Monday, November 16, 2015

During terror attacks, Teneo Intelligence Managing Director Crispin Hawes reassures oil investors

Got stock in oil? Well, then, you probably heard of Crispin Hawes.

Whenever there's a Middle Eastern related terrorist attack, media outlets can count on Teneo Intelligence Managing Director Crispin Hawes for consistent quotes on how it affects oil investors, as if that's all that matters.

No matter the time, the place or the specifics, Crispin Hawes seems to be making a nifty living talking up oil, and reassuring investors that terror attacks come with the territory when you profit off of black gold.

Some firms reportedly pay Teneo hundreds of thousands of dollars a month for consulting. But if Hawes' consulting work is anything like his media soundbites and interviews, they probably aren't getting much bang for their bucks, since he never really says much of anything.

When asked what can be done to prevent future attacks, Hawes adds little to the conversation, even though media outlets keep contacting him for quotes.

Earlier today, on Bloomberg Television’s "The Pulse", Hawes "discuss[ed] the market reaction to the attacks in Paris and what it may mean politically for the whole of France." The Teneo Intelligence Managing Director opined that there isn't an "obvious policy solution", other than "air strikes", but "no Nato member" will likely send "ground troops into Iraq and Syria any time soon and, without that, ISIS will continue to be the standard-bearer of Islamic radicalism."

A number of "western security agencies have foiled plots" but the "unfortunate truth is that" attackers "only need to succeed once, while security providers need a 100 percent success rate," Hawes noted, rather obviously.

Ten months ago, during an interview on CNBC after a terrorist attack in Paris, Hawes pretty much said the same thing: "That it only takes one to succeed."

Today, when asked specifically what would happen if ground troops were deployed and successful against ISIS strongholds in Iraq and Syria, Hawes said that "destroying that territorial control" wouldn't be enough to wipe out Islamicist activity, but offered no original thoughts on the matter.

"Mr. Hawes has been covering political and investment risk issues in the Middle East and Africa for over 20 years," his bio at Teneo - a firm launched by former President Bill Clinton's "body man" and two Hillary Clinton fundraisers, one of whom served as her Economic Adviser to No. Ireland when she served as President Obama's Secretary of State - states. "In addition to two stints leading Eurasia Group’s MENA practice, Mr. Hawes has covered the region for Control Risks Group, The Economist Intelligence Unit, Credit Lyonnais Securities and as a partner in Horizon, a boutique upstream oil and gas consultancy."

According to his resume at LinkedIn, Crispin Hawes left Horizon in October of 2011 to return to the Eurasia Group. His resume states, "Research and consulting firm focused on political and commercial environment for energy investment. We specialize in analyzing the impact that individuals have on government decisions in the energy industry in countries where the real decision-making power does not necessarily lie in the hands of people that hold formal positions of power but in opaque networks. We cover, among others, countries such as Libya, Iraq, Syria, Russia and Indonesia." In the October 11, 2011 Eurasia Group press release announcing Hawes was rejoining the consulting firm, it said that "he was consulting primarily on the regional oil and gas sector as a partner and head of Middle East and North Africa research for Horizon, a boutique consultancy."

Like many of the consultants at Teneo, who used to include former President Bill Clinton, former Prime Minister Tony Blair and Hillary Clinton's longtime aide, Huma Abedin - while she still worked at the State Department - in their ranks, many Teneo employees had stints working for or advising governments. According to his bio, Teneo Intelligence Managing Director Crispin Hawes has "consulted with government agencies in the US, Canada, the UK and Germany."

"King Salman has abandoned the balancing act by which predecessors tried to keep the Al Saud family’s various branches in harmony, and opted for rapid change that’s already ruffling some royal feathers," Bloomberg News reported on April 30, 2015. "Change in the conservative Gulf monarchy, the world’s biggest oil exporter, has typically involved inching forward."

But count on Hawes to be a reassuring voice for any panicking oil investors: "When the older generation started to die, we expected to see major changes. The details of the outcome are surprising, but the situation was always going to change. Salman is trying to make changes in a concentrated period of time."

Reuters reported on January 18, 2013, "Libya rushed to beef up security at its oil fields and energy firms were considering similar measures in Egypt as Islamist militants threatened to attack new installations in north Africa. More than 20 foreigners were still being held hostage or missing inside Algeria's In Amenas gas plant on Friday after Algerian forces stormed the desert complex near the Libyan border to free hundreds of captives taken by Islamist militants."

"That attack and the warning triggered a mass exodus of expatriates from Algerian oil and gas production sites and security experts have said similar evacuation could be on the way across other north African countries," the Reuters report continued. "BP said on Friday hundreds of workers from international oil companies had been evacuated from Algeria on Thursday and many more would follow."

However, none of this seemed to stir or shake Hawes: "Crispin Hawes, from Eurasia consultancy, who said he had visited the In Amenas site several times, said oil companies removed non-essential staff in such circumstances as part of their established protocols."

"In other nearby countries, similar responses are also almost automatically triggered," Hawes reassured oil investors through Reuters. "Every international oil company operation in Algeria will be obliged by insurers to take certain precautions to avoid and mitigate such instances. Premiums are likely to rise and the expatriation of staff will add to operating costs."

The Reuters article continued, "He said the exodus of expats might delay some projects but added that very big outages were unlikely as the biggest fields in southern Algeria such as Hassi Mesaoud were 'extremely secure'".

On August 8, 2013 Julie Payne at Reuters reported, "Unrest that has already slashed Libya's oil output to the lowest levels since the 2011 civil war and more than halved its exports is now spreading, with serious implications for its economy, foreign companies and consumers of crude...Although oil provides 95 percent of Libya's revenues, analysts say its economy can manage for a while." An optimistic Hawes chimed in, "They are not that straightened because they have significant (monetary) reserves. It would take a couple of months of zero exports before they would not be able to pay for things. It's a medium term issue."

Many times Hawes doesn't even add much to the premise of the article, but reporters still count on him for quotes. In a December 2, 2013 Wall Street Journal article, Emre Peker reported, "The autonomous Iraqi region of Kurdistan said it agreed to supply Turkey with oil through a pipeline in a landmark deal that raised tensions with Baghdad, which fears the move could spark independence drives by other Iraqi governorates. But the Monday announcement here, in the region's capital, was tempered by Baghdad's refusal to approve the deal, which it considers illegal."

"In retaliation, Baghdad could move to cut off the pipeline, which connects to Turkey through an Iraqi-Turkish pipeline, and it could confront Turkey in an international court, lawyers say," Peker noted. "Baghdad, in a last resort, could intervene militarily, though many observers see that as less likely." But the only quote from Hawes: "The risk to Turkey of selling this crude without Iraqi approval is incredibly high."

Hawes - whose "core specializations are hydrocarbons politics in the Gulf and political transitions in MENA states, particularly Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Libya" - tends to sound a constant alarm about renegade terrorists who are more of a threat to oil investors than whomever actually controls the oil.

7/17/12 Gulf News report: "'A new cycle of Shiite protests against the Saudi regime and its policing tactics is developing in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia,' Crispin Hawes, director for the Middle East and North Africa at Eurasia Group in London, wrote in an e- mailed note yesterday. 'The immediate implications for state stability and crude oil production are limited, but the repercussions for the stability of the province in the longer- term are potentially significant'".

1/29/13 CNN report:"Crispin Hawes of Eurasia Group says Libyan oil production has made a strong recovery since Gadhafi's overthrow, but security issues, protests and labor disputes are putting further gains at risk. 'The operating security environment continues to deter some service companies from operating in the country at all while others that have returned to Libya are still only slowly ramping up their activities,' Hawes writes."

4/24/13 Times Live report: "What we are now likely to see in western Iraq is a deteriorating cycle of confrontation between the central government and protesters that will benefit extremist groups," said Crispin Hawes at Eurasia Group."

11/6/14 Bloomberg News report: "The surge in violence across northern and central Iraq, three years after U.S. troops withdrew, has raised the prospect of a return to sectarian civil war in OPEC’s second-biggest oil producer. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s Shiite-led government is struggling to retain control of Sunni-majority regions, and his army units in northern Iraq collapsed in the face of the Islamist advance." Hawes's take: "This can’t be looked at as anything other than a comprehensive failure by the Iraqi army. If the army can’t protect Mosul, how are they going to protect other cities, like Baiji. Moving southward would be the logical thing to do for ISIL."

11/19/14 Institutional Investor report "Chaos and Crashing Oil Prices Are Raising Anxieties in Middle East": "'ISIS has now supplanted al-Qaeda in the U.S.’s demonology of extremist groups, but it has already occupied a similar position for a growing number of Middle Eastern states,” says Crispin Hawes, a Middle East analyst at Teneo Intelligence in London. 'To Iran and its Hezbollah allies, ISIS is the bastard child of Western intervention and Wahhabi extremist anti-Shiism. To the Saudis, it is a revisitation by the Rule of Unintended Consequences, originally written during the 1980s Afghan war. To governments in Amman, Baghdad, Abu Dhabi and beyond, ISIS appears a very real and immediate threat.'"

9/24/15 Bloomberg News report: "The crushing of more than 700 people near the Saudi holy city of Mecca, the worst tragedy at the Hajj pilgrimage in a quarter century, poses the latest political challenge for a kingdom roiled by plunging oil prices and war...'A lot of money has been spent in Mecca, so there will be questions about accountability,' Crispin Hawes, managing director of Teneo Intelligence, said in a phone interview. 'This has the potential for a nasty political firestorm for the regime, and there will need to be a political response to what will be perceived as another egregious failure.'"

(Editor's Note: This article originally [embarrassingly] confused 2001 and 2011 when it was originally published, and wrongly claimed Crispin Hawes left Horizon shortly after the 9/11 attacks. Also, the Horizon consulting firm based in the UK that Hawes worked at until 2011 doesn't appear to be related to Horizon Oil and Gas Services, whose headquarters are in Iraq, so I nixed that from this article. )

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