Thursday, March 20, 2014

NDSU Defeats Oklahoma, 80 - 75, In Overtime, March Madness, 2014 -- NCAA Basketball

... if I'm reading the headline correctly.

In that particular bracket, NDSU ranked 12th; OU ranked 5th.

Could NDSU go all the way?

Something tells me this messed up a lot of brackets.

Ten (10) New Permits -- The Williston Basin, North Dakota, USA

Active rigs:

Active Rigs195184205172102

Ten (10) new permits -- 
  • Operators: Triangle (3), SM Energy (3), Hess (2), CLR, Luff Exploration
  • Fields: Camp (McKenzie), Big Stone (Williams), Elk (McKenzie), Ellisville (Williams), Corey Butte (Bowman)
  • Comments:
Wells coming off the confidential list were posted earlier today; see sidebar at the right.

Eleven (11) producing wells completed:
  • 24447, 828, SM Energy, Lucille 1X-27H, Siverston, t2/14; cum --
  • 24524, 896, SM Energy, Koeser 4X-26H, Siverston, t2/14; cum --
  • 24446, 851, SM Energy, Lucille 1-27H, Siverston, 4 secs, t2/14; cm --
  • 26132, 786, Hess, LK-A Qtr Cir-147-96-0718H-3, Big Gulch, t2/14; cum --
  • 25428, 733, Hess, EN-Nelson 155-94-3328H-5, Alkali Creek, t2/14; cum --
  • 24783, 789, Hess, LK-Bice-147-97-1201H-4, Big Gulch, t2/14; cum --
  • 25427, 822, Hess, EN-Nelson 155-94-3328H-4, Alkali Creek, t2/14; cum --
  • 26131, 946, Hess, LK-A Qtr Cir-147-96-0718H-2, Big Gulch, t2/14; cum --
  • 25095, 896, Hess, LK-Bice 147-97-1201H-5, Big Gulch, t2/14; cum --
  • 23642, 921, Hess, SC-Mari-153-98-2223H-1, Truax, t2/14; cum --
  • 26287, 1,934, MRO, Adam Ell 34-33H, Murphy Creek, t2/14; cum --
Wells coming off the confidential list Friday:
  • 21644, 357, KOG, Wildrose 159-97-13-8-20-13H3, Corinth, t12/13; cum 6K 1/14;
  • 24419, 667, QEP, MHA6-32-31H-150-90,  Deep Water Creek Bay, t1/14; cum 6K 1/14;
  • 24516, drl, Hess, LK-Summerfield-147-96-15H-3, Bear Creek, no production data,
  • 26056, dry, Whiting, Schaal 41-7, no "H" designation, Beach, a Deadwood well, no production data,
  • 26082, drl, BR, Big Bend 11-2TFH, Camel Butte, no production data,

More New Math -- EVs In Cold Weather

The headline at The Los Angeles Times: Electric cars can go only half as far in freezing weather, AAA find.

So, what does the article say? Actually less than half as far.
Testing by AAA has found that how far an electric vehicle can travel on one charge varies widely depending on the weather. Frigid temperatures can reduce that distance by 57%.
Fifty-seven percent is almost 60 percent, which is getting pretty close to two-thirds. One can assume one gets better results a) under test conditions; and, b) with a new battery.

The raw numbers actually don't look too good, considering that when one loses the charge, one needs to stop for serious recharging:
The average EV battery range in AAA’s test was 105 miles at 75 degrees but dropped 57% to just 43 miles at 20 degrees. Heat also sliced the cars' ranges but by not as much: The cars averaged 69 miles per full charge at 95 degrees, 33% less than in 75-degree weather.
The cars tested: the 2013 Nissan Leaf,  a 2012 Mitsubishi iMiEV and the electric version of a 2014 Ford Focus.

In Other California News: From the nation's most liberal court?

Anyone arrested for a felony in California can now expect both an unpleasant trip to jail and a demand for a sample of their precious DNA.
To the dismay of civil liberties advocates, a federal appeals court on Thursday unanimously upheld California's law allowing collection of DNA samples from anyone arrested for a felony, citing a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year backing a similar Maryland law. A special 11-judge 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel rejected the American Civil Liberties Union's argument that California's law is broader than Maryland's and poses a greater threat to privacy rights.
California's controversial five-year-old law permits collection of DNA from people at the point of felony arrest without review by a judge and even if criminal charges are never pressed, raising concerns that it intrudes on privacy rights for those arrestees who may never appear in a courtroom. Maryland's law permits collection only from those charged with a serious felony, and after a judge finds probable cause they've committed a crime.
Extreme Weather? Hardly

DailyCaller is reporting:
The “hurricane drought” in the U.S. continues, as last year saw the lowest number of hurricanes since 1982, according to government storm data.
For the 2013 hurricane season — which runs from June 1st to November 30th — thirteen named storms formed in the North Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. Only two of those storms reached hurricane strength, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Idle Chatter: Financial Spreadsheets

A Note for the Granddaughters

Just idle chatter. Don't ask why I'm even posting this. I just find it interesting. Perhaps I find it interesting because I'm reading Sylvia Nasar's Grand Pursuit: The Story of Economic Genius.

Yesterday I received a copy of ATT's 2013 annual report. [I don't personally invest in ATT but a family member, not my wife, does.] Annual reports are generally composed of two parts. The first ten pages are glossy, marketing, summaries of the actual report. The actual report is 200 pages of thin paper, black and white, dry, boring writing. But generally one of the first graphics in the 200 pages of thin paper is the "selected financial and operating data" which summarizes the past three to five years.

This was the 2013 ATT summary:

Two things jumped out at me in the graphic above:
  • operating expenses
  • number of employees
Sylvia Nasar discusses the early economists who realized that productivity could increase even with if the number of employees decreased. Prior to the 1800's, that was not generally accepted. So, even as ATT grows bigger, the number of employees has decreased over the past five years. [This, of course, is part of the unemployment problem. One can argue that in conditions like this, the government needs to do more to ensure the government is NOT contributing to the problem. The national poll that the US will hold November 4, 2014, will provide insight into whether most Americans feel the government is a help or a hindrance when it comes to unemployment.]

But I digress. Getting back to the graphic.

It was the operating expenses, however, that really jumped out at me. It really shows how much a company can cut expenses if they want to. Operating expenses, which had risen by as much as $16 million between 2009 and 2011, took a remarkable drop over the past year (2013), decreasing about the same amount, $16 million.

I'm sure everyone but me will be able to explain the $16 million savings in expenses by reading the rest of the annual report, but what little I read did not shed much light. It looks like $13 million of that $16 million was saved in "selling, general, and administrative expenses." I did not understand the verbiage that followed but some of it seemed a bit like "smoke and mirrors." Be that as it may, it's still a significant decrease. I did note that part of SGA included pension-related costs. One of the problems I have with SGA (among companies I follow in the Bakken): it is easy to hide things there. At least companies can hide reasons for expenses under SGA from naive investors like me.

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

Later: after the original post, I also noted the huge jump in operating income. Again, it's probably explained in the fine print on the thin pages of the annual report. Time to do some more reading.

[Later this same day: Communications Works of America ratify AT&T Southeast Mobility contract (T) 34.08 +1.12 : Co announced that employees represented by the Communications Workers of America have voted to ratify a four-year contract with AT&T Mobility. The contract covers more than 11,500 AT&T Mobility employees in CWA District 3 -- the Southeast Region, which includes Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and St. Croix, USVI. The contract covers wages, pension, work rules and disability benefits. CWA members in October 2012 ratified a separate four-year benefit agreement for all CWA-bargained Mobility employees nationwide covering health care and certain other benefits.]


For my granddaughters, who happen to be young and beautiful --

Young and Beautiful, Lana Del Rey

For Investors Only; Just Exactly How Expensive Is Solar Energy?

Breaking news: Ukraine's neighbor, Moldova, now requests to "join" Russia. I haven't read the story, just the headline. Wow, isn't that interesting? I think somehow any reasonable person can say this all started with Obama's apology tour. It appears Mr Putin and former states of the USSR took the apologies seriously. My hunch is that Russia offers a better health care program for its citizens than Moldova could afford, and, of course, cheaper natural gas.
The Trans-Dniester region split from Moldova around 1990 and made a failed attempt at independence in 2006, when it held a referendum that was unrecognized internationally.
The region did not want to split from the Soviet Union at the time of its collapse and has now requested unity with Russia.

Disclaimer: this is not an investment site. Do not make any investment decisions based on what you read here or what you think you may have read here. I report on companies that I have no investment relationship about as often as I report on companies that I invest in. If that makes sense. In other words, just because I mention a company, it doesn't mean I'm making any recommendations about it. Generally, information is posted to help me understand the Bakken better or put the Bakken into perspective. Yes, including ObamaCare and global warming.

This is simply idle chatter; waiting for another appointment. This is a note I sent a reader earlier:
Absolutely quiet out there today. I do have to agree with the lead story over at Yahoo!Finance right now -- that the markets yesterday over-reacted to the Fed's/Ms Yellin's testimony. I agree with you that rates (mortgages) will be going up, but for the general market to drop 150 points yesterday with her remarks was a bit crazy. 
First, everyone knew she was going to continue tapering. And she didn't taper by much in the big scheme of things, certainly not more than expected. Second, I think she sounded pretty dovish -- if the unemployment rate drops to 6 or 6.5, under the "old rules" the Fed was going to raise rates.  
Yellin is not going to box herself in; she says she will look at everything before raising rates (I think she's telling us she also knows the unemployment numbers are "managed." LOL). 
So, for the moment at least, the market is back up; oil down slightly. I think with the Crimean thing (and everything that looks like might follow), the price of oil will go up, all other things staying the same. 
News from California from the SRE "page."

I posted the announcement about a week ago. Forbes sees the outcome the same as I do:
After the official retirement of California’s largest nuclear plant last June, many in the environmental community there were celebrating. Now that the state’s public utility commissioners have said that the state’s utilities can use natural gas to replace a portion of that lost power, they are far less sanguine. [And it's more than just a portion; I think the split was about 80/20, natural gas/renewables.]
The closure of Southern California Edison’s San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in June 2013 opened up a whole other debate, which is how to supplant a carbon-free electricity source in a state that has caps on how much carbon pollution utilities can emit. As expected, natural gas will be the primary fuel to do so, given that it is abundant and relatively affordable — and it’s also a fuel that can run around-the-clock.
Bloomberg notes that SRE and Con Edison will share five (5) solar farms:
Sempra Energy (SRE) and Consolidated Edison Inc. agreed to jointly own and operate five solar farms in California and Nevada that will have a total capacity of 360 megawatts. 
Each company will own 50 percent of the power plants, which all have long-term contracts to sell the electricity, San Diego-based Sempra said today in a statement. 
The deal comprises Sempra’s 250-megawatt Copper Mountain Solar 3 plant that’s under construction near Las Vegas and four Con Edison sites the went into operation in 2012, the largest of which has 50 megawatts of capacity. 
Terms weren’t disclosed. [Unfortunately, probably because of the cost.]
SRE is trading near its 52-week highs, and could hit a new high today. Again.

Also, from SRE page (this will be repeated in a stand-alone post). A press release notes:
SunEdison, a leading solar technology manufacturer and provider of solar energy services announced today that it has completed construction of a 24 MW (megawatt) DC (direct current) solar power plant located in the California Desert. 
The Cascade solar power plant is supplying renewable electricity to San Diego Gas & Electric through a 20-year Power Purchase Agreement. Wells Fargo & Company provided tax equity financing following completion of the solar power plant.
The press release did not say how much a 24MW solar power plant costs. So, how much does a 24MW solar plant cost? In Italy, quite a bit. 
PV-Tech reported last year:
Dubai-based investment company Adenium Capital has purchased a 24MW solar farm in Italy.
The €52 million (US$69 million) acquisition, in partnership with ForVEI, almost doubles the capacity of its solar portfolio.
The Calabria solar park is one of the ten largest in Italy and was originally built by Talesun Solar Switzerland.
$70 million / 24MW =  $2.9 million / MW.

So, now we have some numbers to work with:
  • Solar: $3 million / MW
  • Wind: $2.5 million / MW
  • Natural gas: $865,000 / MW
And then one wonders why the EU is going broke. And, one wonders why the US follows.

Einstein had a great definition for insanity.

Anyone who tells me wind and solar energy are free ... 

[Disclaimer: I often make simple arithmetic mistakes. If something looks wrong, it probably is; go to the linked source if you have questions. There is a probably a huge difference between what Dubai was willing to pay to have a site in Italy, compared with what smart California government bureaucrats would be willing to pay for tortoise and bird killers in the desert.]

[Later: Copper Mountain Solar Facility, SRE, 2010, 48 MW, $141 million = $3 million / MW; additional background; some ambiguity about total cost and total energy production.]

From The EPD Page

 24WallStreet is reporting:
EPD was the beneficiary of an analyst upgrade at Credit Suisse on Wednesday. The firm’s John Edwards raised Enterprise Products to Outperform from Neutral, and the target was raised to $78, versus a $68.80 close.
This upgrade is significant for several reasons. First is that Enterprise is the largest standalone entity in the land of master limited partnerships (MLPs). Second is that the MLP sector has been battered with concerns about lower distributions (yield equivalents). A third reason this upgrade stands out so much is because this $78 price target represents upside of more than 13%, plus that 4.1% distribution yield. Lastly, the $78 price target is only $2 shy of the street high price target, and it is more than $5 above the consensus price target.
So, what does Credit Suisse’s John Edwards see here that is above and beyond most other analysts after an analyst meeting update?
Edwards shows a 1.5 times distribution coverage at its current distribution growth trajectory, as well as an investment of three to four times the capital to sustain that growth trajectory, which should allow Enterprise to grow the distribution faster than most MLPs.

Thursday; Why We Won't See Much Fracking In California; "Time Is On My Side" -- Mr Putin

Active rigs:

Active Rigs195184205172102

RBN Energy: new Bakken crude oil pipelines not necessary. The reality of the Keystone XL.

Dickinson Press

Dunn County Commission unanimously dismisses NDSU professor's call for Killdeer battlefield study; landowner accuses the submitted application was fraudulent. Perhaps this is not an extraordinary site, after all.

The Wall Street Journal

Minnesota: court rules it is not illegal to encourage folks to commit suicide. Assisting is still illegal, but encouraging someone to commit suicide is now viewed as legal in Minnesota. I honestly did not know that times were that tough in Minnesota.

The new future for US coal: export.

The Los Angeles Times

Debris from missing jet may have been spotted -- Australian sources.

Great story: A 2010 fire on a B-2 stealth bomber in Guam left it heavily damaged. That sparked a four-year — and largely secretive — mission to repair the costly warplane.
The four-year operation to rebuild the military's rarest — and most expensive at $2.1 billion — aircraft involved hundreds of hard-to-find parts, thousands of labor hours, and 300 Air Force and Northrop workers. Many of them, mechanics such as Byrne, left their families in Palmdale and flew 6,000 miles to Guam to work seven days a week for months at a time to restore the stealth bomber.
They spent so much time working on the island, they started calling their temporary home "Guamdale."

The military is quick to say that the B-2 is unlike any other aircraft in the U.S. arsenal. Built to haul more than 20 tons of bombs, it has a wingspan nearly as long as a Boeing 747 jumbo jet yet flies virtually undetected by radar.
Because of its stealth characteristics, it is the first bomber to be sent into heavily defended enemy territory to clear the way for other fighters and bombers by knocking out antiaircraft batteries and radar installations.
On the first night of the NATO operation in Libya in 2011, for instance, three B-2s flew from Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri, slipped into enemy territory and promptly wiped out 45 targets at an airfield before returning to the U.S.
On Feb. 26, 2010, a B-2 attempted to take off from Guam for a routine training mission when a fireball flashed from a left engine, sparking an onboard blaze that eviscerated the interior of the airplane.
No one aboard was hurt, but the heat was so intense that it melted and warped parts of the B-2's titanium and aluminum frame. The plane's wiring and hydraulic tubing turned into smoldering ash.
Though the damage was bad, the Air Force determined that the plane could be saved. That was good news. A B-2 was completely lost in 2008 after moisture built up in the plane's high-tech sensors and caused it to crash and burn. The pilots safely ejected.
The military said it couldn't afford to lose another of these aircraft. The repairs required more than 1,000 parts ranging in size from small clips to massive sections that support the structure of the aircraft. The project took nearly four years at a cost of more than $105 million, which included a scheduled overhaul.
Oil-rich city of Carson, LA, bans fracking. The action will affect at least 200 OXY USA locations. I guess Carson, LA, is one of those extraordinary sites.

In Minneapolis, nothing stops bicyclists, not even winter
There was a healthy bite to the morning air, with the mid-March temperatures stuck in the high-30s, but the two weather-tested bicyclists were unfazed, as though striking out on a leisurely Fourth of July ride.
Dorian Grilley and road partner Nick Mason pedaled along residential side streets still ice-choked from a long winter's pounding. Grilley, 56, rode an old mountain bike with fenders and metal-studded tires. He eased through less-slippery rivulets of melted ice, his back tire throwing up a rooster tail of water, sand and road salt.
Leading the way on his "fat bike," a cartoonish-looking contraption with 4-inch-wide tires designed to roll over snow, the 34-year-old Mason hotdogged out in front; jumping curbs, surging over mounds of street ice, his bike moving with the rumbling determination of a monster truck.
The Crimean Fallout -- The Tea Leaves This Morning

Headlines across the net:
  • Continued political unrest in the Ukraine; economic implosion; Russia simply takes over
  • Iranian nculear program gains new momentum as Putin changes course
  • new Putin wind in Assad's Syrian sail 
  • Estonia feeling cold breeze from the East; Joe Biden reassures (LOL)
The cost of energy just got more expensive (it's just a matter of time):
  • Germany vows crackdown on Putin
  • G8 is dead
  • The mideast is back in play
Putin's new personal anthem, currently #1 in the Crimean:

Time Is On My Side, The Rolling Stones

A #1 hit during the Cold War, 1964/1965.

And, of course, a close #2 in the Ukraine:

You Don't Have To Say You Love Me, Just Be Close At Hand, Dusty Springfield

New Bakken Crude Oil Pipelines Not Necessary -- RBN Energy


March 24, 2015: ETP, Bakken-to-Illinois, Dakota Access Pipeline, miles of pipeline being brought in, stored near Aberdeen, SD; South Dakota state has until December 15, 2015, to make decision.
August 30, 2014: Iowa activists trying to stop the ETP pipeline
Original Post
Link here.
No sooner had we finished up our analysis of the divergent fates of two North Dakota crude oil pipeline projects - the Enbridge Sandpiper (going ahead after a successful second open season) and the Koch Dakota Express (cancelled in January) – then we learned that competitor Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) had launched a binding open season for a third pipeline proposal following basically the same route. The ETP press announcement provided few specifics but it seems remarkably similar to the cancelled Koch proposal. Today we look at plusses and minuses of this new pipeline proposal.
Just a couple of weeks ago we reviewed the competing Enbridge Sandpiper and Koch Dakota Express pipeline projects that were both designed to increase takeaway capacity from Bakken production in North Dakota. In Episode 1 of that two part series we noted that the Sandpiper project moved forward in February of this year (2014) while the rival Dakota Express project hit the skids when its sponsor Koch Industries pulled the plug in January. Our analysis showed that neither pipeline was absolutely required to move Bakken production to market if you included rail-loading capacity in the takeaway equation – but noted that pipeline options are cheaper than rail and therefore can be more attractive to shippers, particularly when they offer flexibility to reach multiple markets. In Episode 2 we compared the routes and connections that the two rival pipeline projects offered Bakken producers and concluded that the Enbridge Sandpiper project was likely more successful in attracting shippers than Koch because of its greater flexibility of destinations.
Our understanding of the attraction of this new pipeline proposal is that it offers Bakken shippers an alternative direct path to the Gulf Coast that does not use the Enbridge system. To that end, crude producers will benefit from the flexibility. For ETP the Dakota Access leg of the new proposal will help to make the EGCAP leg from Patoka a success by attracting shippers away from the Enbridge system in North Dakota – a task that would be far harder to achieve in Patoka. Finally the outcome of this open season should provide an interesting indication of whether North Dakota producers prefer pipeline routes to the Gulf Coast over rail options to other markets like the East and West Coast in the long term.