Buzzards in the Pipelines
Sightings from The Catbird Seat
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May 14, 2010
Obama pledges end to 'cozy' oil relationships
By ERICA WERNER, Associated Press Writer
AP – President Barack Obama, walks out the Oval Office of the White House with Sec. of Interior Ken Salazar …
WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama angrily decried the "ridiculous spectacle" of oil industry officials pointing fingers of blame for the catastrophic spill in the Gulf of Mexico and pledged on Friday to end a "cozy relationship" between the oil industry and federal regulators that he said had extended into his own administration.
Obama said he shared the "anger and frustration" felt by many Americans, and he acknowledged differing estimates about just how disastrous the damage from the leak could become. He said the administration's response has "always been geared toward the possibility of a catastrophic event."
As Obama spoke in the White House Rose Garden, undersea robots in the Gulf tried to thread a small tube into the jagged pipe that is spewing oil into the water. The blown-out well has pumped out more than 4 million gallons of crude.
BP engineers were trying to move the 6-inch tube into the leaking 21-inch pipe, known as a riser. The smaller tube was to be surrounded by a stopper to keep oil from leaking into the sea. BP said it hoped to know by Friday evening if the tube succeeded in taking the oil to a tanker at the surface.
The Gulf spill is not only a potential environmental and economic catastrophe. It also is a major political challenge for Obama to demonstrate that his administration is doing everything it can to deal with the disaster. An AP-GfK poll this week found that to this point the spill hasn't stained Obama nor dimmed the public's desire for offshore energy drilling. Although some conservative pundits have called this "Obama's Katrina," that's not how the public feels.
Obama slammed BP and other companies responsible for equipment involved in the spill for pointing fingers at each other instead of accepting responsibility.
But he said responsibility rests with the federal government, too, and that oil drilling permits had been granted without appropriate environmental reviews.
"That cannot and will not happen anymore," Obama said. He announced a new examination of the environmental reviews that must happen before oil and gas development goes forward.
With millions of gallons of oil fouling the fragile Gulf ecosystem after a drilling rig exploded April 20 and later sank, Obama said: "It's pretty clear that the system failed and it failed badly." Eleven workers were killed in the accident.
"There is enough responsibility to go around, and all parties should be willing to accept it," the president said.
He said he would not be satisfied until the leak was stopped, the spill was cleaned up and all claims were paid.
This week executives from three oil companies — BP PLC, which was drilling the well, Transocean, which owned the rig, and Halliburton, which was doing cement work to cap the well — testified on Capitol Hill, each trying to blame the other for what may have caused the disaster. Obama decried that scene.
"I did not appreciate what I considered to be a ridiculous spectacle during the congressional hearings into this matter. You had executives of BP and Transocean and Halliburton falling over each other to point the finger of blame at somebody else," the president said.
"The American people could not have been impressed with that display, and I certainly wasn't."
Not long before the spill the president had announced plans for a limited expansion of offshore oil drilling. After the catastrophe, he said those plans would be put on hold pending a 30-day review by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar of safety procedures on oil rigs and at wells.
On Friday the president announced there would be more stringent environmental reviews, too.
The Interior Department said those will focus on whether the Minerals Management Service is following all environmental laws before issuing permits for offshore oil and gas development.
"For too long, for a decade or more, there has been a cozy relationship between the oil companies and the federal agency that permits them to drill. It seems as if permits were too often issued based on little more than assurances of safety from the oil companies," Obama said.
Echoing President Ronald Reagan's comment on nuclear arms agreements with Moscow, he said, "To borrow an old phrase, we will trust but we will verify."
Still, Obama didn't back down from his support for domestic oil drilling, saying it "continues to be one part of an overall energy strategy."
"But it's absolutely essential that, going forward, we put in place every necessary safeguard and protection so that a tragedy like this oil spill does not happen again," he said.
COUNTDOWN WITH KEITH OLBERMANN
May 5, 2010
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MORE OIL SPILLS AND GOVERNMENT GREASE IN...
THE CATBIRD’S NEST
May 4, 2010
XL has $30 million exposure to Gulf oil disaster
SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) -- XL Capital Ltd.Chief Executive Mike McGavick said late Tuesday that the insurance and reinsurance giant has $30 million of exposure to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
This is from claims tied to property damage to the Deepwater Horizon rig itself, he explained during a conference call with analysts.
"It's much too early to know what the insurable losses are on the total basis and what portion of these losses XL might cover but we can say this. We believe that our total property damage exposure to the rig itself is approximately $30 million including $5 million in reinstatement premiums and we have in fact already paid much of this in claims," McGavick said.
"That would equate to a roughly $900 million industry event."
* * *
XL: INSURANCE FROM HELL!
May 3, 2010
Ace believes forecast already
covers oil disaster
By The Associated Press
Property and casualty insurer Ace Ltd. said Monday it does not expect to change its accident loss estimates for this year due to the Gulf Coast oil spill off the Louisiana coast.
Ace said it "believes this event is contained within the current accident year loss ratios for 2010 as contemplated in its annual guidance." Ace cautioned that there is still some uncertainty, since the disaster is still playing out.
In January, Ace forecast full-year operating income of $6.25 to $6.75 per share, including estimated catastrophe after-tax losses of $317 million.
The Deepwater Horizon oil spill was caused by an April 20 oil rig explosion and sinking of an offshore platform that killed 11 people. An oil slick is lapping at southeastern Louisiana's ecologically sensitive coast. On Monday, oil producer BP PLC said it will pay for all the cleanup costs from the spill.
Ace is a unit of ACE Group, based in Zurich, Switzerland. Shares of Ace fell 20 cents to $52.99 in morning trading.
05/03/2010 1:29PM ET
Last week, reinsurer PartnerRe Ltd. estimated that pretax insured losses from the explosion have the potential to exceed $1 billion. The Bermuda-based company forecast that its second-quarter results would include explosion-related claims of $60 million to $70 million.
ACE UP THE SLEEVE
April 29, 2008
BP and Shell post big profits
in era of record oil prices
By JANE WARDELL, AP Business Writer
BP PLC and Royal Dutch Shell PLC, Europe's two biggest oil producers, posted forecast-busting first-quarter earnings on Tuesday thanks to record crude oil prices that are expected to bolster profits across the industry.
The combined profits of $17 billion reignited calls for a windfall tax on oil profits as consumers struggle to pay for food and fuel.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown suggested that some of those profits should be reinvested in costly exploration for new oil reserves in the North Sea.
BP posted a 63 percent surge in first-quarter net profit to $7.6 billion (4.9 billion euros), while Shell reported a 25 percent rise, to a record $9.08 billion (5.81 billion euros).
Revenue at BP jumped 44 percent to $89.2 billion (57.1 billion euros), while sales at Shell soared 55 percent to $114 billion (72.95 billion euros).
Last week ConocoPhillips reported a 16 percent rise in net income to $4.14 billion. Like BP and Shell, the third biggest U.S. producer far outpaced industry expectations. More big profits are expected from the biggest two U.S. companies, Exxon Mobil Corp. and Chevron Corp., when they report first-quarter earnings later this week.
Crude oil hit $111.80 per barrel during the quarter, while gas jumped an average of 22 percent. Crude has pushed even higher since, reaching a record $119.93 per-barrel this week.
BP shares jumped 6 percent to 613 pence ($12.18), while Shell rose 4.5 percent to 25.83 euros ($40.39).
The enormous profit reports from European companies coincided with the end of a two-day refinery strike in Britain that shut off 700,000 barrels of oil per day, brought from the North Sea to a BP plant.
Truck drivers staged a protest in London's Park Lane on Tuesday, blaring their horns to protest a 30 percent rise in the price of diesel over the past year. A similar protest took place in Washington, D.C. on Monday, and it wasn't the first.
"The price of fuel is becoming something many families are struggling with," said Sheila Ranger, a spokeswoman for the RAC Foundation, a commuter advocacy group. "This will be the last straw for some motorists."
Shell's Chief Financial Officer Peter Voser said oil companies are not to blame.
"We don't understand the oil price at this stage," he said. "The fundamentals will not justify an oil price as we see it at the moment."
Shell's earnings from oil production rose 52 percent to $5.14 billion (3.3 billion euros), due almost entirely to the price increases. The company said combined production of gas and oil equivalents increased by less than 1 percent to 3.4 million barrels per day, as a 9 percent rise in gas production outweighed a 6 percent fall in oil production.
Stripping out the impact of oil inventories that have risen in value, refining profits would have fallen 20 percent, Shell said.
"It seems that better marketing and trading were able to offset the weak refining environment," analyst Alexandre Weinberg of Petercam.
Shell has invested heavily to improve production after a string of setbacks, including an accounting scandal in 2004. More recently, it has faced attacks on its pipelines in Nigeria and a forced sale of part of its stake in a major project on Russia's Sakhalin Island to a state-run enterprise.
BP's profit follows an even rougher period for the company from production outages, U.S. environmental fines and fraud and the scandal-tinged departure of its chief executive.
Chief Executive Tony Hayward, who took over from John Browne a year ago, has focused on bringing new production and refining capacity on line to improve earnings.
"At last, it appears that BP is beginning to improve its operational performance and this looks set to drive a stronger financial performance in the second half," said Tony Shephard, analyst at Charles Stanley & Co.
BP's closely watched replacement cost profit rose 48 percent to $6.59 billion (4.34 billion euros), compared with $4.44 billion in the first quarter of 2007. The replacement cost figure is viewed by many analysts as the best measure of an oil company's underlying performance because it excludes changes in the value of crude inventories, measuring the amount it would cost to replace assets at current prices.
The company said refining availability improved for the sixth successive quarter.
“BP is still not firing on all cylinders but its operational turnaround looks to be on track with a strong second half recovery in prospect," said Charles Stanley & Co. analyst Tony Shephard.
December 14, 2006
Possible Action Against BP for Gasoline
Trading Violations Shows Need for
Congressional Oversight of Oil Industry
Statement of Tyson Slocum, Director,
Public Citizen’s Energy Program
Oil giant BP on Wednesday admitted in a filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission that U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission staff “notified BP on November 21, 2006 that they intend to recommend to the CFTC that a civil enforcement action be brought against BP … alleging violations … of the Commodity Exchange Act in connection with its trading of unleaded gasoline futures. … The U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois is also conducting an investigation into BP’s gasoline trading.”
The announcement also confirmed that “the Commodity Futures Trading Commission is currently investigating various aspects of BP’s crude oil trading and storage activities in the US since 2003.”
This comes after the trading commission brought charges in June accusing BP of manipulating the nation’s propane market, resulting in jacked-up prices for consumers.
This corroborates what Public Citizen has said for years: uncompetitive oil and gas markets, caused by the recent wave of mergers, allow oil companies to manipulate supplies and gouge consumers. This shows that the run-up in prices over the past several years may be explained, in part, to Enron-style market manipulation by major oil companies.
In congressional testimony and in reports such as “Hot Profits and Global Warming: How Oil Companies Hurt Consumers and the Environment,” Public Citizen has detailed the ways in which big oil companies pad their profits by engaging in anti-competitive practices. These abusive practices not only apparently violate the law but cause consumers to pay more at the pump than they should.
In light of this admission, Public Citizen urges Congress to:
> Initiate a sweeping investigation, using subpoena power, of the trading, storage and transportation practices of the major oil companies operating in America. The current commission investigation of BP is too narrow, and Congress must examine whether such practices are widespread throughout the industry. Such an investigation must include Wall Street investment banks and hedge funds, which play an increasingly large role in oil and gas trading markets.
> Re-regulate energy trading exchanges to restore transparency and impose firewalls to stop energy traders from speculating on information gleaned from the companies’ affiliates.
> Strengthen anti-trust oversight over the oil industry, including revisiting whether recently approved mergers have made markets less competitive.
For more on commodities trading, GO TO > > > Dirty Gold in Goldman Sachs
September 2, 2006
U.S. Investigates BP
for Market Manipulation
The bad times keep getting worse for British oil and gas company BP LLC. After a Texas refinery explosion in 2005 and Alaska pipeline problems throughout this year, the company now faces a federal investigation that it allegedly manipulated crude oil and gasoline markets.
The Wall Street Journal broke the story, citing lawyers and traders close to the case. According to the Journal, the company is being probed for two separate incidents.
First, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) sent BP subpoenas related to the manipulation of the global over-the-counter crude-oil market over the course of 2003 and 2004.
The other probe, led by the Justice Department, is looking into the manipulation of gasoline markets trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange on a single day in 2002, says the Journal.
BP, the world’s second-largest oil company, already faces charges for manipulation of the propane market as well, including one civil case and a criminal charge against a BP trader, says MarketWatch.
The Journal notes that BP has already had a run-in with the New York Mercantile Exchange, settling charges of improper crude oil trading for $2.5 million. The company also faced an inquiry by the CFTC, but it was closed without charges.
August 9, 2006
BRITISH PETROLEUM'S "SMART PIG"
The Brilliantly Profitable Timing of
the Alaska Oil Pipeline Shutdown
by Greg Palast, For The Guardian (UK)
Is the Alaska Pipeline corroded? You bet it is. Has been for more than a decade. Did British Petroleum shut the pipe yesterday to turn a quick buck on its negligence, to profit off the disaster it created? Just ask the "smart pig."
Years ago, I had the unhappy job of leading an investigation of British Petroleum's management of the Alaska pipeline system. I was working for the Chugach villages, the Alaskan Natives who own the shoreline slimed by the 1989 Exxon Valdez tanker grounding.
Even then, courageous government inspectors and pipeline workers were screaming about corrosion all through the pipeline. I say "courageous" because BP, which owns 46% of the pipe and is supposed to manage the system, had a habit of hunting down and destroying the careers of those who warn of pipeline problems.
In one case, BP's CEO of Alaskan operations hired a former CIA expert to break into the home of a whistleblower, Chuck Hamel, who had complained of conditions at the pipe's tanker facility. BP tapped his phone calls with a US congressman and ran a surveillance and smear campaign against him. When caught, a US federal judge said BP's acts were "reminiscent of Nazi Germany."
This was not an isolated case. Captain James Woodle, once in charge of the pipe's Valdez terminus, was blackmailed into resigning the post when he complained of disastrous conditions there. The weapon used on Woodle was a file of faked evidence of marital infidelity. Nice guys, eh?
Now let's talk timing. BP's suddenly discovered corrosion necessitating an emergency shut-down of the line is the same corrosion Dan Lawn has been screaming about for 15 years. Lawn is a steel-eyed government inspector who has kept his job only because his union's lawyers have kept BP from having his head.
Indeed, it's pretty darn hard for BP to claim it is surprised to find corrosion this week when Lawn issued a damning report on corrosion right after a leak and spill were discovered on March 2 of this year.
Why shut the pipe now? The timing of a sudden inspection and fix of a decade-long problem has a suspicious smell. A precipitous shutdown in mid-summer, in the middle of Middle East war(s), is guaranteed to raise prices and reap monster profits for BP. The price of crude jumped $2.22 a barrel on the shutdown news to over $76. How lucky for BP which sells four million barrels of oil a day. Had BP completed its inspection and repairs a couple years back -- say, after Dan Lawn's tenth warning -- the oil market would have hardly noticed.
But $2 a barrel is just the beginning of BP's shut-down bonus. The Alaskan oil was destined for the California market which now faces a supply crisis at the very height of the summer travel season. The big winner is ARCO petroleum, the largest retailer in the Golden State. ARCO is a 100%-owned subsidiary of … British Petroleum.
BP could have fixed the pipeline problem this past winter, after their latest corrosion-caused oil spill. But then ARCO would have lost the summertime supply-squeeze windfall.
Enron Corporation was infamous for deliberately timing repairs to maximize profit. Would BP also manipulate the market in such a crude manner? Some US prosecutors think they did so in the US propane market. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) just six weeks ago charged the company with approving an Enron-style scheme to crank up the price of propane sold in poor rural communities in the US. One former BP exec has pleaded guilty.
Lord Browne, the imperious CEO of BP, has apologized for that scam, for the Alaska spill, for this week's shutdown and for the deaths in 2005 of 15 workers at the company's mortally sloppy refinery operation at Texas City, Texas.
I don't want readers to think BP isn't civic-minded. The company's US CEO, Bob Malone, was Co-Chairman of the Bush re-election campaign in Alaska. Mr. Bush, in turn, was so impressed with BP's care of Alaska's environment that he pushed again to open the state's arctic wildlife refuge (ANWR) to drilling by the BP consortium.
Indeed, you can go to Alaska today and see for yourself the evidence of BP's care of the wilderness. You can smell it: the crude oil still on the beaches from the Exxon Valdez spill.
Exxon took all the blame for the spill because they were dumb enough to have the company's name on the ship. But it was BP's pipeline managers who filed reports that oil spill containment equipment was sitting right at the site of the grounding near Bligh Island. However, the reports were bogus, the equipment wasn't there and so the beaches were poisoned. At the time, our investigators uncovered four-volume's worth of faked safety reports and concluded that BP was at least as culpable as Exxon for the 1,200 miles of oil-destroyed coastline.
Nevertheless, m'Lord Browne preens himself with his corporation's environmental record. We know BP cares about nature because they have lots of photos of solar panels in their annual reports -- and they've painted every one of their gas stations green.
The green paint-job is supposed to represent the oil giant's love of Mother Nature. But the good Lord, Mr. Browne, knows it stands for the color of the Yankee dollar.
BP claims the profitable timing of its Alaska pipe shutdown can be explained because they've only now run a "smart pig" through the pipes to locate the corrosion. The "pig" is an electronic drone that BP should have been using continuously, though they had not done so for 14 years.
The fact that, in the middle of an oil crisis, they've run it through now, forcing the shutdown, reminds me, when I consider Lord Browne's closeness to George Bush, that the company's pig is indeed, very, very smart.
~ ~ ~
Greg Palast, an energy economist and investigative reporter, is the author of "Exxon Valdez: A Well-Designed Disaster." His reports can be seen on BBC Television's Newsnight, Democracy Now! and in Harper's Magazine.
Alyeska Pipeline Service Company
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
The Alyeska consortium refers to the major oil companies that own and operate the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) through the Alyeska Pipeline Service Company.
Alyeska was founded in 1970 to design and construct the pipeline to transport oil from the fields in northern Alaska where oil was discovered in 1968. It was built between March 1975 and June 1977, running from the North Slope fields at Prudhoe Bay to the Marine Terminal at Valdez on Prince William Sound. Aleyska then went on to operate and maintain TAPS. The first oil flowed into the pipeline on June 20, 1977 and the first tanker load departed from Valdez on August 1, 1977.
The major owner of the company is BP with 46.93% of the shares.
The other group members are ConocoPhillips Transportation (28.29%), Exxon Mobil (20.34%), Koch Alaska Pipeline Company (3.08%), and Unocal (1.36%).
The government responsibility in regulating TAPS is managed through the Joint Pipeline Office (, JPO), a consortium of thirteen federal and state agencies under the Department of the Interior.
The company is named after an Aleut word meaning "mainland". It is headquartered in Anchorage and has around 900 employees.
The thirty-year TAPS State and Federal land leases were due to expire in 2004. The State Lease was renewed for another thirty years on November 26, 2002 and a matching Federal Record of Decision for Right-of-Way was signed on January 8, 2003.
From The Nature Conservancy website:
Through its partnership with BP the Conservancy has been able to advance its conservation objectives in a number of significant projects.
Since 1978, BP (including BP America, Amoco, BP Amoco, and Arco) has contributed $8 million to The Nature Conservancy.
Examples of BP support of the Conservancy include:
- helping preserve habitat of the Channel Islands kit fox (California)
- building capacity for public and private conservation (Indonesia)
- TNC and BP are participants in the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance (CCBA) - aimed at producing design and operating standards for bio-sequestration projects.
- BP has supported field-testing CCBA standards at the Noel Kempff climate action project (Bolivia)
- donating ecologically significant land within a priority conservation area (Virginia)
- researching climate impacts on ecological systems (Alaska).
- The Conservancy and BP are participants the Energy and Biodiversity Initiative (EBI) – an alliance that has created recommended operating practices for accessing and working in sensitive areas. This initiative is now being promoted by the main petroleum industry associations.
BP has provided $1 million to support building capacity for public and private conservation in Indonesia. Through this support, the Conservancy joined with nine Indonesian and international organizations to establish the Conservation Training & Resource Center (CTRC). The Center's mission is to build capacity for conservation in Indonesia by developing a conservation curriculum and providing training including course materials for natural resource managers as well as broader audiences such as conservation organizations, university teachers and students and government officials.
In addition, the Conservancy has benefited from the commitment of BP staff as advisors to our International Leadership Council and as volunteer chapter trustees.
October 30, 2000
Dalai Lama Tries to Halt
Exploitation of Tibet
Half a century after Communist Chinese troops occupied Tibet, the exiled Dalai Lama is fighting new invaders-- oilmen, gold prospectors, loggers and ranchers.
Armed with drills and chainsaws, the new arrivals are turning capital Lhasa into a boomtown.
China is throwing open what it calls its "Western treasure house" of natural resources: half of the world's lithium reserves, China's largest chromium deposits, its third largest copper mine and untold quantities of diamonds.
In doing so, it is rapidly absorbing the Himalayan region into the mainstream Chinese economy, a strategic goal that has eluded Beijing ever since Chairman Mao's People's Liberation Army troops marched in 50 years ago this month.
With Tibet's prosperity tied closely to Beijing, Communist authorities trust hearts and minds will follow.
For the Dalai Lama's government-in-exile, forced modernization is a serious challenge.
It cannot be seen as opposing an improvement in the living standards of poor Tibetans. Yet it fears much of the investments designed to benefit a flood of Chinese immigrants and tighten China's political control....
Already, sharp-suited young businessmen can be seen on the streets of Lhasa brandishing mobile phones and wads of cash as they trawl karaoke saloons lined with prostitutes.
The Tibetan capital has a bustling stock-exchange office where investors can trade shares in listed local firms....
Just this month, Tibet's top official, Legqog, was telling investors in Hong Kong that the Himalayan region's main goal was to "integrate into the global economy."
"You get rich; we get developed," he declared.
Yet with no power in Beijing, the Dalai Lama is trying to slow the economic transformation of his homeland by putting pressure on multinational corporations and lending agencies.
His supporters were encouraged by a successful campaign against a World Bank loan to resettle poor Chinese farmers in traditional Tibetan lands.
Now they have set their sights on a gas pipeline in China's north-western province of Qinghai on the Tibetan plateau being built by Chinese company PetroChina, in which British oil giant BP Amoco has a stake. They are also up in arms over planned oil prospecting in Tibet itself.
"These projects, as they are now conceived, will cause harm to the Tibetan people," the statement by the government-in-exile said. "Projects that adversely affect Tibetan society and environment must be immediately stopped and redesigned or canceled."
The Reach of Oil in the Arctic: Alaska, USA
By Pamela A. Miller, Arctic Connections
Published by Greenpeace USA
Multinational oil corporations are investing billions of dollars to expand exploration and production across the Arctic. In their wake, they will leave behind toxic pollution and harm sensitive ecosystems. This renewed push for new extraction will increase emissions of carbon dioxide thus contributing to global climate change -- including in this frontier region where warming is already happening.
An unprecedented rate of new oil field construction is taking place in America's Arctic, across Alaska's North Slope and offshore in the Beaufort Sea, without comprehensive environmental review.
In the next five years, BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc. (British Petroleum) and ARCO Alaska, Inc. (ARCO) -- companies which own 71% of North Slope leases -- plan to drill 1,000 new wells and spend US$5.2 billion expanding production at existing oil fields, bringing new offshore and nearby satellite fields on line, and in exploration of frontier areas.
Already, Prudhoe Bay and 14 other producing oil fields have dramatically transformed a vast Arctic wilderness. The oil fields already sprawl over 800 square miles (2,072 square km) of Alaska's State lands. Anticipated development of known fields will substantially spread an industrial complex on lands to the east and west of Prudhoe Bay and rapidly transform the Beaufort Sea.
Offshore oil development like British Petroleum's proposed Northstar oil field involves unproven technology such as subsea oil pipelines buried in the permafrost seabed with risks of major oil spills below the Arctic Ocean ice.
In the history of Alaska, the oil industry has never had as cozy a relationship with government as today. The pro-oil State legislature recently made laws on tax, royalty, and leasing terms more favorable to the corporations. Oil field expansion has also been spurred by decreased costs due to computer and technology advances and cost-cutting management so that it is now economical to produce from smaller oil fields than it has been previously.
In the past, industry and government said the Trans-Alaska Pipeline would run out soon, but industry now states that North Slope production will equal or exceed current levels by the year 2000, and foresees that Prudhoe Bay and nearby fields will keep pumping until 2030-40 without new discoveries or production from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
To date, 32 oil fields have been discovered on the North Slope. On the periphery of the producing fields there may be 50-60 more satellite fields. The State of Alaska estimates that 7 billion more barrels of oil will be pumped from known North Slope fields by 2015; however, its official projections have consistently underestimated future production.
The oil industry is not only bringing vast amounts of known oil reserves into production, but it is pressing to explore in sensitive frontier areas. For example, ARCO's offshore Warthog well is located in the migratory path of bowhead whales in Camden Bay along the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge coast.
The State of Alaska plans vast offshore lease sales in the nearshore zone of the entire Beaufort Sea and giant area-wide sales for all of its North Slope lands that will continue domination of these areas by the oil companies into the next century.
The Clinton administration has been steadfast in its opposition to opening to oil drilling the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, a protected area in the northeast corner of Alaska. But it has been friendly to multinational oil corporations in other ways, such as the signing of legislation ending the ban on export of North Slope crude oil Alaskan oil is now tankered to China, Japan, and Korea. The U.S. Minerals Management Service continues planning to offer vast Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) areas in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas to leasing.
For the first time in over a decade, the U.S. Interior Department plans for new leasing in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska. British Petroleum, ARCO, Exxon, and Chevron continue to press to open the last 5% of the North Slope wilderness not available to them for drilling or development -- the coastal plain of America's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
This expansion of the oil industry now underway will have enormous impacts on the wildlife habitats and the homeland of Native people in the Arctic. The productive "Arctic ring of life" where the zone of ice meets the shoreline will be changed forever....
Read the complete article at...
BP and the Tangguh test
A multi-billion dollar gas project in a
remote Papuan bay needs scrutiny
From Inside Indonesia
Down to Earth
In recent years BP - the world's third largest oil group - has become recognised in industry circles as one of the greenest and most socially responsible energy multinationals.
It is 'pro-engagement': the company courts NGO opinion, funds conservation organisations and has signed various agreements committing it to respect human rights and protect the environment. The company claims green credentials by investing in solar power and cutting greenhouse gas emissions within its own operations.
NGOs and communities with direct experience of BP's operations see another side of BP which clashes with the public image. BP has been accused of collusion in human rights abuses in Colombia and has clashed with indigenous forest-dwellers in Venezuela's Orinoco delta. Further controversy has focused on projects and investments in Angola, Tibet, Sudan and Alaska. These all point to a yawning gap between words and deeds.
The company insists its new Tangguh liquefied natural gas (LNG) project in West Papua's Bintuni Bay should not be judged by past projects - but what other concrete evidence is there to go on?
It is also worth looking at BP's main partner in the Tangguh project. This is Pertamina, the notoriously corrupt state-owned oil company which has a dirty record on human rights too. Pertamina is in partnership with Exxon Mobil in Aceh where troops paid to guard the gas installations have committed a series of well-documented human rights abuses.
For the people living in villages around Bintuni Bay BP's project will mean irreversible change. Over 500 people will be moved from their homes in Tanah Merah to a newly created village 3.5 km to the west in Saengga.
Forests will be cut - with resulting loss of resources and biodiversity.
Gas platforms, pipelines, processing plant, port facilities, airstrip and employee accommodation will be built on the 3,416 ha project site.
In Bintuni Bay, shipping will increase and local fishing activities will be disrupted. There will be an influx of outsiders as workers are brought in to construct the facilities.
Many of the changes to the physical environment can be predicted and plans can be drawn up to minimise some of the negative effects. This is what BP is attempting to do through the environmental impact analysis (Andal) process.
But other changes are not so easily foreseen. These include the key question of security at the site - and arrangements for guarding the site will depend on external, factors outside the company's control.
There is great concern that the Indonesian military (TNI) will initiate conflict in nearby areas in order to justify the need for a strong security presence at the site. Villagers have expressed fear about the military in various meetings with BP staff.
People in Sidomakmur, for example, a village that lies within what BP describes as the 'indirectly affected area', were 'very concerned that the Tangguh Project might use the military in their operations. They have had experiences with the military guarding the sawmill and logging operations'.
Last year's military repression in Wasior, in which ten people were killed, others 'disappeared' and many homes burned down, has already been linked to the Tangguh project.
Papuan observers point out that the killing of five police mobile brigade (Brimob) officers which sparked intensive military operations in Wasior, was timed to coincide with the visit of the British Ambassador to the region in June last year. The implied intention was to send a strong message to BP that they cannot do without the 'help' of the security forces.
For the TNI, big projects have always meant big opportunities for extra pay to guard project sites - a situation that has led to a sharp increase in the incidence of human rights abuses - at the Freeport/ Rio Tinto mine in West Papua and at Exxon Mobil's gas installations in Aceh.
In the Bintuni Bay area itself, there is already a Brimob presence which has had negative consequences for local people. According to the Far Eastern Economic Review, the Djayanti Group, which has timber, plantations and fishing interests in Bintuni Bay, pays a 20-man police detachment 'to enforce land grabs from local residents.'
When confronted with questions on security, BP staff insist they want to reduce dependence on the military - at one stage the idea of creating a 'military-free zone' at Tangguh was floated. The company's 'Community Development Strategy' document says that trust and acceptance by the local community will be crucial: 'We pledge to work with Pertamina to ensure critical national resources are protected primarily through our acceptance by the local populace as a responsible, and welcome member of the community; thus eliminating the need for extraordinary efforts by security forces to preserve and protect people and facilities.'
How BP will deal with military opposition to this plan has not been publicly outlined yet. This is one of the issues that BP's human rights impacts study should be looking at. The study is being conducted by Bennett Freeman, a member of the Clinton administration's state department staff, contracted by BP.
Freeman was one of the main architects of the US/ UK Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights which BP signed up for. Before leaving for West Papua, he contacted the UK-based NGO, Tapol and was keen to find out who, if not the TNI, would be suitable candidates for guarding the facilities. The possibility of 'buying off' the TNI was also raised.
The price may be high. The security forces are in a strong position to make demands and there is very little political will on the part of President Megawati to exercise any meaningful control over the military.
The so-called 'security approach' used by president Suharto for dealing with unrest in West Papua and other trouble spots is back in vogue under Megawati, after her predecessor's attempts at dialogue were thwarted.
In November Megawati's senior minister for political and security affairs, Bambang Yudhoyono Susilo, announced that a further 32,500 police and soldiers would be sent to conflict areas including West Papua and Aceh. The following month, Megawati said the military should 'be firm in carrying out their job and not to be worried about accusations of human rights abuses'....
Codes of conduct
The British government's very public support for Tangguh reflects a high level of confidence in Indonesia's investment opportunities. According to British energy minister Brian Wilson, Britain was Indonesia's biggest investor in the oil/ gas sector in the year 2000 and second largest overall after Japan. Over the last thirty years Britain has invested more than any other country apart from the US in the oil/ gas sector.
Wilson, who visited Indonesia in November last year, said that BP had committed to a total of US$11 billion in investments, with $1.9 billion in current capital to be spent on Indonesian projects, including Tangguh. In total BP planned to invest $3-4 billion developing Tangguh.'We continue to see great opportunities for cooperation in energy', he said.
Business codes of conduct or business principles have been developed by multinational companies, NGOs, governments and international bodies such as the UN agencies, and the EU in response to public pressure for companies to be socially and environmentally responsible. While many of the objectives in these codes are positive, their main drawback is that they are voluntary. There are no sanctions if the principles are not followed and there is no independent outside body to monitor compliance.
Indigenous communities attending a meeting on mining in London last year argued that voluntary initiatives are not acceptable. A statement drawn up by participants said:
'In recent years the mining industry has become more aggressive and sophisticated in manipulating national and international laws and policies to suit its interests. The mining laws of more than seventy countries have been changed in the past two decades. Laws protecting indigenous peoples and the environment are undermined
'For this reason NGOs supporting indigenous groups want "politically and legally enforceable measures that will hold the mining industry accountable, above all to mining and exploration-affected communities.' (London Declaration 20/Sep/01)
- Down to Earth is the UK-based international campaign for ecological justice in Indonesia. Extracted with permission from its February 2002 newsletter (DtE 52).
Bush’s Corporate Cabinet:
Secretary of Defense
Ex-CEO of General Instrument Corp. (1990-1993). Ex-CEO Searle pharmaceuticals (1977-1985).
Leading proponent of National Missile Defense [See “Star Wars, Continued,” Multinational Monitor, October 2000].
Estimated total assets between $61 million and $242.5 million. Financial disclosure report is 78 pages long (not including appendices).
Chair of Salomon Smith Barney’s international advisory board.
Directorships: Kellogg Company (7/85 - 4/99); ABB; Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. (1/93 - 9/99); Forstmann Little & Co. (5/90 - 1/00); Amylin Pharmaceutical; Gilead Sciences, Inc., chair of board; Chicago Tribune Company; OverX, Inc.; Investor AB (advisor); Metricom, Inc. (advisory board); Hamilton Group (advisory board); Transaction
Info. Systems (advisory board); Dreyfus Corp. (nine mutual fund boards); Northrop Grumman Electronic Sensors and Systems Sector (advisory board); Hasbro, Inc.
Other positions: Balkan Action Council, Bilderberg Meetings; World Economic Forum (advisor); U.S. Committee on NATO (executive board); government of Singapore (International Academic Advisory Panel); BP-Amoco (consultant); the Limited Service Corp. (consultant); Bretton Woods Committee; National Strategy Forum; Alexis de Tocqueville Institution-National Security Program; Center for Strategic and International Studies Global Organization on Crime (steering committee); Committee for Common Defense; Alfalfa Club; Bohemian Club.
Pete Aldridge, undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics. CEO of Aerospace Corporation.
Victoria Clarke, assistant secretary of defense for public affairs. General manager of Washington office of Hill & Knowlton.
Gordon England, secretary of the Navy. General Dynamics executive.
William James Haynes, general counsel. Partner at Jenner & Bloch law firm.
James Roche, secretary of the Air Force, Northrup Grumman executive.
David S.C. Shu, under secretary for personnel and readiness. Vice president of RAND Corporation’s army research division.
Thomas White, secretary of the Army. Enron executive.
Paul Wolfowitz, deputy secretary. Received $300,000 from Hughes Electronics as co-chair of Nunn-Wolfowitz task force; Dean of Johns Hopkins U. School of Advanced International Studies
September 7, 2001 <<< NOTE THE DATE!
Tesoro buys more refineries
Pacific Business News (Honolulu)
Tesoro Petroleum Corp., owner of the larger of two petroleum refineries on Oahu, has completed the purchase of two more refineries for a total of five.
BP, the former Sinclair oil company until purchased decades ago by British Petroleum, sold Tesoro its refineries in Salt Lake City and Mandan, N.D. The purchase was brokered by Lehman Brothers and was financed with debt.
Tesoro now has daily refining capacity of almost 400,000 barrels, making it the second-largest independent refiner and marketer in the West. Its marketing system includes more than 600 branded retail stations, about 160 company-owned.
For more, GO TO > > > Vultures up to their beaks in Tesoro Petroleum
~ ~ ~
TAGGING THE BUZZARDS
Having trouble keeping track of all the buzzards in
the midst of the merger mania? Here’s help...
~ ~ ~
MORE COMING DOWN THE PIPE LINE
FOR SOME CURRENT CONNECTIONS...
Aloha, Harken Energy!
AIG: The Un-American Insurance Group
BCCI: The Bank of Crooks & Criminals
Birds on the Power Lines
Buzzards on the Hill & Knowlton
It’s all about the OIL STUPID!
The Mating of Chevron-Texaco
The Story of Enron
Vampires in the City
The Kissinger of Death
P-s-s-t, wanna buy a good audit?
The Myth & The Methane
Marsh & McLennan: The Marsh Birds
The Indonesian Connection
William Simon Says
Birds that Drink from Cesspools
Spotting the SEC
Vultures in The Nature Conservancy
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Originally posted: August 9, 2006, by The Catbird
Last Updated: May 15, 2010