Sunday, April 13, 2014

For Investors Only: Price Of WTI Holding

Futures mean squat, of course, but it's interesting to note that WTI oil is trading slightly in the green, over $104.

The Dow futures are down a bit.

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.

1Q14 Earnings

All 1Q14 earnings will be reported at this page; the link will be on the sidebar at the right, under "Earnings Central." When we start to see earnings reports for any quarter, the "Earnings Central" link is moved to the top of the sidebar until the earning season is over.

I don't have time to check/update earnings on all companies listed below. If you see one that I have missed, feel free to send it in (anonymous comment or by e-mail) and I will post it.


Miscellaneous articles:
General update (dates subject to change)
  • AAPL:  
  • Alcoa:  
  • Wells Fargo: 

EPS estimates in parentheses following the ticker symbol (according to Yahoo!Finance)

American Railcar Industries:

APA: hikes share repurchase program;

AXAS: adjusted 7 cents; consensus 6 cents; transcript;


Baytex: 38 cents vs 8 cents one year earlier; beats by one cent;

BAX ( ): Baxter, forecast, $1.09; before market opens. Actual: "Baxter reports strong first quarter financial results exceeding expectations and confirms 2014 full-year guidance."


BHI (): forecast, 78 cents; before market opens. Actual: beats; surges;

BK ( ):  

CHK ( ): 


CLR (  ): press release; $1.47 vs $1.23 4Q13;

CNI (Canadian National Railway):

CNP: CenterPoint Energy: 31 cents before market open; actual -- beats  by 11 cents;
COP: $1.56 before market open; actual "easily beat"; $1.71; beats by 26 cents;

Crescent Point:

CRR ($.87): Carbo Ceramics (CRR): 80 cents; misses by 7 cents; impacted by weather.

CVX ($2.51): huge miss -- $2.36



EEP: in line;


EOG ( ): 

EOX (Emerald): 

EPD: forecast 75 cents; beats by 2 cents;


GEOI (bought by Halcon [HK], below)


HAL (): 73 cents; vs 67 cents 1Q13;

HES: $1.20 (beats estimate of $1.02); down from $3.72 a year ago;

HP ($1.48): blows through forecast; reports $1.59, vs $1.48 forecast

HK (Halcon; previously GEOI): May 7, after market close

Kinder Morgan - KMI ( ):  expectations, 33 cents; profit falls 1.7%; records double-digit sales growth; up about 1.25%; raises quarterly dividend 11% 

Kinder Morgan - KMP ( ): 

KOG: KOG: forecast -- 18 cents after market close; big miss? actual 11 cents/share; plunges 7% after hours



MDU: in line.

MHR (Magnum Hunter): 

MMR (McMoRan) ( ): 

MPC (Marathon Petroleum: $1.05 before market open; actual: misses by 39 cents; refinery maintenance  

MRO (Marathon Oil):

MUR: beats by 2 cents; 96 cents;


NBL:  55 cents well below forecast of 75 cents, but excluding certain items, adjusted earnings at 82 cents/share




NOV (): beats by 1 cent; stock plunges 7%

OAS ( ): May 5, after the close



OTTR ():

OXY ():

PAA ():

PSX: expectations, $1.34; actual: $1.47/share but without excluding a one-time gain, the actual earnings were $2.23/share.


Range Resources:

RIG ( ):

SD: May 7, after market closes

SLB ( ): forecast, $1.20; before market opens. Actual: beats by 1 cent; profit from continuing ops jumps 33 percent; profit jumps on Middle East, Asia growth;

SM ( ): 

SRE (95 cents): beats by 9 cents; $1.03





Starbucks: right on the nose at 56 cents; but revenue up 9% from same period last year;

T (  ):

Targa Resources Partners (NGLS): forecast 49 cents; actual beats by 18 cents;

TPLM: April 17; misses by 2 cents;

TransCanada (TRP.TO): beats by one cent.

Ultra Petroleum (UPL): beats by 16 cents; 

UNP ( ):  forecast, $2.37, before market opens. Actual: beats by 1 cent; profit surges 14%.





WFT: Weatherford: beats by 2 cents; 13 cents;



WLL: expectations, 96 cents; actual -- beats by 9 cents; profit jumps 27%;

WMB: expectations, 26 cents; actual -- beats by 2 cents; profit drops 13%

WPX ( ): 

XOM: $1.88 before market open; actual: "handily beat" -- $2.10; beats by 22 cents; annual shareholder's meeting (2014);

XLNX ():

This Is Really Quite Incredible -- Global Warming/Extreme Weather/Polar Vortex -- Call It What You Want --It's Been A Humdinger Of A Winter


April 14, 2014: Winnipeg water pipes could stay frozen through July
Original Post

For folks who don't live up north: to prevent water lines from freezing, there are two common methods: bury the water pipelines as deeply as economically possible -- hopefully below where the ground freezes; and, if it's really, really cold, keep the taps flowing at least slightly -- flowing water tends not to freeze.

Of course, if one keeps the tap open, one pays for that water, whether it was used or not used. And the water company will charge you for that water -- or perhaps come up with a credit if it seems appropriate.

That's the background to this story coming out of Park Rapids, Minnesota. Look at how much extra water it took to keep the taps open to help prevent freezing: almost double --
Water pumping for March 2014 was 18,597,620 gallons compared to 10,787,264 gallons in 2013.
Even with that, water pipes froze across the northern tier.

Now, these pipes:

Water Music, George Frideric Handel

President Obama's Energy Policy Lacks Consistency; "What He Says Is Not What We See" -- North Dakota US Senator (Democrat)

Ms Heitkamp comes out swinging against Mr Obama's lack of any energy policy. The Washington Times is reporting:
President Barack Obama’s energy policies lack “consistency.” His rhetoric may be all-of-the-above but that is “not what we see.”
These are critiques not from a Republican lawmaker or an outside pundit but from Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp. The freshman from North Dakota fashioned herself as an independent-minded candidate as she won an upset victory in 2012. And she has carried that ethos into her second year in office, emerging as perhaps the White House’s most consistent Democratic critic on energy policy.
“I would tell you his energy policy - for lack of a better word - it lacks consistency,” Heitkamp said in an interview with The Associated Press. “What he says is not what we see in policy.”
I think that IS Mr Obama's energy policy: say one thing to the nation; say another thing to his base; do nothing.  In his most recent comment on the Keystone, back on February 26, 2014, he said he would make a decision in "a couple of months."

Talk is cheap. I will wait to see how she votes on energy issues when they come to the floor and her influence on Senate colleagues. She needs to take a cue from Robert Byrd's ability to add amendments to bills that were must-pass legislation. But this is encouraging, also from the linked article:
Heitkamp came directly to the Senate from the energy industry, where she worked for 12 years, including as a director of Dakota Gasification Company, a coal and natural gas company. Before that, as a state attorney general, she fought increased regulation of the state’s coal industry. She’s been “molded by my experience,” she said.
People who worked with her in North Dakota’s energy industry say that they are not surprised she has emerged as a critic of Obama.
“She definitely has her own mind,” said Mike Eggl, a vice president at Basin Electric Power Coopeative, which owns Dakota Gasfication. “She has a strong handle on the issues. When we had tours with a number of people there, she would usually jump in and help with the tour.”
Mac McLennan, the president and CEO Minnkota Power Cooperative in Grand Forks, worked with Heitkamp during her time at Dakota Gasification. He said few people understand the challenges of coal energy as well as Heitkamp.
William Tell Overture, Gioachino Rossini

New York Times Stirring Up Concern About CBR; So What's New? The Tsunami Of Crude Oil Being Shipped By Rail; From 10,000 Carloads In 2008 To 400,000 Carloads In 2013; One Derailment (No Casualties) In The US Since The Canadian Engineer Forgot To Set His Brakes?

The New York Times is reporting:
In December, a new terminal in the Port of Beaumont [Texas] welcomed its first customer: a train carrying 43,000 barrels of crude oil from Colorado. Workers at the terminal, the Jefferson Transload Railport, transferred the crude to a barge, which traveled down the Neches River to a nearby refinery.
As shale fields scattered across the Midwest and West Texas produce millions of barrels of crude oil, energy companies are finding the national pipeline network insufficient to transport their output. Railroads are increasingly picking up the slack, and Jefferson Energy Companies, based in The Woodlands, is one of several companies investing millions of dollars to help transport crude by rail, a business that was nearly nonexistent just five years ago. [The NYT could add that the Bakken laboratory was pretty much solely responsible; Obama's dithering on the Keystone XL probably had almost as much to do with the new business, in retrospect.]
“We never thought we competed with pipeline until four years ago when we moved our first unit train of crude by rail,” Dean Wise, a vice president for BNSF Railway, based in Fort Worth, said at a rail conference in January. “Now BNSF is moving eight trains a day.” (BNSF is a corporate sponsor of The Texas Tribune.)
Look at the numbers:
While most crude oil is still transported by pipelines, rail transport is gaining ground. According to the Association of American Railroads, the United States rail system transported 407,642 carloads of crude oil in 2013, up from 9,500 carloads in 2008.
The Port of Beaumont and Jefferson Energy developed the Jefferson Transload Railport as a public-private partnership, a Jefferson Energy spokesman, Mark Viator, said. Money for the project included $47 million borrowed through a federal bond program for areas affected by Hurricane Ike in 2008. While the terminal is currently receiving crude oil trains that have 60 to 80 cars, it is equipped to handle trains of up to 120 cars and to drain every car simultaneously, Mr. Viator said.  [Like milking cows, I suppose.]
“Everything that has been received so far in the Beaumont terminal has been from Colorado,” a spokesman for the Port of Beaumont, John Roby, said. “It’s mainly because rail is serving those areas that are not now served by pipelines.”
To the best of my knowledge there has been one Bakken-oil-CBR mishap in the United States since the engineer forgot to set his brakes in Canada back in July, 2013. It's very possible that there were more casualties in Ted's plunge over the bridge than CBR casualties in the US. Don't quote me on that; I could be wrong, and probably am. But considering that CBR accounted for less than 10,000 carloads in 2008 and that number has now grown to over 400,000 carloads, it's been about as mishap-free as one could hope. CBR has certainly been better executed in the United States than ObamaCare.

Considering the The New York Times doesn't want pipeline or rail, it's actually quite remarkable what the oil and gas industry has been able to achieve. Warren certainly bought BNSF at the right time.

I remember when I first started blogging about CBR, I was told by at least one reader that CBR was a passing fad, and that once enough pipeline was put in place, CBR would wither on the tracks. 

Two things the reader missed: a) the flexibility of rail; and, b) the message sent by the President when he dithered on the Keystone XL -- the president's message: "in addition to my war on coal, I will do what I can to slow the oil and gas industry."

Million-Plus EURS Far Exceeding Those In The Bakken For Fidelity (MDU) Could Be A Game Changer

Two readers sent me the link to this story on the Paradox Basin, in the Moab, in the desert, in Utah, but I hesitated to post it -- too much information; perhaps folks not interested, but then I saw that I had the basin linked at the sidebar at the right and had posted on it before. The linked article talks about environmental and political problems Fidelity (MDU) is having and will have in the Moab. [Part 2 of the 2-part series.] Nothing surprising: wherever oil is found, all of a sudden the area is "extraordinary." NIMBY.

What interested me is what I wrote about the Paradox Basin almost a year and a half ago.

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.

Back on November 4, 2012, I posted on this very blog, in this very spot:
But then this: the Paradox Basin could be a game changer for MDU. From the transcript:
Now moving on to the Paradox basin, to put that simply, the Paradox basin is a potential game changer for us. As we mentioned before, we kick things off in this play with a great well that was a Cane Creek unit number 26-2H well. Then our next two wells were completed open hole and did not turn out so well, so we’ve returned to [cast] hole completions. We recently put the Cane Creek unit 12-1H well on production and it has been consistently producing approximately 1,500 barrels of oil a day over the past three weeks. It has a flowing pressure above 2,800 PSI. We have 50 to 75 future locations with gross EURs estimated up to 1 million barrels and perhaps beyond.
For newbies: in the Bakken, EURs are in the 500K - 700K range; in the sweet spots, EURs up to 900,000 are being estimated. Rarely folks talk about 1 million bbl-EURs in the best Bakken.

California Running Out Of Water AND Oil; Iraq, Meanwhile, Has Too MUCH Water In Its Oil -- Ten Times More Than Refineries Can Accept

I don't recall if I posted this earlier; if I did, it came from RBN Energy. Also, I don't recall if I knew this -- if I did know this, I had forgotten: There are no pipelines that bring crude oil into California.

This is not surprising. With huge ports, in-state production, and tectonic activity that would make pipelines dangerous, it only makes sense that California shuns pipelines.

But California has three problems, sort of a "minor" perfect storm, if you will:
  • in-state production is dropping off due to activist environmentalists;
  • Alaska oil is diminishing; and,
  • still no pipelines. 
What's a state to do, where residents are paying some of the highest prices in the nation for gasoline, now well above $4.50/gallon on average? What to do?

Yup. CBR. Highly volatile Bakken crude oil by rail.

And that's the headline at the linked article: California braces for a massive increase in oil-by-rail imports. [If you need a subscription to read that article, try this link.]
There are no pipelines that bring crude oil into California.

For decades, the fuel that powers the state’s 32.3 million vehicles has come from one of two sources — 65 percent from tanker ships bringing in oil from Alaska and overseas, and 35 percent from in-state production.

That equation is changing dramatically.

As a result of the North American oil boom, crude will be rolling into the state over railroad tracks — hundreds of thousands of carloads carrying Bakken shale crude on trains from North Dakota, bound for California refineries and potentially to California ports for export.

The California Energy Commission estimates the increase will be massive, jumping from 9,000 carloads in 2011 to more than 200,000 carloads by 2016. Within a few years, analysts predict 25 percent of oil consumed in California will arrive at state refineries by rail.

The California Public Utilities Commission, the agency that partners with federal authorities to oversee railroad safety regulations, reports five California refineries have facilities either about to come online or in the planning stages that will let them offload crude oil deliveries from railcars.

With an anticipated surge in oil trains, each hauling as much as 2.7 million gallons of toxic crude through mountain passes, over bridges that cross nearly every major waterway and through the neighborhoods of millions of Californians, state and local agencies are reviewing and updating their plans for responding to hazardous materials spills and potential derailments.

In addition, Gov. Jerry Brown has asked lawmakers to approve a $6.7 million budget augmentation to beef up the state’s oil spill response capabilities. The additional money would go mostly to the Office of Oil Spill Prevention and Response to expand its responsibilities, now limited to coastal oil spills, to include inland areas. 
Wow, toxic crude through mountain passes, over bridges, and to grandma's house we go. And did you note that for maximum effect, the writer converted bbls to gallons. CBR is traditionally measured in bbls, or in this case less than 65,000 bbls/unit train. Sixty-five thousand bbls sounds like a whole less than almost 3 million gallons. I'm surprised the writer didn't simply round it up to three million, or five million for that matter. Folks aren't going to fact-check this stuff.

Speaking of volatility, the link at the original source includes a highly inflammatory file photo of a torched Bakken oil tanker, Canada, July 8, 2013.

Of course, a lot of this rail traffic could be avoided if President Obama, by executive order, suspended the Jones Act citing national security. Like that's gonna happen. LOL. A reader wrote to tell me that the Jones Act is an incredibly sophisticated, confusing act laden with unintentional consequences if repealed. LOL.

On the other hand, by not suspending the Jones Act, one intentional consequence is guaranteed: Warren Buffett and Burlington Northern are huge winners. Remember: railroads are virtual regional monopolies. Permian and Eagle Ford oil will go by pipeline to the gulf. The only real source of crude oil for California is highly volatile Bakken crude oil creeping slowly along BNSF tracks all the way to California refineries.

This is simply rich. I can't make this stuff up. By the way, even if operators want to ship oil by sea-going vessels from Texas to California, they can't. There are no Jones Act vessels available; they are all tied up on the East Coast or otherwise occupied.

Iraq's Water Problem

Minor note: from a message board -- Iraqi oil has ten times the amount of water in it than refineries can accept.

Note To Readers -- Disruption To Service Averted

I was prepared to discontinue the blog for several days, possibly several months.

My wife is returning from California this week, which frees up my responsibilities with regard to the 24/7 care for the granddaughters.

I had my plans pretty much set to join the freedom fighters in Nevada. I've always wanted to get a horse, and I figured now was the opportunity. I was going to buy an F-150, extended cab with tinted windows, gun rack, and brush guard; a two-horse trailer; and a horse, and head west. My call sign was going to be "Don La Parra" as in Don Quixote La Parra.

Those plans are on hold. The BLM has pulled back for the moment.

[Note: the file photo above is not an extended cab F-150. This particular photo was simply the one I wanted to post. If you want to see a better photo, google F-150 extended cab. If you want to see my destination google blm standoff.]

Loyalty Rewards

In between thunderstorms today, I walked over to our neighborhood grocer. I had a list of six items. I got everything on the list; nothing more, nothing less. I only needed one of each, of whatever I was going to get. In two cases, I was given a significant savings if I had the "loyalty" card for the grocery store and bought four instead of just one.

My bill came to $20.65. The receipt showed I saved $8.03 by using the "loyalty" card and buying in volume. So, if the original bill was $28.68 and I saved $8.03, that's a savings of almost 30%. There was savings on local tax also because the discount on the items was deducted prior to the tax.

I wonder if the federal government would ever consider "loyalty" discounts for federal taxes after one has paid income tax faithfully and on time for more than 25 years?

Government Motors, Health Care, And Bankruptcy

There was a great op-ed in the April 4, 2014, issue of The Wall Street Journal. If you can find it, it's worth reading. It was titled, "The Culture of General Motors." No matter what side of the fence one is on, there is no question that the bankruptcy, completed in 30 days, was unusual in the history of corporate bankruptcies.

The bankruptcy was the result of three things:
  • CAFE standards
  • pensions and health care
  • the panic of 2008
The "panic of 2008" was the tipping point, but the GM bankruptcy was bound to happen at some point. The company simply could no longer stay profitable with the government's CAFE standards and the increasing health care costs.
For years prior to GM's 2009 bankruptcy, our columnist Holman Jenkins and various Journal contributors warned that Detroit's business of making small cars wasn't sustainable given the high costs of union labor, pension and medical benefits plus fuel-economy standards mandated by the government.
GM, Chrysler and Ford could make money selling trucks and SUVs because Americans wanted them (and because light trucks enjoy tariff protection).
But the Big Three struggled to stay profitable making the low-emission small cars desired by politicians. Toyota maintained a labor cost advantage (including health care) of roughly $2,000 per vehicle over Detroit.
If the Big Three got creative they could find a way to offset this advantage when selling a $30,000 truck but not a small car in the $10,000-$20,000 range.
I have opined from the beginning that the Affordable Care Act was one piece of the puzzle to save Corporate America. This op-ed validates that observation. The op-ed took the issue elsewhere but it could have just as easily talked about ObamaCare.

Nimble employers will cost shift their employees over to ObamaCare and off the company plans. In fact, some employers will simply pay the penalty as Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor suggested to Hobby Lobby. In many cases the penalty will be less than the health care would cost. More importantly, the penalty is predictable and capped. Health care costs are neither.

Huge Kudos To NDIC

I  have nothing but positive things to say about the NDIC. I follow the Bakken somewhat closely, and follow oil activity in other states very rarely. Part of the reason I follow other states is that their state oil and gas websites are somewhat difficult to use. Part of the problem, of course, is that I don't go to their sites often enough to figure them out.

Be that as it may ... it is what is ... I am very impressed with the NDIC. I would argue their biggest strength is getting out in front of the public, keeping NoDaks informed of what is going on. In the big scheme of things, events have pretty much turned out as predicted. Perhaps one exception: the Tyler did not play out as quickly as some might have been led to believe. Of course, that was countered by the lower benches of the Three Forks, which, I think, was a surprise to most.

Specifically, I am impressed with the NDIC website. Everything one needs from the NDIC is pretty much free. But mineral owners, can get even more information, Basic Services, for $50/year. I think Premium Services, which very few actually need, is only $175/year.

Besides the nominal cost of $50/year, the NDIC folks make it very, very easy to subscribe. This is my second year renewing (into my third year using) and I am truly amazed how easy they made the process. I think I was notified two different ways, including via e-mail, that my renewal was due within 30 days. The form and check were completed and have been sent.

In the past two years, I don't think the site has ever been down when I went to access it except for the occasional moments when the GIS map server was being updated. I think I can count on one had the times when the daily activity reports failed to be posted (usually on a Friday afternoon).

A huge "thank you" to the folks at the NDIC.

You almost wonder how they made the transition so seamlessly: ten years ago, they were probably processing a permit or two every couple of days. Now, they are averaging 200 permits/month? With a lot more scrutiny. I assume the NDIC now has about 574 outside bosses.

I've Told Every Little Star, Mulholland Drive

Along With Ohio, Chile, And The Solomon Islands, It Looks Like Idaho Will Ban Fracking


April 16, 2014: Reuters is reporting this puzzling phenomenon -- hundreds of tremors in Idaho. Idaho will be the next state to ban fracking. 
Hundreds of low-level and medium-sized earthquakes have struck central Idaho since last month, puzzling geologists who wonder whether the ruptures portend a much larger temblor to come or are merely the rumblings of a seismic fault previously thought to be dormant.
The recent earthquake swarm, beginning on March 24 and climaxed by a 4.9 magnitude tremor on Saturday, has produced no reports of injuries or severe damage but has rattled nerves in a region where Idaho's most powerful known quake, measured at 6.9, killed two children in 1983.
Saturday's earthquake was the strongest recorded in the state since 2005 and was followed on Monday by a magnitude 4.4 event that struck 10 miles north of the small ranching community of Challis, Idaho, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
Original Post

The AP is reporting:
CHALLIS, Idaho (AP) — A 4.9-magnitude earthquake shook central Idaho, flinging items off walls and scaring residents but otherwise producing no reported damage or injuries in the sparsely populated mountain area.
USGS geophysicist Dale Grant says the earthquake was "kind of an unusual occurrence" being the first one of its strength in the area since 2005. But he said even minor damage is unlikely because of the remote location. It struck 8 miles northwest of Challis, a town of around 1,000 less than 200 miles northeast of Boise.
It was also somewhat unusual because the nearest fracking is about 750 miles to the northeast (source, Google maps, Challis, ID, to Bainville, MT). 

It is my understanding that this earthquake will qualify as a hardship for those folks who have not yet enrolled in ObamaCare. This will allow them to delay enrolling for up to one year (the clock starts ticking after the last after-shock), and will preclude any IRS penalties in the interim. The IRS ruling is contingent on Idaho voting Democratic in the presidential election in 2016 (which would be a first for the state).

Williston Could Get $1.2 Million/Year On New Lodging Tax

The AP is reporting:
Williston’s City Commission has passed a 1 percent tax on lodging and restaurants that could be used to pay for a convention center or a downtown parking garage.
City commissioners said the tax should generate $1.2 million a year.
Commissioners have looked to additional taxes to fund some projects because the city is spending more than 90 percent of its sales tax receipts to pay down a $141 million debt.
Williston in March opened a $76 million state-of-the-art recreation center that was funded by a 1 percent sales tax hike voters approved for the Parks and Recreation Department in 2011.
The city also needs to institute a city truck tax. 

"X" sales receipts times 1% = $1.2 million. Solve for "X."

I can't keep track of all the zeros, but:

1,200,000 / 0.01 -- add two more zeroes to and one gets: 120,000,000.

So, perhaps, if the zeroes are correct, that works out to $120 million/year in lodging "fees" in Williston.

At $120/night = a million night-rooms / 365 nights = 2,700 rooms. Sounds about right. 

For the tourist, add another $1.20 to your nightly bill. Would 5% been too much to ask? An extra $6/night for the privilege of visiting Boomtown USA?

This was back in 2011:
Williams County recorded more than $550.6 million of taxable sales and purchases in the first quarter.
$500 million x four quarters = $1 billion in ALL taxable sales in all of Williams County. One percent of one billion is $10 million, which means about 8 years to pay for the new recreation center at that rate. It's very possible that maintaining wells will result in more taxable sales and purchases than drilling wells. Roughnecks are pretty much forced to eat their meals on site when on the rig; folks maintaining rigs will be driving back and forth, stopping at restaurants along the way. A lot of the drilling equipment probably comes from out of state; a lot of recurring maintenance items (think nuts and bolts) will be bought locally.

Export Oil, Natural Gas? Logistically Possible? Certainly Not Politically Possible

The Dickinson Press is reporting:
The United States could give Europe and Ukraine relief from energy dependence on Russia within months if it overturned the 40-year ban on most U.S. crude oil exports, the head of energy company Hess Corp. said on Thursday.
“There’s something we can do today to help our allies now, and that’s give the green light to crude exports,” Chief Executive Officer John Hess said at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington-based think tank.
He estimated that Europe and Ukraine could get relief from volatile oil prices in 90 days if the ban was overturned.
Concern about Europe’s dependence on Russian energy has risen after President Vladimir Putin’s government annexed the Crimean peninsula.
Europe gets 30 percent of its crude oil supply from Russia, and has been hesitant to impose sanctions on Moscow for the invasion of Ukraine. In addition, Russia has hiked prices for natural gas it sells to Ukraine.
U.S. exports of natural gas could also help diversify energy supplies in Europe, but not substantially for about four years as billions of dollars worth of infrastructure needs to be built before shipments can start.
Nice op-ed, but the argument won't go anywhere. Whether or not it's logistically possible, it's not politically possible.

The Williston Area Recreation Center -- The Accolades Are Starting To Roll In; Federal Multiemployer Insurer (Think Pensions) Going Broke

The Bismarck Tribune:
The Williston Area Recreation Center is so enviable that if you don't live in Williston, it could make you wish you did.
It's been open less than two weeks and already more than 3,000 people have purchased memberships, 30,000 people have been through the facility, and the doors never stop swinging or the phones ringing.
Ever since the Bakken oil boom turned the town into an expensive, grinding industrial and construction zone, it hasn't been so easy to live in Williston.
The rec center didn't magically make all the town's growing pains go away, but it did make life there a whole lot better for a whole lot of people.
The designers of the $76 million rec center thought of everybody and everything possible for a population of 35,000 on its way to 50,000 and getting younger and hipper all the time.
Deep Pockets?

The New York Times is reporting:
The pensions of millions of Americans are being threatened because of trouble in a part of the retirement world long considered so safe that no one gave it a second thought.
The pensions belong to people in multiemployer plans — big pooled investment funds with many sponsoring companies and a union. Multiemployer pensions are not only backed by federal insurance, but they also were thought to be even more secure than single-company pensions because when one company in a multiemployer pool failed, the others were required to pick up its “orphaned” retirees.
Today, however, the aging of the work force, the decline of unions, deregulation and two big stock crashes have taken a grievous toll on multiemployer pensions, which cover 10 million Americans. Dozens of multiemployer plans have already failed, and some giant ones are teetering — including, notably, the Teamsters’ Central States pension plan, with more than 400,000 members.
In February, the Congressional Budget Office projected that the federal multiemployer insurer would run out of money in seven years, which would leave retirees in failed plans with nothing.
“Unless Congress acts — and acts very soon — many plans will fail, more than one million people will lose their pensions, and thousands of small businesses will be handed bills they can’t pay,” said Joshua Gotbaum, executive director of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, the federal insurer that pays benefits to people whose company pension plans fail.
“If Congress allows the P.B.G.C. to get the money and the authority it needs to do its job, then these plans can be preserved,” he added. “If not, the P.B.G.C. will run out of money, too, and multiemployer pensioners will get virtually nothing. This is not something that can wait a few years. If people kick the can down the road, they’ll find it went off a cliff.”
So far, efforts to keep multiemployer plans from toppling, and taking the federal insurance program down with them, are giving rise to something that was supposed to have been outlawed 40 years ago: cuts in benefits that workers have already earned.
A Note For The Granddaughters

My favorite newspaper, and the only "thing" I subscribe to is The Wall Street Journal.  Having said that, I refuse to read the weekly Mansion section, and I seldom read the Off Duty section in the weekend edition.

I hope the granddaughters always stay grounded. I hope they have a life. In a Q&A column, "The Fixer," a reader asked (and I kid you not):
I recharge my iPhone on my nightstand while I sleep. In a perfect world, my bedroom would be gizmo-free, but in the meantime, do you have any suggestions for concealing the cord?
The question was ridiculous -- this guy apparently has never traveled to Ethiopia, the Sudan, or downtown Detroit.

Even more ridiculous was the fact that the "fixer," a Michael Hsu, actually spent almost the entire column answering the question (I have yet to read the answer; I can't wait to see what he writes).

I'm wrong. Even more ridiculous was the fact this question even made the column. Obviously the "fixer" doesn't get many inquiries, or as is more likely, the "fixer" is a Steven-Colbert-wannabe and makes up his own questions.

Okay. Here's the answer, in brief:
  • a) get an expensive, cool-looking dock for the iPhone; or,
  • b) drill a hole in the nightstand and hide the iPhone in the drawer
Of course, that begs the question of answering the phone in the middle of the night. If you're going to hide your iPhone in the drawer, you might as well charge it where you do find cables, and cords, like in your 5,000-square-foot entertainment center.

Wells Coming Off The Confidential List Over The Weekend, Monday; WPX Reports A Big Well

Monday, April 14, 2014
  • 25006, 1,185, WPX, Olson 12-1HD, Van Hook, t2/14; cum 19K 2/14;
  • 25641, 422, OXY USA, Jake McNiece 1-34-27H-143-97,  Willmen, t9/13; cum 22K 2/14;
  • 26660, drl, MRO, JWC 44-34H, Reunion Bay, no production data,
Sunday, April 13, 2014
  • 22993, drl, Abraxas, Jore Federal 2-11-2H, North Fork, no production data,
  • 25406, 1,056, QEP, MHA 1-10-11H-149-91, Heart Butte, 4 sections, t3/14; cum --
  • 26169, 2,616, BR, Crater lake 41-14TFH, Hawkeye, t3/14; cum --
  • 26173, drl, Hess, SC-4WX-153-98-3130H-3, Banks, no production data,
  • 26228, drl, SM Energy, Wilson Federal 1X-20H, Charlson, producing,
  • 26440, A, CLR, Vachal 3-27H1, Alkali Creek, producing,
  • 26718, drl, Hess, EN-State C-156-93-1615H-4, Alger, no production data,
Saturday, April 12, 2014
  • 25404, 812, QEP, MHA 2-10-11H-149-91, Heart Butte, 4 sections, t2/14; cum 2K 2/14;
  • 25405, 1,223, QEP, MHA 3-10-11H-149-91, Heart Butte, 4 sections, t2/14; cum 4K 2/14;
  • 26371, drl, KOG, Wildrose 159-98-14-12-1-3H3, Big Stone, no production data,
  • 26374, drl, SM Energy, Loraine 1X-20H, Charlson, producing,

25006, see above, WPX, Olson 12-1HD, Van Hook, a big well,

DateOil RunsMCF Sold

Some Great Photos Of The Bakken; XTO On A Four-Well Pad In Northeast Williams County; Lise Meitner, Physicist And Book Review

What a great way to start off a relaxing Sunday morning: great photos of the Bakken. A reader just sent me this link. I didn't spend any time at the site except to look at the photos. I will return to the website later. A big "thank you" to the reader for sending me this link.

There is simply too much going on in the Bakken to cover it all, at least to the extent the coverage is deserved. There are more and more areas with increased activity after relative dormancy compared to some of the sweet spots like the Banks, the Truax, the Sanish, and the Parshall. North Tioga is one of those areas. There must be seven or eight rigs in the area. This area has had a lot of drilling over the past 50 years but relatively quiet during the Bakken. It seems to be picking up: the players? Probably "everyone," but Petro-Hunt, CLR, and, surprisingly, a four-well XTO pad.

When I think of XTO, I think of wells a bit farther south, not this far north in the Bakken.  But there is an exception for XTO, in the land of CLR, Hess, and Petro-Hunt. In the far northeast corner of Williams County in Lindahl oil field:
  • 26869, conf, XTO, Cindy Blikre 41X-2D,
  • 26870, conf, XTO, Cindy Blikre 41X-2H,
  • 26871, conf, XTO, Cindy Blikre 41X-2C,
  • 26872, conf, XTO, Cindy Blikre 41X-2G, 
One rig is currently on the pad.

Modern Math

The new math: in an NBA game last night, it was reported "everywhere" that Corey Brewer scored 51 points for the Minnesota Timberwolves: 19-of-30 field goals; 2-of-6 three pointers; and 11-of-15 free throws. Reported everywhere. It appears that some of the sites are now revising their initial reports. This story still mentions the two 3-pointers:
Brewer just played hard and ran fast Friday night. He hit a couple of 3-pointers on his way to 51 points, 25 more than his previous career high.
[38 + 6 + 11 = 51 only in the NBA.]
Quirky Links

One of the things I have enjoyed about the blog: capturing some quirky links. One of them was John Batchelor's "10,000 Years From Now," linked at the far bottom of the sidebar at the right. That was back on January 6, 2013. That one was fun. A more recent John Batchelor video was interesting from a different point of view: his comments regarding the new Fed chairman, Ms Yellen. The Fed says its two mandates: a) maximize employment; b) minimize inflation. One wonders, after hearing Yellen's remarks, and then Batchelor's analysis, albeit pretty short.

Book Review -- WSJ

This is disappointing. This weekend's edition of "Review" is twenty pages, which seems "thicker" than usual. It feels thicker. I would have expected at least eight book reviews worth linking, to read later. There were none. Nada. Zilch. Nil. None. But I did have an "aha" moment. The half-page photo of Sarah Palin provided the "aha" moment: why TV journalists like Katie Couric and TV comedians Tina Fey were a) so afraid of her -- the former; and, b) so enamored with her -- the latter. I did not review the book review, but I spent a moment or two looking at the photo and the big buckle.

This is a stretch, but the only article that caught my interest was "When Physics Woke The Dragon," a review of The Age of Radiance by Craig Nelson. It begins with this:
Lise Meitner was disconsolate at the end of 1938. Less than six months earlier she had fled Nazi Germany in extremis, abandoning her laboratory and position of eminence as an experimental physicist in Berlin. Now, with severely limited resources, she was little more than another refugee in Sweden. But the arrival from Denmark on Christmas Eve of her physicist nephew had cheered her, and she was looking forward to a walk in the woods with him on Christmas morning.
I think I was first introduced to Lise Meitner in a Robert Oppenheimer biography which I write about here. Or maybe I was first introduced to her in Louise Gilder's incredible book, The Age of Entanglement which I wrote about here.

I mentioned Louise Gilder several times over the few weeks that I was reading her book; she was 25 years old when she wrote that book. It was her first book. Incredible on all accounts. I need to read it again. 

I am convinced that women were responsible for a lot more science than they were given credit for, and much of that credit was stolen by men who won the Nobel prizes. Lise Meitner was another such woman who are all but forgotten, despite:
Meitner, always the scientist, wanted to discuss a puzzling letter that she had just received from the chemist Otto Hahn, her Berlin associate for more than a quarter of a century. In reviewing the letter, aunt and nephew realized with a shock what the data from her former laboratory implied: A neutron striking the nucleus of a uranium atom could split that nucleus into two pieces. When this happened, an enormous amount of energy would be released, larger than anything detected in previous nuclear-physics studies. What they did not realize, though others soon did, was that this process might also offer the possibility of creating a frightening new weapon. 
I get such joy discussing these biographies with my older granddaughter. 

A Note To The Granddaughters

Yesterday at Jason's Deli after the soccer game, I was talking with my son-in-law about secondary containment on well pads in the Bakken. He is consulting with an oil company on this very issue: pad design. The younger granddaughter, age 7, who had just scored 7 of the 11 points in the 11-0 trouncing of their adversary, was bored with my monologue on secondary containment. After we got up to go -- they were driving, I was biking -- our 10-year-old came up to me and said she was not bored with the discussion. She had been very quiet, but it turns out she was listening and understanding. She told me that landfills are required to use liners to prevent waste from getting into ground water. She also knew about various layers of clay and gravel to protect landfill waste from getting into the ground water. I asked her how she knew this: she said she read a book on the environment in her school library.

I swear she reads one book  a day.

Going Bananas Over Radioactivity In The Bakken Is Completely Nuts

Some days I run across a story that makes it all worthwhile. This is an incredible story. As far as I know, I was the only one -- the only one that suggested "going bananas over radioactivity" in the Bakken was completely nuts.

This was the post: going bananas over radioactivity in the Bakken. When you get to the link, scroll down to the original post. I was the very first "blogger" to use "bananas" to compare the amount of radioactivity in those Bakken socks that newspaper reporters were going all ga-ga over.

Now, here it is, the third page of the "Review" section of this weekend's edition of The Wall Street Journal and taking up practically the whole page: A Radiation Reality Check. From bananas to bricks, radioactivity is everywhere -- but it's nothing to be afraid of.

By the way, my blog did a better job than The WSJ explaining exactly how much "radioactivity" there was in a banana. Somewhere along the way, The WSJ reporter got sidetracked in the gee whiz stuff.

From the article:
Do you believe, as I used to, that radioactivity is very rare and very dangerous, restricted to arsenals and power plants? Let's take a look at your kitchen. The bananas are radioactive from their potassium, the Brazil nuts have a thousand times more radium than any other food item, and your dried herbs and spices were irradiated to counter bacteria, germination and spoilage. There's thorium in your microwave oven and americium in your smoke detector. 
Bottom line:
By scientific measures, the average American gets 620 millirems of radiation each year, half from background exposure, and that number needs to reach 100,000 to be worrisome. 

Radio Ga-Ga, Queen