How the Oil Barons have Stitched-Up the World

re posted from                  Lefthook by Dean Henderson

Four Horsemen At Play

2011-7-18-hill-city-sd-2(Excerpted from Chapter 7: The Four Horsemen: Big Oil & Their Bankers…)

The first known attempt by the oil trust to stifle competition came in 1928 when Sir John Cadman of BP, Sir Henry Deterding of RD/Shell, Walter Teagle of Exxon and William Mellon of Gulf met at Cadman’s castle near Achnacarry, Scotland.

Here an agreement was reached which would divide up the world’s oil reserves and markets.  The Achnacarry Agreement became known to oil industry insiders as the As Is Agreement because its aim was to maintain a status quo under which the Four Horsemen controlled the world’s oil through market share agreements, sharing of refining and storage facilities, and by agreeing to limit production to keep prices high. [263]  Big Oil signed three more agreements in the next six years.  The 1930 Memorandum of Understanding for European Markets was followed by the 1932 Heads of Agreement for Distribution and the 1934 Draft Memorandum of Principles.

Between 1931 and 1933 the Four Horsemen ruthlessly cut the price for East Texas crude from $.98/barrel to $.10/barrel.  Many Texas wildcatters were run out of business.  Those that remained were forced to agree to strict production quotas under threat of ruin by the majors, quotas that still exist today.  They serve to keep the US dependent on Persian Gulf oil, where Big Oil dominates, and to keep at bay independent challenges to their hegemony.  They also put thousands of US oil workers out of jobs in Texas and Louisiana.

During World War II the Four Horsemen showed their true colors when Exxon and Texaco collaborated with the Nazi I.G. Farben combine to provide oil to Hitler’s military machine.  Sir Henry Deterding, who ran RD/Shell, was even more overt in his support of the Nazis.  After the war the Four Horsemen focused on the Middle East, where the cartel operated under the names Iranian Consortium, Iraqi Petroleum Company and ARAMCO.  With the rise of OPEC as a producer cartel, the companies devised increasingly sophisticated ways to diminish OPEC’s collective bargaining ability.

Nationalistic governments were destabilized, discredited and overthrown by the CIA at the behest of Big Oil.  Henry Kissinger set up his International Energy Agency, which the French called a machine de guerre.  Nixon’s Twin Pillars Policy and Reagan’s GCC were both efforts to divide OPEC between wealthy banker nations and poor industrializing nations, with the Saudis playing the key role of swing producer in both schemes.  As oil trader George Perk once commented of the Four Horsemen/Saudi relationship, “The oil markets are not free markets.  Oil company officials bribe officials in Saudi Arabia.  They only get into the market for a fix.”

Following the Gulf War Jordan’s King Hussein commented of the Saudi role in diminishing OPEC’s bargaining power, “At the grassroots level, long-submerged feelings of resentment on the part of most Arabs toward the Saudis are now out of the bottle.  We resent the fact that they buy everything – technology, protection, ideas, people, respectability… the Arab people are saying that the US and Saudi Arabia are indistinguishable, and from this they conclude that the Saudis are backing Israel.  Have the Saudis no shame?”

OPEC emerged from the 1973 embargo determined to craft regional solutions which would lessen its dependence on the West in obtaining hard currencies necessary to function in the global economy.  The 1972 Arab Summit in Khartoum, Sudan, which ended the first war between North and South Yemen, called on the rich Gulf State sheikdoms to divert their Western-bound petrodollars into development schemes for poor nations.  The industrializing OPEC price hawks formed the Steadfastness and Confrontation Front which consisted of Iraq, Libya, Algeria, South Yemen, the PLO and Syria.  OPEC issued The Solemn Declaration which called for a more just and equitable New International Economic Order.  This led to the Conference on International Economic Cooperation in Paris, where 19 developing countries from the G-77 met with their G-7 counterparts to discuss creating a more just global economic landscape.  OPEC leader Algeria led a political bloc at the conference called the Non-Aligned South Solidarity Movement, which advocated a trickling down of OPEC oil wealth to developing nations.

But Kissinger’s IEA showed up in Paris demanding that the conference focus solely on energy, with no linkage to the larger question of global economic injustice.  The IEA is dominated by the international bankers, who deplore the idea of OPEC petrodollars helping the world’s poor.  The bankers want this vast pool of money plowed back into their Western piggy banks, spent on US military hardware and made available for the CIA covert operations which protect their multinationals.

The Steadfastness and Confrontation Front met in Damascus in 1979 to plot a strategy to stop the Camp David Peace Accords between Israel and Egypt, which the Saudis and the US were firmly backing.  The price hawks knew that Israel served Four Horsemen interests in the region. They feared further division within OPEC if this first Arab peace treaty with Israel was signed.  But the US offered Egypt massive military aid and the Accords were signed following an intensive US effort led by former Bechtel executive Philip Habib.  The Accords, coupled with the creation of the GCC in 1981, accomplished the goals of Kissinger’s machine de guerre.  To add insult to injury, the very next year the IMF was officially created.

The IMF serves as enforcer and collection agency for the international bankers whom Kissinger represents by pressuring Third World debtor nations to open their economies to multinational corporations owned by their banks.  Already usurping OPEC oil wealth, which the G-77 envisioned being utilized for Third World development, the bankers now had the audacity to loan these petrodollars to the South at exorbitant interest rates, plunging poor nations into a bottomless cycle of debt.

Most of these loans go to set up tax-free multinational operations or end up in the pockets of these countries’ elites, who then make off with the cash through BCCI-like vessels.  Workers of the Third World are left responsible for paying back debt from money they never even received.  Venezuelan President Carlos Andres Perez once called this IMF smoke and mirrors routine, “economic totalitarianism”.  In 2001, when the Argentine government was forced to default on $132 billion it “owed” the bankers because the IMF canceled a bailout package when Argentina refused to accept its draconian terms, the country’s Minister of Finance Domingo Cavallo called the IMF “international vampires”. [264]  Cavallo resigned, as did a succession of four Presidents who refused to play the IMF’s rigged game.

A more recent Four Horsemen trick has been to increase oil production in non-OPEC nations.  In 1990 Exxon Mobil obtained 29% of its US-bound crude from Angola, 16% from Oman and 16% from Columbia.  RD/Shell purchased 19% of its US-bound oil from Mexico and 17% from Yemen.  Chevron Texaco got 26% of its US stock from Mexico.  None of these nations are OPEC members. [265]  A recent study by the American Petroleum Institute stated that non-OPEC production growth since 1980 has eroded OPEC market influence.  The 1984 North Sea oil discoveries by Norway and Britain further weakened the bargaining power of OPEC’s industrializing price hawks.  Norway and Britain became net exporters of crude, using that leverage to drive world oil prices lower.  The OPEC nations of Venezuela, Iraq, Indonesia and Nigeria are particularly dependent on high crude prices because oil provides a large percentage of their total exports.

In Indonesia two Presidents have been ousted since the 1999 devaluation of the rupiah thrust the world’s fourth most populous nation into an extended period of civil unrest and economic meltdown. A December 28, 1998 article in Business Week detailed Mobil’s massive oilfields and petrochemical facilities in the troubled Aceh region of North Sumatra.  Indonesian troops under the direction of President Suharto, whom the CIA installed after their 1964 John Hull-led coup, overthrew the nationalist Sukarno government and massacred protesters right next to the Mobil facilities.  It was a moment of historical continuity.  In 1882 Aceh tribesman had attacked RD/Shell headquarters in the very same region.  The Dutch colonial government put down the rebellion in similarly brutish fashion.

Indonesia was made an economic basket case when a consortium of US banks led by Citibank began dumping money into the lap of General Ibnu Sutowo, Suharto’s right-hand man who controlled the purse strings at Pertamina, the state oil company.  Sowoto squandered the loot on palaces, a fleet of aircraft, a chain of hotels and a white Rolls Royce.  The Indonesian Central Bank was kept in the dark as his bills mounted.  In 1974 Sutowo flew to Gothenberg, Sweden, where he christened the new oil supertanker Ibnu alongside close friend and sometime CIA cutout Itzak Rappaport. He then golfed with Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and Sam Snead.

The Pertamina loans topped $6 billion.  Add to that, bribes taken by scores of Indonesian Air Force officers during the 1970’s to secure contracts for Lockheed through numbered Singapore accounts known as the Widows and Orphans Fund. [266]  Indonesia is still burdened with that debt today.

Advising the government on financial matters are Lazard Freres, Kuhn Loeb and Warburg, a group which calls itself The Triad. They also advise Congo, Gabon, Sri Lanka, Panama and Turkey.  In 2001 Megawati Sukarno-Putri, daughter of overthrown nationalist Achmad Sukarno, was elected President of Indonesia. She served only one term.

In Venezuela Exxon’s Creole Petroleum was founded by the CIA, with whom they share office space. [267]  Exxon is the CIA in Venezuela. Bechtel built the Mena Grande pipeline to service Creole’s oil interests.  Though the country is a major supplier of crude to the US, its bolivar has been sharply devalued. Public frustration culminated in the recent election of populist President Hugo Chavez, who is critical of the Four Horsemen and the target of an ongoing CIA destabilization effort.  In 2002 the country’s wealthy elite called for a general strike causing Chavez to step down temporarily.  Rockefeller lieutenant and Royal Bank of Canada insider Gustavo Cisneros was squarely in the middle of the oligarchy’s tantrum.  Later that year the ricos took another run at Chavez, but he refused to yield.

In Nigeria, RD/Shell and Chevron Texaco dominate the oil industry, where they produce the benchmark Bonny Light crude used in aviation fuels and other high-grade products.  Recent political violence has killed over 10,000 people. Big Oil’s Nigerian Delta operations have been at the epicenter of the violence.  On November 10, 1995 Nigerian playwright Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other protest leaders were hung by the military junta of General Soni Abacha, another in a line of Four Horsemen puppets who have ruled the country.  Abacha’s regime had given Shell the green light to drill on Ogoni tribal lands, resulting in protests by a half-million Ogoni people who said Shell had badly polluted both their land and their water.

Saro-Wiwa’s family sued Shell for complicity in his death, which gained international attention.  The lawsuit accused Shell of wrongful death, torture, summary execution and arbitrary arrest and detention.  Saro-Wiwa’s brother, a plaintiff in the suit, stated, “This is a classic case of the methods used by multinationals against those who challenge them.  Taking Shell to court is one of many nonviolent methods of struggle against the company’s role in the human rights and environmental degradation of Ogoni”. [268]

Only a month after the hangings, Shell defiantly announced plans to embark on a $3.8 billion natural gas project in Nigeria in tandem with the Nigerian junta, the French Total and the Italian Agip.  Nigerian’s were outraged. On March 4, 1997 protestors took 127 Shell employees prisoner, burned and looted Shell gas stations and occupied its oil platforms.  Shell was forced to cut back production in Nigeria and came under increased scrutiny from human rights groups around the world. [269]  In July 2002 a group of Nigerian women took Chevron Texaco employees hostage and occupied its facilities.  A day later the company’s Lagos headquarters was struck by lightning.  The revolt against Big Oil in Nigeria continues.

These three cases of Four Horsemen atrocities in OPEC nations provide another reason the companies are increasingly moving to non-OPEC sources.  They have simply worn out their welcome.  In 1972 OPEC produced 84.8% of oil outside the US, USSR, Eastern Europe and China.  As of 1991 OPEC supplied only 60.9% of US imported oil, most of that coming from the GCC states of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE.  In 1989 18% came from the Saudis. [270]  Compliance by the GCC in overproduction of crude to keep prices low for Four Horsemen downstream operations is the key to keeping OPEC divided.  The Saudis play the key role of swing producer with ARAMCO’s 10 million barrel/day capacity and 261 billion barrels of oil reserves.

The GCC shoreline on the southwest side of the Persian Gulf contains 42% of the world’s oil. It is ideal topographically for cheap local transport of crude to coastal storage and refining facilities, and for the loading of crude onto tankers.  The giant Burgan field in Kuwait is only five miles from the Gulf.  Crude flows through a Bechtel-constructed pipeline from Burgan to a storage tank farm atop a ridge overlooking the Gulf at Al-Ahmadi.  From there oil flows down into tankers waiting at port. [271]  In 1978 the cost of pumping and transporting a barrel of Persian Gulf crude was less than one cent. [272]

It was cheap Persian Gulf labor that caused Big Oil to cap their wells in Texas and Louisiana and move to the Gulf.  Domestic production quotas limited independent oil company production. The independents didn’t have the capital or political connections to go global.  From 1956-74 the profitability of foreign oil doubled, while the profitability of domestic crude stayed the same. [273]  Big Oil imports cheap labor into the GCC states from places like Bangladesh, the Philippines, Yemen and Pakistan.  Some larger independents have gone overseas but they are relegated, along with Third World government-owned oil companies, to the riskier tasks of oil exploration and production.  Meanwhile, the Four Horsemen have ridden on to greener pastures.

Dean Henderson is the author of five books:Big Oil & Their Bankers in the Persian Gulf: Four Horsemen, Eight Families & Their Global Intelligence, Narcotics & Terror Network, The Grateful Unrich: Revolution in 50 Countries, Das Kartell der Federal Reserve, Stickin’ it to the Matrix & The Federal Reserve Cartel.  You can subscribe free to his weekly Left Hook column

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