Tag Archives: ConocoPhillips

Sarah Palin’s Real Estate Impropriety (Video)

By popular demand, I am reposting this story about Mayor Sarah Palin eliminating building permits before her personal home AND the Wasilla Sports Complex were constructed in Wasilla, Alaska.  The post originally appeared on the Sarah Palin Truth Squad back in October 14, 2008.

The original title was The Book of Sarah (Palin): Contractors Awarded Wasilla Sports Complex Contract Built New Palin Family Home.”

Although this is old news, it’s good to remember the personal ethics of Sarah Palin as she moves forward into her latest career.

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Sarah Palin winking to the cameras.

Sarah Palin winking to the cameras.

Wayne Barrett, investigative journalist and senior editor for the Village Voice, published a brilliantly illuminating exposé on Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and the building of her new Wasilla family home by the same contractors awarded the contract to build the new, multi-million dollar Wasilla sports complex. Also, throughout Sarah Palin’s political career, she has worked closely with lobbyists, promoting the interests of big business and oil corporations. Barrett was interviewed by MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann on Countdown as to the possible conflicts of interest these connections might have posed for Gov. Palin.

Along with the winks and folksy “doggone” moments early in her debate with Joe Biden last week, Sarah Palin repeated her familiar claim to the title of “maverick,” declaring that “as a governor and as a mayor,” she’s had a “track record of reform” and has now “joined a team of mavericks.”

Despite the free fall that her polling numbers went into after her disastrous interviews with Katie Couric, that branding as a “reformer” has been resilient. Introduced skillfully before tens of millions during an intense surge of interest six weeks ago, it’s been hammered home with repeated soundbites.

But the label doesn’t hold up under close scrutiny. From the controversy that catapulted her to the governorship, to her ties to the indicted patriarch of Alaska’s GOP, to the multilayered nexus of lobbyists and Big Oil interests around her, and, finally, to the Wasilla sports complex that capped her mayoral career, the myth of Sarah Palin, reformer, withers under inspection.

Wasilla, Alaska Sports Complex

Wasilla, Alaska Sports Complex

PALIN’S CLAIM to fame as an Alaska reformer-that she risked her career to expose the chairman of the state GOP-is revisionist. In fact, Palin supported the methane-drilling project that helped sink GOP boss Randy Ruedrich before she later decided she was against it-a mirror of her flip-flop on the infamous Bridge to Nowhere. And her reversal had more to do with seizing a political opportunity than following her conscience.

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Inheriting Palin’s Pipeline Ambitions

Gov. Sarah Palin, center, awards a state license for development of her natural gas pipeline initiative to Canadian pipeline builder TransCanada last December. As Ms. Palin steps down, Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell (to Ms. Palin’s right above), will inherit the program.

Gov. Sarah Palin, center, awards a state license for development of her natural gas pipeline initiative to Canadian pipeline builder TransCanada last December. As Ms. Palin steps down, Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell (to Ms. Palin’s right above), will inherit the program.

In the wake of Sarah Palin’s surprise announcement to step down as Alaska governor, questions linger over her signature energy initiative: the construction of a natural gas pipeline from Alaska’s North Slope to markets in Canada and the Lower 48.

Ms. Palin campaigned for governor with a pledge to completely rethink the state’s approach to the megaproject – instead of negotiating directly with the three major North Slope producers, Ms. Palin promised to essentially put the project out to bid.

As governor, she did just that, offering a suite of incentives (including $500 million in seed money) in exchange for certain commitments meant to protect the state’s interests. State lawmakers approved her Alaska Gasline Inducement Act in 2007, and last year awarded a state license under A.G.I.A. to Canadian pipeline builder TransCanada.

Exxon Mobil has since teamed up with TransCanada, and BP and ConocoPhillips are pursuing their own pipeline project separately.

But there’s no assurance that either line will ever get built.

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Palin Pipe Dreams

Note: On July 26, Sarah Palin resigned as Alaska governor, citing concerns that ongoing ethical investigations and her decision not to seek a second term would limit her effectiveness in office. What she did (or didn’t do) to promote the development of a $40 billion gas pipeline will be a crucial part of her short history in office. This story, which was first published on March 17, delved into the long and complicated history of a pipeline that doesn’t exist.

Sarah Palin at Lake Lucille in Wasilla, Alaska, in 2008.

Sarah Palin at Lake Lucille in Wasilla, Alaska, in 2008.

For more than 30 years, a natural-gas pipeline had been the great white whale of Alaskan resource development. Tens of millions of dollars had been spent in the quest for it. The names of collapsed consortiums and failed legislative initiatives littered the tundra like the bleached horns of long-dead caribou. Then, last summer, Sarah Palin said she had harpooned the whale.

“I fought to bring about the largest private-sector infrastructure project in North American history,” Palin said at the Republican convention. “And when that deal was struck, we began a nearly $40 billion natural-gas pipeline to help lead America to energy independence.”

During the vice-presidential debate, she said it again: “We’re building a nearly $40 billion natural-gas pipeline, which is North America’s largest and most expensive infrastructure project ever.”

And to Katie Couric, she said, “We should have started 10 years ago, but better late than never.”

To many outside of Alaska, it may therefore come as a surprise to learn that not only does such a pipeline not exist, but—even as Alaska’s deep winter darkness gives way to the first light of spring—the prospect that it will be built within Sarah Palin’s lifetime grows dimmer by the day. ( View a slideshow hitting the highlights of Governor Palin’s travels.)

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Alaska Gov. Palin Pushed Exporting U.S. Oil Reserves To Japan

Jim Bowles, president of ConocoPhillips Alaska Inc. center, answers questions during a news conference in Anchorage, Alaska, where Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin announced an agreement between the state of Alaska and the oil industry to extend the federal export license for the LNG plant on the Kenai Peninsula. Steven Hinchmann, senior VP of worldwide production for Marathon Oil Corp., back, left, Tom Irwin Department of Natural Resources commissioner, and Gov. Sarah Palin, right, listen in the back. On the campaign trail, Palin says repeatedly that America must tap its own natural gas and oil reserves to become energy independent. But she has pushed the federal government to allow a liquefied natural gas plant to continue exporting to Asia, the only such plant in the United States that sends the product overseas.

Jim Bowles, president of ConocoPhillips Alaska Inc. center, answers questions during a news conference in Anchorage, Alaska, where Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin announced an agreement between the state of Alaska and the oil industry to extend the federal export license for the LNG plant on the Kenai Peninsula. Steven Hinchmann, senior VP of worldwide production for Marathon Oil Corp., back, left, Tom Irwin Department of Natural Resources commissioner, and Gov. Sarah Palin, right, listen in the back. On the campaign trail, Palin says repeatedly that America must tap its own natural gas and oil reserves to become energy independent. But she has pushed the federal government to allow a liquefied natural gas plant to continue exporting to Asia, the only such plant in the United States that sends the product overseas.

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin can’t have it both ways … is she for America’s energy independence, with Alaskan pipelines built to carry natural gas and oil down to the lower 48 states, or does she want to continue EXPORTING natural gas to foreign countries at a time when the United States is IMPORTING natural gas from the Middle East and Africa?

On the campaign trail, Sarah Palin says repeatedly that America must tap its own natural gas and oil reserves to become energy-independent.

But the Alaska governor and GOP vice presidential candidate has pushed the federal government to allow a liquefied natural gas plant to continue exporting to Asia – the only such plant in the United States that sends the product overseas.

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Russian Natural Gas Company Gazprom Offers Assistance to Alaska in Spite of Gov. Palin

The Moscow Times reports today that Gazprom, the largest company in Russia as well as the largest extractor of natural gas in the world, has offered assistance to Alaska in bringing natural gas to the lower 48 states.  In spite of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin’s negative comments about Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in her interview with Charlie Gibson last month, eight Gazprom executives arrived in Anchorage on Monday for meetings to discuss joint pipeline ventures with Jim Mulva, ConocoPhillips’ chief executive and Alaska’s Department of Natural Resources.  With Gov. Palin’s ‘expertise’ in energy and supposed ‘concern’ for the energy crisis affecting the rest of the United States, the construction of natural gas pipelines could be a vital source of fuel.  Seems strange that Gov. Palin hasn’t worked harder to develop important international relationships with various global natural gas companies.  Or could there be some deal that Gov. Palin has been negotiating with the Russian giant Gazprom of which voters are unaware?  Would such a pipeline partnership be mutually beneficial for both countries or an environmental disaster?  The timing of Gazprom’s entire senior management team traveling to Alaska to discuss pipeline partnerships in the final days before such a contentious presidential election raises many questions.

Gazprom said Tuesday that it offered to help Alaska increase gas supplies to the U.S. mainland, even after Governor Sarah Palin warned against Russia’s resurgence while campaigning to become vice president.

The company sent eight senior executives to Anchorage for talks Monday with Alaska’s Department of Natural Resources and ConocoPhillips chief executive Jim Mulva, state and company officials said.

The courtship of Alaska comes less than a month after Palin criticized Prime Minister Vladimir Putin for “rearing his head” over Russia’s maritime border with her home state.

CEO Alexei Miller was accompanied by deputies Valery Golubev and Alexander Medvedev, who oversees the country’s gas exports.

A working breakfast was held with Palin supporter and former Alaska Governor Walter Hickel, Gazprom said.

Miller said in June that Gazprom had approached ConocoPhillips and BP on joining their Denali pipeline project, designed to deliver Alaskan gas to the continental United States. At the same time, Gazprom expressed interest in a rival pipeline project backed by Canada’s TransCanada.

“The working conditions in Gazprom’s traditional areas of production practically coincide with those in Alaska,” the company said.

“Gazprom’s experience will be in demand when similar projects are developed in Alaska.”

Gazprom Unfazed by Palin Spiel

Here are links to related articles on the Gazprom visit to Alaska and possible motivation for a visit at this particular time …

Gazprom Woos Alaska Amid Chill in Relations With U.S.

Gazprom visits Alaska to discuss gas cooperation

Gazprom’s Stranglehold

The new Gazprom Neft headquarters in the former Russian capital city of St. Petersburg will soon be home to the tallest tower in Europe.  UK-based architectural firm RMJM was given a go by the Russian gas giant to build the Okhta Tower.  The eco skyscraper promises to be one of the most environmentally sustainable high rise buildings in the world.

The new Gazprom Neft headquarters in the former Russian capital city of St. Petersburg will soon be home to the tallest tower in Europe. UK-based architectural firm RMJM was given a go by the Russian gas giant to build the Okhta Tower. The eco skyscraper promises to be one of the most environmentally sustainable high rise buildings in the world.

The Book of Sarah (Palin): Contractors Awarded Wasilla Sports Complex Contract Built New Palin Family Home?!?! (Video)

Sarah Palin winking to the cameras.

Sarah Palin winking to the cameras.

Wayne Barrett, investigative journalist and senior editor for the Village Voice, published a brilliantly illuminating exposé on Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and the building of her new Wasilla family home by the same contractors awarded the contract to build the new, multi-million dollar Wasilla sports complex.  Also, throughout Sarah Palin’s political career, she has worked closely with lobbyists, promoting the interests of big business and oil corporations.  Barrett was interviewed by MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann on Countdown as to the possible conflicts of interest these connections might have posed for Gov. Palin.

Along with the winks and folksy “doggone” moments early in her debate with Joe Biden last week, Sarah Palin repeated her familiar claim to the title of “maverick,” declaring that “as a governor and as a mayor,” she’s had a “track record of reform” and has now “joined a team of mavericks.”

Despite the free fall that her polling numbers went into after her disastrous interviews with Katie Couric, that branding as a “reformer” has been resilient. Introduced skillfully before tens of millions during an intense surge of interest six weeks ago, it’s been hammered home with repeated soundbites.

But the label doesn’t hold up under close scrutiny. From the controversy that catapulted her to the governorship, to her ties to the indicted patriarch of Alaska’s GOP, to the multilayered nexus of lobbyists and Big Oil interests around her, and, finally, to the Wasilla sports complex that capped her mayoral career, the myth of Sarah Palin, reformer, withers under inspection.

Wasilla, Alaska Sports Complex

Wasilla, Alaska Sports Complex

PALIN’S CLAIM to fame as an Alaska reformer-that she risked her career to expose the chairman of the state GOP-is revisionist. In fact, Palin supported the methane-drilling project that helped sink GOP boss Randy Ruedrich before she later decided she was against it-a mirror of her flip-flop on the infamous Bridge to Nowhere. And her reversal had more to do with seizing a political opportunity than following her conscience.

Continue reading

Palin’s Blown Opportunity on Energy Independence

A central gas facility located in the Prudhoe Bay field on Alaska's North Slope, which was proposed as a starting point for an Alaska Gas pipeline to the Lower 48 states.

A central gas facility located in the Prudhoe Bay field on Alaska's North Slope, which was proposed as a starting point for an Alaska Gas pipeline to the Lower 48 states.

Sarah Palin promises to focus on energy independence if she becomes vice president, a mission she claims to be uniquely qualified for as governor of an oil and gas-producing state. “We must get there,” the GOP nominee said September 18 on Fox News. “It is a matter of national security and our future prosperity.”

But earlier this year, Palin missed an opportunity to help the US mainland obtain billions of cubic feet of natural gas from Alaska’s Cook Inlet. Her support of an effort by major energy producers to export the fuel to more lucrative markets in Asia came just as a facility that will provide the first practical way to bring the state’s natural gas to the lower 48 states was set to open on the Baja coast in Mexico.

Cook Inlet’s natural gas has been exported for years, and until this past spring, it pretty much had no alternative. Without a pipeline or even facility to receive natural gas on the West Coast, it had no way of reaching the lower 48 states. As a result, producers sent whatever wasn’t used locally – 28% of total output last year – to a Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) plant on the Kenai Peninsula, where gas was chilled to a liquid state and put on tankers for Japan and other Pacific rim countries.

But since this past May, some of Alaska’s gas could have wound up in domestic hands. San Diego-based Sempra Energy opened the first LNG terminal on the West Coast of North America. The Mexican facility, a $975 million project, is tied directly to the gas pipeline system that leads to California, Texas and Arizona.

The Alaskan LNG plant is owned by Marathon Oil and ConocoPhillips, which asked the Department of Energy in 2007 for permission to export about 100 billion cubic feet of gas to Asia over two years from the roughly 300 billion cubic feet of gas that is likely to be produced. The overseas connection not only provides an outlet for fuel produced beyond the limited needs of Alaska, it is highly profitable – LNG prices in the Pacific rim can run twice as high as those in the US.

Palin personally intervened in April, 2007, but her concerns were strictly local. She asked DOE to condition its approval on guarantees that gas needed in Alaska not be diverted to the better-paying foreign venues – a position she held until this past January, when the producers reached separate agreement with the state to meet its needs.

At no time did Palin or her government cite the desire to preserve Alaskan gas for the lower 48 states. The Sempra terminal began operations just four months after Palin announced unconditional support for the Marathon and ConocoPhillips request and a month before DOE approved their plans to export gas to Asia. The development of the Mexico plant was well-known and much anticipated in energy circles.

According to Senator Ron Wyden, the Alaskan gas slated for Asia between 2009 and 2011 could meet the annual consumption of 1.4 million American families. The Oregon Democrat has accused Palin of a “major contradiction” between her support for gas exports and campaign emphasis on more drilling to slake US energy needs. “It’s pretty outrageous to scare Americans about energy shortages while she has been approving export of billions of cubic feet of natural gas that could be providing energy to homes in Alaska and the lower 48 states,” he said.

Palin’s natural resource commissioner, Tom Irwin, said the governor didn’t push the Sempra option with DOE because “it never came up in discussions that there was a competing market or a competing desire.” But she didn’t raise the idea, either, he said. The volumes of gas were so small, it didn’t seem worthy of consideration. He said Palin has focused on a bigger payoff: construction of a 1700 mile pipeline to the lower 48 that could catalyze gas production on Alaska’s North Slope.

The pipeline is far from a sure thing, however, and the first cubic foot of North Slope gas years from production. Nevertheless, Irwin said, whatever quick help could have been provided from gas now headed for foreign markets pales by comparison.

Palin’s Blown Opportunity on Energy Independence