Brilliant damning MUST READ by Joyce Nelson, notably on Environmental Defense Fund’s greenwashing for frac industry and stinky dots between BC Supreme Court Injunction against Wet’suwet’en (hold title on lands where Coastal GasLink, “CGL” and RCMP are trespassing, thanks to the court), mega rich Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., “KKR” and (pension-thieving to give to bankrupting frac’ers) AIMCo buying 65% of CGL.

Wall Street Invading Wet’suwet’en Territory by JOYCE NELSON, Feb 12 ,2020, Counter Punch

The uprising across Canada in support of Wet’suwet’en First Nation land defenders shows no sign of stopping. As of February 11, ports, bridges, rail lines, highways and roads have been blockaded across much of the country by solidarity protesters, who have also occupied the offices of politicians and at least one bank.

These actions were prompted by the RCMP’s invasion of Wet’suwet’en territory on February 5, after which they began arresting Indigenous members opposed to the 670 kilometers (416-mile), $6.2 billion Coastal GasLink pipeline being constructed on their unceded territory in B.C.

The Wet’suwet’en have never signed a treaty and in 1997 the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that they hold “Aboriginal title” to the land on which the pipeline is being built.

The Coastal GasLink pipeline will carry fracked natural gas from northeastern B.C. to Kitimat, B.C., where a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal is being built by LNG Canada – a partnership of Shell, Petronas, PetroChina, Mitsubishi, and Korean Gas.

While protesters have rightly condemned the RCMP actions, they (and the corporate media) have largely overlooked the role of a major player in this whole debacle: Wall Street titan Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., better known as KKR.

Mega-Rich Titan

On December 26, 2019 KKR announced the signing of a “definitive agreement” to acquire – along with Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo) – a 65 percent equity interest in the Coastal GasLink Pipeline Project from TC Energy.

Only days later, on December 31, a B.C. Supreme Court judge extended an injunction to stop Wet’suwet’en members from blocking access to Coastal GasLink’s work camp. The injunction will reportedly be operative until the pipeline project is completed.

KKR is mega-rich, even by Wall Street standards. It has US$208 billion in assets under management and US$153 billion in fee-paying assets under management. [1] AIMCo has $108.2 billion in assets that it manages on behalf of 31 Alberta pension, endowment and government funds. [2]

KKR is what is now called a “private equity” firm – a rebranding of what used to be called “leveraged buyout firms,” which pump money into struggling companies and then re-sell them for major profits. In 2014, KKR opened an office in Calgary with a $2 billion fund to find Canadian energy investments, especially in unconventional oil and gas projects.

In its December 26, 2019 press release, KKR’s Brandon Freiman stated that “Coastal GasLink represents our third investment in infrastructure supporting Canada’s natural gas industry.”

When contacted, KKR’s media office told me that the “other projects Brandon was referring to in his quote are Veresen Midstream and SemCams Midstream.”

Buying Up Midstream

In oil-industry parlance, midstream refers to the equipment and pipelines that transport oil and gas from “upstream” production facilities to the “downstream” users such as refineries or LNG terminals.

Shortly after KKR set up its Calgary office, in December 2014 Encana Corp. sold its natural gas pipeline and processing assets in Western Canada’s Montney region to Veresen Inc. and KKR for $412 million. The deal allowed Encana to concentrate on drilling and fracking (“upstream”), while Veresen Midstream LP handles transportation and expansion of infrastructure. The assets sold in this deal “comprise those in the Dawson, B.C. area operated by Encana independently and in a partnership it has with Japan’s Mitsubishi Corp.” [3] At about the same time, the partnership committed to invest $5 billion of new midstream expansion in the Montney region.

By October 2015, that expansion included Veresen’s announcement of approval of the $860 million Sunrise Gas Plant, which can process 400 million cubic feet per day. Located near Dawson Creek, the Sunrise Gas Plant has been described as “the largest gas plant to be commissioned in western Canada in the last 30 years,” with Veresen Midstream’s President and CEO David Fitzpatrick stating that his company’s “footprint in the Montney will grow substantially.” [4]

KKR also entered into a joint venture with Energy Transfer on SemCams Midstream, which owns and operates six gas processing plants and 700 miles of natural gas pipelines in the Montney and Duvernay areas of Western Canada.

You may recall that Energy Transfer is the company involved in the Dakota Access Pipeline protests of 2016, when NoDAPL indigenous protesters from the Standing Rock reservation in the U.S. were met with severe corporate and state-supported opposition.

So KKR not only has a primary position in the midstream natural gas industry of Western Canada, it also has scandalously partnered with a company well-versed in stopping indigenous protests.

Greenwashing

Equally odious, in 2007 KKR teamed up with the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) on something called the Green Portfolio Program through which participating companies could “develop eco-beneficial products and services and develop ways to grow revenue through environmental improvements.” [5]

That decade-long greenwashing effort has especially been useful for KKR’s financial investment in fracking. In 2012, Forbes magazine (not known for its radical environmentalism) singled out KKR in a piece called “Guess Who’s Fueling the Fracking Boom?”, revealing how KKR has been pumping money into expanded fracking by upstream drillers, and then flipping the companies in sales deals that bring billions in profits to KKR. [6]

Perhaps not surprisingly, KKR Global Institute’s Chair is David Petraeus, the former Director of the CIA, who has wholeheartedly endorsed fracking. [7]

In the KKR Global Institute’s latest report (issued on January 15, 2020), the company touts itself for partnering “with companies that mitigate climate change, enhance resilient development [and] protect water quality … As a result, ‘doing well by doing good’ remains a growing investment theme in KKR in 2020.” [8]

LNG Canada in Kitimat, where the Coastal GasLink pipeline will bring the fracked natural gas, has claimed that it will be the lowest carbon-emitting LNG plant in the world, and that LNG exports will substitute for dirtier fuels like coal. But critics such as the Pembina Institute and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives have seriously questioned this notion of LNG as a so-called “bridge fuel” to a low-carbon future, especially because of the methane leaks implicit in upstream, midstream and downstream processes. In terms of the climate emergency, methane is dozens of times more polluting than CO2.

Indeed, The Georgia Straight recently highlighted a statement by Stanford University professor Mark Z. Jacobson about methane leaks from an ExxonMobil fracking site: “Next time some paid liar in the fossil fuel industry insists fracked gas is helping solve the climate crisis, remind them a single @exxonmobil fracking site ‘leaked more methane in 20 days than all but 3 European nations over an entire year’.” [9]

Paid Liars

Wall Street’s KKR private equity titan appears to be packed with some very well-paid liars, who croon about “doing well by doing good” while invading Wet’suwet’en territory with their Coastal GasLink project and watching while the RCMP carry out the arrests. It’s time the focus should be placed on them.

Footnotes

[1] Charlie Smith, “Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs reject ruling by B.C. Supreme Court judge to extend Coastal GasLink Pipeline injunction,” The Georgia Straight, December 31, 2019.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Jeffrey Jones, “Encana sells midstream assets to Veresen, KKR,” The Globe and Mail, December 23, 2014.

[4] Veresen Inc. press release, “Veresen Announces Approval of the $860 Million Sunrise Gas Plant,” October 6, 2015.

[5] Elizabeth Seeger, “Environmental Innovation: A Journey with No Destination,” kkr.com, December 21, 2016.

[6] Halah Touryalal, “Guess Who’s Fueling the Fracking Boom?” Forbes, October 3, 2012.

[7] Steve Horn, “Revealed: Gen. David Petraeus’ Course Syllabus Features ‘Frackademia’ Readings,” Huffington Post, July 19, 2013.

[8] Henry H. McVey, “Play Your Game: Insights Global Macro Trends,” KKR Global Institute, January 2020.

[9] Quoted in Charlie Smith, “TC Energy agrees to sell 65 percent interest in Coastal GasLink pipeline project to KKR and AIMCo,” The Georgia Straight, December 26, 2019.

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More articles by: JOYCE NELSON

Joyce Nelson’s sixth book, Beyond Banksters: Resisting the New Feudalism, can be ordered at: http://watershedsentinel.ca/banksters. She can be reached through www.joycenelson.ca.

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Have you been hearing/reading about billion dollar profit taking oil and gas companies refusing to clean up claiming they have no money and need Canadian taxpayers to bail them out and pay to clean up for them?

2014: Canadian corporate cash hoard rises to $630-billion in first quarter, Statistics Canada said Thursday that private non-financial corporations increased their cash holdings to $630-billion in the first quarter of this year — up from $621-billion at the end of 2013

OTTAWA — Maybe “dead money” is a bit of a misnomer. Perhaps it’s more accurate to say that cash reserves of Canadian corporations are merely “sleeping” — and growing — until there is a louder economic wakeup call.

Statistics Canada said Thursday that private non-financial corporations increased their cash holdings to $630-billion in the first quarter of this year — up from $621-billion at the end of 2013.

“It would be nice if we could wake it up and get it invested in the economy,” said economist Erin Weir, at the United Steelworkers union.

“This accumulation of ‘dead money’ helps explain the lack of business investment despite record corporate profits.”

Corporations have been singled out by the Bank of Canada for not contributing more to the economic recovery, which has relied heavily on consumer spending for growth since the 2008-09 recession.

It has been nearly two years since Mark Carney, Canada’s central bank chief until his departure last June to head the Bank of England, ruffled corporate feathers by publicly uttering the phrase “dead money” to describe money sitting idle on balance sheets.

“If companies can’t figure out what to do with it, then they should give it to shareholders and they’ll figure it out,” Mr. Carney told reporters, following a Toronto speech in August 2012.

The late Jim Flaherty, who was finance minister at the time, also piled on the corporate-hoarding wagon, saying “it’s not up to government to stimulate the economy, it’s up to the private sector, and they have lots of capital.”

That rhetoric has been toned down somewhat since Stephen Poloz, formerly the president of federal credit agency Export Development Canada [EDC], replaced Mr. Carney as head of the Bank of Canada.

While acknowledging in a speech this month that Canadian business have not been expanding their markets as quickly as hoped, Mr. Poloz said “the ingredients for a pickup in exports remain in place, including the lower Canadian dollar and an anticipated strengthening of foreign demand.”

But still, the numbers speak for themselves when it comes to corporate spending.

Statistics Canada data released Thursday show companies has a total of $629.7-billion in cash reserves in the first quarter of 2014 report, up from $620.6-billion during the September-to-December period last year. Compare those levels to the $534.6-billion in corporate cash reserves in the fourth quarter of 2012 and$513.5-billion in the first three months of that year.

“I think the striking thing is that there has been quite a consistent trend, for at least a decade, of just steady increases in cash being held by private non-financial corporations. It slowed down a little during the financial crisis — but not much,” Mr. Weir said in an interview.

“The story for years has been one of optimism about a recovery right around the corner that never really seems to materialize — at least not in terms of investment and employment in the real economy. But there has been a huge recovery in corporate profits,” he said.

“The gap between the recovery and profits, and the lack of recovery in investment, is what explains this huge accumulation of corporate cash.”

… Thursday’s Statistics Canada report came a day after an EDC study that indicated Canadian firms were increasingly optimistic about the economy, due mainly to signs of a sustained recovery in the United States, and that sales will increase in the coming months.

The weak Canadian dollar, as well, is providing some competitive advantage for exporters that should encourage growth in foreign markets.

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