Chevron Accused of Profiting at the Expense of Gazans’ Lives

Chevron Gaza

RICHMOND, CA (02-03) – Chevron Corporation’s Richmond, California refinery was the scene of a human rights and environmental justice activists’ rally calling upon the giant energy company to shut down its operations in the Levant Basin where Israel’s Tamar and Levithan natural gas fields are located.

For its part, the company, in anticipation of the action, erected a temporary chain-link fence at its main entrance and covered its corporate signs with plywood. Activists utilized the fence by attaching numerous signs to it and busied themselves in painting a large artwork on the asphalt driveway that transformed the company’s familiar logo altering it to include dripping blood from its blue and red V shaped stripes. 

The two gas fields are co-owned and operated by a consortium of partners including Chevron along with the Israelis and others. Chevron owns a 25 percent stake in the Tamar gas field and 40 percent of the Levithan whose production wells generate income that in turn finances Israel’s genocide in Gaza. Activist have asserted, too, that Chevron and its subsidiaries, in partnership with Israel, have “…made billions running major gas operations off the coast of occupied Palestine” in effect “stealing Palestinian natural resources” that have a combined value estimated at $19 billion.

The massive natural gas fields fuel 70 percent of the generating capacity used to power Israel’s light and utilities while Gazans sit in the cold and dark without food, hospitals and water for lack of fuels that are being held captive by Israel. The environmental impact of the gas fields production in turn has been credited with being Israel’s single largest producer of carbon emissions.

The Tamar gas field, within range of Hama’s rockets, was initially closed for a month in the aftermath of the October invasion into Israel. The fields gas platform which can be seen from Northern Gaza stands as a defiant offshore symbol of occupation to those in dire need of life-sustaining utility services.

Demonstrating under the rubric of “From Richmond to Gaza — we won’t stand by as Chevron profits at the expense of Palestinian lives,” activists are demanding that Chevron “Shut down the Tamar and Leviathan gas fields and that it must divest from Israel and stop its complicity in apartheid,” while calling for a boycott of the company “until there is a permanent ceasefire and an end to the occupation of Palestine.”

The activists’ demands are quite unlikely to be met with so much money to be made at stake. To illustrate Chevron’s position, during a third quarter earnings conference call in 2023 as reported by Kate Aronoff in the New Republic, when Chevron CEO Mike Wirth was asked by Wall Street Analyst Jason Gabelman of TD Cowen about what impact the Israel-Gaza war would have on the company’s growth profile regarding the Tamar and Leviathan gas fields, Wirth responded It doesn’t change our view on the development opportunities really at all. This is a long-term play. It’s a very, very large gas resource.”

The crowd of several hundred heard from speakers including Palestinian-American activist and clinical psychologist, Dr. Jess Ghannam PhD. who has worked in Gaza for 25 years and spoke forcefully telling the crowd “When Palestinians were being massacred in the genocide in Gaza by Israel, one city (Richmond) stood up and was the first city in the Bay Area to demand a ceasefire. Palestinians will stand with you from shoulder to shoulder.”

Ghannam spoke to the “criminality of Chevron and their complicity in Gaza” where people are starving, hospitals have been destroyed and doctors and healthcare workers have been killed. “When doctors and nurses and healthcare workers and patients come together in a healing space, that is sacred, and it’s been destroyed under the genocide that is being carried out in Gaza right now. All with the blessing and the cover of the U.S. government.”

He noted, too, that Richmond much like Gaza is under an environmental assault that he termed “environmental terrorism.” Indicating that “The water is polluted, the air is polluted, the land is polluted, and what they are trying to do is make Gaza uninhabitable for indigenous Palestinians as we speak.”

Correlating culpability, complicity and criminality with Chevron’s participation in Gaza, Ghannam said, “Chevron is materially supporting the genocide and the genocidal terrorism that is being carried out right now,” noting the company is “criminally responsible” for its action.

He also asserted that “Chevron is doing the same thing here in Richmond by polluting the air, water and land. The same settler colonialism project in Palestine is the same settler colonialism project we see here in Richmond. The same corporate white supremacy we see with Chevron in Richmond is the same we see in Palestine.”

In closing, Ghannam noticed “Genocide Joe, Israel and Chevron” relating to them that when doctors in Gaza were faced with tanks and guns pointed at them in front of their hospitals they responded with “We will remain!” a promise he encouraged everyone present to uphold.

Speaking to the crowd at the refineries entrance , Mayor of Richmond Eduardo Martinez noted that after his city passed the ceasefire resolution, his Zionist friends no longer talk to him, but that “they still need to be loved.” He followed with an unusual demand for a small-town mayor with a major corporate giant and employer by calling for Chevron to leave Richmond. This in reference to the company’s negative environmental track record that has for many decades created numerous and overwhelming health, environmental and quality of life adversity for the small community of 116,000. 

This event was organized and endorsed by: Asian Pacific Environmental Network, Communities for a Better Environment, Oil and Gas Action Network and numerous other partners.

Report and photos by Phil Pasquini

© 2023 nuzeink all rights reserved worldwide


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