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Nov-20-2013 13:24printcomments

The Rapporteur's Reprise...
Halliburton's Elixir In A Fracked-up World Part II - The View From The Boardwalk

I never saw a city boy yet who was worth a damn. - Ernest Hemingway

fracking
Courtesy: blogs.dallasobserver.com

(DAYTONA BEACH) - Coursing through the trackless wastes between Toronto and Winnipeg, our intrepid reporter Rap (short for "rapporteur," just to add a touch of class), taking a leaf from Stephen Colbert (Col-bear) and his Report (pronouced Re-poor), checked in recently. In fact the paper trail of his expense account items continued, meandering across Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania, notably hovering in Camden, N.J. with an item for $139.50 datelined Moe's Jazz Society. But no matter. He's now in Atlantic city and has updated us with a full report.

Malheureusement, Rap has recently uncovered a breaking news item that threatens to derail the whole fracking/pipeline controversy. Until now, the main body of criticism surrounding the shale fracturing program, i.e. the stock in trade of the tree-hugging lefties, has been the desecration of our aquifers and the use of enormous volumes of that old standby fresh drinking water.

Now a nimble Canadian company with the whimsical name of GasFrac, (which sounds suspiciously like the flatulence attributed to cows, and the resulting toxic levels of released methane gas) has come up with the ultimate solution to the problem: no longer is water necessary in shale oil extraction!

Instead, it's now possible to insert a gelatinous liquid petroleum compound into the shale rock formations containing the abundant hydrocarbon deposits that promise to render us free of Middle Eastern petroleum dependency, and as a result allow us to scrap about 50% of our military budget. Isn't that groovy? The gel apparently evaporates under ground, obviating the risk of contamination.

"Energy companies save money," gloats Time Magazine (November 25), with a vast sigh of editorial relief at not having to take either side in the controversy, which might threaten ad revenue. Hey, how many anti-corporate sissies like Robert Redford take out those he-man double-page color spreads like BP's recent educational series: "We're committed to the Gulf?"


Not so fast, Rap cautions us in his most recent dispatch. A certain segment of the industry remains dubious over this recent simplistic innovation. First of all, says an Exxon stockholder relations pamphlet, the gelatinous compound is very expensive and cost-prohibitive, compared with plain old Canadian water that can be grabbed for nothing.

Meanwhile, another sub-industry just a-borning could be clobbered in its infancy. As reported in our earlier release, Halliburton, flushed with the news that its CEO Dave Lesar had quaffed a shot-glass full of fracking water and lived, and the subsequent tech breakthrough of orange-flavored fracking water, had already engaged an entire scientific team to produce a potable orange-flavored beverage that promised to render that abundant Canadian water obsolete.

Moreover, the corporate gears had already meshed exceeding fast, with the roll-out of a bottling plant in Nebraska - right in Warren Buffett's back yard. Why is that significant? Because of course the Wizard of Omaha through his company Berkshire Hathaway, is the largest single stockholder in Cocoa-Cola and had already leaked the news that he might be interested in a leveraged buy-out.

Meanwhile, The Oil House That Cheney Built was already launching marketing surveys for its two new frackwater products, a Coke knock-off known as Halli-Cola, and a lighter effervescent variety called Shale-Up. Consideration had even been given to developing an 80-proof corn product called Blue Grass Bourbon, although this entry was not likely to win favor with the former Veep's staid Wyoming constituents. In any event, with all of these innovations on the front burner, Halliburton and its instant imitators were not about to abandon the new fracked water industry.

Besides, the trashing of all the water basins and aquifers between Moose Jaw and Nashville was only part of the controversy. There was still the matter of piped in pollution and the explosion of toxic liquid gas and well waste to consider, That/'s why Rap extended his research - and corresponding expense account - across the middle western States and the more easterly hinterland all the way to Atlantic City, where his expense account ballooned like Chris Christie's avoirdupois.


New Jersey is a fertile field for fracking students which, along with the casinos may explain Rap's preoccupation with the Garden State. Like several northeastern states, there was formerly a moratorium on fracking until Governor Christie vetoed it, just to prove that he really is a Republican well before the 2016 primaries.

But the joke is that New Jersey doesn't have any natural gas, other than that of the politicians and a deep deposit known as the Newark Basin, which extends illogically mostly into Pennsylvania. Long forgotten is the Bergen Deposit which was exhausted during Prohibition when the Mafia needed a power source for the distilling operations.

Still, Rap reports from his Trump Tower hotel room, New Jersey is a hotbed of fracking news for a host of other reasons. First there is an old adage that when Pennselvania mines, New Jersey gets the shaft. Par exemple, air and water pollution is no respecter of State lines. What happens in Pennsylvania doesn't stay in Pennsylvania, and that includes child abuse in the football industry and dumping of mine residue big time.

Like a born-again Christian fraternity house, there's no fracking in New Jersey, but that doesn't mean there's no adverse effects imported from their neighbors. New Jersey is chock full of compressor stations and pipelines into the Big Apple. If you've smelled the pig farms along the Jersey Turnpike, they're not a patch on the almost daily leaks, explosions and stench connected with gas transmission.

One of New Jersey's primary industries is as a waste repository, with Pennsylvania its biggest client. Thousands of gallons of frack waste and mine tailings too toxic and radioactive for the likes of sensitive Pennsylvanians get trucked on down to the other side of the Delaware, which, if Washington cared to cross it today, he wouldn't need boats, he could walk across.

The heads-up State Senate and Assembly voted to ban all this fracking waste, but Christie vetoed it.

So, pipeline pollution-wise, we pointed out to Rap, you're wasting your time in Jersey. why not get down to Kentucky and check out those nuns demonstrating against the Bluegrass Pipeline. Rap agreed. He liked the odds of the Sisters of Loretto being successful on behalf of the poor children in the State, compared that is to his chances at the blackjack table at Trump's Taj Mehal...

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Bill Annett grew up a writing brat; his father, Ross Annett, at a time when Scott Fitzgerald and P.G. Wodehouse were regular contributors, wrote the longest series of short stories in the Saturday Evening Post's history, with the sole exception of the unsinkable Tugboat Annie.

At 18, Bill's first short story was included in the anthology “Canadian Short Stories.” Alarmed, his father enrolled Bill in law school in Manitoba to ensure his going straight. For a time, it worked, although Bill did an arabesque into an English major, followed, logically, by corporation finance, investment banking and business administration at NYU and the Wharton School. He added G.I. education in the Army's CID at Fort Dix, New Jersey during the Korean altercation.

He also contributed to The American Banker and Venture in New York, INC. in Boston, the International Mining Journal in London, Hong Kong Business, Financial Times and Financial Post in Toronto.

Bill has written six books, including a page-turner on mutual funds, a send-up on the securities industry, three corporate histories and a novel, the latter no doubt inspired by his current occupation in Daytona Beach as a law-abiding beach comber.

You can write to Bill Annett at this address: bilko23@gmail.com

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