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13 Dec 2016

Ben Hubbard, Dionne Searcey & Nicholas Casey, New York Times (USA)

Under Rex Tillerson, Exxon Mobil Forged Its Own Path Abroad

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...[The] United States imposed sanctions on Russia’s oil industry in 2014 over Moscow’s deadly intervention in Ukraine, leading American foreign policy and the company’s investment goals to diverge. Exxon Mobil now has billions of dollars in deals that will move forward only if the sanctions are lifted...

Exxon Mobil has made lucrative deals with the government of Equatorial Guinea, which arbitrarily detains and tortures critics, disregards elections, and has faced international prosecution for using oil profits to enrich the president’s family.  Tutu Alicante, the director of the watchdog organization EG Justice, said that by doing business in Equatorial Guinea, Exxon Mobil was complicit in reinforcing President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo... “Exxon definitely has enabled a government that once upon a time was very repressive but didn’t have the resources to keep itself in power,” Mr. Alicante said.  As for the selection of Mr. Tillerson as secretary of state, he added, “For just about anyone who cares about transparency in extractive industry, this is a devastating pick.”...

But Alan Jeffers, an Exxon Mobil spokesman, said that when dealing with countries that have records of corruption, the company was careful to follow the American Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which prohibits bribes to foreign officials to do business...

Exxon Mobil’s offshore facilities have been attacked by militants in the Niger Delta who contend that the nation’s oil wealth overwhelmingly benefits a small circle of Nigerian elites, yet causes broad environmental damage like oil spills.  The company says it takes environmental protections seriously, including in places that have weak regulations or enforcement.