BP boost as US clears it of Lockerbie bomber involvement

More good news for Bob Dudley's day one in-tray: BP is in the clear over the al-Megrahi release.

by James Taylor
Last Updated: 19 Aug 2013
With new BP CEO Bob Dudley due to start officially tomorrow morning, BP will have been desperate to create a bit of positive momentum around his new regime. And it seems to be working: after yesterday's investor-pleasing revamp of its safety procedures and the management of its exploration and production business, there was more good news today from the US: the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has ruled that BP did not attempt to lobby for the release of the Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi (to grease the wheels of a Libyan oil deal). Good thing too - that's about the only way its reputation in the US could have sunk even lower...

We suspect the Senate was in no mood to do BP any favours, in the wake of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Yet after sifting through government records, state department investigators found absolutely no evidence that BP - or any other company, for that matter - had tried to 'influence matters' over al-Megrahi's release, other than the stuff everyone knew about already (BP had admitted to pushing for a prisoner transfer, but denies that he was discussed specifically).

The Scottish government is cock-a-hoop, claiming that this undermines the whole basis for the hearing - their argument is that if there was no undue lobbying, there's no reason to think the decision was taken on anything but judicial grounds. (Though al-Megrahi's continued existence a year later, after being released on compassionate grounds because he only had three months to live, is undoubtedly a bit of an awkwardness).

BP itself was keeping mum, as you'd expect. But this is the kind of news it wants people to be seeing in Dudley's first official week - and the same goes for yesterday's announcement of a new safety unit (plus the restructuring of its E&P arm). For once, there's a bit of positive buzz about BP - as reflected by the fact that its new $3.5bn bond issue was heavily over-subscribed, and the 4% bounce in its share price this morning.

So a good start for Dudley (albeit he hasn't technically started yet). But can he keep it up?

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