Good news: Obama backs off-shore drilling! Update: A Soros connection?
posted at 3:35 pm on August 18, 2009 by Ed Morrissey
This should be good news for the Drill Here, Drill Now contingent, right? The Obama administration has committed $2 billion in loans to exploit offshore oil resources in hopes of extracting a major new source of petroleum. Despite the White House pursuit of a cap-and-trade scheme to limit the use of fossil fuels, the new field could help bring lower energy prices, and their support of this exploration of American resources shows their flexibility on energy policy.
The U.S. is going to lend billions of dollars to Brazil’s state-owned oil company, Petrobras, to finance exploration of the huge offshore discovery in Brazil’s Tupi oil field in the Santos Basin near Rio de Janeiro. Brazil’s planning minister confirmed that White House National Security Adviser James Jones met this month with Brazilian officials to talk about the loan.
The U.S. Export-Import Bank tells us it has issued a “preliminary commitment” letter to Petrobras in the amount of $2 billion and has discussed with Brazil the possibility of increasing that amount. Ex-Im Bank says it has not decided whether the money will come in the form of a direct loan or loan guarantees. Either way, this corporate foreign aid may strike some readers as odd, given that the U.S. Treasury seems desperate for cash and Petrobras is one of the largest corporations in the Americas. …
But it still doesn’t allow the U.S. to explore in Alaska or along the East and West Coasts, which could be our equivalent of the Tupi oil fields, which are set to make Brazil a leading oil exporter. Americans are right to wonder why Mr. Obama is underwriting in Brazil what he won’t allow at home.
This seems odd in several ways. For this particular administration to offer billions in loans to a foreign oil company makes a mockery of a number of Obama talking points. First, why does Petrobas need loan guarantees to pursue its exploration? As the WSJ notes, it is a very large corporation, which should have the resources to get to the oil on its own. Obama, who has ripped American corporations for their supposed subsidies in American tax policy, now wants to use an empty Treasury to give cash to a Brazilian oil company.
Next, Obama keeps insisting that we cut back on our use of fossil fuels. He and his allies in Congress have blocked exploration of American oil fields off both shores for decades, and Obama insists that we would only keep enabling our oil addiction if we started drilling off of our own coasts. Yet he has no trouble committing $2,000,000,000 of our money for Brazil to drill off its own coast.
Here’s a proposal: Let American companies do what Obama is paying Brazilian companies to do — drill offshore. We won’t have to pay them money or float them any loans to do it, either. In fact, we will make money off of the leases, while the effort creates hundreds of thousands of high-paying jobs in the US, creating more tax revenue rather than emptying out the Treasury.
Update: Who else besides Obama has taken an interest in Petrobras? Hmmmmmm:
His New York-based hedge-fund firm, Soros Fund Management LLC, sold 22 million U.S.-listed common shares of Petrobras, as the Brazilian oil company is known, according to a filing today with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Soros bought 5.8 million of the company’s U.S.-traded preferred shares.
Soros is taking advantage of the spread between the two types of U.S.-listed Petrobras shares, said Luis Maizel, president of LM Capital Group LLC, which manages about $4 billion. The common shares were 21 percent more expensive than preferred today, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. …
Petrobras preferred shares have also a 10 percent additional dividend, said William Landers, a senior portfolio manager for Latin America at Blackrock Inc.
“Given that there will most likely never be a change in control in the company, I see no reason to pay a higher price for the common shares.” Brazil’s government controls Petrobras and has a majority stake of voting shares.
This story is from last Friday. Is it a coincidence that Obama backer George Soros repositioned himself in Petrobras to get dividends just a few days before Obama committed $2 billion in loans and guarantees for Petrobras’ offshore operations? Hmmmmmmmmmm.