Tuesday, August 3, 2010

BP's Deep Water Drilling Strategy - from Forbes, April 2, 2001

I don't recall how I came across this issue of Forbes magazine, but I was interested to read more about larger-than-life CEO of BP, Sir John Browne (knighted in 1998). I worked in petroleum industry from 1993 to 2000, 5 of which were working at Texaco (and JV companies with Chevron then Shell). My last job was buying crude oil for Texaco's Los Angeles Refinery.

BP started the formation of "Super Majors" with it's acquisition of Amoco, followed by Arco. Not to be left behind, Exxon acquired Mobil, Chevron took over Texaco, and smaller mergers followed such as ConocoPhillips.

You can Google John Browne to find out what led to his downfall at BP, whose biggest legacy of ruthless cost cutting led to numerous accidents at BP owned facilities, and most likely set the culture that led to the latest disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

Below, in its entirety is the April 2001 Forbes article, "Going Deep" written by Daniel Fisher. (Clicking on the picture will enlarge it for easier reading...)

And just in case you were curious about historical crude oil prices and BP's stock price, here they are...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Motor Trend Korean edition - August 2009 issue

My cousin KC Park was one of the first test driver of MINI PIG #017 - he drove the E on my first full day with the vehicle. We drove in and around UCI and Newport Coast for about an hour, stopping frequently for photo ops. Here are the scanned pages from the Korean edition of Motor Trend. KC contributes to MT as well as GQ on a regular basis.

I'll translate the text and post as time permits.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

MINI PIG 017 journey is coming to a close. But wait, there's more...

Yesterday marked another milestone on this EV journey that had its share of bumps and bruises. Rue Phillips of Sunpower Electric Inc. came by to chat, remove the Clipper Creek wall box charger, test drive 017 and plan our meet in 2 weeks at the Plug In America's Long Beach meeting.

Rue is a great guy, very experienced in EV charger installs going back to EV1 days and even longer. We chatted for about an hour regarding the MINI E program, his new projects, and other topics. Rue terminated the wiring and installed a box for any future 40 Amp requirement. Perhaps there will be another BEV or PIH vehicle in my future.

Here's the data on the SSN 017 to date:
Duration of lease - 41 days
Miles driven - 1,854.9 miles
Average speed - 36.3 MPH
Guest drivers - 27
Guest riders - lost count
Electricity used - see below (no TOU meter, so data is an aggregate)
June (9 days of E): 334 kWh (249 & 240 past 2 years: +89 kWh). Bill was $14.01 w/ $26.68 SDP* discount.

July (31 days of E): 511 kWh (274 & 226 past 2 years: +261 kWh). Avg usage 17.62 kWh per day. Bill was $26.65 with - $51.16 SDP discount.

Including free charging at work, that's effective cost of 1.62 CPM (cents per mile), compared to 16.2 CPM for my 2000 LR Disco and 13.7 CPM for my 1993 BMW e32 (740i).

So what's next? I'll be shopping for a replacement car as well as follow up on ODU's poorly designed connector for the MINI E. Each topic will have its dedicated blog thread.

*SDP: Southern CA Edison offers Summer Discount Plan - they have control of my central A/C and I receive a sizable discount on my electric bill. In my case, I signed up for maximum discount.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

ODU's connector for MINI E - is this a robust design?

Boring, technical connector discussion below...

Yes, I worked for 7 years at a connector manufacturer ITT Cannon. I'm dangerous enough to know key details about connector designs...

Take a look at the ODU connector photos below (click on them for larger image).

ODU touts its proprietary hyperbolic contact design to increase the mating cycles of connectors. What they are NOT designed for is "hot-plugging" or mating/unmating the connector under load. These pictures are from connector I had at home, attached to the Clipper Creek's 240V, 32 AMP wall box charger. Here's a direct quote (via email) from ODU:
...Regarding the damaged Springwires inside the contact: The connector was not designed to be hot plugged…we see similar damage on test sets that have been disconnected under load. BMW is aware of this and has indicated this in their manual. This issue will be resolved in the 2nd generation of connectors for EVs...

Fair enough - and it goes to prove the design weakness of the connector. While BMW/MINI was toiling away with ODU for the MINI E connector, SAE has been working on connector standards (J1772) for future EVs or Plug-in Hybrids (e.g. Chevy Volt). So what does that say about BMW/MINI? We know June 30th 2009 was a hard target date mandated by CARB if BMW wanted to maximize its ZEV credit. It appears that SAE's J1772 timeline didn't allow BMW to participate and meet the 30 June 2009 deadline - and who really cares if the MINI E program is strictly a one year "Field Trial Program" and all the cars are going back to the mother ship in 2010, right?

Customers? Day-to-day workability of the connectors? UL Listing BEFORE the charge box/cable/connector is rolled out to hundreds of homes? Details, schemetails - cars will be gone before anyone notices something is amiss. Who cares indeed...

Other connector companies (mainly Amphenol) design multiple safety features where load is interrupted before customer can unplug the connector. They also incorporate a bayonet style feature on connector engagement where you have to rotate the connector clockwise or counter clockwise. This serves several functions, mainly positive feedback to the user that the connector is fully mated. Here is the picture of the Amphenol connector in Tesla Roadster's application (notice also the hefty backshell that protects the connector shell from abuse).

ODU told me that they went ahead with straight plug method to prevent connector or charger damage in case someone drove off with the vehicle while the connector was plugged in. However, MINI E cannot start while the connector is mated - which supports my assertion that there's been poor communication throughout this program and parties which results in poor planning and execution across the board.

Who's running this program again? No, I'm not bitter - just returning the arrows that are stuck on my back :)

Friday, June 26, 2009

This isn't what I signed up for: 130~140 MINI E giveaway

So none of the Pioneers care that nearly 3rd of the MINI E fleet is going to cities, utilities, law enforcement, businesses (non-profit and for-profit) at $10/month? I'm not being petty here - this isn't the MINI Cooper Pioneering spirit I signed up for. On Nov 2008, the application process stated 500 Pioneers, all paying $850 per month to gauge viability of an EV.

I can live w/ 50 going to Berlin and 10 going to NYC (announced in January).

I cannot tolerate the recent fire sale of MINI Es in both coasts. By my account, we're up to 130~140 MINIs at $10 per month. I'm going to use my week off away from the MINI E to decide what to do next.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


I'm going to dedicate this section for no-holds-barred, honest-to-goodness feedback for the MINI-E experience. The only ground rules will be no profanity (broadcast TV equivalent) and it must be a first-hand MINI-E related experience. I will keep this section on top everyday.


MINI E Paradox

OK – one of the key attributes of signing up for the 1 year field trial was “going green” or the perception (appearance?) of going green. We can argue about the methods of how my electricity is generated (coal vs. natural gas) and transferring tailpipe emission to the power plant’s smoke stacks – that will be a topic for another day.

I’ve driven the E for 1 full week now (427+ miles). Not having the high voltage quick charger operational has been a drag (you guessed it, another topic for another day), but I’m finding myself WANTING to use (waste?) more energy with the E.


I only have the vehicle for 12 months. Anyway you slice it, I can’t justify this trial financially. In order to recoup as much of the investment ($923 per month), my brain is telling me to drive the E as much as I can. This could all change once I have several months of electric bill to reset my brain, but as of this time I want to drive it past 15,000 miles – heck, 20,000 miles if I can swing the charging logistics.

Beer run several blocks to the grocery store to pick up a six pack? Forget the usual walk – it’s MINI E time! For that distance, I don’t even seem to draw down any charge – in fact, the regen seems to charge the battery more. Does eating a celery stick burn more calories than what you intake? It’s kind of like that reverse logic.

How about my commute? I checked my 30 miles one way commute every which way using Google Maps. The shortest way is taking the freeway exclusively. 3 different freeway/surface street combos I’ve tried all add more miles to the trip. While I can regen few % more and eke out few more miles, it’s a wash when you consider the longer trip and stop-and-go intersections w/ drivers in a hurry.

So how fast should I drive? I started adopting mild hypermiling techniques in 2008 when gasoline price went through the roof. I’ve been leisurely perusing the slow lanes, traveling around the posted speed limit of 65 MPH. Anything slower and I risked getting run off the road by all kinds of vehicles. With the E, I’m routinely driving 75 MPH which is still slower than the left lane speed jockeys. I could easily zip around the traffic in 80 MPH+ and not be out of place.

Once I get the HOV lane access sticker, I’ll have to drive upwards of 85 MPH if I don’t want to get rear ended by the HOV rockets. What would my energy consumption be then? I suspect my realistic range will be around 80 miles per charge. If I were to exceed 100+ miles on a charge, I would have to maximize the surface streets – ending up in longer commute and encountering more cross traffic. Nyet!

In the meantime, I’ll continue to collect more data while I figure of the optimal route to work - scenery and efficiency wise. Stay tuned… we'll see if I end up wasting more energy than with my ICE car.