Saturday, February 25, 2012

Shale Formation in the Eagle Ford Region of Texas

Don't ever write it "Eagleford" because you will be singled out right away as a "outsider." The Eagle Ford shale formation is the biggest boom to hit Texas in the last 40 or so years, and the biggest oil and gas discovery in the United States.
Discovered in 2009, and named for the community of Eagle Ford in South Texas, the Eagle Ford shale formation has been around since the late cretaceous period, about 85 million years ago. This formation, once part of a vast inland sea, starts at the Mexico-Texas border in Webb and Maverick counties, and travels east for about 400 miles.
The shale is mostly carbonate, making it easy to break up using hydraulic fracturing machinery. Over 50 miles wide and 250 feet thick, the formation lies at a depth of from 4,000 to 12,000 feet deep. In all, it goes through 23 counties, and has already made some people very rich.
The community of Eagle Ford is now part of a West-Dallas neighborhood. This is where the formation was first seen. The shale formation is made up of an organic-rich fossiliferous marine shale. The rising and falling of the ancient sea bed, along with the pressures exerted over the millenniums created this vast oil and gas rich area.
While landowners lucky enough to own the rights of minerals on their land will reap profits from the leasing of their mineral rights, there are any number of oil companies wanting to buy the rights. Selling mineral rights in Texas is not as easy as one may think. A landowner who wants to sell mineral rights has to first ascertain if he even owns the mineral rights to his land.
If a landowner finds that he indeed does own the surface and mineral rights to his land, then he may find it more profitable selling mineral rights, rather than leasing them. There are a number of reasons for this move, from combining one's assets, having more liquidity, or even for estate planning purposes. In this case, going to a broker may be the best way to handle the transaction.
But rather than sell their rights, many landowners in Texas are leasing the rights. This move is also profitable. Many people are leasing their mineral rights for as much as $2,000 an acre as an up-front payment, plus getting 25% of the royalties on any profits. All that is required is a legal contract for the use of the land for oil or gas production. With estimated reserves at 3 billion barrels, and an average output of 42,000 barrels a day, Eagle Ford is adding to the economy of Texas.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Little Bee - All About Bumble Bees

There are more than 250 different species of bee and most of these exist in the Northern Hemisphere. They are social creatures with black and yellow hairs that are often arranged in stripes on the bee's body. They may also have red or orange coloring and some bees are almost entirely black. Bumble bees look and feel fuzzy. The thick fuzzy hairs help to keep bumble bees warm through the winter.
The bumble bee is a relative of the honey bee. They gather pollen which is used to feed their young. In queens that have been fertilized, the ovaries become active when she lays her eggs. The queen is able to store the male's sperm from mating in a special container known as the spermatheca that is used when she is laying her eggs. Some eggs are fertilized with the sperm and these bumble bees will grow into females or queens while other eggs go unfertilized and become males.
Hormones stimulate the development of the ovaries and lack of hormones will suppress ovary development. In worker bees, a lack of hormones makes it impossible for them to reproduce. Instead of being capable of reproducing, worker bees have salivary glands that secrete saliva and can be mixed with the nectar and pollen that they gather from flowers. The saliva is mixed with the materials used to build the nest to make them softer.
The tongue of the bee is long and hairy. It extends from a sheath and is used to lap up liquids like nectar. Nectar is drawn up through the tongue also through capillary action. When the bumble bee flies or rests, the tongue is kept folded up underneath its head. Wax is secreted from an area under the abdomen. Pollen is gathered by the bumble bee in part through electrostatic charge which builds up on the bee as it is flying through the air. When the bee lands on a flower, the electrostatic charge causes the pollen to be attracted to the bee. Though bees do not have ears, they do have the ability to sense vibrations.
The bumble bee is usually found more readily at higher latitudes and higher altitudes. There are a few tropical species of bumble bees however. The bee possesses the ability to regulate its body temperatures using several mechanisms such a "shivering" and solar radiation. They are also able to stay cool by radiating warmth out of their bodies through their abdomen.
Bumble bees exist in colonies that are usually smaller than that of honey bees. Mature nests of bees sometimes hold only about 50 individuals. Nests may be found under ground in tunnels made by other animals. They often build a waxy protective canopy that can help to insulate the colony through the winter months. A queen bumble bee from a colony will usually survive the winter and then construct a new colony in the warmer spring months are she emerges from hibernation. She collects pollen and nectar from flowers and then finds a suitable location for the nest to begin the cycle all over again.