Friday, January 4, 2013

Without Question, The Cotton Bowl Should Have Been Played On New Year's Day in Prime Time; WSJ Links

Talk about missed opportunities.

WSJ Links

I hate to waste paper, so I will post the WSJ links on this otherwise very short post.

Note: the links will often take you to the WSJ site which requires a subscription. If you "copy" the headline into a google search, you will get to the article.

Section D: how funny. Regular readers know that there are only a few things I talk about other than oil. One of them is the Honda Civic, my favorite car of all time.
And here it is, the back page of section, taking up almost the entire page, five columns across: Honda Civic gets back to where it once belonged. I was thinking of buying an end-of-year model (I gave away my 2011 Honda Civic) but then read the reviews of the 2012. Glad I waited. Smile.
Section C: ah, yes. My favorite section. I missed this section the past week or so while traveling. I subscribe, but I don't read the WSJ on-line except when reading linked stories.
Section B: Okay, this is it. The truth: how much will your taxes jump? When you look at the categories, you realize that the WSJ is out of touch with mainstream America. Sadly, these are the categories:
  • single person; income, $230,000; tax increase - $3,000 (it will be much worse if he/she gets married to high income earner; see below; talk about an anti-marriage bill)
  • single parent, two children; income, $260,000; tax increase - $3,300
  • retired couple, income, $180,000; tax increase - $0 (nice)
  • married couple, four children, income, $650,000 - tax increase - $22,000
Harry Reid's base made out like bandits: retired couple, $180,000 -- no tax increase, and retirees often qualify for Medicare, the biggest expense (medical) some folks have; and retirees often qualify for $4.99 "Slam" at Dennys' (or whatever it is).
Section A:
And that's just the front page, folks.
  • California law blamed for crime rise: in October, 2011, California decided to relieve its overcrowded penal system by sending some low-level criminals into the custody of local sheriffs instead of into state prisons.  The next quarter, the most recent for which numbers are available, marked the first rise in property crimes since 2004. My hunch: decriminalize drugs and everything will be okey-dokey (see above).
  • Op-ed: The Kyoto Scorecard. The UN's anticarbon scheme didn't work out as planned. Well, duh. Did you know that The Kyoto Protocol expired four or five days ago, on January 1, 2013. Expired. As in dead.

Morocco Off-Shore: Absolutely Nothing To Do With The Bakken ...

.... but an update from Rigzone, and coincidental with comments from "anon 1."
Australia-listed oil and gas explorer Pura Vida has struck a $230 million deal to sell a stake in its Mazagan exploration permit, offshore Morocco, the company revealed Thursday.
The buyer – Plains Exploration and Production (PXP) – will take a 52 percent interest in the project, and provide funds needed to test the license's potential. Pura Vida will receive a cash payment of $15 million on completion of the transaction and PXP will fund the entire cost of the exploration operations.
The new partners will start by drilling the Toubkal target, which has been interpreted as a structure which could contain 1.5 billion barrels of oil. Pura Vida said that the well is likely to be drilled in 2014, in line with its existing forecast of rig availability and the drilling programs being planned by the operators of neighboring blocks.
Compared to the XOM/Hebron story, the Pura Vida/PXP/Morocco story is huge. At the latter link, see also the comments to take you to some nice PDF presentations, if interested.

California -- Again

Regular readers will remember this story, and some of the comments it generated. I'm less interested in whether California will see another oil boom. What impresses me is that the governor was able to stand up to the faux environmentalists at least to some extent.
Governor Jerry Brown's administration released draft regulations Dec. 18, 2012 requiring oil companies for the first time to disclose where hydraulic fracturing is used in California after receiving tremendous pressure from state lawmakers and environmentalists.
The proposed rules released by the California Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources will require oil companies to reveal that information on a national fracking registry,, after they use the procedure. The rules also require energy firms to test the integrity of the wells before fracking to guard against leaks and to report the test results to regulators before beginning operations.
Chemicals deemed "trade secrets" would only have to be publicly disclosed in the event of a spill or accidental release, as needed for an emergency response or for medical treatments.
"Experience in other states has shown that such trade secret exemptions are being widely used and likely abused," the Environmental Working Group's Bill Allayaud said in a prepared statement.
Regulators said trade secrets are not widely claimed in other states.

Week 1: January 1, 2013 -- January 5, 2013

Bakken operations
179: active rigs; new intra-boom low
The CLR corporate presentation for December, 2012

California and the Bakken

Monster wells
A QEP Croff oil field well with 48,000 barrels the first month

Economic development
Basin Electric Power Cooperative to build two new peaker plants

Cemented liners
KOG and fracking

Arrow Pipeline -- The Williston Basin, The Bakken, North Dakota

It's been a long time since I checked in on the Arrow Pipeline and the Arrow Pipeline map, one of the earlier pipelines in the Bakken that got caught my interest.

One can see a map at this "quick html link."

When you get to the link, click on "download original" in the upper right hand corner to get the very, very nice PDF file of same. It's worth the visit.

Again, Drudge Report Highlights The Stories That Matter; This Time: the Flu (And For Chester: No, This Is Not About The Bakken)


January 8, 2013: Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest in has set up tents outside the hospital to triage, to manage patients suspected of having influenza. Meanwhile, 150 "flu" patients have been admitted to Illinois hospitals; and eight Chicago-area hospitals had to turn away ambulances with suspected "flu" patients in the past 24 hours due to overwhelming numbers.

January 6, 2013: Correct flu vaccine this season? This should be easy to sort out, but it turns out that it isn't. The Drudge Report notes that the CDC is not being clear whether the flu vaccine being used this season actually includes the strain that is fueling this season's flu epidemic. The CDC uses the word "appears" when addressing that question. All the CDC has to do is tell us which strain is fueling the epidemic and what the vaccine contains, but that is very, very complicated. It's not as easy as it sounds.

But one CDC explanation is a bit ingenuous:
"Number one it does take some time for the vaccine to take effect and if you are exposed to influenza a very short time after getting the vaccine you can still get infected," Dr. Michael Jhung, CDC Medical Officer - Flu Division, said."
That would be true every flu season. What is different this flu season? Did "everyone" simply wait too long, unlike last year when "everyone" went in early to get their flu shot? Hmmmm.

For the record:
The trivalent inactivated influenza vaccine for the 2012–2013 season contains three inactivated viruses:
  • Influenza A/California/7/2009(H1N1)-like 
  • Influenza A/Victoria/361/2011(H3N2)-like 
  • Influenza B/Wisconsin/1/2010-like (Yamagata lineage)
The influenza A H3N2 and influenza B antigens are different from those in the 2011–2012 vaccine. The H1N1 strain is derived from H1N1pdm09, which had been contained in the 2011–2012 seasonal vaccine. This vaccine will not protect against H3N2v or H5N1. 
Now, the flu fueling the 2012 - 2013 epidemic: not easy to do because there are several flu viruses "floating around":

The CDC has antigenically characterized 413 influenza viruses.
  • Influenza A (H3N2): 281
  • Influenza B: 115
  • 2009 H1N1: 17
Influenza A (H3N2) [281]:
  • 279 (99.3%) of the 281 H3N2 influenza viruses tested have been characterized as A/Victoria/361/2011-like, the influenza A (H3N2) component of the 2012-2013 Northern Hemisphere influenza vaccine.
  • 2 (0.7%) of the 281 H3N2 viruses tested showed reduced titers with antiserum produced against A/Victoria/361/2011. 
2009 H1N1 [17]:
  • All 17 2009 H1N1 viruses tested were characterized as A/California/7/2009-like, the influenza A (H1N1) component of the 2012-2013 influenza vaccine for the Northern Hemisphere.
Influenza B (B/Yamagata/16/88 and B/Victoria/02/87 lineages) [115]:
  • Yamagata Lineage [79]: 79 (68.7%) of the 115 influenza B viruses tested so far this season have been characterized as B/Wisconsin/1/2010-like, the influenza B component of the 2012-2013 Northern Hemisphere influenza vaccine.
  • Victoria Lineage [36]: 36 (31.3%) of 115 influenza B viruses tested have been from the B/Victoria lineage of viruses. 
So, perhaps the Victoria lineage of influenza B is an issue.

Original Post 
I had missed this. I suppose it's because I no longer watch network television.

But apparently this season's flu is intense, and the peak has not been reached.

This is my favorite site for tracking flu: google flu maps.

And nurses refusing to get flu shots. Great role models. Whatever. I think these nurses also refused to wash their hands based on their disbelief in the "germ theory." After all, it's just a theory.

I wonder if global warming and influenza epidemics are related?

Comments on the XOM/Hebron Story in the News Today


March 13, 2013: According to Oil & Gas Journal:
ExxonMobil Corp. let a $1.5 billion engineering, procurement, and construction contract to Kvaerner ASA for the Hebron heavy-oil project off Canada’s eastern coast, Kvaerner said. The contract total includes some work already completed.
January 13, 2013: Exxon Ventures Into Less Lucrative Waters To Increase Crude Output --
The Hebron project is not highly lucrative because its crude is heavier as compared to Brent or WTI Crude. Furthermore, as mentioned earlier, the project's cost has ballooned by billions. But Exxon's output has now fallen in five consecutive quarters.
While it has made significant developments in unconventional fuel and is now looking to tap into the British shale gas sector, conventional crude has been sitting in the backseat. The management has little choice but to work with what is available.
In my original post I said $14 billion was a not a big deal for a company the size of XOM. I was way wrong. I was thinking of XOM's market cap, but when looking at $14 billion against its cash ($13 billion) and its operating cash flow ($54) and $14 billion is a significant investment by XOM.

Original Post

I wasn't going to post a link to the XOM/Hebron field story that was published earlier today.

Although the story seemed to get a fair bit of press, it didn't seem all that big a deal. I sent the following note to a friend, and thought I might as well post it. The note may or may not be ready for prime time, but I thought I would at least throw it out there for folks to consider.

Here's my initial thoughts on the XOM/Hebron story:
One of the nice things about following the Bakken, it helps me put things into perspective.

The XOM / Hebron story is an example. $14 billion to develop the field?

In North Dakota, 200 wells / month x $10 million --> $2,000 million --> $2 billlion/month. So the XOM/Hebron field is 7 months of drilling in the Bakken.  And that's just the drilling. Does not include cost of leases; pipeline/rail infrastructure; natural gas gathering and processing; etc, etc.

700 million bbls? The Bakken -- everyone agrees at least 3 billion bbls recoverable from the Bakken; Harold Hamm says somewhere between 25 and 50 billion.

Hebron field: 150,000 bopd by 2017.

What this tells me, for the story to get this much press: XOM is in deep trouble finding / exploiting large fields. $14 billion sounds like a lot of money, but the amount of production is not exciting for a company the size of XOM.

And, on top of this, it's off-shore. A bit more difficult and expensive than the Bakken, I would assume.

$14 billion/700 million --> $20/bbl. Hmmm.

Except for this:

"Exxon is operator of the Hebron development and owns a 36 percent stake, according to the project’s website. "

So, is the $14 billion only XOM's portion? 36%?

$14 billion is 36% of what? $38 billion.

$38 billion/700 million bbls --> $50/bbl. More believable.
That's what I wrote. Probably not ready for prime time, but it is what it is.

Speaking of the Keystone XL 2.0N -- Exactly Where Are "We"?


January 7, 2013: Nebraska DEQ sees little impact from new Keystone XL route.
Construction and operation of the proposed Keystone XL crude oil pipeline along its revised route, with the necessary mitigation measures, could have minimal environmental impacts on Nebraska, the state’s Department of Environmental Quality said on Jan. 4.
The faux environmentalists have moved on; it's no longer about the route. Now, it's about CO2 emissions. 

January 6, 2013: The Dickinson Press has an update which says about the same thing, but provides a bit more detail and background. In addition, the article references two large Enbridge pipeline projects which were announced earlier (back in 2012). Apparently, Enbridge has added another $600 million to the huge $6 billion project previously announced. That is "new" news.
Enbridge Inc, already the largest transporter of Canadian oil, moving more than 2 million barrels a day, added C$600 million ($609 million) worth of new plans on Friday to a massive C$6.2 billion expansion of its system through Western Canada, North Dakota, the U.S. Midwest and Eastern Canada, announced in early December.
The company said it would spend C$400 million on its Western Canadian system to add 230,000 barrels a day of capacity, mostly by increasing the horsepower of its pumping stations between Hardisty, Alberta, and the Canada-U.S. border.
Its U.S. affiliate, Enbridge Energy Partners, will spend $200 million to further that expansion between North Dakota and Superior, Wisconsin. The capacity is scheduled to be on line in 2015, the company said.
Enbridge remains one of a handful of Bakken-centric companies I most enjoy following. EOG is another. And, of course, BRK, now that Warren owns BNSF.

Original Post
Glad you asked. Apparently in the mail.
A state evaluation of TransCanada's route for the Keystone XL oil pipeline through Nebraska has been sent to the governor.
The office of Gov. Dave Heineman said in a news release Friday that he has 30 days to review the more than 2,000 pages before making his decision.
Another 2,000 pages of analysis. My hunch is the governor has seen the report, and everything he needs to know is in the executive summary and that's all that will be read.  The date of the governor's decision will be made in consultation with the SecState. SecState's action on this will be delayed until the new SecState is approved.

Seven (7) New Permits -- The Williston Basin, North Dakota

Bakken Operations

Active rigs: 179 (new intra-boom low)

Seven (7) new permits --
  • Operators: Hess, XTO, OXY USA
  • Fields: Big Butte (Mountrail), Alkali Creek (Mountrail), Saddle Butte (Billings), Snow (Billings)
  • Comments: OXY has been active with new permits the past few days; noticeably missing, nothing much from Newfield for quite some time
Wells coming off the confidential list were reported earlier; see sidebar at the right.

Producing wells completed: none.

179: Active Rigs in North Dakota, New Intra-Boom Low

Friday Afternoon: The Witching Hour Arrives -- What Press Release Will We See After Close Of Business For The Week?

I don't know but this will be a space holder.

Update On The Seaway: Expansion to 400,000 BOPD Nearly Complete

Link to Oil & Gas Journal here.

Data points:
  • Seaway Crude Oil Pipeline Co, LLC: a joint venture, Enterprise Products Partners/Enbridge
  • expansion from 150,000 bopd to 400,000 bopd almost complete
  • 500 miles long; from Cushing to Gulf Coast (a reversal)
  • the Seaway system consists of a terminal and distribution center in Texas City, TX, as well as the 500-mile long pipeline
  • plans to reach final capacity of 850,000 bopd by mid-2014
Wow: from 150K to 850K in less than a couple of years or so. More data points:
  • from Cushing/Seaway, Enbridge is increasing capacity of its Flanagan South Project, to Flanaan, IL
  • currently a 193,300 bopd Spearhead Pipeline
  • will expand to 600,000 bopd by mid-2014 also, expandable to 800,000 bopd
So, two projects relieving congestion at Cushing
  • one, expands from 150K t0 850K
  • another, expands from 190K to 800K 
And that's just part of the reason I like to follow Enbridge.

We Knew It Was Bad, But Maybe We Didn't Know It Was This Bad -- Canadian Pipelines

Link to Calgary Herald.

Canadian oil selling at a $36 discount. Wow.
Federal and provincial governments are reeling from the impact of the lack of pipelines and new markets for Alberta crude - an alarming dilemma that could cost Canada more than a trillion dollars in lost economic activity.
With no quick fixes in sight, ...
Alberta's oilsands bitumen is selling at a $36-a-barrel discount because of a glut of oil in the United States and a lack of pipelines to get the Canadian product to the eastern and western coasts and down to the Gulf of Mexico.
And more:
Horner said the discount - the differential between the price for benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) oil and Western Canada Select, which represents a blend of conventional heavy crudes and bitumen - is far more serious than he initially believed when the province released its second-quarter fiscal update in late November.
How bad is the differential?
In recent months, the differential appears to be widening, rather than narrowing, and that spells even bigger trouble for Alberta in the future because provincial production is expected to ramp up to 4.5 million barrels per day- up from 2.2 million - and most of that increase is from the oilsands.
In mid-December, bitumen was selling for $47 a barrel - $40 below the WTI price and nearly $60 below the global Brent price. The differential has hovered around $32 to $36 a barrel in recent days.
Unless I missed it, I didn't see the writer mention "the Keystone" by name, but certainly they were referring to it.

I see a lot more rail in Canada's future. And Enbridge.

The Scariest Employment Graph -- The Drudge Report -- Not About the Bakken

This graph is very, very interesting.

One has to ask the obvious question: why?

With regard to jobs:
  • no recession has been deeper
  • no recession has been longer
It has now spanned one entire administration. 

And yet, how many trillions of dollars were spent "stimulating" the economy? $16 trillion in debt right now, and soon to raise the debt limit.

One has to ask the question: why?

Why has this recession lasted longer than every previous recession in modern history, since WWII? And only seniors even think about WWII any more. In fact, two wars since then, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, aren't even talked about much any more. That's how long it's been -- how many years this single graph covers.

I have to disagree with Drudge: it's no longer scary. It might have been scary two years ago when we did not know how much further down the "red" line would go, but it has turned the corner, and now the "red" line has become the norm.

We see the slope of the curve with 150,000 jobs being added each month. At this rate, it appears it will be another four years before we get back to the baseline. Of course, we will never get back to the baseline: there are too many advances in technology; some jobs are never coming back. It would not surprise anyone (except the Geico cavemen) if Sears, Best Buy, and/or JC Penney are gone by the end of the year. Surviving companies have gotten stronger, and learned to do more with fewer employees. The weak companies will simply fade away. As just one small example, the huge Barnes & Noble store at the upscale mall in Alamo Heights/Lincoln Heights, San Antonio, was gone when I returned this past December. It was an icon, a mall anchor. And it's gone. The Target store in the same area closed years ago, its demise probably hastened by the Wal-Mart (and its deceptive ads) around the corner. (Which begs the question: if Wal-Mart is so successful, why doesn't Target use deceptive advertising? But I digress.) We haven't yet seen the end of the decline in state government workers that is yet to occur.

But that graph at the link is truly amazing. It is one folks should spend some time on, and ask the question "why?"

But, as noted above: the graph is no longer scary. This is what is scary: if the red line dips, that will be scary. Jack "The Shining" Nicholson scary -- but to see a dip that means anything, it would have to be a sustained dip for three or four months. And that's what makes the graph scary. So, we'll see.


How do we fix that "scary" graph?

It is very, very simple.

We re-set the baseline to where the -3% currently is. I think everyone pretty much agrees that 7% unemployment, perhaps 6%  is the new norm. If so, move the baseline, call it a day, and move on.

The Fed has signaled that 6.9% is the new "bar." It was mentioned that we are only 0.7% in unemployment away from the end of QE: that means when unemployment moves toward 7%, the Fed feels it has met one of its two mandates: full mandates.


From an unconfirmed source: Average U6 Rates: (U6 rates began being used in 1994)
  • 1994 - 2000  = 8.8%
  • 2001 - 2008 = 9.2% (statistically, not much change from previous time period)
  • 2009 - 2012 = 15.9% (a bit worse, I suppose)

Add a few more. Company praised by the president one year ago shuts down:
Owner Bruce Cochrane, a fifth generation furniture-manufacturer, formed the company in 2011 with a $5 million investment and the hope he could make a profit off people who wanted to buy furniture made in America.
It was a move that caught the attention of North Carolina officials and those in the White House. Last year, Cochrane sat with the first lady during Obama’s 2012 State of the Union Address. He also joined the president and other business leaders in a discussion about how to create more jobs at home.

Read more here:

WSJ Links and More; Random Market Comments on EOG, ENB, and UNP; Gold

Market Update

I don't follow GMXR -- a reader alerted me to it. GMXR is up over 1,200 percent today! For a one dollar stock, it's up over $7.00 now. Wow. Not wow. It's a reverse stock split. Never a good sign.  From
"GMX Resources Inc. (GMXR) has announced a 1-for-13 reverse stock split. As a result of the reverse stock split, each GMXR Common Share will be converted into the right to receive .076923 (New) GMX Resources Inc. Common Shares. The reverse stock split will become effective after the market close on January 3, 2013."

Wow, EOG is up another dollar, hitting another all-time high, I think. [See first comment: I was wrong: probably should have said, "another 52-week high."] This is quite interesting. I opined some time ago that of the Bakken-centric stocks, EOG might be the most interesting for investors because of its exposure to the Eagle Ford. 

In addition, "they" still talk about EOG transitioning from being a natural gas company to an oil company. The company started talking about that -- the transitioning -- over a year ago. I had forgotten they were a natural gas company, thinking of them as an oil-centric company. Wow, they've come a long way in a year, and if they are still transitioning, lots of opportunity for growth. 

The two Bakken companies I enjoy following the most: EOG and Enbridge. I would add BNSF as a third company to follow, but now that it's part of Warren Buffett's menagerie (GEICO-Dairy Queen-Sees-BNSF), it's not as much fun. So, what's a fellow to do? Look at Union Pacific Railroad. Now that's incredible. If you go there, compare UNP, MSFT and AAPL over five years and two years. When Warren Buffett bought BNI, I switched in to UNP for long-term. I will never sell; just keep accumulating and let granddaughters have it some day.

Tea Leaves

I really don't follow gold much any more (probably never did follow gold all that much). But I see it took quite a tumble yesterday; didn't know why; then saw articles today about Fed wanting to end "QE" by the end of this year. Regardless of the reason for gold falling in price, I would have expected oil to have followed. Before the market open, I saw that oil had fallen $1.10 according to the TV crawler, but on Yahoo, now, it's only down about 25 cents. I don't know if Yahoo and CNBC track "the same oil" quotes. Be that as it may, it appears that the price of oil is holding, despite a) fall in gold; b) slow driving season; c) lousy jobs report. For oil investors, that all seems bullish. 

WSJ Links

Section M (mansions): I hardly glance at it. Houses hold no interest for me. Nada.

Section D:
  • Several pages about the upcoming Alabama - Notre Dame game.
  • Art reviews: nothing particularly interesting. I see Dustin Hoffman is 75.
Section C (money and investing): nothing of interest; several stories on bonds.

Section B: now we start to get to the news
Section A: surprisingly, nothing of interest. Not even the op-ed today.

Beautiful Photograph for Faux Environmentalists

Big Sky country.

Link here to The Billings Gazette. [If the link breaks, which it will, the photograph is of beautiful Montana scenery with wind towers being constructed.]

By the way, there's an outright falsehood (lie) in the article. See if you can find it. [Hint: it's in the second paragraph so you don't have to read far into the article.]

Unemployment Up; Number Revised Upward For Previous Month; Job Growth -- An Oxymoron


Later, 1:17 pm est: don't take my word for it. Check out Business Insider for the scariest employment curve ever, according to Drudge Report.  And invariably, folks are going to write in, defending the first four years of the Obama administration. That's fine. Americans avoided a silver bullet by not falling for Mitt. Cue up Connie Stevens.

Original Post

Remember: the magic number is 200,000
Added jobs: 155,000 vs expectation of 161,000

Unemployment rose slightly; now back up to 7.8 percent, and the rate was revised upward for November, also 7.8 percent.

But the AP thought happy days were here again: jobs growth -- a steady gain. Wow!
U.S. employers added 155,000 jobs in December, a steady gain that shows hiring held up during tense fiscal cliff negotiations in Washington.
The solid job growth wasn't enough to push down the unemployment rate, which stayed 7.8 percent last month, according to the Labor Department's report Friday. November's rate was revised higher from an initially reported 7.7 percent. 
And more:
Still, the economy is improving. Layoffs are declining, and the number of people who sought unemployment aid in the past month is near a four-year low.  
Really? I guess the operative word is "near."

The bottom line is month-after-month for four years, no significant change.

TGIF -- Energy Links (And Some Non-Energy Links)

Wells coming off the confidential list have been posted for Friday. BR has a great well.

RBN Energy: nice update on US exports of natural gas to Mexico; US has excess pipeline capacity; Mexico needs to increase pipeline capacity.

Photos of snowfall in Odessa.

The weather channel must have taken my comments on "Worried about global warming? Sit back and have a beer" seriously. They agree that "a bad day on earth is nothing compared to a day on Venus." And so it goes. I can't make this stuff up. Even the weather channel is turning into a blog. Smile.