Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Fire At Walt's Market In Williston -- September 29, 2015

The Williston Herald is reporting.

Walt's Market has been a Williston icon "forever." It is about a half-mile west of where my parents lived after I left home.

Something tells me Walt's will survive.

Soldier, Gavin DeGraw

A Shakespearian Comedy ... Or Tragedy ... In Five Acts -- September 29, 2015

I don't know whether to laugh or cry, as they say in the Midwest. This is the headline: Minnesota Weather Clouds Solar Power Potential. And then the story just gets worse from there.

Apparently, "everyone" from the reporter to the engineers were surprised about the relative lack of sunshine in Minnesota, or at least the lack of predictability. [Note to engineers: the days get shorter in the winter in Minnesota. It's been that way for millenia.]

In Minnesota:
A state mandate requires investor-owned utilities to generate 1.5 percent of electrical power from solar by 2020, one way or another.
So, they have a "Twin Cities solar power demonstration" but it looks like there wasn't a lot of pre-planning.
“We’ve seen pretty significant output differences between December and June and July, which is anticipated, though I guess we didn’t have a firm concept of how large of a difference that might have been, when we started the project,” said Andy Bergrud, senior engineering project manager for Great River Energy.
GRE is owned by 28 member co-ops, making it Minnesota’s second largest electric power supplier to 650,000 ratepayers.
Great River installed a 240 kilowatt solar array at its Maple Grove headquarters in 2014 to test how solar technology performs in Minnesota to improve the design and operation of future projects.
And this is what they found: 
GRE recorded ideal weather conditions — clear, sunny days from sun-up to sunset — just 10 percent of the time. Surprisingly, none of the perfect days came during typically sunnier, summer months.
I think everyone in North Dakota is very, very aware of the bright, sunny days we have most of the winter -- the days are short, but the skies are often clear as can be. That's why the UND aviation school is such a success -- so many clear, cloudless days. At least that's what I remember growing up in Williston.

So, how is the demonstration project going?
Overall, the solar facility produced power at an average of 13.6 percent of its potential capacity, generating enough electricity to supply about 30 homes.
And then this profundity:
John Kearney, a staff representative from Minnesota Solar Industries Energy Association, said the fluctuation of sunshine is factored in to solar power planning. [LOL -- I can't make this stuff up.]
Solar customers understand how the erratic nature of solar impacts their energy requirements when they make their solar investment,” he said. [Really?]
Is this what they were told? That it would take 17 years to pay back without state subsidies?
While Minnesota’s mandate does not apply to electric co-ops, 13 of GRE’s members have installed small community solar gardens in response to consumer interest.
Lake Region Electric Cooperative customers in Pelican Rapids, for example, can buy a solar panel for 20 years at a cost of $1,400. The investment takes 17 years to pay back without state subsidies, but the co-op has sold out a 40 kilowatt solar set-up, and most of a new 20 kilowatt array.
"Most of a new 20-kilowatt array." Wow. 

I don't know if I'm getting more and more cynical with age, or the more I learn about intermittent energy, the more discouraged I become. 

Much, much more at the linked article.

Remember, this is all being done to help with global warming -- I have no idea how much Minnesota contributes to global emissions of anything, but mandating  investor-owned utilities to generate 1.5 percent of electrical power from solar by 2020 in light of all the new coal plants in India and China (for around 3 billion people) seems incredibly naive. Whatever. All I know is that Minnesota has several world-class colleges and universities, and an incredibly educated and enlightened population with Al Franken as one of their two senators.


Sea of Love, Tom Waits

I Can't Make This Stuff Up -- September 29, 2015

I always love these hurricane tracks. This storm is just days / weeks from hitting land (or not hitting land -- see track TVCN), and these are the projected / predicted tracks ...

... and yet Matt Damon can tell us that 100 years from now, if we do nothing, the earth's temperature will rise 2.4 degrees (Fahrenheit or centigrade, doesn't matter; the numbers are just made up, anyway).

It looks like the folks in Cleveland, Ohio, better start stocking up on bottled water.

[By the way, it appears that the "dots" on the map were generated by chimps throwing darts at the map.]

Running Out Of Bullets


Later, 7:54 p.m. Central Time: a reader tells me what "Back of the Yards" in Chicago means --
American/Chicago History lesson for you... "back of the yards" refers to cattle stock yard in Chicago... Union Stock Yards...

Big thanks. I learn something new every day .. and "sort of like Kansas" wasn't too far off -- but just coincidence.. 

Original Post
Don points out that they may be running out of bullets in Chicago. Rahm had a great speech writer to respond:
"Wherever you live, you should be able to get out of your car and go to your home," Emanuel told reporters on Tuesday after receiving news of the increased violence continuing on Monday evening, leaving six dead and at least eight injured.
"You can say this happened in the neighborhood of the Back of the Yards, but everybody (who) woke up this morning, or heard it last night, felt a pain of anguish, and it’s time that our criminal justice system and the laws as it relates to access to guns and the penalties for using 'em reflect the values of the people of the city of Chicago."
So, what is "the neighborhood of the Back of the Yards"? Is this sort of like Kansas in the Wizard of Oz.

Three (3) New Permits; XTO Reports A High-IP Well In The Bakken; Rig Count Again Flirting With Post-Boom Record Low -- September 30, 2015

Active rigs:

Active Rigs69186184190196

Three (3) wells coming off confidential list Wednesday:
  • 29362, 1,083, Hess, CA-Ferguson Smith-155-95-3031H-3, Capa, Three Forks, 35 stages, 2.8 million lbs, t8/15; cum --
  • 30352, 824, Hunt, Writing Rock 161-101-25-36H-1, Writing Rock, 25 stages plug and perf, 2.8 million lbs, t5/15; cum 14K 7/15;
  • 30884, SI/NC, XTO, Sorenson 31X-28G, Siverston, no production data,
Three (3) new permits --
  • Operators: OXY (2), SM Energy
    Fields: Crooked Creek (Dunn), Cabernet (Dunn), Skabo (Divide)
    Comments: Wow, that's a surprise; two permits for OXY USA
Two (2) producing wells completed:
  • 28373, 259, Hess, AN-Brenna-153-94-3130H-8, Antelope, a Sanish well, t9/15; cum --
  • 30002, 2,411, XTO, Porcupine Federal 44X-2D, Bear Creek, t8/15; cum --

Excellent Bloomberg Article On Real-Estate Situation In The Bakken -- September 29, 2015

As best I can tell, this is a pretty good description of what I saw in the Bakken just a couple of weeks ago. BloombergBusiness is reporting:
Chain saws and staple guns echo across a $40 million residential complex under construction in Williston, North Dakota, a few miles from almost-empty camps once filled with oil workers.
After struggling to house thousands of migrant roughnecks during the boom, the state faces a new real-estate crisis: The frenzied drilling that made it No. 1 in personal-income growth and job creation for five consecutive years hasn’t lasted long enough to support the oil-fueled building explosion.
“We are overbuilt,” said Dan Kalil, a commissioner in Williams County in the heart of the Bakken, a 360-million-year-old shale bed, during a break from cutting flax on his farm. “I am concerned about having hundreds of $200-a-month apartments in the future.”
Laborers descended on the state, many landing in temporary settlements of recreational vehicles, shacks and even chicken coops. Energy companies put up some workers in so-called man camps. In 2011, Williams County commissioners approved 12,000 beds, says Michael Sizemore, the county building official.
The camps were supposed to be an interim solution until subdivision and apartment complexes could be built. Civic leaders across the Bakken charged into overdrive, processing hundreds of permits and borrowing tens of millions of dollars to pay for new water and sewer systems.
Williston has issued $226 million of debt since January 2011; about $144 million is outstanding. Watford City issued $2.34 million of debt; about $2.1 million is outstanding.
Construction companies and investors went along for the ride.
And this is the nut:
"We didn’t build temporary housing on purpose because we viewed North Dakota as a long-term play," said Israel Weinberger, a principal at Coltown Properties, which invests in multi-family real-estate developments. "We think the local production of oil is here to stay. Yes, prices have dropped, but it’s a commodity and commodities fluctuate. There is always a risk."
We talked about this very issue in the blog early on (generally in the "comments" section, not in the bodies of the blog). I remember the arguments very, very well. I was quite clear in my mind; I don't recall how I posted at that time; I did not want to step on toes. Even so, I remember folks writing me, upset with what I was saying.

The New York City-based company plans to complete 35 units in Watford City this winter and break ground on another residential project in March, he says.
That's exactly what I saw when I was back in the Bakken just a few weeks ago; they were still building permanent structures. And lots of them. But the man-camps were coming down; and hotels on the prairie were being boarded up or standing empty.

Much more at the link. Much, much more.

But Will It Have Solar Electricity?

Ground broken for Black Hills Corporation's new headquarters building in Rapid City. Rapid City Journal is reporting:
Over the next two years, a $70 million corporate headquarters will rise at a site on the southwest corner of U.S. Highway 16 and Catron Boulevard in south Rapid City that some predict could the forerunner of a new corporate corridor in the Black Hills.
On a rainy Monday afternoon, corporate leaders from Black Hills Corp. invited about 60 local economic boosters and public officials for a formal groundbreaking at the 31-acre site where the company will further solidify its 130-year relationship with Rapid City, its local employees and their electric customers.
Black Hills Corp. is the parent of Black Hills Power, which serves about 65,000 customers in 23 area communities. Overall Black Hills Corp. has about 800,000 customers in seven states, though that number will rise to roughly 1.2 million customers in eight states due to the $1.9 billion acquisition of Source Gas. Buying the natural gas provider will add Arkansas to the company's reach when the deal closes next year.
The campus plan calls for a Y-shaped structure with three wings, two of which will be built during the initial phase of construction. The $70 million price tag will cover the 200,000-square-foot west and south wings, access road work, 1,030 parking spots and a plaza for employees. 
But will it run on solar electricity with Elon Musk back-up battery packs? If not, why not? Enquiring minds want to know.

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

This is an "old" item but I don't recall posting earlier, though I posted similar articles from other states with same theme.

StarTribune is reporting:
Health insurers are seeking large premium increases for 2016 in Minnesota, with average jumps of more than 50 percent proposed by one of the state’s largest health plans.
The proposed rates were released by the federal government Wednesday, a few days after similar data for most other states prompted widespread talk about how medical costs are running higher than expected for many insurers.
For now, the increases are just proposals. Final numbers in Minnesota won’t come until October, and only after a regulatory review process that could knock them down.
Even so, the filings touched off a political skirmish, in part because they apply to the portion of the market that includes the state’s MNsure health exchange. Plus, the proposals suggest premium hikes could be on the horizon for more than 225,000 Minnesotans.
“The proposed rate increases from Minnesota’s health insurers are outrageous, given that our state’s health care costs have been increasing by only 3 percent,” Gov. Mark Dayton said in a statement.
For more on MNure, see this 2013 post. No doubt things have improved 110%.

I'm glad to see that Mark Dayton has weighed in. That was probably the last we will hear from him on this subject, at least until next year.

North Dakota #1 In Honey; Minnesota #1 In Potential ISIS Recruits

I can't make this stuff up. StarTrib is reporting:
Minnesota recruits lead the nation in the number of people who have left the country to fight with terrorists aligned with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in Syria, according to a scathing congressional report that details failures by the U.S. and western countries to stem the flow of combatants to the Middle East.
The report, released Tuesday by the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security, specifically cites several Minnesotans from the Somali-American community who sought to join ISIL, highlighting its online recruiting success through peer-to-peer recruiting by using social media and sophisticated online messaging techniques.
Young fighters from at least 19 states have tried to join terrorists in Syria and Iraq.
Minnesota recruits comprise 26 percent of the sample of persons reviewed by the committee’s bipartisan task force. California and New York had the second most recruits, with each state comprising 12 percent, according to findings. At least 250 Americans, mostly young men, have attempted or made it to Syria and Iraq, compared to about 100 one year ago, according to law enforcement.
No quote from the governor. At least these Somalis have left the US to fight Russia, Syria, and Iran. A win-win for all, I would say. 

Alaska Pipeline Viability -- September 29, 2015

I am posting a note here, but I follow the bigger story chronologically at this post. The AP is reporting:
Royal Dutch Shell's dry hole in the Chukchi Sea may be disappointing to shareholders, but it's potentially devastating to Alaska.
The company's decision to end oil exploration in offshore Alaska for the foreseeable future means the state must find another source to fill the 800-mile trans-Alaska pipeline and solve its economic woes, Gov. Bill Walker said.
"We need to get some oil in the pipeline, and we need to do it as quickly as possible and in the safest method possible," Walker said. He is suggesting the federal government open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to natural gas drilling.
The petroleum industry funds upward of 90 percent of state government. Declining oil production and low prices have left Alaska with a billion-dollar budget gap, and state leaders saw rays of hope in Shell's offshore prospects.
Confirmation of the estimated 15 billion barrels in the Chukchi lease area could have led to additional exploration by other leaseholders. And a transition to production — though a decade or more off — would have meant jobs, potential revenue and a source to replenish the trans-Alaska pipeline, now running less than one-quarter full.
Viability of the pipeline based on throughput. Here's a nice article suggesting there's a long way to go before Alaskans have to worry about that. The pipeline carried 2 million bopd at its max; down to around 650,000 bopd now; originally the minimum was felt to be in the 350,000 bopd range, but now folks think one could get down to as low as 100,000 bopd and the pipe throughput could still be maintained.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Active rigs:

Active Rigs70186184190196

RBN Energy: When did US crude oil production start to decline?
A question we get asked all the time these days is whether or not U.S. crude output has begun to decline yet and if so by how much? We don’t actually think the answer makes a lot of difference to the market - especially when you consider changing imports and inventory. But ever since the OPEC meeting last November (2014) failed to take action to reduce  output to support oil prices - market watchers have placed a lot of emphasis on when U.S. shale producers would respond by cutting production. So regardless of the merits of the question we are all living in a marketplace where knowing the “real” state of U.S. production – and whether it is up or down – has become a big deal. To that end today we look at crude production data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA).
The EIA makes a number of estimates of crude oil production for its various weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual publications. We will take a look at three of them today. The first of these is likely the most reliable – namely the EIA monthly crude balance production data. That monthly data is reliable in part because it is published at least three months in arrears (the latest report is for June 2015). And the monthly data just got a little more reliable this summer when EIA changed their collection approach to gather more data direct from producers rather than relying on data published by State agencies and to include more individual states into their data breakdown.  The better quality of data in the monthly numbers will certainly help EIA improve their reporting of crude oil production.   The big disadvantage of the monthly EIA data for the market is that 3-month lag – which no one used to care about when production just went up every month - but is now a big deal with the eyes of the market looking for turning points. For the record EIA monthly data shows total U.S. crude domestic production topping out in April 2015 at 9.6 MMb/d and then declining by 200 Mb/d in May and a further 100 Mb/d in June 2015.
Adult Leadership In The War On Terror

Putin's UN speech yesterday was perhaps the most accurate, succinct assessment regarding Syria, Iraq, Iran and ISIS. The most interesting thing about the link: it comes from CNBC. (At the link, scroll to the September 29, 2015, entry.) It is very concerning how often President Obama is cited in the wiki post on Arab Spring. A google search (Arab Spring Obama) is much more enlightening.

Not So Fast

I was wrong. I stated earlier that the workers would accept the tentative Fiat Chrysler four-year contract. Apparently not. Early voting suggests the workers are unhappy with 10% raises, bringing their hourly pay to almost $55/hour.

Tesla Ready To Launch

From The Wall Street Journal:
Kenneth Adelman has had to learn to be patient. An electric-car enthusiast and retired “computer geek,” in February 2012 he was the first person to plunk down a $40,000 deposit for Tesla Motors Inc. ’s Model X sport-utility vehicle. At the time, Mr. Adelman didn’t know the Model X’s total price, but Chief Executive Elon Musk said the vehicle would be in his hands by the end of 2013.
He is still waiting. After nearly two years’ worth of delays, Tesla kicks off Model X deliveries Tuesday. Although first on the order list, Mr. Adelman, 52 years old, doesn’t know when he will get his vehicle and he is showing little concern.
“I’m happy to have waited for the X to be all that it could be,” Mr. Adelman, who also owns a Tesla Roadster and Model S sedan, said in a recent interview. He is confident the vehicle is a “home run.”
Topping out at $132,000, the Model X will test the Silicon Valley electric-vehicle company’s ability to preserve momentum that has been largely unaffected by low gasoline prices and turbulence in emerging markets. Tesla is banking on the new vehicle to help it to achieve sales of at least 50,000 vehicle in 2015 and 500,000 by 2020.
Initial demand looks strong. Tesla has booked roughly 30,000 reservations for the vehicle, according to reservation data shared by buyers and on Tesla fan forums. A small number of those have been cancelled, but the order book can be considered hefty when compared with the 21,537 Model S sedans the company sold globally in the first six months of 2015.
It would have been interesting to know Kenneth's net worth.

It appears the "space issue" might be the most interesting aspect of the launch.
But there is still potential for a letdown.
A big selling feature for the Model X is its large storage area and family-friendly size. When Mr. Musk first showed the prototype, he touted the option to fold the second and third rows of seats down to make room. Free of an engine or transmission, it has more interior space than a standard SUV.
But Mr. Musk has talked about the difficulty of designing the second-row seats on several occasions and has hinted that the seats were one reason why the Model X was delayed, leading to speculation the second row may not fold flat based on images the company has shown.
Have The Regulators Signed Off On This Deal? 

ETE-WMB creates a $150 billion global player.
Energy Transfer's pro forma enterprise value will be $149 billion, behind Chevron's of $193 billion and above BP Plc's at $139 billion.
The company is walking among the majors, in practically one year's time, as a top five global energy company. Kinder Morgan'svalue is $108 billion - its next midstream competitor.
The transaction is valued at nearly $38 billion. The merged entity will trade as Energy Transfer Corp. - ETC, a new NYSE listing. ETC is likened to an ETE twin structure-wise, except it's a C-corp structure versus the MLP version of Energy Transfer Equity.
Full details at Street Insider.
I think Warren Buffett paid about $45 billion for BNSF.

Taking Things Out Of Context

Wow, talk about taking things out of context