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Think past oil, Rockefeller kin tell Exxon

15 descen­dants push for renew­able ener­gy, cuts in warm­ing emis­sions

MSNBC News Ser­vices

NEW YORK — Mem­bers of the Rock­e­feller fam­i­ly, descend­ed from the founder of what became Exxon Mobil Corp., chal­lenged the oil giant Wednes­day to focus more on renew­able sources of ener­gy.

They also seek to estab­lish a task force study of the con­se­quences of glob­al warm­ing on poor economies, and called on Exxon to reduce green­house gas emis­sion at its own oper­a­tions.

Exxon is “prof­it­ing in the short term from invest­ments and deci­sions made many years ago by focus­ing on the nar­row path that ignores the rapid­ly shift­ing ener­gy land­scape around the world, includ­ing devel­op­ing nations,” said Neva Rock­e­feller Good­win, a great grand­daugh­ter of John D. Rock­e­feller.

The fam­i­ly mem­bers, who describe them­selves as the com­pa­ny’s longest con­tin­u­ous share­hold­ers, said they are con­cerned that the Irv­ing, Texas-based com­pa­ny is too focused on short-term gains from soar­ing oil prices and should do more to invest in clean­er tech­nol­o­gy for the future.

“They are fight­ing the last war and they’re not see­ing they’re fac­ing a new war,” said Peter O’Neill, who heads the Rock­e­feller Fam­i­ly com­mit­tee deal­ing with Exxon Mobil and is the great-great-grand­son of John D. Rock­e­feller.

He said he had the sup­port of more than 80 per­cent of fam­i­ly mem­bers over the age of 21. Fam­i­ly rep­re­sen­ta­tives said it was a sig­nif­i­cant hold­ing for the Rock­e­fellers but that they were not sure how much of the com­pa­ny they actu­al­ly own col­lec­tive­ly.

Exxon Mobil was formed by the com­bi­na­tion of two off­spring of John D. Rock­e­feller’s Stan­dard Oil Trust. It is now the world’s largest pub­licly trad­ed oil com­pa­ny.

Mem­bers of the fam­i­ly said they have spon­sored four proxy res­o­lu­tions this year that raised con­cerns about the com­pa­ny’s lead­er­ship under Chair­man and Chief Exec­u­tive Rex Tiller­son. They also said they have spent years behind the scenes prod­ding the com­pa­ny to change its approach to the oil busi­ness.

‘Try­ing to keep a giant ... from falling’
The fam­i­ly and its allies decid­ed to take their case pub­lic, they said, because they believe future ener­gy will come from sources oth­er than oil and nat­ur­al gas, and say the com­pa­ny needs to move more quick­ly into sus­tain­able tech­nol­o­gy to secure its long-term via­bil­i­ty.

“We all know the say­ing: The big­ger they are, the hard­er they fall,” said Con­necti­cut State Trea­sur­er Denise Nap­pi­er, who over­sees a pen­sion fund that holds $300 mil­lion in Exxon Mobil stock — its largest sin­gle equi­ty invest­ment. She spoke at a press con­fer­ence along­side the Rock­e­fellers.

“We are try­ing to keep a giant — and it tru­ly is a giant in the oil and gas indus­try — from falling,” Nap­pi­er said.

Good­win called on Exxon to recon­nect with the for­ward-look­ing vision of her great grand­fa­ther.

“Kerosene was the alter­na­tive ener­gy of its day when he real­ized it could replace whale oil,” she said. “Part of John D. Rock­e­feller’s genius was in rec­og­niz­ing ear­ly the need and oppor­tu­ni­ty for a tran­si­tion to a bet­ter, cheap­er and clean­er fuel.”

Huge prof­it expect­ed
The calls for reform came one day before Exxon Mobil was expect­ed to report first-quar­ter earn­ings of more than $11 bil­lion, accord­ing to accord­ing to a sur­vey by Thom­son Finan­cial. Thanks to rapid­ly ris­ing oil prices, that is con­sid­er­ably more than the com­pa­ny earned a year ear­li­er, and could even top Exxon Mobil’s own record for the biggest quar­ter­ly prof­it in U.S. his­to­ry.

The com­pa­ny’s board is rec­om­mend­ing share­hold­ers vote against a pro­pos­al to split the role of chair­man and CEO. In a recent proxy state­ment filed with the Secu­ri­ties and Exchange Com­mis­sion, the board said “that the most effec­tive lead­er­ship struc­ture for Exxon Mobil Cor­po­ra­tion at the present time is for Mr. Tiller­son to serve as both Chair­man and CEO.”

Exxon Mobil spokesman Gantt Wal­ton said the com­pa­ny has met with mem­bers of the Rock­e­feller fam­i­ly on mul­ti­ple occa­sions and “respects the rights of all share­hold­ers to make their views known,” but that it does not com­ment on details of meet­ings with share­hold­ers.

The stock is up more than 63 per­cent since Tiller­son became CEO on Jan. 1, 2006, com­pared with a gain of 11.4 per­cent for the broad S&P 500 index over the same peri­od.


4 comments for “Think past oil, Rockefeller kin tell Exxon”

  1. “They are fight­ing the last war and they’re not see­ing they’re fac­ing a new war,” said Peter O’Neill, who heads the Rock­e­feller Fam­ily com­mit­tee deal­ing with Exxon Mobil and is the great-great-grand­son of John D. Rock­e­feller.

    I think I know what that ‘new war’ might be:

    Oil Exec­u­tive: Mil­i­tary-Style ‘Psy Ops’ Expe­ri­ence Applied

    Pub­lished: Tues­day, 8 Nov 2011 | 1:35 PM ET

    By: Eamon Javers
    CNBC Wash­ing­ton, DC Cor­re­spon­dent

    Last week’s oil indus­try con­fer­ence at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Hous­ton was sup­posed to be an indus­try con­fab just like any oth­er — a series of pan­el dis­cus­sions, light refresh­ments and an exchange of ideas.

    It was a gath­er­ing of pro­fes­sion­als to dis­cuss “media and stake­hold­er rela­tions” in the hydraulic frac­tur­ing indus­try — com­pa­nies using the often-con­tro­ver­sial oil and gas extrac­tion tech­nique known as “frack­ing.”

    But things took an unex­pect­ed twist.

    CNBC has obtained audio­tapes of the event, on which one pre­sen­ter can be heard rec­om­mend­ing that his col­leagues down­load a copy of the Army and Marine Corps coun­terin­sur­gency man­u­al. That’s because, he said, the oppo­si­tion fac­ing the indus­try is an “insur­gency.”

    Anoth­er told atten­dees that his com­pa­ny has sev­er­al for­mer mil­i­tary psy­cho­log­i­cal oper­a­tions, or “psy ops” spe­cial­ists on staff, apply­ing their skills in Penn­syl­va­nia.


    “We have sev­er­al for­mer psy ops folks that work for us at Range because they’re very com­fort­able in deal­ing with local­ized issues and local gov­ern­ments,” Pitzarel­la said. “Real­ly all they do is spend most of their time help­ing folks devel­op local ordi­nances and things like that. But very much hav­ing that under­stand­ing of psy ops in the Army and in the Mid­dle East has applied very help­ful­ly here for us in Penn­syl­va­nia.


    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 9, 2011, 8:47 am
  2. I think we might have to “Think past civ­i­liza­tion” if this is what it looks like it could be:

    Shock as retreat of Arc­tic sea ice releas­es dead­ly green­house gas

    Russ­ian research team aston­ished after find­ing ‘foun­tains’ of methane bub­bling to sur­face
    Steve Con­nor Author Biog­ra­phy

    Tues­day 13 Decem­ber 2011
    Dra­mat­ic and unprece­dent­ed plumes of methane – a green­house gas 20 times more potent than car­bon diox­ide – have been seen bub­bling to the sur­face of the Arc­tic Ocean by sci­en­tists under­tak­ing an exten­sive sur­vey of the region.

    The scale and vol­ume of the methane release has aston­ished the head of the Russ­ian research team who has been sur­vey­ing the seabed of the East Siber­ian Arc­tic Shelf off north­ern Rus­sia for near­ly 20 years.

    In an exclu­sive inter­view with The Inde­pen­dent, Igor Semi­le­tov, of the Far East­ern branch of the Russ­ian Acad­e­my of Sci­ences, said that he has nev­er before wit­nessed the scale and force of the methane being released from beneath the Arc­tic seabed.

    Ear­li­er we found torch-like struc­tures like this but they were only tens of metres in diam­e­ter. This is the first time that we’ve found con­tin­u­ous, pow­er­ful and impres­sive seep­ing struc­tures, more than 1,000 metres in diam­e­ter. It’s amaz­ing,” Dr Semi­le­tov said. “I was most impressed by the sheer scale and high den­si­ty of the plumes. Over a rel­a­tive­ly small area we found more than 100, but over a wider area there should be thou­sands of them.

    Sci­en­tists esti­mate that there are hun­dreds of mil­lions of tonnes of methane gas locked away beneath the Arc­tic per­mafrost, which extends from the main­land into the seabed of the rel­a­tive­ly shal­low sea of the East Siber­ian Arc­tic Shelf. One of the great­est fears is that with the dis­ap­pear­ance of the Arc­tic sea-ice in sum­mer, and rapid­ly ris­ing tem­per­a­tures across the entire region, which are already melt­ing the Siber­ian per­mafrost, the trapped methane could be sud­den­ly released into the atmos­phere lead­ing to rapid and severe cli­mate change.


    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 13, 2011, 12:02 am
  3. Oops.......just real­ized my pre­vi­ous com­ment was on anoth­er page. My apolo­gies.

    Posted by Steven l. | December 14, 2011, 7:29 am
  4. Okla­homa just expe­ri­enced the most pow­er­ful earth­quake since 2011 on Thurs­day. And that 2011 quake was the most pow­er­ful in the state’s his­to­ry. So it was a pret­ty big quake this week. And in case it was­n’t clear that this is caused by frack­ing, the Okla­homa Cor­po­ra­tion Com­mis­sion’s Oil and Gas Con­ser­va­tion Divi­sion ordered the shut­down of more frack­ing waste dis­pos­al wells in the area of the earth­quake, the lat­est wells to be shut down as part of its ongo­ing attempts to reduce Okla­homa’s seis­mic activ­i­ty:

    Shale Dai­ly
    Okla­homa Shuts Down Four More Dis­pos­al Wells After Largest Quake Since 2011

    Char­lie Pas­sut
    Novem­ber 20, 2015

    The Okla­homa Cor­po­ra­tion Com­mis­sion’s (OCC) Oil and Gas Con­ser­va­tion Divi­sion (OGCD) was shut­ting in dis­pos­al wells Thurs­day and Fri­day after two strong earth­quakes — one of them the strongest to hit the state since 2011 — hit in north­ern Okla­homa Thurs­day.

    The OCC ordered four dis­pos­al wells with­in three miles of an earth­quake Thurs­day morn­ing to shut down, and said it would order addi­tion­al wells in the area to cur­tail their oper­a­tions on Fri­day.

    Accord­ing to the OCC and the U.S. Geo­log­i­cal Sur­vey (USGS), a 4.0‑magnitude earth­quake, its epi­cen­ter 15 kilo­me­ters (9.3 miles) north of Cres­cent, OK, occurred at 8:24 a.m. CST Thurs­day. Lat­er that day, the OCC ordered Devon Ener­gy Corp. to shut down two dis­pos­al wells it oper­ates in the area: Adkisson 1–33 SWD and Fuxa 25–19‑4 SWD.

    The agency also ordered Stephens Ener­gy Corp. to shut down its Kit­ten­brink 1–36 SWD well. Reg­u­la­tors were try­ing to deter­mine what com­pa­ny oper­ates a fourth well ordered shut down, Von­da SWD 1–6.

    The OCC’s action late Thurs­day fol­lowed anoth­er ear­li­er in the day, when it ordered two wells to shut down and anoth­er 23 to reduce their intake vol­umes by either 25% or 50% (see Shale Dai­ly, Nov. 19). That order was in response to a 4.7‑magnitude tem­blor that struck Thurs­day morn­ing at 1:42 a.m. CST eight miles south­west of Chero­kee, OK, at a depth of 3.8 miles. For the 25 wells involved in the pre­vi­ous order, total dai­ly aver­age intake was to be reduced by 40%, from 209,600 b/d to 126,465 b/d.

    The ear­li­er quake on Thurs­day was the largest to hit the state since the largest in Oklahoma’s his­to­ry: a 5.6‑magnitude earth­quake that struck the Prague area on Nov. 6, 2011. That quake also spawned a 4.8‑magnitude after­shock two days lat­er.

    Thursday’s two earth­quakes bring to 29 the total num­ber of earth­quakes of 4.0‑magnitude or high­er to hit Okla­homa so far this year.

    For months, the OCC has been tak­ing action to reduce the num­ber and inten­si­ty of earth­quakes in the state, order­ing some dis­pos­al wells to shut down oper­a­tions and oth­ers to reduce the vol­ume of waste­water they accept. The water­shed moment came in April, when the OGCD issued new rules for injec­tion well oper­a­tors work­ing in “areas of inter­est” that inject into the Arbuck­le For­ma­tion, the state’s deep­est for­ma­tion (see Shale Dai­ly, April 2).

    The OCC shut down two wells and ordered vol­umes to be cut at anoth­er three in Sep­tem­ber (see Shale Dai­ly, Sept. 21), and ordered 13 wells to change oper­a­tions in Octo­ber (see Shale Dai­ly, Oct. 19). The oper­a­tors of two wells vol­un­tar­i­ly agreed to shut down their oper­a­tions in July, and a third agreed to cut intake vol­umes by half (see Shale Dai­ly, July 29).

    Last March, the OGCD issued a direc­tive to oper­a­tors of 347 dis­pos­al wells tar­get­ing the Arbuck­le for­ma­tion to prove that they are not inject­ing oil and gas waste into base­ment rock below it. The direc­tive was expand­ed to include an addi­tion­al 211 dis­pos­al wells ear­li­er this month. The wells are all with­in “areas of inter­est,” which include 21 of the state’s 77 coun­ties that have seen increased seis­mic­i­ty (see Shale Dai­ly, July 20; April 2).

    Sci­en­tists with the Okla­homa Geo­log­i­cal Sur­vey (OGS) report­ed in April that the state was being hit by earth­quakes at a rate about 600 times greater than his­toric back­ground data (see Shale Dai­ly, April 22). Seis­mic­i­ty increased from an aver­age of one-and-a-half earth­quakes of 3.0 mag­ni­tude or greater to about two-and-a-half such earth­quakes every day in 2014.

    Accord­ing to the OGS, the earth­quakes are pri­mar­i­ly occur­ring with­in the crys­talline base­ment. The major­i­ty of the state’s approx­i­mate­ly 900 injec­tion wells tar­get the Arbuck­le for­ma­tion, which close­ly over­lies the crys­talline base­ment.


    A recent­ly released report by Ener­gy In Depth (EID), an indus­try-backed nation­al shale gas edu­ca­tion ini­tia­tive, said that less than 1% of waste­water dis­pos­al wells in the Unit­ed States used by the oil and gas indus­try have a poten­tial link to induced seis­mic­i­ty (see Shale Dai­ly, Nov. 19).

    “Sci­en­tists with the Okla­homa Geo­log­i­cal Sur­vey (OGS) report­ed in April that the state was being hit by earth­quakes at a rate about 600 times greater than his­toric back­ground data.”
    Yikes. And regard­ing the indus­try study ref­er­enced at the end that found that just 1% of waste­water dis­pos­al wells have a poten­tial link to earth­quakes, it prob­a­bly should­n’t be much relief for the peo­ple of Okla­homa and the sur­round­ing states since 89 of the 218 wells across the US that the indus­try found to be poten­tial­ly relat­ed to seis­mic activ­i­ty were in Okla­homa, 81 were in Kansas, and 27 in Texas.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 20, 2015, 3:54 pm

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