Defending Exxon Mobil

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Exxon Mobil hardly needs defended by the Chronicle Times and it's a bit awkward giving it, but theft from the world's largest corporation is still theft.

Yes, Exxon Mobil, like other international oil companies, engages in price gouging, the company has been environmentally irresponsible and generally unlikable but the attempt of the Venezuelan government to seize assets belonging to Exxon Mobil is theft.

Exxon Mobil is the world's largest corporation in terms of revenue, a total of $404.5 billion in the last fiscal year and also largest in terms of market capital - $517.9 billion.

By comparison, the annual gross domestic production of Venezuela is $186.3 billion (2006 estimate).

The Venezuelan seizure of Exxon Mobil assets does not elicit sympathy for the corporate giant but should still be condemned as a lawless act by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Exxon Mobil has gotten a court order freezing assets that Venezuela owns in the U.S., pending the outcome of a lawsuit by Exxon Mobil against Venezuela.

Chavez has threatened to cut off oil shipments to the U.S. if the lawsuit goes forward, hoping to pressure the U.S. government into pressuring Exxon Mobil into backing off on the lawsuit.

Chavez has long been antagonistic toward the United States and would not ship oil to the United States if it were convenient to avoid doing that.

The economic difficulties that motivated Chavez to seize oil company assets preclude him from stopping the sale of oil altogether. Diverting the sale of Venezuelan oil from the U.S. to elsewhere makes oil from another source available for shipment to the U.S. This would be far more inconvenient to Venezuela than to the U.S.

Besides, whether or not the U.S. is inconvenienced, the executive branch of government does not have authority to interfere with the judicial process.

We need to condemn both the lawless seizure of assets and the attempt at intimidation by Chavez.