Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Afghanistan's First Oil and Gas Licensing Round

Afghanistan's First Oil and Gas Licensing Round

It's amazing the things you learn doing this job - a look at Google News shows this seems to have evaded the mainstream media thus far...

By Martin Clark from (requires free registration) - July 28, 2009

If evidence were ever needed as to the resilience of oil companies and their willingness to do business in some of world’s most hostile environments then surely it would be worth drawing on the story of Afghanistan.

The war-torn country is currently in the middle of its first licensing round but has reported brisk interest from international oil companies, both large and small.

The government in Kabul launched its bid round back in March in the hope of stimulating investment in an industry that might one day help the country back on its feet.

A few eyebrows were raised at the time but not among the industry itself, which will always embrace the opening of a new oil frontier and the chance to probe its potential.

And potential there is. Afghanistan already produces about 200 million cubic metres of gas per year, against up to 5 billion cubic metres during the Soviet era.

One of the differentiating points of the oil business, of course, is its ability to operate in such areas, supremely agile and efficient logistically, and very much adept in managing risk in all its various guises.

A bad memory for former Soviet troops and now a war zone to other foreign armies there are those that view Afghanistan with a fresh sense of opportunity.

Remarkably, despite the flood of bad news coming out of the southern Helmand province in recent times, the bid round has gone well since its launch, with Kabul on track to sign contracts with foreign partners by December.

So far, all key dates along the way have been met and most encouragingly, there has been considerable industry interest.

Among the better-known operators pre-qualified to bid for blocks are: Total Exploration & Production, Addax Petroleum – now a target for China’s Sinopec – and another Chinese player, Sinochem Petroleum Exploration & Production.

A further five less well-known names are also pre-qualified: Nations Petroleum, Oil & Gas Development Company Limited, Orient Petroleum International Inc., Redwood Petroleum Co. Ltd, and Turkiye Petrolleri A.O. Genel Mudurlugu (TPAO).

Final bid documents are due to go out in early August, to be returned by mid-September, with an announcement of the bidding results expected to follow in October.

There are three blocks on offer – Jangalikalan, Juma-Bashikurd and Kashkari – all located in the country’s comparatively safer northern regions and close to the border with gas-rich Turkmenistan.

Significantly, all of the blocks have some proven hydrocarbons potential, and some even have a modest history of production.

The Afghan Ministry of Mines, which is leading the round, is naturally talking up prospects, suggesting that substantial oil and gas deposits are on offer.

A Ministry statement said the Juma-Bashikurd block holds natural gas reserves estimated at 33 billion cubic metres (bcm), while the Jangalikalan block holds gas reserves of 19 bcm.

The oil attraction is the Kashkari block with 64 million barrels, which holds the Kaskhari, Angoat, and Aqdarya oilfields, as well as some gas potential.

The Ministry of Mines said it is “quite optimistic the potential figure will be much bigger” citing possible reserves at Kashkari of 144 million barrels.

Angoat is the only field that has been in sustained production, delivering small amounts of oil mainly for local heating purposes.

In the late 1990s, the Kashkari field was also reported to be producing – at levels reaching up to 13,000 barrels per day – though only for a short time.

The Mines Ministry said the oil and gas deposits are all in Cretaceous and Jurassic formations, which were discovered in the 1970s under a Soviet-led exploration campaign.

Indeed, this remains very much frontier territory where little modern-day exploration activity has been allowed to take place. Despite neighbouring Turkmenistan’s proven hydrocarbons potential, Afghanistan is still well off limits for most energy companies.

Mines Minister Mohammad Ibrahim Adel said recently that a US Geological Survey (USGS) report supported its figures for the three blocks and showed that Afghanistan might even hold far greater riches than previously thought.

Adel – who has led international road shows to London, Dubai, Singapore and Houston – said northern Afghanistan could hold 600-700 bcm of gas and 25 million tonnes of oil across four basins, based on the USGS data.

During the bid promotional tour, Adel also met representatives of Shell, BP, Petronas, ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips, although these giants subsequently declined the offer to participate.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Free Weekly SEO / Internet Marketing Tips and Tricks Newsletter

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Friday, April 03, 2009

Free SEO Tips and Tricks

Czech out for some Free SEO Tips and Tricks...

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Friday, March 13, 2009

Google's Search Engine Optimisation Starter Guide

Google released a document in late 2008 outlining best practices which will make it easier for search engines to both crawl and index a website's content.

The document can be summarised as follows:

1. Create unique and accurate page titles.
2. Use the "description" meta tag.
3. Improve the structure of your URLs by creating descriptive categories and filenames for the documents on your website.
4. Make your site easy for humans to navigate.
5. Write descriptive anchor text.
6. Use heading tags (e.g. h1) appropriately.
7. Optimise your use of images by creating descriptive distinct filenames and "alt" attributes.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

U2 Album Discography Available for Free Via Myspace

Recently there has been a controversy over how U2's latest album 'No Line On The Horizon' (currently due for release on the 3rd of March 2008) had leaked to the internet. The leak of major music albums is now a news event and can arguably help drive fans to their computer in search of a free download.

This album is now available for pre-order and at the time of writing the only song streaming on their Myspace social networking music profile is a one minute snippet of their new single 'Get On Your Boots'.

The whole album is currently available online from the usual illicit channels such as peer to peer networks, torrents and on blogs via temporary file hosts.

It is also currently available along with 20 other full albums (including remastered versions) as individual 96 kilobits per second (kps) mp3s for free and easy download from u2's Myspace page (, but not by directly accessing it via

All you have to is get the full Myspace URL of the profile in question and use a certain online download tool which will work with most audio, video, images and style sheets etc that are used on a web page.

This site can be found easily on search engines and is well known online. The site has been online since at least late 2007 according to the 'Wayback Machine' site snapshot record on

It's arguable that these 96 kbps files are of relatively low sound quality, but it's the same bit rate as the mp3s streaming on Myspace (much higher quality than the streaming of most online radio stations). To put this is context up until mid-2007 the best sound quality files available to buy on iTunes were only 128kps. The best feature of this tool is that usually if there are around 20 files or under it will display the original mp3 files that were uploaded as 'High Quality' (anything up to the maximum and best quality 320 kps) as well as the 'Standard Quality' mp3s which Myspace converts from the original if they are above 96kps. To put this in context 64 kbps per second is FM radio quality sound and 128 Kbps is CD Quality Audio

The following U2 albums are available amongst other content at time of writing:

No Line On The Horizon
Under A Blood Red Sky (eAlbum Remastered)
War (Remastered)
Boy (Remastered)
War (Deluxe eAlbum - Remastered)
October (Deluxe eAlbum - Remastered)
Boy (Deluxe eAlbum - Remastered)
The Joshua Tree (Remastered)
The Joshua Tree (Deluxe Edition)
U218 Singles
How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb
The Best Of (1990-2000)
All That You Can't Leave Behind
The Best Of (1980 - 1990)
Achtung Baby
The Joshua Tree
The Unforgettable Fire
Rattle And Hum

There are 404 MP3s listed here in total at time of writing– the whole lot downloadable with a couple of clicks using Firefox plug-ins like DownThemAll.

Why are all these albums uploaded to Myspace if they are only currently streaming one song clip only? Presumably because some or all of these tracks have been or are going to be available for streaming on this page at some point in time. Usually artists can only upload a maximum of 6 songs but here special permission has been given.

The site in question does not capture Myspace streams – Firefox browser plug-ins like Download Helper can do that for you but it will only work for individual songs.

The Alexa traffic ranking for the site of this tool places it in the top 15,000 sites on the net, making it arguably one of the most popular sites on the net worldwide.

The Hitwise UK statistics place it in the top 5000 most visited websites for UK Internet users for Feb 2009, having climbed just over 400 places since the previous month.

The long-awaited album Chinese Democracy album by Guns N' Roses' was made available via this method on November 20, 2008 ahead of the release date of the 23rd the same month.

The seeming failure of Myspace to plug this leak in their technology and also to take any (reported) action against this tool suggest a reluctance of News Corporation to play 'whack a mole' (the idea that if they take out one piracy technology, another similar one will pop up right away).

Moreover, the copyright in most of the music material on Myspace is not held by News Corporation: the Corporation only owns one label (MySpace Records, an independent record label started in 2005 to sign musicians who appear on MySpace and is a joint-venture between MySpace and Interscope Records).

It is arguable that Myspace by continuing to 'allow' people to download content such as music 'by the back-door' is cutting their significant bandwidth bill as one of the most popular sites on the internet (some songs are streamed tens of thousands of times daily) and is a reason for people to use Myspace for free downloading as well as music streaming.

I contacted the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) and U2's label for comment. Paul Gathercole, the Anti-Piracy Director for Universal Music International (U2's label) was not aware of this technology (though I did not mention it by name). The IFPI have not responded.

The moral of the story may be that one must be aware that there are risks in handing the custodianship of one's intellectual property to a third party.

Postscript: 837 mp3s are available from the official Bob Marley myspace (another discography it seems).

This an unfinished, edited version of an article commissioned (and then decommissioned 24 hours later) by the Guardian UK national newspaper (after the Technology Editor found I had previously contacted Universal Music offering them consultancy work on online intellectual property protection - not relating to this specific issue) as my email requesting comment from the record label on this issue was redirected to the person I had contacted previously. Certain details in the original article have been edited out.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Some Useful SEO Links - Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) Surrey, London, Berkshire, Sussex and Hampshire

Google Keyword Research Tool

Ars Technica News & Discussion Forum

Thursday, January 29, 2009


As someone who has worked in the field of mental health in the UK, it seems there are some gaping voids in online health communication by the NHS. If you type some anorexia-related keyphrases in such as 'thinspiration' there is no pay per click advertising, unlike for phrases such as 'suicide' and 'anorexia'.

I was upset to see that organisations such as the NSPCC's Childline (at least in the ad version I saw) for the keyword 'suicide' did not have a phone number or email / MSN address in the ad text - both of which are permitted by Google Adwords. Use of these in the ads may help cut their adspend whilst still facilitating contacts from those who need help.

I have heard anedcotal evidence from a friend who is a youth worker r.e. some type of health promotion or suchlike targeting adolescents that the most used method of communication (of which there was a variety phone, email etc) by da' yoof was Microsoft's MSN Instant Messenger...

NHS Direct - the 24 hour nurse-led telephone health advice service . Dial 0845 4647.
The Samaritans provides confidential non-judgemental emotional support, 24 hours a day for people who are experiencing feelings of distress or despair. 08457 90 90 90

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Custom Google search engine to save energy by using black backgrounds to minimise energy use.

Sian Berry of the Green Party said in the Metro Newspaper in July 2007, "If you have the old style of chunky monitor, having most of the screen black does reduce the amount of energy used. But if you have got a flat screen it won't make any difference." ( source: )