Well, they better start taking Iceland off the top of all those lists of countries with the least corruption. As further details emerge in the oil collaboration scandal, one can only gape in disbelief at the extent of the mafia-like tactics employed by the exalted executives of Icelandic oil companies Skeljungur (Shell), Esso, Olís (BP) and Bensínorkan. From the cosy comfort of their boardrooms they not only orchestrated mark-up, division of market, et. al., but also played their subordinates like string puppets (we’re talking criminal behaviour here). Any who refused to cooperate were to be “reported”. With fishing being Iceland’s major industry, it follows that primary oil customers were fishing vessel operators. When their Association of Fishing Vessel Operators decided that it would be cheaper to hire a vessel to bring in oil from abroad, bullying tactics were employed until that plan was thwarted. The Association then decided it would be worth going to the Faroe Islands for oil, where prices were lower. At which more bullying and threats ensued, until prices in the Faroes were jacked up to Icelandic level. When a Canadian oil company, Irving Oil, was seriously investigating making inroads into the Icelandic market (which Icelandic gas buyers, fed up with high prices, welcomed wholeheartedly) behind-the-scenes wheels were set in motion, resulting in Irving Oil pulling out completely and going back home.
Priceless, too, are the selected quotes that have been made public from e-mails and other correspondence. Among those is a Christmas thank-you note to an unnamed foreign oil company for helping keep Irving Oil out of Iceland (!!). Another jewel: “The public are fools”, from one executive to another, when discussing price hike collaboration.
To add insult to injury, the CEO of Esso at the time, Kristinn Björnsson, happens to be the husband of the then-Minister of Justice, Sólveig Pétursdóttir. Wonder what their pillow-talk was about. Oh, and the current mayor of Reykjavík, Þórólfur Árnason, was also a key player. Director of Marketing at Esso, to be precise.
The mind boggles.
Undoubtedly these jokers will take comfort in the fact that Icelanders are excellent at one thing: forgetting. Scandals come, scandals get ranted about, scandals go, scandals are buried and forgotten. Mind you, this one is exceptionally infuriating, so maybe they’ll actually be made to shoulder some responsibility.
OK; Rant mode off.
Today, says the weatherman, we’ll have dry weather with some wind in the morning, picking up as the day goes on with rain this afternoon. Temps 4-11 degrees. Sunrise/sunset: 9.12-17.10.
No, Icelanders are not excellent at forgetting. If anything, they are excellent at being stupid. In WWII, when Iceland declared independence, British diplomats working in the country shook their heads and said that Icelanders lacked the ability to successfully rule their country and would never be able to self-govern. What an under-statement. And Laxness said Icelanders would treat their own worse than the Danish slavemasters. What a sad truth. As they have demonstrated time and again, Icelanders simply cannot be saved from their own stupidity.