Thursday, May 26, 2016

Active Rigs Up To 29; Five Producing Wells Completed -- May 26, 2016

We reported it here earlier. Hard to believe, but it's true. It was one of two North Dakota delegates that put Trump over the top. Bismarck Tribune story here. Unpledged delegates are rushing to back Trump. Establishment GOP elite still #NeverTrump.
Meanwhile, former Democrat/US presidential candidate/US attorney suggests Hillary Clinton should be charged with two felonies, including perjury

Two weeks ago, the lines at Chicago Midway were 3+ hours long; today, according to a report on NPR radio, those same lines now average 15 minutes long. The TSA blamed the long lines on an increase in air traffic passengers; I guess Americans have quit flying --- based on security lines  averaging 15 minutes now when they were over 3 hours long just days ago. What malarkey. Oh, that's right: the other part of the NPR report: the TSA "manager" at Midway was sacked and a replacement sworn in.

Active rigs:

Active Rigs2984191186214

Wells coming off confidential list Friday:
  • 26903, SI/NC, Petro-Hunt, Marinenko 145-97-30B-31-5H, Little Knife, no production data,
  • 32225, SI/NC, Hess, EN-Uran A-LE-154-93-2214-2, Robinson Lake, no production data,
Six permits renewed:
  • QEP (4), four MHA permits in Dunn County;
  • Texakota (2), two Borstad wells in Williams County; very old permits:
    • 18154, conf, Texakota, H. Borstad 2, West Tioga,
    • 18155, conf, Texakota, H. Borstad 4-5, West Tioga,
Five (5) producing wells completed:
  • 29133, 918, Hess, BW-Erler-LE-149-99-1522H-1, 4 sections, Cherry Creek, t5/16; cum --
  • 29530, 2,478, Enerplus, Raccoon 150-94-04B-09H,  Spotted Horn, t4/16; cum --
  • 31600, 1,388, Hess, EN-Cvancara-LE-155-93-1522H-1, Alger, t5/16; cum --
  • 31982, 689, EOG, Austin 441-2326H, Parshall, t5/16; cum --
  • 31983, 708, EOG, Austin 440-2326H, Parshall, t51/6; cum -- 
$50 Oil  

Won't change a thing.

Memorial Day Traffic Could Hit A Record This Year -- May 26, 2016

Gasoline demand: triple-A forecasts huge number of Americans to hit road this weekend -- could be second largest number on record.

First question I asked: what year currently holds that record? 2005.
More than 814,000 Maryland residents are expected to travel for the holiday,
According to AAA Mid-Atlantic, more than 38 million Americans will travel this Memorial Day weekend, an increase of nearly two percent compared to last year’s holiday due to lower gas prices.
AAA's forecast: the most for the Memorial Day long weekend since 2005.
AAA expects most U.S. drivers will pay the lowest Memorial Day gas prices since 2005.
From EIA:

Speaking of Traffic

Microsoft and Facebook are apparently laying a "huge" "massive" cable below the Atlantic Ocean.  The story is being reported at

"Massive" is 10x bigger than "huge." 

This is not particularly "new." Tech companies have been laying ocean-crossing cables for years.

The Transparency Page

Taking a page from the Trump playbook, the Obama administration follows suit: the Obama administration has removed public access to "conflict of interest disclosure reports" now that Donald says he won't release his tax filings.
Conflict of interest disclosure reports filed by top federal officials were removed from public view by the Obama administration in recent months, a move that government transparency and accountability advocates condemn as a major setback.
The Office of Government Ethics reports are the primary tool that watchdog journalists, political activists and interested voters can use to guard against presidential appointees using their positions to enrich themselves or others.
Whatever. As if it ever made any difference. Must be a slow news day. 

Hillary At A Tipping Point; It's No Contest -- The Washington Post -- May 26, 2016 -- Nothing About The Bakken In This Post

California primary: dead heat between Hillary / Bernie. If it's a dead heat in the polls at this point in the campaign, it's pretty clear how this is going to turn out.  

The Washington Post turning on Hillary? The long lines at airports are a problem for Hillary Clinton.
The long security lines at U.S. airports are another problem for Hillary Clinton. A lot of Americans interact with the Transportation Security Administration, and they expect that agency to function properly. And when there is a problem, they want it fixed.
Does anyone think of Clinton as a problem-solver?
Answer: No.
Can anyone think of a problem she has ever solved?
As I have written before, the Democrats are identified as a party that agitates for interest groups and social causes. They impose their will through regulations and via the courts.
The Obama era has left the Democrats without any claim to managerial expertise or problem-solving skills, and Clinton will pay a price for that in November.
The current problems at the TSA are a perfect example. When Americans are standing in lines at our nation’s airports and fuming about incompetence in government, they don’t want to hear excuses about a lack of government resources.
Who do you think is more likely to shake things up with the bureaucrats at the Department of Homeland Security and actually get the TSA working, President Hillary Clinton or President Donald Trump? It’s no contest.
There's something else going on. The increase in airline traffic did not suddenly increase overnight. Not in May.

Tea Leaves

Batteries. It's all about batteries.

Several years ago it was all about batteries. Does anyone remember A123? Toyota has been researching battery technology for years. Steve Jobs opined often how much he could do if battery technology improved. After all these years, nothing. Minimal news on any updates / breakthroughs in battery technology. It's hard to think of anything else where so much time and money has been spent with so little to show.

Apple has a history of "falling" into some really successful ventures. Wasn't Jobs working on the tablet when he was shown the "smartphone" prototype. I don't remember the story, but whatever it was, he told his folks to put everything on the back burner on concentrate on the "smartphone." The rest is history. At least it's the history I remember, and I may be all wrong.

The story about Steve Jobs came up with the "mouse" is well known. Perhaps apocryphal, but I doubt it.

I say all that to suggest that Apple's EV foray may have a similar backstory.

I would write more, but I have just been interrupted with something more important. Be that as it may, take a look:

I'm Thinking of Getting Back Into Unicycling

If I remember, I will post a photograph of the last time I was on a unicycle -- just a few years ago.

This all started three days ago. I have a ten-mile circuit I ride almost every day here in DFW metroplex area. I take a break at the Grapevine Bicycle Center -- I have bought five bikes from them -- I guess six, if you count the Strider I got for Sophia. The other day I arrived just in time to unload and carry into the store three pallets of new bicycles that had just arrived.

Two days ago when I came by, a 30-ish year-old woman was in the shop to have an orange unicycle fixed. It turns out her family has (at least) three unicycles and no bicycles. I know it's at least three because each of three children (two of them daughters) rode unicycles. Exclusively.

We were stationed in Germany for seven years; we spent a lot of time in the Alps during those years.

Seldom do I find a YouTube video that is so incredibly perfect: theme, music, originality, scenery, memories. This is one of them:

Mountain Unicycling in the Karwendel Alps

Contracts To Buy Existing Homes Surge Far More Than Expected -- May 26, 2016 -- Tea Leaves

The AP is reporting: Donald Trump has reached necessary number of delegates

Disclaimer: this is not an investment site. Do not make any investment, financial, travel, relationship, or job-related decisions based on what you read here or think you may have read here. Having said that, things are starting to get interesting again. 

Housing market back Reuters is reporting:
Contracts to buy previously owned U.S. homes surged far more than expected in April to the highest level in more than a decade, another sign the economy has gained steam during the second quarter.
The National Association of Realtors said on Thursday its pending home sales index, based on contracts signed last month, increased 5.1 percent to 116.3, a level not seen since February 2006.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast pending home sales rising 0.6 percent last month. Contracts usually become sales after a month or two.
The increase in pending home sales for March also was revised marginally upward. Overall pending home sales last month were up 4.6 percent from a year ago. 
Jobs: background noise. But not bad news.

Wall Street / oil and gas sector: seeing things we've haven't seen in awhile
Active rigs in the Bakken: 29, in a zone from 25 - 29 for the past several months, but "29" is at the high end. Anticipating 35 in latter half of 2016 if oil price holds. But the bigger story will be when fracking crews start to return. Bakken oil companies are going to jump at opportunity to get cash flow if oil stays at $50.

Target is struggling -- is it the transgender bathrooms? Who knows? Meanwhile Investor's Business Daily is reporting that Dollar Store, Dollar General "crushed" earnings forecasts. Dollar General’s first-quarter adjusted earnings climbed 23% to $1.03 a share, and revenue grew 7% to $5.27 billion. Wall Street expected 95 cents earnings per share and $5.28 billion revenue.

Wall Street moving toward businessman for president. Hillary at tipping point. 

Does Anyone Care?


June 1, 2016: fight's on.  

Original Post
I doubt anyone following the Bakken really cares about this, but the Russia-Saudi spat is important to follow. 

Russia's two big energy markets: eastern Europe and China. Recently, we talked about Russia-China relationship at Saudi's expense. 

Now a bit of swirling tea leaves with regard to Russia and the EU. 

Thirteen days before Poland’s general election, Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz opened the nation’s first terminal to import liquefied natural gas and promised “full independence” from Russian gas supplies from next year.
The facility is ready for startup tests and will get a first shipment of LNG from Qatar between Dec. 11 and Dec. 17 to cool the plant, with commercial deliveries starting in 2016, two years later than initially planned.
Poland, a key transit country for Russian gas supplies to western Europe, has criticized plans by Gazprom PJSC to expand its undersea pipeline directly to Germany, which bypasses east European countries that rely on Russia for their energy.
“Next year, we’ll be fully independent from supplies from the east,” Kopacz told reporters at the terminal’s site in the Baltic port of Swinoujscie, near the German border.
Poland plans to expand its gas grid to enable the transport of fuel from Swinoujscie to its neighbors in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Ukraine and Lithuania. That would also allow it to boost the use of the terminal, which currently only has supply agreements for 30 percent of its capacity.
Fast forward, two days ago:
Poland's state-run gas firm PGNiG said on Tuesday it will receive its first spot delivery of liquefied natural gas from Norway's Statoil on June 25.
The shipment of around 140,000 tonnes of LNG will be delivered to Poland's first LNG terminal in Swinoujscie at the Baltic Sea, which is expected to start commercial operations next month.
On May 19 trade sources told Reuters that PGNiG had purchased at least one cargo of LNG from Statoil.
PGNiG also said that it will receive the first shipment of LNG from Qatargas on June 17 as part the long-term contract signed in 2009. Next delivery from Qatar is expected in mid July this year.
The main story is obvious. But there was another important story line: the country that has become the poster child for renewable energy in the EU (Germany) appears to be tying itself closer to Russia for natural gas. One would have thought -- with all the "green" press, Germany would have been self-sufficient in energy by now.

Could the US benefit? is pessimistic.

A Billion Here, A Billion There

Miscellaneous energy notes:
  • Chevron-led group will invest another $37 billion in the Tengiz oil field, previously posted.
  • Shell plans to cut another 2,200 jobs; this follows after the company's $50 billion takeover of BG Group and its 4,600 employees.
  • GE wins $3.5 billion South Korean contract for jet engines. 
The Apple Page

Another one bites the dust. From today's WSJ: Microsoft's decision to further dismantle its shrunken mobile phone operations leaves the software giant betting that it can revive its fortunes in a critical market by focusing on the one area it still may have strength: securing and managing mobile devices on corporate networks.

From Yahoo!Finance:
Microsoft has had a rocky few years as it tries to compete with the likes of Apple and Samsung in the smartphone world. This week, it looks like the wheels are finally falling off.
The company announced Wednesday it’s cutting 1,850 jobs, with 1,350 coming from its Finnish operations, known as Microsoft Mobile Oy, and an additional 500 from other regions. The move also includes a $950 million restructuring charge for the company, with $200 million going to employee severance packages.
The news comes just a week after Microsoft confirmed it was selling its feature phone business to FIH Mobile and HMD Global for $350 million.
Microsoft’s smartphone struggles speak to a larger issue facing potential competitors to Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android: With so many consumers already embedded in one operating system or the other, creating a viable third alternative is a virtually Sisyphean task.
In fact, according to comScore, Microsoft’s share of the US smartphone market is a paltry 2.7%. That’s virtually nonexistent next to Android’s 52.8% and Apple’s 43.6%.
Dante's Inferno

From today's WSJ: insurers seek big premium boots for ObamaCare. Large health plans in some states are seeking to raise rates by 20% or more. 
Big health plans stung by losses in the first few years of the U.S. health law’s implementation are seeking hefty premium increases for individual plans sold through insurance exchanges in more than a dozen states.
The insurers’ proposed rates for individual coverage in states that have made their 2017 requests public largely bear out health plans’ grim predictions about their challenges under the health-care overhaul.
According to the insurers’ filings with regulators, large plans in states including New York, Pennsylvania and Georgia are seeking to raise rates by 20% or more.
In states such as Florida and Maryland, insurers are seeking to raise premiums by percentage averages that are markedly above 10%. Among those that have published so far, only in Vermont do big insurers’ requests fall below 10%.
Just in time for the November election. I hope the folks in New York, Pennsylvania, and Maryland are paying attention. The best thing for the GOP to do: run, don't walk, away from this issue. It's the gift that keeps on giving.


Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain, Willie Nelson

The Core Of The Bakken -- In One Graphic -- As Understood By Wall Street -- May 26, 2016

I've posted this link/story earlier. It was from The Wall Street Journal. The reason I'm posting it again is to show folks in the Bakken what Wall Street and the folks in New York City are being told about the Bakken, as seen in this graphic:

I guess if the shaded area is the "Core," the actual Bakken must extend east into Minnesota and south into Nebraska. Whatever.

And this reminder: Donald Trump will be in Bismarck tomorrow. It would be great to see a photo of the Trump logo on his jet on the Bismarck airport tarmac, or on his helicopter on a Bakken 12-well oil pad. LOL. 

The accompanying article did not mention Dickinson, though it did mention Williston (as the by-line), and Tioga:
Just 27 drilling rigs are active in North Dakota, matching a low last seen in July 2005 and down from an all-time high of 218 in 2012, according to the state’s Department of Mineral Resources. But data from the Energy Information Administration show output per rig has increased by more than one-third over the past year in the Bakken.
Exxon Mobil increased net production in the Bakken and another shale play in Texas called the Permian by nearly 25% last year. “With cash operating cost at less than $10 per barrel, our Bakken and Permian developments remain attractive and competitive even in the current environment,” CEO Rex Tillerson told investors on a conference call in March.
I thought this was interesting:
“If we make the right calls in 2016, it’s going to define the next decade,” Torgrim Reitan, Statoil’s Houston-based executive vice president for U.S. operations, said in an interview.
Mr. Reitan said that even with higher prices, growth will remain subdued as the industry has learned to do more with fewer rigs and workers. “We will not go back to the activity levels we used to have,” he said.
And then this:
Hess, which exported the first cargo of Bakken crude from the U.S. Gulf Coast last month, says it is implementing lean manufacturing techniques borrowed from Toyota Motor Corp. such as just-in-time supply chain logistics and greater use of standardized parts. 
It is operating three rigs, down from a high of 17 in 2014, but it has increased the number of wells drilled per rig to 22 a year, up from 16 wells a year 18 months ago.
Standing near a quartet of pump jacks surrounded by farm land, David McKay, the vice president of what Hess calls its Bakken “Well Factory,” credits the downturn for forcing producers to rethink their operations. “There was a time when we were all cheeks and heels” in the rush to boost output, he said in an interview. “The slowdown actually has helped convince people of the need to do everything more efficiently,” he said.
Sea of Love, Narvel Felts

Brent Oil Hits $50 -- May 26, 2016; XOM, CVX Shareholders Vote "NO" On Liquidating Their Companies

Brent is above $50/bbl. Headline over at Yahoo!Finance early this morning. Let's see what the number is at the opening bell: the "WTI crawler" is $49.96, up 0.81%.

XOM, CVX shareholders vote "no" on liquidating their companies. I can't make this stuff up. Bloomberg/Rigzone is reporting:
Big Oil investors voted to continue doing the thing that has defined the industry since the 19th century: drilling for crude.
Shareholders of Exxon Mobil Corp. and Chevron Corp. overwhelmingly rejected resolutions backed by environmental activists on Wednesday that would have curtailed exploration for new oil fields and funneled the money to investors in the form of higher dividends and share buybacks.
At Chevron’s gathering in San Ramon, California, holders rejected the anti-drilling measure for a second straight year. Chairman and CEO John Watson decried the proposal, saying it “suggests we liquidate the company by paying dividends. Of course, we don’t think that is the proper action to take.”
Job watch:
  • dropped 10,000, to 268,000
  • four-week average: increased to 278,500
The four-week average increasing is interesting; the weekly numbers have shown significant decreases the past two weeks.

Back To The Bakken

Active rigs:

Active Rigs2984191186214

RBN Energy: Tallgrass' winning strategy for the Rockies Express (REX).
When the Rockies Express (REX) Pipeline was being planned and built a few years ago, no one could have predicted that the natural gas-hungry Northeast REX was developed to serve would soon become a gas-production behemoth able to meet its own needs and have plenty of gas left over. But that’s just what happened, and in response, REX’s owners developed a revised strategy that deals with the reality of Marcellus/Utica production growth by making more and more of REX bi-directional. Now, Tallgrass Energy Partners (TEP), a master limited partnership (MLP), has acquired a 25% interest in REX from Sempra, joining existing co-owners Tallgrass Development (an affiliate with a 50% stake in REX) and Phillips 66 (with a 25% stake), and has laid out a long-term vision for maintaining—and even increasing—REX’s relevance in a still-changing energy world. Today, we consider TEP’s $1.08 billion investment in REX, and the steps that the pipeline’s co-owners are taking to bolster REX’s future.
First an important disclaimer.  We are not an investment advisor.  The purpose of this blog is not investment advice or endorsement.  RBN looks at individual company information to see what the data means for the market as a whole, not for the implications for any particular company’s stock.   You should not rely on anything you read here as the basis for any decision or conclusion regarding TEP or any other security.
State-By-State GDP

US 1Q16 GDP grew at a dismal 0.5% pace -- their words, not mine.

However, like politics, one might say that "all" economies are local.
The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia has released coincident indexes for the 50 states, which captures the three-month change in economic activity through April 2016.  This is the seasonally adjusted indicator series for each state’s payroll employment, unemployment rate, average hours worked in manufacturing, and wage and salary disbursements.
According to the release, the indexes increased in 39 states, decreased in seven, and remained stable in four.
The states with decreases include North Dakota, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Louisiana, Iowa and Pennsylvania. All share exposure to the oil and gas industry, which has struggled due to low prices.
Texas, while exposed heavily to the energy industry, saw activity increase. Comments recently made by Home Depot’s Chairman and CEO Craig Menear may explain.
If Hillary is elected president, and she is successful in her goal to ban fracking, the GDP story is going to look a lot worse, especially in the swing states of Ohio and Pennsylvania where a lot of fracking is done.

North Unit 

Video of the "North Unit" taken by our younger daughter during her/her husband's recent trip to North Dakota.

Can Never Get Enough Of This Song

Directions, Billy Currington