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

Friday, April 29, 2016

The Calm Before the Coming Global Storm by Pepe Escobar



Major turbulence seems to be the name of the game in 2016. Yet the current turbulence may be interpreted as the calm before the next, devastating geopolitical/financial storm. Let’s review the current state of play via the dilemmas afflicting the House of Saud, the EU and BRICS members Russia, Brazil and China.

Oil and the House of Saud
Not many people are familiar with the Baltic Dry Index. Yet the Index is key to track commodity demand. Two months ago, it was trading to all-time lows. Since then, it has increased over 130%. Precious metals prices have all moved higher in virtually all currencies. Why is this important? Because it tells us that faith in fiat currencies – the US dollar especially — is sharply declining.
The Baltic Index rise portends a rise in oil demand in Asia – especially China. Falling supply and rising demand for oil will likely drive up the price of the barrel of oil in the second half of 2016.
That does not mean that the House of Saud will win back the trust of both the US and Russia. Deep sources keep confirming that as far as Washington and Moscow are concerned, the House of Saud is expendable. Both are really energy independent (should the US want to be). Powerful Washington factions blatantly accuse Riyadh of “terror” – well, it’s way more complicated – while Moscow regards the House of Saud as following US orders to destroy Russia in an oil price war. 
Ailing – on the way to dementia — King Salman and young Warrior Prince Mohammed would be finished if those famous 28 pages about 9/11 were released and the Saudi connection is incontrovertible. What next? Regime change. A CIA coup. A “trusted” Saudi military CIA asset elevated to power. 
What’s left for the House of Saud is to play for time. High up in Riyadh the feeling is that relations with Washington won’t improve while Obama is president; the next president — whether Hillary or The Donald – will be a much better deal. So Plan A for now is to keep posing as essential to Washington in the “war on terra”; that means King Salman falling back on Mohammed bin Nayef, the Crown Prince, way more adept at it than the Warrior Prince, the conductor of the disastrous war on Yemen.  

Sunday, April 24, 2016

what we learned from Doha, a new push for gas exports, new oil glut and rig count records again, etc

the meeting at Doha was a dud...there was no agreement between OPEC and other oil producers meeting at the Qatari capital last Sunday to freeze production or to take any other action whatsoever to control oil output...in fact, contrary to their intended purpose of limiting oil output, both the Saudis and the Russians indicated after the meeting that they'd be increasing their output... furthermore, now that we understand the issues in play, we can see that there is no chance that there’ll be any kind of agreement to freeze oil production at any time in the foreseeable future...

initial news from the conference early Sunday was that the 16 oil producers meeting in Doha, including the Saudis and the Russians, would agree to freeze their oil output until October, at which time they'd have another meeting and renegotiate from there...but before the meeting actually started, the Saudis said they wanted all OPEC members to participate, including Iran, despite previously insisting on excluding Iran because Iran had refused to freeze production....so they delayed the meeting till later in the afternoon in an attempt to address the differences between the Saudis position and the earlier draft agreement which excluded Iran....but that was to no avail, as the Saudis were uncompromising, and by evening the meeting fell apart without a freeze agreement or even an agreement to meet again at some time in the future...the early Asian market reaction, wherein quotes for U.S. crude for May fell 6.7% to $37.70 a barrel and the global benchmark Brent crude was down 6.9% to $40.14, was short-lived, as news that oil workers in Kuwait went on strike, threatening to take nearly 2 million barrels per day off the global market, steadied prices, which then closed Monday at $39.78 a barrel in the US and at $42.91 a barrel in Europe, both down less that one percent from last Friday...

now that the dust has settled, it's pretty clear what had happened....over the 2 months leading up to the meeting, confidence that a deal to freeze output would get done was pretty high, as both Russian energy minister Alexander Novak and Ali al Naimi, the long time Saudi oil minister, had taken part in the original meeting with Qatar and Venezuela, and had voiced support for an agreement in the interim weeks...however, at the same time, and especially during the week prior to the Doha meeting, 30 year old Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman insisted there would be no deal without Iran's participation...we can now see that it was bin Salman who was calling the shots at last Sunday's meeting....the tell is from reports from Venezuela oil minister Del Pino, who said that Saudi representatives at Sunday's meeting didn’t have authority to negotiate a freeze, and hence they followed the dictates of bin Salman, and presumably his father the king, that there would be no deal unless their regional arch enemy Iran was also forced to freeze their output (at depressed levels)

thus, young Mohammad bin Salman has emerged as the power behind the Saudi crown...his father King Salman, who rose to the throne when King Abdullah died last January and who has often been described in reports as somewhat senile, is still active domestically, presiding over the largest jump in political beheadings in 20 years...but his favored son Mohammend, who often speaks of Saudi Arabia in the first person singular, has been gradually assuming all the important positions in the Kingdom, including Minister of Defense and Chief of the Royal Court...the outcome of this meeting at Doha confirms that he is in charge of Saudi energy policy as well, and that Ali al Naimi, who for 21 years has not only been the Saudi oil minister but also the voice of OPEC, is now answering to the young Crown Prince...fighting proxy wars with Iran in Syria and Yemen, the Saudis thus appear willing to cut off their nose to spite their face, and will do all in their power to drive the price of oil down, just to deny Iran full remuneration for their oil as they return to the global export markets...

New Energy Bill Fast Tracks Gas Export Facilities

back in the US, the Republican controlled US Senate passed a broad-ranging energy bill promoting everything from renewable energy to exports of fossil fuels by an 85-12 vote...delayed for 2 months over an impasse on providing emergency aid to Flint, this so-called Energy Policy Modernization Act had broad bi-partisan support because it was turned into a Christmas tree with something on it for everyone, including a provision to designate forests as a carbon-neutral energy source that was introduced by senators Susan Collins from Maine and Amy Klobuchar from Minnesota, presumably at the behest of their timber interests...the earlier House passed version of this bill was more aimed at restricting Federal oversight and thus drew a veto threat from the White House, so it appears that this Senate version will be closest to what survives the reconciliation process and ends up as law..

while there's undoubtedly much pro and con in this bill that we haven't seen, what has attracted our attention are the provisions to speed the permitting process for liquefied natural gas exports...when i first read about those provisions, i assumed they were similar to others that had been included in other energy proposals, wherein a permit to build an export facility had to be granted within a year after a completed application, but i serendipitously stumbled onto SEC. 2201 in the text, under "Action on applications to export liquefied natural gas" which reads in part  "the Secretary shall issue a final decision on any application for the authorization to export natural gas under section 3(a) of the Natural Gas Act (15 U.S.C. 717b(a)) not later than 45 days after the later of— (1) the conclusion of the review to site, construct, expand, or operate the liquefied natural gas export facilities required by the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.); or(2) the date of enactment of this Act."  thus it’s clear that someone seems to be in quite a hurry to get those LNG export facilities built and start shipping our natural gas to Asia and Europe, where gas prices still remain much higher than in the US...

that provision is particularly important to us here in Ohio because we are on the cusp of becoming the fastest growing natural gas producing state in the nation...last Friday, in the "Today in Energy" blog post from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) titled U.S. natural gas production reaches record high in 2015, they examined the states that are contributing the most growth to the increased output of natural gas in the US in 2015, and Ohio came in second, just a bit behind Pennsylvania...but while growth of natural gas production is slowing in Pennsylvania, it is still growing in Ohio, a fact which is most clearly illustrated by a bar graph from that EIA post which we're including below...

April 16 2016 natural gas by state

the above bar graph was taken from the EIA "today in energy" blog post of last Friday and it shows the 5 states that have contributed the most to the increase in natural gas output over the past six years...the annual increase in the output of gas in billions of cubic feet per day is represented by a bar for each of those 6 years for each of those 5 states (in some cases as a negative)...understand, Texas still produces more gas than Pennsylvania, but Texas gas output is falling, and this graphic only shows the states where the major growth has been....in 2015, Pennsylvania's natural gas output grew by 1.5 billion cubic feet a day, down from the 2.6 billion cubic feet a day growth the state logged in 2014...meanwhile, Ohio's natural gas output grew by 1.4 billion cubic feet a day, up 41% from the less than 1 billion cubic feet a day growth we saw in 2014...assuming these trends continue, Ohio's natural gas output growth will almost certainly surpass the growth of Pennsylvania natural gas in the coming year...thus, while the LNG exports that may be leaving from the Gulf Coast, New Jersey or Washington state will not necessarily have originated in Ohio, it will be Ohio where the rest of the country will be looking for the new gas to pick up the supply deficit created by those exports...

The Latest Oil Stats from the EIA

according to the latest reports from the Energy Information Administration, our imports of oil increased by nearly a quarter of a million barrels per day, which was almost the same amount of oil that we added to our record supplies of oil in storage over that period....however, oil traders took note of an even larger drawdown of our inventories of distillates, and drove the new June contract price of oil up to $43.73 a barrel, a new high for the year, despite the Doha failure earlier in the week...also contributing to the strength in the price for oil was another decrease in the rig count, and a 24,000 barrel per day drop in our field production of crude oil, which fell to an average of 8,953,000 barrels per day during the week ending April 15th, which was 4.4% lower than the 9,366,000 barrels per day we were producing during the same week last year...output of oil from US fields has now fallen 12 out of the last 13 weeks and is now 6.8% off the peak of last June 10th, the lowest it's been since the week ending October 10th of 2014...

at the same time, our imports of crude oil averaged 8,178,000 barrels per day during the week ending the 15th, 247,000 barrels per day higher than the previous week and 5.4% higher than the 7,765,000 barrels per day we were importing during the week ending April 17th last year...but as this week replaced an even higher import week in the 4 week moving average of imports reported by the weekly Petroleum Status Report (62 pp pdf), and thus our oil imports still remain at the 7.8 million barrel per day level, just 2.1% above the same four-week period last year...   

meanwhile, US refineries, which had slowed processing by nearly a half a million barrels per day last week, picked up a bit this week, processing 16,104,000 barrels of oil per day during the week ending April 15th, 163,000 barrels per day more than the 15,941,000 barrels of oil per day they were using during the week ending April 8th....that was also up a bit from the 15,982,000 barrels of oil per day US refineries were using during the same week of 2015, even though the US refinery utilization rate only rose to 89.4%, up from 89.2% last week, which was still lower that the 91.2% refinery utilization rate of the same week last year....

with more oil being refined, our refinery production of gasoline rose by 170,000 barrels per day, averaging 9,738,000 barrels per day during the week ending April 15th, up from the average 9,568,000 barrels of gasoline per day produced during the week ending April 8th...oddly, though, that was still lower than the one week spurt to 9,763,000 barrels per day production we saw during the week ending April 17th of 2015, which set the record for gasoline output for any week in April...on the other hand, our refinery output of distillate fuels (diesel fuel and heat oil) fell by 72,000 barrels per day to 4,712,000 barrels per day during week ending the 15th, which was also 63,000 barrels per day, or 1.3% lower than our distillates production during the same week of 2015...    

even with the increased output of gasoline, our gasoline inventories fell for the second week in a row, slipping from 239,761,000 barrels on April 8th to 239,651,000 barrels on April 15th...however, this week's gasoline supplies were still 6.2% higher than the 225,738,000 barrels of gasoline that we had stored on April 17th last year, which were at the time the highest for the third weekend in April since 1993...thus our gasoline stores are still categorized as "well above the upper limit of the average range" for this time of year...at the same time, our distillate fuel inventories also fell, as you might recall the cold snap that week, dropping by 3,554,000 barrels to end the week at 159,935,000 barrels, which oddly was widely reported as the impetus for a 3.8% jump in the price of crude oil...however, as we've pointed out all winter, distillate inventories also remained "well above the upper limit of the average range" for this time of year as of April 15th, still 23.7% greater than the 129,336,000 barrels of distillates we had stored as of April 17th last year..   

finally, largely on the 247,000 barrel per day increase in our imports, we had an additional 2,080,000 barrels of surplus oil supply this week, and hence our stocks of crude oil in storage, not counting what's in the government's Strategic Petroleum Reserve, rose once again to a new record of 538,611,000 barrels as of April 15th, up from the record 536,531,000 barrels of oil we had stored on April 8th...that was 10.4% higher than the then record of 489,002,000 barrels of oil we had stored as of April 17th, 2015, which at the time was the highest level of 2015, and 35.4% higher than the 397,659,000 barrels of oil we had stored on April 18th of 2014....we've now increased our inventories of crude oil by by nearly 56.3 million barrels since the beginning of this year, while setting new records for the amount oil we had in storage in the US in 9 out of the last 10 weeks... 

This Week's Rig Count

and guess what else? for the 7th week in a row, we have another all-time record low for the number of active drilling rigs working in the US...Baker Hughes reported that their total count of drilling rigs running in the US was down by another 9 rigs to 431 rigs as of April 22nd, which was also down from the 932 rigs that were working on April 24th of 2015, and down from the recent high of 1929 rigs that were deployed on November 21st of 2014... the count of rigs drilling for oil fell by 8 to a 6 year low of 343, which was down from 734 a year earlier, and down from the recent high of 1609 working oil rigs that we saw on October 10, 2014, while the count of drilling rigs targeting natural gas fell by 1 to a record low of 88, down from the 217 natural gas rigs that were drilling a year ago, and down from the recent natural gas rig high of 1,606 that was set on August 29th, 2008... 

two of the rigs that were shut down this week had been drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, reducing the Gulf rig count to 25 and the total offshore count to 26, with the other offshore platform working off the Cook Inlet in Alaska...that's down from the 33 Gulf of Mexico platforms and 34 total offshore that were in use on April 24th of 2015...however, there was a new rig set up on an inland lake in southern Louisiana this week, which brings the inland waters rig count up to 4, up from the 3 rigs deployed drilling on inland waters last year at this time...

a net of 3 horizontal rigs were pulled out this week, leaving the count of rigs drilling horizontally at 332, which was down from the 720 horizontal rigs that were in use on April 24th of 2015, and down from the recent record of 1372 horizontal rigs that were drilling on November 21st of 2014...at the same time, 3 more directional rigs were also stacked, leaving 48 directional rigs still running, which was down from the 91 directional rigs that were in use at the end of the same week a year earlier...in addition, a net of 3 vertical rigs were also shut down, cutting the vertical rig count back to 51, which was down from the 121 vertical rigs that were in use nationally the same week last year... 

5 of the rigs that were shut down this week had been working the Permian basin of west Texas, which still has 136 rigs working there, down from the 246 rigs that were deployed in the Permian last year at this time, and down from the high of 568 rigs that were working the Permian on November 14, 2014....two rigs were also idled in the Eagle Ford of south Texas, which still has 40 rigs running, down from 115 a year ago and down from that basin's peak of 259 rigs hit on May 25 of 2012...a rig also came out of the Cana Woodford of Oklahoma, which still has 29 rigs working it, down from 41 a year ago...and a single rig was also pulled from the Utica shale of Ohio, which has 11 working rigs remaining, down from the 26 rigs working the Utica a year ago at this time, and down from the Utica peak of 50 rigs last seen on December 26th of 2014....

with the reductions in the Permian and Eagle Ford, the state count tables thus indicated that Texas had the largest drilling rig decrease, as they saw a net of 7 rigs pulled out this week, leaving 187 rigs still working the state on April 22nd, which was down from the 393 rigs that were working in Texas on April 24rd last year…Louisiana, with the loss of 2 offshore rigs and the addition of a rig on an inland lake, was down by a net of 1 rig to 47 for the week, which was down from 74 rigs working there a year earlier...and lastly, Ohio also saw a single rig pulled out, leaving 11 still running in the state, which was down from the 25 rigs working Ohio last year at this time...



as usual, there is more here...

ANDREW BACEVICH AND AMERICA’S LONG MISGUIDED WAR TO CONTROL THE GREATER MIDDLE EAST

.................Since 1979, when the Iranians overthrew the Shah and the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, the U.S. has concentrated its firepower in what former U.S. Army colonel Andrew Bacevich calls the “Greater Middle East.” The region comprises most of what America’s imperial predecessors, the British, called the Near and Middle East, a vast zone from Pakistan west to Morocco. In his new bookAmerica’s War for the Greater Middle East, Bacevich writes, “From the end of World War II until 1980, virtually no American soldiers were killed in action while serving in that region. Within a decade, a great shift occurred. Since 1990, virtually no American soldiers have been killed anywhere except the Greater Middle East.” That observation alone might prompt a less propagandized electorate to rebel against leaders who perpetuate policies that, while killing and maiming American soldiers, devastate the societies they touch...........

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Seoul's financial hub dream gone wrong By Kim Jae-kyoung

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Chinese President Xi Jinping addresses a conference on religions in Beijing


BEIJING, April 23 (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping has called on authorities to stick to the Communist Party of China (CPC)'s religious policies and improve religious work.
Addressing a conference on religions that concluded on Saturday, Xi said religious affairs carry "special importance" in the work of the CPC and the central government, and that the CPC's religious policies and theories had been proven right through past practices.
He promised to fully implement the Party's policy of religious freedom, manage religious affairs in line with laws, retain the principle of religious independence and self-administration, and help religions adapt to the socialist society.
Authorities should work to unite religious and non-religious people, and guide those religious to love their country, protect the unification of their motherland and serve the overall interests of the Chinese nation.
Religious groups, meanwhile, must adhere to the leadership of the CPC, and support the socialist system and socialism with Chinese characteristics, Xi said.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

North Korean official: We'll stop nuclear tests if US halts military exercises in the South

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I am in South Korea, and will be for the next 7 months. This will be my fourth year of staying in Korea for 7 months.



The DPRK is asking for a deal. Will the U.S. answer with their usual nonsense of "first you must denuke before we sit at the table for talks".
Or will it come to its senses and be a deal maker instead of a deal breaker?
Does the U.S. even want peace on the peninsula? 
Is the U.S. using Korea as another staging area for more encroachment on China and Russia?

Remember, that there is still not even a peace treaty between the North and South.
Kim has to save face in the North, same goes for Park in the South.

Kim probably knows he can start a deal with Obama. 
Not so if/when Hillary gets in. She will take the Asian pivot divot to the brink..

Tao Dao Man 






Charles Koch: 'It's possible' Clinton is preferable to a Republican for president

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North Korea Fires Submarine-launched Missile: Yonhap

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Thursday, April 21, 2016

Concerned About Nuclear Weapons Potential, John F. Kennedy Pushed for Inspection of Israel Nuclear Facilities



Washington, D.C., April 21, 2016 - President John F. Kennedy worried that Israel’s nuclear program was a potentially serious proliferation risk and insisted that Israel permit periodic inspections to mitigate the danger, according to declassified documents published today by the National Security Archive, Nuclear Proliferation International History Project, and the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies.  Kennedy pressured the government of Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion to prevent a military nuclear program, particularly after stage-managed tours of the Dimona facility for U.S. government scientists in 1961 and 1962 raised suspicions within U.S. intelligence that Israel might be concealing its underlying nuclear aims.  Kennedy’s long-run objective, documents show, was to broaden and institutionalize inspections of Dimona by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

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Asia’s economic ties with Latin America: NAFTA and China

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Sunday, April 17, 2016

Watch "Anonymous - Message to Hillary Clinton" on YouTube

while waiting for Doha, US oil supplies hit another record high, drilling hit another record low

oil markets, and most of those who write about them, were in a state of suspended animation most of this past week as they awaited results from the meeting of major global oil producers this weekend in Doha Qatar, where a freeze of oil production at current or at January levels is on the table...oil ministers and other officials of the members of OPEC, except for war-torn Libya and Iran, are participating, while non-OPEC oil producers Russia, Mexico, Azerbaijan, Oman, and Bahrain will also attend...several other large oil producers, including Canada, Norway and Brazil, won't be involved, with Norway declining to participate and releasing their invitation just this week...rumors and news of such a get together of OPEC and non OPEC oil producers has been a major factor in driving the price of oil higher over the past two months, as oil prices have typically jumped on reported comments by one of the participants favorable to such a freeze, while prices have fallen when official comments suggesting that it wont work out are reported on...the well publicized secret meeting between Saudi oil minister Ali al-Naimi and Russian energy minister Alexander Novak in Qatar on February 16th that started this ball rolling came less than a week after oil prices bounced off a 13 year low near $26 a barrel back on February 11th...
the upcoming meeting continued to influence oil prices early this week as well, as the front month contract price for US oil rose from last week's closing price of $39.58 a barrel to close Monday at $40.36 a barrel, then jumped nearly 5% to close at a 4 month high of $42.17 a barrel on Tuesday on headlines of a Russian-Saudi agreement for a "Production Freeze" ...however, as the EIA report of a larger than expected inventory buildup reminded oil traders that the oil glut is still with us, oil prices fell back to close at $41.76 a barrel on Wednesday...that, plus uncertainly on the Doha outcome weighed on prices the rest of the week, as oil closed at $41.50 a barrel and then $40.36 a barrel on Friday, ending the week at the same price as Monday's close...
writing this late Saturday afternoon, i had intended to speculate about what might happen at this Doha meeting, and what the possible outcomes and their effects might be...but i realized that since Doha is 7 hours ahead of us, what i write about it may already be moot by the time you read this...in fact, if you google "Doha OPEC" later this morning, you'll probably learn more about the results and their expected impact that i could guess at before the fact...suffice it to say that a large part of the recent oil price rally is based on the thinking that an agreement to freeze production would be reached, and that any breakup of the Doha meeting that doesn't at least put that forward will be bearish for prices...but on the other hand, since Russia, the Saudis, and most of the major producers save Iran are already producing flat out, an agreement to freeze at current levels won't do much to alleviate the glut that those current levels of production have already produced..
The Latest Oil Reports from the EIA and a Look at our Declining Oil Output
in a reversal of last week's oil patch activity, US refinery oil inputs dropped back to a more seasonal level this week while our oil imports returned to the same elevated level that we've seen all year, and hence the week again showed a large surplus of unused crude added to inventories, thus setting yet another record for US oil stores... Wednesday's reports from the US Energy Information Administration showed that our imports of crude oil averaged 7,940,000 barrels per day during the week ending April 8th, up by 686,000 barrels per day from the average of 7,254,000 barrels per day we imported during the week ending April 1st...that was 11.1% more than the 7,148,000 barrels of oil per day we imported during the week ending April 10th a year ago, and the EIA's weekly Petroleum Status Report (62 pp pdf) reports that the 4 week moving average of our oil imports was still at the 7.8 million barrel per day level, which was 4.1% above the same four-week period last year...  
at the same time, production of crude oil from US wells fell for the 11th time in the past 12 weeks, dropping by 31,000 barrels per day, from an average of 9,008,000 barrels per day during the week ending April 1st to an average of 8,977,000 barrels per day during the week ending April 8th, marking the first time our oil output has dropped below 9 million barrels per day since October 31st 2014...our oil production was hence down 4.3% from the 9,384,000 barrel per day level of the same week a year ago, and down 6.6% from the recent weekly record of 9,610,000 of oil production set in the week ending June 5th last year...we're going to take a closer look at that recent oil production history, starting with a graph that comes from this week's OilPrice Intelligence Report from oilprice.com...
April 8th oil production
as marked, the above graph shows our oil production in thousands of barrels a day since the beginning of 2014 to the current weekly report (for the week ending April 8th)….but notice there are two parts to that graph; the first part, in blue, shows the confirmed monthly figures up to and including January of this year, the remainder, in yellow, shows the weekly estimates of production since the beginning of February…the weekly data, which we report on, are just estimates extrapolated from a small sampling of reports, whereas once all the data is in, the EIA logs it as a monthly report, again as barrels per day of production, which supersedes the previously published weekly data...the confirmed monthly data, which you can sort of glean from the graph, indicates that our oil production peaked at 9,694,000 barrels per day during April of last year, dipped to 9,315,000 barrels per day in June, and then gradually moved up to 9,452,000 barrels per day in September, before beginning the slide that continues to this day...
the reason we want to look at this today is a report from the International Energy Agency (IEA), a Paris based energy think tank set up by the rich oil consuming nations, that projects that global oil markets will “move close to balance” in the second half of the year as US shale production drops...now, most estimates over the past year have put the global oversupply of oil at between 2.1 million and 2.6 million barrels per day, and it strikes me as unrealistic to think that US production could drop by that much by the end of this year...looking at US oil prices over the past year, we see it wasn't until August that oil prices fell below $50, and it wasn't until November that prices started their dive to below $40, where they've been most of 2016, during which time shale well completions virtually halted...our confirmed December production averaged 9,235,000 barrels per day, while our unconfirmed production averaged 9,043,000 during March, a decrease of not even 2.1% over the three months that oil was priced below $40 a barrel and oil field activity was at a near standstill...at that rate of decrease, our oil production would still be at 8,485,000 barrels per day by next December, certainly not enough of a decrease, even from the peak, to reduce a global oversupply of more than 2 million barrels per day anytime this year...remember, fracked shale wells see their largest depletion during the first few months of operation, and output tails off only slowly for years thereafter...therefore, once new wells are no longer part of the mix, the depletion rate for US production will slow....yet the IEA says it's the crash of US production, not a freeze from the Doha talks, that will lead to a rebalancing of global oil supply...
as we mentioned earlier, refinery processing of crude oil fell back by the most yet this year, after establishing early April highs last week...US refineries used 15,941,000 barrels of oil per day during the week ending April 8th, 492,000 barrels per day less than the average of 16,433,000 barrels per day they processed during the week ending April 1st, as the US refinery utilization rate fell to 89.2% of operable capacity last week, down from a 91.4% capacity utilization rate during the week ending the 1st...while the prior week's oil processing was 3.1% ahead of the year earlier pace, this week we were processing 1.7% less than the 16,212,000 barrels per day that US refineries had used during the week ending April 10th 2015...
with less oil being refined, refinery production of gasoline fell to average 9,568,000 barrels per day during week ending April 8th, down from our gasoline output average of 9,617,000 barrels per day during week ending April 1st...that output of gasoline was still up more than 3.4% from the 9,249,000 barrels of gasoline per day that we produced during the same week last year, a time when gasoline output was unusually depressed....at the same time, our refineries' output of distillate fuels (diesel fuel and heat oil) fell by 54,000 barrels per day to 4,784,000 barrels per day during week ending the 8th, which was also 211,000 barrels per day, or 4.2% lower than our distillates production during the same week of 2015...    
our lower production of gasoline, combined with a 101,000 barrel per day decrease in our imports of gasoline and an extraordinary 409,000 barrel per day increase in our demand for gasoline (see last metric) meant that gasoline had to be withdrawn from storage to meet that demand, and hence our gasoline inventories fell to 239,761,000 barrels by April 8th, down from the 243,998,000 barrels of gasoline we had stored as of April 1st...but this weeks stores were still 5.2% higher than the 227,873,000 barrels of gasoline that we had stored at the end of the same week last year, which were at the time the highest for the second weekend in April since 1993, and thus our gasoline stores are still well above the average range of their normal level for this time of year…at the same time, our distillate fuel inventories rose despite that lower production, increasing by 505,000 barrels to a total of 163,489,000 barrels as of April 8th...thus our stocks of distillates also remained well above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year, measuring 26.8% greater than the 128,941,000 barrels of distillates we had stored during the same week last year..   
finally, with the increase in imports and the slowdown in refining, we ended up with 6,634,000 more barrels of unused crude oil left over at the end of the week, and hence our stocks of crude oil in storage, not counting what's in the government's Strategic Petroleum Reserve, rose once again to a new record of 536,531,000 barrels as of April 8th, up from the 529,897,000 barrels of oil we had stored on April 1st...that was 10.9% higher than the then record of 483,687,000 barrels of oil we had stored as of April 10th, 2015, and 36.1% higher than the 394,135,000 barrels of oil we had stored on April 11th of 2014....we've now increased our inventories of crude oil by by nearly 54 million barrels over the last 13 weeks, setting new records for the amount oil we had in storage in the US in 8 of the last 9 of them... 
This Week's Rig Count
for the sixth week in a row, we once again slowed to another all time low for drilling activity in the US, as Baker Hughes reported that their total count of active rigs drilling in the US fell by 3 rigs to 440 rigs as of April 15th, which was down from the 954 rigs that were deployed on April 17th of 2015, and down from the recent high of 1929 rigs that were working on November 21st of 2014... the count of rigs drilling for oil fell by 3 to 351, which was down from 734 a year earlier, and down from the recent high of 1609 working oil rigs that was set on October 10, 2014, while the count of drilling rigs targeting natural gas was unchanged at 89, off the record low by 1, down from the 217 natural gas rigs that were deployed a year ago, and down from the recent natural gas rig high of 1,606 that was set on August 29th, 2008...
three drilling rigs were started up in the Gulf of Mexico during the week, so the active Gulf platform count is now back up to 27, which is barely down from the 32 working in the Gulf and a total of 33 drilling offshore as of April 17th a year ago...at the same time, one of the rigs drilling through inland lakes in Louisiana was removed, so there are now 3 rigs remaining on inland waters, down from the 4 rigs that were set up on inland waters a year earlier... a net of 6 horizontal rigs were stacked this week, cutting the count of horizontal rigs down to 335, which was also down from the 741 horizontal rigs that were in use the same week last year, and down from the recent record of 1372 horizontal rigs that were drilling on November 21st of 2014...at the same time, a single directional rig was also stacked, leaving 51 directional rigs still running, which was down from the 91 directional rigs that were in use at the end of the same week a year earlier...meanwhile, a net of 4 vertical rigs were added, bringing the vertical rig count back up to 54, which was still down from the 122 vertical rigs that were in use on April 17th of last year... 
of the major shale basins, only the Cana Woodford of Oklahoma shut down as many as 2 rigs, as their active count fell to 30 rigs, down from 40 a year earlier...at the same time, the Arkoma Woodford of Oklahoma, the Eagle Ford of south Texas, the Marcellus of the northern Appalachians, the Mississippian of the southwest Kansas are, the Permian of west Texas and the Williston of North Dakota each saw one rig idled this week...those shutdowns left the Arkoma Woodford with 3 rigs, down from 6 a year earlier, left the Eagle Ford with 42 rigs, down from 123 a year earlier, left the Marcellus with 28 rigs, down from the 69 working there last year at this time, left the Mississippian with 4 rigs, down from 31 a year ago, left the Permian with 141 rigs, down from 258 rigs a year earlier, and left the Williston with 26 rigs, down from the 84 rigs working there a year earlier...meanwhile, only the Barnett shale of the Dallas area saw a single rig added; they now have 5 rigs actively drilling there, which is still down from the 6 rigs that were in use there a year ago...
the Baker Hughes state count tables indicate that Texas got rid of a net 3 rigs, still leaving 194 still drilling in the state as of April 15th, down from the 412 rigs that were deployed in Texas a year earlier...then Alabama, Alaska, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and Wyoming each saw one rig removed...that left Alabama with 1 rig, down from 2 rigs on April 17th of 2015, left Alaska with 7 rigs, down from 12 a year earlier, left North Dakota, with 26 rigs, down from 83 a year earlier, left Pennsylvania with 16 rigs still drilling, down from 48 a year ago, and left Wyoming with 8 active rigs, down from the 23 rigs working the state a year earlier....at the same time, New Mexico added 2 rigs, bringing their count up to 19, which was still well down from the 49 rigs working New Mexico last year at this time...also, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana and Mississippi all saw a single additional rig set up...that brought Kansas up to 6 rigs, still down from 11 last year at this time, brought Kentucky up to 2 rigs, the same as they had deployed a year earlier, brought Louisiana up to 48 rigs, still down from last year's 72, and brought Mississippi up to 2 rigs, down from 4 rigs a year earlier...

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Thursday, April 14, 2016

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

I am on the Kill List. This is what it feels like to be hunted by drones

I am on the Kill List. This is what it feels like to be hunted by drones | Voices | The Independent

I am from Waziristan, the border area between Pakistan and Afghanistan.I am one of the leaders of the North Waziristan Peace Committee (NWPC), which is a body of local Maliks (or community leaders) that is devoted to trying to keep the peace in our region. We are sanctioned by the Pakistan government, and our main mission is to try to prevent violence between the local Taliban and the authorities.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

US oil supplies fall for first time in 8 weeks, oil & products glut still at a record high, US & global rig counts, et al

US oil prices rose more than 10% over the last three days of this week after the EIA reported that US crude oil supplies fell for the first time in 8 weeks, and after the on again / off again OPEC - Russian oil production freeze that's been driving the markets the past two months appeared to be back on again...oil prices had been sliding since mid-March as oil traders realized that the prior 50% run-up in prices had been driven by a short squeeze, wherein traders who had contracted to sell oil they didn't own were forced to buy oil to cover their contracts, and that virtually no one else was buying oil in the interim....prices then collapsed to a one month low at $36.79 a barrel last Friday after Bloomberg released a 5-hour long interview with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in which he said that the Saudis would only freeze their production if Iran did so too, something Iran had adamantly refused to do...oil prices then opened the week lower and fell to close at $35.70 a barrel on Monday, after Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh again rejected the Saudi proposal while announcing that Iranian oil exports had risen by 250,000 barrels a day to 2 million barrels per day in March...oil prices then stabilized on Tuesday, rising slightly to close at $35.89 a barrel, after an API report that US oil inventories had fallen by 4.3 million barrels...oil prices then jumped on Wednesday after the EIA confirmed that oil inventories had indeed fallen by the most in any week since January, and after Reuters reported that Nawal Al-Fuzaia, the Kuwaiti governor at OPEC, said there were "positive indications an agreement on freezing production" would be reached when OPEC meets with Russia at Doha on April 17th, and hence oil closed the day at $37.75 a barrel...reports of a jump in Iraqi exports weighed on prices a bit on Thursday, as oil slipped to $37.26 a barrel, but the combination of another record low in drilling activity and a shutdown of the Keystone crude pipeline to Cushing due to a rupture in South Dakota drove prices 6% higher on Friday to close the week at $39.58 a barrel...for a picture of those changes, we'll include a graph of oil prices over the last month, which should cover the time elapsed since we last included an oil price graph in these synopses...
April 9 2016 oil prices
again, the above graph shows the daily closing contract price per barrel for May delivery of the US benchmark oil, West Texas Intermediate (WTI), as traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange over the last month...the last time we showed an oil price graph it was for the April contract, and prices for this May future trading at that time were then higher, so this graph is not directly comparable to those showing prices for contracts from prior months...nonetheless, the oil price quotes you'll see in media articles or on sidebar graphics are always for the current front month that's actively traded at that time….and with futures prices now much higher, once a month you’ll see the oil price jump a few bucks just because the current contract rolled over to the next month ...in the case of Brent, the international benchmark, current price quotes are for the June delivery contract, which closed the week at $41.94 a barrel...
The Latest Oil Stats from the EIA
this week's oil data from the US Energy Information Administration showed that our oil inventories fell for the first time in 8 weeks, as our imports of oil also fell to their lowest in 8 weeks, and refiners used more crude than they had in any prior week this year...Wednesday's report showed that our imports of crude oil fell by 494,000 barrels per day to average 7,254,000 barrels per day during the week ending April 1st, down from the average of  7,748,000 barrels per day we were importing during the week ending March 25th...while that was 11.7% less than the 8,217,000 barrels of oil per day we imported during the week ending April 3rd a year ago, oil imports are typically volatile week to week as 2 million barrel VLCC tankers arrive and are offloaded irregularly, so the EIA's weekly Petroleum Status Report (62 pp pdf) reports imports as a 4 week moving average...that metric showed that the 4 week average of our imports was still at the 7.8 million barrel per day level, which was 2.1% above the same four-week period last year... 
at the same time, production of crude oil from US wells slipped for the 10th time in the past 11 weeks, as few new wells are being completed to make up for those being depleted...our field production of crude oil fell by another 14,000 barrels per day, from an average of 9,022,000 barrels per day during the week ending March 25th to an average of 9,008,000 barrels per day during the week ending April 1st...that's now 4.2% below the 9,404,000 barrels per day we were producing during the same week last year, but that nominal 14,000 bpd drop this week obviously had little impact on overall supply when compared to the 494,000 barrel per day drop in imports...
meanwhile, U.S. refineries’ crude oil inputs averaged 16,433,000 barrels of per day barrels during the week ending April 1st, which was 199,000 barrels per day more than the 16,234,000 barrels of crude per day they processed during the week ending March 25, which itself was 414,000 barrels per day more than they were taking in a week earlier, as the US refinery utilization rate rose to 91.4% during the week from 90.4% of capacity the prior week...that was up 3.1% from the 15,929,000 barrels per day US refineries used during the week ending April 3rd last year, the highest refinery throughput for any week in April in our history, and the only the second time in history that US refiners took in more than 16 million barrels of crude per day in any week in April...so with refineries running at a seasonally record pace, and with our imports of oil down by 1,130,000 barrels per day from the 33 month high hit two weeks ago, oil had to be drawn out of storage to meet the demand, and hence our stocks of crude oil in storage, not counting what's in the government's Strategic Petroleum Reserve, fell by 4,937,000 barrels to end the week at 529,897,000 barrels…still, that’s more oil than we ever had in storage previously, save for the last two weeks, and despite the drop, our oil inventories are still 9.9% higher than the 482,393,000 barrels we had stored on April 3rd last year, and 38.0% more than the 384,122,000 barrels we had stored on April 4th of 2014...we'll include what is effectively a 7 year graphic of our oil supplies here so you can all see what that drop looks like as it relates to the recent record highs:
April 6 2016 oil inventory for April 1
in the graph above, copied from page 10 of the EIA's weekly Petroleum Status Report (62 pp pdf), the blue line shows the recent track of US oil inventories over the period from June 2014 to April 1st, 2016, while the grey shaded area represents the range of US oil inventories as reported weekly by the EIA over the prior 5 years for any given time of year, basically showing us the normal range of US oil inventories as they fluctuated from season to season over the 5 years prior to the two years shown by the blue line....we can see that crude oil inventories typically rise in the winter and fall through the summer, but that beginning in early 2015 our inventories topped 400 million barrels for the first time and have only been drawn down modestly since...note that the increase in the grey wedge on the right now includes the record oil inventories that we were setting last year at this time (ie, it includes the image of the blue line, or the early 2015 record inventories) which we have recently been exceeding by 10% to 20% each week...it's for that reason that we're now comparing current inventories to those of two years ago, when inventories were in a more normal range...despite the 4,937,000 barrel drop this week, we still have more than 48.8 million more barrels of oil in storage than we had stored just 12 weeks ago...
with more oil being refined this week, our refinery production of gasoline rose for the 1st time in 3 weeks, increasing by 187,000 barrels per day to 9,617,000 barrels per day during week ending April 1st, from our gasoline output of 9,430,000 barrels per day during week ending March 25th...that was 5.2% more than the 9,143,000 barrels of gasoline per day we were producing during the same week last year, and our year to date totals are now running well ahead of last years pace.....however, our refinery output of distillate fuels (ie, diesel fuel and heat oil) slipped by 89,000 barrels per day to 4,838,000 barrels per day during week ending April 1st, which put our distillates production 3.2% below the 4,838,000 barrels per day we produced during the same week of 2015...   
the increase in gasoline production, when combined with a 155,000 barrel per day jump to 617,000 barrels per day in our gasoline imports and a 20,000 barrel per day drop in gasoline consumed to 9,224,000 barrels per day meant that we had a bunch of surplus gasoline left over at the end of the week, and hence our gasoline inventories rose by 1,438,000 barrels, from 242,560,000 barrels last week to 243,998,000 barrels as of April 1st...that was 6.1% more than the 229,945,000 barrels of gasoline we had stored on April 3rd last year, and 15.9% more than the 210,436,000 barrels of gasoline we had stored on April 4th 2014, as the EIA says gasoline inventories are now "well above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year"...our distillate fuel inventories also rose, despite the lower production, increasing by 1,799,000 barrels to 162,984,000 barrels as of April 1st....those too were "above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year", as distillate inventories are now 28.4% higher than the 126,924,000 barrels we had stored at the same time last year...in order to see what those gasoline and distillate stocks look like compared to recent history, we'll include the graphs for both, taken from pages 12 and 14 of the EIA's weekly Petroleum Status Report (pdf) respectively...
April 6 2016 gasoline inventory for April 1
like the oil inventories graph we included earlier, the blue line above shows the recent track of US gasoline inventories over the period from June 2014 to April 1st, 2016, while the grey shaded area represents the range of US gasoline inventories as reported weekly by the EIA over the prior 5 years for any given time of year, thus showing us the normal range of US gasoline inventories as they fluctuate from season to season, falling during the driving season every summer and rising in winter...note that gasoline inventories started setting new records late in 2014, and hence the recent inventory records are now well above the records established a year ago for this time of year...nonetheless, our gasoline stocks are so much above the normal (grey) range right now that the EIA characterizes them as "well above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year"...
likewise, for the distillate inventories graph below, the blue line shows the recent track of US distillate inventories over the period from June 2014 to April 1st, 2016, while the grey shaded area represents the range of distillate inventories as reported weekly by the EIA over the prior 5 years for the same time of year...unlike oil and gasoline, however, distillate inventories peak in late summer, and fall through the winter as heat oil is consumed from those supplies...in this graph we can see that up until last summer, distillate inventories had been in the lower half of the average range for time time of year, and even below the average range early in the period...however, with the mild fall and winter, less distillates than normal were used, supplies grew rapidly, and distillate inventories are now too classified as "above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year".
April 6 2016 distillates inventory for April 1
in like manner, our inventories of jet fuel and residual fuel oil are both "well above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year" and our inventories of propane/propylene are "above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year", having stayed above the 5 year average for almost 2 years in a row now...similar graphs for each of those refinery products can be found on pages 16 to 20 of the EIA's weekly Petroleum Status Report (pdf) ...the point is that we don't just have a glut of oil in storage, we have a glut of all the major products made from oil...and if we add them all together, which the EIA also does each week, we find our total inventories of oil and oil products rose by 1,130,000 barrels to a new record of 1,357,005,000 barrels this week, up from the total oil & products supplies of 1,355,875,000 barrels that we had stored as of March 25th...and like it's composite products, that total is 11.3% higher than the 1,219,347,000 barrels of everything we had stored last April 3rd, and 30.2% higher than the 1,042,458 barrels of oil & products we had stored 2 years ago...
This Week's Drilling Activity
as we mentioned earlier, we once again set another new record low for the number of rotary drilling rigs running in the US, as Baker Hughes reported that the total rig count fell by another 7 rigs to 443 rigs as of April 8th, which was down from the 988 drilling rigs that were active a year earlier, and down from the recent high of 1929 active rigs seen on November 21st of 2014, the week before the OPEC meeting that opened the global oil spigots...this is now the 5th week in a row that US drilling activity has further quieted to a new low; as we first eclipsed the Apr. 23, 1999 record low rig count of 488 on March 11th, when the count of active rigs fell to 480...this week's report showed that the count of rigs drilling for oil fell by 8 to 354, which was down from 802 a year earlier, and down from the recent high of 1609 working oil rigs that was set on October 10, 2014, while the count of drilling rigs targeting natural gas rose by 1 to 89, which was still down from the 225 rigs drilling for natural gas a year ago, and down from the recent high of 1,606 natural gas rigs that was set on August 29th, 2008... 
the offshore rig count fell by 1, as the drilling platform that started work offshore of California two weeks ago has apparently been shut back down, leaving a total of 25 offshore rigs still running, with 24 in the Gulf of Mexico and one horizontal rig drilling to frack under the Cook Inlet in Alaska...that's down from the 31 that were active in the Gulf of Mexico and a total of 33 that were working offshore on April 10th of 2015...
a net of 5 horizontal rigs were pulled out this week, dropping the count of horizontal rigs to 341, which was down from the 770 horizontal rigs that were in use a year earlier, and down from the recent record of 1372 horizontal rigs that were drilling on November 21st of 2014; hence there are now less than a quarter of the horizontal frackers active now than were active before OPEC opened their oil taps.....at the same time, 5 more vertical rigs were also stacked, leaving 50 still running, which was down from the 128 vertical rigs that were in use at the end of the same week a year earlier...on the other hand, a net of 3 directional rigs were added, bringing the directional rig count back up to 52, which was still down from the 90 directional rigs that were in use the same week last year...  
of the major shale basins, the Permian basin of west Texas and eastern New Mexico saw 3 rigs removed, leaving 142, which was down from the 264 rigs working the Permian last April 10th...the Haynesville of Arkansas, the Barnett of the Dallas - Ft Worth area, and the Williston of North Dakota each saw 2 rigs pulled out this week; those shutdowns left the Haynesville with 12 rigs working, down from 27 a year earlier, left the Barnett with 4 rigs, down from 6 both last week and from a year earlier, and left the Williston with 27 rigs, down from 89 a year earlier...however, 2 rigs were added in both the Cana Woodford of Oklahoma and the Utica shale of Ohio; that brought the Cana Woodford total up to 32, still down from 38 a year earlier, and brought the number of rigs drilling the Utica back up to 12, still down from 28 a year ago at this time...lastly, a single rig was added to the Eagle Ford of south Texas for the 2nd week in a row; they now have 43, which is still way down from the 125 rigs working there a year earlier...
the state count tables showed that Texas again saw the largest drilling rig decrease, as they saw 7 rigs idled this week, leaving 197 rigs still working there, which is down from the 427 rigs that were working in Texas on April 10th last year…North Dakota saw 2 rigs pulled out, leaving 27, which was down from the 88 that were drilling in North Dakota a year earlier...then Alaska, California, Kansas and Mississippi all saw 1 rig removed this week; that left Alaska with 8 rigs, down from 13 a year earlier, it left California with just 4 rigs working, down from 15 a year earlier, left Kansas with 5 rigs active, down from the 13 rigs working there the same week last year, and left Mississippi with 1 rig still active, down from 4 rigs a year ago...meanwhile, both Ohio and Oklahoma each added two rigs; that brought the Ohio rig count back up to 12, down from 26 last year at this time, and brought the Oklahoma rig count up to 63, which was still down from 124 a year earlier...lastly, both New Mexico and Alabama added as single rig this week; that brought New Mexico’s activity up to 17 rigs, which was still way down from the 47 rigs deployed there a year earlier, and brought Alabama back up to 2 rigs, the same number as they had last year at this time...
International Rig Count for March
the past week also saw the monthly release of the international rig count for March, which unlike the weekly count, is an average of the number of rigs running in each country for the month, rather than the total of those drilling at month end....Baker Hughes reported that an average of 1,551 rigs were drilling for oil and natural gas around the globe in March, which was down from 1,761 rigs drilling globally in February and down from the 2,557 rigs that were deployed globally in March of last year...once again, most of the 210 rigs that were pulled out worldwide had been drilling in North America, where the average number of rigs deployed fell from 714 in February to 566 in March...the US averaged 478 active rigs during the month, down from 532 in February, and down from 1,110  in March of last year, while the Canadian average deployment was 88 rigs, down from 211 in February, and down from the 196 rigs that were working in Canada a year ago at this time...thawing frost may be a problem for Canadian drillers at this time of year, especially with the El Nino weather...
the Middle East saw rigs pulled out for the 3rd month in a row, after a run of 5 monthly increases, as the region was down by 7 rigs to a March average of 397, which was also down from the 407 rigs deployed in the Middle East a year earlier...the entirety of the net regional cutback was in rigs that had been working offshore, as the offshore count fell from 50 in February to 43 in March, which was also down from 52 offshore in March a year ago, while the Middle East's land based rig count was unchanged from February at 354 and down just 1 rig from last March's average of 355 land based rotary rigs running....Egypt accounted for 4 of the net rigs removed from the region, as they were were down to 31 rigs in March from 35 in February, and down from the 41 rigs that were drilling in Egypt a year earlier...Kuwait idled two rigs; that left them with 41 still active, which was down from 53 a year earlier...the Saudis pulled out just 1 rig to reduce their total active drilling rig count up to 127, which was still up from the 125 rigs that were drilling in Saudi Arabia last March, while other single rig losses were seen in Oman, Iraq and Israel....Pakistan was the only country in the Middle East to see a drilling increase in March, as they added 3 rigs, bringing their total count up to 24, which was also up 3 rigs from the 21 they had deployed a year ago at this time...
meanwhile, the Latin American countries pulled out another 19 rigs, after idling 6 rigs in February and 27 in January, as the region averaged 218 rigs in March, including 40 offshore, down from the total of 351 rigs, which included 67 offshore rigs, that were active in Latin America in March of 2015....Mexico saw the largest pullback, as they were down 12 rigs to 27, which was down from 68 rigs that were in use in Mexico a year ago...Brazil idled 7 rigs and were hence down to just 28 active, from the 44 deployed in Brazil in March last year...and Colombia cut another 3 rigs and are now running just 4 rigs, down from 31 a year ago and a high of 48 in November of 2014....meanwhile, Argentina, which had cut their active rig count from 101 to 65 over the prior three months, added 3 rigs in March, which brought them back up to 68, which was still down from the 112 rigs they had deployed last March...also, Venezuela added 2 rigs and now have 71 active, up from 62 in March of 2015...
elsewhere, the Asia-Pacific region had 183 drilling rigs working in March, up from 182 rigs working in February, but still down from the 233 rigs working the region a year earlier...India had the largest drilling increase in the region, as they added 4 rigs to average 103 in March, which was nonetheless still down from the 110 they had deployed a year earlier...meanwhile, both the the Thais and Malaysia idled 2 rigs; that left Thailand with 14 rigs active, down from 19 a year earlier, and left Malaysia with 3 rigs, down from 8 rigs a year earlier...countries in Africa also added 3 rigs, as their count rose from 88 rigs in February to 91 rigs in March, which was still down from the 125 rigs working the African continent last year at this time...both Angola and Nigeria added two rigs; Angola thus averaged 54 active rigs in March, the same as they had deployed a year earlier, while Nigeria averaged 8 active rigs, down from 13 a year earlier...lastly, the rig count in Europe fell by 11 to  96 in March, which was down from the 135 rigs working in Europe a year ago at this time...Polish drillers idled 3 rigs and now have just 4 running, down from 7 in February and in March a year ago...Germans shut down 2 rigs, but still had 5 working, which was up from 4 in March a year earlier...and Bulgaria idled the only 2 rigs they had active, they are now at zero, same as they were a year ago...at the same time, 2 rigs were added offshore in the United Kingdom, bringing the offshore UK rig count back up to 9, which was still down from 19 rigs a year ago....note that Iran, Russia, and China rig counts are not included in Baker Hughes international data, although China's offshore area, with an average of 26 rigs active in March, is included in the Asian totals here...  

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