BP secretly renegotiates contract, secures "stranglehold" over Iraq oilfields; Hayward oversees "environment, health and safety" (fox, henhouse, carnage) for Glencore in MN; Impatience on both sides of XL pipeline, and Upton tells Big Fat Lies; Environmental protester sentenced to two years; Health crisis worsens a year after spill; Russian refineries accused of "thousands" of violations; Mississippi plume could threaten Gulf; Arctic scientist suspended; Remembering Ken Sara-Wiwa's epic battle against Shell; Oil and Gas Industry Profit Reports Spark Latest Outcry Against Subsidies; Svanberg on the hotseat
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|BP 'has gained stranglehold over Iraq' after oilfield deal is rewritten
On a day when the New York Times reports that security in Iraq has fallen to perilously low levels, and that it “remains an extraordinarily dangerous place to work,” news breaks that BP rejiggered its contract with Iraq to, among other advantages, keep their oil and money flowing even during civil disruptions.
BP has been accused of taking a "stranglehold" on the Iraqi economy after the Baghdad government agreed to pay the British firm even when oil is not being produced by the Rumaila field, confidential documents reveal.
95% of Iraq's foreign earnings are from oil.
The Iraq government argued in 2009, when the agreement was signed, that the country had got a superb deal, and this was endorsed by western oil analysts surprised that BP agreed to such terms.
During the second half of 2009, Iraq held two auctions of its largest oilfields, awarding them to multinational companies such as BP, Shell and ExxonMobil to operate under 20-year contracts. Between them the oilfields account for over 60% of Iraq’s reserves. The contracts were service contracts rather than the companies’ preferred production sharing agreements, which had been proposed for Iraq but rejected as giving too much away.
Duke of Disaster and former BP CEO Tony Hayward is now working for Swiss commodities trader Glencore International. Glencore deals in the usual corporate superpower materials: metals, minerals, energy, and agriculture. And tony Tony is their head of environment, health, and safety.
Sure sounds like a punchline to me. And yet...
[...] Glencore, the giant global commodities company and the primary investor in PolyMet, which is proposing to launch the controversial open pit copper mine in Hoyt Lakes, Minn.
PolyMet is seeking environmental permits for a hardrock sulfide mine near the cities of Biwabik and Hoyt Lakes, MN.
MinnPost's Don Shelby, fresh from a trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, explains his concerns about Hayward and the PolyMet mine:
Then, of course, there's the matter of Glencore's human rights record and environmental history.
To have Tony Hayward "leading the way sends chills down my spine," said Nancy Gibson, founder of Ely's International Wolf Center and a board member of Conservation Minnesota's political arm.
Frank Moe, former DFL [Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party] legislator, sent a detailed e-mail to Minnesota legislators, the Governor, and state environmental officials outlining Glencore's "tragic environmental and human rights record," (which, unsurprisingly, a Glencore spokesman called an inaccurate assessment).
Glencore's subsidiary, Mopani Copper Mines in Zambia, "has ignored" environmental rules and routinely has sulfur dioxide emissions over 70 times the legal limit, Moe said.
Conservation Minnesota says of Glencore and their recent hire:
Sulfide mining is already like nothing we've ever seen in Minnesota. The technique extracts copper, nickel and other metals from open pit mines usually located under or near lakes and rivers. Around the nation and the world, it has created an environmental catastrophe 100 percent of the time. In Wisconsin, taxpayers are stuck cleaning up a mine that's been polluting the Flambeau River 13 years after it closed.
Moe's e-mail contains a summary of some of Glencore's misdeads, and says, in part:
The following summary is just a brief history of the Glencore's tragic environmental and human rights record. Its recent hiring of Tony Hayward, the former disgraced BP CEO who presided over the largest oil spill in US history, as Glencore's Director of Environmental Health and Safety speaks volumes of where this company's priorities truly are.
At the link, you'll find he cites a source for every charge he lays on Glencore.
Glencore’s legacy is one of human rights violations, massive environmental contamination, child labor atrocities and then taking the money and running. To punctuate that history Glencore has just hired Tony Hayward, the BP CEO who presided over the Gulf Oil Spill, as its new environment and safety expert.
Further human rights violations, he writes, are rampant in Africa.
[T]here are no safety measures at Glencore's Katanga mines in Congo. Most notably, miners aren't protected from uranium radiation and often crawl into hand-excavated cavities which frequently cave in following days of rain. Also in Congo, Glencore uses intermediaries to buy minerals from so-called "artisanal mines" which employ about 30,000 children who are particularly valuable to the operation because their smaller sizes allow them to crawl into the smallest of crevices to extract minerals.
Much more on these stories at the links.
Put That in Your Pipeline and Smoke It (h/t DawnN)
Congressman Fred Upton says Keystone XL pipeline can 'essentially eliminate' U.S. dependency on Middle Eastern oil imports
...And an energy economist says (not in so many words) that Upton's a big fat liar.
U.S. Rep Fred Upton said that the United States can "essentially eliminate" dependence on Middle Eastern oil imports by allowing the Keystone XL pipeline to be created.
Upton told CNBC:
"According to the Department of Energy, this one project will "essentially eliminate" oil imports from the Middle East. It will create more than 100,000 jobs and strengthen our relationship with a close ally and trading partner. A project like this should be a no-brainer, and there's simply no good reason it has been stuck in the State Department's red tape for nearly three years."
Rep. Lee Terry and Sen. Mike Johanns might share some of the same constituents in Nebraska. But the two Republicans have mighty vast differences in their respective approaches to a controversial $7 billion oil sands pipeline seemingly destined to slice through the biological heart and lungs of their home state.
TransCanada has shown a more unruffled response. Over-confident, even.
"We'll let the process in Congress take the steps it is taking," TransCanada spokesman James Millar told SolveClimate News in a telephone interview. "We'll let the politicians deal with that. More of our focus is on our relationship with the Department of State."
Clinton's involvement is based on the fact that it's an international deal, and the make-or-break decision lies with her.
Thus far, Keystone XL has been under review by U.S. authorities just shy of three years. December would mark 40 months. TransCanada's other similarly named heavy crude pipeline — known simply as Keystone — took 23 months to approve, Millar pointed out.
The article is quite comprehensive and link-heavy, and well worth taking the time to read.
If you've had enough of this story, feel free to move on to the next one. For those seeking more complete background, SolveClimateNews is a gold mine. From February:
Environmental organizations are recommending that the U.S. State Department put a controversial and potentially dangerous Alberta-to-Texas oil pipeline on hold until safety issues are fully understood and addressed via government oversight.
From early June of this year:
EPA authorities are still far from satisfied with the State Department’s ongoing environmental review of a controversial 1,702-mile pipeline that would pump diluted bitumen from Alberta, Canada’s tar sands mines to Gulf Coast oil refineries.
Then there's the involvement of those Fabulous Koch Boys.
What's been left out of the ferocious debate over the pipeline [...] is the prospect that if president Obama allows a permit for the Keystone XL to be granted, he would be handing a big victory and great financial opportunity to Charles and David Koch, his bitterest political enemies and among the most powerful opponents of his clean economy agenda.
Once again, much more and many links at the originals.
|Environmentalist Sentenced to 2 Years in Jail for Pranking Oil Companies
Environmental activist Tim DeChristopher has been sentenced to a two years in jail on felony charges for an ultimately harmless prank he pulled on oil companies in 2009.
During the Bush years (Baby Doc, that is), there was a federal auction of Utah land. DeChristopher bid aggressively on 22,000 acres of wildlife reserve, won the parcel, then admitted he didn't have the money to pay for it. But his bidding had snatched it out from under energy companies, which was his sole motive all along.
Ultimately, this didn’t make the land unsellable to energy companies—it simply disrupted an auction. For this, DeChristopher was convicted on two felony charges and yesterday sentenced to two years in prison and $10,000 in fines.
In a highly irregular move, the judge refused to allow DeChristopher's defense attorney to explain his motive: that he “saw the auction as both illegal and contributing to the ‘exacerbation of global warming and climate change.’”
Meanwhile, none of the BP executives, including former CEO Tony Hayward, who presided over the Deepwater Horizon disaster, which caused irrevocable personal and environmental damage, have ever been prosecuted for a felony. Nor have the corrupt financial titans who decimated the savings of ordinary Americans with investments they themselves were betting against.
|BP Disaster a Year Later, Healthcare Crisis Worsens
When news of the disastrous BP oil well explosion reached the residents of Jean Lafitte, Louisiana last April, Mayor Tim Kerner did the only thing he could think of to stop the oil from destroying his community. He encouraged everyone in his town to join him on the water, working day and night throughout the disaster to clean-up the spill.
In these primarily rural areas, access to specialists like toxicologists is unlikely.
"Even where that expertise is available, few can afford the expensive tests and medicines needed to treat toxic poisoning," she continued.
Kennedy and her colleagues are pushing Congress to establish a group of low-cost medical centers to deal with just such problems.
Their appeal has critical timing, as the explosive budget debate currently rocking Capitol Hill has been rife with calls to slash funds for programmes like Medicare, that are crucial to the livelihoods of low-income oil spill victims with new health concerns.
Sidebar: Long-Term Impact Needs Long-Term Funding
Edward Trapido, associate dean for research and professor of epidemiology at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, told IPS that the short term health impact observed in the year following the BP oil disaster could be minimal compared the the longer term effects on the population.
|Russian Refineries Accused of ‘Thousands’ of Safety Violations
Russia’s industrial safety watchdog discovered “thousands” of violations in a national inspection of oil refineries.I'm shocked -- shocked -- to find there is gambling in Casablanca.
|Mississippi plume could threaten life in Gulf
More than a trillion gallons of polluted water — a volume equal to Tampa Bay — cascaded from the flood-swollen Mississippi Delta watershed into the Gulf of Mexico daily during May. Now, scientists say, the vast plume could trigger toxic algae blooms and harm sea life as far away as Southwest Florida and the Florida Keys.
|Arctic scientist who exposed climate threat to polar bear is suspended
It was seen as one of the most distressing effects of climate change ever recorded: polar bears dying of exhaustion after being stranded between melting patches of Arctic sea ice.
BOEMRE began investigating Monnett's work in 2010, and he was suspended without pay on July 18, presumably under gag order. A BOEMRE spokesperson said the agency will continue research on the impact of drilling in the Arctic regardless of Monnett's suspension.
Other organisations [...] accused the government agency of a long record of meddling in science. A 2009 report by the Government Accountability Office found huge gaps in Boemre's research on the impacts of drilling in the Arctic. And the Alaska Wilderness League stated: "Alaska Boemre has continued to ignore science and traditional knowledge in its decision-making about oil and gas development."
|Please, please, please go here for a remembrance of Ken Sara-Wiwa, murdered (yes, I'm committing libel) by Royal Dutch Shell in 1995. It can't be done proper justice here.
|Oil and Gas Industry Profit Reports Spark Latest Outcry Against Subsidies
Congressional Democrats and environmentalists are resurrecting their calls to end a suite of tax breaks for the oil industry as the largest energy companies have announced their second quarter profits this week and debt discussions are dominating Capitol Hill debates.
As the debt limit
Earlier this week, BP PLC reported second-quarter earnings of $5.6 billion, a hefty improvement over the same quarter last year when it reported a net loss of $17 billion related to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico -- but down 21 percent from the $7.1 billion in profits posted during the first three months of this year.
Oil company mouthpieces and the American Petroleum Institute are making noises about how the enormous profits are critical to the industry's future stability. The API even released an analysis tying industry profits to the well-being of the American economy.
"When our industry does well, much of America does well also," Kyle Isakower, API's vice president of regulatory and economic policy, said in a briefing with reporters Monday, adding that the industry's reinvestment drives "economic progress and translates to billions of jobs supported, vast amounts of retirement income protected and billions in government revenue generated."
|Shareholders target BP chairman
The role of Carl-Henric Svanberg, BP’s chairman, whose position came under fire last year in the wake of the Gulf of Mexico spill, is under scrutiny again amid investor dissatisfaction over the oil group’s lack of clarity on its strategic
BP investors impatient over lack of momentum
[BP's] investors want more, and faster. With BP’s share price still trading below the level it was at before last year’s accident, shareholders are getting impatient. Several top 15 shareholders contacted by the Financial Times after the results expressed their frustration with what they said was a lack of momentum. Carl-Henric Svanberg, BP’s chairman, is also under scrutiny.
|Florida lawsuit against GCCF removed to federal court
A Florida state lawsuit against Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF) Administrator Kenneth Feinberg has been removed to the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder asked for an idependent audit of the claims facility last week; Feinberg said he'd begin one before the end of this year.
Alabama, Mississippi Florida and Louisiana all filed memos criticizing Feinberg and the GCCF.
PLEASE visit Pam LaPier's diary to find out how you can help the Gulf now and in the future. We don't have to be idle! And thanks to Crashing Vor and Pam LaPier for working on this!
Previous Gulf Watcher diaries:
|7-29-11 06:31 PM||Gulf Watchers Block Party - Chop Wood, Carry Water - DIY Edition||Lorinda Pike|
|7-27-11 04:35 PM||Gulf Watchers Wednesday -BP's Dudley Disappoints - BP Catastrophe AUV #541||shanesnana|
|7-24-11 12:13 PM||Gulf Watchers Sunday - Who Knows Where The Money Goes - BP Catastrophe AUV #540||Lorinda Pike|
Previous motherships and ROV's from this extensive live blog effort may be found here.
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