Thursday, November 15, 2018

The Utility Business Culture

There are two types of industry models that operate within the sphere of oil and gas. The first of course is the commercial operation in which the oil and gas producers should belong to. The second is the utility model that includes most of the larger midstream operations and pipeline companies. In terms of operations there are fundamental and distinct differences between these two industry models. I believe the assumption has been made by the producers that they fall within the domain of a utility style of industrial business model. This, in my opinion, is a symptom of the larger cultural issues that are in play in oil and gas and is more or less derivative of the engineering mindset around the performance of the assets they develop. Evidence of this is that the utilities profitability is directly associated with the assets of the firm. The larger the asset base of the utility, the larger the profitability of the utility. Hence we have the oil and gas CEOs strutting their balance sheets about town in an attempt to reflect their asset size as some tangible form of meaning, other than its a reflection that they’re a chronic spendaholic and a deceptively profitable producer, their assets reflecting nothing more than decades of unrealized capital costs of past production.

The utility is a quasi governmental organization that is heavily regulated as to its fees and operations. They occupy an area of business that usually spans a large scope and scale, where the business risk is too steep for any business to undertake in the classic commercial operation. Therefore the regulatory environment guarantees the utility with a fee structure that will provide a cost plus profitable operation everywhere and always. This is why utilities are second only to bonds in terms of their dividend payout reliability. Managing a business such as a utility is not far distant from the type of administration done within a government agency. Although they account to outside shareholders as well, the fact that the revenue and profitability of the utility instills a sense of security that attracts a certain type of individual, and these people for lack of a better description, are not the entrepreneurial, innovative and profit driven people that you would need in a commercial operation. Nor do they have to or would they fit in to the utility culture where these attributes are not required. Nonetheless, the technical aspects of the utilities, particularly from an engineering point of view are quite substantial. These are not assets that can be placed in anything but a safe environment where lives are at stake. This I believe is the crossover point to the oil and gas producer. The interaction between the engineers in both of these industry models is strong and the assumption that the business is the same has become part of the oil and gas culture. A cost plus business culture.

The commercial operation is a wholly different industry model and one that I’ve not seen in oil and gas since the late 1970’s. Commercial operations live / die by their success as expressed in true profitability. If you can’t be profitable, then the writing is on the wall and you will not last. Until recently in oil and gas if you were faced with this situation you would simply prepare a new offering for next years capital budget. Keeping the walking dead alive and believing that they’re prosperous for many decades. $74 oil did not provide the kind of environment where the industry can sustain itself. How did it get to this level? Simple, the specious accounting of reporting everything as a capital cost has over reported assets, cash flow and earnings for decades. What we see now is that none of these firms were truly performing in the commercial sense of an industry model. And were not performing in the sense of a utility either. Consuming large quantities of capital is not a business. The overreporting of profitability created a rush of investors that has led to a situation where overinvestment of that capital has occurred. Creating the situation where overproduction is the systemic, cultural and endemic problem that can’t be solved or even identified by the producers. However, I did read an article the other day that stated the Canadian producers were losing $100 billion per year due to differentials. Welcome to my inflated numbers world! As an aside the amount of flac that I’ve taken for reflecting our value proposition at $25.7 to $45.7 trillion over the next 25 years has been substantial. Now that producers are actually losing these amounts of money they’re beginning to believe in People, Ideas & Objects value proposition.

No one could comprehend my frustration at seeing this situation arise when the Preliminary Specification is designed to and has resolved these issues. To now see the oil price, as I’ve noted here many times before, mimic the fundamental collapse that we saw in the price of natural gas. No one should be surprised if OPEC+ has as their target an average price of $40, the price in which North American producers said they were profitable. That’s where I think we’re headed and if anyone thinks that a little tuning here and some cost cutting there will fix it haven’t been listening or captured the scope of the catastrophe the industry is operating under. I’ve stated that producers couldn’t survive 2018. That’s the reality. The delusion is that many will keep going thinking that it will all turn around soon. Trillions of dollars have been flushed by an uncaring bureaucracy since the collapse of natural gas prices. Trillions more have also been irretrievably flushed in oil in the last five years. I don’t think any money has been made anywhere in the industry since the 1970’s. Cenovus feels the government should allocate production to the producers, which proves to me that no one in the industry is driving the bus. The Preliminary Specification needs to be built so that the keys can be taken away from the non-thinking people in industry, as expressed by Cenovus, and returned to a dynamic, innovative, accountable and profitable oil and gas industry. This bunch isn’t going to do it.

The Preliminary Specification, our user community and service providers provide for a dynamic, innovative, accountable and profitable oil and gas industry with the most profitable means of oil and gas operations. Setting the foundation for profitable North America’s energy independence. People, Ideas & Objects Revenue Model specifies the means in which investors can participate in our future Initial Coin Offering (ICO) that will fund these user defined software developments. It is through the process of issuing our ICO that we are leading the way in which creative destruction can be implemented within the oil and gas industry. Users are welcome to join me here. Together we can begin to meet the future demands for energy. And don’t forget to join our network on Twitter @piobiz anyone can contact me at 403-200-2302 or email here.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

These Are Not the Earnings We're Looking For, Part XXXI

I’ve never been an advocate of share buybacks. The producers have recently discovered this method of “putting money back in shareholder hands.” I’m just at a loss as to how that’s done. If producers buy out the shareholder they’re no longer their investors. Giving them back their money I guess qualifies as putting money in their hands. The stated purpose is to then have the remaining shareholders hold a larger portion of the company. Has anyone taken the time to analyze the pro-forma results of a share buyback. The destruction of both working capital and of shareholders equity is not a positive attribute for the company to pursue. Maybe the bureaucrats should be clearer as to their intent to destroy value. If shareholders need money then they could sell their interest. If companies don’t want them to sell their shares then outperform the market. Make it difficult for the investor to choose to sell and give up on the opportunities that the company is consistently delivering. If companies can’t perform then I guess they’re relegated to buying back shares. IBM is the best example of a company that has refused to perform and has consistently bought back their shares. This occurring over the past number of decades. There is also the occasion where the company has consistently outperformed and as a result has a surplus of cash that is deemed unnecessary. It would be my recommendation that the company issue a special dividend in these instances as opposed to share buybacks. The company would keep their shareholders and reward them at the same time. With bureaucrats owning a portion of the firm their interest is enhanced with each share buyback. Making it an incentive for them to perform poorly and enhance their position by using the firm’s cash to participate in share buybacks over the long term. That’s the only benefit that I see.

Let’s be clear that the oil and gas producers didn’t have a surplus of cash or provide their shareholders with any performance for their investments in the third quarter of 2018. No matter what these producers do, the albatross of bloated balance sheets continue to plague them. Asset sales don’t work. Cash flow at these levels don’t work. Nothing works to bring down these overly obscene balances of unrecognized capital costs of past production into the range of reasonableness. The only thing that will work is higher revenues to begin to recognize the actual costs of oil and gas exploration and production. Then through the use of the Preliminary Specifications advanced depletion schedule these bloated balances of unrecognized capital costs of past production would be blown down to a more reasonable amount within 2.5 years. That would be as a result of these costs being recognized at properties where balances exist and the fact that the Preliminary Specification ensures that all production in North America is produced profitably and always. Creating a cash hoard that would enable the producer firms to compensate their shareholders for their earlier participation in the industry. This cash hoard needs to be distributed by way of special dividends and not by share buybacks. With the amount sitting in property, plant and equipment today, an amount we estimate to be $1.7 trillion for just the North American producers, that enhanced cash flow would enable the bureaucrats to purchase much of the shares of their producer firms in share buyback shenanigans.

What we can say about the third quarter of 2018 is that the bureaucrats have passed into a period of further recklessness and irresponsibility. The volume of property sales that were below the recorded costs of their big beautiful balance sheets was surprising to me. Why would anyone sell a property for a quarter of what they paid for it? Or even half? The simple answer is for the cash, so that the bureaucrats can cruise for a short while longer. As we detailed yesterday, the higher commodity prices of the past few years did contribute to higher cash flows at the producers. Yet these higher cash flows, which increased 263% over the period that we’ve been keeping detailed records, did not contribute to the overall liquidity of the producers with working capital deteriorating by 40%. Recall too that the working capital for the third quarter of 2018 was shored up by substantial property sales being closed. The general health of these companies continued to deteriorate at a rapid rate considering this cash flow increase. Supporting our assertion that if we consider the actual costs of exploration and production on a reasonable accounting of depletion, the real costs to produce are in the range of $145 to $150 / boe.

What this reflects is an unaccountable and uncaring management of the industry. I’ve argued for a different manner in which the industry needs to operate. That which is captured in the Preliminary Specification. It seems to me that their argument that our budget is too expensive for producers to consider is laughable when compared to the performance that they continue to report as a result of their antics. My favorite part of this quarter was Cenovus recognition of three quarters of a billion dollars for office space they can’t use after so many layoffs. Their description read like they were the victim of a “non-cancellable” agreement. Either they didn’t read what they signed or they were too full of themselves when they did. If they can spend that kind of money on items that provide no benefit then doing something positive for their firm should be easy to consider. That’s why we think the Preliminary Specification would be good value, it provides the industry with the ability to produce only profitable production everywhere and all the time.

The Preliminary Specification, our user community and service providers provide for a dynamic, innovative, accountable and profitable oil and gas industry with the most profitable means of oil and gas operations. Setting the foundation for profitable North America’s energy independence. People, Ideas & Objects Revenue Model specifies the means in which investors can participate in our future Initial Coin Offering (ICO) that will fund these user defined software developments. It is through the process of issuing our ICO that we are leading the way in which creative destruction can be implemented within the oil and gas industry. Users are welcome to join me here. Together we can begin to meet the future demands for energy. And don’t forget to join our network on Twitter @piobiz anyone can contact me at 403-200-2302 or email here.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

These Are Not the Earnings We're Looking For, Part XXX

There still remains some equity values in some of the intermediate and larger producers. Therefore no need to panic yet. Not every producer everywhere has extinguished all of their shareholders equity. Bureaucrats should be able to resume their normal, non oil and gas related activities for at least this next quarter. I’m not suggesting that they’re not doing anything. It’s one thing to accuse the producers, as I did last Friday, of not doing anything by not proceeding with the Preliminary Specification. But they’ve done nothing. They never considered any alternatives or considered there was even an issue. They’ve just been quietly sitting, filling their pockets with the goods until the party was over. And as I said there’s more shareholders equity left in the industry. With oil prices having their most significant drop over the past few weeks. The competitive spirit will have been triggered in these bureaucrats to get their personal investments performing to the level they need too to sustain their posh life styles. They’ve used up all the excuses of praying for cold winters, rebalancing the markets, building their balance sheets and the other classics we’ve been subjected to over this past decade. Notice we’re not being offered any new reasons or explanations. It’s just dead quiet. Somebody might want to open the back gate for them, otherwise the herd might knock the fence down.

We now have nine quarters of financial reports from our sample of 23 producers. There is a trend that we can see that I find particularly interesting. One point that needs to be remembered is that this period of time July 1, 2016 to September 30, 2018 includes the period in which OPEC+ successfully implemented their production sharing agreement. In which prices increased from the 20’s to the mid 70’s. That agreement was cancelled recently and the third quarter of 2018 is the first quarter in which oil prices declined during the quarter. There is a trend that reflects the argument that People, Ideas & Objects have been asserting throughout this period regarding cash in the industry. When you don’t earn any real profit’s you have to be subsidized by capital infusions from bankers and investors. Remember those days? Investors and bankers became wise to the cash consumption of the industry and the scam that was being perpetrated against them and cancelled their participation. Creating this cash crisis I’ve repeatedly discussed here. I’ve had many people argue with me that yes, there is a cash crisis, yet the industry is paying significant dividends and reducing its debt. To which I agree and assert that that’s what businesses do. Nonetheless the reporting / scam continued without any changes over this period of time. This trend I’ve noticed is fascinating and can only be seen from an industry point of view over this length of time.

The trend is the working capital as a percentage of cash flow. It is difficult to relate table data on this blog however there are only a few data elements for each quarter so it shouldn’t get too contaminated in the process of publishing. All values represent only our sample of 23 producers, cash flow is annualized cash flow and all dollars are billions.

Quarter     Working Capital Cash Flow Percentage
3rd 2016     $20.4 $31.6 65%
4th 2016     $19.8 $36.2 55%
1st 2017      $22.2 $51.3 43%
2nd 2017     $19.2 $55.8 34%
3rd 2017     $21.7 $57.2 38%
4th 2017     $18.9 $61.3 31%
1st 2018      $14.6 $64.1 23%
2nd 2018     $7.6 $72.3 11%
3rd 2018     $12.3 $83.1 15%

As cash flow increased 263 percent over the past nine quarters, working capital has diminished by 40%. My recommendation would be to stop producing cash flow. For those that may not be too familiar with my sad sense of humor, welcome. The third quarter of 2018 also saw substantial numbers of property sales by these producers. Although we don’t track sales it would appear based on our calculations that there was in excess of $30 billion in property sales closed in the third quarter. We noted in the second quarter reports that 20 of the 23 producers had negative working capital. Only Conoco, Husky and Hess had positive working capital totalling in excess of $10 billion. As a result of these property sales there are a few more producers that have joined the positive working capital club for what might very well be the next season. Although no producer is overtly advertising properties for sale, the market demand has evaporated for some reason.

Earnings dates for the fourth quarter are set for mid February and later. I’ve been stating that producers won’t be able to make it through 2018. I think that’s valid. What will be done with this highly profitable industry in the remaining month and a half? The only source of cash was new production and the U.S. based production is at a record level of “highly profitable” 11.6 mmboe / day. Producers consume cash like no other business. Everything in the organization is capitalized for decades on the well built balance sheets. In order to complete that capitalization process they first have to use cash to pay the bills. Then those costs sit there in property, plant and equipment while the CEO struts about town showing how “big” his balance sheet is. Never realizing that the cash consumed for this sense of pride is gone for the better part of at least five to six years.

My mother always said don’t criticize unless you have a suggestion as to how to make it better. The Preliminary Specification deals with all of these issues. Except for the bureaucrats that is, they’re useless and therefore we just disintermediate them. We’ve been “suggesting” this solution for almost as long as most capital costs have been sitting on producers balance sheets. I count 27 years and this blog says I started writing these posts in December 2005. You would have thought with so much difficulty these producers would have done something by now. I think it's the end of the road unless they can pull another rabbit out of the hat. Our only suggestion is, if they adopted the Preliminary Specification by funding its budget. Then the investors and bankers would see that the producers have a plan for the future, a means to deal with their issues and a way to make money through producers everywhere in North America, always providing the most profitable means of oil and gas operations. Creating an opportunity for investors, to believe it or not, invest. Or we can all just sit here and wait to see what inevitably happens. Don’t you just love surprises.

The Preliminary Specification, our user community and service providers provide for a dynamic, innovative, accountable and profitable oil and gas industry with the most profitable means of oil and gas operations. Setting the foundation for profitable North America’s energy independence. People, Ideas & Objects Revenue Model specifies the means in which investors can participate in our future Initial Coin Offering (ICO) that will fund these user defined software developments. It is through the process of issuing our ICO that we are leading the way in which creative destruction can be implemented within the oil and gas industry. Users are welcome to join me here. Together we can begin to meet the future demands for energy. And don’t forget to join our network on Twitter @piobiz anyone can contact me at 403-200-2302 or email here.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Friday, November 09, 2018

These Are Not the Earnings We're Looking For, Part XXIX

It hasn’t been a good quarter for the oil and gas producers. That’s well known throughout the industry but the third quarter reports make it that much more real. To earn profits in oil and gas you only have to wake up in the morning. There’s never been anything easier. The trouble today is that these past six months appear to have been the best that we’ll see for a while. No more production sharing agreement within OPEC+. In fact Russia and Saudi Arabia have both recorded record production volumes as has the U.S. Relief from Iranian sanctions are being made to certain countries. There is also a strong belief that economic growth outside of North America is beginning to slow. These are not the events that will support the price of oil at it’s four year highs, the price that was earned just recently. The financial performance of our sample of 23 producers was not what would have been deemed acceptable by investors. There was no significant progress by any of the companies in dealing with the issues of cash consumption despite the profitability they reported. If the cash is still an issue at $75 / barrel then what will the future hold at whatever prices will be provided then?

Hope was the intangible that everyone was hanging onto through the past few years. If the oil price continued to improve then there was a chance that things would continue to get better and we would begin moving forward again. What if the price of oil continues downwards into territory that does not allow producers to just hang on by their fingernails. Losing control of the political framework by telling everyone their profitable at $40 convinced the politicians that $74 was not necessary, which led President Trump to pressure the Saudi’s to dump their production sharing agreement. Now that it’s done the Saudis have put themselves in a real pickle where they are wholly beholden to the United States for support. The killing of the Washington Post reporter will need a few years to be forgotten about and until that time the Saudis need the U.S. more than ever, in my opinion. Is this the time in which the North American producers tell the President that they need higher oil prices? As bad as the situation is for the Saudis with the Washington Post reporter, it’s nothing like the difficulties that the producers would face if they told the administration that they were lying when they said they made money at $40 / barrel.

Operationally we’ve seen a decline in the capabilities of the North American industry over the past decade. This is not the industry that portrays a strong future as a dynamic, innovative, accountable and profitable world. If you doubt me then talk to your investors and bankers again, I’m sure they’ll set you straight. As bad as the operational capabilities and capacities have diminished in a generalized manner. We are beginning to see the big events that no one would have thought of, or could consider would happen. Random events that are material in the outcome of the performance of the producers. Take for example that we were unable to see any profitable property sale. What producers believed to be a source of cash turned out to be an area that is exposing the highly bloated nature of the balance sheets. When the market value of the property is barely half of what these companies have them recorded at, I think the CPA’s will be interested in this dynamic during their audits. Does the ceiling test override the GAAP requirement of recording assets at the lower of cost or market value? Other anomalies are of course Cenovus “onerous contract provisions” of over $750 million on real estate they leased for the staff they laid off. These kinds of situations don’t happen in a healthy, prosperous industry. One with a future and energy instilled within it to prosper in that future.

Either producers believed fundamentally what it was they were saying about their financial performance. And as a result have been caught in a situation that is not their doing. Or, they were winking and nodding that this was ok to do until their pockets were full. As I’ve said I’ve been arguing these points for thirteen years on this blog. This blog has been connected to the Internet and widely distributed. I’ll leave it up to my individual readers to determine if the producers are just willing dupes or were the culprits that are truly responsible for this situation. I think my tone and attitude toward the bureaucrats in the industry is a clear indication of where I stand. If they were innocent why did they attempt to steal our Intellectual Property five times? Why did they run me out of the industry? And why all of the abuse? At no time through our 27 year existence have we received $0.01 from any producer. The Preliminary Specification disintermediates the bureaucrats out of their franchise, just as it’s doing in every other industry. All of this destruction was deliberate, or in an uncaring manner, so that these bureaucrats would gain financially. The writing was on the wall in the record store, they therefore knew this was coming.

Each quarter the situation only gets worse and the remedial actions become fewer. Who will take the keys away from these irresponsible people? I don’t know. But what more do you expect from them. Have they not proven that they do not deserve the benefit of the doubt?. Sure I’m biased, I’m selling a solution, which provides me with a good living. That good living is based on the tangible and material value the Preliminary Specification brings to oil and gas. That’s how you make money in the world you build something that has value.

Whatever happened to managing the business? Planning the future and executing it. Dealing with the issues and opportunities the producers and industry face and using those to advance the organization successfully. The last ten years has seen the full on destruction and I suggest it’s been deliberate. How else would you line your pockets so effectively. If left to these same people we’ll be sitting in this same spot in ten years lamenting the loss and further destruction of this industry. Why?

The Preliminary Specification, our user community and service providers provide for a dynamic, innovative, accountable and profitable oil and gas industry with the most profitable means of oil and gas operations. Setting the foundation for profitable North America’s energy independence. People, Ideas & Objects Revenue Model specifies the means in which investors can participate in our future Initial Coin Offering (ICO) that will fund these user defined software developments. It is through the process of issuing our ICO that we are leading the way in which creative destruction can be implemented within the oil and gas industry. Users are welcome to join me here. Together we can begin to meet the future demands for energy. And don’t forget to join our network on Twitter @piobiz anyone can contact me at 403-200-2302 or email here.

Thursday, November 08, 2018

These Are Not the Earnings We're Looking For, Part XXVIII

Not one of the producers in our sample of 23 appear to be immune to the difficulties in the industry. It’s almost like there’s an issue plaguing the entire industry. One that isn’t attributable to any one specific producer, but is the responsibility of each and every producer. Any remedial efforts by any one producer to rectify their difficulties is incapable of making any impact on their outcome. It only seems to be getting worse. As Iranian sanctions are being imposed, the price of WTI has fallen around 20% in the past month. Buy on the rumor and sell on the news I guess. People, Ideas & Objects have established their credibility in terms of understanding this issue fully and completely by discussing the issue and our solution, the Preliminary Specification, throughout the past number of years. When everyone was continually saying that this was the end of the downturn, that there was no more pain to come. We’ve always said otherwise. $74 oil prices have not resolved any issues and that is clearly in evidence in the third quarter 2018 reports. We estimate that $150 is the actual cost of oil and gas exploration and production in North America. We have been stating the difficulties are not over for many, many years which should show that we fully comprehend the issue and its particular nuances. These are all captured in the over 2 million words of research that we’ve conducted and the 200,000 words that are contained within the Preliminary Specification. That these deal specifically with the issues that are prevalent in the market today. The issues that have resisted any and all producer remedies since the collapse of the natural gas market in late 2008.

What compelling reason is there for anyone, anywhere and at anytime to produce oil and gas unprofitably. There isn’t in my opinion. Yet the industry considers the issue moot, not what concerns them and that they don’t need any Preliminary Specification. We owe it to future generations to use the oil and gas resources, that are finite and extremely valuable to society, to be produced based on an accurate accounting of their profitability. To do otherwise is wasteful. Take a look around the oil and gas industry and see if you can spot any waste. All I see is a wasteland of oil and gas companies, service industry representatives and most importantly the most valuable resource in the industry, the people. We are laying waste to the future of the industry by destroying any good will that the industry had in attracting good talent for a profitable future. I’m sure that’s not an issue that concerns the producers either, the question on their minds is should they lay people off before or after Christmas. Can anyone answer me if this is the 21st century because it doesn’t feel like it.

Lately differentials in Canada are the most spectacular part of the business and therefore some producers are leaning toward the prescribed solution in the Preliminary Specification. WRONG. Let me stop both Cenovus and Canadian Natural right here and say that they’re going down the wrong rabbit hole. They’ve both announced production cuts in an effort to minimize the losses on their properties. Which undoubtedly they would, except their WRONG. Production cuts at facilities will not remedy the situation. Item number one that will make this a far greater financial disaster than what they’re currently experiencing is… Falling on their sword in an attempt to show the way by removing production in the market will be too limited and the impact will only be to their overall rapid downward profitability. Without a systemic change in the behaviour of the industry, where all production is produced profitably everywhere and always based on an actual detailed accounting there will be cheating. Remember we learned this from OPEC in the 1980’s when they tried to impose limits. Never worked until North American producers trashed the oil price to $29.

Secondly curtailing a facility by x production isn’t going to do it either. Properties have to be shut-in. If it’s unprofitable at 100% of it’s production profile, guess what it will be at 50% of its production profile. Massively unprofitable. If you shut-in the production of these facilities today they would even be more massively unprofitable. The reason that the Preliminary Specification promotes the shutting-in of production is that we do two things by implementing our technology throughout the industry. One is we convert all of the producers costs to variable costs. You can read about that here. Second we provide detailed accounting based on the Joint Operating Committee. Not the corporation. The overhead which is currently fixed and is charged in one lump sum to property, plant and equipment will be variable through our reorganization and charged directly to the Joint Operating Committee. No production, no costs. In the current environment if you have half or no production you still have all of your fixed costs. Which if you look at this seriously enough, is the reason your cash has rocket boosters to help break your grasp. Consider, by paying those involved in your overhead and then capitalizing those costs. The cash that was used to pay those overhead items will now sit in property, plant and equipment and will be released in tiny, tiny bits each year over the next dozen decades or so. If you expensed overhead, as we do in the Preliminary Specification at the Joint Operating Committee. And the assumption is that you’re producing only profitable production, then the cash incurred for those overhead items is returned to you the following month, all of the cash. By shutting in production now by half or all only hurts your one source of cash that is demanded by your organization in a chronic and systemic, somewhat ridiculous fashion.

In May 2019 I’ll have spent 28 years of my life more or less screaming about these points. At Christmas this year this blog will have involved thirteen years of that. There is nothing in this blog but the oil and gas accounting systems that are captured in the Preliminary Specification. I don’t know what makes me do these things. One of the key things for me was getting kicked out of the industry for these ideas in August of 2003. As a result this has been very liberating in terms of what and how I say what I say. Being able to say things like the following… What this involves, the implementation of the Preliminary Specification, is very basic business sense. What it also demonstrates is the lack of sense that the industry is applying today. Leading to a protracted suicide that we all have to experience due to the fact that these bureaucrats won’t listen and won’t act. There are two issues for this. “Accountants are scum that pay the bills, so shut up and pay the bills.” That is the engineering and geological attitude towards accountants. Secondly, what’s an accountant to do in a situation such as this? Well apparently the thing to do, and it's been done throughout the industry for the past four decades, is they established the accounting firm of Madoff, Madoff & Madoff. Do you think the types of creative accounting we documented in yesterday’s post about Cenovus would stand in any other industry? Never. Were these creative aspects developed overnight? Nope, and that’s what makes this the most creative accounting world around. The former CFO of Cenovus was a Fellow Chartered Accountant (FCA)! The accountants have to pay the bills and come up with new ways to represent the financial statements. Feigning that their too busy to consider what some blogger might have to say.

My argument has been made for a number of decades that the situation was untenable. And the individual who made that argument was run out of the industry and deemed crazy so that the party could continue in peace. It’s not that they didn’t know, their actions over the past number of decades have proven their knowledge of what I was doing. And now that everything has become a disaster they continue to pretend they’re naive and unknowing in the face of what is absolute common sense. It’s not that my argument is harsh against the people responsible in the industry. It's that the situation is harsh no matter how I relate it. It’s as surreal and ridiculous as it sounds.

The Preliminary Specification, our user community and service providers provide for a dynamic, innovative, accountable and profitable oil and gas industry with the most profitable means of oil and gas operations. Setting the foundation for profitable North America’s energy independence. People, Ideas & Objects Revenue Model specifies the means in which investors can participate in our future Initial Coin Offering (ICO) that will fund these user defined software developments. It is through the process of issuing our ICO that we are leading the way in which creative destruction can be implemented within the oil and gas industry. Users are welcome to join me here. Together we can begin to meet the future demands for energy. And don’t forget to join our network on Twitter @piobiz anyone can contact me at 403-200-2302 or email here.

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

These Are Not the Earnings We're Looking For, Part XXVII

Dramatic activity is occuring in the stock prices of the oil and gas producers. As soon as they’ve reported their third quarter “performance” most of the activity is upward and substantial. Creating the sense that oil and gas is the place to be, or where the action is. These movements have been systemic and material in terms of changes in the price of the stock. I’m not going to speculate as to the cause of these, only to suggest that there are few periods in which insiders are freely able to purchase shares in the firms they represent. One of those times is when the financial situation has been fully disclosed to the market. The second point I would mention is that although these bumps in the stocks have lasted upwards of 24 hours in some instances. I would not suggest that the issues and opportunities, the plans and strategies of the producers and industry have changed.

Other than myself personally I don’t think anyone will be impressed by these financial reports. And I’m only impressed these producers are continuing on. Today’s trading bump isn’t going to attract any attention other than to maybe encourage an investor to take another look. If there is any attention paid by an investor they’ll soon be able to see that there’s no need to act. Let’s call this the bureaucratic dividend. If you never do anything, and continue to avoid the elephant in the room, others will follow your lead. These are the worst of times for these oil and gas bureaucrats. Looking for further investment, which is assumed what they’ve been doing for much of their time lately is a difficult thing to do when you’re in this kind of position. I too have been in this position and when you’ve knocked on the 1,000 door and received the same “not at this time” message you begin to realize, at least through your thick skin, but not your thick skull, that maybe “not at this time” is code for no.

There has been an uptick in the amount of cash that is held by a number of producers that we’ve reviewed to date. We’ll get into the numbers when all of our sample of 23 producers have reported. However the sales of some properties has allowed them to increase their cash, allowing them to hang on for another quarter or more. The problem that I see with this is that in each instance the divestiture has been made at a significant financial loss compared to the book value of the firm. It almost seems like the assets are recorded at too high of a value on these highly prized and well built balance sheets. Although these producers are reporting losses on the sales transaction itself, they’re also reporting large losses on discontinued operations. Indicating they’ve sold the properties that were dragging them down the most. Lastly the small number of actual property sales, and the financial losses on thoses sales may have proven to the industry that divestitures are not providing them with the cash that they expected when everyone announced properties for sale. It would appear that many of the properties that were listed for sale are no longer listed, but that doesn’t mean they’re no longer available.

Over the years I’ve had some fun with the creative accounting conducted by the prior CFO of Cenovus. We were entertained by such antics as negative depletion in the final quarter of 2016. A $2.5 billion increase in profits from the purchase of the $11+ billion Conoco property. A 27.79 year depletion schedule in the second quarter of 2017. This was due to the acquisition of the Conoco assets which they profitably recorded in the second quarter, and then only after six months did they adjust their depletion to finally account for that acquisition. These were just the highlights of their antics and I would only note there were many other such expansions of the concept of accounting. They have a new CFO who seems to better understand his role and is cleaning up the reporting. As a result I think we’re beginning to see some of the mess that was left behind for him. Cenovus sold a pipeline and related facilities for $625 million in desperately needed cash. Doubling their second quarters working capital. However they did record a $795 million loss on the sales transaction. What did I say about bloated balance sheets?

In another interesting Cenovus transaction, this was back in the days when balance sheet size truly ruled the world in oil and gas. Encana, the predecessor to Cenovus commissioned the building of the largest building in the City of Calgary. This building is called the Bow for its shape. Moving both Encana and Cenovus into the building after its completion. Cenovus has since had several rounds of layoffs and as a result have participated substantially to the 30% of idle downtown Calgary office space. In what can be seen in the standard issue bureaucratic manual, on page 505, cutting costs in a downturn is the right optic for the company to adopt. Times have changed though, and so has the real estate business, no one explained that the commissioning of the Bow had a “non-cancellable lease contract” contained in Cenovus’ lease. Sometimes you do have to read what you sign. To make a long story short Cenovus hasn’t, and doesn’t think it can sub-lease the space and therefore is stuck with the commitment. Claiming they are the victim that they most definitely are, Cenovus has recorded in the third quarter an “Onerous Contract Provision” of $726 million contributing to their $1.3 billion overall loss. Might I suggest that if Cenovus finds these consequences onerous they should pay attention to the contracts that they sign, manage their business effectively so that they don’t have to lay off thousands of people and leave hundreds of thousands of square feet empty. I would also suggest they could manage their business more effectively with the implementation of the Preliminary Specification. But I know, that solution is way too expensive, and I would suggest that it's too constructive as well.

The Preliminary Specification, our user community and service providers provide for a dynamic, innovative, accountable and profitable oil and gas industry with the most profitable means of oil and gas operations. Setting the foundation for profitable North America’s energy independence. People, Ideas & Objects Revenue Model specifies the means in which investors can participate in our future Initial Coin Offering (ICO) that will fund these user defined software developments. It is through the process of issuing our ICO that we are leading the way in which creative destruction can be implemented within the oil and gas industry. Users are welcome to join me here. Together we can begin to meet the future demands for energy. And don’t forget to join our network on Twitter @piobiz anyone can contact me at 403-200-2302 or email here.

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

These Are Not the Earnings We're Looking For, Part XXVI

A swimming pool of drowning swimmers seems to have adopted the strategy of teaming up against the ill winds they face. Let’s hope they defy the odds. History would prove otherwise, but what’s history. Chesapeake has announced the acquisition of WildHorse Resource Development in a mostly stock deal. On a related note, lawsuits seemed to have been filed before the deal was even announced. What Chesapeake may be after is WildHorse bankers, who for whatever reason, extended their lines of credit by $250 million. That’s a lot of cash when you’ve only had at best $5 million of Chesapeake cash since the second quarter of 2017. I wonder, at times, but not often, what happened to that cash? This transaction also keeps the industry tradition of issuing large volumes of shares as if they were free money coming out of a printer. If you’re a shareholder of either of these companies you can now see the life history of these organizations are just a few minutes before the end.

Not to be undone Encana has announced the acquisition of Newfield Explorations in an all share deal. These companies have dipped below the water line a few times already, just as Chesapeake has. Therefore I don’t think this is going to extend or retard the progress of their demise. One thing these companies need to remember is that lawyers and bankers in corporate deals are a) very expensive and b) don’t work without retainers and payment. These producers may be forced to decide if payroll or lawyers are the right thing to pay in their very near future. This is the state of the oil and gas industry. The value, or scratch that, the amount that Encana is paying for Newfield is $7.7 billion with the assumption of their debt. About a month ago I mentioned the game that was played in terms of acquisitions and divestitures in oil and gas. Drawing the Pizza Restaurant analogy. How acquisitions price were based on the reserve values, or how many pizza boxes were in the restaurant, not on the performance of the assets based on their historical accounting. Which is a good thing for Newfield because their performance isn’t that stellar. Over the course of Newfields lifetime their performance, or scratch that, their “activities” have shown that they’ve incurred $1.4 billion in cumulative lifetime losses on shareholders investments of $3.3 billion. I think this tells me that Encana will enjoy the new company. Not Newfield being the new company, company as in misery loves company. For Encana to be paying $7.7 for these assets that have done nothing but lose $1.4 billion, which has forced Newfield into a shotgun marriage makes a lot of sense to me? If I were Newfield I’d probably think about taking myself out of the picture too. But then again, it’s just shares!

We also have a third candidate in this swimming pool. Please note that I’ve been screaming at all of these people in the pool that they can hang on to the edge of the pool by committing to the Preliminary Specification, but they just don’t listen. This third candidate is Denbury Resources who have chosen, at least I think it was a conscious act on both parties, to acquire Penn Virginia in a mostly stock deal. I think Denbury will be ok because they’ve deferred the recognition of their capital costs out past 20 years. This providing them with a loss of only $1.7 billion on shareholders investments of $2.7 billion. Penn Virginia is difficult to assess based on the fact that it emerged from bankruptcy in September 2016.

I have been critical of oil and gas producers for not having a strategy and plan to deal with their issues and opportunities. What we see here is the beginning of their plan to deal with their business. That plan and strategy, as I interpret it is clear, everyone buddy up and keep the value of your companies as freaking high as possible in the process. Pick a number, any number will do as long as it’s stratospheric, double it, and then announce the acquisition at three times what the doubled price was. This will support the values that are recorded in property, plant and equipment on the “well built balance sheets” throughout oil and gas. The immediate benefit of doing this is that you’ll also gain consensus of the acquisitions board, instantly, and there will be no bidding war by other producers offering anything else. From an industry point of view, this can’t be anything but positive when the industry is involved in so many multi-billion dollar deals.

If you’ve spent the life of your firm using and abusing the shareholders the culture becomes “that is what the investors are there for. What’s one more dilution? And what exactly have the shareholders done for us in the last three years? Nothing, so they should sit down and be quiet.” If you believed that producers should’ve had the overproduction issue resolved by now. If you believed that the starvation diet that the investors and bankers have imposed across the industry would invoke change in the producers and a cultural shift to one that’s dynamic, innovative, accountable and profitable, I can understand your disappointment. These issues are never going to be resolved if left to those that are in charge today. What are the consequences of me calling it as I’ve seen it over the past decade? If I had been nice to everyone what good would that have done? I would not have enjoyed myself and that would have been a tragedy.

This is the point in time that you would take the keys to the Ferrari away from your 18 year old son. What would you expect to happen other than a negative outcome from this point forward? As much as “discipline” has been the catchphrase in all of the third quarter conference calls. Discipline in what? Discipline in sending a message that the bureaucrats can’t, won’t and will not ever act in anyone’s interest other than their own. Discipline by itself is not that meaningful. It has to have been applied to something that needs attention. But if the producers said they were to display some discipline in terms of profitability or spending, that implies that they know their not profitable or spending is out of control and they can do something about it. They don’t want to do anything about that so they just say their “disciplined.” Then the usual behaviour and culture that has driven the industry into the deep end of the pool continues in somewhat of a disciplined way.

The Preliminary Specification, our user community and service providers provide for a dynamic, innovative, accountable and profitable oil and gas industry with the most profitable means of oil and gas operations. Setting the foundation for profitable North America’s energy independence. People, Ideas & Objects Revenue Model specifies the means in which investors can participate in our future Initial Coin Offering (ICO) that will fund these user defined software developments. It is through the process of issuing our ICO that we are leading the way in which creative destruction can be implemented within the oil and gas industry. Users are welcome to join me here. Together we can begin to meet the future demands for energy. And don’t forget to join our network on Twitter @piobiz anyone can contact me at 403-200-2302 or email here.

Monday, November 05, 2018

These Are Not the Earnings We're Looking For, Part XXV

We have only a handful or so of our sample of 23 producers that have reported their third quarter results at the time of this writing. What we can determine in absolute terms is that the traditional accounting toolkit has been brought out and used throughout the industry once again. The most valuable trick in that toolkit happens to be the most effective and most used tool in the industry. It is of course the amount of depletion being reported by these producers. The general trend for the third quarter is to increase the amount of depletion that is reported by 3 - 4% over the second quarter amount. Which appears reasonable and in line with the business as it proceeds down its inevitable path to bankruptcy. What we can also determine is that this is not enough to deal with the vast spending that continues even though no one has any cash! The amount of capital expenditures of these producers divided by the amount of recorded depletion for the nine months ended equals 134% on average. This is the second principle of the ever expanding balance sheets that are being efficiently and effectively “built.”

In 2016 our sample of producers experienced $30.2 billion in losses on $75.6 billion of depletion. In 2017 our sample producers earned $15.6 billion in profits on $71.0 billion of depletion. Note that $9.6 billion of those profits were due to the Trump tax cuts. If producers recognized the same depletion as what they recorded in 2016, the 2017 earnings would have been $1.4 billion without the Trump tax cuts. In 2018 the amount of depletion recorded in the first half was $25.3 billion vs. $35.9 billion in the first half of 2017. Or $10.6 billion less than what was recorded in 2017. Therefore we can conclude on the basis of the small sample of 2018 third quarter reports that nothing material is going to change in determining the amounts of depletion for the remainder of the year. And therefore producers will increase profits to the tune of approximately $21.2 billion for the fiscal year 2018. All through the second principle of balance sheet building. Don’t recognize any depletion that you don’t have to.

What’s really going on here? How is it that depletion can be decreasing year over year? Producers are realizing that more reserves are coming on line as commercially viable with higher commodity prices and therefore the amount of depletion is less. A higher amount of property, plant and equipment is supported by more commercially viable P&NG reserves, therefore the need to deplete them is less urgent. The reserves in fact would now carry a much higher value in terms of the ceiling test due to both price and volume increases. Of course the opposite of this is the case during ceiling test write downs. The reserves are no longer able to carry the costs recorded in property, plant and equipment due to lower commodity prices or managements inability to find adequate volumes of reserves. This is the argument and the rationale for this activity of recognizing less depletion in the 2018 fiscal year. It is inconsistent with good bureaucratic ethics that they would ever desire to recapture those capital costs, recognize them by passing them through to the income statement and if they were charging the consumers enough for their oil and gas products, profitably produce that commodity and then be able to reuse that former capital investment which would then be sitting in cash.

Shifting back to the 2018 reporting period, the amount of earnings that were reported for the first half of 2018 were only $9.2 billion. People, Ideas & Objects claim that “these are not the earnings that were looking for” is coming into focus. It would appear that our sample of producers will end the year, holding all things constant for the second half, at a loss of $2.8 billion. But the commodity prices are so good and the depletion is so low! Please note in our previous posts that we have repeatedly stated that commodity prices need to be over $150 / boe in order to cover the costs of oil and gas exploration.

As one can see building a balance sheet is really quite simple. Spend money, admire the spectacle and compare it with your neighbors. No one yet has shown any sign of making any changes to this basic formula. And why would they, it’s worked so well for over four decades. Having to account for the past is not in anyone’s best interest and therefore not done. Those are sunk costs don’t you know. When you have the media and the analyst communities actively promoting Chesapeake as an investment there is no need to say or do anything. Chesapeake is a firm with almost $2 billion in negative working capital. $4 million in cash. Negative $39 million in shareholders equity. Capital expenditures that are 171% of depletion. And property, plant and equipment of $11.4 billion that is scheduled to be retired over the next 9.92 years and those assets alone are represented by 85% of the long term debt. $114 million in free cash flow. I could go on but what would be the point? For me to suggest that they need a plan and a strategy such as the Preliminary Specification seems laughable even to me.

The Preliminary Specification, our user community and service providers provide for a dynamic, innovative, accountable and profitable oil and gas industry with the most profitable means of oil and gas operations. Setting the foundation for profitable North America’s energy independence. People, Ideas & Objects Revenue Model specifies the means in which investors can participate in our future Initial Coin Offering (ICO) that will fund these user defined software developments. It is through the process of issuing our ICO that we are leading the way in which creative destruction can be implemented within the oil and gas industry. Users are welcome to join me here. Together we can begin to meet the future demands for energy. And don’t forget to join our network on Twitter @piobiz anyone can contact me at 403-200-2302 or email here.

Friday, November 02, 2018

Thursday, November 01, 2018

The Real Jurassic Park

With a future where natural gas volumes may triple to 50 bcf / day in the mid-term, times have never been better in Canada. The sense of excitement and wonder fills the streets. People’s enthusiasm is overflowing and they just can’t wait. Well that might have been the situation if the producers were in any kind of condition to contemplate any kind of future other than a courtroom. Looking at the working capital of the Canadian producers we follow in our sample of 23 producers reflects a probable different outlook. One that matches the lack of expectations that anything will happen to remedy the industries issues. And general sense that people are searching for opportunities elsewhere in other industries. The transition from difficult times for people to critical times appears to be well on its way. A decade has passed since the natural gas business collapsed. The industry has been on its heels since then and those affected have hung on as best they could. The issue for people now is it just doesn’t end. Taking a decade out of anyone's career is just a small price to pay. 30% of the office space in downtown Calgary is vacant. That has been the case for many years now. The consequences of inaction by the producers, although significant for the investors who have been betrayed by the accounting from the offices of Madoff, Madoff & Madoff, the overall economy in general that depends and is supported by the revenues of a primary industry, such as oil and gas, can’t be replaced.

We’ve recommended that the consumer should be chosen to pick up the tab for the future capital costs of the oil and gas industry. With our value proposition of $25.7 to 45.7 trillion over the next 25 years, that’s a hefty tab. I would expect all of this incremental value to come from the consumers. We need to ask ourselves if living off the scam that was perpetrated against the investors and banks was worth it when we run into situations where the economy takes a periodic nose dive. We’ve had nothing but downturns in oil and gas as a result of periodic phases of overproduction overwhelming the commodity markets. With the shale era we have an economic wasteland that only the bureaucrats can be satisfied with. It was inevitable, who has the greater volume of financial resources in order to power the industry through the next generation, the consumer or the investor. I would suggest the investor is a piker when compared to the resources of the consumers.

Business provides products and services to consumers for profit. I don’t want to sound demeaning to my readers, I know they know this. I’m writing to the oil and gas CEOs who are still strutting around town with their balance sheets comparing them to others to find out who has the biggest. I went back through my accounting textbooks and the textbooks that I have from business school and I’m unable to find any information about the concept of “building our balance sheet.” I still for the life of me can not understand what it is that the CEO’s are talking about when they utter such nonsense. There is no accounting policy or method to do so. There is no business strategy of “building a balance sheet.” I am just unable to find anything about this oil and gas phenomenon.

The fact of the matter is, if we had the consumer paying for the full cost of oil and gas exploration and production the economy that is dependent on the industry wouldn’t have these convulsions. It would be subject to the minor effects of recessions but those would be almost immaterial in comparison to the violent on again, off again throttle junkies we have running the show today. People would be able to plan their careers and families around their educations. Dedicate themselves to and build a worthwhile and valuable industry. Not be subject to layoffs in the same manner as the high school drop out that works in casual labor. Especially when they’re in their mid 30’s with a small family and a big mortgage. Or have invested the family fortune in a multi-generation service industry field operation, and been forced to scale down to 10% of their former capacity. This is the 21st century. Why are we still doing this? Not all of us have to work in the Jurassic period.

The Preliminary Specification, our user community and service providers provide for a dynamic, innovative, accountable and profitable oil and gas industry with the most profitable means of oil and gas operations. Setting the foundation for profitable North America’s energy independence. People, Ideas & Objects Revenue Model specifies the means in which investors can participate in our future Initial Coin Offering (ICO) that will fund these user defined software developments. It is through the process of issuing our ICO that we are leading the way in which creative destruction can be implemented within the oil and gas industry. Users are welcome to join me here. Together we can begin to meet the future demands for energy. And don’t forget to join our network on Twitter @piobiz anyone can contact me at 403-200-2302 or email here.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

You Can't Get There From Here

We noted a few weeks ago that Canadian producers were making application to the National Energy Board for LNG facilities across Canada. These facilities would increase the export capacity of Canada by 36.6 bcf / day. A substantial change to the industry considering the current production of natural gas is just under 16 bcf / day. It is reasonable to assume that the Gulf Coast is / will be going through a similar phase of development in terms of LNG exports. Based on the approved Shell project which has a capacity of 1.8 bcf / day and is projected to cost $40 billion CDN. The total cost of the 36.6 bcf / day capacity might range in the ballpark of $800 billion. These are estimates based on the remainder of the 12 out of 30 LNG projects also being approved. Nonetheless if the country were to maintain its current markets and expand its deliverability by these new exports the total deliverability of Canada would exceed 50 bcf / day. In terms of throughput capacity that is a different industry than the one that is in operation today.

The financial support to build these projects are a critical part of their definition. In Shells case, I assume that they, and their partners who are the end users of the gas, will be funding the capital program. Not everyone that will be participating in the development of these projects will have the wherewithal of Shell or the National Oil Companies represented in that ownership group. China, Japan, South Korea and Malaysia are each seeking to find and source long term sources of low cost natural gas. This investment provides them with that gas which is the objective, not necessarily that the project provides a financial return. Therefore we could assume that much of the LNG facilities that are being built will have some of this dynamic from this style of ownership group. I doubt that these four NOC’s would be satisfied with just the 1.8 bcf / day from the Shell project.

The remainder of these facilities do have to find the financing for these deliveries. What we see in today’s marketplace is when the producers leave the development of the takeaway capacity to the utilities, the needs of the producers aren't necessarily met. Differentials throughout the continent are wholly attributable to the lack of pipeline space. If they start drilling to fill this potential export market and leave the LNG facilities to others then we know what the result will be. Therefore the need to have the financing in place to build these facilities needs to be available fairly soon. I wonder where that money will come from? Has anyone seen an investor wanting to volunteer more money into the oil and gas incinerator lately? I haven’t either and I don’t think we’ll be able to find one in the current environment. As I write this the natural gas price at AECO/Spot is $0.26 for Canadian gas. The point is this natural gas differential now balances off the disparity that existed when the differential on oil was high, now they’re both very high, and therefore according to the oil and gas bureaucrat, “in balance.”

The established culture of the industry is one of accounting deception. Big balances of assets, huge cash flow and spectacular earnings everywhere and always. Just like Bernie Madoff. The assets are high because everything is capitalized, except for royalties, the SEC stopped that when they began their lawsuit of PennWest. Cash Flow From Operations is distorted upward when the Earnings number doesn’t consider any of these capitalized costs and instead defers their recognition under Capital Expenditures. The Net Income is essentially Revenue less electricity for the pump jack. And when it comes time to account for the performance for all of this spending? The story is told throughout the industry that those are sunk costs and are irrelevant to the situation today. The story that the investors now know and understand intuitively regarding oil and gas is producers don’t want to report about their activities truthfully, they don’t want to account for their past spending and don’t anyone ever mention the concept of performance. A trillion here, a trillion there, it makes no difference to the investors, that’s what they’re there for.

If this doesn’t scream disintermediation I don’t know what does. The approach to the industry is a failure. The future is a non starter as a result of the past history of the most recent four decades. And visions of sugarplums and LNG facilities everywhere are what will make people interested? The first thing they need to do is to start with a plan on how this will change. I suggest they implement the Preliminary Specification. The second thing they do is organize themselves in away that can approach this possible future. By using the Preliminary Specification. Then they would be running a profitable organization from stem to stern. Do that for a few years and they should be able to generate some cash that can allow them to take baby steps towards these lofty goals. There is ample enough capital sitting in property, plant and equipment that if they began recovering it by recognizing it as depletion on the Income Statement. And assuming they’re charging enough for their commodities to ensure profitable operations. This cash would be able to be cycled through the companies many times to generate many trillions of dollars in capital investment. People, Ideas & Objects always ask if property, plant and equipment is an asset or is it a cost. People, Ideas & Objects also ask if the future is financed by the investor or the consumer. I highly suggest the producer try the consumer for once by implementing the Preliminary Specification.

The Preliminary Specification, our user community and service providers provide for a dynamic, innovative, accountable and profitable oil and gas industry with the most profitable means of oil and gas operations. Setting the foundation for profitable North America’s energy independence. People, Ideas & Objects Revenue Model specifies the means in which investors can participate in our future Initial Coin Offering (ICO) that will fund these user defined software developments. It is through the process of issuing our ICO that we are leading the way in which creative destruction can be implemented within the oil and gas industry. Users are welcome to join me here. Together we can begin to meet the future demands for energy. And don’t forget to join our network on Twitter @piobiz anyone can contact me at 403-200-2302 or email here.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Time Slips Away...

These are difficult times for the oil and gas industry. What can only be the most difficult era of its entire history is being played out right now. Billions of dollars in revenue are being lost each and every month due to chronic overproduction. It just doesn’t stop does it. This is the remarkable aspect of this issue, its chronic nature. No one individual producer is responsible and therefore no action is taken by any one individual producer. It’s everyone else’s fault. Nothing but time slips away as the value of the industry erodes to the point where we are today. An industry that is worthless. Or even worse, an industry that destroys value continually at a remarkable rate and demands further resources just to operate. A black hole that eventually will take everyone in and leave nothing. We’re not far from that now, it’s been a long time since the shale era began to take hold and accelerate this phenomenon. Not since 2008 have we seen a “good” year. And as we’ve noted before there have only been 5 “good” years in oil and gas out of the past 32. What we’ve heard from the producers for the 27 other years is “oh whoa is me,” as they brace for bad times and do absolutely nothing about it. When we talk about cultural and systemic issues, a 32 year history is a good sample of the situation. We believe that oil and gas should be produced profitably everywhere and always. We owe it to future generations to ensure that these resources are used appropriately. That can only be done if they’re produced profitably.

Digging through this blogs archives People, Ideas & Objects published our budget on this blog through a series of posts that ended in October of 2010. And then posted the budget in its entirety with the publication of the Preliminary Specification in December 2013. Therefore it has been five to eight years that we’ve had our budget known within the industry. Although initially we took some giggles and flak for the size of the budget. The real issue was the fact that producers didn’t pay Intellectual Property royalties. We’ll see about that. The point I want to make today is that the scope and scale of the budget, indeed the accuracy in which the Preliminary Specification addresses these material issues in oil and gas, make it evident in my mind that we understand this issue. We have a lot of work yet to do, however we can say that we’re on the right track at this time.

I would suggest that a very large percentage of the people in industry do not understand the issue as it stands today. What else could explain the chronic and continuous overproduction into markets that provide commodity prices that only produce financial losses? Producers believe, somehow, that production has nothing to do with price. That the “market” will clear whatever is produced. That “markets” are magical and wonderful things that act in the best interest of the producers is the fairy tale that you have to believe in order to continue on in the manner that is done today. Markets are wonderful things however they do one thing, and only one thing. And that is communicate a price for the good or service that is being marketed. What producers need to do is to organize themselves in the manner defined in the Preliminary Specification so that they can adjust themselves to the messages from the market and if that price is adequate to produce a profit, then produce. Otherwise shut-in the production and save their reserves for the day in which they can be produced profitably. Ensuring all of their properties were profitable would maximize their profits, as no unprofitable properties would be produced and therefore dilute their profits, and allow markets to find the marginal price.

The third quarter reports of all of our sample of 23 producers will all be available on November 13, 2018. We will begin our analysis soon after. A small number have already been published. I would suggest everyone review these as we continue through these next few weeks. Remember to take 70% of property, plant and equipment and move it to depletion in order to make up for the accounting scam that is prevalent in the industry. This will adjust the producer for the unrecognized capital costs of past production. Allocating every cost to capital and leaving it on the balance sheet for decades is a great way to “build your balance sheet” whatever that means, and always report profits. But it is a massive distortion of reality. By making this 70% pro-forma adjustment we see that the producers are nothing but hollowed out carcasses that have done nothing but spend money in order to destroy an industry.

The Preliminary Specification, our user community and service providers provide for a dynamic, innovative, accountable and profitable oil and gas industry with the most profitable means of oil and gas operations. Setting the foundation for profitable North America’s energy independence. People, Ideas & Objects Revenue Model specifies the means in which investors can participate in our future Initial Coin Offering (ICO) that will fund these user defined software developments. It is through the process of issuing our ICO that we are leading the way in which creative destruction can be implemented within the oil and gas industry. Users are welcome to join me here. Together we can begin to meet the future demands for energy. And don’t forget to join our network on Twitter @piobiz anyone can contact me at 403-200-2302 or email here.

Monday, October 29, 2018

How is it That Nothing's Ever Done

I’m sure I’m not the only one that wonders why producers never do anything regarding the difficulties in the industry. Natural gas was last priced in a profitable region, based on People, Ideas & Objects estimates, in mid 2008. Nonetheless the producer still had high enough oil prices to carry them through those difficult natural gas times. However, oil declined in 2014 which ended that support. It was the first time that the industry ever faced the fact that both sides, oil and gas, were depressed. It was always the case that you could bank on at least one side of the business being able to hold its head above water. Then the bankers and investors began to evaluate the producer firms on the basis of a different understanding. One which assumed that shale may never achieve commercial operations. All of the signs were there and investors were not able to get any answers from producers that made any sense. In the face of continued overproduction, additional drilling was not the solution to depressed commodity prices. Therefore the investors and bankers withdrew their support of the industry in wholesale fashion. As we’ve documented here many times the industries accounting is distorted toward underreporting of the capital costs of each barrel of oil equivalent produced. Producers continued to report healthy profits and cash flow yet the cash in the industry was escaping into the black hole we know as property, plant and equipment of the producers “well built” balance sheets. Cash became an issue when the investors ceased to provide the financial support that the industry had come to depend on. Further deterioration of the cash and working capital occurred as time continued to pass and the investors didn’t return. Soon it was realized that flush production was a prosperous source of cash when the costs of these field operations weren’t paid for upto 18 months. Now we see the final realization of all of this madness manifest itself in the high differentials being realized in various basins around North America.

This third quarter of 2018 will be interesting to see how the producers make out financially. The only thing that I’ve heard from any of the producers is from those that maintain a monthly dividend. And the news is that they’ll maintain that in the current month. Even though their cash positions at the end of the second quarter make the payment detrimental to the firm. Must keep the facade of an actual business operation in the minds of those that once believed such nonsense. Throughout the decline of the producers viability and financial destruction we’ve documented the oncoming difficulties and stood firm that nothing would resolve the issues that are present in the industry other than implementing the Preliminary Specification. That day is soon to be realized by more than just me. There is a systemic cultural incapacity for the industry to understand what it’s doing wrong. Back in the early 1980’s I could generally argue the point and gain a consensus that the methods used then, which are the same methods that are used today, would lead to the demise of the industry. Those days are gone. The culture of the industry has been developed with the issue imbedded in the DNA of the industry and the understanding in the industry is that that is the way that things are done. No one questions it. 

The Preliminary Specification relies on the reduction of unprofitable production from the marketplace. The accusations that this is collusion, or that shutting-in production can’t be done for this or that reason has been stated since the early days on this blog. (2007). Which is nothing more than the fact that the Preliminary Specification eliminates the bureaucrats and is hard work for them to do before they’re rendered redundant. The excuse also falls flat on its face when we learn recently that the industry has a speed and capability to shut-in 40% of the production from the Gulf of Mexico due to Hurricane Michael. So much for the lame excuses why they can’t do that onshore. It’s only the excuse of an entitled, lazy and well fed bureaucracy that doesn’t want to do anything. If they did would they have watched the industry be subjected to the history of these past few years. Their responsible, how do they justify their chronic inaction and continued stoic posture in the face of such absolute destruction?

The one other aspect of this situation with the oil and gas industry that People, Ideas & Objects have discussed repeatedly here and in the Preliminary Specification. Is the action that we do anticipate from the bureaucrats which will be their exit from the scene when they’ve determined there’s nothing left for them. How soon this will be is unknown, however just as we noted about the full support these bureaucrats have received from their boards, the exit will be including board members as well. Leaving the industry in pristine shape for the future of the consumer to source their energy needs. What we know regarding these capitulations and exits is that they have their historic origins. Back in the 1920’s when management failed they just moved onto greener pastures while governments intervened heavily into the private economy. We saw this intervention by governments again after the 2008 financial crisis, however not the capitulation of management. I believe this was due to the meltdown being a failed public policy issue. The government wanting everyone to own a home. The question will be, will we see the government come to the aid of the oil and gas industry? And if so, in what form? This is untenable politically and consideration of such aspects of government involvement to support oil and gas is not probable. Therefore when the industry reports its third quarter. And it becomes evident of the difficulties, the management subsequently pursues greener pastures in silicon valley or manufacturing, who will support the industry and turn this situation around?

I documented that I was the crazy one by providing a plan to deal with these issues and establish the industry on a “real” basis of profitability, innovation and cost control. So the previous comments can be put into the proper perspective. The problem is that I’ve been jumping up and down, screaming and yelling about all of these for many years. Other than the managements capitulation it all seems to have worked out in a way in which the Preliminary Specification is the solution to the issue. I’ll probably be wrong about this capitulation though, it just seems so ridiculous. After all who reads history?

The Preliminary Specification, our user community and service providers provide for a dynamic, innovative, accountable and profitable oil and gas industry with the most profitable means of oil and gas operations. Setting the foundation for profitable North America’s energy independence. People, Ideas & Objects Revenue Model specifies the means in which investors can participate in our future Initial Coin Offering (ICO) that will fund these user defined software developments. It is through the process of issuing our ICO that we are leading the way in which creative destruction can be implemented within the oil and gas industry. Users are welcome to join me here. Together we can begin to meet the future demands for energy. And don’t forget to join our network on Twitter @piobiz anyone can contact me at 403-200-2302 or email here.

Friday, October 26, 2018

A Plan, For a Price

Back in 1991 when I started working in the software business trying to resolve the oil and gas producers dilemma that is so prevalent today. There were in the neighbourhood of a dozen software vendors providing software to the industry. The choices were down to a handful of firms and those were mostly subsequently bought out by Coopers & Lybrand or Ernst & Young, or built by Price Waterhouse. It was a violently competitive time in which the producers were able to pick and choose and pay next to nothing for their software. The attached service contract was what would keep the lights on and the bills paid at the software vendor. As far as the producers were concerned it was too bad about the investors who paid for the software development. In 1992 Oracle threw the cat amongst the pigeons when they joined my firm in a joint development effort. Later in the decade it was determined that accounting firms owning accounting software was not a good business and the beginning of these firms software divestments. Notably the market leader, “Qbyte” which was owned by Coopers & Lybrand was combined with Price Waterhouse “PW/SQL” when they merged as PriceWaterhouseCoopers and all of this was subsequently purchased by IBM. Late in the 20th century, Oracle who were unable to secure any producers to fund their specific developments for Oracle Energy, left in frustration at the persistence of the producers inaction. In 2005 IBM sold their market leading Qbyte application to P2 as a result of their frustration in securing any producer participation in specific new developments.

What we therefore have today is three specific attributes of the oil and gas ERP software marketplace. The investors were used and abused to the point where no one made any money. These memories are still prevalent in the marketplace. I would be hard pressed to find any support anywhere in the investment community for the work that we are doing here at People, Ideas & Objects. I choose not to spend any time in that arena as there is nothing that I can do to provide any potential investors with a return on their investment in oil and gas ERP software. Therefore I avoid these investors that oddly, don’t exist anyway. The second attribute is that no activity in the marketplace is being done in oil and gas ERP systems development. There are little bits here and there but the scope and scale of the issues that exist in the industry demand a much more substantial product. And nothing is being done anywhere other than some upgrades or regulatory changes etc. The third attribute is that the only lunatic offering these specific software developments is People, Ideas & Objects with the Preliminary Specification. This is good news for me, for some reason I’m sure, and not good news for the bureaucrats in the industry.

The net result of all of these shenanigans by the producers is that no one is going to do anything for them until producers pay the way. And People, Ideas & Objects fully understands that the financial resources we require will impact and diminish the producers drilling budgets. But maybe that’s a good thing at this point. This is an oil and gas issue as well, no one other than producers are harmed by differentials. If producers can’t see their way clear to resolving this themselves, why would others do it for them, there is no upside for anyone other than producers. The investment in the software provides a value proposition that is substantially higher than the costs. This is due to the fact that the industry has been currently run into the ground. Sorry to be so blunt, I thought about sending flowers but realized it wouldn’t do much better. Another issue that People, Ideas & Objects has is that the industry has displayed the attention span of a mosquito. As soon as there is a rebound in the price of oil or gas, no matter the size, it's full speed once again into the field to begin drilling as much as possible as quickly as possible. Therefore if we went on a pay as you go basis we would have our funding cut off at some critical point before we were able to complete development. And therefore we can’t run that risk with the people who are needed to commit to this development. They need to know that the resources are there to ensure that they’re not going to be looking for work somewhere else due to the failure of this project and to then be ostracised from the industry by the producers. 

If it isn’t clear yet, if producers want their investors back participating in their organizations they have to offer them a compelling business proposition. A plan for the future that deals with the issues and the opportunities they currently face and a way to deal with them down the road. The Preliminary Specification provides that. However, it costs producers money, and a lot of money up front before they can say to the investors that they have that plan. The only way that they’re going to make it real is to put up our full budget in advance and commit to this in the long run. Alternatively we can clearly see the consequences of further inaction. Just look to Canada and their differentials if you have difficulty seeing the future. It may not be that way everywhere, but trust me, without the Preliminary Specification it will be soon. And we may have to go through a number of attitudinal adjustments as a result of further temporary upward changes in direction of the prices of the commodities. But what we should have all realized at this point is that this train only travels downhill.

The Preliminary Specification, our user community and service providers provide for a dynamic, innovative, accountable and profitable oil and gas industry with the most profitable means of oil and gas operations. Setting the foundation for profitable North America’s energy independence. People, Ideas & Objects Revenue Model specifies the means in which investors can participate in our future Initial Coin Offering (ICO) that will fund these user defined software developments. It is through the process of issuing our ICO that we are leading the way in which creative destruction can be implemented within the oil and gas industry. Users are welcome to join me here. Together we can begin to meet the future demands for energy. And don’t forget to join our network on Twitter @piobiz anyone can contact me at 403-200-2302 or email here.