Of all the posts I’ve written, the one that got the most hits was a piece in February entitled “It’s All About Oil-Alan Greenspan”. This morning it was revealed that the Big Oil companies that were Dick Cheney’s handmaidens in the secret Energy Taskforce have been awarded no-bid contracts to develop Iraqi oil. The Russian company Lukoil that had a signed contract from the pre-Invasion era, has been kicked out. Ah the joys of Imperialism.
The Iraqis justified awarding these contracts to the majors, even though the new oil law has not been passed because of the exceptional “charitable” work Big Oil has been doing there for the last two years.
The companies provided free advice and training to the Iraqis. This relationship with the ministry, said company officials and an American diplomat, was a reason the contracts were not opened to competitive bidding.
A total of 46 companies, including the leading oil companies of China, India and Russia, had memorandums of understanding with the Oil Ministry, yet were not awarded contracts.
Assem Jihad, the Oil Ministry spokesman, said the ministry chose companies it was comfortable working with under the charitable memorandum of understanding agreements, and for their technical prowess. “Because of that, they got the priority,” he said.
Given the extreme level of profits at Exxon and the rest of Big Oil, you can bet they wrote off these “in kind Charitable services” before they paid any taxes to the U.S. Treasury.
While we are on the subject of oil. President Bush and John McCain are out on the hustings pushing offshore oil drilling as the immediate solution to high gas prices. This is as craven a political stunt as the Gas tax holiday. Even if legislators in Florida and California could be cowed into voting for off shore drilling, nothing would happen for 5-10 years, because there are no spare drilling rigs.
But even as oil trades at more than $135 a barrel — up from $68 a year ago — the world’s existing drill-ships are booked solid for the next five years. Some oil companies have been forced to postpone exploration while waiting for a drilling rig, executives and analysts said.
Demand is so high that shipbuilders, the biggest of whom are in Asia, have raised prices since last year by as much as $100 million a vessel to about half a billion dollars.
This is just like the ANWAR argument. Here is our choice–spend $200 billion building the off shore and Alaska infrastructure that could come on line in 10 years with maybe 1% of the world’s daily oil needs and last for ten years max. Or we could spend that money building an alternative energy system that would assure our grandchildren’s future, including solar, wind, nuclear to power our grid and most of our transportation along with pushing the cost of the Hydrogen Car much lower. Honda rolled the first mass production hydrogen fuel cell car off the assembly line on Monday.
Analysts have said Honda and the rival Japanese carmaker Toyota have seized a commanding lead in more efficient, green technologies like hybrids as well as fuel cells.
Honda says one big breakthrough was shrinking the size of its fuel cells. In the FCX Clarity, they fit in a box-shaped unit the size of a desktop PC that weighs about 150 pounds, less than half of their size a decade ago.
American independance from tin pot oil-ogarchs and a Republican energy policy dominated by brain dead CEO’s from Exxon and General Motors, will only be achieved by new leadership. Bush and McCain are offering a return to the past that will only delay the pain for our children’s generation. As The Times points out in an editorial this morning Big Oil already has huge undrilled leases on public lands.
Separate studies by the House Committee on Natural Resources and the Wilderness Society, a conservation group, show that roughly three-quarters of the 90 million-plus acres of federal land being leased by the oil companies onshore and off are not being used to produce energy. That is 68 million acres altogether, among them potentially highly productive leases in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska.
The wonderful thing is, as the Wall Street Journal points out, American companies like GE are already world leaders in Green tech like Wind Turbines and Water Desalinization. This the direction our energy policy should move in and only Barack Obama is willing to What have we got to fear, but fear itself?