Andrew Racz
Director of Research
300 East 54 Street, Suite 26C
New York, NY 10022
Phone: (212) 319-6949
Fax: (212) 753-1944

Governor Walter J. Hickel Interview

September 11, 2008

Governor Walter J. Hickel

By Andrew Racz, Beral, Inc.

A friendship made in Anchorage
in 1971

AR:   Governor, this is the year 2008. Thirty years ago you were in the middle of an energy crisis more than any other person in America, correct?

Hickel:   Right.

AR:   You were Secretary of the Interior, Governor of Alaska, oil price increase, Alaskan pipeline. Did anybody 30 years ago have to think more about America's natural resources than you?

Hickel:   No, because Alaska is an owner state. We are owned like Russia. Everything is owned by the public, the government. The United States and Central Europe are basically private, and so in America when the oil companies drill on the land there, the private sector has attorneys that say this is how you do it. In Alaska the government has to do that, and that sounds like Communism, and that's why I was the second governor to open Prudhoe Bay and do those things. That's why I wrote my latest book and that's why I take this thing to Russia and China, because Alaska uses private companies to drill its wells in Prudhoe Bay, just like they do in Texas, Oklahoma or Kansas. But the government has to say this is how you do it, and that's pretty foreign to American government.

AR:   Let me go back just to one question. Let's say exactly 30 years ago, 1973, you were governor, the price of oil was going down, the currencies were falling apart, gold was going up. What did you see for America in terms of energy?

Hickel:   Energy, what I saw was if we drilled for example in the Arctic, in Prudhoe Bay and NPR4 and Anwar, that oil would supply all the oil that was coming in and more so by foreign import. The other places are offshore but that belongs to the Commons, too, and so a lot of the oil companies didn't want to drill where they didn't own the resource. So we got into a lot of conflict. When I was Secretary I tried to straighten that out. I was Secretary in 1969 and 1970, and tried to explain the obligation of government ownership, and 84% of the world is owned in common. That's the Arctic, the Antarctic, the African continent basically, the Asiatic continent. The only place in North America which is like that is Alaska, but we do it for the private sector and so we have to get the large companies to understand that if they drill where it's commonly owned, like in the oceans or something, and then the government has to tell them how to do it and what they want done.

AR:   But in 1973 you couldn't see globally. Every country was separate. As a matter of fact, everybody was everybody's enemy. What source did you have at that time?

Hickel:   In 1973, I was back in Alaska. I was governor in the mid ‘60s, I was Secretary of the Interior in '69 and '70, and I was governor again in the ‘90s. In '73…but in the late ‘60s when they were getting this problem, I kept oil import quotas on. There was no Secretary of Energy. It was all in Interior. And we were importing oil from the Middle East, and I held the import quotas below 20%. The President called a meeting, and he had people in his office, and the Eastern senators led with Muskie, they wanted us to import more oil. I said no. Oil was then 10 cents a barrel cheaper in the Middle East than it was in America. I said, "Mr. President, if we raise those quotas, in five years time that oil will neither be cheap nor available."

AR:   So you were basically for self-sufficiency at any price.

Hickel:   That's exactly right. That's the only way you can be free. You can't be free when you're dependent on energy. You can be free if you don't have enough steel or enough aluminum or whatever, but if you're not free in energy, you're not free. Today we import nearly 60% of our oil. We're dependent on foreign sources. That is a bunch of crap. It should not happen. When I put Prudhoe Bay together, finally in the early ‘70s, we got up to producing one field, just one field, not Prudhoe Bay. There's only one field there basically—20% of the oil of America. We got all the oil in the world you need but it's owned by the government, not some private company, and that's why we have a hard time making it happen. Our government, the governor here, that's why I was the governor twice in 24 years, we have to make it happen.

AR:   Now, ever since the world has changed. Oil price remained high. Sheik Yamani said the cheap energy is over.

Hickel:   It's not over. You can find a lot of oil.

AR:   But ever since we muddled through, went from 20% to 60% import, and various things happened in the world. I mean the great political changes. You advocate basically that the United States works with Russia, China, as a common energy drilling energy program.

Hickel:   That's right.

AR:   That's your basic policy.

Hickel:   That's exactly right. But here…why not fight so we can open up Anwar and NPR4 and drill up there in the Arctic? We had one field which I made happen. They were against it. We didn't have permission. I just did it, built a road and everything.

AR:   Now if you recall you flew me up there 30 years ago.

Hickel:   Pardon?

AR:   You flew me up over there 30 years ago in an airplane.

Hickel:   Is that right?

AR:   Yes, you did.

Hickel:   Oh, yeah. Anyhow, we ought to fight to drill there instead of having to go to the Middle East or Russia or someplace to get our oil, because you're not going to be independent. They're going to tell you, okay, we'll do that if you do this, and the United States has to be independent because it's the greatest government on earth, but it doesn't quite understand the Commons. Why don't we drill at Prudhoe Bay and those places? We wouldn't have to import 60% of our oil.

AR:   That's a 30-year topic, and the liberals are against it. Now let me go back for a minute. The United States is now friendly with Russia, and we are friendly with Norway, friendly with England.

Hickel:   Right.

AR:   Can we form what's called "The Second OPEC"?

Hickel:   Well, sure. We could…you see what I've been working on, and the reason I set up my Institute of the North and wrote these books, is because…and I took this to Presidents way back in the ‘60s and early ‘50s. Russia shouldn't be the evil empire. The only reason it was, it's so rich in Siberia that our big economic interests didn't want their competition. We should work with Russia, because this side of the Urals, they've got tremendous gas and oil fields. I know; I've been there several times.

AR:   But can I ask you something? You are a well known politician and you understand energy and you have a history of fighting for the pipeline and so on and drilling.

Hickel:   Yeah.

AR:   If the United States formed with Russia the second OPEC, immediately our percentage, and we are part of the same family, the 60% would drop to 30%, and our capital resources are available. Norway and England obviously would join in because they have common economic interests with us, and we have changed the whole world's energy policy by saying we are OPEC—not you, we.

Hickel:   I totally agree there. But why…Russia has asked me this question many times. Why are we going to Sakleen —they'd like to see us there—when we won't even drill on our own lands?

AR:   It's all what…listen, I came from Hungary. It's all what's called the totally stupid liberal policy, which is not only energy but, I don't want to use like gay marriages and all this nonsense, which is asocial, and they are stupid. We have now something like 10 Democratic candidates for president. Not one of them says what you suggest, that we have a second OPEC, and finally, after 30 years, we settle down to solve a problem. One of the 10 should have that idea.

Hickel:   Well, you know why? It's because Teddy Roosevelt had this problem, if you know our history.

AR:   Yeah, sure.

Hickel:   Alright. Teddy Roosevelt saved the American system because he broke the monopolies, he gave us the anti-trust laws, he did those things. But they're not applying it to the stuff that's owned by the public. And that's where the wealth is. In Alaska it's all owned by the public. The oceans are owned by the public. There's an unlimited amount of energy. We could make a deal with Russia, fine, but we've got to face the real issue. We've got to face those economic interests, trying to tell America where to go.

AR:   Something is happening now, a totally new element in the world. This Al-Qaeda, these terrorists, are attacking one country after another. It's no longer Iraq. They attack everybody like Turkey. Today, I noticed, whose stock market went up today? The Russian market, the Russian market went up 11 points. I bought some Russian stocks in the morning. The Russian market has gone up, so basically our interest is a thorough, joint venture with Russia immediately.

Hickel:   Well, what I have to do, and I'm going to try to set up a meeting with Putin. I'm working with some top people in America, and I worked with the Russians closely. We've got to be sure that Russia manages those Commons this side of Siberia—I mean any place in Russia but especially this side of the Urals—so it's a benefit of those regions and it doesn't go back to the kind of government they had under Communism, that the only people that made any money is the leaders, otherwise they'll have another revolution like they had in 1916.

AR:   You mean these rich guys?

Hickel:   Pardon?

AR:   You mean he has to step on the rich guys?

Hickel:   All he has to do is say it belongs to all of us and not to them, and we're going to see to it it's done for the region first. I took this with President Nikolia to Moscow, when Yeltsin was President, in 1992, and I said move the decisions from those great regions on oil and gas from Moscow to the regions, and they'll do what's right for the regions. You'll get the oil. So we've got to change some systems or all we do is solve, at the moment, we exploit it for the benefit of a few instead of the total. And then it's—pardon the expression—but that is wrong.

AR:   Now, just lastly, this is what I would like in a proposal. In these last two years or three years, we have had international terrorism which shakes up every major country, because they shoot people left and right. Now, meanwhile, the world has to go on, and the most important thing is to keep energy going because otherwise we slow down and then I remember 1974, when the stock market collapsed, as I'm sure you remember.

Hickel:   Well, let me tell a story on that. After I left Washington, DC, they took the oil import quotas off. I had it below 20%. The minute I left they took the quotas off, and that's when we had the disaster in 1973 and 1974. Now that all happened and I predicted it. I told the President of the United States, if you take these quotas off, that oil will be neither cheap nor available. The history is there. I'm not giving up. I just need some help in cleaning up the problem, rather than trying to patch the hole at the moment.

AR:   Now, meanwhile, something else is happening. I mean new. China is becoming a very big consuming country.

Hickel:   I understand that.

AR:   They take 30% of the steel, okay? They take 20% of aluminum, 20% of copper, and the only thing they don't take is gold because they have more gold than anybody else. But the Chinese need more and more energy because even today this powerful nation has a GNP equal to California. Now it's going to be much bigger; they have 1.5 billion people. Their energy need is going to go up two, three, fourfold.

Hickel:   And they're going to try to make a deal with Russia.

AR:   So we have to step in.

Hickel:   I understand that. But my point is, which is really bad, if China makes a deal with Russia, it's going to change the world.

AR:   Yes, and not for our advantage.

Hickel:   I understand that. But my other point is, what I've been fighting for 50 years, why do those leaders of the United States, those economic leaders, see the great opportunity that Alaska could do to solve it?  That's why I was governor twice. Once I was a Republican governor, the only time in history. Twenty-four years later I was an independent governor, because the Republican Party wouldn't support me, and I beat both parties. Now the point I'm saying is I've lived my life fighting the battle for the total, and we've got to have some leadership in America, and Bush sees it to a degree—I know him personally—we've got to stop this bullshit of punishing Alaska. We shouldn't have done a state of the union.

AR:   Alaska should be a major subject in the election. Listen, I remember in the early ‘70s, everybody talked about Alaska. Finally Nixon put through the pipeline because we had an emergency.

Hickel:   I was the guy that forced that through when I was Secretary. I opened Prudhoe Bay, I drilled the first wells, I got the…

AR:   I remember but you were fighting until finally, 1974, Nixon could bring in some measures, military measures almost, to get the pipeline.

Hickel:  I understand that.

AR:   And he couldn't listen to you. Politically he couldn't get it done in ‘71.

Hickel:   We got the thing changed.

AR:   Yeah, I know, but you had to fight for years.

Hickel:   I understand that.

AR:   I mean he was a strong president but he couldn't do it in ‘71.

Hickel:   Okay. Why don't you and your people like that say, "Look, we don't need all that Middle East stuff. Let's drill in our own country and produce this stuff."

AR:   Governor, in ending, let me say this. I will sit down in the next week with this interview and write up a proposal, "The Second OPEC," which is a Chinese, Russian, American program. You can chair a meeting. I'm sure Bloomberg—any of the television stations—would like to hear that.

Hickel:   Well, when do you want to form a different OPEC with Russia? I have no problem.

AR:   I'll write everything down, send it to you, and then we may create a program.

Hickel:   Okay.

AR:   Okay?

Hickel:   Did you get that little booklet I…?

AR:   I have. I read everything.

Hickel:   I faxed it to you last night.

AR:   Yeah, thanks. I got it. But the big issue now is I think after this Turkish issue that now people are going to put money on Russia, and Russia will become bigger and China will be accelerating. Look, the Chinese are Asian. They say the "stupid Europeans," they shoot up one another, we want to have secure oil. I mean I don't think the Chinese think we are too smart.

Roberts:   Sir, this is Malcolm Roberts and I work with Governor Hickel and I did back in DC 30 years ago.

AR:   Yes.

Roberts:   I think your idea is very imaginative. I think, though, for Russia and China to even consider it we have to commit to produce our own domestic oil and not just selfishly say we'll take it from them. So there has to be a piece in it—of course Bush is for this—of developing our offshore Continental Shelf and Anwar.

AR:   I agree with you. Even Mr. Hunt is on your side.

Roberts:   He knows Alaska. I can imagine he would be.

AR:   Yeah. He is sick but his brother, Robert, and the children, did very well. They recovered the $10 billion. You know the silver money.

Roberts:   If you're going to write this up, why don't you send us a draft so we could look at it?

AR:   Sure. Thanks very much. This weekend everything will be done.

Roberts:   Great.

AR:   I really want to make a big story out of it. You know, I want to tell you something, Governor. I mentioned to a few people that I would be talking to you. You have no idea how popular you are.

Hickel:   I don't know that.

AR:   You are very, very popular. I mentioned it to Bloomberg, the television station. He said he wanted to hear from you. You are a very popular man, and this is the right time to be popular. Tomorrow morning just watch the Russian market, and if the Russian market goes up, it means that we have to act.

Hickel:  That's right.

AR:   That's the indicator. My wife will kill me, I bought so many shares.

Hickel:   You have a very, very interesting analysis. It would give a whole new vision to how we could be partners with China and Russia for the future and not be blackmailed by the old OPEC.

AR:   You know I worked with Nixon for a short while, and I hate to tell you, he didn't foresee the Chinese economy as much as people think. He saw the changes but not the tremendous economic recovery.

Hickel:  I guess we can give him credit for having the courage to open up Alaska and creating a new political climate. However, 40 years have passed and that’s a tragedy.


Information contained herein is based on data obtained from recognized statistical services, issuers reports or communications or other sources believed to be reliable. However, such information has not been verified by us and we do not make any representation to its accuracy or completeness. Any statement non-factual in nature constitutes only current opinions which are subject to change. BERAL INC. or their officers, directors, analysts or employees may have positions in the securities or commodities referred to herein, and may as principal or agent buy and sell such securities or commodities. An employee, analyst, officer or a director of BERAL INC. may serve as a director for companies mentioned in this report. Neither the information nor any comment expressed shall constitute an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy any securities or commodities mentioned herein. There may be instances when fundamental, technical and competitive opinions may not be in concert. This firm may from time to time perform investment banking or other services for or which investment banking or other businesses from any company mentioned in this report.



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Posted August 4, 2005



Andrew Racz. 300 East 54 Street, Suite 26C, New York, NY 10022
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