Saturday, June 22, 2013

Only One Question: Why?

The Guardian is reporting that the US is stepping up efforts to end the Gitmo hunger strike.


In related news, "how to store your nuts":

How To Store Your Nuts, Vanessa

750-Home Subdivision; Another Subdivision For Retirees Planned For Epping, North Dakota, Northeast of Williston; Complaint: "We're Building Too Many High-Rise Buildings In Williston"

The Williston Herald is reporting.

First subdivision:
In the 2010 Census, only 100 people lived in Epping, but if two developers have their way that will change soon.
During the Williams County Planning and Zoning Commission meeting Thursday, commissioners heard from two developers who hope to build near Epping. Gary Dixon from Nordak submitted a final plat for a development that could include up to 750 homes.
The plan calls for a subdivision that will be built in four phases, and the Army Corps of Engineers has already approved the first three. Dixon explained that since the development is so close to the water, he needed approval from the corps before moving forward.
Second subdivision:
Joe LaFave also discussed a development he hopes to build near Epping. While his plans are in the early stage, LaFave asked to talk to the commission to avoid any pitfalls in the future.
“Looking at the development I’ve seen go up in Williston, we’re not attracting retirees to stay here, we’re not allowing the farmers and ranchers to sell their place and go fishing,” LaFave said. “We’re building a lot of high-density things, high-rise apartment buildings.”
LaFave said his development would provide homes on large lots near the Epping-Springbrook Dam.
For those who have not been to Williston, high-rise means three stories. A skyscraper is four stories and a dish antenna.

Aerial photos: at this link, there are three photographs of the intersection of the Truck Reliever Route (the bypass) north of Williston where it intersects US Highway 2 & 85 north of Williston, I believe the "old" 9-mile corner. Look at the third of the three photographs, the bottom photograph. Look at the upper right-hand corner where the county road curves to the right -- looking as far to the edge of that photo would lead one into Epping. One can see why Epping is a "hot" spot for building right now.

Benihana-Style "Social Grills" As Popular In North Dakota And Montana As Southern California -- WSJ; Something For Bakken Millionaires To Consider

The WSJ is reporting:
Forget the fire pit. The latest luxury backyards are being outfitted with everything from movie theaters to dishwashers to bathtubs.
Todd and Cathy Ressler's elaborate outdoor kitchen at their suburban New Haven, Conn., home has custom cabinetry, a full bar, a pizza oven and a beer tap. The space also includes radiant-heat light fixtures, allowing the family to use the space in cooler months. And to avoid going back and forth between kitchens, the Resslers purchased a separate set of outdoor flatware and dinnerware. Mr. Ressler, who cooks most meals in the summer months, says he built the new kitchen because he's "really into the outdoors, more than the indoors." The project, which included elevating a deck to the level of their house, cost roughly $100,000.
The homeowner basically wants you to duplicate what they have indoors, outdoors," says Larry Smith, the marketing manager of Brown Jordan Outdoor Kitchens, a Wallingford, Conn.-based company that made the cabinetry in the Ressler home. Newer options include a round Benihana-style "social grill" designed for gathering around during outdoor parties.
"Strange as it may seem, it's as popular in North Dakota and Montana as it is in Southern California."

Blending Heavy And Light Crude Oils For US Refiners -- Platts

Again, some great statistics coming out of the Bakken and the Eagle Ford.
But the growth in production from the two main shale oil plays–the Bakken in North Dakota and the Eagle Ford in South Texas–has been so fast that infrastructure is still playing catch up, with new trains, rail and terminals being built at a record pace. But still some refiners are hard put to keep up with the new streams.
At the Texas port of Corpus Christi, 108 million barrels of crude–the majority of which was Eagle Ford–moved into the port, with about 43.7 million barrels moving out via rail, barge and truck up the coast to Texas and Louisiana refineries.
Several port customers, including Valero and Flint Hills, both of whom have sizable refineries in Corpus Christi, have started to blend Eagle Ford with foreign crude, said Frank Brogan, Managing Director of the Port of Corpus Christi, Texas.
“It has been a substantial growth as the Eagle Ford crude production has surpassed the ability of the local refineries to refine it,” said Brogan.
The incredible rising North American crude production–both from the shale plays and heavy Canadian crude from the tar sands in Alberta–has created a massive volumes of crude with qualities not particularly suited for many refineries. This is particularly true of the light Eagle Ford, with can carry an API of 47.

For Newbies -- Personal Thoughts On The State Of The Bakken -- June 22, 2013

If you are new to the Bakken, this is where I would start:
This is how I see the Bakken:

First and foremost, no one comprehends how big the Bakken is except the guys in the oil patch with years of experience. No matter how much hype you think there is about the Bakken, the fact is: it is huge. It now accounts for 12% of US oil production.

Although there is some Williston Basin Bakken activity in southern Saskatchewan and eastern Montana, the Bakken, for all practical purposes, is centered in four counties in North Dakota (Dunn, McKenzie, Mountrail, and Williams) with some additional sweet spots in the southwest (Stark County) and the northwest (Divide County). But for all the articles on the Bakken, it really is only a small geographical area. I doubt visitors to North Dakota who do not go west of Minot or Bismarck will notice much oil activity. Tourists on I-94 on their way to Yellowstone this summer might be surprised at the amount of activity at Belfield when they stop to gas up, but it will be a momentary observation, and then they will be on their way.

The tea leaves suggest the farmers and ranchers impacted by the oil industry are reaching a breaking point. The mantra that agriculture and the oil industry can co-exist will be explored at an upcoming conference. In the long run, twenty years from now, I am confident farming and oil can co-exist; in the short term, I am not so sure. A lot of folks were under the impression that there would be one well on each section or perhaps one well on each spacing unit (most of which are now two sections in size). But it is clear that in the heart of the Bakken, there will be far more than one or two wells per section.

I don't think the average density of wells has reached even two wells/spacing unit in the Bakken and yet the challenges for the farmers and ranchers appear to be increasing, not decreasing. The housing situation is bad, very bad, seven years into the boom, but the challenges faced by the agricultural industry seem to be worse, and getting worse. It has to do with dust, roads, inconvenience, and "way of life."

The NDIC has developed a "master plan" for development that seems to be as good a plan as any to "save" western North Dakota for dual use (oil and agriculture). [By the way, solar farms do not lend themselves to dual use, and I'm not even sure how much wind farms lend themselves to dual use. Solar farms do not co-exist with farming.]

But it is not going to be one or two wells per spacing unit. The number of wells per spacing unit will go to 2, 4, 6, 8 - who do we appreciate -- wells per spacing unit. This summer there are two or three projected test projects to see if 24 wells, and then 48 wells, can be placed on one or two pads for one spacing unit.

If there is this much difficulty with one or two wells/spacing unit, imagine 14 wells/spacing unit. Two thousand truck-trips on average to drill one well (I can't remember if it's four thousand one-way or two thousand round trips, but it hardly matters). There could be as many as four pipelines required for each pad: fracking water, brine/waste water, crude oil, natural gas.

Much more could be written on this.

The challenges the farmers and ranchers are facing could result in the Bakken boom ending badly in the near term. By "badly" I mean increasing rancor among mineral owners, surface owners, ranchers, farmers, oil companies, politicians (county and state), etc. A state moratorium on building any more pads is not far-fetched; letting companies drill the heck out of existing pads, but no more pads. Free market capitalism seems to be moving things in that direction, regardless.

What else?

There is now more than enough takeaway capacity for OIL if one believes the experts. North Dakota is producing about 800,000 bopd. It is said that rail provides 800,000 bopd takeaway capacity and pipeline provides 500,000 bopd takeaway capacity (if I haven't gotten the figures turned around). The glut at Cushing as been resolved; for the past three weeks the amount of oil at Cushing has decreased. Bakken oil is being piped and railed to the East Coast; the Bakken is singularly responsible for saving two or three East Coast refineries.

California now imports eight (8) times more Bakken oil than it did this time last year. Eight times more. Bakken oil is railroaded/piped to Oregon, where it is loaded unto marine vessels and shipped to California. California will not allow any more pipelines to be buried, and the railroads are probably maxed out; there are geographical chokepoints over the mountains going into southern California, and, of course, one has the Rocky Mountains farther north.

There are enough drilling locations to keep the Bakken operators busy through 2030. And then after that, there is the Tyler, the Spearfish, the Madison, and the Red River. Most folks felt that the Madison and the Red River were tapped out, but that was before a) oil hit $100 on a sustained basis; and, b) new technology came along. The reason that the Tyler and the Spearfish are not being drilled now is simply because the Bakken is pricing the other formations out of business: there are no oil service companies available, or manpower available, to drill these other formations. They are all in the Bakken.

It is said that not one operator has made any money in the Bakken yet. That doesn't mean individuals haven't made a lot of money; it's just that oil companies continue to invest more money in drilling than they are currently receiving in payback. There are many, many articles on this. But the oil companies aren't drilling out of the goodness of their collective hearts; they are in the Bakken to make money. Someone has said that oil companies are counting on making their money on P2 (P1 = proved reserves; P2 = probable; and, P3 = possible). As I understand it, when a well hits oil in a P2 play, that area becomes a P1 play. When Harold Hamm suggests a 903 billion barrel reserve I assume he is talking P1 + P2 + P3. 

The Bakken is an oil play, not a natural gas play, but it has a huge amount of natural gas, also. Folks talk about Bakken oil production being choked back due to lack of infrastructure support. That is true, but it is mostly due to lack of infrastructure support for natural gas. Until there are enough natural gas processing plants in the Bakken, oil production will be choked back. One cannot simply lay natural gas pipelines. Before natural gas can be placed into the "system," it has to be processed, cleaned, various components separated for various reasons. If natural gas is not processed and placed into the "system," it is flared.

The Bakken is an oil play. Currently the Bakken has two competitors for rigs and workforce: the Eagle Ford in the West Gulf Basin, south of San Antonio; and the various formations in the Permian Basin, west Texas.

All three (the Bakken, the Eagle Ford, and the Permian) require water for fracking. It remains to be seen whether water will be the discriminator among the three but there is no lack of water for fracking in the Bakken. There may or may not be a "true" water issue for fracking in Texas but it could certainly become a political issue. Time will tell. But again, there is no shortage of water in western North Dakota for fracking.

The number of active rigs reflects the degree of activity in the Bakken, but not necessarily the production. The rigs have gotten more efficient; the operators more effective; fewer rigs are producing more oil. There is now a general consensus that the number of oil rigs in the Bakken will range between 180 and 220. Currently, there about 186 active rigs on any given day. The high was 218; the post-boom high sits at 194; the post-boom low hit a scary 179.

Over time, the estimated ultimate recovery (EUR) for Bakken wells has gone up. It now ranges from 300,000 bbls to more than one million bbls over the lifetime of a Bakken well.

When the boom began, time was more important than money. Now that acreage has pretty much been spoken for, money is more important than time. Operators are concentrating on decreasing the cost of completing a well. The costs for wells range from $5 million to $14 million, it seems. And, of course, it seems folks are comparing apples and oranges when talking about well costs: for me, it's impossible to figure out what some companies consider "cost of wells." And, of course, it seems the bonus money paid for the lease is not part of the cost of the well; that bonus money will be amortized over several wells as time goes on. 

TO BE CONTINUED (MAYBE, IF THE SPIRIT MOVES ME) -- The spirit never moved me. -- I last looked at this on November 26, 2013.

Saturday Morning News And Links; Starbucks Will Raise Prices On Some Beverages 1%

A note to readers: if you are reading this I am impressed that you found the site. After three or four years of "milliondollarway" someone "stole it" and turned it into spam; that was earlier this week. It was a great URL and I expected sooner or later someone would steal it. It took me most of a day to find my own site again and figure out how to rescue it. A minor tweak "themilliondollarway" got me back to the "basic blog" and I've corrected most of the links on the "front page." However, the internal links posted before June 18, 2013 (essentially the entire blog) will be broken. If you are taken to a bogus post but you still want to see the "real story," simply paste "" in the appropriate part of the URL. Hopefully that makes sense.

I assume it's only a matter of time before another glitch occurs. I assume "Twitter hash tags" can't be stolen. If I lose my site again, I will keep in touch via Twitter until I get the site back up.


Active rigs: 189 (steady)

WSJ Links

Section D (Off Duty) leads off with an interesting article about new furniture designs for the "home" office Perfect for some of the new Bakken millionaires. And this is timely: I've been looking at a GPS device for my bike. The Garmin Edge 810 is featured here. But even more fun are the helmet cams: these can be used by anyone in any sport, including scuba diving.

Section C (Review) starts off with "why she drinks: a look at women's growing predilection for wine; it has a darker side, and the only way to deal with it is to acknowledge the profound differences between how women and men abuse alcohol.

On a more pleasant note, the Journal has a review of a new book on birds: Alexander Wilson: The Scot Who Founded American Ornithology. I saw this book at the Harvard Book Store and was tempted to buy it. Due to logistics (biking and this is a big book), I held off, but I will eventually get it. It's the story of a Scottish immigrant schoolteacher who was the first to describe most species of American birds. It was not Audubon. By the way, the one book that should be on everyone's short list is How The Scots Invented The Modern World. That, and Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance. And Hunter S. Thompson's Hell's Angels.

It is interesting to find this story in this section: Financially-strapped Harrisburg, PA, will sell its collection of Wild West memorabilia. I find it extremely sad:
Harrisburg, the state capital, needs all the help it can get. The city of about 50,000 was pushed to the brink of bankruptcy in 2011 and remains under state-administered receivership. On July 15, New York-based Guernsey's will mount a seven-day unreserved auction of more than 8,000 items on a site in Harrisburg's City Island. Guernsey's declined to say how much it expects the sale to bring in...
By the way, years ago, I walked straight through the city of Harrisburg between 10:00 pm and daylight; I walked right through the highest crime districts; the police said I would not come out the other side of the city alive when I asked for directions on the shortest route through the town. I was hitchhiking from Williston to Europe, where I would spend the summer.

Section B (Business & Finance) has a most interesting article: Monsanto said the discovery of unapproved genetically modified wheat in an Oregon field was "highly suspicious" and that sabotage is the most likely explanation.  A marijuana farm gone bad? I didn't read the article.

It looks like a Japanese company has bought Sprint. Meanwhile, the Food Network dropped Paula Deen. Starbucks will raise prices 1% on some of its beverages in the US.

I did not read this article, but some may enjoy it; I agree with the thesis: one reason to feel good about the stock market, by Mark Hulbert. This is not an investment site; do not make any investment decisions based on what you read here, but having said that, I've never been so enthusiastic about the market. Buying opportunities don't come often enough.

The big story, Section A: the failure of the farm bill puts the immigration bill in jeopardy. My interest in politics waxes and wanes. Right now, I am about as cynical as I've ever been with regard to politics. It is obvious that Americans don't care about White House scandals as long as they have a "hero" at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue who they can love. Simply ignoring the scandals make them simply go away.

The biggest thing I learned this week is that the mainstream media, including the New York Times, really are not concerned about civil liberties and privacy as long as it's done by "their" politicians. I honestly believe the revelations coming out of the NSA this past month would have resulted in serious talks of impeachment had this come out during the previous (Republican) administration.

For those of us who are truly concerned about terrorists, and especially for New Yorkers, we are so fortunate it is working out the way it is. Precedents have been set, and warrantless wiretaps at the federal level are now, not only legal, but the preferred method of spying, it appears.

Back to Section A. The US has filed criminal charges against NSA leaker Edward Snowden. The entire "package" is sealed so we have no idea what the charges are. The Journal expects the extradition process to be quite lengthy. I forget where he is right now: Hong Kong, Iceland, on his way to Russia?

I guess the Fed is toiling in vain to calm jittery markets. Hey, buying opportunity. There are so many questions and so many story lines. Two areas that have not been explored at all: a) why now? is there simply less and less for the Fed to buy? one talking head hinted at that on Thursday; and b) 14 of 19 appeared to be in Ben's camp. Was Janet Yellen, the next Fed chairperson, one of the 14 or one of the 5. She is much more "dovish" than Ben it is said, and one gets the feeling she speaks Kruggish.

After all the leaks this past month, President Obama met with his "Privacy Board." In private. I can't make this stuff up. Again, as I noted above, the mainstream media has never had any qualms with an angry young man in the White House.

The strangest financial story of the week: China has a cash shortage. When and how did that happen? I thought the Chinese has gazillions of American greenbacks.

And was anyone aware of this? I completely missed it. Calgary, the center of Alberta's oil-rich Canadian sands is flooding, seriously. At the Journal: The city of Calgary in the oil-rich province of Alberta declared a state of emergency after rising floodwaters threatened a number of neighborhoods in Canada's fifth-largest city.

If there was an article on Syria, I missed it. So, a week ago, Syria was going to implode, bringing the world down with it. Instead, the market was brought down by innocuous and expected remarks from Ben.  And all the Obama scandals have simply disappeared. And life goes on.