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.