Saturday, January 14, 2017

Atmospheric CO2 -- December, 2016

2015: 401.85
2014: 398.91
Source: CO2 Earth.

Staggering Decline In Saudi Arabia's Cash Reserves Continues -- January 14, 2017


Compare these two graphs, taking particular note of the size of the bars for May, 2016, and comparing most recent data.

First, the "old" graph:

Now, compare to the "new" graph with updated data.

There are several things to note:
  • the right hand (vertical) axis has changed
    cash reserves had a slight uptick in May compared to April (2016) 
  • from June, 2015, to November, 2015, one could argue the decrease in cash reserves was steep but somewhat "smooth"
  • in the "old" graph, there was a deep drop-off in January, 2016
  • although the decline seemed to flatten a bit in spring / early summer, 2016, it took another drop by autumn, 2016
  • but, look at that huge drop-off in November, 2016 -- in percentage terms, it looks like the biggest drop since June, 2015
I don't know what others might say, but to me this is quite staggering.

This is occurring at same time, Saudi's foreign policy (war in Yemen) costs are increasing, as wells as internal security (terrorism; subsidies to keep population content) are increasing.

By October - November, 2016, oil prices had started to recover, and yet Saudi's cash reserves were falling faster than ever.

At $50-oil, and a national budget based on $80-oil (wink-wink), I can't imagine this graph will turn around any time soon.

Projection from same source:

Why Prince Salman's "Vision 2030" Will Fail -- January 14, 2017

Track Prince Salman's plan here.

From Eurasia Review, Saudi Arabia's flawed "Vision 2030" -- analysis, December 26, 2016. Some data points:
  • after Saudi Arabia's cash reserves had dropped $150 billion, Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman finally weighed in: with a 2030 plan -- developed by McKinsey
  • Saudi's annual GDP growth between 2003 and 2013 (that period included record crude oil prices): 0.8 
  • Saudi's annual GDP growth is less than most emerging economies
  • Prince Salman's plan seeks to reduce role of public sector; increase role of private sector
  • the plan calls for the creation of a huge sovereign wealth fun to be funded by an unprecedented IPO of a 5% stake in Saudi Aramco
  • Riyadh has already wasted precious time: the country spent trillions of dollars 1970 - 2014 on 5-year development plans that left 90% of the annual Saudi budget dependent on oil revenues
  • Analysis: Prince Salman's plan will fail for four reasons
    • it is an overblown mega-project scheme
    • it focuses on economics and discards political development
    • it superficially approaches the challenge of instilling virtues of achievement
    • it takes the generation of non-oil revenues as it ultimate goal
  • The Mega-Project Scheme
    • a $2 trillion investment program; raising that much money is practically next to impossible unless oil prices see a significant appreciation ($50 oil isn't going to do it, folks) or unless Saudi plans to sell a higher proportion of Saudi Aramco
    • identifies eight sectors to generate 60% of Saudi economic growth
    • turns out that the petrochemical sector is already well developed and has little room to absorb more workers
    • same thing for mining
    • most sectors have low-paying jobs, which Saudis won't take
    • Saudi can't possibly compete in health, banking and finance
    • tourism? LOL. It's growing; it is the second largest sector after oil, but Saudi resistant to issuing visas
    • focus on universities? LOL
  • Economic Development But No Political Reform
    • Salman glosses over fact that King Saud's modern Saudi state rests on the three pillars of religion, tribalism, and oil
    • Wahhabi religious doctrine is synonymous with radicalism
    • Salman is trying to deconstruct the pillars of the Saudi political system without replacing them with modern ones
    • the only thing political about Vision 2030: the kingdom will forgo its traditional role of a swing oil producer instead opting for a major role in the global energy industry that requires transformation of Aramco into a "fully-fledged international oil company"
  • Saudi Cultural Values
    • Saudi's cultural values do not support Vision 2030. Does more need to be said?
  • All About Revenues
    • lots of taxes; end of subsidies
  • If The Plan Fails
    • could go the route of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad 
Countries that come to mind:
  • Mexico
  • Libya
  • Venezuela
  • Nigeria
  • Iraq

Someone Must Be Reading The Blog -- January 14, 2017

Over at "The Next Big Thing," I just posted a note about drones a few days ago:
Jobs: drones. Operators: law enforcement; weather channels; news agencies; logistics; marketing; advertising; tabloid; city planners; military; IRS, tax assessments; insurance adjusting (hail crop damage); farming.
Today a reader sent me this timely link: drone schools look to woo younger pilots for commercial jobs, from The Bismarck Tribune:
Leaders in the unmanned aircraft industry are trying to persuade young people who think drones are cool to consider flying them for a living.
Commercial pilots must obtain a Federal Aviation Administration drone license, and some companies that employ such pilots have started selling classes that help students prepare for the FAA test or just figure out whether they would be interested in such a career.
"I think a lot of people my age are interested in drones because it's cool technology that is really just starting to be available for everyone," said 17-year-old North Dakota high school student Ava Niemeier, who plans to attend new training being offered by a commercial drone company in her state. "There are a lot of kids at my school with smaller drones that they fly for fun."
Businesses use drones to take photos and video, for security and to conduct inspections or surveys, among other things. With the number of commercial drone operations outpacing the pool of certified drone pilots, experts say more training is needed to help young flyers operate the planes legally and safely.
Reading The London Review Of Books

This was not a "staged" photograph. I had been in the living room when I went in to the bedroom to see if Sophia was taking a nap. She was not:

It should be noted that The London Review of Books, which she is reading, is more challenging to read than The New York Book Review which I generally prefer.

Update On Israeli Natural Gas Discovery -- January 14, 2017


February 21, 2018: Noble Energy, Israel’s Delek to supply gas to Egypt in $15 billion deal.

Original Post 

Does anyone remember that story on the big natural gas discovery off the coast of Egypt posted some months ago? Several other posts: if interested, search "Israel Noble natural gas."

Here's the link to an update to that story sent to me by a reader in The New York Times: energy boom could make enemies of Israel, new friends. Don't hold your breath.
Once a barren energy island in a part of the planet otherwise awash in resources, Israel is, after years of delay, finally pushing ahead with an ambitious strategy to tap offshore reserves that could transform its economy and, it hopes, its place in a historically hostile region.
If all goes according to plan, Israel will not only become largely energy-independent, it will also supply neighbors that will have new reason to be friends.
Israel has been looking for energy since the 1950s, but the breakthrough came in 2010 with the discovery of fields called Leviathan and Tamar, said to hold 25 trillion to 30 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. A partnership led by Noble Energy, a Houston-based company, and the Delek Group, an Israeli firm, has developed wells in Tamar; the first supplies reached domestic markets in 2013.
Israeli gas now produces more than half of the country’s electricity and has bolstered its economy. Leo Leiderman, the chief economic adviser for Bank Hapoalim, estimated that along with the broader decline in energy prices, the influx of natural gas translated to an additional 2 percent of gross domestic product. And that is with only a part of the reserves currently being tapped.
Leviathan, which is more than twice the size of Tamar, has yet to be developed. Exploration stalled because of disputes over how the government should regulate the potential boom. Critics like Shelly Yachimovich, a Labor leader in Parliament, complained that corporate “pigs” would profit off resources that belonged to the Israeli people. The Noble partnership resisted what it called changing the rules after it took the risks and invested considerable money in the project.

Week 2: January 8, 2017 -- January 14, 2017

The best of the week: the Vern Whitten autumn, 2016, photo portfolio. The best video of the week (at the site, the Brigitte Gabriel video).

Without question, the top story with regard to oil this past week: Saudi Arabia says it has cut production below 10 million bopd and will cut further in February. Close behind that was the report that Chinese auto sales are soaring and China says crude oil demand may hit a record in 2017.

The other big story is the amount of LNG that Europe is going to import from the US over the next few weeks.

In North Dakota, the big story was the huge snowstorm that hit the entire state; also here, DAPL snow removal. Globally, it was a huge week for cold and snow: Europe could run out of fuel for heating; California with 12' (feet) of snow; Britain freezes over, snowed under; snow everywhere in lower 48; global warming hits California.

ND crude oil monthly production remains above one million bopd
Antelope oil field is going to get really, really busy; and, here;
Whiting, corporate presentation
Analysis of permitting in 2016

$50 WTI remains the sweet spot

Three Newburg-Spearfish-Charles wells to be re-entered

Post-fracking production spike in neighboring wells; the original P. Levang well; an older Wold well; the Johnsrud wells; the QEP wells in Grail oil field; and, here;

Three high-IP DUCs reported 
Whiting reports four nice DUCs completed 

Bakken economy
North Dakota oil cities poised for more growth
Legacy Fund and taxable sales updated
Target Logistics proposed to convert man-camp to hotel
American Airlines announces new direct flights, DFW to Billings, MT

Katie Ledecky nominated for world sports award 

The 20-Song Countdown Continues -- January 14, 2017


You say goodbye, I say hello.

Hello, Goodbye, The Beatles

Why I Love To Blog

Two days ago, over at #DailyTrumpThought, I opined that two US senators would stop the confirmation of Rex Tillerson as SecState. Fox News is now reporting essentially that. If Mitch McConnell cannot guarantee the votes Tillerson needs, Trump needs to pull that nomination. Trump has several options; one of them is not to let Tillerson be defeated by the US Senate.

The Bullet Train

The Los Angeles Times is much more liberal than The New York Times, but even atthe LA Times things are changing, at least based on the headlines. They are subtle, but they are changing.

Today this headline: California's bullet train is hurtling toward a multi-billion-dollar overrun, a confidential federal report warns.

Someone had leak that "confidential" report.

Data points:
  • a 167% cost overrun
  • could cost taxpayers 50% more; $3.6  billion more; and, that's just for the first 118 miles through the Central Valley, the easiest portion
  • Merced to Bakersfield, $10 billion vs $6 billion
  • the Central Valley portion was to be complete by 2017; now it has been pushed back to 2024
  • proponents argue these are just estimates, and it won't cost this much
Others could argue these are just estimates and it will cost much, much more. As the project gets pushed farther and farther out, it will cost more.

The good news. The governor could always ask the president to re-negotiate the deal. Trump could always make Arnold his apprentice to oversee the project.

Saturday Morning With The WSJ

Every Saturday I look forward to relaxing with the WSJ and writing short notes about book reviews and recipes. But today, after a quick look at the "Review" and "Off Duty" sections, I'm not in the mood. Maybe later, the articles will attract my attention but the first time through, they did not.

My mind is troubled.

Instead I pulled a book off one of my library shelves: Scotland, Nigel Blundell, c. 1998, a Barnes & Noble imprint, printed in China. This is a coffee-table book, that is surprisingly good.

This will be simply notes from the first chapter (geology and geography): it might get me in the mood to re-read Samuel Johnson's The Journey to the Western Island and the Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides.

Some notes and observations:
  • five major firths, counterclockwise as one enters Scotland from the southeast, as many folks from England would: Forth, Moray, Lorne Clyde, and Solway.
  • ah, need to pull out my copy of Whisk(e)y Distilled, Heather Greene, c. 2014
  • embarrassing: I had forgotten exactly where the island of Islay lay
  • the highest village in Scotland is actually situated in the Lowlands: Wanlockhead, almost 1,400 feet above sea level
  • most of the single rivers that feed into the firths have the same name as the firths; a notable exception: Loch Ness feeds into the Moray Firth; I have flown low-level up Loch Ness in an F-111; we did not see the monster
  • "ben" is the Scottish word for mountain; Ben Nevis is the tallest mountain in Scotland, at 4,480 feet
  • "ben" comes from the Gaelic beann -- "peak"
  • south of the island of Skye, is the little island of Iona; the cemetery there includes the 9th century Kenneth MacAlpin, Macbeth, and his victim Duncan, as well as four Irish kings and a further eight from Norway: I am so happy to know the identity of William Shakespeare
  • it looks like it is time to re-read the notes from The Sagas of Icelanders, preface by Jane Smiley, c. 1997
  • the pink granite cathedral is the focus of thousands of pilgrims who visit Iiona every year to pay homage at the site where St Columba settled in the 6th century; the monastery was founded in 563 AD; the Venerable Bede wrote the ecclesiastical history of Britain in about 731
  • the airport at Sumburgh, at the southern tip of Mainland Shetland is busy year-round with oil-industry traffic
  • it was the abundance of coal and shale-oil deposits below the central belt that literally fuelled the Industrial Revolution in Scotland
  • 260 million years ago -- well before man-induced global warming -- deserts, similar to California's Death Valley, once covered much of Scotland
Lady John Scott
19th Century

We'll meet nae mair at sunset when the weary day is dune,
Nor wander hame thegither by the lee licht o' the mune.
I'll hear your steps nea langer amang the dewy corn,
For we'll meet nae mair, my bonniest, either at e'en or morn.

The yellow broom is waving abune the sunny brae,
And the rowan berries dancing where the sparkling waters play;
Tho' a' is bright and bonnie it's an eerie place to me,
For we'll meet nae mair, my dearest, either by burn or tree.

Far up into the wild hils there's a kirkyard lone and still,
Where the frosts lie ilka morning and the mists hang low and chil.
And there ye sleep in silence while I wander her my lane
Till we meet ance mair in Heaven never to part again!

Rowan Trees

This is really, really cool.

Lady John Scott in her poem Durisdeer mentions rowan berries. I've come across rowan trees before in my readings. Instead of repeating all that, here is a link.  A photograph of a variety of rowan berries is noted at wiki.

Every day when I stroll Sophia (age 2.5 years old) to the park down the road, we always pass some huge shrubs (tree-height) filled with small red berries which she wants me to pick, to give to her, so she can practice throwing them. I assume the plant is Ilex decidua, meadow holly, also called "possumhaw"; or, at least closely related. I don't know my botany so I could be wrong, but the first thing I noted about this plant before I started to learn what it was, is that it reminded me of Christmas holly. Now that I explore, it appears more likely that what Sophia and I are seeing is Ilex aquifolium, common holly, holly, or European holly). 

Chapter 23 in Scotland: Water of Life -- Scotch Whisky

Some reminders:
  • barley; dried over a peat fire
  • wort: the sweet liquid before fermentation, distilling
  • fermentation: with yeast; within a few hours
  • distillation: usually twice in Scotland; thrice in Ireland
  • first distillation cut of each run: foreshot
  • last distillation cut of each run: feint
  • foreshots and feints are returned to the "wash" still for reprocessing
  • maturation: three years in an oak cask before it can be called Scotch whisky
  • malts average 12 years in wood before they are considered mature enough to bottle
  • Blundell recognizes nine producing regions; Greene focuses on five producing regions
  • Islay stands apart from the other regions: much peatier; because all distilleries on Islay are along the coast, the Scotches have an "inbuilt" marine quality about them
  • Americans are probably most familiar with Scotches from Speyside
  • the Western Highlands has only two surviving distilleries: the town of Oban; and Ben Nevis, a Japanese-owned and Fort William's only remaining distillery
Ones I have tasted that are highlighted in Blundell's coffee-table book:
  • Aberlour
  • Ardbeg (most recent purchase)
  • Auchentoshan (perhaps my favorite)
  • Bunahabhain (bought simply based on the name)
  • Cardhu (one of the best): #1 Scotch found in Spain
  • Edradour
  • Glenfiddich
  • The Glenlivet
  • Laphroaid (most distinctive; peatiest; never to be introduced to a non-Scotch drinker)
  • Tomatin (bad reviews in one book, but one of my favorites; perhaps my go-to Scotch after Auchentoshan)