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Dabhol - Enron Timeline

by Ron Callari

to The Puzzle of the Enron Coverups
June 5, 1992: Enron sent a group of officials to New Delhi to make arrangements to survey the land around Dabhol for the purpose of building a large power plant.

June 20, 1992: Enron and the government of the state of Maharashtra signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding to build the plant. This led to formation of the Dabhol Power Company (DPC), a joint venture of Enron and two other American corporations, General Electric and Bechtel.

February, 1993: A formal agreement was signed for a plant that could generate about 2450 megawatts at an approximate cost of $3 billion.

April, 1993: Heinz Vergin, World Bank manager for India, rejects Enron's loan application, saying that the Dabhol plant is "not economically viable."

November, 1993: The Central Electricity Authority in New Delhi gave provisional clearance to the project. It was the largest single foreign investment in India.

1994: The Washington-based Export-Import Bank approved a $302 million loan toward a $3 billion Enron-controlled power plant in India. President Clinton took an interest in the deal, asking the U.S. ambassador to that country and his former chief of staff, Thomas F. "Mack" McLarty, then a presidential adviser, to monitor the proposal.

August, 1995: Clinton administration's cabinet members, Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin and Energy Secretary Hazel O'Leary, personally urged India to accept Enron's proposed project.

October, 1995: Indian Prime Minister Rao and Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati discussed a routing alternatives for a natural gas pipeline, including one which would run through Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

1996: "Mack" McLarty, who later became a paid Enron director, spoke with Ken Lay on several occasions about the plant. Four days before India granted approval for Enron's project, the Houston-based firm contributed $100,000 to the Democratic Party.

1996: Enron signed a contract giving it rights to explore 11 gas fields in Uzbekistan, a project costing $1.3 billion. The goal was to sell gas to the Russian markets, and link to Unocal's southern export pipeline crossing Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Afghanistan.

January 8, 1996: Enron and the state government of Maharashtra reached a new agreement that would shift some of the construction costs and lower the electricity tariffs.

June,1997: As an advisor for Unocal, Zalmay Khalilzad drew up a risk analysis of a proposed gas pipeline from the former Soviet republic of Turkmenistan across Afghanistan and Pakistan to the Indian Ocean. He participated in talks and social meetings between Unocal and Taliban officials in 1997.

June 3, 1997: Police stormed the homes of several women in western India who had led a massive protest against Enron's new natural-gas plant near their fishing village. According to Amnesty International, the women were dragged from their homes and beaten by officers paid by Enron.

November 14, 1997: Enron International's CEO Rebecca Mark unveiled an energy plan that included a $300 million project to build a pipeline from Dabhol to Hazira and to the North to add 1200 km of complimentary pipeline system to the existing HBJ pipeline at a cost of $900 million.

December 7, 1997: Unocal invited a Taliban contingency to visit them in Houston, Texas, housed them in five-star hotels, dined them at the home of Unocal VP and medically treated the former foreign minister, Mullah Mohammed Ghaus before he returned home.

February 12, 1998: Testimony of John J Maresca, vice-president, international relations, Unocal Corporation was heard by the House Committee on International Relations and the Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific regarding "a proposed extension (of the proposed trans-Caspian pipeline) would link with the SUI pipeline system, moving gas to near New Delhi, where it would connect with the existing HBJ pipeline..."

June 23, 1998: In a speech to the "Collateral Damage Conference" of the Cato Institute, Cheney said, "the good Lord didn't see fit to put oil and gas only where there are democratically elected regimes friendly to the United States. Occasionally we have to operate in places where, all things considered, one would not normally choose to go. But, we go where the business is."

July 29 ,1998: The Department of State is pleased that Turkmen Minister of Oil and Gas Arazov announced Turkmenistan's selection of the U.S. company Enron to carry out a feasibility study funded by the Trade and Development Agency for a trans-Caspian gas pipeline.

August 20, 1998: U.S. Tomahawk cruise missiles target Kandahar Afghanistan and sites believed to be Osama bin Laden's training camps. Shortly after, the UN imposes sanctions on Afghanistan that isolate the nation.

January 25, 1999: Human Rights Watch released a report that indicated human right violations had occurred as a result of opposition to the Dabhol Power project. Beginning in late 1996 and continuing throughout 1997, leading Indian environmental activists and representatives of villagers' organizations in the affected area organized to oppose the project and, as a direct result of their opposition, were subjected to beatings, repeated short-term detention and were not paid.

February, 1999: Joint agreement signed by Turkmenistan and two American companies, Bechtel and GE Capital Services to build a $2.5 billion trans-Caspian pipeline, after Enron conducted a feasibility study.

November, 1999: Enron purchased 5.1 percent of the company that operates the country's sole long-distance gas pipeline, which runs from the offshore gas fields in the Bombay High area to the country's capital, New Delhi.

June-Oct 2000: Maharashtra government allies demand scrapping the project because of the cost of the power it produces.

Early 2001: Vice President Cheney held several secret meetings with top Enron officials, including its Chairman Kenneth Lay. These meetings were presumably part of Cheney's non-public Energy Task Force sessions. A number of Enron stockholders, including Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Trade Representative Robert Zoellick, became officials in the Bush administration. In addition, Thomas White, a former Vice Chairman of Enron and a multimillionaire in Enron stock, currently serves as the Secretary of the Army.

February, 2001: Vice President Cheney's energy task force changed a draft energy proposal to include a provision to boost oil and natural gas production in India. The amendment was so narrow that it apparently was targeted only to Enron's power plant in India.

March, 2001: Laila Helms, the part- Afghan niece of the former CIA director and former U.S. ambassador to Tehran Richard Helms is described as unofficial Taliban representative in Washington. Ms Helms brought Sayed Rahmatullah Hashimi, an adviser to Mullah Omar, to Washington.after the Taliban had destroyed the ancient Buddhas of Bamiyan. Hashimi met the directorate of Central Intelligence at the CIA and the Bureau of Intelligence and Research at the State Department.

April, 2001: An Enron memo, which Lay gave Cheney during their one-on-one meeting, makes eight energy-policy recommendations. Seven out of eight recommendations were adopted in the administration's final energy plan.

May, 2001: A conference held at the Brookings Institution provides evidence that the exploitation of Caspian Basin and Asian energy markets was an urgent priority for the Bush administration, and the centerpiece of its energy policy

May, 17, 2001: The U.S. indirectly gives $43 million to Afghanistan's Taliban government as a reward for its efforts to stamp out opium-poppy cultivation. The same day, White House's energy policy recommended, "the president direct the Secretaries of State and Energy to work with India's Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas to help India maximize its domestic oil and gas production."

June, 2001: Construction halted on the Dabhol plant.

June, 27, 2001: Cheney stepped in to try to help Enron collect a $64 million debt from Dabhol. Conducted at a Washington meeting between Cheney and the leader of India's opposition, Sonia Gandhi.

June 28, 2001: "Good news" a NSC staff member wrote in a e-mail memo: "The Veep mentioned Enron in his meeting with Sonia Gandhi." An unnamed government staff member wrote that (s)he would "ask the Indians" if Kenneth Lay "is invited to the dinner" with India's national security adviser, Brajesh Mishra. The memo is part of a series uncovered by the Washington Post that revealed that the National Security Council led a "Dabhol Working Group."

June 30, 2001: Another Dabhol Working Group memo states the need to "broaden the advocacy" and recommends diplomatic action by the U.S. Embassy and the Ambassador. The memo also notes that Christina Rocca, in charge of Central Asian affairs for the U.S. government, met with a top aide to the Indian prime minister. The memo is marked as a "Confidential Business Communication."

August 2, 2001: The last meeting between U.S. and Taliban representatives took place five weeks before the attacks on New York and Washington, the analysts maintain. On that occasion, Christina Rocca met the Taliban ambassador to Pakistan in Islamabad.

August 27, 2001: Kenneth Lay wrote another email to his employee/stockholders extolling the value of an employee stock option program, describing a "significantly higher price" the stock would bring in the near future.

September 5, 2001: Lay announces that the company will divest itself of $4-$5 billion in assets in the next two years.

September 10, 2001: "Those who control the oil routes out of Central Asia will impact all future direction and quantities of flow and the distribution of revenues from new production," wrote energy expert James Dorian in Oil & Gas Journal, published the day before the terrorist attacks.

September 14, 2001: Unocal issued the following statement: "The company is not supporting the Taliban in Afghanistan in any way whatsoever. Nor do we have any project or involvement in Afghanistan." Lay also writes to the Prime Minister of India, insisting that his $2.3 billion asking price is reasonable "compared to the size of our legal claim," which Enron placed at $5 billion. September 19, 2001: Enron invokes a clause in its Dabhol power plant contract, claiming that because the Maharashtra State Electricity Board has violated its power purchase agreement, the Maharashtra state government and the government of India are liable for $5 billion.

October 3, 2001: Cheney meets with India External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh. The NSC sends "Dabhol talking points" to Cheney's staff.

November 1, 2001: Bush signed Executive Order 13233 which limits public access to papers of all presidents since 1980 including George W. Bush. Another memo written this day states that talking points for Bush were prepared for his meeting with the India Prime Minister. Bush did not discuss Enron during the meeting.

November 6, 2001: OPIC President Peter Watson contacts a top aide of the Indian Prime Minister: "The acute lack of progress in this matter has forced Dabhol to rise to the highest levels of the United States government."

November 8, 2001: Enron president Lawrence "Greg" Whalley called Treasury Undersecretary Peter Fisher in late October and disclosed that it had overstated earnings dating back to 1997 by almost $600 million. That same day, an e-mail ("Importance: High"), whose sender and recipient are blacked out, warned, "President Bush cannot talk about Dabhol."

November 9, 2001: An e-mail noted that Lawrence Lindsey, chairman of Bush's National Economic Council, had met India's National Security Adviser Brajesh Mishra on Nov. 7, but it said Lindsey was "advised that he could not discuss Dabhol." Lindsey is a former Enron consultant and had served on its board of advisers.

Late November, 2001: Lay called Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill and Commerce Secretary Don Evans seeking a last-minute federal bailout and was turned down.

December 2, 2001: Enron files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

December 27, 2001: Bush Administration repealed a Clinton-era rule that prevents the government from awarding federal contracts to businesses that have broken environmental, labor, tax, civil rights or other laws.

December 31, 2001: President Bush appointed a former aide to Unocal, Afghan-born Zalmay Khalilzad, as special envoy to Afghanistan. The nomination was announced nine days after the US-backed interim government of Hamid Karzai took office in Kabul.

January 17, 2002: Enron reportedly filed an approximately $200 million claim with the U.S. government's Overseas Private Investment Corporation in an attempt to recoup losses from the Dabhol Power Corporation.

January 18, 2002: According to documents released on this date, it was noted the Bush administration intervened with top Indian officials last year in a bid to salvage the Enron project in India. The White House said the effort, involving Vice President Dick Cheney and other senior officials, was justified because the $2.9 billion Dabhol power project was financed in part through the U.S. government's Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), a taxpayer-backed agency that provides "political risk" insurance and loans to help U.S. companies invest in developing nations. The White House denied the push was influenced by Enron's political contributions.

January 28, 2002: U.S. Ambassador Robert Blackwell addresses an Indian energy industry meeting and demands India honor the "sanctity of contract" and make good on the Enron debt, warning that India's hopes for "big-time international investment" could be harmed otherwise.

February 8, 2002: Afghanistan's interim leader Hamid Karzai said he and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf had agreed to revive a plan for a trans-Caspian gas pipeline from Turkmenistan to Pakistan.

February 9, 2002: Turkmenistan hopes the fragile peace in neighboring Afghanistan will allow work to resume on the natural gas pipeline connecting to Pakistan.

February 20, 2002: OPIC reveals that it gave Enron $554 million in loans and $204 million in insurance. Congress also learns the the Export-Import Bank loaned $675 million to Enron and associated companies.

February 22, 2002: The GAO sues Cheney for refusing to reveal details of his meetings with Enron officials. It is the first time that the agency has sued a member of the executive branch of government.

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Albion Monitor February 21, 2002 (

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