Saturday, May 16, 2015

What Do These Five (5) States Have In Common? -- May 16, 2015

Nevada, Vermont, North Dakota, Ohio, and Wisconsin?

These are the top five states where the middle class is being "destroyed."

Clearly North Dakota is the outlier:
  • Nevada: swaths of homes being foreclosed
  • Vermont: senior citizens feeling the economic crunch
  • North Dakota: Bakken middle class --> Bakken millionaires, raising cost of living for all
  • Ohio: rust belt
  • Wisconsin: governor has gutted the unions
The problem with all the 30-second sound bite on North Dakota -- the Bakken economy is predominantly felt in three sparsely populated counties in western North Dakota. I can't speak to the other states but the 30-second sound bites sound reasonable.

Q: What's Wrong With This Picture?
A: At Least Two Things, Maybe Three

US Census Bureau reports

California Wind In A Heap Of Trouble For Anyone Paying Attention -- May 16, 2015

[A huge "thank you" to a reader for sending me this link; this is an incredible story.]

Regular readers know that I feel very strongly that wind farms have no redeeming features. None. Nada. Nil. Zilch.

Second, only through blogging did I learn what nameplate capacity means.

Finally (well, maybe not finally, but enough for now), long term readers know that I feel strongly that wind farms are a huge scam.

Now we get this report from Platts regarding wind energy in California:
Wholesale power sales from wind generators in California in the first quarter of this year fell an eye-opening 32.7% compared to sales in the first quarter of 2014.
Forty-eight wind farms in California sold 1.304 million MWh of wind power in the California Independent System Operator market in the first quarter of 2015, compared to 1.936 million MWh sold in Q1 2014, according to data filed with FERC and other government agencies and compiled by Platts.
The roughly 630,000 MWh sales decline came despite a 197-MW increase in available wind capacity during the year. Capacity grew from 4,275 MW to 4,472 MW by the first quarter of 2015.
The state’s wind generators thus operated at a capacity factor of just 13.5% in the first quarter of 2015, a significant drop from the 21% capacity factor at which they operated in the first quarter of 2014.
The FERC wholesale wind power sales data shows that 42 out of 44 wind farms in California that had sales in the first quarter of 2014 have seen their Q1 2015 sales decline. There were four facilities that had no sales in Q4 2014.
One of the biggest declines has come at Pattern Energy’s 265-MW Ocotillo wind farm in the Imperial Valley, in the state’s most southern region. Ocotillo, which sells power to San Diego Gas & Electric, saw its sales fall 45.5% in the first quarter of this year over the first quarter of last.
So, let's parse this:
  • consultants usually provide the information their client wants to hear
  • there has been no global warming for 19 years; that's agreed by all
  • regardless of whatever global warming there might have been, it would not have been enough to affect the winds; any change in winds was due to "contemporary factors" such as the El Niño effect
  • developers over-promise nameplate capacity; wind energy (and solar energy) never comes close to nameplate capacity
Bottom line: if there's a significant decrease in wind energy in California, there needs to be another explanation than global warming changing the wind patterns in California.

So, going back to the story linked above.

If wind energy is a scam (wind farms for tax breaks) what could possibly explain the significant decline in wind energy knowing that trying to explain it with global warming is beyond "ridiculous."

Think about it. See if you can come up with a reason why wind energy in California has dropped off so much.


You are absolutely correct. If the developers got their money out of the farms already through tax credits, etc., not much reason to worry about preventive maintenance. My hunch is that lack of preventive maintenance is causing the significant decrease in energy provided by the wind farms.

[After the original post, a reader sent this, confirming what was already surmised:
Studies of UK and Denmark wind farms suggest their actual economic lives appear to be 12-15 years due to wear and tear. One of the unanticipated problems that arose with larger turbines is premature cracking failure of the main axial bearing(s). These failures arise from two very difficult engineering conditions. First is uneven loading. Wind speeds increase with altitude so the three blades, which span great distances, are never evenly loaded. The bearing(s) wobble under the tremendous forces generated. Second, braking when wind speed exceeds 25mph suddenly loads reverse torque on the axial side where previously unloaded (and wobbling) individual bearings are in natural misalignment to their trace. If things go ‘well’, cracking can be caught before catastrophic failure. It is expensive to repair. The blades must be detached so the turbine can be dismounted and sent back to the factory. 
Developers and promoters of wind farms, of course, base their economic projections on 30-year wind turbine lives.]

The consultants are a whole lot smarter than I am but they have clients to serve, vested interests as it were, and to blame prevailing winds on global warming is simply preposterous.

But even worse, if it is due to global warming, and global warming is already affecting wind patterns, it means that wind farm developers need to re-do all those wind studies before building more wind farms.

On top of all this, it makes the story at this link even more troubling. Wind energy is not going to be make up the hydroelectric power shortage due to California's drought.

Wind Turbine Life Spans

More on the subject of wind turbine life spans, and this was reported back in 2012:
Scotland's landscape could be blighted by the rotting remains of a failed regeneration of wind farms.
A study commissioned by the Renewable Energy Foundation has found that the economic life of onshore wind turbines could be far less than that predicted by the industry.
The “groundbreaking” research was carried out by academics at Edinburgh University and saw them look at years of wind farm performance data from the UK and Denmark.
The results appear to show that the output from windfarms — allowing for variations in wind speed and site characteristics — declines substantially as they get older.
By 10 years of age, the report found that the contribution of an average UK windfarm towards meeting electricity demand had declined by a third.
That reduction in performance leads the study team to believe that it will be uneconomic to operate windf arms for more than 12 to 15 years — at odds with industry predictions of a 20- to 25-year lifespan.
I think that's exactly what we will see in the US in 2020; I already saw it among the wind farms around Indio, California.

Wind Farm Pricing

National Review is reporting:
Evidence from market data suggests that wind power producers will accept prices down to about negative $35 MWh before they shut down, since marginal operating costs are very low for wind power we can conclude that the subsidies are worth about $35 – $40 for each MWh of wind output. 
Subsidies do this sort of thing – distort the market and lead to waste – and of course to some degree distorting the market is just what is intended when policymakers offer a subsidy. Only usually it isn’t so easy to see the evidence of the waste created by the subsidies. Wind turbines that operate more hours require more maintenance, so these hours spent producing negative-value electric power do consume real resources. At the same time, the conventionally-fueled generation that is forced offline temporarily will also face additional “wear-and-tear” and require additional maintenance because of the effects of shutting down and then restarting the machines. This extra wear-and-tear and extra maintenance also represents wasteful use of resources due to PTC- and REC-subsidized power production. 

Taxpayers Pay Wind Farms Not To Produce Electricity

Fox News is reporting:
Wind farms in the Pacific Northwest -- built with government subsidies and maintained with tax credits for every megawatt produced -- are now getting paid to shut down as the federal agency charged with managing the region's electricity grid says there's an oversupply of renewable power at certain times of the year.
The problem arose during the late spring and early summer last year. Rapid snow melt filled the Columbia River Basin. The water rushed through the 31 dams run by the Bonneville Power Administration, a federal agency based in Portland, Ore., allowing for peak hydropower generation. At the very same time, the wind howled, leading to maximum wind power production.
Demand could not keep up with supply, so BPA shut down the wind farms for nearly 200 hours over 38 days.
 The one place wind farms were probably most redundant: the Pacific Northwest where there was already an abundance of hydroelectric power.

An Example Of How Operators Can Minimize Production During Period Of Slump In Oil Prices -- May 16, 2015

This is for newbies, an example of how operators can cut back production during period of slumping oil prices:

The well:
  • 24799, A, CLR, Rollefstad Federal 7-3H-1, Antelope, no test date, probably completed around 2/14; cum 128K 3/15; 
Production profile:

PoolDateDaysBBLS OilRunsBBLS WaterMCF ProdMCF SoldVent/Flare

This is why it's literally impossible to predict what the Bakken will produce any given month.


This may be of interest to some readers along the same line: link here. The graphs are of interest; I'm not sure about the commentary. I'm posting it only for archival purposes. I have no idea about the veracity of the graphs.

Grilling Teriyaki Steak 

Link here

Marinade (overnight, if possible)
  • 120 mL soy sauce or tamari 
  • 120 mL dry sherry or mirin 
  • 60 mL peanut oil 
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, finely minced 
  • 1 tsp orange zest 
  • 1-2 tbsp grated fresh ginger 
800g-1kg skirt steak (around 200g-250g per person)

Random Update Of An Enerplus Well In Antelope Oil Field -- May 16, 2015

In these posts, I often make typographical and factual errors. I correct them when I am alerted to them. If this information is important to you, go to the source.

The well that first caught my attention on this pad:
  • 27591, 2,079, Enerplus, Monarch 152-94-32D-29H, 44 stages; 8.8 million lbs, a short lateral (one section / 640 acres); t12/14; cum 433K 10/18;
Target: C Zone in the middle Bakken. Trip gases as high as 3400 unis. Zones A, B, C, and E were discussed in the narrative. 

Sundry form received October 3, 2014, to place NGL units to reduce flaring, as well as a large-volume de-ethanizer (stabilizer unit).

Production profile: 

PoolDateDaysBBLS OilRunsBBLS WaterMCF ProdMCF SoldVent/Flare

This well is on a 5-well pad. The other wells:
  • 27590, 1,608, Viceroy 152-94-32D-29H TF, one section / 640 acres, t12/14; cum 492K 10/18;
  • 27589, 171 (no typo), Swallow Tail 152-94-32D-29H, Three Forks, 2nd bench, one section / 640 acres, 39 stages; 9.4 million lbs; t11/14; cum 456K 10/18;
  • 27588, 1,867, Snapper 152-94-33C-28H, 1280 acres, t11/14; cum 428K 10/18;
  • 27587, 2,188, Softshell 152-94-33C-28H TF, 1280 acres39 stages, 9.3 million lbs, t11/14; cum 727K 10/18;
Summary: it appears the "butterfly" wells on this 5-well pad will go directly north, and be 640-acre spacing. To date, there are three "butterfly" wells. The "turtle" wells will swing to the right (east) and go north, and be in 1280-acre spacing. There are two "turtle" wells on this 5-well pad so far. It appears that the wells will be fracked with 39 stages, using a huge amount of sand, in the range of 9.5 million lbs per sound. Although the Three Forks second bench had a low IP, it looks like it's a pretty good well.

The production profiles:

  • 27588, 1,867, Snapper 152-94-33C-28H, 1280 acres, t11/14; cum 348K 3/17;
PoolDateDaysBBLS OilRunsBBLS WaterMCF ProdMCF SoldVent/Flare

  • 27587, 2,188, Softshell 152-94-33C-28H TF, 1280 acres39 stages, 9.3 million lbs, t11/14; cum 619K 3/17
PoolDateDaysBBLS OilRunsBBLS WaterMCF ProdMCF SoldVent/Flare

  • 27589, 171 (no typo), Swallow Tail 152-94-32D-29H, Three Forks, 2nd bench, one section / 640 acres, 39 stages; 9.4 million lbs; t11/14; cum 382K 3/17;
PoolDateDaysBBLS OilRunsBBLS WaterMCF ProdMCF SoldVent/Flare

  • 27590, 1,608, Viceroy 152-94-32D-29H TF, one section / 640 acres, t12/14; cum 419K 3/17:
DateOil RunsMCF Sold


The wells in question are on a 5-well pad in Antelope oil field. Note their relationship to Clarks Creek, an incredibly good field. Also note that this area is an unusual area in the Bakken with 640-acre spacing. I did not show it but many (most?) of these areas are 1280-acre spacing units. The arrows show that three of the wells will go north in 640-acre spacing, and two horizontals will swing to the east and go north in 1280-acre spacing.

A Look At 2016 ObamaCare Premiums -- May 16, 2015

Investor Business Times is reporting:
Those who think their current health insurance plans are too expensive should brace themselves for 2016, at least based on the recent predictions of one healthcare executive. Health insurance companies are likely to demand even more money in the coming year from people seeking to buy healthcare.
"You cannot have every doctor in your network, very low copays, broad benefits and lower costs. It just can't work that way," [an analyst] said, calling such demands, including for insurance companies to charge lower premiums or monthly fees that people pay for to have insurance coverage, "unrealistic."
Under the Affordable Care Act, landmark legislation frequently referred to as Obamacare, more than 14 million people in the United States gained health insurance. Nearly 12 million people signed up for health coverage plans on exchanges created under Obamacare, and the law, despite being controversial, has been widely credited with making health insurance and medical care more affordable and accessible to millions across the country. Nearly nine out of 10 adults in the U.S. have health insurance, a Gallup poll published in April showed -- the lowest-ever rate of uninsured people in the United States.
Costs were likely to go up because a high percentage of those who had newly bought health insurance through the Affordable Care Act needed expensive medical care that, until they bought insurance, had been delayed. As a result, health insurers were finding they had to spend more to cover the expensive medical bills, and because fewer younger -- and presumably healthier -- people had signed up for coverage, companies had smaller pool of funding to draw on.
Even as premiums might be about to go up, a study published Thursday by the consumer healthcare nonprofit group Families USA showed that one out of four adults who bought health insurance through exchanges created under the Affordable Care Act skipped necessary medical treatment because the care was too expensive. These adults had paid monthly premiums, some of them subsidized by the government, for health insurance but were nevertheless unable to afford the very care it was supposed to provide.
ObamaCare: The HealthCare Act That Keeps On Giving

The AP is reporting:
The Health Insurance Providers Fee was aimed at insurance companies. The thinking went: Because insurers would gain a windfall of customers, they ought to help pay for the expansion of coverage. Insurers say they have raised prices for individuals and small businesses to cover the new tax.
As it turns out, they are raising their prices to state Medicaid programs, too.
The federal government issued guidance in October requiring states to build the tax into what they pay for-profit Medicaid health plans that serve low-income people. The first year's tax was due to the IRS in September, and state governments are now settling up with insurance companies.
It works like this: State governments pay insurers for the tax. The insurers then pay the tax to the federal government. The federal government then reimburses part of the cost to the states.
It may sound absurd, but it's not amusing to state governments, which wind up losing 54 cents for every dollar of the insurance tax. State taxpayers end up the biggest losers, without any added benefit to their state's low-income Medicaid patients.
Remember: the health care industry wrote the law. And folks still write to tell me how wrong I am on ObamaCare. Some folks aren't paying attention. 

Too lat now, but the mainstream media is finally paying attention. 

California Drought Causing Problems For The Grid -- May 16, 2015


Later, 11:11 p.m. CT: according to Platts, wholesale power sales from wind generators in California in the first quarter of this year fell an eye-opening 32.7% compared to sales in the first quarter of 2014.
Original Post
Wow, this is the result of what we used to call PPP -- piss-poor planning -- when I was an employee of the US Department of Defense. Look at this staggering statistic, reported by The Los Angeles Times:
In the 1950s, hydropower supplied almost 60% of the state's electricity. Now, it provides 14% to 19% in a normal year, and even less during a drought — accounting for about 8% of the state's total power last year. Renewable energy, on the other hand, provided more than 20%, according to the California Energy Commission.
Then this:
Making up the difference from less hydropower has not been cheap. The cost to California ratepayers could have been as high as $1.4 billion from 2012 through 2014.
Renewable energy, especially solar, helped make up for about 55% of the reduction in hydroelectricity in 2013 and 2014, state officials said. Natural-gas-fired power made up the rest.
Shasta Dam, looming more than 600 feet tall and gatekeeper of the largest man-made lake in California, was designed to perform two crucial functions: Store water and generate power.
And for decades, the massive concrete structure has channeled water to cities and farms while generating up to 710 megawatts of hydropower, enough to provide electricity for more than 532,000 homes.
But amid four years of drought, the reservoir is drained to 50% of capacity, cutting the dam's power production by about a third, according to federal reclamation officials.
The story is the same at many dams across California, where electricity production at some is expected to be less than 20% of normal because of low water levels. 
The shortfall shouldn't cause brownouts, officials said, because California relies on dams for power far less than it did in decades past, due in part to the emergence of solar and wind energy.
And herein likes the problem: the tea leaves suggest renewable energy in California has picked the low-hanging fruit; it only gets more difficult from here on out. 

This is the other problem: solar and wind energy cannot be turned on and off when needed / not needed. Only conventional power plants can do that. Again, from The Los Angeles Times:
A reduced supply from dams forces the grid operator to turn to more expensive sources of power, such as natural gas, which also enlarges the state's carbon footprint.
Unlike solar or wind-produced power, which depend on whether the sun comes out or the wind is blowing, hydropower is more controllable, officials said. At reservoirs, officials can turn a valve to increase the water flow whenever more electricity is needed. Energy suppliers rely on hydro as reserve power, and as a quick way to respond to surges in demand for electricity.
In drought years, it's a difficult balancing act because hydropower isn't always an immediate option.
Any thoughts on how the state will try to make up for reduced hydropower? That's a rhetorical question; please don't respond.

I Hardly Think You Can Blame This On The Koch Brothers -- May 16, 2015

Ecowatch is reporting:
Throughout the last two decades state after state has passed renewable energy standards, often with big bipartisan majorities, as investment in technologies like wind and solar held great promise for economic growth and job creation in addition to cutting greenhouse gas emissions that drive climate change and decreasing air pollution.
But in the last few years, pressed by fossil fuel businesses such as Koch Industries and advocacy groups funded by the Koch brothers, including Americans for Prosperity and the American Legislative Exchange Counsel (ALEC), bills have been introduced in state after state to repeal these standards. And in a few states, such as Ohio and West Virginia, they’ve succeeded.
Now Kansas is following in their footsteps. This week the legislature voted to repeal its mandatory renewable portfolio standard (RPS), passed in 2009, and replace it with a voluntary standard. It passed overwhelming, 105-16 in the Kansas House and 35-3 in its Senate.
The legislation is now headed for Gov. Sam Brownback’s desk, and he’s certain to sign it, given that it was unveiled at a press conference last week held by Gov. Brownback and legislative leaders at which he said it “further solidifies and stabilizes the policy environment so that investment can continue in Kansas.” The Wichita Eagle noted that Mike Morgan, a lobbyist for Kansas-based Koch Industries, was also present at the news conference.
It will be interesting to see how the economy of Kansas does over the next decade.

A much better source, The Wall Street Journal had another interesting story about Kansas. In addition to going "voluntary" on renewable energy, the state is also cutting unemployment numbers by cutting taxes: Unemployment has dropped to 4.2% from 5.5% in 2013, and wages and job growth are steadily climbing.
“If your objective is to grow the economy, would you rather put more money into government, or leave it in the hands of small business?” Mr. Brownback asks during a recent interview in his office at the state capitol.
Three years ago Kansas enacted the biggest tax cut of any state, relative to the size of its economy, in recent history. Lawmakers reduced the top rate on the personal income tax to 4.9% from 6.45%.
They also eliminated the income tax for small business owners who file as individuals, a broad group that includes sole proprietors, limited liability partnerships and S-corporations.
The governor declared that Kansas was “open for business” in such strong terms that he might as well have donned a sandwich board reading “Come to Kansas / Keep Everything You Earn.” He boasted: “Our new pro-growth tax policy will be like a shot of adrenaline into the heart of the Kansas economy.”

$4 Gasoline Returns To California -- May 16, 2015; Well, Sort Of; ISIS Flag Raised Over Ramadi; DOD Says Situation Is "Fluid"

The Los Angeles Times is reporting: $4 gasoline returns -- just in time for the summer driving season.

From GasBuddy:

Update On Isis Outside of Baghdad

CNN is reporting in the last 24 hours:
The months-long fight for the key central Iraqi city of Ramadi now appears to be going ISIS's way, with the Islamist extremist group capturing police headquarters, the Ramadi Great Mosque and even raising its trademark black flag over the provincial government building.
The ISIS push began Thursday, with armored bulldozers and at least 10 suicide bombings used to burst through gates and blast through walls in Ramadi, according to a security source who has since left the city. Dozens of militants followed them into the city center.
So, the latest offensive began on Thursday evening and looks like it was over by Friday evening. This is the JV team. On its way to Baghdad. The New York Times is reporting the same thing but in greater detail.
The new jihadist assault began under the cover of darkness late Thursday, starting with a wave of suicide attacks by clean-shaven fighters driving armored Humvees and dressed in Iraqi Army uniforms.
As fighters for the Islamic State advanced on Friday, there were reports of massacres. Sheikh Omar Shihan al-Alwani, a tribal leader whose men have been fighting the Islamic State there, said more than a dozen families had been killed in his area of Ramadi, along with about 50 policemen and tribal fighters.
“We asked our fighters to leave their weapons and withdraw,” he said. “Otherwise, we would lose them all.”
Flashback, December 10, 2014: ISIS is stalled, can't take Baghdad -- International Business Times.  However, it should be noted:
The rise of the Islamic State group has prompted Barack Obama to say that ISIL is one of the biggest threats America faces. “ISIL is a terrorist organization, pure and simple. And it has no vision other than the slaughter of all who stand in its way,” the president said in an address to the nation in September, 2014.
What sets Obama apart is his ideological rigidity and fathomless ignorance....  WSJ, link here.

T-Rex Oil To Purchase Williston Basin Acres In Montana For $450/Acre -- May 16, 2015

From the Press Release:
T-Rex Oil, Inc., an independent energy company engaged in the exploration, development, production and acquisition of oil and natural gas resources, with an emphasis on oil plays and with a focus on Rocky Mountain region, today announced that it had entered into a letter of intent to purchase 16,100 net mineral acres in the Williston Basin with access to the Madison, Bakken, Three Forks, and Red River Formations. 
Located in Daniels County, Montana, the net acreage is comprised of 36 leases that have approximately a 24 month life with a net revenue interest of 80% with a right to renew for 3 years.
The Company intends to purchase the undeveloped acreage for a price of $7,000,000 through a combination of cash, debt and equity and expects to close on the purchase in July 2015, subject to satisfactory due diligence.
Note: this is in Montana. Daniel County is the "second Montana county" west of North Dakota, along the Canadian border. It is west of Sheridan County (Montana) which borders North Dakota's Divide County. It is northwest of Roosevelt County (Montana) directly west of Williston, which is north of Richland County, the main Bakken play in Montana.

At $7 million for 16,100 net mineral acres: about $450/acre.

ONEOK To Activate Second Lateral In Pipeline From Bakken/Niobrara To Colorado -- May 16, 2015

Argus Media is reporting:
Oneok Partners today filed to activate a second lateral on its Oneok Bakken pipeline that moves mixed NGLs from the Bakken and Niobrara shale formations to Colorado.
Oneok began initial flow on the Little Missouri lateral on March 2, 2015, but failed to file for the tariff upon completion of the line because of an administrative oversight, the company said in a filing to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) today.
The lateral in McKenzie County, North Dakota, connects to the mainline system with a lateral fee set at $0.2988/bl (0.71¢/USG). Fees at the alternative Niobrara lateral that originates in Converse and Niobrara counties in Wyoming were set at $0.42/bl (1¢/USG).
The Oneok Bakken pipeline moves y-grade from origin points in North Dakota, Wyoming and Montana to connect with the Overland Pass pipeline in Weld County, Colorado. The rate between origins and the interconnection in Colorado stands at $3.4906/bl (8.31¢/USG).
The pipeline is currently moving about 70,000 b/d, Oneok said in its latest earnings report. Phase two of the pipeline is expected to finish in the second quarter of 2016, and will ramp up to 85,000 b/d.

I-98: Episode Six -- The Derailment

a syndicated television series spanning one decade, 2040 - 2049
Chronicles from The Bakken
Starring Samuel "Oilman" Goshwin & Liam Nikolai Gjorkstad
with occasional appearances by Archie McCool
initial funding from Apple Prairie Broadcasting  
matching grant money from The Legacy Fund
continuing support from viewers like you.

In the last episode, Thelma and Louise were headed west on the BHTR&A BNSF Bullet Train, more commonly called the "Bakken Bullet Express," Amtrak's bullet train from Chicago to Williston. They had gotten on at Chicago. There would be one stop at Bloomberg's Mall of America and then no more stops until Northstar Center, Williston, heart of the Bakken.

The BBE (or as the locals called it, the "BB King") was inaugurated one year after the second Bakken boom. The first Bakken boom had begun in North Dakota in 2007; the price of oil subsequently collapsed which ultimately set up a price spike to $200 oil and a second Bakken boom in the late 2020's. Hindsight suggested that would happen, but no one saw it coming until 2020. As they say, hindsight is 2020.

Did "we" say one stop between Chicago and Williston? Thelma and Louise were unaware -- in fact, everyone was unaware -- there would be two additional stops this fateful day. And no stop at the Mall of America as scheduled. 

Sam and Liam were still sitting at a little picnic table in Rugby, ND, underneath wind turbines frozen in time, waiting for BB King. Liam had successfully reached Warren Buffett III's office and had spoken with a secretary whose last name was "Munger" or something like that -- Sprint-Verizon-AOL reception had gotten worse ever since the last merger. Yes, Ms Munger (or whatever her name was) confirmed with Liam that Warren Buffett III had okayed an unscheduled stop at Rugby.

3:30 p.m.

Amtrak had not stopped at the Mall of America. Due to a bit of unrest in downtown Minneapolis earlier in the day, the Bloomberg mayor asked the mall to give the activists a bit of room to destroy things, starting with some of the anchor stores at the Mall of America.

Amtrak thought it best not to become part of the 5:30 Evening News With Brian Williams and bypassed the Mall of America, creeping by at 5 mph so passengers could gawk. (Brian Williams had passed on many years ago but the ratings had been so good that MSNBCAl Jazeera brought him back via a 3-D hologram.)

4:20 p.m.

The initial reports were sketchy but it appears the BB King derailed on a curve leaving Fargo. It appears that the bullet train entered the curve just as the train was halfway through the switch, as noted in the graphic below. The switchman switched the tracks a moment too early. The engine and the first three passenger cars made it safely but the last six Amtrak cars left the track. "Leaving the track" is a phrase no passenger likes to see in the same sentence in which Amtrak is mentioned.

UND drones were the first to spot the derailment. The Amtrak engineer of course was oblivious to any problem behind him but reported some days later that he thought it strange that his train suddenly accelerated. He said it was if, and I quote exactly: "It was as if I had just lost six cars."

It wasn't until he reached Gardner, North Dakota, some 25 miles to the north that the engineer was aware of what happened.

The engineer, Eric Kjorstadsonson was a stoic Norwegian. When the radio call came in that he lost six cars back in Fargo, he said, and I quote exactly: "Uff da."

Sven Olalfson, the second engineer's only comment was, "Well, it could have been worse. We could have been in one of those cars." Not likely. Most Amtrak engines were at the front of the train, not somewhere in the middle. Although at one time there had been talk of putting Amtrak engines in the middle of the train so the engineers would be closer to the dining car.

5:00 p.m.

Rugby was approaching. Actually, more accurately, Rugby was standing still; but the Amtrak train was approaching. On the other hand, Einstein's theory of relativity would not differentiate between what was approaching what. A bystander in Devil's Lake would not be able to tell whether Rugby was approaching the train or whether the train was approaching Rugby. The more interesting question was whether Schrödinger's cat in one of the passenger cars that derailed back in Fargo was dead or alive. Alex Schrödinger, who never traveled without his cat, had boarded the BB King in Chicago along with Thelma and Louise, and had been in one of the cars that derailed.

(It turns out that due to a quirk in the Unified Theory of Everything developed by Al Gore back in 1997, the cat was neither dead nor alive. The cat was in what Al Gore described as a "relativity lockbox" -- a place where things go when Einstein's theory of relativity can't explain how things disappear, particularly federal tax revenue. The "1997 theory" -- his Unified Theory of Everything -- was in his last note before he died. In the note says he did not release this theory in 1997 because he was miffed that there were some people who thought his "Global Warming Theory" was wrong. He felt if people did not believe his global warming theory, they would never take his Unified Theory of Everything seriously, and he was just too old to continue the fight. He left his theory in a PowerPoint presentation and then sent it to Hillary Clinton where it was lost in her private e-mail server. It was only in 2017 that the FBI was able to find the lost e-mails. Unfortunately, Microsoft-Apple no longer supported PowerPoint in 2017 and the presentation has never been decoded.)


Liam and Sam were about a mile away when they first saw the BB King.

Liam: "Is that the train?"

Sam: "I believe so. Looks shorter than usual."

Liam: "That's because of Einstein's theory of relativity. At that speed, the train seems to be shorter than it really is. No, his theory suggests just the opposite. At that speed, the train should be longer than it really is. I don't know. I'm confused."

The train rolled to a stop. Martha Syverton-Jacobson remembers the day BB King stopped in Rugby. 
"It had never happened before. In their last American tour, the Rolling Stones had played in Rugby, but BB King never came to Rugby. Oh, you mean the train. Oh, I don't know anything about any train called BB King. The only thing that happens around here are those dang WBR&C oil trains that keep going off the track and blowing up. It's worse than Casselton. Casselton gets all the press because it's closer to Fargo."
The train had hardly come to a full stop before Sam and Liam arrived on scene.

Sam: "It is shorter than usual. Only three cars. Used to be nine."

Liam: "Amtrak cutbacks?"

Sam: "Something like that, I suppose. Let's go."

[Camera pulls back. Schrödinger's cat is seen leaving one of the passenger cars. Sam and Liam are seen getting into the car. The light snow continues to fall. The voice over: "Next stop Williston, the heart of the Bakken. Were Thelma and Louise derailed or are they on the train? What adventures await Sam and Liam in Williston?"]

One seldom sees "adventures" uses in the same sentence as "Williston." But, then, this is the Bakken.

Reason #256,794 Why I Love To Blog -- Beating The WSJ To The Story

Yesterday, in response to notes Don sent me, I posted blogs suggesting there may be concern that "the US economy is showing signs of tipping toward recession."

These were my two recent posts:
Now, less then 36 hours later, the Wall Street Journal  is reporting the same thing. Not only that, but the story is the lead story, top story on page one of today's issue (the link above).

The story:
A slew of recent soft economic data has fueled fresh expectations of dimmer U.S. growth, underscoring the already-anemic economy’s unusual vulnerability to even fleeting shocks.
This softness—with output possibly flat for the first half of 2015—looks set to give Federal Reserve officials pause as they eye when to raise short-term interest rates from near zero.
Fed officials see many indications of underlying strength: Companies are hiring, while incomes and wealth are rising.
A variety of other indicators, though, tell a less upbeat story. The Fed on Friday reported U.S. industrial production contracted in April for the fifth straight month, down a seasonally adjusted 0.3% from the month before. A University of Michigan index of consumer sentiment also dropped. Soft April retail-sales data and dismal trade numbers, both released during the past week, had already led analysts to reduce their estimates of growth.
Wall Street analysts are now marking down estimates for second-quarter growth, and many expect the first quarter to get revised down into negative territory. J.P. Morgan economists see a growth rate of just 0.5% for the first half.
By the way, regular readers were very, very aware that the Bloomberg industrial production story did not even use the word "contraction." It was hard to sort out exactly what industrial production did in April based on the way Bloomberg reported the story. At least I don't recall the word "contraction." Memo to self: check the spelling on obfuscation.

Someone has pointed out that much of the "personal income growth" in the US is coming from passive investments, not "true" productivity. To what extent that is true I certainly don't know, and perhaps the analysts factor that out, anyway. As one example, my social security income at full retirement age has increased significantly over the past few years -- when I start taking my social security my personal income will increase significantly and yet my "true" production will probalby decrease. Apparently the number of folks taking social security at first opportunity has been incrasing which would raise the "personal income" across the board. Unless social security if factored out, and for all I know it is.

Dickinson To Get New Cash Wise Store -- May 16, 2015

The Dickinson Press is reporting:
The company poured about $6 million into improvements on the building to bring its vision to fruition. That vision includes a store that provides low-priced grocery items to customers.
Sellers said the store will provide bulk-food options and organic items that are otherwise difficult to find in Dickinson. The store also plans to have a sushi, soup and salad bar.
But Sellers said one of his favorite sections of the new store is a long butcher table, which will add an old-time feel to an otherwise modern store.
“You are going to have that old-block butcher feel,” he said.
Pretty exciting. I have been quite impressed with the Cash Wise store in Williston. I do not recall if the Cash Wise store in Williston had a sushi bar. Lutefisk bar, perhaps.

Production Will Continue To Increase, Though At A Slower Pace -- May 16, 2015

From Wood Mackenzie via Rigzone:
U.S. Lower 48 oil production will continue to grow, but at a much slower pace than expected this time a year ago as lower oil prices impact production and industry capital expenditures, according to recent analysis by Wood Mackenzie.
However, a Wood Mackenzie analyst emphasized that the firm doesn’t expect an annual trend of declining production to occur until oil prices remain at $50/barrel for a two-year period.
Lower 48 production grew by 1.1 million barrels per day (bpd) during 2014, but Wood Mackenzie expects the rate of growth to decline going forward, with 675,000 bpd incremental production forecast for 2015 and 425,000 bpd of incremental production growth in 2016.
As a result, Wood Mackenzie estimates a long-term impact of this growth to be 800,000 bpd by the end of the decade. Due to the reductions and cuts in rig activity, which happened more quickly than Wood Mackenzie expected, the firm anticipates seeing a flattening and plateau of monthly production in mid-2015.
Beyond that, month-over-month declines in production could occur in the second half of 2015 as static comes out of the North America supply story, particularly for tight oil, over the next couple of years.

Week 19: May 10, 2015 -- May 16, 2015

North Dakota crude oil production surprises analysts
Director's Cut, March, 2015 data
Rigs hit post-boom low
American Eagle files for bankruptcy
Operators experiment on ways to cut costs
Random update of a Sinclair pad in McKenzie County

Bakken 101

Natural gas to power pad operations

Bakken economy
Taxable sales and purchases hit new record  

Bakken oil to be shipped to Alaska
Hawkeye-Madison G-613 soon to celebrate 56 years of production