In the morning of Thursday 17 February, Libyan protestors responding to a callout for a Day of Rage began to fill the streets in Benghazi and other major cities. Over a hundred demonstrators had already been shot and wounded in previous days, but now the people broke through the barrier of fear. A crackdown ensued, with police and military snipers executing unarmed demonstrators with bullets in the head.

Several hours later, BP spokesperson Robert Wine (+44 (0)20 7496 4827) told journalists in London that the company would begin drilling in Libya imminently in BP’s Ghadames block. “Onshore, we’ve got a rig in place and they are getting ready, so that should get under way shortly.” Deepwater drilling off the coast in BP’s Sirt concession in would follow soon afterwards.

Maybe Robert Wine hasn’t been watching Al-Jazeera like the rest of us and hadn’t picked up on the uprisings in Tunisia (west of Libya) or Egypt (east of Libya)? Had he not heard that Libyan’s were attempting to emulate their neighbours, and that Gaddafi’s troops were using fierce repression to prevent another North African revolution?

At what point does a popular uprising start to factor into BP’s PR strategy and risk analysis?

BP exploration blocks in Egypt