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The Evolution of American Natural Gas in the 21st Century

Today’s Energy Update
(Because Energy Fuels Our Lives)

The Evolution of American Natural Gas in the 21st Century

[This is the cover story for the new issue of Shale Magazine, where I serve as editor, a story that I really enjoyed researching and writing, since I’ve lived through all of it.  If you want to know how and why our amazing natural gas resource has developed during this century, and the potential for its further development in the coming decades, please give it a read. Thanks!]

Read the Full Piece

In the summer of 2002, the National Petroleum Council (NPC) gathered together some of the smartest minds from the oil and gas industry, academia and in the environmental community to study the potential for natural gas in North America. The study lasted for the better part of a year, after which a report titled “Balancing Natural Gas Policy – Fueling the Demands of a Growing Economy” was released.

As we sit here 16 years later, reviewing the findings of this study in light of the current situation where natural gas in North America and globally is concerned is a fascinating exercise — one that demonstrates the challenges presented to even the most informed and intelligent people when it comes to making accurate projections about how the oil and gas industry will evolve in years to come.

oil and gas processing industry. rectification column and storage of finished productI personally chaired one of several subcommittees that were established to conduct various aspects of this study, led by ExxonMobil and Burlington Resources, which was my employer at the time. When the study was issued, those of us who had worked on it were quite proud of it and were firm in our belief that it would stand the test of time, providing an accurate roadmap for the public and policymakers to use as a guidepost for years to come.

Providing such guidance is, after all, the role of the NPC, a federal advisory committee that reports directly to the U.S. Secretary of Energy. The NPC’s own website describes its role, in part, as follows:

The National Petroleum Council (NPC), a federally chartered and privately funded advisory committee, was established by the Secretary of the Interior in 1946 at the request of President Harry S Truman. In 1977, the U.S. Department of Energy was established and the NPC’s functions were transferred to the new Department. The purpose of the NPC is solely to advise, inform, and make recommendations to the Secretary of Energy with respect to any matter relating to oil and natural gas or to the oil and gas industries submitted to it or approved by the Secretary. The NPC does not concern itself with trade practices, nor does it engage in any of the usual trade association activities.

Even though the NPC had conducted a natural gas-related study in 1999, incoming Bush Administration Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham felt that the situation had shifted significantly enough by 2002 to warrant another look. It is important to keep in mind that, when the request came down from Secretary Abraham, natural gas was a commodity in short supply and subject to huge price swings. Because a large percentage of our country’s production came out of the Gulf of Mexico, it was also subject to being significantly interrupted by major hurricane events.

Large liquefied natural gas (LNG) carrier with 4 LNG tanks sails along the sea

In 2002, the Barnett Shale was the only major natural gas-bearing shale formation that had been discovered. The Barnett was in the early stages of its development, and the industry had little understanding of its ultimate potential. Nor did any of the experts assembled by the NPC for its new study have any inkling of the magnitude of domestic natural gas resource that would be discovered in massive reserves trapped inside formations with names like Marcellus, Haynesville, Bakken, Eagle Ford, Spraberry, Woodford and Wolfcamp.

One of the most popular bits of conventional wisdom said about any economic study is “garbage in, garbage out.” Our base of information for the 2002 NPC study wasn’t “garbage” — the information we had was high-quality, but it was also very limited. The study by its very nature had to be based on available data, and the data available at the time indicated that North American natural gas production through the year 2025 would be characterized by limited domestic output, rising imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) coming into the country on huge tanker ships, and high commodity prices as a result.

It should come as no surprise that the study’s findings, some of which we will review here as examples, reflected this general outlook.

Every study based on economic analyses will include multiple cases that produce differing outcomes. Typically, these are described as a “base case” which assumes a status quo of outside-influencing factors going forward, an aggressive case that assumes some set of positive changes, and possibly even a non-aggressive case that assumes a set of negative changes.

One of the big decisions the NPC study committee had to make revolved around how many cases to include and how to structure them. In the end, the decision was made to include:

• “Balanced Future” case in which U.S. energy policy would evolve in ways that would encourage the development of new natural gas resources and the building-out of adequate midstream infrastructure and LNG import facilities; and

• “Reactive Path” case in which energy policy evolves, but mainly in reaction to various negative events such as shortages of supply or crises caused by lack of adequate infrastructure.

Given that background and knowledge about how the study was structured, the fact that most of the findings produced in our report have turned out be quite inaccurate should come as no surprise. Here are a few of them taken from the study’s Executive Summary:

• From page 32-33: “Given the relatively low production rates from non-conventional wells, the analysis further suggests that even in a robust future price environment, industry will be challenged to maintain overall production at its current level. This conclusion is reached even though new discoveries in mature North American basins represent the largest contribution to future supplies of any component of this supply outlook.”

• From page 33: “The NPC estimates that production from the lower 48 states and non-Arctic Canada can meet 75 percent of U.S. demand through 2025. However, these indigenous supplies will be unable to meet the projected natural gas demand.”

• From page 52: Price Projections: The NPC “Balanced Future” case projected a 2019 average price of between $3.20 and $5.00 per mmbtu. Its “Reactive Path” case projected a price range of $5.00 to about $6.90.

• From page 63: “To meet future demand, the NPC is projecting LNG imports will grow to become 14-17 percent of the U.S. natural gas supply by 2025. This will require the construction of seven to nine new regasification terminals and expansions of three of the four existing terminals.”

Of course, with the benefit of 16 years of hindsight, we now know that none of these key projections have come to fruition. For example, where prices are concerned, today’s natural gas producers can only long for a price per mmbtu of even $3.20, much less long-forgotten levels of $5.00 or $6.90.

LNG TANKER - Ship at dawn moored to the gas terminal

Far from being challenged to maintain overall current production levels, today’s natural gas industry struggles with finding adequate areas of demand to which to move their product, even as the number of active drilling rigs exploring for natural gas resources has fallen from 1,600 as recently as 2012 to around 130 at the first of 2019. In a way, producers are victims of their own expertise, having become so adept at maximizing volumes from each new well, that they threaten to oversupply the market―even with a dramatically-reduced rig count.

The nature of the shale plays discovered since 2003 has also played a large role in creating this new reality for gas producers. It’s not just the massive resource contained in natural gas plays like the Haynesville and Marcellus keeping the gas rig count low — it’s also the amazing volumes of methane flowing out of what are classified as oil wells being drilled in the Bakken, Eagle Ford and the Permian Basin. A little-recognized fact of life in today’s U.S. oil patch is that the oil-heavy Permian Basin is now the second-largest producer of natural gas in North America, behind only the Marcellus/Utica Basin.

Simply put: Today’s biggest problem for natural gas producers is not a lack of supply, but lack of demand.

It’s important to recognize that this sea-change in the supply/demand equation for domestic natural gas has taken place during a period of time when demand for natural gas has increased significantly. In 2003, Americans and American businesses consumed about 22.7 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of natural gas, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). By 2017, overall U.S. consumption had grown to 27.1 tcf, an increase of 20 percent.

More to the point, demand for natural gas over that period of time rose in all of its key demand sectors: It was up in power generation, up in home heating use, up in chemicals and plastics and all other key manufacturing uses. Indeed, the phenomenal new abundance of natural gas supply and the chronic low prices that abundance has produced has played a significant role in the ongoing renaissance of manufacturing in the U.S., making the country globally competitive in that space for the first time in several decades.

This newly-found abundance may be a curse to natural gas producers and their bottom lines, but it has been a true blessing to the country.

Read the Full Piece Here

 

Follow me on Twitter at @GDBlackmon

Today’s news moves at a faster pace than ever. Whatfinger.com is my go-to source for keeping up with all the latest events in real time.

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The Oil And Gas Situation: A Transition In Fundamentals For 2019

Today’s Energy Update
(Because Energy Fuels Our Lives)

A couple of interesting studies have come across my desk in recent days that merit noting. Taken together, they paint a picture of a domestic shale oil and gas industry that is relatively healthy and will only grow healthier throughout 2019 as it benefits from stronger commodity prices.

Will oil inventories hit a record deficit later this year? – That’s what the partners at the Goehring and Rozencwajg investment firm think. In their March 15 analysis, they estimate that stronger-than-projected global demand for crude, combined with the full implementation of promised export cuts by the OPEC-plus countries will result in a significant drop in global crude inventories over the course of this year.

The report correctly notes the habit of the International Energy Agency (IEA) of underestimating global crude demand growth in its initial annual projections. The IEA has had to revise its initial estimates upwards in seven of the last eight years by an average of about half a million barrels of oil per day (bopd) . The firm assumes this trend will continue for 2019, and that IEA’s estimate of demand growth for 2019 is understated by 500,000 bopd.

The report also criticizes the IEA for its rosy projection that production growth for the non-OPEC countries outside of the U.S and Russia will grow by 120,000 bopd during 2019, a projection Goehring and Rozencwajg believe is “simply not possible. Instead, given the severe recent weakness in this group, we believe this number may actually decline by 300,000 b/d” during 2019. Taken together, the firm believes the IEA is overly-pessimistic in its estimates by a total of 920,000 bopd.

Read the Rest Here

 

Follow me on Twitter at @GDBlackmon

Today’s news moves at a faster pace than ever. Whatfinger.com is my go-to source for keeping up with all the latest events in real time.

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The Real Existential Threat To America’s Oil Industry Isn’t What You Think

Today’s Energy Update
(Because Energy Fuels Our Lives)

Mark P. Mills published an excellent piece on Feb. 28 detailing why the “Green New Deal” proposed by New York Cong. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and other Democrats does not represent any sort of existential threat to the oil and gas industry, now or in the future. If you haven’t read this highly-informative piece, you should.

But the reality that “green energy” tech is too limited by the laws of physics to ever hope to displace the internal combustion engine or fossil-fuel-powered baseload electricity generation does not mean that the U.S. industry is free from existential threats. Such threats originate mainly from failures by the industry to universally and effectively address issues that chronically impact and irritate a variety of stakeholders over time.

One of the characteristics that makes the domestic industry so great is the fact that it is not a nationalized, single entity like Mexico’s Pemex or PDVSA in Venezuela. But its status as a business made up of thousands of highly-competitive, private and corporate entities also makes it less able to develop and adopt truly effective, universal solutions to ongoing, chronic issues.

Hydraulic fracturing, or “Fracking”, is a great example. Fracking is literally a technological miracle that has transformed the United States from a country that seemed hopelessly reliant on foreign imports at the turn of the century into one of the world’s largest producers and exporters of both oil and natural gas today. But the industry’s inability to find and adopt ways to make the process less impactful on individual stakeholders and local communities has also led several states – including New York, New Jersey and Vermont – to enact either outright or de facto bans on fracking within their borders.

Read the Rest Here

 

Follow me on Twitter at @GDBlackmon

Today’s news moves at a faster pace than ever. Whatfinger.com is my go-to source for keeping up with all the latest events in real time.

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Is an Oil Price Train Wreck Hiding Around the Bend?

Today’s Energy Update
(Because Energy Fuels Our Lives)

The energy media has recently featured headlines that seem at odds with one another and that, when taken together, portend the possibility of a coming train wreck somewhere down the road where crude oil supply and prices are concerned. Let’s look at some of the more recent headlines as examples:

“The U.S. Shale Boom is About to Get a Major Upgrade” – Investors Business Daily, Feb. 19

“Wall Street Calls for Better Returns; Shale Gets Thrifty” – Gulf Times, Feb. 17

“OPEC Cuts Send Crude Exports to Lowest Since 2015” – Financial Times, Feb. 19

“U.S. shale oil output to hit record 8.4 million bpd in March: EIA” – Reuters, Feb. 19

That Investor’s Business Daily story begins by stating “The U.S. shale oil boom is about to get a whole lot bigger. The reason: Giant oil companies like Exxon Mobil (XOM) are leveraging their massive scale to unleash more production from the top-producing shale oil formation.”

The EIA projects that the domestic industry will push U.S. oil production past the 12 million barrels of oil per day (bopd) level for the first time in the nation’s history in March, with 70% of that coming from shale plays. Fully 1/3rd of all oil produced in the U.S. in March will come from the Permian Basin alone.

Follow me on Twitter at @GDBlackmon

Today’s news moves at a faster pace than ever. Whatfinger.com is my go-to source for keeping up with all the latest events in real time.

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Some Stunning New Facts About Texas and its Oil Industry

Today’s Energy Update
(Because Energy Fuels Our Lives)

#GodBlessTexas. – Last week at Shale Magazine, I put up a piece detailing some “Fun Facts” about the state of the oil and gas industry in Texas. That piece began with the following statement:

“Here’s a fun fact: If Texas were an independent country, it would now stand as the 5th-largest oil-producing nation on Planet Earth, behind only the rest of the U.S., Russia, Saudi Arabia and Iraq. According to projections by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), Texas will pass Iraq in this measure of economic might later this year.”

Boy, things sure do escalate quickly in the oil industry. Here we are, barely a week later, and the truth about that little factoid has already changed again, at least if the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) has its numbers right.  EIA now says that the U.S. averaged 12 million barrels of oil per day (bopd) in January, the first time it has ever reached level. The agency further projects that the Permian Basin alone will produce 4 million bopd in March, roughly 1/3rd of total U.S. production.

So, before we get to some new amazing facts about all of this, let’s do a little math.  First, roughly 85% of total Permian Basin production comes from Texas, which in March would come to about 3.4 million bopd. Next, add in EIA’s estimate that the other behemoth Texas shale play, the Eagle Ford, will produce about 1.3 million bopd, and you are at a stunning 4.7 million. Oh, and there’s also all that oil coming out of deep south Texas, east Texas and the Texas panhandle, and all of a sudden you find Texas producing in excess of 5 million bopd.

All of which means that as of today, the great State of Texas, all by itself, would now rank 4th globally in crude oil production if it were an independent country, having now blown past Iraq.  Oh, and if the EIA’s projected trend for Permian production growth holds true, Texas will in all likelihood surpass the rest of the United States in total production at some point in either late 2021 or early 2022, and become the third-largest producer in the world.

But that’s not all.

EIA’s March projection of 4 million bopd coming out of the Permian Basin alone means that single basin, were it to secede from the union, would suddenly rank as the 5th-largest oil producing nation on earth, behind Iraq as well as the other countries mentioned above. The other amazing but little known fact about the Permian is that it ranks as one of the largest natural gas plays on earth, second in the U.S. only to the mammoth Marcellus Shale play in the northeast.

How incredible is that? Look at it this way:  Just a decade ago, the Permian Basin was considered to be a “dead” oil play. Downtown Midland was basically a ghost town, and the only real oil business going on out there was a bunch of small companies buying up old, depleted oil fields and going in to rework the wells in order to squeeze a few more barrels per day out of them.

Today, just 10 year later, it is the focal point of the global oil industry, the driver of booming economies of Texas and New Mexico, the main driver of the country’s burgeoning oil and LNG exports businesses. Because industries like chemicals, plastics, fertilizers and many, many more use petroleum products and natural gas as feedstocks, the Permian is also one of the the major facilitators of our country’s manufacturing renaissance over the last few years.

Stunning. And a real blessing.

God Bless Texas, indeed.

That is all.

Follow me on Twitter at @GDBlackmon

Today’s news moves at a faster pace than ever. Whatfinger.com is my go-to source for keeping up with all the latest events in real time.

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4 Big Ways the Permian Basin Drives U.S. Energy Growth

Tuesday Energy Update

(Because Energy Fuels Our Lives)

Despite recent low crude prices and a significant drop in the DrillingInfo rig count during January, the giant Permian Basin of West Texas and Southeast New Mexico continues to expand its role as the main driver of energy growth in North America. In just the past week, we have seen the following significant events that are attributable all or in part to what has become the world’s second most-productive oil and gas resource:

A driver of upstream and midstream profits – Both ExxonMobil and Chevron beat analyst expectations with their 4th quarter earnings announcements, driven mostly by their upstream and midstream developments in the Permian. Exxon beat forecasts by almost one-third, with its full-year 2018 earnings coming in at the highest level since 2014. Driven by its Permian drilling, Chevron’s oil and natural gas production rose to an all-time high as the company produced a record 3 million barrels of oil per day (bopd) during the 4th quarter.

Read the Rest Here

 

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Why Electric Vehicles Don’t Spell the End for the Internal Combustion Engine

The Afternoon Campaign Update
(Because The Campaign Never Ends)

Answering reader mail. – A reader in Houston emailed me this morning (david.blackmon@dbdailyupdate.com) with an energy-related question that is very timely. Here follows the email and answer I provided:

Email:

David,

I really enjoyed listening to your appearance on the BYU podcast and reading this article:

7 Key Things To Know About Oil and Gas

Your last point contained this tidbit that caught my attention:

“The reality is that, despite the growing intervention into the auto market by electric vehicles, the demand for gasoline and crude oil in the U.S. continues to rise, and is projected to keep doing so into the future.”

  • How will the shift to electric vehicles impact the demand on Oil and Gas?
  • Roughly what % of global consumption is for vehicle fuel?
  • Do you think we’ll fully go to electric vehicles and how will this shift effect Houston’s economy in the near and far term?

I’ve got a chunk of my net worth wrapped up in my house [near Houston], and am wondering what a drop in global demand would do to all these O&G companies and the local housing market.

Your daily updates are my favorite read of every morning.  Press on!

Answer: [Edited and expanded slightly for clarity.]

The potential for EVs is wildly over-hyped in the media. The shift to EVs is far outpaced by the ongoing increases in demand for crude oil, not just in the U.S. but even moreso globally. That is not going to change anytime soon.

Why? Because that electricity to recharge them has to come from somewhere, and today mainly comes from power generated by coal and natural gas in the U.S. That’s another stark reality that is not going to change anytime in my lifetime, which I figure is another 25 years or so. [Every reliable projection – even those by the U.N. – project that fossil fuels will still account for the vast majority of global power generation in 2050.]

Here’s reality: The world has a choice where fossil fuels are concerned. First, we could burn more and more coal in power generation because it is not replaceable by intermittent power sources like wind and solar. Germany and Spain have clearly demonstrated this over the past decade, as they almost bankrupted their economies trying to do just that.

The alternative is to burn more and more gasoline in automobiles.  You cannot have a geometric leap in EVs without burning far more coal than we do today, and the alternative to burn more gasoline is a much cleaner environmental solution. It is also a far more affordable solution for consumers.

Thus, it is a virtual certainty that we will continue to burn more gasoline in internal combustion engines for the next half century, and probably beyond.

Houston’s going to be fine.

[Expansion]

Now, to expand on that a bit, here are a couple of other reasons why the world will continue to produce and consume increasing amounts of oil in the coming decades:

First, you have the fact that thousands of other products that ordinary people rely on every day are produced either in whole or in part from petroleum. From plastics to chemicals to polyester to fertilizers to makeup to toothpaste, even to the computer on which I am typing this, people all over the world are heavily reliant on a vast variety of products that use petroleum as a feedstock.

Second, look at this incredible graphic:

What amazing progress in just ten years! Here’s the simple truth: None of that progress would have been possible without oil and natural gas. The developing nations of the world need access to plentiful, scalable and affordable sources of energy in order to join modern society and elevate their people out of squalor. This can only be achieved through the use of fossil fuels.  Period.

So, bottom line, if you are worried about the oil and gas industry collapsing anytime soon, you need to find something else to worry about.

That is all.

 

 

Follow me on Twitter at @GDBlackmon

Today’s news moves at a faster pace than ever. Whatfinger.com is my go-to source for keeping up with all the latest events in real time.

 

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Was 2018 Really the ‘Worst Year Ever’? Uh, no.

Today’s Campaign Update

(Because The Campaign Never Ends)

Andrew Cuomo’s Russia Collusion manifests yet again. – On Thursday, Bloomberg reported on the arrival in Boston Harbor of a tanker filled with liquefied natural gas (LNG) that was produced in … wait for it … RUSSIA! I swear I don’t make this stuff up.

Yes, friends, the New England states have, for the second straight winter, been reduced to having to import natural gas from the Russian Bear despite their close proximity to our nation’s largest natural gas field, the massive Marcellus/Utica Shale basin. This is not only for home heating purposes, but for electric power generation as well, as most electricity in the Northeast is generated by natural gas-fired power plants.

Now, think about how utterly ridiculous this is. Our country is literally awash in natural gas. The U.S. is in fact the world’s largest producer of the commodity, and possesses by far the world’s largest reserves, with many centuries of proven supply beneath our soil.

We have so much natural gas, in fact, that the U.S. price for the commodity is far below the price that other countries lacking such reserves pay for imports of LNG. Where the U.S. NYMEX price for natural gas sits this morning at $3.30, America’s producers export large quantities of their own gas to countries like Japan and China, where they can command prices more than double that.

So, why is New England having to bring in LNG from Russia, you ask? Two words: Andrew Cuomo. Despite the fact that his state of New York obtains the overwhelming majority of its home heating and electricity needs from natural gas, Cuomo decided several years ago to take demagogic positions against the production of the commodity and the building of new pipelines to transport it in and through his state in order to enhance his prospects for being re-elected to a second term.

It is a simple geographic reality that, in order to build new pipelines from the Marcellus/Utica Basin to carry enough gas to the New England states to fill winter demands there, the pipelines must pass through the state of New York.  You don’t have to believe me – just look at a map.

Thus, for the second straight winter, tankers carrying LNG produced in Russia will now be landing in Boston Harbor.

Insanity.

The ‘worst year ever’? Seriously? – No kidding, I heard some liberal nitwit on the radio this week wail that 2018 has been the worst year ever for Americans. You can see similar sentiments coming from those on the radical left expressed all over social media at any given moment of any given day.

Look, I can understand why anyone who gets their news from CNN, MSNBC or the three major TV networks might feel that way, given the unending barrage of doom and gloom emanating from the newsfakers working at those fake news outlets every hour of every day. But the expression of this belief shows a mind-numbing lack of situational awareness and historical context.

Let’s start with some situational awareness:

  • Current unemployment rate – 3.7%, the lowest rate recorded since the 1960s, and 2% below the average rate recorded from 1948 through 2018. In 2009-10, there were months this rate reached 10%. Black unemployment, Hispanic unemployment and female unemployment all are at all-time lows.
  • Economic Growth – we’ve averaged 3% GDP growth this year, the highest this century.
  • Consumer spending – over the holidays, consumer spending – always a sign of a growing, healthy economy – reached all-time record levels.
  • Gasoline prices – in most states, the price for regular unleaded gas is below $2.00 per gallon.  Yes, there are exceptions, like the states of New York and California, but those are due to the high-tax policies of years of Democrat rule in state governments.
  • Jobs – as I predicted would be the case two years ago, the biggest problem in our economy today is that we have too few qualified workers to fill all the job openings out there right now. It’s a great problem to have.
  • Stocks – Yes, the stock market has gone all wobbly since October, but as we sit here this morning, the Dow is about 23% above where it sat two years ago. I’d take an 11.5% return each year in my IRA – wouldn’t you?

Now, let’s talk about historical context.  Compared to most of the past half century, the United States is at relative peace in the world. The biggest problem there is that the opposition to President Trump – the liberals and neo-cons who got us into 7 different civil wars in and around the Middle East during the Bush and Obama years – cannot stand that to be the case. Which explains why they’ve reacted so furiously to Trump’s proposals to end U.S. involvement in the civil wars in Syria and Afghanistan.

You want to know what all the furor among our media/warmonger establishment regarding Jamal Khashoggi was really about? It was about trying to destroy the Trump Administration’s strong relationship with Saudi Arabia, a relationship that the President is now leveraging in order to enable him to bring our American troops home from the Syrian hell-hole that Obama got us into 7 long years ago. You might also want to note that, since the Washington Post admitted that Khashoggi was in fact a shill for the Qatari government last week, the fake news media has basically quit talking about him.  Funny how that works.

The Crazy Little Fat Guy in North Korea is contained. North Korea and South Korea have normalized diplomatic relations, an amazing event no one but Donald Trump thought possible just two years ago. Russia may be exporting LNG to Boston Harbor, but it is otherwise staying within its borders. The most violence Americans have seen on their TV screens in recent months has been video of the riots taking place in Paris, which is a reaction to leftist/socialist political policies.

The worst year ever? Even America’s poor are so much better off today than they have been in the past. The poor among us in America today live lifestyles similar to those lived by America’s middle class half a century ago.

The worst year ever? Go back and read a little bit about how screwed up America’s air and water were as recently as the 1970s. Despite all the alarmist messaging coming every day from the socialist “environmental” movement, our environment is exponentially cleaner than it was just 40 years ago.

The worst year ever? In the palms of our hands, most Americans hold more computing power each day than existed on earth just 70 years ago.

The worst year ever? A century ago, few Americans owned cars and there was no such thing as commercial air travel. 90 years ago, no penicillin. 80 years ago, television did not exist. 65 years ago, no polio vaccine or interstate highway system. 50 years ago, no high-speed copiers. 40 years ago, no fax machines. 30 years ago, there was no email. 20 years ago, no text messages. 12 years ago, no such thing as an I-phone.

The worst year ever?  Shut up, you hopelessly ignorant fools.

That is all.

Follow me on Twitter at @GDBlackmon

Today’s news moves at a faster pace than ever. Whatfinger.com is my go-to source for keeping up with all the latest events in real time.

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The Oil And Gas Situation: Eight Predictions For 2019

Well, that all escalated – or rather, de-escalated – quickly, huh? During the course of a six-day vacation around Christmas, the WTI price for crude dropped from $50/bbl down to $42/bbl. That takes a situation on oil prices that was already troubling for most domestic producers into the potentially-calamitous range for companies saddled with heavy debt loads and high lifting costs.

This latest collapse in crude prices comes on the heels of a longer-term drop that lasted throughout October and November. From October 2 through November 30, WTI fell from $76.41/bbl to $50.93, a decline of about 33%, as it became obvious to traders and investors that the market had become significantly over-supplied despite the re-implementation of U.S. sanctions on Iran by the Trump Administration.

This overall 45% drop in the domestic benchmark price for crude took place during the same period when producers were setting their capital drilling budgets for 2019. While one might think that reality would cause a significant curtailment of drilling activity during the first half of 2019, consider that only about a third of that price drop had come about by November 1, by which time most of these companies were finalizing those budgets. With WTI sitting at $63/bbl at that time, few were anticipating a further drop of this magnitude by the end of December.

Here’s the thing: Thousands of domestic drilling projects that are economic to drill at $63/bbl are uneconomic to drill at $42/bbl. So right now we are already beginning to see reports that some companies are going back and reconsidering some budgeting decisions that were made just a month ago. Others are likely still in wait-and-see mode as they try to assess whether the December price drop is a temporary result of panic-selling or a more long-term phenomenon related to a weakening global economy.

Given all of this, my first prediction is that we will see a gradual fall in the domestic U.S. rig count throughout the first half of 2019.

 

Read the Rest Here

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