Thursday, October 31, 2019

Syria's Oil and Natural Gas Potential

With the Trump Administration leaving American military personel in place to “guard” Syria’s oil (from whom, we really don't know), I thought it was pertinent to look at some data regarding Syria’s oil potential.  As you will see in this posting, while its production of oil and natural gas is not large when compared to many of its Middle East neighbours, Syria is, in fact, currently the only producer of oil and natural gas among the nations on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea.  It is also pertinent to note that the Energy Information Administration has not updated its Country Analysis Brief since August 2011 which is not terribly surprising given the nearly 9 year-long conflict in the region which makes oil production and reserve statistics impossible to acquire.  Fortunately, the EIA has updated its overview which can be accessed here.

Syria's first oil production began in 1968 with most of the current oil production being located along the Euphrates Graben in the northeastern part of the country.  Here is a map showing the geology of the region surrounding and including Syria: 

Here is a map showing the detailed geological setting of Syria's oil and gas fields:

Here is a map showing the contract areas and oil and gas fields in Syria:

For my Canadian readers, please note the participation of PetroCanada in the northeastern most part of the country.
According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), Syria produced around 400,000 BOPD of combined oil and natural gas liquids in 2009 and 213 BCF of natural gas in 2008.  Syria's oil production had been in a state of decline for a decade and a half since peaking at 583,000 BOPD back in 1996.  Recent successful development drilling, new discoveries and field rehabilitation are expected to increase production capability and put a halt to production declines.  Over the last two years for which data was available, an additional 50,000 BOPD of productive capability has been added and in 2010, an additional 15,000 to 20,000 BOPD was expected to come on stream from new discoveries by Indian and Russian oil companies.  According to the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC), Syria has 3 billion barrels of oil reserves (0.26 percent of the world's total and 0.46 percent of OAPEC's total).  According to the EIA, Syria had 2.5 billion barrels of proved oil reserves and 8500 Bcf of proved natural gas reserves.

Oil production and development are managed by the Syrian Petroleum Company (SPC), an offshoot of the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources.  Foreign oil companies have been offered a share of Syria's oil industry in an attempt to stem the country's production decline with formation of the Al-Furat Petroleum Company.  This joint venture is 50 percent owned by SPC, 32 percent by Shell Oil and China's CNPC.  China is also active in other parts of Syria through its Sinochem and Sinopec government oil companies.  Here is a table showing the companies that held producing contracts in Syria:

In the first quarter of 2011, SPC produced 1,7385,626 barrels and 1,133,354 thousand cubic metres of natural gas.  The company also drilled 49185 metres of hole.  As well, SPC has announced that it is offering another Bid Round for three offshore blocks in the Mediterranean Sea with a closing date of October 5th, 2011.  As well, the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources was inviting qualified companies to explore for and develop Syria's oil shale deposits which are estimated to be roughly 285 billion barrels over the 14 blocks that were being offered, a rather significant reserve.  The submission for bids was to be due on November 30, 2011, 8 months after the Syrian Civil War began.  

For the past 2 decades or more, Syria had consumed less oil than it has produced.  Domestic consumption had risen slowly over the past 2 decades from 200,000 BOPD to 263,000 BOPD in 2006 and 308,000 BOPD in 2010 according to OPEC statistics.  As shown in this chart, Syria had exported up to 400,000 BOPD back in 1996; this declined to 149,000 BOPD in 2010, again according to OPEC.  According the EIA, Syria's oil production dropped to less than 25,000 BOPD in May 2015 as shown on this graphic, resulting in the nation becoming a net oil importer:

According to the EIA, Syria made up its oil requirement shortfall by importing roughly 60,000 BOPD of crud oil from Iran, its only friend in the region.

Prior to the civil war, most of Syria's oil exports was shipped to European OECD nations including Germany, Italy and France as shown on this graphic:

In all cases, Syrian oil imports provided a very small portion of each countries daily oil needs.

Syria was estimated to have proven natural gas reserves of 8.5 trillion cubic feet (Tcf), half of which is associated with oil reservoirs.  Gas that is non-associated is found in the central and eastern part of the country.  In 2008, Syria produced 208 billion cubic feet (Bcf) of natural gas and consumed 213 Bcf.  Recent large discoveries had increased gas production to 361 Bcf per year by mid-2010 and it was expected to reach 412 Bcf per year by the end of 2010.  As you can see on this graph, the production of Syria's natural gas reserves did suffer significantly from the conflict although not as badly as its oil production:

Approximately 35 percent of Syria's natural gas production was injected into oil reservoirs in an attempt to boost oil production with the bulk of the remainder used domestically for power production and industrial usage.  According to the EIA, Syria had plans to substitute natural gas for oil by 2014 for both power production and industrial usage since Syria does not have the refining facilities necessary to produce refined oil for these purposes.  With Syria having producing more natural gas than it consumes, it was exporting small volumes to both Lebanon and Turkey.

As we can see, Syria's overall oil and natural gas production is rather insignificant when compared to other Middle East nations, particularly nations such as Libya, another nation that was subjected to an American-driven nation re-engineering experiment.  While Syria's conventional reserves of both oil and natural gas are relatively small, the nation's potential for non-conventional oil reserves is quite significant and may prove to be one of the reasons why Washington is intervening in yet another "party" to which it has not been invited.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Congressional Term Limits

In light of the House and its continuing moves to impeach Donald Trump, there is a factor of American political theatre that receives very little coverage.  Let's open this posting by looking at a rarely discussed American election metric.  Here is a graphic from Open Secrets showing the re-election rates for the House going back to 1964:

Over the five plus decades since 1964, the House re-election rate has never fallen below 85 percent, hitting that level most recently in the 2010 mid-term elections.

Here is a graphic showing the re-election rates for the Senate going back to 1964:

While Senate races clearly favour the incumbent, there are occasional years where the pendulum swings dramatically as we see in 1980 when the Reagan presidency began.  Since the early mid-1980s, the Senate re-election rate has never fallen below 79 percent (2000 and 2006 elections)

Now, let's look at how American voters feel about their Congressional representatives, the majority of whom are incumbents.  Here is a graphic showing the history of the approval rating for the members of Congress in the United States:

Here is Gallup's monthly Congressional approval rating since the beginning of the Trump Administration:

As you can see, the vast majority of Americans disapprove of the way that Congress is handling its job responsibilities.

Here is a table from Gallup showing how much confidence Americans have in Congress going back to 1973:

The percentage of Americans that have very little confidence in Congress has risen from between 11 and 23 percent in the 1970s to its current level of 48 percent (June 2018 data).  The percent of voters that have a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in Congress has fallen from 42 percent in 1973 to its current level of 11 percent after hitting a low of 7 percent in 2014.

We can break the data down further.  Here is a table showing the percentage of American that approve or disapprove of the way that the Republicans in Congress are handling their job responsibilities going back to 1999:

Here is a table showing the percentage of American that approve or disapprove of the way that the Democrats in Congress are handling their job responsibilities going back to 1999:

With this data in mind, let's look at another very rarely discussed metric, the length of time served by Congressional incumbents.  Here is a table showing the longest serving members of the House:

Here is a table showing the longest serving members of the Senate:

Let's put all of this together.  It is a basic rule of thumb that incumbents for Congressional election races are nearly guaranteed re-election, leading to a reality where certain members of Congress have been re-elected for decades and yet, the approval rating for Congress is pathetic at best.  

There is a potential solution to this conundrum - term limits for Congress.   An organization, U.S. Term Limits (USTL) based in Washington, D.C. is advocating for term limits at all levels of government.  Here's what they have to say about their organization and how the Constitution can be amended to reflect term limits:

"In 2016, USTL launched the Term Limits Convention, a new project to enact a constitutional amendment for congressional term limits. Under this approach, state legislators can enact term limits for the Congress in Washington and no member of Congress can stop them.

USTL continues to be at the forefront of the term limits movement. Using the citizen initiative as its most potent tool, the term limits movement is considered to be the most successful grassroots movements in American history. To this day, voters in states and municipalities across the country are enacting and reaffirming term limit laws one election cycle after another.

It can happen in one of two ways. First, Congress can propose the amendment with a two-thirds vote. Currently, Representative Ron DeSantis of Florida and Senator Ted Cruz of Texas are sponsoring the USTL amendment on Capitol Hill. It calls for a three-term (six year) limit on representatives and a two-term (12 year) limit on senators. USTL asks all candidates for congress to sign a pledge in support of this amendment.

If Congress refuses to pass term limits on itself, citizens and activists can use the Term Limits Convention. The Term Limits Convention allows 34 state legislatures to convene a meeting to write an amendment for congressional term limits. The process bypasses Washington and allows the people and the states to impose congressional term limits."

Here is the petition:

You can take action by signing the USTL petition here.  According to USTL, they have nearly one million signatures on their term limits petition.

Let's close with this quote from a blog posting on USTL:

"U.S. lawmakers face glaring conflicts of interest setting policy for companies they are supposed to regulate.

Although not illegal, there is a perception of impropriety because it is impossible to be impartial on issues affecting your own personal wealth or the wealth of family members, especially when millions of dollars are at play.

Most of the stocks owned by the fifty-one senators are in five key sectors:

energy and natural resources;
finance, insurance and real estate; and

According to last week’s investigative report, ten members of the Senate banking committee own a total of as much as $8 million in stock in companies in the finance, securities, and real estate sector.

Other senators on the housing and urban affairs committee have millions vested in real estate.

The median net worth of a senator is approximately $3.2 million. According to Market Watch, the median net worth of the average U.S. household is $97,300.

US lawmakers are disproportionately wealthier than their constituents and growing wealthier. This inequity makes it impossible for members of the Senate to have any empathy in the average American experience.

It’s no wonder Americans overwhelmingly disapprove of Congress and don’t believe their representatives share their priorities." (my bold)

As is typical of politicians around the world, once they are elected to office, they start to feel as though government belongs to them and is for their benefit alone.  We need to send them a message to tell them that government is for the people, not for the select few.  Congressional term limits are a good place to start.

Monday, October 28, 2019

The Greatest Crisis Facing America - Fiscal Irresponsibility

While Congress is focussing what passes for an important issue, that of the impeachment proceedings againt Donald Trump, they are failing completely when it comes to an issue that is of lasting importance and one that will have an even more significant detrimental effect on the United States over the medium- and long-term.

Let's open with this screen capture from the Debt-to-the-Penny website:

Remember when Donald Trump said that beating the federal debt and deficit were no big problem?

Here is a graphic showing the total federal debt up to the second quarter of 2019 and how its growth rate increased during and after the Great Recession:

Here is a graphic showing the total federal debt as a percentage of GDP up to the second quarter of 2019:

While Washington's debt-to-GDP ratio has more-or-less stabilized at around 103 percent of GDP since the fourth quarter of 2015, this is thanks only to the continued rather modest by historical standards growth in the American economy.  If you look back to the recessions of the past, you will see that the debt-to-GDP ratio almost always rose during economic contractions, particularly during the Great Recession where it rose from 62.9 percent of GDP in Q4 2007 to 80.4 percent in Q2 2009, an increase of 17.5 percentage points or 27.8 percent.  If the debt-to-GDP ratio were to rise by the same amount during the next recession, it would hit 131.6 percent, an uncomfortably high level by any measure.  Here is a graphic from the Congressional Budget Office showing the mounting debt problem:

While Congress seems to pay attention to the federal debt issue only when the debt ceiling is either reached or technically breached, there is a greater problem.  Here is a graphic showing the interest payments on the outstanding debt going back to 1947 and current to the second quarter of 2019:

At an annualized rate of $605.1 billion, interest payments on the debt in the second quarter of 2019 reached a new record.  If individual tax revenues were the only source of income that the United States government had, roughly 35.6 cents of every dollar in individual taxes remitted would go to pay down interest on the federal debt.  As it stands now, the federal government brought in $2.036 trillion in tax receipts during the second quarter of 2019 meaning that 29.7 cents of every dollar in federal tax revenue goes to pay interest on the federal debt.

There is only one saving grace as shown here:

At 1.77 percent, interest rates on 10-year Treasuries are just slightly above their all-time low of 1.5 percent.  Here is a graphic from the Treasury showing the cumulative interest expense (blue bars) and average interest rates for fiscal 2017 - 2018 and fiscal 2018 - 2019:

In September 2019, the average interest rate on the federal debt was 2.492 percent.   If we go back in time, we find the following examples:

1.) January 2010:

2.) January 2008:

3.) January 2006:

4.) January 2004:

5.) January 2002:

As you can see, we are living in historically unique times from an interest rate viewpoint; Washington has allowed itself to believe that it can continue to spend beyond its means with no repercussions, an artifact of the four year election cycle.  If interest rates rose by even two or three percentage points, the annual interest payments on the federal would mushroom as shown on this graphic from the Congressional Budget Office:

According to the CBO's projections, net outlays for interest payments on the federal debt more than triple in relation to the size of the economy over the next 30 years, exceeding all discretionary spending by 2046, hitting 8.7 percent of GDP in 2049 (currently 4.2 percent of GDP):

While the left-leaning politicians among us are concerned about the impact of global climate change on American society over the coming decades, as you can see from this posting, it is going to be a very uncomfortable fiscal future where there are either significant cuts to discretionary programs and mandatory (entitlement) programs, increases in taxes or a combination of the two.  Pain is a given, largely thanks to Washington's fiscal irresponsibility.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Sergei Shoigu - Russia's Next President?

Those of us who live in the West rarely hear accurate and thorough reporting about how Russia and its leadership view us.  A recent English language interview with Russia's Minister of Defense and General of the Army, Sergei Soigu, which was published on the Russian media outlet Moskovkij Komsomolets, was the first details interview that Shoigu has given in seven years.  In this interview, he looks at the rebuilding of the Russian armed forces after the outbreak of the Russo-Georgian War in 2008.  At that time, it was decided that it was necessary to finance and implement a new state armament program to modernize Russia's armed forces with modern equipment and weaponry, a program that would allow the Russian army to be in a state of constant readiness.

As background, Sergei Shoigu was appointed Russia's Minister of Defense in November 2012 after serving his nation for many years as shown on this screen capture from his official English language biography:

Recent press coverage by The Times suggests that it is quite possible that Mr. Shoigu could be the successor to Vladimir Putin when Putin's term as Russian president runs out in 2024:

According to the Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VCIOM) Mr. Shoigu has the second highest approval rating among major Russian politicians (after Vladimir Putin) and the third lowest disapproval rating as shown here:

With that background, let's look at what Defense Minister Shoigu had to say in response to some key questions about the possibility of war and the American military-industrial complex noting that all bolds are mine:

1.) Question: "How likely is Russia's participation in any full-scale armed conflict in the near future? And what strategic threats do you assess as posing the greatest danger for Russia in the near future?"

Shoigu: "The question you've asked is not a simple one. Perhaps it is unsuitable for an interview like ours. But I'll try to answer it. I hope that there is no possibility of a full-scale war today. And all the risks and consequences that such a full-scale war entails are obvious to everyone. Regarding the third world war, there are a very large number of most differing statements.

The most accurate and adequate of them seems to me the following: 'I don't know what kind the third world war will be. But I know for sure that it will be the last one'. However, if we talk about the number of threats to our country, then they do not diminish. The United States has already withdrawn from two important nuclear arms control treaties. So far, the START-3 treaty remains, which is also under discussion in the US, whether to renew it or not? As a result of this approach, the world is becoming more unpredictable and less secure. At the current level of computerization and automation, there is a high probability of errors in the weapons control system.

That is why issues of ensuring information security have come to the fore. When you are aware of your vulnerability and interested in maintaining balance and universal security parity, it makes you think. And when you think that a balance of power has developed in your favor [this is how the United States continues to believe by inertia], a variety of ideas may pop into your head, including not the most reasonable ones. It is in this situation that I see the main threat, and not only for Russia."

2.) Question: "That is, from your point of view, we are lucky that the West very early on revealed its true, far from (benign) intentions?"

Shoigu: "We were lucky in that we still managed to stop in time. The process of returning to common sense, as I said, began in 1999. Starting from that moment, by putting in a lot of effort we have achieved that the world today has ceased to be unipolar. And this, of course, very much displeases the West that is making every effort to restore to itself a monopoly on global influence. Someone believes that the open large-scale opposition of the West to Russia began only five years ago – starting with Ukraine and the Crimea events. But this is a mistake. We can recommend a detailed recollection of what exactly happened in the 90s, in 2008, 2013.

What nonsense was not written and said about us at a time when we were preparing for the Olympic Games in Sochi! And this went well beyond an information war.

I do not want to dig deep. But the meaning of what is happening, from my point of view, is as follows: patterns and algorithms for overthrowing any legal authority in any country inconvenient for the West, have long been created. Of course, all this is done under the banner of promoting democracy. Well, in which country where they 'came with democracy' did this democracy take root: in Iraq, Afghanistan or Libya? Or [did it happen] in the former Yugoslavia, which they forcibly divided into 6 countries with their 'democratic' bombing in 1999? And you can simply forget about sovereignty and independence after any American intervention. And does it surprising to anyone that in Libya the majority of oil deposits belong to American or US-controlled companies?

Our Western colleagues like to accuse Russia of waging some kind of 'hybrid wars'. But I must say that it is the West itself that is waging real hybrid wars. Now, for example, leaving Afghanistan in a dilapidated state, the Americans are diligently making a fuss in Venezuela - also, of course, for the sake of ' democracy's triumph'!"

3.) Question: "The US military budget is ten times greater than the Russian one. Can Russia, in principle, effectively confront America under such conditions?"

Shoigu: "Our Supreme Commander-in-Chief has already answered this question thoroughly and reasonably. Not only can it [resist] - Russia is already opposing America quite effectively. It resists thanks to our science, our industry and our innovative developments. And besides this, we are not trying to compete with them on all fronts. If you were to spread out the US military budget on the shelves, you will reach an understanding: they have huge expenses for various bases scattered all over the world. America has 170 such bases. American expenditures on the same operation in Afghanistan alone are almost equal to our annual defense budget. Gigantic money is being spent by the United States on private military companies, on aircraft carrier groups. But does Russia really need five or ten aircraft carrier groups, if we are not going to attack anyone? We need funds that could potentially be used against such enemy carrier groups in case of aggression against our country. And this is incomparably cheaper and more effective!

I have given you only a few separate facts. But bearing them in mind, it becomes clear that we do not need to compare our defense budget with the Americans. By defense budget size, we are even only in seventh place globally. Saudi Arabia and, incidentally, Japan are ahead of us in this indicator. The main thing is that we are quite effective in our military expenditures, which are very precisely spent and are closely monitored by our Supreme Commander."

Oh that Washington could say the same thing about the effectiveness of its military expenditures!

Here is a graphic from Global Firepower showing the top ten defense spenders:

In 2018, overall global military expenditures hit a total of $1.82 percent with sixty percent of that coming from five nations; the United States, China, Saudi Arabia, India and France.

The comments from current Russian Minister of Defense are most interesting, particularly given the possibility that he could replace current Russian President Vladimir Putin.  At that point, his views on war and the Russian military will become more than just his personal opinion, they will become the uncomfortable reality for our new multipolar geopolitical reality.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

The Bidens, Burisma and the Atlantic Council - The Tangled Web

In the past I have posted musings on the Atlantic Council, one of Washington's most influential think tanks and a group that is often thought of as the braintrust behind NATO.  With the recent business links between Burisma, a Ukraine-based gas producing company and former Vice President Joe Biden's son, Hunter, it is interesting to note that there is yet another twist to this saga that has led to the impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump.

Let's look at some background about the Atlantic Council to help put the group into a broader perspective.  The Atlantic Council has the following mantra:

"The Atlantic Council promotes constructive leadership and engagement in international affairs based on the Atlantic Community's central role in meeting global challenges. The Council provides an essential forum for navigating the dramatic economic and political changes defining the twenty-first century by informing and galvanizing its uniquely influential network of global leaders. Through the papers we write, the ideas we generate, and the communities we build, the Council shapes policy choices and strategies to create a more secure and prosperous world."

Here's a very short video which provides a bit of background on this "nonpartisan group of foreign policy change-makers":

The Atlantic Council was formed in 1961 by former U.S. Secretaries of State Dean Acheson and Christian Herter and other "distinguished Americans" who recommended the consolidation of U.S. citizen's groups that supported the Atlantic Alliance  (i.e. NATO).  Throughout the turbulent 1960s, the Council produced reports on the state of public opinion towards Alliance member nations and aimed to educate the public about the need for engagement in international affairs through television commercials starring Bob Hope.

Here is a list of current directors of the Atlantic Council:

It certainly appears to be a who's who list of the American Deep State, doesn't it?  We find James Baker III, Ashton Carter, General Wesley Clarke, Henry Kissinger, David Petraeus, Condoleeza Rice, George Schultz, Brent Scowcroft and Dov Zhakeim among its illustrious board members.  You may also recognize these two individuals who have been awarded by the Atlantic Council for their "leadership":

The Atlantic Council is also home to the relatively newly formed Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab) which is described as follows: 

"The Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab) is a start-up housed at the Atlantic Council that aims to create a world where disinformation is analyzed and repudiated rapidly and effectively by accurate, publicly sourced reports, thereby enabling citizens and policy makers to make informed decisions.

Since its launch in 2016, the Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab) has operationalized the study of disinformation to expose false narratives and fake news, document human rights abuses, and build digital resilience worldwide. DFRLab continually tracks global disinformation campaigns, fake news stories, covert military developments, and subversive attempts against democracy while teaching the public skills to identify and expose attempts to pollute the information space."

DFRLab was founded in the aftermath of Hillary Clinton's defeat in the 2016 presidential election with the goal of preventing Russian electoral interference, being hired by Facebook to ensure that the war for your mind remains pristine as you can read here and see here:

The DFRLab's strong anti-Russia, anti-Putin spin is quite clearly shown in this article about Crimea and Russia:

...and this article about how American, Ukrainian and pro-Kremlin media outlets have covered the impeachment proceedings in the United States:

Here's a quote from that article showing the Atlantic Council's take on narratives pushed by Kremlin-owned television channels in Russia:

"In the Russian information space, the DFRLab analyzed talk show programs aired by the top three pro-Kremlin TV channels — Rossiya 1, Perviy Kanal, and NTV — and identified three narratives regarding broader Ukrainian-U.S. relations. Television represents the main news source for 57 percent of Russian citizens, of which these three outlets dominate the market, comprising 42 percent of the total audience share.

Narrative: Ukraine is interfering in the U.S. presidential election; both Ukraine and the United States are corrupt.

Pro-Kremlin TV channels intensively pushed a narrative about Ukraine’s interference in the U.S. elections, conflating Trump’s demand to investigate former Vice President Biden with supposed Ukrainian interference in the affairs of the United States and characterizing the U.S. President’s demand as a prime example of double standards in U.S. politics.

Perviy Kanal claimed that, when opponents accused Donald Trump of having backchannel communications with Russia during the 2016 presidential election campaign, the entire political establishment treated this accusation as objective fact. Additionally, the author claimed that, when Trump allegedly demanded an investigation of Ukrainian interference — again, a conflation with Trump’s actual request regarding the supposed corruption around Biden — into the affairs of the United States, he was accused of violating the U.S. Constitution.

Rossiya 1 talk show co-host Yevgeny Popov claimed that Zelensky turned out to be the one interfering in the U.S. elections, not Russian President Vladimir Putin. He also insinuated that the U.S. political establishment does not care about the annexation of Crimea and Russia’s hybrid war against Ukraine at all and “money was allocated to Ukraine for only one reason: to convince Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden’s son’s business in Ukraine,” which the Ukrainian President agreed to do. The show’s other co-host, Olga Skabeeva, added that Trump had asked Zelensky a reported eight times to commence the investigation in exchange for military aid money that the U.S. President had put on hold and that, in acquiescing, Zelensky “sold himself to the Americans.”

NTV also claimed that Biden’s ongoing presidential campaign is funded with Ukrainian money and asserted that Trump had fired his National Security Advisor, John Bolton, because the latter had failed to compel President Zelensky to investigate Hunter Biden.

Narrative: Biden’s family was involved in a corruption scheme in Ukraine.

Echoing both fringe and mainstream U.S. outlets such as Breitbart and Fox News, pro-Kremlin TV channels claimed that the Biden family was undoubtedly involved in a corruption scheme in Ukraine, but none of the stories provided evidence to support the allegation.

NTV aired a video that claimed that, in 2015, then-Vice President Joe Biden had pushed the Ukrainian government to boost extraction and production of natural gas; his son Hunter Biden was then made a board member of the Ukrainian gas production company Burisma. While Hunter Biden was not involved in the management of the company or in regular board proceedings, he earned millions of dollars from his formal membership on the board. Thus, Biden’s family had direct financial interests in Ukraine and TV anchor concludes that this case is worth investigating in order to expose how Joe Biden tried to cover up corrupt schemes in which his son was allegedly involved. space."

Part way through the article, we find this disclaimer:

"Burisma contributes funding to the Atlantic Council, though not in direct support of the DFRLab. Both the DFRLab and, more broadly, the Atlantic Council maintain strict intellectual independence from the company, as with all donors from any sector."

I'm sure.

Let's look more deeply at this aspect of the Burisma - Biden - Atlantic Council story.  In the 2019 Annual Report for the Atlantic Council, we find this "Honor Roll of Contributors" which, once again, has that distinct Deep State look to it:

Notice that Burisma, the Ukrainian company involved in the current controversy swirling around Washington, is a significant contributor to the Atlantic Council, right up there with military-industrial complex members General Atomics, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, United Technologies and American taxpayers through the United States Air Force Academy and the United States Department of Defense.

And, just in case you didn't think that was enough to confuse the issue, here is a video from the 2011 Atlantic Council Awards ceremony featuring none other than Joe Biden:

Given the current kerfuffle in Washington, it is interesting to see the ties between one of Washington's most influential think tanks and the company behind the Biden soap opera.  With the Atlantic Council driving much of Washington's anti-Russia narrative and its views on the global geopolitical landscape and the company affiliated with Joe Biden's son being a significant contributor to the think tank, one can see how there is a very, very tangled web that makes ascertaining the truth of the matter nearly impossible for Americans.  The truth IS out there somewhere; good luck finding it with this cast of characters.