Heard the one about Obama, George Soros and Petrobras?

Anger over the glacial pace of new deep-water drilling permits has been a constant among many FuelFix readers for the past 6 months. A less-frequent but no-less-intense response comes up anytime we mention the work of Brazilian oil giant Petrobras.

The roots of this ire? A loan the U.S. Export-Import Bankmade available to Petrobras in April 2009 to expand its offshore drilling by buying from U.S. suppliers. Before the loan was made, billionaire hedge fund manager/major Barack Obama fundraiser George Soros — invested in Petrobras.

So, when we wrote about U.S. regulators approving Petrobras’ use of a new floating production, storage and offloading vessel (FPSO) last week we got comments like this:

“Is this the same Petrobras that Obama sent money to? That Soros is involved in? What a coincidence that they are starting to drill.”

“George Soros doesn’t ask obama to do things, he tells him what to do. He owns him. Soros is the puppeteer, he pulls the strings.”

“(Petrobras) caused the drilling stoppage to begin with to allow Obama to pay back George for all the campaign money so he could get cheaper day rates off the rigs.”

Not all of the anger is based on an accurate reading of the facts, however, says Kenneth Rapoza, a former Dow Jones reporter writing for Forbes.com.

Nevermind that the FPSO annoucement wasn’t about drilling — it’s tying up to previously drilled wells – the loan was neither made by Obama nor has Petrobras tapped the funds, according to the piece, called “How the Wall Street Journal set off a firestorm against Petrobras.

More specifically:

  • The loan approval was done by an Ex-Im Bank board, not the president (a board apparently made up largely of Bush-era appointees, says Snopes.com)
  • Under the rules of the Bank, Petrobras has to use the money to purchase goods and services from U.S. companies.
  • Petrobras hasn’t yet tapped the line of credit.
  • Yes, Soros has profited from his Petrobras investment big time — but so too would other common stockholders.

None of this changes the fact that deep-water drilling is going full speed ahead off San Paulo and is largely non-existent off Grand Isle. But we know we can count on our readers to keep up the pressure.

9 Comments

  1. WriterDude

    Confusing article. First you make an accusation, then proceed to present examples of why it’s not true. You should begin with dispelling the myth.
    It kind of goes along with -”President denies UFO’s took him to another planet last weekend.”
    Several groups are now interested in using “trial by accusation” to attack the administration. This type of information falls into that catagory.
    “A lie can make it’s way halfway around the world before the truth can get it’s boots on.”

    #1
  2. Mark from Louisiana

    Seems like when researching this story you would have noticed that soros sold most of his petrobas stock last year. Kind of makes one wonder if any info in the story is correct.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=a.V5sgGzdsQY

    #2
  3. Tom Fowler

    WriterDude:
    That EX-IM bank loan is real, as is Soros investing in Petrobras and having raised money for Obama. It’s the interpretation of those different items and how they tie together that the Forbes piece challenges.

    Mark from Louisiana:
    Yes, I know Soros sold a good-sized piece of his stake in Petrobras, but it hasn’t stopped people from making the connection every time something about Petrobras comes up.

    #3
  4. Pazuzu

    There were two stories that prompted the ire of the comment section, both the one in Fuel Fix and the one on the main Chron website:
    http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/business/7477165.html

    Both had people repeating the same old false statements and assumptions that have been over populating the web lately. Even with simple facts put in front of them, several commentators insisted on believing random internet blogs over basic facts and figures.

    Thank you for the Forbes article, I had not yet seen that one. Even though it too is a “blog” article, it’s one of the (rare) ones that puts facts and figures first, and opinion last.

    Oh, lets not forget that Petrobras was worth around $200 BILLION according to the stock price right before this whole fiasco. Would that “up to $2 billion LOAN” really suddenly make Soros so rich via his stock portfolio?? Yeah, those “up to 1% LOANS” really make or break those hedge funds!!

    #4
  5. Pazuzu

    Oh, and Tom, I wanted to thank you for the excellent work you did covering all of the various aspects of the Deepwater Horizon incident. I felt that your clarity, honesty, and ability to extract pertinent information and distill it in a way that us laymen could understand was the hallmark of a truly excellent journalist. I hope to hear that the file of articles you put together during that time might help you step up several rungs in your career (hint hint major national or international business papers…)

    #5
  6. TXSFRED

    “A lie can make it’s way halfway around the world before the truth can get it’s boots on.” WriterDude.

    Good one, WriterDude. I thought the below attribition was interesting

    “A lie can travel halfway round the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.
    - This quote has been attributed to Mark Twain, but it has never been verified as originating with Twain. This quote may have originated with Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-92) who attributed it to an old proverb in a sermon delivered on Sunday morning, April 1, 1855. Spurgeon was a celebrated English fundamentalist Baptist preacher. His words were: “A lie will go round the world while truth is pulling its boots on.” http://WWW.twainquotes.com
    .
    President Obama and his principle backer George Soros have lied so much that TRUTH has one sneaker on and one flipflop ( pun intended ) one black sock on and one knee high white sock.. and hasn;t taken a step.

    #6
  7. Energy Moron

    Howdy Neighbor:

    Actually, somebody else got even a quote from Obama on this:

    http://www.investors.com/NewsAndAnalysis/Article/566719/201103211908/Obama-Drill-Brazil-Drill.htm

    “We want to help you with the technology and support to develop these oil reserves safely. And when you’re ready to start selling, we want to be one of your best customers.”

    See, Canadian bitumen production is evil yet Brazil deepwater is good.

    There are numerous human rights abuses in Brazil.

    Once again shows how much imperialists these democrats are.

    Not that Bush/Cheney were otherwise.

    Both parties are repulsive to those of us who think human rights are important.

    #7
  8. Elowe

    “Now, with a seven-year offshore drilling ban in effect off of both coasts, on Alaska’s continental shelf and in much of the Gulf of Mexico — and a de facto moratorium covering the rest — Obama tells the Brazilians:
    “We want to help you with the technology and support to develop these oil reserves safely. And when you’re ready to start selling, we want to be one of your best customers.”

    “Obama wants to develop Brazilian offshore oil to help the Brazilian economy create jobs for Brazilian workers while Americans are left unemployed in the face of skyrocketing energy prices by an administration that despises fossil fuels as a threat to the environment and wants to increase our dependency on foreign oil.”

    http://www.investors.com/NewsAndAnalysis/Article/566719/201103211908/Obama-Drill-Brazil-Drill.htm

    What happened to that laser like focus on jobs here in the US? I guess not if it’s extracting that dirty US oil

    #8
  9. Energy Moron

    Elowe:

    Good point about domestic as I tend to focus on our foreign policy.

    I hereby add “natural gas” to your post.

    #9