Steve Coll

  • Aired:  06/14/12
  •  | Views: 4,328

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Steve Coll talks about ExxonMobil's corporate model, management and international reputation. (5:23)

>> (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

>> Stephen: WELCOME BACK,

EVERYBODY, THANK YOU SO MUCH.

FOLKS, MY GUEST TONIGHT IS A SURPRISE WINNING JOURNALIST WHOSE NEW BOOK IS CALLED

PRIVATE EMPIRE, EXXON MOBILE AND AMERICAN POWER.

ISN'T THAT REDUNDANT?

PLEASE WELCOME STEVE COLL.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) HEY, MR. COLL, THANKS SO MUCH FOR COMING ON.

ALL RIGHT.

I LOVE THE STORY OF THIS BOOK.

IT'S CALLED PRIVATE EMPIRE AS I SAID EXXON MOBILE AND AMERICAN POWER.

THAT'S SO EXCITING TO ME.

BECAUSE EXXON MOBILE IS AN AMERICAN COMPANY, RIGHT.

>> THEY ARE.

>> Stephen: AND THEY ARE PROJECTING THEIR POWER AND THEREFORE OUR POWER AROUND THE WORLD.

>> YES.

>> THEY'RE GOOD GUYS, RIGHT,

EXXON P IF ARE YOU GOING TO HAVE YOUR COUNTRY TAKEN OVER,

EXXON IS THE COMPANY YOU WANT TO HAVE DO IT, DON'T YOU?

>> THEY'RE VERY GOOD AT WHAT THEY DO WHICH IS PRODUCE OIL & GAS AND IF YOU WERE THE

LEADER OF AN OIL RICH COUNTRY AND YOU WANT YOUR MONEY QUICKLY AND YOU WANT

YOUR PROJECT DONE ON TIME THEY'RE PROBABLY THE PEOPLE TO WORK WITH BUT THEY DON'T

SEE THEMSELVES ENTIRELY AS AN AMERICAN COMPANY.

THEY SEE THEMSELVES AS AN INDEPENDENT SOVEREIGN WITH THEIR OWN INTEREST, NOT ALWAYS THE SAME AS

WASHINGTON INTERESTS.

THEY ARE OWN FOREIGN POLICY,

THEIR OWN SECURITY POLICY.

SO THEIR HEADQUARTERS IS IN THE UNITED STATES BUT THEY'RE NOT ENTIRELY AMERICAN.

>> WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT.

>> STANDARD OIL.

THAT'S AMERICA'S GREAT CONTRIBUTION TO THE WORLD.

IT MAY BE A MULTINATIONAL CONGLOMERATE BUT COME ON THIS IS AMERICAN OIL.

>> WELL, BUT IT'S DRILLED ALL OVER THE WORLD 256789% OF EXXON MOBILE'S OIL THAT

THEY PRODUCED IN THE DECADE AFTER 2,000 WAS PRODUCED IN WEST AFRICA, COMPANIES LIKE

CHAD, EQUATORIAL GUINNESS,

ANGOLA.

>> Stephen: ISN'T IT LIKE AN AMERICAN EMBASSY, WHERE THEY ARE DRILLING IS TECHNICALLY

AMERICA OPINIONS THEY BILLED IT THAT WAY.

I TRAVELED OUT IN THESE COUNTRIES AND EVERY EXXON MOBILE COMPOUND LOOKS THE SAME IT HAS THE SAME

SECURITY PERIMETRE, THE SAME LIGHTS.

EMPLOYEES GO IN, STAY FOR SIX WEEKS, THEY GO IN AND OUT OF THE COUNTRY ALMOST

WITHOUT TOUCHING THE COUNTRY THAT THEY ARE WORKING IN.

THEY ALSO PAY THE SALARIES OF THE LOCAL MILITARY AND POLICE FORCES.

>> Stephen: SO IF I'M THE PRESIDENT OF AN EMERGING COUNTRY, OKAY, AND WE FIND

OUT WE'VE GOT OIL, LIKE RIGHT OFF OUR COAST OR COMING OUT OF OUR VOLCANOES,

WHATEVER IT IS.

>> RIGHT.

>> Stephen: I'M THE PRESIDENT OF LET'S SALE EL DIABLO, THAT IS THE NAME OF

MY COUNTRY, PRESIDENT FOR LIFE, WHAT IS EXXON COME SAY TO ME.

>> EXXON COME SAYS TO YOU,

DO BUSINESS WITH US, YOU'LL GET YOUR PROJECT DONE ON TIME, OUR SAFETY RECORD WILL

BE EXCELLENT.

YOU'LL GET YOUR MONEY REALLY FAST.

YOU CAN DO WITH IT WHAT YOU WANT.

AFTER THEY LEAVE THE CHINESE MIGHT COME IN AND SAY WE'LL DO THAT.

WE'LL ALSO GIVE YOU SOME TANKS.

WE'LL GIVE YOU A SECURITY COUNCIL VETO.

SO YOU WILL HAVE TO THINK ARE THE CHINESE REALLY GOING TO PERFORM AS WELL AS EXXON MOBILE.

EXXON MOBILE'S ADVANTAGE IS THAT THEY ACTUALLY PRODUCE OIL & GAS BETTER THAN MOST

COMPANIES IN THE WORLD.

BUT THEY-- .

>> Stephen: AND THEN THE CHECK CLEARS.

>> THE CHECK CLEARS.

THEY HAVE A AAA CREDIT RATING, THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT NO LONGER DOES.

THAT'S A SENSE OF THEIR POSITION IN THE WORLD.

THEY HAVE A DURABLE BUSINESS MODEL.

>> Stephen: SO IF I'M PRESIDENT OF EL DIABLO I'M GOING WITH EXXON THEN.

>> AND YOU ALSO POTENTIALLY GET THE IDEA THAT IF SOMEONE TRIES TO COME AT YOUR

PRESIDENTIAL 358 AS AND DISLODGE YOU FOR SOME REASON,

NOT THROUGH MISRULE I'M SURE BUT-- .

>> Stephen: MY PEOPLE LOVE ME.

>> I'M SURE THEY DO.

>> Stephen: WHAT ABOUT ENVIRONMENTAL RECORD.

BECAUSE AS THE PRESIDENT OF EL DIABLO I'VE GOT BEAUTIFUL WHITE SAND BEACHES.

WE GOT THE EXXON VALDEZ AS PART OF THEIR LEGACY.

DID THAT, DOES THAT AFFECT THE COMPANY IN THINK WAY.

ARE THEY CAREFUL.

>> THEY Z IT TRANSFORMED THEIR ATTITUDE TOWARDS SAFETY AND OPERATIONAL

PERFORMANCE BECAUSE IT WAS A HUGE TRAMA INSIDE THE COMPANY.

THEY NEVER REALLY RECOVERED FROM IT IN TERMS OF THEIR REPUTATION.

BUT THEY HAVE BECOME AN INCREDIBLY RIGOROUS AND RULE DOWN CORPORATION TO THE

POINT WHERE THEY TRY TO RING ALL HUMAN FALLIBILITY OUT OF THEIR DAILY OPERATIONS.

IT'S A VERY ENGINEERING-LED MANUAL DRIVEN COMPANY.

>> Stephen: DID YOU GET ACCESS TO THE EXECUTIVES AT EXXON TO WORK ON THIS BOOK?

>> A LITTLE BIT.

YOU KNOW, IT WAS-- .

>> Stephen: GOOD PEOPLE?

>> VERY SMART PEOPLE.

VERY DEDICATED TO WHAT THEY DO.

AND VERY DRIVEN BY MORALITY.

THE CURRENT CHIEF EXECUTIVE RECENTLY TOLD A MAGAZINE HIS FAVORITE BOOK IS ATLAS SHUG BY IAN RAND.

>> Stephen: MINE TOO.

>> EXACTLY I LOVE ITS MESSAGE OF-- [BLEEP] I'VE GOT MINE.

>> YEAH.

AND IT KIND OF CONVEYS A CERTAIN SUSPICION OF GOVERNMENT AND CONCENTRATED POWER WHICH IS-- EXXON

MOBILE ALSO IS AN INSTITUTION THAT-- .

>> Stephen: THEY'RE CREATOR,

TO THE des PROVIDE-- DESTROYERS,

THEY'RE NOT PARASITES.

>> YOU HAVE A THEORY THAT RESEMBLES THEIRS.

>> Stephen: WELL LISTEN, IF YOU EVER TALK TO ONE OF THE EXECUTIVES AGAIN, PLEASE

TELL THEM THE COUNTRY OF EL DIABLO WELCOMES THEM WITH OPEN ARMS.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING ME.

>> THANK YOU.

>> Stephen: STEVE COLL.

THE BOOK IS PRIVATE EMPIRE.

WE'LL BE RIGHT BACK.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

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