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Networks of influence: Key & Anadarko Petroleum

Written By: - Date published: 12:25 pm, May 2nd, 2013 - 18 comments
Categories: accountability, capitalism, Conservation, disaster, john key, Metiria Turei, overseas investment, slippery, sustainability, trade - Tags:

As I posted a couple of days ago, John Key’s networks of influence incorporate people and multinational corporates involved in the potentially damaging exploration for oil in NZ. Today Werewolf published a well-researched and damning article by Gordon Campbell.  Campbell exposes the false claims of Anadarko Petroleum, which is involved in oil exploration in NZ.  As was questioned by both MSM journalists and several bloggers at the time, John Key held a “secretive” meeting with James Hackett, (Anadarko Petroleum boss) in November 2011.  Patrick Gower reported on it, bloggers such as Frank Macskasy critiqued the association of Anadarko with the major BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.  Metiria Turei raised her concerns.

Hackett implicated in Gulf of Mexico oil spill

Hackett implicated in Gulf of Mexico oil spill

Gordon Campbell’s excellent piece of journalism on Anadarko, shows that we cannot trust corporates like Anadarko to operate safely in NZ waters. With their record of falsehood and misinformation, we cannot trust anything said by Anadarko people.  They have shown a callous disregard for the safety of their workers and the environment.  They have made slippery use of legal niceties in trying to avoid taking some of the blame for the massive 2010 oil spill.

Anadarko were also involved a in a dubious sleight-of-hand operation in acquiring the bankrupt operations of Kerr-McGee.  This included an attempt to distance itself from damaging chemical leaks by cycling Kerr-McKee through a newly constructed firm of Tronox prior to it being acquired by Anadarko.  Kerr-Mckee has a long history of causing toxic damage to the environment and human lives, including the radiation contamination that was dramatised in the movie Silkwood.

Anadarko’s directors are connected to a diverse range of networks, including energy, science, business think tanks, the US military (including space and cyberspace operations), Kerr-McKee, electronic data systems, investment companies, financial servies and banks. Their NZ operation, Anadarko NZ Taranaki, is a branch of a company base in the Cayman Islands.  This is just one of Anacarko’s international operations.  Their Moroccan enterprise, also based in the Cayman’s lists their address as being headed by “The Offices of Maples Services Limited”.

Maples and Calder says this about their Corporate Services, boasts of the internationally “seamless” legal services that they provide to their clients. So I guess they are behind the legal slipperiness that Gordon Campbell critiques in his article. Campbell says:

The over-riding issue at stake here is whether Anadarko’s history as a corporate citizen in any way justifies the welcome mat being put out for it by the Key government. Not to mention the insulation from protest action that is being extended to it at the expense of the civil rights of ordinary New Zealanders, and with the related risk to our environment.

Anadarko made false claims about their years of experience in deep sea drilling.  They falsely claimed their role in the Deepwater Horizon (BP/Gulf of Mexico/Macondo) disaster was that of “passive” investor.

 At the very least, Anadarko was a central part of the decision making process (together with BP) via a Joint Operating Agreement, that led to safety breaches and cost cutting, which directly resulted in the disaster. …

Anadarko had tried to evade liability in this court action, via a tissue of extremely fine legal distinctions. For a New Zealand reader, the interesting point being that these arguments indicate what standards of proof – and what definitional niceties – would be necessary if this company was ever to be held liable for an environmental disaster off the New Zealand coast.

It should also be noted that Robert B Daniels is listed as director of Andarko NZ, since 2010, and also of the Moroccan branch of Anadarko.  In his article Campbell provides evidence of Daniel’s untrustworthiness.  He cites the class action taken by Anadarko shareholders over the BP oil spill, in which they provide evidence that Daniels falsely claimed Anadarko had no responsibility for the spill.

It’s interesting also to note that Daniels was one of two Anadarko speakers at the Advantage NZ Conference at SkyCity earlier this week*.  The NZ Herald reported on Daniels’ contribution to the conference.  First the Grant Bradley article reports on the conference speech by Michael Bromwich, who had been “the former US prosecutor who was selected by the Obama Administration to beef up offshore drilling regulations“.  In his speech he claimed regulations had been tightened since the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, and that oil companies had excellent resources and provisions for cleaning up oil spills.  The evidence presented by Gordon Campbell says otherwise.  The fines imposed on companies for spills are minimal in comparison with the companies’ profits.  They are easily able to absorb them, and have the legal resources to resist any subsequent court actions.

Bradley reports:

Bromwich said he was not familiar with the New Zealand regulatory environment, but he said regulatory regimes needed to be adequately funded.

However Campbell shows that Key’s government are under-funding its regulatory regime.  Campbell says:

On this point of Anadarko’s ability to sustain any fines imposed on it, one should note in passing that the maximum penalty under the new New Zealand legislation is $NZ10 million …

One has to ask – what, exactly, does the Key government think is the deterrent value of a $NZ10 million fine ( even if the maximum culpability could be proved ) to a company that can evidently ride out a $US4 billion fine (at least) on Tronox ? (In 2011, Anadarko also paid out a further $4 billion in full settlement of its liabilities to BP over the Deepwater Horizon spill.) By comparison, New Zealand’s fines seem to be little more than coffee money….

As reported by Bradley, Daniels claimed Anadarko has the resources to “respond to” a spill in NZ waters, and the financial resources to comply with any changes in regulations under a possible Labour-Green government.  I’d be more interested in learning about Anadarko NZ’s systems for preventing any such spills.  It’s worrying that a man and company that already have shown they are cavalier about damaging impacts of their activities, claim to be able to cope with (inevitable?) spills

So, here we have, another example of Key’s personal engagement with powerful networks of influence: ones that do not have the interest of New Zealand, Kiwis, or the environment at heart.

It should be noted that, as well as meeting with Anadarko boss, Hackett in 2011, Key was also a speaker at the Advantage NZ Conference – the kind of context in which Key nurtures his engagement with networks of influence. A Prime Minister who supports such untrustworthy, slippery big oil companies, is a Prime Minster that can’t be trusted.

* The Advantage NZ website seems to have gone offline while I was writing this article.

18 comments on “Networks of influence: Key & Anadarko Petroleum”

  1. vto 1

    would you trust an oil company?

    would you trust a finance company?

    would you trust a listed company?

    would you trust john key?

    would you trust a power company?

    would you trust a coal mining company?

    who do you trust?

  2. Great Karol! Some conspiracies are true. Who needs the Illuminati, World Jewry, Rockefeller and NWO blah blah, when we have global monopoly state capitalism operating in Kiwiland? As many have commented on this blog, why should we trust Shearer any more than Key? The only way to break out of the global capitalist network is to refuse to abide by any of its exploitative and oppressive acts. Anadarko vs Aotearoa2go.

    • Murray Olsen 2.1

      At best, Shearer would be mates with a different oil company. As long as we are part of the global capitalist network and bound by its rules, all we get is a choice equivalent to which dealer will push addictive drugs onto our kids. We need and deserve more.
      Not one of these energy companies can be trusted. We need a vigorous nationwide debate on how far we want to go with the extraction of fuel and minerals. If we decide to go ahead at all, extraction should be done by the state with democratically elected oversight. We would need regulatory boards with more independence and courage than the Independent Police Complaints Authority, or the Fonterra Water Quality Committee.
      We need to get back to what made this country worth living in, and move on from there. This was not inviting irresponsible corporations in and laying out our resources for them like a banquet of threatened species. It was not aspiring to a work environment where socially inept morons piss down their legs. It was not crushing cars in dominatrix boots. It was not anything that the present government holds dear, and it was not the timid counter moves that pale pink careerists are offering us.

      • Colonial Viper 2.1.1

        Good thoughts, but I don’t see any proposals to reduce the country’s use of oil by any significant amount. Without them, all your position would be is NIMBY.

        • Murray Olsen 2.1.1.1

          I don’t have a back yard, but I’d start by stopping all subsidies to the road transport industry and rebuilding the rail network. This can be electrified.
          We could make significant savings by putting a cap on engine capacity. Get Remuera tractors out of the cities, stop importing 5L V8s. Some people would scream, which means that we need the debate first. Once enough people agree that we need to act forcefully, the problems become technical. Without that agreement, we can’t even change lightbulbs.
          In any case, plenty has been written and discussed about the alternatives. Unless we get enough people thinking “good thoughts”, nothing will change. What would you propose, apart from death by a thousand acronyms?

          • Colonial Viper 2.1.1.1.1

            Hey I like your suggestions; also

            – 30% GST on all new petrol vehicles over 2L displacement and diesel vehicles over 3L displacement. Double rego fees on all second hand vehicles fitting the above. All monies going to subsidising public rail, bus and tram services.

            – Drive down the NZ dollar, allowing fuel prices and imported vehicle prices to rise.

            – Set up policies to drive population growth out of Auckland and into smaller more transport efficient centres.

            – Use heavy vehicle specific road taxes and duties to revamp public coastal shipping capabilities.

            – Encourage 4 day working weeks to minimise commute traffic on roads.

            • karol 2.1.1.1.1.1

              Some excellent ideas, Murray & CV.

              The 4 day working week would hit so many bases – of course, it should be aligned with a living wage for all.

              • Jenny

                These are all good policies. But how to achieve them, that is the question.

                “Politics is all about pressure”

                The Herald has published reviews of a new book which details all the pressures that David Lange was put under by the New Zealand state, the permanent heads of the Civil Service, military leaders, business heads worried about trade implications and foreign government leaders, to ignore his promise to the electorate. And the dismay these people felt, when Lange, under this onslaught of secret behind the scenes pressure, despite some early vacillation, eventually turned his back on them. That these undemocratic parasites on the body politic have now accused Lange of lying to them. Is just sour grapes. Politics is all about pressure and this time the pressure from below, was much greater than the pressure from above.

                “Lange lied over Anzus rift: author”

                http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10879810

                http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10879996

                Indeed, for the reasons given below, the Buchanon was intentionally chosen to be able to give David Lange the political cover of “plausible deniability” that it was carrying nuclear weapons.

                Mr Lange dispatched his Chief of Defence Force, Air Marshal Sir Ewan Jamieson, to Honolulu to discuss the actual ship with the US Pacific Command. New Zealand was given a choice of ships and Air Marshal Jamieson settled on USS Buchanan, an almost obsolete destroyer which, while capable of carrying nuclear weapons, almost certainly would not have been

                Gerald Hensley

                However this was not enough for the powerful New Zealand anti-nuclear movement. (Though Audrey Young doesn’t credit him, anti-nuclear spokesperson Nicky Hagar in particular).

                “To the surprise of his hearers from both delegations, [Schultz] added that New Zealand had to accept that from time to time there would inevitably be nuclear weapons aboard the occasional visiting ship.”

                It was seized upon by activists later as confirmation that even if a compromise had been reached, the US would have disregarded the policy.

                Audrey Young

                The lesson is clear. We must build a protest movement against climate change that is powerful enough to counter the pressure of the polluters.

  3. Gordon Campbell (and you karol) should be given the peoples highest accolades for exposing the lies of these exploiters. We have exposed our throats to corporate predators who are the worst of humanity and who only care about money and profit.

    The question isn’t if a disaster will happen it is just when it will happen and the politicians who have colluded with these corporates will be held to account where ever they are, even Key in his holiday home in Hawaii.

    • Tigger 3.1

      Yes, kudos to Campbell for another great article and Karol for adding to the analysis.

      Journalism likes this makes the broadcast media and press look infantile, facile, pathetic.

  4. Jenny 4

    John Gordon, Anadarko exploration manager, Asia Pacific, said the company had been a passive investor in the BP [Deepwater Horizon] well. “At no time did Anadarko have any input or say in the operation of the well in the planning or execution.” It settled with BP by paying it US$4b, though there was no legal ruling which forced that. Asked what assurance it could give about drilling in deep water, Mr Gordon said: “Anadarko has been doing the same for 20 years. We have done so with a very successful safety record and without a major incident in that time. “

    Thanks to Gordon Campbell’s investigation we know that everything in this statement is a complete and utter bald faced lie.

    Can we trust these liars not to ruin our country like they ruined the Gulf of Mexico?

    No we can’t.

    But where are the Labour Party in all this?

    Andarko are adamant that they will still be operating, albeit with stricter regulation, in New Zealand under a Labour led administration.

    Bob Daniels, senior vice-president international and deepwater exploration for Houston-based Anadarko, said the firm operated with the prospect of governments changing everywhere in the world.

    Any Labour-Green government would take a less industry friendly stance than the current Government which has just passed laws to crack down on protesters who impede explorers. Daniels said governments were subject to change. “That could change the regulatory environment that we work in but that’s not something that we can control so we try to best manage through it and make sure our investments have enough protection on the downside that if there is a change that costs us something we can sustain through that.”

    He said if there was an accident in New Zealand at an Anadarko well, it would respond.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/index.cfm?objectid=10880532

    So, will deep sea oil drilling be the killer of a Labour/Green coalition government?

    Or will the Green Party drop their objection to Andarko and deep sea oil drilling in exchange for those comfortable highly paid front row seats in parliament?

    What contortions of logic and morality will they issue up?

    • Murray Olsen 4.1

      It looks like you’ve already decided that the Greens will sell out, Jenny. I have a little more faith in them, especially seeing as it would be their death knell as a party to allow deep sea drilling.

      • Jenny 4.1.1

        I sincerely hope, that they realise that.

        • Colonial Viper 4.1.1.1

          It’s up to the Green membership. Signed up yet?

          • Jenny 4.1.1.1.1

            It is not as if they haven’t asked me. But I have told you before CV. I am more of movementist type girl. (And as such I like to be free to network with the members of all different parties. And most parties including the Greens forbid membership in any other.)

            Anyhow it is not totally up to the Green membership.

            Did the Alliance Party membership agree to sign up to invading Afghanistan?

            Did the Maori Party membership sign up to their leadership selling out over the Foreshore and Seabed?

            As long as the Green Party don’t nail their colours to the mast now, their leadership will have more than enough wriggle room to do a deal. For goodness sake, it is hard enough keeping MPs from giving into political pressures inside parliament, even when it is party policy graven in stone.

            No body can say it hasn’t happened before. More than once. More than twice.

            • Jenny 4.1.1.1.1.1

              Just to preface my earlier statement above. I am not against people joining political parties. In fact I encourage it. But for me personally I find them mostly too sectarian for my taste. Especially when we are facing an environmental crisis that will effect all classes and strata of society and which will require a cross party approach similar to a wartime coalition to properly face it.

              If not they the Green will be setting themselves up for the biggest sell out in New Zealand’s political history.

              This is why I applaud the Green Party initiative to call a cross party conference on climate change in the Legislative Chamber of Parliament, which they have called Meeting The Challenge. (Registrations for this cross-party conference which the Greens have called “Meeting the Challenge” are now open).

              http://meetingthechallenge.eventbrite.co.nz/#

              It will be interesting and informative to see, who turns up, and who the no-shows will be. The leaders of all parties in parliament need to be there. Even if your party or yourself personally disagree with the reality of the terrible danger we are all in. This is your chance to state your party’s position and argue your party’s case.

              Will the Nats have the guts to meet the challenge and defend their policies on climate change?

              Will Labour?

              Or will they both boycott it, or send junior nobodies?

              On the basis of who turns up and at what level. The Green Party will know who to enter coalition talks with. The precondition for any such talks must be; No deep sea oil drilling, no coal mining of the Denniston Plateau. If not the Greens will be setting themselves up for the biggest sell out in New Zealand’s political history.

  5. New Zealand First is also alarmed at the Government’s passage of this Bill. The decision by Simon Bridges to insert those amendments specifically cost the party’s support for the Bill as Andrew Williams made clear in announcing New Zealand First’s opposition to it.

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