Halliburton’s Foreign Policy Menu

And speaking of irony. A Spanish oil and gas company, Repsol, has announced that in a joint venture with Cubapetroleo, it will look for oil off the (northwestern) coast of Cuba. Should a major oil find result, the implications — on both the energy and diplomatic fronts — will be significant.

The energy angle is obvious. Cuba is oil-challenged and struggles to pay for its imports. Plus the Gulf of Mexico has heretofore been the private production province of Mexico and the United States.

But look who wants to be a player if the drilling off of Cuba is successful: Halliburton.

Indeed, the giant oil-services company now seems to be picking and choosing its foreign policy preferences and allegiances. Recall that an upside, if you will, of the Iraqi war and occupation, has been the opportunity afforded Halliburton to help re-build the Iraqi oil infrastructure. No such contract work exists with Cuba, however, because of the long-standing economic embargo.

As a result, Halliburton has recently made it clear that it doesn’t think the Kennedy-era embargo is such a good idea any more.

Moreover, the sanctions against Iran and Libya should be given the heave-ho as well. John Gibson, the president of Halliburton’s energy services division, couldn’t have been more blunt: “There are foreign companies making money in those countries,” he recently pointed out, “and I think American companies should have a shot at those markets as well.”

That may not be the most principled reason to end the counterproductive and cruel Cuban embargo, but it’s a valid one. Farmers, ranchers and others had made the case previously.

But this is Halliburton. They play rough. And they still make money the old-fashioned way: They know the right people.

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