Thursday, February 27, 2020

Coronavirus Update -- February 27, 2020

This was not a good day for those anxious about coronavirus. The four most important indicators did not improve, but again, the number of deaths are so small, it doesn't take many to skew the results.
  • growth factor turned up (bad, really bad news)
  • total deaths, change in total, still really, really low but went from 1% to 2% change, day-over-day (bad news)
  • change in number of daily deaths, day-over-day, went from 37 to 58 which is not particularly bad, considering that almost all of them were in China, this still represented a 57% increase -- really, really bad
  • the good news (few new deaths in countries outside of China) but that was offset by news of huge numbers of people now "of interest," as they say, in places like California and New York state
The statistics are linked at the link at the top of the sidebar at the right.

Idle Rambling; Not Ready For Prime Time -- All Politics -- February 27, 2020

When it comes to politics, the three polls I trust the least:
  • Fox News
  • The Economist
  • CNN
The other pollsters I don't trust much either, but those three have the least credibility with me.

Perhpas Quinnipiac is one of the better ones.

But this is very, very interesting.

The Economist is about as liberal one can get; Fox News is about as conservative as one can get.

But in the national 2020 Democrat presidential race, Fox News and the Economist are showing almost identical results:
  • Bernie: 30% (Economist); 31% (Fox News)
  • Biden: 18% (Economist); 20% (Fox News)
The Hill is similar: 28% for Bernie; 17% for Biden.

The other polls are showing the same thing.

Again, this is a national poll so it may not mean a thing with regard to delegates. Hillary (and others in the past) have won the popular vote but not the presidency.

Good, bad, indifferent, those numbers do not excite me one way or the other. This is what caught my attention: since January, Bernie Sanders has jumped 8 points (31%) while Joe Biden has dropped 8 points (18%).

That's a huge shift.

On top of that, people like Nancy Pelosi are publicly warming up to Bernie Sanders. 

South Carolina: it looks like Biden could have a huge win. He would be doing even better if Tom Steyer and Buttigieg weren't taking votes from him. Everything suggests that Bernie will max out at 25% in South Carolina regardless of who else is running. Clyburn's endorsement was huge; herd mentality is strong in South Carolina (as it is in California and many [most] other states.

As I go through the rest of the states, it's a real toss-up: either Sanders gets the nomination in Milwaukee on the first vote, or he comes close, with no one having a majority on the first vote.

I'm not making light of this, but the Milwaukee brewery shooting today could very well ... how do I put this delicately ... let's do it from the other side of the coin: if Bernie doesn't get the nomination on the first vote and then loses on the second vote, all hell is going to break loose in that convention hall.

For the MAGA Trumpers, the question is this: who is worse for America. Not worse for Trump, but worse for America. I won't show my cards on that one, but like everything else on which I opine, I know I'm right. LOL. Sometimes I wonder how my wife can live with me. LOL.


Let's look at Bloomberg for a minute. Looking at momentum shifts and huge advertising campaign, the following is a real possibility. The following does not show up in the most recent polls, but if one looks at momentum and a huge advertising push, and no more debates, one could defend the following:
  • Texas: a three-way, maybe four-way tie -- Bernie, Biden, Bloomberg ... Pocahontas.
  • Virginia: much like Texas .... Bernie wins but Bloomberg, Biden hang in there. This may be the end for Buttigieg. Along with his showing in South Carolina.
So, Bloomberg could do well in a couple of states. Unfortunately for Bloomberg, the momentum in those few states won't help in the rest of Super Tuesday states -- they are all voting at the same time.
  • California: Bloomberg -- no chance at all, and no delegates. Sanders will take this one easily, but not decisively enough to take more than half the delegates.
  • Minnesota: Bloomberg --  no chance at all, and no delegates.
    • Minnesota: Klobuchar (huge win) but Sanders will do well (again, the delegate count favors a brokered convention)
  • Florida: could be another huge win for Biden
Every time I go through this list, pushing for one of the candidates to get enough delegates on the first vote, I can never get there. Neither can James Carville. Bernie won't get any delegates in Florida. It's hard to win a majority of delegates on the first vote if you can't even get a single delegate in Florida. And Georgia will be just as tough.


With the implosion of the stock market, this is the end of huge donations for Klobuchar, Buttigieg, Biden, Pocahontas. No matter how rich one is, a 25% loss in net worth gets one's attention.

South Carolina is going to give Biden bragging rights, but he is still going to run out of money, sooner than later.

Money wins. That leaves Bernie, Bloomberg, and Steyer.

Coronavirus -- Update -- February 27, 2020

We won't see the numbers until around midnight tonight, but right now there were 16 new deaths reported worldwide. Yesterday there were 38. If the "16" holds today, that will represent a change of minus 58%, the best in three days and continuing the downward trend.

In addition, the change in total number of deaths will be less than 1% -- the lowest it has been since the coronavirus outbreak was identified, and continuing the downward trend.

Of the 16 new deaths in the last 24 hours:
  • Iran: 7
  • Italy: 5
  • China: 2
  • South Korea: 1
  • Japan: 1
I find the coronavirus story fascinating on so many levels. Most fascinating: in countries millions and millions of people, we are able to "capture" single deaths. Fascinating.

With such small numbers, it only takes a few deaths in any one day to really affect the overall percentages. 

Diamond Princess. No new deaths reported in quite some time.

That "de novo" death in northern California is very, very interesting. More on that later, but I am on my way to picking up Sophia.

Adult male slate-colored junco. Compare with photograph at this link.

WTI Drops Below $47; Down Almost 5% -- February 27, 2020

Headline: Saudis slash March, 2020, crude oil exports to China as demand slumps.

Gasoline demand, link here

Back to the Bakken 

Active rigs:

Active Rigs5066574138

Two new permits today, #37414, - #37415, inclusive:
  • Operator: Kraken
  • Field: Lone Tree Lake (Williams)
  • Comments: 
    • Kraken has permits for a two-well Redfield Central pad in NENW section 25-157-99, Lone Tree Lake oil field.
Ten wells approved for confidential status:
  • Whiting: Ogden (3), Fladeland (2), Sondrol (1), Rauser (3), Harvey, (1).
No permits canceled.

No permits renewed.

No producing wells (DUCs) reported as completed:

Notes From All Over, Part 3 -- February 27, 2020

Really? The presidential briefing on coronavirus included comment from several people in addition to the president. The most ridiculous comment came from one of the other speakers who recommended that schools "dust off" their "pandemic preparation" checklists. I kid you not. I was in the USAF for 30 years and if any agency has checklists for any and every eventuality, every contingency it would be the US military. Not once in those 30 years did I ever run across a "pandemic preparation" checklist. Today I received a note from the middle school which our middle granddaughter attends. The principal, bless his heart, sent out "the" checklist. LOL. It started with, "wash your hands frequently."

Love him or hate him: who would you rather have in charge with regard to coronavirus? Bush II, Barack Obama or Donald Trump? With the first, in over his head; with the second, a lot of speeches. With Trump, we will see heads roll after the first US coronavirus-related death if it could have been prevented. Those CDC folks may seem smug on the outside but inside they know their futures are in the hands of a demanding president up for re-election later this year. 

China and Apple: soon to part ways.

Pipelines: Putin is building a multi-billion-dollar Nordstream 2 pipeline to bring natural gas from Russia to Germany. Meanwhile, New York bans natural gas from neighboring Pennsylvania. Putin must think we're nuts.

Campaign 2020 funding: drying up. The stock market implosion will put an end to frivolous campaign donations. Won't affect Bernie, Steyer, or Bloomberg. Buttigieg, Pocahontas, Biden, Klobuchar: last nail in their coffins. Earlier it was reported "Hollywood" has even said "enough is enough."

Coronavirus: the smartest thing the administration could do is post daily seasonal flu deaths in the US alongside coronavirus deaths in the US and remind people that the CDC-sanctioned "flu shot" is less than 45% effective. [My hunch: the "flu shot" is significantly less than 45% effective; the CDC would want best number possible, and would post results under optimum testing conditions.]

Hope springs eternal. Royal Dutch Shell (does Queen Elizabeth allow them to use the word "Royal"? -- just wondering, but I digress) says it will continue with plans for "massive" deep-water drilling plan in Mexico even though the company knows it is unlikely to see any production under the current Mexican government. Link here:
The global oil major plans to drill four wells this year, and a similar amount next year, said Alberto de La Fuente, Shell’s Mexico country chief. It’s part of a drilling campaign that will include 10 to 13 wells and cost from $800 million to $2.4 billion.
Shell has a major position in Mexico’s deep-waters at a time when access is hard to come by. Mexico’s new government under Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, also known as AMLO, has promised to reverse the neoliberal policies of his predecessor and has canceled further auctions and joint-venture opportunities with state owned Petroleos Mexicanos.
“First oil, if we are successful, is unlikely to occur before the end of AMLO’s term, due to the complexity of deep-water fields, which can take anywhere from five years to a decade to start producing,” De La Fuente, who’s also president of AMEXHI, the national hydrocarbons association.
What's wrong with this list? See story at this link. Saudi Aramco signed 66 MOUs worth $21 billion for oil, gas, refining projects.

Backyard Birding

I'm very new at this, and it won't get much better. So if you are into "birding" this is NOT the site to visit.

Showing up at the same time as the male cardinal above, the bird in the bottom photo is most likely a very young cardinal. I was thinking "something else," but the red beak really really suggests a cardinal. In addition, a male-female cardinal pair are regular visitors to our backyard patio, so it would be likely they have hatchling or two.

Notes From All Over, Part 2 -- February 27, 2020

Constitution Pipeline: canceled -- link here --
  • Williams and partners
  • the pipeline that has caused all the controversy
    • eight-year controversy
    • NYDEC denied the project a water quality permit in 2016
  • was to be a new 30-inch, 125-mile pipeline; 650,000 dekatherms of natural gas / day
    • natural gas source: the Marcellus
    • terminus: "New York"
    • some sources suggest one decatherm = 0.172414 boe, if so, this pipeline about 112,000 boepd
  • enough is enough: it cost Williams almost $400 million in full-year 2019 earnings
  • current infrastructure projects:
    • Regional Energy Access
    • Leidy South
    • Northeast Supply Enhancement
  • my only comment: why did it take  Williams so long?
  • my hunch: this will put pressure on fossil fuel companies to make final investment decisions more quickly (to cut projects if consumers don't want those projects); see link below;
Pennsylvania reaction: not happy
The nearly $1 billion pipeline project was designed to take natural gas from Pennsylvania’s shale gas fields to New York and New England.
It was initially proposed in 2013 at a projected cost of under $700 million. However, delays and legal challenges drove the costs up by nearly 40 percent. The statement to halt investment in the proposed Constitution Pipeline was released by the project’s four partners, The Williams Companies, Cabot Oil and Gas, Alta Gas, and Duke Energy.
Governor Cuomo to New Yorkers: let them eat cake. New York is closed to business. Now that Amazon won't be moving to Long Island, the area probably doesn't need all that cheap natural gas anyway.

Most likely to have ripple effects. Link here. As I opined above.

Costs, back-of-the envelope:
  • original estimate: $700 million / 125 miles = $5.6 million / mile
  • new estimates: $980 million / 125 miles =  $7.8 million / mile
  • wow, lots of jobs lost
Continued Balkanization of the US:
  • some regions, pro-business, cheap energy
  • some regions, anti-business, expensive energy
Meanwhile, Back To Cuba

Notes From All Over, Part 1 -- February 27, 2020

First things first: I was surprised to know that it froze overnight here in north Texas. I've put out the birdseed. On days like this, I add bread to the birdseed. I put out "regular" birdseed for the songbirds and "more robust" birdseed for the larger birds (and the squirrels). Later: the first bird to arrive, a male bluejay. Immediately following, two cardinals, male / female pair. Then several dark-eyed juncos and other assorted sparrows. 

McDonald's: the "regulars" in McDonald's are complaining how cold it is in north Texas this week. Something tells me they are not concerned about "global warming."

Lamb: see photos here. Wow, it turned out well.
  • 24-hour marinade: rosemary, thyme, shallots, garlic, oil, balsamic vinegar, pepper (no salt)
  • very, very hot fire
    • on the grill: four minutes on one side; barely five minutes on the other side
    • directly on the coal (no grill): barely two minutes on each side
  • I may have to re-think the salt. From a "taste" point of view, salt is not necessary, but I understand salt does more than just flavor meat; we'll see
  • I used a bit more olive oil than usual because more lamb to marinade, but if I had to do it over again, I would use the same amount of olive oil as I've always used; too much oil makes the lamb too "liquidy" -- but wow, it's incredibly tender
  • err on the side of under-cooking; can always be cooked a bit more in the microwave (although that is anathema / sacrilegious in these here parts;
  • directly on the coal is so much better than on the grill; but directly on the coal -- barely two minutes each side;
  • do not use briquets if cooking directly on coal; research "cave-man" grilling before proceeding!
Later: a reader writes:
Kingsford briquets, very very very hot fire on Weber kettle.
Heavy salt on both sides of meat. Put salt on meat immediately before putting on grill.
Meat close to fire.
Fire will destroy salt flavor but help form a sealing crust on meat.
Turn meat as soon as crust is formed (before meat dissolves salt on top side.
Not true that you can only turn meat once on the grill. May have to try a few times to get the timing right.
I find this makes meat juicier and contributes to flavor in the meat without making it taste salty. Crust looks and tastes better.
In my opinion man has not invented a grilling machine equal to the Weber Grill when it comes to steak and chops. Steaks and chops are all about hot, hot, hot.
I replied: I knew there was something about salt -- just didn't know "what." And I agree 100% about the Weber grill. 

Record Natural Gas Exports To Mexico-- Sur De Texas ; US-Mexico Natural Gas Update -- MAGA -- February 27, 2020

Sur de Texas: record exports point to downstream testing in Mexico. Link here:
  • record-high volumes on the Sur de Texas-Tuxpan Pipeline this month (February, 2020)
  • suggestion: testing may have already begin on the Cempoala Phase II compressor station reversal 
  • Cempoala Phase II: a key downstream infrastructure project that has promised to significantly expand Mexico's demand for US gas by the end of this quarter (1Q20);
  • February 15, 2020: Sur de Texas receipts:
    • almost one billion cf/d 
    • highest volume to date
    • corresponds with deliveries to Monte Grande have backed off, averaging just 140 million cf/d
  • however, prior to this, from the beginning of the year (2020), there has been a steady increase in transmission volumes through Monte Grande 
  • this suggests that the grid operator Cenagas could be preparing for a significant increase in gas imports from the US
  • More on the Sur de Texas-Tuxpan pipeline
    • product moves to three sites deep inside Mexico
    • crosses at Agula Dulce Hub (US/Mexico border)
    • Valley Crossing pipeline
    • Sur de Texas-Tuxpan pipeline
    • three sources of demand
      • Altamira import facility: natural gas imports seem to have decreased this year as more US natural gas flow
      • Naranjos: second connection -- pushes natural gas west into the interior, toward Salamanca
      • Monte Grande: third connection -- pushes natural gas west to Mexico City, and south to southern Mexico (via Cempoala Phase II)
    • Cempoala Phase II, a fourth potential connection / demand site: the Cempoala Phase II compressor reversal -- a project currently under construction, downstream from the Monte Grande interconnect
      • that project: will provide as much as 1.3 billion f/d of total capacity -- pushing NG further south
      • the Cempoala compressor reversal could boost US exports by as much as 700 million cf/d
  • Other developments:
    • last segment of the Wahalajara pipeline will be completed March, 2020 (next month): will increase US pipeline exports by nearly 400 million cf/d, partially displacing other non-US foreign imports
  • US pipeline exports to Mexico:
    • currently averaging 5.2 billion cf/d
    • by April, 2020: 5.7 billion cf/d
    • by August, 2020, 6.3 billion cf/d (a 20% increase over current imports)
Great map at the linked story.  

I think there are two stories here:
  • Mexico's increase demand for natural gas; and,
  • what proportion of that demand will come from the US
The first story interests me much more; the second story will take care of itself. 

WTI Goes Below $48 -- February 27, 2020

Something to think about: with the stock market plummeting; concerns about a recession or worse, depression, do you really think those high rollers are going to send more political cash to Buttigieg, Pocahontas, Biden, et al?  The same goes for all those down-ballot candidates.

More politics than usual (sorry) but I find the coronavirus story absolutely fascinating on so many levels:
Trump is always thinking. I am sure he is thinking about this -- coronavirus, Mexico, and the border wall.

The last time I looked, Canada, Mexico, and the US all share something in common -- we're all in North America, fairly isolated from coronavirus ground zero.

If coronavirus is "inevitable" in the US, it's inevitable in Canada and Mexico.

Two things:
  • It will be interesting to see how coronavirus is managed in these three countries; and,
  • President Trump may get even more support to strengthen the southern border / wall "when" (because it's "inevitable") Mexico reports its first case of coronavirus.
The health care systems in these three countries could not be more different  (well, actually they could but you get the point). 
Mexico has no reported cases of coronavirus yet; will Mexico close its border to the US now that the US has 60 cases (and rising)? Same with Canada. With 60 cases, the US has five times the number of cases as Canada (12). Is it time for Canada to close its borders with the US? Compared to Canada, the US clearly doesn't not have the situation under control. 
Additional comment: my hunch is that Mexicans, in general, will react quickly to any news that there are coronavirus cases in their country. And I doubt they will head south to Guatemala for health care. Back to that earlier point: Trump is always thinking -- and now this: coronavirus, Mexico, and the border wall.
It will be interesting to see if Schumer / Pelosi pushback on immunization requirements for folks crossing the southern border. There are a lot of diseases much worse than coronavirus that can be prevented with immunizations. Never let a crisis go to waste.
Most surprising "factoid" from yesterday: the seasonal flu vaccine used in the US is, at best, 45% effective. That's less than 50%. Who knew.

Seasonal flu: in the US so far this year, and the season is not yet over --
  • 36.5 million illnesses
  • 34,200 death
  • at least 105 children have died
  • these are only US numbers
  • How good is the vaccine? Apparently not very effective. 50/50. In fact, worse than 50/50. Link here. From an interim report released by the CDC yesterday (at the halfway mark through the seasonal flu season).
COVID-19: overnight in the US --
  • no vaccine
  • cases:
    • three new cases, currently at 60 cases
      • one case, possibly three may be "de novo"
  • deaths
    • no deaths overnight
    • total number of deaths in US so far: 0 
Plagiarism: Buttigieg -- clearly channeling President Obama in his speeches, Buttigieg is now said to be ripping off others. Mainstream media is ignoring the story.

Back to the Bakken

Active rigs:

Active Rigs5166574138

Permits coming off the confidential list today -- Thursday, February 27, 2020:
  • 36793, drl, Sinclair Oil, Harris Federal 2-32H, Lone Butte, t--; cum --;
  • 35424, SI/NC, MRO, Frances USA 11-15H, 33-061-04288, Reunion Bay, t--; cum --;
  • 34392, drl, White Butte Oil, Jore Federal 5-12H, Clark Creek, t--; cum --;
RBN Energy: sagging supply and rising demand for Jones Act ships to send rates higher.
Back in 2013-14, a run-up in demand for Jones Act tankers and large articulated tug barges –– and a spike in time charter rates — spurred orders for a flotilla of new vessels. By the time the new tankers and ATBs were built and launched, however, demand for them had fallen off. That decline was mostly due to the mid-decade slump in U.S. crude oil production and, with the lifting of the ban on most U.S. crude exports, the drop in crude shipments from one U.S. port to another. Term charter rates plummeted and ship owners stopped ordering new tankers and large ATBs. Now, for the first time in more than five years, there are barely enough Jones Act vessels to go around, and charter rates are on the rise. Today, we discuss recent trends and how they’re impacting crude oil and refined products transportation costs.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, a federal law whose section 27 is better known as the Jones Act for its author, Senator Wesley Jones of Washington state. The Jones Act requires that all goods transported by water between U.S. ports be carried in U.S.-flagged ships constructed in the U.S., owned by U.S. citizens, crewed by U.S. citizens, and registered in the U.S. As it applies to the energy sector, the Jones Act fleet consists of five main categories of vessels: smaller inland barges that typically carry either 10 Mbbl or 30 Mbbl of crude or refined products and operate on inland waterways as well as coastal canals; regional offshore tank barges (e.g. New York Harbor) with capacities of 50 MMbbl to 135 Mbbl; coastal barges, including larger articulated tug barges (ATBs) with capacities of 142 Mbbl to over 320 Mbbl; tankers that operate in both coastal and international waters and generally carry ~330 Mbbl of crude oil or refined products; and large crude oil tankers in the Alaskan trade.