The latest WikiLeaks release of State Department cables could prove to be a PR disaster for energy giant BP, while highlighting WikiLeaks backers' claims that the secrets site is about more than antagonizing the US government.
According to cables released Wednesday by WikiLeaks and obtained by the Guardian, BP experienced a blowout in Azerbaijan in September, 2008, that had "striking resemblances" to the Gulf oil spill.
Eighteen months before the Deepwater Horizon exploded, killing 11 workers and sending millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, BP scrambled to keep a similar explosion at an Azerbaijan oil field a secret.
The Guardian reports:
The cables reveal that some of BP's partners in the gas field were upset that the company was so secretive about the incident that it even allegedly withheld information from them. They also say that BP was lucky that it was able to evacuate its 212 workers safely after the incident, which resulted in two fields being shut and output being cut by at least 500,000 barrels a day with production disrupted for months.
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.
The news comes as the US Department of Justice announced a lawsuit against BP that could see the multinational energy company on the hook for unlimited damages over the Gulf oil spill.
Read the Guardian's full report here.