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One crude dude: Chuck Hamel, oil industry whistleblower

Tony Hopfinger, Seattle Weekly
With Big Oil reeling from the Prudhoe Bay shutdown, Chuck Hamel can finally say ‘I told you so.’
…Hamel looks like your grandfather. He’s 76, short and stocky, with fluffy white hair and bushy eyebrows. He and his wife, Kathy, split their time between a townhouse in Alexandria, Va., and her childhood home on Seventh Street in Marysville, which Kathy inherited from her folks. This modest, three-bedroom abode north of Seattle is a retreat from Hamel’s ongoing war with BP. If it weren’t for the recent spills at Prudhoe Bay, you’d probably find the Hamels strolling along Potlatch Beach or watching the Mariners lose to Oakland.

Instead, Hamel sits in his Virginia den overlooking the Potomac River, telling anybody who’ll listen that he and his band of BP whistle-blowers long warned company officials and government regulators that Prudhoe Bay was falling into perilous disrepair. If you haven’t heard of Hamel, it’s because he’s not the typical activist. You won’t find him whining about Starbucks or protesting WTO summits. He doesn’t represent any environmental groups. Rather, his cause is personal, fueled by pride, vindictiveness, and a profound loyalty to whistle-blowers who risk their livelihoods by sharing stories of Big Oil misconduct. This one- man show delivers a powerful punch, particularly when it comes to the issue of oil exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Environmentalists have argued that if Prudhoe Bay has problems, then oil companies should not be trusted to drill on ANWR’s coastal plain.

Hamel, in short, is the Ralph Nader of Alaska oil, a determined watchdog who once owned oil leases and shipped crude. When he suspected that a supplier lied to him about water in his oil shipments, he turned on the industry. He anointed himself the unpaid voice for fed-up oil workers-a whistle-blower for whistle-blowers.
(23 Aug 2006)

Shell Oil president advocates conservation

The president of Shell Oil said Tuesday if Americans cut their gas consumption slightly, there would be a significant drop in prices.

However, said John Hofmeister, the current political leadership refuses to actively promote conservation as an antidote to high prices, despite industry briefings that lay out the potential savings.

“If we could conserve even 5 percent of gasoline we would see in a period of six to eight weeks a significant difference in the price of gas,” Hofmeister told the Infragard National Conference, a critical infrastructure protection convention in Washington. “The political leadership has chosen not to actively promote conservation. So we continue to produce to demand and that’s what keeps prices up,” Hofmeister said.
(22 Aug 2006)

BP revs up for carbon neutral motoring

Mark Tran, Guardian
Is a new scheme an ambitious bid to tackle CO2 emissions or a gimmick to enhance its green credentials?
These are the best of times and the worst of times for BP. Profits have never been higher, with the UK oil giant reporting record second-quarter profits of $6.1bn (£3.3bn) last month.

At the same time, the company with a green and yellow logo to emphasise its environmentally-friendly credentials is under fire for its record in Alaska.

BP and its partners this week were served with a subpoena by the attorney general of Alaska, forcing them to “preserve” documentation connected with the corrosion of pipelines at Prudhoe Bay, where BP operates North America’s largest oil field.

The move against BP and its co-owners, such as ExxonMobil, followed allegations that BP had manipulated inspection data to avoid having to replace parts of ageing pipelines.

Given that background, it was inevitable that when BP launched its “targetneutral” initiative to encourage motorists to “neutralise” carbon dioxide (C02) emissions from their vehicles, quite a few journalists voiced their scepticism.
(23 Aug 2006)

Russia Overtakes Saudi Arabia as World’s Leading Oil Producer – OPEC

Statistics recently published by the oil cartel OPEC show that Russia is currently extracting more oil than Saudi Arabia, making it the biggest producer of “black gold” in the world, the British Financial Times reported on Wednesday, Aug. 23.

OPEC statistics show that in the period since 2002 Russian companies have surpassed the Saudis as the world’s biggest oil producers on an on-and-off basis. The latest figures, however, have been hailed in Russia as evidence that such periodic production spikes are no one-offs and that Moscow really does have a right to lay claim to the number one spot.

According to OPEC, in June 2006 Russia extracted 9.236 million barrels of oil, which is 46,000 barrels more than Saudi Arabia. The statistics also showed that Russian production in the first half of this year increased to 235.8 million tons, a year-on-year improvement of 2.3 percent.
(23 Aug 2006)
See also Jeffrey Brown’s comments on this article in An Open Letter to my Friends in the Media.
Related article in New Zealand Herald