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Pompeo seeks to recruit top world oil execs to promote US foreign policy

Pompeo seeks to recruit top world oil execs to promote US foreign policy
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has sought to recruit some of the top oil industry guns to serve as Washington's foreign policy tools to crack down on "bad actors" like Venezuela, Russia and Iran.

Addressing members of IHS Markit's CERAWeek annual energy conference in Houston, Texas on Tuesday, Pompeo divulged what has long been an open secret – that the US is willing to use all its political clout to propel its economic interests and vice versa.

Also on rt.com US lawmakers want to put a cork in Russia's gas pipeline to Europe

Pompeo said that American shale oil and natural gas should become instruments to "strengthen" the US' "hand in foreign policy." As an example of such an intertwined approach, the top US diplomat referred to the crisis in Venezuela, which has the largest proven oil reserves in the world. The Latin American country has seen its economy crumbling under Washington's stifling economic sanctions for years. Since January, when Washington recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela's interim president, the US has accelerated its onslaught on the Caracas oil industry, imposing sanctions on its state oil company PDVSA and seizing $7 billion in its US assets.

READ MORE: US could soon take Saudi crown to become top global oil exporter – IEA

At the same time, Washington takes pains to squeeze out Iran's oil industry by pushing allies to cut their imports under threat of secondary sanctions. The ultimate goal here is to kill off Iran's crude exports completely, Pompeo reaffirmed.

"We're committed to bringing Iranian crude oil exports to zero as quickly as market conditions will permit," he said.

Pompeo noted that Washington would continue the same approach, which essentially consists of two aspects – expanding markets for US energy resources, however pricey they are, and cracking down on those who don't conform to the US worldview.

"We need to roll up our sleeves and compete – by facilitating investment, encouraging partners to buy from us, and by punishing bad actors."

One of the hindrances to US energy dominance in Europe is Russia, with the $11 billion Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which is set to deliver gas to European consumers below the Baltic Sea, and is a thorn in Washington's side. While the Trump administration's attempts to persuade Berlin to ditch the project in favor of more expensive American liquefied natural gas (LNG) have so far fallen flat, it has not given up on its efforts to derail the Russian pipeline.

"We don't want our European allies hooked on Russian gas through the Nord Stream 2 project, any more than we ourselves want to be dependent on Venezuelan oil supplies," Pompeo said just a day after US Energy Secretary Rick Perry confirmed that the US is mulling sanctions on the project.

Pompeo further alleged that Russia's involvement in the Ukraine conflict is a covert attempt to gain access to Ukrainian natural resources, including oil and gas reserves.

The US Department of Commerce's own estimate, however, suggests that it is Washington, not Moscow, that expects to profit from the 2014 coup that brought down the Russia-friendly government of President Victor Yanukovych and installed the pro-Western President Petro Poroshenko. The US estimated that Kiev should up its gas production by 23 percent or to 27 billion cubic meters (bcm) by next year, which "is a great opportunity for US companies to play a significant role in achieving this 27 bcm goal by supplying new equipment, technology, and best practices."

Russia has long been accusing the US of unfair competition, describing its use of sanctions to promote its economic interests as "asset-grabbing."

"We are aware that we are dealing with attempts at unfair competition, and sometimes with actions comparable to asset-grabbing, but on an international level," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday.

The CERAWeek conference was attended by oil and gas executives and energy ministers from all over the world. Earlier in the day, Pompeo met with a host of top executives in a closed meeting. Representatives of Chevron Corp., Total SA, Royal Dutch Shell Plc, ConocoPhillips and Occidental Petroleum Corp were among those invited, Reuters reported.

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