Suppose there were an American-based multinational corporation which figured out how to make billions of dollars from releasing pure carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Now, suppose that company had spent decades trying to determine how much temperature rise these CO2 emissions would cause. Once that company decided th

at the temperature would rise to unimaginable levels across the planet they then decided it was profitable to proceed anyway, since there was no law against it.

Who could stop them? Who would have the legal authority to intervene? What if the company spent millions of dollars to avoid regulation and then denied that it knew that it was going to cause temperature rise? What if it bought scientists and politicians to say that it was impossible for man to significantly influence the temperature of the planet so there would be no conventional legal remedy? Would this be a crime against humanity? Would this crime be worse than terrorism if it resulted in the destruction of the human race? Would this crime deserve a different kind of punishment and would it require a new form of legal infrastructure to prevent it from happening? Could the people who were planning this crime be incarcerated and charged with a new category of offense? Could a country complicit with this offense for profit suffer economic sanctions? Would it be appropriate to reward a country with significant economic benefits for interdicting such a crime?

My friends, this is precisely the situation we find ourselves in today and that company's name is EXXON and that country's name is Indonesia. NATUNA CO2 PROJECT

In 1985 while I was working for Tenneco in Indonesia. I evaluated the Natuna Gas Field Project in the South China Sea for possible lease participation using EXXON'S own data. This EXXON field is one of the largest remaining undeveloped gas fields in the world and consists of an ancient reef complex roughly 9 miles wide and 15 miles long. Development has been delayed for over 43 years by poor economics and problems with the lease terms and territorial disputes by China, Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia. It is more than 70% CO2 with significant levels of poisonous hydrogen sulfide H2S. Reportedly, the field could eventually recover 45 Trillion Cubic Feet of Methane Gas (TCF) but would have to emit or dispose of over 150 TCF of CO2. By 2007, EXXON claimed to have spent about $400 million with PERTAMINA, the government oil company, spending an additional $60 million on assessment and feasibility studies.

By 2009, Exxon had been wrangling over the terms and validity of its lease agreement with PERTAMINA for decades. However, in 2010, PERTAMINA abruptly canceled its lease for failure of Exxon to perform its obligations. Nevertheless, a fortuitous visit to Jakarta, Indonesia that year by Pres. Barack Obama, renegotiated the terms and sealed the deal for EXXON with the signing of a Heads of Agreement(HoA).

Given these conditions, it has been estimated that it would cost over $40 billion to develop, so it might not even be profitable when oil prices are above $100 per barrel. Early calculations showed that deliberately bubbling the CO2 to the surface or a blowout could suffocate anyone not wearing oxygen an apparatus within a 10-mile radius. We were told that neither PERTAMINA nor the Indonesian Government had any problem with letting the CO2 just escape into the atmosphere, but that was not OK with me. EXXON also evaluated the feasibility of bubbling the gas in the deep ocean but concluded that the H2S would create a toxic plume to marine organisms and within 10 years the CO2 would all be released from the ocean into the atmosphere.

It is a wrong to assume that oil companies had little knowledge of the impacts of CO2 in the air back then. In fact, the industry was very profitably injecting carbon dioxide into W. Texas fields after 1972 for enhanced oil recovery (EOR) in a method called CO2 flooding. By 2005, the industry claimed it had produced a billion barrels of CO2 enhanced oil in the US by this method. Source: Inside Climate News (August 10 2015)

According to a Global CCS Institute 2010 estimate, at full capacity, East Natuna Field development plans call for CO2 production rates of 4.2 BCF per day or 1.5 TCF per year. This would require production, capture, injection, storage and monitoring and maintenance for at least 75 years. This is equivalent to all of the annual emissions of greenhouse gasses in Canada. We were told 100,000 trees would have to be planted per year to compensate for the amount of CO2 emitted. I told the company the gas field was not economic, bad for the environment and too dangerous.

I recommended against it because it would have become the world’s largest single point source of CO2 and the amount of CO2 emitted would be twice as much as an equivalent amount of coal. That is after considering the combustion of the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) the methane would be converted into for transport. It was assumed that all of the CO2 would need to be flared to remove the hydrogen sulfide even though the CO2 is not combustible. I also told them it could not be profitable under any probable scenario.

Apparently, James Hansen did some consulting work for EXXON about the same time and gave EXXON the same advice. In short, development could start a war after which production would overheat the planet. Given the scale of this Natuna Project. it could well have been the beginning of EXXON’S intense interest in the link between CO2 and global warming. Attempts to justify this ill-conceived project could have led to EXXON’s much publicized, active role in promoting Global Warming denial. Needless to say, EXXON to this day is continuing to promote this insane Natuna project and denial of man-made climate change It is still looking for additional partners more than 40 years after the fields discovery and plans to resume development in 2017.

In Jan 2016, PERTAMINA proposed to combine the operational planning and logistics of 5 separate blocks in the Natuna Islands together while keeping the lease contracts essentially the same. This would result in even greater total gas production and potentially much more CO2 to be disposed of in the atmosphere and permanently underground.

So, how do you stop a corporation or a nation determined to pollute the atmosphere with huge amounts of carbon dioxide for profit? First you have to try to convince the UN or other international body that there are cases where pollution must be stopped for humanities survival. Next you must consider giving enforcement powers to international treaties like the Paris Accords. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) should be tasked with identifying industrial projects which represent a genuine threat to climate change goals. The United Nations Peace and Security Forces could be authorized by the Security Council to take action under NATO if all security members are threatened by the decisions of a few bad actors.

Appeals could also be made for unilateral action. We must remember that the Congress of the United States authorized $98 million for military training and the aerial bombing of rebels to protect Oxy’s Cano Limon pipeline in Columbia in 2002. It is probably no coincidence that Saravena, the headquarters for this operation, was the same base from which Oxy mistakenly launched a helicopter attack on the village of Santo Domingo which killed 18 people including 9 children. If our military resources can be used to protect the assets of fossil fuel developers, then it seems only fitting that the same resources could be used to threaten the development of some fossil fuel resources which threaten the health of our planet.

Also, we are already seeing our military bases along the coasts threatened by rising sea level. Some of these bases in North Carolina have already requested funds to build fortifications to hold back the sea. The Republican led Congress of course has refused to authorize and money for these efforts. In fact, they have prevented any debate on these issues. If companies persist, it might not be difficult to convince the military that they must intervene to maintain some bases.

If all else fails, we could have the US threaten to bomb the facility in the South China Sea before the CO2 plant is constructed. This is not a huge leap since we recently sent three generations of nuclear bombers over Chinese claimed islands in the South China Sea. Such a show of force could be used not just to intimidate China but to send a strong message to Indonesia and EXXON that we will not allow these kinds of reckless projects to proceed.

The world’s governing bodies must find the collective will to prevent these dangerous greenhouse gases from ever being developed or released if we are to avoid the worst effects of global climate change. These global risks are too great to justify any motive. To allow the largest corporations to proceed with these insane projects for marginal profits would be the height of folly. Failure for governments to threaten military action and letting sheer greed dictate the decisions will virtually guarantee catastrophic consequences for the planet.

David Lincoln



This is a review of current Global Warming data and the factors which are pushing up temperatures above the targets of the Paris Accords.

Source: NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, State of the Climate: National Overview for July 2016, published online August 2016, retrieved on August 11, 2016 from

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