By John Donovan of RoyalDutchShellPlc.com
The Financial Times reports today that “Democratic senators in the US are calling for an investigation into BP’s business interests in Libya, accusing the British oil company of being part of a deal to free a convicted terrorist in return for oil licences.”
The FT goes on to say: “The Senate foreign relations committee is set to consider a request from Frank Lautenberg, a Democratic senator from New Jersey, for an investigation into whether BP helped secure the early release of Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, the Lockerbie bomber freed by Scottish authorities last year.”
Many U.S. politicians have BP firmly in their gunsights at the moment for obvious reasons.
However, as the senator seems to have realized, the stench is not just emanating from the Gulf, but from evil deeds involving ethically challenged UK Prime Minsters Blair and Brown falling over themselves to assist Big Oil, and the Libyan dictator and supposedly reformed sponsor of state terrorism, Muammar (Loony Tunes) Gaddafi (above). Even members of the British royal family – The Prince of Wales and his brother Prince Andrew, were recruited in the cause.
However there is even more damning evidence pointing at another foreign owned oil company involved in the conspiracy to release the Pan Am bomber Abdul Baset Ali al-Megrahi, in exchange for access to Libyan oil. I refer to the recent revelation that the then UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, sent a letter to Gaddafi, which was actually drafted by Shell.
I strongly advise Senator Lautenberg to read the newspaper articles cited below and then extend the investigation to include Shell: -
Tony Blair lobbied Colonel Muammar Gaddafi on behalf of Shell in a letter written for him in draft form by the oil company, documents obtained by The Times reveal.
The correspondence, written while Mr Blair was Prime Minister, bears a striking resemblance to a briefing note by Royal Dutch Shell weeks earlier promoting a $500 million (Â£325 million) deal it was trying to clinch in Libya.
While it is common for government ministers to champion British interests abroad, Shellâ€™s draft reveals an unusual assurance in its ability to dictate Mr Blairâ€™s conversation with the Libyan leader. It also raises questions about the motives behind Britainâ€™s improved relations with Libya and the subsequent release of Abdul Baset Ali al-Megrahi, the Lockerbie bomber. Lockerbie victims have claimed that the Government paved the way for al-Megrahiâ€™s release as part of a deal with Libya to give British companies access to Libyaâ€™s lucrative oil and gas industry.
Both letters were released after a lengthy Freedom of Information process. The Times first asked for them after al-Megrahi was released last August on compassionate grounds by the Scottish Government, which said that he had only months to live.
Influential group whose ruling council includes Shell and BP pressed for release of Lockerbie bomber
An influential group representing British business interests in Libya pressed for the urgent release of the Lockerbie bomber, citing the â€œgrave concernâ€ to its membersâ€™ interests should he die in prison.
Lord Trefgarne, a senior Conservative peer and chairman of the Libyan British Business Council (LBBC), wrote to the Scottish Justice Secretary outlining the risk just a month before he approved the release of Abdul Baset Ali al-Megrahi on August 20.
The LBBCâ€™s ruling council includes the oil and gas companies BP, Shell and BG International, which are hoping to exploit Libyaâ€™s natural reserves. Lord Trefgarneâ€™s son, George, was until recently BPâ€™s director of media and research and still does consultancy work for the company.
Many of the oil and gas companies have substantial interests in Scotlandâ€™s North Sea fields. Menzies Aviation, a subsidiary of one of Scotlandâ€™s largest companies, John Menzies, is also a member of the LBBC.
Its banking members include Barclays, HSBC and the British asset management and corporate banking divisions of the American firm JP Morgan Chase, which pays Tony Blair Â£2 million a year as an adviser.
Ministerial letters obtained by The Sunday Times reveal this reluctance is partly explained by fears of jeopardising relations with the newly rehabilitated regime of Colonel Muammar Gadaffi.
The letters provide new damning evidence of the governmentâ€™s eagerness to maintain good relations with Libya, in which trade appears to weigh more heavily on ministersâ€™ minds than the plight of British victims of terrorism.
But it is Shell â€“ sometimes seen by critics as a branch of the Foreign Office despite its headquarters in The Hague â€“ that seems to have been given the biggest lift by the British establishment.
Documents released under a Freedom of Information Act request show the scale of the effort to win commercial advantage in Libya. The details raise questions about whether it is possible the Scottish decision to release the Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi last week could have been done without the acquiescence of the British government as it insists it was.
At least 11, but possibly as many as 26, meetings took place â€“ many in Tripoli â€“ between Shell executives and high-ranking ministers or mandarins in a period between 2004 and 2007. The Foreign Office has yet to provide details of what exactly was discussed at the meetings, but the request asked for any discussions with Shell on either Libya or Egypt, the latter being of much less political or potential commercial importance to the oil company.
Miliband met Malcolm Brinded, the Shell exploration director, in October 2007 while James Smith, the Shell UK chairman, met Jack Straw when he was foreign secretary in July 2003.
The Prince of Wales attended a reception at the British Embassy on 21 March 2006, putting a bit of royal weight behind the drive to put Britain in pole position as Libyaâ€™s 44bn barrels of oil reserves were opened up again to western firms.
The royal family has long been seen as a trump card in the Middle East. Prince Andrew has also visited Libya as a special overseas trade ambassador for Britain but has dropped plans to go there next month following the furore over Megrahiâ€™s release.
Documents obtained by the Observer show ministers and senior civil servants met Shell to discuss the company’s oil interests in Libya on at least 11 occasions and perhaps as many as 26 times in less than four years.
Foreign secretary David Miliband and the former Labour leader Lord Kinnock were involved in the meetings with Shell about its business in Libya or Egypt.
The revelations, showing that the government invested large amounts of political capital in securing North African oil, lend weight to claims that commercial interest lay behind last week’s decision to release the Lockerbie bomber, Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, from jail in Scotland to receive a hero’s welcome in Libya.
Shell said last night it had “no comment” to make on any discussions it had held with British ministers or other government officials about Libya, and the Foreign Office was unable to discuss these meetings.
Exactly what was going on inside the heads of British and Scottish government ministers during the fraught negotiations in recent months over the fate of Abdul Baset Ali al-Megrahi?
Both of Mr Blairâ€™s trips coincided with the announcement of big trade agreements for Shell and then BP.
In an interview with the Glasgow Herald yesterday, Colonel Gaddafiâ€™s son, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, said: â€œIt was part of the bargaining deal with the UK. When Tony Blair came here we signed the agreement . . . We signed an oil deal at the same time. The commerce and politics and deals were all with the PTA.â€
Whatever you think of the deal to allow the Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi to end his days with his family in Libya, British business interests are a big factor. Energy companies such as BP, Royal Dutch Shell and BG have been making steady inroads into Libya, where there are an estimated 44bn barrels of crude beneath the desert sands, since the then prime minister Tony Blair met for talks in Colonel Gaddafi’s tent in 2004; a second meeting between the two men in 2007 coincided with the signing of further deals. BP has already invested $900m (Â£550m), but that could rise to $20bn over the next 20 years.
Lord Mandelson, the Business Secreatry, is facing growing questions over his links with Saif Gaddafi, the son of Libyan leader Colonel Gadaffi, following the release of Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi.
Less than a decade ago Libya was a pariah nation that was not only blamed for Lockerbie but also had a long history of sponsoring international terrorism.
So, shortly after Libya accepted responsibility for the Lockerbie attack in 2003 and agreed to compensate the families of the victims, Britain put down a resolution to remove the sanctions and, the following year, Mr Blair extended â€œthe hand of friendshipâ€ to Colonel Gaddafi, who has now ruled Libya for 40 years. Huge trade deals followed for BP, Shell and others.
More recently, Britain has gone out of its way to embrace Libya. The Duke of York, Britainâ€™s Special Representative for Trade and Investment, has forged close links, visiting the country three times in the last year alone.
Aides say Prince Andrew â€œquite possiblyâ€ discussed Megrahiâ€™s case with Libyan officials in the past, but they deny the Queenâ€™s son pushed for his release.
The compilation of articles printed below provide the answer to why Blair, Brown, and Brinded, have sucked up to the Libyan dictator Muammar al-Gaddafi ultimately responsible for the Pan-Am 103 bombing and other terrorist atrocities. They include the murder of a British police constable Yvonne Fletcher shot outside the Libyan Embassy in London while policing an anti-Gaddafi demonstration. A burst of machine-gun fire from within the building was suspected of killing her, but Libyan diplomats asserted their diplomatic immunity and were repatriated. The incident led to the breaking off of diplomatic relations between the United Kingdom and Libya for over a decade. (paragraph includes extracts from Wikipedia article)
The motive for the current duplicity and hypocrisy is the same as for the invasion of Iraq: Oil and Gas.
Libya BRITAIN’S relationship with Libya has changed dramatically in the last four decades. When PanAm flight 103 exploded over Lockerbie in 1988, the Middle East nation was already regarded as a pariah state.
Two years later, Tony Blair met Gaddafi in Libya as it was announced that Shell had signed a deal worth up to Â£550m for gas exploration rights off the Libyan coast. In May 2006 Washington announced the full resumption of diplomatic ties with Libya.
Tony Blair travelled to Libya for a second time earlier this year when he signed the now infamous memorandum of understanding regarding prisoner transfers.
Despite denials from Downing Street, Libyan officials confirmed they had made it clear that moving Megrahi out of Scotland was the main reason for the discussions.
BP’s move back into Libya comes two years after rival Royal Dutch Shell announced its return to the country, timed to coincide with the Mr Blair’s 2004 visit.
Mr Blair became the first British leader in 60 years to visit Libya after Colonel Gaddafi abandoned efforts to produce weapons of mass destruction and handed over agents blamed for the bombing of an airliner over Lockerbie.
The details of a $900 million (Â£454 million) gas exploration deal were due to be released last night as the centrepiece of a surprise visit to the former pariah state by Tony Blair.
Confirmation of the agreement would mark a milestone for BP continually dubbed â€œBlair Petroleumâ€ because of its close ties to the Labour Government. It was forced to leave the North African country, seen by analysts as one of the few under explored regions in the world, in 1974 when Colonel Gaddafi said that he was going to renationalise the oil and gas industry.
Shell was one of the first Western companies to return when it unveiled a $1 billion gas exploration deal three years ago in Tony Blairâ€™s last visit to Libya.
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