Friday, July 3, 2015

Week 26: June 28, 2015 -- July 4, 2015

The best post of the week, of course, is the link to Vern Whitten's photographs of the Bakken. These photographs are always a big hit based on the number of views the post gets.

Random update, EOG well, 54-stage frack; 13 million lbs sand
Random example of how the Bakken has changed due to slump in oil prices
Filloon's update on Emerald Oil
EOG well pad produces $200 million + revenue in 2.5 years -- Filloon

CO2 fracking coming to the Bakken

Native Americans put screws to pipeline companies

Bakken economy
Taxable sales and purchases hit new record in the Bakken
Williston to get new fire station; Sportsman's Warehouse opens

Flashback: Some Of The Top Stories From Week 26, 2011
Only Four Years Ago

Unitization: Getting Closer in the Bakken

Deepest Oil Well Drilled in North Dakota

The Real Reason Environmentalists Hate Fracking: They Were Blindsided

MDU Acquires Another 20,000 Net Acres In The Bakken

BEXP Opens 14,000 Square-Foot, Multi-Million Dollar Regional Headquarters

Demand for Natural Gas Starting to Exceed Infrastructure Capability Michael Filloon's 

Michael Filloon's Four-Part Series on How to Profit in the Bakken on This Pullback

A 25 Percent Increase In Health Care Premiums; Don't Fret, It Could Be Worse -- 33 Percent; 54% In Minnesota; Reality Bites; It's Just Beginning -- July 3, 2015

It turns out those early predictions are turning out to be correct. (A huge "thank you" to a reader for sending me the link.)

Three to six months ago there was talk that ObamaCare premiums were going to be significantly higher in 2016.

Then, in the past couple of weeks, there was some chatter suggesting 2016 healthcare premium increases would not be all that significant. That surprised me because the tea leaves and common sense suggested just the opposite. Even President Obama, I believe, in a recent speech said the 2016 premium increases would not be that severe. Of course, he also told us we could keep our same health plan if we liked it.

Reality bites. Pundits can talk about what-if's all day, but it's already starting. Look at these premium increases already approved in the state of Oregon. The New York Times is reporting:
The Oregon insurance commissioner, Laura N. Cali, has just approved 2016 rate increases for companies that cover more than 220,000 people. Moda Health Plan, which has the largest enrollment in the state, received a 25 percent increase, and the second-largest plan, LifeWise, received a 33 percent increase.
Jesse Ellis O’Brien, a health advocate at the Oregon State Public Interest Research Group, said: “Rate increases will be bigger in 2016 than they have been for years and years and will have a profound effect on consumers here. Some may start wondering if insurance is affordable or if it’s worth the money.”
Minnesota? How about a 50% increase?
Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans — market leaders in many states — are seeking rate increases that average 23 percent in Illinois, 25 percent in North Carolina, 31 percent in Oklahoma, 36 percent in Tennessee and 54 percent in Minnesota, according to documents posted online by the federal government and state insurance commissioners and interviews with insurance executives.
The more you read, the worse it gets:
“Healthier people chose to keep their plans,” said Amy L. Bowen, a spokeswoman for the Geisinger Health Plan in Pennsylvania, and people buying insurance on the exchange were therefore sicker than expected. Geisinger, often praised as a national model of coordinated care, has requested an increase of 40 percent in rates for its health maintenance organization.
Wow. All that money individuals are saving on gasoline will go toward health care premiums. Do you think employers are looking to hire more employees with healthcare cares increasing by 50%? The best news in the article above:
“People are getting services they needed for a very long time,” Ms. Williams, a spokesperson for one health care insurer, said. “There was a pent-up demand. Over the next three years, I hope, rates will start to stabilize.”
Over the next three years! You mean folks can look forward to 30% increases each of the next three years in their healthcare premium?
One last note:
“Because of the Affordable Care Act,” Mr. Obama told supporters in 2013, “insurance companies have to spend at least 80 percent of every dollar that you pay in premiums on your health care — not on overhead, not on profits, but on you.”
In financial statements filed with the government in the last two months, some insurers said that their claims payments totaled not just 80 percent, but more than 100 percent of premiums. And that, they said, is unsustainable.
Drought In California

I've been out here for about one week now; it is interesting how quickly we adapt to a water shortage. I don't know if folks outside California caught this statistic but the state used 29% less water in May, 2015, than they did in May, 2013. The governor had mandated a 25% decrease.

The biggest residential cutback, of course, has been outside watering, and things are starting to turn brown. But even there, there are ways to minimize the damage. My wife puts buckets in the shower, and we now collect all waste water from the sinks, watering outside plants with the water from the shower buckets and the sink water.

We use a minimum amount of water for washing dishes, and our frequency and duration of showers has changed dramatically. Although we haven't gone this next step, families with at least two bathrooms have additional options to really decrease water usage/waste from toilet use. One toilet could be reserved for water waste only, and bricks placed in the toilet tank to decrease the amount of water to a minimum.

But a 30% decrease in water usage by residential customers is quite remarkable, and I doubt -- except for outside watering -- not much has changed for most Californians.

A Reader Wonders Whether Expiring Leases Are Being Renewed At The Margins Of The "Better" Bakken -- July 3, 2015

There are a couple of new posts over at the discussion group.

One reader asks:
Does anyone know if Oasis is renewing leases in northern Mountrail and southern Burke County close to Powers Lake, ND, in the Cottonwood Field? An existing lease in that area for that reader expires in August, 2015.
Many readers would be curious, not only about this area, but other areas on the margins of the best Bakken, whether leases are being renewed.

The Pancake Problem

For the background to this next bit, please go to wiki.

Now that you know the background to this problem, the rest of this story, from The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets, Simon Singh (author of Fermat's Enigma), p. 112:
Thus, given that you cannot perform a third of a flip, the number of flips required to order, smallest to largest, 20 pancakes is 1,668 or less. This result is famous, because it was published in a paper that was co-authored by William H. Gates and Christos H. Papdimitrious. William H. Gates is better known as Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, and this is thought to be the only only research paper that he has ever published.
Proof That Horses Have An Infinite Number Of Legs

From the same source (Simon Singh, above), p. 88:

Q: Prove that every horse has an infinite number of legs.

A: Proof by intimidation: horses have an even number of legs. Behind they have two legs and in front they have forelegs. This makes a total of six legs, but this is an odd number of legs for a horse. The only number that is both odd and even is infinity. Therefore horse have an infinite number of legs.

Memo To Self: File Under "No Good Deed Goes Unpunshished" -- Especially In California -- July 3, 2015


Later, 4:58 p.m. Pacific time: I don't follow the California grid that closely, nor its history, but something tells me this newest rate increase is a continuation of the saga that began in 2000 and 2001. Perhaps. Perhaps not. 

Later, 4:42 p.m. Pacific time: this is the SF Gate take on the same story:
The California Public Utilities Commission voted unanimously to narrow the gap between prices paid by people who use very little electricity and those who consume more. Over time, that gap has grown so wide that the most efficient Californians now pay less for electricity than the utilities spend supplying it to them.
California has long charged utility customers higher prices for using large amounts of electricity as a way to encourage conservation. And while the commission’s vote will benefit many homeowners who use more than average, the biggest energy “hogs” now will face a new penalty, a “super-user electric surcharge” designed to prod them to conserve.
In addition, most residential customers will soon pay different prices for electricity use at different times of day, with the highest prices likely hitting in the afternoon. The move, long studied by California officials, could reduce the strain on the state’s power grid when electricity demand reaches its daily, late-afternoon peak.
Shifting some electricity use to mid-day or the evening, in turn, could help the state integrate more solar and wind power into the energy mix. Solar power plants hit their maximum output just after noon, while California’s wind farms generate most of their electricity at night.
Original Post

And here it is, which I alluded to earlier today:
Most residential customers in California will see their electricity bills increase under a new rate structure adopted Friday by state regulators.
The Public Utilities Commission unanimously approved a plan that raises rates on more efficient users while giving a break to big energy users
It is the first overhaul of the rate system since brownouts roiled California 15 years ago. Legislators at the time expanded rate-paying tiers from two to four and froze lowest-tier rates to protect households from huge swings in energy bills.
Wow, this is going to go over like a lead balloon.

First thing I'm going to do is find out how much electricity I need to use to put me in the "high-energy, least efficient" category. I'll buy it at a cut-rate price, store it in my Tesla home battery, and re-sell it to the neighbors who are now paying through the nose for conserving electricity. LOL. I can't make this stuff up.

From The Williston Wire: A New Fire Station; Sportsman's Warehouse And Riddle's Jewelry Announce Grand Openings -- July 3, 2015

From the Williston Wire.

Two new businesses marked their first day of business in Williston on Friday. Sportsman's Warehouse and Riddle's Jewelry held so-called "soft" openings. Both retail businesses are located in the Sand Creek Town Centre. Sportsman's Warehouse will have a ribbon cutting and official grand opening on Saturday, July 11th.

As Williston's population continues to grow, its fire chief says there is a need for another station to provide timely response to emergencies. Jason Catrambone said the Williston City Commission purchased property on 58th Street to build the estimated $5.5 million station. It is planned to be completed in July of 2016.

First-quarter taxable sales and purchases, including those related to oil and mining, increased despite lower oil prices. Tax Commissioner Ryan Rauschenberger said he was surprised by the 2.2 percent increase in mining and extraction taxable sales. He had expected quarterly growth to level or decrease compared to last year. "So that's good news," he said. Overall taxable sales and purchases were up as well to $5.826 billion, a 2.26 percent increase over 2014. 



March 1, 2018: Enerplus plans more growth in North Dakota; reports an outstanding 2017.

December 13, 2016: Enerplus to sell 5,800 net acres for $292 million; 8% non-operated interest. Back-of-the-envelope: ($292 million / 5,800) *8% = $4,000/acre.

Original Post

I'm not sure how this happened, but it appears I've never had a separate page for "ERF." I noticed that when I wanted to update "ERF" and looked for the "ERF" link at the sidebar at the right and could not find it.

So, here it is, the stand-alone page for ERF where updates (when I remember) will be posted. Of course, major updates are also posted at this page.

First update, from a reader: ERF also added  a 2nd drilling rig today. They have never had more than 2 rigs running. It was also reported this past week, that for the first time since the Saudi Surge (last October, 2014), the overall US rig count increased.

Reason #16 Why I Love To Blog -- Notes From The Readers -- July 3, 2015, Part III


July 12, 2015: this regards the comments I made below regarding sentimentality and romanticism as defined by F Scott Fitzgerald. I'm continuing to read This Side of Paradise. Now, on page 213 with Eleanore, Amory, brings the subject up again, the difference between sentimentality and romanticism. Over at wiki:
"A sentimentalist", Oscar Wilde wrote, "is one who desires to have the luxury of an emotion without paying for it."
In James Joyce's Ulysses, Stephen Dedalus sends Buck Mulligan a telegraph that reads "The sentimentalist is he who would enjoy without incurring the immense debtorship for a thing done."
James Baldwin considered that 'Sentimentality, the ostentatious parading of excessive and spurious emotion, is the mark of dishonesty, the inability to feel...the mask of cruelty'.
This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald, contrasts sentimentalists and romantics with Amory Blaine telling Rosalind, “I'm not sentimental--I'm as romantic as you are. The idea, you know, is that the sentimental person thinks things will last--the romantic person has a desperate confidence that they won't.” 
Then, as noted above Fitzgerald/Amory brings it up again with Eleanor. One wonders if this was one of the issues Fitzgerald was struggling with and he was trying to work out in the novel. I may have to go back and re-read the book for the third time to see more allusions / references to sentimentality and romanticism.

According to wiki again: sentimentality originally indicated the reliance on feelings as a guide to truth, but current usage defines it as an appeal to shallow, uncomplicated emotions at the expense of reason. I wonder when that "usage" changed?

July 3, 2015: down below I mentioned I was looking for a particular story on "two-buck Chuck." It turns out that the original story was taken off The Huntington Post for possible (likely?) libelous material.
Original Post

The other day a reader mentioned in response to something I had written that his favorite snack was sheep cheese. I love cheese but had never come across sheep cheese, so I was curious. I found Basque cheese, specifically Mini Basque Cheese. In small italics: "Trader Joe's Mini Basque Cheese is made in the Pyrenee Mountains in France. It is made with 100% pure sheep milk cheese and has a rich and buttery flavor."

It is incredible. Our older granddaughter was a bit hesitant to try "sheep cheese" despite the fact she enjoys goat cheese. But I convinced her to try the Basque cheese and she loves it. It is clearly her favorite. It was quite difficult for the two of us not to eat the entire half pound in one sitting.

It is a firm cheese, but not as firm as a cheddar cheese, but much more firm than a brie. Of the cheeses I am familiar with, it probably comes closest to a mild cheddar but it is definitely not a cheddar.  Would one say it is has a more pleasing taste than cheddar? It really is "rich and buttery."

We found the sheep cheese at Trader Joe's which has the best prices on all beer, wine, and food in the southern California area (same prices, or very close, as we found in Texas). I think this was the only sheep cheese offering at Trader Joe's. The Basque sheep cheese was about twice what other cheeses sell for, but probably similar to the price of goat cheese at $11.99 / pound.

That might sound expensive, but it is offset by the price of Trader Joe's famous "two-buck Chuck" wine, which now costs $2.49 / bottle and it one of the best-selling, if not THE best-selling wine in the US.

With regard to "two-buck Chuck," there was an article over at Yahoo!Finance this past week on this particular wine. I was looking for that site a few minutes ago to link it, and found this site instead. The article begins:
Since, by law, you can’t buy wine at grocery stores in New York, I drove out to a Trader Joe’s in Westfield, N.J., that does sell it. And there they were, case upon case, stacked like a shrine to Charles Shaw, the name of a defunct California winery recycled for the Two-Buck Chuck line. They took up far more space than any other wine — or just about anything else in the market. I bought six bottles for $17.94. These days that will barely buy you a couple of glasses of wine in some restaurants.
That brought back some pretty strong memories.

One of my first ever "real" summer jobs was in Westfield, New Jersey. It's a long, long story, and is both a romantic story and a sentimental story for me. I won't say any more about that job or about Westfield, NJ, in this post, but suffice it to say that summer may have been the most memorable in my life -- and that includes 30 subsequent years in the US Air Force.

F Scott Fitzgerald provided the definitions of "sentimental" and "romantic" in This Side of Paradise. In the play (inside the novel), page 165, FSF defines a sentimental person as one thinks things will last. He says a romantic person hopes against hope that things won't change.

Then, of course, there's the cynic. Not only are things going to change, they're going to get worse. Much worse.

The realist: the cynic is correct.

Friday, July 3, 2015 -- Part II


Later, 12:08 p.m. Pacific time: this is not an investment site, but contributors to SeekingAlpha have really written some nice articles on the Bakken (particularly Richard Zeits and Michael Filloon). I see that Seeking Alpha has a new CEO, and the out-going CEO and founder provides a nice look at the future (and some notes on the past) Seeking Alpha. It's interesting to see that another highly successful individual needs time to recharge his/her batteries.

Later, 11:49 a.m. Pacific time: a reader writes -- Just  a note, ERF also added  a 2nd drilling rig today. They have never had more than 2 rigs running.
Original Post
Active Rigs:

Active Rigs76190190215172

ERF: I don't know if folks have been following this company on the stock market. I have not looked at it recently except that it shows up on my "computer desktop" and I see it out of the corner of my eye (or eyes, depending on which way I happen to be looking). Whatever. A reader sends me a reminder to look at production profiles of five recently completed ERF wells. Here are four: 21536, 21537, 21538, 21539, on neighboring two-well pads in Spotted Horn on the reservation. In addition to the production profile, note the completion provided below:

21536, 1,348, ERF, Mandan 150-94-32C-29H TF, Spotted Horn, t2/15; cum 103K 5/15:

PoolDateDaysBBLS OilRunsBBLS WaterMCF ProdMCF SoldVent/Flare

21537, 1,522, ERF, Hidatsa 150-94-32C-29H, t2/15; cum 121K 5/15:

PoolDateDaysBBLS OilRunsBBLS WaterMCF ProdMCF SoldVent/Flare

21538, 2,143, TAT 150-94-32D-29H, t2/15; cum 101K 5/15:

PoolDateDaysBBLS OilRunsBBLS WaterMCF ProdMCF SoldVent/Flare

21539, 1,852, ERF, Arikara 150-94-32D-29H TF, 40 stages, 10 million lbs, t3/15; cum 89K 5/14:

PoolDateDaysBBLS OilRunsBBLS WaterMCF ProdMCF SoldVent/Flare
Supreme Income

From an article in 2009, Ms Sotomayor's net worth was probably a negative $25,000:
9. Justice Sonia Sotomayor – $22,500 in the red – Sotomayor, the Supreme Court’s first Hispanic justice and its most recent appointee, is by far the least well-off. She is one of just two justices to report a liability and the only one to report more than one. In 2009, she owed between $15,000 and $50,000 to her dentist, and as much as $15,000 a piece to four credit card companies: American Express, Discover Card, Mastercard and Visa. Additionally, she is the only justice to report holding no stocks or bonds. Her net worth could be as low as $95,000 in debt or as high as $50,000 in the black.
Quick, fast forward to the present. I can't find the date of this post, but it's probably 2013 or thereabouts. Ms Sotomayor's net worth is now over $4 million and that does not include her primary residence.

Friday! Happy 3rd Of July -- 2015


Later, July 3, 2015, 1:33 p.m. Pacific time, tweeting now:
California regulators approve higher electricity rates for most customers - @AP  
Original Post
Big, big story. Predicted on the blog years ago -- consolidation. A couple of story lines.  First, Centene Corp will buy HealthNet, Inc. That was announced yesterday. Then, this was announced today: Aetna will buy Humana.
A gusher of Obamacare money is fueling a merger frenzy in U.S. healthcare.
The latest jolt came Thursday when Woodland Hills insurer Health Net Inc. agreed to be bought by Medicaid insurer Centene Corp. for $6.8 billion.
And more billion-dollar deals are in the works as health insurers, hospitals and drug companies bulk up in size so they can seize on government spending in Obamacare exchanges, state Medicaid programs and Medicare Advantage for the baby boomers.
Riding high on Wall Street and flush with cash, big health insurers in particular have been on the prowl for deals. Atop the shopping list are companies that boost their government business.
“The Affordable Care Act is really driving this merger mania,” said Gerald Kominski, director of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. “There are billions of dollars pouring into the system, and it's money to buy insurance.”
President Obama's signature health law has unleashed the biggest expansion of insurance coverage in half a century, lifting stock prices and revenues across the healthcare industry.
So many story lines. 

One that is not mentioned in the blurb above: if the regulators approve Centene's bid for Health Net, that will be another company that will move out of California. Health Net is headquartered in Woodland Hills, CA; Centene is based out of the fracking sand capital of the US: Wisconson.

One step closer to a single-payer system. With the Supreme Court ruling that Federal exchanges are "legal," we now have a national health care program.

No 3-Day Holiday 
For The Hard-Working Folks 
At The California Public Utilities Commission

By the end of the day, we should find out how high our electric rates in California will be going up for the price of feeling good: closing access to coal plants, relying more on expensive solar and wind electricity, and building mile-high walls to keep the CO2 from China from coming into California.

USA Today is reporting:
Two days before a major vote that could raise electricity rates for millions of Californians, ratepayer advocates were scrambling to understand last-minute changes to a plan several years in the making.
The California Public Utilities Commission is set to vote Friday on dueling proposals that would revamp electricity rates for customers of Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas & Electric and San Diego Gas & Electric. Both plans would raise rates for those who use the least energy and for those who use the most, but one would do so much more dramatically.
Edison and the other utility companies have supported the more dramatic changes, proposed by commission President Michael Picker. Ratepayer advocates have thrown their support to an alternate plan written by commissioner Mike Florio, arguing that Picker's proposal would discourage energy conservation and benefit the wealthy at the expense of low-income families.
Can't wait to see the new rates. One word I don't like to see in the same paragraph as "new rates" is "higher." A word that is even scarier is "dramatically."