archivos de los protestos globales

BP in Colombia - The Human Cost of Oil





7pm Tuesday 23rd April

Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, London WC1
(nearest tube Holborn)

Speakers: Lawyers representing victims of BP's operations
Michael Gillard, investigative journalist
British trade unionist recently returned from Colombia
Colombia Solidarity Campaign


April 21, 2002

Colombia murder claim hits BP

Michael Gillard

BP, Britain's biggest firm, has been accused of involvement in the
murder of a Colombian environmental regulator who was to blow the
whistle on oil-company corruption.

A paramilitary death squad in eastern Colombia, where BP operates a
massive oil field, carried out the killing on December 2, 1998, when two
assassins on a white motorcycle shot dead Carlos Vargas, director of the
Colombian environmental regulator, Corporinoquia.

Vargas was responsible for awarding environmental licences, monitoring
compliance and, when necessary, imposing fines and shutting down oil

Colombian government investigators have gathered evidence alleging that
someone in BP's controversial security department contracted out the
hit. BP security in Colombia is trained and directed by the Anglo-
American corporate mercenary firm, Defence Systems (DSL).

DSL has refused to co-operate with any inquiry.

Now BP is under pressure from dissident Labour MPs to honour its policy
of "radical openness" and reveal the names of security personnel at the
time of the murder.

So far it has not done so, despite requests from the Colombian attorney-
general's human rights unit.

The murder was raised during BP's annual meeting in London last
Thursday. BP chairman, Peter Sutherland, told shareholders that there
was "no truth" in the "outrageous" allegations.

Additional reporting: Melissa Jones

19 April 2002

BP pressured by 'pantomime' of protests
By Saeed Shah

Investors controlling 11 per cent of BP's shares yesterday voted against
the board of directors in support of a rebel resolution calling for the
oil giant to adopt a more transparent environmental policy.

The special resolution, moved by the World Wildlife Fund, asked the
company to spell out how it assessed risks from operating in
environmentally or culturally sensitive areas.

Robert Napier, WWF's chief executive in the UK, described the support
for this resolution as highly significant and a "victory". He added that
BP was seeking to close down debate and engage with activists.

BP, however, appeared to have had enough of the special interest groups
that have taken to descending on its AGM every year and dominating its

Protesters at the meeting accused the company of everything from
complicity in murder and destroying the environment, to contributing to
the oppression in Tibet.

BP's normally genial chairman, Peter Sutherland, an expert at charming
opponents and politely batting away criticism, appeared to draw a line
at the manifold and increasingly serious charges levelled at BP.

"This AGM on an annual basis is not going to be allowed to become a
pantomime for the discussion of political issues that we on the board
and you, most of the shareholders, are not concerned with," Mr
Sutherland declared.

"This is a dangerous tactic. We are not a bunch of tree-hugging
environmentalists. At the core of BP 11 per cent of investors agree with
us that the company should be run differently," Mr Napier said.

Of particular concern to green activists is the Arctic National Wildlife
Refuge in Alaska, which may soon be opened to oil companies. BP is
interested in oil prospects in this wilderness.

The packed meeting at London's Royal Festival Hall dragged on for more
than three hours with heated debate on a wide range of political and
social issues, taking in Indonesia, Colombia, China, Tibet, Angola,
Alaska and Sudan.

A number of non-political speakers including Alastair Ross-Goobey, a
former Cityfund manager, were critical of the huge pay rise that BP's
chief executive, Lord Browne of Madingley, received last year. Mr
Sutherland said Lord Browne's pay was "entirely justified".

One observer described many of the non-political speakers as a
collection of "odd balls, cranks and nutters", as virtually everything
on the AGM agenda drew vociferous criticism.

The event was attended by a group dressed in the uniform of the Chinese
army and a contingent that had travelled from Colombia.

19 April 2002

BP chairman faces onslaught from shareholder
By Tobias Buck

Peter Sutherland, chairman of BP, should be used to hectoring at annual
meetings, but he finally cracked under an onslaught from protestors on

As activists protesting about BP's activities in China, South America
and Alaska demonstrated outside, shareholders inside London's Royal
Festival Hall watched as Mr Sutherland engaged in a shouting match with
a campaigner against BP's actions in Colombia.

Enraged by Mr Sutherland's perceived failure to answer his question on
BP's use of a Colombian security firm with alleged links to paramilitary
forces, the campaigner refused to back down. Standing in front of the
podium, he pleaded his rights as a shareholder, demanding that Mr
Sutherland answer his question.

"Sit down please," Mr Sutherland barked back.

"Only if you answer my question," came the reply.

Eventually, the chairman's challenger settled down and shareholders soon
moved on to vote on the resolutions.

A proposal supported by the WWF to force BP to produce a report on the
"reputational risks" of operating in environmentally sensitive areas was

Mr Sutherland, who said everyone who had sat through the entire AGM
deserved a medal, was not the only one left exasperated at the intensity
of the protests.

One shareholder rose to make the observation that BP's AGM had turned
into a "United Nations debate".

18 April 2002

Colombians to press case at BP annual meeting


Colombian lawyers will use BP's annual general meeting today to press
the oil company for compensation for a group of the country's farmers
who suffered alleged damage caused by pipelines.

BP has indicated it has no intention of pre-empting judgement of current
court cases in Colombia brought against the country's main pipeline
company, in which BP has a minority stake.

But the addition of the Colombian lawyers to other, more regular human
rights and environmental activists who attend the BP meeting will
reinforce its image as a forum to air grievances about the many
countries in which the UK-based company operates.

The Free Tibet Campaign, which last year lost a resolution calling on BP
to disinvest from PetroChina, will today return to the same theme, and
plans to dress some of its activists in Chinese military uniform to
underline what it sees as BP's implication in Beijing's oppression of

The only resolution on which the meeting will vote today is one tabled
by green and corporate responsibility activists, calling on BP to
produce a report on the "reputational risks" of operating in
environmentally-sensitive areas, especially Alaska's wildlife refuge,
which President Bush proposes to open for drilling.

The BP board opposes the resolution, arguing it already assesses such
risks and that operating in the Alaska refuge is moot unless Congress
backs the Bush plan.

Last year, the meeting voted down a call for the company to set a
timetable for its exit from fossil fuels, in a debate that led the
company to admit its "Beyond Petroleum" slogan did not actually mean BP
abandoning oil and gas.

The Colombia pipeline issue was also raised last year, but this year
three local lawyers have arrived in London to press it. A case brought
against Ocensa, the pipeline company in which BP has a 15 per cent
stake, for damage from a first pipeline was settled out of court in 1998
for Dollars 700,000.

But the lawyers claim fresh damage from a second pipeline. The original
plaintiffs, plus families which did not share in the 1998 settlement,
are claiming compensation of some Pounds 5m (Dollars 7.2m). The lawyers
say BP, even though only a minority shareholder, has a responsibility in
the case because its Colombian subsidiary signed some of the original
land purchase contracts.

However, Ocensa in Bogota objected that making a payment beyond the 1998
settlement would amount to paying compensation twice.

Copyright: The Financial Times Limited 1995-2002

19 April, 2002

BP under fire over pay deal

Terry Macalister

BP chief executive Lord Browne's £6m pay package came under fire from
shareholders yesterday at a turbulent three-hour annual general meeting.

Britain's biggest company was told it was time to remove Sir Robin
Nicholson from the head of its remuneration committee and that Lord
Browne's 58% salary increase could not be justified when annual profits
had fallen.

But BP chairman Peter Sutherland defended the payment, arguing that the
chief executive was recognised as a top business leader not just in
Britain but across the world.

"BP has been an enormously successful company under the leadership of
Lord Browne," said Mr Sutherland, who added that the pay rise was
"entirely justified" given that much of it was performance-related.

He dismissed suggestions that Sir Robin should be replaced after 15
years at BP insisting he was "irreplaceable" because of his enormous
City experience.

The size of Lord Browne's financial package was but one of half a dozen
criticisms launched at the board during a packed meeting at the Royal
Festival Hall in London. The company's record on the environment, its
human rights policy with relation to Tibet and the sustainability of
projects in Indonesia all were attacked.

Mr Sutherland calmly deflected much of the aggressive questioning but
angrily described allegations of BP's involvement in human rights abuses
in Colombia as "outrageous". He went on to say he would not let the AGM
degenerate into a "pantomime for political issues".

The World Wildlife Fund managed to score a small victory against the
company with a resolution requiring BP to disclose how it makes its
decisions on whether or not to drill in environmentally sensitive areas
such as the Arctic national wildlife sanctuary. The BP board opposed the
resolution but 11% of votes cast by proxy ahead of the meeting voted in
favour. A "green" resolution last year only attracted 7% support.

Mr Sutherland refused to give a further detailed response to the latest
changes in North Sea taxation except to say they were "negative" for the

Meanwhile, Shell brushed aside suggestions that companies such as
Enterprise Oil could be badly hit, as the oil major bought a further 9%
of Enterprise shares in the market, bringing the total to 29%.

BP head backs chief's rise

BP chairman Peter Sutherland leapt to the defence of his chief executive
Lord Browne after shareholders used yesterday's AGM to question the oil
giant's remuneration policy.

One shareholder asked how the company could justify Lord Browne's 60pc
pay rise to $4.4m (£3m) after profits had fallen in 2001. Mr Sutherland
said: "BP has been an enormously successful under Lord Browne.
Compensation is high and we believe it should remain high."

18 April, 2002 18:34 BST

Green lobby loses eco-vote at BP meeting

By Neil Chatterjee

LONDON, April 18 (Reuters) - Green groups and ethical shareholders in
oil major BP BP.L lost a vote on Thursday on reporting environmental
risks, but said they would keep pushing the company to live up to its
green marketing image. Shareholders at the company's annual general
meeting voted 89 percent against a World Wildlife Fund (WWF) resolution
calling on the multinational to disclose how it measures and controls
the risks to its investors of operating in environmentally sensitive

The company also said at the meeting that it would not sell its 2.2
percent stake in leading Chinese oil producer PetroChina 0857.HK PTR.N ,
despite a call by the Free Tibet Campaign to do so.

"This was focused on BP's risk management — we're not just a bunch of
tree huggers — it's not easy to get a vote questioning how they run
their company," said Jules Peck of the WWF, a lobby group devoted to
conserving endangered species.

"This isn't the end of the dialogue, the panda has shown its teeth," he
told Reuters, referring to the WWF's logo.

Peck said BP had decided to make additional information available on
risk management since WWF filed the resolution in December. This is the
third year environmentalists have set up a vote for a similar
resolution, with 13 percent in favour last year.

"It was a mild resolution designed to get support, but the figures speak
for themselves," said a BP spokesman. He said that given 59 percent of
shareholders voted, only seven percent of them overall had backed it.


The resolution came just before U.S. President George W. Bush suffered a
major energy-policy defeat with a Senate vote on his administration's
plan to give oil companies access to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
in Alaska.

Bush, a former Texas oilman, made drilling in the refuge the centerpiece
of his proposed U.S. energy policy but failed to gain the 60 votes
necessary to end the debate and allow drilling to go ahead.

BP has launched a costly marketing campaign to disassociate itself from
the oil industry's reputation for despoiling natural habitats.

But its dominant position in Alaska have left its claim on the ethical
high ground open to attack.

"If BP doesn't live up to its image, if it doesn't distinguish itself
from its peers, it may find a lot of investors disinvest," said Shelley
Alpern, Assistant Vice President of Trillium Asset Management, which
manages $700 million in socially responsible funds.

The WWF resolution said the risks included the ability to attract and
retain high quality staff.

Shaunna Sutcliffe, a student from Oregon State University, said she had
brought 100,000 signatures to the meeting from U.S. students who had
vowed not to work for BP if it drilled in the Arctic.

THE MORNING STAR also ran a report on 19 April and we hope will run a
feature this week. Look also for report in this week's SOCIALIST WORKER.


There is an urgent need to support the victims. Their cases have been
held up for several years in Colombia's interminable legal system as the
multinational's OCENSA/ODC consortium put in one blocking move after
another. Meanwhile the victims are in need of health care, food and
welfare as well as financial support for their legal defence. All
donations will be put to supporting the victims and their claim. Make
payable to "Colombia Solidarity Campaign" and write on the back "CPV
Defence Fund" and send to our address below.

For more information contact the Colombia Solidarity Campaign.

Andy Higginbottom
Co-ordinator Colombia Solidarity Campaign
PO Box 8446, London N17 6NZ

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