Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Miko comments: A lot of people think Haliburton is the devil incarnate but it seems to me that the delay in getting people like them into this situation (Sidoarjo mudflow) has led to this mess getting worse. This is exactly the sort of thing that these Texan oil guys do, that's their job and I can't help thinking it was stupid national pride that prevented them being called in earlier. Instead we saw tuppence ha'penny operations that have been almost childish compared to what professionals could do. If Haliburton sticks Bakrie with an $800 million bill then good luck to 'em!

And Riccardo says: Halliburton, for all its bad PR connected with Dick Cheney, is a capable, efficient company with the tools and ability to fix this. Of course that money will go straight into the "Elect Cheney for President" fund for 2008.

And I totally agree with you guys, but, just out of curiosity, I thought I'd dig just a bit deeper into Dick Cheyney's war chest.

This is a good place to start.

Halliburton is involved in providing oil and gas services to business, industry and government agencies worldwide. Through its two main operating groups, KBR (engineering and construction) and Halliburton Energy Services, Halliburton offers a wide variety of products and services to energy customers worldwide. As such, Halliburton is heavily involved in oil and gas privatization contracts throughout the world. Halliburton and its subsidiaries have been widely criticized for their contracts in various countries where human rights violations and environmental problems are widespread (including Algeria, Angola, Bolivia, Bosnia, Brazil, Croatia, Haiti, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Somalia and Indonesia)

Halliburton in Indonesia

HED (Indonesia), Inc., United States
HES Indonesia Holdings, Inc., United States
KBR Indonesia Holdings, Inc., United States
P.T. Brown & Root Indonesia, Indonesia
PT Halliburton Indonesia, Indonesia
PT Halliburton Logging Services Indonesia, Indonesia

Halliburton had extensive investments and contracts in Suharto's Indonesia. One of its contracts was canceled by the post-Suharto government during a purging of corruptly awarded contracts. Indonesia Corruption Watch named Kellogg Brown & Root (Halliburton's engineering division) among 59 companies using collusive, corruptive and nepotistic practices in deals involving former President Suharto's family.

I've just checked to see if there any jobs going here, but there aren't. There are 595 in Iraq, 226 in Afghanistan and just 2 in Canada; most are in the engineering, technical and supply side, a total of 623, with just 1 (one) in the Trust department, which figures I suppose.

Did I say Dick Cheyney's war chest a bit earlier? Yep, think war.

Halliburton discovered the benefits of government patronage when its support for U.S. President Lyndon Johnson resulted in several contracts, such as constructing military bases during the Vietnam War. In 1991, after the Persian Gulf War, then-Defense Secretary Cheney commissioned Brown & Root to conduct a study on the benefits of military outsourcing, paying the company an additional $5 million to update the report months later.

And there's more war here.

Brown & Root's open-ended logistics contracts from the Army and Navy - indeed much of the military privatization campaign - are grounded in a 1992 study the company did for the Defense Department that several analysts said formed the template for privatization of logistics for a downsized U.S. military. Soon after the company delivered the classified study, which reportedly concluded that the Pentagon could save hundreds of billions of dollars by outsourcing, Brown & Root won its first competitively bid logistics contract.

Vice President Dick Cheney was defense secretary (for the first President George Bush) when the first Brown & Root study was done, and he became chief executive of its parent company, Halliburton, when he retired (from government service).

As a Suhartoist and very rich businessman, it is inevitable that VP Josef Kalla and VP Dick Cheyney have more than a passing acquaintanceship. However, it is worrying that Halliburton is not exactly a supporter of reformasi.

"We don't do business in Burma," claims Halliburton spokesperson Wendy Hall. But while the company may have no current direct investments in Burma, it has participated in a number of energy development projects there, including the notorious Yadana and Yetagun pipelines.

EarthRights International discovered that during Cheney's tenure as CEO of Halliburton, a subsidiary of the company provided services to two controversial gas pipelines in Burma, the Yadana and the Yetagun.

From 1992 until the present (2002), thousands of villagers in Burma have been forced to work on these pipelines and their related infrastructure, have lost their homes due to forced relocation, and have been raped, tortured, and killed by Burmese soldiers hired by the companies as security guards for the pipelines. Under Cheney, a joint venture of Halliburton and Saipem (Italy) laid the offshore portion of the Yadana pipeline. Halliburton's participation in these projects shows a callous disregard for the consequences of their business behavior.

Shortly before the election, Dick Cheney admitted on the Larry King Live! show that Halliburton had done contract work in Burma.

And in July 2002, Halliburton was awarded a $9.7 million contract to build an additional 207 cell internment center at the US naval base in Guantanamo, Cuba to hold suspected Al Qaeda and Taliban prisoners. The treatment of the prisoners held in Guantanamo has been widely criticized by human rights groups including Amnesty International.

It may well be of value to ICW to monitor how Halliburton performs in Sidoarjo. Possibly of a greater and more immediate concern is Halliburton's environmental work.

In September 2005, under a competitive bid contract it won in July 2005 to provide debris removal and other emergency work associated with natural disasters, KBR started assessment of the cleanup and reconstruction of Gulf Coast Marine and Navy facilities damaged in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The facilities include: Naval Station Pascagoula, Naval Station Gulfport, the John C. Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, two smaller U.S. Navy facilities in New Orleans, Louisiana and others in the Gulf Coast region.

So, that's the military sorted out then.

All large companies have their share of lawsuits from competitors, employees and the like, but Halliburton's legal troubles have been unusually public and expensive. Shortly after acquiring Dresser Industries in 1997, Halliburton inherited more than 300,000 asbestos claims filed against a Dresser subsidiary located in Pennsylvania that made construction products containing the substance. Halliburton settled the claims in December 2002 with about $4 billion in cash and stock and placed KBR under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The huge loss, coupled with Cheney's departure and other large settlements the previous year, caused the company's stock to plunge: after three high-ticket asbestos-related verdicts in 2001, shares fell 40 percent in one day.

Enough, you cry. Yep, there's loads more, all easily accessible on the web.

What is of immediate concern is a. has Halliburton really taken on the responsibility of trying to stop the Sidoarjo mudflow and, b. if it has, then does the company have the necessary expertise to do the job - assuming it's doable?

The answer to b. is definitely yes. So they say.

As a Global Company in the Oil and Gas Service Industry, Halliburton delivers Expertise, Service, Speed and New Technology leading the world in Integrated Energy Services, Engineering, Construction and Maintenance.


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