U.S. diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks say British oil company BP experienced a blow-out in oil-rich Azerbaijan 18 months before a similar disastrous incident in the Gulf of Mexico, but shielded information around the event.
The classified cables reveal that shortly after the Azeri-Chirag-Guneshi field gas leak, BP was "exceptionally circumspect in disseminating information" on the problem both to the public and its ACG partners.
Another cable states that BP thought a "bad cement job" was behind the leak -- similar to the problem the British company believed was partly behind the Gulf of Mexico catastrophe which left 11 dead and caused the largest offshore oil spill in history.
The latest batch of released WikiLeaks cables published in Britain's Guardian newspaper also reveals that U.S. oil giant Chevron may have been in talks with the government of Iran regarding cross-border oil field development with Iraq.
The United States has strict sanctions in place against Iran and has pushed countries and companies around the world to end their financial dealings with Tehran.
Chevron said in a statement to the Guardian that it had not done anything and would not do anything in violation of U.S. law.
But according to a leaked cable sent from the U.S. embassy in Baghdad in 2009, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki claimed Chevron had told him that it had raised the issue of cross-border development with Tehran. The cable notes that the embassy had "no independent confirmation" on the talks.
The diplomatic cables from Azerbaijan show that BP was lucky to have been able to evacuate more than 200 workers after the gas-injection blowout.
One cable sent after the September 2008 blowout says that some of BP's partners at the time claimed the company "sought to limit information flow about this event."