Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Libya Turmoil 136

The following article is one of the anti-Gaddafi-grab-Libya elements.
It is not the only reason nor the most important one but it was definitely one of the many.

WikiLeaks Reveals US Wanted to Keep Russia out of Libyan Oil (Video)

by: Paul Jay, The Real News Network
Kevin G. Hall, is the national economics correspondent for McClatchy Newspapers. Previously he served as Latin America correspondent. During his career he has reported from Mexico City, Saudi Arabia, Miami, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., for the Journal of Commerce and United Press International. He speaks Spanish and Portuguese.
PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay in Washington. Kevin Hall of McClatchy Newspapers reports that on April 20 the big Italian oil company Eni put off its deal with Gazprom, the big Russian oil company, connected to its president, Vladimir Putin, put off a deal that would have given Gazprom a big stake in Libyan oil. That's been an objective of US foreign policy for at least three years. Kevin went through WikiLeaks documents and found the following cable. At the time, Silvio Berlusconi was about to become Italy's prime minister, and the embassy urged headquarters to twist his arm, writes Kevin. Then he quotes the cable. Post, meaning the embassy, would like to push the new Berlusconi government to force Eni to act less as a stalking horse for Gazprom interests. The confidential cable said, quoting, Eni, which is 30 percent owned by the government of Italy, seems to be working in support of Gazprom's efforts to dominate Europe's energy supply and against US-supported US efforts to diversify energy supply. Now joining us in the studio to talk about the new scramble for oil and controlling Europe's energy supplies is Kevin Hall. Thanks for joining us.
JAY: So elaborate a bit. This context [incompr.] certainly are factors that go into the Libyan conflict that we're following now.
HALL: Well, it underscores the kind of global hunt/scramble for oil. The famous book The Prize by Daniel Yergin, the oil historian, kind of laid that out. And this is kind of the latest extension of that. The Libyan situation ties to development of oil in the Caspian region and places I can't even pronounce, coupled with Libya, coupled with Europe and Russia. What happened specifically [snip] in Libya, rather, is Gazprom was going to partner in Libya with Eni, which is the largest player. The Italians are the largest player in Libya, which had been a former Italian colony.
JAY: And were getting along quite well with Gaddafi.
HALL: And were getting along quite well with Gaddafi. And that story--we know how that one goes. The reverse of that is that Eni in exchange was going to get access to a project that the Russians were trying to do in the Caspian region called South Stream. South Stream competed with a project that the US has been pushing for the better part of a decade called the Nabucco project. It was going to take natural gas from the eastern border of Turkey, bypass Russia, and provide supplies to Europe through that route, I think through Bulgaria, Romania, basically bypassing Russia. And what all these documents show, there was about--.
JAY: So these are pipeline wars.
HALL: Pipelines, yeah. And, well, all these documents show--and there's about 1,800 documents that mentioned Gazprom--is that the Cold War is alive and well in terms of trying to contain Russia's energy power. Russia is the largest producer of energy--not the largest exporter, but may have more oil and natural gas produced in Russia than anywhere in the world. Most of that goes to Europe. And so the scramble for this development in the Caspian region, in Azerbaijan and places like that, is tied to whether that stuff goes through Russia or around Russia, and the US has worked real hard to make sure it goes around Russia, so that the Europeans aren't dependent on one source. We've seen how the Russians have used oil and natural gas against the Ukraine, against Georgia, against Belarus. So they've certainly shown their willingness to use oil as a weapon in their own strategic interest, you know, looking at it from their point of view. And the Libya example was just one [crosstalk] small example [crosstalk]
JAY: Of course, US policies always seem--its dominance in the Middle East and oil also is a very big strategic piece of its strategic puzzle, not just this question of oil supplies for the United States. But let's jump back to the Libya context, because there's another piece of background which you write about in your article, which is Eni, the Italian company, was also finding a way to invest in Iranian oil, which was also putting it at odds with US foreign policy.
HALL: Right. Eni have been in Iran long before the current Islamic government, back in the time of the Shah, and lost a lot of money when the change came. Remember that whole unsavory incident in the '70s with the embassy and everything? In that, what Eni was trying to do at around 2006, 2007 time frame was take Iranian oil out, produced jointly with Iran, and they were going to--they found a kind of way to suspend reality: as the US was trying to put pressure on Iran because of its nukes program, they were trying to sell this on the open market. And then they would--it wouldn't be counted as a--it'd be valued in present-day dollars, but it'd be treated as the debt that Iran owes Italy. So it kind of means suspending all time and space and, you know, not valued in former currency but current rates.
JAY: In order to find ways around possible sanctions.
HALL: Right, and it did not sit well with the US government.
JAY: 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: 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 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.
JAY: And fundamental to most countries' foreign policies,--
HALL: Right.
JAY: --including this one.
HALL: Front and center.
JAY: Well, we'll do more. As you keep going through WikiLeaks, we'll do more, 'cause this oil story continues into Latin America and other places.
HALL: Yeah, [crosstalk] lot more.
JAY: And we'll do more of this. But those who had said it's not all about oil, they ain't reading WikiLeaks.
HALL: It is all about oil.
JAY: Thanks for joining us. And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.


End of Transcript


DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.


  1. In my last comment posted on the Libya Turmoil thread #135, I posed a question in the form of the following statement.

    [B]ut a little more honesty about what they (the Russians) are doing AND WHY THEY ARE DOING IT (emphasis added) wouldn't be a bad thing, would it?

    Well, if this 'theory' is correct, I guess it sort of answers that question. It turns out that it has nothing to do with Muscovite morality and romantic ideas of 'fair play' in support of the under dog and everything to do with the Ruskies seeking to get one over on the Yanks, and making sweetheart deals with him (Gaddafi) for highly lucrative libyan oil contracts.

    Thank you WikiLeaks.


  2. @ Atl.

    One moment please.
    The U>S and Britain didn't do a f.....g thing for the Libyan oil industry since 1969, on the contrary they blocked where they could.
    Result the Libyan Oil production dropped from " million barrels/day to 1,6 million barrels/day by lack of skilled personel and modern technology.
    This continued until very recently.
    I talked personally about this problem and advised them to drop the majors and go with the small independent ones.
    The only people working seriously in Libya were ENI and 2 German companies.
    ENI had the gas monopoly in Libya and saw the chance for a juicy deal with Gazprom concerning the pipeline.
    In this whole concept nothing was taken away from the Americans or the majors, they have no gas interests in Libya.
    But notwithstanding that the Russians could not take a major interest in Libya.
    The Russians were correct to make a deal with ENI, it coincides with their gas interests and need for investment.
    Result: the 3 stooges took it as one more element to bomb Libya and/or kill Gaddafi, nobody in Moscow has bombed Libya before because they couldn't get into the Libyan gas market.
    Of course the common Russian people on the blogs don't know all this, even the bloggers in the West didn't and don't know it.
    But the bombs are NATO bombs, not Russian, which is a change from Soviet policy.

  3. sorry, ...from 3 million barrels per day to 1,6 million...

  4. Speaking of greed, I have a new query: I want to know about the internal Libyan struggles that decided how the Libyan wealth was to be managed the way it was, in the past few decades.

    The enormous treasures must have inflamed all kinds of dreams and darings, both in the country and abroad, and the story of it all must be epic.

    Related to that, let me tell you. In March and April, I occasionally came across this comment:

    "How could Gaddafi be so naive and stupid to entrust the Libyan money to the West?!"

    This is not my question. It's not the way I think. But, for the general worldwide public you might like to address that question, too.

  5. @ Levantine

    Good question and no easy simple answer.
    I will address it in an article.

  6. @ Levantine

    One intermediate answer, he placed less than 20 % in the West and he predicted they would steal it during his trip to New York, when the US asked him to place his money in the US.
    He told his people: they are promising the moon now but they will steal it.

  7. Sorry not "his" money, Libyan's money.

  8. @ Hermes

    I didn't suggest that either Britain or the US did do anything FOR the Libyan oil industry, nor do I dispute the fact that they "blocked where they could." Of course they did, Libya chose to side with the CCCP during the Cold War, what else would you expect?


  9. @ Atl.

    That "chosing" was after the embargo and the leaving of Libya by the oil industry.
    The West started choking him from 1969 onwards.
    He had no choice anymore if he wanted to survive.
    Afterwards he realised that the Soviets were no solution either and he became finally independent, which is not acceptable to our so-called democrats.

  10. @ Hermes

    To be quite honest with you, I'm getting heartily sick and tired of hearing how Gaddafi is always the victim, even when he's clearly the 'victim' of his own political and economic miscalculations and crass ineptitude. The fact is,like every other Arab "strongman" we've foolishly chosen to do business with and/or turned a blind eye towards over the past half century or so, HE chose to play both ends against the middle and finally his luck appears to have run out.I have nothing more to say on the matter.


  11. @ Atl.

    I agree that he made a lot of mistakes and I really don't want to treat him differently than any other human being, right is right and wrong is wrong.
    The problem in this case is that the "democratic, moral West" committed a crime by attacking a sovereign state without any justification whatsoever, out of pure personal gloryseeking and greed by the Western decision makers.
    I consider that a grave moral problem and a sure sign of how sick our bunch of politicians really are.
    This is also my last comment on this topic.

  12. To everybody on this blog ... Goodbye.


  13. Let's take a break folks, beverage anyone?

    Coutesy of the United Beverage Company, Qatar and brought to you by our friends and "allies" at Al Jazeera.

  14. Thanks Capo, do they serve red vampire drinks, they should have enough supplies.