Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Fourteen CLR Wells In Section 6-153-101, Baker Field, Southwest of Williston -- Case No 20154, April Hearing Dockets; 14-Well Array


January 19, 2019: production data updated below the graphic. In the big scheme of things, these wells have been disappointing.

September 21, 2014: one can see the fourteen donkeys at this Vern Whitten site, photo #23, Summertime In The Bakken

January 15, 2015: an alert reader noted there are two laterals coming off #23362 on the Atlanta pad. The two horizontals seemed to have been there "from the beginning."

January 1, 2014: update on the Atlanta wells. They have all been drilled to depth, and the last 12 are now on DRL status. Activity during the past two months suggests that they are now being fracked. This is how the NDIC GIS server map now looks:

September 24, 2013: the status of the Atlanta wells as of this date on the NDIC GIS server map:

Zooming in on the wells, note the salt water disposal well in the far northwest corner:

June 1, 2013: another 14-well array -- the CLR Mack wells in Antelope-Sanish

Original Post

An aerial photograph of this 14-well pad can be seen at the Rolfstad Presentation, slide # 43. In that photograph, the Williston-Missouri River bridge can be seen at the top left of the photograph.  One can also make out, just barely, the Burlington Northern track running along the river; the track is between the pad and the river. Go to this post to get links to the photograph, the presentation, and the graphic layout of the pad.

These wells will be important to note when they come off the confidential list. In the northeast corner of the section, CLR has three pads: two 4-well pads, and one 6-well pad, as well as a salt water disposal well. It looks like these 14 wells are on 2560-acre spacing.

From west to east (IPs and production updated August 6, 2014):
  • 23372, 364, CLR, Atlanta 1-6H, Baker, middle Bakken; 27 stages; 3.1 million lbs sand/ceramic; t4/13; cum 159K 9/19; taken offline in September, 2013; back on-line 2/14;
  • 23371, 499, CLR, Atlanta 2-6H, Three Forks, Baker, t3/14; cum 72K 9/19;
  • 23370, 597, CLR, Atlanta 3-6H, Baker, middle Bakken; 27 stages; 3.2 million lbs sand/ceramic; t4/13; cum 215K 9/19; taken offline in October, 2013;
  • 23369, 370, CLR, Atlanta 4-6H, Three Forks, Baker, t3/14; cum 77K 9/19;
  • 23368, 441, CLR, Atlanta Federal 5-6H, middle Bakken, Baker, t3/13; cum 180K 9/19;
  • 23367, 540, CLR, Atlanta Federal 6-6H, Three Forks, Baker, t3/14; cum 104K 9/19;
  • 23366, 527, CLR, Atlanta Federal 7-6H, middle Bakken, Baker, t3/14; cum 183K 9/19;
  • 23365, 311, CLR, Atlanta Federal 8-6H, Three Forks, Baker, t3/14; cum 115K 9/19;
  • 23364, 583, CLR, Atlanta Federal 9-6H, Baker, middle Bakken, t3/14 cum 144K 9/19;
  • 23363, 410, CLR, Atlanta Federal 10-6H, Baker, Three Forks, gas 237, 42 - 3420; trip gas 200 - 8,100; t3/14; cum 87K 9/19;
  • 23362, 604 CLR, Atlanta 11-6H, Baker, middle Bakken, two horizontal laterals; t3/14; cum 140K 9/19;
  • 23361, 407, CLR, Atlanta 12-6H, Three Forks, Baker, t3/14; cum 82K 9/19;
  • 23360, 522, CLR, Atlanta 13-6H, Baker, middle Bakken, t4/14; cum 116K 9/19;
  • 23359, 343, CLR, Atlanta 14-6H, Baker, 27 stages, 3 million lbs, Three Forks, gas 82, 82 - 1388, trip gas 2,500 - 4,200; t3/14; cum 107K 9/19;
See this SeekingAlpha article for possible configuration of these wells. A quick run-through of the dockets over the past year would suggest this will become the norm.

Random Feel-Good Story Out of the Permian

West Texas.

The Street Authority Network is reporting:
It's a madhouse," said J.E. Wolf III in a recent Bloomberg article. "I've been selling real estate here for 43 years, and I've never seen it like this."
Teenagers fresh out of high school are earning $75,000 annually driving trucks.
Locals have to postpone weddings because there are not enough hotel rooms available for guests. And when they are available, a room you might expect to run you $50 is going for $300 a night.
Welcome to Midland, Texas -- also known to some as "Boomtown USA."
Midland was the fastest-growing metropolitan area in the United States in 2012, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The total unemployment rate for the town is 3.3%, which is less than half the national average of 7.7%.
And then this:
In fact, the number of permits issued in Midland County has soared 200% since 2009 -- totaling more than 1,050 in 2012. As more of these new wells begin production, the potential for profit is enormous.

This is a trend we've seen play out before. Nathan Slaughter, StreetAuthority's expert resource analyst, has been covering the boom in North Dakota's Bakken Shale for years. Two big players in this region, Whiting Petroleum  and Heckmann Corp., are featured in the real-money portfolio of his Scarcity and Real Wealth newsletter.

Yet, unlike the more established Bakken Shale play, energy production from horizontal drilling and fracking activities in the Permian is still relatively new.

Ed Parker is a regional sales manager for Goliath Industries, a company that furnishes housing for oilfield workers. He recently compared the two plays in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:

"The Permian is about a year and a half behind North Dakota. We're on the front edge of the boom," said Parker.
Holy mackerel: a year and a half behind North Dakota. And this is the Permian. An old, old oil field. It was big in 1928. And now, starting all over again.

And, again, the disclaimer: this is not an investment site. I left in the investment references simply for continuity. Do not make any investment decisions based on what you read here, or what you think you read here. 

From the Texas State Historical Association:
Much of the Permian Basin was home to the Comanche Indians until they were finally forced out by the United States Army in 1875. Because of good grasslands, most of the area was inviting to both ranchers and farmers.
Since surface water was almost nonexistent, ranchers and farmers drilled water wells to sustain themselves and their livestock, and they often found evidence of oil or gas.
The first commercial oil well in the Permian Basin was completed in 1921 in Mitchell County, on the east side of the basin; completed at a total depth of 2,498 feet, it was the discovery well of the Westbrook field.
Early oil prospecting was started in southeastern New Mexico about the same time as in West Texas. By 1923 it was presumed that the Permian Basin was in the form of an elliptical bowl, the subsurface strata dipping from the rim to a maximum depth in the middle. Because of this and the lack of suitable rock outcrops in the interior during the early search for oil, geological survey crews looked for surface anticlines in the Edwards Plateau and the rock outcrop areas west and south of the Pecos River.
This method resulted in the discovery of several good oilfields, notably the World field in Crockett County, the McCamey field in Upton and Crane counties (1925), and the Yates oilfield in Pecos County (1926). Prior to the Hobbs field discovery in 1928, all discoveries were made as a result of random drilling or surface and subsurface mapping.
The Hobbs field discovery was made after magnetometer and torsion balance surveys both showed the area to be anomalous. From that time on geophysics, particularly the seismograph, was used as an exploratory tool.
By 1929 a sufficient number of oil tests had been drilled to give sketchy control for a subsurface map of the Permian Basin. Its outline was fairly well defined, and oil discoveries within the basin suggested the probability of interior folds. In 1930 Lon D. Cartwright published a report with a cross section and map, showing a large positive area located in the approximate middle of the basin, which he named the Central Basin Platform. The map showed the platform trending north-northwest across the Texas-New Mexico line into Lea County. By this time a sufficient number of wells had been drilled to show that the Central Basin Platform was a structural feature common to both states.
Because of the great distances to the markets and the lack of pipelines through which to move the oil, deep tests were not economically justified. Consequently, all oilfields discovered before 1928 were producing from Permian dolomite or sand, from depths less than 4,500 feet. A deep test was started in the Big Lake oil field in Reagan County, and in 1928 a large flow of oil and gas was encountered at 8,525 feet. Fossil evidence showed the producing section to be of Ordovician age. 
This discovery greatly expanded the prospects for the Permian Basin's becoming a major oil and gas producing area; however, because of the Great Depression in the early 1930s few locations for deep tests were made prior to 1936. 
With the coming of World War II the need for oil was urgent, and it became economically justified to drill more and deeper tests. During the war many new oil and gas zones were found not only in rocks of Permian and Ordovician age but also from zones in each geologic system from Permian through Cambrian and from practically every known type of subsurface trap.
Two of the largest accumulations were the Horseshoe Atoll and the Spraberry trend area. Horseshoe Atoll is a subsurface accumulation of fossiliferous limestone, as much as 3,000 feet thick, deposited during Pennsylvanian and early Permian time in the northern part of the Midland basin in West Texas. It is a horseshoe-shaped mass about ninety miles across and seventy miles from north to south. The crest of the atoll is a series of irregular hills and depressions. Oil migrated to many of these buried hills and was trapped in the porous rock, resulting in a line of oilfields nearly 200 miles in length. The Spraberry trend area is located in the region between the south end of the Llano Estacado and the north part of the Edwards Plateau.
More at the link.

I posted this mostly for the peak oil folks who visit the site. 

US Produced More Oil Than Saudi Arabia For the Second Month In A Row -- CarpeDiem

Two incredible energy stories posted over at CarpeDiem today.

First: for the second month in a row, the US produced more oil than ... drum roll ... Saudi Arabia. The graph is quite dramatic. Check it out. It will cost you one click. These are not subtle changes in month-over-month production changes.

The second story: the US is producing more natural gas in 2013 with fewer than 400 active rigs than in 2008 with more than 1,600 rigs. I remember when there was all that anxiety in North Dakota about the decreasing number of rigs. But I digress. Think about that. Just four or five years ago there were more than 1,600 natural gas rigs in the US producing less natural gas than the 400 active rigs we have now. Again, there are several graphs there. Spend some time at the link. Which reminds me: I have to check to see if "V" commented. No, he did not. Too bad; it's fun to read his comments; he has no clue.

Bakken To WTI Premium Is Up Another Fifty Cents; Now Up to $2.50; Last Time At This Premium: October 8, 2012

Dynamic link here; accurate when posted.

It really is quite incredible, isn't it? Who wudda thought? Bakken oil isolated/trapped a gazillion miles from anywhere would ever sell at a premium to WTI. Jane Nielson needs to read.

Wells Coming Off The Confidential List Wednesday; Hess Has Another Huge Well; BR With A Huge Well

Active rigs: 184 (steady)

Wells coming off the confidential list, Wednesday:
  • 19779, 1,353, KOG, Koala 154-97-15-34-27-2H, Grinnell, t2/13; cum 16K 2/13;
  • 22792, 2,926, BR, Kirkland 21-28TFH 3SH, Pershing, 4-section spacing; t1/13; cum 3K 2/13;
  • 23153, DRL, KOG, Koala 154-97-15-33-28-2H, Banks,
  • 23391, 1.091, MRO, Deanna Steffan 44-22H, Murphy Creek, t12/12; cum 19K 1/13;
  • 23447, 829, Hess, EN-Pederson 154-94-0409H-3, Alkali Creek, t12/12; cum 40K 2/13;
  • 23756, DRL SM Energy, Prochnick 15-35HSA, West Ambrose, first 21 days, cum 2K

Alkali Creek: north of the river, east of Williston, smack dab in the middle of a sweet spot; just west of Whiting's Sanish oil field; Oasis has some good wells in Alkali Creek; now Hess has some nice wells; this particular well is one mile south of "1604" about 10 miles west of the Sanish field.


23391, see above, MRO, Deanna Steffan 44-22H, Murphy Creek, on a natural gas line:

DateOil RunsMCF Sold

23447, see below, Hess, EN-Pederson 154-94-0409H-3, Alkali Creek; on a natural gas line:,

DateOil RunsMCF Sold

CO2 - Enhanced Oil Recovery -- Incredibly Fun Story To Read -- For Archival Purposes -- President Obama Will Take Credit For US Energy Independence ....

... and we could have celebrated energy independence in his first term had his administration not put up obstacles at every opportunity. All the new oil production has been on non-Federal land -- okay, most of it.  But I digress.

Read the Bloomberg article at the link. It's a long story. Hopefully the link won't break for a few weeks.

I find it particularly ironic. "We" may not have all the CO2 we need to recover all that oil. We may have to burn more coal. As my daughter would text, LOL.

Seven (7) New Permits in the Williston Basin; Oasis Has a Gusher -- Doris Will Be Popping The Champagne Tonight (Or Maybe This Weekend -- North Dakotans Have Learned To Delay Gratification)

Active rigs: 184 (trending down over past couple of days)

Seven (7) new permits -- 
  • Operators: XTO (3), MRO (2), Whiting, BEXP
    Fields: Whiskey Joe (Billings), Arnegard (McKenzie), Murphy Creek (Dunn), Alger (Mountrail)
  • Comments: XTO is a wholly-owned subsidiary of XOM; seems particularly active
Wells coming off the confidential list were posted earlier; see sidebar at the right.

Producing wells completed:
  • 23532, 527, CLR, Louisville 2-9H, Last Chance, t2/13; cum 5K 1/13;
  • 24264, 1,253, Whiting, S-Bar 11-7H, Sanish, t3/13; cum --
  • 22633, 768, Oasis, Jazz Federal 6093 42-20H, Gros Ventre, t2/13; cum --
  • 23463, 3,539, Oasis, Doris H 5200 44-20B, t2/13; cum --
  • 20167, 949, Hess, EN-Johnson A-155-94-2932H-3, Alkali Creek, t3/13; cum --
  • 23259, 515, KOG, Grizzly 146-99-3-3-10-13H3, Ranch Creek, t2/13; cum -- 1/13;
I had not heard of Ranch Creek before. The field is in southeast McKenzie County; it's a fairly large field, but not particularly active. Sort of like the "inactive" Divide County which has turned out to be quite surprising. A lot of sections in Ranch Creek with no Bakken wells.

Montana Oil Highlights -- An Update; Slawson With a Dual-Leg Bakken; A 1953 Well Approved For Injection

I don't have time to follow Montana in depth like North Dakota, and the link to the Fairfield Sun Times is likely to break sometime in the future, so if you want to see what's going on in Montana this week, you better click on the link now.

There are three things to note:
  • activity in eastern Montana seems to be picking up significantly (by Montana standards)
  • although not unheard of in North Dakota, it is rare to see a well with two laterals; Slawson will be drilling a Bakken well with two laterals; the legs, by the way, seem quite long: 13,700 feet and 13,600 feet; assuming those are just the lateral legs
  • a well spud in 1953 has now been permitted for injection, across the state line from Bowman County
I don't know about you, but for me, these developments seems kind of exciting. 

Keystone XL East. Finally. Covering All Bets: The Energy East Pipeline

Remember the Keystone XL? Quick, how much oil (dilbit) was it going to carry?

Give up?

Answer: "transport of up to 830,000 barrels per day."

Hold that thought.

Oil and Gas Journal is reporting: TransCanada has decided to ship this oil to its ports and refineries in eastern Canada, bypassing the United State completely.

Data points:
  • would convert TransCanada's Canadian Mainline natural gas pipeline to a crude oil pipeline
  • from western Canada to delivery points in a) Montreal; b) Quebec City; and, Saint John, New Brunswick
  • 3,000 km (1,800 miles) current pipeline; 1,400 km (840 miles) new pipeline
  • Canada's eastern refineries imported 600,000 bopd in 2012
  • new pipeline to enter service in 2017
Now the answer to the question above: 850,00 barrels per day.


I think not.

The Calgary Herald provides much more background information:
  • name of pipeline: Energy East Pipeline
  • the link to St John, New Brunswick, is new pipeline (avoids the US activist environmentalists in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont)
  • $5 to $6 billion
  • this article also mentions Enbridge activities moving oil in the same direction

Enbridge is either already shipping Bakken oil to eastern Canadian terminals or is in the process of doing the same thing, but some legs will be in the United States. Searching the blog will bring up several posts related to these on-going Enbridge activities. This is a fairly comprehensive overview. Note: the Sandpiper permit was denied by the US but Enbridge is confident it will work around this.

A Feel-Good Story ...

... until you read deep into the article.

The Rapid City Journal seems jubilant over the success of a Native American endeavor to sell popcorn, sort of takes you back to first grade when you read about the "first Thanksgiving," but I digress.
The Lower Brule Sioux Tribe started the business about seven years ago. It buys the popcorn seed and then raises it on 8,000 acres (about 12 sections; 6 1280-acre spacing units) of irrigated land, Heiss said.
In addition to selling a variety of popcorn flavors on its website and at grocery stores throughout the Midwest, Lakota Foods provides popcorn to major manufacturers like ConAgra Foods and American Popcorn Company who sell it.
Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan recently toured the Lakota Foods plant while learning about South Dakota's agriculture industry.
And the story goes on. And on. And on.

So, for several paragraphs you read how incredibly good this company seems to be doing, and then suddenly, the train hits a barrier:
But Lakota Foods has still not reached profitability, and Heiss believes it could be another several years before the company is in the black. The tribe has invested nearly $3 million in the business during the past five years, he said.
Still, he adds, making tons of money has never been what the company is about.
"Our tribal chairman and council says if we can break even and employ people, tribal members, to be self-sustaining and create job opportunities, (that's) the main No. 1 priority," he said. "If the company breaks even and employs people, that's our mission.
And naturally it would just be the gravy if it became profitable, but profit in the industry eyes is different than what it is here."
Say what? "Tons of money." It would be nice if they made a pound of money.

Say what you want but this seems to be a way for taxpayers to send money to Washington and then after the DC bureaucracies skim their take off the top, the white fathers in DC send back $3 million to fund a losing proposition, but one that makes people feel good. 

State Surpluses: Pleasant Surprises

Wells coming off the confidential list have been posted.

Don sent me this feel-good story early this a.m. The Daily Beast is reporting:
Surpluses are showing up in places you’d expect. North Dakota, currently enjoying an energy and agricultural boom, is projecting a $1.6 billion surplus over its two-year budgeting cycle. Texas, another resource-rich state, foresees an $8.8 billion surplus over its current two-year budget cycle.
But the Rust Belt is also regaining some of its fiscal shine. Ohio is expecting a $1 billion surplus for the current fiscal year. Wisconsin is looking at $484 million in black ink. Other states with surpluses include Iowa ($800 million) and Tennessee ($580 million). West Virginia completed its 2011–12 fiscal year with a surplus of about $88 million.
Some of the coastal states whose finances were hit hardest by collapsing housing markets and persistently high unemployment are also making a comeback.
For the past several years, California’s massive, recurring deficits have made life miserable for politicians and inspired comparisons to Greece. Thanks to tough spending cuts, higher taxes, and a generally recovery, California’s finances are on the mend.
“California expects to take in $2.4 billion more in revenue than it will spend this fiscal year, which ends June 30,” Tami Luhby of CNN Money reported. “After paying off a shortfall from last year and setting aside funds for upcoming obligations, it’s on track to end the year with a $36 million surplus.
Florida, another state that has had to deal with harsh cuts to rein in deficits, is also now in the black. The current projection is for a surplus of $437 million.
I saw the report earlier this week that Texas would be noting a $8.8 billion surplus over its two-year budget cycle. That was really surprising. I remember someone commenting elsewhere the oil boom would be short-lived in Texas and the state residents would soon see a state income tax. The oil boom has barely begun and already a nearly $10 billion budget surplus. My hunch is that the surplus has very little to do with the current Eagle Shale boom which has only just begun. And, of course, the other states mentioned (outside of North Dakota) are not oil states.

By the way, with their budget picture improving, it is unlikely that either Florida or California will see much pressure to open more off-shore oil exploration and production.

Killing The Domestic Coal Industry; More Jobs Lost

This really is quite amazing. China will still buy coal -- from Australia if not elsewhere. Let's get real, folks. But activist environmentalists are helping the president's desire to kill the domestic coal industry.

The Billings Gazette is reporting:
The last partner has dropped out of a proposal to ship coal from Montana and Wyoming to Asia through Oregon's Port of Coos Bay, port officials announced Monday.
Metropolitan Stevedore Company of Wilmington, Calif., known as Metro Ports, did not renew the exclusive negotiating agreement that expired Sunday, the port said. Two other partners dropped out earlier.
Port CEO David Koch said the port was continuing to develop new shipping facilities, but did not say if that would include coal.
Environmentalists have mounted a campaign to stop the proposed shipments, arguing that burning coal in Asia contributes to global warming and that huge trains filled with coal would be bad for the health of communities along the route. They have argued that demand for coal in Asia is dropping as concerns rise over its contributions to climate change.
Can you imagine all the economic benefit this project would have brought to the region?
A 2012 feasibility study for the Coos Bay project estimated that construction of a bulk marine terminal would cost $250 million, and upgrades to the Coos Bay Rail Link between Coos Bay and Eugene would cost $182 million. It estimated that coal exports through Coos Bay could go from 3 million tons annually in the first year to 10 million metric tons in the fifth year.
Mitsui & Co., the U.S. subsidiary of a Japanese trading company, and Korean Electric Power Corp., the potential buyer of the coal, dropped out earlier.

About That First Solar Deal Announced This Past Week


April 2, 2013: Timing is everything. The original post had to do with a SeekingAlpha contributor was was very, very bearish with regard to First Solar. Today, a SeekingAlpha contributor was gushing all over about the merits of First Solar:
My favorite solar pick is U.S.-based First Solar, primarily because of its market leadership and strong financials, which are unmatched in the industry. 
So, how is it working out today? The market is having one of its biggest days in last few weeks (and the last few weeks have been good to those in the market). The Dow is up almost 100 points and the S & P broke another intra-day record, surging almost 11 points (CNBC talking heads get excited when the S & P rises one or two points; I can only imagine how giddy they are today.) So, on a day when the market is surging and "everything" is green, how is FSLR doing? It's down almost a point, down almost one percent. Not good any day, but particularly on a day when the market is surging, it's not a good sign when a company is falling. As my dad used to say, and I'm paraphrasing, "if you can't make money in the market on a day like this, you shouldn't be in the market."
Original Post

I didn't get a chance to link this article yesterday because there was just too much to do. But, like so many things, I eventually get around to it.

Remember the story about First Solar buying a solar farm in California from Goldman Sachs? Here is one person's take on the deal, from SeekingAlpha:
First Solar has had a good run since last June, gaining 130% from those lows to its current price of about $27. But that price, in turn, is well short of the February high of over $36, and it seems that the next move is down. [The run was due to renewable energy credits -- RECs.]
That's because of a deal that FSLR is spinning as a positive, its purchase of a 150 Megawatt solar project in California. The bad news is in the name of one of the sellers, Goldman Sachs. If Goldman is getting out of this business, it's very bad news for the business.
FSLR has a buyer for the energy that will result from the project, Sempra Energy of San Diego, and it gains some panel sales from the deal, as the original plan was to use another company. But this is a deal made from weakness, not strength, and investors need to hope that the weakness is short-lived.
Again, you measure solar stocks now by deal flow. You want to see projects getting built that have a power company taking the electricity and an investor taking ownership of the property and the resulting RECs. The more deal flow, the more positive you can be. Anything that reflects negatively on deal flow is a negative. I think it highly likely that FSLR will now test its previous lows, and while my long-term view for the company is survival, you can get it for less than you'd pay now.
Disclaimer: this is not an investment site. Do not make any investment decisions based on what you read here, or what you think you read here.  

There is an interesting tie-in to the Bakken.

At least one developer has opined that Wall Street money has not yet bought into the Bakken. When it does, it will move the Bakken to a new level. In the First Solar case, it is just the opposite: Wall Street, in this case, Goldman Sachs, is getting out of the solar business.

Having said that, we are now six years into the Bakken boom on the North Dakota side of the state line, thirteen years on the Montana side, and there does not seem to be that influx of Wall Street money; one could argue that we would have seen it by now if it was going to materialize. Perhaps all we will see is a major oil company buying one of the smaller Bakken-centric companies. One certainly gets the feeling that the Bakken boom has not captured the attention of "big money" and perhaps it won't. Maybe that's good.

Wow, I got a long way from the original story on First Solar, didn't I?

Remember the Story Yesterday -- Obama Upset With All The Money XOM Makes; Says He Is Not Skimming Enough Off The Top

Let's get real, folks.

Wow! This Update Worth The Price of Subscription to the MDW

Bakken jumped $1.50. Bakken is now selling at a $2.00 premium to WTI at Clearbrook, MN. Bloomberg shows that as a 300% jump. There must be a few story lines there. Last October, Bakken sold at a $10 discount to WTI at Clearbrook; last summer, July, 2012, Bakken sold at a whopping $14 discount. How much mineral owners will see in their checks will depend on a) contracts; and, b) where the oil was delivered. Wow. I don't own any minerals but, even for me, this is exciting. The link is dynamic, and could change when the market opens. But the historical graph is there; only the headline would change.

Meanwhile, the WTI/Brent spread remains unchanged. WTI at $97 and Brent at $111, about a $14 spread.  For newbies, this is at the lower end of the spread in the last few weeks when it had been as high as $20 or so. As takeaway capacity improves, new pipelines come on-line, and oil flows are reversed, the glut at Cushing will ameliorate. Again, the link is dynamic, but it was accurate when posted.

Tuesday Lnks

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

Active rigs: 186 (no change)

COP: a nice update on COP at SeekingAlpha: I did not this; I thought it was XOM, but this writer says ConocoPhillips is the largest independent E&P company based on production and proved reserves.
ConocoPhillips is also one of the more shareholder friendly companies out there, with its large dividend and share buybacks. Since its spin-off of its refining segment Phillips 66  in 2012, ConocoPhillips has been rebalancing its asset portfolio, and moving towards lower risk areas. As of quarter-end, ConocoPhillips' quarterly dividend was $0.66 per share, for a dividend yield of about 4.40%.
Cramer's top picks today include: ENB. Of course, as others have repeated often: Cramer's picks change as often as dirty diapers, or the weather.

RBN Energy: Will natural gas pricing survive the spring thaw?
Last Thursday (March 28, 2013) the CME Henry Hub natural gas futures contract closed out the first quarter of 2013 at $4.024/MMBtu (prices slipped 9 cents to $4.015/MMBtu Monday). A year ago the futures price was $2.126/MMBtu – about half what it is today. During that same period, US dry gas production has risen by 0.5 Bcf/d to 64.1 Bcf/d and natural gas power burn has fallen by 2.2 Bcf/d (source: Bentek). With production still increasing and demand from power generation falling it seems unlikely that the market can sustain $4/MMBtu prices. Today we look at the supply demand picture at the end of the winter season.
WSJ Links

Section D (Personal Journal):
Dylexia workarounds: creativity without a lot of reading.
Actor Henry Winkler was told he was stupid. A teacher labeled Dan Malloy, the future governor of Connecticut, "mentally retarded." Delos Cosgrove recalls "hanging on by my fingernails" in high school and college before becoming a thoracic surgeon and the Cleveland Clinic's chief executive officer.
Each has dyslexia, a condition that makes reading difficult but has little to do with intelligence. Mounting evidence shows that many people with dyslexia are highly creative, out-of-the-box thinkers, and neuroimaging studies demonstrate that their brains really do think differently.
That helps explain the long list of entrepreneurs, inventors, scientists, actors and other professionals, doctors and lawyers who have excelled despite, or perhaps because of, their affliction, experts say.
Section C (Money & Investing):
Dynegy's power play on natural gas: coal.
Dynegy recently announced a deal to buy 4.1 gigawatts of Midwestern coal-fired power plants from Ameren. Dynegy put no money down and assumed $825 million of debt. Importantly—especially as Dynegy only recently emerged from bankruptcy—the debt's earliest maturity is in 2018 and is nonrecourse to the parent.
A big reason Dynegy got the plants so cheap is the impact cheap gas has had on the economics of coal-fired power. Gas-fired power plants have not only taken market share, they also have helped reduce electricity prices overall, which squeezes profit margins for coal-fired plants.
Section B (Marketplace): Nothing.

Section A:
Iran blinks: Iran cools nuclear work as vote looms.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has decided to keep Iran's nuclear program within limits demanded by Israel for now, according to senior U.S., European and Israeli officials, in a move they believe is designed to avert an international crisis during an Iranian election year.
Marcellus: getting environmentally safer. As big drillers move in, safety goes up.
A firm called East Resources Inc. was among the first to drill into the Marcellus Shale, a rock layer found to be rich in natural gas. As the small wildcatter drilled, starting in 2008, regulators repeatedly cited it for spills or other environmental infractions, almost two for every shale well it drilled.
In 2010 Royal Dutch Shell PLC bought East Resources. The first thing the oil giant did was shut down the rigs for two weeks and retrain the workers. Since taking over, Shell has averaged less than one violation for every four wells.
A similar pattern is showing up across the Marcellus Shale, a vast underground stretch that holds more natural gas than any other rock formation in the U.S., by government estimates. As big energy companies buy out smaller rivals, one side effect is an improving environmental record, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of Pennsylvania records.
The state offers a glimpse of the direction the U.S. drilling boom may be headed in Texas, North Dakota and elsewhere, as Big Oil increasingly takes over from the smaller, risk-embracing but often cash-strapped companies that pioneered tapping oil and gas from shale. Regulators and some environmentalists say the multinationals bring more rigorous approaches, mindful that one big mistake can affect their ability to operate everywhere. Superior financial resources allow them to wield teams to analyze and reduce violations as they carry out the complex process needed to unlock oil and gas trapped in shale.
Stockton, CA: learning from GMCalifornia city's bankruptcy poses risk to pensions. It looks like this case could be a bellwether, depending how it plays out. Right now, its bondholders vs pensioners and retirees (Calpers), and it looks like the judged ruled in favor of the pensioners and retirees, though it will be fought out in court. One more reason to exit bonds.
A federal judge allowed Stockton, Calif., to restructure its finances under bankruptcy protection Monday, but he signaled it might have to cut payments to its pension fund, possibly setting a precedent for other cities.
Stockton, a port and agriculture center of 300,000 residents 80 miles east of San Francisco, filed in June 2012 for Chapter 9 under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, which allows municipalities to seek protection from creditors by establishing a plan to resolve their debt. It is the largest U.S. city to file for bankruptcy.
Stockton is the latest in a string of California cities that have moved toward bankruptcy—it follows San Bernardino, Vallejo and Mammoth Lakes—after their finances crumbled in the face of the recent recession and as costs such as city pension obligations mounted.
Stockton, which had $700 million in bond debt and faced a $26 million annual budget shortfall when it filed for bankruptcy, also could become one of the first municipalities to use bankruptcy protection to force bondholders to take less than the principal they are owed. Two other areas operating under Chapter 9 protection, San Bernardino and Jefferson County, Ala., are also trying to negotiate such concessions from their bondholders.
Cyprus: kicking the can down the road. Cyprus bailout terms ease.
International lenders have softened the terms of Cyprus's bailout package by giving the island an extra year to meet budget targets, according to a draft copy of its loan agreement, as the country struggles with the fallout out of its worst financial crisis in decades.
Euro-zone countries and the International Monetary Fund say Cyprus will have to meet a 4% primary budget surplus by 2017—versus a previously negotiated target by 2016—as the shock of the country's two-week-long banking crisis threatens to send the island's economy into a recessionary tailspin. For this year, Cyprus is forecast to post a primary budget deficit—which represents the hole in the central government's finances before taking into account debt payments—equal to 2.4% of gross domestic product. 
Op-ed: a tale of two oil spills. Greens fret over pipeline leaks but are mute about train derailments.
The greens are flogging claims that Canada's oil-sands crude is more corrosive to pipelines than is other oil, and that this makes the Pegasus leak (and future Keystone leaks) inevitable. Oil experts refute that claim. In any case Pegasus was built in the 1940s, and about half of America's 2.3 million miles of pipeline were built more than 40 years ago. The best way to minimize leaks is to replace this aging network with modern pipelines such as the one planned for the Keystone XL, which use technology that instantly recognizes leaks and immediately shuts down oil flow. [MDW said the same thing earlier.]
Op-ed: bondholders, beware. Stockton will use bankruptcy to skin lenders, not pensions. 
Op-ed: packing up the legal circus. Amazing, but true: a plaintiff is punished for a frivolous lawsuit.
Judge Sullivan ruled that animal-rights organizations that sued Feld Entertainment, producer of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, must pay Feld's attorneys fees. The plaintiffs included the Animal Welfare Institute and the Fund for Animals. Feld says it has spent more than $20 million on a legal circus that began in 2000 with claims that Ringling was abusing its elephants.
Feld won the case in 2009 after a six-week trial. On Friday, Judge Sullivan noted that "the plaintiffs were unable to produce any credible evidence that any of them had standing to pursue their claims." The judge also reminded the litigants that the testimony of the plaintiffs' star witness had been "wholly incredible, and in certain instances, he testified falsely."
The judge was referring to Tom Rider, a former Ringling employee who was paid by the plaintiffs and posed as a kind of whistleblower who opposed Feld's treatment of elephants. But according to Judge Sullivan, "Rider's claim that he received written reprimands from [Feld] for complaining about animal abuse was false; he received written reprimands for, e.g., missing work, insubordination, and drunk and disorderly conduct."
All of this may explain the December decision by one of the plaintiffs, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, to pay Feld $9.3 million.