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Congress considers bill enabling litigation against OPEC

Trump would be just the President for the job

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Trump’s open and repeated criticism of OPEC and its influence on oil prices provides credibility to the belief that he would sign into law the NOPEC legislation that is currently making its way through Congress.

The bill would allow America to pursue litigation against OPEC on anti trust grounds NOPEC isn’t a totally new concept, as it has been drafted and voted through Congress some 16 times over the past 18 years, but never made it past the President’s desk, whether it was Bush or Obama. But Trump could give NOPEC a different sort of ending, one which could see it taking up the status of US law.

Anadolu agency reports:

A legislation being debated in Congress could put pressure on OPEC if it is signed into law by President Donald Trump who has long been critical of the cartel’s practices.

If the No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels Act, or NOPEC, is signed into law, it would allow the U.S. to sue the cartel for manipulating crude prices and global oil market that caused enormous damage for the American economy and consumers.

In November 2014, led by then-Saudi Oil Minister Ali Al-Naimi, the Kingdom had refused to listen to other cartel countries’ appeal to cut output in order to rid oversupply in the global market to boost lower oil prices.

Spearheaded by Saudi Arabia, OPEC had agreed to keep its oil production unchanged — a strategy that is seen by many analysts as an attempt to keep global oil supply high, lower crude prices even further and kick high-cost U.S. shale oil producers out of the market.

With oil prices diving below $30 per barrel in January 2016 to their lowest level in 13 years, OPEC’s strategy was disastrous for the American oil industry.

“Around $250 billion investment in U.S. oil market disappeared, 250,000 jobs were lost, more than 300 oil companies in the U.S. declared for bankruptcy. And, countless billions of dollars were lost in tax revenue,” Ed Hirs, an energy economist at the University of Houston, told Anadolu Agency.

“It [the Act] should have been brought up in 2014, or certainly in 2015, when OPEC set out and launched an attack against the U.S. I think, the president and the Congress would have responded very differently,” he added.

The NOPEC Act was first introduced in 2000 to allow the cartel to be sued by the U.S. in violation of anti-trust laws. It has been introduced around 16 times since then, but former presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama were openly against it.

“In the energy industry our players get hurt, because some actions by OPEC — flooding the market with oil at a time where normally they wouldn’t have in the past — ended up prices going too low during the production war, knocking out a lot of investment that we probably are going to need in future,” senior market analyst Phil Flynn from Chicago-based futures brokerage firm, Price Futures Group, told Anadolu Agency.

“I would argue that OPEC conspired to knock a lot of energy producers out of business so that they could maintain the market share. And I think they succeeded in doing that in a large degree,” he said.

NOPEC was sent for discussion to the House floor last week by the House Judiciary Committee. And, this time, if it passes, it could be signed into law by Trump.

The president has recently upped his criticism against OPEC. “Oil prices are too high, OPEC is at it again. Not good!”, Trump wrote last week. And in April: “Looks like OPEC is at it again. With record amounts of Oil all over the place, including the fully loaded ships at sea, Oil prices are artificially Very High! No good and will not be accepted!”

Trump’s criticism of the cartel dates back decades. In his 2011 book, Time to Get Tough: Making America #1 Again, he wrote: “We can start by suing OPEC for violating antitrust laws.” In his 1987 book, Trump: The Art of the Deal, he wrote, “There was just one problem: OPEC. Almost immediately, oil prices started going through the roof, which devastated the airlines.”

During an interview with CNN’s Larry King in 2009 in the middle of the financial crisis, Trump said: “When the economy starts getting better, you will have an OPEC problem. They’ll just start raising the price of oil again and destroy the economy … as soon as the world comes back, OPEC will raise its ugly head and destroy it again.”

OPEC, however, along with the world’s major crude producer, Russia, agreed at the end of 2016 to lower their oil production by 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) from the beginning of 2017 to boost prices. The agreement was later extended until the end of 2018. Last month oil prices rose to $80 per barrel.

Although Trump is still critical for high crude prices and rising gasoline prices that hurt American people at pumping stations, higher crude prices has helped the U.S. shale and oil industry in general.

America’s crude oil output has recently hit an all-time of 10.9 million bpd. It surpassed Saudi Arabia in February and the U.S. became the world’s second-biggest crude producer.

“Higher oil prices help U.S. shale producers,” Hirs said, adding “Yet again, OPEC sells the U.S. oil for less than the U.S. can produce it today.

“The fact is they produce oil for a whole lot less than it would cost the U.S. to be self-sufficient,” he said.

Flynn said even if NOPEC passes Congress and signed into law, the major problem would be to enforce it.

“I mean you’re going to have to bring a lot of lawsuits against OPEC as a cartel and try to fight it in our courts. Whether or not some of these countries in the cartel will actually react to it remains to be seen. So it’s going be kind of crazy,” he said.

Whether the U.S. could impose sanctions on OPEC countries and officials, Flynn said it could be a possibility.

He said, however, if the U.S. places tariffs on OPEC’s oil, it would cost the U.S. more to import oil.

“I think it’s going to be very difficult thing to enforce,” he concluded.

But with Trump’s determination to do things differently, and his willingness to rip up international agreements, OPEC should be getting scared. One thing OPEC member nations ought to fear is attracting too much attention from Trump, as he is quick to lay blame, and is not afraid of shaking things up, even if that means disrupting the status quo.

 

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Isabella Jones
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Isabella Jones

I understood the anti-trust laws to be a peculiarly American thing. It is a concept derived in America, and the laws are passed in America by the American government to control — American companies.
If oil cartels from other nations are doing something America doesn’t like, what power, what right, does America have to sue them under American legislation.
Does America think it’ rules the world, or am I missing something?

Suzanne Giraud
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Suzanne Giraud

THAT WOULD BE HUGE! Is not the ‘petro-dollar’ the engine of (non-gold backed) Fiat currencies…?

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Tape recorded evidence of Clinton-Ukraine meddling in US election surfaces (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 114.

Alex Christoforou

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RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou take a look at new evidence to surface from Ukraine that exposes a plot by the US Embassy in Kiev and the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) to leak Paul Manafort’s corrupt dealings in the country, all for the benefit of Hillary Clinton during the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

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Via Zerohedge


Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko has launched an investigation into the head of the Ukrainian National Anti-Corruption Bureau for allegedly attempting to help Hillary Clinton defeat Donald Trump during the 2016 US election by releasing damaging information about a “black ledger” of illegal business dealings by former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

The Hill’s John Solomon, Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko

“Today we will launch a criminal investigation about this and we will give legal assessment of this information,” Lutsenko said last week, according to The Hill

Lutsenko is probing a claim from a member of the Ukrainian parliament that the director of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU), Artem Sytnyk, attempted to the benefit of the 2016 U.S. presidential election on behalf of Hillary Clinton.

A State Department spokesman told Hill.TV that officials aware of news reports regarding Sytnyk. –The Hill

“According to the member of parliament of Ukraine, he got the court decision that the NABU official conducted an illegal intrusion into the American election campaign,” said Lutsenko, speaking with The Hill’s John Solomon about the anti-corruption bureau chief, Artem Sytnyk.

“It means that we think Mr. Sytnyk, the NABU director, officially talked about criminal investigation with Mr. [Paul] Manafort, and at the same time, Mr. Sytnyk stressed that in such a way, he wanted to assist the campaign of Ms. Clinton,” Lutsenko continued.

Solomon asked Lutsenko about reports that a member of Ukraine’s parliament obtained a tape of the current head of the NABU saying that he was attempting to help Clinton win the 2016 presidential election, as well as connections that helped release the black-ledger files that exposed Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort‘s wrongdoing in Ukraine.

“This member of parliament even attached the audio tape where several men, one of which had a voice similar to the voice of Mr. Sytnyk, discussed the matter.” –The Hill

What The Hill doesn’t mention is that Sytnyk released Manafort’s Black Book with Ukrainian lawmaker Serhiy Leshchenko – discussed in great length by former Breitbart investigator Lee Stranahan, who has been closely monitoring this case.

Serhiy Leshchenko

T]he main spokesman for these accusations was Serhiy Leshchenko, a Ukrainian politician and journalist who works closely with both top Hillary Clinton donors George Soros and Victor Pinchuk, as well as to the US Embassy in Kyiv.

James Comey should be asked about this source that Leshchenko would not identify. Was the source someone connected to US government, either the State Department or the Department of Justice?

The New York Times should also explain why they didn’t mention that Leshchenko had direct connections to two of Hillary Clinton biggest financial backers. Victor Pinchuk, the largest donor to the Clinton Foundation at a staggering $8.6 million also happened to have paid for Leshchenko’s expenses to go to international conferences. George Soros, whose also founded the International Renaissance Foundationthat worked closely with Hillary Clinton’s State Department in Ukraine, also contributed at least $8 million to Hillary affiliated super PACs in the 2016 campaign cycle. –Lee Stranahan via Medium

Meanwhile, according to former Fusion GPS contractor Nellie Ohr, Leshchenko was a source for opposition research firm Fusion GPS, which commissioned the infamous Trump-Russia dossier.

Nellie Ohr, a former contractor for the Washington, D.C.-based Fusion GPS, testified on Oct. 19 that Serhiy Leshchenko, a former investigative journalist turned Ukrainian lawmaker, was a source for Fusion GPS during the 2016 campaign.

“I recall … they were mentioning someone named Serhiy Leshchenko, a Ukrainian,” Ohr said when asked who Fusion GPS’s sources were, according to portions of Ohr’s testimony confirmed by The Daily Caller News Foundation. –Daily Caller

Also absent from The Hill report is the fact that Leshchenko was convicted in December by a Kiev court of interfering in the 2016 US election.

A Kyiv court said that a Ukrainian lawmaker and a top anticorruption official’s decision in 2016 to publish documents linked to President Donald Trump’s then-campaign chairman amounted to interference in the U.S. presidential election.

The December 11 finding came in response to a complaint filed by another Ukrainian lawmaker, who alleged that Serhiy Leshchenko and Artem Sytnyk illegally released the documents in August 2016, showing payments by a Ukrainian political party to Trump’s then-campaign chairman, Paul Manafort.

The documents, excerpts from a secret ledger of payments by the Party of Regions, led to Manafort being fired by Trump’s election campaign.

The Kyiv court said that the documents published by Leshchenko and Sytnyk were part of an ongoing pretrial investigation in Ukraine into the operations of the pro-Russian Party of Regions. The party’s head had been President Viktor Yanukovych until he fled the country amid mass protests two years earlier.

-RadioFreeEurope/Radio Liberty (funded by the US govt.).

So while Lutsenko – Solomon’s guest and Ukrainian Prosecutor is currently going after Artem Sytnyk, it should be noted that Leshchenko was already found to have meddled in the 2016 US election.

Watch:

Meanwhile, you can also check out Stranahan’s take on Leshchenko being left out of the loop.

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‘I will take over as Brexit Party leader’: Nigel Farage back on the frontline

Nigel Farage says that if the UK takes part in European elections, he will lead his new Brexit Party.

RT

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Via RT


Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage has announced that he will lead his new Brexit Party into the European elections if UK MPs decide to delay Brexit beyond May 22.

Farage, who has ostensibly appointed himself leader, told various media, including the BBC and Sky News on Friday morning: “I will take over as leader of the Brexit Party and lead it into the European Elections.”

It comes after the Brexit Party’s leader, Catherine Blaiklock, quit over a series of alleged Islamophobic statements and retweets of far-right figures on social media.

It is not yet thought that Farage has officially been elected as leader, as the party does not, as yet, have a formal infrastructure to conduct such a vote.

The right-wing MEP vowed to put out a whole host of Brexit Party candidates if the UK participates in the upcoming EU elections in May, adding: “If we fight those elections, we will fight them on trust.”

On Thursday night, the EU agreed to PM May’s request for a delaying to Brexit beyond the March 29 deadline. Brussels announced two new exit dates depending on what happens next week in the UK parliament.

The UK will have to leave the bloc on April 12 unless British MPs agree to May’s Brexit deal. If the withdrawal agreement is passed by next week, EU leaders have agreed to grant an extension until May 22.

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Baltics cannot rely on Germany any more

The matter is NATO today is not as strong as it is supposed to be. And it is not only because of leadership blunders.

The Duran

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Submitted by Adomas Abromaitis…

On March 29 Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia will celebrate 15 years of becoming NATO member states. The way to the alliance membership was not simple for newly born independent countries. They have reached great success in fulfilling many of NATO demands: they have considerably increased their defence expenditures, renewed armaments and increased the number of military personnel.

In turn, they get used to rely on more powerful member states, their advice, help and even decision making. All these 15 years they felt more or less safe because of proclaimed European NATO allies’ capabilities.

Unfortunately, now it is high time to doubt. The matter is NATO today is not as strong as it supposed to be. And it is not only because of leadership’s blunders. Every member state does a bit. As for the Baltic states, they are particularly vulnerable, because they fully depend on other NATO member states in their defence. Thus, Germany, Canada and Britain are leading nations of the NATO battle group stationed in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia respectively.

But the state of national armed forces in Germany, for example, raises doubts and makes it impossible not only defend the Baltics against Russia, but Germany itself.

It turned out, that Germany itself remains dissatisfied with its combat readiness and minister of defence’s ability to perform her duties. Things are so bad, that the military’s annual readiness report would be kept classified for the first time for “security reasons.”

“Apparently the readiness of the Bundeswehr is so bad that the public should not be allowed to know about it,” said Tobias Lindner, a Greens member who serves on the budget and defense committees.

Inspector General Eberhard Zorn said (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-germany-arms/germany-not-satisfied-with-readiness-of-submarines-some-aircraft-idUSKBN1QS1G7) the average readiness of the country’s nearly 10,000 weapons systems stood at about 70 percent in 2018, which meant Germany was able to fulfill its military obligations despite increasing responsibilities.

No overall comparison figure was available for 2017, but last year’s report revealed readiness rates of under 50 percent for specific weapons such as the aging CH-53 heavy-lift helicopters and the Tornado fighter jets.

Zorn said this year’s report was more comprehensive and included details on five main weapons systems used by the cyber command, and eight arms critical for NATO’s high readiness task force, which Germany heads this year.

“The overall view allows such concrete conclusions about the current readiness of the Bundeswehr that knowledge by unauthorized individuals would harm the security interests of the Federal Republic of Germany,” he wrote.

Critics are sure of incompetence of the Federal Minister of Defence, Ursula von der Leyen. Though she has occupied the upper echelons of German politics for 14 years now — and shows no sign of success. This mother of seven, gynecologist by profession, by some miracle for a long time has been remaining in power, though has no trust even among German military elites. Despite numerous scandals she tries to manage the Armed Forces as a housewife does and, of course, the results are devastating for German military capabilities. The same statement could be easily apply for the Baltic States, which highly dependent on Germany in military sphere.

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