USA: Dick Cheney's Oil Connections
Having ensured the continued flow of cheap oil from the Gulf by waging a war with Iraq, and after his boss, George Bush's ouster from office by Clinton in 1992, Dick Cheney turned his attention to the corporate world. In 1993 he joined the American Enterprise Institute in Washington as a senior fellow. In October of 1995 he became president and chief executive officer of the Halliburton Company in Dallas, Texas. He also serves on the boards of Procter & Gamble, Union Pacific and Electronic Data Systems Corp.
Halliburton Co. is the leader amongst the world's diversified energy services companies. Oil & Gas Journal's list of top energy companies in the world, ranks Halliburton 24th by market value at $18.2 billion (1). In 1999, its consolidated revenues were $14.9 billion and it had a workforce of about 100 000 in more than 120 countries. It provides equipment and other services to oil and natural gas companies for exploration and production.
Under Cheney's leadership, Halliburton has been accused of involvement in human rights violations most notably an incident reported by the group, Environmental Rights Action (ERA) which occurred in September of 1997 when eighteen Nigeria's Mobile Police (MOPOL) officers on the orders of Halliburton (contracting for Chevron Oil Co.) shot and killed Gidikumo Sule at the Opuama flow station at Egbema in the city of Warri (2).
Cheney's record on environmental issues is dismal too: as a house rep from Wyoming from 1978 to 1989, he cosponsored a measure to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to oil drilling and voted against the Clean Water Act which required industries to release publicly their records on toxic emissions. The Sierra Club quoting from a 1997 EPA data point out that, Halliburton's facility in Duncan, Okla., was in the top 20 percent of the dirtiest in the United States.
Brown & Root Murphy LLC, a joint venture equally owned by Halliburton's Brown & Root Energy Services business unit are involved in a controversial pipeline construction, the so-called Bolivia Brazil Gas Pipeline Project. Brazilian environmental groups, Defense of Pantanal Association and Brazilian Institute of Cultural Heritage have expressed concern over the project. Trade unions in both countries have expressed anger over the private sector role in the project. Several environmental groups from the United States, have asked why the project is proceeding without allowing communities to respond to the company proposals (3).
Cheney is a member of a group called COMPASS (Committee to Preserve American Security and Sovereignty) that is affiliated with the conservative George C. Marshall Institute. COMPASS members including Cheney wrote to President Clinton in 1998 to protest the Kyoto climate change treaty, concluding with the Zinger that Kyoto appeared to be "nothing more than a 'feel good' public relations ploy." (4)
Cheney once drew parallels between his role as CEO of Halliburton to his role as defense secretary. Addressing the Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies convention in Corpus Christie in 1998, he stated; "In the oil and gas business, I deal with many of the same people." (5) With a $45.5 million stake, he is the company's biggest individual stockholder. Last month he sold 100 000 shares of stock for an estimated $5.1 million, cashing in on the high price of oil. The company has also been active on the political front giving almost $200 000 in the 2000 Republican campaign.
According to an examination of regulatory filings showed on Monday (July 24), as CEO he raked in $1.28 million in salary and $640, 914 in other compensation last year plus stock options worth $7.4 to $18.8 million depending on the company's future stock performance (6). Comparing this to the $181,400 salary of a vice president raises interesting questions.
His motivations are clearly guided by his stated philosophy. In October 1999 speaking at the Louisiana Gulf Coast Oil Exposition he said that members of the oil business could help the industry to become more effective by becoming active in the political arena and helping elect the right people to office. He also noted that the oil industry needed to do a better job of telling its story to the public, such as the importance of the oil and gas industry, and the task of finding, producing, refining and distributing energy at a bargain price (7).
He therefore brings to the Bush campaign and possible presidency an agenda of helping increase the oil industry's public profile and bridging the divide between politics and oil money. Cheney is clearly forward-looking and maximization of oil profits is a stated goal of his. He was quoted in "Corpus Christi online" stating; "By the year 2010 the oil and gas industry will have to provide 43 million barrels per day to meet demand There will indeed be plenty of work in the years ahead As long as we are good as we are and reducing costs." His cost reduction strategy is demonstrated by the fact that, under his leadership he organized a merger between Dresser Industries Inc. and Halliburton that resulted in a 7,000 employee cutback worldwide (8).
- 106 Money & Politics
- 107 Energy