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The Chevron Newspaper, Collapsing Consciously & Prison for Internet Trolling  |  Peak Oil News and Message Boards

The Chevron Newspaper, Collapsing Consciously & Prison for Internet Trolling  |  Peak Oil News and Message Boards.

On this episode of Breaking the Set, Abby Martin remarks on a Richmond, California newspaper sponsored by Chevron, calling out the absurd propaganda about the oil industry featured in the publication. Abby then talks about the crackdown on individuals who choose to live ‘Off the Grid’ citing a examples such as a man in Oregon who faced jail-time for collecting rainwater and a Florida woman who was forced to re-connect to the state’s electrical grid. Abby then speaks with Carolyn Baker, Author of ‘Collapsing Consciously’ about confronting our emotions concerning the inevitable collapse of industrial civilization, and what actions we can take to address those fears. Abby then talks about two Supreme Court cases involving the Affordable Care Act’s mandate that private companies offer free access to birth control, and the absurd fight against providing this coverage due to religious corporate personhood. BTS wraps up the show with an interview with attorney Tor Ekland, and journalist, Nicole Powers, discussing the case of internet hacker, Andrew Auernheimer, better known under the pseudonym ‘Weev’, who received a 41 month prison sentence after finding a flaw in AT&T’s public server.

Fuel Fix » CEO: Oil industry ‘no longer the deep pocket’ as costs soar

Fuel Fix » CEO: Oil industry ‘no longer the deep pocket’ as costs soar.

Posted on March 4, 2014 at 2:55 pm by Jennifer A. Dlouhy
TOTAL S. A. CEO Christophe de Margerie speaks at the IHS CERAWeek energy conference in Houston on March 4, 2014. (Mayra Beltran/Houston Chronicle)

HOUSTON — Oil industry costs are spiraling out of control, and it’s time to rein them in, Total CEO Christophe de Margerie insisted Tuesday.

“Excellence cannot be an excuse for doing anything at any price,” de Margerie told oil and gas industry executives gathered at the IHS CERAWeek energy summit in Houston. “We cannot continue to swallow this huge inflation.”

The French oil executive suggested that soaring capital expenditures are partly being driven by greedy subcontractors. He stopped short of naming names, but blamed “Asian countries (that) think we are ready to pay forever.”

“We have to go to the sub-subcontractors and say: ‘We know what’s going on. We can no longer be the deep pocket,’” de Margerie said.

Big oil cuts

De Margerie’s comments came as other industry leaders highlighted the climbing costs of oil projects. Chevron CEO John Watson noted that those ventures are becoming far more complex, even as labor costs and offshore rig prices escalate.

Industry leaders also are under pressure to cut their capital spending — the backdrop for recent cuts announced by Shell Oil Co. and other energy majors.

Read more: Activist investors pressure energy companies to cut spending

The immediate answer was not clear for executives looking to get new balance in their books.

Safety expenses

While Watson suggested companies could look to share engineering work across projects, de Margerie urged more restraint on potentially inefficient environmental and safety expenditures that may have jumped in the wake of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster.

He suggested that safety and environmental concerns after the Gulf oil spill had been used to justify outsize expenses.

Cost-cutting doesn’t mean you are not doing your job properly, he stressed.

“A good company, which is extremely capital intensive, cannot just ignore that they are responsible for what they are producing,” de Margerie said. “There are ways of being safer, cleaner, without always adding additional costs.

“It’s now time to stop this, and we can do it without putting people in trouble” or at risk, he said. “It’s a lack of efficiency in most cases.”

‘Enhanced stimulation’

De Margerie’s colorful conversation with IHS CERA Chairman Daniel Yergin briefly strayed from cost concerns into oil-field terminology Tuesday. He suggested the industry made a blunder in widely adopting “hydraulic fracturing” as the name of the pivotal well completion technology allowing companies to extract previously inaccessible oil and gas resources.

He derided “this stupid word we are using, which is ‘fracturing.’” Yergin said he preferred “enhanced stimulation.”

He also cautioned against oil and gas industry pronouncements about abundant energy resources. When industry leaders “say there is plenty of oil and gas . . . you’re sending the message that we don’t care about the environment,” de Margerie said. “We do care. And the problem today is not the oil and gas resources — it is access to those resources.”

Some resources are locked away in relatively unfriendly countries, de Margerie said. There is “no more peak oil” and “no more peak gas,” he said, but those geopolitical and access constraints do translate into “peak capacity.”

The well is running dry for big oil – Jeff Reeves’s Strength in Numbers – MarketWatch

The well is running dry for big oil – Jeff Reeves’s Strength in Numbers – MarketWatch.

JEFF REEVES’S STRENGTH IN NUMBERS Archives | Email alerts

March 3, 2014, 6:00 a.m. EST

The well is running dry for big oil

Opinion: Supply, efficiency and demand concerns weigh

By Jeff Reeves


Bloomberg

Last week, I mused on the death of cars and big-picture factors working against the auto industry, including urbanization and declining driving rates in younger Americans.

Now, I’ll trot out my crystal ball again and offer you another prediction: This is the beginning of the end for Big Oil, too.

Now before you jump down my throat for trolling you again with hyperbole, I will state up front that I don’t expect Exxon Mobil XOM -0.31%  , BP BP -1.82%  and ChevronCVX +0.29%   to disappear tomorrow any more than I expect I-95 to start sprouting daisies.

But as with the decline of automobile ownership — and in part because of it — we may also be witnessing a protracted decline in major energy stocks and fossil fuel demand.

That’s bad for big oil, and bad for investors in these stocks.

Efficiency and alternatives sap demand

The first big reason big oil is in trouble: Oil demand keeps dropping.

Technology continues to help us do more with less and implement cleaner alternatives to crude oil.

Consider that U.S. oil demand fell to a 16-year low in 2012 despite energy-hungrygadgets and the addition of some 40 million people to the total population.


U.S. Energy Information Administration

Also consider that fuel oil demand was the lowest on record in 2013 and has been steadily declining since the 1970s as the energy source has fallen out of favor for cleaner, greener options.

It’s not just the U.S., either. Even with a bullish outlook for the global economy fueling oil demand this year, the IEA has boosted consumption targets a meager 1.3% as efficiencies in the West offset faster-growing demand in emerging markets.

However you slice it, global crude oil appetites simply aren’t what they used to be. Even energy-hungry emerging markets aren’t making up for the weak demand in the developed world.

The easy supply is gone

I don’t pretend to know when supplies in the ground will run out, or whether we are truly living after the era of “peak oil.”

But one thing is clear: Oil production is getting much more costly as easy-to-access fields are drilled dry, and new production is reliant on more difficult and costly extraction for the fossil fuel.

Take the shale oil boom. Margins are lower thanks to the cost of production. The story is the same for oil sands production , same for offshore drilling, same for oil in Africa as opposed to oil in Canada.

The well is running dry for big oil – Jeff Reeves's Strength in Numbers – MarketWatch

The well is running dry for big oil – Jeff Reeves’s Strength in Numbers – MarketWatch.

JEFF REEVES’S STRENGTH IN NUMBERS Archives | Email alerts

March 3, 2014, 6:00 a.m. EST

The well is running dry for big oil

Opinion: Supply, efficiency and demand concerns weigh

By Jeff Reeves


Bloomberg

Last week, I mused on the death of cars and big-picture factors working against the auto industry, including urbanization and declining driving rates in younger Americans.

Now, I’ll trot out my crystal ball again and offer you another prediction: This is the beginning of the end for Big Oil, too.

Now before you jump down my throat for trolling you again with hyperbole, I will state up front that I don’t expect Exxon Mobil XOM -0.31%  , BP BP -1.82%  and ChevronCVX +0.29%   to disappear tomorrow any more than I expect I-95 to start sprouting daisies.

But as with the decline of automobile ownership — and in part because of it — we may also be witnessing a protracted decline in major energy stocks and fossil fuel demand.

That’s bad for big oil, and bad for investors in these stocks.

Efficiency and alternatives sap demand

The first big reason big oil is in trouble: Oil demand keeps dropping.

Technology continues to help us do more with less and implement cleaner alternatives to crude oil.

Consider that U.S. oil demand fell to a 16-year low in 2012 despite energy-hungrygadgets and the addition of some 40 million people to the total population.


U.S. Energy Information Administration

Also consider that fuel oil demand was the lowest on record in 2013 and has been steadily declining since the 1970s as the energy source has fallen out of favor for cleaner, greener options.

It’s not just the U.S., either. Even with a bullish outlook for the global economy fueling oil demand this year, the IEA has boosted consumption targets a meager 1.3% as efficiencies in the West offset faster-growing demand in emerging markets.

However you slice it, global crude oil appetites simply aren’t what they used to be. Even energy-hungry emerging markets aren’t making up for the weak demand in the developed world.

The easy supply is gone

I don’t pretend to know when supplies in the ground will run out, or whether we are truly living after the era of “peak oil.”

But one thing is clear: Oil production is getting much more costly as easy-to-access fields are drilled dry, and new production is reliant on more difficult and costly extraction for the fossil fuel.

Take the shale oil boom. Margins are lower thanks to the cost of production. The story is the same for oil sands production , same for offshore drilling, same for oil in Africa as opposed to oil in Canada.

Ukraine Calls Russia’s Bluff, Slashes Nat Gas Imports By 80% | Zero Hedge

Ukraine Calls Russia’s Bluff, Slashes Nat Gas Imports By 80% | Zero Hedge.

Twice in recent years, Russia has suspended gas supplies, or notably raised prices, as the somewhat well-known “trump card” of Russia’s oil and gas supply to Ukraine (and Europe for that matter) remains Putin’s easiest option for clenching his iron-first against the divided nation. Following a pre-emptive move in November by Ukraine to diversify its energy supply,  Russia had reduced the price of gas for the highly indebted Ukraine in December (to entice Ukraine under Russia’s wing); but, after recent events, Dmitry Medvedev signaled on Monday that the price could be raised again. However, today we find that Ukraine’s state oil and gas company, Naftogaz, has slashed gas imports from Russia’s Gazprom by  stunning 80% in February as Ukraine tries to show Russia it can’t be pushed around… of course, with limited (and more expensive) alternative supplies, we fear this could well shoot them in the foot.

This action is similar to that taken in November (before the EU accession discussion)…

 Russia and Ukraine waged two gas wars over prices in the winters of 2006 and 2009 (which lasted 3 weeks) over a claim Ukraine was late in paying.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov said that if Gazprom refuses to revise its contract, Ukraine would stop importing gas from RussiaIn a step away from energy dependence on Russia, last week Ukraine signed a $10 billion shale gas deal with Chevron.

Ukraine is speeding up its effort to diversify its supply, and has looked at different exporters, fracking, new offshore projects in the Black Sea, as well as new LNG terminals and pipelines to diversify supply. Ukraine imports more than half of its gas from Russia, but under Viktor Yanukovich’s leadership, has intentionally scaled down Gazprom imports 40 percent over ‘unfair prices’.

And now today,

Ukraine’s state oil and gas company, Naftogaz, has slashed gas imports from Russia’s Gazprom to 28 million cubic meters per day as of February 24 from 147 million, two Russian industry sources told Reuters on Tuesday.

They said Naftogaz had gradually reduced its imports from 147 million cubic meters as of February 1, but did not offer a reason for the cuts.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev hinted on Monday that gas prices, reduced as part of a Russian bailout in December, may revert to higher levels.

Ukraine consumes about 55 billion cubic meters of gas each year, and more than half is imported from Russia. Gazprom exported 161.5 billion cubic meters of gas to Europe last year.

Gazprom official declined to comment on Naftogaz import volumes but said Russian gas transit to Europe was unaffected.

So simply put, they want to show Russia they can’t be pushed around… the trouble is, of course, that with alternative supply routes in short-supply (and only more expensive alternatives available)…

…they may well be shooting themselves in the foot. That and the whole being out of money thing too won’t help.  Finally, as everyone knows by now, Russia does have the “trump card” no matter how hard to get the Ukraine plays:

Peak Oil is Real and the Majors Face Challenging Times « Breaking Energy – Energy industry news, analysis, and commentary

Peak Oil is Real and the Majors Face Challenging Times « Breaking Energy – Energy industry news, analysis, and commentary.

By  on February 18, 2014 at 9:32 AM

Surging Oil Industry Brings Opportunity To Rural California

The idea that global oil production was nearing its peak, only to plateau and then decline was a common view in the energy world for many years. The geophysicist M. King Hubbard predicted in the 1950’s that US oil production would peak in the 1970’s, a forecast that held true until technology allowed companies to economically extract oil and gas from tight geologic formations like shale.

The recent surge in US liquids output – crude plus natural gas liquids (NGLs) – quieted the peak oil community. A well-known, largely peak oil-focused website – The Oil Drum – shut down in 2013, an event some considered the death knell of the peak oil theory.

But not so fast says Steven Kopits from energy business analysis firm Douglas-Westwood. Total global oil supply growth since 2005 – 5.8 million barrels per day – came from unconventional sources, shale oil and NGLs in particular, Kopits recently told the audienceat Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy.

“Not only US, but global, oil supply growth is entirely leveraged to unconventionals right now,” and the legacy, conventional system still peaked in 2005, he said. This gets a bit technical, as shale oil and liquids produced with natural gas are fed into the main crude oil stream and priced as such. But the strong degree to which increasing oil supply growth is dependent on unconventional sources is important to remember and often gets lost in the exuberance over top-line output figures.

And despite prolific incremental oil and gas production made possible by hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling advances, maintaining legacy production has been expensive and arguably of limited success.

Total upstream spend since 2005 has been $4 trillion, of which $350 billion was spent on US and Canadian unconventional oil and gas, with an additional $150 billion spent on LNG and GTL, according to Kopits’ presentation. About $2.5 trillion was spent on legacy crude oil production, which still accounts for about 93% of today’s total liquids supply. And despite that hefty investment, legacy oil production has declined by 1 mmb/d since 2005, said Kopits.

By comparison, between 1998 and 2005 the industry spent $1.5 trillion on upstream development and added 8.6 mmb/d to total crude production. The industry “vaporized the GDP of Italy,” with its $2.5 trillion upstream spending for oil since 2005, which barely maintained the legacy oil production system. Kopits argues this level of investment by the major oil companies appears unsustainable, and the major’s current cost structure is troublesome.

Collective oil production of the world’s largest listed oil companies has faltered, while upstream capex soared, Kopits said. Profits have suffered because costs are rising faster than revenues in a range-bound crude oil price environment. “E&P capex per barrel has been rising at 11% per year,” he said, but Brent oil prices have largely been flat. As a result, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Statoil and BP all recently put major projects on hold or cancelled them outright.

“If your costs are rising faster than your revenues, do you sell your assets? The majors have been doing this, but is it sustainable?” asked Kopits. The industry was able to maintain conventional crude oil production levels by throwing $2 trillion dollars at the system – essentially “putting it on steroids” – but now that’s run its course and capex is being curtailed, a trend that looks set to continue, in his view.

‘Big oil’ getting smaller as production keeps falling | | Platts

‘Big oil’ getting smaller as production keeps falling | | Platts.

February 14, 2014 – Richard Swann in London

* Top seven western majors all seeing liquids output fall
* Supermajors’ share of global market dropping every year
* BP reports fastest decline of 30% from 2009-13
* Production becoming more evenly split between oil and gas

The biggest western oil companies are continuing to see their oil output decline, despite record investment in recent years spurred by sustained crude prices in excess of $100/barrel, according to data released by the companies.

Furthermore, with total world oil output continuing to rise every year, the western majors are seeing their share of the global market fall even faster, with new volumes coming largely from their rivals in places like Russia and a host of smaller companies at the heart of the shale oil boom in the US.

Analysis continues below…


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Combined output of crude and other liquids by the seven biggest western majors — ExxonMobil, Shell, BP, Chevron, Total, ConocoPhillips and Eni — amounted to 9.517 million b/d last year, down 2.2% from 2012 and marking the fourth consecutive year of decline.

Liquids output from the same group has been falling every year of late, having been as high as 10.865 million b/d in 2009.

As a group, the seven have seen their combined liquids output fall by 1.348 million b/d, or 12.4% over the period from 2009 to 2013.

The most notable contribution to the overall decline comes from BP, whose production of oil and other liquids has fallen by more than 30% from 1.695 million b/d in 2009 to 1.176 million b/d in 2013.

These figures do not include production associated with BP’s current 19.75% stake in Russia’s Rosneft or its previous 50% stake in Russian oil producer TNK-BP.

This is a much sharper fall than other majors have experienced, and is evidence of the scale of the asset divestment program the company has been going through to cover its actual and potential liabilities in the wake of the disastrous Gulf of Mexico oil spill in 2010.

While its peers have not seen production fall by the same degree, they have nonetheless all experienced declining oil production since 2009.

Even ExxonMobil, the biggest of the group in terms of production and profitability, saw its oil output fall by 4.5% in 2011 and 5.5% in 2012, the two years with the highest average international oil prices of all time.

In 2013 ExxonMobil’s oil output rose by 0.8% to 2.202 million b/d, but it still remained more than 200,000 b/d below where it was in 2010.

Shell, Chevron, Total, ConocoPhillips and Eni also all saw their liquids production fall in 2013.

Total’s output declined by 15.5% between 2009-13, Eni’s by 17.3% and ConocoPhillips’ by 12.4%. Shell has seen the smallest fall of 2.5% over thesame period.

Dwindling share of global output

According to the International Energy Agency, total world oil supply has risen in recent years from 85.66 million b/d in 2009 to an average of 91.53 million b/d in 2013.

As a result, the seven leading western majors have seen their share of this total supply fall from 12.7% to 10.4% over the same period.

While this group is seeing its production fall, others have clearly been heading in the opposite direction.

The most obvious is Russia’s Rosneft, which has grown at breakneck pace in recent years on the back of a debt-funded acquisition spree, including the purchase of former rival TNK-BP.

Rosneft is now the world’s biggest publicly listed oil producer with total crude and liquids output of close to 4.2 million b/d.

In other words, Rosneft alone now produces almost as much oil as ExxonMobil, BP and ConocoPhillips combined.

The western majors are not short of either the expertise to produce more oil or the money to fund developments after 2013 marked the third consecutive year of Dated Brent prices above $108/barrel.

The recurring challenge for the western companies in recent years has been to find attractive investment opportunities, with several of the world’s leading oil reserves holders offering limited, or even no access to international operators.

“It’s an access question,” said an official from one of the western majors, who asked not be identified. “Who will let us in? They’ll only let us into the difficult bits like the deepwater projects, or tight gas, that kind of thing,” he said.

Gas growth

With their liquids output falling, the so-called “oil majors” are gradually becoming less oily and more reliant on gas production.

Oil accounted for more than 60% of ExxonMobil’s total hydrocarbons output in 2009, but by last year this figure had fallen to less than 53%.

It is a similar story for Total, where oil’s share of total production has fallen from 60.5% in 2009 to 50.8% in 2013.

Shell produced more gas than liquids last year, the third time in the last four years this has happened, and BP is not far away from a 50:50 split.

Of the seven majors who embody the image of “Big Oil” the only one bucking the trend towards greater gas exposure is Chevron, where oil continues to account for two thirds of all production — a full 10 percentage points more than any of the rest of the peer group.

Table: Production of oil and other liquids by leading western companies

Production of oil and other liquids by leading western companies

2013 2009 Change
ExxonMobil 2.202 2.387 -0.185 -7.8%
Chevron 1.731 1.846 -0.115 -6.2%
Shell 1.541 1.581 -0.040 -2.5%
BP 1.176 1.695 -0.519 -30.6%
Total 1.167 1.381 -0.214 -15.5%
ConocoPhillips 0.867 0.968 -0.101 -10.4%
Eni 0.833 1.007 -0.174 -17.3%
Total 9.517 10.865 -1.348 -12.4%

(all units in million b/d)

Source: company statements

US shale under fire over thirst for water  |  Peak Oil News and Message Boards

US shale under fire over thirst for water  |  Peak Oil News and Message Boards.

Water shortages have put the US oil and gas industry on a “collision course” with other users because of the large volumes needed for hydraulic fracturing, a group of leading investors has warned.

Almost 40 per cent of the oil and gas wells drilled since 2011 are in areas of “extremely high” water stress, according to Ceres, a network of investors that works on environmental and social issues. It highlights Texas, the heart of the US oil boom, and companies including Chesapeake Energy, EOG Resources, ExxonMobil and Anadarko Petroleum as the heaviest users of water.

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is essential for extracting oil and gas from the shale formations that have been responsible for the US boom of the past decade, and it requires large volumes of water: typically 2m gallons or more per well. The water is mixed with sand and chemicals and pumped underground at high pressure to open up cracks in the rock so the oil and gas will flow more freely. The water that flows back out again is often poured away into separate disposal wells.

Water shortages can create tensions with local communities and force companies into expensive solutions such as bringing the water to the wells by truck.

Monika Freyman of Ceres said water was a risk that was often overlooked. “People don’t worry about it until it’s gone,” she said. “If you are an investor in a company that is in a water-stressed area, you have to ask questions about how it is managing their water risks.”

Shareholders including the employee pension funds of New York city and state said this week they would file resolutions for the annual meetings of companies including Exxon, Chevron, EOG and Pioneer Natural Resources, calling for more detailed disclosure of their environmental impact, including water use.

Ceres identified Anadarko, Encana, Pioneer and Apache as the companies with the greatest exposure to water risk, meaning the greatest volume of water use in areas with extremely high stress. In those areas, 80 per cent or more of the available water has been committed for other users including homes, farms and businesses.

Exxon said XTO, its shale oil and gas subsidiary, “works with local authorities to ensure there is adequate supply.” It added that coal needed ten times as much water as gas produced through fracking for an equivalent energy content, and corn-based ethanol needing up to 1,000 times as much water.

Anadarko said it was “on the leading edge” of efforts to manage and conserve water, including recycling it wherever possible, and drawing on a range of sources such as municipal effluent and produced water from oil and gas wells. It is also working with environmental groups and others to develop best practices for water use.

Fracking accounts for a relatively small proportion of US water demand: less than 1 per cent even in Texas, according to a University of Texas study, compared to 56 per cent for irrigation. However, in some areas with the greatest oil and gas activity, such as the Eagle Ford shale of south Texas, it can be much more significant.

The potential problem in Texas is exacerbated by the protracted drought that has affected the state and the growth in its population caused by the strength of its economy.

Jean-Philippe Nicot of the University of Texas said the state’s farmers were using less water for irrigation and shifting to crops that could cope with drier conditions. “More and more water is needed for urban centres, and fracking is part of the picture,” he said.

“All the Texas aquifers are heavily taxed right now.”

Wood Mackenzie, the consultancy, argued in a report last year that the industry would need to address the issue to be able to develop shale oil and gas production around the world, with many of the most promising reserves in China, Africa and the Middle East in areas of water scarcity.

Jim Matheson of Oasys Water, a company that develops water treatment technology, predicted an “inexorable but slow” movement towards recycling.

“We’re very early in the evolution, but the future is one in which we’re going to have to figure out how to clean and reuse the same water resources,” he said.

FT

Davos: peeling back the veneer

Davos: peeling back the veneer.

(c) World Economic ForumScrolling through the website of the World Economic Forum – convening this week in Davos, Switzerland – one might confuse the premier platform for global capital with a savvy and hip think tank, or perhaps a philanthropic aid and development charity. The content is carefully curated to sedate and comfort. The right buzzwords are there: “impact investing”, “embracing democracy”, “our oceans”, and “sustainability.” In the Issues section, one finds Environmental Sustainability, Health for All, and Social Development. An article by Nobel laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz (a critic of globalization) is featured front and center, as if to proclaim, ‘challenging the stodgy status quo through edgy, unorthodox economic thinking – that’s what we do here.’

There’s nothing to indicate that this is, in fact, a platform for multinational corporations, among them human rights abusers, political racketeers, property thieves and international environmental criminals. But then, that wouldn’t exactly make for a very inviting homepage.

Here, for example, is the WEF mission statement:

The World Economic Forum encourages businesses, governments and civil society to commit together to improving the state of the world. Our Strategic and Industry Partners are instrumental in helping stakeholders meet key challenges such as building sustained economic growth, mitigating global risks, promoting health for all, improving social welfare and fostering environmental sustainability.

Rather than getting bogged down in a detailed evaluation of WEF’s high-minded claims and eco-populist rhetoric, it may be more efficient to consider the behavior of those corporations and banks that comprise the Forum’s list of Industry Partners – described as “select Member companies of the World Economic Forum that are actively involved in the Forum’s mission.”

Among them are Shell, Nike, Syngenta, Nestlé, and SNC Lavalin – companies you’ll also find on Global Exchange’s list of the Top 10 Corporate Criminals of 2013, based on offenses like unlivable working conditions, corporate seizures of indigenous lands, contaminating the environment, and similar transgressions. At least seven other companies “actively involved in the Forum’s mission” are recentalumni of the Corporate Criminal list.

Or consider Corporate Accountability International’s Corporate Hall of Shame, comprised of “corporations that corrupt the political process and abuse human rights, the environment and our public health.” Seven of the ten ­– Walmart, ExxonMobil, Bank of America, Coca-Cola, DuPont, Monsanto, and Nestlé (which has the dubious distinction of making both lists) are WEF Industry Partners.

How about climate change? This is now an issue that regularly features ominously in the WEF’s “Global Risks” annual report. Curious, then, that in addition to Shell and ExxonMobil, the Forum’s Industry Partners include most of the largest oil and gas companies in the world, from BP and Chevron to Gazprom and Saudi Aramco.“Carbon Majors” a peer-reviewed study in the scientific journal Climatic Change, lists the 90 entities most responsible for extracting the fossil fuels burned over the past 150 years. The top six are WEF Industry Partners.

Despite the carefully crafted words of concern for the poor and hungry, the WEF’s many food corporations – from Unilever and Pepsico to Cargill and General Mills – have actually parleyed the misery of the food crisis into further control over the food system, as well as spectacular profits. During the 2008 food crisis, the organization GRAIN released a report revealing that “nearly every corporate player in the global food chain is making a killing from the food crisis …. Such record profits … are a reflection of the extreme power that these middlemen have accrued through the globalisation of the food system. Intimately involved with the shaping of the trade rules that govern today’s food system and tightly in control of markets and the ever more complex financial systems through which global trade operates, these companies are in perfect position to turn food scarcity into immense profits.” (1)

Global banks also played a pivotal role in precipitating – and making a killing off – this food crisis. According to an investigative report by Frederick Kaufman, Goldman Sachs instigated a “global speculative frenzy” on food which “sparked riots in more than thirty countries and drove the number of the world’s “food insecure” to more than a billion …. The ranks of the hungry had increased by 250 million in a single year, the most abysmal increase in all of human history.” (2) Needless to say, scroll down to “G” in the Industry Partners list, and Goldman Sachs is there.

The fact is, digging into any of the crises we face will reveal the complicity of the very corporations that the World Economic Forum represents. A study conducted for the UN, for example, estimated the combined environmental externalities of the world’s 3,000 biggest companies to be $2.2 trillion in 2008, “a figure bigger than the national economies of all but seven countries in the world that year.” (3)

Impression of the World Economic ForumThese are just a few of innumerable possible examples. The corporations represented by the World Economic Forum are the agents principally responsible for destroying the planet, ravaging livelihoods, and literally starving people, all while aggrandizing unprecedented profits into the hands of an ever-tinier super elite. Seen in this light, all the burnished social and environmental concern-speak of the WEF is so much vacuous corporate swagger, the crudest sort of greenwash. Even though these companies actually spend huge amounts of capital and energy fighting environmental regulation and the citizen’s groups who are suffering their abuses, they simultaneously pursue a strategic embrace of environmental discourse and narratives; they accept the existence of the problems while promoting privatized, technocratic strategies for addressing them. These strategies pivot between those that assign responsibility for causing and fixing the problems to individual consumers, and those that position the corporations themselves as crucial players in the common cause of “improving”/”cleaning” the environment – the same one, incidentally, that they destroyed.

The absurdity of this schizophrenia reaches extreme limits: the WEF is solemnly concerned about global warming because – get ready for it – it represents one of the biggest threats ever to global trade and corporate capitalism! The primary perpetrator of global warming is now portraying itself as a victim. In WEF-land, global warming is like a mysterious, autonomous, alien force invading from afar, without cause or explanation. It “affects us all”, so we must all roll up our sleeves and unite – fossil fuel corporations included – in the battle against a common external foe.

There is, however, one part of the WEF’s mission that is being genuinely fulfilled: “building sustained economic growth”, code for increasing the power and wealth of its corporate partners. That this is the first of the “challenges” described in the WEF mission statement is no accident. Economic growth might seem an odd mismatch to the other issues, like social welfare and environmental sustainability, but the WEF has clearly embraced the notion that endless growth is not only compatible with environmental sustainability, it is actually necessary for it. That this myth has been thoroughly debunked seems to have conveniently escaped the WEF’s notice. (4)

This farce would be laughable but for the immense power and enormous control commanded by the corporations and banks the World Economic Forum represents. When the WEF promises to address agriculture, food security, environmental sustainability, and the like, we should be very worried for exactly those things. Peel away the eco-charity veneer and the WEF’s actual mission stands naked: advance the power, growth, and wealth of the corporate rulers of the world.

In no way should The World Economic Forum be allowed to insert itself as a legitimate voice on the resolution of the very issues that its agenda – the perpetual growth of its partners – precipitates. On the contrary, it should be fiercely resisted – precisely what the alternative World Social Forum, Occupy WEF, and other anti-globalization groups were created to do. (5)

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Alex Jensen is Project Coordinator at the International Society for Ecology and Culture (ISEC). Alex has worked in the US and India, where he coordinated ISEC’s Ladakh Project from 2004 to 2009. He has collaborated on the content of ISEC’s Roots of Change curriculum and the Economics of Happiness discussion guide. He holds an MA in Globalization and International Development from University of East Anglia. He has worked with cultural affirmation and agro-biodiversity projects in campesino communities in a number of countries and is active in environmental health/anti-toxics work.

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(1) GRAIN (2008) ‘Making a Killing from Hunger’, 28 April,http://www.grain.org/article/entries/178-making-a-killing-from-hunger, and

http://www.grain.org/article/entries/716-corporations-are-still-making-a-killing-from-hunger

(2) Kaufman, F. (2010) ‘The Food Bubble: How Wall Street Starved Millions and Got Away With It’, Harper’s Magazine, July,http://frederickkaufman.typepad.com/files/the-food-bubble-pdf.pdf

(3) Jowit, J. (2010) “World”s top firms cause $2.2tn of environmental damage, report estimates”, The Guardian, 18 February, 2010.

(4) see, e.g.: Jorgenson, A. and Clark, B. (2012) ‘Are the Economy and the Environment Decoupling?: A Comparative International Study, 1960–2005,’ American Journal of Sociology 118(1),1–44; Jorgenson, A. and Clark, B. (2011) ‘Societies Consuming Nature: A Panel Study of the Ecological Footprints of Nations, 1960-2003’, Social Science Research 40:226-244; Stern, D. (2004) ‘The Rise and Fall of the Environmental Kuznets Curve’, World Development, 32(8):1419–1439; Hornborg, A. (2003) ‘Cornucopia or Zero-Sum Game? The Epistemology of Sustainability’, Journal of World-Systems Research IX(2): 205-216.

(5) see http://www.fsm2013.org/en andhttp://www.reuters.com/article/2012/01/23/us-davos-idUSTRE80M13X20120123

If You Protest, Testify Against, or Report On Chevron, the Oil Giant Will Get Your Metadata | Motherboard

If You Protest, Testify Against, or Report On Chevron, the Oil Giant Will Get Your Metadata | Motherboard.

 

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