How BP’s interests drive UK support for wars, coups and dictators (Declassified UK)

The Foreign Office is largely captured by global climate polluter BP.  From Iran to Azerbaijan, Iraq to Nigeria, Russia to Venezuela, the UK prioritises the corporation’s profits over a decent foreign policy.


A woman protests against BP. (Photo: Oli Scarff / Getty)

Declassified recently revealed that BP has pumped Iraqi oil worth £15bn since the UK and US militaries invaded the country in 2003.

Governments in London and Washington long denied the Iraq war was about oil. Yet BP returned to the country in 2009 after a 35-year absence and was awarded a significant interest in Iraq’s largest oil field near British-occupied Basra in the south of the country.

Something similar happened in Libya following another UK military intervention in 2011. 

Eleven years after that war, in October last year, Libya’s National Oil Corporation agreed for BP to start drilling for natural gas in the country. BP controls exploration areas in Libya covering nearly three times the size of Wales.

British officials have a long standing habit of fighting wars which they claim to be in the interests of human rights that are really about oil or geopolitics. 

Declassified files show that Harold Wilson’s Labour government secretly armed and backed Nigeria’s aggression against the secessionist region of Biafra in the late 1960s. The priority was again oil interests, then owned jointly by BP and Shell.

The impacts of Britain’s oil wars could hardly be greater. The war over Biafra was the world’s worst humanitarian crisis of the late 1960s, causing the deaths of up to three million people.

In Iraq, hundreds of thousands were killed amidst a humanitarian catastrophe. Libya, meanwhile, was turned into a safe haven for terrorism and slave markets and was plunged into a civil war from which it is yet to recover.

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