Outrun Change

We need to learn quickly to keep up with the massive change around us so we don't get run over. We need to outrun change.

News reports you may have missed on history books you may have read – April 1

I’ve accumulated a few news articles over the last few years that expound on different books you may have read.  If you know the underlying titles (even if you have seen their screenplay adaptations), you are probably aware that for some unknown reason, the staff in bookstores usually misfile the books in the fiction section instead of history, where they belong.

Also a few other news reports you may have missed.

James Bond is an alcoholic with life expectancy of 56.

12-12-13USA Today – Yes, Mr. Bond, we expect you to die — from booze. In addition to his expected demise any day now, hand tremors from the cumulative effect of booze would have long since devastated his marksmanship.

How much gold was liberated from Smaug’s cave?

11-6-13 Wired – Does Smaug Have Enough Gold. An estimate of the amount of gold held in the lair of the dragon Smaug, based on the screenplay adaptation of the historical treatise of Middle Earth, Hobbit.


Read more…

Pending outbreak of hostility between the Federation and Empire. New intel on prospects for Star Trek and Star Wars battle.

Here are some news reports you  may have missed.

2/5/15 – Alex Luther at Youtube – To resolve the Star Wars and Star Trek debate, we can view a miniseries now in development. Hat tip to Popular Mechanics: Kirk Battles Darth Vader in This Fan-Made ‘Star Wars. Vs. Star Trek’ Trailer Documentary. (I corrected the title.)



Intel analysis on looming war between the Federation and Empire

12/29/14 – Gizmodo – Who Would Win in an All-Out Battle: Star Wars or Star Trek – Analysis evaluates the economic, social, and tactical factors that will be dominant if the diplomatic efforts fail and full-scale war breaks out between the Star Trek’s Federation and the Star Wars’ Empire.

As always, a democracy with freedom that encourages individual initiative has major advantages over a repressive, dictatorial system in which any initiative can lead to a quick Force-caused death.

Read more…

Brief introduction to the Industrial Revolution

I am increasingly interested in economic history. We are now in a place of prosperity and health that would have been unimaginable 300 years ago and barely comprehensible two generations ago. How did we get to a place of such wealth?

If we can figure out an answer to that question we might be able to figure out how to sustain what we now enjoy. More importantly, if we figure out how those of us who enjoy the prosperity others created, we have a better chance of sharing it with other people living in countries more reminiscent of life 500 years ago.

I’ve been reading a lot of economics lately. You can tell from the blog posts. I want to write more on the topic.

Here is a great article on how we got here:

3/27 – A Fine Theorem – “Editor’s Introduction to The New Economic History and the Industrial Revolution,” J. Mokyr (1998) – The post describes a lengthy description of the Industrial Revolution. More on the underlying document in a moment.

The linked article gives a great summary. Here are the five major points in the article with a few aha! ideas that registered in my simple brain: Read more…

More on weird worlds far away I’ll never visit. Two federal agents allegedly stole big bucks from Silk Road; one of them allegedly did shake down Dread Pirate Roberts. No, this is not an April 1st story.

Sometimes things go so weird you just gotta’ laugh. Satire site Onion is yet again outdone by reality.  Would you otherwise think this was satire?  Two federal agents allegedly ripped off Silk Road, allegedly ripped off Dread Pirate Roberts, and otherwise allegedly stole a ton  stack  pile  truckload  whole bunch of bitcoins. 

3/30 – Wall Street Journal – Former Federal Agents Charged With Stealing Bitcoin During Probe

Ecclesiastes 1:9 says Read more…

More good stuff on the energy revolution – 3/30

A few articles on the shale revolution: scale of layoffs, improving efficiencies by drilling companies, and China scraps a shale gas project.

3/16 – Forbes – Itemizing the Oil Bust: 75,000 Layoffs and CountingArticle reports on a tally given the author by an insider of the known layoffs in the oil & gas industry. Insiders tell him that stacking a rig costs 40 jobs. Based on the rest of the article, I think that is direct jobs.

Total estimated job loss is 75,000 in an industry with 600,000 jobs. By sector that is estimated at Read more…

More good stuff on the open frontier of technology – 3/26

Some fun articles on how pastries are made, a new way of looking at the phrase “Kodak moment”, and there are more challenges to the commercial use of drones than just the new regulations.

How Hostess makes Twinkies and Cupcakes:

3/17 – How’s this for a major change in the way your advertising tag line is interpreted? My friend John Bredehoft sent the following tweet:

kodak tweet

From Read more…

More good stuff on the Bakken – two perspectives on the local economy – 3/24

Here’s a few quick notes on interesting news from the northern side of Cowboyistan:

3/19 – Reuters Media at Dickinson Press – Some come late to the oil party: Companies more selective after low prices slows boom – Article tells story of a guy and gal who drove to Williston.

Arrived with no skills, no money, no housing, and no job.

Read more…

Impact of oil and gas industry on North Dakota economy. General insights on energy in the state.

cost to drill bakken well graph

Petroleum Industry’s Economic Contribution to North Dakota in 2013 is the current update to a bi-annual analysis of how much the oil and gas industry contributes to the state’s economy. You can find the report at the previous link or here. The research was conducted by Dean A. Bangsund and Nancy M. Hodur, profs at North Dakota State University.

The executive summary provides a great overview of the petroleum industry and the economic activity in the state. Worth reading for the overall background, a general intro to the energy industry, and what’s going on in Bakken.

I read most of the report. In addition to historical information on average cost to drill and complete a well which is summarized in the graph above, here are some of the highlights that caught my eye:

Read more…

Initial thoughts on newly released EPA rules on fracking


IMG_0650 3-21

(photo by James Ulvog)

Yesterday the EPA released their long-awaited rules for fracking wells on public land. Since a minimal percentage of new wells are drilled on federal land, the direct impact will be minor and the indirect impact remains to be determined. Here’s a few articles that start to give preliminary details along with a few of my thoughts.

3/20 – Wall Street Journal – Fracking Rules Unveiled by Obama Administration Fascinating issue is that the states with most of the drilling already have substantial rules in place for fracking.

Federal estimates are the cost to comply with the new rules will be $11,400 per well, or $32M industry wide per year. I’m struggling with the validity of that $11K estimate.

Article says Texas and North Dakota already ban the use of open-pit storage of wastewater. More on that in a moment.

3/20 – Dickinson Press – Final fracking rule released for federal, Indian lands: With regulations already in place, ND may enter into memorandum of understanding – Article has one tidbit that I think explains the real goal of the regulations: the rules are 395 pages long.

Read more…

The morality of get rich quick schemes, view from 1875

From the Library of Congress, created by Currier & Ives, circa 1875. No known restrictions on publication.

The way to grow poor, the way to grow rich the way to grow rich


In case anyone was wondering, I agree.

(Hat tip: Jason Zweig @jasonzweigwsj)

More good stuff on the Bakken – 3/17

Here’s a few quick notes on interesting news that I won’t cover in a separate post. I’ll come back to the first article later this week.

3/15 – Bismarck Tribune – Oil adds $43 billion to economy, study say – Research by North Dakota State University profs calculate that oil and gas add $43B to the state’s economy. In 2013, they calculated the energy industry added 55,000 direct jobs and another 26,000 indirectly. Report is available here.

Read more…

What energy will provide the power to keep our prosperous lives prosperous? Fossil fuels or wind & solar?

Entertaining contrast of two articles I saw on Friday. Each points to a different future. Which world view will make life better for more people all over the planet? Which energy source will provide prosperity for the most people?

Here’s a hint:

3-15 energy by source projection

(From Carpe Diem. Used with permission.)

3/13 – Matt Ridley at Wall Street Journal – Fossil Fuels Will Save the World (Really) / There are problems with oil, gas and coal, but their benefits for people—and the planet—are beyond dispute

Article was feature on front page of the Review section on Saturday.

I will talk about this article a lot. In the meantime, here’s my paraphrase of just a few major points: Read more…

More good stuff on Bakken – 3/14


(Photo by James Ulvog.)

A variety of articles suggest that even with the drop in crude prices and rigs being stacked, the economic opportunities are better in North Dakota than elsewhere.  Also, drug busts as an indication why residents are justifiably concerned about the growth in recent years.

3-13 – Wall Street Journal –

Crude-Oil Price Collapse Takes Toll on Williston /

North Dakota town was a magnet for job seekers, but now work is scarce

Headline covered the  e n t i r e   w i d t h  of page B1 above the fold.

Oh, woe is me! The economy in Williston has utterly collapsed! The bust is here and Williston is a ghost town!

Or, maybe not. Your conclusion depends on whether you read the headline or the article.

Read more…

A look at rig count and wells waiting for completion

Multiple comments I’ve seen by Million Dollar Way and others, including Mr. Lynn Helms, indicate that drillers in North Dakota are holding off on completing their wells.

This is for two reasons. First, to conserve cash since completion is a huge portion of the total cost. Second, to wait for a price recovery before opening up the surge in production in the first year and especially first few months of a new well’s life.

Here are some graphs that help me understand what is going on.

Here is the rig count:

3-15 rig count

Quite a rapid drop in the last few months.

Drillers are stacking their rigs quickly, as expected. Keep in mind that hasn’t had a dramatic impact on production yet.

The 111 number in mid-March is below the estimated count of 115 that Mr. Helms thinks is needed to maintain production levels at 1.2M bopd.

Here is the amazing part. Look at the estimated number of wells waiting for completion:

3-15 rig count rev 2

Wow.  The count was on a plateau for most of 2011.  That runup in late 2011 corresponds to a big increase in rig count. Also corresponds to increased use of pad drilling, as pointed out by Million Dollar Way. That means multiple wells are drilled on one site with completion of all the wells waiting until all the others are drilled.  So it makes sense the backlog would increase.

Look what’s happened since the fall. Here are the numbers:

  • 610 – September (roughly the average for all of 2014)
  • 650 – October
  • 775 – November
  • 750 – December
  • 825 – January

That is a 125 jump in November, 25 drop in December, and 75 runup in January. Up about 200 in 3 months. Drillers are banking those wells waiting for price to go up.

When prices recover, there will be a rush to complete which will generate a big jump in production. May take many months for them to all come on-line, but there will be a surge.

Previous posts on January production data:

Value of oil production in North Dakota is plummeting

Dollar value of the crude oil produced in North Dakota each month is down from about $3B last summer to about $1.2B in January. That is a drop of about 61%.

I have accumulated the average monthly sweet crude price mentioned in the monthly Directors Cut and combined that with the total production for the month.

Here is what I calculated for the monthly value of production.

 3-15 value by month

That is based on the monthly production in the previous post, combined with the average price shown here: Read more…

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