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Monday, December 12, 2016

Putin and Trump: Oily

I wasn't expecting this. Mark Summer has come up with a long, fascinating, truly eye-opening article on the real reason why Putin invested in Trump. Yeah, you've read many other Putin/Trump pieces, but trust me: This is it.

It's all about oil -- the backbone, heart and nervous system of the Russian economy. Sanctions have made Russia's economy scream. When Trump is in office he will get rid of those sanctions, which is why he picked Russia's best friend, Rex Tillerson, to be the new Secretary of State.
Exxon has been working directly with Russia to secure drilling rights in previously virgin areas of the high Arctic. It’s a deal that earned Tillerson the “Order of Friendship” medal in 2012—the highest award Russia gives to non-citizens.

Mr. Trump called it “a great advantage” that Mr. Tillerson already knows “many of the players,” noting that he does “massive deals in Russia.”​ Massive doesn’t even do them justice.

Those deals, valued at between $500 billion and $1 trillion, are at risk because of US sanctions against Russian officials that were imposed after Russia’s invasion of Crimea and other areas in Ukraine. Tillerson already lobbied Congress successfully to stop a more extensive sanction bill from becoming law. Now he wants to rest of it put away.

To get a sense of just how large the deal is, Russia’s entire annual budget is around $200 billion dollars.
Trump will pave the way for the biggest business deal in history -- one which will benefit Russia, not the United States.

Rachel Maddow offers more here. I'd embed the video, but it has not been placed on YouTube.

One important point: As oil money flows in, Putin will not only consolidate his grip on power, he will be able to afford a massive military build up.

Another important point: This deal helps to explain why Trump has taken such a harsh denialist position on global warming.

For more background, see the NYT story here. Unfortunately, that piece doesn't go into details on the Arctic deal. You should also check out DeSmog...
Exxon, the top U.S. producer of oil and gas and a well-documented funder of climate science denial, actually leases more land in Russia than it does in the U.S.

“Exxon boosted its Russian holdings to 63.7 million acres in 2014 from 11.4 million at the end of 2013, according to data from U.S. regulatory filings,” reported Bloomberg in March 2014. “That dwarfs the 14.6 million acres of rights Exxon holds in the U.S., which until last year was its largest exploration prospect.”

Exxon, though headquartered in Irving, Texas near Dallas, is a sprawling “private empire” with assets spread across the globe. When asked about building more U.S. refineries to protect the U.S. economy and consumers from fuel shortages, former CEO and chairman Lee Raymond put Exxon's view of itself and its loyalty to the U.S. bluntly.

“I'm not a U.S. company, and I don't make decisions based on what's good for the U.S,” Raymond is quoted as saying in the 2012 book Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power by Steve Coll.
I sure hope that this quote comes back to haunt Tillerson when he faces Congress, because I doubt that his stance differs from Raymond's.
Beyond the Gulf, Exxon maintains a joint venture with Rosneft to do offshore drilling in Alaska's Point Thompson in the state's North Slope territory.

In Russia, Exxon also co-owns a stake in the proposed Sakhalin liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility in Sakhalin, which would see that gas exported to the global market. However, the plant opening was delayed when sanctions hit, pushing it back at least two years according to an April 2015 announcement.

Exxon also has a joint venture with Rosneft in the Bazhenov Shale basin in Siberia, into which Exxon poured $300 million. Exxon owns a 49 percent stake and Rosneft 51 percent in that venture, which is to explore hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) possibilities in the field. If exploration bears fruit, Rosneft would hold a 66.67 percent interest in drilling the field while ExxonMobil would maintain a 33.33 percent stake.
And they accused Hillary (for no good reason) of "pay to play"! What Rex Tillerson, Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin have in mind is history's ultimate example of "pay to play."
Sanctions did not make Russia scream. Shale oil in the USA which has brought the worldwide price down continues to hurt both opec and non opec countries that depend on oil revenues for most of their budget.
Joseph, this is off topic. Even though this article is from May, it does a good job connecting Trump to Phyllis Schlafly and the Council for National Policy.
Exxon has been working with leading Republican Attorney Generals to defeat inquiries on Exxon and climate change.
Imagine if Arab oil, concentrated in the Gulf, got wiped out. Boris Berezovsky referred to this possibility. There'd be big smiles on influential figures' faces in Russia, in the US, and in Israel.

Sure, a few tens of millions might die of famine, or radiation, or blast, but there'd be juicy investment opportunities in extracting Russian reserves. Concessions would be on offer. Most of the billionaire class in the US would be drooling from their fangs.

Then there's gas. Recently the British media poked fun at the diesel-chugging Russian aircraft carrier. Their message: nuclear power is good. They also implied that British forces were on the watchout to pre-empt a surprise Russian landing on the southern English coast. "Goot morrrning, esteemed peopull of zee Isle of Wight! You arr now een zee Rrrussian Federrration!" Meanwhile the British elite hides its dependency on Russian gas. The Russians could turn the fucking taps off and the British economy wouldn't manage even to chug: neither what remains of British industry, nor much of the City of London.

Tip: someone to watch is Ursula von der Leyen in Germany.
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