Thursday, October 11, 2012

Bakken Oil Sold At Premium Compared to WTI; Could Affect 3Q12 Earnings

For investors, this is very, very interesting news and comment from MDW has been reporting Bakken premium to WTI for quite some time now. It's not being reported elsewhere to any significant degree:
Since September 4, Bakken spot crude oil prices have traded above the price of West Texas Intermediate spot crude oil prices.
For most of 2012, Bakken spot crude oil prices traded at a discount to WTI prices and traded at a whopping $27.50 discount on February 9, 2012.
The new premium pricing is likely to last for a while, as detailed in the article Bakken Spot Crude Premium to West Texas Intermediate Could Last Into 2013 (previously linked).
This improved pricing environment for Bakken spot crude prices have still not been factored into the third and fourth quarter 2012 earnings estimates by many analysts. This could position some companies with a heavy concentration of revenue from Bakken crude oil prices to outperform their current revenue and earnings estimates for the third quarter.
So, we'll see.

Disclaimer: this is not an investment site. Do not make any investment decisions based on what you read here. 

Statoil To Divest About 230 Wells in Anadarko Basin, Oklahoma

Link to Wall Street Cheat Sheet:
Norway’s Statoil is said to be ready to divest some 230 onshore wells in the United States as it attempts to rid itself of gas producers after the sharp fall of North American natural gas prices. This number reportedly includes 180 onshore natural gas wells that the firm gained through its $4.4 billion purchase of Brigham Exploration (BEXP).
Rigzone provides more information:
Statoil will divest about 230 wells in the Anadarko basin in Oklahoma and along the Gulf Coast in Louisiana and Texas, said Ola Morten Aanestad, Statoil's vice president of communications. About 80% of the wells produce natural gas, Mr. Aanestad said.

Twenty-One (21) New Permits; Some Really Nice Wells Coming Off Confidential

Autumn: Favorite Time of The Year
Harvest Results

Energy Links

RBN Energy: first in another series on condensates, a "big" issue for the Bakken
Independent Stock Analysis: you thought the Bakken costs were high? Norway's projects soar in costs.

Bakken Operations

Active rigs: 193, huge jump from yesterday/this morning, but still steady in 190 range

Twenty-one (21) new permits
  • Operators:  BR (5), KOG (4), ERF (3), G3 Operating (2), Oasis (2), True, XTO, Murex,  Gadeco, OXY USA,
  • Fields: Strandahl (Williams), Stanley (Mountrail), South Fork (Dunn), Eagle Nest (McKenzie), Hebron (Williams), Heart Butte (Dunn), Red Wing Creek (McKenzie), Blue Buttes (McKenzie), North Fork (McKenzie), Epping (Williams), St Anthony (Dunn), Gros Ventre (Burke)
Comments: First OXY USA permit since Sept 27; no Newfield permit since Sept 27;

Wells coming off the confidential list on Friday:
  • 20038, 625, EOG, Liberty LR 12-11H, Van Hook, t4/12; cum 74K 8/12;
  • 20332, 647, EOG, West Clark 100-2413H, Clarks Creek, t9/12; cum --
  • 20334, drl, EOG, West Clark 1-2413H, Clarks Creek,
  • 20860, 540, Petro-Hunt, Hartman 144-97-5A-8-1H, Little Knife, t7/12; cum 12K 8/12;
  • 21197, 1,100, Liberty Resources/Newfield, Jackman 156-100-18-19-1H, East Fork, t4/12; cum 72K 8/12;
  • 21248, drl, CLR, Tande 3-23H, Lindahl,
  • 22135, 746, CLR, Washburne 1-22H, Oliver, t8/12; cum 21K 8/12;
  • 22292, 1,754, BEXP, Arvid Anderson 14-11 2TFH, Alger, t9/12; cum --
  • 22478, 417, Hess, MC-Murphy 144-95-1102H-2, Murphy Creek, t8/12; cum 17K 8/12;
  • 22672, drl, G3 Operating, Pederson 1-18-19H, Little Muddy,

Federal Agents Raid Gun Shop, Find Weapons


I assume if they had raided a pet shop, they might have found puppies. Certainly tropical fish.

What can I say?

I will say this: I have to remember to visit the Montana Headlines blog site more often. Great observations; typical western dry humor. The stuff I grew up, but never got good at. The link will take you to the headline.

Montana Headlines is great for those wishing to follow events in Montana from someone who really seems to have the pulse of the state. I particularly enjoy his cultural miscellany, maybe more on that later. Most impressive, Brad Anderson seems to write on politics in a much less heavy-handed way than I do. I would think even those who he does not endorse or support would enjoy reading his notes.

I was surprised to see that the Billings Gazette endorsed Mr Romney.  I don't know why I'm surprised; I guess I just thought mainstream media would endorse the incumbent. It will be interesting to see which candidate the North Dakota regional newspapers endorse for president.

Way Off The Radar: Could Natural Gas Go To $5.00 This Winter?

Link here to Hellenic Shipping News:
US natural gas prices will rise to between $4 and $5/MMBtu this winter if, as expected, the country sees a return to normal temperatures, consultant ICF said.
At a winter fuels conference in Washington, ICF Vice President Bruce Henning said his company is forecasting an average US heating loads of 36.6 Bcf/d this winter, up from 30.3 Bcf last year, when much of the US experienced a mild winter. ....
... In addition, ICF said New England might see some natural gas price spikes this winter because "pipelines may not be able to serve all of the electric generation load requesting interruptible service," Henning said.
Also on Wednesday, the US The US Energy Information Administration predicted a 15% increase in home gas heating bills because of expected cooler weather this winter.
We'll see. I'm not holding my breath.

CNP hit a 52-week high today. (Note disclaimer: this is not an investment site; don't make any investment decisions on what you read here.)

Rumors That The US Government Is Buying Chevy Volts, Boosting Sales Turns Out To Be True

Link here to the Washington Times.
On May 7, the State Department authorized the U.S. embassy in Vienna to purchase a $108,000 electric vehicle charging station for the embassy motor pool’s new Chevrolet Volts.
The purchase was a part of the State Department’s “Energy Efficiency Sweep of Europe” initiative, which included hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars on green program expenditures at various U.S. Embassies.
In fact, at a May 10 gala held at the U.S. embassy in Vienna, the ambassador showcased his new Volts and other green investments as part of the U.S. government’s commitment to “climate change solutions.”
The event posting on the embassy website read: “Celebrating the Greening of the Embassy.” 
I can't make this stuff up. 

Energy Links

From Yahoo!Finance In-Play:
Devon Energy announces consolidation of U.S. E&P Operations: Co announced plans to consolidate its U.S. personnel into a single operations group centrally located at the company's corporate headquarters in Oklahoma City. As a result, Devon will close its office in Houston and transfer operational responsibilities for assets in South Texas, East Texas and Louisiana to Oklahoma City. The completion of this initiative is expected to be substantially complete by the end of the first-quarter 2013.

640-Acre Spacing vs 1280-Acre Spacing in the Bakken

Elsewhere there is a nice discussion of EOG's infill plan in the Parshall oil field. One individual suggested EOG needs to do something to "arrest" the decline rate. Yes.

This gives me an opportunity to note the waste in 640-acre spacing.

Study the Parshall field at the NDIC GIS map server. 

Take any two horizontals in the Parshall field that are in "kitty-corner" sections, in which the northwestern well is sited in the far northwest corner of the section, and then proceeds at a 45-degree angle to the southeast, ending short of the section line. Then go to the far southeastern section of the "kitty-corner" section, to note the well sited in the far southeast corner of the section, and the horizontal ending short of section line.

Now, using the "distance" application, note that the horizontals are almost exactly one mile long.

Now, using the "distance" application, note that the ends of the horizontals, or the "toes" as they are referred to, are almost exactly 0.6 miles from each other.

Also note that the wells themselves are offset from the section line, resulting in another 250 to 500 feet of lost horizontal potential.

Larger spacing units, even 1280-acre spacing, eliminates much of this waste. 2580-acre spacing will eliminate even more and at the end of the day (twenty years from now), it will make a huge difference. It all adds up -- the waste. Compare the amount of "waste" in the Parshall field with its 640-acre spacing and the Sanish field with its 1280-acre spacing.

This is not trivial. If one searches "decimal" on the Bakken Shale Discussion Group, one will find the following comments not atypical:
I believe my decimal interest is 0.00551020 so we are really curious what we could expect from this well in the future. 
Mineral owners concerned about the decimal figure out to the 7th or 8th place, should certainly be concerned about "their" horizontal well missing 40 to 50% of its potential. If these were straws going into pools of liquid, it would not matter, but Bakken wells are going into sand that requires fracking for oil to be released.

At least that's how some see it. This is not an original thought with me. Others have expressed the same thing. I polled readers of MDW on this issue some time ago and the results were interesting.

Non-Energy Links --

A Note to the Granddaughters

The WSJ always impresses me: today, it's their graphic of cell receptors that researchers discovered, leading to their winning the Nobel price in chemistry.

It is absolutely incredible how far "we've" come since 1951. In 1951, the basic structure of DNA was finally elucidated but it took many more years to figure out how that structure allowed DNA to replicate and how to transfer the code to manufacturing proteins. Then, much later, we were learning about receptors on cell membranes. I remember in 1977 or thereabouts, in another life, I was studying how the beta receptor "worked." I found the whole concept absolutely fascinating.
According to the WSJ article, the two who won the prize began their work back in the 1960's. Dr Lefkowitz began the work at Duke in the late 1960s by using radioactive isotopes to identify and map the structure of the receptor for adrenaline [the beta receptor]. In the 1980s, Dr Kobilka, who worked in Dr Lefkowitz's laboratory before joining Stanford in 1990, isolated and analyzed the receptor's gene. Gradually, they realized they had found an entire family of a thousand or more receptors that serve as gateways into the cell. 
Their work continued through last year, when Dr Kobilka and his colleagues published the first X-ray image of the key receptor as it responded to the influence of a hormone by transmitting a signal through the well wall.
Looking back, it is interesting that the first receptor I remember learning about was the beta receptor, as it was called then, and I can still picture the professor who introduced it to me. That receptor, I suppose, is the ur-receptor in my mind. It's interesting that it is the receptor that brought fame to these two researchers.

But think of all the folks along the way who made this possible; it must have been very, very difficult for the committee to agree on only two researchers.

The article brings back bittersweet memories. This was all occurring during my own coming-of-age, and thinking back on all the forks in the road along the way, wow ... some of those "forks" in those roads are about the only things that can get my mind off the Bakken. 

On another note, I will be buying this book when it comes out. I seldom buy books as soon as they come out, but this will be an exception. I can hardly wait to read it: Camille Paglia's Glittering Images: A Journey Through Art From Egypt to Star Wars. See the review and the long, wonderful interview with Paglia at

I accidentally discovered Paglia when I bought a remaindered copy of her ground-breaking book (ground-breaking for her): Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence From Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson. I am probably missing a few, but if asked to quickly identify those writers/artists that have taught me the most about art and literature, this is the short list: Harold Bloom, Camille Paglia, .... maybe that's it. The artists and writers that laid the groundwork for my continuing in the arts: Virginia Woolf, Monet, hat's it. But they led me to quite a library.

Back to the interview: it turns out Ms Paglia will not be voting for Obama. She says she would prefer to vote for Romney, and would except for the fact that Cheney, Gingrich, and someone whom I can't remember, are members of the same party. That's pretty weak reasoning considering some of the nut cases in the Dems and the Green Party (to whom she has thrown her support) but I will give her that. I like Paglia for her writing, not her politics.

So, It's a Poor Economy? Compared to What?

I suppose if one only watches the housing market and the banks on Wall Street, things look bad, but the Bakken hasn't been doing too badly the past two years.
And now this! How many noticed this? From Yahoo!Finance In-Play:
Cargill Q1 earnings rise 313% to $975 mln, revs fall 2.3% : Cargill reported $975 mln in earnings in Q1 FY13, a 313% increase from $236 mln in the prior year. Consolidated revenues in fiscal 2012 were $33.8 bln, down 2.3% from $34.6 bln in the prior year. 
"During the past two years, Cargill has invested $8.1 billion to better serve our customers all around the world," said Greg Page, Cargill chairman and chief executive officer. 
"By investing steadily, we've been able to significantly boost the breadth and depth of the products and services we offer our customers. And that has strengthened the balance, diversification and resilience we strive for in our business." 
Three additional factors contributed to Cargill's performance. Results were balanced, with improved earnings across all five business segments. There were no significant losses in any one business unit, the latter a factor that affected the year-ago period.
The company benefited from the considerable time and energy invested during the past 12 months to lower costs, simplify and streamline processes, and ensure capital expenditures were being directed to where they mattered most to customers.
To repeat: Cargill 1Q12 earnings rose over 300%!

How? No significant losses in any one business unit; benefited from considerable time and energy invested during the past 12 months to lower costs, simplify and streamline processes, and ensure capital expenditures were being directed to where they mattered most.

Sounds a lot like the Bakken, doesn't it? Companies are talking about cutting costs and ensuring that capital expenditures are being directed to where they matter most. In addition, the laying down of infrastructure will make a huge difference going forward. Whatever the margins are today, I can only imagine margins in the Bakken widening going forward: a) the price of oil will trend upward; and, b) the costs of production will go down in the Bakken.

The price of oil will trend upward because: a) there is simply no better alternative when it comes to bang for the buck; b) China and India like automobiles as much as Americans; c) inflation; and, d) like real estate, "they"aren't making any more oil. 

File Under: Are You Kidding?

This is the Yahoo/AP headline: California gas prices drop by a half-penny.
California gas prices dipped a half-penny Wednesday, the first drop after a week that saw prices surge a record 50 cents. The statewide average for regular unleaded was just under $4.67 a gallon, still the highest in the nation, according to AAA's Daily Fuel Gauge Report.
I would assume this has more to do with California's Representative Waxman demanding the FTC investigate the spike in gasoline prices than with Governor Brown's "okay" for refineries to do whatever it takes to bring price of gasoline down. Refineries can't turn on a dime even if directed by the governor, but a threat of an FTC investigation will put the fear of Allah into Big Oil.

My hunch is that California motorists are speeding to service stations this a.m. to take advantage of this break in the price.

A little bit of irony, I suppose. The part of the Richmond refinery that caught fire was the unit that converted crude oil to the cheaper winter blend. That unit will remain down through the rest of the year. Hmmm.

Jobs Report: Numbers Improve Going Into The Election


Later, 1:30 pm: later, some clarity.

Later, 11:42 am: We're starting to find out why one of the biggest job-related stories in months was given such little ink. I noted that in the original post: that the story was very, very short, considering how big the story was. It's coming out in dribs and drabs, but we now learn that the information was incomplete: one "large" state did not report its numbers; worse, the federal government did not let us know which state that was. Tweets suggest that maybe all states did report. Wow, if the bureaucracy can't even determine if "all" states reported ... but then recall that some folks think there are 57 states in the union, so I can certainly understand the confusion. I cannot make this stuff up. This all comes from linked sources.

Original Post
Most important: North Dakota sets new record for production.

Now, on with the weekly jobs report.

Remember: the magic number is 400,000

Last week's numbers were revised upward by 2,000.

This week's numbers: 339,000 -- lowest in 4.5 years -- lowest since February, 2008

Better numbers than expectations.

The boiler-plate: the four-week moving average for new claims fell to 364,000.

So, the numbers are much improved going into the election.

Best jobs report in 4.5 years and not much of a news story.