Friday, December 25, 2015

Week 51: December 20 -- December 26, 2015

DUCs -- The New York Times  perspective 
Snapshot of Bakken DUCs
5,120-acre spacing units in the Bakken; and, here

Vitol to transport US crude oil to overseas ports unknown
WTI-Brent at parity
BP to buy all of Devon's San Juan Basin assets in New Mexico
Barnett natural gas shale reserves twice as large as originally estimated
Is the global crude oil supply and demand gap narrowing?

DUCs -- The New York Times Perspective -- December 25, 2015

The link is here. If you hit a paywall, google Hoping for a Price Surge, Oil Companies Keep Wells in Reserve.

I will likely post a note regarding this story later. But before I post my thoughts, I want readers to take a look at the story and feel out some of their own thoughts.

But this offers the opportunity for a new poll, whether one thinks that Bakken DUCs are a big deal? Yes or no.

Obviously it depends on the definition of "big deal" and it depends on who you are (a driller, a consumer, a mineral rights owner, or a candlestick maker) but think of it this way: you are on a debate team and you are given that question to defend, yes or no, defend.

So, the poll, "do you consider Bakken DUCs a "big deal"?
  • Yes
  • No
 DICs And Other Acronyms

Completely unrelated, but of interest, is a bit of trivia. From the article:
  • " ... the deferred completions — known in the oil business as D.U.C.s (an acronym for drilled but uncomplete) ..."
Should the word be "incomplete," uncomplete," or "uncompleted"?

My 2001 edition of Webster's New Universal Unabridged Dictionary, 2230 pages exactly, lists both "uncomplete' and "uncompleted" as legitimate words. The dictionary unfortunately does not provide a definition for either. They are simply listed and identified as their part of speech.

There is a fine distinction between "incomplete" and "uncomplete" but I will leave it up to others to come to their own conclusion which word is more appropriate. Perhaps one way to think about the use of the two words is to associate them with an artist's painting when noting that a painting is "incomplete" or "uncompleted." Just to add a bit of fun to this, I think one can look at a painting that has been completed by an artist and is hanging in the museum and say that the painting is "incomplete."

All I will say is this: the acronym that would result from "drilled but incomplete" is an acronym that the NDIC probably did not want to associate with a word like "fracking."

Schlumberger To The Rescue -- December 25, 2015

Disclaimer: this is not an investment site. Do not make any investment, financial, or travel plans based on what you read here or think you may have read here.

Don sent me this story from USA Today: Iran's oil fields are in a shambles. 
After 37 miserable years of the so-called Islamic Republic and more than $1.6 trillion of oil income, Iran's oil and gas infrastructure has become ineffective and is suffering from poor management and chronic corruption. As a result, the well-respected healthy national oil company, with a 6.3 million b/d crude production prior to the revolution, plunged to a near bankrupt industry with at best a little above 3 million b/d production.
Iranian output has reached a plateau for some time now, and production has been on the wane by over 200,000 barrels/day/per year for the past decade. Pressure dropping in reservoirs and continuous year-to-year decline in production appear to have been triggered by long periods of technical constraints on operations and by natural aging of the Iranian fields. The lack of regular maintenance and application of new technology, and particularly extensive neglect of the fields in the last several years under sanctions, have resulted in further damage to the Iranian reservoirs.
Elsewhere there is a story that Schlumberger is preparing to rush into Iran as soon as sanctions lifted. There are lots of opportunities for companies that go back into Iran. Germany, it appears, has the inside track, but Schlumberger -- French heritage -- is probably going to be the big oil winner in Iran.

The other big winner might very well be GE; wouldn't that be a hoot?

Remember the burning oil wells in Kuwait following the first Gulf War? Media reports at the time suggested an environmental and a financial disaster that would take decades to fix, if "a fix" was even possible. It seems to me that less than a year later, American know-how -- and daring -- did the impossible.

From wiki:
The Kuwaiti oil fires were caused by Iraqi military forces setting fire to a reported 605 to 732 oil wells along with an unspecified number of oil filled low-lying areas, such as oil lakes and fire trenches, as part of a scorched earth policy while retreating from Kuwait in 1991 due to the advances of Coalition military forces in the Persian Gulf War.
The burning wells needed to be extinguished as, without active efforts, Kuwait would lose billions of dollars in oil revenues. It was predicted that the fires would burn from 2–5 years before losing pressure and going out on their own, optimists estimating 2 years and pessimists estimating 5 while the majority estimated 3 years until this occurred.
Reality, not five years, not 3 years, not even two years. How about less than a year:
The fires were started in January and February 1991, and the first well fires were extinguished in early April 1991, with the last well capped on November 6, 1991.
Bragging rights belong to:
The companies responsible for extinguishing the fires initially were Red Adair Company (now sold off to Global Industries of Louisiana), Boots and Coots, and Wild Well Control.
Safety Boss was the fourth company to arrive but ended up extinguishing and capping the most wells of any other company: 180 of the 600. Other companies including Cudd Well/Pressure Control, Neal Adams Firefighters, and Kuwait Wild Well Killers were also contracted.
To the best of my knowledge, the EPA did not fine the US military nor any coalition member for the environmental disaster it/they created.

Companies ready to rush in, from The Wall Street Journal:
Ahead of an expected lifting of sanctions, several U.S. corporate giants including personal-computer seller HP Inc. and General Electric Inc.’s oil-services unit are actively exploring a market entry into Iran.
Near the end of the article:
Other U.S.-registered companies are testing the waters. A spokesman for international oil-services giant Schlumberger Ltd. , based and registered in Houston, Paris, London and The Hague, said its representatives attended a conference in Tehran where oil contracts were presented last month. He declined to comment further.
Iran expects to attract $30 billion in investment in oil and gas fields after offering new, more attractive contracts, its oil minister, Bijan Zanganeh, has said.
Representatives from Nuovo Pignone, an Italian oil and gas subsidiary of GE, visited Iran last month as part of an Italian government delegation to the country, said a spokeswoman for the U.S. industrial-equipment maker, which is based in Fairfield, Connecticut.
Fools Rush In, Ricky Nelson

Idle Chatter

From simply an observer's view, I look to 2016 as being one of the most exciting years we've seen in the fossil fuel industry in quite some time. Just a few of the big stories we might be talking about in 2016:
  • the huge opportunities US oil and gas industry has simply due to relaxation of the ban on crude oil exports
  • the huge opportunities for US companies getting back into Iran and Cuba
  • whether a major geo-political event rocks the Mideast; how Syria - Russia - Iran plays out
  • the likelihood of a major oil company entering the Bakken

The Thronson Wells Have Been Fracked -- December 25, 2015

This is a bit out of my comfort zone because I have made errors before on this topic, but it appears the geologists in the Bakken are modifying their stratigraphic descriptions/pools in the narrative portion of their reports, and in some cases on the scout tickets.

[With regard to my errors in the past regarding stratigraphy in the Williston Basin, see this post from November 24, 2012.]

Before reading further, you may want to re-familiarize yourself with the stratigraphy in Montana-North Dakota. When you get to the link, use the "magnifying glass" to enlarge the graphic.

Then using the "arrows" on your keyboard, scroll all the way to the right to see the periods and the eras. We are interested in four or five of the seven periods in the Paleozoic era. Note the Devonian period. Or even more importantly, note the Mississippian-Devonian demarcation.

Now, scroll to the left to find the Williston Basin. This can be a bit tricky; you will have to scroll to the top to find the Williston Basin and then back down to the Mississippian-Devonian boundary.

Note that the Bakken formation (upper, middle, lower) is right at the demarcation. The Three Forks underlies the Bakken and is entirely within the Devonian period in the Williston Basin (at least according to this graphic).

This is not a hard-and-fast rule, and I'm not seeing it everywhere but it seems to me there me be a subtle change in the way the geologists are recording their observations. I first noticed it two days ago when a scout ticket said the target pool was the "Devonian." When I looked at the geologist's narrative/permit application, the target was the upper Three Forks (the first bench). [I won't be able to find the original post, but years ago I made the observation and posted it that it appeared that at one time -- long ago -- some geologists were routinely labeling wells that were targeting the Bakken as "Devonian" wells. I think one can go back and find old Devonian wells that we would now be calling middle Bakken wells. My hunch is that when geologists in Williston sit down to lunch they interchange Mississippian and middle Bakken, and Devonian and Three Forks.]

Here we see it again, in the narrative for #29671, a Three Forks B2 well, a CLR Thronson well. This is from the geologist's narrative of this well: "... with the objective target of the late Devonian Three Forks B2. The well plan ... with a kickoff point .. in the Mississippian Lodgepole ... approximately 80 feet below the Three Forks formation."

Note: the Lodgepole is clearly within the Mississippian.

The report continues with a nice description of the vertical depth of the various formations, from the False Bakken through the Three Forks Internal 1/B2.

When #29671 comes off the confidential list, it will be interesting to see if the pool is listed as the Bakken or the Devonian (mixing apples and oranges).

[By the way, at wiki, the "Carboniferous period" replaces the "Pennsylvanian" and the "Mississippian" periods. This is important to me and probably no one else because of all the work I put into annotating Richard Dawkins' The Ancestor's Tale
  • In the second (later) half of the Carboniferous period, we first see the Sauropsids (early birds, reptiles). This was just before the Age of the Dinosaurs. Technically it was an era. The Era of Dinosaurs, the Mesozoic Era.
  • In the early Carboniferous period: the amphibians appear.
  • The lobefish or lungfish was noted at the Devonian-Silurian boundary.
  • Ray-finned fish were seen in the earliest Silurian.
  • Sharks were noted in the middle Ordovician.
Enough of that for now; all of that to help me keep track of things.]

The Thronson Federal Wells

These wells are now back on conf status, having been taken off SI/NC status. They are producing and runs have been reported; fracking data can be found at FracFocus, for those interested (at the link, simply click on "Find A Well" and type in the first few 10 API digits):
  • 29671, conf, CLR, Thronson Federal 6-21H2, Alkali Creek, Three Forks B2, API: 33-061-03353, trip gases as high as 9,550 units with 20 - 30' gas flare; "gas in the clean Dolomite zone above the Internal 2/B3 produced more gas & oil shows versus drilling the upper target zone and close to the Internal 1/B2 zone. Oil shows were pretty consistent throughout the lateral section, but displayed more in the lower drilling zones; ,
  • 29670, conf, CLR, Thronson Federal 7-21H, Alkali Creek, API: 33-061-03352,
  • 29669, conf, CLR, Sorenson 6-16H2, Three Forks B2, Alkali Creek, API: 33-061-03351,
  • 29668, conf, CLR, Thronson Federal 8-21H1, Alkali Creek, API: 33-061-03350,
  • 29667, conf, CLR, Thronson Federal 9-21H, API: 33-061-03349,

29671, conf, CLR, Thronson Federal 6-21H2, Alkali Creek:

DateOil RunsMCF Sold

29670, conf, CLR, Thronson Federal 7-21H, Alkali Creek:

DateOil RunsMCF Sold

29669, conf, CLR, Sorenson 6-16H2, Alkali Creek:

DateOil RunsMCF Sold

29668, conf, CLR, Thronson Federal 8-21H1, Alkali Creek:

DateOil RunsMCF Sold

 29667, conf, CLR, Thronson Federal 9-21H, Alkali Creek:

DateOil RunsMCF Sold

A Note To The Granddaughters

Back on August, 4, 2015, I wrote "a note to the granddaughters" with regard to a WSJ review of a recent retrospective of Gustave Caillebotte.

I bought the museum catalogue book on Caillebotte at that time, left it in shrink wrap until I was able to visit the exhibit in the Kimbell Museum here in Ft Worth, Texas.

I was finally able to visit it yesterday. Maybe I've had too much of Monet, but Caillebotte was absolutely fascinating. I enjoyed the exhibit more than any other exhibit in recent memory, and it's possible Caillebotte will replace Monet as my favorite painter. I can hardly wait to bring my wife to the exhibit when she gets back to Texas early in January. Fortunately the exhibit goes on until mid-February.

Yesterday, by myself, I got to "do" the Kimbell museum exactly how I enjoy "doing" museums. Because it was Christmas Eve, traffic was light, I parked right in front of the museum, and the exhibit was fairly "empty" of viewers.

I went directly to the Piano Pavilion where the exhibit was being held. There was another temporary exhibit -- which was free -- so I quickly walked through that one to get an overview. Then to the main attraction, Gustave Caillebotte, pronounce "Ki-a-bott," heavy accent on the third syllable; accent on the first, or maybe just the opposite.

I did a quick walk-through in about four minutes to get an overview. Then I departed, to get a book out of the car, and then back to the Pavilion to have an incredibly good lunch, during which I read a bit of The Peabody Sisters.

I then went back to the exhibit, picking up one of those "museum walkie-talkies" which describe the art work.  I sat down on a chair and proceeded to listen to the entire presentation, but not looking at the paintings, just listening to the presentation. I had already had a glimpse of the paintings and the oral description brought the painting back to mind. The whole presentation, I think, took about 15 minutes.

Then I returned the walkie-talkie and went back and visited each painting at length, putting together in my own mind what Caillebotte was all about.

This is Caillebotte from my perspective, fact mixed with conjecture:
  • independently rich; he did not paint for a living; he painted because he enjoyed it
  • he did not sell his paintings; he exhibited a few
  • he was a patron of the Impressionists; he collected their works; he encouraged them to exhibit
  • when he died, his large collection of Impressionists was acquired by the state (France)
  • Caillebotte was known as the individual who "made" the Impressionists; he himself, in his lifetime, was not known as a painter
  • his works were scattered among dozens (hundred?) of private individuals; few ended up in museums
  • he had a number of other vocations
  • he loved to row on the French rivers; that may have been his first love, along with stamp collecting
  • his fourth hobby was gardening, and he and Monet exchanged many tips on gardening
  • Caillebotte bought a piece of land for gardening for a short period of time directly across from Monet's famous Giverney Japanese garden
  • the exhibit did not mention whether Caillebotte was married or had a family; I think not
  • he died at an early age, 49 years old, I believe
  • he was quite distraught after his father's death, and then his younger brother, at age 28, died just two years later
  • he was very, very close to his two brothers
  • his paintings are not Impressionistic, but neither are they modern nor photographic
  • they are, however, "Polaroids"; the subject is no more important than the surrounding accoutrements, except that the subject was generally in the center of the painting -- just as a Polaroid does not favor the individual any more than the surrounding background
  • his subjects were mundane, common activities, mostly Paris street scenes, almost always with a few people on the street; the subjects he painted were the same subjects that Virginia Woolf wrote about in Mrs Dalloway
  • he captured Paris as it transitioned to "Hausmann"
  • his inside sittings were generally of men, unlike what most other painters at the time were doing, paintings of women
  • his painting of "Scrapers" -- men scraping a wooden floor to refurbish it -- reminded me of something Kenneth Anger might like

Christmas Morning -- December 25, 2015

Breaking news:
  • Islamic State releases 25 Assyrian Christians in Syria, Assyrian Human Rights Network says. 
If accurate, that may be good news in the short term; but extremely bad news in the long term. I doubt ISIS is doing this under coercion or fear. My concern is that ISIL is on its way to becoming a recognized political entity like Hamas.

By the way, I think I read yesterday that Syria is negotiating with various parties in the region. I don't recall the specifics, but I got the feeling that the course of events in that part of the world might be moving into a different direction.

Fatwas: it appears ISIL and Planned Parenthood share at least one thing in common -- harvesting human body parts. It explains why the ISIL story is being reported in some media outlets, but not others.


Later, 1:59 p.m. Central Time: breaking now, confirming my earlier note above --
  • Report: 2,000 rebels, including Islamic State fighters, to be evacuated from Damascus in UN deal - @Reuters  
A Note To The Granddaughters

Several years ago, in the year 2000 specifically, I began a very serious effort to "begin" reading all over again. I started with Ovid and moved forward. I stopped when I got to the Hemingway era. Somewhere along the way I tackled Samuel Richardson's Clarissa. Looking back, it's hard to believe I finished it. Even while reading it, I wondered if it would ever be worth finishing it. I've stored the book away in "Deep Storage" so I can't look at it so see how many pages it was, but let's say it was close to a thousand pages. [Oh, yes, there it is at 1,534 pages.]

Clarissa is an epistolary novel. Every last bit of the story is told through handwritten letters (though typeset for the published book, of course). Having completed it, one can say they were happy to have completed it, but not knowing exactly why. Sort of like hitch-hiking cross-country these days. An accomplishment of sorts, but to what ends?

Regardless, Clarissa occupies a significant portion of my waking hours when I think about the classics, and wonder if anyone else has ever read Clarissa from start to finish. Over at Amazon this is one of my favorite reviews (and I enjoyed many of the reviews):
What a group of despicable characters! By page 500, I was hoping every character would be put to the rack. By page 1000, I was hoping for a mass hanging. By page 1500, I was willing to grant clemency to a few.

Dozens of times I nearly relegated this book to the pile of books to be sent to an enemy - BUT - each time would pick it up again because I had to know if my hopes would be realized.

Should you read Clarissa? By all means; if for no other reason than to serve as penance for all past sins of omission or commission wreaked on others.
Today, at breakfast, while reading The Peabody Sisters I came across a fairly long section on Clarissa. Of all things, the second Peabody sister, Mary loved fiction and she was greatly influenced by Samuel Richardson's novel. 

For me, I was just thrilled that reading Clarissa did not go to waste. Had I not read it, those couple of pages in The Peabody Sisters would have been less gratifying.

By the way, my daughter reminded me the other day that the correct pronunciation of "Peabody" is "P-ba-D" with heavy, heavy accent on the "P"; minimizing, the "ba" and ending with an even heavier accent on the "D." To get it right, stretch out the "P" to "pea" (the vegetable) and then quickly getting to "D" and holding it. Although it doesn't rhyme exactly, "remedy" has the same syllable/accent. 

Merry Christmas To All -- December 25, 2015


December 28, 2015: in the post below I link a New York Times story about the drone industry in North Dakota. James Pethokouki over at AEI weighs in on this story, from an FAA regulatory point of view. Worth reading.
Original Post
Wow, talk about a beautiful morning: 59 degrees at 9:00 a.m., sunny, not a cloud in the sky, and no breeze. I've already taken my short bike ride this morning to confirm that nothing is open. I have just finished a wonderful Christmas morning breakfast, and enjoying the first full day of four free days. My next scheduled event is Monday, late evening, picking up the granddaughters and their parents at the airport.

A reader sent me a link to a great NY Times article; I saw "North Dakota" in the URL and was sure it was going to be another schadenfreude story on the oil situation in the Bakken. Not to be. It was an incredibly good article: the story of drones in eastern North Dakota. The article references the oil industry in North Dakota but I reminded the reader that the drones in Fargo are on the opposite side of the state. Western North Dakota (oil) and eastern North Dakota (universities, technology and potatoes) have nothing nothing in common except the word "Dakota" and perhaps a fairly similar language.

It's very similar to Boston - Cambridge in the early 1800's I suppose: the blue collar folks, the bourgeoisie, the merchants were in Boston and their university-minded, well-schooled brethren were in Cambridge. I wouldn't know that except I'm continuing to enjoy The Peabody Sisters by Megan Marshall. More on that later, but back to the drones.

The New York Times is reporting:
For years, entrepreneurs have come here to farm and to drill for oil and natural gas. Now a new, tech-savvy generation is grabbing a piece of the growing market for drone technology and officials want to help them do it here, where there is plenty of open space and — unlike in other sparsely populated states — lots of expertise already in place.
Silicon Valley has the big money and know-how, Mr. Muehler and others say, but North Dakota can take unmanned aerial vehicles, as they prefer to call drones, from a fast-growing hobby to a real industry. And just as Silicon Valley got its start with a combination of military contracts, entrepreneurs and cooperative universities, they believe they can do the same with drones.
“The potential up here is tremendous,” said Jack Dalrymple, the state’s governor. “It’s not about supporting a company or two; it’s creating the leading edge of an industry.”
North Dakota has spent about $34 million fostering the state’s unmanned aerial vehicle business, most notably with a civilian industrial park for drones near Grand Forks Air Force Base. The base, a former Cold War installation, now flies nothing but robot aircraft for the United States military and Customs and Border Protection.
Right now, private sector drones are where personal computers were in the 1970s: a hobbyist technology waiting for something to take them into the mainstream. The technology research firm Gartner figures that, barring regulatory hurdles, the United States drone business could be worth $7 billion in a decade.
Companies are moving fast. Last month, Amazon released a video showing its planned delivery drone, and companies like Google and Facebook are working on big drone projects. DJI, a Chinese company that is the world’s largest maker of small drones, was funded last spring at a valuation of $10 billion.
Small drones may bedevil cities with privacy concerns, even landing on the White House lawn, but rural states with farming, oil and rail lines see many practical reasons to put robots in the sky. Infrared imaging can judge crop health. Cameras can spot leaks and cracks in pipelines. Smaller copters can inspect windmill blades. Livestock can be located easily.
I completely missed "drones" on my "next big thing." That really, really bugs me. One has to give Amazon's Jeff Bezos most of the credit. He was the first several years ago to talk about home delivery using drones and, as I recall, everyone who wasn't "marching" in #BlackLivesMatter demonstrations was laughing at his idea. 

Now, it's just a matter of time, and that time is not far off.  

Like the internet, the government's ability to "control" and "regulate" drones will be unable to keep up, at least for the first few years. The government now imposes a $5 fee if one wants to fly a drone, but my hunch is that a lot of teenagers will be getting a drone for Christmas and the last thing on their mind is filing the $5 fee. Though I assume the smart retailers will include the form and addressed envelope in the box.

By the way, converting the manned nuclear bomber base at Grand Forks, ND, into an unmanned aerial vehicle site was really, really clever. When one of the premier air bases in Germany was shut down -- Bitburg Air Base -- the local folks converted the runway into drag strips for racing radio-controlled toy cars. That tells me all I need to know about the entrepreneurial gulf between the US and the EU.  

Anyway, enough of this for now. Have to move on.

Previous stories on North Dakota drones:
The last link provides additional links taking the story back to the beginning. California was specifically denied an early opportunity by the Federal government to compete in drone development (story at one of the links above). The Los Angeles Times was stupefied, unable to understand why.

Christmas Day Breakfast