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Vol. 16, No. 18 Week of May 01, 2011
Providing coverage of Alaska and northern Canada's oil and gas industry

Petroleum News publisher turns oil scout for new insider report

Anchorage-based PNA, which publishes the weekly Alaska oil and gas newspaper Petroleum News and a news bulletin service for breaking news between weekly papers, has introduced an insider news service called PN’s Forward Visibility Alaska.

Produced by PN publisher and executive editor Kay Cashman, Forward Visibility combines insider and public information from numerous sources to help predict what’s going to happen in the months and years ahead in various sectors of Alaska’s oil and gas industry.

“What I do is similar to what an oil patch scout does. The difference is, I have a lot of confidential sources who are not accessible to company reps; plus at Petroleum News we regularly pick up information from court documents, presentations, and public project and permit filings. I take that information and look for trends,” Cashman said.

Oil companies looking at Alaska

“I also look for companies that are taking a serious look at Alaska — or appear to be a good fit for the state — and include information on them in Forward Visibility.”

That’s something, Cashman said, Petroleum News already does, but not as thoroughly.

“We’re investing 40 hours of my time each week on just Forward Visibility, which means I’m able to follow a lot more leads. So if I turn up something on Forward Visibility’s time, Forward Visibility subscribers see it first.”

Recipients restricted to industry

Unlike Petroleum News, which is accessible to everyone, Forward Visibility reports are only available to people who work in the oil and gas industry.

“Most of our own employees don’t receive them, because some of the information is sensitive and only shared with me because it’s going to an industry-only audience,” Cashman said.

“That means no government, associations, no media, and no financial analysts — all of which disseminate information.”

Cashman clears all contacts made by PN associate publisher, Amy Cornell, formerly Amy Spittler.

“Amy Cornell, who is not a sales person, makes all contacts with potential subscribers to Forward Visibility versus having our circulation sales reps do it. Amy also checks out people who contact us before she submits them for my approval.”

Sinopec is Conoco’s new Chukchi partner

When asked to describe the sensitive information in the Forward Visibility reports, Cashman laughed and said, “If I tell you, I’ll have to kill you. Seriously, one piece of information that Forward Visibility reported Jan. 27 was that Sinopec was ConocoPhillips’ new partner in the Chukchi Sea. Conoco said Jan. 27 that it had a new partner, but would not release the name of the company. We reported Dec. 3 on the farm-in deal, saying it was an Asian company.”

That type of information is included in Forward Visibility, she said, but “the bigger picture stuff, such as what’s about to happen on the eastern North Slope and listing the major ENS players, that’s more in line with our mission statement. Or how many exploration wells will be drilled next winter, and who’s drilling them.”

Almost all except sensitive info gets in PN

Does some of the information eventually get reported in Petroleum News? And when does that happen?

“Absolutely it does; generally when PN would normally report on it, which is almost always before any other publication,” she said. “But some of the more sensitive information won’t be released for months, or years, if ever.”

Cashman said some of the stories she stumbles on do not fit Forward Visibility’s mission, which is to “puzzle out” out what the future will bring.

“Forward Visibility readers want to know, before anyone else, where exploration and development are going to take place in Alaska, and who’s going to do it, while it’s still in the conceptual or early planning stage. That’s hard to find out, but those are the leads we’re able to chase because Forward Visibility has a bigger budget due to its higher service price,” Cashman said.

“But some leads I immediately turn over to Petroleum News because they’re not a fit for Forward Visibility. And there are times I use news in Petroleum News or its news bulletin service for our internal project detail reports,” which is something else Forward Visibility recipients have access to.

Project detail reports under construction

Intelligence on almost every oil and gas prospect and unit in northern Alaska and the Cook Inlet basin is currently being compiled by Cashman and her staff.

“Whether the latest news is reported in Petroleum News or in Forward Visibility, it will land up in our project detail reports that will be available to Forward Visibility subscribers,” she said.

Cashman got the idea for the project detail reports when she looked at Alaska project reports from an online service that markets reports for several oil and gas provinces, including Alaska.

“Most of the information was at least a year old, and some much older than that. I knew we could do a better job,” she said.

Who reads it?

When asked what type of individual or company signs up for Forward Visibility, Cornell said, “We have subscribers from drilling, oil, seismic, construction, equipment and transportation companies, as well as oil companies, investors and lease speculators.”

Forward Visibility has received only positive reviews from its readers, she said.

“Companies are always asking whether their competitors receive it. I don’t disclose names, but we’re getting more and more queries about Forward Visibility — from people we’ve not approached — so the word is getting out.”

“The second most common question after, ‘are my competitors receiving it,’” Cornell said, is “‘What’s the main difference between Forward Visibility and Petroleum News or PN’s News Bulletin Service?’”

“Kay writes for all three, but in Forward Visibility she puts together all the pieces and gives readers a glimpse of the probable future; something they can use in planning. There are no guarantees she is right, but her information is solid, confirmed by three sources, and she has an excellent track record predicting the future — and for backing winners,” Cornell said.

“One piece of insightful information can be worth millions in the oil business.”

—Petroleum News

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