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Defense Department remains a large BP customer

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Defense Department remains a large BP customerThe Defense Department has kept up its immense purchases of aviation fuel and other petroleum products from BP even as the oil giant comes under federal and state scrutiny for potential violations of clean-water and oil-spill laws related to the April 20 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, according to U.S. and company officials.

President Obama said last month that the company had shown "recklessness" in the Gulf of Mexico that contributed to the disaster and promised that BP will "pay for the damage" it caused. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said June 2 that Justice Department lawyers were looking at potential violations of civil and criminal statutes, adding that "if we find evidence of illegal behavior, we will be forceful in our response."

But BP remains a heavy supplier of military fuel under contracts worth at least $980 million in the current fiscal year, according to the Defense Logistics Agency. In fiscal 2009, BP was the department's largest single supplier of fuel, providing 11.7 percent of the total purchased, and in 2010, its contracts amount to roughly the same percentage, according to DLA spokeswoman Mimi Schirmacher.

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