Crude Observations

A Trivial Blog

Earlier this week I saw a Tweet about the price of oil that went something like this:


Monday – bad news out of Asia, oil price opens weak, stocks slump

Tuesday – Supply constraints, China may open up – price rallies, stocks rally

Wednesday – More price positivity, now we’re cooking!

Thursday – Biden this, Iran that, see ya later gains

Friday – I give up, better luck next week.


And based on this week’s action and last week’s and the week before, this is pretty much the treadmill we have been on.


Where am I going with this? Well, I go through a very similar 5-day progression every week that I write this blog. And let me tell you, it ain’t easy.


This is mainly because there isn’t an evident theme but I still have to come up with it. And let me tell you, it is a difficult exercise. Especially these days as the news is either moving too fast in certain areas for me to be topical, or there just isn’t enough news or conflict for me to comment on or the most obvious topics are ones that I am either not qualified to opine on or are just too hot to handle.


The too hot to handle ones are generally related to politics (surprise, surprise).


And then there’s this week. Where nothing really has happened. Well except for the oil price, which followed the same predictable pattern as it always does. And my portfolio, which followed the same predictable pattern – down 2%, up 8%, down 5%. Whatever dude. Ended where it started. Maybe I should be day trading my CNRL. But then I’d probably miss the ex-dividend dates and lose out on the cash flow.


And it is weeks like this that I realize that stealing ideas from previous blogs isn’t such a bad thing.


But first, there are a couple of current events that I should comment on.


The Passing of Queen Elizabeth II


Unless you have been living under a rock for the past week, the passing of Canada’s head of state will be no surprise. I didn’t write a whole blog about this because it is being covered so effectively elsewhere but I do have some thoughts.


One thing I have observed is that while in the United Kingdom the reach of the monarchy and the reaction of the population is incredibly strong as evidenced by the footage of people standing in line for hours on end to pay their respects to her where she is lying in state, here in Canada her passing is being treated as both a sad event and at the same time an abstract curiosity. One need only look at the ambivalence to the National Day of Mourning to see that.


There are reasons of course. Like many commonwealth countries, our relationship with the monarchy is complicated. The queen and the monarchy grace our money, are ever-present in our legal system and are fundamentally intertwined in our system of government. On the other hand, the queen, the monarchy and the United Kingdom have absolutely zero say at all in how we run our country. They are a formality that we have to live with, unless we change it, which is hard, so we don’t. Like I said, it’s complicated. But it’s rooted in tradition and since Canadians value nothing more than stability and not changing, this is what we have. The passing of Queen Elizabeth has both upended and reinforced that tradition.


On a personal level, the passing of the queen has made me feel like a piece of me is now gone. And it’s weird. It’s a similar feeling as when David Bowie died. A part of my past is now gone and there is nothing there to replace it – just noise. I’m 57 years old (shocking I know). By the time I wore my first diaper, the queen had been in power for 13 years. So, for all my time on this planet, the one constant I have had has been the presence of this benign lady, on my money, in my government, represented by a series of governors general and sitting on a throne in a cold and breezy castle across the “pond” somewhere next to Stonehenge. In a world where so much changes so rapidly and the good and the bad rise up and fall with such regularity, it was oddly reassuring to have this anachronistic vestige of some prior era, calmly and with dignity going about her business, serving her country, her commonwealth, her corgis and her “people” with dignity, passion and honour. With so much attention-seeking superficiality in the world, that tradition will be very much missed. And this makes me sad. I don’t know what sort of king Charles is going to make. I suspect much of what we now about him is distorted but if he is half the monarch his mother was, he’ll do just fine. So, I wish him luck. And no, we aren’t taking the day off on the 19th either.


The CPC Leadership Results


Speaking of tradition and stability (heh!), the ballots are in and it’s official, Pierre Poilievre is the anointed one and will serve as the leader of the Official Opposition and with close to 70% support, it was an ass-whipping. Second place finisher Jean Charest (who I like by the way and thought would be a fine option) could only muster 10% of the vote and 16% of the vote-points and has gone back to his cozy life of lawyering, board seats and anonymity. Now it’s on to Pierre.


You will note dear readers that I kept my nose out of this race. While the UCP race hits closer to home and I am truly fearful of what could result from certain candidates winning, I never had that fear in the CPC race. First of all, because there is no imminent election the stakes, while high, aren’t as high. Secondly, no one was under any illusion that the result would be any different than it was, so commentary seemed superfluous. Lastly, there is always the possibility of a cushy patronage appointment, so I wanted to stay relatively clean. So instead I confined myself to pointing out to PP as he is sometimes called, the many flaws in his economic analysis and platform. Mostly about “justinflation’s” causes, crypto and a flawed understanding of the energy market. Mostly on Twitter. Once in an email. Note, I’m still waiting for a reply.


At any rate, Pierre has won so I guess it’s time to assess what we got. Well first off, let me state the obvious – he’s a smart cookie and ran an excellent campaign. He recognized his opponents’ weaknesses and absolutely pulverized them. His dalliances with the convoy cohort are super-annoying. But maybe playing to the centre wasn’t going to get him the mandate he wanted if the Conservatives kept losing the right side of the party to the kookier than kooky People’s Party. I don’t think he’s a fascist. So that damaging rhetoric has to stop. You’re a right wing kook. Oh yeah, you’re a leftist nutjob. Well, you’re a crypto-fascist. And you’re a far-left socialistic Antifa-sympathizing rioter. And you’re a far-right, anti-semitic, white supremacist, misogynist, gun-loving insurrectionist! Hey – why are we so polarized?


Pierre is a populist. And a bit of a libertarian wannabe. But you know what he really is? He’s Preston Manning with a personality. Stockwell Day with more smarts and no jet ski. Stephen Harper with a sense of humour. He’s an old school Reform politician and a not very progressive conservative. He’s not going to campaign for the center. If the center likes what he says, they can come to him. He knows his base, including the 10% that are certifiable. He’s a guaranteed 40% of the vote opposite side of the coin to the Liberal party.


No, he is not the devil. He is the “anti-Trudeau”. He’s not woke, but he’s in a bi-racial marriage. He isn’t virtue-seeking, but his caucus leaders and inner circle include two LGBT MP’s, women and is culturally diverse. He isn’t a trust fund brat and he isn’t a legacy politician from the Laurentian patrician tradition. Instead he made his money the old-fashioned way – a career in politics and savvy real estate purchases. He got elected in an overlooked riding as one of the youngest MPs ever and earned himself the unfortunate nickname Skippy. He is also from Western Canada where he went to the same high school my daughter currently attends. He’s abrasive and he gets under your skin. Which by the way is exactly what he wants. He looks like a nerd, and he may well be one. I don’t think he particularly cares.


His policy platform is admittedly thin – he’s not going to win an election on a platform of wanting to fire the governor of the Bank of Canada and cringy videos about inflation and wooden beams. But if he wants, two of his leadership opponents – Charest and Hutchinson – had fully formed and thought out sets of policies that I’m sure he could appropriate.


That said, his one and only goal as leader of the Conservatives is to drive Justin Trudeau nuts and eventually best him and the Liberals in a general election.


I think he will be phenomenally successful with the first, the jury is out on the second.


My personal feeling is that he can’t beat an energized Liberal Party, but a tired one with a well past the best before date Justin Trudeau? That is beatable. So, we shall see.


My take? Let him settle into the job. Campaigning for something is a lot different than doing it. His policies are likely to soften, but it is highly unlikely his edges will.


Trudeau has said he intends to run again, in an election that has to happen by 2025 depending on how the NDP support agreement plays out. I am pretty sure Poilievre’s position is pretty much “bring it on Justin, I have a briefcase full of nicknames for you”.


At the very least, it’s going to be entertaining.


Prior Blog Thievery


OK, here it is. I admit it, I did schedule calls for when I was supposed to be writing my blog so I am borrowing from a prior blog to have a little fun with everyone. That’s right, it’s trivia time.


Crude Observations Trivial Pursuit.




Just a quick refresher, in Trivial Pursuit you go around the board trying to collect pies and answering questions in six categories along the way. Once you have collected the six pies, you go to the middle of the board and answer the final question to win the game. It’s all very intense.


The original categories were as follows:


  • Geography
  • Entertainment
  • History
  • Art & Literature
  • Science & Nature
  • Sports & Leisure


In the interests of being true to the game, I will use those categories, but obviously have reserved the right to be as sarcastic and cheeky as I want to be within the categories.


There will be 6 questions within each of the six categories. There may be a mix of straight answer and multiple choice.


There will also be a final question. If you get that question right, you may be proclaimed a grand champion, earn the adulation of your blog reading peers and I might consider getting you one of those 4 foot high plastic trophies to display in your office.


Okay, last bit of admin before we dive in. A sample question. And because I love sports, it will be in the Sports and Leisure category.


Question – Name the NHL team that has been a national embarrassment because of their epic run of Stanley Cup futility and which is likely destined to go another 55 years in the wilderness.


Answer – the Toronto Maple Laffs, oops, Leafs.


See how easy that was? Right. On with the show!


  • Geography


  1. Name the two largest sub-national landlocked producers of oil in North America.
  2. In the seminal golf movie Caddyshack, noted Bon Vivant and erstwhile philosopher Ty Webb said “the shortest distance between two points is a straight line in the complete and opposite direction.” Given this logic, how far must Alberta natural gas travel to reach an LNG facility in Germany?
  3. With an estimated 70 billion barrels of recoverable oil, this reservoir is considered the largest conventional oilfield in the world. Name the field and the country it resides in.
  4. Ironically, this contiguous heavy oil deposit contains approximately 133 billion barrels of oil in place, making it the “actual” largest oilfield in the world. Name the field and the location.
  5. If you took all the oil and gas pipelines in North America and laid them end to end, how many return trips to the moon would you be able to take?
  6. Where was the first producing oilwell in North America located?


  • Entertainment


  1. This American music icon recorded a tribute to oil and gas workers in 1963. Name the artist and the song.
  2. Starring a former oilrig worker, this movie is considered among the greatest oil and gas films ever produced. Name the movie and the star that worked the rigs.
  3. There Will be Blood garnered Daniel Day-Lewis one of his three Best Actor Oscars. What was the name of the book on which the movie was based and who was the author.
  4. This man, who always hits his depth, is considered one of the best off-shore wildcat drillers in cinematic history. He doesn’t know how to fail. Name him.
  5. Deepwater Horizon, the movie chronicling the Macondo blowout in the Gulf of Mexico, rightly distills the majority of the culpability for the blowout to BP, personified by its on rig “company man” Donald Vidrine. Which actor channeled his inner Snidely Whiplash to play that role.
  6. The fictional town of Dillon Texas, the setting for Friday Night Lights and the Dillon Panthers are based on what real life football team and Texas town.


  • History


  1. After drilling the first commercial oil well in the United States in 1859 in Titusville, Pennsylvania, this man “colonel” executed what is arguably the first frac’ed oil well by dropping a torpedo down the bore hole of a well in 1865. Fortunately, no one died. Name him.
  2. The first commercial development of the oil sands was begun in what year and by what company.
  3. The earliest historical reference to the use of oil products was over 4000 years ago by this historian.
  4. John D. Rockefeller, the founder of Standard Oil, got his start in the industry by investing in a refinery in what city.
  5. Natural gas has been used commercially since the 1700’s when it was used to light street lamps in Britain. In 1885 this man invented a burner that opened up a whole range of uses for the now easily controlled combustion of the fuel. Name him.
  6. The FSO Safer is a tanker that has been stranded off the coast of Yemen for the past seven years. It contains an estimated 1.1 million barrels of oil and if it ruptures and spills into the Red Sea it will be an environmental catastrophe 4 times worse than the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989. What was the name of the reef the Exxon Valdez hit.


  • Arts & Literature


  1. This obscure academic is considered one of the most influential writers on the subject of energy. Name him.
  2. Name the term coined by Canadian lobbyist and gadfly Ezra Levant in his book of the same name touting the moral superiority of Canadian oil production or what The Economist called a “polemic defence of the tar sands”. What year was the book published and what was the term.
  3. “The Prize” by Daniel Yergin is widely considered one of the most comprehensive narratives about the oil and gas industry ever prepared. What was the name of his much less popular follow up book.
  4. Robert Service is known for his many odes to Yukon gold mining. The closest the energy industry has is this obscure Texas poet. Name him.
  5. Name the Hollywood star who wrote the preface for It’s a Gas: The Allure of the Gas Station, a photo book documenting gas stations around the world.
  6. It has been dubbed the world’s most beautiful gas station. Where is it located and which famous architect is it credited to?


  • Science & Nature


  1. Name the four types of fossil fuels.
  2. What fuel has the highest energy density?
  3. What is the process of injecting water, sand and chemicals under extremely high pressure into an oil well called?
  4. With oil under tremendous pressure underground in ever deeper wells, temperatures can be very high – reaching up to what temperature? (Celsius or Fahrenheit)
  5. Name the three primary processes used in the refining of crude oil.
  6. Just for fun, name 5 (aside from fuel) of the more than 6000 products that are made with or derived from oil and gas


  • Sports & Leisure


  1. What was Coach Eric Taylor’s combined won-loss record as coach of the Dillon Panthers and East Dillon Lions, including playoffs.
  2. How many of the NFL’s 32 franchises have owners who made their fortunes in the energy or immediately related industry?
  3. Name the Quarterback who led the Washington team to an improbable come from behind victory in the last game of the season to earn a playoff berth as a replacement player.
  4. Two franchises in big league professional sports have been called the Oilers. Name teams and the greatest player each one has produced.
  5. What is the average amount of fuel burned in a NASCAR race assuming 40 cars?
  6. Name the actor who played #3 above and his place of birth.


Bonus Question


What was the subject of the very first Crude Observations in May of 2015 and who designed the logo.


There you go – good luck!


Please email me at with your answers. I will buy the winner some pints.


Answer key may come on Wednesday if I can remember all the answers!



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