Mysterious Death Of A Top Oil Exec In Moscow Raises Questions

Marin Katusa Author, The Colder War
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Last month, almost no one was talking about oil giant Total SA’s move to cut the U.S. dollar from its energy trade. Now its CEO is dead, and it looks very suspicious.

As I noted just weeks ago:

Patrick de la Chevardière, CFO of Total SA (which is France’s largest energy company), has publicly announced that Total is looking to finance its share in the $27-billion Yamal LNG project using euros, yuan, Russian rubles, and any other currency but US dollars.

The effect of US sanctions was that Yamal LNG [in Russia’s far North] will be prevented from raising any dollar financings,” Patrick de la Chevardière stated in London at a news briefing.

Patrick de la Chevardière’s boss — the CEO of Total SA and presumably the man who made that decision — was Christophe de Margerie. De Margerie is now dead, along with three crew members aboard his private jet when it collided with a snowplow just after midnight at Moscow’s Vnukovo Airport. The plow’s driver was drunk, according to Russian investigators, and was seemingly unhurt.

You have more of a chance of being struck by lightning than hitting a plow or any other ground support vehicle.

So… is it a coincidence that the one CEO who prominently broke with the petrodollar is now dead?

In my new book The Colder War, there is a whole section on “suspicious deaths” that have occurred during the current conflict between Vladimir Putin and the West. You don’t want to be on the wrong side of this political stare down, and it doesn’t much matter whether you’re against Putin or against the West. Many have fallen on both sides.

De Margerie could now be one of them. We may never know for sure.

What we are sure of is that he was outspoken in his support for Putin’s agenda, and believed Russia was a good partner for Europe. He wasn’t afraid to take on the U.S. and its primary support mechanism, the petrodollar.

Yet Total never completed the financing… which is likely to mean that higher powers stepped in to prevent an attack on the petrodollar.

Was de Margerie, who is a close friend of France’s president, forced to tell Putin that he couldn’t deliver what he promised: that $28 Billion for the Yamal LNG plant? Did his company come under pressure from the French government, the EU28, and the U.S. — or all of the above? Did that lead to a fatal falling out with Putin?

We only know how the story ended on a snowy runway on a cold Moscow night.

A fortuitous accident, or something more sinister? Either way, de Margerie was the latest victim of the Colder War. Just another obstacle for one side or the other, now removed.

This is not a hot war, like the ones being fought with AK-47s, Humvees, and Predator drones. If anything, they’re just a distraction from the real war — the one that’s being waged for control of global energy resources and by extension, control of the reserve currency of the world. That’s been the petrodollar for over 40 years.

Its supremacy has enabled the U.S. to live high on the hog, while other countries had to scramble to stockpile American dollars if they wanted to buy any oil. They resented that.

Small wonder that now, after the disastrous foreign policies of Bush and Obama, the world is turning its collective back on the U.S.

If you’re American, you may not like what I have to say. But ignoring reality has never done anyone any good. As I demonstrate at length in my book, America is losing this war. You won’t find the media trumpeting that fact or get any U.S. politician to admit it. This is not the story they wish Americans to hear, and so they bury it.

But step outside the country for a moment. On Sept 27, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov gave a speech in which he said:

The U.S.-led Western alliance that portrays itself as a champion of democracy, the rule of law and human rights within individual countries, acts from a completely opposite position in the international arena, rejecting the democratic principle of the sovereign equality of states enshrined in the UN Charter and tries to decide for everyone what is good or bad.

This is not to say that the Russians always tell the truth, or that they always act nobly. Such is obviously not the case. But one needn’t be a Russian apologist — I’m decidedly not — to realize that Lavrov is speaking for that part of the planet which sees the U.S. only as a meddler in other people’s business, and a particularly aggressive one at that.

Lavrov has a huge audience, and Vladimir Putin is cultivating it. He’s using all of Washington’s missteps against it, as he forges energy alliances around the globe. He’s making friends via trade agreements, rather than creating enemies through drone attacks.

Russia is standing up to the Bush-Obama-neocon axis and their failed foreign policies. You may not like it, but the rest of the world has taken notice. Billions of people are mad as hell and they’re not going to take it any more.

Marin Katusa is energy chief at Casey Research and author of The Colder War: How the Global Energy Trade Slipped from America’s Grasp.