Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The West's Interest in Libya is Liquid and Crude

The Libyan crisis has brought something else to the surface. The West's involvement in that country's oil industry.

I already mentioned Canada's involvement in the National Oil Corporation, but Thomas Walkom is questioning, as I did, just where Canada stands in this:
Why does Stephen Harper seem more engaged in Libya’s would-be revolution than he was in Egypt’s? The answer is simple. Oil. This also explains, incidentally, the curious nature of Ottawa’s economic sanctions against the Libyan regime of dictator Moammar Gadhafi. Canadian firms — most notably Montreal-based SNC-Lavalin and Calgary-based Suncor Energy — are not permitted to engage in financial transactions with the Libyan government. But they are allowed to continue operating commercially in Libya.

Given that both deal only with the oil-rich regime (Lavalin is building pipelines, a prison and an airport; Suncor has government concessions to drill for oil) it’s not at clear what these so-called sanctions mean in practice. Nor is it clear that Ontario automaker Chrysler, which is backed in part by money from the Gadhafi regime’s Libyan Investment Authority, has to do anything differently.
So much for "ethical oil".

In the United States there are also concerns over their business interests: Libya's Billions Invested In U.S. Private Equity, Big Banks

In the wake of the Bush administration's lifting of sanctions against Libya in 2004, following Gaddafi's agreement to give up weapons of mass destruction, American businesses and private equity firms also came flocking to the North African country to court government and LIA officials. As The Huffington Post reported last week, a broad coalition of U.S. oil companies, defense manufacturers and businesses lobbied the U.S. government to repair relations with the longtime international pariah and to take advantage of business opportunities in the country.

The secretive Libyan Investment Authority has reportedly invested hundreds of millions of dollars in Goldman Sachs Asset Management funds, including a loan fund designed to invest in new hedge funds set up by the Kuwait Investment Authority. Goldman Sachs already has a relationship with Libya -- in 2008, Goldman was the first U.S. bank to get a contract with the country following the removal of sanctions, when it was hired by Libya's central bank to provide
information on its behalf to credit rating agencies. A spokesperson for Goldman
Sachs did not return calls seeking comment.

And not long after, Stephen Harper also loosened the noose. Serves them right if these businesses lose their shirts, but the problem is that they will probably pass all of the losses off on the taxpayers. AGAIN!

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