Oil, Megrahi and energy security
The official line is, the freeing of Megrahi had nothing to do with oil, indeed nothing to do with the British government. So is it paranoia to see remarkable coincidences between Britain's oil interests in Libya and the Lockerbie bomber's return to Tripoli?
John Roberts, energy security specialist at Platt's says not. Libya has wanted Megrahi back for many years; the fact that is happening now, he believes, shows the UK's relations with Libya are being influenced by the commercial situation, which is pretty crucial.
Libya has the ninth largest oil reserves in the world, at 44 billion barrels, and until 2005 these reserves were off limits for the west.
Since 2005 there's been a rush of foreign companies staking their claim on Libya's oil.
BP signed a $900m exploration deal in 2007, but has been hampered by disputes with local authorities. British Gas and Shell also have exploration deals. Russian giant Gazprom has been awarded exploration licences. The Canadian firm Verenex has made significant discoveries of oil but is now locked in a battle with the Libyan government because it wants to sell a stake to the Chinese.
So far, so funky: oil giants battling with each other and the feisty Libyan national oil company to grab a piece of the action. This is normal for the oil business and does not need prisoner release to make it any more like a Bond movie than it normally is.
However it's not the whole story. What is new is the urgency with which the UK and other governments are starting to address the issues of energy security. When a giant pool of untapped oil comes onto the market what politicians are thinking about is not just commercial advantage - it is the coming resource crunch.
Little more than a year ago the world was in the grip of an oil price spike that was driving the cost not just of petrol but also, by knock on effect, basic foodstuffs through the roof. Mismatch between supply and demand, of just a few hundred thousand barrels, amplified by speculators, drove the price of a barrel of oil to $140.
Those who fear an oil crunch point not to reserves, or to the growth of China, but to the slow growth of oil production capacity as the key danger.
According to the International Energy Agency, proven oil reserves are 1.3 trillion barrels - enough to power the world for the next 40 year; but production is shrinking in many mature fields. By 2015 an extra 30 million barrels a day of production capacity needs to be created. At present, only 23 million are planned. There is, says the IEA, "a real risk that under-investment will cause an oil-supply crunch in that timeframe"
Oil is not the only area where resources and due process are getting mixed up. China has arrested executives from Australian iron firm Rio Tinto, allegations of espionage surfacing only when a merger between Rio and a Chinese firm failed. Russian police harassed BP executives in a disputed oil venture over minor legal issues until they were forced to leave the country.
To calibrate how much has changed it's worth remembering that, at the time of the Lockerbie atrocity, Britain was a net oil and gas exporter. Russian pipelines ended in East Germany. A small oil country like Libya could be frozen out of the international community. Now Libya's production - and its capacity to expand up to maybe 3.5 mbpd - is a vital part of the world energy security story.
If BP's little local difficulties in Libya now suddenly go away, few in the oil industry will be surprised. Libya's large gas reserves also look critical for the UK, perched at the end of Russian-supplied pipeline system that does not look like it is enhancing our energy securty much.
So, if this has been realpolitik, it's some consolation that every other energy-dependent country in the world is also playing the game.