Crude Observations

An Idle Pursuit

You ever wonder about how the human mind works and how much truly trivial junk is stored on those overloaded servers? It’s fascinating to me because every week I have to come up with a theme for this blog and the path usually goes something like this:


Monday – well, I have 5 days before I have to deliver the blog, that’s lots of time but I can’t start now because there may be some late-breaking news like a pipeline ruling or a government patronage appointment that I need to deal with.


Tuesday – ack, I need a theme for my Crude Observations coffee call, oh crap oh crap oh crap. Wait, I got it. Phew. Maybe a blog theme will come out of the call. Usually not.


Wednesday – this is it, this is finally the week that I am going to write my Fair Deal Demands TM in blog form so that everyone will know and understand the terms under which I will remain in Alberta.


Thursday – that’s a dumb idea and I can only get to 10 before I start sounding silly.


Friday – what? Who arranged a videoconference during prime writing hours? Me? Well that was poor planning.


Friday lunch – dude, just start writing something. It’ll all work out.


And then is comes, a rapid outpouring of random thoughts. And strangely enough, still not my Fair Deal Demands TM. Mainly because I am only up to 14 demands. Wait, I’m wrong. 12 demands. There were duplicates. So that is still a work in progress.


Which of course means that the blog on Friday is going to be about something completely different than what I thought on Monday. There were no momentous events that changed the subject. No scandals or market moving disasters.


Nope, just me sitting and staring at my screen and thinking, thinking, must be light hearted because it’s summer. Like a game. I like some games.. I used to play games in the summer. And at Christmas. Like Trivial Pursuit. Man, I was good at that game. Like really good. I wonder how old Trivial Pursuit is? 41 years old. Wow. Wouldn’t it be fun to do a Crude Observations Trivial Pursuit? With tongue in cheeky categories?


And maybe, just maybe… A PRIZE!!!!!


So that’s what you are getting. I will be accepting entries up until next Friday when I publish the answer key. The top 3 scores will each receive a fabulous prize.


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 53 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 oil travel to reach a refinery in Saint John New Brunswick?
  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 that 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 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 five 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 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.


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!


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


Office Cat


I think it’s safe to say this is officially done. Good while it lasted.


Stormont Capital Crude Coffee


Small but intense group last week. This week we are going to talk sports, sports, sports!


Email me if you want to participate at


Prices as at July 17, 2020

  • Oil
    • Oil storage was… down! (male up your mind!)
    • Production was … FLAT?
    • OPEC+++++ is musing about increasing production come August
  • Natural Gas
    • Storage was up, historically very high; consumption flat; production flat; exports flat.
  • WTI Crude: $40.59 ($40.53)
  • Western Canada Select: $33.93 ($32.54)
  • AECO Spot: $1.970 ($1.763)
  • NYMEX Gas: $1.718 ($1.832)
  • US/Canadian Dollar: $0.7364 ($0.7365)



  • As at July 10, 2020, US crude oil supplies were at 531.7 million barrels, a decrease of 7.5 million barrels from the previous week and 75.8 million barrels higher than last year.
    • Production was unchanged for the week at 11.000 million barrels per day, which of course we know is impossible. Production last year at the same time was 12.000 million barrels per day.
    • Imports fell to 5.567 million barrels from 7.394 million barrels per day compared to 6.832 million barrels per day last year.
    • Crude exports from the US rose to 2.543 million barrels per day from 2.387 million barrels per day last week compared to 2.534 million barrels per day a year ago
    • Canadian exports to the US rose to 3.170 million barrels a day from 2.918 million barrels per day last week
    • Refinery inputs decreased during the current week to 14.309 million barrels per day
  • As at July 10, 2020, US natural gas in storage was 3,178 billion cubic feet (Bcf), which is 17% above the 5-year average and about 26% higher than last year’s level, following an implied net injection of 45 Bcf during the report week
    • Overall U.S. natural gas consumption rose 0.9% during the report week.
    • Production was down 0.7% for the week. Imports from Canada rose 11.3% from the week before. Exports to Mexico were up 5.9%
    • LNG exports totaled 15 Bcf
  • As of July 17, 2020, the Canadian rig count increased 6 to 32 (AB – 20; BC – 8; SK – 2; MB – 0; Other – 2). Rig count for the same period last year was 58.
  • US Onshore Oil rig count at July 17, 2020 is at 180, down 1 from the week prior.
    • Peak rig count was October 10, 2014 at 1,609
  • Natural gas rigs drilling in the United States is down 4 at 71
    • Peak rig count before the downturn was November 11, 2014 at 356 (note the actual peak gas rig count was 1,606 on August 29, 2008)
  • Offshore rig count was unchanged at 12.
    • Offshore peak rig count at January 1, 2015 was 55

US split of Oil vs Gas rigs is 70%/30%, in Canada the split is 20%/80%

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