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.

Random updates from Bakken

A new well is likely to produce about a million barrels of oil, compared to half a million from a well drilled several years ago. Photo by James Ulvog.

A new well is likely to produce about a million barrels of oil, compared to half a million from a well drilled several years ago. Photo by James Ulvog.

A few articles of late:

  • 2 hotels closed in Williston
  • Ground broken for new Williston airport
  • Each Bakken well now expected to produce a million or 1.5 million barrels of oil

9/27 – Williston Herald at Dickinson Press – Two Williston hotels closing their doors – An owner of two hotels with total of 105 rooms will be closing them this week. Both are on the market, for $3.0M and $3.2M. One of them reportedly had drugs sales and prostitution on site during the boom.

Don’t worry too much about capacity. There’s a huge number of hotels open in Williston, especially compared to three or four years ago. Also, those hotels won’t be going anywhere. When the drilling picks up, someone else can pick up those empty hotels for a real bargain. When the space is needed, they will be open.

10/10 – Amy Dalrymple at Oil Patch Dispatch – Williston Breaks Ground on New $240 Million Airport – Construction is underway for the new airport. It will have a 7,500 foot runway and four gates at the terminal. The new airport will be able to handle planes that can hold 165 passengers instead of the 50 passenger jets in use at the current airport.

Currently there are five daily flights into Williston, which is down from 11 at the busiest time of the boom.

12/4 – Million Dollar Way – The Bakken: How Things Stand Near the End of the Year 2016 –  The productivity increase in the last few years is staggering. Here are a few tidbits from the article, which is a survey of recent quarterly releases from the drilling companies.

Estimated Ultimate Recovery, EUR, is the amount of oil to be drawn from the well, I believe with only primary recovery. A few years ago (2011), the typical EURs were 550K barrels from middle Bakken and 450K from Three Forks bench. Read more…

Possible new technology to extract oil shale – Peak Oil #50

In a decade or so, will we get to see thousands of these above the Green River Formation? Photo of Bakken pump jack by James Ulvog.

In a decade or so, will we get to see thousands of these above the Green River Formation? Photo of Bakken pump jack by James Ulvog.

Here’s another brain stretcher for you in the realm of the open frontier in energy – how about using microwave to tease oil shale out of the ground?

11/4 – Oxy – Move Over Fracking, There’s a New Technology in Town – First, keep in mind that oil shale is not the same as shale oil. I have to wrap my brain around that every time the topic of oil shale comes up.

Shale oil is crude oil that is trapped in rocks. Fracking is the way to get shale oil out of the ground.

Oil shale is sort-of-like crude oil stuff (actually kerogen, but that label doesn’t register for me) that has to be heated, or cooked, out of the rock. Usually done by strip mining then cooking the stuff. Other option is steam injection to liquefy the oil shale which then can be pulled out of the well. Fracking won’t do the trick.

Try this on for size: Using microwaves comparable to the power of 500 household machines to heat the rock turning the oil shale liquid. The water, which is mixed in with the kerogen will be converted to steam, which in turn will help pull the liquefied oil to the wellbore.

So where could this be used?

Read more…

Travel time from New York to California and back in the 1850s

State of the art travel in the 1860s. Star of India sailing ship in San Diego harbor. Photo by James Ulvog.

State of the art travel in the 1860s. Star of India sailing ship in San Diego harbor. Photo by James Ulvog.

The time it took to travel from the east coast to west coast in the mid-1850s is described in American Ulysses: A Life of Ulysses S. Grant, by Ronald C. White.

The book is fantastic, by the way.

The time for transit from New York to Washington and back home is described. For comparison, I’ll repeat the timing for a trip by William Sherman described in another book, which I mentioned a while back.

Here are the transit times:

  • 43 days – New York to San Francisco via Isthmus of Panama – 1852
  • 51 days – San Francisco to New York via Panama – 1854
  • 198 days – New York to Monterey, California sailing around Cape Horn – 1847

West-bound trip

Lieutenant Grant’s unit was transferred from Michigan to the Washington territory.

At the time, there were three options for the trip. First was overland via the Oregon Trail. Second, sailing around Cape Horn at the tip of South America. Third, portage across the Isthmus of Panama.

His unit went the Panama route.

Read more…

Compare the cutting edge of private space exploration with the let’s-repeat-the-‘60s goal of NASA.

Drawing of launch pad. Tanker is sitting at left ready to be added to booster upon its return. Credit: Flickr, SpaceX has placed this in public domain.

Concept drawing of vehicles SpaceX plans to use for trips to Mars. Tanker is sitting at left ready to be added to booster upon its return. Credit: Flickr, SpaceX has placed this in public domain.

SpaceX is planning to use the above equipment to get to Mars, while NASA is planning to recreate the early accomplishments of this equipment:

Apollo capsule. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Apollo capsule. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Consider the contrast between the following two reports.

  • In the private sector, scientists are working to figure out how to set up an infrastructure to support asteroid mining.
  • At NASA, scientists are working to repeat the mid-60s task of getting a crewed spaceship out far enough to loop around the moon; not land on the moon, just fly around it. In other words merely repeat part of what they did fifty years ago.

11/21 – Space.com – Extraterrestrial Gold Rush: What’s Next for the Space Mining Industry? – A conference dived into the issues underlying what will be needed for the space mining industry to thrive.

Read more…

Continuing devastation in Venezuela – #16

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

You know things are horribly bad when the New York Times and Washington Post are frequently reporting on the economic devastation in the socialist paradise of Venezuela.

11/25 – New York Times – Venezuelans Flee in Boats to Escape Economic Collapse – Mass numbers of people are fleeing Venezuela by foot, air, and now on rickety boats. The lack of food, water, electricity, and medical care is driving  people away, reminiscent of the flood of people paddling away from Cuba on tied-together inner tubes.

Read more…

Sharing of the OPEC production cuts: 4.6% across the board except for Iran

Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub before they merged into Adobe Stock.

Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub before they merged into Adobe Stock.

The Million Dollar Way blog has the details I was wondering about earlier: how the production cut is going to be shared amongst the OPEC members.

A post at MDW, Notes From All Over, Mostly Politics, includes a table from @JKempEnergy. The table gave a reference and led me to the OPEC press release giving the breakout.

Here are the details from the press release. The “reference” is the baseline agreed upon, which is  referred to as the “Reference Production Level” in the press release. The change by country is listed. I calculated the percentage change for each country. Here are the changes:

Read more…

OPEC reaches agreement for production cut; consumers and drillers in US win

My guess? Today's production deal means we will see far more of these things in Bakken and Permian Basin. Photo by James Ulvog.

My guess? Today’s production deal means we will see far more of these things in Bakken and Permian Basin. Photo by James Ulvog. Oh, by the way, that will be a good thing.

My prediction: if the announced target price of $55 to $60 is reached there will be lots of drilling rigs moved out of US parking lots and into the field.

Report after the announcement of a deal:

11/30  Wall Street Journal – OPEC Reaches Deal to Cut Oil Production – After weeks of negotiation, OPEC reached a deal to cut production 1.2M bopd, to 32.5M.

Prices of Brent and West Texas Intermediate oil went up.

Announced target price is $55 to $60 a barrel.

Here are the production cuts, per the article: Read more…

Musing on oil prices and the oil industry; future for shale is looking good

Out of focus picture by James Ulvog.

Out of focus photo by James Ulvog. (Yeah, yeah, I know – don’t give up my day job.)

First article below says that predicting oil prices is a fool’s errand. The payoff of trying to do so, it seems to me, is it requires diving into the dynamics and trying to understand the production and demand aspects underlying the price of oil. Second article below delves into the dynamics.

11/28 – The Million Dollar Way – Musings on Shale as We Anticipate the “OPEC Meeting” – Discussion points me to the next article, which I would have missed otherwise.

Mr. Oksol agrees with the major points: OPEC’s effort (meaning Saudi Arabia) to shut down shale producers has been unsuccessful. They tried this once before back in the 1980s.

On the second point, he agrees shale producers will respond fast to any rise in prices.

Author agrees that the phrase “big bet” is an acceptable way to describe the Saudi strategy to take out shale producers but thinks a more accurate description would be “trillion dollar mistake.” As for me, either description works well.

11/28 – Mark Mills at Forbes – Shale Wars: Whither Oil Prices As Saudi Arabia Lets The Big Bet Play Out? – The author, to whom you need to pay serious attention if you are otherwise reading my blog, asks two questions on his way to sort out where oil prices are going:

  • How much damage has Saudi Arabia caused the shale drillers? In other words will they be able to respond to any change in prices are they out of the game.
  • If the answer is yes, how fast will shale drillers be able to respond?

Read more…

Visit to Williston during Thanksgiving 2016

November 2016 photo by James Ulvog.

November 2016 photo by James Ulvog.

Just got back from a visit to Williston to see family during Thanksgiving week. Had a delightful time. Even got to drive around the oil field a little bit.

Got lots of new photos. A lot!

I reeeeeeally lucked out and glanced out the window at just the right time.  Got a bunch of photos of the wing-toasting facilities at Ivanpah.

For example:

Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System. November 2016 photo by James Ulvog.

Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System. November 2016 photo by James Ulvog.

During the rain and overcast that start afternoon on Saturday and ran until around sundown on Sunday, the towers probably weren’t quite so bird-killing white-hot.

Drilling rigs

There is one rig in the city of Williston and two rigs a mile or two north of town.

Read more…

Keeping up with other change around us

 

Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com before they closed their doors.

Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com before they closed their doors.

Here are a few random articles on the massive change around us:

  • Another idea for private space exploration
  • Private funding of litigation
  • Manufactured diamonds

10/29 – Blasting News – Blue Origin’s Jeff Bezos revives the idea of free flying O’Neill space colonies – Here is another old-news-but-new-to-me idea for space exploration: a free-floating space station positioned at a Lagrange point, which are five spots where the gravity of the moon and earth cancel out.

Read more…

Financial distress in Saudi Arabia and OPEC not likely to end soon

Oil pump jacks in the desert of Bahrain, Middle East. Photo courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Oil pump jacks in the desert of Bahrain, Middle East. Photo courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Keep in mind that U.S. shale drillers will be able to make a lot of money if oil prices go up to $60 as I describe the distress facing Saudi Arabia.

Four articles for your consideration:

  • Shale drillers likely to get busy if oil hit $60
  • Saudi Arabia still in distress in spite of successful bond issue
  • One Saudi official cautions bankruptcy could be a few years off if oil prices continue the way they are
  • Another article describing the distress in Saudi Arabia because of low oil prices

11/16 – Reuters – IEA expects US shale output rise if OPEC pushes oil to $60 – IEA expect there will be a lot more drilling and production coming out of shale fields in the US if prices go up to $60. If OPEC (meaning Saudi Arabia) reduces production sufficiently to drive up prices it will draw shale drillers back to work.

I take exception to one comment made by IEA, specifically that it will take nine months for any new production to get on the market. Read more…

Updates on renewable energy

Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub before it merged into Adobe Stock.

Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub before it merged into Adobe Stock.

A few of many articles of interest for unreliable energy.

  • Very large solar farm completed in snowy Minnesota
  • Fighting over taxes on wind power

10/21 – AP at Reuters – Construction wraps up on largest solar facility in Midwest and 1/21/16 – Star Tribune – Largest Minnesota solar array wins approval from utility regulators and Community Energy Solar – North Star Solar

The North Star Solar facility in Minnesota has over 440,000 solar panels with theoretical capacity of 100 MW. Reported cost is $180M.

Read more…

Slivers of evidence for results of state-legal recreational marijuana use – #28

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The reason I am watching the newly state-legal recreational marijuana markets is to see the impact of heavy regulation on the industry.

A related issue is the social results of recreational marijuana. Here are a few articles providing some early hints of the results. Perhaps these are nothing more than slivers of hints. Yet there are some early indications. On the other hand, perhaps these are merely transition and implementation issues.

11/2 – Wall Street Journal – A Brave New Weed / The costs so fare from marijuana legalization are higher than advertised – This grand experiment in legalizing marijuana is going full steam. As ought to be expected, there are substantial costs.

The massively important question is whether the increased costs in some areas are worth the drastically lower costs in other areas (mass incarceration, militarization of law enforcement, severe enforcement costs).

Read more…

Another 20 billion barrels of oil. What Peak Oil? – #49

We are gonna' see a whole lot more of those things in Texas over the next few decades. Photo by James Ulvog.

We’re gonna’ see a whole lot more of those things in Texas over the next few decades. Photo by James Ulvog.

Oh, by the way, the geology wizards just discovered another twenty billion barrels of recoverable oil where the wizards knew something existed but had no idea how much.

Twenty billion barrels. Billion, with a B.

11/15 – Star-Telegram – Permian’s Wolfcamp formation called biggest shale oil field in US – Estimate from USGS is the Wolfcamp formation in the Permian Basin holds 20 billion barrels of oil. There are four layers of shale that make up Wolfcamp. That puts this find somewhere in the range of three times the size of the entire Bakken formation in North Dakota.

Read more…

Tension between federal law and state-legal recreational marijuana – #27

Photo courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Photo courtesy of Adobe Stock.

I am watching developments in Colorado and Oregon for the newly state-legal recreational use of marijuana. Just as a reminder, my interest is not in marijuana. My curiosity is focused on how much of a drag a burdensome and expensive regulatory structure will create for a newly legalized industry.

My hypothesis is the heavy-handed regulations will be crushing and the expected result will be to severely restrain a new industry.

A related tangent is the tension between recreational marijuana use being legal in certain states under state law yet still illegal at the federal level. Here are a few articles I’ve read on this tension.

7/22 – Slate, originally at Inc. – Why Colorado Marijuana Businesses Suddenly Have an IRS Problem – Tax attorneys and accountants are saying there may be something in the range of 30 marijuana businesses in Colorado under IRS audit for their 2014 and 2015 taxes.

Read more…

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