Masters Of War

Come you masters of war You that build all the guns You that build the death planes You that build all the bombs You that hide behind walls You that hide behind desks I just want you to know I can see through your masks. You that never done nothin' But build to destroy You play with my world Like it's your little toy You put a gun in my hand And you hide from my eyes And you turn and run farther When the fast bullets fly. Like Judas of old You lie and deceive A world war can be won You want me to believe But I see through your eyes And I see through your brain Like I see through the water That runs down my drain. You fasten all the triggers For the others to fire Then you set back and watch When the death count gets higher You hide in your mansion' As young people's blood Flows out of their bodies And is buried in the mud. You've thrown the worst fear That can ever be hurled Fear to bring children Into the world For threatening my baby Unborn and unnamed You ain't worth the blood That runs in your veins. How much do I know To talk out of turn You might say that I'm young You might say I'm unlearned But there's one thing I know Though I'm younger than you That even Jesus would never Forgive what you do. Let me ask you one question Is your money that good Will it buy you forgiveness Do you think that it could I think you will find When your death takes its toll All the money you made Will never buy back your soul. And I hope that you die And your death'll come soon I will follow your casket In the pale afternoon And I'll watch while you're lowered Down to your deathbed And I'll stand over your grave 'Til I'm sure that you're dead.------- Bob Dylan 1963

Sunday, November 22, 2015

gas prices tank again; oil output steady despite a 65% drop in drilling

while last week saw oil prices crash, this week it was the benchmark price for natural gas that took a nosedive, with most of the drop coming at the end of the week, when prices fell 5.8% in the Friday trading session alone...the current contract price for natural gas had closed last week at $2.361 per mmBTU and was priced as high as $2.371 per mmBTU at the close on Tuesday, but slipped back to close at $2.347 per mmBTU on Wednesday, ahead of the Weekly Natural Gas Storage Report from the EIA, released as usual on Thursday...that report showed that gas producers had added 15 billion cubic feet of gas to storage to bring the total stored in the lower 48 to an even 4,000 billion cubic feet, a new record high for the amount of natural gas in storage in the US...so even though traders had expected around 23 billion cubic feet to be added to storage this week, they sold off gas contracts on Thursday afternoon, when prices fell to $2.276 per mmBTU, after which prices fell steadily on Friday to close the week at $2.145 per mmBTU, capping the largest weekly decline in natural gas prices since January...once again, so we can visualize how those prices relate to recent prices for the fuel, we'll include a graph that tracks the daily closing price of the current natural gas contract on the NY Mercantile Exchange over the past 2 years:
November 21 2015 natural gas prices
the above graph shows the two year track of the current contract price for a million British thermal units (mmBTU) of natural gas at or contracted to be delivered to the Louisiana interstate natural gas pipeline interconnection known as the Henry Hub, which has become the benchmark for setting natural gas prices across the US... natural gas prices are also occasionally quoted in mcfs, or units of a thousand cubic feet, where an mcf = 1.028 x mmBTU = million BTU, a small enough difference that some use the metrics interchangeably...we can see from the chart above that even though US natural gas has not been impacted by an OPEC induced global glut like oil, the price of this commodity has followed a similar trajectory, and like oil is now selling for half of what it was selling for a year ago...certainly, this year's warm fall weather has had an impact, as normally gas supplies are being drawn down by the second week in November, instead of being added to like they were this week...but overproduction by US frackers continues to be a large part of the pricing story, as prices for natural gas have fallen from a peak near $13.50 per MMBtu in 2008 to below $2.15 per mmBTU now, more than an 80% decline, as gas production has expanded...high prices brought the frackers into the Haynesville and Marcellus shale plays early on, but even as they're no longer profitable at these prices, they continue to produce surplus gas, just to keep the cash flowing to cover the interest payments on their debts...
The Latest Oil Stats from the EIA
the latest oil patch data from the US Energy Information Administration indicated that production of oil from US wells was virtually unchanged, but oil imports dropped significantly and consumption of oil by refineries rose, so there was relatively little oil leftover to be added to our already burgeoning glut of oil in storage...our field production of crude oil slipped to 9,182,000 barrels per day in the week ending November 13th, a decrease of just 3,000 barrels per day from the production rate of 9,185,000 barrels per day during the prior week...while was 2.0% greater than our production of 9,004,000 barrels per day during the 2nd week of November last year, it was still 4.4% below the modern weekly record production of 9,610,000 barrels per day that was set in the first week of June this year...over the past ten weeks, the output of crude oil from US wells has stayed in a narrow range between 9,096,000 barrels per day, which we saw 3 times, and the 9,185,000 barrels per day we saw last week..
however, in the week ending the 13th, US imports of crude oil fell to 6,968,000 barrels per day, a drop of 409,000 barrels per day from the 7,377,000 barrels per day we imported during the week ending November 6th and the least crude we've imported in one week since June 19th, when we imported 6,765,000 bpd...this week's imports were hence 8.8% lower than our 7,638,000 barrels per day imports of the same week a year ago, a reversal of last week's imports increase, which were 7.3% more than the same week last year...that volatility is why we check the weekly Petroleum Status Report (62 pp pdf) for the 4 week average of our imports, where we find that average imports have been running at 7.1 million barrels a day, just 0.1% less than the same 4 week period last year...in fact, our imports have only fallen below 7 million barrels a day 7 times so far in 2015, not much change from the 6 times that imports were that low in 2014...
meanwhile, US refineries were using 16,076,000 barrels per day during the second week of November, up from the 15,939,000 barrels per day they took in during the prior week, which puts their crude consumption a bit more than 1.0% ahead of last year's pace...their production of gasoline, which jumped by 156,000 barrels per day last week, fell back by 135,000 barrels per day this week to 9,558,000 barrels per day, while their output of distillate fuels, which was off a bit last week, jumped by 159,000 barrels per day to 5,032,000 barrels per day for this week...with regular fall maintenance wrapping up, the refinery utilization rate topped 90% for the first time in 8 weeks, as it rose from 89.5% last week to 90.3% in the week ending November 13th...that was, however, still below the 91.2% of refinery capacity utilization in the second week of November last week...with higher production, our week ending supplies of gasoline jumped by more than a million barrels, from 213,245,000 barrels as of November 6th to 214,254,000 barrels as of November 13th, 4.7% more than the 204,599,000 barrels of gasoline we had stored as of November 7th last year, and the most gasoline we had stored any week in November in the 16 years of the EIA gasoline storage records...
nonetheless, even with the big drop in oil imports and the increase in refinery throughput, there was again still more oil supplied this week than could be used, so it had to be put into storage; our inventory of crude oil in storage, not counting what's in the government's Strategic Petroleum Reserve, rose for the 8th week in a row, increasing by 252,000 barrels to 487,286,000 barrels on November 13th, up from 487,034,000 barrels on November 6th...that means we've added more than 33.3 million barrels to our stores in just the last 8 weeks, and now have 106.2 million barrels, or 27.8% more oil in storage than the 381,078,000 barrels we had stored at the end of the second week of November a year ago...it goes without saying that that's the most oil we ever had stored anytime in November in the 80 years of EIA record keeping, which had never seen more than 400 million barrels stored before this year... 
This Week's Rig Counts
the number of active drilling rigs working in the US fell again in the week ending November 20th, with rigs drilling for oil accounting for all those removed....Baker Hughes reported that the total active rig count fell by 10 to 757, as their count of active oil rigs fell by 10 to 564 while their count of active gas rigs was unchanged at 193, down from the 1574 oil rigs and 355 gas rigs that were in use on November 21st of 2014....6 of the rigs that were idled this week had been drilling on land in the lower 48, while one rig was removed from an inland lake in Louisiana, and 3 rigs that had been working in the Gulf of Mexico off Louisiana were also shut down...that leaves us with 725 land based rigs in use, down from the 1864 land rigs that were being worked the same week last year, 2 rigs drilling on inland lakes, down from 12 inland waters rigs a year ago, and 30 rigs working the Gulf of Mexico, down from 51 in the Gulf and a total of 53 offshore during the same week of 2014...
horizontal drillers cut the most rigs this week, as the net count for active horizontal rigs was down by 6 to 581, which was down from the 1372 horizontal rigs that were operating in the same week last year...one vertical rig was also removed from the field, dropping that count to 107, well down from the 352 vertical rigs that were drilling a year ago...and the count of directional rigs fell also, down by 3 to 69, also down from the 205 directional rigs that were deployed last year at this time... 
variances in the major shale basins included the removal of 4 rigs from the Permian basin of west Texas, which still is the most active basin with 225 rigs still drilling, down from 565 in the same week last year...3 more rigs were taken down in the Mississippian lime of the Kansas Oklahoma border region, where they now have just 9, down from 75 a year ago...single rig reductions were seen in the DJ-Niobrara basin of the Rockies front range, the Utica of Ohio, and the Arkoma Woodford of Oklahoma...those cuts left the Niobrara with 27 rigs, down from last year's 58, the Utica with 20 rigs, down from last year's 49, and the Arkoma Woodford with 9, up from 6 rigs a year ago, and the only major basin to see a year over year increase in the number of active rigs...
basins seeing rigs added this week included the Barnett shale of the Dallas-Ft Worth area, where they added 2 and now have 8, which is still down from last year's 25, the Eagle Ford of south Texas, where they also added 2, bringing the count up to 75, but again down from 209 rigs in the same week last year, the Cana Woodford of Oklahoma, where adding 1 brought their count to 33, whereas last year at this time they had 42 active rigs, and the Haynesville of the Texas-Louisiana border region, where they now have 28 rigs running, which is down from 39 a year earlier...
the Baker Hughes state count tables show that two states got rid of 4 rigs this week: Oklahoma, which now has 81, down from the year ago 214, and Louisiana, where all the Gulf of Mexico rigs are located, and which now has 65 rigs running, down from last year's 111...in addition, 3 rigs were pulled from both Colorado and Wyoming; the former is now down to 29 from 70 a year earlier, and the latter is now down to 21 from the year ago 60...West Virginia drillers idled two rigs, leaving the state with 14, down from last year's 32, while Ohio frackers shut down 1 rig, leaving 19, which is down from last year's 45....meanwhile, Texas added 4 rigs as 6 of their oil districts saw added rigs and 3 saw reductions, leaving Texas with 342 active rigs, down from 906 a year ago...Pennsylvania drillers also added two rigs, apparently not targeting the Marcellus, which brings the Pennsylvania rig count back up to 30, down from 56 in the same week last year...and finally, North Dakota drillers put another rig back on, bringing the state count up to 63, which was still down from 177 rigs that were drilling in North Dakota on November 21st of 2014...
since our domestic production of crude oil has held pretty steady over the last dozen weeks while the oil rig count has dropped 11 of those 12 weeks, we'll wrap this up today by including a graph that shows both metrics... the graph below, which comes from Bloomberg via Zero Hedge, includes the US oil rig count and US crude production over the last 4 and a half years on the same graph; our crude oil production in thousands of barrels per day is in dark blue and it's demarcated on a logarithmic scale by the first column of figures on the right, while the US rig count is tracked in red and that count is shown in the farthest right column on graph...you can see that the two tracked each other well for several years, such that many analysts came to believe that our output of oil was dependent on continuous drilling...but that's clearly not the case so far; as the count of rigs drilling for oil has now fallen by nearly two thirds, from 1609 rigs as of October 10th last year to 564 presently, yet our output of oil has held steadily above the level that we were producing when drilling was at its peak...moreover, a lot of the wells that have been drilled over the past year have yet to be fracked, as that initial rush of production following fracking is being held off the market while producers wait for higher oil prices....this week we learned that there are 1000 oil wells in the Bakken shale have been drilled but not fracked, as producers wait for higher prices; earlier this year, it was reported there were 1,400 such "drilled but uncompleted wells" in the Eagle Ford; other basins likely have similar counts of wells held back....with that kind of future oil production already sitting on the sidelines waiting for higher prices, a change in the number of rigs drilling today or even next year will barely make a dent in our output...
November 21 2015 rig count vs production

note: links to more here...

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