Thursday, May 25, 2023

Thursday Night Links

  • 18.76 miles. You can drive this distance in 15 minutes on a freeway. But it is also the furthest away you can get in the "Lower 48" US states from roads, machines, and motors. The Wilderness Act of 1964 sets aside areas of federal land, mostly in the mountains, where nature reigns supreme and no powered travel is permitted. The largest of these areas are the best places to "get away from it all" and experience a pre-civilization world. The table below lists the 50 or so largest chunks of wilderness in the contiguous United States, together with the most remote central point for each one. These points are the most isolated, wild, and hard-to-reach in the USA without venturing to Alaska. [Peakbagger]
  • The CWA’s jurisdictional terms have a long pedigree and are bound up with Congress’ traditional authority over the channels of interstate commerce. Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook Cty. v. Army Corps of Engineers, 531 U. S. 159, 168, and n. 3, 172, 173–174 (2001) (SWANCC). That traditional authority was limited in two ways. First, the water had to be capable of being used as a highway for interstate or foreign commerce. Second, Congress could regulate such waters only for purposes of their navigability— by, for example, regulating obstructions hindering navigable capacity. By the time of the CWA’s enactment, the New Deal era arguably had relaxed the second limitation; Congress could regulate navigable waters for a wider range of purposes. But, critically, the statutory terms “navigable waters,” “navigable waters of the United States,” and “waters of the United States” were still understood as invoking only Congress’ authority over waters that are, were, or could be used as highways of interstate or foreign commerce. The CWA was enacted, and must be understood, against that key backdrop. [Sackett v. EPA]
  • Religious groups have a healthier demographic prognosis because they have some other standard of success that does not compete as harshly with healthy social fabric and reproduction. To survive, the WEIRD backbone of civilization also needs a standard of respectability that is not tied so closely to over-investment in mainstream institutions. However, they must still maintain a high standard of real quality and ability to contribute to technological civilization, so simple abandonment of those aspirations doesn’t work either. [Adam van Buskirk]
  • Oil and gas have all of the necessary attributes of currencies – they’re durable, portable, divisible, uniform, limited, and accepted – and are harder than many alternatives to manipulate. The US president swapped our Strategic Petroleum Reserve for some mid-term election wins, but he can only do that trick once before he has to refill it.  And everyone directly or indirectly relies on oil and gas in ways that make confiscation virtually impossible in democracies.  So if I had to denominate all of my assets in a single type of asset, it would be oil and gas. [Chris DeMuth]
  • I’m not happy about or proud of this fact, but it’s simply a law of nature that once females get pregnant or rear children, they will be drawn to those giant red cement balls like a moth to a flame. So asking a mom to boycott Target is like asking a squirrel to boycott all pecan trees or asking a heroin addict to boycott all street corners — a seemingly insurmountable task that goes against our nature. [The Federalist]
  • In 2016, PMI committed to moving away from cigarettes. The company has invested more than USD 10.5 billion (as of March 31, 2023) since 2008 in developing and commercializing smoke-free products—which today account for nearly 35 percent of the company’s total net revenues. The mission, Olczak explained, is to reduce smoking by replacing cigarettes with less harmful alternatives and ultimately to make cigarettes obsolete. However, PMI’s ability to progress on this mission is being frustrated by a combination of blind opposition from anti-tobacco organizations and governments’ overreliance on the so-called precautionary principle, which some interpret as “better not to do anything until we know everything.” [Philip Morris International Inc.]
  • On May 25, FDA issued warning letters to firms responsible for two popular flavored, disposable e-cigarette products—Shenzen Innokin Technology Co. Ltd. who make Esco Bars products and Breeze Smoke, LLC who import and distribute Breeze products. These firms have been manufacturing, distributing, and/or importing unauthorized tobacco products in the United States. [FDA]
  • Longer laterals can significantly cut costs, but are those added feet also productive? Rystad forecast—based on the distribution of expected completion activity by county, landing zone, and well design—that the average productivity of new Permian wells seems to track the well length. Between 2019 and 2022, the average well output was up from about 850 to 1,000 BOE/D, and the average lateral length rose from 8,500 to 10,000 ft. When the Norwegian data and consulting firm compared the results of companies doing 2- and 3-mile-long laterals in comparable rock with similar completions, they found the production per foot for longer laterals sometimes falls short. “Our conclusion so far was that many of them were able to maintain productivity per foot, but we also recorded some cases with 10 to 20% degradation in productivity per foot for 3-mile laterals,” Abramov said. [Journal of Petroleum Technology]
  • The data do not support published claims that productivity of new Bakken wells has been increasing in the range 10–20% annually. The data also do not support a published claim that the EUR to IP ratio of wells is constant. Our analysis of decline curves of Bakken wells resolves the paradox detailed in the Introduction to this paper, and provides a robust basis for forecasting future US oil production from tight-oil basins. The results of the current study resolve the apparent discrepancy between (a) operator's claims of large increases in well productivities and (b) analysts claiming that long-term production of these same wells may be significantly lower than expected. For the Bakken, implementation of more closely spaced, intensive fracturing results in higher initial production and steeper terminal-production declines. Critics focus on the higher terminal-decline rates whereas operators trumpet the higher initial production. These are not mutually exclusive, but their analyses do not incorporate an understanding of the nature of production from multi-stage fractured horizontal wells as expounded here. The overarching conclusion that arises from this study is that the advances in completion technologies, which are in widespread usage, are not increasing the EURs of tight-oil wells. This conclusion is important in the context of estimating the total reserves for tight oil plays and thus for predicting future US oil production. Published estimates that optimization of completion strategies has resulted in 10–20% increases in the lifetime productivity of multi-stage fractured wells are not supported by the analysis of the large production data-base presented in this paper. The over-arching conclusion of this study is that the ultimate recovery of oil from tight oil basins should not be based on initial production. Estimates of ultimate long term production or EURs, should not be scaled–up to take into account future increases in IP related to increased intensity of hydraulic fracturing. This conclusion should be taken into account in any estimates of future tight-oil production. It places limits on the future contributions of tight oil to the energy production of North America (and globally). [Frank Male]

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