Monday, June 22, 2009

Little Rhody Weekend

My wife and I went up to Newport, RI for a wedding this past weekend. I also got the chance to re-connect with some cousins that I don't see very often so, all around, it was a good weekend, if a little hectic at times.

Some observations along the way:

The reception was held at a private beach club. The wait staff was mostly young people from Eastern Europe - Poland, to be specific. Now, with unemployment running at over 9%, do we still need to import Eastern Europeans for service jobs?

We flew Southwest Airlines. It's been years since I've flown with them. The 737s on all four legs of our trip were full. Not almost full - FULL. No more seats available. In a recession! Clearly, they are doing something right. In a casual conversation with a seat mate. he told us that he commuted from DC to home on weekends with Southwest because they were cheaper than that government run institution known as AMTRAK.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Be Kind to Dogs

Sabra has a post about an Iraqi dog that was saved by a US serviceman.

It reminded me of the shipyard in Astrakhan, Russia where I worked back in 1999. The yard was over run with dogs. They had been sorta adopted by the shipyard workers but they received no veterinary care and little food. These Russian shipyard dogs led a hard life. Very little food and lots of disease. They were the most miserable looking things I have ever seen. And, like loose dogs everywhere, they bred more of their kind.

The puppies were cute as could be and would visit our construction trailers often. Some of the guys made it a policy not to feed them. "Give them food and they'll just keep coming around", they would say. But I thought about how my favorite niece would feel if her Uncle PE ignored these little critters.

Besides, the breakfast bag the hotel gave us was usually some sort of mystery meat on a bun. Most of the time it was tongue. (There's nothing so tasty as a tongue sandwich for breakfast) So I would open the window, whistle a couple of times and share my breakfast with the puppies.

It is my belief that people that abuse animals are reincarnated as dogs in a Russian shipyard.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Death of the US Oil and Gas Industry IV

The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that implementing HR 2454, otherwise known as the 2009 Clean Energy and Security Bill, or Cap and Trade to you and me, will cost an additional $846,000,000,000 (that's 846 Billion dollars) in new taxes. Seems I remember the Big "O" saying something about reducing taxes but maybe I was dreaming. This bill is out of committee so its probably a good time to write your Congresscritter about it. More news here.

And the Washington Post, hardly a conservative rag, has something to say about it here. Did you know that it would allow the feds to dictate building codes? Thinking about building a new house soon?

And there's more bad news about the federal regulation of hydraulic fracturing that I wrote about earlier. The American Petroleum Institute estimates that if it is passed, it will reduce domestic production by more than 20%. Wasn't there campaign talk about energy being a matter of national security? How is decreasing domestic production going to reduce our dependence on foreign oil?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Saudi Spin

Sometimes the news takes on a different spin when reported by other countries. For example, the Saudi press put a special spin on the meeting between Big "O" and King Abdullah. In their reporting, the King issued an "ultimatum" to Obama concerning the Palestinians. He said that that issue was also the "magic key" to all other problems in the region. The Saudi press reported that "King Abdullah told President Obama that the United States was not taking part seriously enough in solutions proposed to settle the Arab-Israeli conflict"

That's a little different from what the MSM reported back to the USA. Of course, they were under a few restrictions on their reporting that Obama and Hillary agreed to ahead of time.

To read the story, go here.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Death of the US Oil and Gas Industry III

Obama's 2010 budget contains changes to the tax code that are targeted at domestic oil and gas companies. They are not beneficial to the industry. The net effect will be that oil companies will change the way they analyse a prospect and marginal wells will be cut from the program. Net result will be a decrease in domestic production, more reliance on foreign oil and a loss of good paying jobs. Of course, the Big "O" will tell you that production and jobs will be replaced with green energy - a technology that we have yet to develop because the economics of it can't compete with oil and gas. There will be no "bridge" or gradual movement from hydrocarbons to green energy. We will be forced into it by changing a few simple tax laws.

The public will not even know that these tax laws changed because they are buried deep in the 2010 budget. Go here for more details.

Friday, June 5, 2009

History, Rewritten Again

In BHO's speech from Cairo the other day he stated that a Muslim nation was the first to recognize the US in the Treaty of Tripoli.

What he neglected to say was that the treaty was made because the US had to make protection payments to the Barbary pirates to prevent them from hijacking our ships. (We didn't have a navy at the time so we were forced to pay tribute to the Muslims.) The treaty went south when the Pasha of Tripoli demanded an increase in payments to Jefferson (Thomas, not Dollar Bill). This led to the First Barbary War in 1801 and the inclusion of that "shores of Tripoli" line in the Marine Hymn.

The lesson of that bit of history is that appeasement didn't work. It didn't work for John Adams and it won't work for BHO.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Head, errr, Tail Count

The final count is in. Over 334,000 nutria have been harvested in this years hunt. The Dept. of Wildlife and Fisheries pays $5 per tail. The story is here.

Seems like they could combine this hunting program with the food stamp program. That's a lot of tasty nutria meat, and several nice fur coats.

Death of the US Oil and Gas Industry II

As I said earlier, the industry will be killed by a bunch of legislative verbiage that never reaches the public's attention. Here's another example.

They want to regulate fracturing of wells. Wells are fractured in order to open passages for the flow of oil. It is done by pumping fluid, usually a clear drilling fluid with acid, into the well until the rock fractures. It is a highly technical process and is best regulated by those who are familiar with the local geology - not congresscritters in DC. Most of these wells are drilled far below the level that water wells are drilled to and these strata are protected behind casing.

The increased cost of compliance will force companies to abandon wells early or call some wells as non-commercial that could be producing.

Folks, unless you read the Federal Register every day, you will have no idea what is happening until it is too late.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Death of the US Oil and Gas Industry

Ten years from now, when you are paying $10 for a gallon gasoline and there is no domestic production, you will look around and wonder, “What happened to the US oil industry?” The House Committee on Natural Resources is drafting a bill that will start us on the process of killing the domestic oil and gas industry. The public wont even know it is happening because the cause of its demise will be buried in legislative verbiage. A good summary of the situation can be found here.

Here is my take on a couple of the issues.

Merging the BLM and MMS - They are two separate organizations that have unique requirements. Offshore oil and gas, which the MMS regulates, requires specific knowledge of a technology that doesn’t exist for onshore wells. There is no economy of scale to be gained by merging them. Merging them is a bad idea. It’s a classic case of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.

Shortening the lease period to 5 years – This totally ignores the hurdles that companies have to jump in order to start drilling or construction of a production facility. It is possible to take 5 years just to get the permits required. Offshore leases are even worse given the fact that often the technology to drill in deep water may not exist when the lease is purchased. The technology and procedures have to be developed at a tremendous expense. I think companies will just stop buying leases if they are restricted to a 5 year lease term.

No discharge offshore – The offshore industry has been subjected to ever tightening environmental regulations. Numerous studies have been done, at industry expense, to measure the effects of the discharge of produced water on marine life. There have not been any findings showing that these discharges have a deleterious effect on benthic organisms. The EPA monitors this issue very closely. Going to zero discharge will increase the cost of development to the point where a marginal lease will not be economic.

Production Incentive Fee – It sounds like this is a fee (spell that TAX) imposed late in a field’s life to encourage production. The problem is that there may not be any production to encourage. That’s why they call it DEPLETED. As production from a field decreases, it reaches what is called the “economic limit”. This is when it costs more to produce it that it is worth. A well that reaches this status will be shut in. When that happens depends upon the price of oil, of course. Sometimes, a major company will sell nearly depleted fields to smaller producers who may have lower lifting costs. But when its dead, its dead, and no amount of incentive fee will bring it back to life. To believe that oil companies operate otherwise is to buy into the Big Oil Conspiracy Theory.

Oil companies want to reduce risk. One of the risks they measure is the risk of changing regulations. If they think the rules are going to change, or become more onerous, they will go elsewhere. The good intentions of the Obamabots will surely send oil companies overseas and kill domestic production.

Why would they want to do that? I suspect they are doing this to force us to renewable energy. If they take away domestic oil and gas production, we will have no choice but to rely upon wind, wave and solar sources for our energy. It will cost too much to drive a large car, so we will have to buy the tin cans built by Government Motors. If I sound paranoid, maybe I am, but am I paranoid enough?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Charbroiled Oysters and Stuffed Jalapenos

Favorite Niece had her 16th birthday recently so her dad had a family and friends cookout. Besides the usual crawfish, shrimp and oysters, he made his famous charbroiled oysters. Here’s a picture of several of them “in progress”. Below that is the finished version.

The stuffed jalapenos were a new addition to his repertoire.

Grow your own jalapenos
Pick a bunch and de-seed them (this is the dangerous part)
Slit them and stuff with cream cheese and a thin strip of sausage
Wrap in bacon and use a toothpick to hold in place
Put them on the grill until the bacon is done.

Deanston 17 Year Old

Deanston is a Highlands whiskey. The distillery is fairly new having been built from a converted cotton mill in 1966. Their first whiskey was sold in 1971.

Color: golden amber
Nose: sweet, clean
Palate: mild, oakey
Body: thin, slightly mouth coating
Finish: short, clean

And a thanks to Mostly Cajun who reminded the world that Friar John Cor is recorded as receiving malt in order to make whisky for the king on 1 June, 1494. The king would have been Henry VII. His son, Henry VIII would have been three years old.

The Burning Snowball

The DOE has discovered natural gas hydrates in the Gulf of Mexico. See the story here.

Gas hydrates are suspected to hold immense volumes of natural gas. For the layman, they are a unique form of ice that can form above freezing temperatures when gas and water are mixed under the right conditions. They have been a bain to production facilities where they can plug pipelines and valves when gas is cooled by the Joule-Thompson Effect. PE got an expense paid trip to Dubai a few years ago to push a fast track project designed to inject hydrate inhibitor into a gas pipeline in Qatar. Hydrates had shut in a major LNG plant there. Yup, ice formed in a pipeline in the desert.

If you watch Ice Road Truckers, you know that one of the drill rigs they supported was looking for hydrate formations in the Canadian arctic.

Hydrates are thought to be an important source of energy for the future.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Death Ray Unleashed

To the woman in front of me at the local Quizno's yesterday.....

I didn't complain when you took your time deciding what you wanted. After all, the menu is a little confusing. But when you made a cell phone call to take someone else's order, and they didn't know what they wanted, and you started to read the menu to them.......I unleashed the Stare of Death. That was why you felt that warm spot on the back of your head.

Venn Diagrams

Venn diagrams have stymied students for years. They show logical relations between sets of things. This is an example of one (taken from that shows the relationships of Beach Boys songs featuring girls, cars and surf. It is now easy to see how they combined the three elements into individual songs.

I actually worked with the grand-nephew of John Venn. We were in Dubai working on the same project. Imagine my surprise when I found that he was related to a mathematical icon.