Friday, June 24, 2011

Soured Relations - Gaddafi And Big Oil

MediaLens | Remarkably, then, we found nothing in any article in any national UK newspaper reporting the freely-available facts revealed by WikiLeaks on Western oil interests in Libya. And nothing linking these facts to the current war.

By contrast, in his June 11 article for the Washington Post, Steven Mufson focused intensely on WikiLeaks exposés in regard to Libyan oil. In November 2007, a leaked State Department cable reported 'growing evidence of Libyan resource nationalism'. In his 2006 speech marking the founding of his regime, Gaddafi had said:

'Oil companies are controlled by foreigners who have made millions from them. Now, Libyans must take their place to profit from this money.'

Gaddafi's son made similar comments in 2007. As (honest) students of history will know, these are exactly the kind of words that make US generals sit up and listen. The stakes for the West were, and are, high: companies such as ConocoPhillips and Marathon have each invested about $700 million over the past six years.

Even more seriously, in late February 2008, a US State Department cable described how Gaddafi had 'threatened to dramatically reduce Libya's oil production and/or expel... U.S. oil and gas companies'. The Post explained how, in early 2008, US Senator Frank R. Lautenberg had enraged the Libyan leader by adding an amendment to a bill that made it easier for families of the victims of the Lockerbie bombing to 'go after Libya's commercial assets'.

The Libyan equivalent of the deputy foreign minister told US officials that the Lautenberg amendment was 'destroying everything the two sides have built since 2003,' according to a State Department cable. In 2008, Libyan oil minister Shokri Ghanem warned an Exxon Mobil executive that Libya might 'significantly curtail' its oil production to 'penalize the US,' according to another cable.

The Post concluded: 'even before armed conflict drove the U.S. companies out of Libya this year, their relations with Gaddafi had soured. The Libyan leader demanded tough contract terms. He sought big bonus payments up front. Moreover, upset that he was not getting more U.S. government respect and recognition for his earlier concessions, he pressured the oil companies to influence U.S. policies'.

Similarly, compare the chasm in rational analysis separating the mainstream UK media and the dissident Real News Network, hosted by Paul Jay. Last month, Jay interviewed Kevin G. Hall, the national economics correspondent for McClatchy Newspapers. Jay concluded with a summary of their conversation discussing oil shenanigans in Libya:

'So you've got the Italian oil companies already at odds with the US over Iran. The Italian oil company is going to, through its deals with Gazprom, allow the Russians to take a big stake in Libyan oil. And then you have the French. As we head towards the Libyan war, the French Total have a small piece of the Libyan oil game, but I suppose they would like a bigger piece of it. And then you wind up having a French-American push to overthrow Gaddafi and essentially shove Gazprom out. I mean, I guess we're not saying one and one necessarily equals two, but it sure - it makes one think about it.'

Hall responded:

'Yeah, it's not necessarily causation, but there's - you might suggest there's correlation. And clearly this shows the degree to which oil is kind of the back story to so much that happens. As a matter of fact, we went through 251,000 [leaked] documents - or we have 250,000 documents that we've been pouring through. Of those, a full 10 percent of them, a full 10 percent of those documents, reference in some way, shape, or form oil. And I think that tells you how much part of, you know, the global security question, stability, prosperity - you know, take your choice, oil is fundamental.' (Our emphasis)

Jay replied with a wry smile:

'And we'll do more of this. But those who had said it's not all about oil, they ain't reading WikiLeaks.'

Hall replied: 'It is all about oil.'

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