Sunday, September 27, 2020

Two Late Night Items -- Focus On Fracking Weekly Update Posted; Southern Wall Updated -- The El Paso Edition-- September 27, 2020

Focus on fracking, link here. The lede: distillate demand rose 40% to a six-month high, after flirting with a 26-year low last week.

From the report:

The natural gas storage report from the EIA for the week ending September 18th indicated that the quantity of natural gas held in underground storage in the US increased by 66 billion cubic feet to 3,680 billion cubic feet by the end of the week, which left our gas supplies 504 billion cubic feet, or 15.9% greater than the 3,176 billion cubic feet that were in storage on September 18th of last year, and 407 billion cubic feet, or 12.4% above the five-year average of 3,273 billion cubic feet of natural gas that have been in storage as of the 18th of September in recent years. 
The 66 billion cubic feet that were added to US natural gas storage this week was somewhat lower than the forecast of a 77 billion cubic foot increase from an S&P Global Platts'' survey of analysts, and it was also much lower than the 97 billion cubic feet addition of natural gas to storage during the corresponding week of 2019, and well below the average of 80 billion cubic feet of natural gas that has been added to natural gas storage during the same week over the past 5 years. See graph here.

Southern Wall Update: The Laredo Edition

Link here. It's a television report so the update is a bit disjointed:

Congress appropriated 69 miles of border wall to be built in the Laredo sector. To date, 31 miles of border wall have been awarded to government contractors, but in the coming weeks the remainder of the 38 miles will be awarded to contractors so the border wall construction can begin. 
Although the City of Laredo passed a resolution against a border wall and were sued by the federal government for access to survey land back in June, they ultimately agreed to allow the federal government to go in and survey land along the city property.
The case was dismissed in early September. On Thursday, surveyors were seen working on behalf of the federal government.

Costco's -- Surges Are Fleeting -- September 27, 2020

There were so many great stories this past week. My favorite might have been the one on the US saving(s) rate.

But this one, mentioned in passing is another story, also huge. Due to the pandemic, Costco reported: less food spoilage; Costco cashing inThe WSJ;

After stockpiling early in the coronavirus pandemic, Americans continue to turn to Costco Wholesale Corp. to buy bulk quantities of groceries and cleaning supplies. 
They have also been loading carts with home furnishing. 
“As people are spending less on travel and dining out they seem to have redirected some of that spending,” said Costco financial chief Richard Galanti on a conference call Thursday. 
The warehouse retailer reported a 14.1% jump in comparable sales for the quarter ended August 30, 2020, excluding gas and currency effects. 
On that basis, Costco’s growth was nearly twice as high as the spring quarter when it was struggling with out-of-stock items and placed limits on shoppers. 
“We expected fresh food,” paper goods and other items already selling well early in the pandemic to continue selling, Mr. Galanti said, “but we were a little surprised in the strength in some of these nonfood, discretionary categories,” such as homegoods and furniture. Food is selling so fast that profit got a boost from the lack of loss due to spoilage, he said. In-stock levels have stabilized, but some items are still hard to come by in some areas, including disposable gloves and sanitizing wipes, said Mr. Galanti. 
Halloween-related sales are weaker, with a “small reduction in the amount of costumes,” he said. Some people are booking travel through the company again, but mostly for far in the future, Mr. Galanti said. 

Much more at the link.

PSAs -- September 27, 2020

First things first: Kurt Busch wins at Las Vegas. Came in to this race in twelfth position; changes everything -- for himself, and a lot of other drivers. Las Vegas is his home town. Surprise winner tonight. With a win, an automatic advance to round of eight. But still two more races in round of twelve: Talladega next week, then Charlotte.

Schitt's Creek:

Compare: 30 Rock / Tina Fey -- 16 Emmys over its lifetime; the most in any one year, I believe was five in 2008.

Stream for free:

  • download the Pop app on Apple, Android (five seconds if you can remember your password)
  • click on season / episode (five seconds)
  • free
  • priceless

If you are lucky enough to have Harbor Freight within driving range, consider yourself very, very fortunate. 

After Sears disappeared, Harbor Freight set the bar higher. 

Sear's marketing line: "good, better, best."

Same with Harbor Freight.

Need a special tool for one weekend, for one job? Buy the tool at Harbor Freight. Return it Monday; no questions asked.

Which suggests to me: opportunities for Harbor Freight to tweak their business model.

Best price on masks I've seen, which gives me an idea on the rest of the prices in the store.

The Last "Sturgis Rally" Update -- September 27, 2020

This will be the last "Sturgis Rally" post. It's been well over a month now since the rally; time to move on. It was a low-impact hurricane that quickly degraded into a tropical storm and the press forgot all about it.

For now, one last "Sturgis Rally" follow-up.

The Sturgis Rally Update

Link here.

Sturgis Rally: August 7 - August 16, 2020.

At link above, set "search" for "yesterday."

Number of cases means absolutely nothing.

Number of deaths associated with Covid-19 "means more" but numbers are incredibly questionable. Criteria for diagnosis varies across jurisdiction.

But be that as it may, new deaths in last 24 hours (these numbers were updated, again, after 6:00 p.m.) Low numbers are probably a function of Sunday reporting a Saturday.

  • Iowa: 3
  • Minnesota: 4
  • Nebraska: 1
  • North Dakota: 4
  • Montana: 1
  • South Dakota: 0 -- wow, so much for the Sturgis Rally story
  • Wyoming: 0 -- several days in a row with zero new deaths;

Deaths per million population, and (ranking among 50 states and DC):

  • Iowa: 416 (23) -- ranking unchanged
  • Minnesota: 365 (28)  -- ranking unchanged
  • North Dakota: 298 (34) -- ranking unchanged
  • Nebraska: 242 (40) -- up one (bad)
  • South Dakota: 237(39) -- dropped one, from 40 (good)
  • Montana: 160 (44) -- ranking unchanged
  • Wyoming: 86 (50) -- ranking unchanged -- only Alaska is lower with 71 deaths / one million

Channeling Calvin And Hobbes

Sophia reading a bedtime story to Corky:

Update On The New Saudi Refinery On The Red Sea -- September 27, 2020


All that talk about the end of oil. Sorry. Not sorry. Saudi Aramco ships first cargo from Jizan refinery; headed to Singapore. Link here

Breaking down that article:

Name of refinery:

  • Jizan, also spelled Jazan

Location of refinery:

  • in the far south of Saudi Arabia on the Red Sea
  • about 35 miles from the Yemeni border

Capacity and timeline of refinery:

  • construction completed in 2020; operations ramp up in 2020
  • operations will start with 200,000 bpd before ramping up to 400,000 bopd
  • refinery about one year behind planned date of completion; full operations


  • first shipment on its way
  • UACC Eagle: 475,000 bbls of gasoil
  • destination: Singapore

How rebels feel about this refinery:

  • several missile attacks by Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen
  • Saudi says they have intercepted each attempted strike

Transit of tankers from this refinery:

  • through the narrow strait of Bab el-Mandeb
  • 18 miles wide at its narrowest point
  • connects the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea
  • limits tanker traffic to two 2-mile-wide channels for inbound and outbound shipments

Sunday Afternoon Movie

The Great Gatsby.

I finally understand re-makes. I would like to see a re-make of The Great Gatsby

From the most recent issue of The New York Review of Books: "The Oracle of Our Unease," an essay by Sarah Churchwell, October 8, 2020. 

So, I'll watch the 2013 re-make of "The Great Gatsby," starring Leonardo DiCaprio, et al. Like Sunset Boulevard, the movie begins with the voice-over.

Just Waitin'

Just Waitin', John Prine, cover, Hank Williams

It Won't Be Wages That Drive Next Round Of Inflation -- September 27, 2020


Later, 2:53 p.m. CDT:  It really is interesting the amount of money that slips through one's fingers. 

I haven't been to Starbucks since the "lock down" that began sometime back in March, 2020. Although there were exceptions, my weekly schedule was $3.00/day for Starbucks coffee, Monday through Friday, and it was not uncommon to add in one or two additional sessions over the weekend. So, on average, let's say $4 / day over 300 days = $1200. Or $100 / month. On top of that my wife and I would enjoy one sushi dinner each week, almost religiously, setting us back a meager $50/meal for two. Fifty weeks x $50 = $2,500. Barnes and Noble every Saturday, maybe Sunday, probably $20/weekend at Barnes and Noble, 50 x $20 = $1000. Which reminds me, I won't be renewing our Barnes and Noble card ($25) and we won't be renewing our Ft Worth fine arts museum membership, $75. Gasoline is down to about $20/month. No typo. 

Later, 2:45 p.m. CDT: it's amazing  how much free time one has on the weekend when there is no sports to watch. The college football airings are a joke. 

The NFL is not much better. Speaking of which, NASCAR today? Hard to say, but apparently from Las Vegas, starting about 6:15 p.m. CDT. I will miss the start. I will be over at Sophia's house.

Generally speaking, of those "required" to wear a mask along the sidelines, most are wearing their masks below their noses.

Original Post

Blog post suggested by a reader. A huge "thank you."

Link here.

Before the pandemic, total savings deposits had risen significantly under the Trump administration, from around $8 trillion to $10 trillion (a 25% increase). But think about this: during the pandemic, Americans actually increased the total amount in savings by another 20 percent. The "buzz" in the mainstream media was that a lot of Americans were pulling money from savings to stay "afloat." There's no question that's accurate, but the "big picture" suggests something else.

So, were Americans simply moving money from the stock market to savings accounts. Just prior to the pandemic and even during the pandemic, the three major US equity indices hit all-time highs. During a recession. 

Back of the envelope: ($12 trillion - $8 trillion) / 350 million = $12,000 per US citizen.

This is what is wrong with that "thought." In fact, one can estimate 50% of Americans (pick whatever number you want) don't have any savings at all.

Therefore, disposable income that could hit the retail market might be:

  • ($12 trillion / $8 trillion) / 150 million = $27,000 / per resident with the wherewithal to spend.

For an average family of two, that equals close to $60,000 per family. 

Now, add this bit of trivia: the baby boomers are now aged between 54 - 76 years of age. Retirees can begin withdrawing funds from their retirement accounts at age 59, and must start taking distributions no later than age 72. You can do the math. 

Japan has long been considered the queen of savings:

By the way, where will a lot of folks "put their" RMDs? Yup, right back into the stock market. 

Disclaimer: this is not an investment site.  Do not make any investment, financial, job, career, travel, or relationship decisions based on what you read here or think you may have read here. 


Notes From All Over, Part 2 -- September 27, 2020

All that talk about the end of oil. Sorry. Not sorry. Saudi Aramco ships first cargo from Jizan refinery; headed to Singapore. Link here.

Shift: Russia leads China's August crude imports, Saudi slips. Link here

Iran: in deep doo-doo. Eyes new lockdown measures as Covid-19 cases rise. Link here. Desperate for a Biden administration. 

China's natural gas: latest threat. Link here to Irina Slav.

A drive to cut electricity prices for end-users has prompted Beijing to reduce gas-fired power plant tariffs, which has threatened the survival of many of them, Wood Mackenzie reports, adding to already substantial pressure on the industry from the ongoing trade war with the United States.

Haven't These Been Around, For Like, Three Decades

Rory Satran: new nominee for the 2021 Geico Rock Award. Thong bikinis. Rory needs to get out more -- maybe visit southern California.

The story Rory discovered: sales of skimpy, Brazilizn-stye swimsuit bottoms soared unexpectedly this year as women socially distanced in backyards and beaches. 

Link here.  No screenshots. This is a family blog. LOL. 

Late Night Television Tonight


What I Miss Most On TCM: Commercials.

Out Of Touch -- Revisited -- September 27, 2020

Out of touch: this was one of my favorite posts all last week. Joanna Stern thinks multimillionaires and billionaires won't spring for the new top-of-the-line Apple Watch ($399) because it's $170 more than a refurbished Apple Watch series. I put that in perspective with a screen shot of ladies heels and men's BLM tennis shoes with their prices. Now we get even more.


Sunday Morning Television

Don't Make Waves, introducing Sharon Tate. Based on the book, Muscle Beach, Ira Wallach, 1959.  Already many, many scenes that bring back great memories of my halcyon days in southern California. 

Wow, the Coen Brothers, in The Big Lebowski, stole a scene directly from Don't Make Waves. Amazing. Almost identical.


Notes From All Over, Part 1 -- Devon Energy And WPX To Merge-- September 27, 2020

First things first: Devon Energy and WPX to merge. Link here. Devon to buy WPX.

  • all stock deal
  • combined: a market value of $6 billion
  • currently:
    • Devon Energy: $3.4 billion
    • WPX: $2.5 billion

Tectonic changes: I see that this post of September 25, 2020, is now trending among the top ten posts at the sidebar on the right. 

As an optimist, I could also argue that this is more evidence that we are seeing tectonic changes in the way America uses energy, that in fact, instead of suggesting a faltering economy, the metrics suggest simply a tectonic change in the way Americans learn, work, and vacation, and less about the economy.

Tectonic changes: President Obama may have been simply premature when he made that famous statement that "these jobs aren't coming back," referring to the fossil fuel energy industry. Interestingly enough that statement is now more correct than ever. 

The weekly jobless reports showing little change week after week suggests this may be true for a lot of jobs. No industry is especially immune. All companies are taking this opportunity (or are being forced to take this opportunity) to re-evaluate their strategic plans, hiring practices; corporate headquarters.

McKinsey & Company has published several studies:

  • reimagining the $9 trillion tourism economy;
  • the travel industry turned upside down;
  • five Covid-19aftershocks reshaping mobility's future;
  • make it better, not just safe; the opportunity to reinvent travel;
  • a new approach in tracking travel demand;
  • for corporate travel, a long recovery ahead:
  • hospitality and Covid-19: how long until "no vacancy" for US hotels?
  • ready for check-in? Lessons from the German travel recovery;

Or you can read Yahoo!Finance reports on same subjects. LOL.

Running out of toes and fingers:

  • Volkswagen Trucking invests in self-driving developer TuSimple, link here;
  • Huawei set to become major competition in EVs; "Anything Tesla can do, we can do better"; link here; by the way, I think this is the Achilles heel for Tesla.

Two Kraken Wells In Oliver Oil Field Come Off Confidential List This Next Week-- September 27, 2020

The wells:

  • 36978, conf,  Kraken, Hobart LW 34-27 1H, API: 33-105-05326, Oliver, fracked 2/14/2020 - 2/27/2020; 10.2 million gallons of water; 84.9% water by mass; production:
DateOil RunsMCF Sold
  • 36977, conf, Kraken, Black Federal 33-28 7H, API: 33-105-05325, Oliver, fracked 2/14/20 - 2/27/2020; 10.8 million gallons of water; 85.2% water by mass; production:
DateOil RunsMCF Sold

The Kraken Black Federal / Hobart Wells