ESG: Is It Just A Move Toward Oil and Gas Nationalization?
IHost of The Crude Life, “Everyday Energy For Everyday People”
[Editor’s Note: Our friend Jason Spiess, host of The Crude Life, has now created ESG University, where the dangers of ESG and those who are relentlessly pushing it are regularly exposed. He addresses a serious issue with his own distinct brand of humor.]
It’s movie night here at ESG University and today it’s one of the Ocean’s franchises. Now some believe the real heist in that movie is George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Steven Soderbergh stealing our hard earned money in the end with a lazy contrived story, but not me. I love all the Ocean’s movies, even 12.
“Ocean’s 12” is widely considered by most the worst of the Ocean’s movies. And although that might be true, consider this, Catherine Zeda Jones was in it. Anything with her in it can not be considered the worst of anything. She’s not only on my list of Dream Celeb Hook Ups, she is the list. Entrapment was more than a movie in my world. Avoiding lasers in yoga pants was a spiritual exper…. Wait, what are we talking about again?
Oh yeah, how one group can distract someone with a series of orchestrated events in order to pull a heist. Now the “official” quick summary of Ocean’s 12.
After successfully robbing five casinos in one night, Danny Ocean (George Clooney) and his crew of thieves have big problems. Despite pulling off one of the biggest heists in Las Vegas history, the members of the gang have already spent much of the money they stole. Casino owner Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia) demands that Ocean return the money, plus millions more in interest. Unable to come up the cash, the crew is forced to come together to pull off another series of heists, this time in Europe.
But, in reality, I mean in the movie reality, the Million-Dollar-Egg-Heist was done and everyone was going through the motions and putting on an act. It was theater with a little extra Curb Your Enthusiasmbecause you gotta improv some lines in the real life theater.
To help illustrate today’s topic further, we will use some Refer-A-Friend Context in order to tell this story. Well it’s more of a series of interviews and conversations I’ve had with a guest co-host from time to time. His name is Sterling, his father worked for ARAMCO (Standard Oil) and he grew up in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.
Dhahran is a city located in Eastern Province, Saudi Arabia. With a total population of 240,742 as of 2021, it is a major administrative center for the Saudi oil industry.
Sterling moved to Saudi Arabia in 2nd grade and is part of this global network of AramcoBrats, who are the fabulous folks born, raised, educated, and/or lived in Saudi Arabia as children and/or minor dependents of employees of the Arabian American Oil Company (a.k.a ARAMCO, Saudi Aramco and Saudi Arabian Oil Company and before that RAMCO/Standard Oil) or any ARAMCO-affiliated company.
Honestly, the reporter inside of me isn’t sure who owned who before whole company names became Capital Letter Acronyms. My mind involuntarily started visualizing Jack Donneghy (Alex Baldwin) from 30 Rock explaining through a flowchart that NBC was really owned by the Sheinhardt Wig Company.
Alright back to these BRATS, these ARAMCOBRATS. They are more or less “Third Culture Kids,” spanning multiple generations and bound together by common experiences growing up in a unique, international community.
Every single BRAT I have met are well spoken, intelligent, respectful and articulate. And it is extremely noticeable how they feel about the American way of life. Because they have context. They have lived in another country. Have you? Have you even visited another country? Sandals Resorts don’t count either. That’s like an American Embassy with all-inclusive rates.
No, with these BRATS we are talking 70+ years of a global network of people who work in oil and gas and who lived in Saudi Arabia. I can honestly say I learn more from a 45-minute coffee bullshit banter session with Sterling about oil and gas than any high-salaried executive. No offense to the executive, but most of the ones I have met haven’t even worked in the field let alone bought illegal nitrous and bottle rockets from a discreet back alley in Saudi Arabia from a fourth-tiered sheik’s fifth-born son with oilfield entitlement.
Many of the BRATS go on to work in the oil and gas industry like it’s the family trade. But, there are those who have never worked in the industry and go on to become teachers, lawyers, cashiers, realtors and every other normal job outside of oil and gas.
However, the major difference between a school teacher who was raised in the BRATS environment and one raised in say Washington DC, every single BRAT I have met has a MAJOR respect for American Industry. And American values.
Next, I want to take a moment for a PSA. Phonetics Service Announcement. To Sterling, and many BRATS, the word “American” actually means something because of their experience living in Saudi Arabia. After two minutes of listening to Sterling, you understand he is an individual who speaks with impeccable language. He is a man who understands the meaning of words because he has felt them. Yes, he has felt words’ meaning. Something fewer and fewer Americans are doing these days.
An apple on paper is different from eating an apple. Watching a video on apples is not the same as living in the context of that apple video being watched.
So when I say Sterling has a respect for American values and American industry, it gets better and much more complex. Just like a real life living American.
First off, Sterling has never worked a day in oil and gas. Unless you count the 100+ times he has joined me on The Crude Life as a co-host, adding a needed perspective to the energy conversation.
Even though he has never donned Fire Resistant Clothing or a sticker-laden hard hat or attended an industry Happy Hour, Sterling has more respect for the industry than 90% of the people I meet working in that industry today. Furthermore, Sterling is more of a Bernie Sanders supporter than Donald Trump and still sticks up for the oil and gas industry. Why? Because he experienced it, lived it and saw similar changes. He felt the meaning of words.
When he says American Energy Independence, you can feel the authentic energy emitting from his mind, body and soul. That’s an ambassador folks. Someone who has felt enough of the reality to understand the words coming out of their mouth.
First, Sterling’s respect for the industry comes from experience. He saw the safety precautions daily. He could literally drive into town and experience another world. Dhahran, which is essentially a modern compound the size of a city, has American rules and values. Outside those walls, it’s religious police and lifetime in prison for drinking a beer. Seriously, Sterling has friends from his youth who are still in prison over there for a crime that would have gotten a $150 fine in America.
And if you are a woman? It’s male escorts to the grocery store, wearing a burka to cover up and regular harassment from the Religious Police who are primarily old men dressed in everyday Saudi cultural clothing.
Sterling understands the American industry is about empowering women, human rights and using ethical energy to power cities, homes and innovations. American industry is about individual opportunity and an increased quality of life for your family. This kind of respect can only be achieved through life experience, even though many in positions of power use it for marketing and branding.
Here’s a little more authentic respect for Industry, Energy Independence and American Education. While many of you reading this article grew up in America and engaged in fire drills and tornado drills, perhaps an occasional nuclear bomb drill, Sterling was having “duck and cover” drills because the refinery down the road might get bombed by the Iranians.
Wait, it gets better. Now I can not speak for any of you, but I can confidently say in all my years of school I must have participated in 50 emergency drills. Not one of those emergencies happened.
None of my schools I ever attended burned down or got hit by a tornado and somehow we all evaded Mad Cow. Not Sterling. His emergency drills had real life context therefore an active set of real life values.
The refinery that Sterling’s school was doing emergency drills for had to actually use that training when the Iranians bombed Saudi Arabia in 2019.
When the people you go to school and church with are impacted, it impacts your life. When oil drops to $20 a barrel, you feel the conversations at the kitchen table. When your parents tell you your “American” way of life can get your father fired in this or that Middle Eastern or Russian country, you feel the context of words that become someone else’s experience.
Sterling got to feel American Freedoms and Values countless times as a child. When the Censorship Police or Super Customs TSA People at the airport confiscate your Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, you understand the feeling behind that freedom removed.
When you have your comic books edited with a Sharpie marker by the Super Saudi Sensors, you spend countless sleepless nights wondering what did Archie say to get Veronica to go out with him. And who is Jughead? He keeps entering the comic but his words are all crossed out.
Now, we take a turn. A hard turn. A turn so hard, it shocked me into reality the second it came out of Sterling’s mouth so casually. Like he’d seen it before. Because he had.
When the energy industry started getting subsidized during COVID and negative oil hit, Sterling said something I will never forget.
Please understand that before you read his crazy, out-of-left-field thought exercise, he and I both predicted negative oil before it happened and called Joe Biden the modern day “Jimmy Carter President” the day after the election.
But the one observation Sterling had that has yet to ring true might now. Nationalizing natural resources. Sterling lived it. When Saudi Arabia nationalized ARAMCO, Sterling was living it.
“This reminds me of when ARAMCO got nationalized by the Saudi government,” Sterling said casually while bantering about some news briefs. “I remember all the kids’ parents were worried about their jobs and whether we would be able to finish school together. It was a crazy time man.”
In 1973, following US support for Israel during the Yom Kippur War, the Saudi Arabian government acquired a 25% “participation interest” in Aramco’s assets. Later, it increased its participation interest to 60% in 1974 and acquired the remaining 40% interest in 1976.
Aramco continued to operate and manage the former Aramco assets, including its concessionary interest in certain Saudi Arab oil fields, on behalf of the Saudi Arab Government until 1988. In November 1988, a royal decree created a new Saudi Arab company, the Saudi Arabian Oil Company, to take control of the former Aramco assets (or Saudi Aramco) and took the management and operations control of Saudi Arabia’s oil and gas fields from Aramco and its partners.
To summarize the nationalizing of assets and natural resources, back then, in solidarity with the nations fighting the war, OPEC producers drastically increased the price of oil exports to Western nations, before announcing an embargo and cutting production. After that, Saudi Arabia’s government then decided to nationalize part of Aramco.
Next, it would increase its stake to 60% one year later, then complete the nationalization within five years. All of Aramco’s oil rights, production apparatus, and facilities came under government control at that time. Over the span of six to seven years a government was able to nationalize an oil company and its assets.
Sterling heard the kitchen table conversation whether to be the Clash – Should I Stay Or Should I Go. He heard families being torn apart as their jobs were in limbo and appointed leaders and executives were spinning their wheels and wasting people’s time stalling until word from above came what to do or say.
I will never forget, during the height of the COVID pandemic, when Sterling said America is acting a lot like Saudi Arabia did when they nationalized oil.
Click on this link to listen to the interview about Sterling’s experience in Saudi Arabia during the nationalizing of oil.
Before you start thinking Sterling or myself am crazy, please consider this. Russia’s Economic Development Ministry has already drafted legislation aimed at preventing the mounting exit of international businesses from Russia over the war in Ukraine.
I can not speak or think for you, but those tea leaves are reading like the potential groundwork for nationalizing foreign assets, companies and resources.
According to the Izvestia newspaper, the bill envisions that the state-owned Vnesheconombank and the state export-guarantee agency would have the right to seize the property of foreign companies that left Russian markets of their own accord. But that’s only in case of a real emergency, so no big deal yet, right?
Under the bill, Russia would have a right to take over foreign businesses for up to three months in cases where foreign companies’ managers “de facto ceased” to direct the businesses. The bill also states that when foreign companies carry out actions that could lead to their “ungrounded” liquidation or bankruptcy, the government will have up to six months to take them over.
The new companies’ shares would be offered for trading, while the old companies would be liquidated. If nobody was interested in owning the new companies, they would be nationalized, the bill says.
The ministry has already sent to the government and the Prosecutor-General’s Office a list of some 60 foreign companies that have left the Russian market and may be nationalized.
Among other businesses, the list includes Volkswagen, Apple, IKEA, Microsoft, IBM, Shell, McDonald’s, Porsche, H&M, and others.
So why is the movie Ocean’s 12 in the headline? After I read the recent laws floating around Russia, I thought of another thing Sterling said when the Carbon Tax was endorsed by the American Petroleum Institute last year.
In episode 61 of The Crude Life’s failed morning show attempt, Sterling made this comment:
In short of two weeks, and there wasn’t really even a conversation about it [carbon tax endorsement]. It was a statement, a press release. It’s done. It was a Fait Accompli. That’s what keeps blowing my mind. Somebody had this in a desk drawer and it’s like that someone said ‘at some point we are going to have to flip the switch guys’. Only two days before they flip the switch they are on CNBC and Fox News saying they will never endorse a Carbon Tax. Never.
Sterling, who has not worked one day in oil and gas, continued.
“If I’m a member of API, I’m like confused. Talk about flip flop, right, that’s a popular term in Washington,” Sterling said. “How much notice did they give anyone that is a part of their organization, there’s over 600 companies at least, major oil and gas companies, and how many of them knew ahead of time this was happening?”
Finally, I’ll never forget what Sterling, this world traveler, well-schooled, cultured oil and gas family man said next.
Especially after watching the same group of American elected and appointed industry leaders the past decade get schooled by a European teenager on climate science, execute policies that have bankrupted the majority of American small-family businesses and gave trillions of taxpayer dollars to the banks instead of the people. I am starting to see what Sterling sees with the oil and gas industry if they do not make some serious changes fast.
It’s over man, it’s all over.
It’s Fait Accompli.
Class dismissed til next week.
Questions on today’s lesson? Know someone using Ethical Energy? ESG University wants to know who these leaders are as we continue to showcase and highlight ESG solutions in energy. Email us at with names of companies, people and organizations showing ESG in action.
This post appeared first on Natural Gas Now.