Press release: BP’s Manchester shareholder meeting faces protest over fracking and human rights abuses

16 May 2018 - 11:45am
Press release
  • Oil company’s first ever Annual General Meeting in Manchester faces protest with participants from communities affected by BP’s operations in Argentina and Colombia
  • BP Board’s presentations expected to focus on improving the company’s “climate-friendly” credentials, which campaigners accuse of hypocrisy

Campaigners from Patagonia, Argentina, and Casanare, Colombia, will question BP’s board on the company’s impacts in these countries at BP shareholders’ Annual General Meeting (AGM). The AGM is to be held in Manchester for the first time ever in the company’s history.

They will come together with local environmental and social justice groups including Frack Free Greater Manchester and Fossil Free Greater Manchester who will hold a protest vigil outside the AGM, demanding an end to fossil fuel extraction and reparations for communities whose land and livelihoods have been destroyed.

Event Details

2pm: at Manchester Friends Meeting House, 6 Mount Street, M2 5NS

Photo opportunity: spokespeople will be present for the AGM and available for interview on request.

10am: starting outside Manchester Central Library, 1 Central Street M2 5PD

Fossil Free Greater Manchester spokesperson Chris Smith says: “The people of Greater Manchester have firmly rejected fracking. They also understand the pressing need to keep fossil fuels in the ground. No amount of spin at this AGM will convince them that BP will stop wrecking the climate. Our protest at its AGM is about showing our solidarity to those affected by BP’s profit-hungry dash for gas across the wor​ld. Fracking and fossil fuel extraction makes no sense anywhere - not in Greater Manchester, not in Lancashire, not in Patagonia or in Colombia. We intend to show that Greater Manchester’s residents and institutional investors will no longer tolerate BP’s actions.

Fabian Laverde Doncel, Colombian human rights defender, legal advisor and COS-PACC chairperson, says: “The government of Colombia and corporations like BP systematically refuses to recognise the legal rights and territories of peasant, Afro and indigenous populations.. To be effective, the peace process must be based on a inclusive participation. It must recognise, as we do, that natural resources are part of the ecosystems that guarantee a just and sustainable future. That means companies and foreign governments must also respect our rights to our own land and render BP’s business model null and void.”

OPSur coordinator Fernando Cabrera says: “The Vaca Muerta mega-project means multinational corporations like BP extracting fossil fuels and profit from Argentina. This has already brought environmental damage, losses in labour rights, and human rights abuses to Argentina. The costs are huge and the benefits few and far between. While BP tries to cultivate an image as an environmentally responsible company, in Argentina BP invests in fracking on a large scale, without taking into account the potentially huge climate impacts.”

Sebastian Ordoñez Muñoz, War on Want’s Senior International Programmes Officer (Latin America), says: “Community organisations and trade unions were decimated during BP’s operations in Colombia. BP’s departure means communities can reconstruct their lives. Central to this is returning to agriculture as the basis for their local economy, and finding justice for historic human rights abuses. BP must pay reparations to affected communities and tell the truth about the role it played in the conflict.”

Platform campaigner Anna Markova says: “BP can’t get away with its ridiculous pretense of planning for a low carbon future - while pushing to burn one of the world’s biggest reserves of carbon. BP touts gas drilling as a way of lowering carbon emissions - but wants to lock us in to burning fossil fuels for decades. BP’s fracking endangers the rights to water and land for people in Patagonia - and the future for all of us.”

Spokespeople will be present for the AGM and are available for interview on request.

The UN estimates that over 30 years in the Casanare region of Colombia where BP operated, 3000 trade union and community leaders were murdered and 6000 disappeared. Many were vocal opponents of Big Oil. BP has withdrawn but at least 115 social and environmental conflicts have arisen in Colombia from extractive projects initiated without local consultation.

CEO Bob Dudley admitted the company avoids using fracking in the UK to avoid “the wrong kind of attention”. At the same time, a crucial part of BP’s future strategy is fracking on a large scale in Patagonia, with 37 new complex wells in 2017 alone. BP’s flagship Argentinian concession Lindero Atravesado, where 23 wells were due for fracking by end of 2017, covers

  • A freshwater reservoir used by the provincial capital Neuquén (620 thousand inhabitants);
  • An agricultural town (Vista Alegre) that has passed a resolution to ban fracking.

The company has previously repeatedly refused to admit to groundwater contamination from its conventional oil drilling at Koluel Kaike, research by Platform and OPSur shows.

Press Contacts

War on Want: Marienna Pope-Weidemann / @WarOnWant

Platform: Anna Markova / @platformlondon

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