Bombed Gaza Power Station Insured by U.S. Government's OPIC
Matthew Russell Lee at the U.N.
UNITED NATIONS, July
14 -- The bombed Gaza power station was covered by a $48 million political risk
insurance policy, it has emerged. The insurer is the U.S. government's Overseas
Private Investment Corporation, OPIC. The current policy was signed in mid-2004,
between OPIC and the U.S.-based company Morganti, which succeeded to the
interest of Enron in the plant. OPIC has insured other Enron power plants, in the
Philippines, Turkey and India. OPIC issued a press release in 2004, which was at
but has since been removed from OPIC's
of the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Jan
Egeland, told reporters on July 11 that the plant was insured by "an American
insurance company" and that the policy might not be paid on, due to sanctions
against the Hamas government. Immediately following Egeland's briefing, Inner
City Press asked OCHA staff for the name of the American insurance company, as
well as who had been paying the insurance premiums. Having not heard back, on
July 12 at the Office of the Spokesman for the Secretary-General's noon
briefing, Inner City Press asked:
"In his briefing yesterday, Jan Egeland...
mentioned that there is an insurance policy on the power plant by an American
insurance company, but that they may not be able to pay because of US sanctions
against Hamas. It’s a factual question of, like, what’s up with the insurance,
but does the UN agree -– does the Secretariat agree with Jan Egeland that Israel
should be responsible for rebuilding the power plant?
Deputy Spokesman: ...In terms of the details of who’s paying for the insurance
and all of that, I think that’s something you may want to follow-up with the
agencies on the ground, or we could look into it for you.
Question: I asked OCHA and, even though they said it, they didn’t seem to know.
It would be good to know.
Deputy Spokesman: We’ll address it to the agency on the ground."
subsequently provided, through officials who spoke only on background, is that
the Gaza power plant was a joint venture between the Palestinian company
Consolidated Construction Corporation and the Houston-based Enron, succeeded by
Morganti, and was covered by a $48 million insurance policy from the U.S.
Overseas Private Investment Corporation.
afternoon of July 14, Inner City Press interviewed Riyad Mansour, the Permanent
Observer of Palestine to the UN, who stated that OPIC is the insurer, and "they
have to pay." Mr. Mansour added, "Let them collect from Israel."
of the U.S. government, OPIC describes itself as "support[ing] U.S. investment
in emerging markets worldwide, fostering development and the growth of free
markets." The description is from the OPIC.gov web site, from which the
2004 press release about insuring the Gaza power station has been
moved or deleted.
insurance to Enron's Dabhol power plant in India, to other Enron power plants in
Turkey and in Subic Bay in the Philippines, and other Enron projects in
Argentina and Uzbekistan (a project that never came to fruition). A search on
July 14, 2006, of OPIC.gov results in only one mention of Enron, and that along
with BP Amoco and ABB as being involved in renewal energy. The Gaza plant is not
listed as one of OPIC's "project
profiles," the lead one of
which involves importing tea from Rwanda.
generators in the Gaza power plant were specially built by ABB, according to Jan
Egeland. One of impacts of their destruction by bombs is to interrupt the flow
of both water and sewage. UN's World Health Organization estimated, prior to the
current crisis, that 64% of the health problems in Gaza were due to water
officials interviewed by Inner City Press, speaking only on background, also
noted that the blockade of Gaza has interrupted not only the trucking-in of gas,
including for backup electricity generators, but also the flow of gas through
the Nahal Oz
pipeline, through which neither people nor arms could be traveling.
On July 14 at
the UN, Under Secretary for Political Affairs Ibrahim Gambari came to the
Security Council stakeout and read a statement that "the Secretary General...
reminds all of their obligations to take absolute care to spare civilian
populations from harm, and to protect their life, infrastructure and
livelihoods. In particular, care should also be taken to avoid damaging power
stations, water supply and sanitation facilities."
Gambari took a single question from the media: Inner City Press'
question about the electrical power situation in Gaza. "This is about Lebanon,"
Mr. Gambari replied, adding before he left that the brief statement he had read
was intended to help avoid a repetition in Lebanon of the bombing of the Gaza
Previously, Inner City Press asked Israel's Ambassador to the United Nations Dan
Gillerman for his response to the UN's Jan Egeland's statement that Israel
should repair the Gaza power plant. Amb. Gillerman responded that Israel does
not intentionally target civilians, but that he has no information about Israel
repairing the power plant. Inner City Press asked U.S. Ambassador John Bolton
if he had any comment on Jan Egeland's call for Israel to repair the power
plant; Amb. Bolton said, "I have no comment on that." Developing...
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