Monday, April 5, 2010

Imagine if an oil company owned a country

If they had all of the country's resources available to them, they could accomplish anything they wanted.

One of the first and obvious things it would do is use that country to slow down the development of international environmental treaties that would cost the oil company billions of dollars. In fact the country would become the leading voice against any decline in the use of fossil fuels.

However oil companies have been able to stall environmental change for decades just by paying off a few US senators or some Arab sheiks. What I am imagining is an oil company having all the resources of a country made available to them.

They could use that country to make an internationally binding claim to undiscovered, yet recoverable oil reserves, say 90 billion barrels worth. They could use the country's defense department to invent new technologies to run their mapping and seismic testing in these never before developed areas, say the ocean floor under the ice cap. The defense department could also be used to fend off claims made by competing oil companies.

The countries oceanographic scientists could be put to work to invent new technologies to control the inevitable spills and reduce the oil company's environmental cleanup costs when they do occur. In fact they could use the country's coast guard to train the citizenry to deploy these technologies.

Hell they could even get the country to invest in technologies that they themselves should be bearing the costs for. Of course the country's leaders would have to sell these technologies as environmentally sound investments as opposed to say, investing in competing alternative energy sources that would actually reduce fossil fuel consumption.

And all it would take would be the placement of a well oiled, dictatorial regional manager who was capable of implementing divisive policies, creating faux crises and was even willing to override the political will of the countries elected officials, just to hide the collusion that was taking place.

Yes I could imagine such an oil company and such a country.

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