Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Rush Limbaugh: Wins "Author Of The Year" -- His Children's Book

I haven't listened to Rush since my wife got back from California. His show tomorrow should be very, very interesting. LOL.

Rush Limbaugh, Rush Revere and The Brave Pilgrims: Time-Travel:

Later, I have a post on "hell freezes over."

Nice Human Interest Story On East Coast Refineries And Bakken Crude Oil; They Export "The Fumes" Back To North Dakota is reporting:
At the Delaware River wharf where Appalachian coal trains once unloaded their cargo, 108 rail tankers lined up Tuesday to deliver a new distant energy source - crude oil from North Dakota.
The Eddystone Rail Facility, built on leased land surrounding an aging Exelon Corp. power plant, is the latest oil-by-rail facility to open in the area, adding capacity to handle the cheap domestic crude oil that has become the salvation of the region's financially embattled refineries - but has also raised safety concerns about unprecedented rail movements of oil.
"If we didn't do what we did, the refineries are gone," said Jack Galloway, who created Eddystone Rail Co. and enlisted Enbridge Inc., one of North America's largest energy distributors, as the operating partner in the project.
The Eddystone facility is designed to receive 80,000 barrels of light North Dakota crude a day, where it is unloaded into a storage tank, and then pumped onto barges and delivered to refineries along the Delaware River. The investors aim to eventually double capacity to 160,000 barrels a day, or about two "unit" trains containing 120 rail cars.
Then this:
The Eddystone project cost $140 million to build, twice its initial estimate. Construction costs soared because of winter-weather delays. More than 600 people were involved in laying the tracks, restoring an existing 200,000-barrel storage tank on the site, and installing pumps and pipe work.
Enbridge employs 11 people to manage the facility. An additional 33 are employed by Railserve Inc., the contractor that switches the trains, pumps out the rail cars, and loads the barges.
The mile-long trains are broken into two parts and travel like a merry-go-round on two concentric loops of rail that encircle the Exelon power plant. Forty cars can be unloaded at one time. The facility contains 14,000 feet of rail.
But this is really interesting:
Steven Turnbull, Enbridge's senior manager of rail services, called the facility state-of-the-art. It includes an underground containment system to collect any spills, a foam fire-suppressant system, and monitors to detect explosive gas leaks.
"I've spent 37 years in the refinery business and I have never seen the level of atmospheric detection system we have here," said Turnbull.
The facility also includes a vapor recovery system to collect the emissions from the crude oil and pump them back into the railcars.
"We export the fumes back to North Dakota," said Erik L. Johnson, the vice president of Canopy Prospecting.
That was not a joke. LOL.

Random Note On Highways In And Out Of Watford City

North Dakota State Senator Tim Mathern posted the following photograph on Facebook:

 Looking south from the center of Watford City, North Dakota, May, 2014

The photograph reminded me of two of my earlier posts (see below) -- posted in February, 2014 -- regarding the new highway being built west from Watford City to Alexander. Note: the photograph above is taken of the highway south of Watford City. This is NOT the highway that leads between the city and Alexander. This road goes south toward the North Unit of the Park, but truckers take it to catch the road east to the oil fields in some of the best oil country in the Bakken.

It should be noted that, for the most part, the permanent population has not grown much; this is all transient, all workers, all trucks. Watford City had a population of about 1,800 before the boom. The most current figures show about 2,500. There are projections that another 30,000 people could end up residing in Watford before the boom is over. Okay, so 30,000 is a bit down the road --- imagine 5,000 more people -- that would triple the current population and be 5 times what it was before the boom.


Comments on the road being built between Watford City and Alexander (a re-post):
[It is my understanding that] the four-lane highway between Watford City and Williston will NOT be a divided four-lane highway, but an undivided four-lane highway. That is incredible. Incredible is absolutely the wrong thing to do. See my first impressions of this stretch of road. An undivided highway is absolutely irresponsible. I think one could argue that a four-lane undivided highway might be more dangerous than leaving things the way they are. A four-lane highway will encourage faster speeds; the current two-lane with some widening, some three-lane stretches, some turning lanes creates a chokepoint simply because so much of it is two-lane, but it has the natural effect to slow down traffic at least to some extent.

The plans for the US Highway 85 project in western North Dakota can be found here. I'm not sure if the 20' median is the entire length of the highway, but if it is "highway asphalt" that makes up the median, I would assume it becomes, for all "practical" reasons, a dangerous, optional, illegal passing zone. Disclaimer: I have not reviewed the details; I don't know for sure what the completed highway will look like. I may be wrong; I may be misunderstanding the reader or the official plans, but if this is not a conventional "divided" highway, this is not good news.

By the way, while driving that stretch of road the other day, there was already a lot of construction of the four-lane highway, and it appeared that it was not going to be divided, but I thought I was just missing something. Apparently not. Barriers down the center of the road will be needed -- they do this all over the south and the east where there is high traffic, high speed, and an undivided four-lane highway. The barriers, beside protecting against head-on crashes, have a tendency to slow traffic down just because there is a "perception" the road is narrower than it might really be, AND drivers know they have no "escape route" to the left when driving in the passing lane. 

And then this, a re-posting of my first impressions of the road between Watford City and Alexander, earlier this year:
Driving north into Watford, there is now a traffic light at the intersection of state highway 23 going around the city on the east side. I can't remember if the traffic light was there on my Bakken trip #2.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When I drove through Watford City on Bakken trip #4 I was surprised how quiet Watford City was, and how little traffic there was on the highway leading west out of town. I assumed the oil patch was finally reaching a plateau and folks had "spread out." It was later that I learned all the trucks were off the road because of road restrictions for the spring thaw. Obviously, not ALL trucks were off the road, but it certainly seemed, in retrospect, 90% of the trucks must have been off the road. In Tim Mathern's photo above, it appears things are as busy as ever.

Twelve (12) New Permits -- The Williston Basin, North Dakota, USA; EOG Reports A Huge Well Thursday; Has Anyone Ever Thought Of Naming One Of The California Faults After George W. Bush?

Wells coming off confidential list Thursday:
  • 25598, drl, HRC, Fort Berthold 147-94-2B-11-3H, McGregory Buttes, no production data,
  • 25853, 1,203, EOG, Wayzetta 34-2829H, Parshall, t12/13; cum 147K 3/14;
  • 26266, drl, Petro-Hunt, Van Hise Trust 153-95-28D-21-5H, Charlson, no production data,
  • 26341, drl, HRC, Miller 157-101-12D-1-3H, Otter, no production data,
  • 26437, 2,124, BR, CCU Corral Creek 11-28TFH, Corral Creek, t4/14; cum --
  • 26457, drl, XTO, Broderson 31X-27D, Siverston, no production data,
  • 26795, 493, CLR, Snider 1-21H1, Ukraina, t3/14; cum 2K 3/14;
  • 26878, drl, XTO, FBIR Guyblackhawk 24X-27H, Heart Butte, no production data,

25853, see above, EOG, Wayzetta 34-2829H, Parshall, 146K:

DateOil RunsMCF Sold

Active rigs:

Active Rigs189190208173114

Twelve (12) new permits --
  • Operators: KOG (4), XTO (3), Newfield (2), CRL (2), Armstrong Operating
  • Fields: Truax (Williams), Siverston (McKenzie), Tobacco Garden (McKenzie), Juno (Divide)
  • Comments: Armstrong has a permit for a wildcat well in Slope County; Armstrong has a history of targeting the Lodgepole, 12-135-101 is 2.6 miles NNE of the new Amidon court house
Wells coming off the confidential list were posted earlier; see sidebar at the right.

One (1) producing well completed:
  • 26748, 552, OXY USA, Wittinger 4-8-5H-143-95, Murphy Creek, t4/13; cum --  
"Pushy" Women At The New York Times Not Tolerated

This almost makes Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling look like a saint: the publisher of the NY Times fires the executive director because she asked for equal pay AND she was thought to be "too pushy." Of course, one can debate whether that was true: whether she asked for "equal pay" -- I certainly don't know if that's true, but that's what "they" say -- and no one would really know, except perhaps the publisher, if she was fired because she was "too pushy," but a very good Times reporter should be able to piece together the pay package the female executive editor was receiving and compare that to the pay package received by her male predecessor.

Something tells me the delta would be startling.

I can't wait to see the next NY Times editorial arguing for equal pay for equal work.

Never Mind

Governor Moonbeam said that a 4-foot rise in ocean levels would inundate Los Angeles International Airport in 200 years. I don't know what he's worried about; by that time folks will be taking the bullet train from Los Angeles to just about everywhere....

A spokesman to the governor later said that the governor misspoke. The airport is some 200 feet above sea level.

Airport authorities went on to assure Californians that airport operations will be operating normally 200 years from now. When asked about this weekend, they could not guarantee that operations would be running smoothly.

Maybe It's Time To Rename It The George W. Bush Fault

Maybe it's not fracking that is causing all those earthquakes. Talk about drivel. Let's just quit teaching plate tectonics and rename the San Andreas Fault the George W. Bush Fault so WHEN the big one actually does hit (again), we know what to blame: the George W. Bush Fault. LOL.

Wind Farms Still Cost About $2.5 Million / MW; Three Times More Expensive Than Natural Gas

I can never remember the cost comparisons but here was one back on March 24, 2014:
  • Solar: $3 million / MW
  • Wind: $2.5 million / MW
  • Natural gas: $865,000 / MW
Back on March 19, 2014:
So, that's the ball-park, I guess, for wind, about $2.5 million / MW of electricity.

HoustonBusinessJournal is reporting:
A massive wind-power installation backed by Colorado billionaire Philip Anschutz is moving closer to reality, with an application filed with Wyoming authorities to build and operate what may be the biggest wind farm in North America.
The Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Energy Program wind farm is being developed by the Power Company of Wyoming LLC, a subsidiary of The Anschutz Corp. It involves 1,000 wind turbines capable of generating up to 3,000 megawatts of power — enough to support the electricity demands of about 900,000 homes.
The $6 billion wind farm was proposed in 2008, and received a go-ahead from the U.S. Department of Interior, via its Record of Decision on the project, in 2012.
A companion project — a $3 billion, 725-mile power line to be built by TransWest Express LLC, also backed by Anschutz — is being studied by the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM). 
Without the transmission line:
  • $6,000,000,000 / 3,000 MW = $2.0 million / MW (compared to about $500,000 - $1 million for natural gas)
With the transmission line:
  • $3.0 million / MW
So, the numbers still seem to hold true: about $2.5 million / MW for wind, perhaps 3x what it would cost for natural gas and even more than what coal would cost. And yes, the increased monthly utility bill will be paid by the .... homeowner. Industrial manufacturers will get reduced rates.

The Phenomenal Bakken Phenomenon

Bloomberg is reporting:
U.S. crude production climbed to a 28-year high last week as the shale boom moved the world’s biggest oil-consuming country closer to energy independence.
Output rose 78,000 barrels a day to 8.428 million, the most since October 1986, ... attributed to shale deposits in the Bakken (North Dakota) and the Eagle Ford (Texas).

The U.S. met 87 percent of its energy needs in 2013, and 90 percent in December, the most since March 1985, according to the EIA, the statistical arm of the Energy Department. 
Crude output will average 8.46 million barrels a day this year and 9.24 million in 2015, up from 7.45 million last year. 
Next year’s projection would be the highest annual average since 1972.
The EIA forecasts that the gain in production at shale fields will be augmented by greater offshore output this year and next. Crude output in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico will climb by 150,000 barrels a day in 2014 and by an additional 240,000 barrels in 2015, following four consecutive years of declines, according to the May 6 report.

For Investors Only; Infill Density In Stockyard Creek To Be 16 Wells/Driling Unit -- Samson Oil & Gas

Yahoo!'s In-Play still seems to be on the fritz, as they say. It's finally post today's notes, but it is several hours behind. Deere's earnings weren't reported though they are out; they were not a pretty sight, and that probably explains today's market.

Samson Oil & Gas repots its weekly operations update: Co reports the infill development plan for North Stockyard is to drill 8 middle Bakken wells and 8 Three Forks wells.
  • Rod pumps were installed on Little Creature and Tooheys wells, and both are currently pumping. 
  • The Bootleg 5-14-15TFH well has been drilled a measured depth of 11,675 feet, which is the total depth of the intermediate hole landing in the Three Forks Formation. The rig is currently preparing to run the 7 inch production casing. The rig will then be skidded to the Bootleg 4-14-15TFH well, which has been drilled to surface casing depth of 2,418 feet, where 9-5/8 inch casing was run and cemented. The intermediate hole will be drilled from this depth. 
  • Hydraulic fracture stimulation operations are planned to start on both Matilda Bay wells on May 14th.
Six companies announce increased dividends or distributions including Clorox.

The Dow is off slightly but almost all energy stocks are up, and some are up nicely, probably due to the price of oil continuing to rise; today, up another half-percent, solidly above $102/bbl. Interestingly enough, the price of gasoline in our neighborhood is down; the least expensive is about $3.35/gallon.

Trading at new 52-week highs: BAX, TRN.


KMOV (St Louis, MO) is reporting:
Employees at an Affordable Care Act processing center in Wentzville with a contract worth $1.2 billion are getting paid to do nothing but sit at their computers, a whistleblower tells News 4.
The facility is operated by Serco, which is owned by a British company awarded $1.2 billion partially to hire workers to handle paper applications for coverage under the new healthcare law.
A worker tells News 4 weeks can pass without employees receiving even a single application to process. Employees reportedly spend their days staring at their computers.
“They’re told to sit at their computers and hit the refresh button every 10 minutes, no more than every 10 minutes,” the employee said. “They’re monitored, to hopefully look for an application.”
Nice work, if you can get it, not the employees, but the CEO. I assume the contract was a fixed fee contract; as the number of applications dwindles, the CEO lays off more workers. If the contract were based on the number of applications processed, the company would likely need one or two workers.

Active Rigs Trending Down Again -- May 14, 2014

I apologize for the delay getting started. I started the day biking and am now just getting to the computer.

Active rigs:

Active Rigs189190208173114

RBN Energy: coordinating the natural gas and electricity industries.
The most significant of FERC’s proposed changes is to move the start of the “gas day” —that’s the time when any change in a daily nomination will take effect— up from its longstanding 9 AM Central Time to 4 AM Central, in order to allow gas nomination changes to better match the ramp-up in electric loads.   The electric industry has long explained that if they’re right at the end of the prior gas day when everyone turns on the lights, heat, and computers, it is very difficult to have enough gas scheduled to supply the ramp-up of the generators.  Basically, the flowing volume on, say, Wednesday morning is the tail end of the daily amount that was nominated in the middle of the day on Monday—a day before the selection of generators for Wednesday took place.  On top of that, generators explain that at the tail end of the gas day they are often balancing flows to make up for higher takes earlier in the day, which restricts their availability of supply right when they need it (this explanation doesn’t get a lot of sympathy on pipelines where shippers are supposed to take their gas at even hourly rates, but nonetheless it’s a fact).
From the responses we’ve seen so far, it seems like most producers haven’t been all that happy about the change in the gas day.  The stated concern is that not many wellhead facilities are remote-controlled, so someone actually has to go to each well and make physical adjustments when changes are made.  With the new rules, that would be happening sometime between 2 AM and 4 AM Central, or 1 AM to 3 AM in the Rockies, or midnight to 2 AM in the far west.  As compared with today’s schedule, where the earliest anyone has to be somewhere is between 5 AM and 7 AM in the west, the argument goes that this could mean a whole lot more midnight drives on dirt roads or no roads in the middle of nowhere, and it could mean that critical operations where safety is paramount would be carried out around the time other people are leaving the bar, not in morning daylight.   There are plenty of dedicated well-operation technicians, and they are no stranger to difficult operations, but the producers argue that the FERC’s proposed 4 AM Central Time start of the gas day would impose an unnecessary safety issue across the industry. 
The Wall Street Journal

Here we go again: White House and regulators are backing off on stringent mortgage rules; back to the housing bubble?

US reconsiders crude-oil export ban. Won't happen in my investing lifetime, but fun to talk about. Heard on the street: Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz's comments about "considering" US oil exports don't offer real support for crude prices.

Okay, how does this happen? Rep John Conyers, age 84, didn't file enough valid signatures to make the August 5, 2014, ballot for the Democratic primary -- thus forcing him into a write-in campaign to win his 26th term in the House. Apparently the lawmaker used several unqualified people to collect a significant portion of his petition signatures, among other problems. State law requires those who round up petition signatures for candidates be themselves registered to vote. That nasty voter ID law. Wanna bet he ends up on the ballot?

Tea-Party candidate wins in Nebraska likely making him the next senator in the antiestablishment mold of Senator Ted Cruz.

Makes the front section: Karl Rove questions Clinton's sanity.

Front page story on the western sage grouse.

Russia bans US sales of rocket engines; also bans US astronauts from International Space Station.

This is interesting: US steel imports are approaching record levels. I wonder who is using all that steel? Oil and gas industry; rail industry, no doubt.

Front page, second section: some farmers grow worried. US rail snarls have delayed fertilizer deliveries in the upper Midwest, raising fears that farms in the Dakotas, Minnesota, and Wisconsin won't have adequate nutrients to sow corn, wheat, and barley. Not a problem: go "organic."

Canadian canola farmers feeling crushed. The rail delays that slowed shiopments of grains in North America this past winter continue to ripple across western Canada, hurting canola farmers while providing grain processors with an abundance of cheap seed.


Beyond ridiculous: high-tech bicycling.
I was a little embarrassed when I stepped into the elevator with my neighbor. I was wearing bright orange spandex, with an LED display protruding from my sunglasses. I wheeled in my brand new bicycle, equipped with two iPhones, a GPS unit and a small, Bluetooth-connected computer.  
You won't see me in spandex. You won't see with sunglasses, much less an LED display protruding from same. Nor will you see one, much less even two, iPhones or a GPS unit or a small Bluetooth-connected computer. Maybe someday I will get a GPS monitor. You probably won't even see me with a helmet. The only thing my bike and I are decked out in is lots of reflective tape and lots of white and red lights.

Best article in the Journal today: concerts in New York and Washington, DC, will celebrate the most-performed classical-music composer alive. Maybe a stand-alone "note to the granddaughters on this one.

The Los Angeles Times

Landmark tax law Proposition 13 could get first change since 1978. Going down a slipper slope.

Median net worth of grads under the age of 40 still with student debt is only $8,700. The Obama legacy:
The financial travails of people under 40 with student-loan debt extend far beyond the college loans themselves, according to a new study. 
That’s because people with student loans often have other types of debt as well, such as car loans or credit-card borrowing, that weigh heavily on their overall financial well-being.
As a result, college graduate heads-of-household under 40 with student debt have a median net worth of only $8,700, according to the analysis by the Pew Research Center. That’s a fraction of the $64,700 the same group without college loans is worth.
The median student debt is about $13,000, a seemingly manageable amount.
But because of the other loans they’ve taken out, the median total indebtedness of college graduates under 40 with student loans is $137,010, according to the study. That is almost twice the $73,250 debt level for their counterparts with no college debt.
Back to the '70s: Orange County clears way for court-ordered treatment of mentally ill.

LA Times on Benghazi: "what does it matter?" At the end of the day, it will be the military that will be shamed for not tkaing the bull b the horn when given the order to "stand down" by someone other than the commander-in-chief. No one knows where the commander in chief was when Benghazi went down. Hillary was not in the chain of command. The real question: where was the commander, US Africa Command, or whichever joint command had responsibility for Libyan operations.

The Dickinson Press

The Press could have gone with a hundred different headlines, but chose the only one that could be viewed as a negative. And, in fact, they are wrong: production probably hit the 1-million-bopd milestone in April. The figures The Press cited were outdated but the most recent ones available. Both Reuters and the MDW suggest that North Dakota hit the 1-million-bopd milestone in April. Flaring dropped from 36% to 33% and will likely fall to a surprising 25% or better next month. Maybe we'll see that as a headline next month. I doubt it.

On the other hand, although not yet there, and possibly not there until the end of the year, The Press headlines that Minnesota wind power met renewable-mandate eleven years early, mostly because of North Dakota wind farms. No mention of all the dead migratory ducks, whooping cranes, eagles, and drones.

The Million-Dollar Man
, Lana del Rey