Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Is This Why The Price Of Oil Dropped In Past Few Days? US To Release Oil From Strategic Petroleum Reserve To Test System


March 18, 2014: the results of the SPR sale -- as reported by Bloomberg --
Phillips 66 and Royal Dutch Shell walked away with about 3.3 million barrels of the 5 million that the Energy Department sold in what will be the first release from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve since 2012.
Exxon Mobil Corp., Marathon Petroleum Corp. and Mercuria Energy Asset Management BV also were named winners in the department’s report on successful offers. Chevron Corp., Valero Energy Corp. and Petroleos Mexicanos were among companies that made bids that the Energy Department turned down. This was the first test sale for the reserve since 1990.
The successful offers totaled $495 million, for an average price of $99 a barrel for the sour crude stored in salt caverns on the Gulf Coast. Southern Green Canyon crude, a sour grade produced in the Gulf of Mexico, cost $96.08 a barrel today, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
The Energy Department offered 4 million barrels from the West Hackberry storage area in western Louisiana and 1 million from the Big Hill cavern in eastern Texas. Deliveries will be made between April 1 and May 10. It will be the first release from the reserve since the department exchanged 1 million barrels with Marathon after Hurricane Isaac in 2012. 
Original Post

Reuters is reporting:
The U.S. Department of Energy will sell up to 5 million barrels of crude oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, a move it said was to test the capabilities of the nation’s emergency stockpile in a rapidly changing oil market.
In the first sale from the reserve since 1990 that is specifically designed as a test, the department will offer sour crude from its West Hackberry and Big Hill sites on the U.S. Gulf coast, with bids due March 14.
Surging U.S. shale oil production has changed the logistics of U.S. crude markets. Instead of moving oil from the Gulf up to the center of the country, as was traditionally the case, major pipelines have reversed course to move a glut of shale oil from places like North Dakota to points south.
“Due to the recent dramatic increase in domestic crude oil production, significant changes in the system have occurred,” department spokesman Bill Gibbons said.
The test sale was needed to “appropriately assess the systems capabilities in the event of a disruption,” he added.
So, how much oil is this?
The release would be equivalent to about one-quarter of the crude oil used in the United States every day, but the news still helped to push oil prices toward one-month lows.
So how much oil does the SPR hold? In round numbers, the capacity is 730 million bbls; it currently holds 700 million bbls. At a consumption rate of 20 million bbls/day, this equates to about a month's supply of oil. Obviously, if "we" HAD to release the oil due to severe shortage (for whatever reason), national consumption would be reduced significantly, stretching that month's supply to, oh, let's say, six weeks.

I'm having trouble getting my hands around releasing a quarter's day of consumption and seeing price of oil drop two percent. By tomorrow, we will be back to where we are, and the SPR will be 5 million bbls less. I'm wondering if the Bakken operators might want to consider an oil co-op storage complex west of Williston? The problem is the "red queen" effect.


See if you can find the phrase "global warming" in this New York Times story:
Opening up heating and electricity bills has been a bit of a shocker in recent weeks. Exactly how shocking became clear on Wednesday when the Energy Department released a report showing just how expensive it was to keep warm and cook dinner this winter.
Those living in mostly rural and Midwestern areas who depend on propane are expected to spend 54 percent more this winter than last. Those who rely on heating oil, largely in the Northeast, will be paying 7 percent more. Natural gas consumers will pay 10 percent more and electricity consumers will pay 5 percent more. [Do we know electricity costs more this year? Can you say "war on coal?"]
The department estimated that winter energy costs for heating with propane in the Midwest would be $2,212 a household, $759 more than it projected in October. It estimated that homes using heating oil would spend $2,243, $197 higher than it had projected.
Economists have warned that the increased heating fuel prices are taking dollars out of the wallets of consumers who otherwise might spend their money on clothes and restaurants. But the impact is probably going to be neutralized at least in part by the decline in gasoline prices, which this winter have averaged about 25 cents a gallon less than last year.
On another note, I honestly did not know that gasoline is cheaper this year than last year. 

And on another note, "global warming" might not have been mentioned in the story, but "North Dakota" was:
The extreme cold also slowed the frenzy of oil drilling and production in shale fields around the country, particularly in North Dakota. Drillers had to rely heavily on additional heating equipment, in part to keep the large volumes of water required for hydraulic fracturing from freezing. Heavy snow also interfered with oil extraction and road transportation of equipment.

Ohio Bans Fracking To Investigate Recent Flurry Of Earthquakes Seemingly Unrelated To Waste Water Disposal But In Area Of Fracking

The Los Angeles Times is reporting:
A fracking operation at the eastern border of Ohio remained closed Wednesday, two days after a string of earthquakes stirred some people from their sleep and prompted state regulators to investigate whether the shale-drilling may have been a cause.
Areas in the central and southern U.S. have seen a 20-fold increase in small earthquakes during the past few years, and federal scientists have said the boom in drilling for oil and natural gas has been a contributing factor.
Primarily, part of the dramatic rise has been attributed by the scientists to injection wells, where waste water from fracking is gushed back deep into the earth for storage. The fracking process of firing a mix of water and chemicals at underground rocks -- in hopes of freeing oil and gas stored inside them -- has not been a major cause for earthquakes, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
But none of the seven wells near the Ohio temblors are for waste disposal, leading local officials and environmentalists to question whether fracking that began last month on one of the wells might have been enough to trigger the human-felt earthquakes.
Could small tremblors relieve stress along faults, preventing the BIG one from hitting California? So much to study; so little time.


 Peacock, Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens

Twenty-One (21) New Permits -- The Williston Basin, North Dakota, USA; BR Reports Three (3) "High-IP" Wells -- March 12, 2014

Active rigs:

Active Rigs193187201173104

This may be a new record; if not, awful close and very rare -- more than 15 permits in one day ...

Twenty-one (21) new permits --
  • Operators: KOG (8), CLR (6),  EOG (3),  Petro-Hunt (2), Legacy (2),
  • Fields: Truax (Williams), Stoneview (Divide), Parshall (Mountrail), Red Rock (Bottineau), Clear Creek (McKenzie)
  • Comments: the eight KOG permits will be on the same pad (23-154-98) - mostly likely 2560-acre spacing; the six CLR wells will be on a single pad in Divide County (28-160-95)
Wells coming off the confidential list were posted earlier; see sidebar at the right.

Three (3) producing wells were completed:
  • 25507, 2,926, BR, CCU Powell 31-29MBH, Corral Creek, unitized, t2/14; cum --
  • 25509, 2,886, BR, CCU William 34-20MBH, Corral Creek, unitized, t214; cum --
  • 25510, 2,766, BR, CCU William 44-20TFH, Corral Creek, unitized, t2/14; cum -- 
  • NOTE: unitized: 30,884 acres is the "spacing unit"
Wells coming off the confidential list Thursday:
  • 25332, drl, XTO, Martin Federal 21x-33E, Cedar Coulee, no production data,
  • 25413, 838, QEP, MHA 3-10-15H-149-91, Heart Butte, t11/13; cum 11K 1/14;
  • 25529, drl, Zavanna, Sylvester 32-29 4TFH, Springbrook, no production data,
  • 26089, drl, BR, Big Bend 41-2TFH, Camel Butte, no production data,
  • 26103, drl, Slawson, goldenban 2-2-1MLH, Sanish, no production data,
  • 26211, drl, HRC, Moline 157-100-20D-17-3H, Marmon, no production data,
  • 26233, 534, Petro-Hunt, Tande 159-94-29D-20-5H, North Tioga, t12/13; cum 8K 1/14;

FreeBeacon is reporting:
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D., Texas) declared the U.S. Constitution to be 400 years old Wednesday on the House floor, which would mean it was signed in 1614.
“Maybe I should offer a good thanks to the distinguished members of the majority, the Republicans, my chairman and others, for giving us an opportunity to have a deliberative constitutional discussion that reinforces the sanctity of this nation and how well it is that we have lasted some 400 years, operating under a constitution that clearly defines what is constitutional and what is not,” she said.
This was prepared remarks, a prepared speech. I can't make this stuff up.  And no doubt she will be re-elected.

The Ukraine: A Diplomatic And Economic Crisis; The President Doesn't Even Have To Be A "Decider"


March 18, 2014: The Wall Street Journal also suggests that natural gas exports will be the next "Keystone." It looks like "we" can add a new word to the urban dictionary: key'-stone, a verb, to pocket veto; to simply ignore an issue; to "kick the can down the road"; a political non-decision.

March 16, 2014: Barron's opines that Obama is not going to approve natural gas exports on the basis of the Ukraine "crisis." Barron's agrees that global warming is so much on Obama's mind that the oil and gas industry is nowhere near appearing on his radar scope. But there are two other points, one follows the other: a) Obama has ceded the Ukraine to Putin because Obama's mantra is "no-drama Obama; and, b) Obama is literally afraid of Putin. I think Obama knows himself well enough to know that he could not come out on top of a repeat of the "Cuban missile crisis." Peggy Noonan said essentially the same thing this past weekend.
Original Post

The AP provides another great article on the economic and diplomatic crisis precipitated by events in the Ukraine.
The United States, with its abundant supplies of natural gas, would seem to have an easy answer to Europe's fears that a strong response to Russia's rapid takeover of Ukraine's Crimea region could prompt Vladimir Putin to shut down gas lines that keep European homes warm, factories humming and electricity flowing.
Trouble is: Right now there's no way to get meaningful American supplies across the Atlantic Ocean.
Turning U.S. natural gas into liquefied natural gas (LNG), a process that makes the fuel transportable by ship, is very expensive. Beyond that the U.S. government has — until recently — been stingy with permits to build those facilities. And regulations make it difficult to sell U.S. gas to nations that aren't in free trade compacts with Washington.
That's not good news for Europeans, who are dependent on Russia for at least 30 percent of its natural gas. Consequently, Europe's reaction to the Russian seizure of Ukraine's semi-autonomous Crimea, while noisy, has little teeth.
As I've said before, President Obama has had more than six years to study the Keystone XL and still hasn't come to a decision. It's unlikely he will come to any decision on "natural gas to Europe" given that track record. He knows that if he says "yes" the facilities won't be ready until he's out of office; if he says "no," the facilities won't need to be built. He might as well dither. The outcome is the same either way. Memo to self: put "smiley face" here.

Presidents come and go. The next president could become a national hero by simply letting free market capitalism run its course in a) energy; and, b) health care.

New York Politics -- Global Partners Temporarily Halted From Expanding -- Helping Unemployment AND Energy In New England

BizJournals is reporting:
Albany County has issued a moratorium prohibiting the expansion crude oil processing at the Port of Albany pending a public health investigation.
The order was issued following a directive from Albany County Executive Daniel McCoy citing that heating and storage of crude oil at the port could create a "condition detrimental to the public health and safety of the residents of Albany County."
Global Partners, a company seeking to expand the processing of crude oil at the port, has been ordered to refrain from expanding current operations in Albany, NY until a public health investigation is completed.
The moratorium follows an executive order issued by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in January, directing state agencies to conduct a comprehensive review of safety procedures and emergency response relating to the shipment of crude oil from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota.
This will help the employment AND energy problem in New England. 

For Investors Only

  • ZaZa Energy says it will move ahead with the third and final phase of its joint venture with EOG Resources developing the emerging Eaglebine tight oil play in east Texas.
  • EOG will receive a 75% working interest in the remaining Phase III acreage, and ZAZA will receive $4.7M of upfront cash and a carry of the partner's share of future joint venture costs of up to ~$9.2M.
  • EOG also commits to drill an additional two wells, with the first commencing no later than July 1.
Disclaimer: this is not an investment site. Do not make any investment decisions based on anything you read here or what you think you may have read here.

Mississippi Lime 101 -- Pump It

Don found this excellent resource on the Mississippi Lime. My hunch is the website will provide similar great articles with a bit of surfing.


A little bit of classical music for the frackers ....

Pump It, Bond String Quartet

You may see more of this quartet over the next few weeks. If activists want to stop fracking overnight, invite this quartet to the Bakken, and offer the concert at the new Williston rec center at no cost for frackers only. Needless to say, flaring will continue.

Put your Beats on and turn up the volume!

Continental Resources Reports Three Completions In Richland County, Montana; Let's See, Spring In Washington, DC, And The Global Warming President Is Buying Sweaters For His Daughters (Off-Limits To The Press); March, 2014

The Fairfield Sun Times is reporting:
  • Levengood 3-5H, TD = 14,038 feet; 688 bopd
  • Levengood 4-5H, with two laterals, TD = 10,317 feet and 13,887 feet; 633 bopd
  • Levengood 5-5H, TD = 13,980 feet; 583 bopd

Summertime Sadness, cover, Miley Cyrus

Global Warming, ObamaCare, The Diplomatic Crisis In The Ukraine

Ukraine is turning into a diplomatic exercise to have US send Europe more natural gas. Multiple sources. So much for the "military crisis."
USA experiencing coldest six months since 1912; Democrats holding 24-hour telethon on global warming to get folks' minds off ObamaCare. The graphic at the linked site is quite remarkable; even warmists should be able to read the graph.

Oklahoma man says he lost insurance due to ObamaCare; says he owes $100,000 in medical bills. I have no idea if the story is accurate. But there are two story lines here: first, ObamaCare allowed insurers to cancel all policies that were costing them money (this was a no-brainer); and, second, we'll be hearing a lot of stories like this. Few of the stories will be confirmed, but the veracity will be seen in 3Q14, 4Q14, and 1Q15 quarterly earnings reports by the insurers, and by the premiums that will be posted in October 2014 for calendar year 2015. It ain't gonna be pretty.

The Brits can see through this scam:
As of March 1 about 4.2 million Americans had signed up for medical insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act, according to numbers released Tuesday by the Obama administration. But it remains unclear how many of those enrollees have put their money where their mouse is.
Combined figures published by Obamacare marketplaces in California, Connecticut, Maryland, Nevada, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington indicate that just 79 per cent of signups in those states have come with checks attached. If those numbers were to hold up nationally, it would mean that about 1.1 million Obamacare enrollees have selected insurance plans without paying for them – bringing the actual total of Obamacare-insured Americans down to 3.3 million.
But this is the bigger problem. No matter how many or how few sign up, if the "wrong" type sign up (the old and the sick) the program will be in even worse shape than insurers can imagine.
The Cover Oregon health insurance exchange is one of the worst in the country at attracting younger enrollees, according to a new federal report. 
Only 18 percent of those who've enrolled through the Oregon exchange fall between the ages of 18-34, a healthier age bracket considered crucial to keeping future premiums down. The age-related data for Oregon is available for the first time. 
The Oregon number, which ties with West Virginia as the nation's worst, falls well below the national average of 25 percent. The national goal was about 40 percent. Exchange officials and insurers had expected a higher portion of enrollees would be young, and premiums were set accordingly.
HHS is already in over their heads, if I read this correctly, the department is admitting they "broke the law" by extending the open enrollment period as long as they did:
On a conference call with reporters Tuesday afternoon, officials at the Department of Health and Human Services insisted that March 31 is the firm deadline to sign up for Obamacare. "We have no plans to extend the open enrollment period," HHS official Julie Bataille said. "In fact, we don't actually have the statutory authority to extend the open enrollment period in 2014."  [But we did anyway; who are you going to call?]
Adult leadership? I'm beginning to think that come 2016, the majority of Americans are going to agree, "we need some adult leadership around here." Now that the president has drawn another "red line" in the "Black Sea" he's out shopping for sweaters for his daughters. Sweaters? I thought a) global warming; and, b) cherry blossom time -- i.e., spring -- is right around the corner in Washington. Sweaters?
On Tuesday, President Obama took Air Force One to New York to stop at the Gap in order to flog his case against income inequality. And there, Americans learned he had no idea how to use a credit card machine.
According to the White House press pool, Obama visited Gap because the company recently announced that it would voluntarily increase wages for employees. After telling employees that “the ladies will be impressed by my sense of style,” Obama then picked up a couple of sweaters for his girls, Sasha and Malia.
Upon checking out, however, the problems began. Obama took out his credit card and began handing it to the cashier, who told him that he could swipe his credit card in the automated machine. “Oh, wow,” Obama said, “so you can sign the machine?” He then said he was kidding: “They had these around the last time I shopped.”

Update On The Second Rundle Trust And Powell Wells; MRO Tyler Wells

From a non-industry observer: apparently the fracking is complete on the "second" Rundle Trust well; the fracking appears to have been completed in 8 -12 hours. There is a security guard at the road entrance. For newbies, it is very, very rare for a well site to have a security guard at the road entrance. Obviously, the operator expects a lot of interest in this well. Apparently expiring leases in the area are being signed. The pumping unit is being installed today.

No activity at the Powell well today; but a "no trespass" sign is posted.

If anyone has additional information, a lot of folks would be thrilled to hear.

Three legendary front women -- for the truckers waiting in line .... somewhere/everywhere in the Bakken ...

Hanging On The Telephone, ABBA, Blondie

You all may say you "hate" ABBA but you all love lookin' at the women....

... but for the 15% who don't....

Karma Chameleon, Culture Club

First Rundle Trust Dry; No Big Deal; Drilling Problems; Not Necessarily A Tyler Problem

For background, the three current MRO/Tyler wells. The first well ((#26223) was dry due to drilling problems (see below). The second and third are still on confidential status. Fracking is in progress or soon to begun based on comments from non-industry readers in the field. 

The file report for the 26223, Rundle Trust, is a very short report, only 50 pages, mostly standard boiler plate. Here was the important summary:
"Drilled pilot hole to 10,162' MD and this was cored. Then plugged back to 6,618' MD and then KOP for lateral at 6,645' MD. Casing was set as above. Well was drilled out to 8,254' MD when tools got stuck. Worked tools several days before bypassing at 8,124' MD and was drilled to 9,171'. MD when got stuck again. Worked several days before decision was made to PA well and drill new well."
The pilot well was to be drilled to 10,000 feet, so they didn't even get to the kick-off point with the "big rig." (I could be wrong on this, with regard to whether the "big rig" was ever on site.) -- Later: it appears I am wrong here: a reliable source says "they drilled down to the Three Forks, which was cored and logged, then backed out to the Tyler formation and kicked off at 6,600 ft (approx) and started drilling laterally. They got about 2,500 ft laterally when they got stuck and eventually abandoned the well." Apparently a "big rig" was used to drill to the Three Forks and then into the Tyler.
Originally planned, three objective horizons: Tyler, Three Fork (sic), Bird Bear. Listed in that order.
1280-acre spacing.
Update on the "second" Rundle Trust well here.

Later: note the correction above. The paragraph in quotes all makes sense with the correction.  They drilled to the Three Forks (10,163' MD), then plugged back to 6,618' MD. With a kick-off point of 6,645' MD to drill the lateral into the Tyler. They got to 8,124' and then to 9,171' feet before geting stuck and abandoning the well.

School Stories In The Bakken

Watford City approves bond for new high school. This is in the heart of the Bakken.

Voters being asked to support new middle school/high school midway between Belfield and South Heart. This is in southwest part of the state, near Dickinson, growing slowly but surely. It will be a no-brainer if the Tyler pans out.


Oxygene 4, mash-up, Max Pop, Jean Michel Jarre

Never Mind -- US Army Corps Of Engineers

On March 7, 2014, the US Army Corps of Engineers reported that a repeat of the 2011 flood in the Missouri drainage system would not be an issue this year. Maybe, maybe not, but a few folks might not agree. Reuters (and many others) are reporting:
Floods that washed out rural roads in central Montana left hundreds of people stranded on Monday and forced the evacuation of 30 homes in one small town, as forecasts predicted more rain and snow that could worsen conditions in the region.
The flooding, which saw water begin streaming over rural roadways near the ranching community of Roundup during the weekend, came as warmer-than-usual temperatures rapidly melted deep snows amid recent storms that brought abundant rains, weather forecasters said.
Floods also threatened to inundate three towns in north-central Wyoming where vast ice formations blocked the flow of the Bighorn River and caused it to spill from its banks.

For Investors Only


Midday, Wednesday, March 12, 2014: surprisingly the oil market is not affecting shares in oil and gas companies all that much. Oil companies can actually have problem if prices get too high (hedging, demand destruction). Berkshire (Warren Buffett) hit a new high; trend continues upward. PSX hit a new high. MDU trading in the green. KOG may have hit a new high (a bit confusing); but it is in the green right now.

Original Post
Oil futures sink. Well below $100. Oil glut; most Americans think we are still in recession; too much light oil; oil supplies build.

Congress dithers; corporations prosper:
The largest U.S.-based companies added $206 billion to their stockpiles of offshore profits last year, parking earnings in low-tax countries until Congress gives them a reason not to.
The multinational companies have accumulated $1.95 trillion outside the U.S., up 11.8 percent from a year earlier, according to securities filings from 307 corporations reviewed by Bloomberg News. Three U.S.-based companies -- Microsoft Corp., Apple Inc. and International Business Machines Corp. -- added $37.5 billion, or 18.2 percent of the total increase.
Genesee & Wyoming reports traffic in Feb 2014 was 142,802 carloads, an increase of 2,602 carloads, or 1.9%, compared with Feb 2013: G&W's traffic in the first quarter of 2014 through Feb was 299,386 carloads, an increase of 3,159 carloads, or 1.1%, compared with the first quarter of 2013 through Feb.

Abraxas Petroleum Corp. provides operational update, divestiture and guidance update; raises 2014 production guidance from 4,900-5,100 boepd to 5,200-5,300 boepd:
  • As previously announced, at Abraxas' Jourdanton prospect in Atascosa County, Texas, the Blue Eyes 1H averaged 405 boepd (383 barrels of oil per day, 134 mcf of natural gas per day) over the well's first 30 full days of production flowing naturally. Subsequent to this initial 30 day period, the well was placed on submersible pump. Over the following thirty days on submersible pump, the well averaged 527 boepd (494 barrels of oil per day, 194 mcf of natural gas per day). Total acreage at Jourdanton now consists of ~ 6,150 net acres. Also at Jourdanton, co recently drilled the Snake Eyes 1H to a total depth of 12,668 feet and the well is scheduled to be fracture stimulated with a 19 stage completion later this week. Co is currently drilling the Spanish Eyes 1H at a depth of 7,108 feet and the well is scheduled to be fracture stimulated at the end of March. Next, the co will spud its fourth well at Jourdanton, the Eagle Eyes 1H. Co owns a 100% working interest across the Jourdanton prospect.
  • At Abraxas' Dilworth East prospect, in McMullen County, Texas, the co plans to complete the R. Henry 2H with a 19 stage fracture stimulation in April. Abraxas holds a 100% working interest in the R. Henry 2H.

The Number Of Active Rigs In North Dakota Keeps Climbing

Active rigs:

Active Rigs193187201173104

RBN Energy: very nice article on pricing in the Permian. It was always a popular "myth" that the Texas infrastructure could handle all the oil coming out of the Permian. It turns out the Permian, which was supposed to be a dying field, is producing so much oil (and will be doubling that amount soon) the pipelines can't keep up, and rail is insufficient in Texas. Result: Permian oil is priced $8 below WTI at Cushing.
The Permian Basin in West Texas and New Mexico has produced prolific quantities of crude since the 1920’s. And after declining slowly since the 1980’s the basin has been rejuvenated in recent years by enhanced recovery techniques including the application of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing to the multi-layered “pancake” hydrocarbon bearing source rocks. Production has increased by over 400 Mb/d since the start of 2012 and is expected to increase another 500 Mb/d by the end of the decade.
We have previously covered the growth in production and build out of pipeline capacity to get Permian crude to market – starting in 2012 with our “New Adventures of Good Ole Boy Permian” series. Last year (2013) in our “Rock the Basin” series we covered plans to open up new takeaway capacity (see Tight Pipeline Balance) and the market impact of new pipelines to Houston (see Opening the Permian Crude Floodgates and Can Houston Refineries Absorb New Permian Crude Supplies?).
Although the Magellan Longhorn and Energy Transfer West Texas Gulf expansions between them added 335 Mb/d of new pipeline capacity out of the Permian in 2013, there is still not enough room to comfortably ship growing production until the new Permian Express (200 Mb/d) and BridgeTex (278 Mb/d) pipelines come online in the middle of this year.
The Wall Street Journal

Many, many strange stories coming out of Malaysia over the missing plane.  Something tells me "everyone" from the NSA to the "Malaysian Air Force" and China know much more than we're being told. Of course, that's true in every such situation, but there's something more unusual going on here. EgyptAir Flight 990 (1999) comes to mind. Another: Silk Air Flight 185, a Boeing 737 en route from Jakarta, Indonesia to Singapore, 1997.

More enroll in ObamaCare but no one knows how many have paid. And no payment, no insurance card.

And the Crimean situation drags on. Continues to be a non-story for American investors. I don't think John Kerry is even interested any more. Europe tries to bolster the Ukraine, punish Russia. I assume France will be the cheerleader.

Tesla halts sales in New Jersey. The beginning of the end?

Disney Media Networks co-chairman hits the glass ceiling? Where's Mr Obama?
A top Walt Disney Co. executive unexpectedly said Tuesday she will be resigning, simultaneously adding clarity to the succession race for chief executive at the media giant and opening up one of the most powerful jobs in the television business.
Government Motor shares tumble on news of government investigation

Chesapeake Accused Of Underpaying Natual Gas Royalities

March 12, 2014: WallStreetCheatSheet is reporting:
In February, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett wrote an open letter to Chesapeake Energy Corp. CEO Doug Lawler, questioning and criticizing the firm for its failure to resolve complaints of unfair and possibly illegal deductions of post-production costs from natural gas production royalties owed to private landowners in the state.
“Despite communicating these concerns several times, I remain disappointed that the complaints of my constituents continue to go unheeded,” wrote Corbett. “It defies logic that, in some cases, leaseholders are being advised that they may actually owe money rather than receive the fair and just royalty to which they are entitled.”
Actually, that does not defy logic. Lynn Helms discusses it almost every month in his annual Director's Cut. 
Original Post

The Wall Street Journal is reporting:
Pennsylvanians who embraced the natural-gas drilling boom that has swept the state are starting to sour on one of the biggest names in the business: Chesapeake Energy Corp.  
Some property owners are accusing Chesapeake of shortchanging them on royalty payments for pumping oil and gas from their land. The public outcry has grown so loud that Republican Gov. Tom Corbett, a longtime industry supporter who has received campaign contributions from the company, wrote an open letter last month asking the state attorney general to investigate.
Chesapeake declined to comment on the royalty disputes, but said in a recent letter to the governor that it is abiding by the terms of its contracts with landowners. In Bradford County, a rural area in northern Pennsylvania where a lot of the drilling has taken place, anti-Chesapeake sentiment is running high, said Doug McLinko, a county commissioner. "Bradford County is a pro-gas part of the country where we support hydrocarbons 100%," he said, "but we don't support everyone who's doing it."
I remember blogging about Chesapeake natural gas shenanigans when I first started blogging. See link here.

Overtime Pay -- ObamaCare; Sink Sunk -- Nothing About The Bakken

For quite some time I opined that ObamaCare will have far-reaching consequences. One of them: the US now has an "official" definition of the workweek: 30 hours. I suggested that it was just a matter of time before the law would mandate that overtime will begin at 30 hours going forward. It appears this is the first step. The article does not mention the 30-hour work week because it deals with salaried personnel for the most part but the dots are not hard to connect. The New York Times is reporting today:
Under current federal regulations, workers who are deemed executive, administrative or professional employees can be denied overtime pay under a so-called white-collar exemption.
Under the new rules that Mr. Obama is seeking, fewer salaried employees could be blocked from receiving overtime, a move that would potentially shift billions of dollars’ worth of corporate income into the pockets of workers. Currently, employers are prohibited from denying time-and-a-half overtime pay to any salaried worker who makes less than $455 per week. Mr. Obama’s directive would significantly increase that salary level.
In addition, Mr. Obama will try to change rules that allow employers to define which workers are exempt from receiving overtime based on the kind of work they perform. Under current rules, if an employer declares that an employee’s primary responsibility is executive, such as overseeing a cleanup crew, then that worker can be exempted from overtime.
It plays to his base, but it's a slipper slope. The Los Angeles Times is gearing up its base; reporting today:
Republicans scored a significant victory in a special congressional election Tuesday, holding on to a seat in a swing district in Florida that Democrats had high hopes of capturing after a campaign that focused heavily on President Obama's healthcare law.
With all precincts reporting, Republican David Jolly held a 3,400-vote margin over Democrat Alex Sink in the district, which stretches along the Gulf Coast north of St. Petersburg. The returns remain unofficial until final mail-in and provisional ballots can be counted, but Sink conceded defeat in a statement to supporters shortly after the polls closed.
In other words: The Los Angeles Times is telling its base that this is going to be an important election year. Do you think the LA Times really cares about a small Congressional district in Florida? LOL. The scuttlebutt here in Starbucks: a) this was a do-or-die campaign for the Democrats; b) the Democrats poured a huge amount of money to take this GOP seat. I don't know if it was a "do-or-die" but if they did pour that much money into the campaign, it speaks volumes about what to expect in 2014.

If the president doesn't think voters are watching, his pollsters probably do. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the president's approval rating his a new all-time low
The results suggest Mr. Obama could weigh on fellow Democrats in midterm elections this fall, particularly in the conservative states that will play a large role in deciding whether his party retains its Senate majority.
Mr. Obama's job approval ticked down to 41% in March from 43% in January, marking a new low. Some 54% disapproved of the job he is doing, matching a previous high from December, when the botched rollout of his signature health law played prominently in the news. The latest survey also showed the lowest-ever approval in Journal/NBC polling for Mr. Obama's handling of foreign policy.