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Sarah Palin and the oil companies 
7th-Sep-2008 11:44 pm
From someone I know at one of the big oil companies (I actually got this very shortly after the pick was announced, before the media frenzy):

Sarah Palin?! Ugh ugh ugh. She has quite a reputation in the oil industry! Not as being a "tough and crafty negotiator" as she probably thinks she is, but just as being an unpredictable, difficult, and frankly insane negotiator.

The Norwegians will screw you down and get every last drop of money out of you that they can, but they abide by their agreements and are just looking out for getting the most money they can out of their resource. Everyone has a grudging great respect for them.

The Russians will just look for any opportunity to screw you.... but they are doing it out of personal interests. If you can figure out which people are calling the shots on behalf of whom, then you might, perhaps, be able to survive.

The Alaskans under their current administration have a reputation for just being insane. They will arbitrarily change the rules in unpredictable ways that don't appear to benefit ANYONE. They will just as happily screw themselves as the oil industry, and there seems to be no rhyme or reason to their decisions. Different companies have tried different strategies trying to understand the inscrutable Alaskans (including bribing their senior Senator, Ted Stevens), but nothing really works. They're just insane.

I actually heard someone say the other day that it was easier to work with the Venezuelans than the Alaskans.

Note how companies with resources on the north slope finally got so fed up with dealing with the Alaskan gov't that they walked away from enormous tax breaks the state was offering and have started planning their own gas pipeline to get stranded Alaskan gas connected into the Canadian gas pipeline network, from whence it can get to the lower 48. Meanwhile the Alaskan gov't is still proceeding with its own pipeline plans as well. There's not enough gas to support two pipelines so will be interesting to see what happens out of that.

Given McCain's age his choice of VP was very important. I'd much rather have someone I disagreed with than someone I feared was insane. This is someone who will have their finger on the button! I'll have to find out more about Palin now but, ugh, from what I know of her through the oil industry she's generally thought of as downright scary.

Not sure how typical an "undecided" I am but I think Obama just really helped his chances of getting elected...

8th-Sep-2008 07:36 pm (UTC)
The comment about Venezuelans is interesting, as I've been rolling the Palin as Chavez analogy around in my head a little bit over the last few days. It's not that she's either in the tank for oil companies or not. It's that she's in favor of using oil policy to gain populist support for her own power. Like the autocrats in Venezuela, Russia, and other petro-states she's been successful recently because high oil prices give her more room to demagogue about oil. In a different market the only thing she'd have to offer is far-right social ideology.

I'm worried about the election now, though. McCain's got a significant lead in the most recent tracking polls, and while it's likely a short-term bounce from the convention it's worrisome in the context of large crowds coming to see Palin campaign with McCain. The media narrative right now is playing in the GOP's favor. The state level polling looks better but a lot of it is stale. It looks like it will come down to ground game, and Obama's advantage here might be blunted if Palin mobilizes the right-wing churches.

Edited at 2008-09-08 07:37 pm (UTC)
8th-Sep-2008 07:43 pm (UTC)
In a post where it was explicitly stated that the Norwegians will wring every last dollar out of you on an oil contract, you chose to pick on Chavez as being an autocratic demagogue. What about those Norwegian autocratic demagogues?
9th-Sep-2008 07:46 am (UTC)
I hadn't been making comparisons to Norway in my own mind so that didn't stand out. But yeah, Norway definitely has benefited from the rise in oil prices, though not as much as the other countries I mentioned because North Sea oil fields are in decline. And of course Norway is not particularly autocratic so there's not the parallel to Palin, Chavez, and Putin, who are.
9th-Sep-2008 04:48 pm (UTC)
Chavez has been elected by large majorities in certified free and fair elections 5 times. So at least he's a democratic autocrat.

I have a bug in my ear about Chavez because I've been reading about South America, the IMF/World Bank, and the popular movements there. Many people dismiss Chavez as a "populist" and "autocrat", as if there were anything wrong with being a populist. And much of the behavior that gets identified as autocracy is really the government reconsolidating power and control which had been dispersed (under direction of the IMF and World Bank) via privatization to the oligarchy. The thing is, that's the programme Chavez campaigned on, it's the program he was elected to implement, and now it's the programme he's implementing -- so it's a democratic populist autocracy (if it's an autocracy at all, which I'd actually contest).

I think it needs to be repeated loudly that the other, US-consensus approved, model for autocratic oil-rich states is exemplified by Saudi Arabia and its ilk; while the other, US-consensus approved, model for South America includes failures like Chile and El Salvador. So, don't sneer at Chavez. He's no angel, maybe, but the US-approved alternatives are far worse.

Edited at 2008-09-09 04:51 pm (UTC)
9th-Sep-2008 05:28 pm (UTC)
I actually think Chavez has done a lot of good for Venezuelans. He's democratically elected. He's vastly better than the neo-liberal rulers of Chile and El Salvador--he's not running death squads, just to take the most obvious thing. If I were Venezuelan, I'd probably vote for him.

But he is an autocrat who blurs the line between his own hold on power and the best interests of Venezuela, and his success has relied upon spending oil profits that are not likely to be available in the long run. He risks squandering his nation's wealth on short-term projects rather than long-term development. That over-reliance on windfall oil profits is where the comparison to Palin is valid; of the two, Chavez is using that money much more wisely.
9th-Sep-2008 06:22 pm (UTC)
I'll grant El Salvador as being rather solidly in the Basketcase Column, but in what sense is Chile a failure? I had thought they were actually doing rather well economically (was even thinking about buying some of their bonds).

To be sure, there are some political questions remaining w.r.t. uncovering the last of Pinochet's legacy, but last I checked (which was admittedly a while ago) they were actively working on that...
8th-Sep-2008 07:53 pm (UTC)
It's the kali yuga. Rule by crazy women is inevitable.
8th-Sep-2008 10:20 pm (UTC) - 432,000 years is a long time
meanwhile, Wikipedia tells me, "Kali Yuga is associated with the apocalypse demon Kali, not be confused with the goddess Kālī, as these are unrelated words in the Sanskrit language. The "Kali" of Kali Yuga means "strife, discord, quarrel, or contention."

I did not know this.

8th-Sep-2008 10:47 pm (UTC) - cockney rhyming slang=depository of traditional wisdom
trouble and strife=wife
8th-Sep-2008 08:03 pm (UTC)
Gee I can't think of any reason some one associated with a oil company might have an axe to grind.

I take it this person is as scared of Palin's hit squad as the waitress?
8th-Sep-2008 08:23 pm (UTC)
Because, of course, employers have never been known to sanction employees for making unapproved public statements.

And I'm sure there are more than enough axes-to-grind to go around, here.

I'll agree it might possibly have a slightly more than infinitesimal impact if I could put a name on it -- and it is yet possible my correspondent could change his/her mind -- but I'm not that interested in thrusting people into the media spotlight who don't actually want to be there (... file under Things Not To Do To Friends, Part 357).

Edited at 2008-09-08 08:26 pm (UTC)
8th-Sep-2008 11:08 pm (UTC)
Hoo-ee. When I think of said friend, "flaming liberal" sure doesn't come to mind.
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