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US Oil Companies Allegedly Lobbying Congress Not to Ramp Up Russia Sanctions

Sputnik – 21.07.2018

With this week’s US-Russia summit in Helsinki setting off a new wave of media speculation about Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 US election, the US Congress is mulling a new round of sanctions against Moscow.

The US oil industry, which is already feeling the pinch of Washington’s sanctions imposed upon Russia, is pushing against tighter sanctions on Moscow. They fear the new restrictions could impact their investments in the world’s biggest oil producing country, Reuters reported, citing congressional sources on Friday.

The US Congress is mulling over a bill which, if passed, would toughen sanctions on Russia if it transpires that Moscow’s alleged meddling in the US election had gone even further than initially believed, the agency wrote.

Even though most of the sources Reuters spoke to refused to name the companies coming out against new sanctions on Russia, one Senate aide said that the US-Russia Chamber of Commerce was raising concerns about the legislation.

The Texas-based chamber, which is a non-profit organization, brings together leading US oil and gas companies, such as Exxon Mobil, who has previously opposed anti-Russian sanctions, and Chevron.

Opponents claim sanctions unfairly penalize US firms while allowing their foreign rivals such as Royal Dutch Shell and BP to operate in Russia.

The Chamber and company representatives did not respond to requests for comment.

This year ExxonMobil will exit some joint oil ventures with Russia’s Rosneft citing Western sanctions first imposed in 2014 and further expanded by the US Congress in 2017.

Bending under pressure, ExxonMobil and its affiliates said they would abide by the legislators’ demands.

On June 17, 2018, Paul Ryan, Speaker of the US House of Representatives, said that Congress was ready to consider a new package of anti-Russian sanctions over Moscow’s alleged interference in the 2016 US election – a claim Russia has repeatedly denied.

July 21, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Russophobia | , , , | Leave a comment

Oil majors eager to enter Iran market: Zangeneh

Press TV – January 25, 2014

Iran’s oil minister says major world oil companies have voiced readiness to set up shop in the country.

Oil giants attending the World Economic Forum (WEF) in the Swiss city of Davos announced that they were interested to enter the Iranian market, said Bijan Namdar Zangeneh in Tehran after returning from Davos where he attended the conference.

“Iran’s presence at the Davos meeting was very positive and the reaction of prominent international corporations attests to that,” he said.

Zangeneh touched upon his meetings with high-ranking officials of oil companies at the WEF, and said, “These companies were interested in working in Iran and many of them arranged plans for talks.”

He also referred to the Oil Ministry’s plans to develop a new model for oil contracts, and noted that a committee was set up four months ago to examine the existing contracts and pinpoint the merits and demerits of the structure of buy-back deals.

“We are holding talks with oil companies to have their viewpoints as well,” Zangeneh pointed out.

The new model of contracts should fulfill the expectations of the government and, at the same time, attract oil firms, the Iranian minister said.

A draft of the model will be ready by next month and it will be discussed at a meeting of experts in Tehran, Zangeneh projected.

On the sidelines of the OPEC ministerial meeting in Vienna in early December 2013, Zangeneh said Tehran would like to see seven oil giants – namely Total, Royal Dutch Shell, Norway’s Statoil, Eni and British Petroleum, as well as the US Exxon and Conoco – make investment in the Islamic Republic’s energy sector once US-led sanctions are lifted.

On January 20, the Council of the European Union suspended part of the sanctions it had imposed against Iran following the Geneva nuclear deal between Tehran and the Sextet of powers – the United States, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany.

The new measure incorporates suspension of a 2012 ban on insuring and transporting Iran’s crude oil and the sanctions on trade in gold, precious metals and petrochemical products.

January 25, 2014 Posted by | Economics, Wars for Israel | , , , , | Leave a comment

BP & Shell Fixed North Sea Oil Prices for a Decade, Trader Says

By IULIA FILIP | Courthouse News | May 28, 2013

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – BP, Shell and Statoil fixed North Sea crude oil prices and restricted trade for years by misleading reporting agencies, a trader claims in a federal class action.

Lead plaintiff Prime International Trading sued BP, Royal Dutch Shell and Norwegian oil company Statoil, in Federal Court.

Chicago-based Prime International is a member of the Chicago Board of Trade, Chicago Mercantile Exchange, NYMEX (the New York Mercantile Exchange) and ICE (the Intercontinental Exchange), the world’s largest energy futures exchanges.

Prime claims the defendants and unnamed co-conspirators deliberately reported inaccurate information about North Sea sweet light crude oil (a commodity known as Brent Crude oil) to Platts, the leading reporting agency for the Brent Crude Oil commodity and futures contracts traded on NYMEX and ICE, undermining the entire pricing structure for the Brent Crude oil market since 2002.

Platts, a unit of McGraw Hill Financial, compiles and publishes Brent Crude oil prices for traders in the United States. Platts is not a party to the complaint.

“As major producers and market participants in the Brent Crude oil market, including contributors of Brent Crude oil prices to Platts, defendants had and continued to have market power and the ability to influence prices in the Brent Crude oil market,” the complaint states. “By purposefully reporting inaccurate, misleading and false Brent Crude oil trade information to Platts, defendants manipulated and restrained trade in both the physical (spot) Brent Crude oil market and the Brent Crude oil futures market.” (Parentheses in complaint.)

The European Commission confirmed this month that it is investigating several companies that may have reported distorted prices for crude oil and conspired to monopolize price-setting, according to the complaint.

“Almost immediately following the European Commission’s announcement on May 14, defendants BP plc, Royal Dutch Shell plc and Statoil ASA each confirmed they are the subject of the European Commission investigation,” the complaint states. “In particular, defendant Statoil confirmed that its office in Stavanger (Norway) was subject to an inspection by the EFTA Surveillance Authority, assisted by the Norwegian Competition Authority. Statoil acknowledged that the inspection was carried out at the request of the European Commission. Further, Statoil confirmed that the scope of the European Commission’s investigation is ‘related to the Platts’ market-on-close price assessment process, used to report prices in particular for crude oil, refined oil products and biofuels’ extending back to as early as 2002.

“On May 17, 2013, the U.K. Serious Fraud Office announced that it was ‘urgently reviewing’ the European Commission’s allegations of price-fixing in the oil markets and determining whether to accept the case for ‘criminal investigation.’ That same day, the United States Senate called for the U.S. Department of Justice to join the European Commission investigation.”

Prime International claims it traded hundreds of thousands of Brent Crude futures contracts at prices manipulated by the defendants’ price-fixing. It claims to represent thousands of traders who have been misled by the manipulated prices since 2002.

It claims the defendants knew that misreporting crude oil prices to Platts would have a serious impact on the U.S. market for crude oil, refined oil products, biofuels and futures contracts.

“The Brent oilfields in the North Sea currently have the highest physical daily output of any of the world’s recognized oil benchmarks,” the complaint states. “Brent is the leading global price benchmark for Atlantic basin crude oils and it is used to price two-thirds of the world’s internationally traded crude oil supplies.”

Prime International claims the defendants nonetheless continued “their deliberate and systematic submission of false Brent Crude oil trade information to Platts.”

It seeks class certification, an injunction, restitution, and damages for violations of the Commodity Exchange Act, the Sherman Act, and unjust enrichment.
Prime International is represented by Vincent Briganti with Lowey Dannenberg Cohen & Hart.  

May 29, 2013 Posted by | Corruption, Economics | , , , , | Comments Off on BP & Shell Fixed North Sea Oil Prices for a Decade, Trader Says

Venezuelan opposition plays the nationalist card in territory dispute with Guyana

MercoPress | June 7, 2012

Venezuela’s opposition accused the government on Wednesday of turning a blind eye to neighbouring Guyana’s oil exploration in a border region claimed by Venezuela, potentially inflaming a territorial dispute that dates back more than a century.

The conflict was stirred up in recent days by local media reports that Exxon Mobil Corp, in partnership with Royal Dutch Shell, is exploring for crude off the coast of the disputed Essequibo region.

The two South American neighbours squabbled over the area, which is the size of the US State of Georgia, for much of the 20th century. Venezuela calls it a “reclamation zone,” but in practice it functions as Guyanese territory.

”(We) firmly reject the concessions granted by the Guyana government in Venezuela’s Atlantic waters,“ the opposition’s Democratic Unity coalition said in a statement, slamming the government’s stance as ”weak“.

”In the face of the activation of the concessions in the area, the government of President Hugo Chavez should address the issue immediately.“

An Exxon spokesman said in an email it and Shell ”have had an active exploration license offshore Guyana for several years, and we have obtained multiple seismic data sets in the area.”

Oil companies have shown growing interest in the north-eastern shoulder of South America, with industry experts describing a recent discovery off nearby French Guyana as a game-changer for the region’s energy prospects. Local media reported that Guyana halted exploration of the offshore block called Stabroek in 2000 following a protest by Venezuela.

The dispute over the region known as the Essequibo resurfaced last year when Guyana asked the United Nations to extend its continental shelf – the area where countries control ocean resources – toward a region where Venezuela has granted natural gas concessions.

The much smaller and poorer Guyana still relies on imports for its energy needs and has invited companies including Spain’s Repsol to drill for oil in other offshore areas not affected by the dispute.

The Essequibo, an area of rolling savannah and isolated jungle, shows little sign of Venezuelan presence. Many Guyanese see it as a crucial to their economic future due to its reserves of minerals including gold, diamonds and bauxite.

Chavez has taken a conciliatory stance in the dispute, striking up a friendship with former Guyanese President Bharrat Jagdeo and selling fuel to Guyana on advantageous terms under the Petrocaribe energy initiative.

June 15, 2012 Posted by | Economics, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , | Comments Off on Venezuelan opposition plays the nationalist card in territory dispute with Guyana