BP Cover-up Part 2: Bribery, George Bush and WikiLeaks by Greg Palast

Plugging the Hole of BP

Image by Truthout.org via Flickr

by Greg Palast
Featured Writer
Dandelion Salad
Exclusive for EcoWatch.org
Friday, April 20, 2012

Evidence now implicates top BP executives as well as its partners Chevron and Exxon and the Bush Administration in the deadly cover-up –– which included falsifying a report to the Securities Exchange Commission.

Yesterday, Ecowatch.org revealed that, in September 2008, nearly two years before the Deepwater Horizon explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, another BP rig had blown out in the Caspian Sea––which BP concealed from U.S. regulators and Congress.

Had BP, Chevron, Exxon or the Bush State Department revealed the facts of the earlier blow-out, it is likely that the Deepwater Horizon disaster would have been prevented.

Days after the Deepwater Horizon blow-out, a message came in to our offices in New York from an industry insider floating on a ship in the Caspian Sea. He stated there had been a blow-out, just like the one in the Gulf, and BP had covered it up.

To confirm this shocking accusation, I flew with my team to the Islamic republic of Azerbaijan.  Outside the capital, Baku, near the giant BP terminal, we found workers, though too frightened to give their names, who did confirm that they were evacuated from the BP offshore platform as it filled with explosive methane gas.

Before we could get them on camera, my crew and I were arrested and the witnesses disappeared.

Expelled from Azerbaijan, we still obtained the ultimate corroboration: a secret cable from the U.S. Embassy to the State Department in Washington laying out the whole story of the 2008 Caspian blow-out.

The source of the cable, classified “SECRET,” was a disaffected US soldier, Private Bradley Manning who, through WikiLeaks provided hot smoking gunsto The Guardian. The information found in the U.S. embassy cables is a block-buster.

The cables confirmed what BP will not admit to this day: there was a serious blow-out and its cause was the same as in the Gulf disaster two years later: the cement (“mud”) used to cap the well had failed. Bill Schrader, President of BP-Azerbaijan, revealed the truth to our embassy about the Caspian disaster:

“Schrader said that the September 17th shutdown of the Central Azeri (CA) platform… was the largest such emergency evacuation in BP’s history. Given the explosive potential, BP was quite fortunate to have been able to evacuate everyone safely and to prevent any gas ignition. … Due to the blowout of a gas-injection well there was ‘a lot of mud’ on the platform.”

From other sources, we discovered the cement which failed  had been mixed with nitrogen as a way to speed up drying, a risky process that was repeated on the Deepwater Horizon.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., president Waterkeeper Alliance and senior attorney for Natural Resources Defense Council, calls the concealment of this information, “criminal. We have laws that make it illegal to hide this.”

The cables also reveal that BP’s oil-company partners knew about the blow-out but they too concealed the information from Congress, regulators and the Securities Exchange Commission.

BP’s major US partners in the Caspian Sea drilling operation were Chevron and Exxon. The State Department got involved in the matter because BP’s U.S. partners and the Azerbaijani government were losing over $50 million per day due to the platform’s shutdown.  The Embassy cabled Washington:

“BP’s ACG partners are similarly upset with BP’s performance in this episode, as they claim BP has sought to limit information flow about this event even to its ACG partners.”

Kennedy is concerned about the silent collusion of Chevron, Exxon and the Azerbaijani government.  “The only reason the public doesn’t know about it is because the Azerbaijani government conspired with them to disappear the people who saw it happen and then to act in concert, in collusion, in cahoots with BP, with Exxon, with Chevron to conceal this event from the American public.”


Re-prints permitted with credit to EcoWatch.org and the author.

Greg Palast is the author of  Vultures’ Picnic (Penguin 2011), which centers on his investigation of BP, bribery and corruption in the oil industry. Palast, whose reports are seen on BBC-TV and Britain’s Channel 4, will be providing investigative reports for EcoWatch.org.

You can read Vultures’ Picnic, “Chapter 1: Goldfinger,” or download it, at no charge: click here.

From the archives:

BP Cover-up ‘They Knew.’ by Greg Palast

Dahr Jamail: Gulf seafood deformities alarm scientists + Gulf fisheries in decline after oil disaster

BP Settlement Sells Out Victims by Greg Palast

Ma Nature, the Happy Toilet – BP on Trial at the Occupation by Greg Palast

Chapter One of Vultures’ Picnic by Greg Palast + Palast: Put your money in community banks

5 thoughts on “BP Cover-up Part 2: Bribery, George Bush and WikiLeaks by Greg Palast

  1. Pingback: Greg Palast: If BP Doesn’t Make A Profit In The Gulf, BP Doesn’t Have To Pay « Dandelion Salad

  2. This is pretty bad, but this investigation seems really lagging. Why not investigating the corruption that is happening *now*?? Like, Obama and Azerbaijan oil interests. Azeri Finance Minister Samir Sharifov has set up an elaborate, almost formal, system of kickbacks and bribes to extract oil from the Caspian Sea (Azeri shore). In exchange, Obama kicks back money from the Agency for International Development (AID), which goes right into Sharifov’s pocket. While the BP stuff is bad, and should be investigated, they need to broaden the scope of this inquiry.

  3. Pingback: Killings, cancer, corruption and Azerbaijan: Eurovision in the Islamic Republic of BP « Dandelion Salad

  4. Pingback: Greg Palast: BP Coverup, Coverup « Dandelion Salad

  5. Pingback: Arrest of BP Scapegoat: Real Killers Walk by Greg Palast « Dandelion Salad

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