Wednesday, June 3, 2015

North Dakota Has The Nation's First Unmanned Airport -- June 3, 2015

A reader sent me a link to an article from The Washington Times about drones and North Dakota. It was very interesting, but too superficial. I told the reader I was looking forward to the day when The New York Times did a story on the subject. The reader suggested I google the subject and see what pops up. Wow, this is a very, very good article, from Emerging Prairie. It's a very, very impressive story. Highly recommend it.

It certainly appears North Dakota is leading the nation in drone research and testing.
In addition to meeting FAA regulations, North Dakota’s 4 season climate and unencumbered airspace are beneficial for test flights.
It now makes sense why North Dakota got FAA approval for this endeavor and California did not.  Another neat thing, something I knew but did not think about it in these terms, North Dakota has the nation's first unmanned airport: Grand Sky.
Grand Sky operates 217 acres in Grand Forks, ND, which includes an Air Force runway that is a registered Northern Plains FAA test site. The full package includes safe airspace to test fly, connection to local investors interested in the UAS industry, and access to a UAS data communication infrastructure.
Pretty cool. And then this:
Another perk for the North Dakota drones is that they can be used in collaboration with the two other mega-giants driving the state: energy and agriculture. Doug Goehring, Commissioner of North Dakota Department of Agriculture, traced back through the advancements seen in agriculture – from the plow to the GPS – showing how this tech has advanced more in the past two decades than ever before.
This is pretty exciting.  Background / earlier post same subject back on May 10, 2015.

Peak Oil? What Peak Oil -- Reports Of A Massive Shale Oil Field North Of The Bakken -- Way North -- Something For The Granddaughters To Follow, Eh? -- June 3, 2015

I blogged about this on February 4, 2013

North to Canada, is reporting:
The Canadian oil industry is associated mostly with the bitumen recovered from reserves such as the Alberta tar sands, but recent data from the National Energy Board (NEB) and the Northwest Territories Geological Survey has revealed a shale oil reserve that could rival the Bakken formation.
The massive, untapped oil reserve could hold upwards of 200 billion barrels of shale oil. Of these reserves, though, officials predict that with current technology approximately 7 billion barrels of oil could be recovered economically. For comparison, the U.S. Geological Survey estimates that the Bakken shale formation could produce around 7.4 billion barrels.
The area, located in the Northwest Territories, is north of British Columbia and east of the Yukon 90 miles south of the Arctic Circle. One of the formations, known as the Canol field, is already being explored by several major oil producers such as Royal Dutch Shell and ConocoPhillips.
There have been 14 exploration licenses granted with $628 million in commitments. The Canol field is estimated to hold up to 145 billion barrels of oil. The other formation, the Bluefish field, has yet to be explored but is estimated to contain as much as 46 billion barrels of oil.
Tapping this massive resource is likely a long ways off, though. The remote area lacks basic, necessary infrastructure such as all-season roads, and a pipeline system would need to be built to transport the recovered oil and gas to market.
Tagged: Canol-Bluefish.

Born To Be Wild, Steppenwolf

Eleven (11) New Permits -- North Dakota, June 3, 2015

Active rigs:

Active Rigs81190189215171

Eleven (11) new permits --
  • Operators: Oasis (5), CLR (4), Whiting (2)
    Fields: Siverston (McKenzie), Brooklyn (Williams), Sanish (Mountrail)
    Comments: with regard to the new Oasis permits, see this link; the Brooklyn field never ceases to surprise me; CLR has permits for a 4-well pad in Brooklyn oil field; two will run north; two will run south; see below
Oasis canceled two permits, both in Williams County, the Mad Dublin permit and a Lake Trenton permit; Whiting canceled a Peterson Federal well in Mountrail.

Wells coming off the confidential list Thursday:
27776, 811, EOG, Wayzetta 52-3334H, Parshall, t12/14; cum 52K 4/15;
28890, drl/NC, SM Energy, Stenehjem 15-9HB, Poe, no production data,
29051, SI/NC, BR, Deking 1-8-34MBH-ULW, Camel Butte, no production data,
29886, 348, Hess, EN-Cvancara-155-93-1522H-10, Alger, t5/15; cum 4K 4/15;


CLR's proposed four well pad (or two neighboring two-well pads):

Oasis: Another Proposed 5-Well Pad In Same Section With Proposed 7-Well Pad; Siverston Oil Field, The Bakken -- North Dakota, June 3, 2015

Yesterday, NDIC issued permits for a 7-well pad in NENW quadrant of section 18-151-98, Siverston oil field. Today, NDIC issued permits for a 5-well pad in that same section, in the NENE quadrant.

This Is Not An Investment Site; Do Not Make Any Investment Or Financial Decisions Based On Anything You Read Here Or Think You May Have Read Here -- June 3, 2015

After reports that Warren dropped to 3rd place on the world's-richest-people list, let's see how BRK-B is doing: at 144, off its high of 153 some time ago, but up today.

Earlier there was a 24/7 Wall Street article asking whether ATT and Verizon were in trouble. ATT is near its all-time highs, is up today, and is paying ... drum roll ... 5.4%.

After the Intel-Altera announcement, let's see what XLNX is doing: near its all-time high; up a bit today, and paying ... drum roll ... 2.6%. Intel paid a 56% premium for Altera -- pre-announcement price vs buy price.

I don't look at the oil companies right now (with some exceptions, the midstream companies). Waiting until the dust settles.

But MDU is in the news again with its announcement that Fidelity is back on the market. For archival purposes, MDU is trading at $21 -- well down from its 52-week high of $35. Best fit for Fidelity? Whiting. Location, location, location.

So, what else? Jamie Dimon is in the news. I don't follow his banks, but I have followed BK for years because of its interesting niche twenty years ago. It's trading near its 52-week high and paying 1.6%.

I hate to see what the railroads are doing, so won't look.

Enough of this.

A Note to the Granddaughters

Looking forward to the pool this afternoon with our youngest granddaughter who turns one-year-old later this month. We got started a bit late with this one in the pool and it shows. She is timid around water, but I figure one more week with her and she will be comfortable in the pool.

It looks like she will be a bit more like the middle granddaughter (age 8) who took a bit of time getting used to the water. The older granddaughter (age 11) was a tadpole by the age of six months.

From the archives, summer, 2007, Summerville, South Carolina, on our way to the neighborhood swimming pool, about a half-mile walk -- and yes, she walked the half-mile carrying her noodle.

Oldest granddaughter
Summerville, South Carolina

In July, 2007, our oldest granddaughter turned four years of age. And now she's playing championship Texas water polo.

Jobs Jump; High-Paying Jobs Lost; Minimun Wage Jobs Surge -- May 3, 2015

Prologue: The Magic Numbers
First time claims, unemployment benefits: 400,000 (> 400,000: economic stagnation)
New jobs: 200,000 (< 200,000 new jobs: economic stagnation)
Economists estimate the labor market needs to create about 125,000 jobs a month to keep the unemployment rate steady, though estimates vary -- Reuters
I will stick with 200,000 (the "magic number" prior to the Obama administration) -- it's a nicer, "rounder" number to remember.

Over the first two years that I had been posting these updates, it had become clear/obvious that the figures were often suspect, if not outright falsified. On November 18, 2013, it was reported that, indeed, unemployment figures have been falsified.
In the home stretch of the 2012 presidential campaign, from August to September, the unemployment rate fell sharply — raising eyebrows from Wall Street to Washington. 
The decline — from 8.1 percent in August to 7.8 percent in September — might not have been all it seemed. The numbers, according to a reliable source, were manipulated. 
And the Census Bureau, which does the unemployment survey, knew it.
 Take the numbers for what they are worth, I guess. Not much. As so much else with ObamaNation.
Anyway, all that prologue for background for today's jobs story. The AP is reporting:
U.S. companies stepped up hiring in May, a private survey found, evidence that employers remain confident in the economy even after it contracted at the start of the year. 
Payroll processor ADP said Wednesday that businesses added 201,000 jobs last month, up from just 165,000 in the previous month. April's increase was the smallest in a year and a half.
The figures suggest that the economy is recovering after it shrank at a 0.7 percent annual rate in the first quarter. 
The economy is recovering? After seven years and gazillions of dollars in stimulus? I would hope so.
Of course, back in April when the job growth was 165,000, the mainstream media said that although low, things were looking up. And so now, after a gazillion dollars in stimulus, seven years of "recovery," we're back to 201,000 jobs -- and before the Obama administration moved the goal posts -- where 200,000 jobs were a "minimum" to prevent economic stagnation.

The bad news: the increase is in low-paying minimum wage jobs:
Manufacturers cut 5,000 jobs, the third straight monthly decline. The drop in factory jobs likely reflects the impact of the stronger dollar, which makes U.S. goods more expensive overseas and cuts into export sales. 
Services were the main driver of job growth, adding 192,000 jobs. Those gains were led by shipping, retail, and professional and business services, which includes higher-paying industries such as accounting and engineering.
"The drop in factory jobs likely reflects the impact of the stronger dollar." I doubt the stronger dollar has anything to do with this. It's all about the rig count. It's all about the oil and gas industry being hammered. It's all about the anti-growth sentiment in DC. It's all about the Keystone being killed. It's all about the Sandpiper being sandbagged. Get those projects going, and high-paying manufacturing jobs will come back in a heartbeat. 

Entirely Unexpected? Not. -- MDU's Fidelity Back Up For Sale -- June, 3, 2015

From The Bismarck Tribune:
Fidelity Exploration & Production Company, an oil production company owned by MDU Resources Group Inc., is up for sale again.
MDU had taken Fidelity off the market when crude oil prices dropped at the end of last year with the intention of selling it when higher prices returned. The company plans to use the money from the sale to pay for investments at its other subsidiaries.
“After a thorough review, we concluded the timing was appropriate to move forward with the marketing and sale process,” CEO Dave Goodin said in a statement.
The company's five-year, $3.9 billion capital investment program includes investments in its utility, pipeline and energy services and construction businesses.
MDU's Dakota Prairie refinery also started selling diesel products May 15.
Entirely unexpected? Not really, but it was all I could find for the segue:

Euphorbia, Devil Or Angel? -- June 3, 2015

Due to overwhelming demand, I am re-posting this, in its entirety, from earlier today:

Trivia for the day: botanists are fascinated by Euphorbia, a large and diverse genus of flowering plants, due to the diversity or bizarreness of some of the floral structures, and by the range of growth forms and adaptations to such a wide range of habitats. North Dakotans love Euphorbia at Christmas (poinsettas) but otherwise hate it (leafy spurge). Leafy spurge is considered a noxious weed under North Dakota law; landowners are required to eradicate or control the spread of the plant.

I was looking for an excuse to post this song, which flashed across my mind last night, Euphorbia, devil or angel?

Devil or Angel, Bobby Vee

Oh, how can I resist? Bobby Vee is a North Dakota native, born in Fargo, ND, in 1943. From wiki:
Vee's career began amid tragedy. On "The Day the Music Died" (February 3, 1959), the three headline acts in the line-up of the traveling 'Winter Dance Party'—Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper—were killed, along with 21-year-old pilot Roger Peterson, in the crash of a 1947 Beechcraft Bonanza near Clear Lake, Iowa, while en route to the next show on the tour itinerary in Moorhead, Minnesota.
Velline, then aged 15, and a hastily-assembled band of Fargo, North Dakota, schoolboys calling themselves the Shadows volunteered for and were given the unenviable job of filling in for Holly and his band at the Moorhead engagement.
Their performance there was a success, setting in motion a chain of events that led to Vee's career as a popular singer.

See also:
  • 29789, drl/NC, Enerplus, Euphorbia 149-92-35B-05H, Heart Butte
By the way, and this is important, also from wiki:
Among laypersons, Euphorbias are among the most commonly confused plant taxa with cacti, especially the stem succulents.
Euphorbias secrete a sticky, milky-white fluid with latex, but cacti do not.
Individual flowers of Euphorbias are usually tiny and nondescript (although structures around the individual flowers may not be), without petals and sepals, unlike cacti, which often have fantastically showy flowers.
Euphorbias from desert habitats with growth forms similar to cacti have thorns, which are different than the spines of cacti.
When I get the energy, I will come back to:
  • the wooly torch (#31187)
  • the ocotillo (#31288)
  • the saguaro (#29790)
  • the euphorbia (#29789)
  • the cactus (#29788)
  • the rebutia (#29819)

Globally, North Dakota Ranks 20th In Oil Production

Jane Nielson sent me this link: North Dakota Bakken is a global "player" in oil.
Many individual U.S. states, not just the nation as a whole, are now ranked among the top energy producers in the entire world.
Overall, the United States is the third largest crude oil producing nation in the world, next to Russia and Saudi Arabia. Although North Dakota’s production trails far behind Texas, the king of domestic oil production, the Rough Rider State’s production rate of 1.1 million barrels per day secures [North Dakota's] spot as the 20th largest producer in the world due to the exploitation of the region’s tight oil formations.
Although other countries have significant oil and gas reserves locked in tight shale plays as well, the U.S. is the only nation that has capitalized on the resource.
Actually, I was joking. Jane Nielson did not send me that link, but I'm sure she's aware of the story; she has followed the Bakken since at least 2012.  As Jane said so famously years ago:
Don’t believe it. There’s some oil to be gotten out of Bakken, and it’s going to be exploited. But the “bonanza” is nothing but hype.

Corn Ethanol Produces 20% More CO2 Than "Standard" Gasoline; 10% More Than Tar Sands -- Don't Confuse Me With The Facts -- June 3, 2015

This is really cool. I posted this story last December:

Ethanol More "Polluting" Than Gasoline -- U of Minnesota Peer-Reviewed Study
Coal-Powered Cars Not Much Better, Either

CBS Local is reporting
One of the most surprising findings is that ethanol might actually be worse for air quality than conventional gasoline fueled transportation.
Researchers looked not only at the end result at the tailpipes but also took into account the full cycle of energy production. For instance, the authors calculated the entire pollutant stream, meaning everything generated from the growing of the corn to the process used to turn it into ethanol.
In addition, they extrapolated the pollutants of electric vehicles when the electricity used to recharge the batteries is generated by the burning of coal.
“And we found that some options available to us, like corn ethanol or electricity from coal used in electric vehicles, actually make the air much worse,” assistant professor Jason Hill said.
The source for that story: the University of Minnesota.

Actually it's even worse -- worse than fossil fuel. Bloomberg View is reporting:
For years, environmental activists have opposed the Keystone XL pipeline, claiming that development of Canada’s oil sands will be “game over for the climate.” But if those same activists are sincere about climate change, why aren’t they getting arrested outside the White House to protest the use of corn ethanol? 
That’s a pertinent question, given a new analysis from the Environmental Working Group, which finds that corn ethanol produces more carbon dioxide than Keystone XL would -- presuming, of course, that the pipeline ever gets built. Making the issue even more relevant, last Friday, the EPA outlined new requirements for the minimum amounts of ethanol that retailers must blend into their gasoline
In a May 29 report, Emily Cassidy, a research analyst at EWG, says that “last year’s production and use of 14 billion gallons of corn ethanol resulted in 27 million tons more carbon emissions than if Americans had used straight gasoline in their vehicles.” [Don't confuse me with the facts.]
She continues, “That’s worse than Keystone’s projected emissions.” (Another environmental group, Natural Resources Defense Council, has estimated that Keystone XL would increase carbon dioxide emissions by about 24 million tons per year.)  [Don't confuse me with the facts.]
In a graphic comparing corn ethanol with standard gasoline and fuel produced from the oil sands, Cassidy shows that the carbon intensity of corn ethanol is about 120 grams of carbon-dioxide equivalent per megajoule of energy produced. That’s about 20 percent more than standard gasoline and about 10 percent more than that produced by the oil sands.

Edmonton Now Paying Customers To Take Their Propane -- RBN Energy -- June 3, 2015

Active rigs:

Active Rigs81190189215171

RBN Energy: the great Edmonton propane giveaway.
Yesterday (June 2, 2015) spot prices for propane at Edmonton, Alberta were assessed by OPIS at an average of -0.625 cnts/gal (-26.25 cnts/Bbl).
Yes you read correctly – the price was negative – meaning that producers will PAY YOU to take their propane away in Edmonton.
Prices at Edmonton have been below zero before at least twice in the past 2 weeks and they averaged just 2.4 cnts/gal during May.
Propane has fallen on hard times in the U.S. as well with Mont Belvieu Gulf Coast trading hub prices reaching13 year lows under 33 cnts/gal last week (back up to 44 cnts/gal yesterday) and the ratio of propane prices to U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude hitting an all time low under 24%. Today we begin a new series on propane with a look at the Edmonton market.
Propane is one of the five “purity” natural gas liquids (NGLs) produced from natural gas processing plants, typically accounting for about 28% of the NGL mix. It is also produced by refineries.
About 60% of demand for propane in Canada is non-seasonal use as fuel in industrial markets and as a feedstock for petrochemical plants. Another 35% of demand is highly seasonal use for residential and commercial heating and agricultural crop drying.
Because of the seasonal element, demand peaks occur in the fall and winter and propane storage plays a critical role in buffering supplies over the course of the year. On the supply side, about 85 - 90% of Canadian propane is produced from natural gas processing – mostly in Alberta. According to a 2014 Canadian Energy Research Institute (CERI) report, Canada produced 242 Mb/d of propane in 2013 and consumed 152 Mb/d – with the remaining 90 Mb/d going to the export market. Propane exports from Canada primarily supply the U.S. Midwest and the East Coast – for seasonal heating and crop drying.
All of which begs the question – why do Edmonton NGL producers continue to produce propane in a negative price situation? The answer to that question is that they don’t have much control over propane output since it is only one of the 5 purity products fractionated from NGLs and while propane has no current value, other products – most notably natural gasoline (aka plant condensate or C5 plus) – do. Natural gasoline demand in Alberta is buoyed by its use as a diluent to blend with bitumen produced in the oil sands. Of the other NGLs, butane is also currently in demand in Canada. But in order to extract natural gasoline and butane, NGL’s have to be fractionated – meaning propane is produced as well.

Over at Rigzone there was an article regarding the OPEC meeting, but the lede began with a statement from Angola. As soon as I saw that, I knew it was not even worth reading. Saudi Arabia is calling the shots and Iran is the wild card. Angola is in a spectator role.

Another piece of good news regarding the glut -- less risk of a spill in the Gulf of Mexico as rigs start coming down in the Gulf. Rigzone reports:
Pundits have been predicting the demise of the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) shelf for more than 20 years, and while the number of wells drilled and rigs working has declined, somehow the area has continued to survive.
However, the current downturn has resulted in a large number of jackups being cold stacked or retired, and more of each is expected in the coming months. With just a handful of operators accounting for all current jackup drilling in the Gulf, many are now wondering what the future holds for this market.
In May 2005, just 10 years ago, there were 114 jackups in the Gulf of Mexico. As of May 15, that number had fallen to just 46, a decline of nearly 60 percent. Ten years ago, there were 97 marketed jackups, defined as those rigs being actively marketed for work by rig owners. Today, there are just 20 such units, a 79 percent drop.
Finally, there were an average of 90 jackups under contract in 2005 and average utilization of the marketed fleet was 96.5 percent. As of May 15, there were only 10 jackups contracted for marketed fleet utilization of just 50 percent. In 2005, there were 11 rig owners marketing and working jackups in the Gulf of Mexico, but that number has been reduced by 63 percent to just four in May 2015. ENSCO, Rowan and Hercules Offshore are actively working jackups while Spartan Offshore recently completed a contract and hasn’t had any working units as of mid-May. Diamond Offshore and Nabors also have jackups in the region, but they are all cold stacked and not marketed for work.