BP CONFIRMED yesterday it had lobbied the British government in late 2007 over a Prisoner Transfer Agreement with Libya because it was concerned a slow resolution would impact an offshore drilling deal with Libya.
But a spokesman claimed the company had not been involved in any discussions about the release of Lockerbie bomber Abdel Basset al-Megrahi.
“BP told the UK government that we were concerned about the slow progress that was being made in concluding a Prisoner Transfer Agreement with Libya,” BP said in a statement.
“We were aware that this could have a negative impact on UK commercial interests, including the ratification by the Libyan government of BP’s exploration agreement.”
BP said it was not involved in discussions regarding the release of al-Megrahi.
“The decision to release al-Megrahi in August 2009 was taken by the Scottish government. It is not for BP to comment on the decision of the Scottish government. BP was not involved in any such discussions about the release of al-Megrahi,” it said.
The statement came after four US senators asked the State Department to investigate whether the oil giant BP played a role in winning last year’s release of the Lockerbie airliner bombing.
The four requested the probe a day after asking the department to press the British government to look into the circumstances of Abdel Baset al-Megrahi’s release.
He was released on compassionate grounds after doctors said the cancer-stricken Libyan had only three months to live.
A doctor now says al-Megrahi could live for another decade.
Democrats Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer of New York and Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez of New Jersey say they are concerned that BP helped secure al-Megrahi’s release in order to finalise a $900 million offshore oil drilling deal with Libya.
Asked whether Britain would be in touch with President Barack Obama to stand up for BP over the Libyan issue, a spokesman for British prime minister David Cameron said: “There’s already been contact on the issue of BP and the prime minister and the president agreed that it wouldn’t be in anyone’s interest to see anything that would undermine the value of BP.”
Meanwhile, BP yesterday faced further delays to a test on its ruptured Gulf of Mexico oil well that could staunch the flow of crude which has polluted the ocean and coastline for nearly three months.
A leak in a line connected to one of the valves in a capping device is the latest setback for the company, which could face being barred from getting new US offshore oil and gas exploration leases for up to seven years.
The group is in lawmakers’ crosshairs over the largest offshore oil spill in US history. The spill started after an explosion at a rig on April 20 ruptured an undersea well and killed 11 workers.
BP installed a capping device on the well on Monday and started shutting a sequence of valves after getting approval from the US government, which had delayed the plan by 24 hours on fears the process could irreparably damage the well.
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