Politics

Oil executive’s illness limits Obama’s exposure in Brazil to oil-drilling hypocrisy

Neil Munro
White House Correspondent

A well-timed bout of illness by an oil-industry executive reduced President Barack Obama’s exposure to embarrassing media questions about the president’s simultaneous support for oil drilling off Brazil’s coast and opposition to oil drilling off the coast of the United States.

The suddenly stricken CEO, James Hackett, heads exploration-giant Anadarko Petroleum Corp. He was appointed by the president in 2009 to the Commerce Department’s United States/Brazil CEO Forum, which played a prominent role in the president’s March 19-20 trip to Brazil.

“Unfortunately, Mr. Hackett was ill the day the meetings started and was unable to attend,” according to a March 22 company statement.

White House officials announced March 19 that Hackett would be among the 20 CEOs meeting with Obama and Brazilian President Dilma Rouseff. His presence at the summit would have been a gusher of drama for the media traveling with the president, because his company is entangled in several high-profile political controversies.

Anadarko is a leading energy-exploration company and has discovered huge oil and gas fields in the waters off Ghana, Mozambique and Brazil. This work creates many jobs for U.S. workers and promises much wealth for Americans’ mutual-funds — the company is worth $40 billion on Wall Street. It also helps provide cheap gasoline for U.S. drivers and an improved economy, which ultimately helps the re-election prospects for incumbent politicians.

But the company’s new energy-discoveries also make it a potential rhetorical target for the White House-backed coalition that wants huge federal subsidies for renewable-energy companies and increased taxation of oil companies.

The company’s vulnerability to this coalition was increased last spring, when BP’s Deepwater Horizon drilling operation exploded, producing a media frenzy, a massive oil leak, an uproar by Democratic-affiliated environmentalist groups, a political headache for Obama, and a clampdown on oil drilling in the Gulf region. Anadarko owns 25 percent of the Macondo oil field that was being opened up by BP’s drilling rig, and the subsequent regulatory clampdown prompted it to cancel three lucrative oil-drilling operations in the economically hard-hit Gulf region.

The potential for unwelcome political controversy was illustrated March 21 by the president during a business summit in Brazil where he simultaneously praised the oil discoveries while subtlety criticizing oil companies for creating safety risks. “By some estimates, the oil you recently discovered off the shores of Brazil could amount to twice the reserves we have in the United States,” the president said. “We want to work with you. We want to help with technology and support to develop these oil reserves safely, and when you’re ready to start selling, we want to be one of your best customers,” he said to applause from the mostly Brazilian audience.

In contrast, President Obama has maintained tight restrictions on energy-discovery in the United States, and also blamed the oil companies for high gasoline prices. At a March 17 press conference at the White House, the president said recent gasoline price-increases in the United States were painful for voters facing long-commutes, and suggested that oil companies may be gouging consumers and also boosting prices by not drilling at sites approved by the federal government.

  • emem

    What an plan…..create a new middle east scenario, except this time closer.
    Because south and central america is much more stabe than the middle east????

    And don’t get me going…….

    To our friends and frenemies to the south – look how much Obama’s american stimilus has done for us.

  • Ledger

    There’s a plan. Send billions of our tax dollars to Brazil to find oil, so that we can send billions more to buy the oil we paid to find. The US taxpayer is supposed to be grateful for the opportunity to build another country’s economy, which is currently in a sustained economic boom, while we are stuck with high unemployment at home. Brilliant.

    The long term best solution is to build a hydrogen infrastructure in the US. The cars are already in use and have been proven on the west coast, and the only thing impeding the growth and use of the vehicles in the rest of the country is the lack of infrastructure. Once we are using hydrogen for our vehicles, then the dollars going into the middle east will dry up. Then, our need to meddle in their anihilation of each other will also dry up. Building the infrastructure is much cheaper than war.

  • JoeJ

    The absurdity of it all – what more do we need to know – his heart is set against the American producer.

  • ITYS

    Just another example of this callous, unscrupulous man redistributing the wealth of Americans who have worked for a living!!!! He must wake every day with his laser focus who how best he can screw the American people, he so obviously loathes!!!

    WAKE UP 52% of AMERICA that foisted this disaster on the US.

  • des1

    Come on Libtards, defend this. He is against drilling here because it is environmentally dangerous, but more than happy to FUND drilling in deeper, more dangerous waters elsewhere. Is the position of the day that the ocean waters off Brazil’s coast don’t affect the Earth’s environment like our water does? Or is he just a hypocrite who is all for drilling as long as we don’t have to have a daily reminder?

    You people are gutless cowards.

    • bigsigh

      Well said!

  • leilani

    At the same time he was dismantling the US Oil & Gas Industry – the very engine of American prosperity for the last 75+ years – on the bogus pretext that deep water drilling is inherently risky to the environment, Barack Obama was sending millions in TARP funds to Brazil for THEM to drill specifically, you guessed it, in deep water.

    So he used “emergency” funds which were supposed to be allocated to create American jobs for American workers in America & repair the economy, overseas to Brazil to help them grow their energy industry which competes directly with American companies employing American workers.

    That’s Obamanomics, people: screw the American worker and sabotage the recovery of the US economy every chance you get.

    From the moment this guy hit DC, that is the ONLY goal he’s actually been able to drag himself off of the damn golf course & muster the focus and discipline necessary for him to achieve it. In fact, it’s the only issue this man has been willing to show a lick of ‘leadership’ on at all.

    • designerrant

      It is so disgusting that he would send TARP money to Brazil. The man really despises America and believes all our wealth should be given to the rest of the world. I can’t believe people are still falling for his “winning smile”. His approval ratings are starting to inch UP again! Sheesh!

  • rainmaker1145

    Why can’t we be rid of this parasite?

  • benhad

    “We want to work with you. We want to help with technology and support to develop these oil reserves safely, and when you’re ready to start selling, we want to be one of your best customers”

    I can think of no one, past or present, that I despise more than this corrupt creature inhabiting the White House.