US Corporations Cash in on Ukraine’s Oil and Gas

CAPITALISM, 1 May 2023

Ben Norton | Geopolitical Economy Report – TRANSCEND Media Service

As Ukraine sells off public assets in a privatization spree, US fossil fuel corporations like ExxonMobil, Chevron, and Halliburton are in talks to run its oil and gas industry, and the IMF is imposing the Washington Consensus.

28 Apr 2023 – As the war in Ukraine drags on, the government is selling off state assets in a big privatization spree.

US fossil fuel corporations like ExxonMobil, Chevron, and Halliburton are participating in discussions to take over the Eastern European nation’s oil and gas industry, as Kiev pushes to increase production to replace Russian energy exports.

This comes soon after Ukraine’s Western-backed leader, Volodymyr Zelensky, sent a friendly video message to a US corporate lobby group, thanking companies like BlackRock, JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, and Starlink, and promising “big business” for others.

In September, Zelensky also symbolically opened the New York Stock Exchange, announcing that his country is “open for business”, offering more than $400 billion in “public-private partnerships, privatization, and private ventures” for US companies.

The Ukrainian government has used the war as an excuse to ram through some of the most aggressive anti-worker laws on Earth.

The director of the Kiev-based workers’ rights NGO Labor Initiatives warned of a “full-scale attack on Ukraine’s labour rights”, writing in a German government-funded journal that the “war cannot be used to justify stripping workers of their rights”.

In an attempt to bring an end to this war, China has taken the lead in advocating peace talks. Brazil’s President Lula da Silva has backed Beijing’s efforts.

The West, on the other hand, has vociferously opposed all attempts at diplomatic negotiations and instead pushed to escalate the NATO proxy war on Russia, sending fighter jets and tanks to Kiev.

Ukrainian officials, meanwhile, are treating their country as a for-profit company, frequently travelling to the United States in search of lucrative business opportunities.

Ukraine’s state energy company Naftogaz woos US corporations, like Iraq War profiteer Halliburton

The CEO of Ukraine’s state-owned energy company Naftogaz, Oleksiy Chernyshov, flew to Washington, DC this April to meet with US political and corporate officials.

The Financial Times reported that Chernyshov sat down with representatives from ExxonMobil and Halliburton, following a similar meeting with Chevron in January.

“The negotiations with big US fossil fuel players are part of a strategic push to increase natural gas production that Ukrainian officials believe could help replace Russian supply to Europe in the years ahead”, the newspaper wrote.

Halliburton is notorious for its involvement in corruption schemes, involving fat government contracts. In 2017, it was fined $29.2 million by the US Securities and Exchange Commission for violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act with highly profitable oilfield services contracts in Angola.

Halliburton is also the world’s biggest provider of fracking services, or hydraulic fracturing, a controversial form of gas extraction that is so environmentally destructive it was banned in the United Kingdom.

Responding to the Financial Times report, economist Yanis Varoufakis, who previously served as Greece’s minister of finance, tweeted: “And there you have it. EXXON, HALLIBURTON & CHEVRON, after Iraq, are now taking over the Ukrainian oil and gas fields. Planning to introduce large scale fracking – a clear and present threat to poison U’s agriculture”.

Chernyshov, the CEO of Ukraine’s state energy company Naftogaz, told the newspaper, “We want them [Halliburton] to expand [their presence] dramatically. We want them there seriously — boots on the ground”.

“We will welcome them”, he added. “We can do joint production on gas together, PSA agreement — production sharing agreement — they can have a licence and produce by themselves, we will welcome it”.

In November, the president of Halliburton in the eastern hemisphere, Joe Rainey, travelled to Ukraine to meet with Chernyshov.

Naftogaz published a press release on its website boasting that it “is strengthening its strategic cooperation with American’s Halliburton, one of the world’s largest oilfield services providers, to unlock the new potential of Ukraine’s fields”.

“Your support and visit to Kyiv is a powerful signal for the entire market and the world”, Chernyshov said. “I am grateful to the US government, the American people and you personally for your comprehensive support of Ukraine. We really appreciate it. Our cooperation is extremely important and we are doing our best to improve and expand it”.

Halliburton was a household name in the United States in the 2000s, and was practically synonymous with corruption.

Vice President Dick Cheney, who served under former President George W. Bush, had worked for years as chairman and CEO of Halliburton.

Cheney, a hardline neoconservative, was a key architect of the illegal US invasion of Iraq in 2003. That same year, Halliburton was given what NPR described as a “‘sweetheart’ deal in Iraq”.

NPR wrote:

Oil services company Halliburton has come under intense scrutiny over its multi-billion-dollar contracts with the U.S. military in Iraq. Congressional critics want to know if the company is engaging in gold-plating contractsinflating costs and pocketing the difference. Other critics charge that Halliburton has seemingly become another branch of the U.S. military, while the company’s former chief executive officer, Dick Cheney, is now the vice president.

In the first of a three-part series looking at the complex relationship between the defense contractor and the federal government, NPR’s John Burnett examines the scope of contracts in Iraq held by Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown & Root, better known as KBR.

America’s war on terrorism has created a windfall for KBR. Since Sept. 11, 2001, the company has constructed base camps at more than 60 locations throughout the Middle East and South Asia. Under its deal with the Pentagon — known as a “Logcap” contract — KBR is the go-to company to provide troops in Iraq with everything from portable toilets to Internet cafes.

A decade later, the International Business Times reported that Halliburton subsidiary KBR had received more Iraq-related contracts than any other private firm in the 10 years of the war.

The media outlet reported:

The company [KBR] was given $39.5 billion in Iraq-related contracts over the past decade, with many of the deals given without any bidding from competing firms, such as a $568-million contract renewal in 2010 to provide housing, meals, water and bathroom services to soldiers, a deal that led to a Justice Department lawsuit over alleged kickbacks.

Ukraine Eyes Natural Gas Deposits off Crimea



Benjamin Norton is an investigative journalist, analyst, writer and filmmaker. He is the founder and editor of Multipolarista and is based in Latin America. His website:  (Publicaciones en español aquí.)

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