Crude Observations

Draft Day 2024

Well after last week’s liberating vent on the new federal government proposed tax hike on capital gains, I thought for sure I wouldn’t have anything to wriote about. And you would be right. But fortunately, I am creature of habit, and that habit means I sit down every week and if words start to flow, I will have a blog. And if they don’t start to flow? Well then it’s typically a shorter blog.


Fortunately for me (and you), after close to 9 years of hammering the same keyboard to come up with original ideas and takes on the most current and relevant of current and relevant events, I have traditions that I can lean on that allow me to get a blog composed and distributed for your reading pleasure.


One of those traditions that I end April with is complaining about something egregious. And then being happy April is ending and evoking Justin Timberlake with this poem I wrote.


April is tough and nasty or so they say

But I don’t care, ‘cause on the morrow

It’s gonna be May!


Weird, right?


Fortunately, the feds gave me my cathartic moment last Tuesday, which means that absent any freak snowstorms in the next week (forecast says no), it’s all happy times for this week.


And as luck would have it, two happy things are currently happening. In the first, the Leafs are losing in the playoffs.


The second? It’s NFL Draft Day! Well technically, this is published on a Friday so it’s Draft Day 2, but when I wrote it, it was still Draft Day. In fact the actual start of the Draft was still hours away. Of course by the time I finish it, the draft will be well over. At least the fun part.


Back to the NFL Draft!


The annual meat market wherein large men find out they have to move to such glamourous locales as Detroit, Cleveland and Jacksonville or have their careers needlessly wrecked by being drafted by perennial sad sack teams like the Jets who now have an actual Hall of Fame QB from Green Bay who they wrecked last year. While the good teams also select players, the most ironic part of the draft for me is that the best players invariably find themselves in the worst places, unless someone makes a trade. Which they probably won’t, unless they do, in which case I may just delete this sentence. This year’s worst places lineup is the QB graveyard known as Chicago, the stadium in a swamp rebuilding Washington whatevers and a Belichikless New England. Lord help these young QBs.



Anyway, I digress. While I take a break between Round 1 withdrawal and wait breathlessly for Round 2, I am going to cast off these April blahs, and, just like the NFL, I am going to hold a draft – like I do every year, except, as regular readers know, mine is a Global Energy League Draft.


So here goes.


The Global Energy League Draft of 2024


OK, first the rules. For the purposes of this draft there are only 10 teams, the others are all in some minor league or other entity like a Soccer Super League. The draft will take place in typical inverse order, so if you had the weakest record in the last year, you get to pick first. This means the best picks last. Each participant has 10 minutes to make their pick, spawning the term “on the clock”.



Trades are allowed, encouraged and occasionally happen. As an analogy for global energy politics, it needs to make at least a little bit of sense and clearly, if Russia isn’t portrayed as evil, then what’s the point?



Finally, just like in the NFL draft there has to be a last pick, in this case it is pick number 60 because this draft actually has 6 rounds. In the NFL this pick is called Mr. Irrelevant just to demean that poor kid a bit more, so we will go with that. Except of course Mr. Irrelevant from two years ago was Brock Purdy who led the San Francisco 49ers to the playoffs and the Super Bowl before losing to Taylor Swift.



Alright, here comes honorary commissioner and noted Tourmaline insider Kevin F to announce that the team with the number one pick in the Energy Draft is up and has ten minutes to make its pick.



“Ladies and gentlemen, Canada is officially on the clock and the draft is on”



Oh, and for the uninitiated – Vontae Mack, No Matter What.



Canada – first pick overall! Very exciting, right? Until you realize that Canada has had the first pick in this draft for what feels like an entire pandemic and energy sector downturn, recovery and pause. And it’s not just feels – the reality is that Canada has been in last place since 2015. Might have something to do with the GM Justin Trudeau. Just a guess.


Last Season. The last season for Canada was nothing short of hopeless on the energy front. The country started relatively strong but faded fast as the year went on. Expensive free agents TransMountain and Coastal Gas Link got on the field but they are very expensive works in progress and it will be several years before these picks begin to pay off. Assistant Coach Guilbeault didn‘t help matters when he started limiting practice times and benching players for breathing.


Needs: Everything. Seriously. OK, maybe not that seriously but there are holes in this lineup that newly hired Coach Mark Carney needs to address to attract more potential free agents. Probably needs a more focused GM, but that’s for another day.


The Pick. This one is really no surprise. The consensus number one pick in the draft has always been staring any team in Canada right in the face. They need to protect and get the best performance out of their most prized assets. With the first pick in the draft, Canada picks Productivity Improvement through Energy Investment – an online course offered via the Stormont Capital Advisors political outreach program.


Pick Number 2 goes to the Russian team which has fallen on hard times since they started squatting in the minor league Ukrainian teams locker room.


There was a lot of debate as to whether Russia should even be allowed to participate in this year’s draft due to their ongoing criminality, but this is an energy analogy after all and they are a major participant.


Last Season: Led by Vlad “the Impaler” Putin, the Russian Bears tried to bully their way through the season last year but thanks to the fast actions of league commissioner emeritus Mean Joe Biden, most of their trade requests were denied and a clever implementation of a salary cap penalty and embargo meant that they were no longer able to pay their players in anything except pure ethanol. It wasn’t pretty. Everyone except Iran beat them last year. Even their traditional cheating and intimidation did little to help.


Needs: It is hard to say what the Russians need at this point. Their energy team is typically balanced and requires very little tinkering. But invading your neighbour comes with a lot of unintended consequences, some of which include a lot of current customers declining to buy your stuff, the team owners having their assets seized and the minions on your team being ritualistically humiliated by an upstart team from Ukraine. Then they lost the NordStream 1&2 – key players, so things aren’t going great.


If pressed, most people would say Russia needs a new Coach/GM/President and Chief Play Caller if they weren’t afraid that doing so would result in them falling out a window to their death.


Pick: Desperate to reset his team and in a rare moment of clarity, Putin picked peace negotiations with Ukraine to throw his country a much-needed life line. However, Putin picked Tucker Carlson to lead the negotiations and they will predictably likely go nowhere.


Picks number 3 and 4 this year both go to Alberta, home to the league’s only female and ersatz libertarian coach Danielle Smith and plenty of oil and gas. The number 3 pick is “earned” thanks to Alberta’s continued lousy record the past season in the “Renewable Energy In-Season Tournament” while the number 4 overall pick is a second compensatory pick from the United States for the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline project.


Last Season: Compounded by pipeline challenges and delays, multiple pandemic waves and an ongoing civil war with the rest of Canada, the last few seasons have been a bit of a mess for Alberta. Distracted by a brutal battle at the top for the vacant General Manager job, the Alberta team spent much of the year blaming everyone else for their poor performance instead of assessing their weaknesses and starting from scratch. The during pre-season, a bunch of whack jobs who hate football tried to take over the team before being sent to a minor team in the bible belt. After a tough start to the year, the players decided to ignore the front office and get back to basics – a strong ground game, play by the rules, keep your head down and don’t draw attention to yourselves and you will be competitive week after week and ultimately be rewarded. It was a slow start, but the Alberta team closed the year hard and they have so much cap space and money to spend on free agents that even Murray Edwards would blush. Dividends anyone?


Needs: With division rival Russia appearing to be on a downtrend, Venezuela slightly emerging and the Middle East/OPEC trucking along doing their dominance thing, there is an opportunity here for Alberta to step up and maybe even contend for a playoff sport this year, especially sinceTransMountain is opening in a week and Coastal Gas Link/LNG Canada aren’t far behind. However, new coach Danielle Smith is still learning on the job and calls some of the most indefensible plays you can imagine with frightening regularity.


Pick #3: With this pick, Alberta went the safe route and chose to bulk up its defence, and who can blame them after the manhandling they have suffered the last few years. The pick is methane emissions reductions.


Pick #4: With this pick Alberta is faced with a conundrum. Do you take a flyer on a new oil pipeline proposal or a Keystone XL renewal with a Trump back in the White House? A new hockey arena for a vote-rich city? Ultimately this pick came down to the wire and with time almost expiring to make the call, Alberta went with what we view as a panic pick – Eastern Slope Coal Mining. Well, I mean, you can’t get everything right, we all remember Johnny Manziel.


The 5th overall pick this year belonged to China, who often finishes somewhere in the middle, especially when one considers they are primarily a consumer and not producer of energy, currently saddled with a volatile economy.


Last Season: Finishing close to the top half of the league last year was something of a major accomplishment for a talented and disciplined Chinese squad. Especially when one considers that all their training facilities and stadium were put into bankruptcy due to billions in debt. China plays the energy league by building up massive reserves they source from anyone who has a viable option for them no matter how sketchy and not being intimidated by any team in the league. They could have done even better if they hadn’t taken such a huge gamble on supporting the Russian team.


Needs: With strength at virtually every position, the Chinese entry has no glaring needs, so they are free to draft strategically. In the current league incarnation, the real rivalry for the Chinese team is the United States, especially since Tariff Master Joe Biden seems intent on enforcing the salary cap and in letting Taiwan play in the league.


Pick: In a bid to solidify their influence in the league and secure a leading competitive position for years to come before the US team gets its act back together on the foreign influence front, the Chinese team selected Cheaply Made Aircraft Carriers. This non-energy pick will allow China to secure their position in their crowded SE Asian Division.


The 6th overall pick in this draft belonged to Iran and for the longest time, it was radio silence as they searched for their scouting notes, a list of available choices and a video-feed that wasn’t in Russian.


Last Season: Iran was blacklisted for much of the season last year as perennial powers United States and Saudi Arabia did their best to sideline them and keep them out of the playoffs. It was one debacle after another as they found themselves hemmed in with nowhere to send their energy. Then Russia traded some oil and cash for drones and Iran felt relevant again until the other teams started to notice.


Needs: For Iran, it’s pretty simple. They have some of the best assets in the energy league outside of Saudi Arabia but no way to properly use them unless the US lets them which it has been doing but is now reassessing because while their players are honourable sportsmen, the front office is as evil as they get – think Jerry Jones without the restraint.


Pick: In anticipation of finally being allowed back into the league in a meaningful way, Iran needs a flashy pick that will make American fans sit up and take notice. Not believing their luck, the Iranian team manager was for some unexplained reason at Mar-a-Lago and some crazy dude there gave the plans for a nuclear weapon. With that knowledge firmly in place, the Iranians picked Sponsoring Terror and Supporting Russia. Not sure it’s the most well thought out pick to be honest.



The 7th overall pick this year goes to India. India is one of the fastest growing consumers of energy in the world and they have made the most this year of moving up from relegation.


Last Season: In their first season in the big leagues this expansion team made the most of their time, expanding in almost every energy category and lapping up whatever spare capacity the China team left by the wayside. This policy of balance is critical to their goal of building a sustainable juggernaut that can compete with the premiere teams in the league. If the first season is any indication, they are here to stay.


Needs: They have a solid roster but can use improvement in the whole “clean” aspect of their energy expansion. They talk a good game, but their electricity needs are growing so fast that they are burning whatever they can get their hands on to generate electrons, including record amounts of coal, with no end in sight!


The pick: A good GM identifies and ranks multiple weaknesses and when the pick rolls around they hope the best player on the board matches up to one or more of these. In this case, newly re-elected GM Modi made the pick to manage his electrical grid and selected LNG from anywhere in the world but Canada – there is no business case for LNG from Canada as long as that Trudeau guy is in power – Modi hates that guy.



The 8th overall pick went to Renewable Energy a previous expansion team (like India) that managed to translate expansion team draft capital into a multi year run of relevance in what was at one point a pretty fossilized league.


Last Season: Building on their relatively new participation in the league, this team continues to have an outsized impact, using a fast-moving offense to confound opposing teams and seemingly outstrip them with their very high capacity. Players come in waves as if carried on the wind and their fan base is completely bonkers. They even managed to survive a surprising shellacking at the hands of the Alberta team to finish the season on a great run. That said, last year’s draft pick Elon Musk was a bit of a bust.


Needs: The Renewable team is pretty solid at most positions but some of their newer players tend to take time off during night games or, oddly, when there isn’t a cool breeze to help them relax. So, they are looking for someone or something to act as a base load while their mercurial stars wait for their moment in the sun.


Pick: Last year this team drafted Elon Musk for his promotional skills but he didn’t even get on the field so they are determined to not make the same mistake again. Unfortunately it seems they are determined to make the same mistake again since they ended up drafting Leonardo DiCaprio. Maybe they are trying to appeal to a younger female audience. The league as a whole is puzzled.


The 9th overall pick in this draft belongs to the United States, a perennial power who had puzzlingly been shut out of the top two since 2020.


Last Season: Defying all expectations of the punditry class, the United States team set team records at almost every position – oil, gas, coal – and were it not for a late season slide in drilling activity, might have finished first overall.


Needs: While they continue to get steady and expanded production out of their core energy assets, the US team continues to suffer from a lack of cohesion and strategy leading to some pretty disappointing results. GM “Sleepy” Joe Biden is an old school baller who spends his time spinnin’ yarns about the good ole days before all this fancy pants malarkey and, while he is really, really good at spending money and dipping into the farm team (his so-called “Strategic Reserve”), he has deferred too many decisions to assistants who can’t read a depth chart due to the sun and wind in their eyes. Plus they have legacy free-agents like Permania that will have them over the salary cap for years to come.


The Pick. True to form, the United States ignored the advice of the scouts and industry veterans, selecting Massive Tax Increases to Energy Producers. It’s going to be a loooonnnngggg season.



The 10th and last pick of the draft belongs to Saudi Arabia, perennial favourite, founder of this and its onetime rival league OPEC.


Last season: As always, Saudi Arabia started out as the favourite, won the most games, dominated the headlines, the stat sheets, the press, talk radio, the playoffs – you name it. They won the season going away, crushed the spirit of any team they faced and easily locked down the championship. They are the perennial favourite and this coming year will be no different.  They don’t even have cheating scandals to hang around their necks.


Needs: Absolutely none. How do we know that? History. Plus, Saudi Arabia has the bankroll and the cap space to wait anyone out – just ask the United States, or Russia, or Iran, or Venezuela. Even Canada.


The Pick. There is no weakness on their roster. Their farm teams are stacked, they have a massive cost advantage. Last year, they drafted carbon capture and hydrogen, to further crush the spirit of the rest of the league. This year they are going to draft Pete Buttigieg, Joe Biden’s Transport Secretary and my pick as the Dems 2028 presidential nominee. The Saudis think in decades, not two year election cycles like the Americans. This sleeper pick is genius.


Before I leave this flea-bitten, beaten to death analogy, I have to acknowledge the previously discussed Mr. Irrelevant.


So, with pick number #60, which based on how the draft order works typically falls to the #1 draft position team, Canada decided to pick, purely as a flyer, raising taxes on investment. Seems like a winner to me, but who knows.


Now go watch the movie Draft Day.


Vontae Mack. No matter what.

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