Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Calls for Investigation into BP's Role in Al Megrahi Release Intensify

I figured BP might be in enough trouble as it is with the oil spill and the possibility of seepage from its Deepwater Horizon well, but they seem to continue to get free passes from the government, which is allowing the tests on the BP well to run for another 24 hours. The problem with this is that the pressure building up in the well's cap could cause problems in other parts of the massive well. One reason BP does not want the cap to be opened to collect oil is that it will give a much more accurate flow rate of oil that had entered the Gulf during the 3 month clusterfuck that ensued following the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig. If the well is damaged in a way that lowers pressure on the cap (which may have happened over the weekend due to the "lower than expected" readings coming in on Monday) then that creates a slower flow rate out of the cap which would significantly lower the amount BP would officially be liable for.

Usually I would look at a theory like this and disregard it, but then again I would also disregard a theory postulating that it would take three months for a multi-hundred-billion dollar oil giant to clog up a hole hemorrhaging oil into the Gulf of Mexico less than 50 miles off of the U.S. coastline. Additionally, BP could be on the hook to the tune of $4,300 per barrel spilled into the Gulf. If estimates of 184 million gallons of crude are accurate (and there really seems no way to tell exactly how much oil has ended up in the ocean at this point barring a test with the current cap that is in place), then BP is on the hook for (184,000,000 gallons/42 gallons/1 barrel) x $4,300 = $18,838,095,234. BP has already spent nearly $4 billion on cleanup and claims (they've paid slightly over half of the claims they have received thus far.) Suddenly that $20 billion escrow deal looks a little low.

But all of this isn't even the main point of the post. The main point is the increased calls by those in Washington to look further into BP's role in the prisoner transfer agreement between Scotland and Libya that saw convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi return to his homeland a hero after serving only eight years for the murder of 270 people. Back in September of 2009 I wrote:
In letters dated July 26, 2007 and September 23, 2007 Jack Straw (English Secretary of State for Justice) stated that the British government intended to pursue a clause in the Prisoner Transfer Agreement that precluded Al Megrahi and anyone else involved in the terrorist attack that killed 270 people. However, in a letter dated December 19, 2007 Straw backpedaled, saying "The wider negotiations with the Libyans are reaching a critical stage and in view of the overwhelming interests for the United Kingdom I have agreed that in this instance the PTA should be in thestandard form and not mention any individual." When pressed by Edinburgh to clarify what "national interests" would leave the door open to release a convicted terrorists, Straw stated that a Libya that was reintegrated into the international community was good for the UK, plus Tripoli had voluntarily dismantled their WMDs (under sanctions) and might be able to "stem the flow of illegal migrants to the EU and to the UK." In reality, on December 23, 2007 (four days after Straw's reversal on precluding Lockerbie bombers from the PTA) Britain's largest company, BP, gained Libya's approval for a large oil contract in the Northern African country. How's that for national interests?
It seemed clear that Britain's new prime minister, David Cameron, was not going to bat for BP in this instance. He stated on Monday that he was opposed to Al Megrahi's release from the beginning. As for BP: "I have no idea what BP did; I am not responsible for BP." But then in the joint press conference with Obama this afternoon Cameron stated that BP was an "important company" and must remain "strong and stable" for the economic health of both the U.S. and the U.K. This is political code for "too big to fail." Is BP a private company or a public company (or, like much of Wall Street, a "private" company that knows the government will bail its ass out if it screws up)? And then he put 100% of the blame on the Al Megrahi debacle on the Scots. Sure, they had the ultimate decision to release him, but if BP is so "important" to Britain's economy, couldn't it influence Edinburgh's decision?

There's simply no constancy to the message being put out by these allies. Obama is reportedly pissed off at BP and he has a chance to show BP that he's not fucking around by coming down hard on the company in front of their country's prime minister. That would say, "Oh, hey BP, you think you're going to get away with this because Daddy Cameron has your back? Think again." Instead he sits there all calm and collected and professorial. I like that about Obama, but the time for tranquility and pipe-smoking recollection is, and has been, over. I don't want to hear reports from Chuck Todd that behind closed doors Obama is ripshit. I want to see it for myself.

To put it bluntly, BP at this point is a social and economic cancer. You don't coddle cancer, you don't allow cancer to set its own terms. You go in there and eliminate it. Does it hurt? Might it have some negative effects? Absolutely. But what's the alternative? Leave it there to ravage the body? Hell no. There is one upside for BP, though. Their Libyan deal is estimated to be worth around $20 billion, so that should cover the initial escrow for claims and other expenses from the Gulf spill.

Photo - BP Public Relations (Twitter)

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