November 2020

First oil

No final decision…yet
Kurt Abraham / World Oil

We held out this page and one other for the November issue, thinking that by Nov. 9 (date of this writing), we would have a definitive winner in the U.S. presidential election. But like everything else in 2020, nothing is going according to plan.

Here is what we know. Six days after the Nov. 3 Election Day, four states—Arizona, Georgia, North Carolina and Alaska—were still counting votes. In addition, vote margins in Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin were razor-thin, of which four were less than one percentage point. In addition, scores of allegations of voter fraud came out of these states, along with Michigan. With such tight voting margins in play, these allegations, and their accompanying lawsuits, need investigation. After all, only about 123,000 votes out of a record 147 million could potentially swing the Electoral College. That is 0.08% of the total—far too little a margin not to be contested.

Accordingly, recounts were ordered, and President Donald J. Trump’s campaign was challenging hundreds of thousands of votes in the courts. But that didn’t stop one cable TV network on Nov. 7 from declaring former Vice President Joe Biden the winner, despite the fraud allegations, and even though most states had not certified their results. This prompted a media tsunami, where a number of other network and cable outlets prematurely declared Biden the winner. 

Back to the alleged fraud. Among the list of complaints tallied, 450,000 ballots in several states had been found with only votes for Biden and no down-ballot selections, which really smells. In Pennsylvania, 600,000 ballots were in question, because they were counted without any poll-watchers observing to ensure their legitimacy, as required by state law. In Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, Trump’s teams said that 50 to 60 poll-watchers were prepared to testify that they were deprived of their right to inspect mail-in ballots. 

In addition, investigators will look into reports that vote-counting software programs were used to flip votes in the Detroit area. In Nevada, more than 10,000 non-residents are alleged to have voted there. Additionally, dead people’s names were voted in that state, Pennsylvania and others. Finally, in Philadelphia, Democratic officials had Republican poll watchers thrown out of the vote-counting center, for simply contesting individual ballots.

Thus, a win should not be credited to anybody, until all allegations have been investigated and cleared up. Voters deserve a free, fair and clean election. A failure to guarantee this will make the U.S. just another banana republic, on a larger scale.

Betting on the Vaca Muerta. Congratulations go to Argentina for doing the right thing, as regards the prolific Vaca Muerta shale. President Alberto Fernández’s administration had the courage to pledge a four-year, $5.1-billion subsidy of operators to extract more natural gas, despite sniping by international media. The program will cost Argentina $1.5 billion in 2021, and more than $1 billion in 2022, 2023 and 2024. Energy secretary Diego Martinez said that spending on subsidies is better than importing cargoes of LNG, even if LNG is cheap right now.

A new advisory board member. On Oct. 23, our long-serving editorial advisor, Ben Bloys, retired from Chevron. Accordingly, he is leaving our board, but we are pleased that he will continue to help us on one project in particular, and we will enjoy his continued input. Ben has been a rock-solid pillar of the board, and we salute him for over a decade of service.

Taking over Ben’s spot on the board is another distinguished Chevron professional, Daniel Emery. Daniel is the Chapter Manager for Surveillance, Analysis and Optimization (SA&O) and Pilots, leading a team of experts that provide technology and services in the areas of subsurface surveillance R&D, dynamic well characterization, and piloting. He earned a BS degree in petroleum engineering from the University of Texas at Austin in 2002. Welcome aboard, Daniel!

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Kurt Abraham
World Oil
Kurt Abraham
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