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.

Why, oh why, did production of oil and food collapse in Venezuela? What could have caused this amount of human suffering?

Shipwreck standing on the beach with the sea in the background. Margarita Island. Venezuela. Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Devastation in the oil industry and food supply chain in Venezuela is due to intentional government policies.

One article sees how the government caused the damage to the oil industry while another article sees the devastation in the food supply but cannot see any direct cause.

5/7/17 – Forbes – How Venezuela Ruined Its Oil Industry – Here is a primer on how to destroy your oil industry when you have the world’s largest proven reserves of oil and are in the top 10 of world oil producers.

If you want to destroy your country, the article provides a how-to-guide, using Venezuela as the road map.

The high point of oil production in Venezuela was 3.5M bopd back in 1998, which not by coincidence was the year Hugo Chavez became president. Production then began to slip. How could that be?

After civil unrest in 2002 and 2003, Chavez fired much of the staff of the national oil company, letting go 19,000 experienced staff.

Let me translate that: 19,000 staff who knew how to produce extra-heavy oil were fired and replaced by people whose primary job skill was loyalty to the president.

Extra heavy oil takes specialized knowledge and is very expensive to produce on top of oil production already being capital-intensive.

To generate more revenue, Venezuela invited five of the oil majors to develop more oil production. The form of investment was a partnership. The five majors invested many billions of dollars in oil production.

Read more…

Lots of good news for consumers about oil. Not so good news for OPEC.

How much oil to pump?   Oil pump jacks in the desert of Bahrain, Middle East. Photo courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Lots of articles lately describing what is going on in the oil market. If you are a consumer, the news is rather good. If you are a part of OPEC, the news is quite grim. If you are a U.S. producer, there is a lot of opportunity.

5/17/17 – Daniel Yergin at Wall Street Journal – The Struggle Behind Oil’s Ups and Downs – Another must read, but then anything Mr. Yergin writes is in that category.

Here is my feeble try at a summary:

Mr. Yergin sees two forces at play in the oil market.

First is the pressure to balance supply and demand. US shale producers increased production a lot in 2014 which created an imbalance in the supply, which pushed prices down. Instead of dropping production to maintain prices, Saudi Arabia increased production, which further oversupplied the market and caused prices to collapse.

When prices dropped further than expected, the Saudis worked out a deal to cut production last November. That brought prices up.

In turn, that motivated shale producers to increase drilling, which is increasing US production, which will put more US shale oil on the market than expected, which will put substantial downward pressure on prices later this year.

Second is the recalibration of technology and internal pricing to reduce the cost of production.  The innovation and efficiency gains in the last two years are remarkable.

Read more…

More explanation of the serious downside of wind power

Part of the cost of wind power is externalized with great force on the wings and torsos of critters like this. Image of Golden Eagle in flight courtesy of Dollar Photo Club before their merger into Adobe Stock.

Two recent articles point out the serious limits and negative consequences of wind power.

5/13/17 – Matt Ridley at The Spectator – Wind turbines are neither clean nor green and they provide zero global energy – There are many economic, ecological, and environmental problems with wind power. Author focuses on three issues:

  • Tiny portion of total energy consumption provided by wind
  • The massive number of new turbines needed just to keep up with growth in energy use, let alone reduce the amount of fossil fuels consumed
  • The massive amount of natural resources needed to manufacture that many new turbines

I will summarize the article with my expansion on select points.

Amount of wind production worldwide

Close up of following view. Compare the size of the turbines to the roads. Photo by James Ulvog.

How much of the total consumption of energy across entire planet do you think came from wind during 2014?

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Various updates from Bakken

Another dozen reasons OPEC is in distress. Two reasons are quite visible. Another 10 reasons are the open spaces on that large pad where additional wells are going to be drilled someday. Notice the large number of storage tanks, which is far more than what’s needed for just 2 wells. Photo by James Ulvog.

Here is a variety of news tidbits I’ve noticed lately from Bakken:

  • airport construction underway
  • lots more jobs opening up
  • EURs now in range of a million barrels of oil
  • oil starts flowing through DAPL
  • frac sand mines running full steam ahead

4/14/17 – The Million Dollar Way – New Airport Work to Begin Next Week – Official groundbreaking ceremony was in October 2016. The start of massive grading and site work starts the week of April 17, 2017.

4/14/17 – Amy Dalrymple at Oil Patch Dispatch – ND Oil Production Up 5 Percent; Bakken Needs 1,000 Workers to Fill Oil Jobs, Regulator Says – Mr. Lynn Helms, director of the Department of Mineral Resources was surprised by the 5% increase in production in February.

He expects aggressive drilling in the summer, after a lull in the spring due to load restrictions.

Read more…

OPEC asks US frackers to curtail production

Three more reasons OPEC is in distress. Eventually there will likely be 6 or 15 wells on that site. Photo by James Ulvog.

Pressures on OPEC continue.  Several recent articles point to OPEC’s request that the US cut back its oil production. Creating financial distress didn’t work to take out US producers, so OPEC will instead try asking frackers nicely to curtail production.

Anyone want to guess how that will turn out?

Another article explains that the reversal of austerity moves by Saudi Arabia is due to internal political maneuvering.

5/11 – CNN Money – OPEC to U.S.: Please don’t pump so much oil! – How do you think this will work: In their monthly report, OPEC said that all oil producers need to work together to reduce the oversupply (hint so they can all make more money) and dropped a strong hint that producers in the US should cut back production.

Yeah, that’s a great plan! OPEC can bank on that working.

5/12 – Daily Caller – Saudi Arabia Whines US Has Too Much Control Over World’s Oil – One commentator observes the Saudis have realized they don’t have as much control as they did a decade ago.

America imported 60% of its oil in 2007 but only 27% in 2014. That is a massive loss in market for OPEC.

There is a lot of pressure on Saudi Arabia, both internally and externally.

Read more…

When do we get to call the ‘Maduro diet’ in Venezuela a crime against humanity?

Consequence of intentional government policies in Venezuela. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

A one-year old child who weighs 11 pounds.

Eleven.

In what used to be the regions’s richest country, the average weight loss in the last year is 19 pounds.

That’s an average weight loss according to a survey by social scientists measuring the impact Venezuelan government policies are having on the citizens of the country.

It is called the ‘Maduro diet’ in dishonor of the president who is gladly continuing the polices that have broken the once rich nation.

It is a common site to see people picking through trash hoping to find something that is edible.

When will those of us who don’t have to decide which of our children get to eat today start calling the expected results of intentional policies a crime against humanity?

Let’s take a quick look at health care in Venezuela before returning to the starvation issue.

Collapse of the health care system

The medical crisis is so bad that even CNN has noticed. On 5/11/17 they reported Amid chaos in Venezuela, infant deaths, malaria cases skyrocket.

 

The government released statistics for 2016. They reported:

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North Dakota oil production steady in March ’17

Average daily oil production dropped 0.83% in March, from 1,034,248 bopd (revised) to 1,025,638 bopd (preliminary). Director’s report for the month is not out as of the time of posting this discussion. This month, I’ll just show two graphs of production:

 

 

Here is a longer term view:

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Ongoing amazing news from the open frontier of space

Recovered Falcon 9 booster after NORL-76 mission. Credit Flickr. Courtesy of SpaceX.

There is a non-stop stream of amazing news from the open frontier of space:

  • SpaceX recovers Falcon 9 after launching spy sat
  • Another good launch of sat into geosyn orbit by India
  • ULA joint venture agreement expires
  • China starts test of cabin for lunar living

 

Falcon 9 booster about to land after NORL-76 mission. Credit Flickr. Courtesy of SpaceX.

 

5/1/17 – Space.com – SpaceX Launches US Spy Satellite on Secret Mission, Nails Rocket Landing – SpaceX successfully put a classified satellite from National Reconnaissance Office into orbit. As a massive fringe benefit, they also recovered the first stage back at the launch site. This is their fourth successful recovery on land.

The photograph from the launch is incredible. In particular, there is a great view of the first stage separation, flip, and boostback burn.

Here is a clip on Instagram, posted by Elon Musk:

Read more…

More on the downside of technology innovation

Sometimes technology can be a bit scary. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Just like technology is constantly being used in ever more exciting ways, technology is also being used in ever more scary ways. A few articles illustrating the downside:

  • Hotel hacked by ransomware, locking guests in rooms
  • Police surveillance cameras hacked with ransomware
  • Software to help plagiarists evade plagiarism detection software
  • Cloning voice patterns to create voice recordings
  • Insurance companies using social media for background checks

1/28 – The Local, in Austria – Hotel ransomed by hackers as guests locked in rooms – A 4-star hotel got hit hard by cyber crooks, who locked the key-based door system. Every door in the place was locked Guests could neither get into a room or leave.

Hotel paid a ransom in bitcoins  of 1,500 Euros, or about US$1,608.

This was the third hit at the hotel. They successfully defended against a fourth attack.

Oh, the hotel has a plan to prevent future attacks…

Read more…

Ongoing violence in Venezuela against those who merely want to their children to eat

In Venezuela, above activity is sufficient to draw weapon fire or armored tanks. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The violence in Venezuela directed against those people who merely wish to keep their children from starving continues.

My previous comment: 4/19/17 – Washington Free Beacon – Socialist Venezuela Leader Steps up Arming of Supporters After Outlawing, Confiscating Civilian Guns – The government has spent the last five years confiscating guns from private citizens. That’s what authoritarian, totalitarians, and other bad governments do.

Why? So they can’t defend themselves.

From what might individuals need to defend themselves from?

How about 400,000 loyalists who are going to be armed by the government. Read more…

OPEC is still in a jam and a few of the reasons why.

14 wells on one pad. That would be 14 of the thousands of reasons OPEC is in distress. Photo by James Ulvog.

The scheduled production cuts from OPEC are nearing the expiration date as oil prices drop further. Why are they in such a difficult position? Photo above illustrates 12 specific things contributing to their discomfort.

Some articles describing their troubles and why the troubles won’t be going away anytime soon:

5/3/17 – Wall Street Journal – Oil Forecast to Fall Sharply if OPEC Doesn’t Extend Production Cuts – Article says the oil market has priced in an extension of the OPEC production cut. If correct, that means oil prices will fall if the production cut is not extended during meetings this month.

Article has a graph showing forecasts from 14 banks of their guesses on oil prices through the end of the year. For 4th quarter, the estimates range from mid-$40s to almost $70, with most of the estimates in the high $50s or very low $60s.

Article speculates that without an extension, price could drop into $40s.

5/5/17 – Bloomberg – OPEC Runs Out of Options as Bid to Boost Oil Price Fizzles – Article says the OPEC producers have kept to their agreed upon production cuts. That pushed prices up for a while but now prices are back to where they were when the cuts were announced.

Read more…

“Magic without wizards”, or, why is your favorite bread on the shelf when you want it?

Consider merely the way that your favorite bread is always available, usually from many bakeries. And at the time you want. The bakery doesn’t know whether you will stop in on your way to work, during lunch, or after having dinner.

How can it be that several bakeries know to have your choice of bread available, whether sourdough loafs, whole wheat biscuits, rye rolls, croissants, or cranberry bagels? How did they know to order enough yeast, oil, and flour? How did they know what mix to bake before the sun came up?

How did the wholesalers know enough to deliver the right amount of flour to all the pizzerias, bakeries, and pastry shops?

How did the farmers know enough to plant the right amount of wheat, oats, barley, and rye last spring to harvest enough this fall to satisfy all those bakers?

Hmm. What could be getting all those people working together to make sure my favorite and your favorite bread is available when you or I want it?

Ponder these and many more questions just in terms of having bread on the shelf in this video, called “It’s a wonderful loaf:”

 

 

The answer of how all that happens is readily available for all who want to find it.

Read more…

Saudi Arabia still in financial trouble, reverses salary and benefit cuts

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Saudi Arabia and OPEC are still in trouble.

Just a few of the articles making that point lately:

  • Is OPEC near an end?
  • Saudi Arabia reverses course on salary and subsidy cuts
  • Continued drain of foreign reserves

3/31/17 – Oil Price – The End of OPEC is Near – Author Rakesh Upadhyay defines a cartel as:

…a group of like-minded producers, who act in concert—or collusion—to achieve a shared goal of increasing their profits by means of restricting supply, fixing prices, or destroying their competition by illegal means.

Article provides a history of OPEC’s efforts to control oil prices over the decades and then gives a recap of last few years.

OPEC tried to take out American shale drillers in 2014. Prices dropped further than they expected. Over 100 US producers went BK. US output dropped from 9.7M bopd to 8.9M bopd.

However, the drillers that survived developed more economical, more productive, and more effective techniques. Huge numbers of driller survived.

So, taking out US shale drillers didn’t work.

Thier next step? (Which also didn’t work?)

Read more…

More progress in the open frontier of space exploration, courtesy of the free market

SpaceX SES 10, recovery of Falcon 9 booster. Credit Flickr. Courtesy of SpaceX.

The number of private sector players involved in space exploration and the progress underway is astounding. Here are a few recent articles catching my attention:

3/20/17 – Investor’s Business Daily – There’s a New Space Race On, Courtesy of Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos And The Free Market – The main point of the article, which is barely starting to be noticed:

Space remains the final frontier. And it will be private sector entrepreneurs, not government bureaucrats, who will take us there.

Article gives a summary of the private sector companies, funded by filthy rich guys who choose to pour their wealth into space exploration, that have expanded our reach into space. According to the article, these companies have done more than NASA has in the last several decades.

Consider:

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Graph of daily rig count in North Dakota

Training rig in Williston. September 2015 photo by James Ulvog.

I’ve been watching the tally of daily rig count for a while. When I think about it, I jot down the count listed at The Million Dollar Way blog.  Occasionally, as in every few months, I post my tallies.

By the way, if you have even the slightest interest in my comments on my blog you really, really, really need to read MDW.

Decided to put all that data into a graph to help me see the trends from another direction. So, I combined all the data that has been accumulated haphazardly over time and put it in a graph.

If it helps you see some patterns, I’ll share my graph.

Keep a few things in mind:

  • The data is accumulated when I think of jotting it down, so this is not a complete database
  • Don’t read anything in to the gaps in data
  • Data hasn’t been double-checked, so there are likely inaccuracies
  • This shows general trends
  • The efficiency of drilling and total output from a well has improved radically in the last few years so data is not comparable over long terms

 

Having undercut my data and graph, here is a picture of the rig count in the state:

Read more…

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