Bodhicat's Meows



Bodhicat is a very verbose cat and finds the 140 character limit for tweets much too limiting. Besides, cats don't tweet, they meow. Therefore Bodhi has started this page to put up his thought, and to share articles about current news events.


Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's Ties to Russia (2/19/17)


In his wild press conference on Friday, Feb. 17, 2017, Trump repeatedly denied any connection between himself and Russia. There are many stories in the media and on the net which show that this isn't so. He has had financial and business deals with Russia going back for several years, but since he has not released his tax returns, and since most of his dealings with Russia are private, the exact extent of his business ties with Russia is unknown. What is known is that the Secretary of State in the Trump administration, Rex Tillerson, has had extensive business dealings with Russia as CEO of the energy mega-corporation Exxon-Mobil. He retired from the company last year when he was mentioned as a possible nomination for Secretary of State. According to company records from last year, he owned $218 million in company stock at that time. It is not known if he divested this stock before taking on the role of Secretary of State.

In 2011 Exxon-Mobil, under Tillerson, signed a partnership deal with the Russian oil firm Rosneft. Rosneft has public stock, but a majority share of the stock is owned by the Russian government. Exxon-Mobil and Rosneft began to explore areas of Russia that had potential oil reserves. After continued Russian incursions into the Ukraine in 2014, the US government under Obama enacted tighter sanctions on Russia. This included the export of offshore drilling technology needed for oil exploration. Exxon-Mobil obtained an extension allowing it to drill for a few more weeks until October 10th of 2014. During this time they discovered an oil field in the Arctic with an estimated 750 million barrels of oil. It would be ridiculous to assume that Tillerson still doesn't have connections with the company, and that he won't take into consideration the interests of the company as Secretary of State.

These are some links to articles from which I obtained information for this article. I am posting them here so that the reader can get more background information.

New York Times: Rex Tillerson’s Company, Exxon, Has Billions at Stake Over Sanctions on Russia (12/12/2016)

CNN Money: Behind the deep ties between Exxon's Rex Tillerson and Russia (12/11/2016)

Politico: Tillerson retires as Exxon CEO as he prepares to head State Dept. (12/14/16)


The Guardian: Leak reveals Rex Tillerson was director of Bahamas-based US-Russian oil firm (12/18/16)


Trump, Russia, Exxon, Shell, and "Tight Oil"


The connections Trump had with Russia were well known before the elections and now the resignation of National Security Advisor Michael Flynn has raised more questions. The suspicion that there was some sort of collusion between Trump's campaign and the Russians goes back to the campaign, when Trump started lavishly praising Putin. One of the reasons for Russia's support of Trump seems to be his willingness to lift sanctions on oil recovery technology, blocked by Obama when Russia invaded the Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula. It's all a bit convoluted, and there are many angles, so bear with me.


This article from a site that keeps track of news for financial investors goes over the previous sanctions against Russia for its involvement in Ukraine, and how the sanctions have limited Russian oil exploration and production. A Trump presidency will probably mean an easing of sanctions, apossible motive for the help that Russia gave to Trump in the elections. Notice the many references to Exxon's then president Rex Tillerson who is now the US Secretary of State.


US Elections Could Reshape Russian Sanctions, Energy Ties



The Russian oil and energy corporation Rosneft was mentioned several times in the above article. Rosneft, and the Russian energy company Gazprom, needs Exxon's technology to get at oil reserves in the Arctic, and oil from shale deposits. Oil in shale deposits is called "tight oil" in the industry. This is some background on the company from their own web site. The Russian government has a controlling share of the company, and needs the cash flow from the company to fill its coffers, but the technology that Exxon has to get at the undersea oil in the Arctic, and technology from Shell to access the "tight oil" was blocked by the sanctions put on Russia after their "Anschluss" (takeover and occupation) of the Crimea, which has been Ukrainian sovereign territory. Rosneft Today


This paper from The Estonian Foreign Policy Institute goes over the effects of the sanctions on Russian oil production.

[The Estonian Foreign Policy Institute is a member of the respected Trans-European research network The Trans European Policy Studies Association (TEPSA).]

From the paper:


Due to the sanctions several foreign oil companies have had to suspend their participation in projects intended for future oil production in Russia:

  • Exxon Mobil suspended cooperation with Rosneft on the production of hydrocarbons in
    the Sakhalin-1deep-sea project.

  • Exxon Mobil suspended cooperation with Rosneft on the production of heavy oil from the
    Bazhenov formation in the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous District.

  • Exxon Mobil suspended cooperation with Rosneft on the exploration of oil deposits in the
    Kara Sea in the Russian Arctic.

  • Shell suspended cooperation with Gazprom Neft on the production of heavy oil from the
    Bazhenov formation with multi-stage fractioning of shale in the Upper Salym deposit.

  • Total [an energy development company] suspended cooperation with Lukoil on the production of heavy oil from the
    Bazhenov formation with multi-stage fractioning of shale in the Galyanovski deposit.

Estonian Foreign Policy Institute: Impact of sanctions on the Russian oil sector (PDF)



This is some background on shale oil or "tight oil." Russia is estimated to have 78 billion barrels of oil trapped in these types of formations.

[I am using Wikipedia here, since this is general information. All these articles are well footnoted, and the footnotes that I have followed check out.]

Wikipedia: Tight Oil


Here is some background on hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," which is used to extract "tight oil." US based companies like Exxon and Shell are leaders in this technology.


Wikipedia: Hydraulic Fracturing


The Bazhenov Formation of shale in Western Siberia is estimated by the U.S. Energy Information Administration to contain 74.6 billion barrels of recoverable shale oil. US based technology, "fracking" technology in particular, is needed to recover the oil, but this technology was blocked by Obama.


Wikipedia: Bazhenov Formation

As far as I can tell, Trump has not had the chance yet to lift the sanctions on oil technology, probably due to the chaos of his new administration, and the suspicions it might raise, particularly now in light of Flynn's resignation for illegal contact with Russian interests. Trump has already lifted the sanctions on some other types of technology.


This article from MSNBC, written in January, before the Flynn story broke, speculates on Trump's future actions concening the sanctions. Since the sanctions were not imposed by Congress, but by the Executive branch under President Obama, Trump could easily, and unilaterally, lift them.


Trump might say 'America first' as a reason to end sanctions on Russia



This article from Time magazine from last August goes over the many ties that Trump has to Russia. He tended to downplay his ties to Russia in interviews, but they are extensive. They include financial ties, and relationships between key advisors in his campaign and the Russian government.


Donald Trump's Many, Many, Many, Many Ties to Russia



I hope to add more articles and analysis in the future, so check back.