BP Still Wants to Work With Libya's State Oil Company


Photo: jetalone, Flickr, Creative Commons 2.0

In an apparent attempt to secure the title of 'world's most despised oil company', BP has announced that its contracts with the Gaddafi-controlled state oil company are "still valid", according to Reuters. I suppose causing the largest environmental disaster in US history, lobbying governments to release terrorists, and rushing to drill in dangerous waters in the Arctic wasn't enough -- now it's openly maintaining its ties with a government run by a man who's hiring mercenaries to massacre his own citizens. You've almost got to admire the boldness, the eagerness to best fit the caricature of shady Big Oil ...Here's Reuters:

BP Plc said on Thursday it saw its contract with Libya's National Oil Corporation as still valid, a day after Italy's Eni became the first Western oil and gas firm to try to rebuild bridges with NOC. BP has no oil and gas production in Libya and in February was preparing for the start of exploratory drilling in western Libya when it suspended the effort due to the uprising against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

"At the moment we just have to wait and see. We're monitoring the situation. We have a contract with NOC and as far as we know it is still in place," a BP spokesman said.

To be fair, BP's not even the worst offender in this arena: Eni is actually actively lobbying the European Union to remove its sanctions, so it can get back to the oil business asap. In fact, reading that Reuters report is a depressing affair, as it profiles all of the Western oil companies operating in the region as circling vultures, eager to get back into Libya -- normally Africa's third-largest oil producer -- and resume drilling.

But even that's not entirely fair -- it's all too easy to cultivate the image of nefarious Big Oil doing its murky business (because it's pretty accurate) -- but the reason that any oil company is in Libya in the first place is due to plain ol' demand. Rampant, rampant global demand. Until we're able to seriously scale back that demand -- whether through a massive social movement to change consumer behavior or by calling for governmental policies that level the playing field for cleaner, domestically available power sources -- we'll continue to be a guilty party in BP's propping up a violent totalitarian regime. Just as all of us were partly to blame for the Gulf spill.

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