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Beaty polishes his halo in The Globe and Mail

So, Toronto’s Globe and Mail today publishes an interview with Ross Beaty, CEO of Magma Energy, which focuses [among other things] on the controversy surrounding Magma’s acquisition of HS Orka here in Iceland.

Now, we know this about Ross Beaty: he is a smooth talker. He’s got this slightly self-depreciating manner that instantly invites rapport. He also plays the victim with considerable finesse, just enough to inspire sympathy without being ingratiating.

According to Beaty, he’s misunderstood and misrepresented. He’s in Iceland trying to help the local economy, trying to do his best for the Icelandic people, trying trying trying … and all he gets in return is a chorus of BOOs. It’s so unfair!

Every now and then he will come across as extremely hurt and a handful of times I’ve heard him say publicly that, if the Icelandic people don’t want him here, well then he’ll just leave. Go. Be done with it.

Which would be great, if it wasn’t for the small fact that he’s still here.

As Beaty tells it, his main problem in Iceland is that he “did a terrible job of public relations”.

Ah. It’s a PR matter, then. In other words, the Icelandic people just needed a little more stroking, and they would have abandoned their harsh, boorish attitudes and realized what a benign, beatific individual Ross Beaty really is.

The man insults my intelligence.

By turning this into a PR matter, he is, in fact, implying that the Icelandic people don’t have enough wherewithal to realize just what he is about.

I could write several lengthy essays, taking apart piece-by-piece why Magma Energy and Ross Beaty should not be trusted. [Oh, wait — I already have.] However, because I prefer to work with what I have in front of me, I’ll stick to Ross Beaty’s statements in the paper today.

Ross Beaty claims that he has been badly misrepresented in Iceland.

The first misrepresentation was that we were out to buy the energy resources of the country. False. All we have is utilization rights [in geothermal] for a limited period of time. We have no ownership at all in resources.

He makes it sound like he’s just leasing the energy fields for a few years before he hands them back to the Icelanders with a smile, curtsy and thankyouverymuch. The fact is that, as matters stand, Magma Energy has exclusive utilization rights for 65 years, with the option of extending those rights for another 65 years. By my calculations that is 130 years — more than a century. As one commenter on our Facebook Page remarked today: “A lease that long is the functional equivalent of the sale.” Furthermore, new scientific evidence suggests that geothermal energy is not a limitless source and that it can be over-exploited. So over the course of that time, Ross Beaty could wipe out that energy source if he so pleases. And what would it matter to him if he did? No doubt he’d just move on to bestow his saintly services elsewhere.

No. 2, that we were somehow tied up with the International Monetary Fund, and that’s fiction – as is the idea all we want is a short-term profit and then we will run away.

I have not heard this one before — however, it is a well known fact that the IMF is pressing for privatization of resources and, well, just about everything that has been in the public sector.

The next [misrepresentation] is that those financial Vikings that brought the country down are involved with us, and that they were secretly hiding behind us. That is completely false.

Misrepresentation? HS Orka was initially privatized through a company called Geysir Green Energy, which was founded in 2007 by a consortium headed by Jón Ásgeir Jóhannesson, Hannes Smárason and Bjarni Ármannsson. All three were major players in the meltdown — and they certainly saw an opportunity in the green energy sector back in the monumental year 2007. The privatization of HS Orka stinks of corruption [including bribery — I wrote about this here]. I have no idea whether or not the oligarchs are involved with Magma today, but Magma Energy recently bought Geysir Green’s share in HS Orka, despite Ross Beaty’s earlier very public statements that he had no intention of making a bid for a majority share in the company [he now owns 98.5%].

Finally, the interviewer asks Beaty if there is a view in Iceland that his company is coming in to strip assets.

Yeah, that it is trying to steal things – and, on the contrary, we paid a very high price. We really paid a premium price, because for us it was a strategic asset, and in hindsight the price was wrong, too.

Give me a f*cking break! Magma Energy could not have been given a better deal if HS Orka had been served up on a silver platter with a bottle of Dom Pérignon and a side order of caviar. They paid a few bob up front, but the majority of that payment is in the form of a seven-year bullet loan carrying an interest rate of 1.5%. In other words, the seller is lending the buyer the money. And boy, wouldn’t you just love to take out a loan with 1.5% interest? Also, the purchase was made in ISK, not in dollars, and those ISK were purchased on the offshore market, where the exchange rate is double what it is here — which means, in effect, that he was getting about a 50% discount off the retail price. Jeezus! The price was WRONG?? What the fuck did Ross Beaty want? To have it tied up with a red bow and handed to him as a birthday present?

Anyway, I’m sure I could rant about this a lot longer, but I’ll leave you with a video that was taken at the press conference given by Björk, Eva Joly et al last week, in which Eva Joly speaks about Magma Energy, Ross Beaty and Magma’s inability to pay for their acquisition.* Please watch:

Incidentally, I tried repeatedly to create an account at The Globe and Mail in order to write a comment to that interview, but I have not been able to. I know of others who have tried to do the same, but to no avail.

Finally, I’d like to remind anyone with an Icelandic kennitala to sign the petition to keep Iceland’s resources under Icelandic control here. We need 40,000 signatures to press for a national referendum on this important matter.

* Eva Joly also speaks out about Magma Energy in an excellent interview here.

Comments

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  • sylvia hikins October 19, 2010, 12:10 am

    Keep up the pressure. The guy is a creep. Under no circumstances do you have to follow the path of privatisation. Eva Joly pointed out earlier that the EU would not require that, and you can tell the IMF to go take the proverbial flying **** at a rolling doughnut. Beaty must be getting desparate if he’s resorted to interviews with the Globe and Mail.
    I hope you will get enough signatures for the referendum.
    sylvia from viking wirral

  • Steve U. October 19, 2010, 12:27 am

    It doesn’t surprise me that you were unable to set up an account at the Globe and Mail. They are owned by CTVglobemedia (a media conglomerate here in Canada) who are complete shills for the business community.

  • Rik Hardy October 19, 2010, 1:37 am

    Yep, I tried to set up an account too.
    I even agreed to have some advertising stuff sent now and then.
    They just don’t care… (sob!)

    Well, as Steve has indicated, it’s good to know exactly who your shills are.
    I suppose those who lack intelligence themselves will always tend to think that everybody else is stupid.
    Life would certainly be less stressful if we WERE all stupid, but you gotta use the gifts you got, and the Beatified Horse insults my intelligence too. What the heck, the man’s a psychopathic liar.

    He even implies that the “leftist” government here has been a stumbling block to his noble endeavours, conveniently forgetting that if it hadn’t been for the pesky Icelandic CITIZENS, even that leftist government would probably have given him everything he wanted, plus a 30-ton complimentary box of Noi Sirius chocolate.

    Welcome to your first lecture in “Elementary Human Nature – 101” dear undergraduates. You will never get a better text-book example of unscrupulous corporate and political greed in action, and there are plans for making this lecture a permanent requirement for all students in their first semester.

  • John October 19, 2010, 2:14 am

    Why the petition only the energy sector and not all the natural recourses on Iceland (on the fishing quotas also) ?Is it because of resistance against foreigners?

  • Robert Sullivan October 19, 2010, 3:03 am

    I read the article at the Globe and Mail and it appears at least a few folks have been able to post somewhat more illuminating comments than Mr. Beatty has so far revealed. Some downright funny, or sad, such as the company’s apparent incompetence in the field of mining, and especially geothermal. The thing that strikes me is he claims to like “the freemarket”, but a company as shoddy as his would surely be out of business were it not for the “good old boy” network that gives loans out at a rate of 1.5%, when – gee, isn’t there a world-wide credit crisis, and my bank is paying me a measly 0.5% for investing my money with them?

    But all the more interesting is the similarities with what Noemi Klein described in “Disaster Capitalism: The Shock Doctrine” in which she convincingly shows how some Chicago economists, led by Milton Friedman, working with government and private industry, destroyed economies around the world (Chile, Argentina, Russia, Iraq), basically looting these countries, while extolling the virtues of “privatization”. Obviously, this “disaster capitalism” does not go over easily, and must be supported by death squads (as in Chile, Argentina) and are essentially corporate supported dictatorships, for example what we have now in Russia.

    The key point here for Iceland is that Chile was smart enough *not* to follow Friedman’s guidance exactly, and thus did not privatize their most precious assets, the mining industry. As we all saw with the tremendous rescue pulled off recently, where all 30 miners were not only saved through good mining practices and regulations, but all were saved without a hitch, whereas, as we have seen in the privatized industry in the United States, many unfortunate accidents and incompetence and corruption, and if we expand from mining to drilling, and note the incredible incompetence of BP.

    Anyway, as Chile’s economy was tanking because of Friedman’s “reforms” (as Klein tells it, all part of the “shock doctrine”), the only thing that saved the country was the fact that the mines had not been privatized, otherwise it’s economy would have been devastated, and even more of it would’ve been sold off to wealthy good old boys at bargain rates.

    So you see, Iceland’s unwitting seven idiots who were part of the debt crisis, were like the traitors inside the citadels in a Greek city, who conspired with the enemy outside, and then would watch as their city burned.

  • idunn October 19, 2010, 3:43 am

    I happen to know of one natural spring in New Mexico, so fruitful that the locals had used its waters in part to run through and fill a swimming pool they had built . . . out in the middle of nowhere. It was lovely, the water clean and fresh. But even then it was dying, the spring declining. The reason was a new housing development on the far side of the mountain, with its many wells and new demand for water. This spring was one of the casualties.

    Iceland, or anywhere else on this planet, would be no different. This is a world of balances, and that taken from one spot will necessarily affect another. Little or greatly, depending.

    One cannot expect capitalist to respect such things, they must be reminded with proper regulation and oversight. The IMF should be reminded of the same thing as well, that not everything should be privatized, or always the place for it.

  • Mark October 19, 2010, 6:42 am

    @ Sylvia,

    I know you are a bystander and are not on the frontline of Icelanic politics but this is actually serious for “foreigners” too. I provide two houses for my kids in England and in Iceland. It’s fine being left and centre left but there is actual crap happening here at the moment.

  • Missoula October 19, 2010, 8:29 am

    Many of us Iceland observers in the US — especially us progressive political theorists -are also long-time Iceland admirers. What we admire most is the intelligence, industriousness, and communitarian spirit of the average Icelander — all of which qualities are still very much intact in the general population, despite the present crisis.

    While there is no point in denying that (these fine national qualities notwithstanding) , many of you average Icelanders fell asleep at the political switch, so to speak, several years ago (by allowing –however indirectly– foolish risks to be taken with your money), it’s also the case that such negligence of democratic oversight is not the norm for you.
    In fact, in most ways, this recent lapse in your common sense and political watchfulness was exact ly the opposite of theIcelandic norm –otherwise you never could have built, over 1200 long-struggling years, and against enormous odds, the most propserous, literate, creative, free, and egalitarian country in the western world.

    I have no doubt that you average Icelanders will, unlike the deeply hypnotized and passive sheeple of my country, learn from your mistakes—- regarding both the unwise de-regulating of corporate capitalism and regarding ever again relaxing your usually-tight citizen oversight of all government functions.
    You Icelanders should, especially now, take stock of yourselves, and of what you have built nobly over many centuries —and not let any cynacism or despair get the better of you.

    You have arguably done better at governing yourselves sensibly and fairly vis-a-vis Enlightenment values, and at creating a widely-shared materail betterment for yourselves, than any other nation has for the past half-millenium, all things considered.
    That you are small in number, and relatively homogenous culturally, and isolated geopraphically, not only takes nothing away from your achievements, it makes them all the more remarkable.
    Whether you Icelanders know it or believe it, many observers in the west are now carefully watching what you do to bail the bad water from your ship of political economy, plug the leak, and sail on to ever-more prosperous and humane shores.
    If any western people and ship of state can successfuly do such things in the current world gone mad, my sense it will be Iceland’s. people and Iceland’s ship.
    And surely, unless something has drastically/suddenly changed in your national character, most you Icelanders must feel and believe the same about youselves. So please: act on your ancient engines of hope and determination, decency and creativity.
    Your country has much to teach the rest of the world about truth and human balance– especially teach the greed-engulfed west, which has, by any relation to Iceland, lost its way decades ago.

  • Michael Schulz October 19, 2010, 9:18 am

    While agreeing in general I’d say we should not forget that there is also the Icelandic engagement, and I wonder where does corruption come in ? I’d love to get hold of hard evidence ! Anybody … ?
    Cheers,
    Michael

  • Bromley86 October 19, 2010, 9:21 am

    I’ve seen that vid from a couple of angles now, but I’ve not heard Beaty speak. Did he have anything to say?

  • Mike Richards October 19, 2010, 10:13 am

    65 years seems to be a very long period to exploit a geothermal field – even in Iceland. 25-30 years is more common before the temperature of the output water falls below that needed for the turbines. After that, you need to drill a lot more boreholes and go down deeper.

    In either case this company is here for the long term.

    (On a separate note – it was clear here last night in nIceland and I got to see the aurora over Esja! Photos just as soon as I can work out what socket Sony decided to put on the side of my camera 😉 )

    M.

  • kevin oconnor,waterford ireland October 19, 2010, 11:29 am

    Yes comrade citizens you have a top 1% who have landed you with an icesave scam, arranged dams and Aluminium plants, apportioned fishing quotas amongst themselves and privatised everything that is not bolted down,tired of IMF, global mega corps. Just ask the people in UKplc how cheap their wonderful train system is along with their privatised vibrantly competitive electricity industry.

  • Rik Hardy October 19, 2010, 12:15 pm

    @Missoula,
    I hope you are right about our ability to crawl out of this hole, but I have to say that in general, we didn’t fall asleep at the wheel. We were the passengers on the Titanic, and the captain, as well as the owners of the shipping line, lied to us about our unsinkability.

    People fly in planes and sail in ships every day, and they have to trust that their captain knows what he’s doing. For most of us who have full-time jobs, it’s not an option to do a quick master’s degree in safety, security, probability and certainty, and our particular captain is now on trial for not knowing what he was doing, or for not ensuring that there were sufficient life boats for us passengers in a worst-case scenario, or for knowing perfectly well that the iceberg was straight ahead, but deciding to have another few vodkas anyway before doing something about it.

    Sure, there are a bunch of stock market speculators here, like anywhere else, but they were not allowed to take over the ship’s entire navigation system. That was done by the banks, along with their favoured cronies and the corruptible elements in the government.

  • Bromley86 October 19, 2010, 1:21 pm

    I just had a thought. Magma is on to a winner with HS Okra.

    If they keep it, then I assume they’ve planned to make money. So win.

    If they’re forced to give it up by the government after a referendum, the government have to give them back the ISK that they invested. Well, technically they don’t *have* to, but they do if Iceland doesn’t want to be seen to be stealing investors’ money – the press fall-out of renationalising HS Okra is going to be bad enough as it is.

    But Magma apparently brought those ISK in with them from outside the currency controls, where they’re presumed to have paid less than the official rate for them. As they’re within the control area now though, won’t they have to be exchanged at the official rate (or again risk that stealing-from-investors bad press)? Sweet!

  • Rajan Parrikar October 19, 2010, 2:15 pm

    Missoula: “What we admire most is the intelligence, industriousness, and communitarian spirit of the average Icelander — all of which qualities are still very much intact in the general population, despite the present crisis.”

    🙂

    Reminds me of Bertand Russell’s nostrum for being thought of as an insightful writer. Always write in a way that flatters your reader. If I correctly recall, Bertie gives the example of Carlyle (oh, just found what Bertie wrote on the web!):

    [Quote]
    Carlyle remarked: “The population of England is twenty millions, mostly fools.” Everybody who read this considered himself one of the exceptions, and therefore enjoyed the remark.
    [End Quote]

  • sylvia hikins October 19, 2010, 8:52 pm

    @Mark. Not sure what you meant…were you referring to crap in Iceland or in England? It’s obvious from my blog responses that my heart goes out to ordinary Icelanders whom (like their English counterparts) are decent and hardworking, but (unlike their English counterparts) are few in number and have been dumped in the shit by a bunch of fraudsters who hopefully are now only a hair’s breath from a prison wall. We are going to face some real crap in England, starting tomorrow with the comprehensive spending review. And as always it’s those who have the least who are expected to take the biggest hit.
    sylvia from viking wirral

  • Missoula October 19, 2010, 9:33 pm

    Iceland’s citizenry allowing the insider privitization of its two biggest commercial banks, a decade ago, was the “falling asleep at the political switch” that I had in mind in my comment above. Not so much what happened afterward.

    Once the underlying concept of [central bank] insider-privitization was allowed as something ‘legitimate’ by the Icelandic citizenry –with their eyes presumably wide-open — and despite the doubly dubious manner in which it was being proposed — what happened afterward was simply the actualization of a corrupt web already permitted in potential, and all-but-guaranteed to go wrong in reality.

    It is here, in this initial, seemingly inexplicable inattention to age-old communitarian principles of the country, that I think average Icelanders atypically blew it. They did not so much have their banking system hijacked, as they did voluntarily turn it over to pirates who, if not in obvious pirate garb locally, were certainly easily identifiable as intending to travel in international pirate {read: corporate capitalist] circles.

    But as I said earlier (w/o intending any “flattery”): Since this citizenry-oversight lapse does is hardly typical for most Icelanders, there’s reason to hope they’ll now pull together, successfully dig out of the present hole, and not likely make any similar mistake in future .

  • neil October 19, 2010, 10:05 pm

    My analysis from the limited information available is that this guy was the only person prepared to take the risk. I dont know the details of the deal and cant comment on it, but one factor is that this kind of deal involves a big investment in time, resources and capital, and you only go in to it if you are confident of a decent return. I gather there werent other investors at the table – can anyone explain why? Or correct me if I am wrong in my understanding.

    If Iceland is really giving away its resources, why aren’t the feared neoliberal corporate pirates all over the place? I think the reality is that people dont want to do business there, its considered too risky, too volatile, too difficult. This is ok, its good that people challenge and can hold businesses to account, but, as has been pointed out many times before, right now Iceland really needs foreign investment, to get out of the current mess. I dont think this is good PR, and wont be using my kennitala to sign the petition.

  • Knute Rife October 19, 2010, 10:42 pm

    Perhaps Beaty believes that an electorate that would put the IP back in power will swallow anything. Let’s hope he’s wrong.

  • Elvis October 20, 2010, 12:23 am

    I hate to ruin the narrative, but I wanted to add my perspective to the conversation. I have a fondness and respect for Iceland (I have visited the country with Icelandic friends), and I have been a reader of Icelandweatherreport for some time now. I happen to live in Vancouver, B.C., and I know Ross Beaty (and his wife and family) personally. From what I have seen, I believe he is a good man. I haven’t ever any business relationship with him, though I would consider investing in Magma Energy simply on the basis of my confidence in Ross’s integrity and business acumen. He has certainly given much back to the community in Vancouver, and his talk about commitment to the environment, biodiversity and sustainability is no act (see http://www.beatymuseum.ubc.ca). He is a long term thinker and investor and isn’t putting on any sort of false persona to ‘polish his halo’.

    The issue of foreign ownership of natural resources is a complex and sometimes emotional one, but Ross is no corporate raider, nor is he an Icelandic good-old-boy-network playing ‘insider’. I can understand why Icelanders are upset with this deal, but if you’re looking for a bad guy, it certainly isn’t the Ross Beaty I know.

    Magma Energy is a publicly traded company, so buy a few shares – last I looked they were going for around $1.25 Canadian – and you can be a voting shareholder, on the inside…

    OK, I’ve said my piece, so let the flames begin!

  • Rik Hardy October 20, 2010, 1:54 am

    I think I’ll trust Eva Joly’s experience with corporate fraud more than I’ll trust someone who knows Mr. Beaty personally.

    There’s enough information on recent pages of this blog to form a pretty clear picture of what’s going on, while a quick look at what is known of the terms of the proposed deal ought to be enough to send shudders down the spine of anyone who cares about Iceland’s national interests.
    Neil thinks that Beaty seems to be the only person prepared to take the risk.
    I would say that anyone taking business risks in today’s Iceland either hasn’t got his head screwed on properly, or he has access to personnel or information which nobody else has access to. It’s hardly possible to overlook the fact that many of the irresponsible gangsters who deliberately undermined the financial stability of this country have friends and cronies who are still very much active in our society and who regularly give us glimpses of how they just can’t wait to do some more undermining.
    It is in view of this that I doubt the purity of Beaty’s intentions regarding the Icelandic nation, and, without putting too fine a point on it, one could also mention that some of history’s most unscrupulous dictators had friends and family who thought they were “good men”.
    And they probably were – while they were in the company of friends and family…

  • Rik Hardy October 20, 2010, 2:29 am

    I’d also like to comment on Missoula’s point about “Iceland’s citizenry allowing the insider privitization of its two biggest commercial banks, a decade ago” being the “falling asleep at the political switch” that he had in mind.

    In a way, that’s exactly what happened, except that the large minority of “Iceland’s citizenry” who had a sinking feeling in their stomachs about 18 or 19 years ago when the I.P. and David Oddson came to power, was, and is, a much larger minority than the tiny minority who recently decided to deceive and lie outright to the Icelandic people in order to promote a prevailing culture of grand larceny in our banks and political institutions.

    This was a new dimension to criminality – A sickening mixture of “Our company/bank/political party always has the best interests of decent, true Icelanders at heart.” and “Sure, I’m a greedy capitalist bastard, prepared to wreck the entire country in the pursuit of my personal aims, but what are you going to do about it – nyaaa nyaaa?”

    This used to be called treason, and the excruciating penalties meted out not so very long ago tended to reform the survivors quite dramatically.

    By all means extol the virtues of the free market and ruthless capitalism if you must, but if the perfume you’re selling me smells like crap, I reserve the right to suspect that it might, in fact, actually be crap.
    And if you lie to me about it, I’ll sue your ass.

  • neil October 20, 2010, 7:39 am

    also, a second point is that, if i were an icelander, i’d much rather be dealing with this guy than the chinese or the russians.

  • neil October 20, 2010, 12:07 pm

    Rik,
    Maybe, but having connections is part of business im afraid. Im sure lots of other potential bidders were equally well connected, but chose not too proceed. As I’ve said before, if there is corruption suspected, it should be investigated. you dont just kick up a stink and set a lynch mob on any foreign investor that sets foot in Iceland, just because you dont like the deal, and irrespective of whether the deal is legal or not.

    Anyway, this all fades into insignificance, compared with what might be round the corner.

    http://grapevine.is/Home/ReadArticle/Russian-Oil-Exploration-in-Icelandic-Waters-One-Step-Closer

  • Rik Hardy October 20, 2010, 12:30 pm

    I think many countries are beginning to realize that economic growth is not always going to be a question only of importing and exporting depletable resources which already exist, like thermal energy or oil, but of whether a country is actually creating anything of value through its own hard work.

    That is a field in which the arts, for example, are at least as valid as any other enterprise, but it’s tough for people like Beaty to see the value in a beautiful poem, or a stunning piece of new music, because the shareholders he is used to dealing with don’t exist there and the value is measured on a much longer time scale.

    The Chinese and the Russians know as much about art as anyone else does, and their traditions are as old as – or even much older than – equivalent European traditions. It’s only when you restrict your view of life to shareholders’ meetings that you need to fear the mafia in those countries. Today, nobody needs to have reds-under-the-bed nightmares unless they are addicted to cold-war propaganda.

    I’m pretty sure that if Neil were indeed an Icelander, he wouldn’t think the way he thinks now. Icelanders are intelligent, well-educated and creative people, although of course many of those who choose political careers can turn out to be as naive and corruptible as anybody else.

  • Rik Hardy October 20, 2010, 12:33 pm

    Oh, and by the way, corruption IS being investigated – a lot!

  • Mike Richards October 20, 2010, 1:39 pm

    @Rik Hardy
    ‘I think many countries are beginning to realize that economic growth is not always going to be a question only of importing and exporting depletable resources which already exist, like thermal energy or oil, but of whether a country is actually creating anything of value through its own hard work.’

    A significant proportion of the richest countries per capita are those which haven’t been blessed with abundant natural resources and where people have built knowledge-intensive economies. Singapore being one of the most outstanding examples. Closer to home, one thing the Netherlands and Denmark have in common is that they owe their current enviable lifestyles to a highly-educated and hard-working workforce that mostly aren’t beating huge lumps of metal into new shape.

    That’s what is so depressing about the UK; we have some of the best educated people in the world (although in the case of the UK it’s hard to see some times) and for the last twenty years our economy has been kept afloat by exporting low-value crude oil like a damp version of Saudi Arabia. How many billions were frittered away in tax cuts and unemployment when we could have been turning the UK into a modern economy. Meanwhile on the other side of the North Sea, the Norwegians and Dutch invested their oil and gas money for the long term and are busy raking in the benefits. Right now, possibly for the first time in history, being Norwegian is to strike it lucky.

    Perhaps Icelandic politicians will have enough foresight to realise yet another colossal aluminium plant doesn’t bring any real benefits to the nation, but that energy can be used for much greater benefit. The talk of solar silicon and server farms is encouraging, but I haven’t heard much of those of late. Perhaps our splendid host knows more?

  • alda October 20, 2010, 1:45 pm

    Alas, no, I don’t. I saw something in the paper about it a few days ago — that someone else was wondering the same thing. But so far, I’ve heard nothing concrete.

  • Joerg October 20, 2010, 3:04 pm

    I wonder, if there are any sustainability requirements attached to the Magma-deal. If there are no regulations and the geothermal fields can be depleted within a couple of years, they certainly will, if there is demand for the produced energy. It’s like giving the fishery rights away minus the quota.

    And I don’t think, it is of any relevance, if Ross Beaty is a nice person or not or if he is personally known by somebody. All the same, this deal remains shady. And the interview is insincere and hypocritical in many respects.

  • Jamie Lee October 20, 2010, 6:19 pm

    Missoula: “…this recent lapse in your common sense and political watchfulness was exactly the opposite of theIcelandic norm…the most propserous, literate, creative, free, and egalitarian country in the western world.”

    Glad you didn’t intend any “flattery”.

  • neil October 20, 2010, 6:43 pm

    I dont understand what you are saying, Rik. what has the appreciation of art and music got to do with anything? Surely, the fact that China and Russia have a rich cultural heritage does not override the fact that their governments have engaged in human rights abuses and environmental destruction in recent times?

    If you aren’t careful, it could be coming your way shortly, in a way that you will be powerless to defend – unlike in a scenario where you are part of the EU (and subject to its environmental laws and regulations, picking up on Joergs point) and dealing with western corporations who are, albeit in a flawed and imperfect way, held to account by a free media.

    The trouble is – and im afraid to say this because I really like the place – that Iceland is still seem as a joke by most of the world, and a place where you would be insane to try and do business. This hysteria just reinforces that perception, a hundred times over. I mean, the deal is legal, you agreed to the legal framework when you joined the EEA. I kind of admire your national character but you cant just have a national referendum every time you dont like something!

    I think the issue is that the sale should be investigated, that the correct procedures were followed, and that it complies with Icelandic and EEA law, and no corruption took place. Was there not a parliamentary committee that looked in to this? Did they produce a report? Where is it? Why is it that the only thing you can read about this is articles in the Reykjavik grapevine and blog posts? That is what seems strange to me about this whole episode.

  • Missoula October 20, 2010, 9:56 pm

    Joerg sems intuitively convinced that I’m flattering Icelanders by praising them where and as I think they deserve genuine praise.

    Since the English word ‘flattery’ is defined as ‘…an insincere and/or manipulative use of praise or solicitation, ‘ I can only assume, for now, that Joerg
    [1] fancies him/her self a mindreader (of me); and/or
    [2] believes that Icelanders deserve no such general praise as I and many others give them.

    Joerg is objectively wrong on the first count.
    As to #2, to be fair to him: Joerg may or may not agree with such praise RE Icelanders — from anyone at all. But if he is in general agreement, then is simply negatively reacting to my particular epistolary style.

    In either or any case, you’re not showing much Self/Other-reflective depth just here, Joerg — depite a lot of other reasonable posts you’ve made …..{more ‘flattery’ by me…doubtless …]

  • Joerg October 20, 2010, 10:58 pm

    Missoula – ??????????

    I suppose, your intention was to respond to somebody else. Otherwise I wouldn’t understand a single word.

  • Rik Hardy October 21, 2010, 2:54 am

    @neil,
    What’s strange about this whole episode is that the deal was done with the opposite of the transparency which this government promised us. We weren’t supposed to notice what was happening until it was too late, but we did notice, and when the details of the deal came out, most thinking people were horrified at the abysmal terms of what was, after all, supposed to be an “agreement”.
    It’s pretty embarrassing to some of the people in government who turned out to be such pathetic negotiators and watchdogs on behalf of the nation – again, we weren’t supposed to notice.
    But Alda has put up more than enough info in her blogs, and I’ll just leave it to you to find your way through the crap like the rest of us here are doing.
    Good luck.

  • Missoula October 21, 2010, 6:36 pm

    Joerg — Apologies to you. I meant to be responding to a different poster.

  • R.L.Dogh October 22, 2010, 3:41 am

    Alda,

    I may be able to help you to understand a little of what is going on in the Magma Energy-ORKA energy case. Magma appears to be a holding company created to purchase energy futures. I sent you some information in regard to those and the market they are being purchased for. Most of Magma’s holdings appear to be ‘potentials’, undeveloped energy reserves that will bloom values when the carbon-credits markets open. It appears to have been created or this, in 2008/2009. The kind of company it is is usually owned by principals, either who will play in the markets or who will need credits-offsets when they become needed (I don’t know which, Canadians are developing tar-sand petro-extractions which use thermal technology and are extremely dirty, or Magma may be bankrolled by subsidiaries of Goldman Sachs et al).

    Lack of competitors in bidding was for two reasons, one, obviously, Icelandic business venturers are non-grata in Iceland and “know better” than to stick their heads up. Two, foreign competitors are biding their time, letting things settle, ignoring Iceland because it is unstable. To illustrate, when I told my banker, in social conversation, that I was looking at Iceland his immediate reaction was to advise me to ignore Iceland: “Iceland is blowing itself up.” he said. “Ignore it. Let it blow, see where the pieces come down. See who ends up owning it, then deal with them.” He thinks the Dutch will own Iceland in the end, unless the Norwegians or Danes object and step in to make it a Nordic, not a Dutch, colony. He is serious in his assessment: You don’t have any business class anymore and in addition to giving Magma a future fortune’s worth of rentable energy credits resources, your government has given the Dutch effective control of your main military capable airport, to which they will only have to fly in a couple transports of arms to give their ‘trainees’ there to occupy, he says.

    I don’t know how much his views are worth. As I told him I am not looking at Iceland for venture potential [I do agree with him that it has none at present, especially for anyone not connected to the IMF, who paves the way for its own]. My interest is Iceland’s parallels to Weimar Germany after its economic collapse, when the people and government did as Iceland is doing, which, in that instance, led it into the Third Reich [for adjustment of European history you might not know, for example, that it was ‘World-Jews’ meaning ‘banker-Jews’, not Jews in general, Nazi propaganda targeted, and that it charged them with having ruined Germany for their profits, as you accuse your ‘Viking-bankers’. They ran those out or underground then, as you have now, clearing the field of the experts who could have explained what the other bankers, the ones coming in, bank-rolling the Nazi party so it suddenly could afford massive propaganda campaigns, were doing. You’ve been given second chances by your President, who you mostly seem to disdain, and your constitution not having an emergency clause –which you may ‘fix’ when it is redone].

    I apologize if you don’t like being a petri-dish in the North Atlantic growing a new culture of an old political madness I am interested to understand. I try to not poke in, but sometimes it seems necessary to, to assure a direction you are going is determined, and isn’t dictated by chance alone. Here I am providing information your business community would, or could, if it wasn’t banished and run underground, as Germany’s was, too.

  • Rajan Parrikar October 22, 2010, 7:51 am

    Slightly (but not too much) off-topic: news in the air is that the Indian huckster Lalit Modi – who is currently being investigated (*) for fraud and financial misconduct – is seeking residency in Iceland through the offices of President Ólafur Grímsson celebrity wife. Jón Ásgeir will be jealous to have a serious competitor here.

    * He is unlucky to be ‘investigated’ – he didn’t share his alleged kickbacks with the right people.

  • alda October 22, 2010, 11:57 am

    @ R.L. Dogh — please pass on my thanks to your banker for the laugh. I hope he stays in business.

  • Rik Hardy October 22, 2010, 2:24 pm

    Mr. Dogh,
    I see no sense in your comparison of our Vikings with the banking Jews in pre-war Germany.
    The Vikings are our very own Icelandic tough guys – naughty boys who grew up into naughty men, or, rather, didn’t grow up at all.
    On the other hand, the antisemitism in Germany didn’t begin with Hitler’s gang, and the Jews were generally regarded as immigrants by the Germans of that time. “Not like us”, so to speak, with their Old-Testament/non-Christian traditions, but loyal to those traditions nevertheless.
    In addition, I thought everybody knew that the Jews in Europe have always had a reputation of being highly cultured, hard-working and extremely talented people.
    If you want to look for bad Jewish guys comparable to our Vikings, look to to today’s Netanyahu in Israel. He’s a classic example of a man who was brought up as, and chose a career as, as a military hammer.
    “If you’re a hammer, you tend to see all problems as nails”.
    I doubt he’d be able to tell a Brahms symphony from a hole in the wall…

  • Rik Hardy October 22, 2010, 2:27 pm

    Sorry – I didn’t check my text very well – it stutters a bit.

  • neil October 22, 2010, 7:29 pm

    R.L dough.
    Yep, that’s interesting. it kind of assumes some confidence in the future of carbon trading. Not sure about your other theories though.

  • George October 23, 2010, 4:29 am

    Magma conference call implies they are looking for an Icelandic minority partner. Please let Björk know.

    http://www.investorcalendar.com/IC/CEPage.asp?ID=161489

    Misinformed rhetoric? Who could he talking about?