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ECONOMIC ANALYSIS:

THINKING DEALINGS

by Fred Cederholm
The world (sans US up to this Monday) has been beating a path to Iran to cut deals and hammer out long term investments and/or forward-looking energy supply agreements. It is high time for President Bush to start functioning as more as a CEO and less as a Commander-in-Chief.
I’ve been thinking about dealings. Actually I’ve been thinking about the “new globalism,” US energy imports, nationalizations, Canada, Iran, and American policy. Since the first of the year, there has been an escalation of disclosures (in the international media - anyway) regarding diplomacy, negotiations, deal making, agreements, joint ventures, and the building of peaceful bridges to “insure” a secure future supply of energy for many of the world’s players – both by the sellers and the consumers.

You see our world continues to change around us – so much more than we realize. In the 1920’s, President Calvin Cooledge coined the phrase: “the business of America is business.” Now... in these beginning years of the 21st Century, it can be argued how “the business of the world is business.” There can be no doubts that the real players on the global scene mean business. True..., there are strong undercurrents of national self-interest and national self-determination at play, but the real news is being driven by the actions/re-actions of the multi-national (or supra-national) conglomerates/corporations who are really calling the shots. While most of the planet has been dealing, there is the perception that Uncle $ugar has been only reeling and wheeling. Just what is going on here, and what needs to change?

US/us continues to be dependent on foreign suppliers for roughly two-thirds of our current level of energy consumption - with a marginally different mix of the suppliers. The top eight sources of Uncle $ugar’s crude oil imports for February 2007 were: Canada (1.838 MILLION barrels per DAY--MBPD), Mexico (1.358 MBPD), Saudi Arabia (1.185 MBPD), Venezuela (1.115 MBPD), Nigeria (1.061 MBPD), Angola (0.451 MBPD), Algeria (0.392 MBPD), and Iraq (0.325 MBPD). Uncle $ugar’s top eight sources of total petroleum imports for February 2007 were: Canada (2.386 MILLION barrels per DAY--MBPD), Mexico (1.507 MBPD), Venezuela (1.353 MBPD), Saudi Arabia (1.207 MBPD), Nigeria (1.102 MBPD), Algeria (0.554 MBPD), Angola (0.464 MBPD), and Iraq (0.325 MBPD). These figures for the February 2007 imports were made available by the Energy Information Agency of the US Department of Energy on April 17, 2007.

In South America, the trends toward nationalization (or repatriation) of the energy controlling interests accelerated. Non- domestic ownership/ control diminished as the oil rights (and rights to future profits and cash flow) were nationalized, bought-out, or at a minimum re-negotiated. Contracts ceding control of Bolivia’s oil and gas reserves from foreign companies to the Bolivian Government officially came into force on April 24, 2007. These relate to the 44 contracts signed with 10 different global energy conglomerates last October. Last Wednesday in Venezuela; Chevron, BP, France's Total and Norway's Statoil agreed to cede control of Venezuela's last remaining privately run oil projects to the Chávez government. ConocoPhillips resisted and was warned its fields could be taken over outright.

Working in the other direction, Statoil ASA, Norway’s biggest oil company, agreed to buy Alberta, Canada based North American Oil-Sands Corp. to replace future dwindling reserves from the North Sea and Venezuela for $2 BILLION. Royal Dutch Shell Plc paid $2.2 BILLION) for Calgary-based BlackRock Ventures Inc. last year gaining greater access to the Alberta oil sands. Paris-based Total SA acquired Canada's Deer Creek Energy Ltd. for $1.67 BILLION (Canadian $) in 2005.

It seems like the world (sans US up to this Monday) has been beating a path to Iran to cut deals and hammer out long term investments and/or forward-looking energy supply agreements. The Dutch, the Austrians, India, China, and others have already cut deals with Iran and still more were announced just last week. Many projects include joint-venturing and external funding of the expansion/ modernization/ development of Iran’s energy/ petro-chemical infrastructure. This is an insurance policy against attacks or pre-emptive strikes for Ahmadinejad and Iran because such agreements gain them allies and support. Then too, many of those “strategic targets” would be co-owned/financed by others.

The US has officially opposed all these developments - pushing for increased sanctions/ embargos instead. George W. Bush is American’s first President to have an MBA (Harvard 1975). It is high time for him to start functioning as more as a CEO and less as a Commander-in-Chief. Communication lines with Iran have been severed for 28 years, (given the Monday morning news rumblings) THAT is going to change. Hallelujah!

I’m Fred Cederholm and I’ve been thinking. You should be thinking, too.


Copyright 2007 Questions, Inc. All rights reserved. Fred Cederholm is a CPA/CFE, a forensic accountant, and writer. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois (B.A., M.A. and M.A.S.). He can be reached at asklet@rochelle.net.

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This story was published on April 30, 2007.