Saturday, December 12, 2015

Bakken Economy -- December 12, 2015; NDSU Going For 5-Peat In FSC Football

FSC Football: 2015 FCS playoff bracket final four: North Dakota State going for 5-peat.
The 2015 FCS Playoff Final Four is set. The 24-team field has been winnowed down to only four teams, and those final four include some surprises. Jacksonville State, the top overall seed in the field this year, will face Sam Houston State, and on the other side of the bracket, No. 7 seed Richmond will take on No. 3 North Dakota State.
Bakken Economy

From the Williston Wire:
Proceeds from the voter-approved Public Safety Sales Tax are going to help purchase $3 million in new equipment and vehicles for the Williston Fire Department

The first phase of a new Williston wastewater treatment plant is complete, greatly reducing the impact the growing city is having on the Missouri River. New equipment at Williston's plant is allowing the city to significantly cut back on how much wastewater is discharged into a marsh where several fish kills were reported earlier this year. 

In Crosby, the days of $3,000 a month rent may be over. Landlords and property managers in Crosby last week shared their observations about the apparent bursting of Crosby's housing bubble. The developer of Crosby Flats and the Northern Lights Apartments placed the occupancy of his Crosby rentals at about 80 percent. Rents may be dropping about 30% in Crosby.

Minot: The Magic City Apartment Association is pushing for an end to the development of more low-income housing projects in Minot, arguing that the city has plenty of affordable housing already. 

The City of Tioga is gauging its rental costs and occupancy.  Olson Apartments and Olson Duplexes has been hovering around 60 to 65 percent full since the slowdown in the oil industry began last year. Like Williston, the Tioga Commission has signaled it's considering whether to eliminate some of the temporary housing in town.
Senator John Hoeven has announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Agency has approved a $600,000 loan guarantee for Northland Health Partners Community Health Center in Ray. The funding will be used to renovate an existing building into a medical and dental clinic. 
Sears opens in Sidney, "store in a store" concept.

Delta suspended its twice-daily flights between Dickinson and Minneapolis on December 1, citing a lack of profitability and demand. Another issue weighing on the airport is a slump in boarding numbers. About 37,000 boardings were recorded through October this year, which is around a 24 percent decrease to last year's boardings over the same period last year. 

GE Is Looking To Buy Halliburton Drilling Assets, As Well As Some Baker Hughes Completions Operations -- December 12, 2015


December 12, 2015: see first comment. GE has a brand new facility, 52,000 square feet, north of Williston. Oppidan was the developer. This is not the first time "Oppidan" has come up in the Bakken. For more, search "Oppidan" at this website. Here is one example. Oppidan projects in the Bakken at the Oppidan website at this link.
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I think one of the most interesting companies to have watched over the years as the economy has changed has been GE.

I don't invest in GE, never have, and doubt that I ever will. But during my Air Force days we studied the company for various reasons, and I never lost interest in the company.

I was vaguely aware of their financial arm but did not pay much attention to it. I was fascinated with their early (and poorly-thought-out) move into wind energy. I don't know how their wind division is doing any more, but about two or three or four or five years ago, it was very noticeable that GE was moving out of renewable energy and into oil and gas.

I first wrote about that back in 2011, "A Second Look at GE Diversifying Into ... Oil." Then in 2013, "Two Years Ago, GE And Renewable Energy Seemed Synonymous; Now? Not So Much."

In February, 2014, there was the story that GE closed on a huge deal to provide gas turbines for Exelon's power plants in Texas. February 26, 2014, GE's Immelt, President Obama's economic czar, said "the age of natural gas is here."

Just the other day I posted a story on GE's new huge and very efficient natural gas turbines going into Pennsylvania. The list goes on and on.

Today, to add to that list, another huge story. Bloomberg/Rigzone is reporting that GE is in serious talks to acquire Halliburton's drilling assets. I assume there are at least two story lines here: Halliburton and Baker Hughes have to spin off some assets for regulators to approve their merger; and, GE probably sees a great opportunity to acquire a lot of "stuff" at a really great price. I had not read the story until just now. Here's the lede and a bit more:
General Electric Co. is in advanced talks to buy the drill-bits and drilling-services divisions of Halliburton Co., which is divesting assets to win antitrust approval for its takeover of Baker Hughes Inc.
Selling both the drill-bits and drilling-services businesses could have fetched as much as $5 billion in total for the oilfield services provider, people with knowledge of the matter said earlier this year, when the units were each put on the block. It is not clear how much the decline in oil prices -- which have been hovering near six-year lows -- may have affected their respective market values.
GE is also exploring bids for other assets that Halliburton is seeking to unload, including parts of Baker Hughes’s completions operations, two of the people said, asking not to be identified because the matter is private. No final deal with GE has been reached, and Halliburton may still decide to sell some or all of the other assets to other buyers, said the people.
When it first announced plans to acquire Baker Hughes in November 2014 -- a deal valued at $34.6 billion in cash and stock deal at the time -- Halliburton said it would divest assets with revenue of as much as $7.5 billion.
The first assets put up for sale in April were Halliburton’s drill-bits and drilling services business. The former makes the tips of drills for digging wells and could fetch as much as $2 billion in a sale, people familiar with the matter said in March.
The drilling-services arm, which operates as Sperry Drilling, uses data to track and steer the direction of drill bits and may sell for as much as $3 billion, the people said at the time.
It's a long article and there is much, much more at the link.

GE had a small footprint in Williston, ND, when I was there some years ago, but I do not know if their footprint has grown or remained the same. All I remember is a relatively small facility one block east of the Million Dollar Way, well south of Walmart.

A Note to the Granddaughters

I still think Texas is one of the friendliest states in the nation. [Actually, everywhere I go in the states, with some exceptions, I find the people overwhelmingly friendly.] This morning after dropping off our oldest granddaughter at school for a cross-country track meet, I stopped at the Shell service station on the corner of Pool Road and Ira E. Woods to fill the tank. I walked into buy a cup of coffee. When I went up to the counter to pay for the coffee, I thanked the clerk for being open so ear -- it was 6:40 a.m. (I'm sure they are open 24/7). He thanked me and told me to have a "good day." No charge for the coffee.

By the way, it appears that there are at least five major brands of coffee competing for my attention. Of course, Starbucks. Then, next door when the grocery store changed ownership, they dropped Starbucks and replaced it with Peet's. For some time now, Dunkin' Donuts has been on the grocery store shelves in this area, but no free-standing franchises. That's three. Of course, there is also McDonald's. But the coffee brand that really seems to be saturating the area with promotions and visibility is something called "Community Coffee" in distinctive burnt orange/light brown packaging and cups. I had not heard of Community Coffee until recently and have not seen it on any of my cross-country travels.

Well, there it is -- it began as a small family operation in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 1912, but it certainly looks like it has moved to a new level. I find it better tasting than Starbucks that I have at home, but when one says Starbucks it can mean about 23 different coffees and concoctions. Right now, it appears Community Coffee has two choices, regular and decaf, although I haven't seen decaf; but then again I didn't look for decaf.

UN Climate Change Conference Will Release "Plan" Today -- December 12, 2015


December 13, 2015: there was only one "binding" agreement to come out of the climate conference -- something about an effort to set a price on CO2 emissions for "trading purposes." If you read this closely, this has no chance of succeeding. Most countries did not agree to such a framework but agreed with this vague statement to be able to go home to report a "successful" outcome.

The entire agreement, 99% of which, apparently, is non-binding, does not go into effect for five year, not until 2020. This is much, much weaker than the Kyoto Protocol which required signatures. Anyone paying attention can see that the outcome of this conference was to simply kick the can down the road for five years. This is the capstone for the global climate movement. Nothing else will come of it. There will be no interest in re-convening another conference between now and 2020 and by then folks will say let the current agreement (that goes into effect in 2020) run for a few years before we have another global warming conference. That puts us out to about 2025.

Obama will not do anything with this (for a multitude of reasons) and the Time Person of the Year is also on her way out. No one else matters -- certainly not Russia, China, India. This whole movement will die on the vine assuming the next US president is not Hillary. Unfortunately with the Balkanization of the GOP, it is very likely Bill will be back in the White House in 2017.

Original Post
From The New York Times, "At the Paris climate conference, China has won praise for pledging to stop the growth of its greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, largely by reducing its use of coal."

And in other news -- 

The New York Times is reporting that Chinese state enterprises have built or have contracts to build 92 coal plants in 27 countries since 2010:
Altogether, Chinese engineering firms have built or signed contracts to build 14 coal-fired plants along the Vietnamese coast over the past five years, most of them with the help of loans from the government’s China Export-Import Bank.
The building spree here is hardly unique. Since 2010, Chinese state enterprises have finished, begun building or formally announced plans to build at least 92 coal-fired power plants in 27 countries, according to a review of public documents by The New York Times.
And more:
Once complete, the 92 projects will have a combined capacity of 107 gigawatts, more than enough to completely offset the planned closing of coal-fired plants in the United States through 2020. The expansion is the equivalent of increasing China’s own coal-fired electricity output — already more than twice as much as any other country’s — by more than 10 percent.
The United States, Japan and other industrialized nations have helped finance the construction of coal-fired power plants in the developing world for decades, including in joint projects with China. Like China, they have usually required that contracts go to their companies. 
The final draft of the Paris climate change conference agreement to be released today, Saturday, December 12, 2015. And it looks like ... drum roll ... the number is .... 1 point ... drum roll .... 1 point 5 degrees ... 1.5 degrees....

Thoughts -- Not Ready For Prime Time

Now that the conference is over -- I'm writing this at 2:15 p.m., Sunday, December 13, 2015 -- here are my thoughts. This is why I know President Obama, SecState Kerry, and Algore (as well as the rest of the world) know that "anthropomorphic global warming" is a scam.

Imagine that NASA scientists -- a NASA scientist is considered the "grandfather" of global warming -- announced that there was an asteroid ten times bigger than the one that hit the earth 65 million years ago wiping out the dinosaurs was on course to hit the earth in ten years (that's ten years longer than they first told us "we" had to do something to prevent global warming to "save" the earth). Although they could not say (yet) where the asteroid would hit, it would destroy the earth. There were no doubts about it. The asteroid was on course to hit the earth.

NASA scientists provided a glimmer of hope saying that if adequate resources were available there might be a way to prevent the asteroid from hitting the earth. It would require a "Manhattan-like" project that would require pretty much the entire GDP for several years of the US, the EU, China, India, Russia, and Ireland.

My hunch is there would not be a two-week conference to decide if this was necessary. The only delay would be that delay for the Chinese, the Russians, the French space program, Ireland, and Apple to confirm that NASA was correct.

Once that confirmation was made, there would be no limit to the monetary expenses any of the countries would be willing to spend to fund the project, no matter how much the odds were against this from happening.

Again, remember that the global warmists have said that the earth will be "destroyed" if we don't prevent global warming, that 1.5 degrees (which, by the way, they can't even agree on that; some say 2.0 degrees; some say 3.0 degrees).

The most recent global warming conference which wrapped up this past weekend came up with an agreement that is non-binding, unsigned, and does not take effect for five years. 

If there was an asteroid heading directly for earth, I doubt global leaders would delay action for five years. The "agreement" that global leaders came up with is even less than the agreement the US made with Great Britain once it was determined that the UK had to be saved in WWII. There was a bigger financial and a bigger emotional commitment by Roosevelt to save Great Britain than there is currently to save the entire earth.

And that's why I know President Obama, SecState Kerry, and Algore (along with Angela and all the rest) do not take anthropomorphic global warming seriously. 

Further Proof (As If Any Is Needed)

Further evidence that President Obama does not take AGW seriously. This major wind farm was proposed during the Bush administration and is nowhere close to getting off the ground. The Denver Post is reporting.  The headline: Bureaucratic gauntlet stalls renewable energy development on BLM land. Long-planned Anschutz Corp. wind power generation and transmission project in Wyoming might be functioning by 2023. The process began in the Bush administration, around 2006.

The story:
When Bill Miller first met with officials from the Bureau of Land Management to talk about his company's vision of building a 1,000-turbine wind farm on a checkerboard expanse of public and private land in Wyoming, President George W. Bush was in the White House. When agency officials warned Miller it could take five years for such a gigantic project to wade through environmental reviews, he told them: "That's the craziest thing I ever heard."

So it was music to Miller's ears when President Barack Obama's first Interior Secretary, Ken Salazar, in 2009 announced as a top objective turning Western federal lands into hotbeds of renewable energy to deliver on two of the new president's pledges — creating jobs and transitioning to clean energy.

Miller's Chokecherry and Sierra Madre wind farm was named a priority project. The BLM also fast-tracked a transmission-line project to carry the electricity — enough to power about 1 million homes.

And yet, all these years later, the wind and transmission projects still have not made it through BLM's bureaucratic gantlet.

But seven years into his presidency, Obama's record on renewable energy projects on public lands is mixed. His administration has done far more than any other to make the BLM a welcoming landlord for solar, wind and geothermal electricity, but there is also a lot of room for improvement. There still is great potential for reshaping public land-use policy in the West to take much greater advantage of abundant clean-energy resources such as wind and solar.

"We have come light years," says Michael Nedd, BLM's assistant director of Energy, Minerals and Realty Management and who oversees the agency's renewable program.

In 2009, the BLM had no staff, funding or rules dedicated to renewable energy projects. The agency now counts 57 projects that it has approved since then. The list includes some projects that have been canceled and others where the BLM plays only a bit part.

So far, only four solar arrays, five geothermal projects and three wind farms on BLM land actually deliver electricity to the grid in Western states. Still, Nedd says the agency is well on the way to meeting the president's goal of permitting enough renewable projects to provide electricity to 6 million homes by 2020. That will also mean setting up the infrastructure needed to keep permitting renewable power long into what Interior Secretary Sally Jewell calls "the renewable energy future."