Monthly Archives: April 2013
LLOG Exploration today provided an update on the status of Deepwater drilling contracts, production at the Who Dat field, development activities at the Marmalard discovery, and its recent Powerball discovery.
On April 2, a three-year contract, with an option for an additional year at mutually-agreeable rates, between LLOG Bluewater Holdings, LLC (the joint venture partnership between LLOG and Blackstone) and Sevan Drilling was announced for the Sevan Louisiana ultra-deepwater drilling rig that is currently under construction in China. The rig will be capable of drilling in water depths up to 10,000 feet, and is scheduled for delivery in Q4 2013.
On April 16, LLOG Bluewater Holdings and Seadrill announced a three-year contract, with an option for a fourth year at mutually-agreeable rates, for the new-build, ultra-deepwater drillship West Neptune. The West Neptune is being built in South Korea and is scheduled for delivery in Q2 2014. The rig will have two BOPs, will be outfitted to work in up to 10,000 feet of water, and is capable of water depths up to 12,000 feet and drilling depths up to 37,000 feet.
First production from the fifth well in the Who Dat field at Mississippi Canyon 503/504/546/547 was initiated on April 12, bringing total production to 28 thousand barrels of oil and 58 million cubic feet of gas per day. The development plan for the field calls for the company to drill eight additional wells, which would fully utilize the 60 MBOPD and 150 MMCFD capacity of the floating production system.
Drilling activities are underway on Mississippi Canyon 255 #1, a development well resulting from the Marmalard discovery announced in August of 2012. The Marmalard discovery well at Mississippi Canyon 300 was drilled to a total depth of 18,100 feet and encountered two oil-bearing zones. Marmalard is one of the discoveries that will be tied back to the Delta House Floating Production System, which is under construction and scheduled to begin operations in 2015. LLOG Bluewater owns a 26% working interest in Marmalard.
On the Shelf, the South Timbalier 231 #1 well (Powerball South) was drilled to a depth of 18,915 feet and encountered over 90 feet of net gas/condensate pay in high quality reservoir sands. Facilities are being constructed to bring the well on line in Q3 2014, and another well is planned for later in the year. LLOG Bluewater owns a 74% working interest in South Timbalier 231/232.
Scott Gutterman, President and CEO of LLOG, commented: “These activities are further evidence of the tremendous growth being experienced at LLOG. The two rig contracts will allow us to develop the acreage around our Delta House project and explore our extensive portfolio of exploration prospects in the Deepwater Gulf of Mexico. Who Dat continues to perform extremely well, and we are quite enthusiastic about the opportunities at Marmalard and Powerball.”
Apr 23rd, 2013
A lot of Americans know that the US government is out of control. Anyone who has cared enough to study the US Constitution even a little knows this. Still, very few of these people are taking any significant action, and largely because of one error: They are waiting for “the good guys” to show up and fix things.
Some think that certain groups of politicians will pull it together and fix things, or that one magnificent politician will ride in to fix things. Others think that certain members of the military will step in and slap the politicians back into line. And, I’m sure there are other variations.
There are several problems with this. I’ll start with the small issues:
- It doesn’t happen. A lot of good people have latched on to one grand possibility after another, waiting for a good guy to save the day, and it just doesn’t happen. Thousands of hours of reading, writing and waiting are burned with each new “great light” who comes along with a promise to run the system in the “right” way, and give us liberty and truth. (Or whatever.) Lots of decent folks grab on to one pleasant dream after another, only to end up right back where they started… but poorer in time, energy and finances.
- Hope is a scam. It’s a dream of someday, somehow, getting something for nothing. People who hope do not act – they wait for other people to act. Hope is a tool to neuter a natural opposition: they sit and hope, and never act against you. Even the biblical meaning of hope is something more like expectation (or sometimes waiting) than the modern use of hope.
- Petitioning an abuser for compassion. The “good guys” are considered to be a few people inside the abusive government. But if the good guys were really good, wouldn’t they have dissociated themselves with an abuser some time ago? By pleading for the good guys to rise up, people are asking one sub-group of the abusers to save them from the rest of the abusers. However, they all work for the same operation; they all get paid out of the same offices; according to the same rulebook. And if the good guys are so willing to turn against their employers, why would they have waited until now?
- Movies. We all grew up in the company of movie heroes who rode in at the last minute to save the noble victims. From John Wayne to Star Trek to Bruce Willis, the story line differs little. These are pleasant stories, of course, but cinema is not reality, and hoping for it to become reality is something that we should get over prior to adulthood.
But, as I say, those are the smaller issues. Let’s move on to the serious ones.
The Magic System
A lot of Americans believe that the American “Founders” created a system that automatically fixes itself. They talk about the “balance of powers,” and think that it will always save them from a tyrant. The balanced powers of the US Constitution, however, were trashed within fifteen years and doubly-trashed just a century ago.
In the Constitution, the states balanced the power of the national government (the one now in Washington, DC.) Not only did the states control half of the legislature, but they decided if and how they would implement the edicts of the national government. And that included deciding whether a law was constitutional or not.
This changed in 1803 with the Marbury v. Madison ruling. This ruling – taught as a work of genius in American schools – was a fraud against the US Constitution. In it, the Supreme Court held that they understood the Constitution better than James Madison, the man who wrote it!
But worse than even this, they held – with absolutely no basis – that it was they who would decide what was constitutional or not. The states were tossed aside. Even the sitting President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson, called it “a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy.”
Marbury’s Judicial review (the Supremes ruling on constitutionality) merely involves one branch of the national government providing a check on the other branches of the national government. After Marbury, no one could check the national government.
Washington DC was unleashed with Marbury v. Madison. What made it almighty was the 17th Amendment of 1913, which took the powers of the states and transferred them to Washington, by mandating the popular election of senators.
With senators being elected directly by the populace, the states were cut-out of the equation. In their place, political parties gained massive power, and nearly all power was consolidated in the city of Washington.
And so it is today. Washington is an unfettered beast. The system will NOT fix itself; the mechanisms to do that were lost a long time ago.
The Easy Way Out
Standing up against a beast like Washington DC is scary, to be sure. Understandably, not many people want to do such a thing. But if the beast is abusing you, what other choice do you have? You can certainly avoid or evade the beast, but we all know that the beast hurts people it catches avoiding it, so the risk of doing this isn’t zero either.
So, what’s a person to do? They hate their abuse, but outright disobedience would be scary. Unfortunately, many people have come up with a third option: Get someone else to do it for you.
Lots of writers have done this, for example: Write flamboyantly about the abuses people face and stir them to “rise up against the power.” Fairly seldom does the writer take big risks himself – he just stirs up others to do the scary stuff.
Something very similar happens to basically moral people who don’t want to risk pain and suffering: they imagine good guys riding in to save them.
But, as I say, these are genuinely decent people, and they are willing to take smaller risks to help the good guys: They will spend time and money promoting them, and they will even accept name-calling in many cases. They just don’t want to become full-blown rebels and outcasts.
The result of this is predictable: abuse by the political class. If the politicians show them a viable possibility every election cycle, they’ll keep voting their way forever… and the hero never really has to show up.
The Sad Truth
Let’s just say it:
No one is going to ride in and save you.
If you want things to get better, then YOU will have to make them better. YOU will have to stand up and take the arrows, yourself. Liberty, at this stage of human development, requires risk and pain.
I trust that you will remember the end of Jesus’ famous Sermon on the Mount: That it is not those who call upon his name who will be saved, but only those who DO the things he said.
Likewise in this situation, our only hope of salvation lies in DOING.
- How the 16th and 17th Amendments Ushered the Era of Big Government (ConservativeActionAlerts.com)
April 24, 2013
By Paul Craig Roberts
For Americans, financial and economic Armageddon might be close at hand. The evidence for this conclusion is the concerted effort by the Federal Reserve and its dependent financial institutions to scare people away from gold and silver by driving down their prices.
When gold prices hit $1,917.50 an ounce on August 23, 2011, a gain of more than $500 an ounce in less than eight months, capping a rise over a decade from $272 at the end of December 2000, the Federal Reserve panicked. With the United States dollar losing value so rapidly compared to the world standard for money, the Federal Reserve’s policy of printing $1T annually in order to support the impaired balance sheets of banks and to finance the federal deficit was placed in danger. Who could believe the dollar’s exchange rate in relation to other currencies when the dollar was collapsing in value in relation to gold and silver?
The Federal Reserve realized that its massive purchase of bonds in order to keep their prices high (and thus interest rates low) was threatened by the dollar’s rapid loss of value in terms of gold and silver. The Fed was concerned that large holders of U.S. dollars, such as the central banks of China and Japan and the OPEC sovereign investment funds, might join the flight of individual investors away from the dollar, thus ending in the fall of the dollar’s foreign exchange value and thus decline in U.S. bond and stock prices.
Intelligent people could see that the U.S. government could not afford the long and numerous wars that the neoconservatives were engineering or the loss of tax base and consumer income from off-shoring millions of U.S. middle-class jobs for the sake of executive bonuses and shareholder capital gains. They could see what was in the cards, and began exiting the dollar for gold and silver.
Central banks are slower to act. Saudi Arabia and the oil emirates are dependent on U.S. protection and do not want to anger their protector. Japan is a puppet state that is careful in its relationship with its master. China wanted to hold on to the American consumer market for as long as that market existed. It was individuals who began the exit from the U.S. dollar.
When gold topped $1,900, Washington put out the story that gold was a bubble. The presstitute media fell in line with Washington’s propaganda. “Gold looking a bit bubbly” declared CNN Money on August 23, 2011.
The Federal Reserve used its dependent “banks too big to fail” to short the precious metals markets. By selling naked shorts in the paper bullion market against the rising demand for physical possession, the Fed was able to drive the price of gold down to $1,750 and keep it more or less capped there until recently, when a concerted effort on April 2-3 drove gold down to $1,557 and silver, which had approached $50 per ounce in 2011, down to $27.
The Federal Reserve began its April Fool’s assault on gold by sending the word to brokerage houses, which quickly went out to clients, that hedge funds and other large investors were going to unload their gold positions and that clients should get out of the precious metal market prior to these sales. As this inside information was the government’s own strategy, individuals cannot be prosecuted for acting on it. By this operation, the Federal Reserve, a totally corrupt entity, was able to combine individual flight with institutional flight. Bullion prices took a big hit, and bullishness departed from the gold and silver markets. The flow of dollars into bullion, which threatened to become a torrent, was stopped.
For now it seems that the Fed has succeeded in creating wariness among Americans about the virtues of gold and silver, and thus it has extended the time that it can print money to keep the house of cards standing. This time could be short or it could last a couple of years.
For the Russians and Chinese, whose central banks have more dollars than they want, and for the 1.3B Indians in India, the low dollar price for gold that the Federal Reserve has engineered is an opportunity. They see the opportunity that the Fed has given them to purchase gold at $350-$400 an ounce less than two years ago as a gift.
The Fed’s attack on bullion is an act of desperation that, when widely recognized, will doom its policy.
The Fed is creating 1T new dollars per year, but the world is moving away from the use of the dollar for international payments and, thus, as reserve currency. The result is an increase in supply and a decrease in demand. This means a falling exchange value of the dollar, domestic inflation from rising import prices and a rising interest rate and collapsing bond, stock and real estate markets.
The Federal Reserve’s orchestration against bullion cannot ultimately succeed. It is designed to gain time for it to be able to continue financing the federal budget deficit by printing money and also to keep interest rates low and debt prices high in order to support the banks’ balance sheets.
When the Fed can no longer print due to dollar decline which printing would make worse, U.S. bank deposits and pensions could be grabbed in order to finance the federal budget deficit for a couple of more years. Anything to stave off the final catastrophe.
By its obvious and concerted attack on gold and silver, the U.S. government could not give any clearer warning that trouble is approaching. The values of the dollar and of financial assets denominated in dollars are in doubt.
How the Fed Tanked Gold & Silver
By Paul Craig Roberts
I was the first to point out that the Federal Reserve was rigging all markets, not merely bond prices and interest rates, and that the Fed is rigging the bullion market in order to protect the U.S. dollar’s exchange value, which is threatened by the Fed’s quantitative easing. With the Fed adding to the supply of dollars faster than the demand for dollars is increasing, the price or exchange value of the dollar is set up to fall.
A fall in the dollar’s exchange rate would push up import prices and, thereby, domestic inflation, and the Fed would lose control over interest rates. The bond market would collapse and with it the values of debt-related derivatives on the “banks too big to fail” balance sheets. The financial system would be in turmoil and panic would reign.
Rapidly rising bullion prices were an indication of loss of confidence in the dollar and were signaling a drop in the dollar’s exchange rate. The Fed used naked shorts in the paper gold market to offset the price effect of a rising demand for bullion possession. Short sales that drive down the price, trigger stop-loss orders that automatically lead to individual sales of bullion holdings once their loss limits are reached.
According to bullion trader and whistle-blower Andrew Maguire, on Friday, April 12, the Fed’s agents hit the market with 500 tons of naked shorts. Normally, a short is when an investor thinks the price of a stock or commodity is going to fall. He wants to sell the item in advance of the fall, pocket the money, and then buy the item back after it falls in price, thus making money on the short sale. If he doesn’t have the item, he borrows it from someone who does, putting up cash collateral equal to the current market price. Then he sells the item, waits for it to fall in price, buys it back at the lower price and returns it to the owner who returns his collateral. If enough shorts are sold, the result can significantly drive down the market price.
A naked short is when the short seller does not have or borrow the item that he shorts, but sells shorts regardless. In the paper gold market, the participants are betting on gold prices and are content with the monetary payment. Therefore, generally, as participants are not interested in taking delivery of the gold, naked shorts do not need to be covered with the physical metal. In other words, with naked shorts, no physical metal is actually sold.
Consider the 500 tons of paper gold sold on April 12. At the beginning gold price that day of about $1,550, that 500 tons comes to $24.8B. Who has that kind of money?
What happens when 500 tons of gold sales are dumped on the market at one time or on one day? It drives the price down. Investors who want to get out of large positions would spread sales out over time so as not to lower their sales proceeds. The sale took gold down by about $73 per ounce. That means the seller or sellers lost up to $73 dollars 16 million times, or $1.2B. [Over the next two days it dropped $200 per ounce. That equals a $3.2B fall.—Ed.]
Who can afford to lose that kind of money? Only a central bank that can print it.
Paul Craig Roberts is a former assistant undersecretary of the U.S. Treasury and former associate editor of The Wall Street Journal. He is the author of many books including The Tyranny of Good Intentions, Alienation and the Soviet Economy, How the Economy Was Lost and others.
- The Assault On Gold – Paul Craig Roberts (paulcraigroberts.org)
By Alan Caruba
Under President Obama, two women have been the director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Carol Browner, who served in the Clinton administration and was one of the “czars” Obama appointed; her acolyte Lisa Jackson, and up for the post is Gina McCarthy. Browner and Jackson went out of their way to conceal their internal communications from Congress and McCarthy lied to the committee considering her nomination.
How bad is the EPA? The Society of Environmental Journalists, on the occasion of the April 11 hearing on McCarthy’s nomination, released a statement that said, “The Obama administration has been anything but transparent in its dealings with reporters seeking information, interviews and clarification on a host of environmental, health and public lands issues.” The SEJ accused the EPA of being “one of the most closed, opaque agencies to the press.”
Apparently, the primary consideration for the job of EPA Director is an intense desire to destroy the use of hydrocarbons, oil, coal and natural gas, for transportation and all other forms of energy on which our economy depends. Obama, when campaigning in 2008, made it clear he wanted end the use of coal to generate electricity. At the time, fifty percent of all electricity was produced by coal and now that figure is in decline as coal-fired plants are being forced to close thanks to EPA regulations.
If Ms. McCarthy has her way, the cost of driving cars and trucks will go up in the name of protecting the health of Americans. As Paul Driessen, a senior policy advisor for the Committee For a Constructive Tomorrow, recently noted, “Since 1970, America’s cars have eliminated 99% of pollutants that once came out of tailpipes.” Joel Schwartz, co-author of “Air Quality in America”, points out, “Today’s cars are essentially zero-emission vehicles, compared to 1970 models.” The EPA’s latest attack on drivers is the implementation of “Tier 3 rules” intended to reduce sulfur levels to achieve zero air quality or health benefits.
Suffice to say that the air and water in America is clean, very clean. Whatever health hazards existed in the 1970s no longer exist. Like all bureaucracies, the EPA now exists to expand its budget and its control over our lives. The Heritage Foundation has calculated that Obama’s EPA’s twenty “major” regulations—those that cost $100 million or more annually—could cost the U.S. more than $36 billion per year. Obama’s EPA has generated 1,920 new regulations.
Don’t think of the EPA as a government agency. It is a weapon of economic destruction.
This has not gone unnoticed. A recent Wall Street Journal opinion by John Barrasso, a Republican Senator from Wyoming, noted that “During President Obama’s first term, EPA policies discouraged energy exploration, buried job creators under red tape, and deliberately hid information from the public.”
“Many EPA regulations,” said Sen. Barrasso, “chased microscopic benefits at maximum cost,” noting for example that “The EPA has proposed dropping the acceptable amount of ozone in the air from the 75 parts per billion allowed today to 60 or 70 parts per billion. The agency concedes that the rule would have a minimal effect on American’s health, but says it would cost as much as $90 billion a year. A study by the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation estimated it would eliminate up to 7.3 million jobs in a wide variety of industries, including refining.”
The other sector in the EPA’s bull’s eye is agriculture. Not content with laying siege to auto manufacturers, oil refineries, coal-fired plants, and all other energy users that might generate carbon dioxide and other so-called greenhouse gases, Barrasso noted that the EPA “has gathered personal information about tens of thousands of livestock farmers and the locations of their operations” which it then shared with environmental groups.
Writing in The Daily Caller, Henry Miller, a physician and molecular biologist and currently the Robert Wesson Fellow in Scientific Philosophy and Public Policy at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, characterized the EPA as “a miasma populated by the most radical, disaffected and anti-industry discards from other agencies,” adding that there was “entrenched institutional paranoia and an oppositional world view.”
“Unscientific policies and regulatory grandiosity and excess,” wrote Dr. Miller, “are not EPA’s only failings; neglecting to weigh costs and benefits is shockingly common, noting that “The EPA’s repeated failures should not come as a surprise because the agency has long been a haven for scientifically insupportable policies perpetrated by anti-technology ideologues.”
Marlo Lewis, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, writing in Forbes magazine, pointed out Gina McCarthy, the nominee to direct the EPA, “has a history of misleading Congress and the public about her agency’s greenhouse gas regulations. “At a hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in October 2011, McCarthy denied motor vehicle greenhouse gas emission standards are “related to” fuel economy standards. In doing so,” said Lewis, “she denied plain facts she must know to be true. She did so under oath.”
“The EPA has no statutory authority to regulate fuel economy. More importantly, the federal Energy Policy and Conservation Act prohibits states from adopting laws or regulations ‘related to’ fuel economy.”
The point of this exercise is demonstrate that the EPA is the very definition of a “rogue agency” for which neither laws, nor science, are of any consequence as it pursues policies that do incalculable harm at a time when the nation is deep in debt and in need of economic growth, not regulatory strangulation.
© Alan Caruba, 2013