Saturday, August 1, 2015

Interview With Kinder Morgan CEO -- Forbes, August 1, 2015

Incredibly good interview. I might come back to it later, but for now, I will just post the link. A big thank you to the reader for sending me the link. This is a must-read -- all eight (8) internet pages.

Shell Resumes Drilling In The Arctic


August 4, 2015: I don't think this adds much to the story but fills in some details for later use, if necessary. The AP is reporting:
Hours after a repaired Shell icebreaker eased past protesters in Oregon to join an Arctic drilling operation, the oil giant used other vessels in its flotilla to begin excavating off the coast of Alaska in hopes of confirming the presence of billions of barrels of crude below the ocean floor.
Royal Dutch Shell PLC now only needs the 380-foot Fennica, repaired at a Portland shipyard, to be on hand at the drill site to ask federal regulators for permission to dig into oil-bearing rock already included on its Arctic offshore leases.
The drilling would come over the protests of environmental groups in Portland and elsewhere who say Shell has not proved it can clean up a major spill in a region covered by ice much of the year.
Critics have decried Arctic offshore drilling since before the federal government auctioned off billions of dollars in leases to Shell and other companies in 2008. But after failed lawsuits and protests, opponents have few options to stop drilling.
Protesters seized one of their last chances this week after the Fennica was gashed by an underwater obstruction in the Aleutian Islands and sent to Portland for repairs.
Thirteen members of Greenpeace USA dangled from a bridge over the Willamette River and kayakers converged on the Fennica to block the repaired icebreaker from heading toward the Pacific Ocean and on to Alaska.
The Greenpeace protesters persisted even after a federal court judge in Anchorage ordered $2,500 hourly fines. They were finally removed by authorities. Two people were arrested.
Original Post
Apparently Shell has resumed drilling in the Arctic:
Oil giant Shell has resumed offshore drilling off the coast of Alaska following a two-day delay by Greenpeace activists.
The move marks the first time Shell has conducted exploratory drilling in the Arctic since 2012. Royal Dutch Shell PLC announced on Friday that drilling operations had resumed in the Chukchi Sea off the northwest coast of Alaska on Thursday afternoon.
I lost the bet. I didn't think they would actually get started this season, but I'm thrilled that they did, especially after the shenanigans demonstrated by the environmentalists trying to stop Shell from moving forward.

Canary CEO

Speaking of interviews (see link to the Kinder story above). Here's another great impression of the Bakken during the slump in prices.
Falling oil prices may have caused a slowdown of activity in and around North Dakota's resource-rich Bakken shale play – but there are surprising benefits from the downturn, according to Dan Eberhart, CEO of Canary, LLC, one of the largest privately held wellhead companies in the US.
As the global economy weakened in 2014 and the oil market swung to the supply side, particularly after OPEC refused to cut production amid an American energy glut, oil prices began a precipitous drop. Today, a barrel of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) oil – the US benchmark – has lost more than half its value compared to a year ago.
As a result of the price slide, the US oil rig count declined for 29 consecutive weeks, bottoming out in late June at 628, the lowest it had been since August 2010. Recently released data from the North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources reported 75 drilling rigs in the Bakken, or 112 fewer than a year ago.
Although the national count has rebounded slightly since, for Bakken producers who were pumping out more than 1 million barrels a day a year ago, recovery is uncertain as oil prices remain soft.
That would seem to make positive news hard to come by. But Eberhart, who spoke at the July 27-29 Bakken Conference & Expo in Grand Forks, said that during a recent visit to North Dakota he saw how energy companies and state leaders are shaking off the "bust mentality" and putting the lull to good use.
For one thing, he said, even before prices started to decline, established producers were optimizing their wells to increase productivity.
"By innovating, producers lowered their break-even points, which allowed many wells to remain viable in a low-price environment," Eberhart said. "This is one reason we're seeing crude inventories continuing to build despite the rig count falling."
In addition, North Dakota is taking advantage of the breather to catch up on infrastructure upgrades – including improvements that will help energy companies lower their operating costs, particularly those related to transportation.
Since the Bakken shale boom began in 2007, the state has struggled to keep up with infrastructure demands. Workers streaming into the western part of the state overtaxed housing, schools and other resources. Trucks hauling heavy equipment clogged rural two-lane roads never engineered to carry the kind of traffic associated with oil operations.
In February, Gov. Jack Dalrymple signed a $1.1 billion budget to improve those roads, along with sewers, schools, water treatment and other facilities. Much of the money to fund the upgrades has come from oil extraction taxes paid by energy companies.
According to Eberhart, these infrastructure improvements will help oil companies lower well development and operating costs even further.
Much more at the link.

Hello Maah Daah -- August 1, 2015

From The Williston Wire:
From its humble beginning four years ago when 65 mountain bikers competed in the first Maah Daah Hey 100, the bike race in the rugged and picturesque North Dakota Badlands has gained worldwide attention. 
Today, the dream of Watford City's Nick Ybarra to have a world class biking adventure in western North Dakota has become a reality. And come Saturday, Aug. 1, over 350 mountain bikers from throughout the United States and Canada will embark upon a 100-mile race that begins at the CCC Campground south of Watford City, and ends in Medora. 
I'll watch the covers of biking magazines for the next few weeks. It will be interesting if any feature the Maah Daah Hey 100.

Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah, Allan Sherman

A Little Bit Of This; A Little Bit Of That -- August 1, 2015


August 3, 2015: see original post below. In all, six North Dakota airports receive significant federal funding, continuing the grand tradition of maintaining the moniker, the "Greece" of  the United States -- taking more from the Federal government than paying into it. What a concept. So it's only fitting that The Washington Times is reporting:
North Dakota’s congressional delegation says six western North Dakota airports are getting nearly $10 million for improvements.
The money from the U.S. Department of Transportation is slated for airports in Williston, Stanley, Tioga, Garrison, Dickinson and Mercer County.
  • Tioga: $5 million, taxiway and apron
  • Garrison Municipal Airport: $2. million to rehab the existing runway
  • Williston's Sloulin Field International Airport: $1.3 million to rehab existing apron and taxiway
  • Mercer County Regional Airport: $419,400
  • Stanley Municpal Airport: $73,357
  • Dickinson's Theodore Roosevelt Regional Airport: $300,000 fro taxiway improvements
Original Post rates CLR presentation "best ever":
Heath Mireles, manager of resources development for Continental Resources delivered one of the best presentations on the Bakken I've seen. And, although it may sound outlandish, I think it was actually the best. In his efforts to describe one of the Bakken's greatest and biggest science projects, the Hawkinson pad, he provided a video detailing the results from the multi-well pad design.
Based on the results of the Hawkinson unit, Mireles believes the data is strong enough to change the way the North Dakota portion of the Williston Basin is developed. The current setback limit for spacing units in the state is 200 feet, but, after watching the video created by Continental, it is fairly obvious that such setbacks could be leaving a significant amount of oil.
Because of that, Mireles proposes that North Dakota should place its setbacks (the space minimum a well bore must be from the spacing unit's invisible boundary) at 50 feet. Doing so, Mireles believes, could increase oil production in a given spacing unit by up to 10 percent. If you want access to the video, give me a call.
"Give me a call" is from the linked article. I don't have a copy of the video to release. At the link look for the phone number to call (or the e-mail address).

Overlapping units will capture "orphaned" oil, but decreasing the setback to 50 feet would allow better return for any given well. It's sort of a no-brainer, but we will see where it leads.

Bakken Economy Doesn't Sound Like It's Beat Up All That Bad

The Williston Wire:
  • MDU celebrates grand openings of its two new facilities in Williston and Watford City.
  • USDOT awards $5 million toward Tioga's airport.
  • USDOT awards $1.3 million for Williston's airport.
  • Stanley, Dickinson, and Garrison airports will share about $1.6 million from USDOT.
  • The North Dakota Board of University and School Lands has awarded $15 million in Energy Impact Grant funds to K-12 schools and another $1.3 million to airports in western North Dakota's oil and gas region. The Williston Public School District #1 received $2.65 million.
  • The Board of University and School Lands has awarded $11.5 million in energy impact grants to local law enforcement agencies, non-profit service organizations and emergency medical services in western North Dakota. The funding includes $596,935 to the Williston Police Department for six police vehicles, equipment and salary support for three new officers; $77,162 for the Williston Family Crisis Shelter to fund a services advocate and office equipment; and $369,324 to the City of Williston for a quick-response vehicle, training, emergency equipment and staffing assistance.
  • Williston is experiencing an interesting demographic shift that has many unable to give definitive answers as to what is actually happening to the population. However, one thing that can be said is that the ethnic population within Williston is growing drastically. The U.S. Census Bureau listed the demographic of Williston as 90 percent white but now estimates that figure at 79 percent.
Say What?

Some weeks ago The Dickinson Press wrote:
With oil prices falling, you wouldn't think Williston was "the last great place for opportunity," but that is the slogan the state's oil hub has come up with to try to shake off its economic downturn.
Those lured by that promise will find apartment rents have begun to plunge in Williston after a 50 percent fall in the price of oil caused hundreds of layoffs and put off job seekers in search of the town's legendary six-figure pay packets.
In a state which expects six percent growth this year, largely on agriculture, Williston is trying to convince outsiders it has staying power and won't end up as another has-been boom town
Maybe, maybe not. 

But I see Williston's Wal-Mart is still open 24/7. Dickinson's Wal-Mart, on the other hand is cutting hours, closing at 1:00 a.m. weeknights, and not even opening until noon on Sundays. See first comment. Then see these two screenshots taken at 12:01 a.m. Sunday morning, August 2, 2015:

For more, see this post.
Not Everyone Got The Memo
That All Lives Matter

First, Baltimore's mayor must not have gotten the memo. Baltimore's killings soar to a level not seen in 43 years. In August, 1972, there were 45 murders in Baltimore. It's interesting what "they're" blaming the murders on this time around. If accurate, the murders will start to decline when the murderers run out of opiates. Too bad Hunter S Thompson isn't around to opine on this. Flashback: on May 5, 1972, Governor George C. Wallace of Alabama was shot by Arthur H. Bremer at a political rally in Laurel, MD.

Second, Planned Parenthood videos are so disgusting, a US district judge has issued a "temporary" ban on further releases -- meanwhile Planned Parenthood supporters continue to carry banners with "All Lives Matter." It has been reported that the US district judge who issued the "temporary" ban raised $230,000 for the re-election of President Obama.
IMF: Unavailable For Comment
Hollande: "Oui, Oui"
Merkel: "Ich Bein Ein Berliner" 
German Taxpayers: "WTF"

Reuters is reporting:
Greece may seek 24 billion euros in a first tranche of bailout aid from international lenders in August to prop up its banks and repay debts falling due at the ECB, a pro-government Greek newspaper said in its early Sunday editions.
Athens is now in talks with the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund to secure up to 86 billion euros ($94.48 billion) in bailout aid. It will be its third bailout since 2010.
I guess this is a trial balloon. Someone said Greece "may" ask for 24 billion Euros. If there's no push back, then, yes, they will ask for the 24 billion euros. My only question: why not a round number like 25 billion? That's probably what the IMF is asking. LOL.

Apple Still Has Something Windows 10 Doesn't -- August 1, 2015

Some years ago I remember pundits applauding every new version of Microsoft Windows because, finally, Windows "was almost like Apple." LOL. And, of course, the reason folks were thrilled that Windows was almost like Apple was because the majority of American corporations still used Windows and PCs.

It's a big deal, then, that IBM made the announcement this past week that its enterprise was going rogue.

It seems that one tech reviewer, a Joanna Stern of The Wall Street Journal was swimming upstream with this headline (July 28, 2015): Windows 10 or OS X? A Mac User Falls For the PC Again.

But then, when I clicked on the link, I saw the "rest of the story": With a simpler interface and new features, Microsoft’s Windows is more like Apple’s OS X than ever before.

LOL. I do believe the writer of that headline was aware of the inside joke.

But it intrigued me. How could a stalwart (by her own admission) Mac user fall for the PC?

It turns out to be very, very disingenuous headline writing.

After telling us how "wonderful" Windows 10 is, she then reminds us why Apple is still better. As the writer says: "There's just one little problem: the iPhone."

Actually, it turns out that, that's just one little problem. There are many, many more. The linked article lists them. If you don't have a subscription to the WSJ, I'm sure there's a way to get to the article.

But this graphic, I think, says it all:

Surely you're joking, Mr Watson.

Ms Stern writes:
But even on that impressive Dell, the trackpad seems to require the touch of an angel to consistently work correctly. So I’ve come to rely on the keyboard shortcut (Windows key + Tab). You can also click on the three-rectangle icon in the taskbar.
You can access Task View on Windows by swiping three fingers up on a trackpad—if that laptop has a “precision trackpad” like on the Surface Pro 3 or new Dell XPS 13, that is.  
I don't know about you, but remembering all these 1-finger, 2-finger, 3-finger swipes, and right click / left click is more than I can manage. I do use some "macro" short-cuts on my MacBook Air, but I don't need to use them. I think I use three: copy, paste, and I forget the third.

So, I was confused whether this reviewer really was going to go back to the PC.

She is, in her concluding paragraph: Microsoft is simply missing too many of the other pieces for me to go back to a PC full time. Still, I’m keeping Windows 10 on my Mac—even if it’s just for a round of “Solitaire” every once in a while.

And that, folks, is why IBM is switching. That damn Solitaire game.

A Note To The Granddaughters

I sure am going to miss America when I die.

I was reminded of that while reading "Masterpiece: Beauty Outside the Grid --Riverside Park by Frederick Law Olmstead, Robert Moses, and Clifton Lloyd, in the weekend edition of The Wall Street Journal.

Some of my favorite books on America's cities:
  • Supreme City: How Jazz Age Manhattan Gave Birth to Modern America, Donald L. Miller, c. 2014
  • The Hub’s Metropolis: Greater Boston’s Development from Railroad Suburbs to Smart Growth, James C. O’Connell, c. 2013 
  • Unreal City: Las Vegas, Black Mesa, and The Fate of the West, Judith Nies, c. 2014
  • Appetite for America: Fred Harvey and the Business of Civilizing the Wild West, One Meal at a Time, Stephen Fried, c. 2010  
  • Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger, c. 1951
  • The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald, c. 1925
  • This Side of Paradise, F Scott Fitzgerald, c. 1920
When I look at the photograph of Riverside Park at the linked article, I often wish artistic visionaries and entrepreneurs would get more support from the state and federal government rather than so much pushback.

After all, it's only money. If it doesn't work out, tear it up and start over.

More Proof That God Has a Sense of Humor
She's Behind the Conspiracy Theory

It's now being reported that on the island where the wing part that might be from the downed Malaysian Boeing 777, a huge volcano is erupting, forcing evacuations on the opposite side of the island. Google it; I'm sure the story is everywhere.

I can't make this stuff up.

Sense And Sensibility In Minnesota -- August 1, 2015

The StarTribune is reporting:
Minnesota regulators on Thursday approved a $125 million upgrade to a pipeline that delivers North Dakota and Canadian crude oil to the Twin Cities’ two oil refineries.
Unlike other pipeline projects, this one provoked almost no controversy.
The construction, to begin next year with 40 to 50 workers and finish in 2017, doesn’t require laying new pipe, and won’t significantly increase the overall flow of crude oil from a terminal in Clearbrook, MN.
Minnesota Pipe Line Co., owner of four pipelines that are the sole source of the refineries’ crude oil, plans to build six new pump stations and upgrade two others along the 305-mile route. The 24-inch-diameter pipe was installed in 2008, and sized so its capacity could be increased.
Once known as MinnCan, it is now called simply Line 4. While the extra pumps will more than double the line’s capacity to 350,000 barrels per day, the company said the expansion is needed so that all the oil can be shifted to Line 4 when three older pipelines undergo maintenance. All of them are decades old, and require more maintenance.
Huge story. So with little fanfare this "little refinery on the Plains" will ramp up to 350,000 bopd. To put that in perspective, Saudi Arabia recently announced plans for two new refineries, each capable of 400,000 bopd, and Kuwait just announced plans for a new 615,000 bopd refinery.

It was not mentioned until later in the article, but most of this is owned and operated by a subsidiary of ... drum roll ... the evil Koch Brothers. 

And there are signs the Minnesota regulators are exhibiting a new sensibility and a bit more common sense:
The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission voted 4-0 to grant the project a certificate of need, a key regulatory hurdle. The commission considered but dropped the idea of requiring the pipeline to have a carbon-neutral footprint if oil shipments increased substantially in the future.
Eric Swanson, an attorney for Minnesota Pipe Line Co., said that when Line 4 is used to relieve the other pipelines serving the refineries, it will operate more efficiently and draw less power. That means its footprint is carbon-neutral unless at some future date the overall oil flow increased.

Huge Demand On The Texas Grid -- August 1, 2015

Fuel Fix is reporting:
Three days of record-breaking electricity demand by Texas consumers extended into a fourth on Thursday as power use reached a level not seen in the state in four years, according to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas.
Power demand reached 67,624 megawatts Thursday afternoon, the most this week after consumers began ramping up their use on Monday. Those usage levels pushed up against the all-time record in Texas, set on Aug. 3, 2011, when demand peaked at 68,305 megawatts.

On Wednesday, ERCOT asked Texas consumers to reduce their power use to reduce the chance of outages, though ERCOT Chief Operating Officer Brad Jones said in the release that the electric grid has been able to provide capacity as high as 71,000 megawatts.
The release noted that ERCOT expects more record-breaking demand for electricity throughout the summer.
“As the Texas economy continues to thrive, ERCOT serves some of the fastest-growing cities in the country,” Jones said in the release. “Population and business growth continue to drive up electric use.”
San Antonio (Spurs); Houston (Rockets); Dallas (Mavericks); and, Austin.

So many story lines here, but the big one: intermittent energy provided by wind and solar is not going to be enough. It's a double-edged sword. Intermittent energy provided by wind and solar won't be enough during peak periods, and asking folks to delay some energy use until after dark means solar won't be there to pick up that "new" demand.

I assume the same thing is going on in California -- increased demand for electricity and increased demand for gasoline. BMW recently provided huge cash incentives if their EV customers in the Bay area would delay charging their cars until after dark. There simply cannot be that many EVs, on a percentage basis, and if it's already causing a strain on the grid ....

Week 30: July 26, 2015 -- August 1, 2015

The big story of the week had to do with oil sector losses in the stock market. The press made it look pretty bad with the headlines, but everyone knew it was coming. At least one astute reader suggested that oil companies took as many losses and write-offs as they could squeeze into the 2nd quarter to get it all behind them. It that's accurate, and if prices hold, and demand goes up in July, August, September, it's going to be an interesting 3rd quarter.

The other big story, of course, was a non-Bakken story: IBM announced the enterprise was switching to Apple and will ditch Lenovo.

Another interesting story: wind energy not meeting California's energy demands made worse by EVs.  And speaking of California, a great graphic shows why gasoline costs so much in that state.

The agenda for the  NDIC hearing dockets for August were released.

Huge: better and better wells in the Bakken
Completed wells are showing incredible IPs
Seven more completed wells with great IPs 
Ten more great producing wells completed
Active rigs end the week at 74; up from post-boom low of 68
Oasis proposes 9 wells inside city limits on east side, near University Avenue 
Oasis proposes up to 24 wells in several 1280-acre drilling units 
Whiting to go to 6 rigs in the Bakken; had originally planned to go to nine
SM Energy's hot spot in Divide County
Rigs by operator in the Bakken

Mega-fracks -- Mike Filloon; also here
QEP using lot of sand, lots of stages

Why the Feds won't ban CBR
Feds finally issue ruling on "unattended" CBR trains -- phone it in
End of the line for CBR in the Bakken?

Bakken economy
XTO donates $5 million for affordable housing for teachers, police in three Bakken communities
Lower oil prices will strain state coffers; state has only $700 million balance, $100 million more than projected two months ago
Williston's average wage tops $80,000, beating nation average of $72,000
Update on Spiritwood development, Jamestown, North Dakota

$200 oil
The Bakken never fails to amaze me -- Kathy Neset 

Photo of an 18-well super-pad; also here
The Hess EN-Fretheim / Cvancara 18-well pad has been updated