Republican Senator David Vitter of Louisiana is questioning how the United States has benefited from a $2-billion loan the United States made to a Brazilian oil company for its offshore drilling operations.

Senator Vitter is entirely right in questioning a loan which carries with it such utter hypocrisy.

How has that loan helped US companies, the senator asked in a March 17, 2011 letter to Fred Hochberg, president of the Export-Import Bank.

“I am sure you can understand the frustration Louisianans have with a $2 billion loan to produce energy offshore Brazil,” Vitter wrote to Hochberg – especially given the “ongoing de facto moratorium” on deep water drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Obama administration has approved only three permits for drilling new deep water wells in the Gulf of Mexico since it lifted its moratorium on issuing permits last October– seven months after the BP rig explosion and oil spill.

“I would appreciate a full accounting for the return on investment the American taxpayer has received, and is anticipated to receive, on the $2 billion loan to this Brazilian petroleum company,” Vitter wrote to Hochberg. “I want to understand why permitting domestically is nearly stalled, and if there is at least a return on this investment over the last year and a half for supporting production offshore Brazil.”

When Vitter first inquired about the loan to Petrobras (the Brazilian national oil company) two years ago, the Export-Import Bank responded to Vitter’s staff by telephone, explaining that the US would benefit from the loan through the increased export of US drilling products and services.

The Export-Import Bank of the United States, the official export credit agency of the United States, helps finance the export of US goods and services to international markets.

Specifically, Vitter now wants to know:

  • The name of all US companies that have increased exports based on this loan.
  • The specific product exports that have increased based on this loan.
  • The return on investment for this loan during the next 5 and 10-year windows.
  • The name of all US and foreign investors, including institutional investors, that increased their share holdings in Petrobras in excess of $50 million within a 6 month period before and after the loan.

“Given that U.S. offshore oil and gas reserves are estimated at nearly triple the 40 billion barrels estimated offshore Brazil, a thorough response from you would be helpful in understanding why permitting domestically is nearly stalled, and if there is at least a return on investment for supporting production offshore Brazil,” Vitter wrote.

intelligent-us-politics-petrobras-logoObama was in Brazil last weekend.  Monday, he arrived in Chile, From there he’ll stop in El Salvador. The White House says the South American trip is intended to seek out “job creating opportunities.”

Export-Import Bank President Hochberg is among the delegation accompanying Barack Obama on his South American trip.