Saturday, December 1, 2012

More Federal Money for South Dakota

Link to The Rapid City Journal.
The U.S. Agriculture Department reports that its rural development program has provided about $459 million in grants and loans to rural South Dakota communities in the past year.
The program support projects that involve housing, business and community development, water and wastewater systems, energy production, distance learning and telecommunications.
To put this in perspective, look at the amount of money given solar companies that went bankrupt this past year.

Less than one-half billion dollars to the entire state of South Dakota: count the number of solar energy companies that went bankrupt (or likely to go bankrupt) that got that much or more. So it goes.

American Crystal Sugar Union Rejects Offer; Same Union As That of Hostess/Twinkies -- One of The Longest Strikes in Minnesota History


May 12, 2017: here we go again

April 29, 2013: Did Twinkies kill the union movement?
"The Hostess strike will be a lasting image and not for the good of unions," said Marc Bloch, a labor and employment lawyer at Walter & Haverfield.
 "I think any management team will hold up a photo to its workers of Hostess strikers and say, 'What's a union going to do for you?''' Bloch said. "The case can be made that they did nothing." 
The Teamsters said it had no comment, and calls to the Bakery Union were not returned. 
For the union workers who were left without a job, the Hostess shutdown showed the weakness of unions, said Daniel Opler, a history professor at College of Mount Saint Vincent and a labor relations specialist.  
April 13, 2013: Crystal Sugar "workers" are voting today.  

April 1, 2013: only story with longer legs than the Keystone XL story is the American Crystal Sugar story. The Bismarck Tribune is reporting:
Workers who have been locked out at their jobs at American Crystal Sugar for more than a year will hold a fifth vote on the company's last contract offer this month.
Gayln Olson is the president of workers' union in Hillsboro. Olson says the workers will vote on the contract on April 13.
The union last voted on the contract in December. At that point, 55 percent of the union workers voted to reject the contact.
The only ones at risk now are the "temporary" workers who have been there almost a year.

December 6, 2012: I must be missing something. The union votes for the fourth time to turn down a $2,000 signing bonus and a 13 to 17% pay raise over five years; the company declares bankruptcy; is in liquidation; and the union wants to discuss the "lockout." How can it be a "lockout" if the company is in liquidation?

Later, 8:45 pm CST: offer rejected. I guess it's become personal. The good news: those temporary workers will still have jobs. 96 - 63 - 55. Cue up Connie Francis. [First vote: 96% rejected; second or third vote: 63% rejected; fourth vote: 55% rejected the proposed contract. I am missing the results of one of the four votes, but the trend is obvious. The fifth and last scheduled vote should pass, 51% to 49%.]
Moorhead-based Crystal Sugar, a farmer-owned cooperative, is the largest U.S. beet sugar producer, churning out about 13 percent of the nation's refined sugar. It's comprised of about 2,800 beet growers, and has plants in Crookston, East Grand Forks and Moorhead, as well as in Drayton and Hillsboro, N.D.
The union: Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco & Grain Millers union (BCTGM). Where I have I heard that name before? Here it is: this is the Hostess/Twinkie union -- the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco & Grain Millers union (BCTGM). Hmmmm.

Later, 7:32 pm CST: wow, how long does it take to count a thousand votes? It is said that the strike "affected about 1,300 workers." Somewhere between 400 and 500 have apparently moved on; whether they can still vote or not, I do not know. I assume at least some have left the union. The voting was to conclude at 5:00 pm CST -- 2.5 hours ago, and still no posted results that I can find. Apparently the Minneapolis Star-Tribune is thinking the same thing; they just updated their story but no results.

Original Post

I guess it's considered a "Minnesota" story -- but affects folks in eastern North Dakota.

So, we will see how it goes -- this fourth vote. Apparently the strike affected about 1,300 workers, locked out since August 1, 2011. MDW has opined that most workers have probably adjusted to not working at American Crystal by now: new jobs or living on spouse's salary. It turns out that about 520 "workers" have said they have found new jobs; that's up from 400 earlier.

Unemployment benefits have expired; $2,000 signing bonus; 17% pay increase over five years (if one includes the signing bonus).
While the contract would raise wages by a relatively healthy 13 percent over five years, it would entail significant increases in workers' health care costs. Also, it would give management more rights in determining key workplace issues. For instance, seniority -- a basic union tenet -- would lose its importance in worker advancement.
This "return-to-work" angle is interesting.
By federal law, replacement workers are deemed temporary in a lockout; so union members would go back to work if they approve Crystal's contract offer. Still, a "return-to-work" agreement must be negotiated, and talks over that could get tricky, too. 
Wouldn't it be awesome if American Crystal gave the temporary workers a "severance" bonus if displaced by a union worker returning to work? 

Other BP Refineries That Might See Bakken Oil

Moments ago I posted a huge story about BP considering railroading Bakken oil to their Cherry Point refinery in Washington State. Huge.

[A digression: some time ago, I posted a story about faux environmentalists trying to stop BNSF coal shipments and coal exports from the west coast. I got a few notes from readers asking me what that story had to do with the Bakken. At time, nothing. Now, it appears that whether Bakken oil is shipped to Washington could be contingent on coal shipments to the same ports. "BNSF proposes to double-track that same spur if the Gateway Pacific Terminal project is approved for coal and other bulk cargo exports at SSA Marine's deep-water port site south of the BP refinery." Just saying.]

[More on that story about shipping coal from Washington State. Elections have consequences. This should be interesting.]

[Faux environmentalists --> economic suicide.]

Read more here: saying.]

Ok, now back to the reason for this post.

Don sent me the story regarding BP-Bakken-Cherry Point.

Now, perceptively, Don asks the following question: is it possible that Bakken oil might be shipped to all five BP refineries in the US? Where are the BP refineries:
  • Whiting, IN: I think accessible via Enbridge
  • Toledo, OH: ditto
  • Texas City, TX: probably not necessary with all that Permian oil [see first comment]
  • Cherry Point, WA: the big story today
  • Carson, CA: Don thinks not, probably because CA has enough oil of its own [see first comment, I stand corrected]

Wow, Wow, Wow -- It Never Quits -- Another Huge Story on Bakken Crude By Rail

If you want to get to the story in this post, scroll past the initial stuff. Scroll down to "THE STORY." 

Initial Stuff -- Don't Read If Interested Only In the Bakken -- Scroll Down To "The Story"

Again, a huge "thank you" to Don for the story below.  I cannot articulate a) how important input from readers is to improving the blog; and, b) how incredible some of these stories are, stories about the Bakken.

[How important is input form readers? If you want less "political" stuff and less stuff about Apple computers, overwhelm me with Bakken material. I am under contract to provide "x" amount of words on the blog each day and if I don't have Bakken material, I need to blog other stuff. Smile.]

[Hint: I know a lot of readers would appreciate solid "rumors" or more news regarding drilling activity that is not posted by the NDIC.]


Again, one of several reasons for starting the blog a couple years ago was to counter the naysayers.

The original naysayers doubted the Bakken even existed -- hard to believe, I know; and then, when the numbers started coming out of the Bakken, the naysayers said the Bakken was good for North Dakota but that was about it.

I particularly enjoy citing this post from another blog as an example: "Don’t believe it. There’s some oil to be gotten out of Bakken, and it’s going to be exploited. But the “bonanza” is nothing but hype." -- June 25, 2010.

"Some oil to be gotten out of the Bakken ... Nothing but hype." Wow.

Needless to say, I no longer follow that site, though I might start checking in again; I see they have a great post on how wind and solar projects will ruin the west. I agree. But I digress. [As long as I've rambled this far: the oil patch in North Dakota is a very small geographical area of North Dakota and almost trivial in size compared to the entire "west." However, to generate a similar amount of energy from wind and solar, the entire "west" would need to be covered with wind farms and solar panels. If you don't believe me, do the math.]


I used to say that the Bakken was important for two reasons:
a) for the North Dakota economy
b) as a laboratory for fracking which is now being used across the US
I have to change that slightly, modify (b) and add a third bullet. The Bakken is important for three reasons:
a) for the North Dakota economy
b) as a laboratory for fracking which is now being used around the world
c) for the US economy.
For the Bakken, this is where you want to start

Folks who doubt the national importance of the Bakken, see the most recent story on Bakken crude being shipped to a BP refinery, the Cherry Point refinery at Cherry Point, Washington. One word: huge.
BP Cherry Point Refinery is moving ahead with a rail construction project to accommodate trainloads of crude oil from the booming Bakken oil fields in North Dakota and Montana.
BP spokesman Mike Abendhoff said the company has submitted an application for the project to Whatcom County planners and could begin construction in early 2013 on the $60 million rail loop. If that happens, the refinery would begin receiving crude shipments by rail in spring 2014. But Abendhoff also said corporate headquarters had not yet green-lighted the expenditure.
If the project does clear all of the public and corporate processes, BP would construct its own 10,200-foot rail loop on refinery property. The loop would be big enough to hold an entire train of crude-oil tank cars without obstructing an existing BNSF Railway Co. industrial rail spur.
BNSF proposes to double-track that same spur if the Gateway Pacific Terminal project is approved for coal and other bulk cargo exports ... [MDW: I believe faux environmentalists are trying to stop this project, and very well could succeed. There's a name for this behavior: economic suicide.]
While Gateway Pacific could draw as many as nine loaded trains per day at maximum capacity, Abendhoff said the BP refinery expects one loaded oil train every two days,....
Go to the link for the full story.

Human Interest: Crude By Rail

Link to The Dickinson Press.
Because of the lack of pipeline alternatives to move oil to refineries, when the North Dakota Oil Patch began to explode a few years ago, energy companies turned to moving much of their crude by railway.
One of the largest railroad transportation companies in the U.S., BNSF Railway has stepped to the plate as the Oil Patch has played a key role in the country’s push toward energy independence.
And then more:
“BNSF has been hauling Bakken crude out of the Williston Basin area for over five years,” BNSF executive Dave Garin said earlier this year. “In that time, we have seen the volume increase nearly 7,000 percent, from 1.3 million barrels in 2008 to 88.9 million barrels in 2012. We see this trend continuing.”
BNSF is connected to 16 of the top 19 oil-producing counties in central and western North Dakota, but petroleum isn’t the only resource being shipped via railroad, ....
“For 2012, we will invest an estimated $86 million on maintenance and rail capacity improvement projects in North Dakota,” McBeth said. “BNSF hauls more than 40 percent of Bakken production. In addition to oil, BNSF hauls inbound materials needed for each new well, such as sand and pipe.”

Don't Even Get Me Started .... Union Clerks On Strike -- Won't Accept $195,000 Offer --- These Are Clerks -- It's Not The Money -- It's Jobs For Their Kids

Link to LA Times. And then read what they are striking over. Meanwhile ships headed to Los Angeles ports are diverting to competing ports.

And, I will be re-posting all the non-Bakken stories, so folks coming here for the Bakken may have to scroll down. The Bakken stories are clearly marked.

Other links today:

Oh, by the way, it's snowing in Boston! Hurrah for global warming. Global warming predicted increased precipitation.

Baby, Please Come Home, Darlene Love

Don't forget to check out the incredible Sky Spy photos of North Dakota at KQCD; photos taken by your neighbors. 

Plan to raise estate tax not universally accepted, WSJ. The big question: how will Ms Heitkamp vote? If she is lucky, the deal will be done before January 20, 2013. From the Williston wire yesterday:
A record 634 North Dakotans reported incomes of more than $1 million on their 2011 individual tax returns; up from 532 in 2010; largely due to royalties paid to mineral owners by oil companies. Average adjusted gross income in North Dakota increased from $53K in 2010 to $61K in 2011.
And then, speaking of raising estate taxes -- the North Dakota family farms. Cue up Connie Francis.

AARP, huge supporter of ObamaCare, opposes Medicare cuts, WSJ. Cue up Connie Francis.