Category Archives: Iran

Golden Dawn Immigrants-Fake NeoNazi’s

All those links were sent to me on Twitter and I am more than glad to post them,I do beleive I will find more on those people due time.No threats allowed according to the WP policy or the HR declaration. So please stay vigilant of what you are going to post :)I checked all blog categories so that the post can get the most views possible. Regards!

“##Spiros Macrozonaris## IMMIGRANT Golden Dawn Deputy leader in Montreal, Canada” :

Facebook profile :

INTERESTING FACEBOOK POST MR. MACROZONARIS, HE CANNOT EVEN WRITE GREEK! BAD NAZI BAD! :

His NON 100% PURE GREEK son’s Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/macrozonaris?ref=ts&fref=ts

1. Greek Immigrant who married a “foreigner” >>>>>French-Canadian Doris Morrissette, they bore a son, Nicolas Macrozonaris (World-Class Sprinter – CANADIAN Olympian 🙂 ..who unfortunately is not 100% Pure Greek…

2. Conversations with Nicolas on Twitter, lead to nothing, he is ‘pretending’ that he has NO knowledge of what Golden Dawn supports and believes YET he states that he does not condone his fathers “actions”

Twitter @Macrozonaris TWEETER CONVERSATIONS with Nicolas –>

###### MUST WATCH #####
Video from CBC Montreal, from week of Oct 12th – INTERVIEW with Spiros Macrozonaris – next to him sits LOOSER Ilias Hondronicolas : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v-3rbLI4K78

#Ilias Hondronicolas ———> on PHOTO second guy from the left :

#MORE HONDRONICOLAS:

(FRIENDS WITH ELENI ZAROULIA SHARING HER PHOTOS!)
( MUST SEE )

#MORE PAPAGEORGIOU:


US upset about Iran-Iraq-Syria alliance-US meddling fuels violence in Syria

Hezbollah Secretary-General Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah confirms the Lebanese resistance movement has sent a drone deep into the Israeli airspace evading radar systems.

The operation code-named Hussein Ayub saw Hezbollah’s drone fly hundreds of kilometers into the Israeli airspace and getting very close to Dimona nuclear plant without being detected by advanced Israeli and US radars, Nasrallah said during a televised speech late on Thursday.

“This is only part of our capabilities,” he stressed, adding that Israelis have admitted to their security failure despite being provided with the latest technologies by Western powers.

 

 

Hezbollah secretary-general stated that Hezbollah’s drones are made in Iran but assembled by the resistance movement.

Hezbollah plans to send more drones over Israel in the future, he added, adding that the operation shows the resistance movement is ready to defend Lebanon.

The resistance leader further dismissed Western accusations of Hezbollah's intervention in the Syrian unrest, describing the allegation as "sheer lie."

"Hezbollah has not fought alongside Syrian forces.... It is not true that Hezbollah is going to take some land from Syria," Nasrallah stated.

Hezbollah's leader also rejected allegations that Abu Abbas was the movement's commander in Syria, and condemned insurgents in Syria for threatening Lebanon.

"Threatening Hezbollah is of no use," he emphasized.

MRS/SS

Lebanon President Michel Sleiman says Hezbollah’s ability to send a drone over Israel shows the need for a new national defense strategy that uses the party’s strength in safeguarding the country.

“The process of dispatching a drone over Israeli enemy territory shows a dire need to approve a defense strategy that would look into the benefits of managing and making use of the resistance’s capabilities,” Sleiman said in a statement on Friday.

He added that Hezbollah’s potential should be used to “safeguard Lebanon and establish a mechanism for issuing a decision to use these capabilities exclusively and under any circumstances in line with national interests [of Lebanon] and the military's defense plans and needs.”

Sleiman’s comments came shortly after Hezbollah’s Secretary-General Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah confirmed that the Lebanese resistance movement has sent a drone deep into the Israeli airspace evading radar systems.

The operation code-named Hussein Ayub saw Hezbollah’s drone fly hundreds of kilometers into the Israeli airspace and getting very close to Dimona nuclear plant without being detected by advanced Israeli and US radars.

"This is only part of our capabilities," Nasrallah said on Thursday.

Sleiman noted that daily Israeli violations of Lebanese sovereignty was a matter “of continuous complaints” made by Lebanon to the UN Security Council.

Israel violates Lebanon's airspace on an almost daily basis, claiming the flights serve surveillance purposes.

Lebanon's government, the Hezbollah resistance movement, and the UN Interim Force in Lebanon, known as UNIFIL, have repeatedly condemned the overflights, saying they are in clear violation of UN Resolution 1701 and the country's sovereignty.

PG/JR/SS

A prominent military analyst says the United States is deeply concerned about the alliance among Iran, Iraq and Syria and their stand against Israel, Press TV reports.

“There are deep concerns within the US that a coalition between Iran, Iraq and Syria will stand against Israel and Turkey which frankly is their long-serving surrogate since Ottoman times,” Gordon Duff said in an interview with Press TV on Friday.

He further stressed that there needs to be a no-fly-zone over Turkey “since they seem to have difficulty following international convention.”

Turkey has beefed up military defenses on its border with Syria over the past weeks, stationing tanks, anti-aircraft missiles, and additional troops in the area.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned on October 9 that Turkey’s armed forces would not hesitate to strike back in response to any strike on Turkish soil after the Turkish parliament authorized cross-border military action against Syria “when deemed right” On October 4.

Tensions have been running high between Syria and Turkey, with Damascus accusing Turkey -- along with Saudi Arabia and Qatar -- of backing a deadly insurgency that has claimed the lives of many Syrians, including security and army personnel.

Syria has been experiencing unrest since March 2011.

Damascus says outlaws, saboteurs, and armed terrorists are the driving factors behind the unrest and deadly violence, but the opposition accuses the security forces of being behind the killings.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said in August that the country is engaged in a “crucial and heroic” battle that will determine the destiny of the nation.

TNP/JR

A prominent military analyst says the United States is deeply concerned about the alliance among Iran, Iraq and Syria and their stand against Israel, Press TV reports.

“There are deep concerns within the US that a coalition between Iran, Iraq and Syria will stand against Israel and Turkey which frankly is their long-serving surrogate since Ottoman times,” Gordon Duff said in an interview with Press TV on Friday.

He further stressed that there needs to be a no-fly-zone over Turkey “since they seem to have difficulty following international convention.”

Turkey has beefed up military defenses on its border with Syria over the past weeks, stationing tanks, anti-aircraft missiles, and additional troops in the area.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned on October 9 that Turkey’s armed forces would not hesitate to strike back in response to any strike on Turkish soil after the Turkish parliament authorized cross-border military action against Syria “when deemed right” On October 4.

 

Tensions have been running high between Syria and Turkey, with Damascus accusing Turkey -- along with Saudi Arabia and Qatar -- of backing a deadly insurgency that has claimed the lives of many Syrians, including security and army personnel.

Syria has been experiencing unrest since March 2011.

Damascus says outlaws, saboteurs, and armed terrorists are the driving factors behind the unrest and deadly violence, but the opposition accuses the security forces of being behind the killings.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said in August that the country is engaged in a “crucial and heroic” battle that will determine the destiny of the nation.

TNP/JR


Iran,Iraq,Syria,Russia :Mission NOT accomplished for Big Oil

23 August 2012

 

Published (with an intro by Tom Engelhardt) on TomDispatch

In 2011, after nearly nine years of war and occupation, U.S. troops finally left Iraq. In their place, Big Oil is now present in force and the country’s oil output, crippled for decades, is growing again. Iraq recently reclaimed the number two position in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), overtaking oil-sanctioned Iran. Now, there’s talk of a new world petroleum glut. So is this finally mission accomplished?

Well, not exactly. In fact, any oil company victory in Iraq is likely to prove as temporary as George W. Bush’s triumph in 2003. The main reason is yet another of those stories the mainstream media didn’t quite find room for: the role of Iraqi civil society. But before telling that story, let’s look at what’s happening to Iraqi oil today, and how we got from the “no blood for oil” global protests of 2003 to the present moment.

Here, as a start, is a little scorecard of what’s gone on in Iraq since Big Oil arrived two and a half years ago: corruption’s skyrocketed; two Western oil companies are being investigated for either giving or receiving bribes; the Iraqi government is paying oil companies a per-barrel fee according to wildly unrealistic production targets they’ve set, whether or not they deliver that number of barrels; contractors are heavily over-charging for drilling wells, which the companies don’t mind since the Iraqi government picks up the tab.

Meanwhile, to protect the oil giants from dissent and protest, trade union offices have been raided, computers seized and equipment smashed, leaders arrested and prosecuted. And that’s just in the oil-rich southern part of the country.

In Kurdistan in the north, the regional government awards contracts on land outside its jurisdiction, contracts which permit the government to transfer its stake in the oil projects — up to 25% — to private companies of its choice. Fuel is smuggled across the border to the tune of hundreds of tankers a day.

In Kurdistan, at least the approach is deliberate: the two ruling families of the region, the Barzanis and Talabanis, know that they can do whatever they like, since their Peshmerga militia control the territory. In contrast, the Iraqi federal government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has little control over anything. As a result, in the rest of the country the oil industry operates, gold-rush-style, in an almost complete absence of oversight or regulation.

Oil companies differ as to which of these two Iraqs they prefer to operate in. BP and Shell have opted to rush for black gold in the super-giant oilfields of southern Iraq. Exxon has hedged its bets by investing in both options. This summer, Chevron and the French oil company Total voted for the Kurdish approach, trading smaller oil fields for better terms and a bit more stability.

Keep in mind that the incapacity of the Iraqi government is hardly limited to the oil business: stagnation hangs over its every institution. Iraqis still have an average of just five hours of electricity a day, which in 130-degree heat causes tempers to boil over regularly. The country’s two great rivers, the Tigris and Euphrates, which watered the cradle of civilization 5,000 years ago, are drying up.  This is largely due to the inability of the government to engage in effective regional diplomacy that would control upstream dam-building by Turkey.

After elections in 2010, the country’s leading politicians couldn’t even agree on how to form a government until the Iraqi Supreme Court forced them to. This record of haplessness, along with rampant corruption, significant repression, and a revival of sectarianism can all be traced back to American decisions in the occupation years. Tragically, these persistent ills have manifested themselves in a recent spate of car-bombings and other bloody attacks.

Washington’s Yen for Oil

In the period before and around the invasion, the Bush administration barely mentioned Iraqi oil, describing it reverently only as that country’s “patrimony.” As for the reasons for war, the administration insisted that it had barely noticed Iraq had one-tenth of the world’s oil reserves. But my new book reveals documents I received, marked SECRET/NOFORN, that laid out for the first time pre-war oil plans hatched in the Pentagon by arch-neoconservative Douglas Feith’s Energy Infrastructure Planning Group (EIPG).

In November 2002, four months before the invasion, that planning group came up with a novel idea: it proposed that any American occupation authority not repair war damage to the country’s oil infrastructure, as doing so “could discourage private sector involvement.” In other words, it suggested that the landscape should be cleared of Iraq’s homegrown oil industry to make room for Big Oil.

When the administration worried that this might disrupt oil markets, EIPG came up with a new strategy under which initial repairs would be carried out by KBR, a subsidiary of Halliburton. Long-term contracts with multinational companies, awarded by the U.S. occupation authority, would follow. International law notwithstanding, the EIPG documents noted cheerily that such an approach would put “long-term downward pressure on [the oil] price” and force “questions about Iraq’s future relations with OPEC.”

At the same time, the Pentagon planning group recommended that Washington state that its policy was “not to prejudice Iraq’s future decisions regarding its oil development policies.” Here, in writing, was the approach adopted in the years to come by the Bush administration and the occupation authorities: lie to the public while secretly planning to hand Iraq over to Big Oil.

There turned out, however, to be a small kink in the plan: the oil companies declined the American-awarded contracts, fearing that they would not stand up in international courts and so prove illegitimate. They wanted Iraq first to have an elected permanent government that would arrive at the same results. The question then became how to get the required results with the Iraqis nominally in charge. The answer: install a friendly government and destroy the Iraqi oil industry.

In July 2003, the U.S. occupation established the Iraqi Governing Council, a quasi-governmental body led by friendly Iraqi exiles who had been out of the country for the previous few decades. They would be housed in an area of Baghdad isolated from the Iraqi population by concrete blast walls and machine gun towers, and dubbed the Green Zone.  There, the politicians would feast, oblivious to and unconcerned with the suffering of the rest of the population.

The first post-invasion Oil Minister was Ibrahim Bahr al-Uloum, a man who held the country’s homegrown oil expertise in open contempt. He quickly set about sacking the technicians and managers who had built the industry following nationalization in the 1970s and had kept it running through wars and sanctions. He replaced them with friends and fellow party members. One typical replacement was a former pizza chef.

The resulting damage to the oil industry exceeded anything caused by missiles and tanks. As a result the country found itself — as Washington had hoped — dependent on the expertise of foreign companies. Meanwhile, not only did the Coalition Provisional authority (CPA) that oversaw the occupation lose $6.6 billion of Iraqi money, it effectively suggested corruption wasn’t something to worry about.  A December 2003 CPA policy document recommended that Iraq follow the lead of Azerbaijan, where the government had attracted oil multinationals despite an atmosphere of staggering corruption (“less attractive governance”) simply by offering highly profitable deals.

Now, so many years later, the corruption is all-pervasive and the multinationals continue to operate without oversight, since the country’s ministry is run by the equivalent of pizza chefs.

The first permanent government was formed under Prime Minister Maliki in May 2006. In the preceding months, the American and British governments made sure the candidates for prime minister knew what their first priority had to be: to pass a law legalizing the return of the foreign multinationals — tossed out of the country in the 1970s — to run the oil sector.

The law was drafted within weeks, dutifully shown to U.S. officials within days, and to oil multinationals not long after. Members of the Iraqi parliament, however, had to wait seven months to see the text.

How Temporary the Victory of Big Oil?

The trouble was: getting it through that parliament proved far more difficult than Washington or its officials in Iraq had anticipated. In January 2007, an impatient President Bush announced a “surge” of 30,000 U.S. troops into the country, by then wracked by a bloody civil war. Compliant journalists accepted the story of a gamble by General David Petraeus to bring peace to warring Iraqis.

In fact, those troops spearheaded a strategy with rather less altruistic objectives: first, broker a new political deal among U.S. allies, who were the most sectarian and corrupt of Iraq’s politicians (hence, with the irony characteristic of American foreign policy, regularly described as “moderates”); second, pressure them to deliver on political objectives set in Washington and known as “benchmarks” — of which passing the oil law was the only one ever really talked about: in President Bush’s biweekly video conferences with Maliki, in almost daily meetings of the U.S. ambassador in Baghdad, and in frequent visits by senior administration officials.

On this issue, the Democrats, by then increasingly against the Iraq War but still pro-Big Oil, lent a helping hand to a Republican administration. Having failed to end the war, the newly Democrat-controlled Congress passed an appropriations bill that would cut off reconstruction funds to Iraq if the oil law weren’t passed. Generals warned that without an oil law Prime Minister Maliki would lose their support, which he knew well would mean losing his job. And to ramp up the pressure further, the U.S. set a deadline of September 2007 to pass the law or face the consequences.

It was then that things started going really wrong for Bush and company. In December 2006, I was at a meeting where leaders of Iraq’s trade unions decided to fight the oil law. One of them summed up the general sentiment this way: “We do not need thieves to take us back to the middle ages.” So they began organizing. They printed pamphlets, held public meetings and conferences, staged protests, and watched support for their movement grow.

Most Iraqis feel strongly that the country’s oil reserves belong in the public sector, to be developed to benefit them, not foreign energy companies. And so word spread fast — and with it, popular anger. Iraq’s oil professionals and various civil society groups denounced the law. Preachers railed against it in Friday sermons. Demonstrations were held in Baghdad and elsewhere, and as Washington ratcheted up the pressure, members of the Iraqi parliament started to see political opportunity in aligning themselves with this ever more popular cause. Even some U.S. allies in Parliament confided in diplomats at the American embassy that it would be political suicide to vote for the law.

By the September deadline, a majority of the parliament was against the law and — a remarkable victory for the trade unions — it was not passed. It’s still not passed today.

Given the political capital the Bush administration had invested in the passage of the oil law, its failure offered Iraqis a glimpse of the limits of U.S. power, and from that moment on, Washington’s influence began to wane.

Things changed again in 2009 when the Maliki government, eager for oil revenues, began awarding contracts to them even without an oil law in place. As a result, however, the victory of Big Oil is likely to be a temporary one: the present contracts are illegal, and so they will last only as long as there’s a government in Baghdad that supports them.

This helps explain why the government’s repression of trade unions increased once the contracts were signed.  Now, Iraq is showing signs of a more general return to authoritarianism (as well as internecine violence and possibly renewed sectarian conflict).

But there is another possibility for Iraq. Years before the Arab Spring, I saw what Iraqi civil society can achieve by organizing: it stopped the world’s superpower from reaching its main objective and steered Iraq onto a more positive course.

Many times since 2003 Iraqis have moved their country in a more democratic direction: establishing trade unions in that year, building Shi’a-Sunni connections in 2004, promoting anti-sectarian politicians in 2007 and 2008, and voting for them in 2009.  Sadly, each of these times Washington has pushed it back toward sectarianism, the atmosphere in which its allies thrive.  While mainstream commentators now regularly blame the recent escalation of violence on the departure of U.S. troops, it would be more accurate to say that the real reason is they didn’t leave far sooner.

Now, without its troops and bases, much of Washington’s political heft has vanished. Whether Iraq heads in the direction of dictatorship, sectarianism, or democracy remains to be seen, but if Iraqis again start to build a more democratic future, the U.S. will no longer be there to obstruct it.  Meanwhile, if a new politics does emerge, Big Oil may discover that, in the end, it was mission unaccomplished. [source]

Putin backs Russian push for Iraqi oil

 

President Vladimir Putin lobbied Iraq’s prime minister on Wednesday to support Russian energy investment, as the oil arm of gas export monopoly Gazprom (GAZP.MM) pushes for a foothold in the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan.

Gazprom Neft (SIBN.MM) is still interested in Kurdistan’s oil, company sources and the province’s spokesman said, rebutting reports it had frozen projects in the Iraqi province.

Putin, a vocal opponent of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, called for Russia to strengthen its presence in the OPEC oil producer state at talks with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki at his residence near Moscow.

“Our companies are boosting their activities in Iraq – the whole list of our large energy companies,” Putin said. “I hope their work will develop step by step and we are very much hoping for your support, Mr Prime Minister.”

Russia’s second-largest crude producer LUKOIL (LKOH.MM) is developing the vast West Qurna-2 oil, while mid-sized Bashneft (BANE.MM) is teaming up with Britain’s Premier Oil PLC (PMO.L) after they won the right to tap oil in the Middle East country.

LUKOIL bought Norway’s Statoil (STL.OL) out of their partnership in West Qurna-2 in March, and CEO Vagit Alekperov said he would be open to taking on board a new partner.

“We bought it, 100 pct, if there is a good offer we can sell part of it, so far we feel comfortable with it,” Alekperov told Reuters. Asked if there was an offer in the works, he said “at the moment no, only outline ideas.”

Russia signed $4.2 billion worth of arms deals with Iraq on Tuesday.

DEAL NOT FROZEN

Late on Tuesday, the International Oil Daily cited Iraqi Oil Minister Abdul-Kareem Luaibi as saying Baghdad had received a letter from Gazprom, in which the company said it had frozen its contract with Kurdistan.

Baghdad has been angered by the plans of some international majors, including ExxonMobil (XOM.N), to tap oil and gas in the northern region. The central government says the deals are illegal.

A spokesman for the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) said Gazprom Neft had informed the KRG on Wednesday that it remains committed to its contract in the Kurdistan region.

Sources at Gazprom Neft also knocked down the report.

In August, Gazprom Neft acquired interests in two blocks in Kurdistan.

“Gazprom Neft is still working on these projects. The company keeps its interest in Kurdistan,” a Gazprom Neft source told Reuters.

Another source at the company said Gazprom Neft would be able to go ahead with the projects once the Iraqi central government and KRG resolve their differences.

He also said Gazprom Neft management will travel to Kurdistan before year-end to discuss oil development in the province. A company spokeswoman declined to comment.

Gazprom Neft already has a project in Iraq, near the Iranian border, where it expects to produce about 15,000 barrels per day from 2013. [source ]

 

And the other side “de la moneda” Judge for yourselves

 

October 11, 2012 

Iraq today stands on the brink of total control by Iran and the establishment of a new dictatorship. 

The dream for which so many American soldiers believed they were fighting is slipping away as Iraq moves in the opposite direction – toward Iran. 

Iran’s presence is already visible in Iraq, from the droves of pilgrims at Shi’ite holy sites to the brands of yogurt and jam on grocery shelves, and Iraqis see clear Iranian influence since the US troops left at the end of last year. 

It could be considered a natural step for the only two Shi’ite Muslim-led governments in the Sunnidominated Middle East to expand their relationship. However, many Iraqi Shi’ites are cautious of intrusion of their country’s sovereignty and afraid of being overrun by the Iranian theocracy. 



Iraqis are accusing Iran of meddling in Iraqi affairs to destabilize the new democracy and strengthen Iran’s influence over it and its neighbors. Top Iranian officials maintain they are only strengthening diplomatic and economic ties with Iraq, as they have sought to do since the 2003 ouster of Saddam Hussein. On the other hand, head of Iranian al-Quds Brigades General Qasim Sulaimani announced recently that Iraq and South Lebanon are submissive to Tehran’s will, stating that his country could regulate any movement with the aim to form Islamic governments in both countries. 

Not to mention the close relationship between Iran and Syria. This is the goal of the Iranians: to form the Shi’ite crescent – Iran, Iraq, Syria and Southern Lebanon – controlled by Hezbollah. The aim is to encircle Israel. Israel should worry about Iraq acquiring F-16 aircraft from the United States, especially since their pilots will be selected from among the Shi’ites most loyal to the regime in Tehran. “Iran wants to make Iraq a weak state,” said Maj.- Gen. Jeffrey S. Buchanan, a US military spokesman in Iraq, a few years ago. 

This issue has also worried many American officials who have long feared what they described as Iranian meddling in Iraq and its potential to sow unrest across the Middle East. Those worries were a chief driver of failed efforts to leave at least several thousand American troops in Iraq beyond the end of last year’s withdrawal deadline. 

“The more you think about it, the more examples there are of Iranian influence,” says Buchanan. “They’re circumstantial, but that’s how behind-thescenes influence works.” Since Iraq’s 2010 election, Iraqis have witnessed the subordination of the state to Prime Minister Nouri al- Maliki’s Iranian-backed Da’awa party, the erosion of judicial independence and intimidation of opponents. All of this happened during the Arab Spring while other countries were ousting dictators in favor of democracy. Iraq has become a sectarian battleground in which identity politics have crippled democratic development. 

Maliki has laid siege to his political opponents’ homes and offices, surrounded them with his security forces, all with the blessing of politicized judiciary and law enforcement systems that have become virtual extensions of his personal office. 

This is a typical textbook definition of “lawfare.” His national security adviser has complete control over the Iraqi intelligence and national security agencies, which are supposed to be independent institutions but have become a virtual extension of Maliki’s Da’awa Party; and his Da’awa loyalists are in control of the security units that oversee the Green Zone. The Iraqi prime minister uses secret prisons under the supervision of his elite security apparatus, and the Red Cross has conclusive evidence about these prisons. 

It was stated in its recent report that there is evidence detainees being tortured to extract confessions and information. The report mentioned that some of the torture sessions were attended by Iraqi judges. The Red Cross reported that there are three secret prisons in the Green Zone alone that are linked to Maliki’s office. The political process in Iraq is going in a very wrong direction; it’s going toward a dictatorship, while Iran views Maliki as its man in Baghdad and has dictated the shape of the current government. 

This Shi’ite Islamist government bodes ill for the country’s future. Today in Iraq, we see Maliki silencing and eliminating his opponents, using the law as a silent weapon for a quiet war. MALIKI IS using the judicial system to attack his political opponents, and the security services in Iraq have become part of the problem as they have been proven to be managing secret detention centers where torture is practiced under the personal supervision of the Office of the Prime Minister. It was revealed recently that 36 out of 38 inspectors-general at Iraqi ministries are from Maliki’s Da’awa Party. 

What we also see in Iraq now is that Iraq supports Syria, weapons from Iran being transported to Syria through Iraq, violations of UN security council resolutions against Iran and money laundering through Iraqi banks in favor of Iran with the full knowledge and support of the Office of the Prime Minister. The Iranian government played an important role in the revitalization of money laundering in Iraq by private banks in coordination with the Office of the Prime Minister. Armed groups backed by Tehran receive millions of dollars monthly in salaries and benefits from Iraqi banks under the guise of bank transfers or investment projects or grants to civil society organizations. It has been confirmed that Tehran-backed armed groups present in southern, central and northern Iraq are dealing with specific banks in these areas and receive their funds facilitated by the Da’awa Party. By consistently thinking of Maliki as a Shi’ite rather than an Iraqi Arab, American officials overlooked opportunities that once existed in Iraq but are now gone. Thanks to their own flawed policies, the Iraq they left behind is more similar to the desperate and divided country of 2006 than to the optimistic Iraq of early 2009. When American forces withdrew from Iraq at the end of last year, it was thought that they would be leaving behind a country that was politically unstable, increasingly volatile, and at risk of descending into the sort of sectarian fighting that killed thousands in 2006 and 2007. Nothing like this actually happened or will happen; instead we see Iraq falling under the full control of Iran. It is controlled by Iran’s embassy in Baghdad and its many consulates in other Iraqi cities. From a strategic standpoint, one can say that Iraq, with all its territory and capabilities, has become Iran’s strategic depth, supplementing its regional expansion. 

Iran controls the political decision-making and economy of Iraq. For all of its potential, Iraq has become merely an advanced strategic base for Iran. Iran may want to strike Israel via Hezbollah, and Iraq, due to its geographical location and the nature of the ruling powers, will be a key player in this regard. 

This is especially true when we observe in Iraq today that there is education, promoted by the Shi’ite parties linked to Iran, saying that the expulsion of Jews from the land of Palestine will be only at the hands of the Islamic Republic of Iran. It should also be noted that Iran is not crazy enough to attack the Gulf States and risk losing its legitimacy, as happened with Iraq when it invaded Kuwait. Iran must not be seen attacking Muslim states, which will antagonize the Muslim world. Iran will certainly target Israel first; this is the issue, aided by warmongering media campaigns, that would garner sympathy for Iran among the ignorant people of the Islamic world.[source]


BP Entry contract for Rumaila field

Fourth release, 31 July 2011

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.

Media reports of the auction focused on the headline remuneration fees. These sounded so low – between $1.15 and $5.50 per barrel – that many commentators questioned the profitability of the deals. But as always in oil contracts, the devil is in the detail. And whereas the auctions were billed by the Iraqi government as among the world’s most transparent contracting processes, the first contract, for the super-giant Rumaila field near Basra, was privately renegotiated between the Iraqi government and the winning BP/CNPC consortium for more than three months after the auction.The result was that the terms changed significantly from the published model contract on which the auction was based, to  make it much more attractive to BP and CNPC, at the expense of the Iraqi people.

  • We have obtained the renegotiated Rumaila contract, and can reveal its contents for the first time. The major changes are explained in the report “From Glass Box to Smoke Filled Room – How BP secretly renegotiated its Iraqi oil contract, and how Iraqis will pay the price”, written by Fuel on the Fire author Greg Muttitt and published by PLATFORM.

NEW REPORT: From Glass Box to Smoke Filled Room.

DOCUMENT 12: the original model contract, on which the auction was based.
DOCUMENT 13: the leaked, renegotiated contract, which was actually signed.

Also in today’s release:

  • Another document released today reveals the possible reason BP was so successful in changing the terms in its favour, by focusing on the detailed terms of the contract. In April 2009, Ministry of Oil officials travelled to the UK to explore how to meet their training needs. Just two months before the auction, foremost among the areas where they sought training were commercial and negotiating skills. And the training provider they went to? BP!

DOCUMENT 14: Letter from BP to Iraq Ministry of Oil, 28 April 2009.

  • The contracts were opposed by many in Iraq, including oil experts, the management of the South Oil Company (which would have to work with BP on the Rumaila field), the oil trade union and the parliamentary oil and gas committee. When parliamentarians called in the Iraqi Oil Minister for questioning about the contract, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki wrote to the speaker of parliament to warn against the move. In the private and confidential letter, released today, he told the speaker that he would consider such questioning to be “in harmony” with recent major terrorist bombings in Baghdad.

DOCUMENT 15: Letter from Nouri al-Maliki to parliament, October 2009 (Arabic original)

DOCUMENT 16: Letter from Nouri al-Maliki to parliament, October 2009 (English translation)

Fifth release, July 17, 2012

(See also today’s press release)

Two documents are published today, revealing for the first time the role of the Energy Infrastructure Planning Group, whose purpose was to plan for the running of Iraq’s oil industry during the period of direct U.S. occupation and administration of Iraq (under the CPA of Paul Bremer, as it became).

EIPG was established in summer 2002 by Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith. It was led by Michael Mobbs, a political appointee in the Department of Defense. The other members were Michael Makovsy of the Department of Defense, Seneca Johnson of the Department of State, Clark Turner of the Department of Energy (Strategic Petroleum Reserve) and a CIA analyst.

The EIPG did the thinking behind the subject, and made recommendations to the Deputies and Principals Committees of the National Security Council (comprising the heads and second-in-commands of the government agencies relevant to national security).

They were obtained from the Department of Defense under the Freedom of Information Act. This is the first clear evidence, more than nine years on, that Bush administration officials were planning before the war to open the way to multinational oil companies, an assertion consistently denied by the government.

DOCUMENT 17: a briefing to the Deputies Committee on November 6, 2002.  The main topic of the meeting is how to spend the proceeds from Iraqi oil.

See especially page 10, where weighing up whether to repair war-damaged Iraqi oil infrastructure, one of the cons is that it “could deter private sector involvement”. Although this route was rejected (see DOCUMENT 18), it could later be seen in the U.S. forces’ failure to stop looting of the infrastructure in April 2003 (they only protected the Oil Ministry building, which held the irreplaceable geological data – they did nothing to protect drill rigs, pump stations etc). The attitude was seen again when the Oil Ministry’s considerable human resources were cleared out in fall 2003, in favor of friends and family of the new oil minister.

Note also on the contents page (2) the EIPG planned to consider later that month “whether to use control of Iraqi oil to advance important U.S. foreign policy objectives”. DOD reports that it holds no record of such discussions. They are likely to involve not direct U.S. energy interests, but whether to tear up eg Russian and Chinese contracts in order to harm those countries.

(The briefing was stored by the DOD as landscape printed on portrait paper – hence the edges are cut off in the official archive too!).
DOCUMENT 18: a briefing to the Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on January 11, 2003, incorporating comments and decisions from earlier Deputies meetings.

Here the option of leaving war damage unrepaired so as to make room for Big Oil has been rejected, in favor of appointing Halliburton subsidiary KBR to carry out repairs (page 5).

Priorities are set of restoring crude oil production (which the USA needed) over electricity and fuel (which Iraqis needed – page 6).

Increasing Iraqi production to 5 million barrels per day (from 2.5m bpd)  is favored as it “helps consumers” and “puts long-term downward pressure on the oil price”

Strikingly, “pubic diplomacy” (page 4) means the message that would be given to the public, including saying that “we will act… so as not to prejudice Iraq’s future decisions” – even though the opposite is proposed as substantive policy. In other words, the briefing recommends that the Bush administration mislead the public on how it would approach Iraqi oil.


Zion Oil Wars: U.S. secret mission sent to Jordan to control Syrian chemical weapons ( BP-Shell drilling in Jordan)

-Tony Hayward’s anglo-turkish oil firm Genel Energy today confirmed that drilling has now begun on its first well on the Chia Surkh exploration block in Iraqi Kurdistan.

The block spans 984 square kilometres in the southern part of the Kurdish region. It has an estimated 300 million barrels of prospective oil resources.

The Chia Surkh 10 well will be drilled to a total depth of 2,500 metres to test Lower Miocene to Palaeocene targets.

The well results are expected in the first quarter of next year.

Genel has a 60% interest in Chia Surkh. City broker Oriel Securities estimate that Chia Surkh is worth a ‘risked’ 38p per share at this stage.

The broker highlighted, in a note today, that Genel is hosting a capital markets day this week and it beleives the company is likely to update on the plans for the Miran gas development as well as its exploration programme – which now includes new licences in Malta, Morocco, Cote d’Ivoire and Somaliland.

Gazprom Neft, the oil arm of Russia’s top natural gas producer Gazprom, is still interested in Kurdistan’s oil, a Gazprom Neft source said, rebutting reports it had frozen projects in the Iraqi province.

In August, Gazprom Neft acquired interests in two blocks in Iraq’s Kurdistan region, after similar moves by international rivals angered the central Iraqi government in Baghdad.

The International Oil Daily cited Iraqi Oil Minister Abdul-Kareem Luaibi as saying Baghdad received a letter from Gazprom, in which the company said it had frozen the contract with Kurdistan.

“Gazprom Neft is still working on these projects. The company keeps its interest in Kurdistan,” a Gazprom Neft source told Reuters.

A company spokeswoman declined to comment.

Gazprom Neft already has a project in Iraq, near the Iranian border, where it expects to produce about 15,000 barrels per day from 2013.

Baghdad was angered by the plans of some international majors, including ExxonMobil, to tap oil and gas in the semi-autonomous region. The central government says the deals are illegal.

Later on Wednesday Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is due to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow where they may discuss energy issues.

Russia said on Tuesday it had signed $4.2 billion worth of arms deals with Iraq.

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is planning to build an oil pipeline to Turkey with a capacity of 1 million barrels a day, according to a report from Platts.

KRG natural resources minister Ashti Hawrami told an energy conference in Turkey on Thursday that plans were already in place for the construction of short spur lines from producing fields and that funding had been arranged for a main export line to carry crude from these fields to the border.

Plans are underway to launch a construction tender for the project, he added.

He said that initially the new line would connect with the existing Turkish section of the Kirkuk-Ceyhan oil line but that talks were underway with investors interested in building a new pipeline inside Turkey running from the border with northern Iraq to the Mediterranean port of Ceyhan.

“Any such pipeline will be an Iraqi pipeline…it will be for the benefit of all nations, all the Iraqi people and all the Turkish people,” Hawrami said.

“It is not designed to be anything else except supplying secure oil to the market,” he added in an apparent reference to recent talk that the KRG was planning its own oil export routes independent of the federal government in Baghdad.

Talk of building new pipelines through Turkey, which currently serves as an outlet for Iraqi crude oil produced in the north through the Mediterranean port of Ceyhan, has given rise to speculation that this might be a first step toward greater independence by the Kurdish province.

Hawrami stressed that the new pipeline would be Iraqi property on the Iraqi side of the border and Turkish on the Turkish and that the oil the line carried would remain the property of the Iraqi state.

“We believe that by 2015 we will safely reach 1 million bpd and by 2019, 2 million bpd,” Hawrami said.

Gulf Keystone, one of the biggest companies listed on London’s junior AIM stock market, is due to start the defence of its ownership of a huge oil field in Iraqi Kurdistan in a London court this week.

The company has long been touted as a potential acquisition target for an oil major looking for a foothold in Kurdistan, but the looming legal battle has been cited as a potential obstacle to any takeover deal.

Kurdistan is emerging as an attractive oil province for big western oil companies. Exxon Mobil, Total and Gazprom have all taken acreage there over the last year, lured by the lucrative terms on offer in Iraq’s semi-autonomous northern region.

Gulf Keystone will contest claims made by Excalibur Ventures LLC at the English Commercial Court. The claimant, which commenced legal action in 2010, asserts it is entitled to an interest of up to 30 percent in all of Gulf Keystone’s blocks in Kurdistan.

Gulf Keystone’s prize asset in Kurdistan is the Shaikan field, which could hold up to 15 billion barrels of oil – a volume which would make it one of the biggest discoveries made anywhere in recent years.

Under legal orders, Excalibur has paid 6 million pounds ($9.6 million) to the court as security for Gulf Keystone’s legal costs, and 3.5 million as security for the costs of Texas Keystone, a U.S.-based company against which it has also made the claims.

Texas Keystone, a company founded by Gulf Keystone Chief Executive Todd Kozel and of which he is still a director, holds a small interest in the Shaikan field in trust for Gulf Keystone.

Kozel, whose expensive divorce attracted media coverage nine months ago, is one of Britain’s highest-paid executives, having earned around $20 million in 2011.

The court case, which is expected to take between 10 and 12 weeks, was scheduled to start on Wednesday but was delayed by the judge.

Shares in Gulf Keystone closed at 205.75 pence on Tuesday, down over 50 percent from an all-time high reached in February, and valuing the company at about 1.75 billion pounds.

U.S. secret mission sent to Jordan to control Syrian chemical weapons: report

The United States military has secretly sent a task force of more than 150 planners and other specialists to Jordan to help the armed forces there to prepare for the possibility that Syria could lose control of its chemical weapons and be positioned should the turmoil in Syria expand into a wider conflict, a report published by the New York Times on Wednesday said.

The secret mission, led by a senior American officer, will also help in handling the estimated 180,000 Syrian refugees who have crossed the border and are severely straining the country’s resources, the report said.
The task force is based at a Jordanian military training center built into an old rock quarry north of Amman.

According to the report, U.S. officials familiar with the operation said the mission includes drawing up plans to try to insulate Jordan, a strong U.S., from the upheaval in Syria and to avoid the kind of clashes now occurring along the border of Syria and Turkey.

“We have been working closely with our Jordanian partners on a variety of issues related to Syria for some time now,” George Little, the Pentagon press secretary, was quoted as saying by the New York Times. He added that a specific concern was the security of Syria’s stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons. “As we’ve said before, we have been planning for various contingencies, both unilaterally and with our regional partners.”

The Obama administration has declined to intervene in the Syrian conflict beyond providing communications equipment and other non-lethal assistance to the rebels. However, the outpost near Amman could play a broader role should U.S. policy change.

The New York Times mentioned that there were no comments on the U.S. military operation from neither the Pentagon nor the Jordanian Embassy in Washington.

Analysts have always said that the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad might deliberately force the Syrian conflict to spill over beyond the Syrian borders in order to keep the world’s attention away from the violence committed against civilians inside Syrian.

Over the past week, Syria and Turkey have exchanged artillery and mortar fire across Syria’s northern border. In western Syria, intense fighting recently broke out in villages near the border crossing that leads to the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon. To the east, the Syrian government has lost control of some border crossings, including the one near al-Qaim in Iraq.

Recent scuffles have also broken out between the Syrian military and Jordanians guarding the country’s northern border, where many families have ties to Syria.

Jordan, which was one of the first Arab countries to call for Assad’s resignation, has become increasingly concerned that Islamic armed groups, coming to join the fight in Syria, could cross the porous border between the two countries.

Al Arabiya has recently revealed that Assad gave instructions for his agents to try to ignite unrest in Jordan. According to “classified intelligence documents” leaked to Al Arabiya, Assad gave orders to provide peaceful protesters, who call for reform in Jordan, with weapons.

According to the New York Times report, the U.S. mission in Jordan quietly began this summer. In May, the U.S. organized a major training exercise, which was dubbed Eager Lion. About 12,000 troops from 19 countries, including Special Forces troops, participated in the exercise.

After it ended, the small American contingent stayed on and the task force was established at a Jordanian training center north of Amman. It includes communications specialists, logistics experts, planners, trainers and headquarters staff members, the report mentioned citing American officials.

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta met in Amman in August with King Abdullah II of Jordan. Panetta was then followed in September by Gen. James N. Mattis, the head of Central Command, who met with senior Jordanian officials in Amman.

Members of the American task force are spending the bulk of their time working with the Jordanian military on logistics — figuring out how to deploy tons of food, water and latrines to the border, for example, and training the Jordanian military to handle the refugees, the report said.

Jordan is currently hosting around 100,000 Syrians who have either registered or are awaiting registration, the United Nations said.

Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDSA) has drilled more than 100 wells in Jordan in the two years since it a concession agreement to explore for oil from the country’s vast oil shale reserves, a person familiar with the project said.

Shell signed a production-sharing agreement with Jordan in May 2009 and pledged to spend some $500 million for exploration, assessment and designs on the project. The project aims at exploring for and, if successful, developing and producing oil from Jordan’s vast oil shale resources that are estimated at 40 billion metric tons. Many analysts now see oil shale–an unconventional form of oil contained in difficult-to-extract reservoirs–as a serious rival to crude.

Shell is mobilizing two rigs in the project that covers an area of 22,000 square kilometers from northern Jordan and west Safawi to Azraq in the middle and Sirhan and al-Jafer in the south. A third rig will be mobilized next year, the person told Dow Jones Newswires.

If the exploration proves successful Shell would invest billions of dollars and produce thousands of barrels of oil a day, the person said. Jordan signed similar agreements with companies such as U.K.-registered Jordan Energy & Mining Ltd., or JEML, and Estonian EESTi Energy.

Jordan, home to around 6 million people, imports some 100,000 barrels of oil a day, which constitutes around 98% of its energy needs.

BP last week began drilling the first well in its concession in the Risha natural gas field in eastern Jordan, near the border with Iraq, the British oil major said on Monday.

The drilling follows two years of preparation and a “very successful 5,000 square km seismic acquisition program in 2011”, BP said.

The well is expected to take three to four months to complete, and a number of international oil and gas service contractors as well as local firms are involved, it said.

Jordanian officials hope intensive exploration and drilling at Risha will lead to the discovery of extensive recoverable gas reserves, which will help cut dependence on oil imports to fuel Jordan’s power sector and industries.

Risha, which was discovered in 1987, has not delivered encouraging exploration results in the past.

In 2009, BP was given up to four years to spend at least $237 million to explore and evaluate the Risha block, which covers an area of 7,000 square km, Jordanian officials said.

If the exploration leads to the discovery of large commercially viable reserves of natural gas, officials said BP would enter a second phase to invest billions of dollars in developing the field.

BP said the seismic survey “was one of the largest ever acquired in the Middle East and one of the safest and highest-productivity surveys acquired in BP history.”

The government strategy calls for Risha to produce 330 million cubic feet of gas per day by 2015. The field has a current modest daily output of about 18 million cubic feet.

The kingdom, which imports most of its energy, is struggling to meet electricity demand, which is growing by more than 7 percent per year, due to fast growing population and rising industrial needs.

Zion Oil Executes Memorandum of Understanding Regarding Drilling Partnership

Dallas, Texas and Caesarea Israel – June 4, 2012 – Zion Oil & Gas, Inc. (“Zion Oil”) (NASDAQ GM: ZN) announced today that the Company recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Lapidoth Israel Oil Prospectors Corp. Ltd. (“Lapidoth”), a forerunner of onshore oil prospecting in Israel. Lapidoth was incorporated in 1959 and its securities are traded on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.

The MoU, effective June 4, 2012, outlines plans to establish a company, tentatively named “Zion-Lapidoth Drilling”, which is to locate and purchase a drilling rig suitable for drilling wells to a depth of up to 25,000 feet. The MoU contemplates that Zion-Lapidoth Drilling will be 50% owned by Zion Oil and 50% by Lapidoth. The anticipated cost of the drilling rig is up to US$ 15 million and each party will share equally in the financing of Zion-Lapidoth Drilling.

The MoU provides that Zion Oil will retain Zion-Lapidoth Drilling for its drilling program and when not required by Zion Oil, Zion-Lapidoth Drilling may lease the drilling rig to third party oil and gas drilling entities.

The MoU is subject to certain standard conditions, including the execution of definitive purchase agreements, obtaining required approvals and the completion of acceptable due diligence by the parties. Additionally, the implementation of the MoU is subject to Zion raising at least US$ 10 million within the next 12 months.

The MoU provides that for the next 12 months Lapidoth will have a right of first refusal to drill wells, as needed, in accordance with Zion Oil’s work program.

Zion’s Founder and Chairman, John Brown, said today, “The signing of this MoU marks a significant milestone in the life of Zion Oil & Gas. We are looking forward to the future expectantly and the partnership with Lapidoth Israel Oil Prospectors Corp. Ltd helps solidify our commitment to drill our prospective exploratory wells.”

Zion’s Chief Executive Officer, Richard Rinberg, noted, “The partnership with Lapidoth helps to alleviate a longstanding concern about our ability to continue to drill exploratory wells in Israel without dependence on an outside third party. Zion will also benefit from Lapidoth’s significant experience in operating drilling projects in Israel. We believe that the ultimate establishment of Zion-Lapidoth Drilling will take Zion Oil, as a business, to a completely new level.

We remain excited about the possibility of recovering hydrocarbons on our license areas, onshore Israel, especially due to the U.S. Geological Survey report, published in April 2010, containing their assessment that there may be 1.7 billion barrels of recoverable undiscovered oil and 122 trillion cubic feet of recoverable gas in the Levant Basin, as all of Zion’s exploration rights fall within the area of the Levant Basin.”

Zion’s common stock trades on the NASDAQ Global Market under the symbol “ZN” and Zion’s warrants trade under the symbol “ZNWAW, ZNWAZ and ZNWAL”.

Zion Oil & Gas, a Delaware corporation, explores for oil and gas in Israel in areas located onshore between Haifa and Tel Aviv. It currently holds three petroleum exploration licenses, the Joseph License (on approximately 83,272 acres) and the Asher-Menashe License (on approximately 78,824 acres) between Netanya, in the south, and Haifa, in the north and the Jordan Valley License (on approximately 55,845 acres), just south of the Sea of Galilee. The total license area amounts to approximately 217,941 acres.

FORWARD LOOKING STATEMENTS: Statements in this communication that are not historical fact, including statements regarding Zion’s planned operations, geophysical and geological data and interpretation, the successful establishment of the drilling subsidiary and the negotiation and execution of definitive agreements with Lapidoth with respect thereto, the presence or recoverability of hydrocarbons, sufficiency of cash reserves, ability to raise additional capital and timing and potential results thereof and plans contingent thereon are forward-looking statements as defined in the “Safe Harbor” provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward looking statements are based on assumptions that are subject to significant known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other unpredictable factors, many of which are described in Zion’s periodic reports filed with the SEC and are beyond Zion’s control. These risks could cause Zion’s actual performance to differ materially from the results predicted by these forward-looking statements. Zion can give no assurance that the expectations reflected in these statements will prove to be correct and assumes no responsibility to update these statements.


Blood for Oil: Oil & Gas Interests vs. People and the Environment

Where are oil and gas extraction connected to human rights abuses?

Where isn’t it? Oil extraction is a very capital-intensive undertaking, dominated by large corporations and centralized governments, and usually requiring cooperation between the two. Often, the rights, health, and even lives of the local population are ignored, abused or assaulted.

Environmental degradation is usually one of the major problems with drilling and pipeline projects. Contamination of land and water supplies is an immediate threat to human survival.

When the local populace objects strongly enough, the investing corporation might get nervous about the security of their equipment and pipelines, prompting the cooperating government to crack down on the local population in order to maintain the presence of the corporation.

In other cases, the desire to control oil reserves is just another motivating factor for a repressive government…

ExxonMobil has contributed $5 million to the Tsunami relief efforts. In Aceh, the company operates one of the largest gas fields in the world and they’re being sued for gross human rights violations. We speak with a lawyer who has just returned from Indonesia where he was interviewing witnesses against ExxonMobil from Aceh. [includes rush transcript]

Transcript

“AMY GOODMAN: We’re joined by Bama Athreya, who is the Deputy Director of the International Labor Rights Fund, as well as Derek Baxter, who is a lawyer with that group. He has just returned from Indonesia, where he was speaking with people who are involved in the lawsuit. We want to welcome you both to Democracy Now!, and begin with Derek Baxter. Welcome.

DEREK BAXTER: Thank you.

AMY GOODMAN: It’s good to have you with us, Derek. I wanted to start off by saying that we did invite ExxonMobil on the program. They said at first they would participate in the program, if we were just talking about their contribution, ExxonMobil’s contribution to the relief efforts. They’re one of the largest corporate contributors to the relief efforts. They have pledged more than — they have pledged $5 million. They did write us an email. They said, “I’m surprised your program would choose to divert attention from the unprecedented outpouring of support and coordination among multinational and local relief agencies in Indonesia, by pursuing an ambush interview with one of the largest corporate contributors to those efforts.” Derek Baxter, can you respond?

DEREK BAXTER: Well, we welcome ExxonMobil’s contribution, but ExxonMobil, we have to remember, has a long debt to the Acehnese people. They are by far the largest corporation operating in Aceh. The amount of profit that they derive from this region is enormous. It dwarfs any other industry in the area. While we’re glad that they’re helping, sadly, all too long, Exxon has been part of the problem in Aceh. As our lawsuit has alleged, Exxon has knowingly operated its facilities, its natural gas facilities on the northeastern coast of Aceh. They have done so by hiring the Indonesian military forces to provide security, knowing all along, as is a matter of public record, that the Indonesian military’s record in that area has been a very difficult one. The military has committed many human rights abuses against the people of Aceh in that area. Their collaboration with ExxonMobil has only worsened the problem.

AMY GOODMAN: Derek Baxter, you recently returned, in fact, what, just a week before the tsunami hit, from Indonesia. Can you talk about what you were doing there?

DEREK BAXTER: Certainly. I was very close to Aceh, and part of the problem in actually going to Aceh is that the Indonesian government has not regularly allowed foreigners, journalists, NGOs, etc., to enter without securing special permission, which is very difficult to get. So I was in North Sumatra, very close to Aceh. I met with numerous people, villagers who lived very close to the ExxonMobil facilities in Aceh, who traveled at great personal risk to themselves to North Sumatra, the area where I was, to meet with me. They told me of continuing human rights abuses. Just on the eve of the tsunami, the human rights situation in that part of Aceh was severe, and if anything, it was worsening. I spoke with people who told me that military assigned to protect the ExxonMobil facilities accosted them, extorted them, asked them regularly for contributions of money, of rice, of possessions, which these people had very little, and if there was any protest, they would often be attacked. They would be hauled away from their families, beaten. I spoke to a very young man who had been shot in the right knee, very gruesome. But these atrocities were commonplace. They didn’t surprise anybody that I was talking to, because sadly, in that area, right by the ExxonMobil facilities, those abuses of that type have been going on for years, for the entire last decade. We have even heard reports, which we’re trying to verify, that five people were killed actually on the liquification plant that ExxonMobil helps to operate. As we have — as the ILRF have noted in the lawsuit which we filed in 2001, the torture and murder, disappearance, sexual assault of people, Acehnese, living close to these ExxonMobil facilities was all too routine over the last years.

AMY GOODMAN: Derek Baxter, if you are talking about the Indonesian military, why do you hold ExxonMobil accountable?

DEREK BAXTER: That’s an excellent question, and we’re not seeking to hold them accountable for everything, obviously, that happens in Aceh. There’s a long, ongoing civil strife in that area, but in this particular area, ExxonMobil has contracted, as we have said and alleged in our complaint, they have contracted with the Indonesian military to provide security just for the ExxonMobil facilities. We have alleged that this relationship with the Indonesian military includes providing money, directly to them, it includes building — constructing buildings on ExxonMobil grounds, which the military has used for the torture and disappearance of Acehnese. It includes providing excavating equipment, which ExxonMobil has provided to the military, in which we have alleged the military has then used to construct mass graves of the victims. It’s a very close, ongoing relationship, and you have to remember that ExxonMobil wields enormous financial power in this region, and if they are choosing to utilize the military force that has been criticized by many human rights groups for their violations, then we believe, and we believe the law will hold us out on this point, that ExxonMobil will be legally liable for these violations.

AMY GOODMAN: Derek Baxter, we have to break. When we come back, we will also talk with Bama Athreya, about the overall region. Today, there’s a piece in the Washington Post that talks about the collaboration between the U.S. military right now and the Indonesian military. Yesterday we went up to the U.N. mission — to the Indonesian mission to the United Nations where there was a gathering of Acehnese refugees who were encouraging international aid organizations not to funnel their money through the Indonesian government. And they were calling on the Indonesian military not to stop the aid going into Aceh.

[break]

AMY GOODMAN: As we continue to discuss one of the largest corporate contributors to the relief efforts, ExxonMobil — $5 million they say they are giving, we wish we could have them on the program. They declined to participate, but we are talking about an ongoing lawsuit that involves ExxonMobil and its running of one of the largest gas fields in the world in Aceh. I believe that its facility there was not actually damaged by the tsunami. We’re joined in Washington studios by two members of the International Labor Rights Fund. We’re joined by the Deputy Director of the International Fund, Bama Athreya, as well as Derek Baxter, who is the lawyer who’s just returned from Indonesia, a week before the tsunami, interviewing people who are participating in the lawsuit against the — against ExxonMobil. I was wondering, Bama Athreya, if you could put this in the context of Indonesia, which you have worked on for many years, and in the context of what’s happening right now, the massive — well, the cataclysm that has taken place and what is taking place in Aceh.

BAMA ATHREYA: Sure. That’s a big question, Amy, and I’ll try and focus it a little bit on the things that you just mentioned. You had mentioned that there has been a call from a number of activists to insure that the aid that people are so very generously giving to the victims of the tsunami is not all funneled through the Indonesian military. And, on context, I think it’s important for people here, who are, you know, giving very generously on a personal level to recognize the political context in Aceh. The Indonesian military has been operating basically a war against a separatist movement in Aceh for decades now. And that has had a lot of fallout in terms of human rights violations against innocent civilians throughout Aceh. It’s also important to remember that the Indonesian military itself are an extremely corrupt institution. It’s estimated that only about 40% of the military’s basic operating costs are paid for by the Indonesian government. That means they get the other 60% through extortion. You mentioned that ExxonMobil’s given $5 million to the relief effort. Well, we would sure love to know how much ExxonMobil’s has given to the Indonesian military over the years. We know they’ve paid them. We know they’ve given them logistical support. We know they’ve housed them. I’m just guessing that their donations, if you’d like to call it that, to the Indonesian military over the years have been far in excess of the $5 million they’re now giving to the poor victims in Aceh. So, we’re looking at a context where we’ve got a very corrupt institution, the Indonesian military, which has been extorting local Acehnese villagers, which has been running drug operations and prostitution rings in Aceh, which has been involved in illegal timber operations in Aceh; and now we’re going to trust this same institution to be the folks who deliver the aid to the Acehnese victims? It’s not a great idea, Amy, and I think that’s one of the reasons why we share the position of some of our human rights colleagues here in the U.S. that there have got to be some transparent systems in place to deliver aid to make sure those people in Aceh that have suffered the most really, truly get the food and the medicine that people are donating.

AMY GOODMAN: As you mentioned, Bama, Acehnese and human rights groups have been protesting the funneling of aid to the Indonesian military. Yesterday outside the Indonesian mission to the U.N., a gathering of Acehnese refugees took place. They marched from the U.N. to thank them for supporting huge relief efforts in Indonesia, but then marched over to the Indonesian Mission to the U.N., condemning what they called the Indonesian government’s haphazard response to the tsunami. They accuse the Indonesian armed forces of continuing their military operations in Aceh, and of preventing the delivery of aid to victims of the earthquake and tsunami. The refugees charged that rather than helping the people, in a number of areas the troops are intimidating villagers, scaring away —them away from their villages, looting their homes, stealing food. They called on the military to implement an immediate cease-fire.”

Today, as the United Nations puts the confirmed death toll from the Asian Tsunami at more than 150,000, we are going to continue our special coverage of the devestation in the hardest hit area, the Aceh region of Indonesia where the death toll is expected soon to rise above 100,000. In a few moments we are going to be joined by two Acehnese activists who were out in front of the Indonesian Mission to the UN protesting yesterday against the Indonesian military regime. But first, we turn to a story that has gotten almost no attention and that is the story of the oil giant Exxon-Mobil, a corporation that has a massive investment in Aceh. According to some estimates, ExxonMobil has extracted some $40 billion from its operations in Aceh, Indonesia.

According to human rights groups, ExxonMobil has hired military units of the Indonesian national army to provide “security” for their gas extraction and liquification project in the region. Members of these military units regularly have perpetrated ongoing and severe human rights abuses against local villagers, including murder, rape, torture, destruction of property and other acts of terror. Human rights groups further charge that ExxonMobil has continued to finance the military and to provide company equipment and facilities that have been used by the Indonesian military to commit atrocities and cover them up through the use of mass graves.

For years, the Washington DC-based International Labor Rights Fund has fought a series of legal battles to hold ExxonMobil responsible for its record in Aceh. One of the group’s lawyers was in Aceh interviewing witnesses just days before the Tsunami hit.

Derek Baxter, a lawyer for the International Labor Rights Fund in Washington, D.C.

Bama Athreya, Deputy Director of the International Labor Rights Fund in Washington, D.C.

[read more]

”When, in November 2001, the French publishing house Denoel published Ben Laden, La Verite Interdite, (Bin Laden, the Forbidden Truth), the French daily Le Monde predicted “this book will create sensation!” On the contrary, no sensation was created, since no publisher in the United States or any other English speaking country was interested in touching this hot iron. Fortunately, Europe is different. The Swiss publisher Pendo published the book in German under the title Verbotene Wahrheit. The only difference is the subtitle: Entanglement of USA with Osama Bin Laden. Allegedly, The Forbidden Truth will appear in an English edition in July of this year.
For political observers with a little sense of smell, the second Bush administration has had, from its first day in office, the strong odor of oil. The Bush family’s association with oil-related industries; George Jr.’s role as founder and executive director of Arbusto Energy Inc. and later Harken Energy Inc., both partly financed by some suspicious Saudi Arabian figures; his insistence on exploring for oil in Alaska, in spite of the negative environmental impact; and the members of his administration-all smell of oil.
Vice President Dick Cheney was, until his settlement in the White House, Chief Executive of the world’s largest oil-service company, Halliburton. With such a background, it was hardly strange that his first activity as Vice President was the creation of the Energy Policy Task Force. This was the bridge between government and the energy industry. The result of the cooperation between Washington and power producers and traders is now well known. Cheney’s involvement with the Enron corporation and his various meetings with the principals of this best-known player of the power privatization game, has dominated the business pages for months.
Congress finally invited the officials of Enron to a congressional hearing. The hearing became a senseless show, as Enron executives refused to answer any question. By revealing the corrupt policies of Enron, such as creation of a false energy crisis in California, a more thorough investigation became necessary, in spite of White House resistance. Since the repeated requests of congressional investigators remained without response, on May 24, 2002, Senator Joseph Lieberman (Dem.Conn.), chair of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, subpoenaed the White House for an array of Enron-related documents. That evening, the committee received a bunch of papers. Senator Lieberman said, “in many cases, they’ve left out details the committee asked for, such as who attended meetings or took part in communications and when all of the communications occurred.” Points of interest revealed by the documents include:
Portions of the chronology document the deep ties between the Bush administration and Enron, including three phone conversations between former Enron chairman Kenneth L. Lay and Bush’s senior adviser, Karl Rove. Enron’s top executives were some of Bush’s earliest and most generous supporters, and pursued a broad agenda with the administration that ended only after its huge losses and accounting irregularities became public. Robeff McNally a special assistant to Bush on energy policy met with Enron representatives several times and received at least one e-mail from Enron’s Chief Washington lobbyist. Enron officials briefed members of Cheney’s energy task force about a liquefied natural gas project in Venezuela. The chronology does not say why the company felt it necessary to inform the White House about the project.
Let us return to Forbidden Truth: Many names in this administration are worth mentioning that will highlight the Bush people’s oil connection, but let it suffice to point out the star of Bush’s cabinet, Ms. Condoleezza Rice. The mainstream media of the country present Bush & National Security Adviser as a Russian specialist with credentials from Stanford. But the media gloss over other known facts. For instance, the media seldom mention that Ms. Rice, from 1991 to 2000, served on the Board of Directors of the Chevron Group, one of the world’s largest oil conglomerates. She was, before everything, responsible for the areas of Kazakhstan and Pakistan.
The question is, how do Rice’s current activities differ from her past efforts on the Board of Directors of Chevron? And this question is naturally not restricted to her, since in the case of other Bush administration members, it appears that only their office address has changed. Again Brissard and Dasquie: “The men and women who settled on January 26, 2001 in the White House were not as isolationist as one could assume, since their international relations easily smell of oil.”
Bush’s close connection with energy markets, and the undeniable involvement of Dick Cheney in the Enron scandal are the inescapable background to the sudden upheaval in Venezuela which resulted in the incarceration of President Hugo Chavez. This country on the northern rim of South America within a short distance from the U.S. shores, is fourth in international oil production, with a daily export of approximately two million barrels to the United States.
A NIGHTMARE RESURRECTED
For me, and I believe for many politically aware people around the world, those headlines of the U.S. press, gleefully reporting the forced resignation of the Venezuelan President by a military coup, awakened a past nightmare. That nightmare was the overthrow of the popular and democratically elected government of Prime Minister Dr. Mohammad Mossadeq by a coup, organized by the CIA 50 years ago in August 1953. By closely reading the reports of different phases of the Venezuelan event, one finds many similarities with what happened in Iran half a century ago.
The Wall Street Journal’s man in Caracas, Marc Lifsher, reported on April 12, under the headline “Venezuelan Crisis Deepens, Cutting Oil Flow and Threatening Chavez.” The first two paragraphs reported “a prolonged national strike and violent demonstrations…choking off…oil exports to U.S….” the rumors that “President Hugo Chavez had agreed to leave the country” and a clash between the demonstrators and supporters of the President. The clues and motifs of the event are given in the next paragraph:
The demonstrations and a crippling strike across this nation of 24 million threaten to loosen Mr. Chavez’s grip on power. The protests are the fruit of an unusual alliance between big business and labor, led by a burly 56-year old former refinery cleaner named Carlos Ortega…. The actions have bottled up oil output, jolted global oil markets and stunned a government that Washington considers a political pariah. U.S. officials dislike the Venezuelan ruler for his national oil policy.
NOW AND THEN
Chavez’s national oil policy is the same crime for which Dr. Mossadeq was punished with the first covert action of the CIA. Let’s not forget that the CIA success in Iran became a model later used in Guatemala, Ghana, Congo, Chile and many other places in the world. Marc Lifsher described Chavez’s policy as follows:
Mr. Chavez’s prickly nationalism has made him a big irritant for Washington and a bit of a wild card on the global oil scene. He has increased royalties charged to foreign oil investors and shifted Venezuelan’s traditional high-production, low-price oil policy by aligning with OPEC in an effort to push prices higher. Apart from that, there’s evidence that Mr. Chavez has consorted with Marxist guerrillas in neighboring Colombia, where the U.S. is backing the government in a $1.3 billion assistance program. Mr. Chavez has also maintained warm relations with a host of leaders whom the U.S. considers pariahs, including Fidel Castro, Saddam Hussein and Muammar el-Qaddafi.
In the 1950s, except for the Soviet Union, not many “pariahs” existed. In his book Countercoup, Mr. Kermit Roosevelt, “field commander” of the coup, asserted that, at the time of the CIA coup in Iran, Dr. Mossadeq “had formed an alliance of his own with the Soviet Union to achieve the result he wanted.” This was not true.
A clearer picture of Dr. Mossadeq can be found in the carefully documented book The Eagle and the Lion:
… Mossadeq was no more stubborn than the British… Besides his personal convictions in these matters, Mossadeq’s unyielding position was essential within the context of the social forces then at work in Iran. The communist left, the growing nationalist middle, and the xenophobic religious right exerted continual fierce pressure…. In a secret meeting of the Majlis [Iranian parliament] Oil Commission in 1951, he argued that in order to defeat communism, reforms were necessary. In order to implement reforms, money was essential. In order to obtain money nationalization was vital…
Based upon those facts, the previous administration of Truman/Acheson hesitated to interfere in the controversies between Iran and the U.K. For the Republican administration of Eisenhower/Dulles, with their so-called concern about communism, the logical reasoning of Mossadeq did not have any validity. Consequently, his oil policy, focused on the nationalization of Iranian oil, sufficed to make him accused of being a communist who consorted with the Soviet Union. Fifty years ago, Iranian oil was very important for the United States-important enough to make it ready to overthrow a democratic government. When we understand that most Venezuelan oil is consumed by the U.S., and some Texas refineries are actually dependent upon this source, the current U.S. position toward Venezuela becomes similarly clear.
The importance of Venezuelan oil for the U.S. was reported by the Wall Street Journals man in Caracas:
Venezuela…has long been a strategic source of crude oil of the U.S. and is only a few days tanker run to refineries in Louisiana and Texas. Petroleos De Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA) wholly owns Citgo, a Tulsa, Oklahoma-based company that operates a number of refineries and 14,000 service stations…. Venezuela regularly ranks among the top four foreign sources of U.S. oil and usually shipped to the U.S. about 1.7 million barrels a day of crude oil and refined products like gasoline. Many of the U.S. refineries are specially engineered to handle heavy Venezuelan crude and could find themselves facing shortage in the coming weeks if Venezuela doesn’t resume full production and exportation.
The reaction of the administration in Washington and the corporate media to the Venezuelan event was practically identical. Here, the Washington Post can serve as a sample of the American press. On April 13, 2002, the paper had three reports and one editorial about Venezuela. The report of Scott Wilson from Caracas under the headline “Leader of Venezuela Is Forced To Resign” informed the readers in the first two paragraphs:
…President Hugo Chavez, the former paratrooper whose leftist politics roiled this oil-rich country for three years, resigned this moming hours after military leaders seized control of the country. His resignation followed anti-government protests that left more than a dozen people dead…. An interim government headed by Pedro Carmona, leader of the country’s largest business group, was sworn in at the presidential palace this afternoon in a ceremony attended by a cross section of Venezuela’s civil society Backed by the country’s top generals, who will join him on the governing junta, Carmona declared Chavez’s two-year-old constitution invalid, dissolved the Chavez-controlled legislature and Supreme Court, and pledged to hold new presidential and legislative elections within a year.
LEGALITY OR LEGITIMACY?
The second report of Scott Wilson was titled “Chavez’s Gloomy Legacy for The Left.” Wilson presents Chavez as a man “…superimposed between the guerrilla heroes of old-the face of a new generation of leftist Latin American leaders ready to antagonize the United States,” with a bleak legacy for the radical left of Latin America, “…now pushing against the prevailing political current of free trade, capitalism and a general nod to U.S. interest.” Two citations in that analysis which sound like music to Washington’s ears are very revealing. The first is from an official of the state oil company who said “Cuba would not get one more drop of Venezuelan oil,” and the second is from Anibal Romero, professor of political science at Simon Bolivar University. Professor Romero, like Francis Fukuyama or Dinesh D’Souza, is the sort of ideologue much in demand at Washington think-tanks. His lecture about the Venezuelan event:
The lesson here is that charismatic demagogues can still win elections in poor countries. The economic and social instability is still with us. The field is still open to the successful appearance of these figures that, by distorting reality and securing the hearts and minds of the uneducated, win election….Chavez showed what was wrong with a U.S. policy that endorses democratic government regardless of how it is carried out. Democracies operate differently in each country and should be treated differently as a result. It is a great improvement that the U.S. is committed to democracy and the rule of law in Latin America, and it’s a big change from the past. But this is not a policy that should be implemented indiscriminately Legality is one thing, legitimacy is another.
The White House was apparently familiar with the opinion of Professor Romero, as becomes clear from the statement of Scott Wilson:
The emerging response to Chavez’s forced resignation, which he tendered to three generals this moming, highlights how fragile democracy is in an Andean region that has had three presidents ousted by coup or popular protest in the last three years. U.S. officials declined today to call Chavez’s removal a coup, even as the leaders from 19 Latin American nations condemned ‘the constitutional interruption in Venezuela.
U.S. CONTACT WITH THE OPPOSITION
According to Wilson’s first report, some members of the opposition contacted the U.S. Embassy in Caracas in the weeks before the event. They were seeking U.S. support for toppling Chavez. One U.S. official confirmed the contact: “The opposition has been coming in with an assortment of… what if this happened? What if that happened? What if you held it up and looked at it sideways? To every scenario we say no. We know what a coup looks like, and we won’t support it.”
The third article, by Peter Slevin and Karen DeYoung, has one purpose: washing the administration’s hands. This is reflected in the headline: “Chavez Provoked His Removal, U.S. Officials Say,” which repeats what Ari Fleisher said the previous day: The Bush administration yesterday blamed former Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez for the events that led to his forced resignation and arrest, calling his toppling by the nation’s military a “change of government” rather than a coup. Officials said Chavez’s departure was the will of Venezuela’s people. Wonderful how the will of Venezuela’s people so closely parallels the designs of the Bush administration.
Chavez lost his job ‘…as a result of the message of the Venezuelan people,’ said White House spokesman Ari Fleischer… [He] said the Chavez government tried to suppress peaceful demonstrations, ordered its supporters to fire on unarmed protesters and blocked media broadcasts of the events.
In addition to such reporting and analysis, the Washington Post felt it necessary to clarify the paper’s position in the case of the Venezuelan change of government. The Post published an editorial that tries to demonstrate the paper’s patriotism without compromising its so-called liberal face. The opening paragraph is a masterwork of hypocrisy.
Any interruption of democracy in Latin America is wrong, the more so when it involves the military. The region’s history of military coups is too long and tragic, and the consolidation of democracy too recent, for any unconstitutional takeover to be condoned.
This is a beautiful opening for an editorial. Unfortunately, its validity is not always guaranteed, and under some circumstances there is legitimate reason to ignore the consolidation of democracy. The editorial presented the difference between legality and legitimacy in the following sentence:
But first facts from Venezuela suggest that the violation of democracy that led to ouster of President Hugo Chavez Thursday night was initiated not by the army but by Mr. Chavez himself. Confronted by tens of thousands of peaceful demonstrators protesting his increasingly destructive policies, Mr. Chavez forced television stations off the air and allegedly ordered snipers and other armed loyalists at the presidential palace to open fire. More than a dozen people were killed and scores wounded. It was only then the military commanders demanded the president resignation; they would not, they said, tolerate his attempt to stop his opposition with bullets.
The editorial admits that “There is no question that democracy brought Mr. Chavez to power three years ago.” But it tries to rationalize his removal by military means by proclaiming:
Along the way Mr. Chavez seriously compromised the integrity of democratic institutions such as Congress and the Courts And unfortunately for the poor, who make up 80 percent of the population of an oil-rich country, Mr. Chavez was a terrible leader. l 8
The jubilant atmosphere in Washington and the corporate media was short-lived. The next day’s headlines were unexpectedly sober. Many dailies in the U.S. followed the Post’s lead and joined in the White House jubilation by repeating Ari Fleischer’s daily statements. On April 16, the New York Times, at least, confessed the error of its editorial of April 14.
Scott Wilson of the Washington Post gave a precise picture of the event. In his previous report, he called “…the media, labor unions and the Catholic Church…” enemies of the Chavez government. In the subsequent report, he informed the readers that in the Fall, two officers, Pedro Soto and Carlos Molina from Air Force and Marines respectively, began to organize a group of officers for a plot to topple Chavez. The plot was discovered and the two officers were forced out of service. But their idea was supported by two high-ranking officers, General Rafael D. Bustillos of the army, and Vice Admiral Hector Ramirez of the navy. After the coup, Hector Ramirez became defense minister, and Rafael Bustillos became interior and justice minister in the interim government of Pedro Carmona. Scott Wilson found out later that Soto and Molina received $100,000 each from a Miami Bank. The New York Times, under the title “Bush Officials Met With Venezuelan Who Ousted Leader” quoted a Pentagon spokesperson saying that U.S. military officials were not discouraging coup plotters, and were sending informal signals that they don’t like Chavez.
TUMULTUOUS 48 HOURS IN 2002
According to the official story of the interim government, on Thursday, April 11th, about 3:00 p.m., demonstrators opposing Chavez arrived at the presidential palace. Chavez, concerned about the loyalty of some high-ranking military officers, called directly the commander of 3rd division in Caracas, asking for 30 tanks to defend the palace, Miraflores. As Chief of the Armed Forces Lucas Rincon received the order, he stopped it and sent only seven tanks. About one hour later, Hector Ramirez, as the new minister of defense, accompanied by a group of officers, appeared on television, denounced Chavez as dictator and demanded his resignation. On Friday, April 12th, the military named Pedro Carmona interim President, claiming that Chavez had resigned. Carmona immediately dissolved the Congress and Supreme Court. The United States, unsurprisingly, endorsed the interim government. Latin American leaders refused to support the coup. As the coup was stimulating harsh international criticism, the supporters of Chavez took to the streets surrounding the presidential palace demanding his return to office. The insistence of Chavez supporters day and night around the palace forced some part of the military to reconsider their position. A series of rebellions among army units warned the Carmona clique and cooperating officers.
Mark Lifsher’s report in the Wall Street Journal, cynically titled “In Under 48 Hours, Venezuelans Have Enough of a Coup,” describes the events as follows:
When a group of military men and the head of Venezuela’s main business association ousted leftist President Hugo Chavez last week, the coup-plotters denounced the former paratrooper as a dictator….But once in power the plotters revealed that they too were undemocratic-and lacking in Mr. Chavez’s flair with Venezuela’s aggrieved working class. The brief government, headed by business leader Pedro Carmona, immediately issued a decree shutting down the Congress, suspending the Supreme Court and authorizing the firing of elected officials, including state governors and mayors.
Both the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal interviewed Anibal Romero, professor of political science. After Chavez returned to power, the professor said he has been . . . immensely strengthened both domestically and internationally he is a martyr who’s come back from the grave. This is not simply a setback but is a tragedy and it’s going to take the opposition a long time and enormous effort to rebuild.
TUMULTUOUS 48 HOURS IN 1952
The fact is that the 16th parliament of Iran generally supported the view of Mossadeq. But the election for the 17th parliament was a great risk, since all his opponents such as the Shah, the military and the clerics (including Ayatollah Khomeini) were mobilized to destroy his legislative support. The loyalty of high-ranking officers of all branches of the military to the Imperial Court, and their broad influence over regional governments was a well-known fact. To encounter such sabotage, Dr. Mossadeq did not have any other choice than to break this cycle. In this light, Amir Arjomand analyzes the situation at that time:
Furthermore, Mossadeq also sought to restrict the neo-patrimonial powers of the Shah and to reduce him to a constitutional monarch and a ceremonial figurehead. To achieve this constitutional goal, he forced a showdown with the Shah in July 1 952.
As the Shah refused the Prime Minister’s demand, Mossadeq resigned. For this the British and the Shah had waited a long time. The Shah immediately nominated Ahmad Ghavam as prime minister. This was clearly against the existing Iranian Constitution at that time, and was demonstrably a coup d’etat. Much as it happened in Venezuela in April 2002, mass demonstrations in Tehran and other major cities, forced the Shah to dismiss Ghavam and invite Dr. Mossadeq back. This spontaneous demonstration of the people was a real countercoup.
CONCILIATORY COMEBACK
In spite of condemnation by 19 Latin American leaders, the White House stuck to its position. The day Chavez reclaimed the presidency, the White House released the following statement:
The people of Venezuela have sent a clear message to President Chavez that they want both democracy and reform. The Chavez administration has an opportunity to respond to this message by correcting its course of governing in a fully democratic manner.
Although Chavez’s first speeches were conciliatory, the relationship between the two countries has been damaged. On the first day of his return to power, Chavez made the following appeal: “Organize yourselves, members of the opposition! Engage in politics that is fair, just and legal!” Three weeks later, on May 3, Chavez gave an interview primarily focused on future relations between the two countries. He discussed not only the role of the U.S. in the coup, but also the existence of a plan to assassinate him. The indirect message in this interview was to Washington, where political assassination has been outlawed for thirty years.
The evidence includes information collected from a coastal radar installation that tracked a foreign military ship and aircraft operating in and over Venezuelan waters a day after his ouster. The ship, helicopter and plane-identified by their transponder codes as military-disappeared from the radar the moming he returned from his imprisonment on the island of La Orchila, he said….ln addition, Chavez said, an American was involved in what he characterized as an assassination plot against him uncovered in Costa Rica four months ago. He said the details of the plan revealed at the time essentially predicted what transpired on April 11, when a protest march on the presidential palace turned violent and led to his arrest by senior military officers.
The revelation of the alleged assassination plan occurred as Chavez and his family were vacationing in January 2002. Chavez received a phone call from his foreign minister, urging him to return to Caracas. On his arrival, discovery of the plot was disclosed. The unexpected breakdown of interim government was very puzzling. But, having knowledge of such a plan; observing the mutiny of some officers; and knowing about the contact of the opposition members with U.S. officials, in Caracas as well as in Washington; the Chavez administration was fully aware of the threat of a coup, and prepared a thorough defense.
On May 13th the Guardian corroborated this by publishing an investigative report. The Guardian had reported one month earlier that a former U.S. intelligence officer claimed that the overthrow of Chavez has been considered by the U.S. for nearly a year. The report did not find any echo, although it revealed that the Chavez administration received an advance warning of a coup attempt from the Venezuelan Ali Rodriguez, the secretary general of OPEC. This advance warning, first reported on the BBC program “Newsnight” allowed the Chavez administration to counter the coup by an extraordinary plan.
Mr. Rodriguez, a former leftwing guerrilla, telephoned Mr. Chavez from the Vienna headquarters of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries…several days before the attempted overthrow in April. He said OPEC had learned that… Libya and Iraq, planned to call for a new oil embargo against the United States because of its support for Israel.
The sudden collapse of the coup was for a time a mystery. According to Chavez insiders, several hundred Chavista troops were already hidden in the basement of the presidential palace. At the time of coup, Mr. Juan Barreto, a Chavista member of the National Assembly was trapped along with Chavez in Miraflores. Mr. Barreto said that Jose Baduel, chief of the paratroop division loyal to Mr. Chavez, had waited until Mr. Carmona was inside Miraflores. Mr. Baduel then phoned Mr. Carmona to tell him that, with troops virtually under his chair, he was as much a hostage as Mr. Chavez. He gave Mr. Carmona 24 hours to return Mr. Chavez alive. Escape from Miraflores was impossible for Mr. Carmona. The building was surrounded by hundreds of thousands of pro-Chavez demonstrators who, alerted by a sympathetic foreign affairs minister, had marched on it from the Ranchos, the poorest barrios.
COUP AND COUNTERCOUP
According to an interview with President Chavez on BBC’s “Newsnight,” his administration has
… written proof of the time of the entries and exits of two U.S. military officers into the headquarters of the coup plotters-their names, whom they met with, what they said-proof on video and on still photographs.
Here lies the key difference between the first American coup in August 1953, in Iran, and the last in April 2002, in Venezuela. Apparently, based upon early warning, the Chavez administration had a precise plan, not only to counter the coup, but also to document it.
Dr. Mossadeq also had such information, and somehow was prepared to counter the coup and ordered the arrest of a senior coup plotter. But he did not believe that the plot would continue after that arrest. One American researcher in the field of U.S. policy toward Iran gives the following picture of the first phase of the coup:
Well, the coup was supposed to take place on the night of August 15-16. The main plan was that selected military units would take certain actions and in particular certain officers would go and arrest Mossadeq, and so they did. But the Prime Minister had learned about this, apparently through Tudeh party informants in the U.S. Embassy who had passed the word to their party and the Tudeh passed it on to Mossadeq. This is apparently how it happened, although this is not certain. Anyway Mossadeq somehow knew; he was expecting visitors and he knew that they were coming to arrest him. So when the officer arrived, he had him arrested, and then a number of other things didn’t work out very well. There were military units that were supposed to occupy certain locations in Tehran, but officers got cold feet. So the initial coup plan which was scheduled to occur on the night of August 15-16 quickly fell apart 26
Although at that time, Mossadeq could have unmasked the coup plotters, and used his enormous popularity to mobilize people against them and enhance his national movement, he didn’t do anything. The reasons for Mossadeq’s inconsistency are both personal and historical.
Like many politicians of the l9th century (this year marks the 120th anniversary of his birth), Mossadeq viewed politics as an inescapably moral enterprise. He was one of the rare Iranian politicians who opposed Reza Khan, founder of Pahlavi dynasty and father of Mohammad Reza Shah, who was key to the plot against him. During the reign of Reza Shah, Mossadeq was for many years under house arrest until the occupation of Iran during World War II by the allied forces and the subsequent expulsion of Reza Shah from Iran.
On September 17, 1941, Mohammad Reza Shah’s inauguration began with his oath before parliament to be faithful to and supportive of the Iranian constitution. Mossadeq was now freed, and soon elected to parliament. He once told the young Shah that he had sworn to be faithful to the Iranian monarchy. For him it was immoral to break this oath, although the Shah was breaking his oath to be faithful to the constitution.
Mossadeq took a positive view of the United States. (Even Ho Chi Minh believed the Truman administration might help free his nation from the yoke of French colonialism.) In contrast to European countries like England, France, Netherlands, Belgium, and Portugal, in Mossadeq’s view the United States never had any colony. For Dr. Mossadeq’s hope of ending the dominance of England and nationalizing Iranian oil, the U.S. appeared to be a helpful ally. Because of this viewpoint and despite copious evidence, Mossadeq did not want to believe that the U.S. would assist in a coup in favor of British oil interests. In the end, the fact is that Mossadeq’s passivity resulted in the continuation of the coup in its second phase by CIA man Kermit Roosevelt, as described by James A. Bill:
The first act of Operation Ajax failed when Mossadeq got word that he was to be ousted. Colonel Nimatullah Nassiri, the officer who tried to serve him with political eviction orders signed by the shah, was arrested on the spot, and the shah made a hasty flight out of the country on August 16, 1953. Rather than cancel the operation at this point, Roosevelt took it upon himself to move forward with plans to call into the street his paid mobs from south Tehran along with the royalist military officers led by Gen. Fazlollah Zahedi… After much confusion and street fighting, the royalists won the day and on August 19, Muhammad Mossadeq was forced to flee his residence and was arrested soon thereafter. On August 22, the shah flew back to Iran in triumph.
To justify the second phase of the initial coup, which crumbled, Mr. Roosevelt coined the name “Countercoup” for its followup. Unfortunately, James A. Bill and others have followed his lead.
According to the pre-coup Iranian constitution in place in l953, the prime minister could resign, or his government might fall upon a no-confidence vote of parliament. In either case, parliament alone had the right to nominate his successor. The Shah would then invite the nominee to appoint the next government. This was a pro forma role for the Shah. He did not have the power to veto the nomination of parliament. In the first phase of the coup, the officer who was designated to arrest Mossadeq carried a decree with him signed by the Shah, dismissing Dr. Mossadeq as prime minister, and appointing Gen. Fazlollah Zahedi-who was on the payroll of the CIA. This act by the Shah was an outright violation of the constitution, and a real coup d’etat. Hence the arrest of the officer sent to arrest Dr. Mossadeq, was a real countercoup. Referring to Kermit Roosevelt’s overthrow of Mossadeq as a “countercoup” is nothing but a public relations fraud.
The resistance of Hugo Chavez’s administration and the Venezuelan people can be legitimately called a countercoup. Organizing a coup today is not as easy as it was in 1953 Iran, where most participants were paid only thirty cents for their destructive role. Kermit Roosevelt professed amusement that he had a million dollar budget to overthrow Mossadeq but spent only $100,000. The reaction of most Latin American leaders showed respect for democratic principles and national rights. Some of today’s leaders of the hemisphere were former partisans of democracy who are now practicing it. As an example, it is interesting to note that the man who gave warning of the Venezuelan coup, Mr. Ali Rodriguez, secretary general of OPEC, was a former active guerrilla. The political sharpness of such people cannot be compared to the sincere belief of a 19th century social democrat like the late Dr. Mossadeq. In spite of all that, one should not take the victory of the Chavez administration as a fully guaranteed matter. As mentioned before, the first attempt against Mossadeq, a joint project of the Shah and the British in June 1952 was defeated by the people on the streets of Tehran and put Mossadeq back in power within 48 hours. But he was not immune against the subsequent attempt, in August 1953, which unfortunately succeeded. There are still many Pinochets in Latin America who would not mind going through one or more blood baths to serve their master. The recent demonstrations by black shirt wearers in Caracas on May 11 and 23, very similar to fabricated demonstrations in Mossadeq’s time should alert the Chavez administration.
The warning should not be treated as a prediction of gloom and doom, but an appeal for alertness. The Venezuelan people can and must utilize the historical experience of the millions of victims of other CIA coups around the world. Planners of a coup do not easily renounce their plans. They postpone their work only to find other ways to pursue the initial plan. They do not hesitate to use all possible avenues to reach their goal. Let us refresh our memory by a fast review of the different episodes of the British against Mossadeq.
The British knew Mossadeq very well, as a law-abiding democrat. They first took the case of nationalization of Iranian oil to the Security Council of the UN. The Council supported Mossadeq’s argument that the case was between Iran and a private company and not between two nations or governments. Britain next went to the International Court of Justice in The Hague. Mossadeq argued Iran’s case. On July 22, 1952, the majority of the Court acknowledged Iran’s rights to nationalize its own resources as a sovereign nation. Even the British judge ruled in Iran’s favor. As the British judicial arguments were exhausted, the tactics shifted to more political intrigues for overt actions inside Iran, and diplomatic initiatives to win American support for covert actions. The British were encouraged by Mossadeq’s opponents-the Shah, the military and the clerics were ready for cooperation. In this instance:
[T]he British indicated openly and frequently that no negotiations were possible with him, and that they would prefer to do business with his successor. Mossadeq’s only hope was to maintain the momentum of nationalist movement, with its built-in anti-British stance, in order to minimize his government against orchestrated parliamentary machination and other activities sponsored by the British and the Court.
History tells us that Dr. Mossadeq was not alert enough. Today, when Mr. Pedro Carmona openly boasts of backing from the United States, and eventual future attempts, it is clearly still high noon for President Chavez and his administration.
Coups do not occur in a vacuum, so the CIA has typically relied on black propaganda as a preparatory measure in every coup since l953. Disinformation, planted through news agencies or hired journalists is a very effective and important way to create the necessary social tension. Typical of such propaganda is the Washington Post characterization of Chavez’s presidency as “unfortunate for the poor who make up 80 percent of the population of an oil-rich country.” Chavez’s response to such charges was printed in Le Monde Diplomatique, but never showed up in the Washington Post:
We have lowered unemployment… created 450,000 new jobs… Venezuela moved up four places on the Human Development Index. The number of children in school has risen 25 percent. More than 1.5 million children who didn’t go to school are now in school, and receive clothing, breakfast, lunch and afternoon snacks. We have carried out massive immunization campaigns in the marginalized sector of population. Infant mortality has declined. We are building more than 135,000 housing units for poor families. We are distributing land to landless campesinos. We have created a Women’s Bank that provides micro-credit loans. In the year 2001, Venezuela was one of the countries with the highest growth rates on the continent, nearly 3 percent… We are delivering the country from prostration and backwardness.
Such a balance of achievements rarely finds the smallest reflection in the main stream media of the United States. But Mr. Stephen Johnson from the Heritage Foundation has the opportunity, as “Policy Analyst for Latin America,” to use the opinion page of Wall Street Journal to criticize President Chavez:
In October 2000, Mr. Chavez signed an agreement with Fidel Castro to provide Cuba with a sizable chunk of its oil needs in exchange for welcoming Cuban experts to train Venezuelan teachers and help develop new school curricula. In March 2001, some 10,000 parents and teachers gathered in various cities across the nation to protest what they perceived as an effort to indoctrinate their children.
The history of U.S. covert operations in the Third World shows clearly that such operations are seldom planned as one-shot deals. Coups are generally the last resort in a series of multifaceted covert operations, implemented only when all other methods have failed. Once the advantage of surprise is lost, coup planners must resort to other clever tricks as they mount their second, third or fourth attempts. One such trick is a smokescreen of saturation media coverage on a simultaneous overt operation in another part of the world. Once international attention is focused elsewhere, a blitzkrieg is unleashed. As long as the U.S. continues to rely on covert operations to achieve its goals, eternal vigilance is essential to preserving democratic gains anywhere around the world.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Mahmoud Gudarzi was born in Tehran, Iran in 1932 He studied in West Germany and the U.S., taking degrees in Journalism and Education. In 50 years of journalism, he has published over 1,000 articles on Iran and problems of the Middle East He writes regularly for the weekly Shahrvand (Toronto and Dallas).”

Tar Sands 101

The Tar Sands “Gigaproject” is the largest industrial project in human history and likely also the most destructive. The tar sands mining procedure releases at least three times the CO2 emissions as regular oil production and is slated to become the single largest industrial contributor in North America to Climate Change.

The tar sands are already slated to be the cause of up to the second fastest rate of deforestation on the planet behind the Amazon Rainforest Basin. Currently approved projects will see 3 million barrels of tar sands mock crude produced daily by 2018; for each barrel of oil up to as high as five barrels of water are used.

Human health in many communities has seriously taken a turn for the worse with many causes alleged to be from tar sands production. Tar sands production has led to many serious social issues throughout Alberta, from housing crises to the vast expansion of temporary foreign worker programs that racialize and exploit so-called non-citizens. Infrastructure from pipelines to refineries to super tanker oil traffic on the seas crosses the continent in all directions to allthree major oceans and the Gulf of Mexico.

The mock oil produced primarily is consumed in the United States and helps to subsidize continued wars of aggression against other oil producing nations such as Iraq, Venezuela and Iran.

The Assumption Parish website update this morning verified Texas Brine’s exploratory well finding that Oxy Cavern #3 had failed but disagreed with the preliminary conclusion that failure was due to “regional-scale seismic activity.(earthquakes)” A portion of the update can be found below:

Assumption Parish officials have been advised by DNR that their exploratory well observers have confirmed that brine cavern #3 has failed. Per Texas Brine’s press release, “The tool used to measure cavern depth bottomed out at approximately 4,000 feet – a point estimated to be 1,300 feet higher than the floor had been measured prior to the cavern closure in 2011. This preliminary finding indicates that some type of dense material has fallen to the bottom of the cavern. A sample of the material has been retrieved from the cavern floor and will be analyzed. The retrieved material does not appear to be consistent with material normally found in brine cavern operations. We expect that the sonar inspection that is currently being conducted will provide a more detailed image of the cavern’s interior conditions and the possible source of the material at its base.” This statement confirms the suspicions of parish officials: Texas Brine Oxy Cavern #3 had failed.

It has come to our attention that Texas Brine’s press release was released to the media at 10:31 p.m. last night, prior to consulting with parish and state officials. Parish officials are not in agreement with Texas Brine’s preliminary conclusion that their well was damaged by “regional-scale seismic activity” (earthquakes). Given the confirmation of the failure of Texas Brine’s cavern, the parish will continue to look to Texas Brine for accountability and evacuee assistance. – read the full text hereread the full text here


Citizen Concerns have led the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality(DEQ) and the Assumption Parish Sheriff's Office to conduct indoor air monitoring. Monitoring is focused on Lower Explosive Limit(LEL), Volatile Organic Compounds(VOCs) and Hydrogen Sulfide(H2S).

Oil spill stretches for miles near Exxon Nigeria field
Saturday, 01 September 2012 13:08 Reuters

An oil spill near an ExxonMobil oilfield off the southeast coast of Nigeria has spread along the shore for about 15 miles, and locals said it was killing fish they depend on to live.

Mobil Producing Nigeria, a joint venture between ExxonMobil and the state oil firm, said this month it was helping clean up an oil spill near its Ibeno field in Akwa Ibom state, though it did not know the source of the oil.

This Reuters reporter saw that water along the coast was covered with a rainbow-tinted film of oil for miles.

Exxon officials in Nigeria and in Houston could not immediately be reached to provide comment.

Oil spills are common in Nigeria, where enforcement of environmental regulations is lax and armed gangs frequently damage pipelines to steal crude.

In the Iwuokpom-Ibeno fishing community, village elder Iyang Ekong held up one of a load of crabs that a fisherman had caught that morning, only to find they were soaked in toxic oil.

“When I got I home, I realised we can’t even eat them because they smell so badly of chemicals. So we’re just going to leave them by the waterfront,” he said.

Decades of oil production in Nigeria’s swampy Niger Delta, where Africa’s second-longest river empties into the Atlantic, have turned parts of it into a wasteland of oily water and dead mangroves. Thousands of barrels are spilled every year.

The companies say oil theft by criminal gangs is responsible for most of it.

“Our fishermen noticed the oil on an outing, but the sea has started depositing crude oil along the coast, and it has filled the water,” said Samuel Ayode, chairman of the fishermen’s association of Akwa Ibom, as he repaired his fishing net on the beach. He added that it started around Aug. 10.

“No one’s done any fishing since. The fish have migrated away from the pollution.”

A landmark U.N. report in August last year slammed the government and multinational oil companies, particularly Shell , for 50 years of oil pollution that has devastated the Ogoniland region. One community is suing for compensation in a London court.

The government and oil majors have pledged to clean up the region and other parts of the delta, but locals say they have seen no evidence of action yet.

Market trader Grace Eno said fish were scarce since the spill and that fishermen were selling at much higher prices. Shrimps have doubled in price, she said, “so how can I make a profit?”


The REAL World of Oil Spills and Warfare [must watch-read]

Uploaded by JogBird on Apr 30, 2010

READ THIS: Dick Cheney’s deregulation agenda is the real (underlying) reason / cause behind the US oil spill by British Petroleum (BP) in 2010 off the coast of Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico. Deregulation coupled with lax government oversight (lackies appointed by Dick Cheney at the helm) lead to the omission of key safety features and protocols, a free pass for drilling licenses, emphasis on profit over safety, and absolutely NO PLAN for containment of blowouts. In addition, the courts in the Gulf States, are completely stacked with Republican appointees (like Feldman) with major investments in or connections with BIG OIL (see last paragraph).

Must read: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/21/us/21blowout.html?hp=&pagewanted=all

For example, George W Bush and Dick Cheney helped block a 2002/03 Bill that would have required the use of acoustic switches as a means to activate the blowout preventer (BOP).

Also, BP did not want to lose an oil well (by activating the BOP); this would have cost them future profit in addition to the costs for exploration and preparation of the well. This is most evident when you look at attempts in the first month and a half: all of the post-blowout efforts have been focused on SAVING the well; it was only after more than a month before BP attempted “TOPKILL”, which would have sealed the well.

Lastly, US District Judge Martin Feldman, who overturned the temporary drilling ban on June 22, owns investments in Ocean Energy (Houston-based), Quicksilver Resources, Prospect Energy, Peabody Energy, Halliburton, Pengrowth Energy Trust, Atlas Energy Resources, Parker Drilling and others. Feldman is also a REAGAN appointee, in 1983. Conflict of interest or institutional corporate control over public policy?

The real world of oil spills

Unfortunately there are places in the world where oil spills are common place and sometimes intentional they are either hidden behind politics or just ignored because the public have grown accustomed to them. With the greed of a few this will probably continue until there is no more oil to exploit.

 

Maybe if more people in the world know more about this sort of thing then it can change for the better.

 

 

Komi, FSU 

 

The Former Soviet Union (FSU) has over a million miles of gas and oil pipelines, many of them poorly maintained. Every year, up to one fifth of Russia‘s total oil production is lost partly through theft, but much of it through leakage. Komineft, the company responsible for this old pipeline system, has a history of accidents caused by aging and corroded pipelines, they experience hundreds of leaks and ruptures each year, the ground is saturated with oil. Some of the oil has seeped into the water table.  

 

One of the main reasons for the large oil spills is the money made from the oil which drives officials to strain the antiquated infrastructure and to keep it moving despite breakdowns.

         

October 1st 1994 the oil spill north of the town of Usinsk in the Komi Region of the FSU became the third largest oil spill in history.  During the Cold War this area was top secret and no westerners were allowed near it. The pipeline just south of the Arctic Circle had been leaking since February 1994 but the oil was contained behind a dam. These are often constructed to contain spills, but heavy rains on October 1st broke down the dam and allowed the large lake of oil to spread over the tundra.  Approx. 102,000m3 of oil began to run over this highly sensitive taigaarea (Exxon Valdez was approx 35,000m3)

 

Some of this released oil flowed into the Kolva river; the Kolva river is a tributary of the Pechora river, which flows into the Barents sea.  Most of the oil spread over an area of approx 187km2. at a time when weather conditions helped the containment and some was recovered the rest proceeded to freeze during the winter months.

 

The main concern was the next spring thaw, which threatened to release much of the remaining oil into the rivers again.  The Kolva and Usa river feeds into the Pechora river which contains large amounts of salmon and other valuable fish species. Teams built or reinforced enormous  dams and constructed massive earthworks to hold oil laden flood waters back 

 

The structure of the top soil in this area differs greatly from site to site. In some places it is a peat bed with the mosses growing on the top, there is a permafrost which even during the summer is approx.1 meter below the surface. In other areas the bed rock is very close to the surface with a fine layer of sand and the peat on top, in these areas the weight of the oil during the spring thaw slid the moss and sand off the rock, this meant that the oil now was mixed with this organic matter and could not be pumped back into the pipeline, so it was put into huge storage pits and set on fire, these pits burned for a couple of weeks they were filled again and the process repeated.  

As a part of the clean up operation over the next six months, the oil was deliberately set on fire in different areas in order reduce the quantities that could spread as a result of the warmer temperatures. The smoke plume rose more than 8,000 feet and extended beyond the horizon some 40 miles away.

With low temperatures, oil tends to persist for long periods of time because of the low evaporation rates.  The frozen ground prevents the oil from seeping into it, and this allows it spread over large areas.  In addition, disturbance to the thin layer of vegetation covering a frozen soil can precipitate a catastrophic and extensive erosion. The effects remain visible for many years.  For example, it can take decades for a tree to grow one meter, and tyre tracks in tundra vegetation can remain for up to 100 years.

Birch and Spruce trees growing in the area looked as if they were smothered with thick black shoe polish.  Nearby lakes are resting grounds for migrating mallard ducks.  There are many species that were likely to be affected by this spill.

This region has one of the largest herds of domestic reindeer, estimated between 65,000-120,000 in the 1980’s. Tundra environments are characterised by rich lichen communities which are susceptible to crude oil which they absorb very quickly. Reindeer are entirely dependent on lichen and are therefore were likely to be severely impacted.  Commercial reindeer herding is one of the major  industries in the Komi Republic. The Pechorskoye sea within the Barents sea holds some of the largest concentrations of white whales.  There were also a number of birds and freshwater fish species that are could have been at risk.  

Komineft was fined $600,000 for its pipeline spill. Although the company is unable to pay much of that sum because of its severe financial problems, it did give each resident of Ust-Usa 36,000 rubles about $7 in compensation.     

      

 

Greenpeace were given an invite to go to the area, they were horrified by what they saw and due to their reports of the damage done and so international money was asked for to accelerate the clean up. This case was handled by the Russian government in terms of cleaning up the oil.  The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development lent the clean-up operation $25 million and the World Bank provided $100 million.  From a cynical point of view most of it disappeared due to corruption and other powerful organisations. Greenpeace were not invited back probably because they had served their purpose.

 

The attitude is very much ‘so what?‘  spills are the norm rather than the exception in the Former Soviet Union. You can see damage like this all over Siberia and down to the borders with IranJust because someone happened to notice some oil floating down the river a couple of days ago, it suddenly makes the headlines, but the sad fact is it is not unusual.

 

Local villagers have suffered for years from the effects of petroleum pollution from the many oil spills in the region. Most natives are worried about the fish living in the Kolva river. The river used to have lots of fish, now there are hardly any and when we cook them they smell bad, people here survive but they are worried about their future.

 

I visited the area in June 1996 the clean up had finished but you would not have guessed, on the drive north past the spill area and past the Arctic Circle the oil continues to leak. I went to do some training for Komi Arctic Oil a joint venture of British Gas and a Local company. In their operating area everything had to be to Western standards any spills would be followed by fines starting at $15,000 but when it left their site the new was welded to the old and spills from Komineft pipelines do not incur fines (the joint venture lasted a couple of years before BG pulled out having earned basically nothing).

I was driven around the area which was obviously beautiful before the oil, birch and small spruce trees, lakes, rivers and the different species of moss. Unfortunately the lakes were covered in rainbow sheens the trees just trunks and the smell of crude oil everywhere.

 

The photographs with booms and skimmers as well as the fires were taken during the spill clean up, the other oil on the ground ones were taken during my visit. The first photo is just one of hundreds of leaking pipelines across the region. It is quite impressive how man and his greed for money can destroy such a beautiful area with little or no thought. Having said that the people who gain the money do not live in the area and probably have never been there.

This area can be seen on Google Earth at (latitude 66°.102400 longtitude 57.100988).

15 years later the area has rock above the surface and no sign of the living mosses that can be seen as in areas near by.

Money is spent but not on infrastucture!

Sept. 10, 2011 photos below show dying trees next to an oil spill near the town of Usinsk, 1500 kilometers (930 miles) northeast of Moscow. Komi is one of Russia’s largest and oldest oil provinces but ruptures in aging pipelines and leaks from decommissioned oil wells make oil spills in the region routine. Environmentalists estimate at least 1 percent of Russia’s annual oil production, or 5 million tons (35 million barrels), is spilled every year. That’s equivalent to one Deepwater Horizon-scale leak about every two months. Crumbling infrastructure and a harsh climate combine to spell disaster in the world’s largest oil producer, responsible for 13 percent of global output. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)


 


 

 

   

 

Here is an aerial photo of the area around Usinsk during the summer showing the lakes and bog land that is being destroyed by oil spill that mostly are not cleaned up.

Who would want to stop the money being generated for the rich few by shutting down the system to make repairs.

It did´nt happen during the communist era and will not happen now the political scene has turned democratic!

We are looking at demonstrations over the move by the USA to explore more in the Arctic region of Alaska.

It has to be said that the regulations there will be better than in the Russian Arctic where exploration has started. I dont see many demonstration happening in this part of the world.

The next question is will the oil field practices and atitudes of the last 40 years change? The answer is probably not.

 

Response to oil spills on land are much easier than in ice cover seas. Photo left shows a Russian tanker at a loading point in a frozen sea, to get there the tanker needs the ice breaker shown behing as the hull of the tanker is not strong enough to break the ice herself.

Baku, Azerbaijan, FSU

A brief history of the place will allow you to understand that the population has been used to the smell of crude oil on the ground for over one hundred years so its not new, it is common place. The existence of petroleum has been known since the 8th century. In the 10th century, an Arabian traveler reported that both white and black oil were being extracted naturally in Baku. By the 15th century oil for lamps was obtained from hand dug surface wells. First oil well was drilled in Baku in 1846. The Bolshevik revolution started in 1905 and ran through World War I. In 1918 Baku came under the control of Bolshevik’s who inspired and condoned civil warfare in and around Baku. during this period the oil field were set on fire.

Large-scale oil development started in 1872, when the Russian imperial authorities auctioned the parcels of oil-rich land around Baku to private investors. Within a short period of time Various European and American investors arrived in Baku, among them the drilling companies were the Nobel brothers and Rothschild to name but two, the industrial oil area, known as the Black City, which was established in the outskirts of the city. By the beginning of the 20th century the oil fields were the largest in the world. The revolution and civil unrest led to both Rothschild and the Nobel brothers leaving Baku.

The photograph above shows the oil was pumped into reservoirs which was the start of the pollution which still plagues the area today.

The photograph on the right shows an oil well being dug by hand in Azerbaijan during these early days the oil was very close to the surface.

These black and white photographs were taken from the site address mentioned below where an excellent chronology of the oil era up to the Soviet period can be found.

http://azer.com/aiweb/categories/magazine/ai102_folder/102_articles/102_oil_chronology.html

Other information can be found with searches at azer.com

By 1900 the city had more than 3,000 oil wells of which 2,000 were producing oil at industrial levels. Baku ranked as one of the largest centres for the production of oil industry equipment before World War II. During World War II while battle of Stalingrad was fought at the same time as a push was made to control the Baku oil fields the push failed. Fifty years before, Baku produced half of the world’s oil supply.

At the end of the 20th century much of the onshore petroleum had been exhausted, and drilling was extended into the Caspian sea

At the end of the 1940s the construction of the “Oil Rocks” (“Neft Dashlari”) started. On November 14, 1948 the group of oil workers landed on a group of rocks in the open sea 42 km to the south-east of the Apsheron Peninsular called “Gara Dashlar” (“Black Rocks”). After finishing the construction of a small house on piles and an electric power station, they started drilling the first well and on June 24, 1949. On November 7, 1949 this well at a depth of 1100 m, out gushed the oil at a rate of 100 tons per day. In honour of this event it was decided to rename the “Black Rocks” the “Oil Rocks”.

On February 18, 1951 the worlds first tanker with the first oil was ceremoniously sent to the shore. It was then decided to create series of artificial islands of 7 thousand hectares around the Oil Rocks. Half a million cubic metres of rock and sand were brought from the islands off Zhiloy and Urunos. Breakwaters, moorings and shelters for vessels were built. In 1952 for the first time in the world they started the construction of a pier which connected the artificial islands.

There were times when the length of the pier connecting the numerous areas reached 300 km. In the open sea 110 km off Baku electric power stations, five and even nine-storey buildings including hostels, hospitals, palaces of culture, bakeries and a lemonade factory were constructed, a park with trees was laid out too. Since 1949 there have been 1940 wells drilled, more than 160 million tons of oil and 12 billion cubic metres of gas have been extracted.

The Oil Rocks are the furthest eastern settlement in the country. The facility is poorly maintained, with miles of roads now under the sea. The waterline is at the second-floor windows of some worker’s dormitories. Although one-third of the Oil Rocks complex’s 600 wells are inoperable or inaccessible, operations have continued without a significant increase in investment.

Several action sequences in the 1999 James Bond film The World Is Not Enough are set on the Oil Rocks. Today more than 2000 people work there.

The position on Google Earth for this strange place is (latitude 40°17′ 42.42” N Longtitude 50°01′ 00.45” E)

There was a delegation of Azeries who visited an oil field in Dorset, England in the 1990’s they did not believe there was oil production there because they could not smell it or see it.

A BP company representative said the difference in the UK is that if you could see or smell it the oil field would be closed down.

I took these onshore photographs one Saturday in the early 90’s, I could go back tomorrow and take the same ones again. As I said previously approx. 20% of production is on or worse still in the ground. These photographs explain very vividly this fact. This oilfield belongs to the State of Azerbaijan oil company SOCAR so it is alright. Foreign oil companies are fined heavily if they have spills. The main export pipelines from here to the Black sea and Southern Turkey were constructed and paid for by the Foreign oil companies and are built to Western standards.

Unfortunately the old original ones still continue to leak. I guess if this area is ever to be cleaned up it will take Western money but what is the point when the pollution will just continue, it is part of the culture of the city, to smell crude oil is normal, the population has known nothing else for generations

In 2006 the world bank’s representatives had talks with President Ilham Aliyev and other officials about a multi-million-dollar project to clean an area roughly the size of Malta.

The clean up would focus on oil-soaked areas in the Absheron peninsula, Azerbaijan’s most densely populated region and location of the capital Baku. A clean-up of this size hasn’t been undertaken anywhere.

The World Bank said it would potentially provide a loan of about 50 million dollars for capacity building and an initial clean-up but also expected funding from the Azeri government, which at the time was earning large profits from the current oil boom.

From a sadly cynical point of view this could turn into another Komi bonanza.

The latest news from Baku is that from a distance the contaminated area is beginning to look clean. Unfortunately on closer inspection lorry loads of earth is being tipped at the edges of the oiled areas and are being bulldozed over the oil. This is an out of sight out of mind approach to remediation. Photo right shows the changes it looks good on Google Earth. Oh and the leaks have not been stopped!

This area can be seen on Google Earth at position (latitude 40°32′ 44.21”N Longtitude 49°83′ 65.27”E).

 

Lebanon-Jiyye Oil Spill July 2006

 


It can be difficult trying to clean up a spill when the war is still going on
!

On July 12, 2006 Israel declared war on Hezbollah in Lebanon. During conflicts it is normal to destroy enemy communication centres but on July 13 and 15, 2006 during the first days of the war Israeli forces bombed the Jiyyeh power plant, located on the coastline, 30 km South of Beirut, causing a major oil spill, two tanks at Jiyyeh caused approx. 25,000 m3 to burn for more than three weeks smoke and vapours affected an area that is inhabited by approx. three million people. On the longer term, this may lead to increased respiratory and other health problems. 

 

Approx.15,000 m3 heavy fuel oil to spilled into the Sea. It became one of the largest environmental incidents in Mediterranean history The wind was from the South West and Northerly current pushed the oil spill northwards along the coast of Lebanon. The affected area within Lebanon spread for more than 100 km of rocky shores and sandy beaches, marinas, ports, fishing harbours, and tourist resorts; from Jiyeh all the way up to the Syrian boarders. The oil entered Syria for approx 50 km.

 

Sensitive fish spawning and nursery areas as well as valuable sea turtle nesting sites were in one of the affected areas.

 

The spill could have reached neighbouring countries such as Cyprus, Turkey and Greece depending on water currents and weather conditions.  

The impact of the the oil spill caused tremendous negative environmental, social and economical impacts both for the short term and long term. It damaged marine ecosystems, damaged fishermen’s livelihoods and rendered coastal areas lifeless. Heavy fuel oil, is among the most difficult oils to cleanup. Its viscous nature leads to prolonged persistence in the marine environment, such oils have the potential to cause widespread contamination of sensitive environmental and economic resources which will take many years to recover.

 

The total direct economic cost of this oil spill has been estimated at more than 200 million dollars.

The long term costs are not determined yet and are likely to be much more. Even a month after the attacks oil was still entering the sea. The oil settled deep into the sand, rocks and seabed. Cleanup operations could not start until the ceasefire was enforced. Delaying the start of cleanup operations made this spill harder to clean up. Despite the danger local NGOs, private sector and the Ministry of Environment started to cleanup certain sensitive and highly impacted areas. 

 

The delay caused the highly viscous heavy fuel to solidify; it emulsified with sea water, formed tar balls, lumps or emulsions, settled on the seabed and traveled further along the coast line. This makes clean up efforts and costs of clean up greater and mobility of experts and essential equipment nearly impossible. The absence of a pre-spill contingency plan made the job more difficult to allocate high and low priorities for the cleanup effort.

Local volunteers and a number of environmental activists formed an oil spill working group to follow on this issue and where among the first on the ground. Assessment operations and documentation of the damage started on the 17th of July covering the Lebanese coast from Beirut, northwards. Cleanup plans, scientific and economic research of the oil spill to determine the cost of the damage and how to minimise its impact as much as possible were carried out. The Lebanese Ministry of Environment, REMPEC (Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Response Center, Barcelona Convention, international NGOs and experts from around the World were contracted in. The cleanup had problem in mid 2007 due to lack of funds.

This was approx 25,000 m3 Exxon Valdez was approx 35,000 m3 which was seen by the whole world and is still talked about today, many people think it was one of the largest tanker spills (it is actually the 35th largest to date). This on the other hand is a spill that hardly anyone knew about. I guess if it was anyone other than Israel this would be classed as environmental terrorism.

 

It is somewhat ironic that the main backer of Israel, the USA are paying the most towards the cleanup cause by the friends.

The power plant can be found on Google Earth at Latitude 33°64’65.37”N longtitude 35°39’85.50”E.

Unfortunately on the American Google Earth there is no sign of what Israel did, unlike the other places in this section.

Thankfully we still have NASA also an American company who do tell the truth as can be seen at Beirut on the right.

Mikati calls for intl. tribunal to try Israel for 2006 Lebanon oil spill  

June 22, 2012 11:23 AM

The Daily Star

BEIRUT: Prime Minister Najib Mikati called Thursday for the creation of an international environmental tribunal to try Israel for causing the 2006 oil spill on Lebanon’s shoreline, and criticized the Jewish state’s refusal to comply with U.N. resolutions.

“Lebanon proposes establishing an international environmental tribunal following the environmental consequences of the 2006 war – primarily the oil pollution crisis over which Lebanon has not received any compensation from the Israeli enemy,” Mikati said during his speech at the U.N. conference for Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Mikati was referring to Israel’s bombing of Lebanon’s Jiyyeh power station during the 34-day conflict in July and August of 2006. The bombing caused the power station to release 15,000 tons of unrefined fuel oil into the Mediterranean sea.

In an assessment of the economic damage released a year later, the World Bank estimated Lebanon’s overall losses at being between $527 million and $931 million. The report added that the average of these two figures, $729 million, constitutes 3.6 percent of Lebanon’s gross domestic product in 2006.

The U.N. has repeatedly urged Israel to assume responsibility and provide adequate compensation to Lebanon’s government.

During his speech in Brazil, Mikati also accused Israel of repeatedly contravening U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701 which ended the 2006 war, saying that Israel constantly violates Lebanon’s land, airspace and maritime waters.

“The painful reality of Israel’s refusal to comply with international resolutions is not limited to this environmental case but extends to Israel’s continued occupation of valuable parts of my country: the Shebaa Farms and Kfar Shuba Hills as well as the northern part of Ghajar,” the prime minister said.

He added that Lebanon reserves the right to regain those parts of its territory under Israeli occupation and to stop Israel’s hostile practices via all available means within the framework of international agreements and treaties.

Mikati, who met with Lebanese expatriates in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paolo, also addressed the U.N.’s program for sustainable development. He said developing countries such as Lebanon require time, technological and financial support as well as international partnership to achieve inclusive and sustainable development. He added that the U.N. program would be unsuccessful if all countries fail to come together.

Mikati also stressed the need to achieve Millennium Development Goals by 2015 to create a roadmap for a better future.

Read more: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Politics/2012/Jun-22/177750-mikati-calls-for-intl-tribunal-to-try-israel-for-2006-lebanon-oil-spill.ashx#ixzz1z5vghGty
(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News :: http://www.dailystar.com.lb)

1991 Gulf War

The Gulf (to please both sides) whether you call it the Persian or the Arabian is up to you. Geographically it covers 233,100 km2 is a kidney-shaped water body. It is approx. 917 km long with its greatest width being 338 km. The Tigris and Euphrates, two of the largest rivers in the Middle East, merge to form the Shatt-al-Arab waterway, the Gulf’s main source of fresh water, flows primarily from Iraq into the northern end of the Gulf.

Fresh water in the Gulf region comes from rain mainly in the winter months, which is also the lowest period of evaporation.

 

The region’s high summer temperatures, and the high evaporation rate make the Gulf water nearly one and a half times more saline than the oceans.

The Gulf’s counterclockwise current moves through the Strait of Hormuz along the Iranian coast past the Shatt-al-Arab then along the very shallow Saudi coastline. These shallow areas have been the resting place for oil spills. Anually approx 40,000 m3 of oil is spilled in the Gulf. The Gulf’s water circulation takes more than five years to return to Strait of Hormuz.

 

On January 21st, 1991, a few days after the start of the air campaign against Iraq, the Iraqi military in Kuwait opened valves at the Sea Island oil terminal near Kuwait City and released massive quantities of crude oil into the Gulf, as an act of environmental warfare (if we can’t have the oil then neither can you). The oil moved southwards with the current and began to accumulate on the north coast of Saudi Arabia, where it endangered the fragile intertidal zones, mangrove forests and wildlife habitats such as bird feeding grounds and fish and shrimp nurseries.

The first oil was spotted on January 24th the main source of oil appeared to be Kuwait’s off-shore Sea Island terminal.

The U.S. Air Force bombed the terminal’s shore side pipelines and manifold complex in an attempt to stop the oil flow. This bombing did not completely stop the flow and it was realised that other sources were contributing to the spill. Tankers near Mina Al Ahmadi, a damaged refinery south of Mina Al Ahmadi, the Iraqi Mina Al Bakr terminal, and tankers anchored north of Kuwait’s Bubiyan Island.

As Iraqi troops withdrew from Kuwait at the end of the first Gulf War, they set fire to over 650 oil wells and damaged many more, just south of the Iraq border (yellow line).

These Landsat images left show before, during and after the release of 1.5 billion barrels of oil into the environment, the largest oil spill in human history.
(Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center)

For the initial two weeks the winds were soft and from the southeast which slowed the oil from moving to the southwest and provided valuable time to prepare for it.

The oily plumes extended three to five kilometers up into the atmosphere and hundreds of kilometers across the horizon.
Credit: NASA’s Earth Observatory

The Saudi governmental agencies together with oil companies from home and abroad started the difficult task of evaluating the amount and location of the oil using satellite imagery and mathematical models in order concentrate response resources.

In February, 1992, an international team of scientists started a 100 day survey of the Area, mapping the shallow marine habitats around Abu Ali Island, a portion of the study area. The team found an asphalt pavement on the beaches of the island as well as along sections of the north of the island. The asphalt surface was approx. 0.2m thick. This pre-dated the 1991 War and indicated the long term effect on the Gulf.

Saudi Arabia relies on desalinated sea water for its fresh water supply, sea water is also used for the cooling of electric power station and oil refineries. The object of the Iraqi exercise was to shut down all of these operations.

Fortunately the amount of boom and response personnel protected all of the sea water intakes by deflecting the oil past them. Abu Ali Island and Ad Daffi Bay which jut out into the Gulf approx. half way down the Saudi coast experienced the greatest pollution, with the main effect of the spill concentrated in the mangrove areas and shrimp grounds. Large numbers of marine birds, such as cormorants. The beaches around the entire bay shoreline were covered with oil and tar balls.

Many of the mangrove pneumatophore breathing roots became covered with oil resulting in the death of the trees. In some collection areas the oil was over a meter thick.

Huge quantities of oil were removed and temporarily stored in huge pits built in the sand like this one, to give it scale the trucks on the right bottom are forty foot road tanks.

 Much of the liquid oil was re refined while large quantities were used, it was said to stabilise sand dunes in the desert as you can imagine there is no oil to be seen. a difficult task holding millions of tons of sand against the wind. So its buried what’s the problem this is Saudi where you do as you are told or it hurts! 

Update:

In 1991, Landsat captured the devastating environmental consequences of war. As Iraqi forces withdrew from Kuwait, they set fire to over 650 oil wells and damaged almost 75 more, which then poured crude oil across the desert and into the Gulf.

Fires burned for ten months. According to a 2009 study published in Disaster Prevention and Management, firefighting crews from ten countries, part of a response team that comprised approximately 11,450 workers from 38 countries, used familiar and new technologies to put out the fires. When the last one was extinguished in November, about 300 lakes of oil remained, as well as a layer of soot and oil that fell out of the sky and mixed with sand and gravel to form ‘tarcrete’ across 5 percent of Kuwait’s landscape. Emergency responders and scientists in Kuwait used Landsat and other satellite data to locate and monitor the plumes of smoke and burning wells. The three images above from Landsat 5’s Thermal Mapper show Kuwait in August 1990 before the fires, June 1991 while the fires were burning, and January 1992, two months after the last fires were put out. In this 3-band composite (7-4-2), Landsat-5’s shortwave infrared band (band 7) easily detected the flames burning at over 1300°F (700-800°C). The fires were so hot that the detectors overloaded temporarily, turning the saturated red dots into saturated lines visible in the June 1991 image.

Subsequent studies used Landsat to look at the before and after effects of the fires and to monitor the changes to the oil lakes over the past 22 years. The lakes are visible in the 1992 image around the area of the former fires.

An estimated one to 1.5 billion barrels of oil were released into the environment. After most burned, 25 to 40 million barrels ended up spread across the desert and 11 million barrels in the Gulf, according to a 2012 paper published in Remote Sensing of Environment. For comparison, the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill into the Gulf of Mexico is estimated to have released nearly 5 million barrels of oil. Kuwait’s landscape has recovered somewhat. Clean up efforts have removed 21 million barrels of oil from the desert, but an estimated 1 million barrels still remain.

NASA and the U.S. Department of the Interior through the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) jointly manage Landsat, and the USGS preserves a 40-year archive of Landsat images that is freely available over the Internet. The next Landsat satellite, now known as the Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM) and later to be called Landsat 8, is scheduled for launch in 2013.

 

The NATO bombing of Yugoslavia    

Code-named Operation Allied Force this military operation against the federal Republic of Yugoslavia lasted from 24 March to 10 June 1999. The bombing of the oil refinery in Novi Sad heavily contaminated the Danube river and its sediments, as well as the surrounding soil and groundwater.

The destruction of the factories released approx. 73,000 m3 tons of crude oil of which 90% was incinerated, 560 tons reached the Danube river, and the remainder was spilled onto the soil.The contents of oil and oil derivatives in the soil were in the range of 3 to 42,000 mg/kg. The first soil layer contained an average of 67,000 mg/kg of crude oil and oil derivatives. The layers beneath it, above the groundwater table, contained 56 ml/l of oil derivatives in the water.

The dates that refineries were bombed are April 13th, 15th, 18th, 21st, 24th, 27th, and 29th then again on June 8th and 9th 

It is not a big refinery, so why it took so much bombing is beyond me.

On one of these days the river jetties were bombed with precision, just the ends where the vessels tie up. Incredibly no one working in the refinery died during this time, especially when they were trying to put the fires out.

On June 9th Milan Bajić (42 years old) returned to his home which he left after the first bombing raid,  he was killed when for some unknown reason it was deemed by NATO necessary to bomb the refinery again especially when they knew the war would end at noon the next day.

On the 10th June, I arrived in Belgrade with a group from the World Wildlife Fund to report on the oil pollution from the two refineries,  We had flown down the Romanian boarded with the Danube the week before to the first dam system (Iron Gates) downstream left, where we expected to find floating oil it was not as bad as we had expected the area was clean. It became clear that the majority of the oil was now mixed into the sediments.

The following day we went to the Novi Sad refinery right this was built by an American oil company so they had the plans and knew where it was. There was only one tank in the refinery that had no damage. The rest were blast damaged or burnt down to chest height.

We visited the town of Panchevo chemical plant located 15 kms northeast of Belgrade. We saw the oil from this refinery in the river system, we were not allowed into the refinery but were given a series of postcards by the towns mayor, they were photographs of the plants during the bombing.

 

The chemical complex included a fertiliser processing plant, oil refinery, petrochemical plant and a vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) plant among others. Residential buildings are 150 meters away.

The plants stored volumes of ethylene-dichloride (EDC), ethylene, chlorine, chlorine-hydrogen, propylene and vinyl chloride monomers. During NATO attacks on April 18th, these were released into the atmosphere, water and soil and now pose a serious threat to human health, local ecological systems as well as the broader Balkan region. According to Yugoslav estimates, some 70,000 people were endangered locally – poisoned, injured and/or evacuated. Many dead fish were observed 30 kilometres downstream of Pancevo where fishing is now forbidden.

It is estimated that 1,400 tonnes of EDC were released directly into the Danube River. According to BBC News, workers at the complex decided to release tons of carcinogenic EDC into the Danube to avoid an explosion. Some 3,000 tonnes of a 40 percent solution of natrium hydroxide and 1,000 tonnes of a 33 percent solution of hydrogen chloride leaked into the Danube. Tonnes of liquid chlorine were released, as was toxic chlorine gas after bombing. there was evidence that the oil had been released on various occasions as the water levels fell as can be seen with the lines on the fence right.

 

Mercury was probably released after destruction of the chlorine-alkaline electrolysis plant where some 100 tonnes of mercury were stored. Fifty tonnes of oil emulsion and more than 100 tonnes of liquid ammonia also leaked into the Danube. Belgrade, with roughly 2 million inhabitants, was faced with a potentially serious health emergency on April 18th after the Pancevo bombing. Had winds been Southerly, all the air-borne toxic substances and poisons would have blown into Belgrade. Luckily, the winds were westerly and this, coupled with rain, helped in reducing air pollution.

Polluted clouds created by the bombing carried the products of combustion of VCMs (phosgene, chlorine, chlorine oxides and nitrogen oxides) as well as ammonia, petroleum and petroleum products. The Pancevo VCM plant was completely destroyed and more than 1,000 tonnes of VCM were released. This plant burned for hours, creating a whitish smoke that moved toward Belgrade. The cloud was carried by low air currents and merged with another cloud formed when a storehouse full of fertiliser was hit.

The Times of London quoted the Yugoslav environment minister as saying the amount of carcinogenic matter in the air over Pancevo was 7,200 times above permitted levels. According to a press release from Belgrade’s Institute of Public Health, a VCM concentration of 10,600 times above permitted levels was recorded near Pancevo.

 

War in this case was necessary as diplomacy was impossible, thousands of people had lost their life and many more lives were at risk. But how many peoples healths have been damaged due to the constant bombing of chemical plants. The unknown environmental damage is more difficult to access as the Danube flows through Serbia, Romania and Bulgaria on its way to the Black sea. With all the contaminants how many  fish, birds, animals and humans have died and will die due to this damage.


These fairly rare aerial photos of before, during and after the raid can be seen at full size with right click and save as

 

The refinery can be found on Google Earth at Latitude 45°27’53.41”N longtitude 19°86’33.14”E.

                  Here we are 10 years later and the refinery is less than half built.

 

Exxon Valdez update

Exxon Vadez was an accident some say which was waiting to happen due to company pressure and crew cutting. The rest in this section are intentional spills due to war or greed.

In the days that followed, impact inventories revealed the lethal outcome: 250,000 sea birds had been died, along with 22 Orca’s or killer whales, nearly 3000 sea otters, 300 harbour seals.

20 years later there are health problems with the clean up workers, oil still remains on many shorelines and will continue to be a problem for many more years

The Exxon Valdez was repaired in the Seattle shipyard where she was originally built. When she left she was named Exxon Mediterranean and was not allowed to return to Alaska by American law (Oil Pollution Act 90). With another name change the Sea River Mediterranean, she started work in Europe but was hounded by Greenpeace and the like, every time she came to a terminal. Due to the public no pressure group pressure she is now mothballed at anchor in an unreleased area in Asia.

I find it strange that groups of adults including the American political and justice systems, actually think this piece of steel ran aground on its own and would probably do it again if the pressure was not kept up. I thought for a ship to operate you needed humans and that is the problem, humans cause accidents not ships.

Exxon representative Tom Burnett said at a Valdez town hall meeting (you have had some good luck and you don’t realise it. You have Exxon and we do business strait) We have never had a claim that took 20 years to pay.

Film and looking in retrospect are useful when you see that you were taken for a fool.

Exxon managed to reduce the amount they needed to pay for the Valdez spill in March 1989.

In 1994 the courts awarded 32,000 Alaskan plaintiff’s US$ 5 billion.

In 2006 this was halved to US$ 2.5 billion.

In 2009 the US Supreme Court cut this amount to US$ 507.5 million, one tenth of the original award.

How is the rest of the money split up?  According to the Anchorage Daily News, native villages will receive four percent of the take.  Lawyers will get 22 percent.   Forty nine percent goes to affected fishing companies who split the award based on the size of their business.  By example, fisherman in Cook’s Inlet will receive $160,000 on average per permit.

Exxon claims they have already paid out $3.4 billion in penalties, clean up costs and damages.  Businesses are especially happy with this ruling because it appears to limit the amount of damages juries can award in maritime cases.

As you can imagine Alaskans are not happy but Exxon are laughing all the way to the bank.

During this time over 2,000 plaintiffs have died, so too have the fisheries and livelihoods of the local Alaskan people.

The moral of the story is do not take an American oil company to court in the USA as they will keep it rolling through the “justice” system until you die.

Cartoon from Seppo.net

Texaco in Equador

It is up to you to decide but here are both sides of the argument. 

This is the Texaco version from their site.

Texaco Petroleum (Texpet) was minority partner in an exploration and production venture with Petroecuador, Ecuador‘s state-owned oil company. The production operation took place primarily on government lands and was conducted in compliance with Ecuadorian laws and regulations. Roughly 1.7 billion barrels of crude oil were produced, with the Government of Ecuador (GOE) receiving 95 percent of the total financial proceeds.At the conclusion of the venture’s twenty-year concession, the area and facilities of the former consortium were subjected to a government-supervised audit, which, together with other Government data, became the basis for a settlement agreement under which Texpet was required to conduct environmental remediation with respect to sites in proportion to its one third interest in the venture. To that end, Texpet executed a $40 million remediation and public works program under close GOE supervision; Texpet’s remediation was fully inspected, certified and approved by the GOE; and the GOE granted Texpet a full and complete release of all further claims, liabilities and obligations associated with Texpet’s operations in Ecuador.

The release documents were signed by GOE’s Minister of Mines & Energy, the President of Petroecuador, and the General Manager of Petroproducción–the operational division of Petroecuador. Texpet has had no role whatsoever in exploration and production operations in Ecuador since 1992.

Petroecuador, on the other hand, the operator and sole owner of the oil fields for 15 years, never fulfilled its responsibility to remediate its share of the venture’s production sites and, since Texpet’s exit from Ecuador, has compiled an atrocious and well-documented record of environmental neglect and misconduct. The environmental degradation present in Ecuador today is the result of Petroecuador’s poor operations and the Ecuadorian government’s unwillingness to fund adequate remediation.

Texaco has been embroiled in a long-standing legal dispute lead by U.S. based contingency-fee trial lawyers working in partnership with NGOs and local activists whose goal is to extort a large financial windfall from Chevron. These lawyers’ efforts to bring these cases in U.S. courts have resulted in a string of dismissals, most recently in a case where the court found that these lawyers had fabricated their clients’ health claims. The court in that case described the lawsuit as part of a broader scheme against the company. The current controversy, however, involves a suit that these same lawyers commenced in Ecuador.

In 1999, seven years after Texpet ceased to have any involvement in the operations in Ecuador, the government of Ecuador enacted a new environmental statute – the 1999 Environmental Management Act ( EMA)- that purports to allow any Ecuadorian resident to file suit for environmental reparations on behalf of the collectivity. While the 1999 EMA created new substantive rights that did not previously exist, the new law cannot be used to challenge pre-1999 conduct,as per Article 7 of the Civil Code of Ecuador, which expressly prohibits retroactive application of Ecuadorian substantive law. Nevertheless, in 2003 the very same U.S. lawyers who have waging this campaign since 1993, filed suit against Chevron in Ecuador using that same 1999 law.

The litigation in Ecuador has followed the typical pattern for such suits. The lawyers retained a consultant to devise an astronomical estimate of financial liability, which the plaintiffs have attempted to use to frighten the company into a settlement. The expert in question made only a cursory examination of a small handful of sites and did not seek to distinguish between damage caused by the Texpet/Petroecuador consortium and damage caused by Petroecuador over the 15 years since Texpet left Ecuador. Simultaneously, the plaintiffs have mounted a continuous assault on the Company’s reputation – including media campaigns, shareholder proposals, etc. – with the stated goal to pressure the company into a settlement, while at the same time, refusing to acknowledge Petroecuador ongoing record of environmental mismanagement and clean up obligations.

To their credit, the courts in Ecuador initially observed the rule of law, insisting upon a rigorous process of evidence collection and analysis. The court ordered the judicially supervised inspections of 122 sites, with evidentiary submissions by both parties to be evaluated and reconciled by to a panel of five “settling experts” appointed by the court (47 judicial inspections have been conducted to date). These evidentiary submissions, including the reports of the court’s settling experts, were to form the basis of a second round of expert analysis by the same court-appointed experts to determine the extent and cause of any environmental damage proven by the plaintiffs.

The initial evidentiary phase of the litigation in Ecuador went disastrously wrong for the plaintiffs. Of the 172 drinking water samples taken at sites Texpet remediated, 99% met Ecuadorian, US EPA and World Health Organization standards. Similarly, more than 99% of all soil samples collected from Texpet-remediated areas confirm that the remediation met the standards set by the GOE. These findings demonstrated that Texpet’s remediation was done properly and that there was no significant impact to the environment or to the health of the local people. Of significant interest, high levels of bacterial contamination from human or animal waste were found in 90% of drinking water samples indicating widespread microbial contamination of the water sources.

The judicial site inspection process came to a head, with the production of the first and only report submitted by the five independent court-appointed settling experts for the Sacha-53 site. The experts concluded that Texpet’s remediation was conducted in accordance with the required parameters and that there is low health risk to humans from oil at that site. That event marked a tuning point in the case and changed the course of the litigation.

Thereafter, the plaintiffs began an intense campaign to abort the evidentiary process and increase the circus of protests designed to bring pressure on the court. They ceased paying their share of court ordered settling expert fees, bringing their work to a standstill. They “waived” the inspection of the remaining 64 sites, while contending that they should still be allowed to claim damages from these un-inspected sites, without first substantiating their claims with proof. And, most importantly, they demanded that the court proceed directly to a liability determination phase and that it appoint a single expert of their choice – not the same settling experts initially appointed by the court – to perform the entire assessment.

With the election of a new government in Ecuador and the appointment of a new judge, plaintiffs’ wishes have come true. Having completely abandoned the evidentiary process required under Ecuadorian law and observed by the court for over three years of litigation, the new judge terminated the evidentiary phase and assigned a single Ecuadorian mining engineer to assess all of the alleged environmental damage. Moreover, the new executive branch of the Ecuadorian government now has abandoned even facial adherence to the rule of law, having formed an open working partnership with the plaintiffs to use the full force of the Ecuadorian government to hold Chevron responsible for the 17 years of environmental damage caused by its own state oil company, Petroecuador. Senior members of the GOE have spoken on-record through official GOE channels and even taken high visibility trips to the region to exhort the court to find Chevron liable.

In short, this case has now descended into a judicial farce. Chevron is left with no alternative other than to speak openly about the denial of justice that is occurring in Ecuador. In our view, this proceeding no longer has any legal validity, and our company will fight this embarrassing display of hometown injustice in every conceivable forum.

Here is the Chevron Toxico version from their site.

In 1964, Texaco (now Chevron), discovered oil in the remote northern region of the Ecuadorian Amazon, known as the “Oriente.” The indigenous inhabitants of this pristine rainforest, including the Cofán, Siona, Secoya, Kichwa and Huaorani, lived traditional lifestyles largely untouched by modern civilization. The forests and rivers provided the physical and cultural subsistence base for their daily survival. They had little idea what to expect or how to prepare when oil workers moved into their backyard and founded the town of Lago Agrio, named for Texaco’s birthplace of Sour Lake, Texas. The Ecuadorian government had similarly little idea what to expect; no one had ever successfully drilled for oil in the Amazon rainforest before. The government entrusted Texaco, a well-known U.S. company with more than a half-century’s worth of experience, with employing modern oil practices and technology in the country’s emerging oil patch.  However, despite existing environmental laws, Texaco made deliberate, cost-cutting operational decisions that, for 28 years, resulted in an environmental catastrophe that experts have dubbed the “Rainforest Chernobyl.”

Unlike the Exxon Valdez disaster that spilled over a billion gallons of crude during a one time cataclysmic event, Texaco’s oil extraction system in Ecuador was designed, built, and operated on the cheap using substandard technology from the outset. This led to extreme, systematic pollution and exposure to toxins from multiple sources on a daily basis for almost three decades.

In a rainforest area roughly three times the size of Manhattan, Texaco carved out 350 oil wells, and upon leaving the country in 1992, left behind some 1,000 open toxic waste pits. Many of these pits leak into the water table or overflow in heavy rains, polluting rivers and streams that 30,000 people depend on for drinking, cooking, bathing and fishing. Texaco also dumped more than 18 billion gallons of toxic and highly saline “formation waters,” a byproduct of the drilling process, into the rivers of the Oriente. At the height of Texaco’s operations, the company was dumping an estimated 4 million gallons of formation waters per day,a practice outlawed in major US oil producing states like Louisiana, Texas, and California decades before the company began operations in Ecuador in 1967. By handling its toxic waste in Ecuador in ways that were illegal in its home country, Texaco saved an estimated $3 per barrel of oil produced.

Here is a nice incriminating memo from the chairman of the board in 1972. I found this at huffingtonpost.com

 

 

 

A new iniative

Ecuador plans to sign an agreement today with the United Nations Development Fund (UNDP) that will open an international trust fund to receive donations supporting the government’s proposal to keep some 900 million barrels of oil in the ground. The heavy crude is found in three oil reserves beneath the fragile Yasuni National Park – the Ishpingo, Tambococha, and Tiputini (ITT).

Three tumultuous years in the making, the deal with UNDP finally spares a significant area of the Park from oil drilling. Initial donor countries include Germany, Spain, France, Sweden, and Switzerland which have collectively committed an estimated US $1.5 billion of the US$3.6 billon that the Ecuadorian government seeks.

The plan will keep an estimated 410 million tons of C02 – the major greenhouse gas driving climate change – from reaching the atmosphere. This precedent of avoided CO2 emissions could factor into future climate negotiations.

In 2007, Ecuador’s President Correa launched the Yasuni-ITT initiative, seeking international financial contributions equaling half of the country’s forgone revenues if the government left Yasuni’s oil reserve untouched.

The proposal seeks to strike a balance between protecting the park and its indigenous inhabitants, while still generating some revenue for Ecuador, a country dependent on oil for 60 percent of its exports. Covering nearly 2.5 million acres of primary tropical rainforest at the intersection of the Andes and the Amazon close to the equator, Yasuni is the ancestral territory of the Huaorani people, as well as two other indigenous tribes living in voluntary isolation, the Tagaeri and the Taromenane.

As a result of its unique location, Yasuni is an area of extreme biodiversity, containing what are thought to be the greatest variety of tree and insect species anywhere on the planet. In just 2.5 acres, there are as many tree species as in all of the US and Canada combined.

“We welcome this long sought after final step to protect an important part of Yasuni National Park,” said Kevin Koenig, Amazon Watch Ecuador Coordinator who has been closely monitoring the initiative since its inception. “This is a big win for Ecuador, and the world. Now we need more countries to contribute, and for President Correa to keep his word.”

The landmark proposal was an uncertain three years in the making, and on several occasions appeared dead in the water. From the outset, the government insisted on a one-year deadline to raise close to $4.5 billion, which was viewed as an impossibility by potential donors and undercut the proposal’s perceived viability. Political turnover led to three different Foreign Affairs ministers and three distinct negotiating teams, while the government implemented seemingly contradictory environmental policies that continued to allow drilling inside the park and expanded mining concessions
throughout the Amazon.

Correa’s public rebuke of his negotiating team after the Copenhagen Climate Summit were the trust fund was originally set to be signed, led to the resignation of the entire team as well as the Foreign Minister and confidant, Fander Falconi.
But Ecuador’s civil society organizations, as well as the Huaorani themselves, kept the proposal alive by pressuring the government and continuing to increase the proposals popularity nationally and internationally.

The environmental organization, _Acción Ecológica_ with its “Amazon For Life” campaign collected tens of thousands of signatures of support and kept the initiative in the news during times when the government’s commitment appeared to wane. The Huaorani continued to raise their voices on the importance of the park, the perils of oil extraction,
and the need to keep out extractive industries from areas where the nomadic Tagaeri and Taromenane are present.

Although there is cause for celebration, some of Ecuador’s indigenous groups are concerned by the Correa administration’s announcement this week to open up areas of Ecuador’s roadless, pristine southeastern Amazon region, as well as re-offering older oil blocks that were unsuccessful due to indigenous resistance.

“We hope that the success of the Yasuni proposal doesn’t mean a defeat for the forests and people of the southern rainforests,” said Marlon Santi, President of the powerful national indigenous confederation CONAIE. “We don’t want Correa to offset his lost income from leaving the ITT oil in the ground by opening up other areas of equally pristine indigenous lands.”

A new report has uncovered 90 oil spills by Pluspetrol in northern Peru’s Amazon rainforest over the past 3 years. Covering two oil blocs—1-AB and 8—the report, complied by the Federation of Indigenous Communities of the Corrientes River (FECONACO), recorded 18 major oil spills in just the last year.

“A week after the landmark ruling against Chevron in Ecuador for $9 billion of damage from operations in the 1970’s and 80’s, this new report highlights the ongoing devastation caused by the oil industry on the fragile Amazon ecosystem and the people that live there,” said Atossa Soltani, Executive Director at Amazon Watch, in a press release.

In June of last year a tanker spilled 400 barrels of oil into the Maranon River, which led to a blockade where indigenous protested called for Pluspetrol to pay them compensation for the pollution in the form reforestation, food, medicine, and cash payments.

Using community monitoring of oil operations along the Corrientes River, the report also documents over 90 contamination sites left from over previous oil operator Occidental Petroleum that were not made apart of a clean-up agreement taken on by Pluspetrol. For its part Occidental Petroleum is currently embroiled in a lawsuit brought to court by members of the indigenous tribe Achuar for contaminating the region.

Peruvian health studies have found that 98% of Achuar children have high levels of cadmium in their blood, and two-thirds suffer from lead poisoning.

“[The report] raises serious concerns about Peru’s aggressive development strategy to open the Amazon to oil drilling,” said Gregor MacLennan, Amazon Watch Peru Program Coordinator, also in a press release.

The government of Peru, led by President Alan Garcia, is currently pushing an oil boom. Around 70% of the Peruvian Amazon has been opened for oil and gas exploration and drilling, and a number of foreign companies have heard the call, including Talisman Energy, Petrolifera, ConocoPhilips, and Hunt Oil.

The conflict between indigenous people living the region and big oil turned violent in 2009. A standoff between indigenous protestors and government police ended with 23 police officers and at least 10 protesters dead, though indigenous people say that bodies of protesters were dumped in rivers to hide the numbers killed.

Chevron used secret lab to hide dirty soil samples from ecuador court, say company documents

Dec. 20, 2011

NEW YORK — In an ever more stunning expose of Chevron’s fraud before the Ecuador court, a U.S. federal judge has ordered the disclosure of documents that demonstrate Chevron used a secret lab in the United States to hide the existence of dirty soil samples taken from the company’s contaminated former well sites in the Amazon.

The documents also show that Chevron’s scientific experts in the Ecuador trial — one of whom is a respected professor at the University of California  — executed a scheme that guaranteed the company would find only ‘clean’ soil samples from contaminated well sites while all ‘dirty’ samples would be sent to a lab called NewFields, where they would not be disclosed to the court.

The existence of the NewFields lab, which is based in Atlanta, was not disclosed by Chevron to either the plaintiffs or the Ecuador trial court before it ruled in February that the company was liable for $18 billion in clean-up damages. Even though Chevron tried to present a false picture of the evidence to the court, the Ecuador judge found that scientific samples from the plaintiffs and other court-appointed experts clearly demonstrated extensive pollution at all of the 94 former Chevron well sites and production stations inspected during the trial.

Chevron executed its deceptive sampling plan by secretly and unilaterally pre-inspecting well sites in the days before court-supervised judicial inspections of the same sites, which were attended by both parties and the judge. Chevron used the pre-inspections to plot areas on ground higher than the contaminated waste pits where soil samples would come up ‘clean’ during the official inspections process.  See here and here.

As a general matter, the documents show that only Chevron’s ‘clean’ soil samples were submitted to the Ecuador court despite rampant pollution on the ground and in streams and rivers near all Chevron well sites that were inspected by the parties during the trial, which lasted from 2003 to 2011.  As an example, see this photo of Shushufindi 38, a former Chevron well site where Chevron in contrast to the plaintiffs reported that it found no contamination in its soil samples.

Other documents (here and here) show Chevron committed fraud by lying to some of its own technical experts so they would laud the company’s deceptive sampling practices even though they were designed to mislead the court.

Lawyers for the rainforest communities immediately submitted the new documents – one called ‘The Judicial Inspection Playbook’ and written by a Houston-based environmental consulting firm — to the Ecuador appellate court that will determine whether to uphold the $18 billion judgment against Chevron for discharging billions of gallons of oil-laced toxic waste into the Amazon rainforest, decimating five indigenous groups and causing an outbreak of cancer. The judgment was handed down on February 14 after an eight-year trial that produced 220,000 pages of evidence.

The new documents were not part of the evidence presented to the Ecuador trial court.  U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael E. Hagarty in August 2011 ordered them disclosed as part of a discovery action in Colorado against Bjorn Bjorkman, a Chevron expert. They were included in a legal filing last week made before a New York federal judge. See here for all the documents.

‘The stunning 11th-hour disclosure of these in-house documents clearly proves Chevron went through a meticulous planning process to defraud the Ecuador court and in fact defrauded the Ecuador court in a systematic way during the judicial inspections process,’ said Pablo Fajardo the lead Ecuadorian lawyer in the case.

‘The document also closes the loop on what we long suspected — that Chevron’s scientists were systematically hiding from the court the existence of extensive contamination at all of Chevron’s former well sites,’ he added.

Completed in 2006 by Chevron experts at GSI Environmental in Houston, ‘The Judicial Inspection Playbook’ indicates that during the trial Chevron planned to hide or minimize the extent of the toxic threat at each of its 378 former well sites and production stations. Dozens of those sites were inspected during the trial, with soil and water samples being submitted to laboratories for analysis with the results becoming part of the main body of evidence relied on by the court.

The newly disclosed documents demonstrate that:

  • Chevron secretly pre-tested its former well sites to guarantee results the company sought during the judicial inspections process;
  • Chevron directed its experts to only test areas that had been pre-determined ‘clean’ during the secret pre-inspections;
  • Chevron directed its experts to send its ‘dirty’ samples to the undisclosed lab, called NewFields;
  • To whitewash its rigged sampling procedures, Chevron made false representations to the Ecuador court;
  • Chevron attempted to thwart the ability of the Ecuadorian communities to obtain the new documents on the grounds they could cause ‘substantial harm’ to Chevron.

The Ecuador court never received lab results from NewFields, which markets its ability to help corporations manage human rights violations involving contamination. ‘Clean’ samples were sent to the Severn Trent lab, Chevron’s laboratory of record during the trial but one that also has come under attack for not being independent.

Evidence also emerged that Chevron altered the ‘Judicial Inspections Playbook’ document to remove references to parts of its deceptive sampling plan before giving it to Douglas M. MacKay, Ph.D, a Chevron expert who teaches at the University of California at Davis. Based on the altered plan, MacKay was induced by Chevron to submit a robust defense of Chevron’s sampling plan to the Ecuador court — a blatant act of fraud by Chevron, according to the plaintiffs.

In his submission to the Ecuador court, MacKay and two other experts, Pedro J. Alvarez, Ph.D and Robert E. Hinchee, Ph.D, concluded ‘there is no foundation for the serious allegations … that [Chevron’s] sampling program deliberately hides or minimizes the existing contamination.’  The allegation has been made by the plaintiffs in a report submitted by their own U.S. technical experts, Dr. Ann Maest and Bill Powers.

‘Chevron’s decision to withhold this information from the Ecuadorian court, to defend its otherwise indefensible sampling methodology, and to submit expert reports that rely on altered documents is a fraud on the Ecuadorian justice system,’ read a brief filed recently by the plaintiffs before a New York federal court in a related matter.

The  Chevron ‘playbook’ for the judicial inspections instructed the company’s experts that ‘locations for sampling should be chosen to emphasize clean points around pits’.  Chevron also directed its experts to ‘collect soil samples at 4 or more locations surrounding the site, using locations the PI (Pre-Inspection) team has shown to be clean.’

Chevron also created individual ‘playbooks’ for each site to be inspected by the court, based on its undisclosed pre-inspection visits.  For example, the playbook for the Sacha North Production Station indicates that of three borings Chevron made during its pre-inspection, one afforded Chevron an acceptable ‘delineation point’ to return to at the subsequent court inspection.  The others showed or tested positive for contamination.

During the trial, Chevron issued multiple press releases defending the integrity of its sampling process, all of which contained false information, said Karen Hinton, the U.S. spokesperson for the Ecuadorian plaintiffs.

Chevron’s manipulation of sampling evidence is also consistent with statements made by Chevron contractor Diego Borja that he would swap out contaminated samples collected from judicial inspection sites with clean samples collected at other locations to send to the supposedly independent Severn Trent Laboratory.  Borja testified that the Severn Trent Laboratory actually ‘belonged to Chevron’ and was directed by Borja’s wife, Sara Portilla.

The Ecuadorians called on MacKay, Alvarez and Hinchee to disavow their report in light of the new evidence, said Hinton.

“Chevron duped Dr. MacKay and the other experts,’ she said. “We therefore urge them to recant their findings and immediately notify the Ecuador appellate court.”

The new information also increases the pressure on John Conner, Chevron’s lead U.S. technical expert during the Ecuador trial.  Conner, the lead partner at GSI Environmental, was paid an estimated $8 million by Chevron for his work in Ecuador and is thought to be the main author of the ‘Judicial Inspection Playbook’ document.

As Chevron’s main technical witness in the Ecuador case, Connor’s credibility has taken several serious blows as of late and he could be sanctioned for participating in the oil giant’s scheme in Ecuador, said Hinton.  Last year, Conner was the main Chevron witness at a trial in Mississippi where a jury rejected his scientific analysis and decided in favor of the plaintiffs.

Conner is now Chevron’s main technical witness in a private international arbitration action that the oil giant hopes will shift the $18 billion liability to Ecuador’s government.  Without his testimony, Chevron’s prospects in that action certainly look dim, said Hinton.

A list of some of Chevron’s judicial inspection experts, all of whom were presumably guided by the protocols in the ‘Playbook’, included (in addition to Connor): Ernesto Baca, Gino Bianchi, Fernando Morales, Jorge Salcedo, Bjorn Bjorkman, Gregory Douglas, Charles Newell, Jimmy Kirkland, Les Oakes, Thomas McHugh, Burton Suedel, Van Ekambaram, Mala Pattanayek, Bridgette DeShields, Lloyd Deuel, Raymond C. Loehr, Marcelo Muñez, and Gerardo Barros.

Latin America 2011 nothing changes

Brazil is temporarily banning the American company, Chevron, from drilling for oil in its territory.

The National Petroleum Agency (ANP) said it would suspend Chevron’s activities in Brazil until it had established the cause of an oil spill off the coast of Rio de Janeiro. Chevron has apologised for the leak, but has stressed it acted as rapidly and safely as possible to contain it. The Brazilian government has fined Chevron $28m (£18m) for the spill. Brazilian Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira said Chevron could face further fines if an investigation into the spill revealed more infractions.

ANP also rejected a Chevron request to drill a deeper well in the Frade field in order to reach sub-salt fields, which could hold  reserves of more than 100bn barrels of high-quality recoverable oil. It said such drilling would “pose risks to the environment similar to those that occurred in the well where the spill occurred, but bigger and magnified by the greater depth”.

Chevron apology

The head of Chevron’s Brazil operation, George Buck, appeared before the lower house of the Brazilian parliament to apologise for the leak. He said the company respected Brazil and the Brazilian people, its environment, laws and institutions.

“We are going to thoroughly investigate the accident and present the results to the Brazilian people… so that this does not happen again either here or in any other part of the world,” Mr Buck said. Brazilian authorities said the spill was now under control and the oil slick had been reduced to two square kilometres.

ANP said the leak released between 200 and 330 barrels a day at the height of the spill. The head of the ANP, Haroldo Lima, said the accident was “serious, but not major”.

He said there was “no comparison” between this spill and last year’s disaster at BP’s Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico, where 11 people died and about 3,000 barrels a day were leaked. In recent years Brazil has discovered billions of barrels of oil in deep water that could make it one of the wold’s top five producers.

This is why people like Chevron have come to Brasil, to exploit yet another so called third world country.

Facing sharp criticism from Brazilian officials, senior management of Chevron Brazil said that Chevron takes “full responsibility” for an oil spill off the southeastern coast of Brazil that was discovered on November 7. George Buck, Chevron’s chief operating officer in Brazil, told reporters on Sunday that Chevron “takes full responsibility for this incident,” and said that “any oil on the surface of the ocean is unacceptable to Chevron.” The oil spill began when an undersea well operated by Chevron succumbed to pressure from the oil reservoir, allowing crude to escape through a breach in the bore hole wall and up through the ocean floor. According to Brazil’s National Petroleum Agency, up to 110,000 gallons of oil may have leaked into the Atlantic Ocean. On uThursday, Chevron capped the well with cement, but oil is reportedly still leaking from cracks in the seabed. Buck said that storms and ocean swells prevented Chevron cleanup boats from reaching the oil slick for two days after the leak was discovered, but they are now skimming the ocean surface to clean up the spill. Coming on the heels of a long legal battle with Ecuador over contamination in the rainforest, Chevron employees may face $5.5 million in fines and potential prison time in Brazil, according to the environmental minister of Rio de Janeiro state.

Now lets look at the responsibility Chevron is taking for the clean up.

So here we are at ground zero as some people like to call it, there are supposed to be 16 ships collecting, recovering and mechanically dispersing the oil.

Heres one right but needs to be a bit closer to the oil to do any good!

Here is a boom between two ships just a little question where is the skimmer or is this mechanical dispersion Chevron style.

So as you can see nothing changes there are rules at home an no rules when working in other parts of the world.

I can even lay a bet that if the Brasilian government were to fine Chevron on the same scale as the US did to BP then the US government would defend Chevron!

Seeing as the rig was owned by Transocean know doubt the other major players in Deep water horizon were also involved and it looks like they are trying to get their act together at the cost of another country then they do deserve a considerablbly higher fine than they have recieved to date..

Chevron is revered in Wall St. and City of London for its massive abilities as a money machine. Last year Chevron, the United States’ largest oil and gas company after ExxonMobil, boosted its revenues by an impressive 25% over FY 2010 to $245.6 billion. Of even greater interest to Chevron shareholders, profits soared by 41% to $26.9 billion. Little wonder then that Chevron CEO and chairman John Watson strolled home with roughly $25 million in total compensation in 2011, a 52% increase over his 2010 pay, according to Chevron’s securities filing.


2012 now it’s Nigeria

20 January 2012, Sweetcrude, LAGOS – Crude oil spill has been reported from the fire which hit the oil drilling rig, KS Endeavor, early Monday morning offshore Nigeria, with two dead.

The rig, working for Chevron Nigeria Limited, is now partially submerged but continues to burn on Block 86 in the Funiwa field.

Director general of the Nigerian National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), Peter Idabor, said some community leaders in Bayelsa State have complained that oil from the accident was already ashore and polluting the environment.

This is also based on a report from NOSDRA’s deputy director, who was part of a helicopter fly over the burning rig together with officials of the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and Chevron on Wednesday.

Idabor said: “A crude oil spill from the facility was spotted by the surveillance around the KS Endeavor and along the shoreline,” adding: “This is a very serious explosion. You have drilling fluids and oil seen around the rig itself.”

He stated that complaints have been received by his agency from government officials in some parts of Bayelsa state about pollution washing ashore.

“There are several communities already impacted,” he claimed. “The first one is Koloma towns 1 and 2, the second one is Fishtown and the third is Frupa.”

On Tuesday Chevron had confirmed that “a small sheen was visible in close proximity to the (affected) well,” estimating the sheen at 13 barrels.

3rd World polluter

It looks like there is a company policy for working at home and another for working abroad. It is much cheaper to have oil spills outside the USA!! Just as well, seeing as they are in the bids for the next round of drilling in the Arctic.

The Chevron Toxico logo still fits and will do until they clean up their act.

Nigeria on a normal day


It is estimated that an Exxon Valdez equivalent spill happens every year in Nigeria and most of it is in the delta region.

This is without doubt the worst place I have ever visited.

Bureaucracy and corruption meets you at Lagos airport on arrival at passport control where there is a notice behind the officials which reads “do not bribe the officials” who’s first words are “do you have a present for me?”.

As in all corrupt countries it starts at the top and penetrates through all the officials.

Nigeria is the land of over 250 tribes. The oil rich Niger Delta belongs to 4 or 5 but the government is made up of different ones and of course they do not live in the delta either.

The Nigerian government is the principal share holder of all of the major upstream companies operating in Nigeria. They own 55% of Shell Nigeria, 60% of Agip, 60% of Mobil and 60% of Chevron operations in the country.

The money earned by the government over the last 50 years finds its way to places like
Switzerland and little or in truth nothing returns to the Delta Region.

It is not difficult to understand the thinking in the Delta, with the oil flowing in the main in surface pipelines through the Delta region.(photo below right)

The people get some money from Shell by drilling holes in the pipelines or opening valves sometimes even using explosives to steal the oil (known as bunkering) or tocause a pollution problem for which they then require compensation. This is paid by Shell not the Swiss banks.

The explanation for a hole in one crude line which was on the top of the pipe with the steel bent inwards  was corrosionwe were told it, it looked more like an explosion as corrosion usually occurs under the pipe, but you don’t argue with the man with the AK47 Kalashnikov.

It is quite a common event for someone to hole a gasoline line then everyone is in line with anything that will hold liquid, from time to time there are huge fires during these incidents it is not uncommon for hundreds of people to die or be badly burn.

The photo above is the result of a gasoline explosion and fire that killed 200 people.

When all your countries wealth is running past your door and you have nothing I suppose it is hard not to try and get something.

The gas flares in the delta region are usually in big pits; the locals cook cassava part of the local diet here (photo left) they usually have black spots made by oil that passes the flare, not very healthy

In recent years a various ethnic militia groups calling themselves the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), Niger Delta People’s Volunteer Force (NDPVF) and Niger Delta Vigilante (NDV) havebeen taking hostage oil workers and damaging the oil infrastructure e.g. Terminals, pipeline, valves and rigs.

As with all of the worlds terrorist organisations recruiting people, raising money and buying arms for the cause is not difficult. The arms in many cases are better than the army and police have.

There are few negotiations for these groups to stop. In the mean time how many people kidnapped, die and how much damage is done to both the oil infrastructure and the environment. 

This of course will continue until the Delta Region gets something for what they think is their oil or the government stops being corrupt. I guess it will be a while!

 

Alang and Chittagong Ship Wreckers

Here is an interesting fact about the longest and heaviest ship ever built which was also a supertanker. built in 1979 at Sumitomo Heavy Industries’ Oppama shipyard as the Seawise Giant.

She had a deadweight of 565,000 metric tons a length of the vessel is 458 meters, a beam of 69 meters and draft of 26.4 meters, when fully loaded, her water displacement was 646,642 tons.

She was the longest ship ever constructed, longer than many of the world’s tallest buildings are tall including  the Petronas Twin Towers at 452 metres (1,483 ft).

With these dimensions she was unable to navigate the English Channel, the Suez Canal or the Panama Canal when its load was up to capacity.

Below 14 May 1988, Hormuz Terminal, “Seawise Giant” on fire after the Iraqi Air-attack during the Iraq/Iran war.

As a tanker she also was known as the, Happy Giant, and Jahre Viking.

In 2004, she was renamed Knock Nevis, and converted into a Floating storage tanker (FSO) moored in the Qatar, Al Shaheen oil field in the Arabian Gulf.

So what do you do with a ship like this when her working days are done?

In December 2009, the vessel was sold to Indian breakers and renamed Mont for her final journey.

After clearing Indian customs, she was then intentionally beached at Alang, India. A sad end for some of the worlds most famous ships.

 

Photo of Mont 29/03/2010 at Alang (www.midshipcentury.com 2010)                                           

Here is a photo before she disappears

A big ship needs a big anchor and they don’t come bigger than this it weights 36 tonnes with 20 links of chain, is 7m long in the shank, 4.45m across the flukes and 1.13m thick.

Gifted to the Hong Kong Maritime Museum by an anonymous donor, it waits for approval from the Central and Western District Council and other stakeholders for its proposed placement near the Central “Star” Ferry Piers as a monument to many generations of Hong Kong seafarers and port workers.

 

This photo below is from Google Earth of 10 kilometers of the coast at Alang, India

 

         

Just to give you an idea of what goes on in Alang here are a few photos. The ships are run aground at high tide and taken apart with gas axes and man power, of course the oil in there tanks is not completely removed as can be seen below. These people are used to that.
You can only imagine with the price for scrapping ships the best in the world due mainly to the cheap labour used, there are more and more ships being sent there to cause more and more pollution.

This link will show more close up photos http://connect.in.com/alang-ship-breakers/photos-1-1-1-e03b95b357b4a7ae01ecccbf1948cdd4.html

It is getting difficult to hide from Google Earth when you know where to look. Below is the Sitakundu coast near Chittagong, Bangladesh here it is only a stretch of coast 8.5 kms that is used. At the end is where the mangroves try to survive.

Debate over Cause of Oil Spill Near Ship Destruction Yards 

15/12/2011

A 10-kilometre oil slick has been reported in the Bay of Bengal off the Sitakunda upazila area in Bangladesh. Boatmen and passengers crossing the area in the morning said they had noticed the strip, which was around 50 feet wide and spreading to Kadam Rasul from the Kumira coast. Both the reason for and the severity of the spillage so far remain unconfirmed.

A ferry operator on the sea route noticed black burnt oil floating on the surface. Boatmen, fishermen and people travelling between Sandwip and Chittagong said they often see oil spills, for which they blame the ship-demolishing industry. There are over 50 ship destruction yards next to the coast and more than 100 vessels are beached there for dismantling.

Hefazatur Rahman, president of Bangladesh Ship Breakers’ Association, brushed aside the suggestion that scrap ships caused oil spills in the sea. Oil might have leaked from tankers that travel to different parts of the country from the Chittagong port, he said.

An Environment department director from the port city said they had inspected the area in the afternoon and noticed no major spill. They saw a 100-metre layer of oil floating between Kadam Rasul and Kumira, but could not identify its source, he said.

Image Courtesy: SPOT Image/ Google Maps

Just to show how some people live with oil pollution as a daily occurrence below is a satelite photo of an Indian oil field. The white dots are oil platforms where as the black areas are oil slicks which happen daily. without satelites know one outside would know!

 

My controversy over the flow rate from Deepwater Horizon Spill 2010

A tale of two blow outs.

In a bid to win the world series of oil spills it comes as no surprise that the Deepwater Horizon spill is now said to be the biggest marine accident in the world.

I would like to put the case that it was actually smaller than Ixtoc 1.

The fact is that there is no factual basis for these figures, they are known as a guesstimates.

The total amount from Deepwater Horizon (DWH) is said to be 4,100,000 – 4,300,000 barrels.

When the spill began supposedly when the rig sank on the 22nd of April 2010 it was said the leak was approximately 1,000 barrels per day (160 m3/d).

After many years in this industry a rule of thumb in the early hours of a spill is to add one more zero to the figure therefore making it 10,000 bpd. Outside scientists quickly produced higher estimates.

Official estimates increased from 1,000 to 5,000 barrels per day (160 to 790 m3/d)

On April 29, to 12,000 to 19,000 barrels per day (1,900 to 3,000 m3/d)

On May 27, to 25,000 to 30,000 barrels per day (4,000 to 4,800 m3/d)

On June 10, and to between 35,000 and 60,000 barrels per day (5,600 and 9,500 m3/d),

On July 15, 3 months later, the leak was stopped by capping the well. It was then estimated that 53,000 barrels per day (8,400 m3/d) were escaping from the well just before it was capped. It was believed that the daily flow rate diminished over time, starting at about 62,000 barrels per day (9,900 m3/d) and decreasing as the reservoir of hydrocarbons feeding the gusher was gradually depleted.

Official estimates were provided by the Flow Rate Technical Group—scientists from USCG, (NOAA), (DOE), and outside academics, led by (USGS). The later estimates were believed to be more accurate because it was no longer necessary to measure multiple leaks, and because detailed pressure measurements and high-resolution video had become available. According to BP, estimating the oil flow was very difficult as there was no underwater metering at the wellhead and because of the natural gas in the outflow. The company had initially refused to allow scientists to perform more accurate, independent measurements, saying that it was not relevant to the response and that such efforts might distract from efforts to stem the flow. Former Administrator of the EPA Carol Browner and Congressman Ed Markey (D-MA) both accused BP of having a vested financial interest in downplaying the size of the leak in part due to the fine they will have to pay based on the amount of leaked oil. So obviously there had to be a big increase in the flow rate.

Here are some photos of the shoreline in Louisiana 41 miles away from the well in May and June

The total amount from Ixtoc 1 is said to be 3,329,000–3,520,000 barrels.

 

In the case of Ixtoc 1 which on June 3, 1979, the 2 mile deep exploratory well, blew out in the Bahia de Campeche, 600 miles south of Texas in the Gulf of Mexico.

The platform collapsed into the wellhead area hindering any immediate attempts to control the blowout.

In the initial stages of the spill, an estimated 30,000 barrels of oil per day were flowing from the well.

In July 1979 the pumping of mud into the well reduced the flow to 20,000 barrels per day

In August the pumping of nearly 100,000 steel, iron, and lead balls into the well reduced the flow to 10,000 barrels per day until it was finally capped 11 months later on March 23, 1980.

Prevailing northerly currents in the western Gulf of Mexico carried spilled oil toward the U.S.A. A 60-mile by 70-mile patch of sheen containing a 300 foot by 500 foot patch of heavy crude moved toward the Texas coast.
On August 6,15 and 18,1979, tarballs from the spill impacted a 17 mile stretch of Texas beach. Mousse patches impacted the shoreline north of Port Mansfield Channel

On August 24, mousse impacted shoreline south of Aransas Pass.

By August 26, most of North Padre Island was covered with moderate amounts of oil.

On September 1, the entire south Texas coast had been impacted by oil.

Ultimately, 71,500 barrels of oil impacted 162 miles of U.S. beaches, and over 10,000 cubic yards of oiled material were removed.

Here are some photos of the shoreline in Texas 600 miles away in Aug, Sept and Oct

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 SOURCE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few simularities:

Sedco rig at Ixtoc who later became Transocean
Both BOP’s failed to work correctly

3% of the oil was recovered at sea in both cases using booms and skimmers
Dispersant were used in both cases mainly on emulsion which was both inefficient and expensive.
Dispersant was used for the first time at the wellhead during DWH its efficiency is questionable.
5% of the oil was burned in-situ at DWH where as the well burned at Ixtoc
Dome placed over the well at Ixtoc called Sombrero at DWH called Top hat both failed
Steel balls forced into the well to stem the flow
at Ixtoc DWH Junk shot both failed
Introduction of drilling mud to reduce the flow Top kill tried at both and failed
Plumes of oil in the water column at both
Both resolved with relief wells Ixtoc after 9 months and DWH after 3 months

It seems very strange to me that both these oil spills were of large proportions and the both oils emulsified, one was 41 miles off the coast while the other was 600 miles away yet the shoreline impact was worse from the Ixtoc 1 than DWH. Therefore in my opinion there was more oil from Ixtoc 1 than from DWH.

Every day that passes it looks like, what Tony Hayward said “I think the environmental impact of this disaster is likely to be very, very modest,” along most of the coastline he was probably right.

To go back to the world series statement at the start, it now becomes obvious why the figures have been manipulated to be the supposed biggest marine accident to date. It has now been decided that BP will pay US$1,500 per barrel so the more you up the figure the more the fine becomes.

One thing is for sure the cost will get into the Guinness Book of Records. BP said in November that the cost of the oil spill had risen to $11.6 billion. Total costs are expected to reach about $40 billion, including $20 billion set aside for compensation payments in an agreement signed with the US government. Costing more than all the past oil spills on earth since World War 2.

It has taken until Feb 2012 to find the disparacy in quantities across the different articles about DWH. 

We now have a difference between 454,000 – 480,000mt for Ixtox1 and 77,000 – 250,000mt for DWH of course the fines will be based on the highest.