Willacy: A Crude Warning to Diversify?

Posted on willacyoil.com on April 20th 2018

https://willacyoil.com/2018/04/20/crude-warning-diversify/

“…Oil…Black Gold. Texas Tea.” – maybe you’ll remember the TV show that included that line in its opening credits.

Back in the monochrome 1960s when ‘The Beverly Hillbillies’ was made, the world seemed a much simpler place: find oil, make millions, never need to worry again. Even twenty years later, we were still being enthralled by all the scheming and back-biting at the Oil Baron’s Ball in ‘Dallas’. For most of the last century, the very mention of oil in the media has usually been as a shorthand for money, power and glamour.

Larry_Hagman_as_JRToday, as we all know, when it comes to oil, there’s a lot more to be considered than just the trappings it brings. Emissions are monitored as never before and the quest to replace it with more sustainable energy sources has become the new frontier for the century ahead.

For that reason, oil has entered a phase in which it expects to fall from the favour it once had, a process that’s already beginning to be mapped out. Last year, the UK government announced it would ban the sales of all new cars, powered by petrol or diesel, from the year 2040. This is a date which may still conjure images of floating buildings and flying cars, reminiscent of that other big hit of 1962, ‘The Jetsons’ but when you do the maths, it’s a different story. 2040 is only 22 years away – which is probably less than the amount of time it’s been since we last saw repeats of Jed, Jethro, Granny and Elly May on terrestrial TV.

More pressing is the recent announcement from the World Bank that it will cease to finance fossil fuel extraction from 2020. Forget the undated, stereotyped “future” that old TV shows used to promise us, of silver jumpsuits and Moonbases, this is a date that’s more or less in the here and now. Inevitably, similar deadlines from other regulatory bodies will follow and many will have a similarly short horizon.

It all adds up to a warning to all those who’ve defined themselves by their involvement in the oil industry that the heady days personified by the Clampetts and the Ewings are starting to seem as dated as the width of JR’s lapels.

Naturally, at Willacy, a company once inextricably linked with the oil industry, it’s clear that our growth is unlikely to arrive as a result of us depending solely upon oil. While we will of course continue to provide all the services we’re well known for to those in the oil industry, we have to recognise it’s a sector that many people may feel is one whose days are numbered – even if that number is still in the many thousands.

Over the years, we’ve developed a number of unrivalled technologies and techniques to survey, treat and rejuvenate oil infrastructure in Britain and many other countries around the world. In recent years, we’ve increasingly transferred that capability to water-based applications. Our recent development of sonar-driven tank surveying is a prime example of oil-based technology being adapted for use in water-based environments.

With our competence in the aqueous sphere established, the door is opened to other establishments that store and process matter of various descriptions. Already, we’re working with abattoirs and other food industry sites. Research from The Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association (ADBA) suggests there are now over 250 sites in the UK where food waste can be processed to provide biofuel and other resources. The growth and proliferation of this sector, still in the early stages of its development contrasts markedly with the consolidation and concentration of the much more mature oil industry.

As we’ve learned from various instances over the years where our services have occasionally been required in other fields, while the medium (the type of stuff in the tanks) may change, many of the problems and processes involved – the basic practicalities of getting the job done – are exactly the same. Different substances may alter the operational parameters but fundamentally, it’s not that different a task – if you know what you’re doing.

Aside from maximising our potential by applying our skills to other, more abundant, less restrictive markets, we’re actually making the most of the knowledge and capability that we have – and that others struggle to match. In modern parlance, it was indeed a ‘no-brainer’ for Willacy to diversify in this way but even so, is there a helpful sign, a handy lesson from history to encourage us in this strategy?

Interestingly, ‘The Beverly Hillbillies’ (1993) and ‘Dallas’ (2012), were both re-booted many years after the height of their success and in each series, the main characters, Jed Clampett and JR Ewing were relieved of their fortune, facing an uncertain future, without the security of a status based on oil. Could that have been a warning, perhaps? Neither sequel did well in terms of reviews or ratings but you can’t help wondering if the storylines at least got that bit right…

Diaries of a Texan Traveller – pt. 6

A verbatim record of a diary I wrote while visiting friends (Paul & Rice) in Austin, Texas during the Easter holidays of my second year at University in 1994.  Re-blogged on the anniversary of each entry.  2017 Commentary, where necessary for context, added as footnotes in italics.

Friday 25th March 1994,  12:05 (CST)

WATCHING MTV, AUSTIN, TX

Yesterday was a full day and so there was little time to pause for the purposes of this book.  We went to the Mall and I bought the jeans that Andy and Martin ordered*.  Well I did owe them a favour.  I just hope they fit. 

In the evening, we went to this place called Double Dave’s, a pizza place that serves beer for 25 cents!  Rice and Dan disappeared early so when Paul and I walked back and found no-one in, I remembered that Rice had been chatting to this lad (Frampton, everyone calls him).  Anyway, he told Rice he was having a few people round and to stop in.  Sure enough, we called and found them there.  I also found a custom-made yellow Ibanez and huge amp.  Immediately, the common axemanship removed my already lowered inhibitions and in the flick of an amp switch, I was there, wearing it, playing it, willing my obstinate digits to co-ordinate properly, struggling to overcome the ‘like poles’ magnetic effect induced by the outlay of a couple of dollars at Double Dave’s.  The sound was amazing — more to do with the impressive array of effects, boxes and pre-amps than my fumbling ineptitude.  I have resolved to return, if only to prove I really can play ‘Live & Let Die’ and possibly attempt to re-acquaint myself with ‘Estranged’.  God I need a guitar!

I just watched an advert for a guitar shop in town.  I think that if I find myself with nothing to do next week, Austin will join the list of Wigan, Lancaster and Leeds; I’ll go and do my “prospective buyer” act — 10 minutes can be so therapeutic.

13:08 (CST)

[STARDATE 5109.39  SUPPLEMENTARY]

American TV has to be seen to be believed.  In a quiet moment on MTV, I travel through the lost passageways of daytime television.  Ch 2, 3 and 4, there are the usual crappy soap operas that all seem exactly the same; flicking through them, you see an identical man/woman scene with a sort of strained silence, with slightly different variations in the room and in the faces.  Its quite amusing to flick back and forth through them; all the mush blends into on huge entity, like a barrel full of different flavours of the Slush Puppy.

finaljenny

On Channel 5, there is an even more ludicrous specimen.  An Oprah Winfrey derivative — Jenny Jones** — considering the case of the man who proposed to two women in the space of a month.  The conversation progresses and the audience gasps or cheers ever-louder.  Apart from the traditional objections about these programmes, issues such as “all men are bastards”-type mentality, of dysfunctional people or that it becomes a moral court of judgement, the one thing I’d like to know most is: where the hell do they find the audience for these things?

Ahh, they recruit from feminist groups (by the sound of the last questioner)

What a freakshow!

Oh no!  Channel 13 is even worse: “You don’t have peace, brother”

What is happening here?

Oh shit!  I’ve been missing ‘Moonlighting’ (Channel 27)

On CNN (Ch 31), there’s an English reporter.  After all this US crap, I really miss the BBC.

* As soon as I’d told my friends at Lancaster I was going to Texas, I was met with a barrage of requests to buy Levis 501s, American prices being significantly cheaper than those in the UK. 

** Her show, ‘The Jenny Jones Show‘ ran from 1991-2003.

Archived: If You Must Complain, Do The Math(s) First!

Originally published as a FB Note, on 20 May 2008 at 22:12

Every so often, a story arises that supports my own adage that ‘common sense isn’t that common’. Here’s this week’s new entry:

As you may know, last Saturday was a wall-to-wall Six Nations day on BBC1. Having expensively acquired the rights to cover the tournament, the BBC naturally wanted to extract maximum value for its (make that our) outlay. In days gone by, the games were, rather quaintly, held simultaneously. This of course divides up the viewership over the 80 minutes and requires multiple channels to cover all the games. Obviously the Beeb wanted a better solution than this and presumably, it was agreed during the negotiations that the fixtures would be staged consecutively. A broadcaster-friendly format benefits the paying TV company but it also gives maximum exposure to the tournament.

What we arrived at, then was the inevitable succession of games strung together across the afternoon/evening. Now I’m not a big fan of Union. I’ll watch the odd England international but not that intently. I do however accept the fact that there were three matches on in a row, decided not to watch them and I got on with my life.

What I couldn’t believe was that 124 people complained about this to the BBC. They responded by pointing out that a combined 15m viewers watched the three matches – and then that they apologised anyway!

How arrogant would you have to be to moan at the BBC because they’re not showing something you like on just one of their channels? You can safely assume that scheduling decisions are made for ratings purposes and that viewers will always outnumber complainers overwhelmingly so you can never expect to be in a majority. Of course, you may seek to gain the moral ground of having registered your dissatisfaction but if you’re only posturing, why the hell should anyone else listen to you or take you seriously?

Compare the maths with the 2005 UK General Election. A total of 27.1m people cast their vote, a factor of 1.806(rec) of last weekend’s 15m viewership. The 124 complaints similarly scaled therefore equates to 224 votes in the last election. Not only is that less than half the representation of any party in 2005, it’s only 3.5% of the figure that voted Monster Raving Loony and less than a fifth of the number who voted Communist – and they still got an apology!

Continuing the politeness, the BBC’s Director of Sport, Roger Mosey attempted to draw a firm but diplomatic veil over the issue in his blog. I know we’re/they’re paying his wages and I understand he’d like to avoid appearing unprofessional in any way, but it’s gone far enough. I don’t mind saying it for him:

If you don’t like something on telly, turn it over or turn it off. If you do like something, bear in mind that perhaps not everyone else will. You have no credibility in complaining about sport one minute but expecting us all to watch yet another panel-based ‘celebrity’ format talent (sic) show the next. Guess what? In the real world, all but 9.16m of the country (on 19/12/07)didn’t watch Strictly Come Dancing, but mostly we’re intelligent enough to know that there’s a ratings reason why it exists. We mostly find something else to watch or maybe even do something else.

It may be called Auntie Beeb, but this lot would seem to think of the BBC as more of a nanny. Grow up you sad acts!

Incidentally, I’d love to know what the Male/Female and Age Range split was of these 124 whingers. Please speculate at will… 🙂