Friday, 17 December 2010

Platform Blow-Out was covered up in Azerbaijan: Wikileaks

Posted on 12/16/2010 by Juan Cole

The Guardian reports from US State Department cables released by Wikileaks that the oil and gas giant, BP, experienced a platform disaster in the Caspian Sea off Azerbaijan in September, 2008, very similar to last summer’s Deep Water Horizon platform explosion. BP was reported to have covered up the details of the catastrophe even from its own partners.

If the corporation had been more public about the problem, would the US have looked more closely at the Gulf of Mexico operations and possibly forestalled the destruction of so much of the Gulf environment? Or, alternatively, why didn’t the US State Department blow the whistle itself on the platform explosion and cover-up? There has been USG collusion with BP on all sorts of levels, from coddling its safety violations, to neglecting to publicize its disasters even when private cables detailing them are being shared with Foggy Bottom.

BP has an extremely poor safety record, and is accused of having cut corners to increase profits for years at many platforms around the world.

The Guardian writes, “Other cables leaked tonight claim that the president of Azerbaijan accused BP of stealing $10bn of oil from his country and using “mild blackmail” to secure the rights to develop vast gas reserves in the Caspian Sea region.”

Azerbaijan, a former Soviet Socialist Republic and now an independent state, is a Turkic-speaking republic in the Caucasus where most of the population is now secular but has a background in Shiite Islam. It was conquered from Iran by the Russian Empire in the early 19th century.

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