Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Poll: Another Look At President Obama's Recent Statement On The Keystone XL

I'm not going to look for the links now because I am traveling and have a poor/unreliable wi-fi connection, but I think folks are aware that when asked at the recent governors' meeting when he would make a decision on the Keystone XL, President Obama suggested he would be making the decision in "a couple of months." There is no recorded soundbite of that exchange (or if there is, I have not heard it) but one of the governors said President Obama said just that.

I personally think, if he said it, it was a just a one-liner thrown out as a hypothetical and means absolutely nothing.

So, now that I have biased the poll, here we go:

With regard to President Obama's alleged statement on making a decision on the Keystone XL ...
  • ... he was accurately quoted but his statement was a complete lie
  • .... he was accurately quoted but his statement was a bit of tongue-in-cheek, hyperbole, but not an outright lie
  • ... truthful, and he will approve the permit by July 4, 2014
  • ... truthful, and he will deny the permit by July 4, 2014
  • ... the statement was never made. The governor is lying, misspoke, or was misquoted.

Natural Gas Prices In Chicago -- Sticker Shock: The Road To New England

Chicago Business is reporting:
Heating bills in Chicago are going way up, both next month and also next year if Peoples Gas has its way.
The Chicago natural gas utility announced today that its charge for the gas commodity in March is soaring 79 percent to 93 cents per therm from 52 cents in February. The steep increase is a result of the extreme cold weather that has boosted the near-term cost of natural gas and the price to transport the fuel, the company said.
At the same time, Peoples filed with state regulators for a delivery rate hike that would take effect in the middle of next winter. That $129 million increase, if the Illinois Commerce Commission granted it in full, would bring the average Chicago household's monthly gas bill to nearly $100.

Increasing Bakken Crude Oil Reaching California

Despite all the talk about problems with CBR, rail and crude oil continues to roll.

Bloomberg is reporting:
California, the third-biggest refining state in the U.S., is about to see a flood of oil by rail from places such as Canada and North Dakota as suppliers seek to tap a market isolated from the rest of the country.
The Western U.S. may bring 500,000 barrels of light oil by rail a day in 2015 as the region’s refiners seek to replace shrinking output in California and Alaska and more costly foreign imports, Mark Smith, Tesoro Corp.’s vice president of development, supply and logistics, said at a conference yesterday in Glendale, California. California refineries can run 1.63 million barrels a day, the most in the U.S. after Texas and Louisiana, government data show.
The region has become one of the most depending in the nation on foreign oil as the West lacks pipeline access to crude from shale supplies in the middle of the country. Companies from Alon USA Energy Inc. to Valero Energy Corp. are looking to tap the market with projects that would bring more crude into the West by rail.
“The West Coast is one of the last frontiers where foreign imports really have a stronghold, and there’s not a lot of alternatives,” Smith said yesterday at the Crude By Rail 2014 conference organized by Houston-based American Business Conferences. “Obviously there is a huge opportunity here” for oil shipped by rail. 
It costs $9 a barrel to send North Dakota’s Bakken crude to Washington and $4 to $5 more to carry it by ship from there to California, according to Valero, the world’s largest independent refiner. Tesoro said the cost of delivering a barrel by rail from the Bakken to California would range from $9 to $10.50.
Royal Dutch Shell Plc posted a price of $88.33 a barrel yesterday for Bakken crude in North Dakota. Alaska North Slope oil typically used in West Coast refineries cost $109.70 at 12:05 p.m. New York time today, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
California may get more than one-quarter of its crude from Canada and U.S. states other than Alaska should six proposed rail-offloading projects win approval, state Energy Commission data show. Companies including Valero, Phillips 66 and Plains All American Pipeline LP support the projects.
A huge "thank you" to a reader for sending this story. While I am traveling, I will be posting less.  Sorry. 

CLR Reports 4Q13 And Full-Year 2013 Earnings

Link here.
Continental Resources, Inc. today announced fourth quarter and full-year 2013 operating and financial results. Net income for the quarter ended December 31, 2013 was $132.8 million , or $0.72 per diluted share, compared with net income of $220.5 million , or $1.19 per diluted share, for the fourth quarter of 2012. Excluding items typically excluded from published analyst estimates, adjusted net income for the fourth quarter of 2013 was $228.1 million , or $1.23 per diluted share, a 19% increase over adjusted net income of $191.8 million , or $1.04 per diluted share, for the fourth quarter of 2012.
Net income for full-year 2013 was $764.2 million , or $4.13 per diluted share, compared with net income of $739.4 million , or $4.07 per diluted share, for full-year 2012. Excluding items typically excluded from published analyst estimates, adjusted net income for full-year 2013 was $986.1 million, or $5.33 per diluted share, a 61% increase over adjusted net income of $611.9 million, or $3.36 per diluted share, for full-year 2012.
EBITDAX for the fourth quarter of 2013 was $712 million , a 20% increase over EBITDAX of $595 million for the fourth quarter of 2012. Full-year 2013 EBITDAX was a record $2.84 billion, a 45% increase over EBITDAX of $1.96 billion for full-year 2012.
I like the report; Wall Street did not.

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

Eleven (11) New Permits -- The Williston Basin, North Dakota, USA

Active rigs:

Active Rigs19318320416996

Eleven (11) new permits --
  • Operators: EOG (8), BR (2), Petro-Hunt
  • Fields: Parshall (Mountrail), Corral Creek (Dunn), Stockyard Creek (Williams)
  • Comments: EOG permits -- one 3-well pad; one 5-well pad; it never ceases to amaze me all the permits and all the different operators in Stockyard Creek
Wells coming off the confidential list were posted earlier; see sidebar at the right.

One producing well completed:
  • 25951, 2,688, BR, Capitol 44-7MBH, Westberg, t12/13; cum 14K 12/13;
Only one well coming off the confidential list tomorrow:
  • 25594, drl, XTO, Loomer 41X-4C, Tobacco Garden,

Bakken Trip #3
Second Report

I guess it's cold out there. But the weather report seems worse than it feels, if that makes sense. I was surprised to see how "warm" it was today, up to 22 degrees. This is not to "take away" from what the men and women in the field are experiencing, especially the folks on the rigs, but for most of us in-town folks, it was an incredibly nice day. No wind makes a big difference. It is interesting how "relative" things are. Coming from one degree earlier to 22 degrees during the day, that 22 degrees felt good.

I spent the day checking on wells in the Stockyard Creek area; I hope to post some photos later. Nothing out of the ordinary. Most "enjoyable" was seeing the Statoil Pyramid pad northwest of Williston; it's quite a pad. Surrounded by green mesh link fence, and that surrounded by young "evergreen" trees that will someday completely hide the pad. When I get a good wi-fi connection, I will post video, photos. If one stays in downtown Williston, or on the east side of Williston, one would hardly know there's a huge oil and gas industry enveloping the area.

For Investors Only

Investor's Business Daily is reporting:
First Solar, the No. 2 company by market cap in IBD's No. 1-ranked industry group, saw its stock get burned after hours Tuesday, after the company posted Q4 earnings and revenue that missed views, as did its sales guidance.
The solar panel maker's stock was down 12% after its results, a day after the No. 1 company in that group, SolarCity (SCTY), also fell after hours when it surprised investors with word that it would delay its full earnings report to March 3. SolarCity rebounded in Tuesday's regular session, rising 3.4%.
Barnes & Noble beats by $0.26, reports revs in-line; reaffirms full year guidance: Reports Q3 (Jan) earnings of $0.86 per share, $0.26 better than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $0.60; revenues fell 10.3% year/year to $2 bln vs the $2.01 bln consensus.

CenterPoint misses by $0.02: Reports Q4 (Dec) earnings of $0.26 per share, $0.02 worse than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $0.28; revenues rose 2.2% year/year to $2.18 bln.

Target reports Q4 in-line with Jan 10 preannouncement; guides Q1 EPS below consensus; guides FY15 EPS below consensus: Reports Q4 (Jan) earnings of $0.81 per share, in-line with the Capital IQ Consensus of $0.81 (adj. EPS $1.30 vs. $1.20-1.30 guidance, lowered from $1.50-1.60 on Jan 10); revenues fell 3.8% year/year to $21.52 bln vs the $21.44 bln consensus, reflecting the impact of an additional accounting week in 20125 and a 2.5% decrease in comparable sales (in-line with preannouncement), partially offset by the contribution from new stores. 

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

Chesapeake Energy misses by $0.12, beats on revs; Q4 daily production +2% YoY; Reports Q4 (Dec) earnings of $0.27 per share, $0.12 worse than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $0.39; revenues rose 28.3% year/year to $4.54 bln vs the $4.4 bln consensus. 

Early trading: market up; oil up.

Oasis down almost 4%.

KOG down about 3%. Looks like some profit taking?

Is there any good news? SRE down slightly; MDU up slightly; WMB down about 2%. Looks like things getting off to a slow start.

The Age Of Natural Gas Is Here -- GE's Immelt


March 7, 2014: this is the age of natural gas. Natural gas will become Australia's #2 export, overtaking coal.

March 3, 2014: natural gas set new records in 2013 for both supply and demand. Forbes is reporting.
The heavily-hyped golden age of natural gas appears to have begun in earnest – at least in the United States – last year, according to new data released today by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Original Post
SeekingAlpha link here.
The most compelling part of Immelt's presentation were the facts he presented with respect to the impact abundant, clean and cheap natural gas is having here in the US. Natural gas has had a dramatic and unpredicted impact on electric power generation. As an example, when GE bought its wind energy business 10 years ago, electricity was $0.25 kw-hr versus $0.05 kw-hr today.
Over the past 10 years, leadership in environmental innovation has transitioned from Europe to the US and China. As a company with a ~$50 billion dollar energy business, GE can attest to the fact that this natural gas revolution is having a positive economic impact to its worldwide energy business. Immelt said GE now has a 50% market share of the heavy duty gas turbine business. And this is very much a global business: Immelt said GE will sell more natural gas turbines in Algeria over the next 3 years than it will in the US.
Bottom line: Natural gas has increased flexibility, availability, is cheaper and has a more diverse supply. Because of these advantages, nat gas is increasingly being used as a cleaner solution to worldwide economic and environmental issues. As a result, natural gas has moved from being viewed as a transition or "bridge fuel" to being viewed as a "baseline fuel" of the future.

Putting Really Important Things Into Perspective

Across the United States, I often have coffee and an old-fashioned donut at Starbucks. I believe the cost is about $3.89.

This morning at Cashwise (the grocery story formerly known as the Economart), I got a bigger maple bar donut (or whatever they are called) and a cup of coffee for $1.81.

In addition, Cashwise is open 24/7. Full menu at the deli. Free wi-fi. Ample parking.

And I like the maple donut way better than Starbucks' old-fashioned donut. The service was just as friendly.

 The Bakken
Trip #3

I arrived in "the Bakken" yesterday afternoon. I plan to be here for several days. I forget when I was last here, but I think it was about six months ago. The most memorable trip I had in the Bakken was in the autumn of 2011 when I was here for three months. I believe my impressions of the Bakken in late 2011 and mid-2013 were about the same.

So, for my sake, I will label this Bakken trip as Bakken trip #3. 

My first impression this time: I have nothing but respect for the folks who are living and working in the Williston Basin on a daily basis. I have been across the United States on several cross-country trips over the past three years and I have spent considerable time in various places across the nation, and for pure unadulterated old-fashioned manufacturing, blue-collar, high stakes capitalism, I don't think there is anywhere else in the US that remotely compares to the Bakken.

I cannot articulate what I experienced, or what I felt driving into the Bakken yesterday.

I drove north on US Highway 85. My observations are only on the activity along the highway.

South Dakota line to Bowman: occasional small pumper along the road.

Bowman to Belfield: almost nothing until near Belfield when one starts seeing increased traffic and more oil activity along the road. The Whiting natural gas processing plant southwest of Belfield gets one's attention. There were two Belfield police cruisers parked; I am not sure anyone was in them. Decoys to slow down traffic.

In Belfield, the truck stop where I always stop was less busy than usual. I spent an hour talking to a 49-year-old African-American truck driver who will soon be ordained as a Pentacostal minister. He was one of the most unique men I had met in quite some time; I would have enjoyed spending an evening with him, or a weekend, but even more, he could easily be a life-long friend if situation were different. He had worked as far north in Canada as the roads will go; he is a trucker out of Michigan and is a "free-lance" trucker. He has probably seen it all.  He was very, very impressive. He was blown away how much "minute" has changed since he last saw it eight years ago. That was his pronunciation of "Minot." There must be a thousand stories to tell each day, coming out of the Bakken. 

Just north of Belfield, I stopped to photograph a herd of buffalo, or more correctly, a herd of bison. I will post the photograph later. I don't have much of a zoom lens and I could not get too close so I doubt it will be a very impressive picture. I took it for Kei, a California friend, who told me to "watch out for" (as "be careful of") of bison. I think she used the correct word. She is a very, very smart cookie. 

Belfield to mile marker 133 on US Highway 85: absolutely no evidence of much oil activity. I was on the road about 2:00 pm. Almost no traffic. Mile mark 133 is a few miles south of Watford City.

About five miles south of Watford City, everything changed.

Driving north into Watford, there is now a traffic light at the intersection of state highway 23 going around the city on the east side. I can't remember if the traffic light was there on my Bakken trip #2.

The traffic was as heavy as I have ever seen it in Watford City. It took five minutes to get through the town of Watford City -- that left turn is the chokepoint, but it moves very, very quickly. Five minutes to get through the intersection but probably a total of ten minutes to get from south side of Watford to north/east side of Watford. In the old days, it would have been a two-minute, maybe three-minute drive, so I guess one can say it now takes three to five times longer to get through Watford if just driving through on US Highway 85.

I have driven cross-country from Boston to Dallas, Dallas to Los Angeles, Dallas to North Dakota and back, and Los Angeles via Denver, Cheyenne, and Lusk, to Williston, and I think I have seen a fair amount of traffic. I have driven in the most congested urban areas of Boston and the most rural areas of western Nebraska.

I can only call the highway from the western side of Watford City to Alexander, a 19.7 mile stretch the "most interesting" road I have ever driven.

This is the unedited note I sent my wife after arriving at Williston, regarding this "most interesting stretch of road":
Today, I was going through Watford City at 5:00 p.m. -- without a doubt, the road from Watford City to Alexander was the MOST INTERESTING road I have traveled in all my cross-country trips (Boston to Dallas; Dallas to Los Angeles; Los Angeles to Williston).
It is impossible to describe the highway.
It was truly something out of the wild west. Absolutely unsafe. I have to agree; this is the most unsafe stretch of road in the US (of roads I've been on and I have been on a lot). There may be worse stretches in India, Italy, Africa, but this is truly incredible for America.
The traffic is solid in both directions. There is a solid double-yellow line separating two lanes going into Watford and one lane going from Watford (on west side of city). All traffic is traveling above posted speed limit.
One pick-up crossed over the double-yellow line, heading directly into on-coming traffic; made it safely; it was a wake-up call for me.
From Belfield to Williston I did not see one law enforcement office (sheriff, city cop, or highway patrol). (At Belfield, I may have seen two police cars but not sure if anyone in them).
They need at least six full-time patrol cars between Watford City and Alexander. It was out-of-control. Perhaps it was the 5:00 o'clock rush hour. But headlights were starting to come on; they are at all heights -- cars, pickups, semis. Full speed with no barrier between oncoming traffic.
It's a credit to everyone driving that there are not major accidents. Watford City to Williston is no longer a urban/rural environment. Along US Highway 85 it is strictly 100% industrial zone. Mostly huge trucks. Perhaps 60% huge trucks; 35% pickups; and 5% automobiles. It was quite a trip. Words really don't do it justice. 
The description may be hyperbole. I had driven pretty much straight-through from Los Angeles to the Bakken and that could have affected my observations. When I say it was "out of control" I don't mean that in a negative way. I'm not sure if that's the best way to describe it. But from an "out of control" point of view, consider these facts:
  • no traffic lights
  • rare warning signs
  • traffic flowing above the posted speed limit (this was winter, by the way)
  • 60% semi's, specialty trucks; 35% pickups; 5% automobiles
  • not one highway patrolman; not one city policeman seen
Therefore: no control. Folks were clearly on their own. Good, bad, indifferent. One gets on that road and one is in the "fast lane."

My wife asked, in a phone call, if I felt "unsafe." I did not feel unsafe, but the only word I could come up with was "uncomfortable." It was a feeling I have rarely experienced while driving anywhere. I am "uncomfortable" driving in downtown Boston and New York City. I was somewhat uncomfortable driving at the speed limit over the Black Hills on ice and snow (albeit pretty wells cleared), and I was somewhat uncomfortable driving in the small villages along I-70 on the way to Denver, but they were all uncomfortable in their own ways.

Watford City to Alexander was uncomfortable in its own way. An occasional trip is fine, when one has to take it to get from point A to point B, but I wouldn't want to take a "Sunday drive" to Watford city. On both my Bakken trips #1 and #2, I eagerly and easily took drives to Watford City just to visit the steakhouse/bank. Not any more.

Ironically, I think a highway patrol cruiser or two might make things worse. Folks would react to seeing a highway patrolman, and the rhythm of the drive would change. I don't know. Maybe the highway patrol should be there. But I can see how law enforcement could temporarily make a bad situation worse. I'm sure I'm wrong. But truck drivers might understand what I'm trying to say.

So, today, I will start exploring the Bakken. Slowly, in the Williston area.

Oh, I forgot. Again, everything described so far relates only to observations along the major highway going through the Bakken, north to south, US highway 85. We are talking about a very, very small geographical area. Fifty miles long? That was about it. This entire area should be zone/declared/defined an "industrial park."

Two years ago, out-of-state reporters talked about all the trucks. I thought there were exaggerating then. Now, the activity seems 10-times worse. One can only put so many vehicles on the road at one time, but the activity can still seem 10-times worse. I can't explain it. Maybe it will be easier to explain after I've been here a few days.

But I have incredible respect for the folks living and working in this immense industrial park. I don't think there is anything like it anywhere in the US, where everyday folks, like you and me, are driving automobiles through an industrial park with very, very little "oversight." By the way, I did not a) hear one horn honking; b) see one example of road rage; c) see more than one potential near-disaster.

I just saw one really bad example of a pickup truck endangering others due to illegal passing, but I was happy to see it: it was a wake-up call. They can't get that four-lane divided highway built fast enough.

Data Points From EOG 4Q13 Conference Call

Random data points from EOG's 4Q13 and full year 2013 earnings. As usual, numbers may be rounded.

  • 4Q13: net income of $2.12/share
  • full year: net income of $8.04/share
  • 4Q13 discretionary cash flow: $2 billion
  • For full year, EOG's net cash provided by operating activities exceeded financing investing cash outflows.
  • debt/total cap: 28%; debt reduced by almost $1 billion during 2013
  • best year on record
  • increased crude oil production growth targets three times 
  • ended year with total company production up 40% over 2012
  • a 44% average increase over the last three years
  • key assets: Eagle Ford, Bakken, and Leonard
  • biggest driver: Eagle Ford
Eagle Ford
  • biggest driver for EOG
  • for third time since EOG discovered oil in the Eagle Ford in 2010, EOG has increased the net reserve potential
  • EOG's estimated net reserve potential: 3.2 billion bbls equivalent; 45% increase over the previous 2.2 billion bbls
  • 7,200 net drilling locations (includes the 1,200 net wells drilled to-date)
  • 6,000 net wells remaining = 12-year drilling inventory
  • increased by 12% net recoverable reserve per well; up from previous 400,000 boe to 450,000 boe
The Bakken
  • in 2014, expect to again grow crude oil production
  • localized in two areas: Bakken Core and Antelope Extension; majority in the Core
  • downspace in each area
  • operate a 6-rig program
  • plan to drill 80 net wells this year, up from 54 last year
The Permian (Leonard)
  • the Leonard is EOG's third best play in terms of rate of return; drilling in two zones, A and B
  • CAPEX to remain flat
  • shift from Midland Basin to higher return plays in the Delaware Basin, the Leonard, and Wolfcamp
  • biggest increase in activity will be the Leonard where recent wells have been excellent
  • will develop A zone with 8 to 10 wells/section
  • for March 2014, 181,000 bbls hedged at $96.55
  • for April 1 through June 30, 2014, 168,000 bbls hedged at $96.48
  • for second half of 2014, 64,000 bbls hedged at $95.18
  • natural gas hedged at $4.55 through end of 2014
  • for the sixth year in a row, EOG is not growing it North American natural gas production
  • downspacing to 160 acres in the Bakken
  • new wells coming in extremely good
  • not ready to comment on how much new wells interfering with existing wells

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Active rigs:

Active Rigs19018320416996

RBN Energy: shale gas implications for US manufacturing.
The convergence of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling to harvest crude oil and natural gas from US shale deposits over the past 7 years is at the core of the US energy revolution. The sharp increase in crude oil production has resulted in tremendous benefits for the US –  reducing foreign oil imports, creating jobs and bringing wealth back to the US.  Many people are less aware of the larger and more far-reaching impact that the plethora of natural gas produced by “fracking” is currently having on our industrial economy and the eventual boost to our manufacturing competitiveness that will result.  The shale gas to manufacturing story ties together many of the themes discussed on a daily basis in RBN blogs to paint a hopeful picture for a portion of the US economy that has been declining for several decades.
The US shale gas boom took off in the 2007 timeframe with dramatically increasing supply causing a precipitous price drop between 2008 and 2012 from close to $10/MMBtu to a new standard of $3-4/MMBtu over the past few years, up until the polar vortex prices of this winter (which are expected to subside in the coming months).  At the start of the boom, there were around 1,000 rigs specifically drilling for natural gas (“dry gas”) in the US.  However, the greatly reduced pricing in 2009 made it difficult for drillers to cover their costs on dry gas wells, so they shifted their target to “liquids” (crude and natural gas liquids “NGLs”) and the new norm is about 300 dry gas rigs.   But despite the sharply lower dry gas rig count US natural gas production continued to increase at a healthy rate. As we explained in our recent series  “Golden Years: The Golden Age of US Natural Gas”  improved rig productivity, associated gas from liquids drilling and new production delayed by infrastructure build out have kept production growing despite lower rig counts.
Higher heating bills in New England this winter. The Portland Press Herald is reporting:
Coming soon to mailboxes across the Midwest and the Eastern Seaboard: Big gas bills.
Utilities are warning homeowners about a double whammy – higher natural gas prices and consumption, both of which have been driven to five-year peaks by the arctic cold that has gripped much of the country in recent weeks.
Con Edison in New York estimated that the typical home-heating customer would see a gas bill this month of $388, which would be nearly 17 percent above last February. Older homes are much less energy-efficient and could run up even steeper bills.
The debate over whether the surge in prices is a blip or here to stay is a critical question, because expectations of low prices have seeped into key energy policy and corporate decisions. Does it make sense to build new gas-fired power plants? Or export gas? Or channel it into feedstock for petrochemical plants? Or to fuel truck fleets that now run on diesel?
Yet forecasting gas prices is a tricky business. Over the past year, prices jumped by two-thirds, closing last Friday at more than $6 per thousand cubic feet for March delivery. Then on Monday, a national weather forecast predicting mild temperatures in early March sent prices tumbling 11 percent.
In Maine, the Public Utilities Commission approved a 7.5 percent midwinter rate increase for the state’s largest supplier of natural gas, Unitil Corp. The company cited extreme cold and high demand in making the request, which will increase an average home customer’s total winter bill of $837 by about $63.
The Wall Street Journal

Nothing of interest.

The Los Angeles Times

Hawaii health marketplace off to an especially rough start. Four months in, Hawaii Health Connector has allocated $120 million but signed up only about 4,300 people — fewer than any other state. Some lawmakers want to put the nonprofit under state control. Wow, imagine what the company could have made, had it been in the business to make a profit. $120,000,000 / 4,300 = $30,000 to sign up each individual for health care. That's just the cost to get folks to sign up; that was not the cost of health insurance.

Well, that was easy. Bitcoin virtual currency is on verge of collapse. Was this one huge scam?
In a stunning blow to a novel way to buy products and services, the world's largest exchange for trading bitcoin currency shut down Tuesday, triggering a massive sell-off and sending many prospective investors away — perhaps for good.
"This is extremely destructive," said Mark Williams, a risk-management expert and former Federal Reserve Bank examiner. "What we're seeing is a lot of the flaws. It's not only fragile, it's fragile as eggshells."
After saying users could not withdraw their funds, Mt. Gox suddenly ceased all operations, including shutting down its website. Mt. Gox users may have lost more than $300 million worth of bitcoins in what was the latest and biggest in a series of recent setbacks for the virtual currency. 
The currency exists only online, and its value is based on an algorithm. Investors buy bitcoins with dollars, euros and other real currency. A purchase with bitcoins typically involves transferring an amount from the buyer's bitcoin "digital wallet" to the seller's wallet on the Internet.
The blow to bitcoin's credibility has highlighted all the fears critics have been trying to raise. Because it is unregulated and anonymous, there is probably no way for users to know who may have seized the thousands of missing bitcoins — and no way to recover them.

New Railport Being Considered At Beach, ND (Southwestern North Dakota)

Beach, ND, railport is being considered, debated in this little town in far southwestern North Dakota. Data point (from The Dickinson Press):
  • $65 million facility
  • multiple use: sand, pipe, oil
  • designed to bring trucks in / out on west side of Beach
  • near the Carlyle, MT, exit -- 1.3 miles to the west of the proposed facility property line
  • would be built in phases; first phase, commodities, by fall 2015
  • 23 trains pass through the town daily (now); increased traffic by one train daily