Washington Babylon — March 31, 2008, 10:20 am

Murky InterOil

Last October, I reported here on the strange case of Interoil, a small firm that bought an Alaskan oil refinery from Chevron and shipped it 6,000 miles away to Papua New Guinea. Back in 1997, a subsidiary of Enron bought a big stake in InterOil, and two years later the firm got an $85 million loan from the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC)–a fraction of the $2.2 billion that Enron and Enron-linked firms sucked out of OPIC in loans and insurance.

One of InterOil’s investors and directors, by the way, is Gaylen Byker, a generous donor to G.O.P. candidates and causes. Byker is also the president of Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In 2005, President Bush delivered the College’s commencement speech.

InterOil planned to refine crude oil into gasoline in Papua New Guinea and had all sorts of other plans that were going to make investors rich. Instead, the firm has lost a pile of money, including a $28.9 million loss for 2007, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing from last week. Meanwhile, the company has $130 million in loans coming due in May and, “We cannot assure that our business will generate cash flow… to enable us to pay our maturing indebtedness.” Hence, the company may need to raise outside money to pay off the debt, but that “to some extent, is subject to general economic, financial, legislative and regulatory factors and other factors that are beyond our control. We cannot be sure that we will be able to obtain the refinancing or new financing on reasonable terms or at all.”

Even as InterOil’s economic prospects dim–its share price as of today was trading at about $17, down from about $44 last June–PIC has been remarkably generous in granting the firm a series of waivers and extensions on its loan payments. The new SEC filing reports that millions of dollars in principal payments due to OPIC during the past few months, have been deferred until 2015.

If mortgage brokers were this understanding, the housing crisis would be solved overnight.

Share
Single Page

More from Ken Silverstein:

From the November 2013 issue

Dirty South

The foul legacy of Louisiana oil

Perspective October 23, 2013, 8:00 am

On Brining and Dining

How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy

Postcard October 16, 2013, 8:00 am

The Most Cajun Place on Earth

A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits 

Get access to 164 years of
Harper’s for only $39.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

November 2014

Stop Hillary!

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

How the Islamic State was Won

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Cage Wars

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Everyday Grace

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
Stop Hillary!·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"What Hillary will deliver, then, is more of the same. And that shouldn’t surprise us."
Photograph by Joe Raedle
Article
Cage Wars·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"In the 1970s, “Chickens’ Lib” was a handful of women in flower-print dresses holding signs, but in the past decade farm hens have become almost a national preoccupation."
Photograph by Adam Dickerson/Big Dutchman USA, courtesy Vande Bunte Farms
Article
Paradise Lost·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"Suffering Sappho! Here we still are, marching right into yet another century with our glass ceilings, unequal pay, unresolved work and child-care balance, and still marrying, forever marrying, men."
Illustration by Anthony Lister
Article
Off the Land·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"Nearly half the reservation lives below the poverty line, with unemployment as high as 60 percent, little to no infrastructure, few entitlements, a safety net that never was, no industry to speak of, and a housing crisis that has been dire not for five years but since the reservation’s founding in 1855."
Illustration by Stan Fellows
Post
Introducing the November 2014 Issue·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Doug Henwood on stopping Hillary Clinton, fighters and potential recruits discuss the rise of the Islamic State, the inevitability of factory farming, and more

Cover photo by Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

Average number of days an oiled seabird survives in the wild after cleaning and release:

6

Epilepsy drugs can extend the life of worms by 50 percent.

A deaf dog belonging to a deaf owner was shot and killed in Alabama, and an Indiana dog’s skin troubles were found to be caused by an allergy to humans. “It’s just not his fault,” said the owner of Lucky Dog Retreat.

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

In Praise of Idleness

By

I hope that after reading the following pages the leaders of the Y. M. C. A. will start a campaign to induce good young men to do nothing. If so, I shall not have lived in vain.

Subscribe Today