For many in America, BP has been public enemy number one since the Deepwater disaster started on April 20th.
It’s not only the disaster itself, but the way BP has handled itself before and since then that has added to the palatable anger.
The failure by the company to stop the spill, the public gaffes by its chief executive and chairman, the revelations that the company cut corners over safety beforehand. All these issues have added to the pain of the communities affected.
But into this toxic cauldron add another long-term sore: Lockerbie.
The revelations that securing lucrative oil reserves may have been involved in the release of the Lockerbie bomber are not new, and have featured on this blog before as well as widely in the media.
But now BP is becoming the target of the Libyan focus and whether it lobbied for the Lockerbie bomber’s release in return for lucrative oil deals. You could hardly have two more explosive issues put together.
On Monday, Democratic Senator, Frank Lautenberg wrote “It is shocking and unconscionable that an oil contract between BP and Libya may have played a role in Mr Megrahi’s release.”
He continued: “The prospect that oil contracts between BP and the government of Libya may have affected the release … are disturbing developments that demand the attention of Congress”.
He followed that up on Tuesday with a letter from himself and three other Senators urging Hilary Clinton to “fully investigate the disturbing news reports linking BP to the deal that allowed for the release of convicted Pan Am Flight 103 bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi on compassionate grounds.”
The Senators continued: “Evidence in the Deepwater Horizon disaster seems to suggest that BP would put profit ahead of people – its attention to safety was negligible, and it routinely underestimated the amount of oil gushing into the Gulf. The question we now have to answer is, was this corporation willing to trade justice in the murder of 270 innocent people for oil profits?”
They finished by saying: “Answering this crucial question will help complete our understanding of the Scottish court’s decision to release this murderer and will help us understand if BP might use blood money to pay claims for damage in the Gulf of Mexico.”
BP is due to begin drilling off the coast of Libya within weeks, and it is said the company could earn $20 billion from the deal.
The company has defended its role in the affair saying “we did not express a view about the specific form of the agreement, which was a matter for the UK and Libyan governments, or make representations over the al Megrahi case, which was solely a matter for the Scottish Executive and not for the UK Government.”
But Clinton has now vowed to look into the revelations. “I have received the letter and we will obviously look into it,” she said.
There was more bad news for BP yesterday as legislation that could ban it from offshore drilling projects for seven years cleared its first hurdle.
Considering that deepwater drilling offshore in the Gulf of Mexico is one of its main pillars for growth for BP this could be as catastrophic as any Libyan revelations.
And just to add to BP’s woes, the EU’s top energy official has said he would look to impose a ban on new deepwater oil and gas drilling in Europe.
Günther Oettinger, the Energy Commissioner, said last week he thought a moratorium was a “good idea” until more is known about the Deepwater Horizon accident.
In fact if BP faces bans in Europe and the US, ironically Libya could become central to its short-term survival.