Wednesday, August 14, 2013

No, Virginia, You Might Not Be Able To Keep Your Physician; Cisco To Cut 4,000 Jobs -- Slow Economy -- Will Save On ObamaCare Costs

The Wall Street Journal is reporting:
This fall, Indiana's new online health-insurance marketplace will present some tough choices for consumers like John Nowak, who will be able to pick a plan from his current insurer—or go for one that includes his primary-care doctor.
That is because Mr. Nowak's current insurer won't include Indiana's biggest health-care provider, 19-hospital Indiana University Health, in the plans it sells on the consumer exchange. If Mr. Nowak buys a new exchange plan from WellPoint Inc.'s Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, he will generally have to pay the cost out of his own pocket if he sees the system's doctors, because they aren't in the network.
My hunch: a lot of physicians are going to opt out.


The Wall Street Journal is reporting:
Cisco Systems Inc. is once again tightening its belt, this time before bad news hits the bottom line.
The Silicon Valley network-equipment giant on Wednesday said it would cut 4,000 jobs, or 5% of its workforce, despite reporting an 18% jump in profit in the fourth fiscal quarter.
John Chambers, Cisco's chief executive, blamed the decision largely on a disappointing economic recovery that is affecting particular countries and product lines in different ways.

Fifteen (15) New Permits -- The Williston Basin, North Dakota, USA; Halcon Will Report A Nice Well Thursday

Active rigs: 184

Fifteen (15) new permits --
  • Operators: Oasis (7), Whiting (3), CLR (2), Sequel (2), Murex
  • Fields: Gros Ventre (Burke), Alger (Mountrail), Cottonwood (Mountrail), Ray (Williams), Indian Hill (McKenzie), McGregor (Williams), Dollar Joe (Williams), Writing Rock (Divide)
  • Comments:
Wells coming off the confidential list were posted earlier; see sidebar at the right. 

Three permits were canceled:
  • 18095, PNC, BR, CCU Red River 34-9H, Dunn County
  • 23522, PNC, OXY USA, Spring Creek 2-20-141-93, Dunn County
  • 25321, PNC, WPX, Van Hook R/S 4HC, Mountrail County
Wells coming off the confidential list Thursday:
  • 22878, 1,532, HRC, Fort Berthold 148-94-22B-27-5H, McGregory Buttes, t5/13; cum 42K 6/13;
  • 23600, 484, Baytex, M. Macklin 15-22 5H, Ambrose, t1.13; cum 31K 6/13;
  • 24908, 397, CLR, Charlotte 6-22H2, Banks, t7/13; cum  --

22878, see below, HRC, Fort Berthold 148-94-22B-27-5H, McGregory Buttes:

DateOil RunsMCF Sold

Winners And Losers Due To Global Warming: The Trees Are Winning

I cannot make this stuff up.

The Los Angeles Times is reporting:
Finally, some good news about the effects of climate change. It may have triggered a growth spurt in two of California's iconic tree species: coast redwoods and giant sequoias.
Since the 1970s, some coast redwoods have grown at the fastest rate ever, according to scientists who studied corings from trees more than 1,000 years old.
"That's a wonderful, happy surprise for us," said Emily Burns, science director at the Save the Redwoods League, which is collaborating on a long-term study with university researchers on the effect of climate change on redwoods, the world's tallest trees, and giant sequoias, the largest living things by total mass.
"The forests are not experiencing detrimental impacts of climate change," Burns said.
Researchers doing fieldwork for the study also made a bonus discovery. They came across an ancient, shaggy tree that corings revealed to be the oldest coast redwood on record. At 2,520 years of age, the ancient tree beats the previous record-holder by 300 years.
Actually, I'm not aware of any "truly" bad news associated with global warming. Remember: we're talking a degree or two over a century.

The best news is that the Arctic is melting, opening the way for cargo ships to take shorter routes between the Atlantic and Asia. But the Arctic melting pales in comparison to the growth of the Antarctic ice, and, get this: the polar bears are thriving. 

And now we hear the trees are winning. Sort of reminds me of the "forest scenes" in The Lord of The Rings. J.R.R. Tolkien would have been happy.


Also from the LA Times:
Guantanamo has devastated our reputation as a champion of human rights, weakened our international partnerships and remains a powerful recruiting tool for terrorists.
Probably wrong on all three counts; certainly wrong on two. 

Except for an occasional Times (Los Angeles or New York) reporter,  I doubt any average American even gives Gitmo a thought any more. Considering the president ran on a platform to close Gitmo almost a decade ago and nothing has changed, has pretty much made this a dead issue. But I'm glad the Times has time to write about it; that tells me not much else is going on in the world to get me excited.

Does Water For Fracking In The Bakken Need To Be Fresh Water? Implications For WAWS, Independent Water Suppliers


August 15, 2013: The Bismarck Tribune story; same story, different writer, I guess. 

Original Post
Salt water for fracking in the Bakken?

Recently I noted that experts said that fresh water had to be used for fracking but yet there was an article recently that suggested salt water was being used for fracking off the California coast.

Now this in The Dickinson Press:
In recent years, Halliburton told its customers that hydraulic fracturing required fresh water, said Walter Dale, strategic business manager for water management solutions.
But technology advancements have changed that, and Halliburton is now promoting a system it says can reuse water that is injected into deep underground formations in North Dakota.
The system [described at the link] can reduce the fresh water usage, reduce truck traffic and reduce disposal costs, providing environmental benefits and saving operators an estimated $100,000 to $400,000 per well, Dale said.
Read the article: the jury is still out; rules and regulations have to be written, etc., etc.

There is more than enough water in the Bakken for fracking; this is all about a) cost; and, b) trucks on the road.

W.L. Plastics Begins Operations In Rapid City, South Dakota, To Support The Bakken

The economic effects of the Bakken stretch well into South Dakota.

The Rapid City Journal is reporting:
Crews move plastic pipe around the yard at W.L. Plastics in Rapid City on Tuesday morning.
The facility began manufacturing pipe in June to service oil fields in nearby states, including North Dakota and Wyoming.
W.L. Plastics held a ribbon cutting ceremony Tuesday morning.

Results From The First Well In "The Area" To Target The 4th Bench Of The Three Forks: Farver 2-29H4

This well came off the confidential list today:
  • 24657, 344, CLR, Farver 2-29H4, Hamlet, Lower Three Forks, 30 stages; 3 million lbs; 
From the well file:
The Farver 2-29H4 was spud on February 14, 2013, at as surface location 335' FNL and 1460’ FWL in Section 29, T160N, R96W, Divide County, North Dakota.
After drilling the surface hole and setting a 9 5/8” casing string with AES rig #4, Trinidad rig #36E was moved onto the Farver location to drill the remainder of the well; it drilled out of the 9 5/8” casing shoe on March 20, 2013.
The Farver is part of a series of wells drilled by Continental Resources in the Hamlet field area targeting the Mississippian/Devonian middle Bakken and the Devonian Three Forks in the Williston Basin of North Dakota.
The Farver is the first attempt in the area to establish oil production from the “4th bench” of the Three Forks (the lowermost member of the formation; identified by the North Dakota Geological Survey as “Member 1”).
The Hamlet field lies in Divide County in northwestern North Dakota and has been productive from several horizons including the Mississippian Madison, Mississippian /Devonian Bakken, Devonian Duperow, and Devonian Winnipegosis. Currently, at least 25 Bakken “pool” wells are productive within the Hamlet field.
I'm not exactly sure what is meant by "the area," but this is the first time I have posted IP results of a CLR well targeting the 4th bench of the Three Forks.

For newbies, this is the status of the USGS surveys, as I see it:
  • the 2008 survey targeted only the middle Bakken 
  • the 2013 survey included the UPPER Three Forks, and doubled the estimate of recoverable oil from the Bakken pool
  • there has been no USGS survey targeting the LOWER Three Forks, i.e., the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th benches.
As I understand the progress to date, in North Dakota:
  • the middle Bakken is delineated and operators are optimizing operations in the middle Bakken
  • CLR is delineating the UPPER Three Forks; this subformation is productive where it exists
  • CLR has a few pilot projects targeting the 2nd and 3rd benches of the LOWER Three Forks; the 2nd and 3rd benches are felt to be productive where they exist; 
  • CLR is just beginning to target the 4th bench of the LOWER Three Forks; the jury is still out whether the 4th bench will be productive
  • other companies may also be targeting/testing the LOWER Three Forks
By 2020, we will need a new USGS survey to include the LOWER Three Forks

Back to the well. A little bit more from the well file:
Total depth was reached at 9912' on March 26, 2013, with a projected angle at the bit of 89.0° and a projected TVD of 9723 (just above the 4th bench target interval). During the build section, the Three Forks was topped at 9400’ (9345' TVD), the “Internal 1” shale at 9443' (9371' TVD), the “Internal 2” shale at 9524' (9417' TVD), and the “Internal 3” shale at 9746' (9498' TVD).
LATERAL LEG: Drilling of the Farver #2-29H4 lateral leg began on March 28, 2013, at a measured depth of 9912’ (9524’ TVD), just above the targeted section of the 4th bench of the Three Forks formation (entered at 9940' MD, 9526.6' TVD). Peak gas reading (other than trip gas) of 177 units was recorded.

On Track For 2,412 New Oil And Gas Permits In North Dakota For Calendar Year 2013

With 1,487 new permits to date, the state is on track to issue 2,412 new oil and gas permits this calendar year (2013).

At this time last year, August 13, 2012, 1,340 new permits had been issued and we were on track to issue 2,174 new permits for 2012. In fact, about 2,251 were issued with about 30 canceled.

A Note To The Granddaughters

I'm starting to put together my "physics" library. Physics was one of the most difficult subjects for me in high school, and I did not take any "purely" physics courses in college, though a lot of chemistry courses incorporated a fair amount of physics.

It was by chance that I got back into physics.  As my new landlord says, "it was probably meant to be."

It started when my niece in Tucson, whose high school graduation I attended a few weeks ago, gave me a copy of The Age of Entanglement: When Quantum Physics Was Born,  Louisa Gilder, c.2008.

I then started re-reading a couple of other physics books I already had in the house. Some time ago, I had added two "new" books to my wish list having seen them at Harvard Bookstore. Last week I ordered them, and they arrived two days ago:
  • Robert Oppenheimer: A Life Inside The Center, Ray Monk, c. 2012
  • Alan Turing: The Enigma, Andrew Hodges, c. 1983, the centenary edition, softcover, c. 2012 
I've already started reading a little bit from both of them. It will be interesting to see which one I enjoy better. Ray Monk's book, esthetically, is more pleasing: mostly a better font, easier to read.

It is ironic how things turn out -- maybe it was simply meant to be. Before getting these new books, I mentioned that I was re-reading some books on physics that I already had in the house. This time, my interest was on mesons; I'm finally focusing on one "thing" and hope to get a better feeling of mesons this time around. How interesting, then, that in the introduction to the Oppenheimer biography, Ray Monk says that was Oppenheimer's lifelong passion, trying to understand the meson. I get the feeling that the book will be the meson as much as it will be about Oppenheimer. I can hardly wait to get into the book.

But it's slow-going; I have too many distractions. Right now, our two granddaughters and I are wading through The Lord of The Rings trilogy. We watch one-half of each movie at one sitting. We do one movie (or two sittings) each week. This week, we are on the second movie: "The Two Towers." While watching the movie (actually when we take breaks, or finish an episode) we read "companion" books to the movie. We really have a better feeling for Gollum now; the 7-y/o can provide a 30-second soundbite on Gollum which I think is pretty impressive -- hobbit, hobgloblin, goblin, orc; she understands the concept of "redemption." I am very impressed; she loves talking to her mom about how Gollow is "redeeming himself." 

I didn't understand those concepts until I was an older adult.

Tuesday Morning Links, News, And Views -- Part I (There May Or May Not Be A Part II)

Active rigs: 183

RBN Energy: CBR in Canada. A great series. In the past week or so there have been a lot of stories coming out of Canada about all the CBR and now the possibility of shipping heavy Canadian sands oil into the pristine Arctic at Churchill because activist environmentalists did not want, what now turns out to be, a rather inconsequential pipeline in the big scheme of things running through a corner of Nebraska. Wow, that has to bite.

WSJ Links

Maybe it's just  my imagination but the WSJ seems to be thinner and lighter. Sort of like the new iPads.

However, there are a number of interesting stories in the Journal today, including one a huge new pipeline being built in the east. But it won't be for crude oil. It will be for fresh water to be used for fracking. And we also learn which the ONE ethanol plant out of 143 ethanol plants got special favors from the US government.

And a great article on surfing, from my brother-in-law's home town: Huntington Beach.

Let's get started:

BMW, Audi, and Land Rover are now among the luxury cars of choice in China

For investors in the oil and gas sector, this is a great article, talking about winners and losers if Mexico opens up the Gulf to foreign companies. Winners: Chevron, Statoil, EOG, HAL, and SLB.

Now, that story on a water pipeline for fracking.
Antero Resources Inc., an energy company backed by New York private-equity firms, plans to spend more than half a billion dollars on a pipeline. But the 80 miles of pipe won't transport oil or gas: They will carry water from the Ohio River to fracking sites in West Virginia and Ohio.
The project is a costly wager that the hydraulic-fracturing industry's thirst for reliable sources of water will grow over the next few years. Fracking, an oil-field technique driving the nation's current energy boom, involves injecting vast quantities of water into the earth, along with other materials, to break up rock formations and unlock trapped oil and gas. 
And it continues, in a very interesting story:
Colorado-based Antero, which has announced plans to go public, had oil and gas revenues of about $265 million last year, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.  
The company says it is the most active driller in the Marcellus Shale, a gas-rich rock formation that stretches across Pennsylvania and into New York, Ohio and West Virginia. It is also pushing into Ohio's Utica Shale as well. The company uses a total of about six million gallons of water to frack each of its wells.
The proposed pipeline would slash the company's water costs by two-thirds, or about $600,000 per well, Chance Richie, a water consultant to Antero, said at an industry conference in March. The trucks that now deliver most of that water are a "very, very large expense," he said.
John Kerry's former company, Heinz, will cut 600 jobs in North America.  Say what?
The new owners of H.J. Heinz Co. are using the same tactic with the ketchup maker that they did with Burger King Worldwide Inc.: job cuts.
A Heinz spokesman confirmed Tuesday that the company is eliminating 600 office positions in the U.S. and Canada, or 9% of the company's workforce in North America. The cuts include 350 jobs in Pittsburgh, where Heinz is based.
The idea is to simplify the organization, enabling faster decision making, increased accountability, and accelerated growth, the spokesman wrote in an emailed statement.
It looks like they are simply cutting jobs to cut expenses. Ahead of O'BamaCare. This story received a lot of comments. Let's see the gist of those comments: pretty scathing of Kerry, O'Bama, Hillary, all of which have nothing to do with this story. But that's the way it is these days.

The Tea Party was not able to delay O'BamaCare but corporate America has all but derailed the entire program.
Republicans opposed to the health-care overhaul have had scant luck in overturning or delaying the law, but corporate America has succeeded in persuading the Obama administration to temporarily postpone a growing number of its provisions.
In February, the administration delayed part of a requirement that some employer health-insurance plans cap employees' out-of-pocket costs. In June, a rule that small businesses offer either a single plan or allow employees to choose among different plans was delayed, and a month later, the administration postponed until 2015 a mandate that larger employers offer health insurance.
The delays come as the White House ramps up efforts to promote the health-insurance law among uninsured Americans in advance of the Oct. 1 opening of health-insurance marketplaces.
At the same time, public support for the law has waned and Republican opposition has held steady. In the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, in July, 47% of respondents said the law was a bad idea, nearly the highest number recorded on that question since 2009, a year before the measure was passed.
It turns out that "identify theft" and "security" at the website-based exchanges will be the next huge channel. I don't think folks will feel comfortable putting all this sensitive information into the system. Next time you visit Wal-Mart, see if you can spot the shopper that is likely to register on-line for O'BamaCare.  The answer: they all will. It's counterintuitive. Maybe we can come back to this discussion some time; I've discussed it before.

Lots of international stories, but not one on Syria. Whatever happened to Syria.

One of my favorite columnists, Holman Jenkins, Jr, weighs in on the phoney war between Time Warner Cable and CBS.
The slugging match between Time Warner Cable and CBS bears similarities to the Agadir Crisis of 1911. As with the Agadir Crisis, in a few short years it will require a supreme effort of imagination to remember why anybody gave a darn.
For those who don't live in Dallas, New York or Los Angeles, you don't know what you're not missing—namely the local CBS affiliate on your Time Warner Cable system.
The two sides are locked in one of those "retransmission" showdowns that Congress ordained in the 1992 Cable Act, when it gave local broadcast stations the option of demanding that cable operators pay them for the same signal the broadcast operators put out free over the public airwaves.But here we struggle to find the right metaphor.
These battles are like Burger King and McDonald's fiercely battling over a prime corner in Atlantis 15 minutes before the city sinks beneath the waves.
Get ready for sequester #2.
Only a few short months have passed since administration officials canvassed the country lamenting how automatic, across-the-board spending cuts would constrict important government services. We were told that programs like Head Start and food safety hung in the balance as the spending reductions known as sequestration kicked in (to do what Congress wasn't able to do through budget cutting).
Unfortunately, Senate Democrats seem to have forgotten their warnings because they are now all but ensuring that there will be a second act to this drama later this year.
The Democratic-controlled Senate Appropriations Committee is spending $91 billion above and beyond levels agreed to in the Budget Control Act of 2011. This irresponsible behavior sends us careening toward a new round of sequester cuts and fails to fulfill our obligation to responsibly allocate taxpayer dollars, opting instead to keep spending beyond our means.
The Budget Control Act didn't impose arbitrary caps. These are legal levels that all but two of the 16 Democrats on the Appropriations Committee voted for in 2011. Under the law, if the government spends more than the allotted limits set forth in the Budget Control Act, automatic government-wide spending cuts will be triggered—blindly trimming nearly every government account by the same margin, without regard for the services affected.
But this is the one we have all been waiting for: which ethanol refinery of 143 got special favors from the US government?
Why does the public demand transparency in government? Read on.
Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency issued its annual renewable-fuels mandate, telling refineries how much ethanol they must blend into the nation's gas supply. This quota, which grows each year, is becoming a horrific financial burden on the industry, forcing many refineries to buy federal ethanol "credits" to satisfy the rules. The skyrocketing price of those credits is adding hundreds of millions of dollars to refineries' annual costs.
So it was more than a little curious that the EPA, as part of its rule, announced it was exempting just one mystery refinery (out of 143) from this year's mandate. The dispensation amounts to a significant financial favor to one lucky player, as I wrote in the Journal on Friday. Further reporting has revealed that the refinery is Alon USA Energy's Krotz Springs facility in Louisiana. There's reason to wonder why Krotz Springs alone got a deal.
The EPA maintains a program that allows "small refineries"—those with an average capacity of less than 155,000 barrels of crude daily—to apply for a hardship exemption from the mandate. Krotz Springs was one of four refineries that applied for 2013. The other three—Hunt Refining in Alabama, Kern Oil & Refining in California and Placid Refining in Louisiana—are small, privately held concerns. The biggest, Placid, has a capacity of about 57,000 barrels a day, according to January statistics from the federal Energy Information Administration.
Krotz Springs has a capacity of 80,000 barrels, so it meets the definition.
Then again, Krotz Springs is just one of Alon's five refineries, which are located in Louisiana, Texas and California, and have a combined capacity of about 215,000 barrels. A New York Stock Exchange-listed company, Alon isn't exactly a mom-and-pop outfit.
So what's so special about Alon?
If nothing else, it appears to understand how Washington works.
Lobbying disclosure records show Alon paid $60,000 in the second quarter of 2013 to the Manatt, Phelps & Phillips firm. This was the same quarter when Alon filed for its exemption. The records show that Manatt lobbied in the House and in the Senate for Alon on the sole issue of "renewable fuel standards." Alon didn't report any appreciable lobbying expenses for the year preceding the quarter. The records also did not turn up similar lobbying efforts by other refineries applying for an exemption.
Republican Sen. David Vitter's office acknowledged on Tuesday that he had joined other Louisiana politicians in sending a letter to President Obama supporting the Krotz Springs exemption. Sen. Vitter's co-signers were Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu, and Republican Reps. Charles Boustany and Rodney Alexander. Mr. Vitter's spokesman said the office had not been approached by other refineries for support, and noted that the senator has been pushing to waive the 2014 ethanol mandate for every refinery.
And so it goes. It appears the EPA simply decided to grant one favor, and the luck of the draw was a company in Senator Mary Landrieu's backyard.

There are several women in the Democratic Party that continue to get the headlines: Hillary; the Native American from Massachusetts whose name I can never remember; Ms Landrieu; Caroline Kennedy; and Rosie O'Donnell.