Oscar Wyatt

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Oscar Wyatt
Oscar Sherman Wyatt, Jr.

(1924-07-11) July 11, 1924 (age 95)
Education Texas A&M University, 1949 degree in Mechanical Engineering
Known forFounder of Coastal Corporation
Net worthover $100 million
Spouse(s) Lynn Wyatt (née Sakowitz) (m.1963present)
Children4 sons
Website www.oscarswyatt.com/index.htm

Oscar Sherman Wyatt, Jr. (born July 11, 1924) is an American businessman and self made millionaire. He was the founder of Coastal Corporation and a decorated bomber pilot in World War II. In 2007 the U.S. federal court in Manhattan tried him for illegally sending payments to Iraq under the Oil-for-Food Program. [2] [3]

Coastal Corporation

Coastal Corporation was a diversified energy and petroleum products company headquartered at 9 Greenway Plaza in Greenway Plaza, Houston, Texas. The company was founded in 1955 by Oscar Wyatt and incorporated in 1955 as Coastal States Gas Producing Company. It merged with the El Paso Corporation in 2001. As of 1999, Coastal was a Fortune 500 company with 13,300 employees and annual revenues of $8.2 billion.

World War II 1939–1945 global war

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

United States District Court for the Southern District of New York United States federal district court

The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, known informally as The Mother Court, is a federal district court. Appeals from the Southern District of New York are taken to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.


Early history

In 1924 Oscar Wyatt was born into poverty in Beaumont, Texas, [4] left by an alcoholic father and raised by a single mother in Navasota, Texas. [5]

Beaumont, Texas City in Texas, United States

Beaumont is a city in and the county seat of Jefferson County, Texas, in the United States, within the Beaumont–Port Arthur Metropolitan Statistical Area. Located in Southeast Texas on the Neches River about 85 miles (137 km) east of Houston, Beaumont had a population of 117,267 at the time of the 2010 census, making it the thirtieth-most populous city in the state of Texas.

Navasota, Texas City in Texas, United States

Navasota is a city in Grimes County and Brazos County, Texas, United States. The population was 7,049 at the 2010 census, rising to an estimated 7,666 in 2018. In 2005, the Texas Legislature named the city "The Blues Capital of Texas", in honor of the late Mance Lipscomb, a Navasota native and blues musician.

At age 16 he began earning money by flying planes, working as a crop duster [5] for a nearby farm. A strong student, Wyatt was accepted to attend Texas A&M University but, in the midst of World War II, he left after a year of school in 1942 to enlist in the U.S. Army Air Corps as a pilot. Serving as a combat aviator in the South Pacific, Wyatt was wounded twice during battle and was decorated by age 21. After the war, he worked as a farmer to pay his way through Texas A&M and earn a degree in Mechanical Engineering. [5] [6] [7] Out of college, he sold drill bits to small oil companies from the trunk of his Ford Coupe, and worked for Kerr-McGee and Reed Roller Bits before becoming a partner in Wymore Oil Company. [8]

Texas A&M University Public research university in College Station, Texas, United States

Texas A&M University is a public research university in College Station, Texas, United States. Since 1948, it has been the founding member of the Texas A&M University System. The Texas A&M system endowment is among the 10 largest endowments in the nation. As of 2017, Texas A&M's student body is the largest in Texas and the second largest in the United States. Texas A&M's designation as a land, sea, and space grant institution–the only university in Texas to hold all three designations–reflects a range of research with ongoing projects funded by organizations such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the Office of Naval Research. In 2001, Texas A&M was inducted as a member of the Association of American Universities. The school's students, alumni—over 450,000 strong—and sports teams are known as Aggies. The Texas A&M Aggies athletes compete in 18 varsity sports as a member of the Southeastern Conference.

United States Army Air Corps Air warfare branch of the US Army from 1926 to 1941

The United States Army Air Corps (USAAC) was the aerial warfare service of the United States of America between 1926 and 1941. After World War I, as early aviation became an increasingly important part of modern warfare, a philosophical rift developed between more traditional ground-based army personnel and those who felt that aircraft were being underutilized and that air operations were being stifled for political reasons unrelated to their effectiveness. The USAAC was renamed from the earlier United States Army Air Service on 2 July 1926, and was part of the larger United States Army. The Air Corps became the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) on 20 June 1941, giving it greater autonomy from the Army's middle-level command structure. During World War II, although not an administrative echelon, the Air Corps (AC) remained as one of the combat arms of the Army until 1947, when it was legally abolished by legislation establishing the Department of the Air Force.

South West Pacific theatre of World War II

The South West Pacific theatre, during World War II, was a major theatre of the war between the Allies and the Axis. It included the Philippines, the Dutch East Indies, Borneo, Australia and its mandate Territory of New Guinea and the western part of the Solomon Islands. This area was defined by the Allied powers' South West Pacific Area (SWPA) command.

In 1955, he took an $800 loan on his car and used it to found Coastal. [5]

Texas oilman

A 2007 Texas Monthly magazine article called Wyatt the real "J. R. Ewing" of the Oil Business and described Oscar and his fourth [8] wife Lynn Sakowitz, a fixture of Houston social, fashion together as the beauty and the beast. [9] Known as a shrewd businessman, Wyatt was both beloved and hated, litigious and charitable. A personal friend of Iraq's Saddam Hussien and business partner to Libya's Muammar Qaddafi, Wyatt urged President George H. W. Bush not to go to war with Iraq over Kuwait and later negotiated with Saddam to secure the release of western hostages being held in Baghdad. Wyatt entered the refining industry in the early 1960s, And he began to attend Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) meetings in Vienna, Austria. The U.S. refineries were optimized for high sulfur ("sour") crude oil, so Wyatt began to buy Iraqi oil in 1972. [10] Wyatt retired as the Coastal Corporations chairman in 1997 yet continued to serve as Executive Committee chairman until Coastal's sale to the El Paso Natural Gas Company in January 2001.

J. R. Ewing fictional character

John Ross "J. R." Ewing Jr. is a fictional character in the American television series Dallas (1978–91) and its spin-offs, including the revived Dallas series (2012–14). The character was portrayed by Larry Hagman from the series premiere in 1978 until his death in late 2012, and Hagman was the only actor who appeared in all 357 episodes of the original series. As the show's most famous character, J.R. has been central to many of the series' biggest storylines. He is depicted as a covetous, egocentric, manipulative and amoral oil baron with psychopathic tendencies, who is constantly plotting subterfuges to plunder his foes' wealth. In the PBS series Pioneers of Television, Hagman claimed the character of J.R. began its development when he played a similar character in the film Stardust, and that he was also inspired by a mean boss he once had.

George H. W. Bush 41st president of the United States

George Herbert Walker Bush was an American politician who served as the 41st president of the United States from 1989 to 1993 and the 43rd vice president from 1981 to 1989. A member of the Republican Party, Bush also served in the U.S. House of Representatives, as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, and as Director of Central Intelligence. Until his son George W. Bush became the 43rd president in 2001, he was usually known as George Bush.

Vienna Capital city and state of Austria

Vienna is the federal capital, largest city and one of nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primate city, with a population of about 1.9 million, and its cultural, economic, and political centre. It is the 7th-largest city by population within city limits in the European Union. Until the beginning of the 20th century, it was the largest German-speaking city in the world, and before the splitting of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in World War I, the city had 2 million inhabitants. Today, it has the second largest number of German speakers after Berlin. Vienna is host to many major international organizations, including the United Nations and OPEC. The city is located in the eastern part of Austria and is close to the borders of Czechia, Slovakia, and Hungary. These regions work together in a European Centrope border region. Along with nearby Bratislava, Vienna forms a metropolitan region with 3 million inhabitants. In 2001, the city centre was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In July 2017 it was moved to the list of World Heritage in Danger.

The Coastal Corporation

Wyatt founded Coastal States Gas Producing Company in 1955. Coastal began business in modest circumstances, with 68 miles of pipeline and 78 employees. He produced gas, and collected it from other smaller producers to sell at a better rate to larger pipeline companies.

Expanding through acquisitions and expanding across multiple sectors, Coastal became a diversified energy company. Coastal produced and marketed petroleum, natural gas, electricity, and coal. It also sold gasoline at Coastal-branded gas stations: by 1999, Coastal Refining and Marketing operated 962 gas stations across in 33 states and was supplied by four refineries, including a 150,000 bbl per day refinery in Corpus Christi, Texas, a 180,000 bbl per day refinery in Eagle Point, New Jersey, a 250,000 barrel per day refinery on Aruba, and a 25,000 bbl per day refinery geared for asphalt production in Chickasaw, Alabama. Coastal Corporation also owned and operated a fleet of oil tankers, tugs, and barges. Sales in 1991 totaled $9.549 billion. Coastal Corporation was a major supplier of marine diesel in the Caribbean, natural gas in Colorado, and heating oil in the Northeast. Coastal was a key natural gas producer and distributor along with competitors Enron, Williams, and El Paso Energy, which Coastal later merged with. Coastal produced, gathered, processed, transported, stored and marketed natural gas throughout the United States and by the 1990s Coastal's 20,000-mile pipeline network, including the Iroquois and Great Lakes pipeline, completed in 1991, and the Empire State Pipeline, completed in 1992, transported five billion cubic feet of natural gas daily. As of 1999, Coastal was a Fortune 500 company with 13,300 employees and annual Revenues of $8.2 billion.

Corpus Christi, Texas City in Texas, United States

Corpus Christi, colloquially Corpus, is a coastal city in the South Texas region of the U.S. state of Texas. The county seat of Nueces County, it also extends into Aransas, Kleberg, and San Patricio counties. It is 130 miles southeast of San Antonio. Its political boundaries encompass Nueces Bay and Corpus Christi Bay. Its zoned boundaries include small land parcels or water inlets of three neighboring counties.

Eagle Point, New Jersey Unincorporated community in New Jersey, United States

Eagle Point is an unincorporated community located within West Deptford Township, in Gloucester County, New Jersey, United States.

Aruba Island country in the Caribbean, part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands

Aruba is an island and a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the southern Caribbean Sea, located about 1,600 kilometres (990 mi) west of the main part of the Lesser Antilles and 29 kilometres (18 mi) north of the coast of Venezuela. It measures 32 kilometres (20 mi) long from its northwestern to its southeastern end and 10 kilometres (6 mi) across at its widest point. Together with Bonaire and Curaçao, Aruba forms a group referred to as the ABC islands. Collectively, Aruba and the other Dutch islands in the Caribbean are often called the Dutch Caribbean.

Proxy fight

In 2003, Oscar Wyatt and other shareholders sued the El Paso Corporation for allegedly misrepresenting its intentions for Coastal assets prior to the merger in 2000. After the merger of Coastal and El Paso Corporation, the latter began divesting itself of Coastal assets beginning in 2001. El Paso needed the cash to repay the mounting debt it had acquired from following the same business model as Ken Lay's Enron. El Paso had heavily leveraged itself to fuel sales into new markets for electricity, and concealed mounting debt from its balance sheet by writing off the debt to offshore subsidiary companies. In June 2003 Oscar Wyatt, along with El Paso investor Selim Zilkha, initiated a proxy fight to gain control of the El Paso Corporation and to wrestle control of the remaining assets, which included natural gas pipelines, exploration, and production assets. Since the merging and disclosing of corporate malfeasance by El Paso management, Its stock had fallen 87% from its February 2001 high of $75 a share. El Paso had debts of $25 billion and was being sued by shareholders and investigated by state and federal regulators. [11]


While El Paso Energy was selling Coastal's petroleum marketing and production assets off piece by piece to competitors Valero, Sunoco, and Conoco Phillips, Wyatt was being investigated for illegally doing business with Iraq's Saddam Hussein in violation of sanctions imposed by the United Nations that strictly regulated Iraqi sales of crude oil. In 2007 Wyatt pleaded guilty in a U.S. federal court for illegally sending payments to Iraq under the Oil for Food program. [12] At his sentencing hearing, Wyatt's attorney, Gerald Shargel, pointed to a commission report led by former Federal Reserve Board chairman Paul Volcker that concluded that about half of the 4,500 companies in the Oil-for-Food Program paid a total of $1.8 billion in kickbacks and illicit surcharges to Saddam's regime. Wyatt's defense also floated the issue of "vindictive prosecution"—that is, the Bush administration singling out its old nemesis in both the oil patch and politics for punishment while leaving other possible violators of the sanctions alone. Prosecutors, in turn, amassed a daunting paper trail and rewarded a few former Iraqi petrocrats with help in obtaining U.S. green cards—as long as they agreed to testify against sanction breakers like Wyatt. [9] In October 2007 Wyatt pleaded guilty to conspiring to, under the Oil for Food program, make illegal payments to Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Wyatt received a one-year prison sentence, and was sentenced to serve in the minimum security camp at the Federal Correctional Complex, Beaumont, in Beaumont, Texas.


After stepping down from Coastal, Wyatt continued to consult with other petroleum related interests to help them improve their processes and procedures, and maximize their pipeline and refinery operations, resulting in better returns for common shareholders. [13] Wyatt invested in frozen foods distribution and, in July 2001, created a new company - the NuCoastal Corporation, renamed Coastal Energy - to explore energy opportunities available across the globe, including Malaysia, and sold Coastal Energy for $500 million in 2013.

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  1. Suro, Robert (October 8, 1991). "Family Quarrel Unfolds In a Houston Courtroom". New York Times. Retrieved 2013-09-09. Lynn Sakowitz Wyatt, who is Mr. Sakowitz's only sibling, has combined down-home charm and haute couture to become an international socialite whose guest lists have included Mick Jagger, the Duchess of York and the Aga Khan. Her husband, Oscar S. Wyatt Jr., is a gruff oil executive who is chairman of the Coastal Corporation and has a fortune estimated at well over $100 million. Having done an extensive business with Iraq, he flew to Baghdad shortly before the outbreak of the Persian Gulf war, met with Saddam Hussein and brought home a planeload of hostages.
  2. Fowler, Tom (January 2, 2008). "Wyatt begins 1-year prison term". Houston Chronicle . Retrieved 2010-08-22.
  3. Feuer, Alan (September 6, 2007). "Texas Tycoon, Prosecuted for Iraq Dealings, Says He's a Target". The New York Times . Retrieved 2013-09-09.
  4. Who's who in the South and Southwest. Marquis Who's Who. 2003. ISBN   9780837908335 . Retrieved 2013-09-09.
  5. 1 2 3 4 "Wyatt was never one to retreat in a fight". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 2018-06-08.
  6. "Oscar S. Wyatt, Jr. (biography)" . Retrieved 2009-09-09.
  7. Trotta, Daniel; Christine Kearney (September 5, 2007). "Texas oil tycoon Wyatt in legal fight of his life". Reuters . Retrieved 2013-09-09.
  8. 1 2 http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2003/06/23/344612/
  9. 1 2 http://www.texasmonthly.com/story/day-oscar-wyatt-caved-0
  10. Lynch, David J. "Prison term could cap oil trader's legendary career." USA Today . August 22, 2010. Retrieved on August 22, 2010.
  11. Creswell, Julie. "Old Raiders Never Die They Just Get Even Oscar Wyatt lost a ton of money on El Paso. Now he's trying to throw the bums out. And he just may succeed". cnn.com. CNN. Archived from the original on April 8, 2014. Retrieved 2018-06-08.
  12. https://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/28/us/28wyatt.html?_r=1&ref=oscarswyattjr
  13. "Oscar S. Wyatt, Jr" . Retrieved 2013-09-09.

Further reading