bring about $19 million, Quek Chin Yeow, deputy chairman of Sotheby’s in Asia, said in an interview before Monday’s announcement. That, he said, would be a record per-carat price for any diamond.
Blue diamonds seldom hit the market and have been coveted by royals and celebrities for centuries, while a round cut is rarely used in coloured stones because of the high wastage.

The term "fancy" is used to describe a diamond of intense colour, while a gem's saturation grading ranges from light to vivid for coloured diamonds. In April, a rare 5.3-carat fancy deep-blue diamond was sold for £6.2 million ($9.5 million) at a London auction, then setting a record for price-per-carat at $1.8 million.