Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Fergus Falls State Hospital -- Photographs -- Vern Whitten -- December 2, 2020

Some months ago Mr Vern Whitten sent me photos of Fergus Falls State Hospital ... photographed from the air. I was quite intrigued, to say the least. I read up on the hospital but then moved on. 

Tonight, of all things, more photos of the historic building, placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986. Apparently Vern was as intrigued by the building as I was. But he was fortunate enough to be able to return and take photographs from the ground.

Vern sent me the link to his photos. Enjoy.

If you enjoy the photos as much I do/did -- consider sending a short holiday note to Mr Vern Whitten thanking him.

Vern Whitten Photography

(701) 261-7658

For newbies, Mr Vern Whitten has sent me countless photos of the Bakken over the years: from the early days of the boom to the build-out. Go to the Whitten tag at the bottom of the blog, or simply click on "Whitten." 

I think his Bakken photos are absolutely incredible. What an amazing photo-history.

In The Bakken, All Roads Lead To Williston

One of Vern Whitten's photos that I really enjoy. This one brings back many, many memories of driving back to Williston, coming down Indian Hill, coming from the south of Williston, looking north toward the new bridge over the Missouri River just east of the confluence.

Chinese Flu Watch -- December 2, 2020

Johns Hopkins normally updates this in the early morning hours. But it was just released minutes ago.

The Bakken: Busy, Busy, Busy -- At Least Some Areas -- December 2, 2020

The Bakken never ceases to amaze me. 

On the way to something else, I happened to note this area. I have covered this area in the past but have not looked at it in a long time -- at least I don't recall seeing this area recently. Maybe once I start listing the wells, it will all come back to me. 

But I'm really not in the mood to look at all the wells in this area tonight. 

So, I'm just going to post the graphics to give folks an idea how busy this area has become. Note the two rigs in the graphics. 

I will update the wells later.

Notes From All Over -- The Post-NFL Wednesday Game Edition -- December 2, 2020

NFL: first game in long time that a game was paid on a Wednesday afternoon. I assume one of the two teams won. If not, it was a tie.

NOG: up over 12% today. 

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

Apple: Apple Watch sets new record with estimated 11.8 million shipments last quarter. Wow. Link here. Each one of these watches is paired with an iPhone. And most of them will updated in the next year or so. Let's see. Common sense tells me if the Apple Watches delivered last quarter set a record, the number of phones that will be replaced this quarter -- the holiday quarter -- will also set a record. Just saying. Common sense. 

But look at this: Apple Watch shipments were up almost 75% over the same quarter on year ago. Think about that: up 75% year/year. The phones may / may not have a huge margin, I don't know. But they represent Apple folks who will upgrade their iPhones and their mobile computers. From the linked article:

11.8 million units appears to be a new quarterly record for the Apple Watch, as Statista shows that shipments of the device have never exceeded 9.2 million in any prior quarter, based on data from research firm Strategy Analytics. 
The third quarter of 2020 encompassed the launch of the high-end Apple Watch Series 6 and mid-range Apple Watch SE, and the Apple Watch Series 3 remains available, providing customers with several price points
As usual, the big caveat here is that Apple does not disclose Apple Watch unit sales in its earnings reports, so any figures from research firms are estimates. That said, Apple's wearables category brought in a record $7.9 billion in revenue last quarter, and given that this segment includes products like the Apple Watch and AirPods, there is evidence to suggest that the Apple Watch has been selling quite well as of late.

And then this:

IDC estimates that the Apple Watch held 21.6% market share among wrist-worn wearables shipped worldwide last quarter, trailing in second behind Xiaomi's estimated 24.5% market share, but this includes everything from high-end smartwatches to basic fitness trackers like Xiaomi's Mi Band, which is priced under $50.

Investors In Fossil Fuel Will Reap Benefits Over The Next Four Years -- December 2, 2020

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

Counterintuitive: investors in fossil fuel companies are going to be well rewarded over the next few years.  

Exhibit A, Enbridge:

Exhibit B: administration's vow to shut down drilling, fracking. We'll talk about this later.

Exhibit C: environmentalists to shut down new pipelines. We'll talk about this later.

Exhibit D: post-Covid-19 -- global economy will surge.

Exhibit E: Saudi needs $60 oil; not even close, and even $60 is not enough. 

Exhibit F: majors slash spending.

MRO With Four Permits -- December 2, 2020

Mark Perry: quotation of the day on wokeness, structural racism, and critical race theory ....

Active rigs:

Active Rigs1456665339

Four new permits, #37998 - #38001, inclusive:

  • Operator: MRO (4)
  • Field: Van Hook (Mountrail)
  • Comments: MRO has four new permits in NENE/NWNE section 18-150-92;
    • names: Old Bear USA; Burger USA; Bowman USA; Blackburn USA
    • the four wells will be 303' FNL and between 1317' and 1437' FEL; all in Van Hook oil field;

One permit was renewed:

  • Petro-Hunt: a Hagen permit in Billings County;

Another Female-Friendly Federal Benefit Under The Trump Administration -- December 2, 2020

I have a very generous military pension. I consider it generous because it is guaranteed by the federal government. My pension is taxed by the federal government, but I live in a state with no income tax.

If I precede my wife in death, she will get receive 55% of my pension tax-free as long as she lives. 

Of course, if my wife precedes my in death, I've paid $500/month with no return. One can argue whether it's worth it.

It's very likely that this benefit will be enhanced under a female-spouse friendly administration, if not the Kamala Harris administration, some future administration.

This benefit is called the survivor's benefit program (SBP) but it costs the military retiree about $500/month. That $500/month is taken out of the retirement check. One can opt in or opt out upon retirement but the spouse must concur. The spouse has absolute veto power.

Once the military retiree dies, the monthly premium is no longer collected. 

In addition to this generous military pension for  my non-military spouse, if I die from a service-related injury, she is eligible for additional benefits through the "DIC":

However, and this is huge: the DIC benefits are offset by a reduction in her SBP benefits. Of course, that makes no sense; and, this has been in effect for decades. 

It could have been "fixed" under President Bush II and under President Obama. Neither did anything.

Today I received this in the mail:

The offset will be completely eliminated within the next couple of years. Truly incredible.

Obviously every military spouse owes a President Trump and his cabinet appointments a note of thanks.

I doubt this would have occurred under a Hillary administration. My hopes is that the SBP benefit will be "fixed" by a female-friendly Biden administration.   

[Yes, I know these programs benefit both male and female spouses, but ... well, you get the point ....]

Chinese Flu Watch -- December 2, 2020

CDC's weekly MMWR, for week ending November 21, 2020:

  • 1.6% of visits to a health care provider were for influenza-like illnesses; last week, 1.5%
  • all states with minimal activity, except for two with low activity (Rhode Island, New Mexico)
  • number of tests: 33,351
  • number of positives: 55 (0.2%)

Johns Hopkins data delayed. Pending

For the most part, the protests were peaceful. LOL. Now, this from The WSJ: no evidence of widespread voter fraud in election -- US Attorney General William Barr; for the most part the voter fraud was limited to toss-up states, blue states, and traditional red states:

  • Pennsylvania
  • Michigan
  • Wisconsin
  • Minnesota
  • Georgia
  • Nevada
  • Arizona

Are you kidding me: one of the smartest guys in the US government and charged with investigating voter fraud, says, "well, you know, for the most part, there wasn't all that much voter fraud -- about what we expected -- and, in the big scheme of things was limited to only those toss-up states that really mattered. For example, no fraud seen in North Dakota. So, nothing to see here. Let's move on. And, oh by the way, I expect US Attorney John Durham to do the right thing."

And we move on.

The market: am I overusing the phrase, "holy mackerel"? But look at this: down about 200 points at the open, the Dow is now down all of 11 points (10:29 a.m. CT).

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

Sempra Energy, link here:

  • stock-for-stock exchange for IEnova;
  • Sempra will begin trading on the Mexican stock exchange
  • SRE: up a bit. I was surprised to see that. 

Saleforce / Slack vs Microsoft. This will be interesting to watch. According to talking head on CNBC yesterday, heard in passing, Microsoft's only real competitor to its "TEAMS" platform is Salesforce/Slack.  From the linked article at Yahoo!Finance:

Microsoft is a beast of an organization with impressive market positions via businesses such as Office, LlinkedIn, Skype, Xbox, and more recently, Teams. So don't expect the tech giant to spend recklessly on a splashy acquisition that takes aim at Salesforce's pricey purchase of communications platform Slack.

"Microsft" has a great product and a great presence ...."

But that doesn't mean Microsoft won't use its more than $140 billion in cash to bulk up in areas where it's under penetrated.

"Microsoft has less than 5% share in front office applications and they have less than 5% in back office applications. That's where we would see Microsoft look to expand their footprint. They would like have to do that through acquisition.

Reminder: it appears that AWS and Apple are expanding their partnerships to take on Microsoft.

Twenty US Tankers Headed To Asia -- December 2, 2020

Breaking: Equinor shuts Europe's largest methanol plant after fire. Link here

Original Post

First things first: from Bloomberg via Rigzone:

A fleet of around 20 tankers laden with U.S. crude oil is expected to leave for Asia this month as the region continues to outpace the rest of the world in its recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The vessels have been booked, some of them provisionally, to load crude from the U.S. Gulf Coast this month for delivery to the Far East, according to shipping fixtures and shipbrokers. Most are supertankers that can each carry about 2 million barrels of oil.

Demand has rebounded in some parts of Asia, with Chinese crude processing matching a record in October. The nation’s independent refiners, meanwhile, have ramped up purchases after receiving new import quotas for 2021. Indian demand is also climbing as processors boost run rates.

Refinery news: Shell begins permanent shutdown of Convent, LA, refinery.

  • 211,146 bpd refinery
  • Shell had been unable to sell this refinery; so for now, simply shutting it down;
  • 350 hourly workers at Convent

Back to the Bakken

Active rigs:

Active Rigs1456665339

No wells coming off the confidential list.

RBN Energy: PADD 2 refineries continue a years-long shift to Canadian crude.

Fifteen years ago, just before the dawn of the Shale Era, more than 1.8 MMb/d of Gulf Coast and imported crude oil was being piped and barged north from PADD 3 to refineries in the Midwest. By 2019, those northbound flows had fallen by half, to less than 930 Mb/d, and in the first nine months of  this year they averaged only 550 Mb/d. Refineries in PADD 2, many now equipped with cokers and other hardware that enables them to break down heavy, sour crude into valuable refined products, have replaced those barrels — and more — with piped- and railed-in imports of favorably priced crude from Western Canada, including a lot of dilbit and railbit from Alberta’s oil sands. Today, we discuss the evolution of feedstock supply to the Midwest refinery sector.

This is the third episode in our series on the changing face of U.S. crude oil imports in each of the five PADDs. Earlier, we said that the Shale Revolution, combined with the development of the oil sands and other hydrocarbon resources in Western Canada, led to a dramatic decline in U.S. oil receipts from OPEC countries in particular and, to a lesser extent, from non-OPEC countries (other than Canada), and a big increase in imports from Canada. In 2005, the U.S. imported an average of 4.8 MMb/d from OPEC, 1.6 MMb/d from Canada, and 3.7 MMb/d from other non-OPEC countries, including 1.6 MMb/d from Mexico, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). By last year, imports from OPEC had decreased by almost 70%, to 1.5 MMb/d, while imports from Canada had increased by more than 135% to 3.8 MMb/d. Imports from other non-OPEC countries, in turn, had fallen by almost 60% to 1.5 MMb/d, and imports from Mexico — a subset of the non-OPEC countries — had plummeted by more than 60%, to about 600 Mb/d.

The trends generally continued in 2020, which like this year’s baseball, basketball, and football seasons will have an asterisk because of COVID-19 and its broad impacts. In the first nine months of this year, imports from OPEC averaged about 930 Mb/d, while imports from Canada averaged 3.6 MMb/d, and imports from other non-OPEC countries averaged 1.5 MMb/d — Mexico’s slice of that averaged about 690 Mb/d. There were also big shifts in imports on a PADD-by-PADD basis.

Here We Go -- Pfizer To Start Supplying UK With Vaccine Next Week -- December 2, 2020

From The WSJ: Pfizer and BioNTech's Covid-19 vaccine wins UK authorization. UK becomes first nation in the "west" to get the vaccine. Apparently, it will be available in physicians' offices "within days." 

The U.K. green light on Wednesday punctuates a monthslong sprint by the two drugmakers, which teamed up earlier this year and then pulled ahead of two other Western pharmaceutical giants, each with its own promising shot. Vaccines typically take years to bring to market.

So, let's see: 

Saudi Arabia -- Foreign Exchange Reserves -- Down Slightly Month-Over-Month -- October, 2020 -- CEIC Data -- December 2, 2020


December 5, 2020

Let's see: 1674841 * 0.27 = $452.207 billion.

Original Post

My preferred site is this one: Trading Economics.  October, 2020, data has not yet been posted.

However, CEIC apparently has the October, 2020, data for Saudi Arabia:

Saudi Arabia Foreign Exchange Reserves was measured at 434.7 USD bn in Oct 2020, compared with 435.7 USD bn in the previous month. 

Saudi Arabia Foreign Exchange Reserves: USD mn data is updated monthly, available from Jan 2001 to Oct 2020. The data reached an all-time high of 731.2 USD bn in Aug 2014 and a record low of 37.4 USD bn in Sep 2002. 

CEIC calculates monthly Foreign Exchange Reserves as the sum of Foreign Currency Reserves and Deposits Abroad, and Investment in Foreign Securities and converts it into USD. 

Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority provides Foreign Exchange Reserves in local currency (pending). 

Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority average market exchange rate is used for currency conversions.

In the latest reports, Saudi Arabia's Foreign Exchange Reserves equaled 38.3 Months of Import in Dec 2019. [I've done the same calculations, and, my numbers come very close - about 40 months -- previously posted.]

Its Money Supply M2 increased 10.0 % YoY in Oct 2020. Saudi Arabia Domestic Credit reached 279.4 USD bn in Feb 2018, representing an increased of 21.6 % YoY. The country's Non Performing Loans Ratio stood at 1.9 % in Mar 2020, compared with the ratio of 1.9 % in the previous quarter.

Idle Rambling On DeepMind -- December 2, 2020

So, a bit more on DeepMind. See this post.

This is how I understand it.

1. The problem: posed by Christian Anfinsen in his acceptance speech for the 1972 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Anfisen famously postulated that, in theory, a protein's amino acid sequence should fully determine its structure. 

That's really cool because in 1972 I was majoring in chemistry and biology in college and somewhere along the line that postulate was well accepted. 

The problem was that the number of ways a protein could theoretically fold before settling into its final 3D structure is astronomical. 
In 1969 -- the year I graduated from high school --  Cyrus Levinthal noted that it would take longer than the age of the known universe to enumerate all possible configurations of a typical protein by brute force calculation – Levinthal estimated 10^300 possible conformations for a typical protein. Yet in nature, proteins fold spontaneously, some within milliseconds – a dichotomy sometimes referred to as Levinthal’s paradox.

2. So, in 1994, some twenty years later, CASP was founded as an international competition to see if anyone could predict the folding structure of a protein based only on its amino acid sequence. CASP is a competition that is held every two years.

3.  Google's parent -- Alphabet -- set up a division in its company called DeepMind with the purpose of solving the "Anfinsen problem." Alphabet set up that company ten years ago -- they've been working on this problem for ten years.

4. DeepMind came up with a computer application called AlphaFold which led the pack in the competition two years ago, 2018.

5. This year, 2020, AlphaFold 2 solved the "Anfinsen problem." AlphaFold 2 proved that it could determine the folding structure -- the 3D structure -- of any protein by simply knowing the amino acid sequence of the protein. 

6. The competition between (among?) AlphaFold 2 and the other competitors was not even close. AlphaFold 2 was "head and shoulders" above any of the other competitors. 

7. In addition to the medical benefits of this, this is what really caught my attention: this is being done by the same folks that are working on algorithms for internet searches. Go back to Cyrus Levinthal:

Cyrus Levinthal noted that it would take longer than the age of the known universe to enumerate all possible configurations of a typical protein by brute force calculation – Levinthal estimated 10^300 possible conformations for a typical protein. 

AlphaFold 2 can now solve that problem in "a couple of days." 

Imagine the computing power and the software that is being written. And it has taken ten years to do this. Imagine the strides that this same company has made in internet searches and tracking folks like me who do a lot of surfing on the net. 

Good, bad, or indifferent, it's absolutely incredible.

Oh, by the way, I can't remember if I have posted this before. I think everyone knows what an IP address is: it's a numerical address that identifies every electronic device that connects to the internet (including wi-fi and Bluetooth connectivity through a computer). Apparently, I have been told, that Google can "identify" an IP by the search history of any given computer. In other words, Google does not need to know my actual IP to be able to identify "me" as the one doing a specific search. Based on the history of my searches over time, Google can assign an IP to track me. With each search, the ability to "identify" me improves. In other words, Google no longer needs my IP address to track me. Which means that our NSA can track hackers who think they can spoof or hide their IP addresses.

Again, this is how I see it.

Five links: